Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

This is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books. This week we're featuring picks chosen by SQT and Jim.

SQT's can't wait to read selection is:

Fade to Black by Francis Knight
Publisher: Orbit
Date: February 13, 2013
Pages: 384

Synopsis 1~ Today isn’t Rojan’s day. His latest bounty almost killed him three times, his girlfriends all found out about each other and trashed his rooms—and his niece has been kidnapped. Now he’s got to use his magic to find her – and there is a good chance it will end up destroying him.

Rojan follows his niece’s trail to the Pit, the underbelly of the city. The Pit was evacuated when the Synth-tox wiped out most of the city’s residents —and a new city was built over it. But what he wasn’t told is that the Pit was never emptied. And Rojan isn’t the only one using pain magic. And there is more at stake than the life of one little girl.

Synopsis 2~ Mahala: a city built in the dark depths of a valley. A city built up in layers, not across - where streets are built upon streets, buildings balance precariously upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from its lofty perch at the sunlit summit & where the forsaken lurk in the shadowy depths of the Pit. Rojan is a bounty hunter trying to make his way in the city. Everyone knows he's a womaniser, a shirker of all responsibility, but they don't know he's also a pain-mage: able to draw magic from his own & other people's pain. He's not keen on using it (not least because it's outlawed), but when his niece is abducted and taken to the dark depths of the Pit, he may just be forced to unleash his power ...

This is a book I might have overlooked if it wasn't being published by Orbit, but it's quickly becoming one of my favorite fantasy imprints. The cover also drew my attention more than the synopsis- or should I say both of them? The reason I posted two was because they're written so differently and convey a different mood. The second one seems grittier while the first one reads a little bit like a typical urban fantasy. I'm curious to see which one is more accurate.

Jim's can't wait to read selection is:

The Constantine Affliction byT. Aaron Payton
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Date: August 7, 2012

1864. London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction–a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex– has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.

Pembroke “Pimm” Hanover is an aristocrat with an interest in criminology, who uses his keen powers of observation to assist the police or private individuals–at least when he’s sober enough to do so. Ellie Skyler, who hides her gender behind the byline “E. Skye,” is an intrepid journalist driven by both passion and necessity to uncover the truth, no matter where it hides.

When Pimm and Skye stumble onto a dark plot that links the city’s most notorious criminal overlord with the Queen’s new consort, famed scientist Sir Bertram Oswald, they soon find the forces of both high and low society arrayed against them. Can they save the city from the arcane machinations of one of history’s most monsters–and uncover the shocking origin of . . . THE CONSTANTINE AFFLICTION

Monday, July 30, 2012

Series Review- "Person of Interest" Season 1

My DVR is littered with television shows that I want to watch- many go back two or three seasons. I like "Fringe" and "Castle" and try to catch up on "The Walking Dead" or "Falling Skies" when I can; but when I'm looking at 20-30 hours of viewing for just one show, just to get caught up, I find I really need to connect to a story or I'm not motivated to invest the time. This year the one show that resonated with me was Person of Interest, and for the first time in years I watched the entire season before the episodes had a chance to pile up on my DVR.

In the wake of 9/11 a machine is built by computer genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) that gleans information worldwide from surveillance cameras and satellites and pinpoints immediate terrorist threats for the American government. What Finch doesn't anticipate is that the machine also recognizes immediate non-terrorist threats and alerts him to people, by social security number, who will be murdered within the next 48 hours.

Finch tries to disregard the civilian victims as they are non-essential to national security. But, over time, the knowledge that there are people out there he can help weighs on his conscience and he finds former CIA agent John Reese (John Caviezel) and hires him to help save people that would almost certainly die without their help.

"Person of Interest" is a show with a simple premise that explores the complexities of human greed and corruption instead of forcing the viewer to follow a circuitous route of mystery-box plot devices. That isn't to say that the show doesn't bury the main characters under layers of their own mysterious backgrounds, but their personal secrets usually take a back-seat in favor the immediate storyline that makes up each individual episode. Finch is intellectually gifted but physically hobbled due to a so-far undisclosed injury that was likely tied to his work on the machine. Reese is physically intimidating thanks to his extensive military background and plays the badass to Finch's genius. Both men are dealing with loss and grief that propels them to protect others but the particulars haven't been fully revealed.

