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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Maisie Dobbs Mystery Series

I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed any of these novels.

The Maisie Dobbs novels are one of my favorite mystery series. The author is Jacqueline Winspear, and her first novel was Maisie Dobbs. It introduced us to Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator. It begins in 1929, when Maisie opens her investigation office after serving an apprenticeship of sorts with a legal scholar who also worked as an investigator and scholar. Maisie was a nurse who served in a casualty clearing station in France during the Great War. Maisie Dobbs is a wonderful book, with frequent flashbacks to young Maisie, when she had to go work for the Comptons, a noble family, at the age of thirteen after the death of her mother. Through the Comptons, she meets her mentor, who is a family friend of the Comptons. Lady Rowan Compton eventually sponsors Maisie’s education.

Although it was a mystery, it was also a tragic romance and a historical novel, and it really didn’t fit into the framework of a traditional mystery. The remaining novels do settle into that framework, which is why Maisie Dobbs remains my favorite book of the series.

Although these are considered mainstream mysteries, they have light but unmistakable fantasy elements, mostly in the power of Maisie’s mind, which borders on psychic. The fantasy elements are very subtle, and exist mostly in premonitions that always come true, brief flashes of the future, and feeling a wrongness about certain areas.

These novels are sometimes more plot-driven than I like. I’m not really reading this mystery series for the mysteries. Maybe because of that, I’m not a true mystery fan. I read novels for the characters, and when I come back to novels again and again, it’s because of my love of the characters. Alexander McCall Smith understands this, which might be why his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series is more about the characters than about the very light mysteries (and where the main character even got married and not only managed to continue her career, but whose career sucked in her husband).

Because of the plot-driven nature of each novel in the Maisie Dobbs series, events in her personal live progress at an arctic pace, even while the novels themselves are quick reads. She has a romance that lasts several novels before you as a reader realize that the romance is going nowhere. It takes Maisie a whole other novel to come to the same conclusion. And then you have an entire novel without any hint of romance whatsoever, except to drive the final knife in the love story of the first novel.

I think the reason I love this series so much is because it immerses the reader so well in another time and place. I rarely read contemporary novels because I love to be swept away to elsewhen when I read. There are little touches everywhere throughout the books, from the way Maisie answers the phone, to having to type out lengthy manuscripts more than one time because there is no document duplication, to the necessary proliferation of public telephone kiosks. London is called “The Smoke” because of the horrible pollution of coal-smoke, and people literally flee it at least once a year for some fresh air. The worldwide depression is more and more evident with each novel, and in the later novels (1931 and 1932), you see people beginning to worry about what’s going on in Germany. Widows and spinsters (like Maisie) abound because so many y0ung men were killed.

Maisie has her faults, and one of them is that she tends to hold on to a grudge. She doesn’t always do the right thing. But she always repents, which is why we always forgive her. The most intriguing thing about Maisie — and the most compelling — is that she really doesn’t belong anywhere. Because of her education, she no longer fits in among the humble people of her birth. Even her manner of speaking sets her apart. However, her birth will always separate her from those who are born higher. Her aging father is the only person she has left in the world.

Here are all the books in the series so far:

  • Maisie Dobbs (2003)
  • Birds of a Feather (2004)
  • Pardonable Lies (2005)
  • Messenger of Truth (2006)
  • An Incomplete Revenge (2008) (which I just read)
  • Among The Mad (2009) (which just came out in paperback, and which I will read very soon!)

I high recommend this series. Not a single novel has disappointed me so far.

Sorry about the lack of links. I just wanted to introduce you to the series before I posted my review. If you want more information, Jacqueline Winspear‘s website is the best place to look. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Coming This Week

This week, Writer Wednesday really is returning, barring any unforeseen events. I hope all you NaNoWriMo survivors will even want to participate after spending the whole month writing. Justin Allen, author of The Slaves of the Shinar and Year of the Horse (which I just received from the publisher) is going to be our guest. The subject is to be announced! Please remember to stop in on Wednesday.

I also have a mystery series review coming up tomorrow, along with a review of one of the books in the series later in the week.

I didn’t do a Debut Showcase last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but I will make up for it this week, and announce all the debuts from last week and this. I have already put some of them in the Recent Debuts widget.

