Thursday, February 28, 2013

Giveaway! "Fade to Black" by Francis Knight

Funny story. Even though I get so many books for review, I still have an insatiable need to acquire every book I think I might enjoy. One book I've had my eye on is Fade to Black by Francis Knight and I've been planning to buy it ever since I put it up as a Waiting on Wednesday selection. Despite appearances I don't actually ask for many review copies. I am, however, on a lot of mailing lists... So, as you may have already guessed, after I purchased my copy of "Fade to Black" yesterday, I unexpectedly got another copy in the mail from Orbit Books.

So, giveaway time!

Fade to Black by Francis Knight

From the depths of a valley rises the city of Mahala

It's a city built upwards, not across - where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under.

Rojan Dizon doesn't mind staying in the shadows, because he's got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can't hide for ever.

Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan - this is going to hurt.

Just add your information to the form below to enter (all information is guaranteed confidential and will be discarded once contest ends) and I will randomly pick one winner by Thursday, March 7th. No multiple entries please-- all multiple entries will be discarded. Open everywhere. 

Good luck!

**Contest Closed**

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books.

This week's WoW selection is:

Bronze Gods (An Apparatus Infernum Novel) by A.A. Aguirre

Danger stalks the city of steam and shadows.

Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work all hours in the Criminal Investigation Division, keeping citizens safe. He’s a charming rogue with an uncanny sixth sense; she’s all logic—and the division’s first female inspector. Between his instincts and her brains, they collar more criminals than any other partnership in the CID.

Then they’re assigned a potentially volatile case in which one misstep could end their careers. At first, the search for a missing heiress seems straightforward, but when the girl is found murdered—her body charred to cinders—Mikani and Ritsuko’s modus operandi is challenged as never before. It soon becomes clear the bogeyman has stepped out of nightmares to stalk gaslit streets, and it’s up to them to hunt him down. There’s a madman on the loose, weaving blood and magic in an intricate, lethal ritual that could mean the end of everything…

I'm intrigued by this title for a couple of reasons: first, A.A. Aguirre is a pseudonym for the husband and wife team of Ann and Andres Aguirre-- and after loving the books written by the husband/wife team of Ilona Andrews, I'm all set to expect good things from this pairing (especially since Ann Aguirre already has a track record as a pretty good writer); secondly, Steampunk! (I know it's everywhere these days, but I still love it).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Timecaster by Joe Kimball

Sometimes, Science Fiction is at its best when it’s at its most basic: setting the future on a tangent and jumping it forward. I think by now, most of humanity has come to understand that we can not and will not predict the path that politics and technology will take in the future. Joe Kimball’s Timecaster is one book that I don’t think tries- which, for the record, is a good thing. Rather, several tangents are selected- some that are problems in the world, some that are ways of fixing them, and some that are just ideas that could go either way or neither- and then put on fast forward by about 50 years. This is all a perfectly viable strategy, as far as Sci-Fi goes, and something that I think speaks a lot louder about Timecaster than its plot does.
In order to get the essential information out of the way, Timecaster is a Sci-Fi Action Mystery novel. It features around a detective- one of two left on the force- in a dystopian society where violent crime is a thing of the past. I mostly call bull on this, because there will always be people who don’t care about getting caught and will slug a man who looked at their wife in broad daylight, but I can look past that easily enough in context. As will always happen when new forensics techniques are discovered in Sci-Fi- in this case the titular timecaster, a camcorder that can be tuned back in time to when the crime was committed- somebody has come up with a way to circumvent it and frame somebody. Our hero Talon Avalon spends the novel trying to avoid getting caught by his former allies (and his friend-turned-rival-turned-enemy) and find a mass murderer, all while trying to deal with his own faltering marriage.
While going through its plot- which has plenty of action, and plenty of gratuitous sex- Timecaster looks at things such as libertarian views of drug use, practical solutions to limited fossil fuels, and what the criminal element would look like in a “Big Brother” society. Included in this was an off-hand remark that apparently, the only fiction on paper worth any money in the 2060s’ black market (paper books are, as a rule, illegal as a waste of fuel) are books written by Joe Kimball. By the way, despite having an established thriller-writing persona to fall back on by the name of J.A. Konrath, he chose to use (and write under) a brand new pen name. More on this later.
I mentioned marital problems, and you’re going to want to know if it detracts from the action at all. I’m not going to lie, yes… in little ways. It’s never made to be a major plot, and it detracts from the story in the same way as the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne distracts from any Batman story. In essence, the plot between Victoria and Talon helps to shape the story, giving you a framework to look at scenes such as Talon’s rape by numerous female nymphomaniacs, which could alternately be viewed as tedious or heinous. The conflict lies in Talon’s struggles to accept Victoria’s profession as an “SLP”, short for “State-Licensed Prostitute”, who has emotionless sex with numerous wealthy men but has a heart only for him. Oh, and the friend-turned-rival-turned-enemy I mentioned? They competed for Victoria’s love after the friend (the only other remaining Timecaster in Chicago) discovered her. Talon won, and their friendship became a thing of the past. Apparently, it’s become a pot of simmering rage in the back of Teague’s mind, and he’s just been waiting for a legitimate reason to beat the crap out of his former friend.
Damn. I seem to have left myself with two segueways at once. Would you like to hear about “SLP” or about Teague’s motives to frame Talon? Well, one ties into how this novel is interesting, and one is a minor irritation, so I suppose I’ll talk about the interesting one first. There are three things that novels do with mysteries. One is to give you a mystery that it is physically impossible to solve; after all, the plot is holding its cards close to its chest, and gives you just enough evidence to show you how brilliant it was in retrospect. Sort of like Hannibal Lecter does in Silence of the Lambs. This is acceptable, but not when a book passes itself off as a mystery. It verges between being a legitimate way of keeping the suspense and being a cop-out, from an author who’s afraid the audience is smarter than they are.
The second method is, of course, preferred, especially for any book that plays up the idea of focusing on a solvable mystery. For the record, Timecaster doesn’t exactly do that- certain clues are left out for Talon to come to a certain conclusion, but circumstances are working very much against him all the while. This second method is for everything to be completely solvable, as long as the reader is paying attention. This is harder to write, if you want to maintain suspense, but ultimately it helps a reader who’s paying attention get more involved in the story and is no worse than the other two method for the reader who’s given up and let the protagonist solve the mystery. It’s this method- or at least, the illusion of using this method- that causes the need for red herrings to appear. It’s unfortunate that this cliché has grown so prominent that the first person indicated is almost never even remotely related to the actual crime any more.
The third method, for the record, is the one that Timecaster uses- all of the elements to solve the mystery are presented to you, sure, but you’d have to make some pretty hefty leaps in order to put them together. When you hear someone referring to the ending of a story as “Why didn’t I think of that?” this is more often than not going to be the case. I believe Scooby Doo was fond of this one. This is fair, depending on the focus of the piece; not the best for a legitimate, mind-bending, Hardy Boys style mystery, but not a poor method of managing a more involved piece- such as an action-thriller.
Actually, what I said is not entirely accurate. Because when the “Category 3” mystery and its villain are gone… there’s another chapter or two left. And some more stakes. In fact, there’s a whole nother book, which I imagine was entirely essential in order to sell a new “Sci-Fi” pen name from an author who was already writing under two different names, one of them specializing in thrillers, a category this book could certainly fit into. In fact, this novel apparently has some relation to Konrath’s other works, and I appreciate the fact that it was subtle enough for me, as a first time reader, not to be aware of that until I looked the author up online.
I promised to talk about the acronyms, and I will.  This is both a clever act on behalf of Konrath/Kimball, and a source of annoyance.  Because of the rising use of acronyms over the past fifteen to twenty years thanks to the internet and text messages, Timecaster has extrapolated that to include numerous acronyms in everyday conversation.  As a rule, I don't mind this.  After all, SOB, POS, and ASAP have already been incorporated into everyday conversation.  However, when expressions such as “WTF” enter into the vernacular, it's clear that this is only in the novel in order to minimize use of a word that does appear in the novel.  If you're still not sure what my complaint is, try alternately reading out the acronym and saying the words that it replaces out loud.

