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Descent by Ken MacLeod

DESCENT Ken MacLeod

Author of 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated Intrusion tells a science fiction story for the twenty-first century – what happens when conspiracy theorists meet Big Brother?
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THE LASCAR’S DAGGERGlenda Larke

The start of a brand new epic fantasy trilogy from the author of the Stormlord series – full of scheming, spying, action and adventure.
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Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’

Shiny new Patricia Briggs, now in hardback!

Urban fantasy fans rejoice! Today we release NIGHT BROKEN, the brand new Mercy Thompson novel. And for the very first time in the UK, we’re releasing it as a shiny new hardback. Feast your eyes on this beauty.

The Mercy Thompson books make up one of the most compelling and addictive urban fantasy series out there – and it’s shown by the fact that Patricia Briggs just keeps gaining more and more fans.

And now there’s a real treat in store for all those readers. All I can say is, this book starts out in a very tense emotional way for the pack, Mercy and Adam – and the tension just keeps ramping up further and further. There’s danger, supernatural threats, crazy ex-lovers – and lots of those characters you might have been missing will reappear . . .

Be one of the first to get your hands on the hardback now!

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Last year, out-of-work travel writer Zöe Norris found herself in the Big Apple — looking for work and finding more than she bargained for.  Mur Lafferty’s THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY (US | UK | AUS)  is a hip and fun take on urban fantasy, which Cory Doctorow called “an unbeatable mixture of humor, heart, imagination and characterization.”

We’re thrilled to bring you the exciting sequel, GHOST TRAIN TO NEW ORLEANS (US | UK | AUS), which is available now!  Zoe and crew head south for an assignment in the Big Easy.

Since today is also Mardi Gras, it seemed appropriate to ask for Mur’s excellent travel advice on enjoying the celebration….if you’re a vampire that is.

Plan ahead

The most difficult thing in New Orleans for vampires is accommodation. New Orleans is 8 feet under sea level, and graves and coffins and any sort of tunnel system are nonexistent. You must plan early to book a crypt, or find room in some of the hotels that feature sunlight-tight rooms. These hotels and the rentable crypts are often booked by November, so plan early.

Know the local laws

Every city has laws specific to itself, for example, no earth demons welcome in Boston, and zombies must visit only downtown hospital morgues for brain retrieval. New Orleans is no different. Hunting can only be done in the cemeteries, all parties must be invite-only to limit the number of humans that try to attend, and the legally drunk limit is drinking one pint of blood that has a .10 blood alcohol content. So watch how many parting humans you partake of.

Do not dress in costume

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the one time and place  where you can be yourself. You can dress in clothes that you find comfortable, even if they are from the 1300s, and you can avoid putting on makeup to disguise the paleness of your skin. Out and proud, that’s the chant of local vampires, as they proudly display all that they are this one time during the year.

Catch Mardi Gras throws

If you attend the correct parades, you may have a chance to catch throws such as frozen blood cubes, candied brain bits, or hedgehogs. These parades are often late at night on side streets to not attract too much human attention. WATCH OUT: some hunters will throw rosaries and crucifixes at eager vampires looking to catch throws, so make sure you know what you’re asking for when you get your loot.

Ask before you participate

Many parades will allow you to join them, if you ask before the parade begins. Parades are a wonderful opportunity for all supernatural creatures to walk in the open with no disguises. Even larger creatures such as dragons and wyrms can pass themselves as floats in a parade. But do not join a parade as it’s moving along; the vampires in the parade may see that as a threat.

Watch your children

Since so many supernatural creatures fit in seamlessly with the chaos that is Mardi Gras, many sire vampires will use it as a “coming out” party or “Debutante ball” for their newest progeny. The baby vampires will likely still be hesitant to use their new powers, but most likely they will be excited for the opportunities to hunt and party and get drunk like they did in life. This means they will be more liable to step out of line, attract the attention of the authorities, accidentally kill a party attendee, or worse. It’s a fun, family-friendly event, but that doesn’t mean your children don’t need watching.

