Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Dark Companion ~ by Marta Acosta

dark companion

A review written by Shellie for Dark Companion ~ by Marta Acosta.

Shellie’s quick take:

A retelling of the gothic classic Jane Eyre - it’s a special young-adult novel featuring snippets of Victorian genre classics at the beginning of each chapter. It also spotlights significant and current issues present in young women’s lives – such as romance, self esteem, drug abuse, violence - all in a readable, atmospheric story with a different type of vampire, and a sweet mythic thread.

Shellie’s description:

“Mousy girl” is Jane William’s nickname. She is from the lower-class and violence-ridden town called Helmsdale - or “Hellsdale” as they term it. Jane is an orphan and once ward of the state, who has lived in foster homes since she was 6 years old and remembers nothing of her previous life because of an accident. Although Jane’s life is not easy she has a stubborn tenacity, clinging to a belief that studying and getting high marks in school are her way out of the troubled and rough town - where the norm is drug addiction, prostitution, violence, and where the most ruthless males control the streets.

As a result of her good grades Jane receives an all expense paid scholarship to the exclusive and very wealthy boarding school “Birch Grove Academy”. Arriving at the school Jane is overwhelmed by her own little cottage, an expense account, and new clothes to replace the used hand-me-downs she’s become accustomed too. And just a few days after arriving, the school’s poised head mistress Mrs. Radcliff invites Jane to dinner. There Jane meets the Radcliffs’ model gorgeous son, Lucian, and their other son Jacob who is a down-to-earth musician, and not quite as cute as his brother. Jane is blatantly smitten with Lucian and annoyed by Jacob. But as are most things that appear just a little too wonderful - all is not as it seems. And this is only the beginning of the story, which is an intriguing retelling of the gothic classic - Jane Eyre.

Shellie’s thoughts:

First off, this is a physically gorgeous book. It’s a small easy-to-handle hardbound book which has a moody dark cover with a slightly metallic shine – so it glows gently. It has a stylish interior layout with gothic themed print and decorations giving this a book a flavor that would make it a special gift for someone. Best yet is that beyond the surface it’s jam-packed with layers of wonderful stuff.

The most stand-out element is that Marta Acosta includes an intriguing trope where quotes from 100 plus year old gothic literature are included at the beginning of each chapter. Each snippet has a significant meaning for the chapter. The quotes pull the reader into its classic writing, creating a desire to research the works that are highlighted (or at least it did for me!) Marta Acosta uses examples from authors such as Eliza Parsons, the Bronte Sisters, Henry James, Charles Dickens, Ann Radcliff, J. Sheridan Le Fanu and more. With 37 chapters and an epilogue there are loads of quotes to ponder and to “Google”.

The book also has multi-layered themes twisted to especially suit teens, containing many important elements and issues. For example, it has unique and well developed characters, great romance, a setting near San Francisco (gotta love that, since it’s my home), a “mythic” theme, and an interesting take on vampire mythology. More importantly, it also examines science, art, family, love, abuse, race and class issues (all important for everyone to think about.)

I listened to Dark Companion in audio (as well as read bits) where it features a realistic enactment from its talented reader - Kate Reading. But what I liked best was that Dark Companion is a story dealing with very real life issues that many teens face. I am also a big fan of gothic novels - the more I read them the more I enjoy them and the deeper I go. Let’s hope this book works the same magic on its younger readers as it did on me. A splendid retelling that I recommend for teachers to give to students, for parents/adults to give to teens, and to be read in groups for discussion. It’s a 4.5 stars for me, and highly recommended.


Tor Teen | July 2012 | Hardcover | Young Adult Fiction |368 pages

Find out more about this book and Marta Acosta’s other novels. Visit her website http://www.martaacosta.com/

Here’s a blog post from Marta Acosta at Tor called Haunted Mansions and Eclipses.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Post: R. S. Belcher author of ~ THE SIX GUN TAROT

Rod Belcher (c)David Hungate -Dominion Images

Today we have a Guest Post written by R. S. Belcher whose first book – The Six Gun Tarot was released yesterday by Tor books. He’s a debut author who has created a fantastical version of a Western styled steampunk world - an alternative semi-historical world where steam-power is the norm. And just look at the wonderful cover!

Let’s welcome Rod as he shares with us how and why he created his fantastical yet historical world.


One of the things that’s the most fun about writing fiction is creating worlds. The very best fiction I’ve read creates a universe so plausible, so detailed; you come to live in it and may not want to leave, or at least want to come back and visit as often as you can.

The process for creating the town of Golgotha was a big part of how and why The Six-Gun Tarot is structured the way it is. Golgotha, itself, is a major character in the book and I wanted it to be a memorable place, unique, but also historically realistic. I also wanted it to reflect the mythological west many of us grew up with on TV and movies.

To that end, first I made a crude map of the town and the surrounding terrain. I tried to add features that relate to the long and very strange history of the land, even before the town sprung up there. I wanted Golgotha to have secrets and to hint at them at every turn. The map got adjusted as the writing went along, but it was invaluable to me in giving the feel of my characters moving through a real three-dimensional place with streets, and landmarks. I think that adds a lot to making the town seem real.Six Gun Tarot

I studied a lot of material on the wilder western towns and on the skeletons of those boom towns, the ghost towns. Till and Jordan’s Great Ghost Towns of the West, and Davis’ The American Frontier, gave me lots of ideas and some grounding to build my world.

Most of the fantastical parts of the geography grew up out of the characters’ back stories. To the naked eye, Golgotha seems like a pretty normal town, circa mid-to late 1800’s. It’s actually a bit more grown up than most towns its size (I figured a population of about 610 people or so—at least that was what my map declared. That number goes up and down a lot depending on what trouble is blowing through town at any given time.). Elements like Johnny Town, the squatter camp on Argent Mountain, the fine homes on Rose Hill and the Mormon temple are all amalgams of larger communities, but I wanted them all in Golgotha, so there they are.