For the first book under a new name, Joe Kimball could certainly do worse than Timecaster. It’s got an engaging mystery, plenty of action, and enough Sci-Fi experimentation to keep a genre fan itching for more. The sequel has already been published, and I can only hope that there’s enough meat to make that novel as good as this one. It’s not the epic novel of our time, but for a short, fun, read, Timecaster would not be a poor choice.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"My Life as A White Trash Zombie"- by Diana Rowland: Who Knew a White Trash Heroine Could Be So Awesome?

Every year I seem to find a new urban fantasy series to love-- and this year is off to a great start with My Life as A White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland.

Angel Crawford's life is in a full scale, white trash downward spiral. Already a high school dropout and an unmotivated stoner, it doesn't seem like things can get any worse; until she wakes up in the hospital after being told she suffered a drug overdose. Unfortunately for Angel it's an all too possible explanation for an evening she can't remember.

But things quickly go from bad to weird when Angel receives a strange note telling her that a job awaits her at the local coroner's office and, if she finds herself with some weird cravings while carving up dead bodies, she should heed them.

I had such a strange aversion to giving this series a try when it first came out. I suppose it had something to do with the cover (though the "brains" tattoo is sheer genius) and the notion it gave me that I couldn't possibly relate to a white trash zombie. But I seriously underestimated the talent of Diana Rowland and the awesomeness of Angel Crawford.

The beauty of My Life as A White Trash Zombie is that Angel Crawford doesn't want to spend her whole life as a loser and when she's given an opportunity to change her life, she grabs on to it with both hands-- though being a zombie is hardly a conventional way to get ahead. Most zombie books are, understandably, horror novels that focus on the traditional notion that zombies are shambling, unaware monsters that are driven by their insatiable hunger for brains. Angel is somewhat like the zombies we all know (and I'll try to avoid being too spoilery here) in that her need for brains is a serious motivator in her worldview. But Rowland comes up with a plausible, if a little scientifically simplistic, explanation for the existence of zombies without the unstoppable mindlessness of the walking dead we all know and love. (Though the cause is really fleshed out, so to speak, in book 2)

The cool thing about My Life as a White Trash Zombie is that it's a book about second chances and a heroine who learns to rely on herself (and not a romantic interest for a change) to turn her life around. Being turned into a zombie does act as a shortcut in helping her resist the pitfalls of addiction that have plagued Angel for most of her young life and she's well aware of it. But rather than take anything for granted, or even feel sorry for her strange new life, Angel makes the most of her odd circumstances and proves to be a clever, likable lead character.

The only slight critique I'd have for My Life as a White Trash Zombie is the plot device that has Angel floundering around for a good portion of the book not knowing what precisely is going on. Normally, in a book like this-- in which a character is transformed from a normal human into a supernatural creature-- there would be a mentoring process of sorts that ushers the main character through the transition period. Angel only gets a vague, uninformative note. And the most frustrating thing about that aspect of the story is that it's totally illogical--and it's what makes the book so darn good.

Because Angel has to figure out what's going on all by herself, she quickly learns to trust her own instincts and not look to anyone to bail her out of trouble. And when a romantic interest does turn up (one with a strong savior complex to boot) Angel is quick to assert her independence.

The other thing I really loved about My Life as a White Trash Zombie is that Angel is forced to confront the bad choices she made in the past. It's true that her life has not been a fair one, but she isn't the kind of person to dwell on the unfairness of her circumstances-- she owns the crappy parts of her life that she's responsible for. Predictably, Angel runs into quite a bit of prejudice because of her sketchy past and criminal record, but she also learns that hard work and general likability earns quite a few allies and for every bump in the road there is someone who will help you get over it.

But don't let this review give you the impression that the whole book is some kind of Oprah-style, feminist story of empowerment. There might be that aspect of it (though I certainly wouldn't characterize it as Oprah-styled in any way) but it's also a fast-paced urban fantasy with plenty of action, humor (though no gawd-awful snark) and brain munching goodness. The only reason I focused so strongly on the angle of the story that shows Angel's increasing independence is because female characters like this are too rare in UF and YA books these days. It's amazing to me that so many women write so many female characters that can't seem to function without a man to bail them out-- but Angel Crawford isn't one of them. I'd recommend this book on the merits of its entertainment value alone, but Angel is truly a character to fall in love with.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday- "White Trash Zombie Apocalypse" by Diana Rowland

Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming books.

