Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Royal Street Photo Album: The Napoleon House, New Orleans

The Preternatura Book Club is on hiatus until January (when we'll start reading the first book in Patricia Briggs' oh-so-fabulous Mercy Thompson series), so today I'm continuing an ongoing series of photos from places that play an important role in my upcoming urban fantasy Royal Street. (Cue shameless self-promotion music.)

Today, let's visit the Napoleon House, which is one of my favorite spots in New Orleans. (And if you're going to be at Authors After Dark 2012 next August, I'm planning to take some readers over to the Napoleon House for a Pimm's Cup at least once.)

So, in Royal Street, a pivotal scene in the book takes place in the Napoleon House, a French Quarter bar and restaurant at the corner of St. Louis and Chartres streets. Here's what it looks like during daylight hours (my scene takes place at night):

The Napoleon House was built around 1815 by New Orleans mayor Nicholas Girod as a private residence, and in 1821, Girod offered it to Napoleon Bonaparte when the emperor was exiled. Napoleon never lived there, but that's how it got its name. The Napoleon House has been in the same family since 1914. I chose the Napoleon House for a key setting because it was old enough to be familiar to the pirate Jean Lafitte, and I knew the interior layout. At the time my scene takes place, the restaurant and bar are still closed following Hurricane Katrina so my wizard DJ has it all to herself...well, almost :-)

Here's a shot of the interior of the front part of the bar. It has a decadent, old-world feel (dig the peeling plaster walls), and draws way more locals than most French Quarter establishments. It's low-key, and they play only classical music. They also serve what I think is the best muffaletta in town (a sandwich on Italian bread, with provolone and meats and olive salad). Since the restaurant was closed during my scene, DJ doesn't get to eat one.

Their signature drink is the Pimm's Cup--Pimm's liqueur, lemonade, 7-Up, and cucumber. C'est si bon!

In Royal Street, DJ slips in the Napoleon House at night and hides out in the courtyard for a while, trying to see what's going on in one of the upstairs banquet rooms. Here's the courtyard.

I've never been in the banquet room, so I had to do some imaginary embellishing and furniture rearranging with it (with apologies to the Napoleon house), but here's a photo of it from the Napoleon House website.

People richer than me rent it out for events. I'd love to have my launch party here!

If you've been to NOLA, have you been to the Napoleon House?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: THE FALLEN QUEEN by Jane Kindred--and Get a Copy for Yourself

A couple of months ago, I had the chance to do copyediting on a new fantasy-urban fantasy hybrid called The Fallen Queen, due to be released next Tuesday. I approached it with some trepidation, I have to admit. First, I’m not a great fan of high fantasy, and this had a feel of epicness to it. It also had a freakin’ chart of the realms of the heavens in the front—and nothing annoys me more than a book that needs to explain itself before you start it (yes, that even goes for my much-loved Black Dagger Brotherhood and its glossary). I always skip such things.

So imagine my surprise when I realized very early on that this book from author Jane Kindred was probably going to be among the top baker's dozen books I’ve read this year.And I’ve read a LOT of books this year.

THE OFFICIAL BLURB: Heaven can go to hell. Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive. Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter. Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

MY THOUGHTS: This isn’t a story of sexy angels chasing down supernatural bad guys. It’s not a romance per se although there are elements. It isn’t religious. It isn’t filled with swords, although there’s a fair amount of sorcery.
Here’s what it is: beautifully written, set in both a complex (but not overwhelming) realm of heaven and the stark reality of Russia. It is filled with three-dimensional characters you can’t help but care about, even when they’re doing horrible things to each other. It grips you early on, and barrels you from heaven to earth and back again without letting up. Anazakia is almost (but not quite) overshadowed by her demon companions Vasily and Belphagor, but in the end manages to hold her own. Two more unlikely heroes than those demons, however, I haven’t met in a while. I was truly sad when the book ended, and can’t wait to see where Kindred takes this new series next.

THE GIVEAWAY: Want to win a copy of The Fallen Queen? Have you read a book that you thought might not be your cup of tea and ended up loving it? You know the routine: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Go!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Releases Nov. 25-30 and Reader's Choice

It’s that time again! In case you have a little Black Friday money left over for books, there are quite a few new releases coming out tomorrow (Nov. 29)…so many that I’m putting all the mammoth Dec. 1-6 releases in next week’s list!

