Thursday, May 31, 2012

Q&A with #UF author Mike Shevdon - W*n a Signed ARC


I’m thrilled to welcome British urban fantasy author Mike Shevdon to the blog today. By way of a mutual friend (waves at Lauri), I “met” Mike in a virtual sense two or three years ago when I had just sold Royal Street and he was getting ready to launch Sixty-One Nails, the first in his Courts of the Feyre series. So it’s great to have him here today just after the launch of book three in the series, Strangeness and Charm.

I love this series because I find the fey so fascinating. Like elves (except maybe even more so), the fey are not so entrenched into a mythos that one can’t play around with them, and they are often both good and evil at the same time. So the Feyre world Mike creates in his series is rich and complex and engrossing. His main character, Niall, is a guy we can all pull for, driven by the need to protect his family (well, and sometimes, just to survive).

So, join me in welcoming Mike to the blog. He’s generously offered a signed ARC of Strangeness and Charm to one commenter or, if you’re new to the series, I’ll send you a copy of book one, Sixty-One Nails. Just tell us your favorite fae/fey book, if you have one. In additions to Mike’s books, I’ve enjoyed the fae of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series and in Jenna Black’s YA Faeriewalker series.

Welcome, Mike! Give us the “elevator pitch” for the Courts of the Feyre series (Sixty-One Nails, The Road to Bedlam, and Strangeness and Charm):

After a heart attack, Niall Petersen is revived on the London Underground by an old lady who tells him he’s not entirely human. The old lady turns out to be much older than she appears, and explains that he has inherited the bloodlines of the Feyre, creatures of myth and folklore. Now one of those creatures is hunting him and he must find a way for him and his daughter to survive. To succeed he must discover the secret of the Sixty-One Nails.
His daughter carries those genes too, and is kidnapped by a shadowy organisation, from which Niall must rescue her. His search is interrupted by the return of the Seventh Court, but is their arrival a coincidence? To find his daughter, Niall must enter an alliance with his most dangerous foe. How long will that alliance last on The Road to Bedlam?
In freeing Alex from Bedlam, Niall releases her tortured and abused brethren into the world—individuals with strange and uncertain powers. Now he is tasked with bringing these fey-humans back into the fey courts for the sake of peace and stability—but what if they have their own plans, born out of torture and formed from a distillation of bitterness, resentment, Strangeness and Charm?

How would you describe Niall? How has he changed as the series has progressed from the stressed-out guy who has a heart attack in the Tube station at the beginning of Sixty-One Nails to now?

Having a heart attack and nearly dying tends to focus the mind, and in that moment of almost-death Niall realises that he really wants to live. Even so, divorced wage-slave to fey-human bodyguard is a big leap, and he’s found himself unable to let the past just drop away, not least because of his responsibilities to his daughter. He is changing.
What he’s seen and done has shifted his moral compass and freed him from some of his reticence. He’s coming into his own as a person, and as a Warder. His boundaries are being challenged in ways he never thought possible—he’s done things he would never have dreamt of, but in his heart he’s still a man who tries to do what’s right. And yet, he’s not finding right answers, just a choice of wrongs. He’s having to navigate the shoals of uncertainty and ambiguity. He’s learning fast. Let’s hope it’s fast enough.

What is your favorite scene from Strangeness and Charm?
It’s hard to choose just one. The scene with Alex and the ravens is one favourite, and the moment Niall discovers how Andy is evading him is another. As a stand-alone, though, the final scene in Strangeness and Charm is probably my personal favourite. It came to me unexpectedly, but helped to throw the whole book into perspective. It’s a reprise on events that happened earlier, with a minor character, in a place Niall doesn’t know. It’s self-contained and complete.

Hardest scene you’ve ever written:
Undoubtedly, the hardest scene to write was the memorial service after the death of Alex in The Road to Bedlam. The death of a child is one of the hardest things to bear, and I took a long time to work up to portraying that in a way that was real and meaningful. Writing it was incredibly intense and difficult—challenging in ways I had not previously imagined. I had to write it alone—having anyone else there meant I just locked up. It was written from the heart, and I poured myself into it. Hopefully it reads that way.

What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
At the moment there is Mark Morris on The Norman Conquest, which is a treasure because I heard him speak at EasterCon and got him to sign it for me. I’m also reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, which I have heard much about and only just started—I’m really enjoying it.

Favorite book when you were a child:
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison was certainly one of my favourites. I loved the adventures of James Bolivar diGriz and the wonderful light touch of the author; funny, entertaining - mapping out the limits of the suspension of disbelief while maintaining the roller-coaster ride. Great fun, and it stands re-reading as an adult.

Your five favorite authors:
Today? Right this minute? My favourites vary depending on mood, weather, sunspots....In no particular order: Barbara Hambly, Robert Crais, Alan Moore, Mike Carey, Sir Terry Pratchett.

Book you've faked reading:
All the accounting books for my master’s degree. I’d done enough accounting in my professional life to get away with it, so I just winged it. I got a good mark for that module too.

Book you're an evangelist for:
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The Devil comes to Moscow during the height of Soviet power, but no one believes in him. A many-layered story of fantasy, politics, religion, love and power. You can read it again and again - each time you get something different.

Book you've bought for the cover:
Snake Agent, by Liz Williams, about a detective in New Singapore charged with policing the borders between earth and the underworld. Absolutely stunning and evocative artwork which draws you in, inviting you to inspect every detail. A great book too.

Book that changed your life:
Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. This was the first book I read that showed me there were people who could think entirely differently from me - different values, culture, beliefs, perspective, but entirely reasonable and rational. I plan to return to it at some point and see if it still has the same punch.

Favorite line from a book:
“The question is the answer, Rudy” –From The Darwath Trilogy, Barbara Hambly. It is Ingold’s way of instructing his student, Rudy, and explaining that by forming the right question he already knows the answer.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich. The first of the Stephanie Plum novels (we’re now up to seventeen?) it is probably the one with the best mix of humour and tension. We come to know the characters better later, but in book one we get introduced the Trenton and the ‘burbs in a way that just leaves you wanting more.

