Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.

Chloe Benjamin

The Anatomy of Dreams
Atria Books, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook,  320 pages

Long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

“A sly, promising and ambitious debut.” —Publishers Weekly

“Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent.” —Lorrie Moore, author of Bark: Stories

It’s 1998, and Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe. Their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, is a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming: By teaching his patients to become conscious during sleep, he helps them to relieve stress and heal from trauma. Over the next six years, Sylvie and Gabe become consumed by Keller’s work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka, California, to the enchanting New England coast.

But when an opportunity brings the trio to the Midwest, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled relationship with their mysterious neighbors—and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller’s research, recognizing the harm that can be wrought under the guise of progress. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn’t, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia, and a new sense of rebellion.

In stirring, elegant prose, Benjamin’s tale exposes the slippery nature of trust—and the immense power of our dreams.

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Rooms by Lauren Oliver

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.

Lauren Oliver

Ecco, September 23, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
(Adult Debut)

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.

Beth Cato

The Clockwork Dagger
Harper Voyager, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August 2014 Winner

The winner of the August 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The Monster's Wife by Kate Horsley with 44 votes equaling 43% of all votes. The Monster's Wife is published by Barbican Press

Artwork by Jason Anscomb of Rawshock Design

The Final Results

The August 2014 Debut Covers

Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the September Debut covers starting on September 15, 2014. Look for the list of September's Debuts on September 1st.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 29, 2014

I have decided to mix it up this week with a little blast from my past. Yes, friends I am channelling one of my favourite childhood shows - Sesame Street (stick with me it will make sense in a minute). While I was reading this week this favourite song kept twirling around in my head - 'One Of These Things.

Three of these things belong together
Three of these things are kind of the same
Can you guess which one of these doesn't belong here?
Now it's time to play our game (time to play our game).

So can you pick it out?

After a diabolical week last week in what I chose to read, I succumbed to my Amazon recommendations and an author whose books I have enjoyed before. I downloaded Balanced on the Blade's Edge. This is the first in the Dragon's Blood series. This first book introduces us to Sardelle, a sorcerer, who has been asleep for 300 years in the middle of a mountain. She wakes up to find herself the only one of her race still alive, in a world that fears magic and to make matters worse the mountain is now part of a prison, mining colony. Apart from surviving in a prison colony Sardelle needs to reach her soul blade, a sword containing the soul of a young woman. The hero of this tale is Ridge Zirkander, a famous pilot in the air force who has been punished by being made to oversee the prison for a year. He is drawn to the mysterious Sardelle who is mistaken for a prisoner. Magic, mayhem and mechanical monsters are all part of this fantasy/steampunk romance.

I read this book really quickly, it only took me a few hours. I liked Sardelle and Ridge and was kind of surprised that the hot and heavy started quite early in the book. Buroker's other series The Emperor's Edge was much more a tease in the romance department with the hero and heroine not really getting together until quite late in the series. This book has no big surprises and I thought it ended quite abruptly but I did like it.

Book number 2 is Deathmaker. It was actually the cover of book 2 which drew me to this series. If I am not mistaken the model is Jason Momoa (from Stargate Atlantis and Game of Thrones). If I am wrong than Mr Momo has a twin that is a model for fantasy novels. Anyway I digress. This book centers on Lieutenant Ahn, one of Zikander's crew, who has been shot down in enemy territory. Just when she thinks that being beaten and imprisoned by the evil Cofah couldn't get any worse she gets a new cellmate - The Deathmaker. Tolemek, a warrior and scientist (not your regular combination) has killed hundreds with his concoctions but is an outcast by his own country. He needs to escape prison before he ends up the victim himself and engages the help of the plucky lieutenant. Airships, poisons and more time in prison cells is the focus of this instalment.

I think this novel is a bit weaker than book 1. Tolemek and Ahn barely stayed any time in prison and if you go by the book summary it sounds like the whole plot is set there. I know that Tolemek is quite misunderstood. He is in fact quite the goody two shoes in comparison to what his moniker suggests. Ahn is a bit stereotypical and reminded me of one of the characters in the Buroker's Emperor's Edge series.

By Tuesday I was onto book 3 - Blood Charged. Everyone is back in book 3 - Sardelle, Zirkander, Tolemek and Ahn. Back on base Zirkander is worried that Sardelle's powers will be exposed and a secret mission into enemy territory on behalf of the King seems like the perfect place to hide for a while. The characters are developed a bit further as Zirkander and Sardelle are joined by Tolemek, Ahn and a few new characters. Book 3 was a bit Indiana Jones crossed with James Bond with 'the gang' breaking into a Cofah research facility trying to find the dragon blood the enemy have weaponised.

