Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thoughts on Writing: A Collection by Published Authors

Day 1 - JoeLodge

Photo credit  Joe57Spike

Writing Thoughts from Published Authors 

Included here is a collection of posts on Layers of Thought from the last several years which address writing. It’s a perfect collection in honor of the tail end of November and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), since many readers are often writers.

In the hopes of being helpful I’ve broken the blog post into sub-categories - Motivation and Creativity, Publishing and Marketing, and lastly Nuts and Bolts. Here’s to looking at the writing process - whether it’s concentrated within a month, a project that lasts a year or more, or just from an interested outsider. Please enjoy.

Motivation and Creativity

Kristen Wolf author of THE WAY writes about how she started her novel in the post “How THE WAY Came to Be”.

Daniel A. Rabuzzi author of The Choir Boats and The Indigo Pheasant  addresses creativity in “A Picture-Show in the Night-Kitchen”.

James Garcia Jr. author of Dance on Fire writes about perseverance in his post called “Dreams”.

Publishing and Marketing

Danielle Ackley-McPhail author of A LEGACY OF STARS tells about “The Changing Face of Publishing”.

Nelle Davy author of THE LEGACY OF EDEN writes about “An Insider’s Look at the Publication Process”.

 James Garcia, Jr. author of the DANCE ON FIRE series tells us about creating an author’s platform.

Nuts and Bolts

S.G. Browne author of Lucky Bastard addresses his setting choice, which in this case is San Francisco. 

Jane Kindred author of The Fallen Queen talks about world building in her guest post “Angelology and World Building”.

Alma Katsu author of The Reckoning discusses her writing techniques – specifically around her methodology for plotting in “Taming the Writing Process”.

Stephanie Chong author of Where Demons Fear to Tread tells us about how she developed and researched the “mythology” in her book.

R. S. Belcher author of THE SIX GUN TAROT shares how and why he created his fantastical yet historical world, exemplified in his steam punk novel.

Nicole Wolverton author of A Trajectory of Dreams tells us about “Developing Dark Characters”.

Lucinda Riley author of The Girl on the Cliff recommends “Five Golden Rules” for historical fiction writers.

“Keeping it Short” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail is a post where the author addresses the short story.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interview: Gillian Philip author of Bloodstone

Gillian Philip Photo 3

Interview with Gillian Philip, author of the Rebel Angels series which includes the recently published Bloodstone, book #2 of the series. The books are historical urban fantasy set in old Scotland and originally published in the UK.

Let’s welcome Gillian!

The second book in your Rebel Angel series titled BLOODSTONE has just been published in the US. It has a 17th century Scotland setting. Tell us about your Scottish roots and if they have been used as a foundation for your story; and about the historical and fantastical world that you’ve written about in your Rebel Angel series?

Bloodstone - Gillian PhilipOK, here goes! I was born in Glasgow and now live in the Highlands, and I always wanted to write a fantasy story set in Scotland because I love the landscape (the cities as well as the countryside) and I love the myths and legends associated with it. It took me a long time to get round to it, though. I actually got the kick I needed when I came home after living in Barbados for twelve years. I’d missed the landscape terribly and as soon as I got home I was seeing scenes and stories everywhere I looked. Scotland has an incredibly bloody history, of course, so the people appearing in my head tended to be a bit violent. But at the same time, Scots are notoriously sentimental and romantic, so there was going to have to be a bit of a love story, too. A hard-edged love story, mind you.

The Rebel Angel series contains fairies; tell us a bit about them and the mythology of the fairy realm that you’ve created.

I’d always loved Scottish folk and fairy tales – which have a tendency to the same combination of romance and violence – so I took myself back to them and read as many as I could lay my hands on. It’s surprising how many of the traditions and superstitions survive even in modern Scotland – lots of people would be afraid to cut down a rowan tree, for instance, because they’re sacred to the fairies – and that fascinated me.

firebrandBut one thing I really wanted to do was to make my fairies human. I wanted them to be us, but differently evolved. My Sithe are human, and they don’t understand why they’re hated and feared by other humans, but the truth is they don’t realise how scary and threatening they are. I made them telepathic (not something I’d recommend to any writer! Man, does it complicate things) and extremely long-lived, though not immortal. They have their own gods, but they don’t pay them a lot of attention. They’re not very fertile, and they love to fight, so they’re practically an endangered species. And they’ve cut themselves off into a separate dimension, only rarely and reluctantly venturing into our world – but the Veil that separates the worlds is dying. The Veil also protects them in our world, blurring our perception of them, so most of the Sithe fear its loss; but some, including the queen, want it destroyed because of their own personal ambition. The battle over the Veil is the conflict that runs through all four books in the series.

