Welcome to the new version of the every-Monday Reader’s Choice Giveaway. With the loss of my virtual assistant (sob), something had to give, and the first thing to go, sadly, was the Fiction Affliction columns I did for tor.com, from which our new releases were pulled. The columns took 40-plus hours per month to assemble and collate, and were no longer sustainable without help.
So….how about a Reader’s Choice Giveaway that really is what it says? Below are the new releases from this week that I thought would most interest readers of this site. I tended to cut out a lot of hard sci-fi and YA. So, if you win a Reader’s Choice book this week and want one of these, great. BUT if you win and don’t want any of these, you can choose another book. Anything. Any format. You don’t even have to tell me what you want right now: just say “I’ll decide when I win!” If you do win, all I ask is that you select a single book that costs less than US$15. Open internationally, of course, as long as you live somewhere Book Depository delivers.
Now, here’s what I considered the “Best of the Best” from among the new books releasing Feb. 1-7:
A Criminal Magic, by Lee Kelly. THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new magical realism, crossover novel. Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal. It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine. Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws. Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse. A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.
SUZANNE’S PICK OF THE LITTER THIS WEEK!
Blood in Her Veins: Nineteen Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock, by Faith Hunter. In this must-have collection of stories, experience nineteen thrilling adventures from the world of vampire-hunter Jane Yellowrock, including many fan favorites and two all-new novellas. Read about the first time Jane put the pedal to the metal in “The Early Years,” and the last thing a werewolf will ever see as Jane delivers justice in “Beneath a Bloody Moon.” Get a searing look into the pasts of some of the series’ best-loved characters: Beast in “WeSa and the Lumber King,” Rick LaFleur in “Cat Tats,” and Molly Everhart Trueblood in “Haints.” In the brand-new “Cat Fight,” the witches and vampires of Bayou, Oiseau, are at war over a magical talisman—and Jane must figure out how to keep the mysterious artifact out of the covetous hands of the Master of New Orleans. And in the never-before-published “Bound No More,” Jane welcomes a visit from Molly and her daughter, Angie, who is about to prove she’s the most powerful witch in Everhart history….From the Big Easy to the bad bayou, from the open road to a vampire’s lair—with Jane Yellowrock, it’s always a given: have stakes, will travel.
Darkness Raging (Otherworld #18), by Yasmine Galenorn. As the Demon Lord Shadow Wing creates his own sinister version of the Keraastar Knights—the guardians of the spirit seals—to destroy the portals and free himself from the Sub Realms, his ally, the necromancer Telazhar, leads an assault from Otherworld into the streets of Seattle. And my sisters and I are caught dead center. Then, on the eve of war, my wife, Nerissa, is captured. The enemy demands we surrender the rest of the spirit seals, or they are going to kill her. I will do anything to save her. Even if it means leading an army of vampires into the very depths of the Subterranean Realms…
Dreaming Death (Palace of Dreams #1), by J. Kathleen Cheney. Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army. A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images. But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…
Enchanted Warrior (Camelot Reborn), by Sharon Ashwood. In an age clouded by legend, Gawain was one of King Arthur’s greatest knights. When he awakens centuries after the fall of Camelot, he faces his most daunting quest yet—the search for his missing companions. His hope is that Tamsin Greene, the alluring historian at Medievaland Theme Park, can help him. Then he senses the magic within her… Gawain will now have to trust a witch—and his own heart—to rouse the knights of the Round Table and save humanity from a faery onslaught.
Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place (anthology): Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu, Alethea Kontis; Wendy N. Wagner et al. Tales of guardian spirits and divine powers by Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu, Alethea Kontis, Laura Anne Gilman, Scott Edelman and more. Guardian spirits. Divine presences. Demonic powers. Ghosts. The concept of “genius loci” is indeed an ancient one, found in nearly every human mythology. Genius Loci is a huge anthology of 31 all-new fantasy and science fiction stories drawing on the rich tradition of place-as-person. Within its pages, the authors present stories of sentient deserts, beneficent forests, lonely shrubs, and protective planetary spirits, highlighted by the fantastic art of Lisa A. Grabenstetter and Evan M. Jensen., and edited by Jaym Gates.
Grave Visions (Alex Craft #4), by Kalayna Price. If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a grave witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But she has her own secrets. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie.
Gyre (Atlas Link #1), by Jessica Gunn. Kindle Only. Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record. While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not. Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war. With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.
