Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Blog by Linda Poitevin - Sins of the Lost Blog Tour - October 31, 2013

Please welcome Linda Poitevin to The Qwillery as part of the Sins of the Lost Blog Tour. Sins of the Lost (The Grigori Legacy 3) was published on October 15, 2013 by InterMix.

Becoming Lucifer

Writing a fully three-dimensional character isn’t an easy task to begin with, but when you’re writing from the point of view of consummate evil? Trust me, it can be even tougher. And slimy-er. And just plain ickier.

That was the challenge I faced in writing the ultimate villain in the Grigori Legacy, because...well, folks, they don’t come much badder than Lucifer himself. Or with much more mythological baggage that just about everyone is familiar with. The trick, then, was to make him my Lucifer. To put my own, fresh twist on him so that he became more than just an angel who fell from God’s grace and ended up in hell. To make him a three-dimensional character, I had to know him inside and out; to know what his motivations were for making the choices he did; to ask why...and not stop asking until I reached the very core of his answers.

I tried all my usual tricks: I did up a character sketch; I interviewed him; I let my subconscious brood over him. But I still fell short of where I wanted to be. He was holding too much back. Refusing to open up and let me in. So I did the only thing I could.

I wrote a scene from his point of view in first person, which meant crawling right...inside...his head. And Lucifer’s head? Not a place you want to be. Seriously.

But it worked. I emerged from that writing session feeling distinctly unsettled. Rattled, even. But I knew my villain. I knew why he had fallen—why he had chosen to fall. I knew what drove him, what he thought, what he felt. I knew him. I’d wanted goal, motivation, and conflict? I had it in spades...and Lucifer had the three-dimensionality I’d wanted to give him.

I employed the same technique several more times, until writing him became comfortable. By the time he got his big scene in Sins of the Lost, he and I were working together like a well-oiled machine. Writing in first person POV was no longer necessary, because I was Lucifer by then.

And we are so not discussing what that says about me... O.O

The Grigori Legacy

Sins of the Lost
The Grigori Legacy 3
InterMix, October 15, 2013
eBook, 358 pages

Heaven and Hell are on the brink of war as Lucifer builds his Nephilim army and waits for his new weapon to be born -- a Nephilim child of his own bloodline to lead his forces to cataclysmic victory.

With rumors of the pending war rampant on Earth, Alex Jarvis fights to save humanity from its own panic -- leaving little time for her fledgling relationship with Seth, the man with heavenly origins who has captured her heart. But when Nephilim children begin to disappear, along with Alex's own vulnerable niece, the inevitable war between Heaven and Hell becomes personal.

Heaven has its own plans to fight the coming apocalypse, but first it needs Seth back. Asked to betray the man she loves, Alex must turn for help to the soulmate she thought she'd given up -- the Archangel Aramael, who may be her last chance to save her family and humanity from the ashes of Lucifer's Armageddon.

Sins of the Son
The Grigori Legacy 2
Ace (March 27, 2012)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A detective with a secret...

When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis sees a photo of Seth Benjamin on a police bulletin, she knows that Heaven's plan to halt Armageddon has gone terribly wrong. As the only mortal who knows of Seth's true nature, she's also the only one who can save him.

An exiled angel turned assassin...

Aramael was a hunter of Fallen Angels until a traitor forced him into earthly exile. Now, with no powers and only a faint memory of Alex, his mortal soulmate, he will stop at nothing to redeem himself--even if it means destroying Seth in the name of the Creator.

A world with little chance of redemption...

As Alex's need to protect Seth sets her on a collision course with the determined Aramael, the conflict between them may push the world over the edge--and into the very chaos they're trying to prevent.

You may read The Qwillery review of Sins of the Son here.

Sins of the Angels
The Grigori Legacy 1
Ace, September 27, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

A detective with a secret lineage. An undercover Hunter with a bullet-proof soul. And a world made to pay for the sins of an angel…

Homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis answers to no one. Especially not to the new partner assigned to her in the middle of a gruesome serial killer case—a partner who is obstructive, irritatingly magnetic, and arrogant as hell.