This week's WoW selection is:

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland
Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: DAW
Pages: 320

Lights, cameras... zombies!

When a zombie movie starts filming in town, things get crazy, and white trash zombie Angel Crawford suspects it’s not just the plot of the movie that’s rotten. With zombies both real and fake roaming the streets, it’s up to Angel to fit all the pieces — and body parts — together to save herself, her town, and quite possibly the human race.

I was so biased against trying this series when it first came out, but it has become one of my absolute favorites. If you like light urban fantasy with an awesome heroine, definitely pick this one up. Plus, you must admit, that's a pretty cool cover. ;)

An Unearthly Podcast Episode 8: The Snowmen

Guests MizzeeOH and General Lotz join us to talk about The Snowmen, a highly anticipated episode and introduction of a new companion. Does it live up to the hype, and is it a good episode for newcomers?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Movie Review: Dracula 3000 (2004)

Sometimes, I just get the urge to look up a random horror movie. This has provided some of the greatest moments in my cinematic life like Haute Tension, and has also provided absolute garbage like Night Shadow. Given my obvious predilections for Science Fiction, more often than not I’ll open up a Sci-Fi horror over another random movie, which led me to this… interesting… piece of work. To this end I give you Dracula 3000. This film (no relation to the better known Dracula 2000) is one of the most ridiculous movies I have ever watched. It starts off innocuous enough, with a salvage team in the year 3000 coming across an apparently abandoned ship transporting what amounts to a mausoleum, but it quickly devolves as Dracula reveals his true ability: to make ridiculous stereotypes into ridiculous stereotype vampires.

Let’s start with the characters. After all, we get such gems as Humvee, who I guess is supposed to be a truck. He is alternately called “Humvee” and “Hummer” which is either supposed to be some kind of joke, or simply an innocent nickname written by a writer with half a clue. The reason I say “half a clue” should become apparent shortly. Humvee, played by Tommy Lister of “Friday”, is essentially the big, dumb black muscle that the NAACP would likely prefer to be abolished from film and whom a good number of rappers would still like the world to see them as. Humvee’s purpose is to yell, break things, and be sensible by comparison next to his friend 187.

You can get your groans out of the way now.

The only small, very, very small bit of redemption to this character is that, despite his name, he’s not some sort of trigger-happy gangster. Rather, Coolio (yes, that Coolio) plays an addict constantly looking for his next fix. This character makes Tyrone Biggums of the Chappelle Show look subtle. Oh sure, the stereotypical skinny black man whose only goal is his next fix might seem subtle enough, but wait until you see what happens when he becomes a vampire- the only human that is transformed into a vampire in this film. Everything about this character is over the top and ridiculous, and it would be hilariously cheesy if I didn’t find this character so offensive.

Next comes Abraham Van Helsing, whom I suppose at times is expected to be the main character. If his name isn’t a dead giveaway, this character is the descendant of the famed vampire slayer. He discovers this after the resident intellectual (the movie can’t be bothered to make him interesting, so I can’t be bothered to figure out his name) runs a Google search on “Vampires” and discovers that information about them is fairly widespread.

Next we get Dracula. Er, Count Orlock. Well, I guess that’s one thing for this film- it canonically links Nosferatu and Dracula by making Orlock an alias of Dracula’s. If this has been done before, I stand corrected, but as stands I find this the most positive and creative thing about this film. Less positive and creative is the fact that Dracula turns exactly one human into a vampire, and that person in each of his forms has more screen time than Dracula/Orlock. At least if this film was titled “Blacula 3000” it would have been more transparent as to what it was really going for.

Our final character is just as big of a mess as the others. Aurora is initially presented as a red herring, an attractive female offering to Dracula in the traditional sense. She disappears offscreen with Dracula the first time he appears, and returns with a wealth of knowledge about the Count and his origins- all of the information he would want his victims to know. After a long, drawn out bit of half-assed interrogation, it is revealed that Aurora is an android- an undercover officer investigating the crew, in fact. Naturally, Humvee wants to kill her for this, but Van Helsing is intelligent enough to realize that a superhuman machine who can not be turned into a Vampire is a pretty useful asset when vampire killing is essential to your immediate survival. Ignoring for the time being the fact that the film ends with her announcing herself a retired pleasure bot and offering herself to Humvee, in my opinion the use of Aurora is a major misstep in setting up any kind of menace in Dracula.

Let me go into more detail about what happened. As I said, Aurora disappeared with Dracula and returned, spouting facts about Dracula’s past. She is interrogated, the men around her (the only other female cast member having been killed shortly after 187 became a vampire) outraged at the possibility of her consorting with a vampire or becoming one. Van Helsing goes as far as to roughly grab her and examine her neck, looking for bite marks, of which there is none. Clearly conflicted, Aurora pauses before revealing her true identity as an android and undercover agent. Helsing is scornful; apparently, there has been a romance brewing between the two of them, although that in itself is only very scarcely examined. The two go on to a room filled with coffins, opening each one with the intention of killing any surviving vampires. They reveal one, despite the fact that Dracula needed blood to be able to regain physical form (most of the coffins are filled with sand) and the fact that he told Aurora that he was the last of his kind. Aurora hesitates with her stake, clearly struggling with brutally killing even such an enemy as this, before Van Helsing takes it from her hand and drives it through the female Vampire’s heart (perhaps of note, this is only the second living female we’ve met in this film, and the third individual in the film to be killed).

Now imagine this: after opening the last coffin, Van Helsing realizes that Dracula is hidden somewhere aboard the ship, and they split up, armed to find him. Van Helsing meets up with the man who is doing the research, while Aurora meets up with Humvee in order to search another section of the ship. Once Aurora and Humvee are isolated from Van Helsing by both sound and sight, however, their dynamic changes entirely. Aurora reveals herself to be Dracula, famous for his ability to shift his form even in terrible films, which is the true reason why she returned to the group unscathed. She reveals this to Humvee, but it is already too late- he is already in Dracula’s grip, and will soon be a far more fearsome vampire than the one he killed earlier.
It’s that kind of critical thought and truly examined mythology that this film lacks. Sure, there are connections to classical Dracula lore- the names I mentioned being obvious ones, but every name barring only Humvee and 187 is borrowed from the original novel. Unfortunately, to someone inclined to do the research, these are the only connections to Bram Stoker to be found here, and to someone watching the film casually on TV, there is even less connection to be seen. Based on the plot and the character personalities, I find it most likely that these connections appeared in the script for the sole reason of someone saying “I don’t know what to name this character- let’s try looking up ‘Dracula’ for ideas”.