It seems like there is more action in this book than that other two but I don't think this was necessarily the case. A lot happens to all the characters in book 3 but it is mainly action and not character development. We learn relatively little about any of the main characters and Buroker really misses a chance to round out her characters. Overall, it was a quick, enjoyable read. I guessed a lot of what was going to happen but it wasn't boring and the characters were inoffensive. My only criticism was with the cover. What on earth is coming out of Zirkander's head?  I know what it looks like. Sorry it just does. Now I just have to wait until for book 4 to be released.

My final book this week was Evernight the fifth book of the Darkest London series by Kristen Callihan. This instalment finds Holly Evernight living a solitary life locked in her own home, afraid to go outside after being the prisoner of crazy demon who forced her to rip out other supernaturals hearts and replace them with a mechanical one. One of the victims is William Thorne, renegade and assassin whose mechanical heart is turning him into the 'Tin Man'. He sets off to rid the world of Miss Evernight but ends up protecting her instead. Holly is fighting to stop Thorne from turning into a machine while he fights with what his heart is telling him - that Evernight is the woman for him. This love story is all set in the backdrop of a London where supernaturals stay hidden in plain sight and fight to stay that way.
I hate to admit that I completely forgot what had happened in the previous books of the series. In fact, I thought it was another series when I bought it. (oops!). I did enjoy it but it took me several chapters to remind myself what was going on. I think I may have to go back and re-read the last book. There was your fairly typical 'stop it, I love it' romance but Evernight was quite feisty and determined that the handsome Thorne wouldn't get the better of her. As I had forgotten quite a bit about the previous books I would almost suggest that Evernight could be read as a stand alone novel. The best part about this book was the covers. I LOVE the cover to the left, which was the one I had on the e-book version. It is very stylized and much more interesting than the other version.

It was quite a productive week for me and much more enjoyable that last week. Now have you figured out why I was singing 'One of these things?'.  That is it for me. I hope you have had a good week and to all my friends and readers in the States - Happy Labor Day weekend and Happy Reading.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Feature: Storm Siren by Mary Weber (and a Giveaway too!) - August 30, 2014

Storm Siren
Storm Siren 1
Thomas Nelson, August 19, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

About Mary

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives.

In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @mchristineweber  ~  Pinterest

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of Storm Siren by Mary Weber from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on September 9, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest Blog by Kameron Hurley - Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants - August 29, 2014

Please welcome Kameron Hurley to The Qwillery. The Mirror Empire, the first novel in the Worldbreaker Saga, was published by Angry Robot Books on August 26, 2014 in North America and digital format and will be published on September 4, 2014 in the UK in print format.

Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants

I get a lot of questions about worldbuilding. It’s right up there with characterization as my favorite part of writing, and is most certainly my favorite part of choosing to write in genre. I can create whole worlds from the ground up.

As I relish in this power of virtual creation, it always seemed odd to me that more people didn’t spend time worldbuilding. Weird writers like China Mieville, KJ Bishop and Angela Carter impressed me with the lush weirdness of the worlds they built, both fascinating and horrifying me as a reader. So when I went to create the creatures inhabiting the world of my latest book, The Mirror Empire, my new epic fantasy novel, you can bet building fantastic creatures was top of mind.

In my God’s War trilogy, I had created a world powered by different types of insects – some real, some made up for the book. Using bugs as a form of commerce and technology affected every other thing in the book, so it was vital to get that system down early. For The Mirror Empire I wanted to have a similarly ubiquitous and strange way of populating the landscape that affected how people worked, traveled, lived.

So… why not flesh-eating plants?

Cue the “feed me” jokes. Yes, they are apt.

I tinkered with the idea of having these semi-sentient types of plants, like walking trees and ground cover that would creep up and engulf you if you sat still too long. I imagined huge bladder traps and massive pitcher plants that ate people and mammals instead of insects. I had also made the primarily point of view culture in the book vegetarian, which seemed to present some interesting issues: it wasn’t as if they could pretend plants didn’t have feelings and motivations when some of them really, really did. So their choice to be vegetarians, I suspected, was not going to be a wholly moral one.

I also made a conscious choice to steer clear of totally unfamiliar names when telling readers what my creatures were, from bears to treegliders to pitcher plants to bladder traps. I used real-world names whenever possible for things that were… well, almost like their earth equivalents. There were already a lot of made-up names across several cultures, and I wanted to reduce the number of new terms that readers were introduced to. So even though the bears on this world have forked tongues and bifurcated paws and protruding fangs, I call them bears. And even though the bladder traps are six feet tall and hidden underground, attached to the roots of trees, instead of miniscule things meant to catch bugs attached to the roots of small plants, they’re called bladder traps.