I was initially wary of how the show would play out as the villains of the story are often politically connected and I was sure that there were bound to be sucker-punches along the way that would betray the bias of show's writers. But the brilliance of the show is that everyone is a potential bad guy and there are no sacred cows. The jumping off point of the series follows the deep seated corruption within the New York police force and its ties to the mafia. As Reese and Finch save one person caught in that particular web they find that the infection runs deeper into the political structure of the city. Over time it becomes clear that virtually everyone has their hands dirty and the best they can do is to try to protect the few people with any integrity that have managed to avoid being blackmailed or bribed into compliance. As an added twist it's often unclear if the people they are trying to help are perpetrators or victims. There's no political ideology being lionized here because everyone is shady in some way.

Two NYPD detectives quickly become integral to Reese and Finch's operation. Joss Carter (Taraji B. Henson) initially chases Reese when she crosses paths with him on a number of cases. Referring to him as "the man in the suit" she isn't sure of his intentions and it isn't until she has first-hand experience with the CIA, and their pursuit of Reese, that she begins to trust and help him- but there major turnarounds and misunderstandings along the way (I'm trying to keep this spoiler free). Carter is one of the few people in a position of authority that can be counted as one of the 'good guys' and often ends up in danger as a result. The other detective, Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) is brought to Reese's attention because he is a dirty cop and vulnerable to blackmail and can be used to infiltrate deeper into the NYPD's corruption.

There are so many things I like about this show- it's hard to say what my favorite aspect is. The cast is simply awesome. Jim Caviezel never seems to speak above a whisper and he could give lessons in how to be quietly menacing; his butt-kicking moments are so fun in a vicarious-thrill kind of way. (You can't help but love a guy who'll walk through the front door of a mob-operated bar and take down everyone in the room).  He's also a smart character who is tenacious in his determination to find out more about Finch. However, because this is a television show, there are a few cheesy moments: it's a given that anytime Reese turns his back to anyone for any length of time he's going to have a gun put to his head. Michael Emerson makes Finch so much more than the antisocial genius and his character quickly goes beyond his quirky exterior and becomes very endearing over the course of the season. Taraji B. Henson is also excellent and convincing as Carter- you really care about her. But the biggest surprise is Kevin Chapman as Lionel Fusco. His character is one that came into the show as a man willing to kill Reese to keep his illegal activities secret and, somehow, becomes someone who earns our sympathy.

"Person of Interest" isn't, strictly speaking, a genre show. The technology is slightly beyond where we currently are (as far as I know) and has a slight sci-fi element to the effectiveness and efficiency of the surveillance Harold uses to power the machine. But one look at Google Earth is all I need to look at to know that there is nothing in this show that is beyond belief. The only thing I can't believe is that Finch and Reese could carry on so many covert conversations in which they speak out loud in a crowded room through the ear-buds they use to speak to each other.  Reese also spies on people, camera and all, without actually hiding. I understand the need to get these activities on film, but the secretiveness they are supposed to convey doesn't always come across.

Johnathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) really did come up with a winning formula when he created "Person of Interest."  It's an intelligent, tightly woven, often tense show that has excellent character development. The way it focuses on trying to save people is refreshing in that it gives the audience a clear side to root for without giving up any complexity or shades of gray as it explores the darker side of human nature. I've done my best to summarize the series without spoilers but I will say that season one ended on a pretty terrific cliff-hanger and, for the first time since BSG went off the air, I am counting the days until the new season starts.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Catching Up-- Giveaway Winners!

My blog malaise has been awful this last month, but I'm trying to get my mojo back. I'm way late (a month to be accurate) in announcing the winner of one contest but, by golly, I'm going to mail these books off this week and get my act together if it kills me.


The winner of "Further: Beyond the Threshold" by Chris Roberson is: Abbey Christman; Denver, CO


The winner of The Dreamblood Series by N.K. Jemisin is: Doug Kosik; Murphysboro, IL

Congrats to the winners!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review – The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier – Invincible by Jack Campbell

When last we left Admiral Black Jack Geary and his fleet of starships, they had been ordered to investigate the area of space under the control of the alien Enigma species that seems intent on humanity’s extinction. Led by the flagship Dauntless, Geary crossed the enemy’s space, never quite able to make contact with them, until he was at last driven to the border with another species – one that immediately showed aggressive tendencies by attacking the fleet. This is where Invincible opens, as Geary must quickly determine his strategy against this new enemy, and somehow find his way home again to report back to his superiors about the status of his mission.