One last bit of social architecture I settled on when designing Golgotha was the premise that the town attracts the best and worse people in the world, and that all of them are weird as hell. I wanted the majority of the town’s population to have odd stuff in their back stories. I finally decided that while not everyone in town is WTF-freakish, a lot are, and even the ones that aren’t have developed a certain resistance to all the insane stuff that goes on in town.

I hope, if I get the opportunity to write more Golgotha books, to tell the stories of some of the places in town touched on in The Six-Gun Tarot, like the cave dwellings, the old well and the creepy old cemetery at the edge of town.

I was actually kind of surprised that Six-Gun was being considered a part of the Steampunk aesthetic. It’s very cool, but it was kind of a pleasant surprise. Looking back now, the character of Clay Turlough would fit into the mold of a Steampunk mad scientist, pretty easy. I wanted a character, in Clay, who was brilliant, alienated and both creepy and tragic. When I began to build the story arc for Auggie, Gerta, Gillian and Clay, It seemed natural to tip my hat to Shelley’s Frankenstein. I decided to make Clay a fan, and it wasn’t until the first few bits of reporting talking about Six-Gun did I realize, “yeah, it does have Steampunk in it.”

The sequel to Six-Gun I’m working on now includes a continuation of Clay’s story and has even more elements that are very, um…Shelley-esque, very Steampunk.

I write what I think is cool and I go for the “neat-o” factor a lot. I try really hard to avoid being pinned in one genre; I think it’s more fun to mix and match- like when you were a kid and you’d put some of all the different sodas into your cup from the fountain at the 7-11 (we called them “suicides” and they were a rite of courage and independence- especially when you parents would look at you like you were crazy!) Sometimes it tasted great, and sometime it was swill. I’m hoping folks are enjoying the genre mash-up in The Six-Gun Tarot.

Thanks so much for your interest in my book and having me as a guest. I hope we can talk again very soon. I enjoy letters and comments and you can email me at sixguntarot@gmail.com , or reach me through my website: www.sixguntarot.com , or my facebook pages: The Six-Gun Tarot, or Author R S Belcher.

Take care,

Rod


Tor; Hardcover; 368 pages; January 22, 2013.

About The Six Gun Tarot:   Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.

About the author Rod Belcher:   He won the grand prize in the Strange New Worlds SF-writing contest. This is his first novel.

Author’s photo copyright by David Hungate at Dominion Images

Review by John: AN UNMARKED GRAVE ~ by Charles Todd

Unmarked Grave

A review written by John for (An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery ~ by Charles Todd)

John’s quick take:

A murder mystery whodunit featuring a plucky nurse-cum-detective, set in England and the battlefields of France during the First World War.

John’s description:  Bess Crawford is a frontline nurse, serving in aid stations just behind the trenches during the grim battles of the First World War. She is also the daughter of a highly respected and well-connected Army Colonel – hers is a family that is steeped in military history and traditions.

It is early in 1918 and to add to the horror of war, the Spanish influenza epidemic is sweeping through the region, leaving behind a trail of destruction and death. Bess and her colleagues, already exhausted and close to breaking point, now have to deal with a huge influx of sick and dying soldiers that have been struck down by the disease.

Then in the midst of the madness, the body of an officer is discovered among the piles of dead waiting to be buried in mass graves; but he has been neither shot nor infected by the contagion – he appears to have been murdered. But before Bess can report the murder, she too falls sick and for a long time her life hangs by a thread. When she finally recovers, she discovers that the only other witness to the murdered officer’s body has reportedly committed suicide and the officer’s wife has received official notification that he died in battle. Bess is determined to seek justice, but with no body, no other witnesses and no-one but her aware that a crime has been committed, how can she identify and find the murderer among the killing fields of the Western Front? As she sets out to solve the mystery, she soon becomes a target for the unknown killer.

John’s thoughts:  This is definitely a book for whodunit fans, which is a category I don’t normally fall into, but the unusual setting drew me to the book. My grandfathers both served in the First World War, and like many whose close relatives experienced it I am fascinated (and absolutely horrified) by the madness of this terrible war. Needless to say anything set during that period has a good chance of grabbing my attention. And it did, because Todd does a good job of capturing some of the circumstances and atmosphere and conveying what it was like for people who were caught up in the war. So far so good.

Where I struggled a bit was with the storyline and the main character – it just didn’t feel realistic or authentic. The notion of an upper-class woman serving as a nurse on the frontline, able to frequently travel to England and back, fighting off attackers and roving the Western Front trying to solve mysterious murders just didn’t ring true for me. But perhaps that is the point and that An Unmarked Grave is intended as a piece of escapism. If that is your preference and you enjoy stories about amateur sleuths trying to solve heinous crimes, then this one is for you. The setting is unusual and certainly makes for a dramatic backdrop. So personally I’d rate this book three stars; it was an entertaining book and an enjoyable read that I’m sure many fans of the murder mystery genre will rate more highly.


tlc logo1/2/2013; Trade PB; Harper Collins.

This book review is included in and part of a book tour please link to our tour host - TLC’s site via the badge.

For more information about the two authors who combine to make Charles Todd link to the authors' website and their Facebook page. You can also take a look at the book trailer if you are so inclined.

For more reviews on this particular book here's TLC’s tour schedule for An Unmarked Grave.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reviewed by John: THE KASSA GAMBIT by M.C. Planck

Kassa Gambit

A review written by John D. for  (The Kassa Gambit ~ by M. C. Planck)

John’s quick take:

A couple of paranoid loners find themselves in a web of conspiracy in this science fiction thriller.

John’s description:  It’s far into the future and humanity has spread itself wide across the universe, seeking out new worlds that can be colonized and exploited for natural resources. In all this time and space, there has been no sign that another sentient species exist. It seems that humans are all alone in the universe.

