Sunday, July 31, 2011

YA Review & Contest: WARD AGAINST DEATH by Melanie Card

How about some “Upper YA”? It’s a subgenre that’s long overdue, IMHO. Until recently, there’s been a generation gap between Young Adult paranormal books, which feature protagonists under 18, and Adult paranormals, which usually feature characters 25 and older. So, what, people just disappear for seven years in between? No one wants to write about characters going through what is arguably one of the most formative periods of their lives? You know—when they really meet “the one,” decide what they’re going to do with their lives, finally realize they don’t, in fact, know everything? 

Welcome to “upper YA,” which I hope to see more of. I’ll be featuring a couple of books in this new genre this week. See what you think. Today’s offering: Ward Against Death, by debut author Melanie Card.
THE OFFICIAL BLURB: Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is. But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her. However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

MY THOUGHTS: I had to get past a couple of quibbles with Ward Against Death: There’s that apostrophe’d last name, De’Ath, which is one of my personal fantasy peeves, but at least it’s pronounceable and we don’t see it very often. And Ward himself maybe has had a few too many life experiences to be twenty years old. But it’s not as quibble-producing as the YAs that feature 16-year-olds upon whose thin shoulders rest the fate of humankind, a plot device that annoys the crap out of me. None of that here.
            Once I get past those two minor quibbles, this is a really fun read. In a nice reversal of what we see in most YA, where the girl is the naive one with sudden inexplicable powers, here we have the guy, Ward, who’s the ultimate geekboy, cute but awkward around girls and way out of his league around the spoiled, lethal Celia. He’s caught between what his society will allow him to be and where his real talents lie (this is set in a medieval-feeling fantasy kingdom), whereas Celia is caught between the machinations of her family and whoever, or whatever, killed her before Ward raised her from the dead. (And she has an annoying habit of redying, which makes him have to hang around to revive her again.)
            There’s a lot of humor, a sweetly developing relationship, a fun fantasy world that has both an urban fantasy and a medieval feel to it, and a couple of memorable characters I hope to see more of. This is the first in a new Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series.

Want to win a copy of Ward Against Death? What do you think about the idea of a new “Upper YA genre”?  You know the drill: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Give Up, You win!

Is it already Saturday? That means it's contest winner time!

First, a quick preview of Preternatura next week. It's going to be fun. A new publisher, Entangled, is launching its first titles this week and I'll be reviewing and giving away copies of some of their August titles on Sunday,  Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Some are steamy paranormal romance, some are urban fantasy, some are seat-of-your-pants Young Adult.

In the interest of transparency, I will tell you I had the pleasure of copyediting some of the Entangled titles, so I do have a personal interest in the company.The books I'll be giving away, however, are not freebies. I'll be paying for them, and as always, I will only review or feature books I really like and can wholeheartedly recommend. As with the books of any publisher, there are some titles that don't appeal to me and thus I won't be featuring them.

We'll also have our usual Reader's Choice Giveaway and new release list on Monday and will continue our read of DEAD WITCH WALKING on Wednesday.

Now...the WINNERS!

*Congrats to WE FANCY BOOKS for winning this week's Reader's Choice award. Jayjay chose Andrea Creamer's Wolfsbane.
*Congrats to LYSSA ANNE for winning Lydia Dare's In the Heat of the Bite.
*Congrats to JOANNA for winning Juliana Stone's His Darkest Salvation.
*Congrats to ALLISON B for winning Sara Douglass' The Devil's Diadem.

Winners...please email me HERE with your mailing info!

Come back tomorrow for a chance to win one of two new titles from Entangled!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review & Giveaway: THE DEVIL'S DIADEM by Sara Douglass

If you read this blog often, you know I'm not a huge reader of traditional fantasy. Not because I don't like it (although more than one name with odd apostrophes, like Lord Ar'guth'nirz, do make me break out in hives), but because I usually miss the first or third or tenth in the series and don't have time to play catch-up. (Although I swear I will read the George RR Martin Ice and Fire series one day. Seriously.)