It’s taken 8 books, but for the first time I felt like it was a bit of a struggle for me to get through a Lost Fleet book. Part of it may be the length, this is a good 400+ pages long, which is at least 100 pages more than the prior book (which in itself seemed about 100 pages more than each of the first 6 books). Now that may be a bonus for some, but I’ve actually always liked the shorter feel to this series, and Invincible felt like it dragged. Part of it may also be because so many things were going on in this book. First the fleet has to battle these alien Bear-cows – they need to learn about them, fight against them, and then flee from them. Then, they come across a third species, who look about as hideous a nightmare creature as humanity could imagine – which obviously means they are going to be the most likely alien life we’ll be able to form some kind of an alliance with. And then, humanity with its new allies must defeat the Bear-cows, make their way back to human space, fight the Enigmas and learn all that’s happened in their absence.

I didn’t dislike the book, but with all that plot it actually could have been split into two shorter volumes fairly easily. And even with all these new aliens, I feel like the series has fallen a little bit into a rut, there is a regular pattern to these things and it needs to branch out a little more. The reader gets to experience a little of the battles of the Marines as they storm a Bear-cow fortress-ship (because Geary chooses to watch from the cameras mounted on each soldier’s helmet), but it’s still a little too far removed. Geary never leaves Dauntless, never travels to another ship, to a planet, nothing. And the book could use to bring in more points of view, we only ever see the world through John Geary’s eyes (in 3rd person).

There’s the usual amount of intrigue among the soldiers and civilians of the fleet, between discovering the secret about Rione’s husband and why Geary’s grand-niece is acting so haphazard with her own ship, as well as the multitude of problems the fleet is facing because it has survived much longer than they were designed to. But the most interesting developments are those we only get a glimpse of, when Geary’s fleet arrives back in human space. The territory formerly controlled by the Syndics has erupted into civil war, one which has divided its people and made for a political hotbed as Geary and his alien allies want to move through this area of space and back to Alliance territory. I want to know more about that civil war – and that’ll be expanded upon in Jack Campbell’s upcoming Tarnished Knight, and it makes me hopeful that the next Lost Fleet book will continue exploring the new status quo which would also make for a nice change of pace.

All in all, not my favorite book in the series and probably my least favorite. This is definitely not a good book for newcomers (books 1, 5 & 7 are all good entry points) but I can’t say that it’s unnecessary for those regular readers of the series. It strikes me as a middle book, needed to get from point A to C, it just didn’t succeed in entertaining me as much as other middle books (2, 3, 4) have in the past.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trailer - Clone Wars Season 5

A couple more videos from San Diego Comic Con for Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5. I'm a big fan of the Mandalorians, so I'm pleased to see them return here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What'cha Reading?

As those who stop by the blog know, I've been struggling through a terrible bout of reader's block. It has also translated into a bigger problem because I've been struggling to write reviews- which is not helpful at all when you have a blog mostly devoted to reviewing stuff.

Anyway. One strategy I employed to break through my slump was to sort through a bunch of books I had already read, and knew I liked, and see if any of them would connect- and one finally did!

The book that did it for me was The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. If you haven't read my review I'll skip to the good part-- it's a really good book. So far it still tops my list of "best of" books for 2012.

So now that I have finally finished a book (after a good month of tossing everything to the side) I need another good book to get into. I have been sorting through my TBR pile and Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch is looking pretty good- I'm a couple of chapters in and it has potential. But potential is not always enough to keep my flaky self interested these days-- so I'm wondering, what are you reading right now? And is it good? Have you finished anything lately that you feel the need to rave about?

I really, really want to know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

This is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books. This week we're featuring picks chosen by SQT and Jim.

SQT's can't wait to read selection is:

Defiance by C. J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 416

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

 This sounds like a YA book worth taking a chance on. Rather than a simple romance the description reads like a well thought out story with an honest-to-goodness plot. The best book I read last year was YA ("Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor) and if the reviews attached to "Defiance" are any indication it may be this year's YA title. Fingers crossed.

Jim's can't wait to read selection is:

Dead Space: Catalyst by B.K. Evenson
Publisher: Tor
Date: October 2, 2012
pages: 416

Dead Space: Catalyst takes place three hundred years in the future, where mankind is tampering with the dangerous alien technology gleaned from the Black Marker, an ancient alien artifact discovered on Earth centuries earlier. Hoping to end resource constraints that threaten to make mankind extinct, the urgency sinks the already unscrupulous EarthGov to new lows. At this early stage, the Marker threat is just appearing – and is maybe even contained – except if it finds the catalyst it so desperately seeks. Two brothers, one with a special but broken mind, the other forever conflicted by the impossible chore of keeping him out of trouble, cross paths with EarthGov and the Markers at this critical juncture and forever change the course of the Marker outbreak.