Aramael is a Power—a hunter of the Fallen Angels. A millennium ago, he sentenced his own brother to eternal exile for crimes against humanity. Now his brother is back and wreaking murderous havoc in the mortal realm. To find him, Aramael must play second to a human police officer who wants nothing to do with him and whose very bloodline threatens both his mission and his soul.

Now, faced with a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse, Alex and Aramael have no choice but to join forces, because only together can they stop the end of days.

You may read The Qwillery review of Sins of the Angels here.

About Linda

Linda Poitevin was born and raised in B.C., Canada’s westernmost province. Growing up in an era when writing was “a nice hobby, dear, but what are you going to do for a living?”, Linda worked at a variety of secretarial jobs before applying to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Due to an error in measurement, however, she was turned down when she didn’t meet the height requirement of that time. Undeterred, Linda became a civilian member in the force and was a dispatcher for two and a half years, during which time she met her husband, a police officer.

Following their transfer to Ottawa, Linda went on to become a real estate agent and then a human resources consultant before starting a family. She remained a stay-at-home mom, homeschooled her youngest daughter for nine years and, now that she has realized writing can be more than a nice hobby, she continues to live her dream of being a cop vicariously through her characters.

Linda currently lives near Ottawa with her husband, youngest of three daughters, one very large husky/shepherd/Great Dane-cross dog, two cats, a rabbit, and a bearded dragon lizard. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods.

Website  ~  Twitter @lindapoitevin  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads

Tour Wide Giveaways

1 - GRAND PRIZE Giveaway (US and Canada ONLY) for a surprise prize package from Penguin - ONE Winner

5 - GRIGORI LEGACY Swag Packs (International) - tote bag, pen, fridge magnet, sticky notes, and bookmarks - FIVE Winners

  • The Grand Prize Giveaway is open to US/Canada.
  • The Grigori Legacy Swag Pack Giveaways are open Internationally.
  • Giveaways end on November 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.
  • Giveaways are open to anyone 18 and older.

Tweet daily for additional chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Sins of the Lost Blog Tour

Sept. 16th - Parajunkee - Guest Post
Sept. 18th - Urban Fantasy Investigations - Guest Post
Sept. 20th - Books4Tomorrow - Interview
Sept. 23rd - Bookish Things & More - Review + Guest Post
Sept. 25th - Urban Fantasy Land - Guest Post
Sept. 26th - I Smell Sheep - Guest Post
Sept. 27th - Faerie Tale Books - Review + Interview
Sept. 30th - A Book Obsession - Interview
Oct. 2nd - Bibliophilia, Please - Interview
Oct. 4th - Magical Urban Fantasy Reads - Interview
Oct. 7th - Romancing the Dark Side - Interview
Oct. 9th - Meredith's Musings - Guest Post
Oct. 11th - Fiktshun After Dark - Guest Post
Oct. 14th - Phantasmic Reads - Review + Guest Post
Oct. 15th - Author Linda Poitevin's Blog - Special Post and One-day ONLY Giveaway
Oct. 16th - Paranormal Book Club - Guest Post
Oct. 18th - The Demon Librarian - Reviews: Sins of the Angels & Sins of the Son + Interview
Oct. 21st - Nerdophiles - Review + Guest Post
Oct. 23rd - Urban Girl Reader - Review + Interview
Oct. 25th - Good Choice Reading - Guest Post
Oct. 28th - Buried Under Books - Review + Interview
Oct. 30th - Mom With A Kindle - Guest Post
Oct. 31st - The Qwillery - Guest Post
Nov. 1st - Curling Up With A Good Book - Guest Post
Nov. 4th - Fade Into Fantasy - Interview
Nov. 6th - The Mad Reviewer - Review + Guest Post
Nov. 8th - BookHounds - Guest Post

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2013 Winner

And the winner of the October Debut Author Challenge Cover wars is.....  Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin with 38% of the votes.

