Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Scifi and Fantasy Releases: Week of August 8th

Posted by Simcha 11:58 PM, under | 4 comments

As usual, this time of month is a slow one for new releases and although this week's list is pretty paltry there are still a couple of titles here that have caught my interest. The Madman of Venice by Sophie Masson includes both pirates and Venice, two subjects I always enjoy reading about, so I'll probably give this book a try. The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum also looks like a book worth checking out as does Death Most Definite, a new urban fantasy by Trent Jamieson.

So what do you think? Do you plan on adding any of this week's new releases to your book shelf?

Hope you have a great reading week!


Tim Kring & Dale Peck
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: August 10

A new caliber of thriller set at the collision of ’60s counterculture and the rise
of dark forces in world government. Heroes creator Tim Kring injects history with a supernatural, hallucinogenic what-if.

Set in the crucible of the 1960s, Shift is the story of Chandler Forrestal, a man whose life is changed forever when he is unwittingly dragged into a CIA mind-control experiment. After being given a massive dose of LSD, Chandler de¬velops a frightening array of mental powers. With his one-in-a-billion brain chemistry, Chandler’s heightened perception uncovers a plot to assassi¬nate President Kennedy.

Propelled to prevent the conspiracy of assassi¬nation and anarchy, Chandler becomes a target for deadly forces in and out of the government and is pursued across a simmering landscape peopled by rogue CIA agents, Cuban killers, Mafia madmen, and ex-Nazi scientists…all the while haunted by a beautiful woman with her own scandalous past to purge, her own score to settle. Chased across America, will Chandler be able to harness his “shift” and rewrite history?

Combining the nonstop style of Ludlum with the sinister, tangled conspiracies of DeLillo and Dick, and featuring cameos from Lee Harvey Oswald to Timothy Leary to J. Edgar Hoover, Shift is a thriller guaranteed to be equal parts heart-stopping and thought-provoking.

The Three Furies
Kaza Kingsley
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 10

Erec Rex continues his quest to become king in Kaza Kingsley's The Three Furies.

The Madman of Venice
Sophie Masson
Genre: YA
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 10 (US Debut)

Romance and mystery merge in this suspenseful tale inspired by Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

Venice in 1602 is a vibrant and charming city. Yet beneath this splendor lies a sinister underworld in which murderous pirates and conniving noblemen have woven a tangled network.

Along with his daughter, Celia; his clerk, Ned; and his sister, Mistress Bess Quickly, Master Ashby, a prosperous merchant, sets forth from London to Venice to investigate the pirate attacks that have been plaguing English ships. But the group's mission turns out to be far more than they bargained for when Ashby is beseeched to find Sarah Tedeschi, a Jewish girl who has vanished from the Venetian Ghetto after being accused of witchcraft by the powerful Countess of Montemoro.

Is Sarah's disapperance somehow connected to the pirate attacks? Nothing is what it seems as Ned and Celia uncover secrets that have been hidden for far too long.

The Bone Palace
Amanda Downum
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit Us
Release Date: August 10

Death is no stranger in the city of Erisín, but some deaths attract more attention than others.

When a prostitute dies carrying a royal signet, Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and agent of the Crown, is called to investigate. Her search leads to desecrated tombs below the palace, and the lightless vaults of the vampiric vrykoloi deep beneath the city. But worse things than vampires are plotting in Erisín–a long-dead sorceress is making a bid not only for renewed life but for the throne as well, and Isyllt’s former lover is caught in her schemes. Soon Isyllt is torn between the living and the dead, between the man she still loves, and the royal family she’s sworn to defend.
As a sorcerous plague sweeps the city and demons stalk the streets, Isyllt must decide who she’s prepared to betray, before the city built on bones falls into blood and fire.