Then Prudence Falling, a space trader in charge of a freighter and a ragtag crew, alights on Kassa, a farming planet that has been brutally attacked by secret assailants and whose population has been mostly slaughtered. She is soon joined by Kyle Daspar, a policeman who has been put in charge of a military patrol vessel. The space traders live on the edge of the law and naturally distrust everyone so she is suspicious of Daspar. Unbeknown to her Daspar is an undercover agent secretly acting against the powerful League for whom he supposedly works. He has been undercover so long that he is no longer sure who he can trust. The two are attracted to each other but their suspicious minds creates a wall of tension between them. 

While trying to help the survivors on Kassa, Falling and Daspar make a shocking discovery - an alien spaceship that crashed during the attack. It is clear that they were not supposed to find the alien craft and yet Daspar had been tipped off in advance that something on the planet needed investigation. They smell big trouble and despite their natural caution soon find themselves entangled in a complex conspiracy where nothing is as it seems. With their lives in constant danger and an alien invasion seemingly imminent, the two loners are eventually drawn to each other.

John’s thoughts:  I liked the story Planck has concocted. It’s a good mixture of science fiction, political thriller, and adventure romance. The two central characters are nicely developed and you have that feeling that they will end up together despite the difficulties, which adds a bit of spice to the mix. Also the future that Planck creates is interesting and has been well thought out, and is sufficiently different from the many other sci-fi novels that I’ve read recently – which helped to draw me in and keep me reading. It’s definitely a fast-paced book that can be breezed through quickly, and the plot also has enough twists to keep the reader guessing.

I like the two main characters and found myself rooting for them, though the relationship that develops between them isn’t the strongest part of the novel - it somehow felt a bit thin and unconvincing and not particularly lifelike. The other problem for me was the ending of the story; it was rather rushed and an awful lot was crammed into the final few pages. But beyond that this was a fun and interesting read and I’d rate the book 3.5 stars. It’s a fine first novel that will move me to look out for more work by Planck. If you like your science fiction mixed up with a bit of political conspiracy and a slight romantic element,  then this is definitely one for you.


We have an interview with this debut author – M. C. Planck. It’s short-n-sweet, and intriguing.

Tor Books; 1/8/2013; 288 pages

About M. C. Planck:  After a nearly-transient childhood, Micheal hitchhiked across the country and ran out of money in Arizona. So he stayed there for thirty years, raising dogs, getting a degree in Philosophy, and founding a scientific instrument company. Having read virtually everything by the old Masters of SF&F, he decided he was ready to write. A decade later, with a little help from the Critters online critique group, he was actually ready. He was relieved to find that writing novels is easier than writing software, as a single punctuation error won't cause your audience to explode and die. When he ran out of dogs, he moved to Australia to raise his daughter with her cousins. Now he is a father, author, and immigrant. Fitzgerald was wrong. There are second acts to some American lives, even if they start in other countries.  http://mcplanck.com/   and  http://mcplanck.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 21, 2013

Giveaways: THE SIX GUN TAROT and UNTIMED ~ for the Back to the Future Hop

Six Gun TarotTwo books up for giveaway are:

  1. The Six Gun Tarot ~ has just been released by Tor.
  2. And a signed copy of ~ Untimed.


THE SIX GUN TAROT ~ by R.S. Belcher

A just released historical fantasy (with a steampunk twist) in a western setting - that I have a feeling is a “new adult” novel which means it works for both young adults and adults .

Author’s Blurb:     Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.

Tor Books; 1/22/2013; Hardcover; 368 pages.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00004]

UNTIMED ~  by Andy Gavin

This is a young adult time travel/steampunk novel with a terrific cover that is receiving great reviews from trusted resources.

Author’s Blurb:     Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously. Still, this isn’t all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there’s this girl… Yvaine… another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine’s got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history — like accidentally let the founding father be killed — they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.

http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/ Paperback, 325 pages; December 17th 2012; Mascherato.


back to the future hop

Welcome to the ~ Back to the Future: A Giveaway Hop Across Time from January 22nd to 28th!

This hop features books in the past and future. Anything dealing with time-travel to historical times including Historical Novels and Futuristic novels.

It’s hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and co-hosted by Book Haven Extraordinaire .

The rules are:

  1. Both are available for US & Canadian addresses.
  2. You must be a follower to enter these to contests.
  3. Fill out your choice(s) of the Google form(s) completely or your entry will be VOID.
  4. Please see below for ways to follow us at Layers of Thought.

Pick 1 (or more) ways to follow:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog.)
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Please fill out the Google form(s):

Now for the other 90 plus blogs linked in this giveaway extravaganza:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Dinosaur Thunder ~ by James F. David

Dinosaur Thunder

Review by John for Dinosaur Thunder ~ by James F. David

Are you interested in dinosaurs, time travel, space travel, religious cults and strange “alien” species? All mixed together with a good dose of impending apocalypse? Then this book is for you.

About: While this is the third in the “Thunder” series, it is reasonably self-contained and stands on its own. 

Eighteen years ago the prehistoric past and the present day collided creating a patchwork time-quilt. Whole cities and regions were ripped away and replaced by dense primeval jungles populated by dinosaurs; while conversely, back in the Cretaceous period many millions of years ago, parts of the primeval jungles were replaced by chunks of the twentieth century.

In the present day, man has eventually learned to live with the dinosaurs, with most of the beasts now contained safely in large nature reserves. But something is going amiss - again. New dinosaurs are suddenly appearing in the present, tunnels to the past seem to be opening up at random and a mission to the moon finds a living Tyrannosaurus Rex trapped in some sort of alternative reality or timeline. Something must be done and it’s left to Nick Paulson (director of the U.S. Office of Security Science), aided and abetted by a motley crew of mostly-accidental helpers, to figure out what is triggering these potentially cataclysmic events.