I learned this trick from author Tara K. Harper, whose Wolfwalker books appear, at first blush, to be standard fantasy novels. But as you get deeper into it you realize the “horses” have six legs, and the other creatures and landscapes you thought were fantasy pseudo-familiar are… not. I had a similar moment of dissonance reading Paul Park’s Starbridge Chronicles, when, halfway through the book there’s a sentence like, “He pushed her tail out of the way” and I was like HOLY CRAP THEY HAVE TAILS???

It turns out that when you’re building really weird worlds, waiting to reveal just how weird they are is kinder to the reader than a mess of word vomit at the start. I had approached many aspects of writing the God’s War trilogy the same way, using real-world words (though not always English ones) to describe things that most assuredly… were not. Or were, at best, used to define slightly different types of things.

Steering clear of too many made-up words is probably my biggest piece of worldbuilding advice, especially if, like me, you’re already making up a good deal, from the names of the people and places to the gods and the unique terms and titles used by several different cultures. You’re already going to have some interesting word salad. Try not to overdo it.

The Mirror Empire
Worldbreaker Saga 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (US/Canada print/digital)
     September 4, 2014 (UK print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

From the award-winning author of God’s War comes a stunning new series…
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

File Under: Fantasy

About Kameron

Kameron Hurley is the author of the novels God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has won the Hugo Award and been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award, BFS Award, and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, was published by Angry Robot Books on August 26th, 2014.

Website  ~  Twitter @KameronHurley  ~  Facebook

God's War Trilogy / Bel Dame Apocrypha

God's War
God's War / Bel Dame Apocrypha 1
Night Shade Books, February 1, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 307 pages

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn't make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

God's War / Bel Dame Apocrypha 2
Night Shade Books, October 1, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

The only thing worse than war is revolution. Especially when you're already losing the war...

Nyx used to be a bel dame, a government-funded assassin with a talent for cutting off heads for cash. Her country's war rages on, but her assassin days are long over. Now she's babysitting diplomats to make ends meet and longing for the days when killing people was a lot more honorable.

When Nyx's former bel dame "sisters" lead a coup against the government that threatens to plunge the country into civil war, Nyx volunteers to stop them. The hunt takes Nyx and her inglorious team of mercenaries to one of the richest, most peaceful, and most contaminated countries on the planet -- a country wholly unprepared to host a battle waged by the world's deadliest assassins.

In a rotten country of sweet-tongued politicians, giant bugs, and renegade shape shifters, Nyx will forge unlikely allies and rekindle old acquaintances. And the bodies she leaves scattered across the continent this time... may include her own.

Because no matter where you go or how far you run in this world, one thing is certain: the bloody bel dames will find you.

God's War / Bel Dame Apocrypha  3
Night Shade Books, November 6, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook,372 pages

After years in exile, Nyxnissa so Dasheem is back in action in service to the bel dames, a sisterhood of elite government assassins tasked with eliminating deserters and traitors. The end of a centuries-long holy war between her country, Nasheen, and neighboring Chenja has flooded the streets of Nasheen with unemployed – and unemployable – soldiers whose frustrations have brought the nation to the brink of civil war.

Not everyone likes this tenuous and unpredictable “peace,” however, and somebody has kidnapped a key politician whose death could trigger a bloody government takeover. With aliens in the sky and revolution on the ground, Nyx assembles a team of mad magicians, torturers,and mutant shape-shifters for an epic journey across a flesh-eating desert in search of a man she’s not actually supposed to kill.

Trouble is, killing is the only thing Nyx is good at. And she already left this man to die…

You may buy the complete God's War Trilogy in a digital omnibus edition (Night Shade Books, July 15, 2013):

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Excerpt from A Curse Awakened by Cecy Robson - August 29, 2014

Please enjoy this excerpt from Cecy Robson's A Curse Awakened, a Weird Girls novella that was published by Loveswept on August 19th.

(from Chapter One)