As always, Reader’s Choice is an international giveaway, so dig in. (And if a book in a series catches your eye, you can always request the first in the series instead.)

*Genre key (at the end of each listing): SF=science fiction; F=high/epic fantasy; UF=urban fantasy; H=horror; PR=paranormal romance; YA=young adult; MG=middle grade; alt history=alternative history; dyst=dystopia; steampunk.

Darkling Fields of Arvon, by James G. Anderson (Nov. 29, Baen)
In the wake of the catastrophic invasion that has levelled the Stoneholding, the last bastion of order in the world of Ahn Norvys, Kalaquinn Wright Pursues the mission entrusted to him. Freshly invested as High Bard, sets forth across lands that lie under a dark cloud of uncertainty and strife, charged with the task of finding the lost Prince Starigan. This is but the first step in rekindling the Sacred Fire and restoring peace to a broken world. The task, however, will not be an easy one, for the Talamadh, the golden harp that binds together heaven and earth in sacred harmony, remains in the clutches of the tyrant Ferabek. F

Fate’s Edge, by Ilona Andrews (Nov. 29, Ace)
Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades. Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he's going to need Audrey's help. Third in the Edge series. UF

Honor Among Thieves, by David Chandler (Nov. 29, Harper Voyager)
When allies become enemies, to whom can a clever thief turn? Armed with one of seven Ancient Blades, Malden was chosen by Fate to act as savior . . . and failed dismally. And now there is no stopping the barbarian hordes from invading and pillaging the kingdom of Skrae. Suddenly friends and former supporters alike covet the young hero’s magic while seeking his destruction—from the treacherous King and leaders of the City of Ness to the rogue knight Croy, who owes Malden his life.  It will take more than Malden’s makeshift army of harlots and cutpurses to preserve a realm. Luckily the sorceress Cythera fights at his side, along with the ingenious, irascible dwarf Slag. And the wily thief still has a desperate and daring plan or two up his larcenous sleeve. Third in the Ancient Blades series. F

Virtual Virgin, by Carole Nelson Douglas (Nov. 29, Pocket)
For a red-blooded male, Las Vegas offers a virtual smorgasbord of temptation: sexy showgirls, vampy vampires, zombie starlets, you name it. But paranormal investigator Delilah Street isn’t worried about losing her man to these vixens. Especially when the one woman with a soft spot for the guy also has a hard-shelled exterior. She’s a robot—or a CinSim, to be exact—a near-perfect simulation of the silver-metal robot Maria from the classic science fiction movie Metropolis. Part innocent teenage actress, part depraved sex goddess, the new Maria is hooked on Delilah’s partner, Ric, who raised her from the dead. She also happens to be the perfect secret weapon for a demonic drug lord. Which could be one hell of a problem. Delilah’s not the jealous type, but this tin-can temptress must be stopped—even if it forces Delilah to forge a dangerous alliance with her wicked mirror-twin, Lilith. If robo-girl goes ballistic, every player in Vegas loses. UF

Angel of Darkness, by Cynthia Eden (Nov. 29, Brava)
As an angel of death, Keenan’s job is to collect the souls on his list. He’s carried out his duty for two thousand years and never faltered once. Until he meets Nicole St. James. When the moment of death comes, Keenan hesitates, and instead of taking Nicole, Keenan touches the vampire who’s attacking her.  Cast out of heaven for disobedience, Keenan plummets to earth. Six months later, he finally manages to track Nicole to a bar in Mexico. He’s stunned to discover that the woman he remembers has undergone a dramatic change—she’s become a vampire. And when he realizes that she’s the target of all manner of enemies—other vampires, demons, even shifters—he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, even if all hell breaks loose. First in the Fallen series. PR

Kiss of Frost, by Jennifer Estep (Nov. 29, Kensington)
Logan Quinn was trying to kill me. My Spartan classmate relentlessly pursued me, swinging his sword at me over and over again, the shining silver blade inching closer to my throat every time. A smile tugged up his lips, and his ice-blue eyes practically glowed with the thrill of battle. I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Academy, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive the rest of the semester. One day, I’m getting schooled in swordplay by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gorgeous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invisible archer in the Library of Antiquities decides to use me for tar­get practice. And now, I find out that someone at the academy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help — I just might die by the sword. F-YA

