Friday, August 29, 2014

Giveaway: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

The Midnight Queen - Sylvia Izzo Hunter

We have one copy of The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter for a US address.

For more information on the book take a look at our informative interview with Sylvia Izzo Hunter and/or you can read an excerpt for The Midnight Queen by linking on this text.

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…

Paperback | 432 Pages | 2 Sep 2014 | Ace | Adult

You can enter this giveaway by filling out the Google form below.

Interview: Sylvia Izzo Hunter author of The Midnight Queen

Sylvia Hunter credit Nicole Hilton 2013

We have debut author Sylvia Izzo Hunter here to answer a few questions I had about her alternative historical fantasy novel The Midnight Queen. It’s set in rural Brittany and Regency England and scheduled to be released September 2, 2014 by Ace/Penguin.

Let’s welcome her!

photo credit: Nicole Hilton 2013

Do you have a favorite character in THE MIDNIGHT QUEEN, and if so, why?

I like a lot of the characters, particularly the protagonists (maybe that goes without saying?), but if I had to pick one favourite I think it would be Sophie's younger sister, Joanna. Have you ever had a character refuse to leave after a walk-on role? That was Joanna, for me: I invented her as a bit of comic relief who would appear in a couple of chapters and then be left behind when the story moved on, and instead she grabbed the narrative rope with both hands and hung on, making herself integral to the rest of the book. What I like about Joanna (besides her persistence) is that she's clever, bolshy, and, if she likes you, doesn't care whether you're a princess or a housemaid. Well, actually, thinking about it, she doesn't care about that if she doesn't like you, either ;)

What prompted you to write a novel about rural Brittany and an alternative Regency England?

That is absolutely not what I intended to do when I started! When I first thought up Gray and Sophie, I actually thought they might be Edwardian or perhaps Victorian, and definitely English. As it turned out, things were more complicated than that. First, of course, the magic showed up (as it tends to do in my writing), and then the language started to drift Austen-wards and, strangely, the story started to come together and the writing got easier.

I put the Professor's estate in Breizh (Brittany) because it needed to be far enough away from Oxford that Gray couldn't believably just walk away, and because it allowed me to do some interesting narrative things that I can't tell you about because spoilers! Also, because it is a drop-dead gorgeous place and I felt like Sophie would love it the way I love the Rocky Mountains back in Alberta, where I grew up.

The Midnight Queen - Sylvia Izzo Hunter

The world building in THE MIDNIGHT QUEEN sounds complex. Tell us a bit more about it.

So once I realized that this world was going to have magic in it -- not magic hidden away and practised in secret, but magic as an everyday part of life -- I tried to reconcile the practice of magic with what I knew about the history of the Church of England, and it just didn't work. At the same time there was an idea floating around in my head, something I'd been thinking about since I read James Carroll's Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews: what would religion in Europe have looked like, fifteen hundred years on, if the Emperor Constantine hadn't converted the Roman Empire to Christianity? It seemed to me that the cultural and religious practices of pre-Christian Europe left a lot more scope for the socially acceptable practice of magic.

Part of the connection with Regency England is actually aesthetic: that period was into Classical aesthetics (think about the artfully tousled "Brutus" hairstyle for men, and the flowy, curve-hugging gowns and Grecian up-dos for women, as well as Greco-Roman influences in architecture and interior decoration), and I thought, well, what if that's because Roman culture and religion have never stopped being influential? I picture the conquering Romans caring a lot about territory and tax revenues, but not really concerning themselves much whether the conquered peoples worshipped their own gods or Roman ones, or what languages they spoke, provided they kept the Pax Romana. Some people would have assimilated -- in both directions -- and others, not so much. So the Kingdom of Britain is polytheistic and also polyglot, and choices with respect to worship and language can be markers of class, education and other affiliations.