So I was excited to get The Devil's Diadem by Sara Douglass. First, it's a standalone fantasy, so I knew I could read it without feeling lost. Second, there's not a single weirdly apostrophe'd, unpronounceable name. Third, it has to do with medieval plagues and alleged witchcraft and demons and all those historical British things that make my eyes light up like my terrier's when she sees a new bag of chicken jerky coming into the house. *Nod to Shane O'Mac the Irish Terror Terrier.*

The Official Blurb:
Bestselling author Sara Douglass—acclaimed writer of the Axis and Wayfarer Redemption trilogies—invites you to visit a twelfth-century England very similar to our own—except this England is a country on the brink of demonic disaster and its only hope may lie with a young noblewoman. 

       Maeb Langtofte is lucky, she knows, to have gained a position in the household of the Earl of Pengraic—one of the most powerful men in England, a man whose holdings rival even King Edmond’s. She is lucky that his wife, Adelie, whom Maeb serves, is a kind, pious woman (in contrast to the Earl, whom Maeb finds dark and secretive). But when word arrives that a plague is sweeping through Europe like a human wildfire, everyone in the Earl’s household is put on edge. It is whispered that victims of this plague are spontaneously engulfed in flames—as if the flames of Hell had suddenly leapt up to claim them. It is also whispered that the Devil himself is to blame.
       As the disease spreads into England, so too does civil unrest. King Edmond calls his lords and their armies to return to London, and the Earl obeys, leaving Maeb and his family to fend for themselves. But it turns out that the Earl has been hiding far more than simple state secrets, and that his family, left alone, is at risk of losing not only their lives but also their souls. To her horror, Maeb will learn that, indeed, the Devil himself may have arrived on her doorstep. And worse, what he demands may, in fact, be running through her very veins.

My thoughts:
Loved this book from the first chapter--I didn't even need a warming-up period. Maeb is naive, sheltered, and from a good family run to seed. So taking a job as one of three women tending to pregnant Lady Adelie  and her brood of children (that lusty Earl!) was Maeb's only option other than joining a nunnery. And she's got a bit too much backbone to join a nunnery. There's a flirtation with the Earl's eldest son, Stephen, and the mysteries surrounding the earl himself, to keep the story percolating along even before the journey to creepy Pengraic Castle and the onslaught of the Devil's plague. And when plague victims spontaneously combust, is it a bizarre chemical reaction caused by a virulent disease--or really the work of the Devil himself?
    Great characters, crisp writing, and a story that leaves you guessing as it takes twists and turns...all makes for a great read. It's kind of a sad, thoughtful book despite moments of lightness, but I loved it anyway.

Want to win a copy of The Devil's Diadem? Just say so.  And if you've read other of Sara Douglass' series, what did you think of them? Note that this contest is for an ARC. You know the usual: 1 entry for comment, a second for a blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review & Contest: HIS DARKEST SALVATION by Juliana Stone

It's time for some hot, tortured alpha shapeshifter action today with Juliana Stone’s His Darkest Salvation. This was a don’t-want-to-put-down read on.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB: In a world on the brink of chaos, passion and vengeance collide... After six months in hell, Julian Castille has returned to the world a changed man—no longer the calm, powerful CEO, but a shifter fully embraced by the blood of his clan. Julian has one goal: find the key to the portal that stands between the human realm and unprecedented darkness, in order to win back the pieces of his soul. The last thing he needs is a distraction like the beautiful, enigmatic Jaden DaCosta. Three years ago, a forbidden night of passion left Jaden forever altered: mated to Julian Castille—bound to a man who despises her. But the temptation to trust this darker, more savage—and more captivating—Julian is overwhelming. And as they fight for their immortal souls, their insatiable desire for each other may prove their fatal undoing.