Halloween comes a little early to the blog, as this week and next I'm featuring a couple of genre books that fit for that time of the year. I still mean to read Dead Space: Martyr from last year, so this is probably more of a case of a book I'm interested in reading after I've caught up. Horror and scifi combine together quite nicely methinks.

Books Received

Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein

Tokyo cop Mariko Oshiro investigates the attempted theft of an old samurai sword — forged by the legendary Master Inazuma, a swordsmith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and it threatens to turn against her even as she learns to wield the sword herself...

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists by Jeff & Ann Vandermeer

For lovers of Steampunk, Dark Fantasy, and Eccentric Contraptions! After the death of Dr. Lambshead, an astonishing cabinet of curiosities was unearthed at his house. Many of these artifacts and wonders related to anecdotes and stories in the doctor's personal journals, or the adventures of his friends. We are now proud to present highlights from the doctor's cabinet, reconstructed not only through visual representations but also through exciting stories of intrigue and adventure. Rumors that Dr. Lambshead never existed are scurrilous and should be ignored!

KOP Killer by Warren Hammond

KOP Killer, a darkly dystopian science fiction thriller from Warren Hammond

Juno Mozambe once had a life. That was when he was a dirty cop, married to a woman who suffered such profound abuse that she murdered her vile, drug kingpin father. Juno loved his wife and did his best to help her survive her guilt, her drug habit, and her desire to end her life on the dead-end planet of Lagarto.

When she died, however, Juno’s life went downhill. And then his first partner, the corrupt chief of the Koba Office of Police, was murdered. The man responsible, Emil Mota, is using the KOP for his personal gain. Juno has been laying low, but now he’s ready to do whatever it takes to take down the bastard.

Rather than working from inside the system, he’s decided that the only way to take down the KOP is to create an independent base of power. So he gets involved with a team of dirty cops and starts working as a rent-a-thug for a whorehouse that needs protection.

Juno’s last partner knows that his risky plan has a purpose, but she’s that rarest of creatures on the hothouse planet of Lagarto: an honest cop. She can’t help him.

When Juno discovers a series of profoundly twisted murders, he faces a bleak possibility: in his desperate quest for vengeance against the man who targeted him for death, Juno may have placed himself beyond any hope of redemption....

Energized by Edward M. Lerner

No one expected the oil to last forever. How right they were….

A geopolitical miscalculation tainted the world’s major oil fields with radioactivity and plunged the Middle East into chaos. Any oil that remains usable is more prized than ever. No one can build solar farms, wind farms, and electric cars quickly enough to cope. The few countries still able to export oil and natural gas—Russia chief among them—have a stranglehold on the world economy.

And then, from the darkness of space, came Phoebe. Rather than divert the onrushing asteroid, America captured it in Earth orbit.

Solar power satellites—cheaply mass-produced in orbit with resources mined from the new moon to beam vast amounts of power to the ground—offer America its last, best hope of avoiding servitude and economic ruin.

As though building miles-across structures in space isn’t challenging enough, special interests, from technophobes to eco-extremists to radio astronomers, want to stop the project. And the remaining petro powers will do anything to protect their newfound dominance of world affairs.

NASA engineer Marcus Judson is determined to make the powersat demonstration project a success. And he will—even though nothing in his job description mentions combating an international cabal, or going into space to do it.

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole "settling down thing" that Louis has going for her just isn't working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis--who's on the road half the time in his truck--is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.

It just isn't going well. Still, she's keeping her psychic ability--to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them--in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she's keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

Thieftaker  by D. B. Jackson

Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.

Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can't stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple."

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone – she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t – the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.

Shadowlands by Violette Malan

The long-awaited sequel to Violette Malan's acclaimed debut novel, The Mirror Prince.

The war in the Land of the Faerie has finally ended. Prince Cassandra dispatches Stormwolf, formerly a Hound but cured by his prince's magic and restored to the Rider he once was, to the Shadowlands to call home the People who remain refugees there. But Stormwolf finds the Hounds of the Wild Hunt now prey upon the souls of the humans, draining them of the magic which is the very lifeblood of the People. With the help of Valory Martin, a mortal psychic, Stormwolf must find the magic needed to defeat the Hunt before it's too late.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Reese can't remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She's different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Among them are Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David, who are in Arizona when the disaster occurs. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway in the middle of the Nevada night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won't tell them what happened, where they are-or how they've been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction-and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

Adaptation is a bold contemporary science-fiction thriller from the acclaimed author of Ash.