The Scottish Prisoner, by Diana Gabaldon (Nov. 29, Delacorte)
London, 1760. For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war in the remote Lake District, life could be worse: He’s not cutting sugar cane in the West Indies, and he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own. But Jamie Fraser’s quiet existence is coming apart at the seams, interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of Tobias Quinn, an erstwhile comrade from the Rising. Like many of the Jacobites who aren’t dead or in prison, Quinn still lives and breathes for the Cause. His latest plan involves an ancient relic that will rally the Irish. Jamie is having none of it—he’s sworn off politics, fighting, and war. Until Lord John Grey shows up with a summons that will take him away from everything he loves—again. F-Alt History

Hunter of Shadows, by Nancy Gideon (Nov. 29, Pocket)
Transferring to the New Orleans Police Department, Detective Silas MacCreedy has a hidden agenda: to secure his clan’s place once again in the Shifter hierarchy. What he didn’t count on was stumbling upon a sexy assassin who could shred his best intentions and lead him into a dangerous dance that threatens to engage his heart. Monica Fraser knows just how to make a man beg—for his life. But she has no clue how to fight her attraction to the fiercely intense detective who seems determined to get in her way, both professionally and intimately. When emotional attachments to the past and an unexpected glimpse of a different future have her questioning her deadly purpose, Nica must discover the truth about her secret abilities in order to free herself from the forces that control her. But that freedom comes with a price—trusting those she’s been ordered to eliminate. PR

Killing Rites, by M.L.N. Hanover (Nov. 29, Pocket)
Jayné Heller has discovered the source of her uncanny powers: something else is living inside her body. She's possessed. Of all her companions, she can only bring herself to confide in Ex, the former priest. They seek help from his old teacher and the circle of friends he left behind, hoping to cleanse Jayné before the parasite in her becomes too powerful. Ex’s history and a new enemy combine to leave Jayné alone and on the run. Her friends, thinking that the rider with her has taken the reins, try to hunt her down, unaware of the danger they’re putting her in. Jayné must defeat the weight of the past and the murderous intent of another rider, and her only allies are a rogue vampire she once helped free and the nameless thing hiding inside her skin. Fourth in the Black Sun’s Daughter series. UF

Bound by Darkness, by Alexandra Ivy (Nov. 29, Zebra)
The Sylvermysts have a reputation as sinister cousins to the fey, and none are more mysterious than Ariyal and his tribe. To save his people from banishment, he faces a new challenge: Jaelyn, an elite vampire warrior sent to capture him. By rights, he should kill her on sight. Yet he cannot bring himself to hurt her—or to resist her. Jaelyn is stunningly beautiful, utterly lethal—and always alone. Until Ariyal. From their first encounter, she knows that what's between them is more dangerous than simple lust. And as they unite to thwart a terrifying prophecy that will mean the end of his clan and of the world they know, she will risk everything to fulfill her destiny by his side. Eighth in the Guardians of Eternity series. PR

Within the Flames, by Marjorie M. Liu (Nov. 29, Avon)
Joining the Dirk & Steele Agency turned Eddie’s life around. A pyrokinetic and former car thief, he cannot refuse an assignment to cross the continent in order to rescue an extraordinary woman in peril . . . even though he fears losing control of the destructive power of flame at his fingertips. The last of her shape-shifting kind, Lyssa hides in the abandoned tunnels beneath Manhattan, seeking refuge from those who murdered her family a decade ago and would now destroy her as well. Like Eddie, fire is her weapon, her destiny . . . and her curse. Yet she wants nothing to do with this mesmerizing stranger who seeks her trust while enflaming her passion. For beneath Lyssa’s extraordinary beauty are dangerous secrets . . . and even darker, nearly irresistible urges. But she has won the heart of a fearless protector . . . and all the demons in the world will not make him back down. Eleventh in the Dirk and Steele series. PR

Legend, by Marie Lu (Nov. 29, Putnam Juvenile)
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills. DYST-YA

Vampires Dead Ahead, by Cheyenne McCray (Nov. 29, St. Martin’s)
With zero tolerance for bloodsuckers, Nyx and the Trackers have made the streets safer for warm-blooded New Yorkers. Unfortunately, they didn’t drive a stake through the problem nationwide. Vampire attacks are on the rise. Proctors are dropping like flies. And Volod—New York’s ousted Master Vampire—is trying to make a comeback. Nyx is worried—about her city, her job, and her neck. But mostly she’s concerned about her former lover, Rodán, a Proctor who’s gone missing. Scarier still, Volod is capturing and “turning” paranorms to help him paint the town red. Which sucks. Because some of these new vampires are Nyx’s old friends. But hey—if she can stake them here, she’ll stake them anywhere. Fifth in the Night Tracker series. UF

