Debut Showcase – October Books

HundredThousandKingdoms The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
by N.K. Jemisin
MM Paperback / softback
Fantasy

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky, seat of the ruling Arameri family. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

Every once in a while, life intrudes and I am unable to announce new debuts for a while. I am just coming off such an interruption. Unfortunately, whenever this happens, an embarrassingly huge novel is bound to release. It happened last year with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I really would love to read this book, and I will soon. It has all the ingredients I look for in a big, splashy epic fantasy.

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TheFortunesOfGraceHammerThe Fortunes of Grace Hammer: A Novel of the Victorian Underworld
by Sara Stockbridge
W.W. Norton & Co.
Trade Paperback

Historical

Stockbridge captures the mood of Dickensian London perfectly in this gripping debut.—BooklistWhitechapel, 1888. Grace Hammer and her children live comfortably in Bell Lane, their home a little oasis in the squalor of London’s East End. They make their living picking the pockets of wealthy strangers foolish enough to venture there. But Grace’s history is about to catch up with her. Out in the countryside Mr. Blunt rocks in his chair, vowing furious retribution. He has never forgotten his scarlet treasure, or the coquettish young woman who stole it from him.

Fast-paced, racy, and reminiscent of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Grace Hammer depicts nineteenth-century London amid corruption and a plague of poverty, peopled by orphans, harlots, and petty thieves. Sara Stockbridge introduces an unlikely heroine in Grace Hammer, a captivating young matriarch in a complicated web of intrigue, deceit, loyalties, and betrayal. Originally published in hardcover as Grace Hammer.

At first I thought this was a fantasy–a steampunk–but obviously I was wrong. I was imagining all kinds of magical attributes of the “scarlet treasure”, but now I must be satisfied that it is mundane. I am quite curious about the scarlet treasure, and it seems to me that Mr. Blunt is more interested in the thief than recovering the item in question. The author was once an actress and a model.

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TheRhetoricOfDeathThe Rhetoric of Death
by Judith Rock
Trade Paperback

Mystery & Detective

Paris, 1686: When The Bishop of Marseilles discovers that his young cousin Charles du Luc, former soldier and half-fledged Jesuit, has been helping heretics escape the king’s dragoons, the bishop sends him far away—to Paris, where Charles is assigned to assist in teaching rhetoric and directing dance at the prestigious college of Louis le Grand.
Charles quickly embraces his new life and responsibilities. But on his first day, the school’s star dancer disappears from rehearsal, and the next day another student is run down in the street. When the dancer’s body is found under the worst possible circumstances, Charles is determined to find the killer in spite of being ordered to leave the investigation.

I’d kinda like to know why Charles has such an intense interest in solving this crime of someone he apparently doesn’t even know. I understand a sense of justice and all that, but sometimes, mystery novels don’t get enough into motivation to satisfy me, and they tend to be way too plot-driven. In this case, I think the blurb was too general.

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ThePreachersBrideThe Preacher’s Bride
by Jody Hedlund
Trade Paperback

Christian

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher–whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child–and man–she’s come to love.

I’m not sure if this one is for me. My current taste in Christian historicals is tending toward what are known as prairie romances. (And I have one on my nook!) I just don’t know if I can get into reading about Puritans, unless Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote it :).

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SugarRushSugar Rush
by Kimber An
Decadent Publishing

YA Science Fiction Romance

Running and screaming will have to wait. A blood-sucking dead guy may be a vampire to you, but he’s an alien/human hybrid to Ophelia and she really must examine his olfactory nerve under a microscope first.

Ophelia longs to be free, free of diabetes, free of her ex-boyfriend, free to live. Something transformed Martin and made her his drug. If he has his way, she’ll never achieve the freedom to learn his true nature and origin.

Adrian’s the new guy in school. He faked his identity to get close to Ophelia, knowing the monsters who took his diabetic sister would try to take Ophelia, too. Then, he’d have them. But, he knew better than to get too close.

I am by no means going to attempt to showcase all of Decadent Publishing’s debut novels. As a new publisher, they have a lot, just like Carina Press did. However, Kimber An is a friend, and I am now reading this book and finding that I’m enjoying it more than I expected. When I heard that she was writing about vampires, I had my doubts, but she really did come up with a new angle–vampires who are atttracted to certain diabetics.

