Monday, January 31, 2011

New Releases Feb. 1-6 & Giveaway (Part 1)

Another Monday, so it must be time to look at the new releases in sci fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and Young Adult paranormal for the week! And it's a HUGE week for new releases, as you'll see, so I'm dividing it up into three sections with three giveaways! Woot!. As always, I'll give away a book of choice to one commenter. Details at the end of the list! Open internationally.

Blackveil, by Kristen Britain (Feb. 1, Daw)
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders.  But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium.

Consumed, by Kate Cann (Feb. 1, Point)
The sequel to POSSESSED finds 16-year-old Rayne still entwined in the creepy history of Morton's Keep -- and about to discover that she's the only one who can stop the evil lurking there.  Rayne's countryside escape has proven to be anything but -- the remote mansion house where she lives and works holds terrible secrets, and she feels trapped there. And when a new manager shows up, things take an even more sinister turn.  Rayne doesn't know who to trust -- even the ghosts of Morton's Keep seem to be warning her. It's up to Rayne to overcome the ancient evil lurking here -- but how?

Dark Moon, a Wereling Novel, by Steve Feasey (Feb. 1, Feiwel & Friends)
A few short months ago, Trey Laporte learned the news that would change him forever: He is a werewolf, and the evil vampire Caliban wants him dead. The threat becomes real when Caliban attacks Trey’s mentor, Lucien Charron, and leaves him fighting for his life. Gwendolin, a wicked sorceress, holds the only key to saving Lucien. Together, Trey and Lucien’s beautiful daughter, Alexa, must enter the Netherworld to defeat her. The pressure for Trey is great—Alexa is counting on him to save her father. But when Trey and Alexa find themselves trapped and surrounded by demons, can Trey use his werewolf strength to save them both?

Darkness  Dawns, by Dianne Duvall (Feb. 1, Zebra)
Once, Sarah Bingham's biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she's handed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control...In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible - when it means forfeiting the world she's always known, and the life he would do anything to protect. Hubba-hubba cover award :-)

Halfway Hexed, by Kimberly Frost (Feb. 1, Berkley Trade)
New witch Tammy Jo Trask has a whole town full of trouble, in the latest from the national bestselling author of Barely Bewitched.  First, there are the local residents who form a scripture-spouting posse and kidnap Tammy to "defend" Duvall, Texas, against witchcraft. Next, someone saddles her with a secret package chock full of dangerous visions, just as the president of WAM-the World Association of Magic--arrives with his entourage to investigate her. And who worse to examine Tammy's entanglement with off-limits and drop-dead-gorgeous wizard Bryn Lyons than his ex-girlfriend? Not to mention that the clash between the locals and the magical visitors leads to a series of unnatural disasters that may doom them all.

Haunting Jasmine, by Anjali Banerjee (Feb. 1, Berkley Trade)
A call from the past brings divorcee Jasmine Mistry home to Shelter Island to run her beloved aunt's bookstore, which has always been rumored to be haunted. With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, and guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors. Surprisingly, she finds herself moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger. 

Jane Goes Batty, by Michael Thomas Ford (Feb. 1, Ballantine)
After two hundred years undead, Jane Austen still has bite. But will her most recent literary success be her last? Life was a lot easier for Jane when she was just an unknown, undead bookstore owner in a sleepy hamlet in upstate New York. But now the world embraces her as Jane Fairfax, author of the bestselling novel Constance—and she’s having a killer time trying to keep her true identity as the Jane Austen a secret. Even the ongoing lessons in How to Be a Vampire, taught by her former lover Lord Byron, don’t seem to be helping much. Add in a demanding new editor, a convention of romance readers in period costume, a Hollywood camera crew following Jane’s every move, and the constant threat of a certain bloodsucking Brontë sister coming back to finish her off, and it’s enough to make even the most well-mannered heroine go batty!

The King of the Crags, by Stephen Deas (Feb. 1, Roc)
In his debut, The Adamantine Palace, Stephen Deas "restored [dragons] to all their scaly fire- breathing glory" (Daily Telegraph). Now, as the Realms teeter on the brink of war, the fate of humanity rests in the survival of one majestic white dragon. Prince Jehal has had his way-now his lover Zafir sits atop the Realms with hundreds of dragons and their riders at her beck and call. But Jehal's plots are far from over, for he isn't content to sit back and watch Zafir command the earth and sky. He wants that glory for himself- no matter who he must sacrifice to get it. The one thing Jehal fears is that the white dragon still lives-and if that is so, then blood will flow, on all sides.

Leviathans of Jupiter, by Ben Bova (Feb. 1, Tor)

Physicist Grant Archer, part of the exploratory team in 2002's Jupiter, is now a research station director dedicated to proving the intelligence of the leviathans his team encountered 20 years earlier. He's aided by four newcomers to the station: biologist and art student Deidre Ambrose; deep brain stimulation expert Andy Corvus; cyborg Dorn (familiar to readers of Bova's Asteroid Wars novels); and engineering physicist Maxwell Yeager. Katherine Westfall, a powerful International Astronomical Authority member, is also en route to Jupiter, on a mission to shut down Archer's team.