And now that NaNoWriMo is over, I will attempt to get hold of the authors who put their stories in the queue for a Discovery Showcase at Fantasy Debut, to see if they are still interested. I also am going to narrow the scope of the Discovery Showcase to self-published novels and free online novels only. I’ve found that this is not a good forum for critiques, therefore I don’t think this has been a very useful platform upon which to test unpublished novels. However, several self-published authors have mentioned that they saw a jump in sales after their showcases appeared here (or, I should say, at Fantasy Debut), so that’s what I’ll focus on. I’ll re-announce the program once I get through some of the backlog.

And that’s what’s coming up! I hope to see you around.

Authors Who are Great Bloggers

Many authors who blog aren’t really true bloggers. Many authors use their blog as a sort of general announcement page, and that’s fine. But some authors are actual bloggers. Here some author blogs that I follow and regularly get a kick out of.

Jennifer Estep has been blogging all the ins and outs, ups and downs of waiting for her next book series (Elemental Assassin) to come out. Mix it in with her usual book reviews (and she is a voracious reader; I actually invited her to review here but she was too busy) and the occasional recipe, and you have something fresh every day. She has recently expanded her blog to include a lot more writing-related topics. Check her out!

Nineteen Teen – Even though I wasn’t a big fan of Melissa Doyle’s second novel (loved Enchanting Season, and I’m hoping I like her third novel better), she along with her writing cohort, Regina Scott, have an excellent historical blog that focuses on being a teen in the Nineteenth century. That’s why it’s called Nineteen Teen. I love it!

Lisa Shearin is an author who my readers will recognize. I’ve been following her blog since the day she started it. She has one topic: writing. She does occasionally go off-topic to write about her greyhounds, fencing and vacations, but mostly it’s about writing for writers. And she’s done such a good job with her blog that it has landed her a regular column in The Writer magazine. If you are a writer, read her blog.

Peter V. Brett‘s blog is fascinating because he’s a hot new writer on the rise, and because he lives in New York City. Which sometimes seems like a different planet. You never know what to expect – parking difficulties (surprisingly horrible!) office remodeling (video chronicled!) and lots of fan art (people have made and sent him jewelery. More than once. I kid you not). His blog is called Peephole in my Skull.

Jim C. Hines is one of those authors whose books I’ve never read, but whose books I need to read. It seems that every week, I’m following a link to his blog. So I thought I’d better include it here. While I’m writing about it, I’m going to subscribe. There. I’ve subscribed. You should too. He has blogged on all kinds of interesting subjects, much of it writer-focused, but not all.

Laura Benedict has two blogs. Notes from the Handbasket is a friendly, writer-type blog, where she discusses life, writing and the occasional convention. Her other blog is called Wardrobe by Sam and I think it deserves to make it big. The tagline is: “Can a Self-Confessed Clothing Snob Find a Year’s Worth of Fashion Happiness at the World’s Biggest Discount Store?” I love this blog. You have to imagine a beautiful, well-dressed woman. Then imagine her in WalMart clothes. One never knew WalMart (and Sam’s Club) could look so good!

Thanksgiving Memories

My specific Thanksgiving memories don’t get clear until I was a little older — like when I was at least ten years old. After that, they all blur together into uniform mobs of people, two huge tables full of food (one table for children, one for adults), lots of cookies, rum-balls, sand tarts and pies, plus one fruitcake that sat in the freezer for three years afterward. Oh, and the clean-up afterward, when all of my sisters and I, plus my aunts and my mother and whatever female guests we had that year, all mobbed the kitchen. Oh, and we always went to Mass. And the party lasted all night long.

Sadly, my clearest Thanksgiving memory was my last one while living at home, just before I shipped off to join the Air Force, where I spent Christmas in Basic Training. (Which made me realize — for my last Christmas and birthday while living at home, I didn’t even realize that they would be the last ones.)

Fast-forward 20+ years. Last year, after our Thanksgiving prayer, I told my daughter — who is wonderful about routines — that she is in charge of helping us remember to say grace before every meal. I don’t remember exactly how that prayer went, but it morphed into the one we use today. The prayer is rather simple, and goes like this:

“Dear Lord, thank you for this dinner, thank you for our home, thank you for our health, thank you for our love, and thank you for each other.”