Most horrifying moment while reading a book:
This was in a Phil Rickman book - I can’t remember precisely which one, maybe Midwinter of the Spirit or The Lamp of the Wicked. The protagonist, Merrily Gently, who is a female vicar, is in a hospital for a death vigil for a member of her parish she doesn’t particularly like. At the moment of his death, something happens that leaves you feeling almost violated - it is quite awful. Stunning writing, and unforgettable. It follows you long after you close the page.

Favorite book about books or writing:
I was lucky enough to go to Robert McKee’s Story Seminar, for which the notes are in his book, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. I know it’s about screenwriting and not novel-writing, but the elements of story are all there, regardless of format. It’s a manual on how to plot a book out and make it work. The man himself is cantankerous, difficult and prejudiced. He’s also brilliant, knowledgeable and funny. It’s a great read, and its advice should be followed.

What’s next? How far do you see the Feyre series going (I know a fourth book is coming next year), and are you working on other projects?
What next? Everything. I want to do it all. My problem is focusing down on the things I have time to do. The Eighth Court will be finished this year and out next year, with edits and proofing. That completes this series about those characters. Whether I will do more in that universe depends on what happens later.
After that I have at least three projects I want to work on; a modern ghost story about possession set in the present, a science fiction novel about water, and an alternate universe project with giant squid. Oh, and I want to teach myself to touch type properly, and shoot competitive archery again, and sail around the Mediterranean, and visit America, and stay with friends in Greece, and perfect my fish curry, and...and...

Ah, too much to do and too little time. I know that song. Thanks, Mike, for being here. If you’d like to know more about Mike and his books, you can visit his website HERE. In the meantime, leave a comment about your favorite fey/fae and be entered for either the signed ARC of Strangeness and Charm or a copy of the first Courts of the Feyre novel, Sixty-One Nails. You know the routine: one entry for a comment, extra entries if you follow the blog, follow on Twitter or Facebook, and Tweet or Share the link. Now…go!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Royal Street Annotated--New Chapters are Up!

First, I'm pleased to say that Royal Street will be published in print in the UK in September by Headline Publishing Group. River Road, book two in the series, will release about the same time as it does in the U.S., in November. There will be new covers for the UK print editions, so I'll show those to you as soon as they're ready!

On Wednesdays, I'm doing annotations for Royal Street by chapter (for past chapters, click on the Easter Eggs tab). Now that we're out of the first five setup chapters, there will be fewer annotations, so I'll try to cover more than one chapter a week.

CHAPTER 5

In the Sentinels world, hydromancy or scrying--a form of divination--is an elven skill, so most wizards can't do it. DJ can, since there are elves in her family tree...in itself unusual because elves rarely mate outside their own clans, much less their species. Hydromancy works different ways in different fictional worlds. In the Sentinels series, it's an inexact science. It can be done with the use of a charm, or--to make it more powerful--using something belonging to the person being scried. DJ uses it after Hurricane Katrina to try and find Gerry. She also uses it in River Road and in book three, Elysian Fields.

This use of hydromancy in chapter five offers an early look at DJ's character. To me, her greatest strength is also her greatest weakness. She is loyal often past all reason, and she will simply not give up when someone she cares about is in trouble, even if it means breaking a few rules and maybe even when the person doesn't deserve her loyalty. Sure, it gives her a few "too stupid to live" moments when she follows her heart rather than her head, but that's who she is.

This chapter takes place on Tuesday, August 30, the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. What a lot of folks don't realize is that Katrina didn't make a direct hit on New Orleans. I had friends who rode out the storm in the city, and they were out walking around in their yards on Monday afternoon after the worst of the storm had blown through, picking up limbs. My neighbors across the street even got on their bikes and dodged power lines and tree limbs and rode toward downtown in early evening....and began to run into pockets of water that got deeper as they approached central city. By the next morning, Tuesday, 80 percent of the city was underwater. The levees broke well after the storm came through--high tide--much higher than usual because of the hurricane, pushed Lake Pontchartrain into the drainage canals through the city, and the levees collapsed under the pressure. So by the time DJ uses hydromancy to find Gerry on Tuesday afternoon, his house near the 17th Street Canal would have been under as much as twelve feet of water.

The killing of National Guardsmen in the city after the storm was not factually based. That was just setup for this story.

CHAPTER SIX

DJ is an empath, but I needed some way for her to control it so that she didn't get overwhelmed by it. The idea of the "mojo bag" came up in a conversation with one of my crit partners as we brainstormed about ways she could do this.

Adrian Hoffman is the "Speaker of the Elders." We're not sure at this point in the story whether he's actually one of the Elders or just a mouthpiece, a guy who answers the phone. He clearly has some ability to make decisions on behalf of the Elders. Adrian doesn't play a big role in Royal Street, but he does pick up import as the series progresses, so you might make note of him. If I had to cast a movie of Royal Street, I'd put Montel Williams in the role of Adrian Hoffman. Except with a LOT of snark.

DJ had a legitimate concern about how to get back into New Orleans in mid-September. The mandatory evacuation of the city for her part of town wasn't lifted until mid-October. The city was repopulated by zip code, and DJ lives in the 70118 zip code; I lived in the 70115 zip code and my area was reopened at the same time--it was, after the French Quarter, one of the first areas to reopen because it had drained of water, mostly, and the streets had been cleared of debris enough for traffic (although there were no working street lights, no phone service, no city services).  There are really only four ways into New Orleans. The I-10 "Twin Span" bridges over the eastern edge of Lake Pontchartrain were destroyed by the hurricane. The I-10 bridges coming in from the west and the big Causeway bridge going over the middle of Lake Pontchartrain were closed to all but military traffic, so DJ's only recourse was to circle wide to the west of town and go in via the narrow two-lane River Road that skirts the Mississippi River levee. I had friends who sneaked back into town early via this route.