I’ve messed around with other Scottish myths and legends, too – I especially love kelpies, the water-demons that take the form of horses, so I’ve used them as my characters’ warhorses. I’ve twisted the selkie legends as well, making them death figures. The series title comes from an old legend that the fairies were the rebel angels – the ones who fell on land when they were thrown out of heaven. (The ones that fell in the sea became the selkies; the ones that were caught in the sky became the fir chlis, the Northern Lights.)

You’ve mentioned that your characters talk to you telling you what to write. This sounds fun but I am also wondering if the voices scare you at all or perhaps someone may have joked about medication? Tell us more about your muses.

Ha! It is fun – sometimes annoying, sometimes helpful. They do seem very real to me, and I’m sure many other writers would tell you the same about their characters. If I’m taking the plot in a wrong direction, it’s the characters who’ll put me right, and they’ll soon let me know if there are words I’m putting in their mouths that they just wouldn’t say. They don’t scare me, though I’m sure I’d change my tune if I actually woke up and found one standing over my bed. That’s when I’ll know it’s time for the medication…

The trouble with the Voices is that some of them are so much louder than others! Seth was a minor character who took over the series and demanded it be all about him. I’ve finished the fourth and last book in the series, but Seth still won’t leave me alone and he won’t let me get on with something new. He’s very annoyed about being abandoned.

Interestingly, in addition to being a prolific author you are also a ghost writer. Tell us more about this.

I have a great time ghost writing – it’s a lot of fun playing with other people’s inventions. I find it really stretches different writing ‘muscles’, because I’m not usually much of a plotter, and with these books, the outline is written for me by a team of editors. It turns writing into a really different experience for me. And I do still get very involved with the characters, because I can bring along my own angle and my own quirks. The characters become real to me when I start to write them (although none of them are as aggravating as Seth).

I’ve especially enjoyed being an Erin Hunter, writing the animal fantasy ‘Survivors’, about a pack of dogs in a post-apocalyptic landscape. It’s been so much fun to watch their characters grow and change, and I tour the US every year and get to meet the fans. That is a fantastic experience. I’ve also written Darke Academy, Beast Quest and now a new middle-grade adventure called Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island. That’s about fairies and folktales too, and it’s been the biggest fun to write a different kind of magical fantasy.

You have two children, three dogs, two cats, a hamster, fish, and a bunch of chickens. How do you get any writing done considering your menagerie?

Good question! Well, the cats are good at keeping my neck warm at my desk, though it’s irritating when they walk across the keyboard or attack the printer. The dogs are enormously helpful when I’m writing Survivors – I get to watch their relationships and interactions as a pack. The other animals don’t bother me at all, except when Speckled Jim the cockerel starts crowing RIGHT outside my window. As for my beloved twins – well, they tend to barge in when I’m in the middle of a sentence, either to get me to referee a major fight or to put in outrageous Christmas present requests – but they make up for that by helping me understand the world of Xbox (Jamie) or recommending good soundtracks for my books (Lucy). My own music choices tend to date from prehistoric times (well, the 1980s) so it’s nice to have something more up-to-date…

Thank you Gillian. It’s been a pleasure.

About the Author:  GILLIAN PHILIP was born in Glasgow, lived for twelve years in Barbados, and now lives in the north of Scotland with her husband, twin children, three dogs, two sociopathic cats, a slayer hamster, three chickens, and a lot of nervous fish. For more info, please visit:

For more about the first two books in the series – Firebrand (book #1) and Bloodstone (book #2)and a giveaway please link to the giveaway post.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Review by Shellie for Cinnamon and Gunpowder (audio version) by Eli Brown

Shellie’s quick take:   A fun and fantastical historical novel about a female pirate captain and a kidnapped chef. Combining swashbuckling action and the creation of delicious meals, this one was hard to stop listening to in its audio format.

Shellie’s description:   Set in and around the early 1800’s, Owen Wedgewood is a chef for the household of a powerful tradesman. He’s content with his lot in life until he’s kidnapped by Mad Hannah Mabbot and her men. She is a female pirate to be reckoned with, and she makes a deal with Wedgewood that if he can create a gourmet meal for her every Sunday (with the meager means within the pirate ship), she will spare his life.

So Owen goes about unhappily trying to keep himself alive by creating delicious meals for the captain. As he does so he comes to realize that Mad Hannah’s motives for piracy may not be as selfish and mean spirited as he once believed. Drama, action, and romance ensues as this story comes to it’s terrific climax.

