Friday, August 31, 2012

Remembering Our Friends in Louisiana

The anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a very emotional time for all of us who survived the storm and the post-hurricane flooding in the city of New Orleans. I consider myself a New Orleanian by heart and by choice, if not by birth.

This year, Hurricane Isaac struck on the seventh Katrina anniversary. It wasn't expected to be a catastrophic storm, but that quickly proved false. Please continue to pray for and send good wishes to the people of Southeastern Louisiana as they cope with yet another tragedy.

Plaquemines Parish is particularly important to me, and serves as a primary setting in my upcoming second Sentinels book, RIVER ROAD.

In an introductory note to RIVER ROAD, I stated that a percentage of all author royalties before and after the publication of RIVER ROAD would be donated to the Greater New Orleans Foundation for its oil spill relief fund, benefiting those in the fishing industry in Plaquemines, St. Bernard and lower Jefferson parishes whose livelihoods were decimated by the oil spill.

I will be requesting those donations to be directed toward hurricane relief for Plaquemines Parish, which will require years to rebuild. I was in Plaqumines a few months ago, and saw firsthand how people had finally begun struggling back from Katrina. They are strong people, they will survive, and we will help in whatever small way we can.

#YA Friday: W*n BROKEN ILLUSIONS by Ellie James

Today's featured book is BROKEN ILLUSIONS, a YA urban fantasy novel from author Ellie James released in late May. I love a story set in New Orleans, of course (duh), so I was anxious to read the first book in this series, Shattered Dreams. This one intrigues me because it’s set during Mardi Gras, so I’ll be reading it soon wearing my critical hat to see if it gets Mardi Gras right. (This one, second in the series, can stand alone.). See what you think, and comment to be entered to win a copy!

ABOUT THE BOOK: It’s Mardi Gras, but for 16 year-old psychic Trinity Monsour this is no time for celebration. Another girl is missing. Haunted by visions she doesn’t understand—of an empty street lined by crumbling old buildings, a terrified voice warning her to be careful, and a body lying motionless in the grass—Trinity embarks upon a dark odyssey she could never have imagined. She'll stop at nothing to better understand her abilities, convinced that doing so is the only way she can make sure the terrifying images she sees never actually happen. But it seems everyone wants to stop her. Her aunt is worried Trinity might discover secrets best left in the past. Her best friend, Victoria, is afraid Trinity is slipping away, her boyfriend, Chase, fears she’s taking too many chances, and the lead detective will barely let her out of his sight. Only one person stands by her side, and in doing so, he slips deeper and deeper into her heart—and her dreams—blurring the lines of reality and illusion. When the dust settles, one of them will be dead

Want to win a copy of Broken Illusioins? Just tell me your favorite book set in New Orleans. (And no, it doesn’t have to be mine, especially if you haven’t read it or hated it—LOL.) This is a hard question for me, because it’s hard for non-New Orleanians to capture the city well, so I have to bow to Anne Rice—and not her vampire books, but a historical she wrote called The Feast of All Saintsthat delves into the complex racial history of the city. Fabulous book!

You know the drill, my fire-breathing friends: one entry for comment, a second for blog follow, third for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a tweet or retweet.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Q&A with #UF Author Jill Archer & W*n a new Ace-Roc Books Sampler

Today, I’d like to welcome to Preternatura author Jill Archer, whose debut urban fantasy Dark Light of Day will be released on September 25 by Ace Books as the first in the new Noon Onyx series—although this is urban fantasy with a twist, as you’ll see. Jill now lives in rural Maryland after spending ten years as what she calls a “dirt lawyer,” specializing in real estate “and anything involving exceedingly lengthy legalese-like contractual monstrosities.” You can learn more about Jill at her website.

Jill is offering one commenter a sampler of Ace-Roc new releases, which gives you a chance to “test drive” a bunch of different new authors and books. Read on for entry details!

ABOUT DARK LIGHT OF DAY: Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos. Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination. Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.

Now, let’s hear from Jill. Welcome!

Give us the “elevator pitch” for your latest work?
Dark Light of Day is the story of Noon Onyx, a first year law student who is being trained to represent demons. But the story's as much about Noon's magical and romantic struggles as it is about her academic ones. I should also mention that, even though the book is considered "urban fantasy," the setting is not contemporary. The story mostly takes place in New Babylon, a city with a circa 1900s technology level that was built on top of the ancient battlefield of Armageddon in a country called Halja.