That's it for this week. Be sure and stop by tomorrow and meet urban fantasy author Mike Shevdon, who'll be here talking about his fabulous Courts of the Feyre series!






Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sci-Fi Tuesday: W*n a Summer Sampler

There must be something in the air, because there are new anthologies popping up everywhere these days! Last week, I had the Nebula Awards Showcase 2012 up for grabs. Today, I have another brand new anthology to give away--the Year's Best SF 17, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. This is a great way to try out some new-to-you authors. And, just because I have it available, I'll throw in an ARC of the Nebula Awards book as well. A double-dose of Sci-Fi goodness!

Here's what's in the Year's Best SF 17:
"The Best Science Fiction of the Year Three," by Ken MacLeod
"Dolly," by Elizabeth Bear
"Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer," by Ken Liu
"Tethered," by Mercurio Rivera
"Wahala," by Nnedi Okorafor
"Laika's Ghost," by Karl Schroeder
"Ragnarok," by Paul Park
"Six Months, Three Days," by Charlie Jane Anders
"And Weep Like Alexander," by Neil Gaiman
"The Middle of Somewhere," by Judith Moffett
"Mercies," by Gregory Benford
"The Education of Junior Number 12," by Madeline Ashby
"Our Candidate," by Robert Reed
"Thick Water," by Karen Heuler
"The War Artist," by Tony Ballantyne
"The Master of the Aviary," by Bruce Sterling
"Home Sweet Bi'Ome," by Pat MacEwan
"For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I'll Not Be Back Again," by Michael Swanwick
"The Ki-anna," by Gwyneth Jones
"Eliot Wrote," by Nancy Kress
"The Nearest Thing," by Genevieve Valentine
"The Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel," by Yoon Ha Lee
"The Ice Owl," by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Whew! That's a lot of stories. Want to read some? Just tell me which title you like best. I'm fascinated by "Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer." Don't you just wonder what that's all about?

As always, four entries possible: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest. This contest is international. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S., and winners are announced on Sunday’s blog. Now...go get 'em!

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Releases May 26-June 2 & Reader's Choice C*ontest


Hm. Do these books look familiar? Last week's Reader's Choice jumped the gun on the week's releases and I posted them a week too early. So...here they are again, with a few new ones added in for June 1. As always, this is an international contest. What do you want to read? Just leave a comment and you could win your choice!


When Passion Lies (Shadow Keepers, Book 4), by J.K. Beck (May 29, Bantam)
FBI agent Alexis Martin knows that vampires exist—because one of them killed her sister. Assigned to investigate a series of bizarre homicides in Los Angeles, Alexis believes the murders are the work of rogue vampires—perhaps even the monster responsible for her sister’s death. Now she finally has a chance for retribution. Even better, Alexis receives unexpected help from a sexy stranger as hungry for rogue blood as she is.Serge is a centuries-old bad boy who stays off the grid—keeping his secrets, his hunger, and his heart safe from exposure. But the truth about what he is, and what he’s done, may banish him to the dark confines of his own private hell—and destroy the beginnings of their love.

Seeker of Shadows (Moonlight, Book 6), by Nancy Gideon (May 29, Pocket)
His town. Susanna Duchamps came to New Orleans to settle a debt and to temporarily escape the controlled constraints of her life among the Chosen. What she finds is an opportunity to make miraculous strides with her research into Shifter genetics . . . and an unexpected, but never forgotten, man from her complicated past. Her rules. Shifter club owner Jacques LaRoche is fiercely protective of his freedom. Stripped of his memories of a former life, he longs for the mate he lost . . . until the enticingly familiar presence of a mysterious stranger from the north ignites a primal, nearly uncontrollable need to release the untamed beast inside him. Their last chance. Susanna dares not tell Jacques it was she who sacrificed his past and her future years ago, to protect him and the secret she carried. But her arrival in New Orleans comes with consequences. When a bloody confrontation erupts between their enemy clans, will she betray her lover once again—or throw her own life on the line so they can finish what they started? Concluding novel in this series.

A Blood Seduction, by Pamela Palmer (May 29, Avon)
Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her. What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself. But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red.

Darkness Becomes Her (Offspring, Book 6), by Jaime Rush (May 29, Avon)
Lachlan and Jessie are two people who don’t play well with others. But they’re going to have to learn to, and quickly. Because they are the only two people in the world who can save each other.

Bleeding Out (OSI, Book 5), by Jes Battis (May 29, Ace)
While on leave from the Occult Special Investigations squad, Tess Corday is busy grappling with her own personal mysteries. She’s searching for the truth about her demonic heritage, dealing with the effects her unauthorized drug investigation are having on her relationship with her undead boyfriend—and now there’s a murder. This is not the vacation Tess was hoping for.

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, Book 3), by Jennifer Estep (May 29, Kensington) 
I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. Young Adult.

Cursed (Alex Verus, Book 2), by Benedict Jacka (May 29, Ace)
Since his second sight made him infamous for defeating powerful dark mages, Alex has been keeping his head down. But now he’s discovered the resurgence of a forbidden ritual. Someone is harvesting the life-force of magical creatures—destroying them in the process. And draining humans is next on the agenda. Hired to investigate, Alex realizes that not everyone on the Council wants him delving any deeper. Struggling to distinguish ally from enemy, he finds himself the target of those who would risk their own sanity for power.U.S. release.

Darkness Before Dawn, by J.A. London (May 29, HarperTeen)
This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters. Young Adult.

All Spell Breaks Loose (Raine Benares, Book 6), by Lisa Shearin (May 29, Ace)
My name is Raine Benares—and it sucks to be me. The Saghred, a soul-stealing stone that has given me unlimited power, has been stolen by a goblin prince, and with it went my magic. The Saghred is in the goblin capital of Regor, in the hands of Sarad Nukpana, who’s on the verge of becoming the most powerful mage ever—just as soon as I’m dead.Because Sarad can’t use the stone while I’m alive. Incentive enough to plan a little trip to Regor with a small band of good friends, not-so-good friends, and outright enemies. All we need to do is destroy the Saghred, kill Sarad, and put a renegade prince on the throne. Did I mention I’ll be doing this without magic?