The Terminal State (Avery Cates, Bk 4)
Jeff Somers
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: August

Avery Cates is an army man. Between the army’s new dental plan and a set of first class augments, he’s been given a second chance – albeit a quick one.
When a corrupt officer decides to make some money on the side by selling new recruits, Cates finds himself in uncharted territory. Sold to the highest bidder, his visions of escape and revenge quickly come to an end when he realizes who’s bought him – and for what. Because the high bidder is Canny Orel himself. And he wants Cates to do one last job as the System slides into chaos. Cates will have one shot at getting back at Canny – but this time, Canny is holding all the cards.

Death Most Definite
Trent Jamieson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: August 10

Steven de Selby has a hangover. Bright lights, loud noise, and lots of exercise are the last thing he wants. But that’s exactly what he gets when someone starts shooting at him.
Steven is no stranger to death-Mr. D’s his boss after all-but when a dead girl saves him from sharing her fate, he finds himself on the wrong end of the barrel. His job is to guide the restless dead to the underworld but now his clients are his own colleagues, friends, and family.
Mr. D’s gone missing and with no one in charge, the dead start to rise, the living are hunted, and the whole city teeters on the brink of a regional apocalypse-unless Steven can shake his hangover, not fall for the dead girl, and find out what happened to his boss- that is, Death himself.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love
Chris Roberson
Genre: Graphic Novels
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 10

When supernatural artifacts from the Homelands begin surfacing in the modern world, it falls to Cinderella, Fabletown's best kept (and best dressed) secret agent to stop the illegal trafficking. But can Cindy foil the dark plot before Fabletown and its hidden, exiled inhabitants are exposed once and for all? And how does her long lost Fairy Godmother factor into the equation?
Whether she's soaring through clouds, deep-sea diving, or cracking jaws, Cindy travels from Manhattan to Dubai and hooks up with a handsome, familiar accomplice who may be harboring secret motives of his own. Meanwhile, trouble brews back home in Fabletown when Cindy's overworked, underappreciated assistant decides to seize control of The Glass Slipper, Cindy's exclusive shoe boutique.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Book Blogger Hop

Posted by Simcha 9:21 AM, under | 9 comments

I haven't done the Blogger Hop in a few weeks and I thought this Friday would be a good time to start up again since I'm on vacation and have more free time than usual to visit other blogs.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Blogger Hop, here is the description from the host, Crazy for Books:

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event! And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added! We get over 200 links every week!!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

Crazy for books also asks participants to answer the following questions:

Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes?

Well, I actually can't listen to any music while reading because I find it too distracting. Though I think it's interesting how music and books are becoming more intertwined these days with authors providing sound tracks to their books and songs being written based on books (check out John Anealio's catchy scifi and fantasy related songs at Scifi Songs ). Though I myself just can't listen to music while reading.

What about you, do you listen to music while reading?

Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guest Author Danielle Ackley-McPhail & eBook Giveaway

Posted by Simcha 8:54 AM, under | 6 comments

I'm pleased to present you today with a post from author, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, co- editor of the Bad Ass Fairies anthologies and author of the award winning novel Yesterday's Dreams. Danielle will also be giving away to one commenter a PDF copy of her books Halfling's Court and Yesterday's Dreams.

Building with Allusion

By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

If there is one defining characteristic of the human race it is the overwhelming need to know why. Why does the sun rise each day? What makes a rainbow appear? What causes the thunder in the heavens?

Let’s face it, as a race we have much in common with a two-year-old.

And much like that self-same two-year-old we have a history of making up a reason to sooth our soul if one is not readily understandable. Just look at the parallels throughout the civilizations of the world. In each of them there is a myth or legend dealing with those questions above as well as all the other at-one-time unfathomable occurrences both in nature and human experience.

This is the second defining characteristic of the human race: creativity. Now, imagine the two paired together…

As writers, particularly of speculative fiction, old answers—myths and legends—can add depth and meaning to our writing as we present our readers with new questions. Whether it is a key part of the plot or a hidden significance in the details, literary allusion is like the spice in a good sauce, not always obvious, but definitely enriching. No matter what myth cycle or legend you borrow from, chances are at least a percentage of your readership will be familiar with the original.

