Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A New Review to Check Out at Parajunkee!

I'm always grateful for reviews of Royal Street, but especially when they come from folks in Louisiana, specifically New Orleans. It was very important to me that I get the Katrina experience right.

So a special thanks to Parajunkee for an awesome review today. She went through it. She knows. Stop by and show some love if you get a chance!

Q&A with James Jaros (& W*n #Dystopian CARRY THE FLAME)


Ready for a good dystopia? (I always am.) One of my favorite dystopian novels last year was the first in a new series by author James Jaros called Burn Down the Sky. It was dark, at times brutal, and definitely not a happy little read--but it also was riveting, with deep, complex characters I came to care about. I also learned that James Jaros is actually thriller author Mark Nykanen, a four-time Emmy-winning investigative reporter. So he knows a bit about the world we live in, and can write authoritatively about people and their motives. You can learn more about him at his website.

I'm thrilled to welcome James Jaros to Preternatura today to run the Q&A gauntlet and talk about the new book in the series, Carry the Flame, which comes out today! I just got my copy and can't wait to dig into it. Want to win a copy of your own? Read on...


ABOUT CARRY THE FLAME:  Tomorrow's world is a wasteland, decimated by vengeful nature and disease . . .And those who rule the ruins worship a cruel and terrible god....
     Having survived the terror of the Alliance and the single-minded fanaticism of its hideous religion, a caravan of survivors moves quickly into the Great American Desert, the wastes of what once was America's heartland. With her daughters at her side—recently rescued Ananda and her daring older sister, Bliss—Jessie hopes to find sanctuary in the Arctic, now rumored to be temperate. But their enemies are powerful and relentless, and will not rest until they possess the caravan's most precious treasures: their prepubescent female children, a stolen tanker filled with fuel . . . and a pair of frightened twins, whom the Army of God calls "demon." But the danger in pursuit pales before the horror that lies ahead when Jessie, the marauder-turned-ally Burned Fingers, and the innocents in their care face the savagery, the madness, and the monsters that dwell in the terrifying City of Shade.

Now, welcome James!

Give us the “elevator pitch” for Carry the Flame. A small band of people who have survived the collapse of Earth’s climate in the latter part of this century struggle to cross the Great American Desert, the wastes of what once was America’s heartland. They’d like to make it to the Arctic, now rumored to be temperate, but face powerful religious opponents who want their female children, fuel, and a pair of unusual twins that the fanatics call “demon.” They also have to survive the City of Shade, a mad, monstrous enclave ruled by a complicated man.

What is your favorite scene in the book? I would love to have a direct answer to this question, but I don’t. Carry the Flame is a 130,000 word novel with dozens of characters, plots and subplots, and so many scenes that I can’t even estimate their number. I rewrite obsessively, and don’t stop rewriting until I feel that I have a scene wired. If I can branch off from the question slightly, I always love it when I’m surprised by the emergence of a major character, someone I didn’t anticipate taking on a big role. That certainly happens with Cassie, who’s quite young and her “take” on events in the book forms a striking contrast to the views of the adult characters. I was also immensely happy to discover the world that Cassie enters later in the novel. I don’t work from a synopsis or outline, so I was as surprised as anyone when the realm in question appeared.

Hardest scene you’ve ever written: That’s easy: any scene of child abuse. I’ve always tried to handle them elliptically, and believe that I have, but what I’m brush stroking for readers is sometimes a movie for me. At NBC News, I worked undercover extensively to reveal the underworld of child sexual abuse. This was back in the ‘80s when I wrote and reported the Emmy-winning documentary, The Silent Shame. I left network news not long after finishing work on a series about sexual tourism that targeted children. That’s the point I started writing fiction. My first published novel, Hush, was largely about the subject of child sexual abuse. Since then I’ve written a lot of child characters in my books, mostly girls, and really enjoyed how they’ve informed my work. And let me hasten to add, there’s been very little depiction of the abuse of those girls.

What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile? Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, No More Dying Then by Ruth Rendell. I’m currently reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. So far, I’d have to say that it’s stunning.

Favorite book when you were a child: Probably Treasure Island. I also recall a biography of Audubon that I believe has had an enduring influence.

Your five favorite authors: Tough one. Different periods, different authors. I’ve loved Joyce Carol Oates, Ralph Ellison, Normal Mailer, Cormack McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, and Alice Munro.

Book you've faked reading: I’m guessing I must have faked reading a book, but I can’t think of one. But I must have at some point at some party or gathering suggested in some way that I’d read a book that I hadn’t. I think it’s really tacky to do that, btw. I try to live honestly.

Book you're an evangelist for: Of late, The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. My father-in-law passed it along to me. I loved it and passed it along to my wife. Now I’ve loaned it to another female friend. The trade paper edition has pages of enviable blurbs, and guess what? The book deserves them.
     At other times I’ve pushed other books, including T.C. Boyle’s Tortilla Curtain and Drop City. I’ve always let my daughter read whatever she wants, but I have to say that when she started reading Drop City at age ten, I had to brace myself for the questions that I knew would follow. Sure enough, she looked up after a few pages and asked, “What’s an orgy, Dad?” She lost interest after about 150 pages. Kids self-censor with books very easily, I’ve found. Not so with films, which is why I’ve exerted considerably more control over what she may see on a screen.

Book you've bought for the cover: I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book simply for the cover, which is not to say that covers haven’t influenced a purchase. But I don’t impulse-buy books; I’m always reading the opening pages. Since becoming an ebook reader, I don’t even think about covers because I’ve yet to buy an ebook that I haven’t first sampled at length.

Book that changed your life: Books—plural—have changed my life, but no single book has turned that trick for me. A book that influenced me greatly as an author was A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. After reading it, I felt my characters come more alive in the realm of senses. That was an important step for me.