MY THOUGHTS: I have to admit here that this is the third in the Jaguar Warriors series but it’s the first one I’ve read...however, it won’t be the last. It has my favorite elements in a paranormal romance—tortured alpha hero with innate distrust of heroine, tough heroine with innate distrust of alpha male hero, and a good urban fantasylike story line that enhances and challenges the romance rather than taking a backseat.
            So yep, this one is easy to get hooked on without having read the first two in the series but I must go back and read them now because I think it would make me appreciate Julian Castille so much more to understand what all he’s been through before this story picks up. So if you win this contest and decide you want the first in the series, that’s cool.
            I also haven’t read a lot of big cat shifter books, so this was an interesting new world for me. Jaden DaCosta (who has one nasty SOB for a rich daddy) is a complex blend of fierce fighter and the girl who’s always trying to prove herself worthy of daddy’s respect and yet knowing it’s not anything she’ll ever get.
            Julian has literally been to hell and back—and what more urgent goal can a man have than retrieving the pieces of his soul that have literally been taken from him?
            The stakes are high, the pace is fast. Great read.

Want to win a copy of His Darkest Salvation? What is your favorite non-wolf shifter character? I always loved Quinn the weretiger in the Sookie books. I think it was the purple eyes. You know the drill: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Preternatura Book Club: DEAD WITCH WALKING, Chapters 25-26

Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club, where we're reading the first book in Kim Harrison's Hollows series, DEAD WITCH WALKING. 

Here’s how it works. Each week, I’ll post a summary (spoiler alert!) on two chapters, and we’ll chat about them. Try to minimize spoilers beyond what’s happened in the book we’ve read so far. You can read along, read ahead, or just stop by and read the summaries. After the Book Club has been up a few days, I’ll move it to archives so you can still come back and read. There’s a “Book Club” tab above. So, let’s get started!

When we last left Rachel, she and Nick (formerly known as the Bloody Baron and a human with a great deal of knowledge about Inderlanders) were in the library's double-secret room looking for black spells to use in protecting Rachel against Trent Kalamack. An enormous, slavering dog had appeared and spoken Rachel's full name, asking which of them was "Rachel Mariana Morgan."

The dog jumps on Nick and Rachel screams. Bad idea, she realizes, belatedly, as the dog turns to look at her. Its eyes are red, with pupils slit sideways like a goat's. That is NEVER a good thing. Turns out the thing appeared as a dog because someone is afraid of dogs--and he was sent to kill Rachel and make sure she was afraid. As soon as he realizes which one is Rachel--and that she isn't afraid of dogs--the creature morphs into something he thinks she might be afraid of--a punked-up rapist. But she fights him. He morphs again, into a "sophisticated young man dressed in a formal frock and coat" with "a pair of smoked glasses perched on its narrow nose." She can't figure out what he is.

But the more she fights, and the weaker she gets, the more the creature--okay, I'll just say it's a demon because we know by the end of the chapters--can read her thoughts and fears. He sees what Rachel fears most is dying by vampire while she thinks she's enjoying it. So he pulls the image of Ivy's sex-on-a-stick friend Kisten from Rachel's mind and becomes Kisten. But even then, he realizes it's not Kisten she's afraid of, and slowly he morphs into a demonic Ivy lookalike, even to the scent of orange juice on her breath and the words she's used on Rachel. How creepy is this scene!?

Rachel continues to spar with the demon, who gets in some brutal hits even before morphing into an Ivy lookalike, and she gets weaker and weaker. He bites her, and she feels the vampire good times as she starts bleeding out. Finally, Nick--who's been struggling to get into the locked cabinet where the REALLY black magic spellbooks are located--manages to clock the demon with a book and form a circle of magic around him so he can't escape. 

Jenks is able to swoop down and try to stop Rachel's bleeding with some of his fairy dust, and Nick is verbally sparring with the demon and trying to figure out how to help Rachel. Rach is in la-la-land, for the most part but we learn some things. There hasn't been a demon attack since the Turn (40 years earlier), but Nick did take demonology in his studies. We don't know exactly how Nick is involved with this demon yet, but we (and Rachel) know he at least knows how to summon and contain a demon. 

Rachel tells Jenks to go after Ivy, but Nick is afraid Rachel will bleed to death before Ivy can get there. Against Rachel's protests, he strikes a deal with the demon (after sticking the blackest of spellbooks in Rachel's backpack--sneaky move). The demon promises to take them to Ivy--through the ever-after (think: hell version of Cincinnati). In return, he wants no compulsion put on him to return to the ever-after. Nick says it's safe because the demon can't lie and he has to go back at sunrise anyway. He knows this because he read it in a book about demons. Uh-huh.

