Before we start with this week’s Readers Choice list, this is DARK SECRETS week at the blog! Each day, I’ll be looking at one of the six all-new novellas in the anthology. Yesterday’s post had an excerpt from my contribution, THE CONSORT.
Today, I’m featuring MARION, MISSING, the “paranormal noir” novella from Rachel Caine. This is a true noir story on so many levels, set in the post-WWII years in Texas and touching on not only class and crime, but racial issues that still haunt us as a society. The paranormal element comes in the form of a ghost, a very special ghost.
Here’s the blurb for MARION MISSING: Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he’s been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won’t let him turn it down. He owes her that much… since his partner’s a ghost, and he blames himself for her death. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.
I loved this story and all the undercurrents running beneath it. If you haven’t already preordered, grab the ebook at the early-release price of 99 cents. It will be released on September 29.
As promised, the month of September is the month that just keeps giving when it comes to new releases. This week, there are more than thirty new books from which to pick and choose.
What do you want to read this week? As always, leave a comment telling me the book you’d most like to win, and maybe random.org will make your wishes come true. Your choice of print or digital unless otherwise stated. International? Of course! As long as Book Depository delivers to your country, please enter. If you’d prefer the first book in a series listed here, that’s okay, too.
Damned If I Do (The Harker Trilogy #1), by Erin Hayes, (September 14, Amazon Digital)
They killed my sister and infected me. Now I have to pick up the pieces before I die. I’ve spent the last five months trying to find the bastard who did this. Yet, even with the help of a hot amnesiac vampire named Jude, I’ve had zero luck. Until now. And it could change everything. Even though I grew up in a family that hunted the supernatural, there were still things I didn’t believe in. Now I have to hurry for the slim chance that I could save us all. Because when you fight against immortal vampires, you’re the one who’s running out of time. (ebook only)
Hexomancy (Ree Reyes #3), by Michael R. Underwood, (September 14, Pocket Star)
When Ree’s long time nemesis Lucretia is finally brought to trial and found guilty for the deadly attack on Grognard’s, the Geekomancer community breathes a collective sigh of relief. But Ree and her crew soon discover that Lucretia has three very angry, very dangerous sisters who won’t rest until Eastwood, a fellow Geekomancer, is killed. What follows is an adventure packed with epic battles, a bit of romance, and enough geeky W00t moments to fill your monthly quota of adventure and fun. (ebook only)
Shadow of Flame (Dragonsworn #2), by Caitlyn McFarland, (September 14, Carina Press)
It’s been two months since Kai Monahan’s life changed forever. Retrieved from a suddenly unsafe Colorado by Rhys and taken to Eryri, the dragons’ home in the South Pacific, she lives a secret existence. Rhys, for all his awe-inspiring power, is afraid to reveal to his people that he’s heartsworn to a human. One he’s quite possibly in love with. Kai hasn’t forgotten the terror or pain of the moment Rhys first took control of her mind and her magic. Neither has she forgotten the fire of his kiss. When she’s discovered, dragon politics, not to mention spies and ex-lovers, threaten her growing feelings. Rhys has more enemies than he can guess, and someone close to him is playing right into their hands. The war Rhys never wanted is coming. For either of them to survive, Kai must open her mind to him as never before. This time, there will be no turning back. (ebook only)
A Tiger’s Bride (A Lion’s Pride #4), by Eve Langlais, (September 15, CreateSpace)
When at first you don’t succeed, turn to abduction. It’s all in a day’s work when this Siberian tiger meets the woman he wants. An accidental kidnapping? Check. A forced marriage? Check. A virgin bride? Damn. There go his plans for seduction and here comes the pressure into making her first time perfect. Because everyone knows that’s the one she’ll remember, forever. Gulp. Add in a plane crash as well as hunters out to capture them and the heat is truly on. Can this Siberian tiger meet the challenge?
