Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life- Changing Books: Are they for real?

Posted by Simcha 5:32 PM, under | 14 comments

I often see book bloggers refer to certain books as "life-changing" and I've begun to wonder what this means exactly. How can a book really change a person's life? While I have certainly learned a lot from many of the books that I have read, and some of them may have influenced me in small ways, I wouldn't be able to point to a single book and say that it actually changed my life.

After wondering about this for a while I decided to ask around and see if anyone else could shed some light on this matter for me. And so I contacted a few different bloggers and readers and asked them what they thought about the idea of a life-changing book and if they had ever encountered one themselves.

I really enjoyed reading the different responses that I received and was interested to see that everyone here can actually identify at least one book that they would consider "life-changing."

Thank you to everyone who participated.

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Stephanie from Misfit Salon:

I believe a single book can change someone’s life but only to the extent that one is receptive to the ideas in that book. I can point to two books that I can call “life-changing” – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Because of reading both books I was spurred to make very significant decisions; I read them at the right time and in the right frame of mind. Had I read them at any other time of my life, they probably would not have resonated as profoundly.

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Shellie from Layers of Thought:

Yes, I certainly believe there are life changing books. When I wonder about all the people who have been emotionally uplifted and rescued by finding escape, solace, or knowledge from a book, it must be difficult to quantify. To me it’s actually not a question of “if” but “whether” we are aware of those moments and the extent of the changes which occur.

On a more mundane level, life changing can also be defined as enjoyment and involvement in the experience of reading, which can make us better people. I actually define my favorite five star books as "transformational". I was lucky enough to come across this great word in a book by Orson Scott Card, titled The Writer's Digest Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy. I think that it’s a perfect word for defining very special books.

So absolutely books can be transformational; I think almost all book lovers and dabblers will agree. It’s just subjective on how much and which books do the most changing.

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Esther at Eshchory:

To be honest I’m often a little perplexed when I’m asked about a life-changing book. I don’t think I have one.

When I was a teenager a friend pressed a small book into my hands and, with that ecstatic glow in her eyes, told me I must read it as it had changed her life. I did read the book and I afraid the only thing it changed in my life was my opinion of my friend.

I certainly have favorite books, the kind that sweep me off my feet, leave me with a glow of satisfaction for days after reading and suddenly pop into my mind years after I have turned the last page but did they change anything about me? Nope.

Definitely there are some influential writers in my reading history. George Eliot helped me articulate and define my ideas about a moral way to behave. Her own life was a fine example to me that living a moral life does not mean living by accepted society rules.
I am sure my voracious consumption of short stories by W. Somerset Maughan and F. Scott Fitzgerald contributed to my slightly cynical outlook on life.
While Paul Zindel taught me that being a teenager is tough but survivable.

And now I come to think about it there was one life-changing book I read while I was a young teenager. I can’t even remember the name but it was a mini-encyclopedia produced by one of the magazines targeted at younger teenager girls. Although the magazine was a little childish for my tastes the book claimed to contain all the information a girl needed.
And it did - with explanations of contraception, how best to apply mascara and advice on social interaction and appropriate clothing it covered everything I wanted and might need to know. Despite my mother’s disapproving look I read it from cover to cover twice and even took notes.

This knowledge not only helped me negotiate the maze of puberty but most important of all it gave me the confidence to believe that I could cope.

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Jenny from Jenny's Books:


The book(s) I always credit with having changed my life are the Chronicles of Narnia. My mother started reading them to me and my sister when I was three and she was four, and they have been central to my imaginative landscape my whole life. But it's difficult to say that something you read at age three really changed you. For the most part, I think a life-changing book would be one that said the right things to you at the right moment. I read Julian of Norwich's Showings when I was at a crossroads in my relationship to God, and I do think the book changed my life. It reframed my concept of God and presented God to me in a form that I could understand and deal with. So I think to say a book changed your life is to say that it reshaped your understanding of some aspect of life. The book may not be as earth-shattering when you return to it, but it's left traces of itself in you, and I would call that life-changing.

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Emily from What Book is That?:

I think that books can definitely be life changing but I don't think that process necessarily happens overnight. At least for me personally, the "life changing" books were more like seeds that grew every time I encountered an idea from that book somewhere else or every time I came back to the book and reread it.