The “thank you for our love” phrase was my daughter’s idea. One day during the spring, she was saying the prayer and she caught me watching her. She got all flustered and forgot about the “health” line.  So she ad-libbed the “love” line and it was just so sweet. It has been part of our prayer ever since.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Debut Review: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

TheMagiciansAndMrsQuent
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

By Galen Beckett
Amazon USAUKCanada
Random House – Trade Paperback

Reviewed by Superwench83.

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent—a fantasy novel written in the style of Jane Austen, with characteristics of a Bronte book—is a fantastic blend of smart prose, charming characters, and an unusual and wonderful story. “But it’s more than just a rattling good time,” as author Ellen Kushner says in her cover quote. “Like its characters, it is not merely devastatingly clever, but has a heart and a soul.”

Ivy Lockwell is many things. She is a thinker. She is a lover of books. She is the eldest of three girls. She is the daughter of a mother who desperately wants her to marry—despite the fact that Ivy has no dowry, hence no chance of catching a gentleman. She is also deeply devoted to her family…and that devotion leads her into a world of magick, mysterious men in black tophats, and the stern and quiet Mr. Quent. According to the cover copy, Galen Beckett began writing The Magicians and Mrs. Quent to find out what might happen “if there were a fantastical cause underlying the social constraints and limited choices confronting a heroine in a novel by Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte.” He goes a long way toward answering that question.

For the most part, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a well-plotted novel. Subplots clash with the main plot in a titanic display of irony. It is twisty and turny. There were a few moments in the book when I felt the author could have done a better job of setting up “chance” meetings or other rather convenient things, but this is the only plot gripe I have. And it’s a small one. (I did have a couple other gripes with the book, but they’re a bit more personal, so I’ll save those for the end.)

As for the writing, this book is witty and brilliant. The prose has a quaint quality reminiscent of the era and setting which the story’s world is modeled after. It has a rhythmic, almost musical feel, as if the entire book is a non-rhyming poem—a poem full of magic, mystery, and wonder. I’m a sucker for good writing. Clever writing most of all, and The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is full of that. Look at this quote from the first chapter:

All the same, there was something peculiar about the house on Whitward Street, just as there was something peculiar about the bookish habits of the eldest Miss Lockwell. Thus, while people regarded both of them well enough, people also tended to leave well enough alone.

With such poignant observations about the nature of people, it might come as no surprise that the characters in The Magicians and Mrs. Quent are vividly drawn. The image of Ivy Lockwell walking down Whitward Street reading a book or Mr. Rafferdy flashing that dashing grin become lifelike because the author has an astute understanding of human beings and what makes them, well, human. He also seems to know much about the relationships people have with one another, such as the relationship between Ivy and her two sisters. As the book-loving eldest daughter of three girls myself, I found myself grinning time and again at these scenes. These are characters I could not help but be drawn to. They became real to me.

I felt that The Magicians and Mrs. Quent lost some of its charm when it left the city of Invarel. In Invarel, there are all sorts of places for Ivy to go and people for her to run into. It makes for something new at every turn, while in Heathcrest, everything is much more static. I felt that it had a negative effect on that section’s story pacing. Another personal issue I had was that a certain subplot turned out quite the opposite of how I wanted. But there is to be a sequel, and I’m holding out hope that things will right themselves in the end.

Even if they don’t, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a book to read again and again—in fact, it’s my favorite book I’ve read this year, one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. Fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell will want to give it a try. It is a comedy of manners, a romance, a mystery, and a dazzling fantasy tale. If Jane Austen had been a fantasy writer, she would have written this book.

Debut Review – The Better Part of Darkness

BetterPartOfDarkness
The Better Part of Darkness

by Kelly Gay
Amazon USAUKCanada
Pocket Books – 7.99

First, some caveats. This isn’t my usual genre.The author knows this. I also have come to know the author over the past year of hosting her guests posts at my previous blog, Fantasy Debut, and swapping emails. So, I’m not entirely impartial. It’s difficult to write a review from this position, so I just thought I’d let you know up front. Hopefully, the one will balance the other.