Watch for thieves

Thieves are wonderful, and Mardi Gras is full of them. They’re very good at what they do: lifting wallets and cell phones and the like. Thieves also make for very tasty pickings, as their blood is usually spiked with adrenaline, so after one attempts to rob you, capture him and take him somewhere safe (like the nearest graveyard) and feast away. The best part is, authorities will often look the other way if you can produce proof that you were only protecting the other humans. (Usually handing over the thief’s stolen goods will get you in the clear here.)

Be careful

Remember what we said about accommodations? We have more vampires killed simply by being out all night and suddenly unable to find a safe place to hide when the sun comes up. And we’re talking old vampires, people who really should know better. But there is no better place to feed freely on drunks than Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and even the most cautious vampire can get in trouble if she has had a few too many tourists. You do not want to realize it’s 5am and your only sanctuary is a porta potty, which isn’t very light tight to begin with.

No dangerous behavior elsewhere

You can actively hunt in the graveyard, and even show many of your true colors to drunk humans who think you’re just kissing them roughly on the neck. Anything goes at Mardi Gras, which makes it an ideal vacation spot for vampires and other supernatural creatures. But when you step into the working part of the city, where there are fewer parties and more people just trying to enjoy an evening, you will stand out, and the authorities will notice you. Stay in the French Quarter, stay within the invite-only parties, and stay within the cemeteries.

Read an excerpt from GHOST TRAIN TO NEW ORLEANS or start from the beginning with THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY!

 

HIDDEN: Benedict Jacka Cover Launch

The cover to Benedict Jacka's fifth Alex Verus novel, HIDDEN.

We’re proud to release the cover of the fifth Alex Verus novel by Benedict Jacka, designed by Ceara Elliot. HIDDEN will be released in September 2014, but until then you can catch up with probability mage Alex Verus in the first four novels, FATED (UK|ANZ), CURSED (UK|ANZ), TAKEN (UK|ANZ) and the recently released CHOSEN (UK|ANZ). 

 The Alex Verus series

Mayhem in Minneapolis!

DARK DESCENT, book two in Marlene Perez’s Nyx Fortuna series, launches this week! If you enjoyed Nyx’s wry humor and non-stop action life, you will love what Perez has in store for you next.

Nyx, still reeling from Elizabeth’s betrayalhas no time to rest. His cousin Claire has gone missing and his aunts, the three Fates, are threatening that if he doesn’t find her, Elizabeth will suffer.

Now, despite how he may feel, Nyx must venture into the underworld of Minneapolis to find his wayward cousin, lost to the thrall of Hecate’s dark magic.  But releasing Claire is not without its consequences. While it might fulfill the prophecy foretelling the fall of the Fates that have plagued him for so long, it would also mean releasing Hecate from her dark prison… and into our world. Nyx must now decide. How far would he go to save the woman he loves…. the woman who betrayed him?

Praise for the Nyx Fortuna series:

“Skillfully rendered in crisp, edgy prose, STRANGE FATES offers an exciting start to what’s sure to be a winning new series. I can’t wait to follow the sexy-as-heck Nyx Fortuna into the next installment!”
— Alyson Noël, #1 New York Timesbestselling author

“An intriguing protagonist, snappy dialogue, and a fast-paced plot.”
— Publisher’s Weekly

“Nyx is a likable hero and provides a refreshing change from the usual urban fantasy fare.”
— Library Journal

To start from the beginning of this awesome series, check out STRANGE FATES and read an excerpt here.

author post

I have a confession to make — I like characters that are flawed. I like them bitter and acerbic, and as capable of evil as they are of goodness. I particularly like those who are a little…unhinged. Not so much crazy-dangerous as crazy-reckless.

In the Immortal Empire series, I created Xandra Vardan who I think is a delightfully twisted character. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, so I’ll say only that Xandy is a monster — even amongst the werewolves and vampires that populate her world. She’s a good-hearted person (for the most part). She’s loyal to those she loves and would do anything to protect them. She’s also snarky, petty and sometimes a raving bitch. And sometimes, she’d like to eat your liver — maybe open a vein. It would be entirely too easy for Xandra to kill, and she’s pretty certain she’d like it. In most stories she’d probably be the villain. In Long Live the Queen (and the first two books in the series, God Save the Queen, The Queen is Dead), she’s the hero.