In Another Life, by Julie Christine Johnson. Three men are trapped in time. One woman could save them all. Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life-and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.
Kingfisher, by Patricia A. McKillip. Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on the way to the legendary capital city. “Look for us,” they tell Pierce, “if you come to Severluna. You might find a place for yourself in King Arden’s court.” Lured by a future far away from the bleak northern coast, Pierce makes his choice. Heloise, bereft and furious, tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone. As Pierce journeys to Severluna, his path twists and turns through other lives and mysteries: an inn where ancient rites are celebrated, though no one will speak of them; a legendary local chef whose delicacies leave diners slowly withering from hunger; his mysterious wife, who steals Pierce’s heart; a young woman whose need to escape is even greater than Pierce’s; and finally, in Severluna, King Arden’s youngest son, who is urged by strange and lovely forces to sacrifice his father’s kingdom.
Moonstone (Mystic Stones #2), by Kayla Curry. Kindle Only. Before Ava Tanner discovered Psytech was behind the satellite virus, a destined meeting took place in a hotel on the American East Coast. Dorin was just a cursed vampire looking for his next meal. Although his curse meant he needed to get creative with the way he ensnared his victim, Aila easily fell within his crosshairs. One simple kiss could be the mistake that leads Aila to her grave. Dorin is an exquisite man with taste, charm and a way with words that fall from his perfect lips in a Romanian accent. Her chance meeting with him leads her into a dangerous world, which becomes even more treacherous when she meets Dorin’s devious brother. When the dust clears, Aila must make a difficult decision which will determine the fate of her relationship with Dorin and the rest of her life. The dark shadow of Psytech looms in the background of this romantic and daring tale.
Phantom Effect, by Michael Aronovitz. Jonathan Martin Delaware Deseronto is a six-foot-five serial killer with a problem. He’s stuck out on I-476 in a heavy November rainstorm with two flat tires and the dead bodies of a cop and a co-ed named Marissa Madison in his trunk. Desperate to get off the highway, he drives his car on its back rims towards Exit 6. The car stalls on the ramp and Deseronto uses the last of its momentum to plunge over the crest of a steep slope and crash into a length of concrete pipe below. The car comes to rest on the edge of a construction site where machines are positioned to tear down an old Motel 6. For Deseronto, the worst is yet to come. Marissa Madison had been a psychic of sorts while alive, using her ability to assist people in their personal journeys. Now, the ghost of Marissa will utilize her strange gift, trapping Deseronto in the abandoned motel, and forcing him to live the last, fatal week of her own life as a passive passenger in her body . . . Soon, Deseronto will experience something truly horrific: the mind-numbing terror of being stalked by himself.
Pseudo-Dragon (The Blue Dragon’s Geas #4), by Chaeryl Matthynssens. (Because of cost of paperback, winner is respectfully requested to opt for Kindle version.) So much planning and preparation has gone into assualting the bloodmine. Before this can be accomplished, Alador will need to become a true Pseudo-Dragon. Added to this major endeavor are the complications of minimizing his uncle’s plans, convincing his half-brother to help him, and passing the tier test. Delve into the world of Vesta, where magic dragons fly and the bitter history between races holds the isle apart. Can Alador harness his power as a pseudo-dragon to help him in the tasks that lay before him, or will the politics of the tiers be his undoing?
Remembrance, by Meg Cabot (The Mediator #7). Fifteen years after the release of the first Mediator novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot returns with a deliciously sexy new adult entry to a formerly YA fan-favorite series. Suze Simon—all grown up and engaged to her once-ghostly soulmate—faces a vengeful spirit and an old enemy bent on ending Suze’s wedded bliss before it begins. You can take the boy out of the darkness. But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.
Rising from the Ashes (Dragonmage Saga #1), by Caren J. Werlinger. Ancient Ireland – an era of clan wars, petty kings and invasions by raiders from the north. As Christianity tightens its hold, magic and the old ways fight to keep their place in the hearts of the people. Born into this world is Ash, orphaned and maimed, left to die. She is rescued by a clan of badgers and raised to be one of them. As she grows, so does her magic, until at last she comes to the attention of other humans. Some of them want to protect her; some want to use her. When she bonds with an orphaned dragon cub, the two of them become pawns in a bid for power. Forced to flee, dragon and dragonmage embark on a quest to seek the answers as to why they were bonded and what their future holds.