Broken Blade, by Kelly McCullough (Nov. 29, Ace)
Once a fabled Blade of Namara, Aral Kingslayer fought for justice and his goddess alongside his familiar, a living shadow called Triss. Now with their goddess murdered and her temple destroyed, they are among the last of their kind. Surviving on the fringes of society, Aral becomes a drunken, broken, and wanted man, working whatever shadowy deal comes his way. Until a mysterious woman hires him to deliver a secret message-one that can either redeem him or doom him. F

Acquainted with the Night, by Piper Maitland (Nov. 29, Berkley)
Caroline Clifford’s bland life as a London tour guide flips upside down when her beloved uncle is brutally murdered at a Bulgarian archeological site. While traveling to recover his remains, she meets a man who corresponded with her uncle. Jude Barrett is a biochemist on a mission—to eradicate the world of vampires. At first, Caro is dismissive of Jude’s beliefs, but she can’t ignore the signs around her—the human bites on her uncle, the strange men following her, the anguished cries after sundown. Strange anagrams on her uncle’s passport lead her and Jude to a cliff-top monastery in Greece, where a shattering revelation connects a relic Caro inherited from her parents to an age-old text on immortality—and an enigmatic prophecy that pits the forces of darkness and light in a showdown that could destroy them all. UF

Theme Planet, by Andy Remic (Nov. 29, Solaris)
Welcome to Theme Planet, an entire alien world dedicated to insane rides, excessive hedonism and dangerous adventure. Operated by the Monolith Corporation, Theme Planet is the No. 1 destination for fun-seeking human holidaymakers Galaxy-Wide! Amba Miskalov is an Anarchy Android, an assassin/torture model fitted with a Quantell Systems v4.7 KillChip. She is beautiful, merciless and deadly, and blends perfectly with her human superiors. Sent to Theme Planet on a dangerous assassination mission, Amba stumbles upon a plot to undermine and destroy Earth’s all-powerful Oblivion Government – and its Ministers of Joy. But Amba is twisted, damaged and decadent – and this rebellion poses Amba a problem: to remain loyal to her creators and tormentors, to support the enemy – or annihilate them all. SF

Beyond the Darkness, by Jaime Rush (Nov. 29, Avon)
They live ordinary lives, but they are extraordinary. They are the Offspring, children of a mysterious experiment gone awry—and they are in terrible danger. Cheveyo: a name that stirs Petra like no other, reviving deep feelings of pleasure . . . and pain. Despite her rare psychic gifts, the beautiful half-human Offspring doesn’t know why the magnificent shapeshifter walked out of her life when the bond they shared was powerful . . . and intensely passionate. But Cheveyo is not gone. From the shadows, he watches over his beloved, determined that the malevolent enemies he hunts with fang and claw will not invade her world. But now, suddenly, the stakes are getting higher—as an insidious evil plots the destruction of Petra’s race. Cheveyo can remain hidden no longer from the lover who completes him but could destroy him . . . if his own inner darkness doesn’t destroy her first. PR

Winning Mars, by Jason Stoddard (Nov. 29, Prime)
Jere Gutierrez is bucking the trend at the dying art of "linear" entertainment - what we know today as TV shows. His combination of astounding stories, captured in the moment, are captivating millions. Of course, every one of his stories are fabricated and engineered and orchestrated, even though they're sold as "real." Unfortunately for Jere, his backers have begun to see through his tricks. Desperate for another story, one large enough to capture the attention of the world, he teams up with a retired TV executive to create an ad-supported mission to Mars, complete with corporate sponsors and extreme sports events. What Jere doesn't know is just how captivating his Winning Mars will be. SF

See anything you want? International Reader’s Choice―you tell me. 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!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Did You Win a Book This Week?

Happy Sunday! You know what time it is :-)

Did you win a book this week by commenting on the blog? Here are my weekly winners—and remember the Gently Used Kindle giveaway continues with four more chances to win on Friday.

Email me at with your snail-mail info if you see your name.