House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier

Orphaned, two sisters are left to find their own way.
Sweet and proper, Karah's future seems secure at a glamorous Flower House. She could be pampered for the rest of her life... if she agrees to play their game.
Nemienne, neither sweet nor proper, has fewer choices. Left with no alternative, she accepts a mysterious mage's offer of an apprenticeship. Agreeing means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage?

With the arrival of a foreign bard into the quiet city, dangerous secrets are unearthed, and both sisters find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset their newly found lives, but also to destroy their kingdom.

Home From the Sea by Mercedes Lackey

In Edwardian Britain, magic is real. And Masters of the Elements control Fire, Water, Air, and Earth...

Mari Prothero has lived all her life with her father, Daffyd, in a tiny fishing village on the coast of Wales. Though Daffyd takes his boat out on the sea regardless of weather, Mari has learned not to fear for his safety, for her father is a Water mage, and always comes home safely with a large catch. Mari knows that in her family, children are expected to marry at eighteen, to an appropriate stranger. 

However, Mari is a fledgling Water Master with a rebellious nature. She has no intention of agreeing to any arranged marriage. But Mari has yet to learn the truth of the magical heritage that must be protected by these very marriages. For the Protheros are descended from Selkies—magical beings who are able to change from seals to humans—and to continue her line, she must marry a full-blooded Selkie...

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

Earth Unaware (Formic Wars) by Orson Scott Card

The mining ship El Cavador is far out from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto. Other mining ships, and the families that live on them, are few and far between this far out. So when El Cavador’s telescopes pick up a fast-moving object coming in-system, it’s hard to know what to make of it. It’s massive and moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light.

El Cavador has other problems. Their systems are old and failing. The family is getting too big for the ship. There are claim-jumping corporate ships bringing Asteroid Belt tactics to the Kuiper Belt. Worrying about a distant object that might or might not be an alien ship seems…not important.

They're wrong. It's the most important thing that has happened to the human race in a million years. The first Formic War is about to begin.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.

Blood of the Emperor by Tracy Hickman

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of the Dragonlance novels...the stunning conclusion to The Annals of Drakis.

It appears that an ancient prophecy is about to be fulfilled as the human named Drakis—formerly one of countless warrior-slaves to the elves of the Rhonas Empire—returns from his quest in the North. Flying into the rebel camp with his surviving companions on the backs of the legendary dragons that were once humankind's most powerful allies, Drakis is hailed as the champion of all the slave races. But it is not a prophecy that drives Drakis in his war against the elves and their emperor. Rather it is his burning desire for revenge against the cruel ruler whom Drakis believes has stolen any chance he has for finding peace. And this hatred will set Drakis and his rebel army on a path that may not only bring down the emperor, but Drakis and his entire world as well....

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg.  Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" by Corey Olsen

The Hobbit is one of the most widely read and best-loved books of the twentieth century. In December 2012, millions will be introduced or reintroduced to J.R.R. Tolkien's classic with the arrival of the first of two film adaptations by acclaimed director Peter Jackson.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is a fun, thoughtful, and insightful companion volume, designed to bring a thorough and original new reading of this great work to a general audience. Professor Corey Olsen (also known as the Tolkien Professor) will take readers on an in-depth journey through The Hobbit chapter by chapter, revealing the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the revolutions within the life of Bilbo Baggins. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is a book that will make The Hobbit come alive for readers as never before.

The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring

Kari Sperring's first novel was a finalist for the Crawford Award, a Tiptree Award Honor Book, a LOCUS Recommended First Novel, and the winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. Now she returns to the same amazing and atmospheric world with an entirely new story set several hundred years after the earth-shaking events of Living With Ghosts.

When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow - the realm of the Grass King - and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king's concubine... or replace her.
Love on the Run by Katherine Kerr

A Fishy Situation

Nola O’Grady is sick and tired of psychic squid-images following her everywhere, waving their tentacles and generally making nuisances of themselves. She and her partner, Ari Nathan, have a dangerous job on their hands, hunting down two criminals who have escaped into another level of the multiverse, the San Francisco of Terra Six.

Terrorists have turned parts of that city into a deathtrap—religious fanatics, yes, but from what religion? Nola suspects that the Peacock Angel Chaos cult lies behind the bombings and mass murders. As she gathers evidence, she finds herself face-to-face with part of her own personal past that she’d prefer to bury forever.

And by the way, just who is it that keeps trying to kill her?