What is your favorite scene in the book?
Probably the last one. I think there's something different to love in each of them, but I really love the emotional note of the last scene in the book.

Hardest scene you’ve ever written:
It isn't in Dark Light of Day. It's in the second book in the series, which I've already turned in. But, in Dark Light of Day, I'll share that some of the physical fighting scenes were difficult for me to write. I've never taken a martial arts class or sparred with anyone so I really had to think about how I wanted to write the fight scenes. And, of course, some of the more emotional moments in the story were hard to write. Only because, as a writer, you have to experience the emotions of the characters on some level just to be able to credibly write about them.

What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
My TBR pile is constantly being shuffled. If I had time to start a new book today, I'd probably read Joan Frances Turner's Dust. I splurged and bought the hardcover last summer. Redemption by Susannah Sandlin looks great too! *Suzanne: No, I did not bribe her to say that!*

Favorite book when you were a child:
Which year? :-) Some of my favorites have included: Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain, The Witch's Buttonsby Ruth Chew, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, Watership Down by Richard Adams, and The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey.

Your five favorite authors:
Very, very tough to limit to five, and I am constantly looking for new authors that could become my next favorite. But here are five authors whose books occupy a fair amount of space on my bookshelf: Lois McMaster Bujold, S.M. Stirling, Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Peters.

Book you've faked reading:
Well, I'm not sure if this counts because I failed so miserably at faking it, but at some point in middle school, I was assigned Wuthering Heights. For whatever poor reason, I never read it. The day before my book report was due, I read the first part of the book and then -- to save time -- skipped the middle, and jumped to the last. Can you imagine how horrible that report was? I wish I'd saved it! I was so confused. All those relationships! And, wait, another Cathy?!  I have since read it in totality. It was superb. I'm determined that my daughters will not repeat my mistake.

Book you're an evangelist for:
Wuthering Heights….Ha! I'm kidding, although everyone should read it, preferably when it's assigned.

Book you've bought for the cover:
I've never bought a book solely for the cover. But I do love great covers so here are some of my favorites: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, all of the covers in S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire series, Lauren Kate's Fallen, and Ally Condie's Matched.

Book that changed your life:
Fun With Dick and Jane? Black's Law Dictionary? Dark Light of Day? To some extent each of those books, and many others, have changed my life.

Favorite line from a book:
Ever? Impossible! Too many to choose from. But here's one of my favorites from Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca: "Will you look into my eyes and tell me that you love me now?" Of course, it's what precedes that line that makes it so meaningful.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races? Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth? Galen Beckett's The Magicians and Mrs. Quent? Liz Maverick's Wired?

Most horrifying moment while reading a book:
Reading about the deaths of Old Dan and Little Ann in Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I read it when I was a kid and I think I went through at least ten boxes of tissue. Possibly more than any other book, that one taught me how important a hopeful ending is to a grieving reader.

Favorite book about books or writing:
I loved Stephen King's On Writing. I've read a lot of his novels and am a big fan. (I also loved his Entertainment Weekly column). I enjoyed Elizabeth George's Write Away (especially her THAD device -- a hilarious name for a brilliant dialog tool). Christopher Vogler's Writer's Journey and Donald Maass' books are popular favorites for a reason.

What’s next?
I'm currently working on book #3 in the Noon Onyx series -- new assignments, new adventures, new adversaries! :-)

Thanks, Jill!

This is a great chance to win the Ace-Roc sampler and try some new authors and books, including an excerpt from Jill Archer’s Dark Light of Day.

You know the drill. One entry for comment, another for blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet. Now...Go forth and comment!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Preternatura Books Club: Urban Fantasy Gets Religion (& W*n Some Books)

Welcome back to the Preternatura Book Club! We'll be talking about topics that are related to the book we're reading but are general enough for you to pipe up and voice an opinion.

Each book read will last four weeks, which is a much faster schedule than we've done on previous books. Today, we tackle chapters 24-36 of GUILTY PLEASURES, book one in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Today's giveaway will be a trio of new books: Shannon Delany’s RIVALS AND RETRIBUTION, a YA urban fantasy; Tracey O’Hara’s SIN’S DARK CARESS, an adult urban fantasy; and Karina Cooper’s TARNISHED, a sexy steampunk. So go for it!