Oh, and one more thing. I just finished the novel. Just now. I usually like to let things percolate for a day or so before attempting to write a review, but as I write this, release day is tomorrow so I’ll just do the best I can. So here it goes.


The Better Part of Darkness proves to me that I should read outside my genre more often.

I admit to having some trepidation when I started reading it, mostly because of this blurb:

Atlanta: it’s the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil….

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She’s recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.’s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim — but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

I try not to let blurbs influence me too much when I review a book, but this one had me nervous. The Revelation? A force more powerful than heaven and hell combined? Is this one of those books that will wreak havoc on my Christian faith?

But it also had some things going for it. I didn’t see any evidence of vampires. The heroine-mom concept really appealed to me. And I was very curious about what Ms. Gay did with Atlanta Underground, which I’d love to see one day.

So in the end, I decided to trust Ms. Gay more than the blurb writer, and hope it really wasn’t all that accurate. And it wasn’t. I won’t give it all away, but the Revelation in The Better Part of Darkness does not refer to that Revelation, and the force more powerful than heaven and hell combined — well, maybe the blurb writer was just trying to be provocative.

Unless that part of the blurb referred to Charlie, herself.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the way Ms. Gay blended humor with grittiness. I would not call this a humorous novel by any means, but has some much-needed light moments. And they are perfectly woven in. Even in the darkest of moments, some bit of levity manages to creep in, and often, it made me laugh out loud. Bravo for this. I hate novels that are nothing but angst from cover to cover.

Another thing I really enjoyed is that it felt more like a science fiction novel than a fantasy. The entrance to Charbydon and Elysia were discovered through scientific means. The drug, ash, is made in a lab. There is genetic manipulation between the beings of Charbydon, Elysia and Earth. And the beings of Charbydon and Elysia are neither demonic nor angelic. This near-perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy leads me to one of my few critiques — there is some ritual magic that must take place on “unconsecrated ground” toward the end that didn’t really fit in with the mood of the rest of the book. Science and magic are blended so well together that the whole idea of consecrated and unconsecrated ground didn’t feel relevant to me as a reader. Whose power was the ritual invoking? There didn’t seem to be any way to tap into powers by means of a ritual, because those doing the ritual pretty much had all the power. Other concepts are unexplained, such as a dying moon. How does a moon die? Losing its orbit? Disintegrating? It was never made clear.

Charlie, while capable of a wry wit, was not one of those annoying snarky heroines. She is very tough and kicks ass and uses foul language. But she loves fiercely and is protective to the point of smothering — except she won’t allow herself that. She has great relationships with those she loves, her sister Bryn, her daughter Emma and even her ex-husband, Will. Her partner, Hank, and her have some of the best dialog in the novel.

The pages just flew by. It’s almost 400 pages but I managed to finish most of it over the weekend. It segues nicely into a sequel, where I hope some of these questions get answered. I think urban fantasy fans will love The Better Part of Darkness, and fence-sitters who are tired of snark and vampires will find Ms. Gay’s concepts and twists unique and refreshing.

Guest Post – Upcoming Debut Author Kelly Gay

Kelly Gay_website photo
Kelly Gay, author of The Better Part of Darkness

We’ve been following Kelly Gay‘s fledgling career since shortly after her sale was announced last summer, and she has appeared at Fantasy Debut in a series of guest posts on her milestones as an upcoming author. The first post was called “ Switching Gears” and was about going from query mode to contracted author mode. The second post was about signing that contract. And the third post was on revisions and copyedits. Tomorrow is release day for The Better Part of Darkness, so here she is with her last post as a pre-published author.

~*~

It’s your intrepid, and slightly harried, debut author here. It’s been a while since my last ‘Milestone’ post, so we have a lot to talk about. We’ve covered what it’s like to switch gears from the aspiring writer mindset to that of working writer, getting the contract, as well as revisions and copy edits.

In the last few months, I’ve worked on book 2 revisions, held my first book in my hands, gained experienced in promotion, stressed over reviews, and am now biting my nails over the release. I’m not afraid to tell you that I turned a very nauseous shade of green when my editor told me that Amazon and B&N had started shipping their pre-orders.