The setting of this world is equally… I’d call it unimaginative, but I’m not exactly sure whether or not imagination is involved in introducing planets named “Transylvania” and “Comptonia”- the first being the home of vampires, despite their having been to Earth before, the latter being a planet where marijuana and easy women can be found in massive quantities. Perhaps one of 187′s favorite mind-altering substances wrote the script?

I find the most interesting social statement of this film, intentional or not, to be the fact that none of the characters have ever met a living person who believed in any sort of religion. It’s unlikely to find that kind of detail in a film unless the writers truly believe religion to be a foolish, outdated concept themselves, yet I find no other elements of recognizable Atheist ideology (the most recognizable and expected being Communism) in this film, nor do I find the kind of critical thought that would imply the author to be in the Stephen Hawking school of “too smart for God” Atheism. Perhaps I am merely reading too far into this, but I was rather surprised when such a point was made of this (“I supposedly had a Grand-uncle who believed in God”) not to continue on with any sort of spiritual, scientific or political follow-up.

I’m really not sure who the target audience was. By having some fairly known actors in this film, it almost seems to have some attempt at mainstream appeal, or even to be an urban comedy. At the same time, the characters Humvee and 187 are, if not necessarily racist, still such blatant and offensive stereotypes that I could hardly imagine any black actor in the 2000s being willing to play them. This film just seems to be an attempt to use up a budget as quickly as possible in a manner that is neither Sci-Fi, horror, nor entirely truly film. I can’t say I recommend anybody go out of their way to watch this film, which leaves it firmly in the category of 1/10.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winner! "Six Gun Tarot" by R.S. Belcher

I have randomly selected the winner of the copy of "Six Gun Tarot" by R.S. Belcher that I had up for giveaway.

 And the winner is: Kim Papke; McKinney, Texas

 Congrats Kim! The book is on its way.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday- "Trickster" by Jeff Somers

Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming books.

This week's WoW pick is:

Trickster (The Ustari Cycle) by Jeff Somers
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date: February 26, 2013
Pages: 384

Praised by the Guardian for stories that are “exhilarating . . . powerful and entertaining,” Jeff Somers returns with a darkly original urban fantasy series featuring a cadre of mages operating just under the radar of human society.

Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: never use anyone’s blood but your own. He’s grifting through life as a Trickster, performing only small Glamours like turning one-dollar bills into twenties. He and his sidekick, Mags, aren’t doing well, but they’re getting by.

That is, until they find young Claire Mannice— bound and gagged, imprisoned in a car’s trunk, and covered with invisible rune tattoos. Lem turns to his estranged mentor for help, but what they’ve uncovered is more terrifying than anybody could have imagined. Mika Renar, the most dangerous Archmage in the world, is preparing to use an ocean of blood to cast her dreams into reality— and Lem just got in her way.

I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I've heard a lot of good things about Somers' Avery Cates Series. So much so that when I saw his name pop up on an UF title I was immediately intrigued. Add a pretty cool cover and an interesting plot and I'm in. I'll be picking this one up when it's released in two weeks for sure.

Books Received

If I haven't returned your email request for a book review, *this* is why.

A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World,readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.

Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.

What was, what will be, and what is,

may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Impulse by Steven Gould

Cent has a secret. She lives in isolation, with her parents, hiding from the people who took her father captive and tortured him to gain control over his ability to teleport, and from the government agencies who want to use his talent. Cent has seen the world, but only from the safety of her parents’ arms. She’s teleported more than anyone on Earth, except for her mother and father, but she’s never been able to do it herself. Her life has never been in danger.

Until the day when she went snowboarding without permission and triggered an avalanche. When the snow and ice thundered down on her, she suddenly found herself in her own bedroom. That was the first time.

The Kassa Gambit by M.C. Planck

Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe.

Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren’t always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He’s been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone—even himself.

While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack.

But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity’s concerns.

Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

12 May 1940. Westminster, London, England: the early days of World War II.


Raybould Marsh, one of “our” Britain’s best spies, has travelled to another Earth in a desperate attempt to save at least one timeline from the Cthulhu-like monsters who have been observing our species from space and have already destroyed Marsh’s timeline. In order to accomplish this, he must remove all traces of the supermen that were created by the Nazi war machine and caused the spectors from outer space to notice our planet in the first place.

His biggest challenge is the mad seer Greta, one of the most powerful of the Nazi creations, who has sent a version of herself to this timeline to thwart Marsh. Why would she stand in his way? Because she has seen that in all the timelines she dies and she is determined to stop that from happening, even if it means destroying most of humanity in the process. And Marsh is the only man who can stop her.

Necessary Evil is the stunning conclusion to Ian Tregillis’s Milkweed series.

The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright

Continuing from Count to a Trillion, Menelaus Illation Montrose—Texas gunslinger, idealist, and posthuman genius—has gone into cryo-suspension following the discovery that, in 8,000 years, a powerful alien intelligence will reach Earth to assess humanity’s value as slaves. Montrose intends to be alive to meet that threat, but he is awakened repeatedly throughout the centuries to confront the woes of an ever-changing and violent world, witnessing millennia of change compressed into a few years of subjective time. The result is a breathtaking vision of future history like nothing before imagined: sweeping, tumultuous, and evermore alien, as Montrose’s immortal enemies and former shipmates from the starship Hermetic harness the forces of evolution and social engineering to continuously reshape the Earth in their image, seeking to create a version of man the approaching slavers will find worthy.

Dinosaur Thunder by James F. David

Eighteen years ago, the prehistoric past collided with the present as time itself underwent a tremendous disruption, transporting huge swaths of the Cretaceous period into the twentieth century. Neighborhoods, towns, and cities were replaced by dense primeval jungles and modern humanity suddenly found itself sharing the world with fierce dinosaurs. In the end, desperate measures were taken to halt the disruptions and the crisis appeared to be over.

Until now.