Shellie’s thoughts:   I listened to this book in its audio a version and have to say that it is well articulated by its English-accented reader (James Langton), giving the book an authentic feel. The book is generally fast paced - and what a clever and creative premise for a book! It definitely has the feel of a make-believe story, since it’s unreasonable to believe that there where beautiful female pirates in the early 1800’s; or ever for that matter. This un-believability makes the book an excellent choice for fantasy readers.

With historical themes, exotic locations, colorful characters, and the creation of fantastic meals, this is a fun tale that I really enjoyed. And, the best part of the book is that it has a terrific ending which is not “happily-ever-after”. Highly recommended for historical fantasy lovers, foodies and cooks, and anyone who likes pirates. I will be looking for more by this author and give this entertaining book a 4 star rating.

Macmillan Audio | June 2013 | Unabridged Digital Audio | Audio Run Time: 11:50

This audio book was borrowed from our local library.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.

But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giveaway: Bloodstone and Firebrand by Gillian Philip

Bloodstone - Gillian Philip

It’s release day for Bloodstone (#2 of the Rebel Angel Series) by Gillian Philip and we have two sets of the books - Firebrand #1 and Bloodstone #2 - up for giveaway for US or Canadian addresses.

This historical urban fantasy series was originally published in the UK and is now available for the US.

What the publisher says about the books:

About Bloodstone:  Bloodstone is the second novel in Gillian Philip’s critically acclaimed Rebel Angels series, debuting in the United States for the first time.

For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clan, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clan.

In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron, a feral, full-mortal young thief, becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it’s nothing he can’t handle until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother. In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable, especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters….

Tor Books | 11/19/2013 | Hardcover | 400 pages


About Firebrand:   At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired. 

Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.

But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…

Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal–nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award-nominated Bad Faith.

Tor Books | February 2013 | Hardcover | 368 pages

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Giveaway: Watcher of the Dark by Joseph Nassise

Watcher of the Dark - Joesph Nassise

Giveaway for Watcher of the Dark (The Jeremiah Hunt Chronicle - Volume 3 of 3) for US and Canada. It is a stand-alone book.

Publisher’s description:  A Jeremiah Hunt Supernatural Thriller

New Orleans was nearly the death of Jeremiah Hunt, between a too-close brush with the FBI and a chilling, soul-searing journey through the realm of the dead that culminated with a do-or-die confrontation with Death himself. But now Hunt is back and on the run in Watcher of the Dark.

But when he performs an arcane ritual to reclaim the soul of the magically gifted, beautiful woman who once saved him, he must flee the law once again, to Los Angeles, city of angels, a temporary sanctuary.

In L.A., he has to contend with Carlos Fuentes, who sees in Hunt a means to obtain the mystical key that would open the gates of Hell. Fuentes knows Hunt’s weakness—his loyalty to the woman he loves, and to another "gifted" friend—and uses the real threat of torturing them as a way to get Hunt to help complete his dread quest.

Hunt has learned a lot since his life was irrevocably hijacked by fate months ago. But when his friends are threatened by the supernatural predator known as the Preacher, Hunt knows that all his newfound experience and ability will go for naught unless he can keep both the Preacher and Fuentes at bay long enough for him to somehow find a way to free his friends from mortal peril.

Joseph Nassise delivers another thrilling novel in his dark, urban fantasy series, the Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles.

Tor Books | 11/19/2013 | Hardcover | 304 pages

If your interested you can read John’s review of Eyes to See, the first book in the series by clicking on the book’s title. Here’s his short description of the book:

A very dark urban fantasy about a grieving father who gives up his natural eyesight in order to see things differently. 

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Giveaway: Prince by Rory Clements (and Gratitude Giveaways Hop)


Giveaway for the historical murder mystery – Prince (A John Shakespeare Mystery) by Rory Clements and The 4th Annual Gratitude Giveaways Hop.

We have five ebook copies of Prince on offer to entrants. It is international!

About the Book:   England, 1593. Plague rages, famine is rife, and the city is in revolt. From this bedlam rises the sharpest of sleuths: a man named John Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s brother investigates a series of murders rocking Elizabethan London. He follows the clues, which lead him from horseraces to brothels to an explosive encounter at sea. As he digs deeper, he discovers a plot that threatens not only the kingdom but everything he holds dear.

This spellbinding historical thriller will delight fans of New York Times bestselling authors Ariana Franklin and Alex Grecian.