Another interesting thing here: The demon learns where Rachel lives and is surprised because someone--he first assumes it's perhaps Nick, then realizes it's Rachel--did some powerful magic there six nights ago that rippled through the ever-after. This is another good inkling for us of just how strong Rachel's magic has the potential to be--and the demon realizes it, too.

Nick strikes a deal with the demon and, next thing we know, Rachel wakes up outside the church. Nick is carrying her, and he and Ivy are arguing. Rachel's trying to pull herself out of her semi-conscious state enough to tell them to get her inside already. While they're arguing we learn some interesting tidbits Nick somehow knows--that Ivy was already living at the church, and had been for a while, before Rachel quit the I.S. This is not what she told Rachel. Nick accuses Ivy of some "long-range planning," i.e., to eventually make Rachel her human scion--which Ivy denies. But obviously, Ivy has some secrets we don't know about.

Ivy cleans Rachel up, but manages to keep herself under control around all the blood, while Rachel has her wits about her enough to not freak out around Ivy. Rachel's still in bad shape, though, and finally Matalina (Mrs. Jenks) comes in and tells them to get the older guy who lives across the street, Mr. Keasley, to come.


Lest you ignore him too quickly, I'm going to do a semi-not-really-Spoiler here and say, remember the demon. Demon=major character. Now, that having been said, who do you think sent the demon after Rachel? And what do you think Nick's story is? Lots of question-marks raised in these chapters!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review & Contest: IN THE HEAT OF THE BITE by Lydia Dare

Time for some Regency paranormal romance today from Lydia Dare! And to win a copy of In the Heat of the on.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB: Chivalry is far from undead...Matthew Halkett, Earl of Blodswell, is one of the few men in the ton who can claim to be a knight in shining armor- because that's precisely what he was before being turned into a vampyre. When he spies a damsel in distress in the midst of a storm in Hyde Park, his natural instinct is to rush to her aid...But not every woman needs to be rescued...Weather-controlling witch Rhiannon Sinclair isn't caught in a storm-she's the cause of it. She's mortified to have been caught making trouble by the imposing earl, but she doesn't need any man-never has, and is sure she never will...But when Rhiannon encounters Matthew again, her powers go awry and his supernatural abilities run amok. Between the two of them, the ton is thrown into an uproar. There's never been a more tempestuous scandal...

MY THOUGHTS: In the Heat of the Bite (love the title!) is the second in Lydia Dare’s Regency Vampyre trilogy, but reads fine as a standalone. I loved the first book, It Happened One Bite, and this one was just as much fun, as we get a better look at Matthew, former knight turned vampire and genuinely nice, well-grounded guy, er, vampire, who more than meets his match in the fiery Rhiannon, a Scottish weather witch (she’s a coven mate of the witch Blair in the first book). I’m always on board when weather gets stirred up, so this was a fun read for me. The romance doesn’t overwhelm the plot and, as we’ve come to expect from a regency, includes its share of misunderstandings and breaches-of-manner.
            One thing to note. I’m always a little squichy when it comes to dialect, and the witches’ Scottish brogues get a bit heavy for me sometimes in these books (“Doona get yer hair standin’ on end,” the character might say to me). I usually find by the first third of the book, I’ve adjusted and don’t notice it so much anymore but in the early pages I’m always stopping to try and pronounce it. So, if that’s something that gets you squichy, you’ve been warned :-) Now, as to exactly what “squichy” idea.

Want to win a copy of In the Heat of the Bite? What do you think about distinctive dialects in the books you read? You know the drill: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Get squichy on it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Releases July 26-31 & Reader's Choice Contest, Part 2

Welcome to week two of our bazillion-release July 26-31 listing and Reader’s Choice contest. Harry Dresden was the hands-down most-requested new book in last week’s list. What rocks your world from this one? I’d probably have to go with Andrea Creamer’s Wolfsbane.