I tend to give a lot of books as gifts, and that's another form of change- I generally don't give books that I haven't read already unless the other person requested them or has a special area of interest, so for me to give a book as a gift means that I had to love it when I read it, take the time to consider who else I know would like it, buy copies (usually multiple copies) and hand them out to my nearest and dearest. While this is a sort of temporary change, it's still a change.

I feel the same way about books that I pick to donate to organizations that provide them to people who need them. I don't usually feel comfortable doing the "buy one of these preselected books at the counter" deals so I tend to go back to the shelves in the store and pick a title that I personally enjoyed. Taking the time to match a book I've read and enjoyed with the target audience of a cause that I support is another form of change.

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John Ottinger from Grasping for the Wind:

I think that for some people, books can be life-changing. There are many stories of people who read something – book, article, essay, or treatise – that changed the way they thought about the world. It is not for me to say that a book is or is not life-changing for another person. Was The Secret life-changing for some people? Likely. For as many people as make the claim? Unlikely.

And that is the problem. “Life-changing” is one of those hyperbolic words that gets bandied about so much that it is impossible for others to be absolutely sure of the truth of the statement. Lots of people may say The Secret, the Bible, Star Trek, Dr. Who, The Wheel of Time, The Lord of the Rings is “life-changing” to them, but they only way to be sure is in their actions and behaviors. And since I don’t see such people on a day to day basis, and have likely never even met them, I have no way to verify the truth of the claim. I can test it by reading the work myself, sure, but my experience isn’t going to be the same as someone else, because I am, after all, a different person.

I think that others who speak of one book as “life-changing” are actually saying that this one book was a catalyst. Their descriptor for a particular work was born of life experience and other readings so that because they are changed at the time of reading the particular work to whom they append the label. In other words, the book is life-changing because of all that has come before. That a 180 degree turn comes because that person was at a point in their life journey where such a turn would happen if the right book enters their life. But it could have been any book, so long as it is oppositional to where the person is in their life now, a life they may dislike without knowing why.


So to answer your first question succinctly, yes, books can be “life-changing”. It is not for me to judge someone else’s experiential truth. I prefer, as Ronald Reagan might put it to “trust, but verify” the claim of these readers, if I can.

For me, I have the obvious life-changing book, the Bible. I am an unashamed Christian, and so for me there is no more important book. However, for purposes of this response, I prefer to set aside religious tomes. While these are often the books most often referred to as “life-changing” it is fairly evident why they would be, no matter the religion or philosophy that reader is now a part of.

When you asked the question, I began to think that you perhaps meant what works of fiction were most life-changing. Could I point to any? Not really. I can say that several epic fantasies from the 1990s were formative in my understanding of honor, my concept of good and evil, the notion of what it is to be a good person in a dark world. J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, even Terry Goodkind were important to my prepubescent self. Terry Pratchett was formative in my perception of what is funny. Mystery novels by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle led me to believe that the world was understandable, that mystery just required deep thought and observation to solve. Were these “life-changing” books? No, But would I be the man I am today without them? Also no.

But is there one key novel or fiction that I consider “life-changing”? Perhaps, at least in terms of me as a fiction consumer. Stephen Lawhead wrote a trilogy of Celtic fantasies and a science fiction duology that changed me from a mystery reader into a SF/fantasy reader. I couldn’t get enough of these books, and for a long time, I often said to myself that when I am on my deathbed, I want to be re-reading these as my life leaves me. Such is not the case anymore, but once it was.

On the other hand, nonfiction often is written for the purpose of being life-changing, particularly self-help works. In my own case, a result of a book my wife read, Eat to Live, we are now practicing vegans. Our diet changed drastically, and as a result we are healthier than we were. But though I may use that book as a resource, I might not ever read it. Mere Christianity has had profound effect on me as a Christian, and it is certainly a book I will read again. The Problem of Pain is a memoir about the discoverer of the neurological cause of leprosy which I would love to read again, and which changed the way I use words like “pain”, “hurt”, even “depression”.