Traveling back to the Cretaceous period the crew finds embattled survivors from the twentieth century who had been cast back in time eighteen years previously, and surprisingly find a whole new species of sentient beings that are very different from humans. To their dismay they also discover that a huge asteroid is rushing toward the Earth and that impact is imminent. It being the Cretaceous period there are also dinosaurs – and lots of them.

John’s thoughts:  On the plus side there is no shortage of creative ideas and plotlines in this book, and it certainly races along at high speed making it a quick and easy read. It also mixes action and adventure with a sizeable dollop of humor, so I got quite a few chuckles out of it. All very good things for the right sort of reader.

However, it is all a bit light-weight for my preferences. In particular the two-dimensional characters have little depth and it isn’t always obvious why people are doing what they are doing.  Meanwhile there is so much action and things going on that the book doesn’t have that feeling of realism and believability that I like to see in my science fiction reads. And then there is the ending. Parts of it didn’t quite make sense for me and one conclusion to a key thread was just a tad on the silly side.

But I kept going along for the ride and mostly it was a fun ride. In the end this novel was not a big favorite and so I’d rate it 2.5 stars. But if you’re in the mood for some action-packed , escapist, “end-of-the-world-is-nigh” frolics involving dinosaurs and time travel, then this one has your name on it.


Forge Books; December 2012; Hardcover; 384 pages.

Content copyright by Shellie Nunn

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: The Shortest Way Home ~ by Juliette Fay

the shortest way home

Review by Shellie for: The Shortest Way Home ~ by Juliette Fay

Look past the cover to find a down-to-earth, mildly spiritual (Catholic), yet contemporary look into the life a commitment-phobic middle aged male nurse. When he finds himself “home” for the first time in 20 years he is forced to decide what is truly important to him. With strong threads containing mental illness and disabilities, internal and external conflicts, sweet humor and more - it’s one of my favorite “uplifting” reads of the past year.

About:   Sean is a nurse who has spent most of his adult life in areas of the planet where there are more people than resources. Places where people are grateful for what little help a medical professional can give them even if it’s only a little more time to live. Sean has chosen this hard yet satisfying life because he is running from internal demons - a fear that he has inherited a nasty form of dementia called Huntington's disease. Sean doesn’t want to know if he has the disease, refuses to be tested for it, and has “a plan” once the symptoms begin to appear.

When he receives a letter from his sister while still working in Africa, she directly states she needs him to return to take on his share of their family responsibilities. So he does, but not entirely based upon the letter. It appears the fates have conspired to bring him back home since he’s completely burned out and his back is aching so badly - so back to Boston it is.

Needless to say things are not the most functional with his family. There are A LOT of complications. His aunt (the family Matriarch) is loosing her memory, his sister deserves some of the freedom he’s enjoyed over the years (she too may have the disease) and she is resentful. But the most significant “complication” is his pre-teen nephew, who is in a precarious transitional period, and in desperate need of support. And then there’s the dog.

Thoughts:  This was a rewarding and slightly funny read with its real-life aspects that takes the tone from sweet to unsentimental. There are the shocking parts about nursing in a third world country, and dealing with the devastation of dementia, abandonment, alcohol abuse, and childhood psychological disorders. This book is a real mix of true-to-life problems with complex emotions and entanglements associated with them. But they are handled seriously and with a soft touch by the author.

The story has a mild element containing Catholicism. Appropriately so, since the main character - Sean’s da/dad - is from Ireland. And since the characters are of Irish decent there is also a fun part where several of the characters take a trip to Ireland. This may intrigue many readers and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

But I think the best part of this story are the characters. They are complex, well developed and mostly likeable; even the prickly ones, giving a literary feel to the novel. It’s being marketed as women’s fiction (look at the cover), but it’s more than that. I can say that men may enjoy this novel too if they can get beyond its cover’s femininity, and its obvious design for attracting women. Publishers have to sell books and women buy the most.

Just a few mild complaints - The Shortest Way Home is another one of those reads where there is a light romantic element which was slightly too “mushy” for me, and also several of the sex scenes left me with a misplaced guffaw (not my favorite reaction for a “romantic interlude”). However, it was an engrossing and entertaining read. I devoured it in a few days and give it a 4-star rating.


(Penguin; Oct 2012; 416 pages)

For more on the author visit Juliette Fay’s website: http://juliettefay.com/

The copy of this book was provided courtesy of FSB Associates (who are always looking for good reviewers/blogs and always have high quality reads), which in no way influences my review or rating for the book.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: The Spy Lover ~ by Kiana Davenport

spy lover

Review by John for  The Spy Lover ~ by Kiana Davenport

A fascinating, gritty and brutal story about relationships and human resilience set mainly during the American Civil War. Learn about some of the awful history behind Chinese immigration in America. And don’t be deceived by the cover – this is not a cutesy love story.

About:  Johnny Tom is a Chinese immigrant in the US during the mid-1800s, and like most Chinese is subject to the most brutal and horrendous racial discrimination. He eventually escapes slavery and runs away with a native Indian woman, living a hard but relatively peaceful life in a hideaway settlement out in the wilds. When the Civil War breaks out, the Confederate army sweeps through and forces Johnny and other men to join up.

Detested and ill-treated by the Confederates, he manages to escape and offers his services to the Union army, fervently believing in their anti-slavery cause. Unfortunately he finds his treatment at the hands of the Federals isn’t much better than he received from the Confederates, but he is tough and determined and manages to start making a name for himself thanks to his wisdom, kindness and fierce fighting abilities. Twice he is captured by the Confederate army and manages to survive stints in their abysmal prisoner-of-war camps; he also survives several battles before finding himself lined up with the Union army at Gettysburg.