Monster Hunter Alpha, by Larry Correia
(July 26, Baen)
Earl Harbinger may be the leader of Monster Hunter International, but he’s also got a secret. Nearly a century ago, Earl was cursed to be werewolf. When Earl receives word that one of his oldest foes, a legendarily vicious werewolf that worked for the KGB, has mysteriously appeared in the remote woods of Michigan, he decides to take care of some unfinished business. But another force is working to bring about the creation of a whole new species of werewolf. When darkness falls, the final hunt begins, and the only thing standing in their way is a handful of locals, a lot of firepower, and Earl Harbinger’s stubborn refusal to roll over and play dead. Third in the Monster Hunter International series. UF

Mortality Bridge, by Steven R. Boyett
(July 31, Subterranean)
Decades ago a young rock and blues guitarist and junkie named Niko signed in blood on the dotted line and in return became the stuff of music legend. But when the love of his damned life grows mortally and mysteriously ill he realizes he’s lost more than he bargained for. Niko sets out on a harrowing journey from the streets of Los Angeles through the downtown subway tunnels and across the red-lit plain of Hell to play the gig of his mortgaged life and win back the purloined soul of his lost love. Limited edition release. UF

Out of the Waters, by David Drake
(July 19, Tor)
The wealthy Governor Saxa, of the great city of Carce, has generously subsidized a theatrical/religious event. During this elaborate staging of Hercules founding a city on the shores of Lusitania, dark magic turns the panoply into a chilling event as a great creature rises from the sea. It devastates the city, much to the delight of the crowd. A few in the audience, although not Saxa, understand that this was not mere stagecraft, but something much more dangerous. Second in the series The Books of the Elements. F

Restoration, by Guy Adams
(July 26, Angry Robot)
None who enter The World House leave it unchanged. In some rooms, forests grow; animals roam and objects come to life. Great secrets and treasures await the brave or foolhardy. And at the very top of the house, the prisoner it was all built to contain sat behind a locked door waiting for the key to turn. The day that happened, the world ended. Second in the World House series. UF

Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots, by Andrew Nance
(July 19, Henry Holt)
A year has passed since that fateful night in Daemon Hall’s house of horrors. Bestselling macabre author Ian Tremblin decides to hold another writer’s contest but this time in the safety of his own home. Tremblin is excited to share with contestants a very old book he has recently acquired that once belonged to Rudolph Daemon, the millionaire builder of Daemon Hall who later went mad and killed his family. But the book, like the mansion, is powerfully evil and soon transports the group to the burned out shell of the haunted mansion. Flesh eaters, voodoo, a proficient sociopath, and the root of the house’s malevolence are all part of the mix. Who will get out alive? YA

Ripple, by Mandy Hubbard
(July 21, Razorbill)
Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night, as a siren, she must swim or the pain will be unbearable. After a tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi’s curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she’s ever had to make: the life she's always longed for, or the love she can’t live without. YA

The Robot, by Paul E. Watson
(July 21, Razorbill)
Science-loving Gabe and girl-crazy Dover are best friends. In fact, they’re practically each other's only friends. So when Gabe’s parents leave town for the weekend, he lets Dover convince him to break into his father’s basement laboratory, even though he knows it’s off-limits. Once inside, the boys make a shocking discovery, one that will turn a boring weekend into a hilarious madcap adventure: a smoking hot robot. YA

Shadow Fall, by Seressia Glass
(July 26, Pocket)
As a Shadowchaser, Kira Solomon has been trained to serve the Light, dispatch the Fallen, and prevent the spread of chaos. It’s a deadly job, and Kira knows the horror of spilling innocent blood. But now she has a new role, as the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order, and an assignment that might just redeem her. A fellow Shadowchaser has gone missing, and so has a unique artifact imbued with astonishing magic. Unless the Vessel of Nun is returned, it will cause destruction beyond anything the modern world has seen. Third in the Shadowchasers series. UF

Shadowflame, by Dianne Sylvan
(July 26, Ace)
It’s been three months since musician Miranda Grey became a vampire and married David Solomon, Prime of the South. As Queen, Miranda must quickly come to terms with her new role and learn how to negotiate the treacherous waters of Signet politics, inevitably making dangerous enemies along the way. As if complicated vampire politics and a rising music career weren’t enough, an enigmatic but powerful force from David’s past appears, leaving a wake of chaos and uncertainty for the pair’s fledgling relationship. Second in the Shadow World series. UF