I don’t think I’m alone in this preference for slightly mad characters. There’s a reason why Faith was so popular with Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. She was predictable only in her unpredictability — a wild card. I loved it when Willow went dark, or when Spike and Dru came out to play.

A common mistake amongst authors — new and experienced — is to make our main character(s) so ‘good’ that they lack depth. That depth tends to then go into secondary characters who end up stealing every scene they’re in because they’re much more interesting and complex than the hero. In other cases, it simply doesn’t make sense for the protagonist to be that twisted. Buffy was a little of both. She didn’t have the luxury of being mad. Buffy had to be responsible and strong and righteous. That doesn’t mean she was always good, however. After all, she seem to have a thing for emotionally unstable men… One of my favorite episodes, though, is the one that had you wondering if Buffy really was a vampire slayer, or a poor delusional girl in a mental hospital. Either way, she’s screwed.

The bottom line is that characters need a balance of unpredictability to go with that predictable behavior. Everyone has a code by which they live, but we’re all capable of horrendous things. However, in a protagonist, that balance needs to be really clear — your narrator needs to be at least a little bit reliable. The most fascinating characters are good people capable of terrible things.

Or not so great people capable of great things. A great example of a recent character who made being twisted work is Captain Jack Sparrow. Not the most heroic of men, but when it comes right down to it, he can usually be depended on to do the right thing — or something that will lead to the right thing.

Xandra tries to be a good person, but sometimes she falls short. She’s not really that nice  — she’s selfish and petulant, and sometimes she’s a raving bitch. There were times when I worried for her sanity, and those were the times I loved her most. The monster in her wants blood and violence and maybe a little song and dance to go with it. In the movie Con Air Steve Buscemi’s character Garland Gray is an absolute nutcase — a psychopathic killer who once wore a victim’s head as a hat. He’s twisted. He’s also the most compelling character in the whole movie, and when he walks away in the end, you’re rooting for him even though you know he’s a monster. In fact, if you want a great example of twisted characters, watch ‘Sons of Anarchy’ — almost every one on that show is exactly the sort of character capable of both good and evil. I think Xandra would feel right at home.

In LONG LIVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS) Xandra comes up against a character even more twisted than herself. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Ally was incredibly fun to write. She was also heart-breaking. The more whacked I tried to make her, the more attached I became. My favorite characters in the series are the ones that are monsters and accept it — maybe even like it. At the very least, they make no excuses.

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN is out now! Look for it online and in stores everywhere. If you’re new to this series, check out the first book GOD SAVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS).

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John Charming has been fighting the forces of darkness for a long time – a very long time. So you could say that he’s something of an expert on the subject. So before going out tonight, check out these helpful Pro-Tips.

Okay, so imagine that it’s the seventh century.   It’s late October although they probably have a different name for that month in your village of Sucksalot, but however your calendar works, it’s that time of year when crops are dying and families are slaughtering and salting livestock so that they’ll have enough meat to survive the winter.  There are no antibiotics except for a few plants with mild anti-septic qualities and maybe a few poultices whose ingredients include boiled urine, so now that flu and pneumonia seasons are coming around, villagers are dropping like pants at a Vegas convention.   Death is everywhere, literally and symbolically.  Souls are travelling through doorways between the physical world and the spirit world a lot more frequently, and this makes it easier for metaphysical predators from the other side to slip through.

So what do you do?  Containment and appeasement rituals.  You sacrifice some of your slaughtered cattle and toss their bones in the fire so that beings who can’t physically digest the food can still mingle with its essence.  Your local priest leads crowds of children dressed like spirits from house to house to collect donations for the dead.  You hollow out turnips or pumpkins and carve scary faces into them and light fires in their center because this is symbolic of life surrounded by death, of light surviving in the darkness.

That’s the origin of Halloween.  Lighting a candle in the darkness and praying for survival.