These chapters of GUILTY PLEASURES offered a few answers, but mostly more questions, and the chapters ended with Anita heading for the big climactic scenes of the final chapters. A few thoughts:

Do you feel any differently about Phillip since reading these chapters? He’s such a jerk in the earlier parts of the book, but I think his character displays more dimensions here, and maybe you see why I think he’s such a tragic figure. Phillip makes me sad.

RELIGION! Where does speculative fiction come down on religion? I think it was an issue authors in these early urban fantasy books had to come to terms with, and is a subject I find really interesting.

In epic fantasy, stories are set in entirely different worlds, so faith as we know it isn’t an issue. In science fiction, it’s often futuristic, so faith as we know it also isn’t such an issue, or else it has been perverted or distorted in response to social changes.

But most urban fantasy is set in our world, or a in a near-future version of our world. So urban fantasy pioneers like Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, and Simon R. Green have had to figure out how they want to treat religion in their series.

Anita, we learn in these chapters, draws heavily on her faith. She’s an animator, someone who can raise the dead, and we learn that the Catholic church has denounced her kind. Rather than abandon her faith, she becomes Episcopalian, and her faith shapes who she is in the early books of this series. In the Dresden series, Harry Dresden has an uneasy relationship with his faith, often explored through his relationship with Michael, a knight of the cross. In Green’s Nightside series, John Taylor has a similar uneasy relationship with the beings of heaven.

Other series that you think have done a good job of exploring faith and paranormal?

A funny thing to me in these chapters that really dates them is that Anita has to stop and use a pay phone to call and check the messages on her tape-recording answering machine. I did laugh out loud at that! As Stephen King would say, “the world has moved on.”

We finally, in these chapters, got to see what Anita does—how she raises the dead, although it’s a skewed ritual because of Zachary. Thoughts on Zachary? I think he’s kind of gross and disgusting.

And speaking of gross and scary, Nicolaus has always been one of the scariest vampire characters to me. I think because she’s a child. She’s not the only child vampire in this series, and they’re always pretty warped and scary.

We get a glimpse of Jean Claude in these chapters, and a hint of what’s going on with Anita and her appetite. But I’ll hold that discussion until next week to avoid spoilers.

Leave a comment, start a discussion, and let's see where it takes us! Anyone who leaves a comment gets entered in the giveaway, which is international, of course. I've highlighted some possible talking points above. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Angel Goes Rogue: W*n #UF THE TAKEN by Vicki Pettersson

Are angels and demons the new vampires? Seems like a bazillion-and-one angel/demon books have come out in the last couple of years, but today’s featured book sounds like a great new take on angels, and it’s nice to see a new urban fantasy series, Celestial Blues, starting up from Vicki Pettersson. This one’s been out a few weeks, so if anyone has read it, what did you think?

ABOUT THE TAKEN: Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he's an angel, but that doesn't make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he's been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul--Katherine "Kit" Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped. Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder--and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie. Joining forces, Kit and Grif's search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn't Grif's biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife .

Have you read an angel book you really liked? I think the last one I read was Paige Cuccaro’s Hellsbane, although I have the JR Ward deadly sins series, which I think has angels in it. Sigh. So behind on my reading. Rosalie Lario has a half angel in her Demons of Infernum series.

Want to win a copy of The Taken? Tell me your favorite angel book or series. I’m having a blank-out here! I know I've read more.

You know the drill: one entry for comment, a second for blog follow, third for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a tweet or retweet.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Releases August 27-Sept. 1 and Reader's Choice C*ntest

Remember how few releases there were the last two weeks? How easy the decision as to what book you’d most like to win? Not this week, as August 28 in particular is a huge release day in all our favorite speculative fiction genres. Gotta admit I’d have a hard time choosing this week—there are lots of series books I’d need to go back and get the first book of (which you can do, by the way), but I think I’d pick the first book in Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series—I haven’t read this series and think it sounds really intense!

But Reader’s Choice is all about you. As always, leave a comment telling me the book here you’d most like to win (or the first in its series), and maybe will make your wishes come true. International? Of course! As long as Book Depository delivers to your country, please do enter.

Here we go….

Born to Bite, by Hannah Howell, Diana Cosby, and Erica Ridley(August 28, Kensington)
Darkly handsome and dangerously sexy, these voracious vampires are out for blood — and bound for eternal love. 