Spell Bound, by Kelley Armstrong
(July 26, Dutton)
Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she’s powerless to help herself. At the heartbreaking conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would prevent further pain for a young orphan. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise. Now, witch-hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. Twelfth in the Women of the Otherworld series. UF

Supernaturally, by Kiersten White
(July 26, HarperTeen)
Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be kind of boring. Just when she starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. Second in the Paranormalcy series. YA

Sympathy for the Devil, by Justin Gustainis
(July 26, Solaris)
Senator Howard Stark wants to be president of the United States. So does the demon inside him. With the competing candidates dropping out due to scandal, blackmail, and ‘accidental’ death, Stark looks like a good bet to go all the way to the White House. Occult investigator Quincey Morris and white witch Libby Chastain are determined to stop him. But between them and Stark stand the dedicated agents of the U.S. Secret Service— and the very forces of Hell itself. Third in the Quincey Morris series. UF

Tattoo, by Kirsten Imani Kasai
(July 26, Del Rey)
In an environmentally fragile world where human and animal genes combine, the rarest mutation of all, the Trader, can instantly switch genders. One such Trader—female Sorykah—is battling her male alter, Soryk, for dominance and the right to live a full life. Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. Her journey, she believes, is over, but Matuk’s death has unleashed darker, more evil forces. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit. SF

Theirs Not to Reason Why: A Soldier’s Duty,
by Jean Johnson (July 26, Ace)
Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years—a soldier history will call Bloody Mary. SF

This Shared Dream, by Kathleen Ann Goonan
(July 19, Tor)
Kathleen Ann Goonan introduced Sam Dance and his wife, Bette, and their quest to alter our present reality for the better in her novel In War Times (winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel and ALA’s Best Science Fiction Novel of 2008). Now, in This Shared Dream, she tells the story of the next generation. The three Dance kids, seemingly abandoned by both parents when they were younger, are now adults disturbed by memories of a reality that existed in place of their world. SF

Troika, by Alastair Reynolds
(July 31, Subterranean)
A new novella from the author of such intergalactic epics as Chasm City and Revelation Space. Troika tells the story of men and women confronting an enigma known as the Matryoshka, a vast alien construct whose periodic appearances have generated terror, wonder, and endless debate. During its third apparition in a remote corner of the galaxy, a trio of Russian cosmonauts approach this enigma and attempt to penetrate its mysteries. What they discover—and what they endure in the process—gives a new meaning to “first contact.” SF

The War That Came Early: The Big Switch,
by Harry Turtledove (July 19, Del Rey)
In this World War II alternate history, Harry Turtledove begins with a big switch: what if Neville Chamberlain, instead of appeasing Hitler, had stood up to him in 1938? Enraged, Hitler reacts by lashing out at the West, promising his soldiers that they will reach Paris by the new year. They don’t. Three years later, his genocidal apparatus not fully in place, Hitler has barely survived a coup, while Jews cling to survival. But England and France wonder whether the war is still worthwhile. Then the stalemate is shattered. In England, Winston Churchill dies in an apparent accident, and the gray men who walk behind his funeral cortege wonder who their real enemy is. The USSR, fighting for its life, makes peace with Japan—and Japan’s war with America is about to begin. Third in the War That Came Early series. SF

When the Great Days Come,
by Gardner R. Dozois (July 26, Prime)
Millions of tiny robots dismantle Atlantic City. A Luddite encounters time travelers near the moment of Singularity. A young boy may have just destroyed the entire Eastern Seaboard. By turns haunting and humorous, Gardner Dozois’s short fiction is collected in a definitive edition of his work. Includes Nebula Award winners such as “Morning Child” and nominees “Disciples” and “A Dream at Noonday.” SF

Wolfsbane, by Andrea Cremer
(July 26, Philomel)
This sequel begins just where Nightshade ended. Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack, not to mention the man she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? Second in the Nightshade series. YA

See anything you want? So…International Reader’s Choice―you tell me. Just a note: if you like a title but it isn’t the first in a series, you can always request the first in that series instead. (That’s for Reader’s Choice contests only.) As always, four entries possible and please include your e-mail: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest. Now….go!