So how can we 21st century denizens protect ourselves on a holiday that is traditionally the supernatural world’s equivalent of an office party?  Well, common sense rules like staying in well-lit areas and keeping crowds around you still apply.  The truth is, on this particular holiday it’s not about protection so much as deflection.  You’re never going to make yourself invincible – but you can make yourself less attractive.  For the spirit world, Halloween is a smorgasbord.   You don’t want to be the banana pudding with vanilla wafers crumbled in, you want to be the pickled fish that probably should have gotten tossed out a day ago.

With that in mind, here are a few basic pointers.

Tip 1:  BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE

It isn’t Santa Claus that’s coming to town, it’s spirits that can’t let go because they have unresolved issues.  We’re talking anger management, self-loathing, greed, selfishness, or revenge fantasy type issues.  The kind of souls who populate that train station between our life and the life that comes after are basically like the worst ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend that you’ve ever had.  And one of the key principles of magic is that like is attracted to like.  So on a purely pragmatic level, it might make sense to invite someone who doesn’t run very fast to come with your group so that you can leave that person behind to distract pursuers if things go to hell, but you know what?  That kind of thinking is messed up, and not all threats are physical.  That kind of thinking will cause beings looking for weak or evil minds to come knocking on your mental door.   By the same reasoning, this is a season where the worst types of cunning folk come looking for harvest sacrifices, and it’s not the best time to be a virgin.   So on one level, becoming unchaste might be logical, but you also don’t want to do anything that’s going to damage your self-esteem too close to D-Day.  There’s a line where being practical is good, but being ruthless and selfish are counter-productive.

Or to quote Austin Powers, “Oh, Behave!” Read the rest of this entry »

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A Big Easy Halloween

“Some cities are naturally holiday cities. London is a Christmas city. Paris is a Valentine’s Day city. And no place in the world is a Halloween city more than New Orleans.” –The opening lines of “RUSTED VEINS (US | UK)

While I am a huge fan of both New Orleans and Halloween, I not yet had the good luck to be in the Big Easy on All Hallow’s Eve. However, I’ve been to NOLA many, many times over the last decade, and I’ve researched the city’s Halloween traditions extensively (for my book GREEN-EYED DEMON [US | UK | AUS]). Even though we can’t all just drop everything and go to New Orleans to celebrate Halloween this year, it doesn’t mean we can’t bring it to our own houses.

I am not exactly a party planner (except for fictional ones where budget is no object), but I do love to attend a good party, so I’ve put together my dream New Orleans-themed Halloween party. I’m tempted to throw this party to celebrate the release of my Sabina Kane Halloween novella “Rusted Veins.” Since it is available this week and happens to be set in New Orleans, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

The Invites:

chicken footTie a calligraphied invite to a chicken foot or gris-gris bag for a charming voodoo touch. If it’s in the budget, have a second line band deliver them door-to-door while playing a funeral dirge.

The Music:

  • “Bloodletting” by Concrete Blonde
  • “Hoodoo” by Muse
  • “Voodoo Child” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” by Tom Jones
  • “504” by the Old 97s
  • “Louisiana Blues” by Muddy Waters
  • “Apache Rose Peacock” Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Costumes:

Guests will be invited to dress as their favorite real or fictional New Orleans resident. I’ve included some suggestions below.marie laveau

For the ladies:

  • Marie Laveau, Voodoo Priestess
  • Madame Delphine Lalaurie, Famous murderess
  • Lulu White, famous Storyville Madam
  • Blanch DuBois or Stella Kowalski from Streetcar Named Desire
  • Anne Rice, author
  • Bella Donna Boudreaux, from X-Men Read the rest of this entry »

John Charming returns in PUSHING LUCK by Elliott James!

“I loved this book from start to finish.  Exciting and innovative, CHARMING is a great introduction to a world I look forward to spending a lot more time in.” – Seanan McGuire

I’m sure by now all of you have read and are as enthralled by Elliott James’s CHARMING (US | UK | AUS)  as I am, anxiously counting down the days until book two comes out. If this sounds like you, then the release of the newest Pax Arcana short story, PUSHING LUCK, should help you bear the wait.