The Final Results

The October Debut Covers

Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue soon with voting on the November 2013 Debut covers.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013

Please welcome Anne Lyle to The Qwillery. Anne is the author of the Night's Masque series.  The Prince of Lies (Night's Masque 3) is published in the US and Canada today. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Anne a Happy Publication Day!

TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery! Please tell us something about your newest book, The Prince of Lies (Night's Masque 3) that we won't find in the book description.

Anne:  Unlike the previous two books, each of which takes place over the course of about six months each, The Prince of Lies spans approximately eight years. The reason for this is that I wanted to move events forward to the death of Queen Elizabeth and the subsequent struggle for control of the throne. Admittedly I could have invoked alternate history again and killed her off sooner, but I also had a character waiting in the wings who was born at the end of Book 1, The Alchemist of Souls, and whose fate I wanted to cover. Fast-forwarding to 1603 allowed me to combine both these storylines in what I hope is a satisfying conclusion to the series.

TQ:  What sorts of research have you done for Night's Masque series and what is the oddest thing you've found so far?

Anne:  I use a combination of books, online research and visits to historic locations—I’ve been to the Tower of London several times, and also visited Venice as part of my research for The Merchant of Dreams.

As for oddities, I’m struggling to think of anything at the moment—over the past seven years, I’ve spent so long in the sixteenth century, figuratively speaking, that it all seems perfectly normal to me! Though come to think of it, the oddest thing that occurred as a result of my research was when I visited the Globe Theatre and the Tower of London and found myself mentally projecting the historical map I’d been using onto the modern-day streets. The buildings may have changed over the centuries, but a lot of the streets in central London are in the exact same place as they were in Shakespeare’s day, so it’s possible to walk some of the routes my characters would have taken.

TQ:  Please tell us about the magic system in the Night Masque's series.

Anne:  I’d hesitate to call it a “magic system” - that implies something akin to an RPG rules set! My approach was to take a few simple principles and explore the consequences. So, there’s a parallel dimension or plane of existence where our minds go when we dream. For most people, their dreams exist as self-contained “bubbles” which they can never leave, but some individuals can move around the dreamlands and enter the dreaming minds of others. One’s connection to the dreamlands can be affected by contact with substantial quantities of iron (or other ferromagnetic substances such as nickel and cobalt); a property that can be used both to hamper the powers of a dreamwalker and to protect oneself from possible attack.

Most “magic” therefore occurs in people’s dreams, and has no effect on the physical world. The main exception is the ability of a few powerful individuals to physically transport themselves from one place to another via the dreamworld. This requires someone to act as the “anchor” at the desired destination. The other major magical effect outside of dreaming is that upon death, skilled dreamwalkers can use the dreamlands to locate an unborn child into which they may reincarnate.

These abilities have been developed by the skraylings through experimentation with meditation and psychotropic drugs—a secret they are careful not to share with humans, whom they do not trust to use such power safely.

TQ:  Which character in the series has surprised you the most? Which character has been the hardest to write.

Anne:  I was surprised to discover how important Gabriel Parrish became to the series. He was originally a fairly minor supporting character, one of several actors involved in the theatre storyline of Book 1, but by making him the lover of one of my PoV characters he became much more invested in the plot.

I think Coby has been trickiest to write. The role of women in Elizabethan society was very different to the present day, so creating a female character who was understandable to modern readers and yet didn’t feel like a 21st-century girl plonked down in 16th century London was a delicate balancing act. I suspect I still won’t have satisfied everyone, but I’m happy with the way she turned out.

TQ:  What's next?

Anne:  I’m just about to start writing the first draft of a new fantasy novel set in a secondary world. I don’t really want to say too much about it at this stage as it’s still very much under development, but I guess it’s fair to say that it won’t be a million miles from Night’s Masque in terms of tone. What I really enjoy writing is tales of action and intrigue in a pre-industrial urban setting, so that was the foundation I used when designing this series.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Anne:  Thank you for having me!