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I missed doing these! This was my catch-up post for October. I am now brushing off my hands and declaring myself caught up, even though I did miss September. Book titles now link to Amazon pages. If you click on these and buy something (not even what is linked here–anything really) I’ll get a small referral fee. I’ll use this money to fund giftcards for giveaways.

Debut Showcase – Two Historicals and a Fantasy

I have some historicals and a fantasy for you this week.

Historicals


The Sergeant’s Lady
by Susanna Fraser
Carina Press

ebook

Highborn Anna Arrington has been “following the drum,” obeying the wishes of her cold, controlling cavalry officer husband. When he dies, all she wants is to leave life with Wellington’s army in Spain behind her and go home to her family’s castle in Scotland.

Sergeant Will Atkins ran away from home to join the army in a fit of boyish enthusiasm. He is a natural born soldier, popular with officers and men alike, uncommonly brave and chivalrous, and educated and well-read despite his common birth.

As Anna journeys home with a convoy of wounded soldiers, she forms an unlikely friendship with Will. When the convoy is ambushed and their fellow soldiers captured, they become fugitives—together. The attraction between them is strong—but even if they can escape the threat of death at the hands of the French, is love strong enough to bridge the gap between a viscount’s daughter and an innkeeper’s son?

I read this as part of my current historical fiction kick. Review coming in the next day or so.

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The Wet Nurse’s Tale
by Erica Eisdorfer
Berkley Trade

Trade Paperback

Susan Rose is not your average Victorian heroine. She’s promiscuous, lovable, plump, and scheming. Luckily for Susan, her big heart is covered by an equally big bosom, and her bosom is her fortune—for Susan becomes a professional wet nurse, like her mother before her, and she makes it her business to know all the intrigues and scandals that the upper crust would prefer to keep to themselves.

When her own child is caught up in a family scandal, Susan must use all of her street smarts to rescue her baby from the powerful mistress of the house. The scheme she weaves is bold and daring, and could spell ruin if she fails—but Susan Rose has no intention of failing.

This looked familiar to me and I thought I had already covered it, but I haven’t. The hook had me at “her bosom is her future.” It looks fabulous.

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Fantasy and Science Fiction


The Native Star
by M. K. Hobson
Spectra

MM Paperback

It’s 1876, and business is rotten for Emily Edwards, town witch of the tiny Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine. With everyone buying patent magicks by mail-order, she’s faced with two equally desperate options. Starve—or use a love spell to bewitch the town’s richest lumberman into marrying her.

When the love spell goes terribly wrong, Emily is forced to accept the aid of Dreadnought Stanton—a pompous and scholarly Warlock from New York—to set things right. Together, they travel from the seedy underbelly of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, across the United States by train and biomechanical flying machine, to the highest halls of American magical power, only to find that love spells (and love) are far more complicated and dangerous than either of them could ever have imagined.

The author hyperlinked several elements from her cover copy, which I thought was pretty cool so I left them in place. This novel looks like a lot of fun.

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Any float your boat? Discuss in the comments.

Debut Showcase – Week of August 15th

This is a quick post during a busy week for me, but I did want to let you know about these two debuts in particular.


The Last Page
by Anthony Huso
Tor Books
Hardcover – 25.99

(Complementary hardcover provided by Tor Books.)

The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.

Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy—adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood—and she has been sent to spy on the High King.

Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph’s veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.

Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever.

I’m going to be giving this one a try in the upcoming weeks. It looks very suspenseful. I’m intrigued by a heroine who is trying to do something evil  but doesn’t seem to quite be able to do it. I just hope the characters aren’t too dark. On Tuesday, John Scalzi had the author as a guest for a Big Idea post .

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I’ll become the Sea

by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Carina Press
ebook – 3.99

Contemporary Romance

Jane Elliott has found peace. By all accounts, she’s a success story: a survivor of childhood abuse who has dedicated her life to teaching. She’s also engaged to marry Ben, an ambitious documentary filmmaker.

But hers is a false and fragile peace. Focusing on her students at an urban Jersey Shore school and maintaining a relationship with an absentee fiancé conveniently keep Jane from feeling much of anything at all.

This safe existence is threatened when she meets David, a musician who runs an afterschool program for at-risk kids. Because of her commitment to Ben, Jane can deny her attraction to David and convince herself they are just good friends.

But an accident, a death, a grim family obligation and her own intense desire force Jane to overcome the past, rethink the present—and take a genuine risk on love.

I don’t normally feature contemporary romance, but this book is getting some awesome reviews so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Romantic Times gave it 4.5 stars.