Strangeness and Charm (The Courts of the Feyre, Book 3), byMike Shevdon (May 29, Angry Robot)
Alex has been saved from the fate that awaited her in Bedlam, but in freeing her, Niall has released others of their kind into the population—half-breed fey who have been mistreated, abused and tortured by the institution that was supposed to help them. Now, as Warder, he must find them and persuade them to swap their newfound liberty for security in the courts. But is the price of sanctuary to swap one cage for another?

Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson (May 29, Pocket)
The third book in the anthology series from the Horror Writers Association — a frightfest of stories from authors as Jim Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Heather Graham, L.A. Banks, Kelley Armstrong, and many more. Horror fiction explores the dark side of human nature, often pushing the limits of violence, graphic gore, and extreme emotions. Blood Lite III: Aftertastecontinues to put the fun back into dark fiction, featuring a wide range of humorous and highly entertaining horror-filled tales. Edited by Horror Writers Association founding member and award-winning author Kevin J. Anderson.

The Janus Affair (A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Book 2), by Philippa Ballantine & Tee Morris (May 29, Harper Voyager)
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain’s latest hypersteam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance, with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown. The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.

The Providence Rider (Matthew Corbett, Book 4), by Robert McCammon (May 31, Subterranean)
The Providence Riderbegins in the winter of 1703, with Matthew still haunted by his lethal encounter with notorious mass murderer Tyranthus Slaughter. When an unexplained series of explosions rocks his Manhattan neighborhood, Matthew finds himself forced to confront a new and unexpected problem. Someone is trying — and trying very hard — to get his attention. That someone is a shadowy figure from out of Matthew’s past: the elusive Dr. Fell. The doctor, it turns out, has a problem of his own, one that requires the exclusive services of Matthew Corbett.The ensuing narrative moves from the emerging metropolis of New York City to Pendulum Island in the remote Bermudas. In the course of his journey, Matthew encounters a truly Dickensian assortment of memorable, often grotesque, antagonists.

Harmony, by Keith Brooke (May 29, Solaris)
The aliens are here, all around us. They always have been. And now, one by one, they’re destroying our cities. Dodge Mercer deals in identities, which is fine until the day he deals the wrong identity and clan war breaks out. Hope Burren has no identity and no past, but she does have a multitude of voices filling her head. In a world where nothing is as it seems, where humans are segregated and aliens can sing realities and tear worlds apart, Dodge and Hope lead a ragged band of survivors on a search for sanctuary in what may be the only hope for humankind.

Weird Space: The Devil’s Nebula, by Eric Brown (May 29, Abaddon)A new space-opera series begins with the release of The Devil’s Nebula. Brown introduces readers to the human smugglers, veterans and ne’er-do-wells who are part of the Expansion, and their uneasy neighbours, the Vetch Empire. When an evil race threatens not only the Expansion, but the Vetch too—an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their bidding—only cooperation between them means the difference between a chance of survival and no chance at all. First in a new shared-world series.

Year’s Best SF 17, edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer (May 29, Harper Voyager)
A collection of science fiction offerings from Elizabeth Bear, Gregory Benford, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Kress, Michael Swanwick, Ken MacLeod, Ken Liu, Mercurio Rivera, Nnedi Okorafor, Karl Schroeder, Paul Park, Charlie Jane Anders, Judith Moffett, Madeline Ashby, Robert Reed, Karen Heuler, Tony Ballantyne, Bruce Sterling, Pat MacEwan, Gwyneth Jones, Genevieve Valentine. Yoon Ha Lee, and Carolyn Ives Gilman. (Cover Not Found)

Going Interstellar, edited by Les Johnson and Jack McDevitt (May 29, Baen)
Essays by space scientists and engineers teamed with a collection of tales by an assortment of award-winning authors all taking on new methods of star travel. Some humans may be content staying in one place, but many of us are curious about what’s beyond the next village, the next ocean, the next horizon. Are there others like us out there? How will we reach them?  Others are concerned with the survival of the species. It may be that we have to get out of Dodge before the lights go out on Earth. How can we accomplish this? Wonderful questions.  Now get ready for some answers. Authors include Ben Bova, Mike Resnick, Jack McDevitt, Michael Bishop, Sarah Hoyt and more.

Night’s Engines (The Nightbound Land, Book 2), by Trent Jamieson (May 29, Angry Robot)
The conclusion of the Nightbound Land duology. The Roil has not yet been defeated – and the Roil extends its grip on Shale, following the commands of the Dreaming Cities.Wars will be fought. Doomsday weapons employed. And night will fall.

Toxicity, by Andy Remic (May 29, Solaris)
Welcome to Manna, the utopian galaxy where all races exist in harmony. Manna is a place of wisdom, technology and art. On the edge of the galaxy, hides TOX1C, a reprocessing planet run by The Company and dealing with all Manna’s waste; there’s no poison The Company will not “recycle.” Jenni Xi, ECO Terrorist, is fighting a cleanup war against The Company. Svoolzard Koolimax, poet, swashbuckler, bon viveur, is Guest of Honour on a Masters Cruise when a violent attack leaves his Cruiser crashed. Horace is a torture model Anarchy Android, known simply as The Dentist. Horace works for The Company. Soon, he will meet Jenni and Svool—and the fate of Manna will change forever.

No Going Back (Jon & Lobo Series), by Mark L. Van Name (May 29, Baen)
Jon and Lobo are back—and everything is about to change. If they both survive. Haunted by memories of children he could not save, Jon Moore is so increasingly self-destructive that even his best friend, the hyper-intelligent Predator-Class Assault Vehicle, Lobo, is worried. When Jon risks meeting a woman from his distant past and undertakes a high-stakes mission, Lobo fears this will be their last. The job is illegal. They have to take on one of the oldest, most powerful men alive. Two different security forces are tracking them. And Jon is falling in love.