Abandoned and Unseen (Branded Packs #2), by Alexandra Ivy and Carrie Ann Ryan, (September 15, Carrie Ann Ryan)
When bear shifter, Anya Tucker fell in love with the wrong man, the only thing she left with was a broken heart, and her two bear cubs. Her sons meet the lazy cat next door and fall heads over tails for him. Cole McDermott is a jaguar on a mission protecting his Pack. Then he meets Anya and the burn of temptation is and tantalizing indeed. When a horror from Anya’s past threatens everything she loves, Cole will put everything aside and fight for her family, as well as his own. Nicole Bradley had no reason to live after the humans murdered her son. Shifting into her wolf form at night, she slips out of the compound. The last thing she expected was to discover secrets that could destroy the SAU. Polar shifter, Tucker Stone, lives off the grid. But he can’t walk away when he sees the female wolf in danger. He takes her to his hidden den and tries to heal her wounds. Can a reclusive polar bear and a wolf with a death wish find happiness together?
Ash & Bramble, by Sarah Prineas, (September 15, HarperTeen)
The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story. Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker. Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her, a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince, instead of finding her own happily ever after. This fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.
Clockwork Lives (Clockwork Angels #2), by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart, (September 15, ECW Press)
Marinda Peake is a woman with a quiet, perfect life in a small village; she long ago gave up on her dreams and ambitions to take care of her ailing father, an alchemist and an inventor. When he dies, he gives Marinda a mysterious inheritance: a blank book that she must fill with other people’s stories, and ultimately her own. A steampunk Canterbury Tales, and much more, as Marinda strives to change her life from a mere “sentence or two” to a true epic.
Devoted in Death (In Death #41), by J.D. Robb, (September 15, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
When Lieutenant Eve Dallas examines a body in a downtown Manhattan alleyway, the victim’s injuries are so extensive that she almost misses the clue. Carved into the skin is the shape of a heart, and initials inside reading E and D. Ella-Loo and her boyfriend, Darryl, had been separated while Darryl was a guest of the state of Oklahoma, and now that his sentence has been served they don’t ever intend to part again. They hit the road, and when their car breaks down in Arkansas, they make plans to take someone else’s. Then things get messy and they wind up killing someone, an experience that stokes a fierce, wild desire in Ella-Loo. They will leave a trail of evil behind them. Now they’ve landed in the jurisdiction of Lieutenant Dallas and her team at the New York Police and Security Department. And with her husband, Roarke, at her side, she has every intention of hunting them down and giving them what they truly deserve.
Dragon Coast (Daniel Blackland #3), by Greg Van Eekhout, (September 15, Tor)
Daniel’s adopted son Sam, made from the magical essence of the tyrannical Hierarch of Southern California whom Daniel overthrew and killed, is lost, consumed by the great Pacific firedrake assembled by Daniel’s half-brother, Paul. Sam is still alive and aware, in magical form, trapped inside the dragon. Daniel has a plan to rescue Sam. It will involve the rarest of substances, axis mundi, pieces of the bones of the great dragon at the center of the Earth. Daniel will have to go to the kingdom of Northern California, posing as his half-brother, come to claim his place in the competition to be appointed Lord High Osteomancer of the Northern Kingdom. Only when the Northern Hierarch raises her scepter to confirm Daniel in his position will he have a chance to steal the axis mundi, under the gaze of the Hierarch herself. And that’s just the first obstacle.
Last Light (Halo #16), by Troy Denning, (September 15, Gallery Books)
It is 2553, and the three-decade long Covenant War has suddenly drawn to a close. Tensions remain that threaten to overflow into another full-scale conflict. Beneath the surface of the planet Gao lies a vast cavern system renowned for its therapeutic effects and rumored miraculous cures. Now Gao natives are turning up brutally murdered down there, violent acts that happen to coincide with the arrival of a UNSC research battalion protected by Spartan Blue Team, led by the Spartan-II Fred-104. Maverick detective Veta Lopis of the Gao Ministry of Protection is only trying to do her job as the Special Inspector assigned to catch a serial killer. When Gao is revealed to harbor ancient Forerunner technology that could solidify the UNSC’s military supremacy for centuries to come, Insurrection loyalists within the planetary government will do anything, even align with a vicious faction of the Covenant, to ensure that never happens.
Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong, by Kelley Armstrong, (September 15, Tachyon Publications)
Two brand new tales anchor this wide-ranging collection. Here is the first time that Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from Otherworld and beyond. With her signature twists and turns, Armstrong gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies, while also traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even to feudal Japan. With tales that range from humorous to heart-stopping, these are the stories that showcase Kelley Armstrong at her versatile best.
Loosed Upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction, by John Joseph Adams, (September 15, Saga Press)
The first, definitive anthology of climate fiction, a cutting-edge genre made popular by Margaret Atwood. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Climate Fiction, or Cli-Fi, is exploring the world we live in now, and in the very near future, as the effects of global warming become more evident. Join bestselling, award-winning writers like Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, Seanan McGuire, and many others at the brink of tomorrow. Loosed Upon the World is so believable, it’s frightening.
Lumiere (The Illumination Paradox #1), by Jacqueline Garlick, (September 15, Skyscape)
Seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth has only one hope left: finding her late father’s most prized invention, the Illuminator. It’s been missing since the day of the mysterious flash, a day that saw the sun wiped out forever over England. Living in darkness is nothing new to Eyelet. She’s hidden her secret affliction all of her life, a life that would be in danger if superstitious townspeople ever guessed the truth. After her mother is accused and executed for a crime that she didn’t commit, the now-orphaned Eyelet has no choice but to track down the machine that was created with the sole purpose of being her cure. Alone and on the run, she discovers the Illuminator, only to see a young man hauling it off. Determined to follow the thief and recover the machine, she ventures into the deepest, darkest, most dangerous part of her twisted world.
Mirrored, by Alex Flinn, (September 15, HarperTeen)
Celine’s life is the stuff fairy tales are made of. She’s beautiful, talented, and brave. Her tale comes complete with a wicked stepmother. When Violet steps into Celine’s life, everything changes and weird things begin to happen to her, bizarre accidents, strange illnesses, and rabid animal attacks. Celine doesn’t feel safe anywhere. Violet has been waiting all her life to have Celine’s father to herself. Getting rid of his gorgeous daughter is child’s play for a witch as powerful as she is. Happy-ever-after isn’t enough for Violet. She wants to be the fairest of them all, and Celine is in the way. Celine gives up everything she loves and goes deep undercover. But will it be enough to fool Violet, or will Celine’s fate be decided by a reflection in a magic mirror? And where do you find Prince Charming in Miami anyway?
One Year After (After #2), by William R. Forstchen, (September 15, Forge Books)
It’s been two years since the detonation of nuclear weapons above the United States brought America to its knees. The survivors of Black Mountain, North Carolina, are beginning to piece back together the technologies they had taken for granted: electricity, radio communications, and medications. They hope that a new national government is finally emerging. Then comes word that most of the young men and women of the community are to be drafted into an “Army of National Recovery” and sent to trouble spots hundreds of miles away. When town administrator John Matherson protests the draft, he’s offered a deal: leave Black Mountain and enter national service, and the draft will be reduced. The brutal suppression of a neighboring community under its new federal administrator suggests that all is not as it should be with this government.
Only the Animals: Stories, by Ceridwen Dovey, (September 15, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
The souls of ten animals caught up in human conflicts over the last century and connected to both famous and little-known writers in surprising ways tell their astonishing stories of life and death. In a trench on the Western Front, a cat recalls her owner Colette’s theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany, a dog seeks enlightenment. A Russian tortoise once owned by the Tolstoys drifts in space during the Cold War. During the Siege of Sarajevo, a starving bear tells a fairy tale. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the U.S. Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath. An animal’s-eye-view of humans at our brutal, violent worst and our creative, imaginative best, it asks us to find our way back to empathy not only for animals but for other people, and to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction. (U.S. Release)
Storm of Lightning (Michael Vey #5), by Richard Paul Evans, (September 15, Simon Pulse)
Michael, Taylor, Ostin, and the rest of the Electroclan go on their most dangerous mission yet. The resistance movement has been compromised. The Voice is in hiding. Their families are missing. Can the Electroclan pull together to defeat the Elgen once and for all?