But while books I have read may have changed aspects of my life, with the exception of the Bible, none of them have been comprehensively “life-changing”. The effect of the Bible was a religious conversion, something that others can verify by looking at my actions and behaviors, but when one changes one’s entire life philosophy, it is hard to argue that the book was not life changing. I think we would all generally agree with that without debate. But aside from my religious conversion, I am an otherwise an amalgamation of the books I have read, and no one of them changed me to the point where I would use such exaggeration. I am the sum of what I have read. EGO sum plures libri.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Posted by Simcha 5:59 AM, under | 6 comments


Although I'm not usually drawn to books that are compared to works by Jane Austen, the elegant cover, delectable title and promise of magic all combined to make Shades of Milk and Honey a book that immediately intrigued me.

From the Publisher: Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if she had lived in a world where magic worked


I want to start off by saying that just physical handling this book was a pleasure in its own right. The book is a hardcover with a beautiful dust jacket and deckle edged pages and you get the sense that a lot of care had been put into all aspects of its design . It's been a while since I read a book that wasn't just a plain paperback and I really enjoyed the experience. Plus it looks real pretty sitting on my shelf.

As for the content within those lovely deckled pages, I enjoyed that too. The story was lighthearted and fun and the writing had an old-fashioned quality to it that I found to be both charming and soothing. The occasional mis-spelling of certain words which were meant to imitate Austen's writing, such as "shew" instead of "show," were a bit distracting but I did get used to it after a while.

One problem that I had with the book, though, was that it suffers from a couple cases of "intelligent women behaving idiotically," which I always find frustrating. When Jane is trying to figure out which young gentleman her sister has fallen in-love with, for some reason she considers every man except the one who visits her sister every day. For a supposedly smart woman, Jane is being unbelievably dense. I was also frustrated with Jane's constant acquiescence to her younger, bratty sister, who never shows any affection of her own towards Jane.

While I very much enjoyed reading Shades of Milk and Honey, after finishing it I was slightly disappointed that there hadn't been a bit more to the story. It's pretty much just a story about two young women looking for husbands, but the promise of magic had led me to expect that there would be a unique angle to the conventional romantic plot, but the magic ends up being a pretty minor part of the plot. The relationships between the characters also lack the depth and complexity which Austen's books do contain and the romantic entanglements were resolved in a rushed manner that surprised me. As for the magic, while I really liked the vivid descriptions of how it is manipulated and formed for artistic purposes, I was disappointed that the magic system is used in such a limited way in the story.

While Shades of Milk and Honey didn't turn out to be exactly what I had been hoping for, it was a pleasurable way to pass a couple of hours and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a lighthearted and entertaining romantic tale.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Scifi & Fantasy Releases: Week of October 4

Posted by Simcha 6:12 PM, under | 8 comments

If you like the romantic side of speculative fiction than this is a good week for you with a new scifi romance from Lexxie Couper and a romantic steampunk novel from Meljean Brook, along with the usual plethora of paranormal romances. There is also a paranormal romance anthology, Never After, which includes stories from many of the top authors in the genre.

There is really only one book that caught my attention this week and that's Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney, about a teenage guy who decided to pretend to be a vampire in order to get girls. It looks like a really fun read and I'd love to get a hold of that one.

In the meantime, though, I'll be kept pretty busy by Justin Cronin's The Passage which I've been looking forward to reading for months and just got started on yesterday...and which I plan to get back to right now.

Hope you have a great reading week!




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The Mermaid's Mirror
L.K. Madigan
Genre: YA
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Release Date: October 4

Lena has lived her whole life near the beach – walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves – the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman – with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …


American Vampire Vol. 1
Scott Snyder and Stephen King Illustrated by Rafael Albuquereque
Genre: Graphic Novel/Horror
Publisher: Vertigo
Release Date: October 5

This volume follows two stories: one written by Snyder and one written by King. Snyder's story is set in 1920's LA, we follow Pearl, a young woman who is turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European Vampires who tortured and abused her. This story is paired with King's story, a western about Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire-- a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before with rattlesnake fangs and powered by the sun.


Ash
Malinda Lo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 5

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing and romantic, Ash is an empowering retelling of Cinderella about choosing life and love over solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.


Behemoth (Leviathan, Bk 2)
Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 5

At the end of Leviathan, our heroes Alek and Deryn were aboard a mighty air ship heading toward Constantinople to deliver a secret package. But their secrets—Alek’s family is responsible for starting World War I, and Deryn is a girl passing as a guy in the British Air Service—are jeopardized when their mission goes awry. The only way to save themselves in a hostile, politically charged city is to offer up the thing that matters most—their airship, The Leviathan.