License to Ensorcell, by Katherine Kerr (Feb. 1, Daw)
Psychic Agent Nola O'Grady isn't sure returning to San Francisco, and living near her unusual family, is a good idea. Her job, with a psychic agency so obscure even the CIA doesn't know it exists, can be perilous, and she's afraid of the relatives getting involved.  Then the Agency saddles her with Israeli secret agent Ari Nathan, and she has a bigger problem on her hands, because tact and compromise are not Ari's strong points. Their mission is to track down a serial killer obsessed with werewolves. He sees them everywhere and shoots whenever he thinks he has one in his sights. Ari assumes the man's psychotic, but in truth he's murdering actual werewolves. Nola should know. Her younger brother Pat, a lycanthrope, was the first victim. Can Nola's psychic talents and Ari's skill with guns keep them alive long enough to unravel the greater mystery behind the killings? Can they save the werewolves and the world while stopping Nola's family from running headlong into danger?

Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch (Feb. 1, Del Rey)
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. [Stay tuned for a Q&A with Ben on an upcoming blog.]

Raven’s Quest, by Anya Bast (Feb. 1, Berkley Sensation)
Originally published under the name Joanna King, this early fantasy novel by paranormal romance author Bast. Branna ta Cattia is the Raven, a high priestess who has come to Numia to defeat its tyrant. It's a journey made on the strength of her prophetic dreams, visions of ancient rituals, sacred spells, and of a handsome stranger destined to help her.

Rising Tides: Destroyermen, by Taylor Anderson (Feb. 1, Roc)
In Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series, a parallel universe adds a extraordinary layer to the drama of World War II. Now, as Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the U.S.S. Walker continue their battle for both freedom and survival, the stakes become much more personal...and much more perilous.

The Sea Thy Mistress, by Elizabeth Bear (Feb. 1, Tor)
This sequel to Elizabeth Bear’s highly acclaimed All the Windwracked Stars picks up the story some fifty years after Muire went into the sea and became the new Bearer of Burdens. Beautiful Cathoair, now an immortal warrior angel, has been called back to the city of Eiledon to raise his son--Muire’s son as well, cast up on shore as an infant. It is seemingly a quiet life. But deadly danger approaches…the evil goddess Heythe, who engineered the death of Valdyrgard, has travelled forward in time on her rainbow steed. Mingan, the gray wolf, sees his old enemy Heythe’s return and will not allow her to destroy everything again.

Storm of Reckoning, by Doranna Durgin (Feb. 1, Tor)
Lisa 'Garrie' McGarity leads a ghost buster team - and has recently become entangled with Trevarr, a fiercely driven demon-hunter from a different dimension. After tumultuous adventures in San Jose, Trevarr returns to this world - and to Garrie - a battered exile. But there's little time to recuperate; a friend in Sedona needs their help. There, in that area of power convergence, Garrie is astonished to find the ethereal breezes quiet, the earth's activity so diminished as to be nonexistent...If you don't count those oddball surges that don't taste like our world at all.

The Trust, by Tom Dolby (Feb. 1, Katherine Tegen Books)
Who can you trust when everything is secrets and lies? It's a new semester at the Chadwick School, and even with the ankh tattoos that brand them, Phoebe, Nick, Lauren, and Patch are hoping for a fresh start. Each day, however, they are reminded of their membership as new Conscripts in the Society. The secret group that promised to help them achieve their every dream has instead turned their lives into a nightmare.  Exclusive membership lost its luster as the Society revealed its agenda to them and two of their classmates were found dead. Now they can't help but wonder: Who's next? . 

Unseen, by Rachel Caine (Feb. 1, Roc)
After Cassiel and Warden Luis Rocha rescue an adept child from a maniacal Djinn, they realize two things: the girl is already manifesting an incredible amount of power, and her kidnapping was not an isolated incident.  This Djinn-aided by her devoted followers-is capturing children all over the world, and indoctrinating them so she can use their strength for herself. With no other options, Cassiel infiltrates the Djinn's organization-because if Cassiel cannot stop the Djinn's apocalyptic designs, all of humanity may be destroyed. Third in Outcast Season series.

Uprising: Vampire Federation, by Sean McCabe (Feb. 1, Signet)
A gruesome ritual murder has stained the Oxfordshire countryside. It's just the first incident in a chain of events awakening Detective Inspector Joel Solomon to his worst nightmare-and a dreadful omen of things to come. Because Joel has a secret: he believes in vampires. Alex Bishop is an agent of the Vampire Intelligence Agency. She's tasked with enforcing the laws of the global Vampire Federation, and hunting rogue members of her race. A tough job made tougher when the Federation comes under attack by traditionalist vampires. They have a stake in old-school terror-and in an uprising as violent as it is widespread. Now it's plunging Alex and Joel into a deadly war between the living and the unloving-and against a horrifying tradition given new life by the blood of the innocent.