Casket of Souls (Nightrunner, Book 6), by Lynn Flewelling (May 29, Spectra)
More than the dissolute noblemen they appear to be, Alec and Seregil are skillful spies, dedicated to serving queen and country. But when they stumble across evidence of a plot pitting Queen Phoria against Princess Klia, the two Nightrunners will find their loyalties torn as never before. Even at the best of times, the royal court at Rhíminee is a serpents’ nest of intrigue, but with the war against Plenimar going badly, treason simmers just below the surface.And that’s not all that poses a threat: A mysterious plague is spreading through the crowded streets of the city, striking young and old alike. Now, as panic mounts and the body count rises, hidden secrets emerge. And as Seregil and Alec are about to learn, conspiracies and plagues have one thing in common: The cure can be as deadly as the disease.


The Bandit King, by Lilith Saintcrow (June 1, Orbit)
Okay, so I can't find any info about this. Is it a re-release? A digital-only release? A postponed release? Anyone know?


Chase Me, by Tamara Hogan (June 1, Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Centuries ago, when their ship crashed to Earth, paranormals of all types settled secretly into our world, quietly going about their business with humans none the wiser. Self–ruling and careful to stay below the radar, all is threatened when Valkyrie archaeologist Lorin Schlessinger and her werewolf geologist partner Gabe Lupinsky inadvertently draw evil attention to Earth and its treasured natural resources. As the threat intensifies, Lorin and Gabe struggle to contain the chaos they've unleashed, and to resist their explosive mutual attraction ...


Now…what do you want to read? Leave a comment and tell me, and I’ll draw one name to win his or her choice. International, as always. And if the book is in a series you haven’t started, you can always pick the first one in the series instead.

As always, four entries possible: +1 for comment to tell me what book (any book) you want, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest. This contest is international. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S., and winners are announced on Sunday’s blog. It’s the responsibility of the winner to contact me with their mailing info. Books unclaimed after a month will go into a general giveaway pile.

Now….go!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Did You W*n a Book This Week?

It's Sunday, and that means it's time to wrap up all the weekly giveaways!

I have some fun stuff coming up this week...you'll get to meet a couple of my favorite authors and a chance to win their books, there's a new big Reader's Choice contest coming up tomorrow, I'll have some new Royal Street Easter Eggs, and...other stuff.

But, for the real reason we're here today, look no further. If you see your name here, please contact me HERE with your mailing info. All these giveaways are for print books except Reader's Choice and the Redemption giveaway, which is your choice of print or digital. So...here we go!

TINA MOSS won the five-book urban fantasy/paranormal romance giveaway surprise box for commenting on the Sookie blog post.

SUSAN MEEK won the Nebula Showcase anthology.

NATASHA AREENA won this week's Reader's Choice contest. She chose JA London's Darkness Before Dawn.

And for commenting over at Sharon Buchbinder's blog, GALENA has won a copy of Susannah Sandlin's new paranormal romance, Redemption.

Th-th-th-that's all for today, folks!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Talking about Sookie (& Toppling TBR G*veaway)


I'm going a little off-course today. I'd originally planned another "Toppling the TBR Giveaway," but I read this interesting interview on the SF Signal site with author Charlaine Harris and thought I'd talk about Sookie Stackhouse instead.

Well, heck, why can't I do both? Comment at the end, and you can win a Five-Book Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Mystery Box. How about that!?!

So, back to "Soo-kay." I have Deadlocked, book twelve in the series, sitting atop my TBR pile and haven't had a chance to read it yet because life is insane these days and my reading is almost stalled. But there will be one more book next spring before what began as the Southern Vampires Series draws to a close.

I was a latecomer to the Sookie series. After not reading urban fantasy for a number of years, in 2009-10 I began devouring all the big series I'd missed, reading Dresden and Nightside in order, then moving to Anita Blake 1-16 (I'm woefully behind with that series too). But Sookie was somehow off my radar until someone who'd read early manuscripts of my first two books, Royal Street and River Road, made a comment that they were "kind of like Sookie" since they were paranormals with humor set in Louisiana.

So, off I went in search of Sookie, filled with both alarm and curiosity. I have to admit now that it took me three tries to read the first book. I loved the idea but I got squinchy over the first Sookie-Bill sex scene where she loses her virginity and he...blood...mouth...ick. In theory, I thought the scene was clever; in practice, I was squeamish. So, confession made.

Eventually, I pushed past it and fell in love with the series and got all into the Team Eric and Team Bill drama. (Oh yeah, Team Eric all the way, although I had serious Quinn-love for a while there.) And, as it turns out, other than being set in Louisiana (very different parts of Louisiana) and having elements of humor, my Sentinels series and the Sookie series aren't similar at all.

But I'll always care about Sookie (as she is in my head, as formed through the books. I don't even think of "True Blood" as being the same characters). She has a fascinating blend of naivete and hard-headed practicality that I fell in love with...and that would be hard to sustain across that many books.

I think any really long series runs into that issue--how do the characters keep growing and changing as people do...and yet remain the same characters we fell in love with? I think it's why we often see such drastic steps taken in long-running series.

Laurell K. Hamilton seemed to have written Anita Blake into a corner trying to keep her developing and changing without losing her essential character, and it took the series in a direction a lot of readers didn't like, although I personally didn't have a problem with it (which might sound strange coming from the woman who got all squeamish over Sookie and Bill's first love scene). Charlaine Harris broadened her world--and Sookie's--with the fairy element. Jim Butcher...well, I can't talk about the Big Change he made to Harry Dresden's world without major spoilers, in case you haven't read the last few books of that series. But it was a ballsy move. It's interesting to watch as JR Ward expands her fabulous Black Dagger Brotherhood world now that the original brothers have all had their bhooks (no, that isn't a typo).

I don't really have a point to make in all this except that I hope to read Deadlocked soon and that, whether you've stuck with Sookie through all her changes or don't like the fairy storylines, I think we'll miss Sookie and the wonderful blend of urban fantasy and paranormal romance Charlaine Harris brought to the table.