October 01, 2013 | Witness Impulse – Harper Collins | 306 pages | e-book

  • This is an ebook so the giveaway is international.
  • Important note - the winners must  a) have access to Bluefire Reader and  b) have an Adobe account to receive their e-book download.
  • Please be a reader/follower to enter this contest.
  • You can choose one way to qualify from the list below.

Ways to “follow”:

  1. Facebook: for updates in your feed -add me as a friend.
  2. Your Email Box
  3. Feed Reader
  4. Twitter
  5. Google+
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  7. Goodreads (Add me as a friend – there are no giveaway updates here only reviews.)

And please fill out the Google form:



This giveaway is part of the 4th Annual Gratitude Giveaways Hop - November 15th to 30th. You can link to all the other blogs offering bookish giveaways for this hop below.

Happy hopping!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Press Release: Dashner, Paolini, and Sanderson Discussion Nov. 16th


November 16th event will bring the three together for the first time via a moderated panel.

The link for the livestream will be found here:

New York, NY (November 13, 2013)—Random House Children’s Books is pleased to announce that three of the biggest name authors in science fiction and fantasy are coming together for an afternoon panel hosted by the 92nd Street Y in New York City on November 16th. James Dashner (The Eye of Minds), Christopher Paolini (Eragon: 10th Anniversary Edition), and Brandon Sanderson (Steelheart) will entertain their fans via an interactive panel discussion moderated by Alexander Zalben of MTV News. One of the first YA events that the 92nd Street Y has hosted, the panel will be livestreamed to viewers across the globe who won’t be able to make it to the New York area to see the event in person.

Dashner, Paolini, and Sanderson are all forces to be reckoned with in the children’s literature world. Dashner, best known for his Maze Runner series, has sold over 2.4 million copies of his books in North America alone. Fall 2014 will see the feature film debut of The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox). With a loyal fanbase that has dubbed itself the “Dashner Army” (#DashnerArmy) as well as the publication of The Eye of Minds, the first book in his new Mortality Doctrine series, Dashner continues to gain in popularity amongst both teenagers and adults.

Christopher Paolini, celebrating his 30th birthday in November, penned Eragon when he was just 15 years old. The book spawned three companions, as well as a major motion picture and millions of fans. A #1 New York Times bestseller, Paolini’s books have currently sold 35 million copies worldwide, and are available in 125 countries and 49 languages.

Brandon Sanderson is a household name in the sci-fi/fantasy world, and has joined the YA ranks of Dashner and Paolini with the publication of Steelheart, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Sanderson is known for his Mistborn trilogy, as well as completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Millions of copies of his books have been sold worldwide, and his books have been published in 25 languages.

The trio of authors have all had multiple titles appear on national bestseller lists including USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

To purchase tickets to this one-of-a-kind event, visit A discounted ticket price is offered to attendees under 35 years of age. The authors’ newest titles—Eragon: 10th Anniversary Edition, Steelheart, and The Eye of Minds—will be available for purchase, and to be signed by the authors, at the event.

Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, ebooks, and apps, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. The company’s website, Kids @ Random ( offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

92Y is a world-class nonprofit community and cultural center that connects people at every stage of life to the worlds of education, the arts, health and wellness, and Jewish life. Through the breadth and depth of 92Y’s extraordinary programs, 92Y enriches lives, creates community and elevates humanity. More than 300,000 people visit 92Y in New York City annually and many more connect through digital and social media, live webcasts of events, and an extensive archive of stage programs and original content produced for the web, all available on A proudly Jewish organization since its founding in 1874, 92Y embraces its heritage and enthusiastically welcomes people of all backgrounds and perspectives. For more information, visit

Friday, November 8, 2013

Incoming Books: November 8, 2013


We have our incoming books for November 8, 2013.

Penguin/Random House

Masks by E. C. Blake

Masks, the first novel in a mesmerizing new fantasy series, draws readers into a world in which cataclysmic events have left the Autarchy of Aygrimathe one land blessed with magical resources cut off from its former trading partners across the waters, not knowing if any of those distant peoples still live. Yet under the rule of the Autarch, Aygrima survives. And thanks to the creation of the Masks and the vigilance of the Autarchs Watchers, no one can threaten the security of the empire.

In Aygrima, magic is a Gift possessed from birth by a very small percentage of the population, with the Autarch himself the most powerful magic worker of all. Only the long-vanquished Lady of Pain and Fire had been able to challenge his rule.