In this striking futuristic rendition of an alternate past where machines are pitted against genetically modified beasts in the first world war, lines between allies and enemies blur, and the consequences are Behemoth.


Bloodthirsty
Flynn Meaney
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Poppy Books/ /Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 5

Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are faking it to get girls. Awkward and allergic to the sun, sixteen-year-old Finbar Frame never gets the girl. But when he notices that all the female students at his school are obsessed with a vampire romance novel called Bloodthirsty, Finbar decides to boldly go where no sane guy has gone before--he becomes a vampire, minus the whole blood sucking part. With his brooding nature and weirdly pale skin, it's surprisingly easy for Finbar to pretend to be paranormal. But, when he meets the one girl who just might like him for who he really is, he discovers that his life as a pseudo-vampire is more complicated than he expected. This hilarious debut novel is for anyone who believes that sometimes even nice guys-without sharp teeth or sparkly skin--can get the girl.


The Cardinal's Blades
Pierre Pevel
Genre: Fantasy/ Alternate History
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: October 5

Welcome to seventeenth-century Paris, where intrigue, duels, and spies are rife and Cardinal Richelieu's agents may be prevailed upon to risk life and limb in the name of France at a moment's notice. And with war on the horizon, the defense of the nation has never been more pressing.
Danger is rising from the south--an insidious plot that could end with a huge dragon-shaped shadow falling over France, a shadow cast by dragons quite unlike the pet dragonets that roam the cities like stray cats, or the tame wyverns men ride like horses, high over the Parisian rooftops. These dragons and their descendants are ancient, terrible, and powerful ... and their plans contain little room for the lives or freedom of puny humans.
Cardinal Richelieu has nowhere else to turn; Captain La Fargue and his elite group of agents, the Cardinal's Blades, must turn the tide. They must hold the deadly Black Claw cult at bay, root out traitors to the crown, rescue prisoners, and fulfill their mission for the Cardinal, for their country, but above all for themselves.
It's death or victory. And the victory has never been less certain.


Crave (Fallen Angels, Bk 2)
J.R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 5

The battle between good and evil has left the future of humanity in the hands of a reluctant saviour and his band of fallen angels. Seven deadly sins that must be righted. Seven souls that must be saved.

While his first task was success, Jim Heron is battling a demon that can take any form for the soul of someone he must identify on his own. If that weren't enough, his old boss Matthias wants Jim to assassinate an AWOL member of The Firm - Isaac, the man Jim is pretty sure he is supposed to save. Jim knows first hand that once you're in The Firm, there's no getting out. But when Jim finds Isaac to warn him, he has been picked up by the police for illegal street fighting, and it is clear that Isaac is falling for his gorgeous public defender. Is their love the redemption that will save Isaac's soul? Or has the demon Devina set an elaborate trap?


Eternal Hunger
Laura Wright
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: October 5

FEAR IS IN THE BLOOD
Alexander Roman wants nothing to do with the controlling rulers of his vampire breed or the family he escaped from a hundred years ago. But as a new threat to the pureblood vampires emerges, Alexander's ties to the past are forced upon him again, and without warning, he finds himself - disoriented, terrified, and near death - at the door of a stranger.

TRUST IS A RISK
Dr. Sarah Donohue is dedicated to removing the traumatic memories of her patients - like those of the stranger at her front door. But what he tells her of his past is too astonishing to be anything more than the delusion of a madman. Yet she has seen his flesh scarred by the sun and witnessed his inhuman strength. And never more has she felt so conneted to a man, by both fear and seductive excitement.



Gauntlgrym
R.A. Salvatore
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Release Date: October 5

Drizzt joins Bruenor on his quest for the fabled dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym: ruins said to be rich with ancient treasure and arcane lore. But before they even get close, another drow and dwarf pair stumbles across it first: Jarlaxle and Athrogate. In their search for treasure and magic, Jarlaxle and Athrogate inadvertently set into motion a catastrophe that could spell disaster for the unsuspecting people of the city of Neverwinter—a catastrophe big enough to lure even the mercenary Jarlaxle into risking his own coin and skin to stop it. Unfortunately, the more they uncover about the secret of Gauntlgrym, the more it looks like they can’t stop it on their own. They’ll need help, and from the last people they ever thought to fight alongside again: Drizzt and Bruenor.


Grave Witch
Kalayna Price
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: October 5

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around…

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.