New dinosaurs begin to appear, rampaging through cities. A secret mission to the Moon discovers a living Tyrannosaurus Rex trapped in an alternate timeline. As time begins to unravel once more, Nick Paulson, director of the Office of Security Science, finds a time passage to the Cretaceous period where humans, ripped from the comforts of the twenty-first century, are barely surviving in the past. Led by a cultlike religious leader, these survivors are at war with another sentient species descended from dinosaurs.

As the asteroid that ends the reign of dinosaurs rushes toward Earth, Nick and his allies must survive a war between species and save the future as we know it.

Claws by Mike Grinti

In a contemporary fairytale as irresistible as catnip, one girl discovers that some magic cuts deep...

Emma's sister is missing. Her parents have spent all their savings on the search. And now the family has no choice but to live in a ramshackle trailer park on the edge of the forst, next door to down-and-out harpies, hags, and trolls. Emma wonders if she'll ever see Helena, and if she'll ever feel happy, again.

Then she makes a friend.

A smooth-talking, dirty-furred cat named Jack. He's got a razor-sharp plan to rescue Emma's sister. He just wants one small favor in return...

Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney

My name’s Quinn.

If you buy into my reputation, I’m the most notorious demon hunter in New England. But rumors of my badassery have been slightly exaggerated. Instead of having kung-fu skills and a closet full of medieval weapons, I’m an ex-junkie with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or…whatever.

Wanted for crimes against inhumanity I (mostly) didn’t commit, I was nearly a midnight snack for a werewolf until I was “saved” by a vampire calling itself the Bride of Quiet. Already cursed by a werewolf bite, the vamp took a pint out of me too.

So now…now, well, you wouldn’t think it could get worse, but you’d be dead wrong.

The Burn Zone by James K. Decker

Plagued by overpopulation, disease, and starvation, humanity was headed for extinction—until an alien race called the haan arrived. And then the real trouble began.

It’s been a rough day for Sam Shao. As part of a program that requires humans to act as surrogates to haan infants, Sam has been genetically enhanced to bond with them. So when three soldiers invade her apartment and arrest her guardian for smuggling a dangerous weapon into the country, Sam can sense that something isn’t right. One of his abductors is a haan masquerading as a human, and the supposedly fragile haan seems to be anything but.

Racing through the city slums, trying to stay one step ahead of the mysterious haan soldier, Sam tries to find the man who, in her twenty years, has been the only father she’s ever known. Could he truly have done what he is accused of? Or did he witness something both human and haan would kill to keep hidden? The only thing certain is that the weapon is real—and lost now somewhere in a city of millions.

Fighting the clock, Sam finds an ally in Nix, a haan envoy devoted to coexisting with humans, or so it seems. But what she really needs are answers. Fast. Or else everything she knows—and everyone she loves—will burn.

Search for the Buried Bomber (Dark Prospects) by Xu Lei (Digital ARC)

The X-Files meets Indiana Jones in Search for the Buried Bomber, the first in Xu Lei’s Dark Prospects series of thrillers steeped in archeological myths and government secrets.

During China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution, the People’s Liberation Army dispatches an elite group of prospectors famous for their work uncovering rare minerals to the mountains of rural Inner Mongolia. Their assignment: to bring honor to their country by descending into a maze of dank caves to find and retrieve the remnants of a buried World War II bomber left by their Japanese enemies. How the aircraft ended up beneath thousands of feet of rock baffles the team, but they’ll soon encounter far more treacherous and equally inexplicable forces lurking in the shadows. Each step taken—and each life lost—brings them closer to a mind-bending truth that should never see the light of day. Pride sent them into the caves, but terror will drive them out.

Through the eyes of one of the prospectors, bestselling Chinese author Xu Lei leads readers on a gripping and suspenseful journey.

Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn series) by Dana Cameron (Digital ARC)

Archaeologist Zoe Miller has been running from a haunting secret her whole life. But when her cousin is abducted by a vicious Russian kidnapper, Zoe is left with only one option: to reveal herself.

Unknown to even her closest friends, Zoe is not entirely human. She’s a werewolf and a daughter of the “Fangborn,” a secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles embroiled in an ancient war against evil.

To rescue her cousin, Zoe will be forced to renew family ties and pit her own supernatural abilities against the dark and nefarious foe. The hunt brings Zoe to the edge of her limits, and with the fate of humanity and the Fangborn in the balance, life will be decided by an artifact of world-ending power.

The Secret of Ji: Six Heirs by Pierre Grimbert (Translated by Matthew Ross & Eric Lamb)

The Known World is a sprawling region ruled by mortals, protected by gods, and plied by magicians and warriors, merchants and beggars, royals and scoundrels. Here, those with the gift of the Erjak share a psychic bond with animals; a far-reaching fraternity unites criminals of every persuasion in a vast army of villainy; and upon the mighty river Alt, the dead will one day sail seeking vengeance on the enemies of their descendants.

But for all the Known World’s wonders, splendors, and terrors, what has endured most powerfully is the strange legacy of Ji. Emissaries from every nation — the grand Goranese Empire; desolate, frozen Arkary; cosmopolitan Lorelia; and beyond — followed an enigmatic summons into the unknown. Some never returned; others were never the same. Each successive generation has guarded the profound truth and held sacred the legendary event. But now, the very last of them — and the wisdom they possess — are threatened. The time has come to fight for ultimate enlightenment…or fall to infinite darkness.

Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen) by Jeff Wheeler (Digital ARC)

Tyrus of Kenatos has made it his life’s work to banish the plagues that ravage the kingdoms. He believes the answer to ending the devastation lies in the Scourgelands. Yet, Tyrus’s first expedition into the cursed woods failed after being defeated by mysterious minions who stalked and killed most of his band.

Now a prisoner in his own tower, Tyrus has summoned his nephew Annon — a Druidecht possessing innate magic called the fireblood — on the guise of finding a hidden treasure with which to purchase his twin sister Hettie’s freedom. But in reality, Tyrus is using his niece and nephew, and their magic, as an opportunity to escape and resume his desperate mission. And to aid them, he has enlisted the warrior-monk Paedrin — who is almost as green as the siblings when it comes to traveling these troubled lands. The trio is determined, and along the way they grow to trust each other — and new additions to the group — in order to accomplish their missions…whether or not those missions are one and the same.