At the age of fifteen, citizens are recognized as adults and must don the spell-infused Masks which denote both status and profession whenever they are in public. To maintain the secure rule of the kingdom, the Masks are magically crafted to reveal any treasonous thoughts or actions. And once such betrayals are exposed, the Watchers are there to enforce the law.

Mara Holdfast, daughter of the Autarchs Master Maskmaker, is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday and her all-important Masking ceremony. Her father himself has been working behind closed doors to create Maras Mask. Once the ceremony is done, she will take her place as an adult, and Gifted with the same magical abilities as her father, she will also claim her rightful place as his apprentice.

But on the day of her Masking something goes horribly wrong, and instead of celebrating, Mara is torn away from her parents, imprisoned, and consigned to a wagon bound for the mines. Is it because she didn't turn the unMasked boy she discovered over to the Night Watchers? Or is it because she's lied about her Gift, claiming she can only see one color of magic, when in truth she can see them all, just as she could when she was a young child?
Whatever the reason, her Mask has labeled her a traitor and now she has lost everything, doomed to slavery in the mines until she dies. And not even her Gift can show Mara the future that awaits her a future that may see her freed to aid a rebel cause, forced to become a puppet of the Autarch, or transformed into a force as dangerous to her world as the legendary Lady of Pain and Fire.

304 pages | 05 Nov 2013 | DAW | 18 - AND UP

The Golden City

The Golden City by J. Kathlenne Cheney

For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores....

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone....

384 pages | 05 Nov 2013 | Roc | 18 - AND UP

The Grim Company

The Grim Company by Luke Scull

The Gods are dead. The Magelord Salazar and his magically enhanced troops, the Augmentors, crush any dissent they find in the minds of the populace. On the other side of the Broken Sea, the White Lady plots the liberation of Dorminia, with her spymistresses, the Pale Women. Demons and abominations plague the Highlands.

The world is desperately in need of heroes. But what they get instead are a ragtag band of old warriors, a crippled Halfmage, two orphans and an oddly capable manservant: the Grim Company.

400 pages | 03 Sep 2013 | Roc | 18 - AND UP

Simon & Schuster

Bellman & Black

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield


Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

Atria/Emily Bestler Books |  336 pages |  November 2013

MacMillan – Tor/Forge

Approaching the Speed of Light

Approaching the Speed of Light by Victoria Lustbader

It’s said that the flapping of a butterfly’s wing can start a chain reaction that leads to an unstoppable storm.  In the same way, random twists of fate and transitory acts of kindness and cruelty can shape our destinies, just as we affect the people around us . . . sometimes in ways we can’t possibly imagine.

Jody is a likable young man getting by in New York City at the turn of the millennium. On the surface, he seems to have it together, with friends, family, a decent job, and a steady string of girlfriends. But a secret history has left Jody scarred and broken inside, lacking faith in the future or himself. Like the ceaseless pull of a black hole, his buried secrets hold him back, defining him, until his trajectory crosses the path of three very different women, who, in their own ways, hold out the tantalizing possibility of healing, connection . . . or self-destruction.

VICTORIA LUSTBADER's Approaching the Speed of Light is a thoughtful, deeply moving tale about the things we cannot leave behind—and how, sometimes, we have to go through the black hole to come out the other side.

Forge Books | August 2013 | Hardcover | 368 pages

The Lost Prince

The Lost Prince by Edward Lazellari

Edward Lazellari brings you The Lost Prince, and the race to find the missing prince is on . . .

In Lazellari’s debut fantasy, Awakenings, New York City cop Cal MacDonnell and photographer Seth Raincrest found themselves stalked by otherworldly beings intent on killing them. The two had to accept the aid of a mysterious woman to unlock their hidden pasts, and what they discovered changed their lives.

Everything they knew about their lives was an illusion. They had in fact travelled to our dimension from the medieval reality of Aandor to hide their infant prince from assassins, but upon arriving, a freak mishap wiped their memories. Cal, Seth, and the rest of their party were incapacitated, and the infant prince was lost.

Thirteen years later, that prince, Daniel Hauer, is unaware of his origins--or that he has become the prize in a race between two powerful opposing factions. Cal and Seth’s group want to keep Daniel safe. The other wants Daniel dead—by any means necessary.
From the streets of New York City to the back roads of rural North Carolina, the search for the prince sets powerful forces against each other in a do-or-die battle for the rule of the kingdom of Aandor.

Tor Books | August 2013 | Hardcover | 528 pages

The Third Kingdom

The Third Kingdom - Richard and Kahlan (Volume 2)  by Terry Goodkind

Terry Goodkind returns to the lives of Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell—in The Third Kingdom, the direct sequel to his #1 New York Times bestseller The Omen Machine.