I believe very much in borrowing such references, not only because it keeps them alive, but because
they make for great fiction. Let’s take a look at how…


Borrowing names—or even whole characters—from mythology serves several purposes for you the writer. First, it makes the reader feel good when they recognize the reference, like they got the in-joke. Second, it helps both you and the reader define the characteristics at play. For instance, if you name a character Lucifer, that name comes with some automatic connotations based on the biblical reference. This tells the reader right away what they should expect, or gives you as the writer a
foil to work against if your purpose is to overturn those preconceived notions. And third, it can be used to foreshadow events to come. For instance, in my science fiction story Building Blocks (Barbarians at the Jumpgate, Padwolf Publishing; 2010) I named a ship the Cortez. It was an exploratory vessel that unknowingly caused harm to a life form the crew was not even aware of until it started to fight back. In another story, Carbon Copy (Space Pirates, Flying Pen Press; 2007) I named a state-of-the-art warship the Rommel, in this case a historic reference, but still relevant.

Ultimately, my point is mythology (or history) is full of names: heroes, villains, creatures, all of them can help build a character, defining for the writer—if no one else—what that character should be like, or provide a focal point from which your story can grow.


There is a popular opinion that there are no new stories, only new tellings. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. By using an established legend or myth as the foundation of your story you have a better
understanding of the steps that need to take place and that gives you the freedom to play along the way, rather than having to figure out where you’re going next. For example, my first novel, Yesterday’s Dreams (Mundania Press; 2006), takes aspects of Celtic mythology and actually weaves them into the plot. This is how it happened: I named my antagonist Olcas—which is Gaelic for evil—and while researching Irish mythology I discovered there actually was an Olcas in legend. He and his family terrorized ancient Ireland until they were brought down and destroyed by the Sidhe. By incorporating these details into my novel I now had a concrete goal for my bad guy (other than just being the bad guy). He wanted revenge, he wanted to triumph over those that had destroyed his family, and he wanted power like he had had before. And what was more…he had two brothers who wanted the same thing, which meant I had much more story to tell, and more factions to play with than those I had when I started out. Two other books worth, in fact!

Another plot use for myths and legends is as a template, not using the actual details of the myth, but using the familiar landmarks to tell a different story. In fact, mimicking existing myth with legends of your own is a great way to ease a reader into a universe of your own creation.


Both legends and myths have archetypes or tropes that most of us recognize…the white knight, the wicked witch, the damsel in distress, and the learned wizard to mention some of the most familiar. Now, you can call them whatever you want, but the reader will still recognize them for what they are and anticipate what is to come, have some kind of understand what their role will be in the story.

Again, not necessarily a bad thing.

Whether it is a primary character (like the above-mentioned Olcas) or a background character, drawing from mythology awakens an echo in the reader’s subconscious or even outright recognition. That makes the writer’s job easier and frees up your mental muscle for those things you do have to figure out on your own. It also gives you room to play. For instance, my most recent novel, The Halfing’s Court (Dark Quest Books; 2009) is about biker faeries. What most people don’t realize is that the first biker gangs were started by retired Air Force personnel. In the Air Force, if something went wrong with the plane it was gremlins; when they became bikers that translated. Anything that went wrong with the bike was blamed on road gremlins. I was able to incorporate and expand on that myth. Now most people have some vague understanding of what a gremlin is, and probably some concept of what they look like, but where I got to play was in describing one tailored to the road. Mythology is full of descriptions of legendary beings that mimic their surroundings…I capitalized on that…and had a lot of fun! Here is my description of a road gremlin:

    “As the biker rode away down the center of the road, the puddle bubbled and seethed. Up from its shallow depth popped an odd, tiny creature, clutching at its ears. “Smear doesn’t like the faerie-man. Not at all. Or his bloody little shrill bell. Smear wants to grind his face, crush the bell.” Crouched upon the road, he slammed his thick, meaty fists against the asphalt. Microfissures formed: the conception of a pothole.