       Danny shook his head. “No. He mistook them for Mafia, but I think at best they’re vamps with Mafia ties. There’s this female among them that seems fixated on my father. I think she’s been drinking from him. It’s odd. She’s odd. The whole thing is . . . odd.
       Shayna grimaced. “You mean aside from her drinking blood?”
       Danny tried to stand. “Yeah. I don’t know if vampires can be mentally ill. From what I’ve researched so far, they’re immune to diseases. But nothing I’ve read mentions anything about being immune to insanity.”
       I steadied him with my hand. “Why have you been reading up on vamps? I mean, I know since you’ve learned about us, you’ve been curious, but . . . I’m not a vampire.”
       He sighed, watching me with his dark sad eyes. “Believe it or not, I thought I could help you. You and your sisters have something special.”
       “Ah, no, we don’t.” Taran glared his way. “At best we’re atom bombs ready to detonate.” As if to make a point, a puff of blue and white smoke from her fire popped and sizzled above her head.
       Danny returned the glasses to his face. “I don’t agree. There’re not a lot of books available here in the U.S. about the supernatural―the real kind, I mean―weres, witches, vamps, those types of beings. But I’ve purchased a few ancient volumes from old libraries in Europe, where most legends stem from actual truths. I haven’t been able to find much about what you are or what you could be. In fact, I’m positive you’re different from any race of humans or preternaturals on earth.”
       “Yay for us,” Taran muttered.
       Danny offered a sympathetic smile. “One thing I have learned a great deal about are curses and magic in general.” His gaze skipped to each one of us. “I think you’re all in a bind.”
       “No shit,” Taran snapped. “I’m surprised we haven’t killed each other.”
       Danny held out a hand. “No, that’s not what I mean. I think you’ve been bound―in the magical sense. Sort of like a noose or tie that holds your powers back, and therefore your control.” He focused on me. “Celia, I think you can manage your powers best because your tigress gives you added strength. Picture a pit bull on a leash. You’re going to pull harder against it than another, smaller breed, making it harder to hold you back.”
       Shayna inched forward. “Um, Danny, maybe you should watch the dog references. I understand what you’re trying to say, but Taran’s a little touchier.” She motioned to Taran with a jerk of her head. “Know what I mean, little guy?”
       Taran narrowed her eyes, proving Shayna’s point.
       Danny’s mouth popped open. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to insult you, ladies.”
       I barely heard his apologies, my ears homing in on the rumble of motors. Two cars entered the dead-end street leading to the field and to us. The roar of their engines didn’t sound familiar or appropriate for the area. We were in blue-collar territory and these vehicles were definitely not your standard beaters. And instead of slowing down when they entered the narrow street, they sped faster, like cheetahs who’d found a herd of wounded gazelles.
       My tigress growled a warning. Taran’s blue eyes blanched to white, her magic sensing another’s approach.
       Danny jerked around upon seeing the first car barrel up the small incline. “It’s the vampires. Run!

A Cursed Awakened
A Weird Girl Novella
Loveswept, August 19, 2014
eNovella, 84 pages

Discover Cecy Robson’s sensational Weird Girls series—or return to where the magic first began—with this eBook original prequel novella about four sisters coming to grips with their unique supernatural powers.

Celia Wird shouldn’t possess the ability to transform into a tigress. Her three sisters should never be able to burst into flames, heal wounds, or transform common objects into deadly weapons. And yet they do.

Before they were born, the Wird Sisters were cursed by a spell that was intended to destroy them, not endow them with extraordinary powers. The sisters’ magic is untamed and explosive at best, and time is running out for them to take command.

Vampires have targeted Celia’s sweet, tragically human ex-boyfriend Danny. The sisters rush to his aid, but in order to take down the vamps, first they must face their dark past and break a spell that’s screwing up their powers. Except this curse wasn’t meant to be broken . . . and the witch who cast it isn’t done toying with them yet.

Qwill's Thoughts

Strap yourself in and get ready for a wild ride as you meet the Wird sisters in this prequel novella to the the Weird Girls series. Cecy Robson walks on the dark side with this after the fact series opener. I'm not going to say much about about the story itself (you can read the description above). This is an extremely fun, somewhat gory, introduction to the sisters, their powers, their background, and Danny!

The novella moves at an extremely fast pace, with crisp and descriptive writing. I really enjoyed this prequel. Robson packs a lot into this novella so if you've never met the Wird sisters A Curse Awakened is a great place to start. However, no matter where you are in the series, this is a must read.

Cursed by Destiny
Weird Girls 3 
Signet, January 7, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

Celia’s a girl in trouble. Her heart is bound to Aric, but he is a pureblood were who must deny her or risk condemning his species to extinction. And that’s just her love life. She’s also been called to take down a group of demon terrorists looking to overthrow the paranormal world. (No pressure.)

In order to bring them down, Celia must ally herself to Misha, the master vampire who has made no secret of his desire for her.