Richard saw the point of a sword blade sticking out from between the man’s shoulder blades. He spun back toward Richard after throwing the woman out the opening, ready to attack. It seemed impossible, but the man looked unaffected by the blade that had impaled him through the chest.

It was then, in the weak light from the fire pit off to the side, that Richard got his first good look at the killer.

Three knives were buried up to their brass cross-guards in the man’s chest. Only the handles were showing. Richard saw, too, the broken end of a sword blade jutting out from the center of the man’s chest. The point of that same blade stuck out from the man’s back.

Richard recognized the knife handles. All three were the style carried by the men of the First File.

He looked from those blades that should have killed the big man, up into his face.

That was when he realized the true horror of the situation, and the reason for the unbearable stench of death.

Tor Books | August 2013 |Hardcover | 528 pages

Esrever Doom

Esrever Doom - Xanth (Volume 37 of 37) by Piers Anthony

Piers Anthony’s 37th adventure in Xanth changes the Mood to one of Doom!

Kody woke up in a hospital bed, not knowing how he got there. Before his questions could be answered, he was told that he was about to undergo surgery, and that there could be some side effects…. And then he woke up again, this time in Xanth.

Kody is the only person in Xanth who has not been affected by a dreadful spell that reverses how people see each other. What was adorable is now loathsome. What was ugly is now beautiful. What was loved is now hated. Kody has clearly arrived just in time! Only he has any hope of reversing the spell, turning Esrever Doom into Reverse Mood.

Tor Books | October 2013 | Hardcover | 336 pages

Nobody Comes Back

Nobody Comes Back by Donn Pearce

Donn Pearce, the author of Cool Hand Luke, again revisits the subject of men under tremendous pressure, living and dying according to oppressive circumstances. Now, he brings you another tragic hero, thrust out of the only world he knew and forced to create one on his own terms . . . or die trying.

Toby Parker was America's unwanted son. Only sixteen years old, he was too young to be enlisted in the army, but old enough to know that he didn't want to return to the life he knew: moving from new home to new home, neglected by his mother, ignored by his father, overlooked by everyone else.

The war overseas promised exotic locations and adventure, but what it delivered was something else entirely. The Nazis were beginning to fall back, and the war was all but over. But the fighting still raged on in pockets of Europe. Out of the critical focus on France, only one last position needed to hold: the city of Bastogne. Thrown into battle almost immediately upon arrival, he soon found himself wounded and alone, struggling to survive and looked upon to lead. It was here that Toby was to learn what war really was, and what kind of man he was destined to become.

Many American boys went into World War II, and each one lived their own nightmare, critically shaped by what they experienced. Told with gritty authenticity, Donn Pearce captures the very essence of what it means to be caught under the worst circumstances imaginable, while having the strength and humanity to rise above them.

Forge Books | October 2013 | Trade Paperback | 256 pages

To Dance with the Devil

To Dance with the Devil by Cat Adams

In To Dance with the Devil, the latest entry in Cat Adams's Blood Singer series, Celia Graves’s newest client is one of the last surviving members of a magical family that is trapped in a generations-old feud with other magic-workers. She’s supposed to die at the next full moon unless Celia can broker peace between the clans or break the curse before it can take effect.

For the first time in a long while, Celia’s personal life is looking up. Her vampire abilities seem to be under control, her Siren abilities have gotten more reliable, and even though her office was blown up, her services are more in demand than ever now that she's fought off terrorists and been part of the royal wedding of the year. Her friends all seem to be finding love and her grandmother has—finally—agreed to go to family therapy.

The only trouble spot is Celia’s love life. Not long ago, she had two boyfriends. Now she barely has one and she isn’t sure she wants him. But Bruno DeLuca is a powerful mage and Celia needs his help…especially after she's attacked and her client is kidnapped.

Tor Books | 11/5/2013 | Trade Paperback |352 pages

Harper Collins


Paperboy by Tony Macaulay

It’s Belfast, 1975. The city lies under the dark cloud of the Troubles, and hatred fills the air like smoke. But Tony Macaulay has just turned twelve and he’s got a new job. He’s going to be a paperboy. And come rain or shine - or bombs and mortar - he will deliver…

Paperboy lives in Upper Shankill, Belfast, in the heart of the conflict between Loyalists and Republicans. Bombings are on the evening news, rubble lies where buildings once stood, and rumors spread like wildfire about the IRA and the UDA.