Book you most want to read again for the first time: Maybe Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison. I’m sure I’ll reread The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was terrific. And definitely Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

Most horrifying moment while reading a book: A prison rape scene in The Shrine at Altamira by John L’Heureux. I found most of that novel harrowing. I read it in a single session.

Favorite book about books or writing: If You Want to Write: a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland. It was first published in 1938. I highly recommend it. It’s the only book about writing that I’ve read. I quit while I was ahead.

What’s next? 
I’m writing a novel set in the near future when Earth hits a critical climate tipping point.

Thank you, James!

So...want to win Carry the Flame? (Yes, you really do!) Leave a comment to enter. You know the drill--extra entries for blog follow, Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and Tweeting the contest. Now...fly!

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Releases July 30-Aug. 4 & Reader's Choice C*ntest


Remember last week's mega list? Well, I'm repeating it with a few new additions. There were so many good releases coming out tomorrow, why not try it again? 

Now…Reader’s Choice! As always, leave a comment telling me the book here you’d most like to win, and maybe random.org will make your wishes come true. International? Of course!

Now, here we go….


Demon Hunting in the Deep South, by Lexi George (July 31, Kensington)
Evie Douglass doesn't know what's worse--the demons secretly infesting her small Alabama hometown. . .or human belle-from-hell Meredith Starr Peterson, who's made her life miserable since high school. But when the "Death Starr" is brutally murdered and Evie is the number-one suspect, she's suddenly besieged by the evil-not-dead-enough and Meredith's furious specter. The only way she can clear her name is to get out from under demon hunter Ansgar's grim protection. He's blond, breathtaking, and the most lethal of all his kin, but after years of teasing, Evie is wary of anyone who swears her plus-size self is beautiful. However, having Ansgar all over her is sparking outrageous powers Evie didn't know she had. And she'll face any ultimate evil to keep this sexy slayer in this dimension and in her bed for all eternity. . .

Night Forbidden (Envy Chronicles, Book 5), by Joss Ware (July 31, Avon)
The world is ash, destroyed, and now controlled by Strangers. Survivors live in constant peril. But in the heart of Envy, resistance grows. Somehow Bruno “Fence” Washington survived the apocalypse—emerging from a Sedona cave into a strange and terrible new world fifty years later. Now, scouring the ruined earth for answers about the malevolent Strangers, the former extreme sportsman encounters Ana, an Amazonian beauty who grew up in the ocean. Together they face a new evil rising up from the roiling waters to blanket the world in unending night.

The Lady is a Vamp (Argeneau, Book 17), by Lynsay Sands (July 31, Avon)
When Jeanne Louise Argeneau left work, she never thought she’d end up tied down by a good-looking mortal. More attracted than annoyed, she quickly realizes there is more to her abductor than meets the eye. Paul Jones has need of a vampire and only Jeanne Louise will do. He just has to convince this beauty of a vampire to help him.

When Temptation Burns (Shadow Keepers, Book 6), by J.K. Beck (July 31, Bantam)
FBI agent Alexis Martin knows that vampires exist because one of them killed her sister. Assigned to investigate a series of bizarre homicides in Los Angeles, Alexis believes the murders are the work of rogue vampires—perhaps even the monster responsible for her sister’s death. Now she finally has a chance for retribution. Even better, Alexis receives unexpected help from a sexy stranger as hungry for rogue blood as she is. Serge is a centuries-old bad boy who stays off the grid—keeping his secrets, his hunger, and his heart safe from exposure. A new breed of vampire that feeds off other shadowers, Serge finds sweet torture in Alexis’s arms.

Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death, by Jason Henderson (July 24, HarperTeen)
Within months of discovering he’s next in a long line of vampire hunters, Alex Van Helsing has already defeated two powerful vampire leaders. Not bad for a fourteen-year-old. But when a newly risen vampire queen threatens the fate of the world, Alex faces his deadliest challenge yet. Teaming up with a motorcycle-riding witch, Alex jets between Switzerland, the UK, and Spain in a frantic race to prevent the queen from unleashing a curse that will plunge the world into darkness. Young adult.

Endlessly (Paranormalcy, Book 3), by Kiersten White (July 24, HarperTeen)
Try as she might, Evie can’t seem to escape her not-so-normal past. And what was supposed to be a blissfully normal school break is ruined when a massive group of paranormals shows up at her house, claiming that Evie is the only one who can protect them from a mysterious, perilous fate. The deadly war between the faerie courts looms ever closer. The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its future rests solely in Evie’s hands. Young adult.

Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard (July 24, HarperTeen)
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—The Dead are rising in Philadelphia. And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor from her brother. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. Young adult.

Technomancer, by B.V. Larson (July 24, 47North)
When Quentin Draith wakes up in a private sanatorium, he has no memory of who he is or how he received the injuries riddling his body. All he knows is that he has to get out, away from the drugs being pumped into him and back to the real world to search for answers. His first question: How did his friend Tony’s internal organs fill with sand, killing him in a Las Vegas car crash?After a narrow escape, he tracks down the basic facts: he is an investigator and blogger specializing in the supernatural—which is a good thing, because Quentin’s life is getting stranger by the minute. First in a new series.

Thirteen (Women of the Otherworld, Book 13), by Kelley Armstrong (July 24, Dutton)
It’s been more than ten years, a dozen installments, and hundreds of thousands of copies since Kelley Armstrong introduced readers to the denizens of the Otherworld: witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons, among others. And it’s all been leading to Thirteen, the final installment, the novel that brings all of these stories to a conclusion. A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray.