I changed some specific historical events: Henry V didn't die of dysentery after expanding his territory into France; Henry VIII divorced his first wife but didn't have to cause a religious schism to do it (although the decision did have serious political ramifications); and neither of his daughters (in this world, their names are Julia and Edith Augusta) ever held the throne. I took the agglomeration of France out of the equation, as well as the union of England and Scotland.

The absence of the 1200-pound gorilla of the Established Church, together with the existence of magic, changes a lot of cultural assumptions. One big thing is that divorce is a much less big deal; another is that there's more comfort with talking about sex and a horror of violating the customs of hospitality. Another effect of taking Christianity out of the equation, which seems minor but required quite a lot of thought, was that I had to look farther afield for personal names (can't call anyone John, Elizabeth, Mary or Anne!) and research toponyms for places currently named after saints or churches.

And also, I'm not going to lie, I just made a lot of stuff up.

Which books do you go back to re-read over and over, and why?

OK, there are a lot of these (I'm a re-reader by temperament), but here are four (technically five):

Jane Austen, Persuasion. Anne Elliott is older and more thoughtful than most Austen heroines; she's clever, competent, patient and kind, and

Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls. Ista dy Chalion is everything heroines in fantasy novels usually aren't: forty, not particularly beautiful, cantankerous, a widow. Oh, and her family thinks she's mad and keeps her under guard for her own safety. But, whoops! The gods have plans for Ista, which ultimately involve kicking arse and taking names.

Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog. This book has everything: time travel, cats and dogs, comedy, jumble sales, awful Victorian art, rowing on the Thames, mistaken identities, and true love.

Lois McMaster Bujold, Komarr and A Civil Campaign (which I think is really one story spread over two books). I am a late but fervent arrival to the Vorkosigan fandom, and although I like the younger Miles a lot, the arc from Memory through Winterfair Gifts, which brings together all the threads from the earlier books and shows us Miles as an adult dealing with the consequences of his choices, I find profoundly moving. (Also, A Civil Campaign is incredibly funny.) I've also read Captain Vorpatril's Alliance at least six times.

And now for something a bit off-the-wall – do you have a secret talent (that you can share)?

I'm a bit prone to over-sharing, so I'm not sure I have any talents that are really secret. But here's one not too many people probably know about: I am really good at Plants vs Zombies.

What's your next project? Just a little tease would be wonderful.

Well, my very next thing is books 2 and 3 of Noctis Magicae. Book 2 will take us to a neighbouring kingdom, and gives Joanna a bigger role. Because she wanted one, and I apparently can't say no to Joanna.

Then at some point I will get back to my currently back-burnered tale of secret sorcery in Toronto...

Sylvia Izzo Hunter was born in Calgary, Alberta, but now lives in Toronto with her husband, daughter, and their slightly out-of-control collections of books, comics, and DVDs. Links for more information about her and to follow on twitter

About The Midnight Queen: Gray Marshall and his friends from Oxford’s Merlin College, a school for magic theory and practice, went out into town around midnight when carelessness and drunk townspeople struck, resulting in a dead student. Suspended from the College that summer, Gray is under the watchful eye of the domineering Professor Callender. Until one afternoon, while working in the professor’s garden, he meets his daughter.

Sophie Callender wants nothing more than to be educated in magic, even if being a female student is unheard of in the community. But secretly, against her father and society’s wishes, she has spent countless lonely hours studying the ancient volumes on the subject.

Now, with the arrival of the lanky, tall, and yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who can encourage her interest and awaken new ideas and feelings. Between them, they forge a beautiful and touching relationship that sets off a series of events that begin to unravel secrets about one another.

Paperback | 432  Pages | 2 Sep 2014 | Ace | Adult

We also have a giveaway for her book The Midnight Queen for one US address.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Alias Hook - Lisa Jensen

Review by Shellie for Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen.

Shellie’s quick take:   Geared for an adult reader, this is a fun and entertaining imagining of the life and times of Captain Hook before and after his ill-fated story with Peter Pan. And it has romance.