Congrats to TERIL for winning Lois Gresh’s The Hunger Games Companion.

Congrats to LADYVAMPIRE2U for winning the week’s Reader’s Choice contest. She was waffling between Unleashed and Immortal Rider. So…which do you want?

Congrats to AMBER HUGHES for winning a signed copy of C.K. Bryant’s YA.Bound.

See you all tomorrow for Reader’s Choice!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reminder: Last Day to Enter Weekly Giveaways

 My giveaway announcements have moved to SUNDAYS until the end of college football season (don’t even ask), so guest what? An extra day to win!

There’s still time to enter this week’s contests if you haven't already. Just keep scrolling down, or hit the links—well, don’t hit them. That might hurt. Just click on them.

Enter to win:

To win a chance at winning my gently used wi-fi Kindle, click HERE.

To win a copy of The Hunger Games Companion by Lois Gresh, click HERE.

To win your choice of book in this week’s Reader’s Choice contest, click HERE.

To win a signed copy of C.K. Bryant’s new YA novel Bound, click HERE.

Contests enter at midnight tonight (central daylight time in the U.S.) and are international. Now, start scrolling, clicking, commenting!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Q and A--and Black Friday Shot at a Kindle

Happy Black Friday. I'm not acknowledging that Christmas is approaching, so the only store that will see me today is Publix, doing my weekly grocery shopping since I have to be at work at 7-freaking-o-clock on Saturday morning to work the Alabama-Auburn football game. Roll Tide Roll and War Damn Eagle yada yada yada.

Anyway, if you read the blog last Friday, you'll know that I treated myself to a new Kindle Fire and, as a result, am having a contest to give away my gently-used, much-loved basic Kindle that's less than a year old. Four entries possible each Friday, in the usual way: one for commenting, one if you're a blog follower (new or old), one if you're a Twitter follower @Suzanne_Johnson, and  a fourth if you Tweet or RT the contest.

In the meantime, yesterday was a lovely day with family and extended family in Atlanta. When you engage in small-talk with people you don't know very well, at least in this part of the world, safe topics are 1) the weather; 2) SEC football; 3) whether you prefer your turkey fried or roasted (definitely fried); 4) the author in the room. Oh, huh, wait. That's me.

I expected to be asked: 1) when's the book coming out? 2) What's the book about? 3) How do you go about getting a book published? Those aren't the questions I got.

Here were my top questions:

1) How long did it take you to write the book? or 1) How long does it take to write a book?
Well...that varies wildly by author, you know? I can only talk about myself. Royal Street took about seven months to draft and revise. It took another six-eight weeks to do editor's revisions. I wrote River Road in four months, but I was on a mad burn, and I'm still waiting on revisions to come in. I'm shooting at five months to draft the third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, tentatively titled Elysian Fields, with a March 1 deadline (see progress meter on the righthand column of this page). Working full-time at a non-writing job and doing blogging and freelance work in addition to writing at night, I can theoretically pen two books a year, which seems prolific to me. But I recently copyedited a YA novel that was drafted in six days--was that author on crack?! The mind boggles. I could never do that, and am not sure I'd want to. My process is much more deliberate.

2) Who are some of the characters in your book?
I loved this question, and it was from my eldest nephew, who's 10. I have a wizard named DJ (a girl-ick); a pirate named Jean Lafitte, who is a real person (okay, he's undead and shucked this mortal coil a couple of centuries ago but let's not get bogged down by details); a voodoo god (confusion was setting in by now); and a big dude who likes to shoot things. I think I'd been officially pegged the crazy aunt by this point, and said child wandered away.

3) Did you write it or type it? signature is barely legible. If I'd written it in longhand even I couldn't read it.

4) How do you know where to start?
Uh...these are hard questions. I stumbled over this one, and am not even sure what I said. I think it had something to do with homesickness and post-traumatic stress. Gonna have to give this one some thought in case anyone ever asks again.

3) Did you get to decide what was on the cover?
Well, yes and no. I got to say what I really didn't want to see on the cover as well as general things I'd like to see, and I appreciated having that input because a lot of authors don't get any say at all. What I didn't want to see: a red-haired, leather-bustier-wearing kitten with a whip and a tramp stamp--nothing wrong with that, but it just isn't who my heroine is. She's kind of a down-to-earth quirky, geeky girl who honestly doesn't realize how pretty she is. She's not the most experienced hand on deck but she's fiercely loyal, sometimes to people who don't deserve it. I think the cover artist did a great job of capturing DJ and her spirit.