Night's Masque

The Prince of Lies
Night's Masque 3
Angry Robot Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
     November 7, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn has everything he ever wanted – his twin brother Sandy restored to health, his family estate reclaimed and a son to inherit it – but his work is far from over. The renegade skraylings, the guisers, are still plotting – their leader, Jathekkil, has reincarnated as the young Prince Henry Tudor. But while he is still young, Mal has a slim chance of eliminating his enemies whilst they are at their weakest.

With Sandy’s help, Mal learns to harness his own magic in the fight against the guisers, but it may be too late to save England. Schemes set in motion decades ago are at last coming to fruition, and the barrier between the dreamlands and the waking world is wearing thin…

File Under: Fantasy [ Princes in the Tower | Revenger's Tragedy | Much Ado | Boys Will Be Boys ]

The Merchant of Dreams
Night's Masque 2
Angry Robot, December 18, 2012  (US/Canada)
     January 3, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback (US) and eBook, 528 pages

Exiled from the court of Queen Elizabeth for accusing a powerful nobleman of treason, swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has been living in France with his young valet Coby Hendricks for the past year.

But Mal harbours a darker secret: he and his twin brother share a soul that once belonged to a skrayling, one of the mystical creatures from the New World.

When Mal’s dream about a skrayling shipwreck in the Mediterranean proves reality, it sets him on a path to the beautiful, treacherous city of Venice – and a conflict of loyalties that will place him and his friends in greater danger than ever.

File Under: Fantasy [ Skrayling Dreams | Pound of Flesh | Venice in Peril | The Dark Lady ]

The Alchemist of Souls
Night's Masque 1
Angry Robot Books, March 27, 2012 (US/Canada)
      April 5, 2012 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback (US) and eBook, 528 pages

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.

File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of Terrors ]

About Anne

Author photo by Andy Fountain
Anne Lyle was born in what is popularly known as “Robin Hood Country”, and grew up fascinated by English history, folklore, and swashbuckling heroes. Unfortunately there was little demand in 1970s Nottinghamshire for diminutive swordswomen, so she studied sensible subjects like science and languages instead.

It appears, however, that although you can take the girl out of Sherwood Forest, you can’t take Sherwood Forest out of the girl. She now spends practically every waking hour writing – or at least planning – fantasy fiction about dashing swordsmen and scheming spies, set in imaginary pasts or parallel worlds.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview with Libby McGugan, author of The Eidolon - October 28, 2013

Please welcome Libby McGugan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Eidolon will be published on October 29th in the US and Canada and November 7th in the UK. You may read Libby's Guest Blog - Why I wrote The Eidolon and a few thoughts on why anyone writes anything. - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Libby:  Thanks Sally. It’s a privilege to be here.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Libby:  I’ve always dabbled in writing – poetry for a while, and a children’s book about 10 years ago, which was a mishmash of all the stories I’d known growing up. Once I started writing down ideas, the floodgates opened. I found I love the process and the freedom it gives you. Like having a party in your own head.

When I first started The Eidolon, I worked with Cornerstone’s Literary Consultancy, which was a great help in steering me in the right direction.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Libby:  I found this technique a couple of years ago, and it’s something I apply to pretty much everything now. The idea is that before you do anything, you spend some time thinking about how it will feel when it’s completed the way you would like it to be. After I went to the Writers’ Festival in York a couple of years ago, and got some direct, painful but extremely valuable feedback from an agent and publisher there, I was faced with a major rewrite. So I tried this technique. Before I wrote anything I’d do something else – go for a run, tidy up, whatever, and spend time imagining how it would feel to have written that particular part and feel really satisfied with it. Scene by scene, chapter by chapter, it all came together. So a story that had taken me three years to write, I rewrote (changing the narrative stance, tense and eighty percent of the plot) in ten weeks. Works for me!