But the Arch-Rike — ruthless ruler of Kenatos — has learned of these plans, and has sent the fearsome Kishion to destroy all those that oppose him. Now Tyrus and his unwitting allies must face down not only the plague, but this new enemy — and fulfill their quest before a fresh horror is unleashed on the world…

Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond by Douglas Cohen & John Joseph Adams (Digital ARC)

When L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy and friends to the American public in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became an instant, bestselling hit. Today the whimsical tale remains a cultural phenomenon that continues to spawn wildly popular books, movies, and musicals. Now, editors John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen have brought together leading fantasy writers such as Orson Scott Card and Seanan McGuire to create the ultimate anthology for Oz fans – and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds. Stories include: 

• Frank Baum's son has the real experiences that his father later fictionalized in Orson Scott Card’s “Off to See the Emperor.”
• Seanan McGuire’s “Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust” finds Dorothy grown up, bitter, and still living in Oz. And she has a murder to solve – assuming Ozma will stop interfering with her life long enough to let her do her job.
• In “Blown Away,” Jane Yolen asks: What if Toto was dead and stuffed, Ozma was a circus freak, and everything you thought you knew as Oz was really right here in Kansas?
• "The Cobbler of Oz" by Jonathan Maberry explores a Winged Monkey with wings too small to let her fly. Her only chance to change that rests with the Silver Slippers.
• In Tad Williams’s futuristic “The Boy Detective of Oz," Orlando investigates the corrupt Oz simulation of the Otherland network.
• And more…

Some stories are dystopian…Some are dreamlike…All are undeniably Oz.

Includes stories by these authors: Dale Bailey, Orson Scott Card, Rae Carson, David Farland, C.C. Finlay, Jeffrey Ford, Theodora Goss, Simon R. Green, Kat Howard, Ken Liu, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, Rachel Swirsky, Robin Wasserman, Tad Williams, Jane Yolen

The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga) by Erik Bear, Greg Bear and Neal Stephenson

The shadow of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II hangs over the shattered Holy Roman Church as the cardinals remain deadlocked, unable to choose a new pope. Only the Binders and a mad priest have a hope of uniting the Church against the invading Mongol host. An untested band of young warriors stands against the dissolute Khan, Onghwe, fighting for glory and freedom in the Khan’s sadistic circus of swords, and the brave band of Shield-Brethren who set out to stop the Mongol threat single-handedly race against their nemesis before he can raise the entire empire against them. Veteran knight Feronantus, haunted by his life in exile, leads the dwindling company of Shield-Brethren to their final battle, molding them into a team that will outlast him. No good hero lives forever. Or fights alone.

In this third and final book of the Mongoliad trilogy from Neal Stephenson and company, the gripping personal stories of medieval freedom fighters collide to form an epic, imaginative recounting of a moment in history when a world in peril relied solely on the courage of its people.

A note on this edition: The Mongoliad began as a social media experiment, combining serial story-telling with a unique level of interaction between authors and audience during the creative process. Since its original iteration, The Mongoliad has been restructured, edited, and rewritten under the supervision of its authors to create a more cohesive reading experience and will be published as a trilogy of novels. This edition is the definitive edition and is the authors' preferred text.

Dead Man's Deal: The Asylum Tales by Jocelynn Drake (Digital ARC)

Dead Man's Deal by Jocelynn Drake continues the dark and dangerous adventures of a magical tattoo artist begun inAngel's Ink.

In a gritty urban fantasy world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires swim free in a sea of humanity, sometimes you need an edge. Looking for a little love? Need some luck? Desperate for revenge? Gage can give you what you need. The most talented tattoo artist in town, he knows the right symbol and the right mix of ingredients and ink to achieve your heart's desire. One tattoo is all it takes. But remember, everything has its price.

The wizards know Gage is using forbidden magic, and they intend to punish him for his transgressions. Too bad if innocent humans and monsters—entire cities—get in the way. They will quell a nascent magical uprising and Gage will be the sacrifice they need. First, though, they have to find him.

  The Summer Man by S.D. Perry (Digital ARC)

Amanda Young grew up in Port Isley, a remote seaside community perched on the outermost shores of Washington. She’s watched as, each summer, the tight-knit small village braces for the invasion of vacationers seeking refuge from city life. But this year, a new kind of visitor arrives in Port Isley, bringing something most unexpected.

Soon after the season begins, a teenage girl’s mutilated body is found in a local park. The police declare it a random act of violence, but Amanda’s not so sure…because how can she explain that she had a premonition of the crime just hours before it happened? Or that the neighbors she’s known forever inexplicably are beginning to change…into lustful, violent shadows of themselves? Amanda knows something’s not right. And she knows it has something to do with the sinister stranger who’s come to town. But can she uncover his dark secret in time to stop him—and in time to save the souls of Port Isley?

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier—cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place—Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

Slashback: A Cal Leandros Novel by Rob Thurman

I stopped and let them circle me, first because it was intriguing and, second, because, honestly, what could they do? Only knives, but all armed, and that made them even more interesting. Interesting. Fun.


Taking on bloodthirsty supernatural monsters is how Caliban and Niko Leandros make a living. But years ago—before they became a force to be reckoned with—the brothers were almost victims of a very human serial killer.


Unfortunately for them, that particular depraved killer was working as apprentice to a creature far more malevolent—the legendary Spring-heeled Jack. He’s just hit town. He hasn’t forgotten what the Leandros brothers did to his murderous protégé. He hasn’t forgotten what they owe him.

And now they are going to pay…and pay…and pay.…

Dead Letter Day (A Messenger Novel) by Eileen Rendahl

Melina Markowitz, messenger for the underworld, delivers the goods for the supernatural beings in our midst—no questions asked. It’s more than a job; it’s a mission. Safety be damned.

Melina’s missing friend, Paul, could just be taking a little werewolf “me time,” but her investigation yields something more sinister. Suspicions first fall on Paul’s wolf-pack rival. But that wouldn’t explain the sudden windstorms rattling Melina’s nerves—or the ominous, shrieking crows that keep appearing.

The clues lead Melina to a mermaid, a damaged and possibly deranged police officer and patterns for Norwegian doilies—finally bringing her to the realization that she may be dealing with the most powerful enemy she has ever faced.