Shellie’s description:   Captain James Benjamin Hook has survived the attack from the mythical crocodile that purportedly ended his life, but he is consequently trapped in Neverland - a purgatory with endless battles against the boys of Neverland which serves as entertainment for the “Pan”.

But things aren’t as simple as they seem. Hook is not really the evil bad guy that the stories about Peter Pan have led readers to believe. He has a complicated past which has helped him to be caught in Neverland. And Peter Pan is not the sweet child that we all have learned to love. In this story Lisa Jensen writes from the debonair and educated perspective of the persecuted Hook.

Shellie’s thoughts:   This was such a fun read. The best part was the excellent voice of Hook. Written in first person and spoken with an affluent old fashioned British accent (Jensen does a fabulous job with this as well as with the more working class accents of the pirates too), we get to hear the other side of his in-depth story.

And it feels authentic, like one is reading historical fiction although set in a make-believe setting which is a combination of realistic and fantastical. The book also has a map of Neverland which further adds to the book’s appeal and understanding of the story line.

In addition to the fantastical setting the reader gets romance, drama, violence, fairies, mermaids, Indians and the Lost Boys, all combined with realistic and fairytale elements. I like this so I would categorize the book as historical fantasy. We find out about how Captain Hook lost his hand, his hedonistic experiences during the late 1600s and early 1700s, why he is actually a protagonist that we should be rooting for – all with romance, drama, and violence; elements that help to create an intriguing story.

This is recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction and who love pirates, since you will get what feels like a realistic version of them. It doesn’t hurt that Lisa Jensen has historical knowledge and has written previously about the subject – and you can certainly tell that she is a veteran writer. It is highly recommended at 4 stars. A fabulous re-telling of Peter Pan, it eloquently captures a blend of historical fiction and fantasy.

Thomas Dunne Books/Macmillan | 7/8/2014 | Hardcover | 368 pages

We also have an excellent guest post from Lisa Jensen where she features some other misunderstood villains that I recommend reading - Top 5 (Redeemable) Villains.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Giveaway: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Magic by Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - Emily Croy Barker

Giveaway for The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. We have one copy for a US address in honor or its paperback release.

THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC is the richly imagined story of what one young woman must do to survive in a fairy tale gone wrong. Emily Croy Barker’s debut novel follows a clever, authentic protagonist down the rabbit hole, enchanting readers with a brilliantly cinematic alternate world.

Nora Fischer is a bluestocking-ish grad student with a stalled thesis, unsure future, and a broken heart. At a boring wedding reception, she finds herself in a beautiful garden near a tiny cemetery—and suddenly in a different, bizarre sort of world. Here she takes up with a group of glamorous new friends who throw incredible parties with the likes of Oscar Wilde. If things sometimes seem a little off-kilter, Nora’s having too good a time to notice, especially since her romance with the gorgeous Raclin is heating up.

When her head finally clears, Nora is shocked to find herself in a magical world where men rule with swords or spells and most women are illiterate chattel. Surviving here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a murderous past. And it will take Nora becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. While waiting for a passage to her own world to open, Nora must weigh the chance to resume what she still considers her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

With echoes of everything wonderful from Grimm’s fairytales to Harry Potter to Pride and Prejudice THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MAGIC is sure to appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke, Neil Gaiman and Lev Grossman.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Croy Barker has spent more than twenty years as a journalist, after starting out as an editorial assistant at Viking. Barker had great fun turning her writing skills to fiction to produce her first novel. A graduate of Harvard University, she is currently the executive editor at The American Lawyer magazine, where she oversees international coverage. She lives in New Jersey.

Paperback | 576  Pages | Jul 2014 | Penguin Books | Adult

Here’s a fun cocktail recipe from THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC:

Ilissa's Moonlight

She poured herself a drink, ice cubes chiming in her glass, and took a long swallow. Some sort of punch. She couldn’t quite describe the flavor. Draining her glass, she poured another... “Do you like it?” the woman asked. “A friend of mine gave me the recipe.”