I also write to movie soundtracks.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Libby:  Hmmm. A bit of both. A plontser. I plot general goalposts, but I like to let intuition guide me along whatever path it thinks best along the way, usually while I’m doing something else.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Libby:  Remembering to eat. My longest stretch was ten hours.

I used to struggle a lot with letting go of scenes I loved. It was like cutting off a finger. But I’ve developed a more ruthless streak now, and it’s funny how often you can incorporate the essence of those scenes in different ways down the line.

TQ:  Describe The Eidolon in 140 characters or less.

Libby:  A pragmatic physicist, recruited to sabotage the CERN, discovers the secret of dark matter and the boundary between the living and the dead.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Eidolon?

Libby:  I started writing The Eidolon in 2007 after my dad died. His death got me thinking about some big questions. I had a great upbringing: my mum is a catholic and my dad was a protestant-turned-atheist who explored science for his own answers, and while each respected the other, we had this dichotomy of worldviews in our house. I guess I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to square it all, and The Eidolon is the product of that. I love science – with its rigor and obsession with facts, but I also love the spirit of life – the thing that makes us feel, love and question. I didn’t actually set out to be a writer, but once the idea for the story came to me, it wouldn’t let go. So I went with it. It’s been a hugely rewarding journey.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Eidolon?

Libby:  Most of what I read is non-fiction. I read a lot of layman’s books about physics. Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos is one of my favourites, but don’t ask me to explain it. I also read a lot of books about belief systems, eastern philosophy and the like.

I visited CERN for the purposes of research and saw one of the control rooms in ATLAS. And I have been to the potage mine mentioned at the start of the book, and saw the entrance to the dark matter research facility there. As for what’s inside, I made that bit up.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Libby:  The easiest character was probably Arcos Crowley, who appears later in the book. He’s so bad tempered – it was just entertaining to be a grouch the whole time as him.

The hardest character? I can’t say – that will blow the plot. The second hardest was probably the main character, Robert Strong. In the earlier drafts he was far too cynical, so he needed a bit of reworking. I was surprised and a little unsettled by that…

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Eidolon?

Libby:  I like the opening scene. It’s set in Tibet and I drew on experiences from a trek I was on in Bhutan, so it was great to have a chance to write about it. Nothing as dramatic as Robert has to endure, but I enjoyed writing about the power of wilderness and the interaction with the Buddhist monk.

Another favourite would be the rooftop scene, on which the cover art is based. As I mentioned, Robert is inherently cynical and has lots of internal dialogue as he tries to make sense of what’s happening to him. That was a lot of fun to write.

TQ:  What's next?

Libby:  Well, some great news is that there is film interest. Can’t say too much about it at this stage, other than IT’S REALLY EXCITING.

The Eidolon is the first in a trilogy, and I’m working on the sequel at the moment.

I’m looking forward to FantasyCon in October too.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Libby:  Thanks so much for the interview - it’s been a real pleasure to be involved.

The Eidolon

The Eidolon
Solaris Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

A contemporary SF thriller. The divide between science and the human spirit is the setting for a battle for the future.

When physicist Robert Strong loses his job at the Dark Matter research lab and his relationship falls apart, he returns home to Scotland. Then the dead start appearing to him, and Robert begins to question his own sanity. Victor Amos, an enigmatic businessman, arrives and recruits Robert to sabotage CERN’S Large Hadron Collider, convincing him the next step in the collider’s research will bring about disaster. Everything Robert once understood about reality, and the boundaries between life and death, is about to change forever. And the biggest change will be to Robert himself... Mixing science, philosophy and espionage, Libby McGugan’s stunning debut is a thriller like no other.

About Libby

Libby McGugan was born 1972 in Airdrie, a small town east of Glasgow in Scotland, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant-turned-atheist father, who loved science. She enjoyed a mixed diet of quantum physics, spiritual instinct, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Her ambition was to grow up and join the Rebel alliance in a galaxy Far, Far away. Instead she went to Glasgow University and studied medicine.