Waterfall, by Lisa T. Bergren (Feb. 1, David Cook)
Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one. Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved… and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know…and love itself. Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces. And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

The Werewolf Upstairs, by Ashlyn Chase (Feb. 1, Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Petty crime never looked so good...Alpha werewolf Konrad Wolfensen sees it as his duty to protect the citizens of Boston, even if it means breaking into their businesses just to prove their security systems don't work. But when his unsolicited services land him in trouble with the law, he'll have to turn to his sexy new neighbor for help….Attorney Roz Wells is bored. She used to have such a knack for attracting the weird and unexpected, but ever since she took a job as a Boston public defender, the quirky quotient in her life has taken a serious hit. Until her sexy werewolf neighbor starts coming around.

So there ya have Part 1! (Whew.) To win your choice, just tell me which one piques your interest--out of this group, the description for Jane Goes Batty made me laugh but the Ben Aaronovitch book has caught my eye! As always +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Happy reading!  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Writer's Declaration of Independence

I'm blogging over at Castles & Guns today, and having a bit of a temper tantrum. But I'll be back here tomorrow with the first of another two-part Reader's Choice column and giveaway. There are TONS of new books coming out this week! I love those weeks. My budget? Not so much. Stay tuned, and come over to C&G to chat today if you get a chance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winners Won & Sneak Preview Readers Wanted

It's Saturday, so we must have contest winners! Here's the deal:

Congrats to AMALIA--you won the retro review book, Giants of the Frost.

Congrats to RISATOO--you won Reader's Choice No. 2, and  you wanted Nalini Singh's Archangel's Consort.

Congrats to TERI ANNE--you won Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper (and your kid has to do a review--LOL)

Congrats to MIKKI-MANO--you won Joss Ware's Night Betrayed as part of Reader's Choice No. 2!

I'll be sending out emails to everyone to get mailing info or if you want to beat me to it, just email me HERE.

In the next week or so, I'll be posting a free download of a novelette (a long short story, really) called Chenoire. It's an urban fantasy with a slight hint of romance, set in Southeast Louisiana in the same world as my upcoming series for Tor Books that kicks off in 2012 with Royal Street.

I'm looking for two or three folks who'd be willing to do an advance read and give me some feedback. If you have some reading time over the next couple of days, shoot me an email with the subject line BETA reader and I'll fill your inbox with some sexy Cajuns. :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Retro Retro Review & Giveaway: Urban Fantasy Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins

It's Retro Review day, so I'm digging back through the shelves for books from ages past that should be remembered. Today, I'm talking about an urban fantasy called Giants of the Frost. I adored this book, which takes an unusual setting--an isolated island in the Sea of Norway, plops in some nerdy scientist types, adds a sexy mysterious stranger, and then tops it off with some Norse gods.  What's not to like?

ABOUT THE BOOK: Taking a job on an isolated island in the Sea of Norway, scientist Victoria Scott wants a quiet place to finish her doctoral thesis. But Victoria isn’t prepared for the strange shadows outside her cabin window, the rumors of a murderous hag who sucks one’s soul during sleep, and the tales of mythic monsters lurking in the forest. More frightening than the island’s nightmarish mysteries: to Victoria, everything is hauntingly familiar. When an enigmatic stranger appears on the island, Victoria’s sense of foreboding peaks. For she learns that they are connected by a conflict centuries old—one that can end only with her death…

MY THOUGHTS: Giants of the Frost does better than any other book I've read at blending the world of the ancient Norse gods with the modern world. After finishing it, I had to go back and read some of the mythology about Odin and his sons, and some of the old Germanic folk tales (hags--ieek!). The jumps between the modern world and the otherworld are seamless, and the characters (even the obnoxious ones) are memorable.

Want to win a copy of Giants of the Frost? It is out of print except for a few overpriced remainders, so I'm offering a gently used copy that I found--some slight spine creasing but otherwise in great condition. As always, to enter: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet/Retweet. Happy reading!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's Hot, What's Not: Q&A with Agent Marlene Stringer

A huge welcome today to agent Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency. Marlene founded her own agency in 2008 after many years as an agent with the Barbara Bova Literary Agency. Among her clients are urban fantasy authors Alex Bledsoe (the Eddie LaCrosse series and Memphis Vampires series); Alyxandra Harvey (the YA vampire series The Drake Chronicles); Erica Hayes (Shadowfae and Shadowglass); YA author Shari Maurer (Change of Heart); Liane Merciel (River King's Road, Heaven's Needle); and a number of others, including, well, me *Suzanne nods & waves*. This is cross-posted over at the Castles and Guns blog today as well.

The Stringer Literary Agency is accepting submissions at its website. Please read the site for submission guidelines, and check out the Q&As below for hints about what the agency is looking for.