Debut Showcases for Early August

Due to my semi-hiatus, this is my first Debut Showcase in about a month. My apologizes for the authors I missed, but this is a blog, not a news source, so I’m just going to carry on with this week’s debuts. If you are curious about those missed debuts, just look on my debut calendar–you can scroll backwards and forwards. In the meantime, I shall just wince and go on.


Death Most Definite
by Trent Jamieson
Orbit Books

Steve knew something was wrong as soon as he saw the dead girl in the Wintergarden food court. Nothing new – he saw dead people all the time – but this one was about to save his life . . .

Steve is a necromancer in the family firm, tasked with easing spirits from this dimension to the next after death. And he’s kind of OK with that, until someone high up the corporate hierarchy makes a bid to be Australia’s new Regional Death. This means killing all of the current Death’s staff. After his parents, relatives and pretty much every other necromancer he ever knew has been killed, Steve is left to make a reluctant stand.

But to do this he must stay alive. Threatened at every turn, Steve and the perilously attractive (and dead) Lissa go on the run to save what’s left of their world.

Despite the horror-ish plot, this novel is classified as an urban fantasy. It looks like the zombie trend continues!

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The Vigilante’s Bride
by  Yvonne Harris
Bethany House
Trade Paperback

Christian Romance

Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and kidnapping a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expects to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from him, but ends up with a feisty copper-haired orphan thrown over his shoulder who was on her way to marry Sullivan’s bitter enemy. Emily McCarthy is an orphan out of options. Forced to marry because she was too old for her orphanage, she doesn’t take kindly to her rescue. Still she trusts God can turn any situation to good especially when it seems Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Sullivan’s crossed a dangerous man unused to losing and Emily may just be the prize he’s unwilling to sacrifice. When a rugged cowboy rescues a feisty mail-order bride headed for danger in 1880s Montana, crossing his enemy is just the beginning of his troubles.

This looks adorable. I have a fondness for prairie romances, but I’ve only enjoyed them in movie form so far. Now I have one that I can look for. I would like to humbly suggest to the author that she invest some time into some search engine optimization, because I only found her website after a determined search. There is a children’s author with the same name, which complicated matters.

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Ok, so this made for a pathetic debut showcase. I will go back another week.


The Exile of Sara Stevenson
by  Darci Hannah
Ballantine Books
Trade Paperback

Historical Novel

In 1814, Sara Stevenson, the well-bred but high-spirited daughter of celebrated Scottish lighthouse designer Robert Stevenson, falls in love with a common sailor, Thomas Crichton. On the day of their clandestine elopement, Thomas mysteriously disappears, leaving Sara heartbroken, secretly pregnant, and at the mercy of her overbearing family. Refusing to relinquish her hopes that Thomas will someday return to her, Sara is banished to an eerie lighthouse on lonely and remote Cape Wrath. There she meets William Campbell, the reclusive yet dashing light-keeper who incites her ire—and interest. Soon Sara begins to accept her life on the cape and her growing attraction to William—until a mystifying package from an Oxford antiquarian arrives, giving intriguing clues to Thomas’s whereabouts. Through her correspondence with the antiquarian, Sara slowly uncovers the story of her beloved’s fate. But what she doesn’t immediately grasp is that these letters travel an even greater distance than she could have imagined—as the boundaries between time and space unravel to forge an incredible connection between a woman and a man many years apart.

And to think, I almost didn’t announce this one. A time travel romance! Another weakness of mine! Or actually, its the time travel thing that hooks me more than the romance. I wish the blurb had spent a little more time on the time travel aspect.

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The Sixth Surrender
by  Hana Samek Norton
Plume
Trade Paperback

Historical Novel

In the last years of her eventful life, queen-duchess Aliénor of Aquitaine launches a deadly dynastic chess game to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, her last surviving son.

To that end, Aliénor coerces into matrimony her two pawns—Juliana de Charnais, a plain and pious novice determined to regain her inheritance, and Guérin de Lasalle, a cynical, war-worn mercenary equally resolved to renounce his.

Lasalle does not intend to be a husband to the shy young woman, nor to become entangled in John’s own matrimonial mire,but at the heart of Aliénor’s scheme is the mystery of his own past that could cost John his thrones—and Juliana her life.

Eleanor of Aquitaine was one fierce mama–she has a significant entry in a nonfiction book I have called Woman Warriors. I found the publisher’s blurb to be very weak and I’m afraid this one (from the author’s website) is only slightly better. I think the cover is beautiful, however.