FREE! CLICK TO DOWNLOAD FOR KINDLE.
Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2015. A collection of some of the best original short fiction published on Tor.com in 2015. It was free at the time of this writing. Includes stories by Nino Cipri, Seth Dickinson, Jeffrey Ford, Yoon Ha Lee, Maria Dahvana Headley, David Herter, Kameron Hurley, Noah Keller, David D. Levine, Michael Livingston, Usman T. Malik, Haralambi Markov, Daniel José Older, Malka Older, Kim Stanley Robinson, Kelley Robson, Veronica Schanoes, Priya Sharma, Brian Staveley, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and Ray Wood.
[NO ART AVAILABLE]
The Complete Midnight Breed Bundle (12 books), by Lara Adrian. Note: Sorry but due to the cost of $75, this is not eligible as a Reader’s Choice Giveaway. Just wanted to let you know it was coming out! Prepare for seduction as bestselling author Lara Adrian unleashes a new breed of vampire in this heart-pounding series of paranormal romance and suspense. Together in one convenient ebook bundle, here are all twelve books in the Midnight Breed series plus the novella A Taste of Midnight.
The Shadow (Florentine #2), by Sylvain Reynard. From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart… A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy. As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…
Vacation Hell (Princess of Hell #4), by Eve Langlais. Some people collect seashells at the beach. Muriel picks up another man. A merman…Juggling a happily ever after is harder than it looks, especially when it involves a fallen angel who is my soul mate, a hunky cat shifter who stole my heart, and a darkly delicious vampire who is like that piece of forbidden chocolate you just can’t resist. Add in a precocious little girl, who is totally spoiled rotten–not surprising given Nana and Poppa were Mother Nature and the Devil–and my life was a never-ending series of dramas, foot stomping, yelling, and tears. By me. I never knew being a grownup could be so much damned work, which is why I decided we needed a vacation. But of course, as Lucifer’s daughter, that didn’t turn out as expected. Now I’ve got to figure out if my bathtub is big enough for a hunky merman–and is there room in my heart for one more?
Wickedly Powerful (Baba Yaga Novel), by Deborah Blake. The only thing more fiery than Bella Young’s red hair is her temper. She knows that a Baba Yaga’s power without strict control can leave the people she cares about burned, so to protect her heart—and everyone around her—the only company she keeps is her dragon-turned-Norwegian-Forest-cat, Koshka. But when Bella is tasked with discovering who’s setting magical fires throughout Wyoming’s Black Hills, she finds herself working closely with former hotshots firefighter Sam Corbett—and falling hard for his quiet strength and charm. Sam may bear the scars of his past, but Bella can see beyond them and would do anything to help him heal. Only before she can rescue her Prince Charming, she’ll have to overcome the mysterious foe setting the forest fires—a truly wicked witch who wields as much power and even more anger than Bella…
Windburn (Elementals #4), by Shannon Mayer. My name is Larkspur, and I am an Elemental. My people use the power of the earth to sustain life and defy our enemies. I should be at my father’s side as a royal princess. But as a half-breed, bastard child, that isn’t going to happen. The King is missing and his mind is cracked. It is up to me to find him before the Rim is taken over by the bloodthirsty heir to the throne. But the path to finding the King is anything but straight, and I find myself in the human world facing possible banishment. All to find a Tracker who happens to be on the run from a demon, yet she is my only hope in bringing my father home. Nothing is as it seems and I’m uncertain who is friend or foe. My impending punishment threatens to suffocate me as I defy our laws and fight to bring peace to my home. . . and fight to keep those I love the dearest alive. How will I get both my father and I out of this one unscathed? Welcome to being The Chosen One.
Winterwood (Rowankind), by Jacey Bedford. It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered. Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half brother she didn’t know about and a task she doesn’t want: open the magical winterwood box and right an ancient wrong—if she can. Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever, and capable, and Ross doesn’t really like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on? Unable to chart a course to her future until she’s unraveled the mysteries of the past, she has to evade a ruthless government agent who fights magic with darker magic, torture, and murder; and brave the hitherto hidden Fae. Only then can she hope to open the magical winterwood box and right her ancestor’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, success may prove fatal to both Ross and her new brother, and desastrous for the country. By righting a wrong, is Ross going to unleash a terrible evil? Is her enemy the real hero and Ross the villain?
And there you have it! Something new out this week you think others might want to know about? Feel free to post it in the comments!