So let’s start with 1) Revisions: Now that I’ve had some experience with revisions, I know I can handle the notes on book 2, though, the fact that I’m working on them in the midst of Book 1’s release is something new—some days are definitely harder than others when it comes to concentrating! 2) Holding my book for the first time: An incredible feeling, and, for me, a very quiet moment of affirmation. 3) Promotion: I’m getting the hang of it. I love interacting with readers and writers, but I never realized how time-consuming it would be. It has made me improve my time management skills, for sure. 4) Reviews, the topic of today’s post: Totally nerve wracking to consider, but also a necessary and vital part of the book industry. Without reviewers, without readers expressing their opinions, a lot of books would simply go unnoticed.

I hoped and prayed for months that my first review would be decent. If just one reader out there liked my book, then I could handle the rest. And when it came, I was griped with such dread and anticipation; it felt like I was standing on a bridge with a bungee cord about to jump. Thankfully that first one was pretty decent, and my relief, as you can imagine, was overwhelming.

Once the reviews start rolling in, they spawn a rush of emotions: hope, fear, dread, hesitation . . . I hold my breath, I tense up, preparing myself against the bad, and then I dive in and read like a speed demon. If it’s a good review, I go back and read it again, absorbing all the wonderful words. Good reviews are big, glowing, wonderful boosts in confidence, and I feel like I can accomplish anything.

But, with over a decade of writing and several manuscripts under my belt, I’ve had my share of harsh critiques and judge’s feedback, too. In some ways, harsh reviews are like harsh critiques only made public. And that’s where the real fear comes in. It’s public. It’s out there for all to see. And that is scary. When someone doesn’t like my work, whether it’s presented in a nice, gentle way or a malicious way, it still hurts on some level. Writing is so personal, how can it not hurt?

One of the keys to handling the not-so-great review is to realize I can’t do anything about the review, but I can control how long I let it affect me. It’s also great to have a support system of other writers that I trust. People I can rant with, commiserate with, and jump for joy with.

So, as the reviews come in, I’ll try to remember that it’s a subjective, creative medium. And like any art medium, some people will get it, some people will be baffled, some people will hate it with a passion, and some will love it so much they plaster the bathroom walls with my pages. (My parents need to redo their bathroom anyway).

~*~

As for me, it’s been a delight to follow Kelly from signing to publication! Best of luck, Kelly!

Action-Packed Short Week

Dang, I have so many posts and so few days this week in which to post them! I’m reading like crazy so I can review The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay on its release day, but I also have the author’s guest post, one of Superwench‘s reviews and a debut showcase to post! Due to Thanksgiving, my web traffic from Thursday to Sunday is likely to be low. Therefore, I will adhere to this schedule:

Monday – Kelly Gay’s last post as an Upcoming Debut Author. Not that we’ll never have her again, but after Monday, she’ll be an actual debut author, no longer upcoming. To whet your appetite, check out her earlier posts from Fantasy Debut:

Tuesday – Review of The Better Part of Darkness. In the meantime, to get a taste of what my review might be like, you can read my tweets on The Better Part of Darkness.

Wednesday – Superwench reviews one of her favorite novels of all time — which comes out in paperback this week.

Thursday – Saturday – Blog lite mode. This is when I get chatty and informal. You never know what I might post.

Sunday – Debut Showcases for the last part of November.

Oh, and in early December, in order to welcome back our NaNoWriMo readers, we’re going to have the return of Writer Wednesday! With a guest author! And I will attempt to bring back the Discovery Showcases as well, but a lot of that depends on if I can reach the Discovery Showcase authors who have been waiting, and who may have given up on me by now.

NaNoWriMO Has a Song!!!

You guys have got to hear this! John Anealio of SciFi Songs has done it again! He has written, played, sang and recorded another song, this time about NaNoWriMo! Those of you who are involved in NaNoWriMo really need to go and give it a listen. He used his own experience with NaNoWriMo to help him write the song. It’s funny and catchy and deserves to become the NaNoWriMo theme song.

Go listen to NaNoWriMo, the song!

And after you listen to that one, be sure to listen to some of his other songs, such as The Millennium Falcon for Christmas. They’re great fun!