A practising doctor, she has worked in Scotland, in Australia with the Flying Doctors service and, for a few months, in a field hospital in the desert. She loves travelling and the diversity that is the way different people see the world, and has been trekking in the Himalaya of Bhutan, potholing in Sarawak, backpacking in Chile and Europe, and diving in Cairns.

Her biggest influences are Joseph Campbell, Lao Tzu, David Bohm, Brian Greene, and Yoda.

Website  ~  Twitter @LIBBYMcGUGAN  ~  Facebook

The View from Monday - October 28, 2013

Happy last Monday in October! Halloween is only 3 days away. I live in New England and after the last 2 years (early Nor'easter and then Superstorm Sandy) I am hoping that we have a quiet Halloween with no unusual weather.

I did not get much reading done this week. I do a lot of behind the scenes stuff at The Qwillery that is much too dull to talk about. I have a huge TBR and too many books that I want to read all at once. I'm finishing up some reviews that need to be written.  I'm also working on New York Comic Con posts and more, including the November genre release list. By genre I mean speculative fiction, horror, PNR, etc. You actually know what I mean by 'genre fiction' if you've been reading the blog for a while.

On Saturday, I took photos at the Halloween ComicFest at my local comic shop. Legends of Superheros. There were Free Comics (of course) and three guests - artist Dave Meikis, artist T.C. Ford, and author Alex Giannini.  I picked up a copy of Alex's book - Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World. It is beautifully illustrated by Abigail Larson. I also picked up Thomas who is a teddy bear featured in the book. I'll be interviewing Alex soon!

And now on to this week's genre releases!

There are two debuts this week:

The Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh;


The Eidolon by Libby McGugan

And from formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

The Deaths of Tao (Lives of Taw 2) by Wesley Chu;

Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence 2) by Max Gladstone;


The Prince of Lies (Night's Masque 3) by Anne Lyle.

October 28, 2013
Vampire Games (e) Tiffany Allee PNR - From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency 4
Ghosts of Kinston Cottage (e) Libby Bishop PNR
Trancehack (e) Sonya Clark FR - Magic Born 1
Realm Walker (e) Kathleen Collins FR - Realm Walker 1
Ghosts of the Falls (e) Sarah Gilman PNR
Less Than Perfect (e) Kelly Jensen PaR
Bad Cop (e) Angela McAlister PNR
Four Weddings and a Werewolf (e) Kristin Miller PNR - Seattle Wolf Pack 2
Battle Scars (e) Sheryl Nantus PNR - Blood of the Pride 4
The Faceless One (D) (e) Mark Onspaugh H
Rusted Veins (e) Jaye Wells UF - Sabina Kane Novella