    He was joined by another, and then another, crawling up through the fissures, expanding them, until the puddle was gone. Standing in its place was a troupe of inch-high gremlins, identical in every way: Skin as grey as asphalt, with an oily, rainbow shimmer. Hair long and thick and spiny, like a porcupine mated with a box of nails. A thick white line ran down the center of their faces, like war paint, and along their arms were thick, black squiggles. Like tats or tribal markings, only with the dull gleam of tar snakes. Each finger was like a spike, reminiscent of those found at toll booths and security gates, only jointed. The miniscule troupe rumbled and grumbled as they watched the bike speed away.”

As you can see, I used physical characteristics of the road, combined with the slang bikers use, to take the concept of a road gremlin and not only make it my own, but did so in a way that the reader can identify with and appreciate.

The Moral of the Story

Literary allusion—be it mythology, history, or current events—is an invaluable tool for enriching your fiction, and not just that of the speculative type. Mythology and legend are a fundamental part of who we are…use that, stir up echoes in the mind that make the reader wonder, that put them in awe, draw them into your telling of a timeless story. This is a tool of such diversity. Grab it with both hands and have some fun!

Author Bio
Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over fifteen years. Her works include the urban fantasies, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series and Dragon’s Lure, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers and Broad Universe, and can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit

Enter to win the ebook versions of
Halfling's Court and the award-winning Yesterday's Dreams by leaving a comment below telling me which myths or legends you enjoy seeing incorporated into the stories that you read.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Free Audiobooks: The Hunger Games & The Lottery

Posted by Simcha 2:04 AM, under , | 2 comments

For one week only, these two awesome audiobooks are available for free download over at Audiobookcommunity.

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

NARRATED by Carolyn McCormick

Who can forget the first time they heard the story? Considered one of the masterpieces of American literature, "The Lottery" created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker. Since then it has become one of the most anthologized stories in American literature. Powerful and haunting, subtle and horrifying, the tale demonstrates Shirley Jackson's mastery of storytelling. This one-of-a-kind audio collection, from the only anthology published during the author's lifetime, unites "The Lottery" with seven other equally unique stories. Jackson reveals the hidden evils of the human mind and society in these compelling stories. Carol Stewart, an award-winning reader, combines her extensive background as a voice talent for audiobooks with her deft sense of delivery, tone, and pacing to illuminate Jackson's uncommon characters and storytelling artistry. Winner of the 1998 Publishers Weekly "Listen Up Award" for short stories, "chosen for content, narration, production values, packaging...demonstrates the vitality of what this still-growing industry has to offer."

To download these two audio books visit

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Vacation

Posted by Simcha 11:14 AM, under | 4 comments

So I was going to write a "going on vacation post" but I didn't get the chance to do so before I took off so instead I'm going to regale you with details of my horrifying twelve hour flight on a plane with three energetic children. Just kidding. I'm sure you don't want to hear about it, or about the fact that my two year old spent half the trip crying, making me the most hated person on the plane. Seriously- I bet there are people from my flight making voodoo dolls in my image, after all the evil looks and snide comments I received.

No, I'm going to put all that behind me and enjoy the two and half weeks ahead of me in America with my family, doing nothing. Or at least, I'm doing my best to do nothing (which is a lot harder than it sounds). This does mean though that I will probably be posting less than usual over the next couple of weeks. I will have some guest posts for you though and hopefully I'll get a few book reviews written up as well. One of my goals while I'm here is to catch up on my ever-growing TBR list and to this end I'm going to be visiting the library today, which I am really excited about. I haven't been to an American library in years. I can hardly wait!

So I just wanted to let you know what's happening in case I don't actually get around to posting for a while, but make sure to stop by on Thursday for my first guest post (I'm not actually sure what it's about yet). And next week I have a guest post and ebook giveaway from Danielle Ackley-McPhail, author of the Bad-Ass Fairies series and the award-winning Yesterday's Dreams.

And now I'm off to the library....


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