So...want another shot at winning the Kindle (drawing will be Dec. 9)? Ask me a question, or answer mine: What quality do you most like to see in a hero or heroine?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

For those of you in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you outside the U.S.....well, Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a few of the many things I'm thankful for this year...

My eldest kid, Shane O'Mac

My youngest kid, Tanker McNamara

My current muse, Zachary Richard, who has the most achingly sweet voice. I could listen to him all day--oh, wait, I often do.

Samwise Gamgee the Xterra, who's still rolling along after ten years--which I'm thankful for because I can't afford a new one.

Auburn U., where I work days and write nights--a great place to live.

The excitement of a debut novel, coming soon.

The hometown of my heart. There no place on earth like New Orleans. I miss it every day.

And, last but far from least, my friends and family, who'd kill me if I posted their photos.

Happy Thanksgiving, mes amis!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preternatura Book Club: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, Chapters 25-End

Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, we finish the first book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Halfway to the Grave. After today, the book club will go on hiatus until early December, when we’ll tackle Moon Called, the first book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. This is one of my favorite series but I haven’t re-read it in a long time, so it will be fun to visit it again. I hope you’ll join in! I’ll post the starting date well ahead of time.


We left Cat in a heap of trouble last week. After assaulting two cops at her grandparents’ murder scene and being shot several times, she ended up finding out the governor was the high-ranking ,her. We don’t know where Bones is, but he’s sure to turn up soon.

Chapter 25 picks up with Cat in the hospital, on the eleventh floor on a cleared-out wing, befitting her dangerous status. She’s a medical miracle already healed, of course. A middle-aged FBI agent and his younger companion come to her room—Donald Williams and Tate Bradley. Don is head of the Paranormal Behavior Division of the FBI, and Tate is Special Forces.

Don wants to talk to Cat about vampires—he has it figured out that Cat is half human and half vampire. She admits nothing, so he tells Tate to shoot her in the head. Cat falls for the ploy, rips the siderail off her hospital bed, breaks Tate’s arm, kneecaps Don, and gets the gun.

His offer is this: He wants her to be a government weapon and kill vampires with their backing. As bait, he holds out her mother.

Sigh. Mom is a piece of work, blaming Cat for the whole debacle and calling her a “whore for the undead.” She lets it slip that they’re looking for Bones, to kill him. Between the threat to Bones and their promise to leave her mother unprotected for Hennessey’s minions to kill her, Cat feels she has no choice but to take Don’s offer—as long as they leave immediately and call off the hunt for Bones. He agrees, as long as she doesn’t continue to see Bones and signs on for thirteen years.

By late afternoon, they’re headed out in a caravan, heading for a heliport and a military flight. Of course, they don’t get far before Bones steps in front of their car and lets it hit him while he fires into the windshield—well, it hits his shield. He rips off the door with a cheerful, “Hallo, Kitten!” He takes a sip of both Don and Tate before tossing them in the grassy shoulder of the highway. Cat’s mom is spouting nonsense till Cat finally punches her in the jaw (thank God—shut the woman up, already!).

Bones causes some impressive vehicular carnage before they drive off in a new Volvo SUV—which was going to be Cat’s Christmas present—to stay with a ghoul named Rodney. Mom has her mouth taped up (good move). Cat drags Mom into the bathroom and tells her to play along, and Mom agrees. She locks Mom in the basement and then goes upstairs to be with Bones.

Bones leaves the next morning, thinking he’s making plans for their departure. Cat cries a while after he leaves, then puts her plan to protect him and her mom in motion. She tracks down Switch’s body and puts Bones’ jacket on him. She shows the body to Don and says it’s Bones—and that they have to leave right away before more vampires come for them.

Eight hours later, Cat is in a military hospital in Houston after officially being killed by the FBI trying to escape. Tate is going to be a member of her team. As Cat goes to sleep a few nights later, she remembers Bones’ earlier words: “If you run from me, I’ll chase you. And I’ll find you.”

ARRGH. Okay, I hadn’t expected it to leave me hanging like that. Resolution, people! But it pretty much assures over the holidays I will inhale the rest of the series before we move on to our new book club read in January.