And if that weren’t enough misfortune for one girl, a clairvoyant’s prediction could destroy Celia and Aric’s love for good. The only way to protect the world from unbridled supernatural terrorism is for Celia to bind herself to her destined mate. And that doesn’t appear to be Aric…

A Cursed Moon
A Weird Girls Novella
Signet Eclipse, December 3, 2013
eNovella, 98 pages

Meet the furry big brother that the Wird sisters never had…

Bren is a cocky, brash hound of a werewolf who loathes the idea of belonging to Aric’s pack—much less finding a mate. But Bren’s hotheaded behavior lands him in the doghouse when he defies Aric’s authority in front of his pack, bringing up a sore subject that’s bound to make the Alpha wolf’s blood boil…

Luckily for him, no one can stay mad at Bren and his wild charm for long. And when some frightening ghosts launch a hostile paranormal takeover, Bren will team up with Celia Wird to take down the evil ghouls before they hurt someone they both love…

A Cursed Embrace
Weird Girls 2
Signet, July 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…

After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

Sealed with a Curse
Weird Girls 1
Signet Eclipse, December 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy—or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it’s coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

The Weird Girls
Signet Eclipse, December 4, 2012
A Weird Girls Novella

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option.

Includes a preview of the first full-length novel in the Weird Girls series, Sealed with a Curse—as well as introductions to the Weird World, and a letter from the author.


A Cursed Bloodline
Weird Girls 4
Loveswept, November 18, 2014

The Weird Girls return in another edge-of-your-seat novel from Cecy Robson! Just when Celia thinks the supernatural world can’t turn deadlier, a new rival emerges, proving just how dangerous a power-hungry were can be.

Since being cursed with unique abilities, Celia Wird and her three sisters have fought the most bloodthirsty preternaturals in the Lake Tahoe region. But Celia’s greatest threat is someone she would have never suspected: Anara, a werewolf Elder who has allowed his hatred for Celia to spiral out of control. In a play for dominance, Anara tortures Celia and gives her an ultimatum: sever her mate bond with pureblood were Aric—or Anara will kill everyone she loves.

From the instant they met, Celia and Aric have shared an attraction that cannot be tamed. So keeping Aric away is impossible, and Aric would sooner die than allow anyone to hurt the woman he loves. Misha, master vampire and Celia’s sworn protector, also finds his way into the chaos, seeking blood from those who have harmed her.

Now Celia and her sisters are caught in the middle of a war driven by lust, fueled by hatred, and destined to end in tragedy. For Anara is a force to be reckoned with, and he will not succumb without robbing Celia of those who hold her heart.

About Cecy

Cecy (pronounced SESSY) Robson is the New Adult Romance author of Once Perfect, Once Loved and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls Urban Fantasy Romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, her list of talents includes jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Website  ~   Twitter @cecyrobson  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.

Karina Sumner-Smith

Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 23, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.

Note: This is the actual cover!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Release Day Review: Havoc by Ann Aguirre

Author:  Ann Aguirre
Series:  The Dred Chronicles 2
Publisher:  Ace, August 26, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425258125 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

The Conglomerate’s most dangerous convicts have made the prison ship Perdition their home. And they will defend it…

Perdition is under siege. Mercenaries have boarded the station with orders to take control of the facility—and execute the prisoners. Their commander is offering full pardons to the first five inmates willing to help the mercs complete their mission.

Dresdemona “Dred” Devos hasn’t survived hard time just to surrender to the Conglomerate’s armored thugs. Leading a ragtag army of inmates, Dred and her champion, Jael, wage a bloody guerilla war of chaos and carnage against impossible odds. But no matter how dire the outlook, the Dread Queen never backs down…

Melanie's Thoughts

Ann Aguirre doesn't let up on the pace in this action packed second instalment of The Dred Chronicles. The story starts almost immediately after the end of book 1, Perdition. Dred defended her territory against almost impossible odds in book 1 and won, but the fight isn't over. Unfortunately, a new enemy has boarded the station and Dred has to battle not only this new foe but Mungo's and Silence's rabble of cannibalistic freaks, as well. The Conglomerate wants to take back the station, take Dred's home away from her and she will do anything, kill anyone to stop it. She is not alone in this fight as the genetically enhanced Jael is by her side to help her destroy anyone who gets in her way.

I am really enjoying this series and Havoc doesn't disappoint. Aguirre builds on the strengths of Predition with its bleak setting, anti-heroes and cunning game of cat and mouse. In fact Aguirre ramps up all of these elements even further as she continues to develop her characters and the environment they are fighting over. The assassins who have boarded the ship keep the plot fresh and by the end you come to realise that maybe they aren't that villainous after all.

Both Dred and Jael are developed further along with their romance. Aguirre balances the romance perfectly to the environment so it fits rather than being overly syrupy or too aggressive. I think this relationship really works and exposes the vulnerabilities of each of the characters. Aguirre also lets us get better insight to some of the other inmates on the ship including those in Dred's inner circle such as Tam. We also learn more about Jael, about his time in custody and how he ended up in the prison ship. Through the aliens on the ship we gain a better insight into Jael and learn his back story. Of all the characters Jael is the one that I feel is the most developed through the events of book 2. Aguirre does give some depth to Dred through a girly bonding scene. This could have turned out to be too incongruous with the plot but it did work to expose more about this character.