Now...want to win that Five-Book Surprise Box? Just tell me your favorite character from the Sookie Stackhouse book series or the "True Blood" TV show--or admit it if you haven't read or watched--and you'll be in the running! I still love Quinn and Eric in the books, and Lafayette on the TV show. As always, one entry for a comment, and extra entries for blog followers, Twitter followers @Suzanne_Johnson, and for a Tweet or RT of the contest. Now, let's all say it together: "Soo--kay!"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Catching Up with the Nebulas: The Awards Showcase 17 is Up for Grabs

I always enjoy the annual collection of the previous year's Nebula Award winners, the awards for the best science fiction and fantasy as voted by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It's a great way to catch up, because it's almost impossible to keep up with my own writing and still read even half the things I want to. Also a great way to get introduced to new authors.

So today, I'm looking at -- and giving away a copy of -- Nebula Awards Showcase 2012, edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. These collections have been published each year since 1966.

Here's what's in the 2012 edition, each with an intro from the author:

"Ponies," by Kij Johnson
"The Sultan of the Clouds," by Geoff Landis
"Map of Seventeen," by Chris Barzak
"And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side," by James Tiptree Jr.
"In the Astronaut Asylum," by Kendall Evans and Samantha Henderson
"Pishaach," by Shweta Narayan
Excerpt from Nebula novel winner Blackout/All Clear, by Connie Willis
"Bumbershoot," by Howard Hendrix
"Arvies," by Adam Troy-Castro
"How Interesting: A Tiny Man," by Harlan Ellison
"The Jaguar House, in Shadow," by Aliette de Bodard
"The Green Book," by Amal El-Mohtar
"That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made," by Eric James Stone (love this title!)
Excerpt from I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett
"To Theia," by Ann K. Schwader
"The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window," by Rachel Swirsky

And there you have it! Want to win your own copy and catch up on your SF/F reading? Just leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Royal Street Easter Eggs, Chapter 5: New!


Welcome to the weekly annotations for Royal Street. On Wednesdays, until we get the Preternatura Book Club started back up, I'm annotating one chapter a week from Royal Street. If you've read it, you can cross-check the annotations with the book. If you haven't, well, I hope it will at least be an interesting behind-the-scenes look at post-Katrina New Orleans and what personal things got pulled into the novel.

Unlike chapters 1-3, chapter four isn't available online, so I'll be referring to page numbers and paragraphs and lines from the print version of the book.  After today, these notes will be archived under the "Easter Eggs" tab, above.

CHAPTER 5
This is a really short chapter, but there a few things worth noting, which I'll talk about in really general terms.

One thing that is referred to several times in the chapter is phone communication. The morning after Katrina hit, the electricity was out but the phones were still working--both land lines and cells. Shortly after the levees failed, both land and cell lines went down. So as long as DJ was in Alabama, she was in the same situation I found myself in. I'd evacuated to Shreveport, and was able to call people outside New Orleans from my cell phone with its 504 area code because my phone would use local towers. But nobody could call me because they couldn't route through 504 (N.O. metro). But I didn't think about this and was confused that nobody was calling to see how or where I was. It was two or three days before it finally hit me, and I began calling friends and relatives, who were crazy with worry, not knowing where we were. So when DJ's phone rings late in this chapter, it freaks her out a little...but of course it's the Elders, who don't need such mundane things as cell towers in order to make calls.

Tish, Gerry's significant other, evacuates to Houston--where a lot of New Orleanians went. The Tulane president, for whom I worked as a speechwriter, had been trapped on campus during the storm and was finally airlifted out three days afterward (boy, did he have some stories!). He flew to Houston, where the university was basically resurrected out of a hotel room, bit by bit. Ironically, a few weeks after Katrina, Hurricane Rita headed toward Texas and Houston had to be evacuated...so they all got to do it all over again.

The Winfield Walmart is mentioned in this chapter as a private joke for myself. Shortly before Katrina, my then-80-year-old mom moved in with me, and the woman loves a Walmart. As a result, I now hate it with a passion usually reserved only for mortal enemies. Hate it. Hate hate hate.

DJ's experience watching the destruction of New Orleans on TV was basically mine. I watched 24/7, trying to get any snippet of information about my neighborhood and whether or not my house had survived, how much damage the university got, and wondering where the hell the federal help was. The media, individuals with boats, state fisheries and wildlife personnel, and the Coast Guard got in there fast, but it took a week before the National Guard was sent in and before FEMA arrived with even so much as a bottle of water. So mixed with all the grief was a LOT of outright fury. The Republican president and the Democratic governor and mayor were playing political power games while people drowned and died of heat stroke and dehydration. The day after the storm, while people were drowning and chaos was ruling the streets, the FEMA director was emailing jokes to colleagues about what to wear to a party, and the secretary of state was shopping for shoes and seemed confused when confronted with a question about New Orleans. It was such a fiasco. Don't get me started.

HERE's a decent article on the problems.

By the way, one of my heroes after Katrina was NBC's Brian Williams. He put everything out there in reporting the storm, even staying in the Superdome with the refugees and refusing to leave the city afterward until he finally came down in dysentary, which tells you a lot about what conditions were like. He came back repeatedly afterward to report on the city's recovery and did more than anyone, in my mind, to keep the plight of the city in front of the public.

There is an AWESOME three-piece video that Brian did "in his own words" afterward that's now on YouTube. If you have the time, it's really well done. Here are the three parts:







Fats Domino's "Walking to New Orleans" was my ringtone for several years. Fats is a New Orleans institution. He was trapped in his home in the Lower Ninth Ward by the flooding before finally being rescued and taken to the dismal New Orleans Superdome, where nobody knew where he was. He isn't in the best of health anyway, but eventually they got him out and he survived it. His home was destroyed, along with all the historic memorabilia, gold records, his piano, etc.