October 29, 2013
Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth Stephen Jones (ed) H/W - Anthology
Kiss the Night Goodbye (ri) Keri Arthur PNR - Nikki and Michael 4
Dream London Tony Ballantyne UF
Allegiance Beth Bernobich F - River of Souls 3
Katabasis Joseph Brassey
Cooper Moo
Mark Teppo
Angus Trim
F - Mongoliad Cycle 4
Dreams and Shadows (h2tp) C. Robert Cargill UF
After Moonrise (tp2mm) P.C. Cast
Gena Showalter
PNR - Possessed / Haunted
The Deaths of Tao Wesley Chu SF - Tao 2
Rising Sun (h2mm) Robert Conroy AH
Abyss Deep Ian Douglas SF - Star Corpsman 2
Two Serpents Rise Max Gladstone F - Craft Sequence 2
Midnight's Promise Donna Grant PNR - Dark Warriors 8
Midnight's Promise: Part 4 (e) Donna Grant PNR - Dark Warriors
Parasite Mira Grant Th/H/Z
After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse Charlaine Harris UF - Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire
Ever After (h2mm) Kim Harrison UF - Rachel Morgan 11
Doctor Who: The Vault: Treasures from the First 50 Years Marcus Hearn SF - Doctor Who
Black Heart Christina Henry UF - Black Wings 6
A Study in Darkness Emma Jane Holloway SP/M - Baskerville Affair 2
Hellhound Nancy Holzner UF - Deadtown 5
Darkship Renegades (tp2mm) Sarah A. Hoyt SF - Darkship 2
Dead Set Richard Kadrey DF
Annihilation (h2mm) Drew Karpyshyn SF - Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Clone Assassin Steven L. Kent SF - Rogue Clone 9
Big Bad Beast (tp2mm) Shelly Laurenston PNR - Pride Stories 6
The Influence Bentley Little H
Devilishly Wicked Kathy Love PNR - Devilish 3
The Prince of Lies Anne Lyle F - Night's Masque 3
Star Trek: The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses David Mack SF - Start Trek
George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set George R.R. Martin F - Game of Thrones
Wild Cards II: Aces High (tp2mm) George R.R. Martin (ed) SF - Anthology
The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister George R.R. Martin F
The Cassandra Project (h2mm) Jack McDevitt
Mike Resnick
The Eidolon (D) Libby McGugan SF
Imager's Battalion (h2mm) L. E. Modesitt F - Imager Portfolio 6
Accidentally In Love With...A God? Mimi Jean Pamfiloff PNR - Accidentally Yours 1
Lords and Ladies (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 14
Men at Arms (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 15
Small Gods (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 13
Soul Music (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 16
Dark Witch Nora Roberts PNR - Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy 1
Heartwood Freya Robertson F - Heartwood 1
Defender Mike Shepherd F - Kris Longknife 11
Descending Son Scott Shepherd H
Archangel's Legion Nalini Singh PNR - Guild Hunter 6
The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life (h2tp) Noble Smith Humor
True Blood: Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires Gianna Sobol
Michael McMillian
UF - True Blood
Kiss of Revenge Debbie Viguie PNR - Kiss Trilogy 3
The Bounty Hunter Code: From the Files of Boba Fett Daniel Wallace
Ryder Windham
Jason Fry
SF - Star Wars

October 30, 2013
Brimstone and Marmalade: A Tor.Com Original (e) Aaron Corwin UF

October 31, 2013
Balfour and Meriwether in The Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs Daniel Abraham F
Robinson Crusoe on Zombie Island Daniel Defoe
Ivan Fanti
The Night Boat Robert McCammon H
The Monkey's Other Paw: Revived Classic Stories of Dread and the Dead Luis Ortiz (ed) H - Anthology

D- Debut
e - eBook
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback

AH - Alternate History
DF - Dark Fantasy
F - Fantasy
FR - Fantasy Romance
H - Horror
M - Mystery
Mu - Mashup
PaR - Post Apocalyptic Romance
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SP - Steampunk
UF - Urban Fantasy
Th - Thriller
W - Weird
Z - Zombies

Entangled Covet: New eBooks and Giveaways! - October 28, 2013

"Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike."

To find out more about Covet's titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, visit the Entangled website, follow Covet on Twitter, like Covet's Facebook page, and / or join Covet's Book Club.

Angela McCallister

Bad Cop
A sequel to Bad Mouth

A cop who tosses the rulebooks to get his way…

Vampire Ian McCready doesn’t care for Alice Capshaw’s opinions about his version of justice. Her humanity makes her off-limits, but that does nothing to lessen his overwhelming desire for her. To Alice, Ian is just another bad cop as detestable as the one who destroyed her family. She’s attracted to him, yes, but he threatened his way into her agency’s murder case and has too many secrets.

When a new case resurrects ghosts Ian believed long dead and buried, his law-bending ways might result in his execution. The second Alice becomes a target, his cold heart flares into blinding existence. But following the law for her sake may end with devastating results.

Kristin Miller

Four Weddings and a Werewolf
Seattle Wolf Pack 2

To have and to howl…

Logan Black, former Marine and bodyguard for the Seattle Wolf Pack, hates weddings and has no plan to walk the path to matrimonial misery. But when he’s hired to protect a hot-to-trot wedding planner with a werewolf stalker, he’s forced to put his feelings aside. Not such an easy task when the damsel can turn him on with a single smoldering glance.