“It’s delicious,” Nora said politely. “What’s in it?”

“Blood oranges, hibiscus nectar, moonlight!” she said, laughing again.

Not quite sure what the joke was, Nora smiled anyway.

  • 1 part Campari
  • 2 parts blood orange juice
  • 2 parts seltzer

TIPS: Don’t have blood orange juice? Try grapefruit juice instead. Too bitter? Replace the 2 parts seltzer with 2 parts ginger ale.

NORA - Nora Fischer, lately a graduate student in English literature, more recently a fairy princess, still more recently a cook in Aruendiel’s castle and his pupil in magic.

LISSA - Not exactly the beneficent heiress/fashion designer/impresario that Nora first takes her for. Queen of the Faitoren. Aruendiel’s ex.

Fill out the Google form to enter this contest. For US addresses but no PO boxes – please.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Incoming Books: August 13, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

We have our Incoming Books feature for August 13, 2014. Below are the paper and ebook copies that we’ve received since mid July.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

A groundbreaking work as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out.

William Morrow Paperbacks | 06/03/2014 | Paperback | Pages: 208

Shadows - EC Blake

Shadows (Masks of Aygrima #2) by E. C. Blake

In Masks, Mara Holdfast’s life changed forever. As the daughter of the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker, she had a clearly defined future: a quiet, ordered life in the capital, making Masks with her father and doing work important to the ruling Autarch. But when her Mask, specially made by her own father, cracked and fell to pieces during her Masking ceremony, Mara was exiled from everything she once knew.

Now she has become part of an underground rebellion, rejecting the unjust rules of a Masked society. She must try to understand her unprecedented ability to use all types of magic—and to tear magic from the living bodies of those around her. But Mara has yet to discover just how horrifying her power can be….

Hardcover | 304  Pages | 5 Aug 2014 | DAW

TOMORROW AND TOMORROW - Thomas Sweterlitsch

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch

Yesterday Can’t Last Forever…

A decade has passed since the city of Pittsburgh was reduced to ash.

While the rest of the world has moved on, losing itself in the noise of a media-glutted future, survivor John Dominic Blaxton remains obsessed with the past. Grieving for his wife and unborn child who perished in the blast, Dominic relives his lost life by immersing in the Archive—a fully interactive digital reconstruction of Pittsburgh, accessible to anyone who wants to visit the places they remember and the people they loved.

Dominic investigates deaths recorded in the Archive to help close cases long since grown cold, but when he discovers glitches in the code surrounding a crime scene—the body of a beautiful woman abandoned in a muddy park that he’s convinced someone tried to delete from the Archive—his cycle of grief is shattered.

With nothing left to lose, Dominic tracks the murder through a web of deceit that takes him from the darkest corners of the Archive to the ruins of the city itself, leading him into the heart of a nightmare more horrific than anything he could have imagined.

Hardcover | 352 Pages | 10 Jul 2014 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Free Agent - JC Nelson

Free Agent by J. C. Nelson

When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

Mass Market Paperback | 304  Pages | 29 Jul 2014 | Ace

Dust and Light - Carol Berg

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption….

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

Paperback | 464  Pages | 5 Aug 2014 | NAL

The Apex Book of World SF 3 - edited Lavie Tidhar

The Apex Book of World SF 3 edited by Lavie Tidhar

These stories run the gamut from science fiction, to fantasy, to horror. Some are translations (from German, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Swedish), and some were written in English. The authors herein come from Asia and Europe, Africa and Latin America. Their stories are all wondrous and wonderful, and showcase the vitality and diversity that can be found in the field. They are a conversation, by voices that should be heart. And once again, editor Lavie Tidhar and Apex Publications are tremendously grateful for the opportunity to bring them to our readers.