That's it for this week! Check back next week for Chapter 6!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Booked! A Deleted Scene from ROYAL STREET

There's an oft-used saying among authors: Sometimes you have to kill your darlings. Appropriately enough, in this case, the originator of that phrase was Southern writerly icon William Faulkner. Although best known for the works he produced from his home in Oxford, Mississippi, Faulkner got his writing career started in New Orleans, renting a room in the French Quarter near St. Louis Cathedral on a street called, ironically, Pirate's Alley. The building where he lived is now Faulkner House Books, and it just happens to be the setting of one of my own "darlings," a scene that got killed as Royal Street went through the revision process.

But now you can read it--just click on the tab above! Note for those who haven't read Royal Street: this is a spoiler-free scene.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Releases May 23-31 & Reader's Choice Cont*st


Not as huge a list today as I expected after last Monday’s big release week, but some interesting titles here spread across all the speculative genres, including the new title in Mike Shevdon's Courts of the Feyre series. Take a look-see, and pick the one you’d most like to win!

When Passion Lies (Shadow Keepers, Book 4), by J.K. Beck (May 29, Bantam)
FBI agent Alexis Martin knows that vampires exist—because one of them killed her sister. Assigned to investigate a series of bizarre homicides in Los Angeles, Alexis believes the murders are the work of rogue vampires—perhaps even the monster responsible for her sister’s death. Now she finally has a chance for retribution. Even better, Alexis receives unexpected help from a sexy stranger as hungry for rogue blood as she is.Serge is a centuries-old bad boy who stays off the grid—keeping his secrets, his hunger, and his heart safe from exposure. But the truth about what he is, and what he’s done, may banish him to the dark confines of his own private hell—and destroy the beginnings of their love.

Seeker of Shadows (Moonlight, Book 6), by Nancy Gideon (May 29, Pocket)
His town. Susanna Duchamps came to New Orleans to settle a debt and to temporarily escape the controlled constraints of her life among the Chosen. What she finds is an opportunity to make miraculous strides with her research into Shifter genetics . . . and an unexpected, but never forgotten, man from her complicated past. Her rules. Shifter club owner Jacques LaRoche is fiercely protective of his freedom. Stripped of his memories of a former life, he longs for the mate he lost . . . until the enticingly familiar presence of a mysterious stranger from the north ignites a primal, nearly uncontrollable need to release the untamed beast inside him. Their last chance. Susanna dares not tell Jacques it was she who sacrificed his past and her future years ago, to protect him and the secret she carried. But her arrival in New Orleans comes with consequences. When a bloody confrontation erupts between their enemy clans, will she betray her lover once again—or throw her own life on the line so they can finish what they started? Concluding novel in this series.

A Blood Seduction, by Pamela Palmer (May 29, Avon)
Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her. What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself. But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red.

Darkness Becomes Her (Offspring, Book 6), by Jaime Rush (May 29, Avon)
Lachlan and Jessie are two people who don’t play well with others. But they’re going to have to learn to, and quickly. Because they are the only two people in the world who can save each other.

Bleeding Out (OSI, Book 5), by Jes Battis (May 29, Ace)
While on leave from the Occult Special Investigations squad, Tess Corday is busy grappling with her own personal mysteries. She’s searching for the truth about her demonic heritage, dealing with the effects her unauthorized drug investigation are having on her relationship with her undead boyfriend—and now there’s a murder. This is not the vacation Tess was hoping for.

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, Book 3), by Jennifer Estep (May 29, Kensington) 
I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. Young Adult.

Cursed (Alex Verus, Book 2), by Benedict Jacka (May 29, Ace)
Since his second sight made him infamous for defeating powerful dark mages, Alex has been keeping his head down. But now he’s discovered the resurgence of a forbidden ritual. Someone is harvesting the life-force of magical creatures—destroying them in the process. And draining humans is next on the agenda. Hired to investigate, Alex realizes that not everyone on the Council wants him delving any deeper. Struggling to distinguish ally from enemy, he finds himself the target of those who would risk their own sanity for power.U.S. release.

Darkness Before Dawn, by J.A. London (May 29, HarperTeen)
This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters. Young Adult.

All Spell Breaks Loose (Raine Benares, Book 6), by Lisa Shearin (May 29, Ace)
My name is Raine Benares—and it sucks to be me. The Saghred, a soul-stealing stone that has given me unlimited power, has been stolen by a goblin prince, and with it went my magic. The Saghred is in the goblin capital of Regor, in the hands of Sarad Nukpana, who’s on the verge of becoming the most powerful mage ever—just as soon as I’m dead.Because Sarad can’t use the stone while I’m alive. Incentive enough to plan a little trip to Regor with a small band of good friends, not-so-good friends, and outright enemies. All we need to do is destroy the Saghred, kill Sarad, and put a renegade prince on the throne. Did I mention I’ll be doing this without magic?

Strangeness and Charm (The Courts of the Feyre, Book 3), byMike Shevdon (May 29, Angry Robot)
Alex has been saved from the fate that awaited her in Bedlam, but in freeing her, Niall has released others of their kind into the population—half-breed fey who have been mistreated, abused and tortured by the institution that was supposed to help them. Now, as Warder, he must find them and persuade them to swap their newfound liberty for security in the courts. But is the price of sanctuary to swap one cage for another?

Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson (May 29, Pocket)
The third book in the anthology series from the Horror Writers Association — a frightfest of stories from authors as Jim Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Heather Graham, L.A. Banks, Kelley Armstrong, and many more. Horror fiction explores the dark side of human nature, often pushing the limits of violence, graphic gore, and extreme emotions. Blood Lite III: Aftertastecontinues to put the fun back into dark fiction, featuring a wide range of humorous and highly entertaining horror-filled tales. Edited by Horror Writers Association founding member and award-winning author Kevin J. Anderson.

The Janus Affair (A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Book 2), by Philippa Ballantine & Tee Morris (May 29, Harper Voyager)
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain’s latest hypersteam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance, with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown. The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.