How many queries do you receive a week or month on average, and how have those numbers varied over the years? Are more people writing or does it seem steady?
Around 50 per day; if I’ve attended a conference or workshop it goes up quite a bit for a couple of weeks. 
What are three or four of the biggest mistakes you see writers making in their queries? What immediately makes you say “no” and set it aside? Conversely, what grabs you?
Typo-riddled, grammatically-challenged queries. Mass-emailed queries sent to every agent possible. Queries with unrealistic word counts for the genre written. Queries that include selections from a novel as sample pages or several chapters rather than the first five pages (which is requested on the submission guidelines). In fiction, queries that focus on the writer and his/her background, rather than the story. Queries written from the protagonist’s point of view. Queries for areas I don’t represent.  These are all easy no’s.
When you read ten in a row, a well-written, targeted query really stands out. One that manages to query in such a way that showcases the writer’s voice is golden. Writing a good query is a skill.
When you’re considering whether or not to take on a new client, how much do you take market into account? If you receive a great manuscript that’s not in a ‘hot’ market, do you pass on it? Or does a good story always sell?
The market comes into play in terms of how many opportunities there are available to sell a manuscript.  I might love a manuscript, but if I can’t think of at least five places to try to sell it, I have to pass.  
If a writer is writing for personal enjoyment, the writer can write anything. But if someone is writing as a business, and that’s what writing for publication is, there needs to be a market for what you write, and that means someone willing to pay for it.
There is a big difference between “hot” and marketable. Any given market only stays “hot” for a limited amount of time.  I caution writers never to write to a market to try to sell a first book. By the time that manuscript is ready, the market will have cooled.
Has the urban fantasy market died down? Paranormal romance? What about other romance genres or traditional fantasy? When will the YA bubble burst? (I guess the subtext of that is: What are the hot markets right now, and what seems to be growing?)
As far as new writers breaking in, both the paranormal romance market and urban fantasy have become a lot more competitive. A new project really has to stand out in a crowd.
My queries have always given me clues as to where the markets are headed, and lately I’ve seen a lot of historical romance, so perhaps that market will heat up.
I don’t see any signs of YA slowing down, and I hope it never does. It’s one of the most creative areas around.
 How has the fluctuating situation in publishing (both because of the economy and changing technologies) impacted how you do your job?
Things are always changing. Just a few years ago, we used the phone more than the computer, our queries and submissions were hard copy, and we photocopied manuscripts and submitted to editors by snail mail.
Now, pretty much everything is electronic, including the e-reader I use to download and read manuscripts. (The only thing that hasn’t changed is hours in the day and having only one pair of eyes!) 
Those are the good things, in that they save both time and money. The downside is that technology has made some jobs redundant, and a lot of really talented people have left publishing.

A lot of authors seem to be bypassing agents and traditional publishers, jumping to the “JA Konrath/Amazon” self-publishing model. Seems to me this is going to glut the market with some books that should never have seen daylight once the gatekeepers are removed. Any thoughts on where the “ebook revolution” is going to take us?
We are undergoing a societal change with e-books now, and the details of how it shakes out remain to be seen.  I love paper books, and I love e-books. I buy in both formats.
When a full generation has been raised on e-books, I think we’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Can you imagine going back to a manual typewriter?  Or even a Selectric?
The market, i.e., the readers, will always demand some sort of gatekeeper, even if it comes down to reviews online. Poorly written, poorly edited books won’t thrive. 
Established authors can do well with this model as readers already know them and will seek them out. I think it’s really hard to build a career on your own, doing for oneself all the things a traditional publisher usually does. I wish them well.
What are some of the books your clients have coming out? What are you particularly excited about?
It’s a very exciting year, and I look forward to every book coming out. Four within the next couple of months are Gary Ghislain's YA, How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend; Jen K. Blom’s middle grade, Possum Summer; Alex Bledsoe’s next Eddie LaCrosse novel, Dark Jenny; and Julian Dawson’s bio of the late, great Nicky Hopkins, called …And On Piano, Nicky Hopkins.
 When you’re working with an author, what traits do you look for? What’s the ideal author-agent relationship like?
I mainly look for a level of commitment to the writing. Authors expect a professional agent, and I expect a professional author, even if that author is a debut author.
I speak with potential clients beforehand to let them know how I work, and what my expectations are of them, and to learn what they expect of me and of the process. This is the part where you learn if you’re a good fit. 
Every author-agent relationship is different. At the heart of every good author-agent relationship is communication. 
I am privileged to work with amazing writers who send me wonderful manuscripts to read. 
Are you taking submissions? Anything in particular you’d love to see right now?
Yes, I’m taking submissions in the categories I represent. No specific type, just looking for really good stories.
Thank you, Marlene! In fiction, Stringer Literary Agency welcomes queries in mystery, thriller, contemporary and urban fantasy, romance, women's fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, and Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. The agency also represents select non-fiction. Click HERE for more on the agency's submission process.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Releases Jan. 23-31 Part 2 (& Another Reader's Choice)

Like I said on Monday--HUGE number of new releases this week in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and YA paranormal--all the genres we love. So, as promised, here's the rest of this week's new releases and, like Monday, comment to tell me which one you're most looking forward to--and if picks your name at the end of the week, I'll send your choice of book. Easy peasy!