Science fiction fans get buying this book post haste (well start with book 1 if you haven't already read it). I really enjoyed Havoc, even though its full of murder and mayhem. Dred is an excellent female lead and has a great supporting cast to help her whip some assassin butt. Check her out on the book's cover. All I can really say is Dred rocks!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014

Please welcome Timothy S. Johnston to The Qwillery. The Freezer, the second novel in The Tanner Sequence, is out today from Carina Press.

TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. In The Furnace you showed great skill in combining Sci-fi/military and Techno Thriller, do you stick to those same genres in The Freezer or do you blend different genres in the second book?

Timothy:  Hello! It’s a pleasure to be back. As in The Furnace, The Freezer is a murder mystery with elements of Sci-Fi, Thriller, and Horror. Film has had a big influence on me, and movies such as THE THING, ALIEN, THE FLY, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and BLADE RUNNER resonate in everything I create. I love the genre. The greatest SF writer, in my opinion, was Isaac Asimov, and his mystery plots (The Robot Novels for instance) are highly compelling. Additionally, Edgar Allan Poe’s dark gothic mysteries are fantastic. I think if you took all these things and put them in a blender, you might end up with The Freezer.

TQ:  When you started out writing did you consciously want to blend genres or did it just happen naturally based on your own personal interests? How has your writing process changed over the years?

Timothy:  I’m hoping to attract a mainstream audience with this series. Michael Crichton was a master at it. For this reason, the science is all grounded in reality and I don’t use aliens or alien civilizations. I want to make things relevant to issues today around the world and relatable to the mainstream. Was a multi-genre book a conscious decision? Yes. I wanted to write a murder mystery. The setting of any mystery of this sort is crucial. I love futuristic locations because the potential for drama is huge. The vacuum of space, airlocks, the chilling temperatures on an ice-moon of Jupiter, for instance. In The Freezer, the base is located on Europa’s ice ocean which covers the entire moon. There is no land there at all. Fissures can open at any time and swallow you. There are water volcanoes there too. Hubble caught images of a 200 km high plume of water just last year! Settings like that are just perfect for someone like me. Put a claustrophobic base in a place like that, make it a military setting where the chain of command is incontrovertible, and throw a murder in the mix, and the potential for drama is just massive.

In regards to how my process has changed over the years … I would say that I spend more time planning and plotting and researching now than I did in the past. The more pre-writing work you do, the easier the actual writing becomes. And the more you research — even if it’s not used in the book — the better the framework holding the plot in place. The characters I am writing have whole histories behind them, even if only a little bit is ever mentioned. It all contributes to how they behave and interact with others in the books, to make things more realistic.

TQThe Freezer takes place on a frozen moon of Jupiter. How did you research that type of setting to immerse the reader? Did you take a trip anywhere cold to get an authentic feel?

Timothy:  Well, that’s a good question. I’m attracted to cold settings. Movies like THE THING, THE GREY, X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. I’m not 100% sure why I love that setting, but it can provide a terrifying atmosphere. I grew up in Canada and I’ve been through some incredible winters. Picture a meter of snow falling in 24 hours! It’s truly awesome. Everything in the city just shuts down. Of course, in a book of this type you need a setting where people simply can’t leave the facility, so a cold environment like Europa, which is an ocean of ice on a layer of liquid water, is perfect. I also want the environment to mirror the Investigator’s emotions in this series. In The Furnace it was the heat of the investigation and a descent into hell for Tanner. It was incredibly dangerous and the investigation took place in a claustrophobic facility growing in temperature over the span of the novel. Uncomfortable people will not act normally. Their innermost feelings and emotions will boil to the surface. In The Freezer something happens to Tanner early on, and this affects his emotional state. He becomes slightly unbalanced, cold and somewhat heartless. He’s on the edge. The chilling temperature at the station affects everyone and keeps them on edge as well. It’s a real source of tension in this book.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Freezer that is not in the book description.

Timothy:  A question that haunted me while I wrote The Freezer was: Would a homicide investigator consider murder to avenge someone he loved? Since Tanner works for a military dictatorship, he can basically murder anyone he wants and is able to justify it through his position as an Investigator. However, Tanner is a moral person and he wants to help people. He doesn’t really want to be a weapon of the military. However, if you push him hard enough … Let’s just say that the ending of this book is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever written. I’m so proud of it.

TQ:  Will The Tanner Sequence end after book 3, The Void, or would you like it to be a long-running series? And if it is going to continue, do you have other exotic locations to which you'll send Kyle Tanner next? If yes, can you give us a hint?