Chosen (Dark Breed #3), by Sable Grace (August 28, Avon)
The unstoppable avenger, Kyana, takes on her new role as Goddess of the Hunt, joining with Ryker—the new Zeus and Kyana’s one true love—to save the world from vampires, demons, shapeshifters, and all manner of supernatural creatures of the night, in a battle that could carry them to the fiery depths of Hades itself. 

Fear the Darkness (Guardians of Eternity #9), by Alexandra Ivy(August 28, Zebra)
A rare and delicate creature, Cassie must be protected at all costs. Enter Caine, a powerful cur turned pureblooded Were whose recent tangles with a demon lord have left him in serious need of redemption. Caine is duty-bound to keep Cassie out of danger—and that means resisting his potent urge to seduce her. 

How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days (10 Days #1), by Saranna DeWylde (August 28, Kensington)
Got Demon? Grace does. She’s got more demon than she can saddle. In fact, she’s got a sinfully sexy Crown Prince of Hell named Caspian. She’s also got ten days to get rid of him or Bad Things shall ensue. 

The Demoness of Waking Dreams (The Company of Angels #2), by Stephanie Chong (August 28, Mira)
Even Angels can be tough. Ex-cop Brendan Clarkson is an angel with an edge. His tough exterior is the perfect camouflage for his job-hunting down the most dangerous criminals on earth. Brendan’s a self-reliant and demanding lone wolf, constantly on the brink of clashing with his superiors at the Company of Angels.

Death Warmed Over (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI #1), by Kevin J. Anderson(August 28, Kensington)
Ever since The Big Uneasy unleashed vampires, werewolves, and other undead denizens on the world, it’s been hell being a detective — especially for zombie P.I. Dan Chambeaux. Taking on the creepiest of cases in the Unnatural Quarter with a human lawyer for a partner and a ghost for a girlfriend, Chambeaux redefines “dead on arrival.” But just because he was murdered doesn’t mean he’d leave his clients in the lurch.

Devil Said Bang (Sandman Slim #4), by Richard Kadrey(August 28, Harper Voyager)
Getting out of hell is just the beginning. What do you do after you’ve escaped Hell, gone back, uncovered the true nature of God, and then managed to become the new Lucifer? Well, if you’re James Stark, you have to figure out how to run Hell while also trying to get back out of it again. Plus there’s the small matter of surviving. 

Fair Game (Guardian #3), by Taylor Keating (August 28, Tor)
Video-game designer River Weston has seen her world torn apart. The streets of Earth have filled with looting, sickness, and fighting, but River knows that she is in a unique position to help. Drawing on her Fae magic, she creates a computer-generated program called Hollow Man, designed to protect humans during battle.

Haunted (Anna Strong Chronicles #8), by Jeanne C. Stein(August 28, Ace)
Anna Strong, kick-ass bounty hunter and vampire, has made some enemies in her time. But it’s not just her old foes she should be worried about.  Anna’s shape-shifting friend, Culebra, finally opens up to her about his life before owning Beso de la Muerte, a bar catering to supernatural clientele. As if summoned by the conversation, Culebra’s past stumbles into his bar in the form of an old buddy cashing in on a favor. 

Immortally Yours (Monster MASH #1), by Angie Fox (August 28, St. Martin’s)
No one patches up the incoming wounded like Dr. Petra Robichaud. Recruited by the gods for her uncanny medical skills, she’s the best M*A*S*H surgeon in the army. Along with a nosy guard sphinx, vegetarian werewolf, and other paranormal paramedics, she bandages soldiers who are built like Greek gods (literally). But when one sexy immortal ends up on her operating table — half dead and totally to-die-for — Petra’s afraid she’ll lose her patient and her heart.  

Mockingbird (Miriam Black #2), by Chuck Wendig(August 28, Angry Robot)
Miriam is trying. Really, she is.  But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis, who’s on the road half the time in his truck, is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does. 

Soul Trade (Black London #5), by Caitlin Kittredge (August 28, St. Martin’s)
The crow-mage Jack Winter returns to crash a secret gathering of ghost hunters, soul stealers, and other uninvited guests, both dead and alive. Normally, Pete Caldecott stays far away from magical secret societies. But ever since her partner and boyfriend Jack Winter stopped a primordial demon from ripping into our world, every ghost, demon, and mage in London has been wide awake and hungry.  And the magical society in question needs their help putting things right.  