But Paperboy lives in a world of Doctor Who, Top of the Pops and fish suppers. His battles are fought with all the passion of Ireland’s opposing sides - but against acne, the dentist and the ‘wee hoods’ who rob his paper money. On his rounds he hums songs by the Bay City Rollers, dreams about outer space and dreams even more about the beautiful Sharon Burgess.

In this touching, funny and nostalgic memoir, Tony Macaulay recounts his days growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, the harrowing years which saw neighbor fighting neighbor and brother fighting brother. But in the midst of all this turmoil, Paperboy, a scrappy upstart with a wicked sense of humor and sky-high dreams, dutifully goes about his paper round. He is a good paperboy, so he is.

Paperboy proves that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times; it is a story that will charm your socks off, make you laugh out loud and brings to life the culture, stories and colorful characters of a very different - but very familiar - time.

9/3/2013 | HarperCollins | Trade PB | 288 pages

The Lady and Her Monsters

The Lady and Her Monster: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankenstein's, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo

The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Motillo brings to life the fascinating times, startling science, and real-life horrors behind Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein.

Montillo recounts how—at the intersection of the Romantic Age and the Industrial Revolution—Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein was inspired by actual scientists of the period: curious and daring iconoclasts who were obsessed with the inner workings of the human body and how it might be reanimated after death.

With true-life tales of grave robbers, ghoulish experiments, and the ultimate in macabre research—human reanimation—The Lady and Her Monsters is a brilliant exploration of the creation of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s horror classic.

10/22/2013 | Trade PB | Harper Collins |336 pages


C-Monkeys & Gamification

Gamification/C-Monkeys by Keith Hollihan

This is a double novella “flip book” pairing a modern corporate suspense story about the cover-up of a CEo’s illicit affair, with a 1970s-era science fiction thriller about an oil company’s environmental disaster. It is an exploration of the paranoia inherent in business and the thin line between competition and conspiracy.

ChiZine | November 15, 2013 | 300 pages | e-book




Tachyon Publications

Beyond the Rift

Beyond the Rift by Peter Watts

Skillfully combining complex science with skillfully executed prose, these edgy, award-winning tales explore the always-shifting border between the known and the alien.

The beauty and peril of technology and the passion and penalties of conviction merge in stories that are by turns dark, satiric, bold. and introspective. A seemingly-humanized monster from John Carpenter's The Thing reveals the true villains in an Antarctic showdown. An artificial intelligence shields a biologically-enhanced prodigy from her overwhelmed parents. A deep-sea diver discovers her true nature lies not within the confines of her mission but in the depths of her psyche. A court psychologist analyzes a psychotic graduate student who has learned to reprogram reality itself. A father tries to hold his broken family together in the wake of an ongoing assault by sentient rainstorms.

Gorgeously saturnine and exceptionally powerful, these collected fictions are both intensely thought-provoking and impossible to forget.

Trade PB | Tachyon Publications | 240pp. | November 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton

Cold in the Earth

Review by Shellie for Cold in the Earth: A DI Fleming Thriller (#1) by Aline Templeton.

Shellie’s quick take:   The first in a contemporary murder mystery series set in the Scottish countryside. It’s a dark atmospheric thriller that has a family-oriented and strong female lead, a psychopath, and a psychologist as the main characters.

Shellie’s description:   Detective Marjory Fleming lives with her husband and two children on a farm in the Scottish countryside - where the green hills are dotted with sheep, the weather is harsh, everyone knows each other, and the local population’s loyalties to each other run deep. She also works with a volatile yet handsome detective whose family has raised prize-winning bulls for generations and who has connections with bull running in Spain, which is a key theme for the book.

When a case of foot and mouth disease is diagnosed in a nearby farm, the connected villages are in an uproar since entire herds of animals may be destroyed, potentially devastating the locals  – both economically and emotionally. Things get even more complex  when a body is found in the field of a prize-winning and killer bull, and Marjory is faced with her first murder investigation.

Shellie’s thoughts:   Originally published in the UK in 2005 and just released in the US this year, I read the book in its unedited North American version. I found that there was a large number of colloquialisms peculiar to Scotland and the UK which may be edited out for American readers. Not knowing how much has been changed, it’s probably safe to say that this may cause a slight bit of a reading flow issue for those of us who are not familiar with the language of the Scottish. However, it’s interesting and entertaining and I think this adds to its appeal – giving the reader a mini-trip (albeit in wintertime) to the UK countryside.