Meanwhile Era, the daughter that he had with his Indian wife, had to survive her own horrors. But she eventually goes in search of her beloved father which leads to her becoming a battlefield nurse for the Confederate army, while secretly spying on behalf of the Union. She experiences the worst butchery, both as a result of the fighting and at the hands of an ill-equipped medical system that hacks away at survivors in crude attempts to save their lives. Exhausted, horrified and depressed, she forms a bond with an amputee whom she helps recuperate, eventually falling in love with the Confederate soldier. She is now tremendously conflicted – her father and her lover fight for different sides in the war, and she is forced to secretly undermine the efforts of her lover’s army in exchange for the Federals supposedly helping her to track down her father.

As the murderous war heads towards a bloody climax, so too does her increasingly fraught relationship with her lover.

John’s thoughts: This is a powerful novel. I was somewhat misled by the book’s cover which might lead you to expect romance and chivalry; but what you get is one of the most brutal accounts of war and discrimination that I have ever read. Certainly at the book’s heart are powerful, complex and loving relationships, but the backdrop and the circumstances are truly horrific – which I have to say made for a riveting read.

The three main characters in the book are all fascinating and Davenport does a great job of fleshing out their complex personalities. Johnny Tom in particular is a wonderful person who endures his awful experiences with a wisdom and purity that shines from the pages. Era and her lover are much darker and grittier characters that are nonetheless quite believable. It’s interesting and intriguing to learn that two of the three are based on actual ancestors of Davenport. Clearly she had to create and embellish the story around them, but some of the factual foundations are true.

As I got through the book I had no idea how things were going to end up - which is a good thing. I don’t want to spoil the read for anyone so I can’t say much about the ending. Personally I wasn’t quite sure that I liked the ending, as the tale went from gritty realism to something that wasn’t quite so believable. But a few days after finishing the book I’ve come to appreciate it more.

The book was educational for me on a few fronts. For example, I hadn’t realized the depths of discrimination that Chinese immigrants faced in America; and, while I was already well aware of the brutality and mass destruction of the Civil War, I hadn’t realized quite how barbaric was the medical treatment of soldiers that survived the battles.

All in all this is a very good and highly recommended read. I’d rate it 4.5 stars. Seek it out if you like historical fiction, Civil War literature, realistic war novels or really gritty love stories. In particular, if you want to learn more about some of the sad history of Chinese immigration in America, this is a good place to start.


Thomas & Mercer; August 2012; 303 pages.

For more about the author: http://kianadavenport.com/

I persuaded John to read this mentioning that I thought the cover was overly romantic and might not reflect the actual content. Also as I often do, I read the first several chapters and found them very well done. He enjoyed it immensely, so this book is a great read for men too.

BTW – Thank you to Carol on Goodreads for the five star recommendation!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Interview: M.C. Planck author of ~ The Kassa Gambit

MCPlanck

Today is release day for The Kassa Gambit. And in honor of this d├ębut book (which is so very exciting) we have an interview with its author M.C. Planck.

With its great cover, The Kassa Gambit is a 288 page science fiction novel with ecological themes. There’s more information on it below.

Let’s welcome this new author and get on with his short interview.


Congratulations on your first book M.C.. Tell us - how does it feel to be published?

It is very validating. So many professionals – my agent, my editor, TOR, my Audible narrator – expressed enthusiasm for the book, it makes all the work feel worthwhile. Hopefully the public will agree.

Why have you written science fiction and why ecologically based sci-fi in particular?Kassa Gambit

I wrote SF because my wife doesn’t like fantasy. Or more specifically, she won’t read anything that doesn’t have a spaceship in it. To be honest, all I write is SF; even my fantasy novel is really SF in disguise. To me SF is real people in an unreal world (i.e. one in which the laws of physics have changed); Fantasy is unreal people in a real world (i.e. the characters are archetypes). By that definition Star Wars is fantasy, and Game of Thrones is SF. I think the takeaway here is that I am the wrong person to answer this question.

The ecological part just seemed obvious to me.

It looks like you read A LOT before trying your hand at actually writing a novel yourself. Which of the master authors do you think were the most influential in writing - The Kassa Gambit?

Jack Vance, definitely. The whole idea of flying around from planet to planet and encountering weird societies and having adventures is his. I even borrowed his word “oikumene,” meaning the “whole of human civilization,” although I spelled it wrong (“okimune”, although it probably should be “ecumene”). In my defense, it’s a hard word to spell, since it doesn’t show up in any of my dictionaries. I also borrowed a piece of window dressing from The Moon Moth, as a bit of homage. Vance’s influence on SF&F is pervasive and yet generally unrecognized. Just look at The Demon Princes series and see how much it reminds you of Firefly and the Traveller role-playing game.

Do you have a favorite novel - science fiction or otherwise?

The books I most recommend are The Cyberiad, by Stansislaw Lem, and The Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin.

I always think the Sonoran desert would be a great setting for novels, but it really hasn’t featured much as far as I can tell. Have you used anything from your time in Arizona as a foundation for parts of your first novel?

Just Mexican food. I agree that it’s a lovely place, but I think Tony Hillerman has the lock on that part of the world.

I saw that your wife is a published author as well – what’s it like having two published authors in at your house? Do you share tips and talk shop all the time? Or is there a competitive element at play?

It’s great. We do share a lot (including an agent); I invented the spaceship engine she uses in Song of Scarabaeus (which is why it’s the same one I use in my book). Most importantly, we give each other pep talks all the time. Writing requires an inordinate amount of faith in yourself; you have to believe that someone wants to listen to you go on for hours. It helps if someone actually does.

Unfortunately we now have a third resident in our house who is not a published author. She is not interested in plot points or character arcs; all she wants to do is play dress-up. It’s quite distracting.

What is your writing project - a sequel perhaps? Or a novel with a different subject matter?

I’ve got a fantasy trilogy in the works, but my next SF is a contemporary (like Jurassic Park, etc.). It has a tricky ending, though, so I don’t know if I can land it.