Here we go. Take a deep breath!

Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh
A Guild Hunter novel. An ancient and malevolent female immortal is rising in Manhattan to reclaim her son, the archangel Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena Deveraux, a vampire-hunter-and Raphael's lover.

Blessed, by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Cynthia Leitich Smith unites the casts of Tantalize and Eternal in a dark fantasy that finds Quincie P. Morris, teen restaurateuse and neophyte vampire, in the fight of her life—or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who "blessed" her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running.

The Dark Goddess, by Sarwat Chadda
A Devil’s Kiss Novel. Billi's back, and it seems like the Unholy just can't take a hint. Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Billi's thrust back into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity.  And these werewolves are like nothing Bilil's seen before. 

The Fallen Blade: Act One of the Assassini, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
First in a new Vampire Assassin trilogy. History, politics and dark fantasy blend into the serpentine alleys and canals of early fifteenth century Venice, where power is often wielded in shadows. Duke Marco is a figurehead leader, while his cousin Lady Giulietta finds her privileged status will demand a price. Atilo Il Mauros is head of the Assassini, the shadow army that enforces Venice’s will, while Prince Leopold zum Bas Friedland is the bastard son of the German emperor and leader of the krieghund, the only force in Venice more feared than Atilo's assassins. And then there is Atilo's angel-faced apprentice. Only a boy, Tycho is already stronger and faster than any man has a right to be. He can see in the dark, but sunlight burns him—and it is said that he drinks blood.

The False Princess, by Eilis O’Neal
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the only life she's ever known and live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins—long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control—she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl. 

The Griffin's Flight, by K.J. Taylor
In the newest installment in the Fallen Moon series, Arren Cardockson—brought back to life by a power beyond his understanding—flees for the frozen sanctuary of the North. With the man-eating griffin Skandar by his side and an entire country hunting him, Arren has little hope of reaching the place of his ancestry and of lifting his curse. But then he comes across a wild woman who may hold the key to making his lifeless heart beat once more.

The Hammer, by K.J. Parker
Gignomai is the youngest brother in the current generation of met’Oc, a once-noble family exiled on an island for its role in a vaguely remembered civil war. On this island, a colony was founded seventy years ago to mine silver. Now, an uneasy peace exists between the colonists and the met’Oc, who are tolerated since they alone possess the weapons considered necessary protection against the island’s savages. Gignomai is about to discover exactly what it is expected of him, and what it means to defy his family. He is the hammer who will provide the spark that ignites a brutal and bloody war.

Harbinger of the Storm, by Aliette de Bodard
In the second Obsidian and Blood novel, death, magic and intrigue are pervasive in the Aztec world, which teeters on the brink of extinction. As the political infighting starts within the imperial court, Acatl, High Priest for the Dead, makes a macabre discovery in the palace: a high-ranking nobleman has been torn to pieces by an invocation—and it looks like the summoner belongs to the court itself.

The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee
Her magic may be the only thing that can save a prince—and the Seven Kingdoms. In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mages’ blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head, and assassins at his heels. At his side as his armsman is Innis, a gifted shapeshifter posing as a man. Only the magic Harkeld loathes may stand between him and death.

The Sworn, by Gail Z. Martin
Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to gather an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Tris seeks new allies from among the living and the dead as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle. Meanwhile, the legendary Dread are stirring in their burrows after millennia of silence and no one knows what hand wakes them and whom they will serve when they rise. Now, Drayke turns to the Sworn, a nomadic clan of warriors bound to protect the Dread. But even the mighty Sworn do not know what will happen when the Dread awaken. The Sworn is the beginning of a new adventure set in the world of The Chronicles of the Necromancer.

Throat, by R.A. Nelson 
R. A. Nelson takes us on a supernatural thrill ride, a modern-day vampire story set on a NASA base and filled with space-and-science intrigue. Seventeen-year-old Emma feels cursed by her epilepsy—until the lost night. She's shocked to wake up in the hospital one morning, weak from blood loss. When her memories begin to return, she pieces together that it was a man—a monster—who attacked her: a vampire named Wirtz. And it was her very condition that saved her: a grand mal seizure interrupted Wirtz and left Emma with all the amazing powers of a vampire—heightened senses, rapid speed—but no need to drink blood.

The Warlord's Legacy, by Ari Marmell
Corvis Rebaine, the Terror of the East, a man as quick with a quip as he is with a blade, returns in this sequel to The Conqueror’s Shadow. Now Marmell raises the stakes in a story with the humor and action of its predecessor, plus a new villain evil enough to be a match for Rebaine himself, who returns in his trademark suit of black armor and skull-like helm, armed with a demon-forged axe, in command of a demonic slave, and with allies that include a bloodthirsty ogre.