All Seeing Eye, by Rob Thurman (July 31, Pocket)
Picking up a small pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well, but the shoe itself told him so. Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. With his troubled past behind him, Jackson has found a semblance of peace, until the government blackmails him.

Blood and Feathers, by Lou Morgan (July 31, Solaris)
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the crossfire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act—or risk the Fallen taking control forever. That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by a disgraced angel with a drinking problem, Alice will learn the truth about her own history and why the angels want to send her to hell.

Darklands (Deadtown, Book 4), by Nancy Holzner (July 31, Ace)
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border, but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human. Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, Book 5.5), by Ilona Andrews (July 31, Ace)
After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea Nash’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels. When several shapeshifters working for Andrea’s former lover Raphael Medrano, the male alpha of Clan Bouda, die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world.

Kitty Steals the Show (Kitty Norville, Book 10), by Carrie Vaughn (July 31, Tor)
Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world. Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a centuries-old power struggle among vampires—than she ever has before. Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles.

Shadows Before the Sun (Charlie Madigan, Book 4), by Kelly Gay (July 31, Pocket)
After filling out mountains of paperwork, Detective Charlie Madigan sets out for a death-defying trip into heavenly Elysia to rescue her partner Hank and bring the siren home. Of course, she doesn’t expect to leave behind an all out siren revolution or return home to find that crime boss Grigori Tennin has begun a massive search for the divine being, Ahkneri. Tennin’s tactics set off a chain reaction that puts Charlie in the crosshairs of the shadowy creature known as Death and awakens Ahkneri from her long sleep.

Sin’s Dark Caress (Dark Brethren), by Tracey O’Hara (July 31, Harper Voyager)
An ancient darkness has risen from the. Forensic witch Bianca Sin has never seen anything like it: homeless teenage girls torn to pieces by dark magic in the cold shadows of the city. More terrifying still is the symbol written in blood on an alley wall—the unmistakable seal of the Dark Brethren. Teaming up with NYPD homicide detective Lancelot McManus and an elite task force headed by the shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie, Bianca knows her worse fears have finally come to pass. A new war of annihilation is looming that will plunge the worlds of vampire, shapeshifter, and human into chaos. For the ultimate evil is no longer approaching. It’s here.

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires, by Molly Harper (July 31, Pocket)
Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help. Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead.

The Unspoken (Krewe of Hunters, Book 7), by Heather Graham (July 31, Mira)
1898: Bound for Chicago, the freighter Jerry McGuen goes down in Lake Michigan, taking with it every man aboard. But what other fate could befall a vessel carrying the ill-gotten sarcophagus of an Egyptian sorcerer? Because a curse unspoken is no less deadly. Now: A veteran diver and “ghost ship” expert is exploring the legendary wreck for a documentary. He dies inexplicably inside the freighter’s main saloon. Then another diver is killed and panicked rumors rise like bubbles from the lake: ancient demons have awakened below.

Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (Anthology) (July 24, ChiZine)
Features works by Kelley Armstrong, Cory Doctorow, Steven Erikson, Gemma Files, Silvia Monro-Garcia, David Nickle, Geoff Ryman, Peter Watts, Rio Youers, and more.

Carry the Flame, by James Jaros (July 31, Harper Voyager)
Having survived the terror of the Alliance and the single-minded fanaticism of its hideous religion, a caravan of survivors moves quickly into the Great American Desert, the wastes of what once was America’s heartland. With her daughters at her side—recently rescued Ananda and her daring older sister, Bliss—Jessie hopes to find sanctuary in the Arctic, now rumored to be temperate. But their enemies are powerful and relentless, and will not rest until they possess the caravan’s most precious treasures: their prepubescent female children, a stolen tanker filled with fuel and a pair of frightened twins.

Coup D’Etat (The War That Came Early, Book 4), by Harry Turtledove (July 31, Del Rey)
In the winter of 1941, as the Germans, with England and France on their side, slam deep into Russia, Stalin’s terrible machine fights for its life. The war between Germany and Russia is rocked by men with the courage to aim their guns in a new direction. England is the first to be shaken. Following the suspicious death of Winston Churchill, a small cabal begins to imagine the. With civil liberties hanging by a thread, a conspiracy forms against the powers that be. Meanwhile, in America, a woman who has met Hitler face-to-face urges her countrymen to wake up to his evil.

Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (July 24, Pyr)
Fourteen-year-old Clara’s mother has notes that may lead to synthetic ammonia to save the 1950s-era world from global warming. The two of them find themselves aboard the submarine Cuttlefishon the run from the Russians, the British and possibly the Americans.

An Officer’s Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why, Book 2), by Jean Johnson (July 31, Ace)
Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy—once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy’s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee.

Chimera (The Subterrene War, Book 3), by T.C. McCarthy (July 31, Orbit)
Escaped Germline soldiers need to be cleaned up, and Stan Resnick is the best man for the job. Operatives from China and Unified Korea are gathering escaped or stolen Russian and American genetics, and there are reports of new biological nightmares: half-human things, bred to live their entire lives encased in powered armor suits. Stan fights to keep himself alive and out of prison while he attempts to capture a genetic, one who will be able to tell them everything they need to know about this new threat, the one called “Project Sunshine.”

vN, by Madeline Ashby (July 31, Angry Robot)
Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot known as a VonNeumann. For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history—like the fact that she alone can kill humans without fail-safing. First in a new series.

Blood of the Emperor (The Annals of Drakis, Book 3), by Tracy Hickman (July 31) 
It appears that an ancient prophecy is about to be fulfilled as the human named Drakis — formerly one of countless warrior-slaves to the elves of the Rhonas Empire — returns from his quest in the North. Flying into the rebel camp with his surviving companions on the backs of the legendary dragons that were once humankind’s most powerful allies, Drakis is hailed as the champion of all the slave races. But it is not a prophecy that drives Drakis in his war against the elves and their emperor. Rather it is his burning desire for revenge against the cruel ruler whom Drakis believes has stolen any chance he has for finding peace.