Kill the Dead (Sandman Slim, Bk 2)
Richard Kadrey
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Eos
Release Date: October 5

What do you do after you’ve crawled out of Hell to wreak bloody revenge? If you’re Stark you turn to bounty hunting, tracking and descimating whatever rogue monsters you’re paid to kill. Stark hates the work, but he needs the money, especially the big bucks Lucifer is offering. In town as an advisor on a biopic of his life, Lucifer needs protection, and he wants Stark as his bodyguard. But the gig isn’t all bad; there is the very sexy, very hot French porn star Brigitte Bardo, a friend of Lucifer’s in LA to remake her reputation as a legit actress. While it isn’t love, it’s pretty damn good, and after 11 years of demonic chastity, it’s enough for now.

Stark has enough trouble juggling a diva devil and a sorching French bombshell.without a zombie plague to complicate matters. And just what happens when a human-angel half-breed is bitten by the living dead? His human side begins to die, transforming him into an unstoppable angel of death—a killing machine devoid of emotion or thought, with no regrets or future to worry about. Not a bad way to be when you’re choices are limiited. Now, Stark has to decide . . . if he does finds a cure for the zombie infection, will he take it?



Memories of Envy (Vampire Memories, Bk 3)
Barb Hendee
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: October 5

For a vampire, killing is easy. She makes it fun...

A reluctant predator, Eleisha Clevon has made home for herself and other vampires like her in Portland. And, in spite of the risks, she is determined to locate all vampires still existing in isolation, so she might offer them sanctuary — and more importantly, so she can teach them to feed without killing.

To Eleisha's shock, she learns that a lost vampire may be living as close as Denver, Colorado... but she has to approach this one more carefully than ever before.

Simone Stratford is a beautiful, delicate-looking creature from the roaring twenties who enjoys playing elaborate games with mortals, stoking their passion for her before finally draining them of their blood.

When Eleisha and her protector, Philip Branté, go to Denver in search of Simone, what they find is far worse — and more seductive — than either one bargained for. Philip’s love for Eleisha and his ability to fit into her world are pushed to the breaking point, as is Eleisha’s fierce belief in her own mission.


Myth-Interpretations
Robert Asprin
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Baen
Release Date: October 5

Presenting a collection of short novels and stories set in the many worlds of Robert Asprin. One of his most popular creations was the 'Myth' series, chronicling the misadventures of Skeeve and Aahz, a magician who has lost his power and his hapless human apprentice as they travel through strange and varied worlds in pursuit of wealth and glory, but mostly getting into one Myth-ical mess after another. Collected in this volume for the first time are all the Myth stories of less-than-novel length, and even avid fans of the series will find new and enjoyable reading here. Also included are other short works by Asprin, including his award-winning novelette 'Cold Cash War,' and several unpublished stories discovered after the writer's death.


Never After
Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Sharon Shinn, Marjorie M. Liu
Genre: Paranormal Romance Anthology
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release Date: October 5

The bonds of love...
The bonds of matrimony...
The bonds between husband and wife...
Let's face it—some bonds are made to be broken.
Here, for the first time ever, are four stories from today's most provocative authors that take the classic idea of the "faerie tale wedding" and give it a swift kick in the bustle.

Can he bake a cherry pie? by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Shadow of Mist by Yasmine Galenorn
The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie M. Liu
The Wrong Bridegroom by Sharon Shinn


The Power of Illusion
Christopher Anvil
Genre: Scifi Anthology
Publisher: Baen
Release Date: October 5

A new collection of stories by the master of humorous science fiction adventure, including:
• The full-length novel, The Day the Machines Stopped—and what happens, not just to civilization, but to humanity and its chances of survival when all the machines stop working at once?
• A man is captured by aliens who are investigating the Earth as a possible target for colonization. The aliens have science and technology far in advance of humans—but, unfortunately for them, they have never developed the human art of bluffing.
• For the first time in book form, Anvil’s stories of Richard Verner, who is called in to solve apparently insoluble problems, such as explaining why experimental missiles keep failing for no apparent reason, or locating a kidnapped judge, or even solving an inexplicable murder that’s interrupting his vacation.
And much more, in a generous volume of sardonically humorous science fiction.