If you had one significant tip for new writers trying to get published what would you tell them?

It was ten years between writing my first novel and actually getting published (with my third). If that time span scares you, don’t be a writer. Yes, some people do it in less, but then, some people win the lottery too. So… keep writing. Someone said you’re not a writer until you’ve written a million words; I didn’t get published until I’d written 500,000, so, honestly, I still have a ways to go.

Also, marry a writer who has a great agent. That really seemed to work for me.

Thank you so much M.C. Planck.


About The Kassa Gambit:   Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe.

Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren’t always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He’s been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone—even himself.

While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack.

But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity’s concerns.

Tor Books; 1/8/2013; 288 pages

About M. C. Planck:  After a nearly-transient childhood, Micheal hitchhiked across the country and ran out of money in Arizona. So he stayed there for thirty years, raising dogs, getting a degree in Philosophy, and founding a scientific instrument company. Having read virtually everything by the old Masters of SF&F, he decided he was ready to write. A decade later, with a little help from the Critters online critique group, he was actually ready. He was relieved to find that writing novels is easier than writing software, as a single punctuation error won't cause your audience to explode and die. When he ran out of dogs, he moved to Australia to raise his daughter with her cousins. Now he is a father, author, and immigrant. Fitzgerald was wrong. There are second acts to some American lives, even if they start in other countries.  http://mcplanck.com/   and  http://mcplanck.blogspot.com/


John is currently reading The Kassa Gambit and a review should be live soon.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review: Gilded ~ by Karina Cooper

guilded

Review by Shellie for: Gilded (The St. Croix Chronicles #2) ~ by Karina Cooper

Recently published December 26th.

A darkly intriguing mystery/romance and the second book in an action packed steampunk series. Including a brilliant and strong willed female lead that goes against the Victorian-like social norms of the setting, and perhaps a glimpse of a “Jack the Ripper–ish” sort of villain.

*(SPOILER ALERT) Please note if you have not read the first in this series this review does contain spoilers. Read my review for Tarnished (book #1) and pick it up first. I believe that they are still selling the ebook version for .99 cents at various online retailers. What a deal!

About:   In a realistic yet fantastical setting – a steam powered Victorian London - we have the second in this atmospheric series. The complex and strong main character, Cherry St. Croix, was once a circus waif and performer, giving her physical attributes which allow her to pursue and apprehend persons of greater strength and stature than herself. A petite red-head with striking thick hair which she covers with lampblack on her outings into the polluted city underworld, she is not of bad character. Her darkness is due to forced circumstance. She is addicted to Laudanum (a poppy -derived opiate that was popular during Victorian times) and is also what is termed a “collector” –  where she finds wanted persons or information for nefarious others for a price. It’s her way to maintain her addiction and to prevent herself from going mad due to the constrained mores for women of the times. Cherry does her best to get by in this world where women aTarnishedre not allowed to own property and are considered wards of their male family members.

In the first book of the series (Tarnished) we become familiar with Cherry, her romantic entanglements, and find out that she is the daughter of a crazy scientist and a beautiful socialite. In this second book, Cherry is in pursuit of a killer (she thinks Jack the Ripper perhaps?) who is dissecting the underworld “sweets” (prostitutes.) However, she finds that there is in fact another killer – so another mystery ensues.

Thoughts:   Karina Cooper writes in an old fashioned convoluted style in this series, which works very well for the setting. It creates text that feels authentic and Victorian-ish. I do need to mention that readers may have to consult Google when looking up some of the old fashioned English words the author uses. Even John (my UK/English dictionary/husband) had some difficulty telling me what several words meant. But this is all good. We both “learnt somefink”.

It also has another fun cover much like the first in the series. I am really glad there is not a naked guy or a lot of skin featured on it. Which brings me to mention that I liked the light and tasteful romantic involvement included in both books since there’s nothing worse than a sex scene that makes me laugh when it’s not supposed to.

What happens to Cherry as we find out more about her and her romantic interests is the best part of this story. Cooper does romance well. But most compelling is how the author sets up this book for the next in the series with it’s heart pounding, drop off the edge of your seat ending. So don’t expect closure, I am thinking the next in this series will have a “Kill Bill-ish” flavor set in steampunk Victorian times?  I can’t wait.

Recommended for readers who like strong and dark female leads, unexpected twists, a bit of a murder mystery and of course romance and steampunk. Skip this if you are looking for a solid ending, want happily ever after, or are not interested in being addicted to a series. I enjoyed this book A LOT. It’s a fun second book to hopefully a long series. 4 stars. My only regret is that I am not reading this series after the entire collection has been completed.


Avon; 384 pages; December 26, 2012; Paperback.

Official author website: www.KarinaCooper.com

Friday, January 4, 2013

Incoming Books ~ January 4, 2013

Ash

It’s our incoming books for January 4th, 2013.

Our first for the new year. We have some goodies here that we’re both excited about.


Macmillan – Tor/Forge

Ash (David Ash,  #3) ~ by James Herbert http://www.james-herbert.co.uk/

Deep in the countryside, ghost hunter David Ash is investigating a mysterious, secluded stately home. Reports from locals regarding strange goings-on make him think the house is haunted... But not even David Ash's long professional history of warding off evil spirits can prepare him for the shocking discovery that awaits.

International bestselling horror writer James Herbert weaves a terrifying narrative featuring his best-loved character, David Ash, the skeptical detective of the paranormal introduced in the UK number one bestsellers, Haunted and The Ghosts of Sleath.

Prepare to be chilled to the marrow…

Tor Books; December 2012; Hardcover; 704 pages.

earthseed

The Seed Trilogy: Earthseed; Farseed; and Seed Seeker ~ by Pamela Sargent  http://www.pamelasargent.com/

The classic YA science fiction adventure by Nebula and Locus Award–winning author Pamela Sargent

The ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core, it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them...but are they ready to leave Ship? Ship devises a test. And suddenly, instinctsFarseed that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

Earthseed (Book 1 )- Tor Teen; February 2012; Trade Paperback;  288 pages; Age Range: 13 and up.