Black City (A Black Wings Novel) by Christina Henry

Former Agent of death Madeline Black may have been stripped of her wings—but she hasn’t lost her purpose…

When Maddy finally killed her father, Azazel, she thought his depraved experiment died with him. But now Chicago has been infested with vampires immune to the effects of the sun, and the bloodbath is worse than she could have ever imagined. While the Agency refuses to interfere with other supernatural courts, Maddy is determined to do everything within her power to save her city—wings or no wings.

But when the leader of the vampires requests that she turn herself in or risk more deaths, Maddy becomes a target for the very people she’s trying to save. Left with no other choice, she turns to Lucifer, the one creature who has the power to help her. But her grandfather’s aid has always come at a price…

The Golden Age of Death by Amber Benson

My name is Calliope Reaper-Jones (Callie to my friends). I’m Death’s Daughter and—as of very recently—the (reluctant) head of my father’s company, Death, Inc.

I was gradually learning how to be a businesswoman. Had the power suits and shoes down, though the day to day was slow going. Then I was blindsided by Enemies Unknown and sent off to I-don’t-know-where. Not a good thing.

Now not only must my friends and family be frantic, but without a CEO, Death, Inc., can’t function. With the newly deceased left free to roam the Earth, it’s the zombie apocalypse come true.

I’ve got to get back—for my sake and the sake of, oh, all humanity…

Agave Kiss: A Corine Solomon Novel by Ann Aguirre
Chance was gone; he’d sacrificed himself so Shannon and I could escape Sheol. We’d raised him on Shan’s spirit radio, which meant his soul wasn’t wholly destroyed by the demon gate….

Once Corine Solomon only had the touch—the ability to read an object’s past by handling it. Then she inherited her mother’s magick, and that ended up being a hell of a burden. But if Corine can wrestle a demon queen and win, she can bring back her lover Chance after he’s made the ultimate sacrifice. Can’t she? All Corine knows is that she can’t leave Chance behind if there’s anything she can do about it.

But the clock is ticking—and she still has to deal with debt-collecting demons and a maniacal archangel who’s running a recruitment drive. The stakes have never been so high…and this time it’s truly Corine’s last chance to save the love of her life.

Hunting Daylight by Piper Maitland

Out of the shadows…

For more than a decade, Caro Barrett has had doubts about the death of her husband, who disappeared while looking for a tribe of day-walking vampires in an African rainforest. Now, their daughter is struggling through her teenage years without a father. Waiting in the wings is an ancient vampire ready to possess Caro’s heart—and to protect them both from harm. And, with her husband declared legally dead, Caro feels it is finally time to move on…

A hemisphere away in a windowless compound, an Ottoman vampire lies dying from a rare blood disease, which has made him vulnerable to the faintest bit of light. Yet he is determined to vanquish its power over him—to feel the sun on his face one last time. And in Caro’s darkest fears he will be lifted into the light of day…

Imager's Battalion (The Imager Portfolio) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

The sequel to the New York Times bestselling Princeps follows magical hero Quaeryt as he leads history's first Imager fighting force into war. Given the rank of subcommander by his wife's brother, Lord Bhayar, the ruler of Telaryn, Quaeryt joins an invading army into the hostile land of Bovaria, in retaliation for Bovaria's attempted annexation of Telaryn. But Quaeryt has his own agenda in doing Bhayar's bidding: to legitimize Imagers in the hearts and minds of all men, by demonstrating their value as heroes as he leads his battalion into one costly battle after another.

Making matters worse, court intrigues pursue Quaeryt even to the front lines of the conflict, as the Imager's enemies continue to plot against him.

Freaks by Kieran Larwood

Weirdest. Crime Fighters. Ever.

Sheba, the fur-faced Wolfgirl, can sniff out a threat from miles away. Monkeyboy clambers up buildings in the blink of an eye -- then drops deadly stink bombs of his own making (yes, THAT kind)! Sister Moon sees in the dark, and moves at the speed of light. Born with weird abnormalities that make them misfits, these FREAKS spend their nights on public display, trapped in a traveling Victorian sideshow. But during the day, they put their strange talents to use: They solve the most sinister crimes. And in a dank, desperate world of crooks and child-snatchers, they're determined to defend London's most innocent victims: the street urchins disappearing from the city's streets.

Future Esoteric: The Unseen Realms (The Esoteric Series) by Brad Olsen

Examining the flaws of mainstream society, this collection of conspiracy theory, esoteric knowledge, and fringe subjects seeks to present solutions to current social, economic, and environmental world issues. This book encourages the exploration and integration of modern science with ancient wisdom, which will lead modern society towards advancement and enlightenment. Topics discussed include religious mythos, government manipulation, technological advances, and utopia.

The Gate Thief by Orson Scott Card

In this sequel to The Lost Gate, bestselling author Orson Scott Card continues his fantastic tale of the Mages of Westil who live in exile on Earth.

Here on Earth, Danny North is still in high school, yet he holds in his heart and mind all the stolen outselves of thirteen centuries of gatemages. The Families still want to kill him if they can't control him…and they can't control him. He is far too powerful.

And on Westil, Wad is now nearly powerless—he lost everything to Danny in their struggle. Even if he can survive the revenge of his enemies, he still must somehow make peace with the Gatemage Daniel North.

For when Danny took that power from Loki, he also took the responsibility for the Great Gates. And when he comes face-to-face with the mages who call themselves Bel and Ishtoreth, he will come to understand just why Loki closed the gates all those centuries ago.

Kalimpura by Jay Lake

This sequel to Green and Endurance takes Green back to the city of Kalimpura and the service of the Lily Goddess. 

Green is hounded by the gods of Copper Downs and the gods of Kalimpura, who have laid claim to her and her children. She never wanted to be a conduit for the supernatural, but when she killed the Immortal Duke and created the Ox god with the power she released, she came to their notice.

Now she has sworn to retrieve the two girls taken hostage by the Bittern Court, one of Kalimpura’s rival guilds. But the Temple of the Lily Goddess is playing politics with her life.

Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume Three by Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon, Marcio Fiorito and Francis Nuguit

With the full permission and cooperation of the Jordan estate, adapted by well-known comics writer Chuck Dixon, The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel has been hailed as an exciting interpretation of Robert Jordan's classic fantasy novel. It features brilliant interior art by Marcio Fiorito and Francis Nuguit, and stunning covers by Jeremy Saliba and Seamus Gallagher. It collects issues thirteen to eighteen of the comic book.