Scoundrel (The Blades of the Rose, Bk 2)
Zoe Archer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 5

The Blades of the Rose are sworn to protect the sources of magic in the world. But the work is dangerous—and they can’t always protect their own…

Ready For Action
London Harcourt’s father is bent on subjugating the world’s magic to British rule. But since London is a mere female, he hasn’t bothered to tell her so. He’s said only that he’s leading a voyage to the Greek isles. No matter, after a smothering marriage and three years of straitlaced widowhood, London jumps at the opportunity—unfortunately, right into the arms of Bennett Day.

Risking It All
Bennett is a ladies’ man, when he’s not dodging lethal attacks to protect the powers of the ancients from men like London’s father. Sometimes, he’s a ladies’ man even when he is dodging them. But the minute he sees London he knows she will require his full attention. The woman is lovely, brilliant, and the only known speaker of a dialect of ancient Greek that holds the key to calling down the wrath of the gods. Bennett will be risking his life again—but around London, what really worries him is the danger to his heart…


Seducing the Succubus
Cassie Ryan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 5

Jezebeth is living out the centuries as any succubus must-seducing men to survive and corrupting souls to make her quota with her queen, Lilith. But, when she's attacked by a bounty hunter demon, it's a handsome human who saves her.

Noah Halston is a horror writer who owes his life to Lilith. Now he must pay up by eluding the fearsome beasts of hell while escorting a very attractive and tempting succubus safely to Lilith's lair-or else he will forfeit his soul to an eternity of torture.

Trouble is, if he spends too much time with the all too tempting Jezebeth, he may just lose his heart-or, even worse, his life.


Slayed
Amanda Marrone
Genre: YA
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 5

The Van Helsing family has been hunting vampires for over one hundred years, but sixteen-year-old Daphne wishes her parents would take up an occupation that doesn't involve decapitating vamps for cash. All Daphne wants is to settle down in one place, attend an actual school, and finally find a BFF to go to the mall with. Instead, Daphne has resigned herself to a life of fast food, cheap motels and buying garlic in bulk.

But when the Van Helsings are called to a coastal town in Maine, Daphne's world is turned upside down. Not only do the Van Helsings find themselves hunting a terrifying new kind of vampire (one without fangs but with a taste for kindergarten cuisine), Daphne meets her first potential BF! The hitch? Her new crush is none other than Tyler Harker, AKA, the son of the rival slayer family.

What's a teen vampire slayer to do?


Something Wicked (Living in Eden, Bk 2)
Michelle Rowen
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 5

Being a little wicked isn’t all bad…

Every woman has a sexy demon inside her just waiting to get out, but for Eden Riley it’s a little different. Her inner demon is named Darrak, and he’s been inhabiting bodies for the past 300 years. In the daytime, thanks to her special psychic energy, he’s able to take physical shape—a shape she wouldn’t mind getting her hands on, if it wasn’t a threat to her immortal soul…

Because of her possession, Eden now has uncontrollable black magic at her fingertips, and she and Darrak are trying to end the curse that binds them before the situation gets any worse. To do it, they’ll have to get tangled up with some unsavory characters from the underworld. When sparks and spells fly, they could get the distance they need…or each have their own private hell to pay.


The Iron Duke
Meljean Brook
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 5

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power — and fear — of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him…and the Iron Duke’s ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.

But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans — and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.



The Sun Sword
Lexxie Couper
Genre: Romantic Science Fiction
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: October 5

She has the power to bring new life…or utterly destroy it.


Torin Kerridon, the last warrior from an ancient order, is drawn to an abandoned, dying Earth, where he finds a forgotten young woman. A woman forged by the Immortals to wield the ultimate weapon—the Sun Sword. A woman capable of commanding the power of the suns. A woman with no past and no memory, the body of an angel and the spirit of a demon. He will train her. Prepare her.

Hunted all her life, Kala Rei has endured more than one woman should. Sheer grit, and a dangerous skill with a lead pipe, are the key to her survival. But nothing threatens her sense of safety more than dominance-oozing Torin. He wants her, but not for what’s between her legs. For what he believes her to be—some ludicrous savior from some absurd prophecy. No matter…his offer to take her away from Earth is too good to refuse.

But when a savage desire begins to burn between them, both Torin and Kala are in danger—and so are the worlds of man.