Spark (Elemental #2), by Brigid Kemmerer (August 28, Kensington)
Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents. Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it. 

Zeuglodon, by James P. Blaylock(August 31, Subterranean)
A skeletal hand clutching an iron key lies hidden within a mermaid’s wooden sarcophagus; a hand-drawn map is stolen from beneath the floorboards an old museum; an eccentric sleeping inventor dreams of a passage to the center of the hollow earth, and by dreaming of the passage, brings it into being. 

Blades of Winter (Shadowstorm #1), by G.T. Almasi (August 28, Del Rey)
G. T. Almasi fuses the intricate cat-and-mouse games of a John le Carre novel with the brash style of comic book superheroes to create an alternate history that re-imagines the Cold War as a clash of spies with biological, chemical, and technological enhancements. 

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction, edited by Carrie Ryan(August 28, Random House)
Have you ever been tempted to look into the future? To challenge predictions? To question fate? It’s human nature to wonder about life’s twists and turns. But is the future already written—or do you have the power to alter it? From fantastical prophecies to predictions of how the future will transpire, Foretold is a collection of stories about our universal fascination with life’s unknowns and of what is yet to come as interpreted by 14 of young adult fiction’s brightest stars. 

Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, by Paul Tremblay (August 28, ChiZine)
Farm is the mega-conglomerate food supplier for City, populated with rabidly bureaucratic superiors, antagonistic and sexually deviant tour guides dressed in chicken and duck suits, and farm animals illegally engineered for silence. City is sprawling, technocratic, and rests hundreds of feet above the coastline on the creaking shoulders of a giant wooden pier. 

The Uninvited (Krewe of Hunters #8), by Heather Graham(August 28, Harlequin)
A Philadelphia mansion plays host to uninvited death. 1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord “Butcher” Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarleton, who spurned his king and his love, leaving her to die in her father’s arms. Now: After the day’s final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford’s desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet.  

UnWholly (Unwind Trilogy #3), by Neal Shusterman(August 28, Simon & Schuster)
Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp, people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. 

Wrayth (Book of the Order #3), by Phillippa Ballantine (August 28, Ace)
Although she is one of the most powerful Deacons in the Order, Sorcha Faris is still unable to move or speak after her last battle. Even her partner, Merrick Chambers, cannot reach her through their shared Bond. Yet there are those who still fear Sorcha and the mystery of her hidden past. Meanwhile, Merrick has been asked to investigate a new member of the Emperor’s Court. But when Sorcha is abducted by men seeking Raed Rossin, the shapeshifting rival to the throne, Merrick must choose where his loyalties lie. 

Bloodstar (Star Corpsman #1), by Ian Douglas (August 28, Harper Voyager)
In the 23rd Century, war is still hell. Navy Corpsman Elliot Carlyle joined up to save lives and see the universe. Now he and Bravo Company’s Black Wizards of the interstellar Fleet Marine Force are en route to Bloodworld — a hellish, volatile rock colonized by the fanatical Salvationists who desired an inhospitable world where they could suffer for humanity’s sins. Their penance could prove fatal — for the Qesh, a strange alien race detected but still mysterious for six decades, have made violent first contact. 

Endgame (Sirantha Jax #6), by Ann Aguirre (August 28, Ace)
Sirantha Jax has the J-gene, which permits her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. She loves nothing more than that rush, but the star roads have to wait. Her final mission takes her to La’heng, a planet subjugated during first contact. Since then, the La’hengrin homeworld has been occupied by foreign conquerors. All that’s about to change. 

Erasing Time, by C.J. Hill (August 28, Katherine Tegen Books)
There is no escape from the future for two contemporary girls pulled out of their own time.  When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that’s so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can’t go back home. Young Adult. 

Sanctuary (The Outcast Chronicles #3), by Rowena Cory Daniells (August 28, Solaris)
For over three hundred years, the mystics lived alongside the true-men, until King Charald laid siege to the mystic’s island city and exiled them. Imoshen, most powerful of the female mystics, was elected to lead her people into exile. She faces threats from within, from male mystics who think they would make a better leader. And her people face threats from True-men, who have confiscated their ships. They must set sail by the first day of winter. Those who are left behind will be executed.  