Exile (The Outcast Chronicles, Book 2), by Rowena Cory Daniells(July 31, Solaris)
King Chald has banished the mystics. Their leader, Imoshen, hopes to find a new home for her people but first they must reach port. Fearing they will be waylaid, robbed and murdered, Imoshen offers a reward for living mystics. When he arrives in port, Tobazim discovers the mystics’ ships have been stolen and merchants are charging exorbitant prices for supplies. Meanwhile, Ronnyn and his family are kidnapped by fishermen eager for the reward. Whether the ships are ready or not, on the first day of winter all the mystics must leave. Those who remain behind will be hunted down and executed. Time is running out for Imoshen, Tobazim and the children.

The Crown of the Usurper (Crown of the Blood, Book 3), by Gav Thorpe (July 31, Angry Robot)
Ullsaard rules the known world. All are subject to his will. Yet even as another king bows before him, there are those who would wrench his empire from beneath him. He must risk losing the lands he has conquered to confront a foe far more powerful than any he has faced before. As alliances shift and old enemies return, will he save the empire he has given his life to, or let it fall to ruin?

The Wanderers (Veiled Isles, Book 3), by Paula Brandon (July 31, Spectra) 
Falaste Rione is imprisoned, sentenced to death. And even though the magical balance of the Source is slipping and the fabric of reality itself has begun to tear, Jianna Belandor can think only of freeing the man she loves. But to do so, she must join a revolution she once despised and risk reunion with a husband she has ample reason to fear. Meanwhile, undead creatures terrorize the land, slaves of the Overmind, a relentless consciousness determined to bring everything that lives under its sway. All that stands in the way is a motley group of arcanists whose combined powers will barely suffice to restore balance to the Source.

Holy cow…what do you want to read? Leave a comment and tell me, and I’ll draw one name to win his or her choice. International, as always. And if the book is in a series you haven’t started, you can always pick the first one in the series instead. If there’s a new release in another genre this week you’d like to read, leave that in your comment. If I’ve missed a speculative fiction release, leave it in the comments and I’ll add it in—it’s eligible for giveaway.

As always, four entries possible: +1 for comment to tell me what book (any book) you want, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest. This contest is international to any place Book Depository has free shipping. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S. on Saturday, and winners are announced on Sunday’s blog. It’s the responsibility of the winner to contact me with their mailing info. Books unclaimed after a month will go into a general giveaway pile.

Now….go!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Scene-Snippet Sunday (And Did You W*n a Book This Week?)

Scene-Snippet time! Today's snippet is from Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, which won't come out until August 2013, so enjoy the snippet :-). A major location in EF is Six Flags New Orleans, which was drowned under floodwater following Katrina and never reopened. Also never torn down. There's an uber-creepy video you can watch here. The video says the part was due to be demolished a while back, but it never happened. It's still here. It's scary. I've run this before so you might remember it. (Oh, and if you'd like a snippet from River Road, head over to my website; there's a snippet from Susannah Sandlin's Absolution at her website.)



In this scene, DJ has just arrived at Six Flags to practice using the elven staff...

If zombies and ghouls took over Disney World, with creative direction from Satan, the theme park would resemble the corpse of Six Flags New Orleans. I parked outside the main gate and worked a cloaking charm on my Pathfinder before squeezing past rusted, twisted turnstiles and passing purple-painted, crumbling offices covered in graffiti.
           Six Flags had never been profitable—folks who come to New Orleans for vacation aren’t usually looking for a Louisiana-themed amusement park in the eastern part of the city, far from the Quarter. Plus, underneath the Cajun kitsch, the place was, well, Six Flags. When Katrina hit in 2005, the park sank under six feet of water for more than a month and never reopened.
            Years later, here it remained, a distorted, hellish sideshow in the middle of a swamp, tied up in a terminal case of litigation, its rusting rollercoaster reaching toward heaven like a monument to the fates of nature and indifference. The perfect place, in other words, for some discreet lessons in elven staff usage.
Now....did you win a book this week? If you see your name, email me HERE with the appropriate info. All the books this week are print books except Reader's Choice, which is the winner's choice of print or digital.

REBE won Alex Bledsoe's pirate fantasy Wake of the Bloody Angel.

LISA R/ALTERLISA won KM Ruiz' Terminal Point.

BN100 won Dave Freer's Cuttlefish.

SIENNY won The Unspoken by Heather Graham. Your choice of print or ebook.

Coming up this week....another shot at that huge list from last week's Reader's Choice (yep, it's running again, with a few extras). Interviews with authors James Jaros and Lexi George. Maybe something special-special. AND....I'm going to restart the Preternatura Book Club on Wednesday, so check and see what we'll be reading and how the structure might change.


Scene-Snippet Sunday: River Road--DJ Checks Out Jean Lafitte

It's Sunday, and you know what that means! Today, I have a scene snippet from the first chapter of River Road, book two in the Sentinels of New Orleans series (coming in November, available for preorder--hint, hint). In this scene, Jean Lafitte has summoned DJ to his hotel room at the Monteleone. This is their first face-to-face meeting since the events at the end of Royal Street, and Jean seems to expect DJ to repay him for his help. She's very attracted to him (although she knows it's unhealthy), and he knows it. He has all the time in the world to string her along. Literally.