Want one of these? You know the drill: one entry for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Please leave your email on your comment! Now...which one to choose.... Me, I have a weakness for Venice...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dragon Envy: Preview & Giveaway - Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper

I like dragons in theory. There's Smaug, of course, and I've read some paranormal romances with dragon-shifters as the big hunky love machines. But then I start thinking, you know--they're really big reptiles, and wouldn't they have dry, scaly skin? And wouldn't they have halitosis from all that fire-breathing business? And, well, I liked them as love interests a lot better before I gave it too much thought.

One of the books being released today is Dragon Keeper, the first volume in a new Rain Wilds Chronicles series from fantasy master Robin Hobb. And I need a reviewer for it--anybody interested in giving me a couple of paragraphs in exchange for a book? I'm not an epic fantasy reader, so despite my general fondness for dragons, I wouldn't be the right person to review it.

If you win it, you don't have to review it. But if you send me a short review by the end of March, I'll throw in a surprise bonus book and publish your review here on the blog. Ha! How's that for blackmail?

ABOUT THE BOOK: Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies. The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed by a river turned toxic. If neglected, the creatures will rampage--or die--so it is decreed that they must move farther upriver toward Kelsingra, the mythical homeland whose location is locked deep within the dragons' uncertain ancestral memories....Thymara, an unschooled forest girl, and Alise, wife of an unloving and wealthy Trader, are among the disparate group entrusted with escorting the dragons to their new home. And on an extraordinary odyssey with no promise of return, many lessons will be learned--as dragons and tenders alike experience hardships, betrayals...and joys beyond their wildest imaginings.

Sounds pretty cool, I say. So, changing up the rules a bit. To win, +1 for comment, +2 if you're willing to review, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or Retweet. So, six entries per person possible. Please include your email with your comment to be included in the drawing. Happy reading!

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Releases Jan. 23-31, Part I (& Reader's Choice Giveaway)

There are so many new books being released this week, we're going to have double the fun! Below is the first list of new releases. Comment and tell me which one you'd most like to read, and I'll draw a random winner at the end of the week (international entries welcome). Then, check back on Wednesday for Part II, where I'll put up the rest of the list--and draw a second winner!

All these books are being released on Tuesday, January 25:

Bloodshot, by Cherie Priest
Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind.

A Brush of Darkness, by Allison Pang
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

Burning Darkness, by Jaime Rush 
A government-trained assassin, Fonda Raine has her sights locked on her latest target: Eric Aruda, one of the rogue Offspring—a pyrokenetic who can create fires with just a thought. But Fonda has awesome powers of her own—and her ability to astral project and be in two places at one time enables her to put herself exactly where she wants to be . . . in Eric's bed. Eric is stunned and pleased by the inexplicable appearance of the mysterious enchantress, unaware that Fonda plans to seduce him, throw him off his guard, and then eliminate him. But the game changes radically with the arrival of an assassin from hell with orders to destroy them both. And suddenly Fonda and Eric have only two choices: to join forces or go down in flames.

Captive Heart, by Anna Windsor
As the world’s only fully trained water Sybil, Andy Myles is too busy battling New York’s demonic population and coping with personal tragedy to trust her broken heart to the wrong man. Jack Blackmore, FBI adviser to Manhattan’s Occult Crimes Unit, is Army-tough and rattling Andy’s nerves big-time, criticizing her strategies for attacking the powerful flesh-feasting Rakshasa. She could happily drown Jack with a rogue wave of her water energy—or her kisses. Honestly, when did hating a man become so hot? Jack’s all human—and he puts his trust in bullets, steel, and fists, not magic. Tough and confident, he’s never met a problem he couldn’t handle. Then again, he’s never fought alongside warrior witches who can kill with a flick of a finger or lost his heart to a wild, unpredictable woman whose kisses taste like sweet southern rain. As a tide of despotic evil sweeps through the streets of New York, Jack’s got one chance to stop a malevolent rampage—and claim Andy’s heart.

Crossed, by J.F. Lewis
In spite of his continuing hot-blooded affair with his soon-to-be sister-in-law Rachel, Eric’s plan is simple: Give his vampire girlfriend Tabitha the fancy wedding she’s always wanted, then head off to Paris for their honeymoon in the hopes of tracking down his sire, the Empress vampire Lisette. The City of Love proves anything but romantic when the True Immortal rulers of Europe try to block Eric from entering the Continent—and subject Tabitha to a series of challenges to prove her vampire worth. Back home in Void City, Eric’s volatile daughter Greta is getting lonely and bored—and that’s not good news for anyone. And when, like a bat out of hell, Lisette descends upon Void City to wipe Eric and his brood off the face of the earth—forever—this much is clear: the honeymoon is over.