PUSHING LUCK is the third in a series of short stories from our wonderful author, Elliott James, introducing us to John Charming. John is a descendant of a long line Charmings—an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch finders, and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern-day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chain mail and crossbows to Kevlar and shotguns, John Charming was one of the best—until a curse made him one of the abominations the Knights were sworn to hunt.

In PUSHING LUCK, while trying to make money off the grid, John Charming stumbles upon an underground poker tournament where the hors d’oeuvres are made of human flesh and the players are gambling with much more than their money. All bets are off.

“Loved it! Charming is a giant gift basket of mythology and lore delivered by a brilliant new voice in urban fantasy. Elliott James tells stories that are action-packed, often amusing, and always entertaining.” – Kevin Hearne, author of Hounded

PUSHING LUCK is out now in the US and releases in the UK on October 31st.

The pack goes wild for COLD BLOODED by Amanda Carlson

Some of the characters in Amanda Carlson’s new novel COLD BLOODED ( US | UK | ANZ) may be as cold as they come, but the reviews this new book is getting are hot hot hot!

If you’re into urban fantasy and paranormal romance of any kind but haven’t yet checked out the Jessica McClain novels (which begin with FULL BLOODED (US | UK | ANZ), look below to see what you’re missing! Fans of the likes of Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, Ilona Andrews and Chloe Neill will love this . . .

‘Cold Blooded starts with a bang and the action keeps coming right up until the final pages. Jess now faces her most perilous journey yet, where the stakes have never been higher. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her next’ VAMPIRE BOOK CLUB

‘I’ve fallen in love with Jessica, and her loyalty to those around her and willingness to do what it takes to keep them safe. I’m thrilled to be following her as she figures out this whole werewolf thing . . . And yes, it is as hot as you were likely expecting it would be.’ ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY

‘If you haven’t tried this series, I highly recommend it. It is great for people who like strong female leads, werewolves and a lot of action. If you’ve enjoyed Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, The Hollows by Kim Harrison, Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane and Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, then I think you’ll love this book’ HOT LISTENS

‘Cold Blooded was a fun, action-packed book with the right amount of romance, adventure, and twists to keep me firmly planted as part of the Pack’ SHE WOLF READS

‘Cold Blooded is the third book in Amanda Carlson’s Jessica McClain series and this one people is my favorite to date . . . Really cool . . . Red Blooded is up next sometime in 2014 and I can’t wait to read it’ YUMMY MEN AND KICK ASS CHICKS

‘It’s intense action start to finish and I’m ready for more’ HAPPILY EVER AFTER READS

COLD BLOODED releases today!

For all you urban fantasy fans out there, your week just got a whole lot better.  The wait is over — COLD BLOODED (US | UK | AUS) by Amanda Carlson releases today!

If you read urban fantasy and you haven’t checked out the Jessica McClain series, I know the perfect book for the top of your “to read” pile.  FULL BLOODED (US | UK | AUS)  kicked off the series last year and the action has not stopped since.  Jessica McClain proves that it’s not easy being a girl.  It’s even harder when you’re the only girl in a family of werewolves.  But it’s next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race… Meet Jessica McClain — she just became part of the pack.

The third book in the series, COLD BLOODED, takes Jessica to new heights, and combines all of the best of the genre.  There are vampires, witches, and a really hot guy (oh my!). It will keep you on your toes and leave you guessing — by the end, you won’t know which way is up and you’ll be loving it the whole way!

Jessica McClain is on the run… again.

Finally reunited with Rourke, Jessica arrives home to find that her best friend has been kidnapped, her father has vanished, and the supernatural Sects — witches, demons, and sorcerers — don’t even have the courtesy to wait until she is unpacked to attack.

Now, mastering her powers as the sole female werewolf might not be enough to save them.  Thrown together in a shaky truce with the Vampire Queen, Jessica must show all the different Sects what the true meaning of “the enemy of my enemy” is or her father will die…

All three books are out and available now in your local bookstores.  And if that isn’t enough good news for this week, I am very excited to share that the Jessica McClain series will be continuing for two more books starting in 2014! Get a jump on the series now because I can guarantee you… you won’t want to miss what’s next.

 

 

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