     The strong fingers I’d been admiring slid around my wrist, and he traced small circles over my palm with his thumb. “Now, Jolie, we should renegotiate the repayment of your debts.” He stroked his hand slowly up my arm. I shivered as a tingle of warmth spread through me, and raging rouge danced a hot second-line across my face.
     As much as some shameful part of me relished being the object of any handsome man’s desire— even a technically dead man— I couldn’t encourage him.
     “Look, Jean. I like you. You’re a very desirable man.” The hand stroked a little higher and squeezed my shoulder. Oh, boy. I searched for the right turn of phrase, one that didn’t include the word dead. “But we kind of have an age difference.” More than two centuries’ worth.
     Chuckling, he pulled his hand away, and I checked him out as he walked to the wet bar for another brandy, all powerful grace and lean muscle. The air practically moved out of the way to make room for him.
     Stop looking.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Last Chance for This Week's G*veaways!

It's Saturday, and I'm on the road today, heading for Birmingham, aka "The Magic City." Although now that I think about it, I have no idea why it's called the Magic City. Oh well. I'll be attending the  July meeting of the Southern Magic chapter of Romance Writers of America. Quite a few of my colleagues have been off in California this week at the RWA national convention. Me? Not so much.

So play amongst yourselves today, my pretties. And come back tomorrow for a new Scene-Snippet Sunday and to see if you won a book in this week's contests. There's still time to enter....

To win Alex Bledsoe's new Eddie LaCross-meets-pirates novel, Wake of the Bloody Angel, click here.

To win KM Ruiz's new dystopian Terminal Point, click here.

To win Dave Freer's new time-travel novel, Cuttlefish, click here.

To win this week's Reader's Choice (mega) contest, click here.

What're you waiting for?!



Friday, July 27, 2012

Pirate Fantasy? Check out (& W*n) Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe

As always, check over at the Susannah Sandlin blog to see where the Redemption Virtual Tour is today--still time to enter for the prizes!

Today's featured book has a couple of my favorite elements: the self-deprecating, funny hero, and pirates. How can you go wrong?

Wake of the Bloody Angel is the newest in author Alex Bledsoe's terrific Eddie LaCrosse series, which has been described as a cross between fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction. Actually, it's fantasy with an almost urban fantasy feel, which is one thing I really like about it.

Want to check out and win a copy of Wake of the Bloody Angel? Read on....

ABOUT WAKE OF THE BLOODY ANGEL: Twenty years ago, a barmaid in a harbor town fell for a young sailor who turned pirate to make his fortune. But what truly became of Black Edward Tew remains a mystery—one that has just fallen into the lap of freelance sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse. For years, Eddie has kept his office above Angelina’s tavern, so when Angelina herself asks him to find out what happened to the dashing pirate who stole her heart, he can hardly say no—even though the trail is two decades old. Some say Black Edward and his ship, The Bloody Angel, went to bottom of the sea, taking with it a king’s fortune in treasure. Others say he rules a wealthy, secret pirate kingdom. And a few believe he still sails under a ghostly flag with a crew of the damned. To find the truth, and earn his twenty-five gold pieces a day, Eddie must take to sea in the company of a former pirate queen in search of the infamous Black Edward Tew…and his even more legendary treasure.

So, ready to read some pirate fantasy and win a copy of Wake of the Bloody Angel? You know the drill--leave a comment for an entry. As always, extra entries for blog follow, Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a Tweet or Retween, so four entries possible. Arrrrrgh, mateys.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blade Runner Meets X-Men? W*n KM Ruiz' TERMINAL POINT

The quick commercial message...I'm over at the wonderful Jami Gold's blog today, talking about the five top lessons I learned on my recent book tour for Royal Street....some good experiences, and some not so good. You can find it here.

Now...today's featured book has one of those promo descriptions that always either intrigue me or make me laugh. I kind of find "Blade Runner Meets X-Men" intriguing. What do you think? The book is Terminal Point, which came out in mid-June, by author K.M. Ruiz, whose debut book, Mind Storm, was released last year. Mind Storm and Terminal Point take place 250 years after Earth is nearly wiped out by nuclear war. What's left of society is left to fight on the ruined Earth while the wealthy make plans to run off in secret to another planet. But the nuclear fallout has led to a new breed of humanity--psions--who are enslaved by the wealthy to protect their interests...except that doesn't exactly work out.

Want to check out Terminal Point? Read on...


ABOUT TERMINAL POINT: Threnody Corwin and her team of rogue Strykers contend with the aftermath of the events in Mind Storm and the unlocking of a new kind of psion power. They’re on the run with Lucas Serca, who is closer than ever to destroying the World Court and his father’s grip on the planet. Targeting the hidden cache of the planet’s food supply meant to transform Mars into a paradise for the chosen few, Lucas triggers an escalating fight with the ruling government as worldwide chaos ensues. It’s up to Threnody to save society before it destroys itself, but the cost is high and in the end, there is no such thing as compromise. There is only survival.

So, ready to read some dystopian madness and win a copy of Terminal Point? You know the drill--leave a comment for an entry. As always, extra entries for blog follow, Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a Tweet or Retween, so four entries possible.

Five Lessons Learned by a Book Tour Newbie

I was fortunate to be able to go on a book tour after the release of Royal Street, and went in knowing absolutely nothing about what to expect (except this funny/scary YouTube video).



Today, I'm over at Jami Gold's fabulous blog, talking about my "Five Lessons Learned" from my book tour, including a vow of revenge! Pop over if you get a chance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Annotated Royal Street, Chapter 11: Gerry's House

Note: ROYAL STREET annotations are a spoiler-free zone!

Today, I'm looking at chapter 11. In this chapter DJ makes her first post-Katrina foray into the neighborhood of Lakeview, where her mentor Gerry's house is located.

For Gerry's house, I used my own former residence on Bellaire Drive. It was what in New Orleans is called a Half-Double (in the rest of the world it's called a duplex), so a friend and I lived in the lefthand half, and a doctoral student and his dog lived in the righthand half. The shared backyard was only the width of the house but it was deep, and it slanted up steeply in the very back, rising to the jogging path that ran alongside the 17th Street Canal levee.