Paperback | 282 pages | Apex Book Company | June 29, 2014

Ringworld - Larry Niven

Ringworld (The Graphic Novel – Part 1) by Larry Niven

A modern science fiction classic, Larry Niven's Ringworld won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel in 1970. Now this SF classic is adapted into a thrilling manga adventure

In Ringworld, two-hundred-year-old human Louis Wu is recruited by a two-headed alien named Nessus to join him, a catlike warrior alien named Speaker, and the infinitely lucky human Teela Brown to explore an alien artifact.

They find a Ringworld, a ribbon millions of miles long built around a distant sun. The civilization has fallen into savagery, though, and after crashing into the Ringworld, Louis must come up with a clever plan to get back to known space, hundreds of light years away.

Tor/Forge | July 2014 | Trade Paperback |  272 pages

Assail - Ian C. Esselmont

Assail by Ian C. Esslemont

This followup to Ian C. Esslemont's Blood and Bone is sure to delight Malazan fans.

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region's north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor's tavern, and now countless adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches. All these adventurers have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait -- hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures. But all accounts concur that the people of the north meet all trespassers with the sword. And beyond are rumoured to lurk Elder monsters out of history's very beginnings.

Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract, but by the promise of answers: answers to mysteries that Shimmer, second in command, wonders should even be sought. Arriving also, part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune-hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. And with him is a Tiste Andii who was found washed ashore and cannot remember his past life, yet who commands far more power than he really should. Also venturing north is said to be a mighty champion, a man who once fought for the Malazans, the bearer of a sword that slays gods: Whiteblade. 

And lastly, far to the south, a woman guards the shore awaiting both her allies and her enemies. Silverfox, newly incarnated Summoner of the undying army of the T'lan Imass, will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond.

Tor/Forge | August 2014 | Trade Paperback | 544 pages

A Plunder of Souls - DB Jackson

A Plunder of Souls by D.B. Jackson

Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villains and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.

A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille’s minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related...but how?

When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster’s terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave. Let the battle for souls begin in Plunder of Souls, the third, stand-alone novel in Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.

Tor/Forge | July 2014 | Hardcover | 336 pages

Wolfsbane - Gillian Philip

Wolfsbane by Gillian Philip

It’s tough being the foretold savior of your race. Rory MacGregor, kept a virtual prisoner in his own father’s dun and hunted by the Sithe queen, needs a break now and then—and what better fun than tearing the Veil no one else can tear and escaping to the Otherworld?

In that dangerous Otherworld, Hannah Falconer is as trapped by circumstance as the strange wild Sithe boy whose horse nearly kills her. When Rory tricks her into crossing the Veil and entering his world, she’s sure it can’t be any worse than her usual home life.

Meanwhile, Seth MacGregor is fighting to keep his clan safe from the malevolent queen Kate. When an attack comes after years of stalemate, he is shocked to discover who is leading it...and who else is conspiring against him.

Wolfsbane, the third novel in Gillian Philip’s Rebel Angels series is enthralling and suspenseful, with a range of characters appealing to every age.

Tor/Forge | June 2014 | Hardcover |  432 pages

Black Ice - Susan Krinard

Black Ice (Midgard #2) by Susan Krinard

New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard continues the thrilling urban fantasy series that began with Mist in Black Ice.

Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie known as Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought.

The trickster god Loki has reappeared in San Francisco, and he has big plans for modern-day Earth. With few allies and fewer resources—but the eyes of the gods and goddesses of an old world upon her—it’s up to Mist to stop him before history repeats itself.

Tor/Forge | August 2014 | Trade Paperback | 384 pages

Bound by Night - Larissa Ione

Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

Larissa Ione’s bestselling Demonica series has captivated fans with its sensual blend of dark passion and demonic fury. Now she takes you to another intoxicating world—where a dangerous clan of wild vampires rules the night . . .


Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories—along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most . . .