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Wow; we’re a bit on the historicals this week. Of all of these, I think I like The Vigilante’s Bride the best. I’m in the mood for something that and I have definitely been leaning toward the historicals in my reading selections lately. Any float your boat?

And I still want to pick up that Punjabi mystery I announced way back in May!

Debut Showcase – Week of June 28 (and Earlier)

I included publisher’s links on this edition because most of these publishers are either small presses or are significantly discounted at the publisher’s site. Enjoy!


The Loving Dead

by Beamer, Amelia
Night Shade Books
Trade Paperback – 14.95

Girls! Zombies! Zeppelins!

If Chuck Palahniuk and Christopher Moore had a zombie love child, it would look like THE LOVING DEAD, a darkly comic debut novel by Amelia Beamer.

Kate and Michael, twenty-something housemates working at the same Trader Joe’s supermarket, are thoroughly screwed when people start turning into zombies at their house party in the Oakland hills. The zombie plague is a sexually transmitted disease, turning its victims into shambling, horny, voracious killers after an incubation period where they become increasingly promiscuous.

Thrust into extremes by the unfolding tragedy, Kate and Michael are forced to confront the decisions they’ve made, and their fears of commitment, while trying to stay alive. Kate tries to escape on a Zeppelin ride with her secret sugar daddy — but people keep turning into zombies, forcing her to fight for her life, never mind the avalanche of trouble that develops from a few too many innocent lies. Michael convinces Kate to meet him in the one place in the Bay Area that’s likely to be safe and secure from the zombie hordes: Alcatraz. But can they stay human long enough?

And the zombie craze goes on! I imagine this novel will be very popular, but zombies aren’t for me. I do find the concept of zombification as a sexually transmitted disease an interesting concept, but that incubation period would probably set me over the edge.

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Redemption in Indigo

by Karen Lord
Small Beer Press
Trade Paperback – $16

Karen Lord’s debut novel, which won the prestigious Frank Collymore Literary Prize in Barbados, is an intricately woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit.

Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makende, now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi—who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone.

Bursting with humour and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairy tale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. Lord’s world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals, inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale, will feel instantly familiar—but Paama’s adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original.

I reviewed this last week and found it wonderful.

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Meeks

by Julia Holmes
Small Beer Press
Trade Paperback – $16

No woman will have Ben without a proper bachelor’s suit . . . and the tailor refuses to make him one. Back from war with a nameless enemy, he’s just discovered that his mother is dead and that his family home has been reassigned by the state. As if that isn’t enough, he must now find a wife, or he’ll be made a civil servant and given a permanent spot in one of the city’s oppressive factories.

Meanwhile, Meeks, a foreigner who lives in the park and imagines he’s a member of the police, is hunted by the overzealous Brothers of Mercy. Meeks’s survival depends on his peculiar friendship with a police captain—but will that be enough to prevent his execution at the annual Independence Day celebration?

A dark satire rendered with all the slapstick humor of a Buster Keaton film, Julia Holmes’s debut novel evokes the strange charm of a Haruki Murakami novel in a dystopic setting reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Meeks portrays a world at once hilarious and disquieting, in which frustrated revolutionaries and hopeful youths suffer alongside the lost and the condemned, just for a chance at the permanent bliss of marriage and a slice of sugar-frosted Independence Day cake.

Small Beer Press sent this along with Redemption in Indigo, and I’m reading it now. It’s rather dark and grim so far, but I have not been put off by it and I’m looking forward to those humorous moments promised in the blurb. I love a good dystopian novel.

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Dark and Disorderly
by Bernita Harris
Carina Press
eBook – 4.79

“I was standing there naked when my dead husband walked into my bathroom…”
Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance.

Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband comes to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan’s ghost, but not to become Suspect #1 for her husband’s murder and reanimation.

But what’s most surprising of all is the growing attraction between her and psi-crime detective John Thresher. He thinks that Lillie killed Nathan—and Nathan must agree, because his zombie is seeking revenge. Now she and Thresher must work together to solve her husband’s murder—before his corpse kills her…

If I didn’t already have seven other brand-new ebooks on my brand-new nook waiting for my attention, I’d probably try this out. In fact, I probably will try it. It looks fun.