The Providence Rider (Matthew Corbett, Book 4), by Robert McCammon (May 31, Subterranean)
The Providence Riderbegins in the winter of 1703, with Matthew still haunted by his lethal encounter with notorious mass murderer Tyranthus Slaughter. When an unexplained series of explosions rocks his Manhattan neighborhood, Matthew finds himself forced to confront a new and unexpected problem. Someone is trying — and trying very hard — to get his attention. That someone is a shadowy figure from out of Matthew’s past: the elusive Dr. Fell. The doctor, it turns out, has a problem of his own, one that requires the exclusive services of Matthew Corbett.The ensuing narrative moves from the emerging metropolis of New York City to Pendulum Island in the remote Bermudas. In the course of his journey, Matthew encounters a truly Dickensian assortment of memorable, often grotesque, antagonists.

Harmony, by Keith Brooke (May 29, Solaris)
The aliens are here, all around us. They always have been. And now, one by one, they’re destroying our cities. Dodge Mercer deals in identities, which is fine until the day he deals the wrong identity and clan war breaks out. Hope Burren has no identity and no past, but she does have a multitude of voices filling her head. In a world where nothing is as it seems, where humans are segregated and aliens can sing realities and tear worlds apart, Dodge and Hope lead a ragged band of survivors on a search for sanctuary in what may be the only hope for humankind.

Weird Space: The Devil’s Nebula, by Eric Brown (May 29, Abaddon)A new space-opera series begins with the release of The Devil’s Nebula. Brown introduces readers to the human smugglers, veterans and ne’er-do-wells who are part of the Expansion, and their uneasy neighbours, the Vetch Empire. When an evil race threatens not only the Expansion, but the Vetch too—an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their bidding—only cooperation between them means the difference between a chance of survival and no chance at all. First in a new shared-world series.

Year’s Best SF 17, edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer (May 29, Harper Voyager)
A collection of science fiction offerings from Elizabeth Bear, Gregory Benford, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Kress, Michael Swanwick, Ken MacLeod, Ken Liu, Mercurio Rivera, Nnedi Okorafor, Karl Schroeder, Paul Park, Charlie Jane Anders, Judith Moffett, Madeline Ashby, Robert Reed, Karen Heuler, Tony Ballantyne, Bruce Sterling, Pat MacEwan, Gwyneth Jones, Genevieve Valentine. Yoon Ha Lee, and Carolyn Ives Gilman. (Cover Not Found)

Going Interstellar, edited by Les Johnson and Jack McDevitt (May 29, Baen)
Essays by space scientists and engineers teamed with a collection of tales by an assortment of award-winning authors all taking on new methods of star travel. Some humans may be content staying in one place, but many of us are curious about what’s beyond the next village, the next ocean, the next horizon. Are there others like us out there? How will we reach them?  Others are concerned with the survival of the species. It may be that we have to get out of Dodge before the lights go out on Earth. How can we accomplish this? Wonderful questions.  Now get ready for some answers. Authors include Ben Bova, Mike Resnick, Jack McDevitt, Michael Bishop, Sarah Hoyt and more.

Night’s Engines (The Nightbound Land, Book 2), by Trent Jamieson (May 29, Angry Robot)
The conclusion of the Nightbound Land duology. The Roil has not yet been defeated – and the Roil extends its grip on Shale, following the commands of the Dreaming Cities.Wars will be fought. Doomsday weapons employed. And night will fall.

Toxicity, by Andy Remic (May 29, Solaris)
Welcome to Manna, the utopian galaxy where all races exist in harmony. Manna is a place of wisdom, technology and art. On the edge of the galaxy, hides TOX1C, a reprocessing planet run by The Company and dealing with all Manna’s waste; there’s no poison The Company will not “recycle.” Jenni Xi, ECO Terrorist, is fighting a cleanup war against The Company. Svoolzard Koolimax, poet, swashbuckler, bon viveur, is Guest of Honour on a Masters Cruise when a violent attack leaves his Cruiser crashed. Horace is a torture model Anarchy Android, known simply as The Dentist. Horace works for The Company. Soon, he will meet Jenni and Svool—and the fate of Manna will change forever.

No Going Back (Jon & Lobo Series), by Mark L. Van Name (May 29, Baen)
Jon and Lobo are back—and everything is about to change. If they both survive. Haunted by memories of children he could not save, Jon Moore is so increasingly self-destructive that even his best friend, the hyper-intelligent Predator-Class Assault Vehicle, Lobo, is worried. When Jon risks meeting a woman from his distant past and undertakes a high-stakes mission, Lobo fears this will be their last. The job is illegal. They have to take on one of the oldest, most powerful men alive. Two different security forces are tracking them. And Jon is falling in love.

Casket of Souls (Nightrunner, Book 6), by Lynn Flewelling (May 29, Spectra)
More than the dissolute noblemen they appear to be, Alec and Seregil are skillful spies, dedicated to serving queen and country. But when they stumble across evidence of a plot pitting Queen Phoria against Princess Klia, the two Nightrunners will find their loyalties torn as never before. Even at the best of times, the royal court at Rhíminee is a serpents’ nest of intrigue, but with the war against Plenimar going badly, treason simmers just below the surface.And that’s not all that poses a threat: A mysterious plague is spreading through the crowded streets of the city, striking young and old alike. Now, as panic mounts and the body count rises, hidden secrets emerge. And as Seregil and Alec are about to learn, conspiracies and plagues have one thing in common: The cure can be as deadly as the disease.


Now…what do you want to read? Leave a comment and tell me, and I’ll draw one name to win his or her choice. International, as always. And if the book is in a series you haven’t started, you can always pick the first one in the series instead.

As always, four entries possible: +1 for comment to tell me what book (any book) you want, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for a Tweet or RT about the contest. This contest is international. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S., and winners are announced on Sunday’s blog. It’s the responsibility of the winner to contact me with their mailing info. Books unclaimed after a month will go into a general giveaway pile.

Now….go!