A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation—a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch . . . or bury him forever.

Pocket Books | Mass Market Paperback | 400 pages | September 2013

A Fickle Wind - Elizabeth Bourne

A Fickle Wind by Elizabeth Bourne

A rags to riches story, chronicled initially through the eyes of a child born into war-torn Britain who refused to accept that the lackluster life she knew would be all she possibly could expect. The escape route was via Canada, where the impossible seemed possible and her hopes were nourished and thrived. These were the transitional years, so different from England into which she had been born, and preparing her for what was to come-a life well lived, in the miracle called America.

A page-turning journey with strong characters strewn with joy, sorrow, laughter and tears; a first novel that is compelling to the last sentence. Inspirational: when you don’t know where to turn and difficult challenges are blown in by a fickle wind, hold on for dear life and you will weather the storm. You will awaken one morning to an azure, cloudless sky, and a zephyr will gently stir the leaves and open your heart to a new beginning.

Paperback | 264 pages | March 3, 2014 | Fickle Wind

No Time to Die - Kira Peikoff

No Time to Die by Kira Peikoff

In a Washington, D.C. research lab, a brilliant scientist is attacked by his own test subjects. At Columbia University, a talented biochemist is lured out of her apartment and never seen again. In the Justice Department's new Bioethics Committee, agent Les Mahler sees a sinister pattern emerging. . .

Zoe Kincaid is a petite college student whose rare genetic makeup may hold the key to a powerful medical breakthrough. When she is kidnapped, the very thing mankind has wanted since the dawn of time threatens to unleash our final destruction.

Paperback | 448 pages | August 26, 2014 | Pinnacle | first published January 1, 2014

Flight of the Sparrow - Amy Belding Brown

Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown

She suspects that she has changed too much to ever fit easily into English society again. The wilderness has now become her home. She can interpret the cries of birds. She has seen vistas that have stolen away her breath. She has learned to live in a new, free way....

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson is captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the on-going bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.

Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meaning of freedom, faith, and acceptance.

Paperback | 368 pages | July 1, 2014 | NAL Trade


The Jones Men by Vern E. Smith


To become the King, you have to take the crown. It won't be given up lightly. Heroin kingpin, Willis McDaniel, has been wearing that particular piece of jewelry for far too long, and youngblood, Lennie Jack, thinks it would look really good on his head. When a junkie tells Jack about a big delivery, the young Vietnam vet makes his move. Feeling his empire crumble, McDaniel puts the word out to find whoever's responsible. The hunt is on, the battle is engaged, and the streets of Detroit run red with blood.

In 1974 Vern E. Smith took the crime fiction world by storm with his debut novel, The Jones Men. Heralded as "a large accomplishment in the art of fiction" by the New York Times, The Jones Men went on to be nominated for an Edgar Award and became a New York Times Notable Book. The art of crime fiction has never been the same since.

Rosarium Publishing | May 2014 | Pages: 264 | Ebook

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Trip: Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth, North Yorkshire, England


A Visit to the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England.

In March of this year on one of our trips to England, we visited the Bronte Parsonage Museum located in the little village of Haworth, in the North Yorkshire Moors. I am finally sharing them with you in hopes that you will enjoy a vicarious trip to the UK. I also hope that since the pictures are cool in nature, perhaps they will be soothing for the hotter days of our Northern hemisphere’s summer that many of us are experiencing.

Some of you may be aware that John (my husband) is from North Yorkshire, England. Because of this we try and visit as much as we can to see our large family there. But it generally works out to once a year, or twice if we are lucky. As a rule, on our visits we try to go some places other than Skipton (the ancient market town where John’s family lives, and where we stay), since we enjoy seeing the sights even though I’ve traveled with John there many times over the years and he lived there for many years. Haworth, which is located near Skipton, is a tiny old town. You can get a feel for it from the handful of pictures that John took on our trip which I’ve added to the post. 