Seven Wonders, by Adam Christopher (August 28, Angry Robot)
Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura, a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl. When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team, Seven Wonders, aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be. 

The Dragons of Winter (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica #6), by James A. Owen (August 28, Simon & Schuster)
The Archipelago of Dreams is no more, but the battle to save it has just begun. The Caretakers are at war. The Archipelago of Dreams has fallen to the Echthroi, and the link to the Summer Country has been lost. The Keep of Time must be rebuilt, and the secret lies somewhere in Deep Time at the beginnings of the World, when the Summer Country and the Archipelago were one and the same.

Vanquished (Crusade #3), by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie(August 28, Simon Pulse)
Hope is in short supply, but courage runs deep as the Salamancan hunters recover from a devastating loss. Jenn knows she must rally her team against the Cursed Ones, but her focus is shattered. She’s torn between passion for Antonio, who once fought by her side, and hate for the bloodthirsty vampire he’s become. His volatility is tearing apart their team and Jenn’s trust. Young Adult. 

Legion, by Brandon Sanderson (August 31, Subterranean)
Stephen Leeds, AKA Legion, is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills.  Leeds is drawing into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

Now…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 ships. 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.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekly W*nners and an Audiobook G*veaway

Ever wonder why I use those asterisks in my titles? I hate it. But I belong to a couple of tribes on Triberr, and it flags words like "contest" and "win" and "giveaway" as promotional, and it makes it hard for my tribemates to retweet my blog posts. So, sorry about that.

Okay, a few things going on today. First, my alter ego Susannah Sandlin has the entire first chapter of her paranormal romance REDEMPTION available to read today, plus is giving away an unabridged audiobook to a commenter. Hope you'll stop by!  The link is HERE.

Also, I'm running a new snippet from RIVER ROAD, book two in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, today at my website. You can join DJ in her horror at watching a merman skin an alligator by clicking HERE. the business of the day. Our weekly winners! If you see your name, please email me HERE with your mailing address. Prizes unclaimed in one month will be added to later drawings and grab bags.

According to

STERLING won Philippa Ballantine's new fantasy HUNTER AND FOX.

JOLENE won the two-book LIGHTBRINGER and REAPER set by K.D. McIntire.

CARIN won the three-book grab bag of my choosing. Carin, if you like a particular genre more than others, let me know. I have a little of everything in my ARC and unclaimed prizes shelves.

BARD CONSTANTINE won the Warren Hammond novel KOP KILLER.

ELF2060 won the week's Reader's Choice contest and was trying to decide between SAVAGE REDEMPTION and SHIFTER'S DESTINY. Let me know which one you want, and if you prefer print or digital!

That's it for this week. I'll be back tomorrow with a great big Reader's Choice list to choose from!

Scene-Snippet Sunday: How a Merman Skins a Gator

It's Scene-Snippet Sunday! Today, I'm pulling part of a scene from RIVER ROAD in which DJ tries to work out a business deal with cranky merman Rene Delachaise while he skins an alligator. In the DJverse, merpeople are aquatic shapeshifters (who are born, not made).

     He flipped the gator on its back and resumed slicing while I returned to my stool.
     "What you got in mind?"
     "We'd gear you up with a wetsuit if you want to dive without shifting, or at least a mask and oxygen tank if you want to partially shift, so you won't get sick." I'd been up half the night devising this scheme. 
     "You gonna pay us? 'Cause if we take another day off work you need to pay us. We ain't doing wizard charity."
     "Sure, we'll pay--" I stopped, aghast, as Rene deftly flipped the gator on its belly again and used a longer knife to split its tail near the blody and slice off the bony ridge along the animal's back. He tossed that aside and continued cutting a couple of minutes more. Then he lifted the intact hide off the gator and spread it out.
     "Cocodrie jolie," he said. Great. Me and the gator were pretty. I'd have to tell Jean Lafitte.
     "What will you do with the hide?" I asked in horror as he took a large tablespoon and scraped stray bits of meat off the inside of the skin before salting down the hide and rolling it up. I wished I'd skipped breakfast.
     "Sell it," he said. "Sell the skull too, and the feet." He chopped off the massive, clawed feet and tossed them aside, then took a serrated knife toward the head.
     Oh. My. God. That was my cue to leave. "What time can you go tomorrow?"
     He paused and looked up, breaking into a smile. "You in a hurry, babe?"
     "I don't want to watch you cut off its head." Okay, so I'm squeamish when it comes to decapitation.
     "I ain't cuttin' off the head. I'm slicin' out the jaw meat."