So, I’m kind of hoping Mom meets someone and moves away. I’m over her already. Will we ever see Timmie again? I’m guessing not. I’ll be anxious to see how Cat reconciles Bones with her new role as a fed—or if she does.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Okay, an up-front confession here. I haven’t read The Hunger Games trilogy yet. There, I said it. 

I have all of the books. They’re in my towering to-read pile. I just haven’t gotten to them yet. So when I received a copy of the new The Hunger Games Companion in the mail, I wouldn’t read it. I don’t want any spoilers—I’m trying to ignore all the movie buzz for the same reason. I know I’m going to like these books….just not yet. So…I’m passing it on to one of you.

I will read far enough to tell you what is in the Table of Contents, though, so here are the chapter titles:
1—The Hunger Games Trilogy: Surviving the End of the World
2—Repressive Regimes and Rebellions: Could the Hunger Games Really Happen?
3—Hunger: Starving in the Districts
4—Tributes: Gladiators in the Arena
5—Weapons: How Tributes Survive
6—Torture and Execution: What a Way to Go
7—The Nature of Evil: President Snow and His Cronies
8—Killer Kids: How Responsible Are They?
9—Hype Over Substance: A Mirror of Modern Times
10—Theseus and the Minotaur: Parallels
11—Survival Instincts and Strategies: Does Katniss Know What She’s Doing?
12—Medicines and Poisons: Simple and Complex
13—Muttations and Other Hybrids: Birds, Beasts, and Roses
14—More Weird Science: A Brief Roundup

It’s all Greek to me. Want to win a copy of The Hunger Games Companion? You know the routine: just comment to enter. Earn a second entry for blog follow, another for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and another for Tweet or Retweet or a share on Facebook—total of four entries possible! What do you like about this series? (Or not like?)

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Releases Nov. 22-28 and Reader's Choice

Kind of a medium-sized list this week, given that it’s Thanksgiving week—but holy cow are there a bunch next week, so enjoy the lull before the onslaught! Which of these do you most want to read? Comment with your pick, and good old might choose your name to win a copy!

As always, Reader’s Choice is an international giveaway, so dig in. (And if a book in a series catches your eye, you can always request the first in the series instead.)

*Genre key (at the end of each listing): SF=science fiction; F=fantasy; UF=urban fantasy; H=horror; PR=paranormal romance; YA=young adult; MG=middle grade; alt history=alternative history; dyst=dystopia; steampunk.

(Nov. 22, HQN)
She’s the vampire that could destroy a nation. At least, that’s what Pinkerton detective Finn Dunne thinks of Tara Fox. Capturing her aboard a ship sneaking its way northward, he’s convinced she’s been sent to take out President Lincoln. Tara has always been caught between worlds. When her strange dreams began, she thought of them as abstract visions. But she now knows that she must travel to Washington, D.C., and protect the president at all costs. If Tara has to go through Finn—or bring vampire reinforcements—to save Lincoln, she will do whatever it takes, even if it costs her her heart. PR

(Nov. 22, Delacorte)
Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, authors of the Wicked series, have created a new trilogy, the Wolf Springs Chronicles, which introduces readers to a town of secrets and the new girl who’s about to start believing in werewolves. PR-YA

(Nov. 22, Grand Central)
Sexy, powerful, and immortal, Limos is on a crash-course with destiny. She’s been marked as Satan’s bride and her jealous fiancé wants her all to himself. The only way this Horseman can keep herself—and everyone else—safe is to keep her distance. But not even Limos can save herself from the secrets she’s kept—or resist the seductive allure of one very brave human. Arik Wagner knows the saying “love hurts” better than most, yet he never thought stealing a kiss from Limos would land him in Hell. Literally. With the Apocalypse looming and Satan demanding his bride, will Arik and Limos surrender to the desire smoldering between them? Or will giving in to passion unleash hell on earth? Second in the Lords of Deliverance series. PR

(Nov. 22, Harlequin)
Once upon a time, the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs, and time is running out. As the dark Lord who condemns souls to damnation in the Abyss, Micah is nothing but a feared monster wrapped in impenetrable black armor. He has no idea he is the last heir of Elden, its last hope. Only one woman knows—the daughter of his enemy. PR