Timothy:  Carina Press is releasing The Void early in 2015. It takes place in the lonely emptiness between stars. Tanner’s ship breaks down while he’s transporting a serial killer, another ship is also stranded nearby, and [bleep] hits the fan! I love these characters and would be open to writing more. As to other locations … yes, I do have ideas! Because these are claustrophobic murder mysteries, the settings have to be isolated and dangerous. If I do write more, I promise that I will keep Tanner working in remote facilities and stations. I also have other ideas about the future of the military dictatorship in this series. I am interested in exploring it, to write about The Fall, so to speak.

TQ:  Your first book, The Furnace, was self-published before you made a deal with Carina to publish three books. Now that you've gone through both types of publishing, do you see a value in one over the other?

Timothy:  There is a team behind me now, working to help create the best product possible. I welcome advice on what could make the writing more compelling. I prefer this, no doubt about it. It’s hard to be objective about your books when you are independent. Take movies, for instance. You film the movie, then you edit. Then you test with an audience. If things aren’t working, you re-edit and reshoot and tweak things. Then you re-test it. Books are no different. I still have my creative freedom, but I do value other opinions! I listen to my editor(s) and my agent. Even people who reviewed The Furnace had an impact on my writing.

TQ:  Do you see yourself going back to self-publishing or even using Kickstarter in the future, or will you continue to go the traditional publishing route?

Timothy:  Never say never, but I will stick with traditional publishing. I like having people in my corner, helping create the best product, and also helping market it.

TQ:  In other interviews, you've mentioned that you're very particular about aliens, will we ever see aliens in your novels? What types of aliens do you like? Is there a book or movie alien you like or dislike?

Timothy:  Once again, never say never. I do have some ideas … but for now I would like to avoid aliens. As I mentioned, I am trying to write for mainstream Sci-Fi fans and would like to focus on humans and basic human emotions that are more relatable for people. That being said, I would be open to writing for other series and using aliens from those worlds. A STAR TREK book, for instance. As for my favorite aliens in film and books … I enjoy ones who make compelling and scary antagonists. The original Alien from Ridley Scott’s 1979 film of course. Also James Cameron’s ALIENS. Predator from the original film. The aliens from Frederik Pohl’s GATEWAY series are great because they are very mysterious and not well understood by humans. The Buggers from ENDER’S GAME because they are used more as a natural disaster or a force of nature than a well-understood villain. I didn’t really enjoy the Predator from the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004) film because it contravened the rules that earlier films had created! PREDATOR took place in a hot tropical jungle. PREDATOR 2 during a heat wave in Los Angeles. The implication is that these aliens are from a hotter planet and prefer this type of environment when they are hunting humans. Then all of a sudden they put Predators in Antarctica … it just didn’t make sense. Stick to the established rules of your series! I think movie-goers — especially of genre work — are smart people and you can’t break your own rules.

TQ:  Do you plan on focusing all your writing on novels or would you like to try your hand at writing scripts, graphic novels, plays, poetry or Young Adult books in the future?

Timothy:  My intention is to focus on novels for the near future. That being said, if there was ever interest by a film production company into turning The Furnace, The Freezer or The Void into movies, I would of course be open to doing the script. And why wouldn’t there be!? These are intense murder mysteries in incredibly hostile settings! I think the movie potential is huge. The visuals in these books are epic and the tension is palpable. I would also be interested in writing for another series. A STAR TREK or STAR WARS book for instance. I love those worlds and characters and would be very open to exploring them.

TQ:  What's next?

TimothyThe Void is coming early next year. I visited an anatomy lab, interviewed a forensic pathologist, visited the pathology department and the morgue. Parts of the book are very graphic, and I wanted to get it right. Doing the research was … there are just few words to describe it. Visiting the anatomy lab was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have the utmost respect for forensic pathologists. They solve crimes and give families closure every single day.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Timothy:  My pleasure! I hope The Qwillery will be open to also reviewing The Void early next year.

TQ:  Of course!

The Freezer
Series:  The Tanner Sequence 2
Publisher:  Carina Press, August 25, 2014
Format:  eBook, 98,000 words
eISBN: 9781426898853
List Price:   $2.99
Review Copy: Provided by the Author

A Tanner Sequence Novel
2402 AD

CCF homicide investigator Kyle Tanner and his girlfriend are on their way to Pluto, en route to a new life together. Just one little death to check out in the asteroid belt first. But when you're as tangled up in conspiracy as Tanner is, a few hours on a case can change your life. Or end it.

The mystery is a strange one--one man dead, a cryptic message his dying breath. Still, Tanner's ready to wrap it up until another gruesome murder shakes him to his core. The discovery of a microscopic bomb near his own heart offers the first faint clue, but the clock is ticking. He has four days....