It was also located two blocks from the levee breach that caused most of the flooding in the city of New Orleans proper. 

So, here's the house that I lived in. This shot was taken in early October, after the water had finally dried. Note that there is a double driveway in front, but it's totally covered in mud. Note also, the doors are standing open. The force of the floodwater knocked out every door in this neighborhood, which had a population of about 10,000. So that was 10,000 homes destroyed just in this one neighborhood alone. The water was inside the second story.

Here's what it looks like now. Note the trees were all killed, and the houses close by on either side of it have been demolished. There was nothing to save. And you can see the driveways again! You can also see the floodwall in the back now that the houses and trees are gone.


Here's Alex's car, which he refuses to drive into the flood zone. He's kind of obsessive about this car...He replaces it in Elysian Fields with something big and manly.



 That's it for this chapter. Stay tuned....

Annotated ROYAL STREET Chapter 12: Gerry's House

Note: ROYAL STREET annotations are a spoiler-free zone!

Today, I'm looking at chapter 12. In this chapter DJ makes her first post-Katrina foray into the neighborhood of Lakeview, where her mentor Gerry's house is located. Note: the full annotated Royal Street, updated with each new entry, can now be found on my website.

For Gerry's house, I used my own former residence on Bellaire Drive. It was what in New Orleans is called a Half-Double (in the rest of the world it's called a duplex), so a friend and I lived in the lefthand half, and a doctoral student and his dog lived in the righthand half. The shared backyard was only the width of the house but it was deep, and it slanted up steeply in the very back, rising to the jogging path that ran alongside the 17th Street Canal levee.

It was also located two blocks from the levee breach that caused most of the flooding in the city of New Orleans proper. 

So, here's the house that I lived in. This shot was taken in early October, after the water had finally dried. Note that there is a double driveway in front, but it's totally covered in mud. Note also, the doors are standing open. The force of the floodwater knocked out every door in this neighborhood, which had a population of about 10,000. So that was 10,000 homes destroyed just in this one neighborhood alone. The water was inside the second story.

Here's what it looks like now. Note the trees were all killed, and the houses close by on either side of it have been demolished. There was nothing to save. And you can see the driveways again! You can also see the floodwall in the back now that the houses and trees are gone.


Here's Alex's car, which he refuses to drive into the flood zone. He's kind of obsessive about this car...He replaces it in Elysian Fields with something big and manly.



 That's it for this chapter. Stay tuned....


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alternative History Tuesday: W*n CUTTLEFISH by Dave Freer

The quick commercial message (yeah, I know, they get old, but they help pay for this blog, after all!l): I have a Q-and-A up today over at the Booksniffers Anonymous website and am giving away (internationally) to one commenter a choice of signed print book, ebook (with book plate) or audiobook. They ran a review of Redemption on Sunday, and I'm back today answering questions. And you can find out if I, too, am a closet booksniffer! Stop by and say hello.

Also, imagine you're a vampire. Why would you want to join a communal living situation in the boondocks of East Alabama? You can find out at A Great Book is the Cheapest Vacation today, where I'm guest-blogging as part of the Redemption Virtual Tour. Stop by and check out the reasons...and enter again for the giveaways.

Now...I have a cool-looking book to feature today...CUTTLEFISH...and it's brand new. Even better. It's an alt history, which is a genre I'd like to read more of. It's written by Dave Freer, an ichthyologist by training, who lives in Tasmania. His background as a commercial diver, fisheries scientist, and a chef at a game lodge reads like fiction in itself, but he's written his own A Mankind Witch and Dragons Ring as well as coauthoring books with Eric Flint and Mercedes Lackey.

Want to check out Cuttlefish? Read on...

ABOUT CUTTLEFISH: The smallest thing can change the path of history. The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London. Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London's canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there. Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond. When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

So, ready to read some alt history? You know the drill--leave a comment for an entry. Have you read any alt history? If so, what was your favorite? I always enjoy the retellings of the Jack the Ripper story. I even read a YA book called Ripper not long ago. As always, extra entries for blog follow, Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a Tweet or Retween, so four entries possible.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Releases July 24-31 & Reader's Choice C*ntest


Remember the last couple of slow, lazy weeks? Not many books to choose from? Well, that’s over. Get ready. In fact, this list is so loaded (uh, hello--Kate Daniels, Kitty, Sands...Does everything have to come out at once?) I will run it two weeks. So a pick this week, and another pick next week.

First, the commercial messages. My alter-ego Susannah Sandlin is over at The SeraphineMuse as the Redemption Virtual Tour continues. And, yep, another chance to enter the giveaways, including a $50 Amazon gift card! Stop by and say howdy. Also, I'm over at the Star-CrossedRomance Blog, trying to get a conversation started about parnormal romance book covers. Come over and weigh in! 

Now…Reader’s Choice! As always, leave a comment telling me the book here you’d most like to win, and maybe random.org will make your wishes come true. International? Of course!

Now, here we go….

Night Forbidden (Envy Chronicles, Book 5), by Joss Ware (July 31, Avon)
The world is ash, destroyed, and now controlled by Strangers. Survivors live in constant peril. But in the heart of Envy, resistance grows. Somehow Bruno “Fence” Washington survived the apocalypse—emerging from a Sedona cave into a strange and terrible new world fifty years later. Now, scouring the ruined earth for answers about the malevolent Strangers, the former extreme sportsman encounters Ana, an Amazonian beauty who grew up in the ocean. Together they face a new evil rising up from the roiling waters to blanket the world in unending night.