Farseed (Book 2) - Tor Teen; 1/8/2013; Trade Paperback; 288 pages; Age Range: 13 and up.

Seed Seeker (Book 3) – still available in hardcover and soon to be released in paperback format (and I am thinking a great new cover.)

Dinosaur Thunder

Dinosaur Thunder (#3 of the Dinosaur Adventure Series) ~ by James F. David

Eighteen years ago, the prehistoric past collided with the present as time itself underwent a tremendous disruption, transporting huge swaths of the Cretaceous period into the twentieth century. Neighborhoods, towns, and cities were replaced by dense primeval jungles and modern humanity suddenly found itself sharing the world with fierce dinosaurs. In the end, desperate measures were taken to halt the disruptions and the crisis appeared to be over.  Until now.

New dinosaurs begin to appear, rampaging through cities. A secret mission to the Moon discovers a living Tyrannosaurus Rex trapped in an alternate timeline. As time begins to unravel once more, Nick Paulson, director of the Office of Security Science, finds a time passage to the Cretaceous period where humans, ripped from the comforts of the twenty-first century, are barely surviving in the past. Led by a cultlike religious leader, these survivors are at war with another sentient species descended from dinosaurs.

As the asteroid that ends the reign of dinosaurs rushes toward Earth, Nick and his allies must survive a war between species and save the future as we know it.

Dinosaur Thunder is a terrifying, futuristic thriller in the tradition of Michael Crichton and Douglas Preston.

Forge Books; December 2012; Hardcover; 384 pages.

rise of ransom city

The Rise of Ransom City (#2 of the Half Made World series) ~ by Felix Gilman http://felixgilman.com/

This is the story Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.

Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of Jasper City, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.

Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.

If you’re reading this in the future, Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end. 

Tor Books; November 2012; Hardcover; 368 pages.

Luck of the Draw

Luck of the draw Xanth (Volume 36 of 37) ~ by  Piers Anthony http://www.hipiers.com/

The second to the last of this incredible series.

Bryce is summoned to Xanth as part of a wager between the Demons Earth and Xanth. To his surprise, he has left behind his home and family and eighty-year-old body forever, in exchange for youth and magic….and a quest. He must court and marry Princess Harmony, who is anything but willing to be courted!

Luck of the Draw is Anthony’s thirty-sixth pun-filled adventure in the magical land of Xanth.

Tor Books; December 2012; Hardcover;  352 pages.  

Apex Books

dark faith invocations

Dark Faith Invocations ~ edited by Maruice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon

Religion, science, magic, love, family—everyone believes in something, and that faith pulls us through the darkness and the light.  The second coming of Dark Faith cries from the depths with 26 stories of sacrifice and redemption.

Sublet an apartment inside God's head.  Hunt giant Buddhas in a post-apocalyptic future.  Visit a city where an artist’s fantastic creations alter reality.  Discover the deep cosmic purpose behind your office vending machine.  Wield godlike powers and suffer the most heartbreaking of human limitations.
Join Max Allan Collins, Mike Resnick, Jay Lake, Jennifer Pelland, Laird Barron, Tom Piccirilli, Nisi Shawl, and a host of the genre's best writers for an exploration into the things we hold dear and the truths that shatter us.

Join Max Allan Collins, Mike Resnick, Jay Lake, Jennifer Pelland, Laird Barron, Tom Piccirilli, Nisi Shawl, and a host of the genre's best writers for an exploration into the things we hold dear and the truths that shatter us.

Trade Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-937009-07-6; 292 pages

Simon & Schuster – Various Imprints

mysterious madam morpho

The Mysterious Madam Morpho ~ Delilah S. Dawson

Taking place after Wicked as They Come, this original eBook features a mysterious lady and a reclusive mechanical genius who find love and danger in a traveling circus.

An elusive woman arrives at Criminy’s doorstep with a steamer trunk, begging for a position in the caravan to perform her unique new act. She opens her trunk to reveal a menagerie of brilliantly colored butterflies. The woman, who calls herself Madam Morpho, is on the run from a dark past in London, where she was forced to leave her equipment behind and abscond with only her tiny performers. Playing a hunch, Criminy hires Madam Morpho on the spot. Taking her down to meet Mr. Murdoch, the reclusive talented engineer who keeps the carnival’s clockworks running, Criminy instructs them to work together to design and build a groundbreaking new circus for the butterflies. Amid the magical ambiance of the circus and the hint of danger from Madam Morpho’s pursuers, she and Mr. Murdoch soon find that their scientific collaboration has produced chemistry of a more romantic kind.

Pocket Books, October 2012; eBook, 100 pages

songs of love and darkness

Songs of Love and Darkness ~ by various authors

Featuring five of the greatest authors of fantasy, romance, and science fiction, this exclusive eBook set is a chilling collection of unearthly delights and harrowing thrills.

Featuring stories by Mary Jo Putney, Carrie Vaughn, Yasmine Galenorn, M.L.N. Hanover, and Lisa Tuttle these contemporary tales of ill-fated love, originally published in the anthology Songs of Love and Death (edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) explore romance in five wildly creative settings—from the hidden supernatural side of New York City to werewolf-occupied West Texas. Available at a special low price, these stories promise to keep you up all night.

Pocket Star, October 2012; eBook, 80 pages. 

vicious circle

Vicious Circle  ~ by Linda Roberson

A continuing series with the newest out in March 2013.

Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full -- even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered...and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends -- werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6'2" leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.

Book 1 - Pocket Books, June 2009; Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages.