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Scene Stealer

Elise Warner
Carina Press
eBook – 3.59

“For a moment our eyes met; his were frightened, seeking help. Was it my imagination gone wild? No. After all those years of teaching elementary school, I knew this child was afraid.”

After a chance encounter on the subway, Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired schoolteacher living in New York’s Greenwich Village, is determined to help the police in the search for missing nine-year-old child actor Kevin Corcoran. Never mind that she has no training in law enforcement—she spent decades teaching. She knows when someone is lying.

Once set upon a course of action, the indomitable Miss Weidenmaier cannot be swayed—or intimidated. Facing down megalomaniacal business executives, stuck-up celebrities, pushy stage mothers and a rabble-rousing talk show host, Miss Weidenmaier will stop at nothing—not even the disapproval of one Lieutenant Brown of the NYPD, who does not take kindly to amateur sleuthing—to bring young Kevin home.

I already have this on my nook. I love a cozy mystery every now and then and the excerpt at Carina Press’s website is promising.

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Captive Spirit

by Liz Fichera
Carina Press
eBook – $4.49

Sonoran Desert. Dawn of the sixteenth century.

Aiyana isn’t like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own…

When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana’s on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

Here’s a familiar refrain–I have this on my nook. (Why do so many of the electronic devices shun uppercase names? I now have a “nook” and an “iPod touch”, all capitalized just like that.) I’m almost finished reading it and it is utterly gripping.

Any of these look good to you? Discuss in the comments!

Debut Novels from Carina Press

Here are some debut authors who have novels that became available through Carina Press in the past few weeks. From this point on, Carina debuts of the genres that I usually cover will appear in my regular debut showcases.

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On her Trail

by Marcelle Dube
Carina Press

Romantic Suspense – 3.19 (with discount)

After five years of covering seedy Eastern European politics, Laura Thorsen returns to Canada only to run afoul of the mob. When they try to kill her over an explosive exposé, she flees to her secluded childhood home in the Yukon. Little does she know that her estranged mother is also being haunted—by the ghosts of her dead husband and a former lover who disappeared thirty-four years ago.

Their nearest neighbor, Mack Hawkins, is drawn into the action when mobsters track Laura down. Despite her protests, he insists on his own brand of personal protection, and desire soon sparks between them. But in this race for time, will Laura be able to evade those who want her dead and mend her relationship with her mother before it’s too late?

This is one of those experimental locations that Carina Press is rapidly becoming known for. This is the Yukon we’re talking about. As in the far, far northern reaches of Canada. Land of auroras. And snow. And ice. And in this novel, the mob. I can see a lot of fun with this. I mean, how many members of the mob are prepared for a place like the Yukon?


Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator

by Janni Nell
Carina Press

Paranormal Mystery – $3.99 (with discount)

Allegra Fairweather here. Paranormal investigator. Got problems with specters? Shapeshifters? I’m the woman to call. Just don’t call me a Ghostbuster. The last guy who did that ended up flat on his back with my boot at his throat.

With my 99.5% success rate, solving the mystery of a bleeding rose that has sprung up on the shores of Loch Furness should have been an easy gig. But already I’ve heard the shriek of the local banshee, discovered two bodies (and then lost two bodies), and had a near-death encounter with a three-hundred-year-old ghost. And perhaps most dangerous of all, the hot pub owner who hired me now wants to show me exactly what’s under his kilt.

Luckily, I’m ably assisted by my very own guardian angel. I’m grateful for his help—but he’s also drop-dead gorgeous. A bit distracting when I’ve got a mystery to solve, and the clock is ticking…

I bought this one just the other day. It looks fun, although I hope she goes for the Scot and not the angel. We’ll have to see how it works out. So far, I don’t have an ebook reader–just my iPod touch and Adobe Digital Editions. Which means I probably won’t be reading these very quickly until I do get that reader. I’m leaning toward the cheap Nook that just came out.


Liberty Starr

Rebecca Grant
Carina Press

Contemporary Romance – $3.99 (with discount)

Rafe had never met a truly irresistible woman, until he met Liberty.

Libby has the kind of beauty that comes on slow—strikes a guy the longer he looks. And Rafe sure is having a fine time looking, and touching, and loving Liberty Starr.

The only problem is that Rafe is pretending to be just another cowboy down on his luck. Working for the FBI, he’s come to Stone Hill, Colorado, to investigate the man Libby loves like a father.

He was just another cowboy.