The Lady is a Vamp (Argeneau, Book 17), by Lynsay Sands (July 31, Avon)
When Jeanne Louise Argeneau left work, she never thought she’d end up tied down by a good-looking mortal. More attracted than annoyed, she quickly realizes there is more to her abductor than meets the eye. Paul Jones has need of a vampire and only Jeanne Louise will do. He just has to convince this beauty of a vampire to help him.

When Temptation Burns (Shadow Keepers, Book 6), by J.K. Beck (July 31, Bantam)
FBI agent Alexis Martin knows that vampires exist because one of them killed her sister. Assigned to investigate a series of bizarre homicides in Los Angeles, Alexis believes the murders are the work of rogue vampires—perhaps even the monster responsible for her sister’s death. Now she finally has a chance for retribution. Even better, Alexis receives unexpected help from a sexy stranger as hungry for rogue blood as she is. Serge is a centuries-old bad boy who stays off the grid—keeping his secrets, his hunger, and his heart safe from exposure. A new breed of vampire that feeds off other shadowers, Serge finds sweet torture in Alexis’s arms.

Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death, by Jason Henderson (July 24, HarperTeen)
Within months of discovering he’s next in a long line of vampire hunters, Alex Van Helsing has already defeated two powerful vampire leaders. Not bad for a fourteen-year-old. But when a newly risen vampire queen threatens the fate of the world, Alex faces his deadliest challenge yet. Teaming up with a motorcycle-riding witch, Alex jets between Switzerland, the UK, and Spain in a frantic race to prevent the queen from unleashing a curse that will plunge the world into darkness. Young adult.

Endlessly (Paranormalcy, Book 3), by Kiersten White (July 24, HarperTeen)
Try as she might, Evie can’t seem to escape her not-so-normal past. And what was supposed to be a blissfully normal school break is ruined when a massive group of paranormals shows up at her house, claiming that Evie is the only one who can protect them from a mysterious, perilous fate. The deadly war between the faerie courts looms ever closer. The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its future rests solely in Evie’s hands. Young adult.

Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard (July 24, HarperTeen)
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—The Dead are rising in Philadelphia. And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor from her brother. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. Young adult.

Technomancer, by B.V. Larson (July 24, 47North)
When Quentin Draith wakes up in a private sanatorium, he has no memory of who he is or how he received the injuries riddling his body. All he knows is that he has to get out, away from the drugs being pumped into him and back to the real world to search for answers. His first question: How did his friend Tony’s internal organs fill with sand, killing him in a Las Vegas car crash?After a narrow escape, he tracks down the basic facts: he is an investigator and blogger specializing in the supernatural—which is a good thing, because Quentin’s life is getting stranger by the minute. First in a new series.

Thirteen (Women of the Otherworld, Book 13), by Kelley Armstrong (July 24, Dutton)
It’s been more than ten years, a dozen installments, and hundreds of thousands of copies since Kelley Armstrong introduced readers to the denizens of the Otherworld: witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons, among others. And it’s all been leading to Thirteen, the final installment, the novel that brings all of these stories to a conclusion. A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray.

All Seeing Eye, by Rob Thurman (July 31, Pocket)
Picking up a small pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well, but the shoe itself told him so. Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. With his troubled past behind him, Jackson has found a semblance of peace, until the government blackmails him.

Blood and Feathers, by Lou Morgan (July 31, Solaris)
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the crossfire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act—or risk the Fallen taking control forever. That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by a disgraced angel with a drinking problem, Alice will learn the truth about her own history and why the angels want to send her to hell.

Darklands (Deadtown, Book 4), by Nancy Holzner (July 31, Ace)
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border, but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human. Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, Book 5.5), by Ilona Andrews (July 31, Ace)
After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea Nash’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels. When several shapeshifters working for Andrea’s former lover Raphael Medrano, the male alpha of Clan Bouda, die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world.

Kitty Steals the Show (Kitty Norville, Book 10), by Carrie Vaughn (July 31, Tor)
Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world. Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a centuries-old power struggle among vampires—than she ever has before. Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles.

Shadows Before the Sun (Charlie Madigan, Book 4), by Kelly Gay (July 31, Pocket)
After filling out mountains of paperwork, Detective Charlie Madigan sets out for a death-defying trip into heavenly Elysia to rescue her partner Hank and bring the siren home. Of course, she doesn’t expect to leave behind an all out siren revolution or return home to find that crime boss Grigori Tennin has begun a massive search for the divine being, Ahkneri. Tennin’s tactics set off a chain reaction that puts Charlie in the crosshairs of the shadowy creature known as Death and awakens Ahkneri from her long sleep.

Sin’s Dark Caress (Dark Brethren), by Tracey O’Hara (July 31, Harper Voyager)
An ancient darkness has risen from the. Forensic witch Bianca Sin has never seen anything like it: homeless teenage girls torn to pieces by dark magic in the cold shadows of the city. More terrifying still is the symbol written in blood on an alley wall—the unmistakable seal of the Dark Brethren. Teaming up with NYPD homicide detective Lancelot McManus and an elite task force headed by the shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie, Bianca knows her worse fears have finally come to pass. A new war of annihilation is looming that will plunge the worlds of vampire, shapeshifter, and human into chaos. For the ultimate evil is no longer approaching. It’s here.

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires, by Molly Harper (July 31, Pocket)
Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help. Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead.

The Unspoken (Krewe of Hunters, Book 7), by Heather Graham (July 31, Mira)
1898: Bound for Chicago, the freighter Jerry McGuen goes down in Lake Michigan, taking with it every man aboard. But what other fate could befall a vessel carrying the ill-gotten sarcophagus of an Egyptian sorcerer? Because a curse unspoken is no less deadly. Now: A veteran diver and “ghost ship” expert is exploring the legendary wreck for a documentary. He dies inexplicably inside the freighter’s main saloon. Then another diver is killed and panicked rumors rise like bubbles from the lake: ancient demons have awakened below.

Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (Anthology) (July 24, ChiZine)
Features works by Kelley Armstrong, Cory Doctorow, Steven Erikson, Gemma Files, Silvia Monro-Garcia, David Nickle, Geoff Ryman, Peter Watts, Rio Youers, and more.

Carry the Flame, by James Jaros (July 31, Harper Voyager)
Having survived the terror of the Alliance and the single-minded fanaticism of its hideous religion, a caravan of survivors moves quickly into the Great American Desert, the wastes of what once was America’s heartland. With her daughters at her side—recently rescued Ananda and her daring older sister, Bliss—Jessie hopes to find sanctuary in the Arctic, now rumored to be temperate. But their enemies are powerful and relentless, and will not rest until they possess the caravan’s most precious treasures: their prepubescent female children, a stolen tanker filled with fuel and a pair of frightened twins.

Coup D’Etat (The War That Came Early, Book 4), by Harry Turtledove (July 31, Del Rey)
In the winter of 1941, as the Germans, with England and France on their side, slam deep into Russia, Stalin’s terrible machine fights for its life. The war between Germany and Russia is rocked by men with the courage to aim their guns in a new direction. England is the first to be shaken. Following the suspicious death of Winston Churchill, a small cabal begins to imagine the. With civil liberties hanging by a thread, a conspiracy forms against the powers that be. Meanwhile, in America, a woman who has met Hitler face-to-face urges her countrymen to wake up to his evil.

Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer (July 24, Pyr)
Fourteen-year-old Clara’s mother has notes that may lead to synthetic ammonia to save the 1950s-era world from global warming. The two of them find themselves aboard the submarine Cuttlefishon the run from the Russians, the British and possibly the Americans.

An Officer’s Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why, Book 2), by Jean Johnson (July 31, Ace)
Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy—once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy’s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee.

Chimera (The Subterrene War, Book 3), by T.C. McCarthy (July 31, Orbit)
Escaped Germline soldiers need to be cleaned up, and Stan Resnick is the best man for the job. Operatives from China and Unified Korea are gathering escaped or stolen Russian and American genetics, and there are reports of new biological nightmares: half-human things, bred to live their entire lives encased in powered armor suits. Stan fights to keep himself alive and out of prison while he attempts to capture a genetic, one who will be able to tell them everything they need to know about this new threat, the one called “Project Sunshine.”

vN, by Madeline Ashby (July 31, Angry Robot)
Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot known as a VonNeumann. For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history—like the fact that she alone can kill humans without fail-safing. First in a new series.

Blood of the Emperor (The Annals of Drakis, Book 3), by Tracy Hickman (July 31) 
It appears that an ancient prophecy is about to be fulfilled as the human named Drakis — formerly one of countless warrior-slaves to the elves of the Rhonas Empire — returns from his quest in the North. Flying into the rebel camp with his surviving companions on the backs of the legendary dragons that were once humankind’s most powerful allies, Drakis is hailed as the champion of all the slave races. But it is not a prophecy that drives Drakis in his war against the elves and their emperor. Rather it is his burning desire for revenge against the cruel ruler whom Drakis believes has stolen any chance he has for finding peace.

Exile (The Outcast Chronicles, Book 2), by Rowena Cory Daniells(July 31, Solaris)
King Chald has banished the mystics. Their leader, Imoshen, hopes to find a new home for her people but first they must reach port. Fearing they will be waylaid, robbed and murdered, Imoshen offers a reward for living mystics. When he arrives in port, Tobazim discovers the mystics’ ships have been stolen and merchants are charging exorbitant prices for supplies. Meanwhile, Ronnyn and his family are kidnapped by fishermen eager for the reward. Whether the ships are ready or not, on the first day of winter all the mystics must leave. Those who remain behind will be hunted down and executed. Time is running out for Imoshen, Tobazim and the children.

The Crown of the Usurper (Crown of the Blood, Book 3), by Gav Thorpe (July 31, Angry Robot)
Ullsaard rules the known world. All are subject to his will. Yet even as another king bows before him, there are those who would wrench his empire from beneath him. He must risk losing the lands he has conquered to confront a foe far more powerful than any he has faced before. As alliances shift and old enemies return, will he save the empire he has given his life to, or let it fall to ruin?

The Wanderers (Veiled Isles, Book 3), by Paula Brandon (July 31, Spectra) 
Falaste Rione is imprisoned, sentenced to death. And even though the magical balance of the Source is slipping and the fabric of reality itself has begun to tear, Jianna Belandor can think only of freeing the man she loves. But to do so, she must join a revolution she once despised and risk reunion with a husband she has ample reason to fear. Meanwhile, undead creatures terrorize the land, slaves of the Overmind, a relentless consciousness determined to bring everything that lives under its sway. All that stands in the way is a motley group of arcanists whose combined powers will barely suffice to restore balance to the Source.

Holy cow…what do you want to read? Leave a comment and tell me, and I’ll draw one name to win his or her choice. International, as always. And if the book is in a series you haven’t started, you can always pick the first one in the series instead. If there’s a new release in another genre this week you’d like to read, leave that in your comment. If I’ve missed a speculative fiction release, leave it in the comments and I’ll add it in—it’s eligible for giveaway.

As always, four entries possible: +1 for comment to tell me what book (any book) you want, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest. This contest is international to any place Book Depository has free shipping. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S. on Saturday, and winners are announced on Sunday’s blog. It’s the responsibility of the winner to contact me with their mailing info. Books unclaimed after a month will go into a general giveaway pile.

Now….go!