Death's Sweet Embrace, by Tracy O'Hara
Teenaged shapeshifters are being slaughtered by a sadistic serial killer who rips their still-beating hearts from their paralyzed bodies. A task force forms to halt the madness, including the vampiric Aeternus Antoinette Petrescu, as well as Kitt Jordan and Raven Matokwe, members of enemy Animalian tribes . . . and forbidden lovers. A centuries-old blood feud has divided their shapeshifting peoples, and if their passion is discovered it will doom them both. But past hostilities must be put aside, for the killer they seek is but the first sign of the all-consuming nightmare of The Dark Brethren.

Drought, by Pam Bachorz
Ruby dreams of escaping the Congregation. Escape from slaver Darwin West and his cruel Overseers. Escape from struggling to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive--and Darwin rich. Escape from her certain, dreary existence, living as if it's still the early 1800s, when the Congregation was first enslaved. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient to the Water: her blood. So she stays, and prays to their savior Otto, who first gave Water to the Congregants... and fathered Ruby before he vanished. When the Congregants discover Ruby's forbidden romance with an Overseer, they beat Ford to stop her from running away with him. Ruby steals their store of Water to save Ford's life and is banished. Ruby has everything she's dreamed of: a modern life with Ford. But the modern world isn't what she thought it would be, and Ruby can't forsake the Congregation. Love and loyalty push Ruby to return and fight for her family's a terrible price.

Dragon Warrior, by Janet Chapman
Maddy Kimble has no time for a suitor—not with caring for her spunky nursing home patients, her shy nine-year-old daughter, her widowed mother, and her rebellious teenage brother. William Kilkenny’s stunning lack of modern dating protocol doesn’t help. The man is uncouth and outrageous—a towering, drop-dead, breathtakingly hot warrior. Who refuses to give up. William is secretly a ninth-century Irish nobleman formerly trapped in a dragon’s body. All Maddy knows is that lately, she can hardly resist the urge to lose herself in his powerful arms. But as their uncontrollable passion grows, eerie occurrences in her small coastal Maine town begin to rouse Maddy’s suspicions about her lover. He begs her to trust him, but how can she surrender—body and soul—when she fears the danger he poses to her yearning heart?

Heart of the Exiled, by Pati Nagle 
The Bitter Wars left a world divided. Now the ælven governors convene a Council at Glenhallow, while the savage kobalen gather in numbers not seen in five centuries. Vastly outnumbered, the ælven clans will send barely trained guardians to confront the kobalen, and a young female warrior, Eliani, will be entrusted with the most crucial mission of all: to reach distant Fireshore and learn why their governor has not responded to the call to war. Bound to her lover Turisan by the power of mindspeech, Eliani will feed vital information to the Ælven Council across vast distances. But Eliani cannot see the dark force watching from the Ebon Mountains. There, Shalár, the ruler of exiled Clan Darkshore, has given the mindless kobalen both power and a plan to cut off the ælven from their brave and gifted mindspeaker—and to reclaim for Shalár’s nearly extinct vampiric clan their ancestral land: Fireshore. But Shalár guards her secrets carefully, and even Eliani cannot know what terrible purpose lurks in the heart of the exiled.

Night Betrayed, by Joss Ware
The Change that devastated the earth did not destroy Theo Waxnicki. It made him something more than human—eternally young, eternally beautiful . . . but not immortal. When he dies on a mission against the Strangers, he is lost to the darkness . . . until a miracle lady brings him back. Born during the apocalyptic storms and earthquakes that left the world in ruins, Selena has dedicated her life to easing the pain of others. But Theo is the first in her care to survive. Responding to Selena's tender touch, Theo starts to live again, to feel and desire again. But joined in a world of terrors, the secrets they can never share make them targets. And love could be the ultimate betrayal.

Play Dead, by John Leavitt
Mason used to be an enforcer, ensuring that those magic practitioners without a moral compass walked the straight and narrow. But now he just wants to keep his head down, play guitar, and maintain a low profile with Lou, his magical canine companion. But Mason is down on his luck, and when a job with a large payout comes along, he finds the offer hard to resist-not knowing it might mean sacrificing what both man and his best friend hold most dear.

Raziel, by Kristina Douglas
“You’re dead” is so not what Allie Watson wants to hear. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like the dark, angelically handsome man who ferried her to this strange, hidden land. The last thing she remembers is stepping off a curb in front of a crosstown bus. Now she’s surrounded by gorgeous fallen angels with an unsettling taste for blood—and they really don’t want her around. Not exactly how she pictured heaven. Raziel is unsure why he rescued Allie from hellfire against Uriel’s orders, but she stirs in him a longing he hasn't felt in centuries. Now the Fallen are bracing for the divine wrath brought by his disobedience, and they blame Allie for the ferocious Nephilim clawing at the kingdom’s shrouded gates. Facing impossible odds at every turn, the two must work together to survive. Raziel will do anything to defend his spirited lover against the forces of darkness—because Allie may be the Fallen’s only salvation.

Want one of these? You know the drill: one entry for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Please leave your email on your comment! Now...which one to choose....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stylish? Who, Me?