Another reason we visited the museum is that I absolutely loved two of the Bronte sisters’ books – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I designated the books a 5 and 4.5 star rating - respectively. Below you can link to my reviews for the books. Each review post contains some additional information on England and pictures of the North Yorkshire Dales – just in case you’re interested.

Wuthering Heights - Emily BronteJane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

We find it interesting that I absolutely loved these two books since the authors only lived approximately 12 miles (albeit 150 years earlier) from where John grew up and lived for many years.

Now for some picture descriptions. The very top photo was taken in the main part of the village after we had eaten some “dinner” (as the Brits call it and what the US terms as lunch), where we decided on traditional English fare to keep in the theme of our visit. We had “pie and peas” with gravy and a hot pot of tea. I liked the top picture for the post because it has that old fashioned iconic red telephone booth that is still used in some remote areas of England as well as the classic signpost which labels the directions to the Parsonage.

As you can see, since it was March the deciduous plants and trees were just beginning to bloom with their small budding leaves, but mostly the trees were bare. There is also the typical chill in the air from the mist on the moors that enveloped the village. It definitely was a damp and cold day. I had several layers on as well as a scarf, gloves, and a wool sweater-coat. You don’t realize how very cold it is until you step out of a warm buildings or heated car into the drippy air.


To the left you can see me standing in the front garden to the Parsonage where the Brontes lived and created their famous novels. We were able to tour inside with its very small rooms that were decorated with period furniture which included a few old fashioned possessions from the inhabitants.

Below you can see the graveyard that is located over the household’s garden wall. Isn’t the mist around all of the headstones very atmospheric? If you have read any of the Brontes’ work you will recognize some of the descriptions by the authors - including the weather.


Inside the graveyard are the actual Bronte graves. John took a picture of the plaque showing where each grave is located, which helps tourists find them, as well as more misty pictures from the cemetery.


And below you can see the other features of the town like the walkways, church and houses that are common in the villages in the hilly, green, sheep-dotted and stone-walled countryside.




Also, of course, there’s a picture of me - sitting on a stone bench with primroses decorating the side walk. It is quintessential North Yorkshire.

If you ever have a chance to visit England and love the writing of the Brontes, we strongly recommend visiting the Bronte Parsonage Museum. For more information and to get small glimpses of inside the lovely parsonage, visit the Museum’s website:

Also for more posts that contain information about our travels around England here on Layers of Thought link on the tag listing below:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Giveaway: The Jones Men by Vern E. Smith


We have a Rafflecopter giveaway for The Jones Men, by Vern E. Smith. It’s a giveaway that’s part of a tour hosted by Partners In Crime Tours.

Originally published in 1974, The Jones Men is an Edgar Award nominated crime novel, and this is the 40th anniversary edition for the book.

Here’s the book’s description:


To become the King, you have to take the crown. It won't be given up lightly. Heroin kingpin, Willis McDaniel, has been wearing that particular piece of jewelry for far too long, and youngblood, Lennie Jack, thinks it would look really good on his head. When a junkie tells Jack about a big delivery, the young Vietnam vet makes his move. Feeling his empire crumble, McDaniel puts the word out to find whoever's responsible. The hunt is on, the battle is engaged, and the streets of Detroit run red with blood.

In 1974 Vern E. Smith took the crime fiction world by storm with his debut novel, The Jones Men. Heralded as "a large accomplishment in the art of fiction" by the New York Times, The Jones Men went on to be nominated for an Edgar Award and became a New York Times Notable Book. The art of crime fiction has never been the same since.

Rosarium Publishing | May 2014 | Pages: 264

Vern Smith

About Vern Smith:  A native of Natchez, Miss., Smith is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Long Beach, Calif. Independent Press-Telegram.

From 1979 until 2002, Smith served as the Atlanta Bureau Chief and as a national correspondent for Newsweek.

Vern Smith's work as a journalist, author and screenwriter spans four decades.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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