(Nov. 22, Clarion)
Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have rescued Tea’s and Aiden’s father and have made it out of Mag Mell alive, bringing a few new friends with them. But The Dark Man’s forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Teagan soon realizes that she is not the target of the goblins. In fact, the goblins call her princess, and call her to come out and play. Something is happening to her, and she suspects it’s an infection she picked up in Mag Mell. An infected cat-sídhe becomes her test subject, and Teagan is determined to cure it of the sickness that seems to rot its flesh. If she can find a cure for the cat-sídhe, then maybe there is hope for her. Second in the Goblin Wars series. UF-YA

(Nov. 22, Orbit)
Samhain approaches, bringing with it the final melding of the mortal and othernatural worlds. No one knows just how much power the night holds. Violent murders occur in Paradise City as counterfeit comarré are systematically hunted. The police and the Kubai Mata have more than enough trouble to keep themselves occupied. As war erupts at home, Malkolm and Chrysabelle head to New Orleans to recover the Ring of Sorrows. Chrysabelle is forced to make a life and death decision and will realize that her relationship to Malkolm may have fatal consequences. The clock is ticking. Third in the House of Comarre series. UF

(Nov. 22, Prime)
For more than eighty years H.P. Lovecraft has inspired writers of supernatural fiction, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and gaming. In the first decade of the twenty-first century the best supernatural writers no longer imitate Lovecraft, but they are profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos he created. This volume presents some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction from authors including China Mieville, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Sarah Monette, Kim Newman, Cherie Priest, Michael Marshall Smith, Charles Stross, Rafael Tavares, and David Barr Kirtley. SF-UF-H

(Nov. 22, Pyr)
Sir Dennis Darby has been murdered, the Automaton has been destroyed, and Sarah Stanton has turned her back on a life of privilege and comfort to try and find her way in the unforgiving streets of New York. But Lord Eschaton, the villain behind all these events, isn’t finished with her yet. His plans to bring his apocalyptic vision of the future to the world are moving forward, but to complete his scheme he needs the clockwork heart that Sarah still holds. But she has her own plans for the Automaton’s clockwork heart — Sarah is trying rebuild her mechanical friend, and when she is attacked by The Children of Eschaton, the man comes to her rescue may be the one to make her dreams come true. Second in the Society of Steam series. Steampunk.

(Nov. 22, St. Martin’s Griffin)
The penultimate chapter in Moody’s horror series. Forty days have passed since the world died. Billions of corpses walk the Earth. Everything is disintegrating.  A group of eleven men and women have survived against the odds. On an almost daily basis, they attack the dead with brutal ferocity, tearing through them with utter contempt. Somewhere nearby, out of sight and out of earshot, is another group that has adopted a completely different survival strategy. Where the others have used brutality and strength, these people have demonstrated subtlety, planning, and tactics. A series of horrific events force the two groups together. Backed into a corner and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of corpses, they all know that their final battle with the dead is about to begin. UF-H

(Nov. 22, HarperCollins)
With a divided StarClan driving a treacherous rift between the four warrior Clans, the spirits of the Dark Forest are gaining strength. Ivypool’s role as a spy becomes more dangerous with each passing day, and Dovewing is haunted by nightmares about the mountains. Then an outsider appears in ThunderClan’s midst, spreading discord and pushing the Clans farther apart. As tensions mount and Clanmates turn against one another, the warrior cats will be forced to choose whose word they can trust — before it’s too late. Fifth in the Warriors: Omen of the Stars series. F

(Nov. 22, Gallery)
The epic fantasy series Legends of the Dragonrealm continues in this omnibus edition, which includes three bonus novellas never before in print. F

(Nov. 22, Prime)
The first non-themed collection of author Sarah Monette’s short fiction. From Hugo-award winner Elizabeth Bear’s introduction: “Monette’s prose is lapidary, her ideas are fantastical and chilling. She has studied the craft of fantastic fiction from the pens of masters and mistresses of the genre. She is a poet of the awkward and the uncertain, exalter of the outcast, the outre, and the downright weird. There is nothing else quite like Sarah Monette’s fiction.” F

Theft of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan (Nov. 23, Orbit)
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles — until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom. Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know? Sullivan’s six-volume Riyria Revelations series was published with limited distribution before being picked up by Orbit earlier this year. This volume incorporates the first two novels in the series, The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. The four subsequent titles will be published in two omnibus editions in December and January. F

See anything you want? International Reader’s Choice―you tell me. 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!