Early and Mid November Debuts

I found some more debuts for you, courtesy of the Edelweiss catalog search tool, which I will be making great use of from this day forward. For now, I’m including paperback debuts where the novel has already released in hardcover. Mostly, because I had a bunch of these before I realized they were there. But that’s ok. When these hardcovers came out, this blog didn’t exist.

The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Y. K. Lee
Amazon USAUKCanada
Penguin (Non-Classics)
November 17, 2009
$15.00
Paperback
Genre – Literary
IN THE SWEEPING TRADITION of The English Patient, Janice Y. K. Lee’s debut novel is a tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher and also begins a fateful affair. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine, impossible choices emerge—between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and, above all, the past.

The Piano Teacher came out in hardcover earlier this year. There is an article about the author in the Wall Street Journal.

Scurvy Goonda by Chris McCoy (no author site found)
Amazon USAUKCanada
Knopf Books for Young Readers
November 10, 2009
$16.99/$21.00 Can.
Hardback
Genre: Juvenile Fiction

In Book One of this two-part story, an endearing misfit embarks on an amazing adventure in search of his friend Scurvy Goonda, an outrageous invisible pirate with an insatiable love for bacon.

Part friendship story, part madcap adventure, readers who love stories in which almost-ordinary kids travel to fantastical lands and become heroes will revel in the imaginative landscape and characters featured in this original debut. While adventure-loving vegetarians will find much to savor, this is a must-read for all who love bacon—which plays a key role in the story’s sizzling climax!

This novel is begging for an author or title website. I did find one, but it is still in a parked state from the web host provider.


College Girl by Patricia Weitz (no website found)
Amazon USAUKCanada
Riverhead Trade
November 3, 2009
$15.00
Paperback / softback
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
College senior Natalie Bloom is beautiful and ambitious, but also painfully insecure. At twenty, she’s still a virgin, never even having had a boyfriend. At school, Natalie hides out most weekends in the library—until she meets Patrick, her fantasy (she thinks) of a cultured, intellectual Prince Charming. But the more time they spend together, the more Patrick brings out her worst insecurities. And before Natalie’s ready, she winds up losing her virginity— and her sense of direction, as her emotional responses take a dangerously self-destructive turn. Soon it’ll take only the most extreme measures to reclaim her sense of self, her confidence, and her ambition.

Insightful, moving, and achingly self-aware, College Girl is an intensely real portrait of a character whose insecurities are recognizable to us all, and of a time of life that changes everything.

Not wild about books that make twenty-year-old virgins seem freaky. It looks like the author did good things with the concept, but crikey, let’s encourage virtue in our young women, not stigmatize it. From what I’ve heard, virginity is not as rare as everyone makes it out to be. And what’s with all the authors without websites? If she has one, it’s danged hard to find.

College Girl has been out in trade paperback and hardcover formats.

Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler
Amazon USAUKCanada
Orbit
November 2009
$7.99/$9.99 Can.
Mass market paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn’t quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.

Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new “friend,” Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.

It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever-rub the genie’s lamp.

The dog healing by licking is certainly something I haven’t seen before. Looks lighthearted, but vampires truly aren’t my thing.

Far from Home by Anne Degrace
Amazon USAUKCanada
Avon A
November 10, 2009
$14.99
Paperback
Genre: General

When circumstances set Jo on the road, she doesn’t quite know where she is going—she’s just going. But due to the kindness of strangers, she finds her way to Cass’s Roadside Café, a side-of-the-road diner on a mountain pass in the middle–of–nowhere.

There, during one extraordinary, windy day in 1977, she meets an odd mix of travelers: an old woman who, informed she only has a few weeks to live, tells everyone exactly what she thinks of them—and then doesn’t die; a water-witcher who has had to come to terms with his unusual talent; a hippie who travels wherever the wind takes him; a friendly trucker; and a cast of local characters whose pasts have taught them invaluable lessons, and whose stories give Jo the strength and courage to face her past and depart on her own journey, once again.

The author has had novels published in Canada. It seems to me that the blurb gives away the ending. Sounds like a Canterbury Tales sort of thing.

~*~

All of these are now in my Recent Debuts widget on the far right sidebar, where I decided to keep recent debuts for two months.

Enjoy! I’ll have some more debuts for you next week.