Friday, August 24, 2012

#Fantasy Friday: W*n HUNTER AND FOX by Philippa Ballantine

Today's featured book is HUNTER AND FOX, a fantasy novel from author Philippa Ballantine released in late June. I know Pip Ballantine’s writing from her Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series with her husband Tee Morris, so this is a new fantasy world for me. See what you think, and comment to be entered to win a copy!

ABOUT THE BOOK: In a world that is in constant shifting, where mountains can change to plains and then to lakes, Talyn is the Hunter for the Caisah, and a wreck of a once-proud person. She has lost her people, the Vaerli, and her soul working for the man who destroyed her people. All unknowing, she carries within her a Kindred, a chaos creature from the center of the earth that wants to help bring the Vaerli back to power. However, she has lost the ability to communicate with it. She must also deal with the machinations of Kelanim, the mistress of Caisah, who out of fear will do anything to bring Talyn down.Little does the Hunter know that salvation is looking for her, and it wears the face of gentleness and strength. Finn is a teller of tales who carries his own dreadful secret. He sets out to find answers to his path but ends up in the city of Perilous and Fair where he meets Talyn. He knows the danger and yet is drawn to her. Their fates are bound together.Meanwhile, the Hunter's lost brother Byre is searching for his own solution to the terrible curse placed on the Vaerli. He sets forth on a treacherous journey of his own, which will intersect in the most unlikely place with that of Talyn and Finn. The ramifications of this encounter will be felt by all the people in Conhaero, from the lost Vaerli to the Caisah on his throne.

Want to win a copy of Hunter and Fox? Just tell me your favorite epic fantasy that isn’t by JRR Tolkien! I rather like Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie Lacrosse series, probably because it’s epic fantasy that reads a lot like, well, urban fantasy and has a minimum of apo’stro’phe’d names, which annoy the bejeezus out of me in fantasy novels.

You know the drill, my fire-breathing friends: one entry for comment, a second for blog follow, third for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a tweet or retweet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Q&A with #YA Author KD McEntire & W*n REAPER & LIGHTBRINGER

Today, I’d like to welcome to Preternatura author KD McEntire, whose debut YA urban fantasy/romance Lightbringer was released last November. KD lives in the Kansas City area, and is celebrating the release (tomorrow!) of the second in her series, Reaper. You can learn more about KD and her books at her website.

Want to win copies of both Lightbringerand Reaper? Read on…

ABOUT LIGHTBRINGERWendy has the ability to see souls that have not moved on—but she does not seek them out. They seek her. They yearn for her . . . or what she can do for them. Without Wendy's powers, the Lost, the souls that have died unnaturally young, are doomed to wander in the never forever, and Wendy knows she is the only one who can set them free by sending them into the light. Each soul costs Wendy, delivering too many souls would be deadly, and yet she is driven to patrol, dropping everyone in her life but her best friend, Eddie—who wants to be more than friends—until she meets Piotr.Piotr, the first Rider and guardian of the Lost, whose memory of his decades in the never, a world that the living never see, has faded away. With his old-fashioned charms, and haunted kindness, he understands Wendy in ways no one living ever could, yet Wendy is hiding that she can do more than exist in the never. Wendy is falling for a boy who she may have to send into the light. But there are darker forces looking for the Lost. Trying to regain the youth and power that the Lost possess, the dark ones feed on the Lost and only Wendy and Piotr can save them—but at what cost?

ABOUT REAPER: Reaper is set in a world a breath away from our own. After the death of her mother, Wendy is attempting to fill her mother's shoes and discovering that the prospect is far more difficult than she ever imagined. Learning that she is part of a powerful and ancient family of Reapers that her mother had forsaken is just the first surprise—Wendy soon discovers that the San Francisco Bay Never is filled with political powers and factions both previously unknown and completely mysterious to Wendy. Since both her mother and Piotr are gone, Wendy must struggle to maneuver between the machinations of the dead and the dark intentions of her living Reaper family. Eventually betrayed and made sick unto death, the clock is ticking before Wendy will fall—she has only a matter of days to unravel the mysteries her mother left behind and to convince her wary family to accept her as one of their own.

Now, let’s hear from KD. Welcome!