The characters are well developed and I particularly appreciated the story including two interesting characters other than Marjory Fleming - one a psychologist and the other a psychopath. With these two characters the story leads the reader into some in-depth psychological examinations creating a more complex and entertaining plot. In the end the only negative thing I can say about the book is that the story line was ever-so-slightly predictable.

A great read if you enjoy mysteries set within another country (especially Scotland) and also for those who enjoy strong female main characters, antagonists who have no conscience, and in-depth psychological insight. I would rate it 3.5 stars and will definitely be looking forward to reading the other books in this series.

October 29, 2013 | 372 pages |e-book | Witness Impulse – HarperCollins

Witness Impulse is a new division of HarperCollins that will be publishing thrillers, mysteries, and crime fiction in ebook format.

About Witness (from the publisher):  Witness is the new Impulse imprint from HarperCollins Publishers devoted to thrillers, mysteries, and stories of suspense. Debuting in Fall 2013, Witness will serve as a launch pad for a range of exciting titles, including new publications, previously self-published bestsellers, newly digitized backlist classics, and international books previously unavailable in the US. For more on this and other Witness titles, please visit, or

For more information on Cold in the Earth here’s the publisher’s blurb for the book:

A quiet farming town where all they reap is death.

A corpse, a missing girl, and a mysterious family's dangerous obsession with bull running provide a sinister backdrop to Detective Inspector Marjory Fleming's first murder investigation. To find the killer, DI Fleming must unearth an evil presence that has long been in hiding, all the while praying that her very first case will not be her last.

This terrifying and atmospheric mystery will thrill lovers of Tana French and Carol O'Connell.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Review: Paperboy by Tony Macaulay


Review by John for Paperboy by Tony Macaulay

John’s quick take:   An excellent, touching and hilarious coming-of-age story, set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. Also a “must read” for any ex-paperboys out there.

John’s description:   In 1975, Macaulay was a twelve year old boy living in the Shankill Road in west Belfast. This was during the Troubles and the Shankill was a particular hotspot – a predominantly loyalist working class area, it was also the home of several loyalist paramilitary groups. Bombs were going off, mobs were clashing, shops and buses were being burnt out, paramilitaries were openly causing mayhem and an ever-expanding network of “peace walls” were going up to separate protestant and catholic communities. Against this backdrop, the young Macaulay gets a job delivering the local Belfast Telegraph newspaper each evening.

The story tells of a two-year period of his young life during which he delivers the newspapers without fail, despite all of the barriers and problems. It is a funny and touching tale. He cannot for the life of him understand what the Troubles are all about and sees madness and hypocrisy on a daily basis, but he remains cheerful and focused on things that are really important to a near-teenage boy – girls, pop music, clothes and trying to fit in at school.

We are introduced to a big cast of family, friends, adversaries, teachers and customers, most of them talking in a thick Belfast accent and many of them possessing slightly odd views of life. He becomes a star paperboy but remains fearful of his boss – Oul’ Mac. “Oul’ Mac smoked and said ‘f**k’ a lot. Of course, most men smoked and said ‘f**k’ a lot, but Oul’ Mac did both, simultaneously and ceaselessly ….. I never saw him smile, but sometimes his eyes twinkled and I couldn’t work out whether he was coughing or laughing”.

Macaulay and his friends got into endless pranks and scrapes, but through it all he remains determined to deliver his newspapers, polish his reputation and remain “the only pacifist paperboy in Belfast”.

John’s thoughts:   This is a funny and a delightful book. It is also a clever read – while it remains light hearted it pulls no punches in skewering some of the idiocy (and idiots) of the Troubles. When Macaulay finally meets some catholic boys he surprisingly finds them just the same as his protestant neighbors and remains slightly bewildered at what the fuss is all about.

The story also resonated with me a lot on a personal level. I too spent my pre-teen and teen years in the 1970s delivering newspapers each day, albeit in England and not Ireland, so a lot of the cultural and historical references really hit home – though I didn’t have to dodge “wee hoods” that were regularly trying to rob me and I certainly didn’t have to worry about bombs and blocked off streets.

I found the Belfast humor hilarious, though I will warn that some readers might find the accents and some of the vernacular slightly tough to penetrate. I managed ok and actually found that rather than being a barrier it added to the enjoyment of the read.

I’d thoroughly recommend this book to anyone, but particularly to those who were growing up in the 1970s, anyone who enjoys light-hearted coming of age stories and anyone who wants to learn more about the Troubles. And of course this should be a compulsory read for the paperboy fraternity! I’d rate this four stars.

9/3/2013 | HarperCollins | Trade PB | 288 pages

This book was originally published in the UK in 2011.

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