Free-spirited Libby offers him a job and a place to stay. Together they spark like wildfire, their intense passion filling their days and nights. But Rafe is only in town for the summer, and while Liberty is willing to risk her heart, secrets threaten any possibility of a future together…

Woah, look at that cover! This is way racier than the novels I usually showcase, but I promise that this is as racy as it will get. I don’t want to blow out your monitors, after all.


The Price of Freedom

by Jenny Schwartz
Carina Press

Paranormal Romance – $2.39 (with discount)

Duty will bring them together—and tear them apart!

As a guardian angel, Mischa must protect the one man who may be able to bring about lasting peace to the Middle East. As a djinni, Rafe must fulfill the wishes of a terrorist leader. Their duties colliding, Mischa and Rafe become foes, but the heat between them is undeniable.

When the terrorist learns that a guardian angel stands between him and his greatest wish, he orders his djinni to remove her. Taking creative license, Rafe spirits her away to his private oasis, where she will be unable to protect the peacemaker.

Beyond their mutual desire, they find common ground in honor and loneliness. Passion quickly grows into love. But it’s soon clear to Rafe that love cannot be bound, and Mischa must be true to her life’s purpose. Even if Rafe must sacrifice his own taste of freedom to grant hers…

Oh, and you should know that the shorter these books are, the lower the price. This is a novella, fewer than 25, 000 words. Which means you could read it in about an evening.  I won this one in a contest. So far, it’s way steamier than I usually read, but I was pulled in by premise and the great conflict that is evident in the blurb.

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So how have I decided to handle reviews of Carina Press novels? Well for one, if I’m interested, I’ll buy them. If I read them and enjoy them, I’ll give them a regular review, with a disclaimer that I’m having a hard time being impartial. If I don’t enjoy any particular novel, I most likely will simply not mention it beyond the showcase.

I’m open to suggestions.

Happy Release Day – 13 To Life

Happy release day to Shannon Delany for her debut novel, 13 to Life! Check out that bookmark!

Shannon has done a great job publicizing her novel, and I’ve even gotten in on the action. She’ll be by here on Friday to tell us the unusual means by which she achieved publication. She is also serializing part of her novel as part of her blog book tour, and we’ll be including a snippet here.

In the meantime, here’s all the info!

13 to Life
by Shannon Delany
Young Adult Paranormal
Trade Paperback – $9.99

Hat Tip: Deborah Blake

Blurb:

Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…
When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.
The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide–secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.
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Her Book Blog Tour is called Start Your Day With Serial. Check back on Friday for our turn.

Debut Showcase – Four Fantasies and a Thriller

Here are some debuts that were on my debut calendar from May. I meant to keep up on these from week to week, but believe me when I say that May was the busiest I’ve been in longer than I can remember.

Some of these were on my Debut Calendar, but I never got in touch with the author. I do apologize, and will try to correct that situation after I post this.


Wolfsangel
by MD Lachlan
Gollancz (UK)
Hardcover and Paperback

The Viking King Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy. A prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the Gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.

But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. Ensuring that his faithful warriors, witness to what has happened, die during the raid Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.

And so begins a stunning multi-volume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal viking king, down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin and Loki – the eternal trickster – spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history, and over into our lives.

MD Lachlan is the nom de plume of Mark Barrowcliffe, who didn’t write fantasy, so that’s ok. He did write a nonfiction book called The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange, which looks like a book I would read, and which shows he’d fit right in around here. Maybe I should recruit him for a Writer Wednesday. About his book, it looks like it might be a bit bloody and gritty, but I’m intrigued anyway by the connection to Viking myth, and I will read it when it comes out in the United States.

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Shadow’s Son
by Jon Sprunk
Pyr
Trade paperback – $16 (discounts available)

In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won’t be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir’s hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son . . .

I’m a little underwhelmed by this blurb and I’m thinking there has to be more to the story than this. I find myself wanting to know more about the birthright of the Shadow’s Son. Fortunately, I found one for you at Tor.com, and I think its pretty awesome of them to help out the author from another publisher.

At Debuts & Reviews, we always look beyond the blurb!

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Thief
Sarah-Jane Lehoux
Mundania Press
Trade Paperback – 13.95 (Mundania Press Page)

In the crumbling city of Eloria, there is one indisputable fact: everyone has a price. Protestations of morality and better judgment have little meaning when confronted with the chance to obtain the unobtainable. The only question remaining is just how much a person is willing to sacrifice in order to win their heart’s desire.