Thanks to author Ciara Knight for passing along the Stylish Blogger Award, which means I have to share seven things about me I'll actually admit to:

1.  I have lived in five states: Alabama (Winfield, Tuscaloosa, Auburn); Illinois (Champaign-Urbana); Texas (Houston); California (San Diego); and Louisiana (New Orleans), but consider New Orleans home.
2.  I have two dogs, both of whom were named after professional wrestlers in an unfortunate phase I was going through a decade or so ago.
3.  I am a professional insomniac.
4.  I never saw the big deal about Elvis.
5.  I'm a music junkie. Latest obsession: Gurf Morlix (kind of alt. folk with a wicked sense of humor).
6.  I can quote large chunks of dialogue from "Gone With the Wind."
7.  I drive a nine-year-old Nissan X-Terra, which I bought because it has the highest ground clearance of anything I could find besides a pickup--I've had two cars drown in floodwaters. I don't anticipate ever being able to afford another car. *sighs*

That's it! Come back tomorrow, when I'll have another Reader's Choice giveaway and roundup of the new books coming out this week--there are so many, I'l be spreading it over two days with two giveaways! Also coming up this week: a Q&A with my agent, Marlene Stringer, with some interesting insights on things like what's hot, how digital publishing is changing the industry, and what she thinks of the YA craze. Plus a retro review and more!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Winners Circle, and Shameless Self Promotion for My Plotting Workshop

It's Saturday, so we must have winners! Before I announce the winners, I'll put in a shameless plug for an online workshop I'll be teaching over at Savvy Authors throughout the month of August on plotting your novel without killing your creativity. It's $15 if you're a premium member of the Savvy site and $25 for everyone else.Here are the shameless details, and if you're really only interested in seeing if you won a book (no, reallly?), scroll on down! And the quilt pictures are in honor of the class--yep, I made them!

Quilting 101: Patchworking the Perfect Plot (Even If You’re a Pantser)
Do storyboards, sticky notes, spreadsheets and index cards give you hives? Does your manuscript wander in circles--yet you’re afraid a detailed outline will suck the heart and soul out of your writing?

All you need is a simple word-processing program to stitch together the perfect quilt of a plot to keep your novel on track and moving in the right direction--while still giving your muse room to play. We’ll use a six-step technique to plot a novel from start to finish, and give you a huge head-start on your first draft (and the dreaded synopsis). This will be a working course! Bring your best idea (the one that's been bubbling in your brain for six months) or a manuscript that's wandering in the desert, and we'll shape it up and get it moving. We’ll also be deconstructing a novel into its outline as part of this class, and I’ve chosen J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover, the first in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you have a chance to read it before the class, it will make the deconstruction more familiar, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Over the course of the month, you'll put together the perfect quilt, er, novel. Classes will include:

1) Picking the Right Pattern. Just as a quilt uses small pieces that fit together to create a whole, a novel is created of the Big Idea--your overriding storyline--plus several Small Ideas, or subplots.

2) Choosing the Fabric. Your novel can have its pattern, but without the perfect fabrics, you won’t end up with a pretty quilt. In a novel, your characters are your fabrics. At this stage, you’ll decide who your dominant hero (or heroine) will be, identify the secondary lead character, and determine what roles your supporting cast will play.

3) Color Arrangement. Before beginning to stitch, the successful quilter decides how those squares of fabric will be placed to make the most effective use of the pattern. In our novels, this step involves identifying relationshipsnot just the relationship between a hero and heroine, but between all characters, and between each character and the Big  Idea.

4) Basting. Here's where we really start to have fun. We'll choose the threads of our story through the relationships we've identified and start to think about how to put them together. Each relationship should have a story arc that progresses from start to finish.

5) Piecing the Quilt Top. We'll take each of our relationship arcs and rearrange them into a single plot arc. At the end of this stage, each person will have a rough sentence outline of a complete novel. This outline will also serve as an easy foundation to writing the dreaded synopsis.

6) Backing, Batting and Binding. A quilt top is beautiful, but unfinished. In this final lesson, participants will go back through their plot arc and begin to flesh out scenes. The "backing and binding" stage can be as simple or as detailed as the author wishes; those who develop a more detailed, fleshed-out plot arc will find themselves well along their way in creating a first draft of their novels.

WHEN: August 1-28, 2011
WHERE: Click link for more info.
COST: $15 for Savvy premium members; $25 for basic (free) members.

Okay, commercial over! Without further interruptions.....
Congrats to KRISTA, who won the pick of new releases last week. She chose Paula Brackston's The Witch's Daughter.
Congrats to JAMIE, who won Jon F Merz's The Kensei
Congrats to NAJ, who won Laurie London's Bonded by Blood.
Congrats to BECKY, who won Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon's Map of Moments.
Congrats to BELLA, who won the 38 Mistakes book for writers.
I'll be emailing everyone soon. Stay tuned for lots more next week, including two new Reader's  Choice giveaways!