Sunset Mantle, by Alter S. Reiss, (September 15, Tor.com)
With a single blow, Cete won both honor and exile from his last commander. Since then he has wandered, looking for a place to call home. The distant holdings of the Reach Antach offer shelter, but that promise has a price. The Reach Antach is doomed. Barbarians, traitors, and scheming investors conspire to destroy the burgeoning settlement. A wise man would move on, but Cete has found reason to stay. A blind weaver-woman and the beautiful sunset mantle lure the warrior to wager everything he has left on one final chance to turn back the hungry tides of war.
The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2), by Jeff Wheeler, (September 15, 47North)
From the moment she was banished by her father, the king, Princess Maia journeyed to seek sanctuary at Muirwood Abbey. Now safe for the first time since her cruel abandonment, Maia must foster uneasy friendships with other girls training to be Ciphers: women who learn to read and engrave tomes of ancient power, despite the laws forbidding them to do so. Maia makes a shocking discovery: her destiny is to open the Apse Veil and release trapped spirits from her world. Then she learns that her father is coming to Muirwood Abbey to celebrate the Whitsunday festival, and Maia’s estranged husband, whom she was forced to abandon, will join him. Torn between deadly political machinations and unstoppable spiritual forces, Maia must channel powers within herself to save her friends, the abbey, and the entire kingdom of Muirwood.
The Dead House, by Dawn Kurtagich, (September 15, Little, Brown BYR)
Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy, only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace. Until a diary is found hidden in the ruins. But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly? The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary. The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known. (U.S. Release)
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3), by Jonathan Stroud, (September 15, Disney-Hyperion)
As a supernatural outbreak baffles Scotland Yard, Lockwood and Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. It comes as a great shock when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro. There are reports of many new hauntings, including an old school where bloody handprints and a glowing boy are appearing. Ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood and Co.’s concerns when a living assassin makes an attempt on Fittes’s and Rotwell’s lives. Can the team get past their interpersonal issues to save the day on all fronts? Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure.
The Humanity of Monsters, edited by Michael Matheson, (September 15, ChiZine)
Through the work of twenty-six writers, this book plumbs the depths of humane monsters, monstrous humans, and the interstices between. In stories by turns surreal, sublime, brutal, and haunting, there are no easy answers to be found, no simple nor uncomplicated labels to be had. Only the surety that though there be monsters, you will name them false. And when you meet those who truly are, you will not know them. Contributing authors include: Chinelo Onwualu, Kaaron Warren, Catherynne M. Valente, Gemma Files, Peter Watts, Indrapramit Das, Leah Bobet, by Sofia Samatar, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Sonya Taaffe, Yoon Ha Lee, Neil Gaiman, Joe Lansdale, Rachel Swirsky, Maria Dahvana Headley, Sunny Moraine, Berit Ellingsen, Polenth Blake, Kij Johnson, Laird Barron, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Livia Llewellyn, Nathan Ballingrud. A.C. Wise, Rose Lemberg and Meghan McCarron.
The Lazarus Gate (The Apolloniam Case Files #1), by Mark A. Latham, (September 15, Titan)
London, 1890. Captain John Hardwick, an embittered army veteran and opium addict, is released from captivity in Burma and returns home, only to be recruited by a mysterious gentlemen’s club to combat a supernatural threat to the British Empire. This is the tale of a secret war between parallel universes, between reality and the supernatural; a war waged relentlessly by an elite group of agents; unsung heroes, whose efforts can never be acknowledged, but by whose sacrifice we are all kept safe.