Hallowed CircleFatal CircleArcane CircleWicked Circle

  • Book 2 - December 2009; Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages.
  • Book 3 - June 2010; Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages.
  • Book 4 - December 2010; Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages.
  • Book 5 - December 2011; Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages.

seven locks

Seven Locks ~ by Christine Wade

The Hudson River Valley, 1769: A man mysteriously disappears without a trace, abandoning his wife and children on their farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. At first many believe that his wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away, but as the strange circumstances of his disappearance circulate, a darker story unfolds. And as the lines between myth and reality fade in the wilderness, and an American nation struggles to emerge, the lost man’s wife embarks on a desperate journey to find the means to ensure her family’s survival . . .

Atria Books, January 2013 Trade Paperback, 352 pages.

 All Standing

 All Standing ~ by Kathryn Miles

The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, the Legendary Irish Famine Ship recounts the journeys of this famous ship, her heroic crew, and the immigrants who were ferried between Ireland and North America. Spurred by a complex web of motivations—shame, familial obligation, and sometimes even greed—more than a million people attempted to flee the Irish famine. More than one hundred thousand of them would die aboard one of the five thousand aptly named “coffin ships.” But in the face of horrific losses, a small ship named the Jeanie Johnston never lost a passenger. Shipwright John Munn, community leader Nicholas Donovan, Captain James Attridge, Dr. Richard Blennerhassett, and the efforts of a remarkable crew allowed thousands of people to find safety and fortune throughout the United States and Canada.

Interwoven in their tale is the story of Nicholas Reilly, a baby boy born on the ship’s maiden voyage. The Reilly family climbed aboard the Jeanie Johnston in search of the American Dream. While they would find some version of that dream, it would not be without a struggle—one that would deposit Nicholas into a deeply controversial moment in American history. Against this backdrop, Miles weaves a thrilling, intimate narrative, chronicling the birth of a remarkable Irish-American family in the face of one of the planet’s greatest human rights atrocities.

Free Press, January 2013 Hardcover, 256 pages.

Misc. Publishers

Unmarked Grave

An Unmarked Grave ~ by Charles Todd

Even deadlier than the bloody engagements on the battle-scarred fields of France, the Spanish influenza epidemic in the spring of 1918 is bringing hundreds of new patients to World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford. But war and disease are not the only killers to strike with cold and brutal efficiency.

Concealed among the countless dead waiting for burial is the body of an officer whose end was not hastened by a German bullet or an airborne virus. This soldier was murdered, and his death touches Bess deeply, for he was a family friend who once served in her father's regiment.

Falling ill herself before she can report the heinous crime, Bess recovers too late to consult with the only other witness, who, by all official accounts, has since hanged himself. Bess refuses to let a killer escape justice, though her persistence turns an assassin's attention in her direction. Or is she already his next target?

1/2/2013;  Trade PB;  Harper Collins 1201_BookCover_15.2

The Hidden Ones (vol 1) ~ by Nancy Madore  http://www.nmadore.com/

As CEO of her own thriving company, Nadia Adeire is flush with success, but a secret society dating back to the Essenes believes her to be one of the ancient djinn—the notorious demoness of Hebrew legend, Lilith. What’s more, they have reason to believe that she’s plotting a catastrophic attack on the world.

Nadia is snatched from her ‘perfect’ life and trapped in a maze between a present day disaster and the ancient legends of the djinn. The only way out is to retrace the steps of her deceased grandmother, Helene. The deeper Nadia goes into the past, the harder it will be for her return unscathed. But it is the only way to stop the impending disaster that was set in motion five thousand years ago.

This chain of events has now reached the point where the djinn need more than just our bodies to survive. They must take back control of the earth, just as in the days when they ruled as gods.

November 1st 2012;  390 pages;  Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00004]

Untimed ~ by Andy Gavin http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/author/

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously. Still, this isn’t all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there’s this girl… Yvaine… another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine’s got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history — like accidentally let the founding father be killed — they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.

Paperback, 325 pages; Published December 17th 2012; Mascherato.

Holders Dominion

The Holder’s Dominion ~ by Genese Davis  http://genesedavis.com/

After her father’s death on a mountain rescue mission, Kaylie Ames watched her family shatter. She fled Tacoma for college in faraway Austin, figuring that even the worst campus drama would be a relief. But when her old friend Elliott turns up on his knees in the grocery store aisle, raving about something called a morphis, Kaylie feels compelled to enter Elliott’s unfamiliar world.

Guided by Elliott and his friends, Kaylie signs on to the massively popular online game Edannair. There she discovers a world of beautiful vistas and magical creatures, where people from all over the globe step into the roles of warriors on fantastical quests. But a real-world evil threatens the players: the mysterious Holder, leader of the elite team known as Sarkmarr, is coercing his followers into traumatic offline dares known as “morphis assignments.” To save her friends, Kaylie must infiltrate Sarkmarr and survive the Holder’s tests. 

Will she find the courage there to hold her real-world family together?

Paperback, 382 pages; expected publication: March 1st 2013; Beaver's Pond Press

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Giveaway: signed copy of Earthseed (Seed Trilogy #1) ~ by Pamela Sargent

earthseed

Giveaway for one signed copy for a US or Canadian address.

Earthseed ~ by Pamela Sargent

It’s a classic YA science fiction adventure by Nebula and Locus Award–winning author Pamela Sargent.

Blurb:  The ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core, it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them...but are they ready to leave Ship? Ship devises a test. And suddenly, instincts that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults selection
  • Booklist Young Adult Reviewer's Choice selection
  • NYPL Books for the Teen Age selection

Pamela Sargent has won the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and has been a finalist for the Hugo Award. She lives with writer George Zebrowski in upstate New York.  http://www.pamelasargent.com/

Tom Doherty Associates; Tor Teen; February 2012; Trade Paperback; Young Adult Fiction; Age Range: 13 and up; Grade Range: 8 and up.


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