A desperate search for answers takes Tanner to The Freezer, an isolated facility on one of Jupiter's moons. With anti-CCF dissidents targeting the facility, a team of scientists conducting experiments the military would rather remain hidden, and a mysterious man in white hunting him on the ice, Tanner will have to choose his allies carefully. Putting his faith in the wrong person will leave him bleeding out in seconds.

Brannigan's Review

The Freezer is the second book in a science fiction thriller series by Timothy S. Johnston. Johnston shows great skill in blending different genres. With both books set in outer space, science fiction is the main genre but then Johnston adds in other genres that add more dimensions to the story. There's a military aspect with the CCF, a council ruling everyone in the known galaxy with a iron fist. Our hero, Kyle Tanner, brings a nice noir-flavored gumshoe detective to the book, and the mysteries for both books have a medical slant to each of them. And lastly there’s action and thrills. That makes it easy for anyone with a pulse to find something to like in his books.

It's not necessary for the reader to have read The Furnace before jumping into the second book. Johnston does a great job of giving the reader enough information about past events to keep them from being lost or as a nice refresher for those of us who read the first book a year ago when it first came out. As the mystery is all important in a murder mystery, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the book by the fact that I hadn't figured it all out. I figured out a few things along the way, which I think we all enjoy, but there was enough that surprised me and kept me reading to find out who did it.

Johnston is a master of setting in The Freezer. You quickly get lost on the frozen moon of Jupiter. The environment acts as another character in the story as it changes and evolves with the mystery. Johnston is wonderful at not just using the setting as a backdrop for his stories but also immersing the characters in it and making them struggle to survive it. This is where most of the action and thrills came in the book and some of my favorite scenes were encased in the setting.

My only complaint of the book was about the timing of a certain character's death. I felt like it happened too soon. I would have preferred to have a little more time with the character so I could feel more invested in what it meant for Tanner to lose that relationship. I do, however, like how Tanner coped with the death as the story progressed, but I still think it would have had more of an emotional impact for me if I had had more time with the character.

On a side note, I'd like to mention one of my favorite aspects of the The Freezer is actually a sub-plot of the story that can also be found in The Furnace. It deals with the CCF and the way it rules the galaxy. I hope I'm not misreading the signs, and if I am I hope this might become reality, but I really want Tanner to change his allegiance and start a rebellion against the CCF. He would make a great rebel leader fighting the good fight.

The Freezer delivers what it promises as the thrills and mysteries ramp up and don't stop until the end, leaving you to catch your breath until the next book in the series arrives. There is violence, some strong language, as well as suggested adult situations, so I would recommended it to adult readers. I'd also recommend it to anyone looking for a quick escape in a hard environment. It's also good for those of you who like a challenging mystery to solve and conspiracy-junkies to speculate on what's in store for Tanner.

Also in the Tanner Sequence

The Furnace
The Tanner Sequence 1
Carina Press, December 23, 2013
eBook, 115,000 words
(Originally self-published September 19, 2011) 

Dead Space, 2401 AD

Kyle Tanner is about to die. Alone, floating in a vacsuit only a few million kilometers from a massive, uncaring sun, he has barely enough time or juice to get out a distress signal before either his oxygen runs out or he succumbs to the radiation.

When the CCF sent investigator Kyle Tanner to SOLEX One, a solar energy harvester past Mercury, he thought it would be an open-and-shut murder case. A crew member was found dead, minus his head and hands. Not the worst Tanner has ever seen, but the deeper he delves, the more nightmarish it becomes. A shadowy figure, bleeding from his hands, assaults Tanner in his quarters. Then two more turn up dead, missing their heads and hands as well.

With no one to trust and everyone a suspect--even the intriguing chief engineer, Shaheen--Tanner must navigate a crew on the brink of madness to uncover a conspiracy that could threaten the whole of the human race. Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice...

Read Brannigan's Review of of The Furnace here.

About Timothy

Timothy S. Johnston is a writer of futuristic and contemporary mystery/thrillers. There is always a technological component to his plot lines, and the science that he uses to propel his stories forward is real and verifiable. His characters are strongly motivated and undergo extreme change; his protagonists each find themselves drawn into intense situations seemingly beyond their control. The stakes are always huge and the outcomes unique and unpredictable. He is dedicated to the art of telling a compelling story and contributing to the genre that has given him so much over the past four decades. He is passionate about writing and committed to inspiring others through his stories. Carina Press is currently publishing a trilogy of thrillers by Johnston: The Furnace (2013), The Freezer (2014), and The Void (2015). This series — The Tanner Sequence — details Homicide Investigator Lt. Kyle Tanner’s emotional journey as he solves difficult cases set in unique and deadly claustrophobic environments.

Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter @TSJ_Author