Rand; his friends Mat, Perrin, and Egwene; the Aes Sedai Moiraine and her Warder, Lan Mandragoran; Thom the gleeman and Nynaeve, the village Wisdom, split into three groups while trying to escape the ancient, dead city of Shadar Logoth, where they are pursued by the deadly Mashadar. A disastrous river crossing leaves Perrin and Egwene on their own—until they meet a mysterious stranger who claims that he and Perrin share a remarkable ability. Meanwhile, Rand, Mat, pose as Thom’s apprentices as they sail downriver on a cargo ship.

Archvillain #3: Yesterday Again by Barry Lyga

YESTERDAY AGAIN is the third book in critically acclaimed author Barry Lyga's Archvillain series!

Kyle Camden, a.k.a. the Azure Avenger, unintentional Bouring archvillain, has a foolproof plan to finally prove that Mighty Mike, unintentional town superhero, is an alien. Kyle's going back in time to the night Mike Mighty showed up on Earth and video tape his arrival. Yet he decides to use the time machine just as something evil has been unleashed on Bouring during the Annual Time Capsule Burial. But Kyle can fix it when he's back, right?

Kyle accidentally overshoots his intended destination, landing in 1987, and burns out his time machine. Things get even stranger when he accidentally befriends his dad at age twelve, meets Sheriff Monroe (his archnemesis in present time) as a teenager, and discovers William Lundergaard lurking around. But Lundergaard isn't any younger. How did he end up in 1987 and why? Kyle better figure it out fast. Because if he doesn't get back to the present immediately, well, there might not be a present anymore!

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

London Falling by Paul Cornell

Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

Grail of the Summer Stars by Freda Warrington

The climactic concluding novel in the spellbinding magical contemporary fantasy Aetherial Tales trilogy

A painting, depicting haunting scenes of a ruined palace and a scarlet-haired goddess in front of a fiery city, arrives unheralded in an art gallery with a cryptic note saying, “The world needs to see this.” The painting begins to change the lives of the woman who is the gallery's curator and that of an ancient man of the fey Aetherial folk who has mysteriously risen from the depths of the ocean. Neither human nor fairy knows how they are connected, but when the painting is stolen, both are compelled to discover the meaning behind the painting and the key it holds to their future.

In Grail of the Summer Stars, a haunting, powerful tale of two worlds and those caught between, Freda Warrington weaves an exciting story of suspense, adventure and danger that fulfills the promise of the Aetherial Tales as only she can.

The Eldritch Conspiracy by Cat Adams

Celia Graves was once an ordinary human, but those days are long gone. Now she strives to maintain her sanity and her soul while juggling both vampire abilities and the powers of a Siren.

Not every bride needs a bridesmaid who can double as a bodyguard. But Celia's cousin Adriana is no ordinary bride: she's a Siren princess, and she's marrying the king of a small but politically important European country. She's getting death threats from fanatics who want to see the whole Siren race wiped out—including Celia herself, who is half Siren.

Luckily, Celia is on duty when a trip to a bridal salon is interrupted by an assassination attempt, so everyone survives. When Adriana returns to the Siren homeland to try to prevent a coup, Celia is free to hunt for the terrorists and the vile mage who is helping them (while keeping her eyes open for the perfect maid-of-honor dress).
Assuming the bride and groom both live to see their wedding day, this will be one royal wedding no one will ever forget.

Farseed by Pamela Sargent

Centuries ago, the people of Earth sent Ship into space. Deep within its core, it carried the seed of humankind….

More than twenty years have passed since Ship left its children on an uninhabited, earthlike planet. Zoheret and her companions have started settlements and had children of their own. But soon after their arrival, Zoheret’s old nemesis, Ho, struck out on his own.

When Ho’s daughter, fifteen-year-old Nuy, spies three strangers headed toward their home, the hostility between the two groups of old shipmates begins anew. Can the divided settlers face the challenges of adapting to their new environment in spite of their conflicts?

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius Edited by John Joseph Adams

From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.

An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.

The Arena Man by Steve Englehart

Legendary comics writer Steve Englehart returns to the adventures of Max August in The Arena Man, the fourth novel in his fantasy thriller series.

Max August was once a regular guy, before he learned the ways of magick and immortality and became a staunch crusader against the supernatural forces of evil. Though immune to the effects of time, Max is not indestructible, and now he must face the vast, worldwide conspiracy known as the Necklace.

Max has only a few allies in this fight among them: Pam, an apprentice in the alchemical arts, and Vee, a chanteuse with an uncanny knack for all things magick. But the Necklace is plotting a massive catastrophe fueled by the magical power of a demonic entity; using Black Ops helicopters to massacre tens of thousands of spectators in a domed stadium, re-awakening terrorist fears and destabilizing the U.S. government. Max will need all his magick, and all the help he can get, for him to have any chance to thwart the attack and survive to fight another day.

When We Wake by Karen Healey

My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027--she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies--and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity--even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Marie Brennan introduces an enchanting new world in A Natural History of Dragons.

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police.

A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists.

Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

Persistence of Vision (Interchron)by Liesel K. Hill (Digital ARC)

A flash of purple light. A rock formation. Brown boots walking across a room at eye level. Two large hands covering hers. A hand with an ugly black burn on the back. A woman standing in front of a broken lighthouse. Blood on her hands. A whisper of a voice.

These are the images that haunt Maggie. One afternoon a year ago, Maggie blacked out inexplicably. Now a man with a spider's web tattooed on his eye has attacked her in her home. Things only get more confusing when Marcus, a man she vaguely remembers from her black out, shows up to take her away.

Marcus is from the future and is a member of the Brain Chemistry Optimists (BCO). And so is Maggie. Her black out was actually a year's worth of time she spent in the future, fighting against collectives-people who have linked their minds together and given up all individuality. The collectives are working to bring down the few individuals left, and Maggie learns that she is supposed to play a crucial role in these efforts.

The members of the BCO explain that in battle, her brain was attacked, and she lost all her memories of her time in the future. All she has left are flashes, afterimages, Persistence of Vision. Now she must relearn everything about this different world, harness mental powers beyond anyone's imagining, and navigate what was once a romance with Marcus. On top of all of that, she begins unraveling the mystery of her lost memory. However, for every answer she finds, it seems that another, more complicated question arises. Will she be able to remember enough to help the BCO?