Warning: This book contains an ancient prophecy that can’t be denied, a brooding hero tormented by desire, a stubborn woman who hungers for his touch, a villain so vile you’ll want to kill him yourself and sex so hot it’ll melt the suns of the known universes…and then some.


The Eternal Dawn (thirst, Bk 3)
Christopher Pike
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 5

Alisa has spent the past five thousand years as a vampire, living alone and fighting for survival. In her loneliness, Alisa cannot resist bringing Teri—a descendant of her human family—into her life. But Alisa is surrounded by death and destruction, and just by knowing Alisa, Teri’s life is at risk.

Alisa’s guilt grows when she becomes involved in a dangerous conspiracy. A top-secret group knows Alisa’s secret and will stop at nothing to use her powers for their cause. As Alisa desperately tries to protect herself and Teri from the unknown enemy, she discovers a force more powerful and more lethal than anything she has ever seen. Alisa doesn’t know who to trust, who to challenge, or who she will become….

Troubled Waters
Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: October 5

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood — and the secrets of the royal family — she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.


Undertow (Building Sanctuary, Bk 2)
Moira Rogers
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: October 5

Victor left behind a life of crime to focus on a new vision--helping his alpha build an island sanctuary for werewolves. Harsh experiences prepared him for the hardships involved, except when it comes to dealing with the young female refugees of the brutal Boston pack--especially Simone, who rouses his inner wolf like no other. A woman he must resist, or risk becoming just the latest man to make demands on her.

Born to wealth and privilege, Simone lost everything when she fell for the seductive whispers of the textile heir who turned her. Once adrift, now she is fired by a new sense of purpose--the chance to broker peace between werewolves and European wizards. Yet even as Europe beckons, her instincts--the same ones that led to trouble before--keep drawing her back to Victor.

During a sailing trip to the mainland for supplies, Victor finds it impossible to hold himself aloof from the warm, engaging Simone. And when a winter storm traps them together during a full moon, she breaks through his walls so easily and completely, the question is no longer how he'll stay away, but how he'll let her go.


The Wolf Age (Morlock the Maker, Book 3)
James Enge
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: October 5


Wuruyaaria: city of werewolves, whose raiders range over the dying northlands, capturing human beings for slaves or meat. Wuruyaaria: where a lone immortal maker wages a secret war against the Strange Gods of the Coranians. Wuruyaaria: a democracy where some are more equal than others, and a faction of outcast werewolves is determined to change the balance of power in a long, bloody election year.
Their plans are laid; the challenges known; the risks accepted. But all schemes will shatter in the clash between two threats few had foreseen and none had fully understood: a monster from the north on a mission to poison the world, and a stranger from the south named Morlock Ambrosius.


Dark Heart Forever
Lee Monroe
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Release Date: October 7

Jane Jonas is nearing her 16th birthday and troubled by unsettling recurring dreams where the same mysterious boy her age comes to her, telling Jane that they are each other's destiny. Her mother is increasingly anxious about Jane's disruptive sleepwalking episodes, but for Jane her dream world and reality are about to collide ...When she develops a friendship with an enigmatic stranger in town, the blond, uber-cool Evan, it's exciting, it's new, and Jane wants him more than she's ever wanted anybody - until her mystery dream boy gets in the way. Now Jane is caught between two worlds: one familiar, but tinged with romance and excitement; the other dark and dangerous, where angels, werewolves, and an irresistible stranger are trying to seduce her ...


Finding Sky
Joss Stirling
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: October 7

When Sky catches a glimpse of Zed for the first time, lounging against his motorbike at school, she is drawn to him just like every other girl in Wickenridge. But Zed sees something special in her that the other girls don't have. Zed tells her they are both Savants - people with special powers like telepathy and the ability to see into the future. Not only that, she is a Savant too, and his soulfinder - meant to be together.

When a soulfinder speaks telepathically to her partner, it's like all the lights coming on in a building. You lit me up like Vegas. But for Sky it's just not that easy - she's a mystery to herself, haunted by nightmares from her past before she was adopted, and riddled with doubt and insecurity. Just when Sky is slowly coming round to the idea of being with Zed she is kidnapped by a family of criminal Savants. In a chilling twist, Sky and Zed's relationship is put to the ultimate test and the fate of those she loves lie in Sky's hands. Will Sky have the strength to embrace her power and be brave enough to control her own destiny, or will the dark demons of her past prevent her from realizing her true potential?

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