Give us the “elevator pitch” for your series.
REAPER and NEVER, parts two and three in the LIGHTBRINGER trilogy, are the next two books to hit shelves. They're basically expanding on the universe and introducing Wendy to the Reapers, her extended family, and explaining why the Never exists in the first place. Piotr finally fully remembers his past and learns exactly why he and Wendy are so connected.

What is your favorite scene in the book?
I think my favorite scene is in NEVER. I don't dare describe it in detail - spoilers abound - but we get to see Piotr's mother. She's a very interesting character and I had a lot of fun writing her.

Hardest scene you’ve ever written:
There's an unpublished novel sitting on my hard drive that I wrote and rewrote about half a dozen times before setting it aside. The hardest scene I've ever tackled was when I killed off a major supporting character in this particular book. He was such a vivid, fun character and I loathed saying goodbye but it was what needed to happen.           

What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
The No-Cry Potty Training Solution is on my nightstand. Fair Coin is in the car. Let's Pretend This Never Happenedby the Bloggess/Jenny Lawson is in the bathroom and Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett (I'm rereading all my Pratchett in order) is queued up on the tablet.        

Favorite book when you were a child:
Too many to count! I was constantly reading and I devoured every book I could get my hands on. I DID reread most of the VC Andrews books at least half a dozen times by twelve. Ditto for all the available Stephen King - I think I read The Stand ten times before I turned twenty and I first picked up IT at age ten. As for books aimed for my actual age bracket, anything by Christopher Pike or the original LJ Smith would get my birthday cash every time.    

Your five favorite authors:
Stephen King. Terry Pratchett. Holly Black.  JK Rowling. They're the ones I automatically pre-order when I hear a new title is coming out, but I'm also fond of Robin Wasserman, Kris Reisz, Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton, and Scott Westerfield.

Book you've faked reading:
I never finished Heart of Darkness but that's the only book I've ever started in earnest that I didn't complete. (Browsing books in the bookstore doesn't count!)

Book you're an evangelist for:
Tripping to Somewhere by Kris Reisz.

Book you've bought for the cover:
Twilight. I picked up a copy on Amazon before it hit big just because I had a little spare cash and the cover was very unique for the time.    

Book that changed your life:
Lightbringer. I know that's not what you're looking for with this question, but honestly books don't sway me much. I take all self-help books with a shaker full of salt and while I love fiction, it doesn't change who I am at my core. It never has. The only book to actually affect my life and how I look at things was the first one I got published. It proved to me that I could do this, that I could actually write for a living, and that other people might be interested in the stories I've been telling myself since I was a little girl. (Suzanne sez: I actually think that’s a brilliant answer and wished I’d thought of it.)
Favorite line from a book:
Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have.” - Hermione Granger. I busted up laughing so hard I cried. It was just so Hermione, you know?

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Under the Dome (Stephen King). Mostly because I will never, ever read that book again. Or, at least, I don't think I will. It's one of the few books I've read where I was just SO FRUSTRATED with the characters that I actually wished it was feasible to reach into the book. Why? I wanted to physically throttle almost all of them. I'd like to enjoy the story again without wanting to commit character homicide.

Most horrifying moment while reading a book:
The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum made my sick to my stomach. I finished it but only because I desperately wanted to know that everyone got their comeuppance in the end. I had to put that book down a LOT and it took me a long time to wade through. If brain bleach existed, I'd use it to scour that book from my head… and finding out years later that it was based on a true story made it even more horrid.

Favorite book about books or writing:
On Writing by Stephen King. So far as I'm concerned every writer who wants to get published needs to read On Writing.

What’s next?
I'm finishing up a round of edits for Never, I've got a YA manuscript making the rounds, and I'm pounding out some pretty interesting proposals. I'll be at DragonCon in Atlanta when Labor Day rolls around. Other than that, I'm playing it by ear.

Thanks, KD!

This is a great chance to win the first two books in this terrific series. Note that Lightbringer is a hardcover copy, while Reaper is a trade-sized ARC. Reading KD’s answers made me think about how Stephen King has influenced so many of today’s genre fiction authors, myself included. So for today, if you love All Things Steve, what’s your favorite? I too have read The Stand a bazillion times, but It is the one that creeped me out the most.

You know the drill. One entry for comment, another for blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet. Now...Go forth and comment!