Sevy has always been a quick study in the wicked ways of Eloria. She has no qualms about taking what she wants, and when the love of her life is mysteriously murdered, Sevy will stop at nothing to get him back. Elvish black magic, necromancy and demonic pacts are of little consequence if it means she can once again have her beloved at her side. But is she willing to murder her only friend to get the job done?

This is my first showcase from Mundania Press and this was the book  that triggered my research of this publisher, which I posted about in May. The excerpt (scroll down) looked promising. I especially liked the way she opened it through the eyes of Sevy, then expanded it to an omnipresent description, and then tightened it back up again behind Sevy’s eyes. Touches like these make me want to read on, but ultimately this character might be too dark for my taste.

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The Passage

by Justin Cronin
Ballantine Books
Hardcover – $27 (discounts available)

Blurb text

‘It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.’

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear – of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey – spanning miles and decades – towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

This novel has a publication story that drives us writers nuts and make us writhe in jealousy. Read it here. I remember reading about this bidding war a while back, now here the novel is. This kind of thing gets an author a lot of publicity, and I’m all for publicity for a debut(ish) novelist. Reviews abound.

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Guardian of the Dead
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown Book Group
Hardcover – $17.99 (discounts available)

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

I owe the author an apology; I should have announced it in April. Again, I would have liked a longer blurb, which gives me a better idea of what the conflict was all about. Except for the first sentence and the last sentence, this is the life of an ordinary teenager. I can’t help but to feel an agent would have rejected an author with a blurb this vague.

So here is an excerpt, courtesy of TeenReads this time. Maybe this will make up for the tardiness of this post.

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Of all of these, I’d have to say Wolfsangel most intrigues me. What about you?

Debut Showcase – Two Fantasies and a Quirky Mystery


Black Blade Blues

by J. A. Pitts
Tor Books
Trade Paperback – 15.99

Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twenty-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group.

The lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help. And that’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as the “dwarf” claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters?

And as if things weren’t surreal enough, Sarah’s girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase… “I love you.”  As her life begins to fall apart, first her relationship with Katie, then her job at the movie studio, and finally her blacksmithing career, Sarah hits rock bottom. It is at this moment, when she has lost everything she has prized, that one of the dragons makes their move.

And suddenly what was unthinkable becomes all too real…and Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.

Deborah reviewed Black Blade Blues just last week, and she loved it. Check it out here!

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Song of Scarabaeus
by Sara Creasy
HarperCollins
MM Paperback – 7.99

The best cypherteck in the galaxy, Edie can reinvent planets with little more than a thought. Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, her mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she’s not entirely sure it’s a bad thing… until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn—a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn’s side, he dies. If she doesn’t cooperate, the pirates will kill them both.

But Edie’s abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she’ll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure… a world called Scarabaeus.

This looks like a complicated but engaging plot. It’s being compared to Ann Aguire’s science fiction, which I enjoyed, and I haven’t read any science fiction in a while. Allow me one critique–I do hate that cover. If she’s all that powerful, then why is she at that guy’s feet, clinging to his leg a la Princess Leia??? Crikey! I thought we were over covers like that!

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Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles

by Kira Henehan
Milkweed Editions
Trade Paperback – $16

Welcome to the off-kilter world of Finley, an investigator of indiscernible origins and prowess. Her assignment: the mysterious Professor Uppal and his puppets. The objective: impossible to say. But Finley is unassailable. She forges ahead with occasional assistance and hindrance from her colleagues Murphy, The Lamb, and Binelli, as well as the professor’s beautiful daughter and her sinister artiste boyfriend. In her meticulous and completely unbiased report, Finley tracks the investigation’s slow spiral back upon itself, as the clues she uncovers reveal questions that lead directly back to her own forgotten past.

No, this isn’t a self-published novel, just a novel with a quirky title. It won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, which appears to be a contest run by the publisher.

Recent Debuts, or, My Debut Catch-Up Post

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
Bantam/Spectra
MM Paperback – 7.99
Urban Fantasy

Justine Jones isn’t your typical kick-ass type – she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear.

She’s lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists – vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

Justine isn’t interested in Packard’s troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals.

Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

I’ve briefly mentioned this novel before, but here is the full treatment. Such as it is. I remember a lot of you liked the idea of “disillusionists”, so consider this a little reminder for you. Carolyn runs a hilarious and popular blog called The Thrillionth Page.