The Oncoming Storm (Angel in the Whirlwind #1), by Christopher G. Nuttall, (September 15, 47North)
In the year 2420, war looms between the galaxy’s two most powerful empires: the tyrannical Theocracy and the protectionist Commonwealth. Caught in the middle sits the occupied outpost system Cadiz, where young officer and aristocrat Katherine “Kat” Falcone finds herself. Kat is sent to command the Commonwealth navy’s newest warship, Lightning. Kat struggles to earn her crew’s respect and find her footing as the youngest captain in naval history. She soon discovers the situation on Cadiz is even worse than anyone in power anticipated. War isn’t just a possibility, it is imminent. Yet the admiral in position to bolster defenses refuses to prepare for a fight. Can Kat find a way to investigate the enemy, alert the Commonwealth, and whip an entire fleet into fighting shape before the Theocracy’s war machine destroys everything she holds dear?
The Soul Continuum (The Soul Archives #2), by Simon West-Bulford, (September 15, Medallion Press)
There is an open wound in the heart of the Cosmos. A wound that tears at the flesh of reality, drawing powerful and malign aberrations from an unknowable realm. Salem Ben stopped the first, but more are coming, and now he must solve the riddle of their purpose if he is to prevent an all-out invasion. Only by living the digitally reproduced lives of three individuals will Salem find the solution: Diabolis Evomere, a tortured but enlightened prisoner in ancient Babylon; Clifford Arken-Bright, a twentieth-century physicist who has uncovered a terrible secret in the quantum world, and Silicant 5, a refugee of the Great AI seeking to understand its hatred of humanity.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson, (September 15, Tor)
Tomorrow, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon. The Empire of Masks is coming. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free. The Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery, and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu. But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.
The Two of Swords: Part Eight, by K.J. Parker, (September 15, Orbit)
A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no one knows how it will end. (ebook only)
The Weight of Feathers, by Anna-Marie McLemore, (September 15, A Thomas Dunne for St. Martin’s Griffin)
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies.Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows, the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. When disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. His touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
Three Days in April, by Edward Ashton, (September 15, Harper Voyager Impulse)
Anders Jensen is having a bad month. His roommate is a data thief, his girlfriend picks fights in bars, and his best friend is a cyborg, and a lousy tipper. When everything is spiraling out of control, though, maybe those are exactly the kind of friends you need. In a world divided between the genetically engineered elite and the unmodified masses, Anders is an anomaly: engineered, but still broke and living next to a crack house. All he wants is to land a tenure-track faculty position, and maybe meet someone who’s not technically a criminal, but when a nightmare plague rips through Hagerstown, Anders finds himself dodging kinetic energy weapons and government assassins as Baltimore slips into chaos. His girlfriend’s street-magician brother-in-law might be a pretentious hipster, or might hold the secret to saving them all. (ebook only)
Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick deWitt, (September 15, Ecco)
Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux. In the local village, he also encounters thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and Klara, a delicate beauty whose love he must compete for with the exceptionally handsome partisan soldier, Adolphus. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder.
Beyond Technologies, by Jens Hughes, (September 17, Amazon Digital)
In 2032, Beyond Technologies invents the means to preserve cognitive brain function indefinitely. One’s brain could live eternally in one of Beyond’s tanks in lieu of dying naturally in a shared, utopian state. By 2047, many skeptics and atheists spend their lives working to afford this service. A group of religious extremists turns to violent means to oppose it. Certain members of the government feel that Beyond is gaining too much power and look to sabotage them. Current Beyond security guard, Wells Taylor, finds his job mundane and his life meaningless. Attaining a man-made afterlife is his only motivator until executives entice him to accept a position to uncover the identities of the company’s enemies. Wells expertly tracks leads, but the opposition’s determination forces him to make choices on the lengths to which he is willing to go. (ebook only)
The small print: This contest is international to any place Book Depository ships. Contests end at midnight CDT U.S. on Saturday, and winners will be announced on Sunday’s blog. It’s the responsibility of the winner to contact me with their mailing info.
Now….go forth and tell me what you want to read!