Master of None by Sonya Bateman
Pocket Books

Read the First Chapter (pdf)

Paperback – 7.99
Urban Fantasy

Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.

Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.

At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price. . . .

This one should look familiar, too. I reviewed it last month, and I’ve seen it pop up on some of your blogs since then. This novel is hilarious. Now, if we can only get Sonya to start a blog.

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
Simon & Schuster
Trade Paperback – 14.00
Mystery

Portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, Vish Puri cuts a determined swathe through modern India’s cheats, swindlers and murderers.

In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centers and malls are changing the ancient fabric of Indian life, Puri’s main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests.

But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri’s resources to investigate. How will he trace the fate of the girl, known only as Mary, in a population of more than one billion? Who is taking potshots at him and his prize chili plants? And why is his widowed “Mummy-ji” attempting to play sleuth when everyone knows mummies are not detectives?

With his team of undercover operatives — Tubelight, Flush, and Facecream — Puri ingeniously combines modern techniques with principles of detection established in India more than two thousand years ago — long before “that Johnny-come-lately” Sherlock Holmes donned his deerstalker.

I must have this one. Must. I took a trip to India once, and it was unforgettable. This reminds me of the playful African-based mystery series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which is also written by a British white guy.

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos
BarnaBooks
Trade Paperback – $14.99
Christian (I think)

Imaginary Jesus is an hilarious, fast-paced, not-quite-fictional story that’s unlike anything you’ve ever read before. When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing. On his wild ride through time, space, and Portland, Oregon, he encounters hundreds of other Imaginary Jesuses determined to stand in his way (like Legalistic Jesus, Perpetually Angry Jesus, and Magic 8 Ball Jesus). But Matt won’t stop until he finds the real Jesus-and finally gets an answer to the question that’s haunted him for years. Be warned: Imaginary Jesus may bring you face-to-face with an imposter in your own life.

The author’s website is a bit scanty of information (like a blurb, which was surprisingly hard to find), but his blog is pretty funny — the current post is about how Amazon is classifying this novel. For example, Imaginary Jesus is ahead of C.S. Lewis: “Ah, C.S. Lewis.  Allow me to take a moment to say IN YOUR FACE, C.S. LEWIS! Imaginary Jesus is totally rocking The Screwtape Letters.” Anyway, if the blog is any indication of the novel, then it’s probably pretty zany.

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
Berkley Trade
Trade Paperback – $15.00
Historical Fiction

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress’s rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life—that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome’s aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian’s games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor’s mistress.

I like stories that take place in Rome, but I’m not sure about this one. She has a blurb by the fabulous Diana Gabaldon, so maybe I would like it.  However, Domitian is one of the more horrible Roman emperors, and my interest in Rome is more in the Republican era, not the Empire. I do think this is worth checking out if you like historical fiction.

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary
Forge Books
Hardcover – 24.99
Mystery

The world’s most famous reporter, the intrepid Nellie Bly, teams up with science fiction genius Jules Verne, the notorious wit and outrageous rogue Oscar Wilde, and the greatest microbe-hunter in history, Louis Pasteur. Together, they must solve the crime of the century.

They are all in Paris—the capital of Europe and center of world culture—for the 1889 World’s Fair. A spectacular extravaganza dedicated to new industries, scientific discoveries, and global exploration, its gateway is the soaring Eiffel Tower. But an enigmatic killer stalks the streets and a virulent plague is striking down Parisians by the thousands. Convinced that the killings are connected to the pandemic, Nellie is determined to stop them both… no matter what the risks.

This kind of sounds like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but with historical figures rather than fictional. It has already been shortlisted for an International CrimeFest Award.

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov
Tor Books
Hardcover – 24.99
Fantasy

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.

An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.

Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala. Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort, and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).

Wow. A debut epic fantasy that features elves! It was first published in 2002 in Russia, so that might explain it. Or maybe it is still possible to sell an epic fantasy with elves. This novel sold in the US for six figures.

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I’m posting this on Sunday instead of Tuesday because these have all been out for a while. I’m going to try to put these out weekly — like I used to — and in smaller chunks. Also, please notice that I’m only including novels of genres that interest me. It’s hard to muster up enthusiasm for novels that I have no interest in. In fact, I’d rather not have to muster up enthusiasm at all. I’d rather it came naturally.

I hereby certify that any and all enthusiasm in the posts above came naturally.

So what did you think? Any of these float your boat? Any you’d like to cuss and discuss?