Wedding planner Veronica Vale knows werewolves exist, but hates them. One bit her sister, changing their lives forever. When a sexy Marine shows his gorgeous face at one of her wedding appointments, Veronica finds it hard to focus on the task at hand.

The chemistry drawing Logan and Veronica together seems fated, but with Logan’s playboy attitude, Veronica’s hatred for werewolves, and a stalker lurking in the shadows, these two need more than passion to keep them together.

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Entangled Ever After: New eNovellas and Giveaways! - October 28, 2013

Find Your Ever After in Under An Hour

"October is the official release month for the all new Ever After. Ever After features paranormal, sci-fi, and horror novellas, all with the romance you've come to love from Entangled--just in a shorter format."

Ever After is celebrating with four new releases and giveaways. Find them on their new Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter

Tiffany Allee

Vampire Games
Otherworlder Enforcement Agency 4

She’s seen the past…

OWEA Agent Beatrice Davis is haunted by the death visions that help her solve crimes. When Detective Claude Desmairis, her vampire ex-lover, asks for her assistance on a case, she’d rather help him than take the mandated leave to stave off her burn-out.

The truth won’t stay buried…

Pressed to solve a series of crimes before the perpetrator blows the vampire world apart, Claude turns to a woman he thought he’d been able to leave behind. But he was wrong, and his feelings for her will only bring trouble in an investigation this dangerous.

As their passions reignite, they see a possible future together. Until her visions show her the face of the murderer—a man Claude can never betray.

Libby Bishop

Ghosts of Kingston Cottage

She believes in ghosts.

Medium and paranormal investigator Arabella Pierce is sent with her crew to Kingston Cottage, a haunted Maine seafarer’s cottage on an isolated island, but for this investigation, her boss has stuck them with skeptical reporter Lucas Brown. Though he’s hot as they come, Arabella can’t trust a man whose sole job is to discredit her and the work she does. Not after what happened with the last few skeptics...

He believes in evidence.

But Lucas isn’t as skeptical as he seems—he wants the truth, no matter what that is. When the ghosts appear, he and Arabella must work together—in tight quarters—to convince the resident ghosts to move on before a storm strands the entire crew on the island. If Arabella can put aside her prejudices, she and Lucas just might have a shot at a lifetime.

Sarah Gilman

Ghosts of the Falls

Determined to prove she’s fit for the family business, exorcist Jade Clarence knows the assignment waiting in Maine is her last chance. Born into a family of exorcists, Jade’s unorthodox ideas have gotten her into trouble in the past...and cost the life of a client.

After haunting a Maine state park for more than a century, Dutch Hutchinson will do whatever it takes to bring an end to his unfulfilling existence. When an act of arson brings a beautiful exorcist to town, Dutch takes corporeal form in order to spend his last hours in her company.

Jade quickly uncovers Dutch’s true identity and finds herself falling for the man behind the spirit. But when Jade’s legacy threatens their future, they will have to overcome the greatest of odds—life and death.

Kelly Jensen

Less Than Perfect

Mikayla’s read every book in her collection of post-apocalyptic novels at least twice. She thinks she’s prepared for aliens taking over Earth. She’s not.

Nor is she prepared for the attention of a good-looking refugee named Reg.

All Mikayla and Reg want is a safe place to see out the end of the world, hidden away from the aliens that call themselves The People, but cities of the depopulated United States not infested with The People are rife with gangs, the detritus of civilization and disease.

On a mission to restock their supplies, Mikayla and Reg are captured by The People and prepared for the procedure that will make them perfect, but no longer quite human. In order to escape, they need to rely on each other…if Mikayla can trust a man who seems too good to be true.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - October 27, 2013

I think I was a tad too smug last week with the number of books I read as this week it was much more dismal.  I only read 1 measly book!! ONE BOOK!!!  Well I should qualify that and say I only finished 1 book but started a few more.

I managed to read Hidden Among Us by Katy Moran. It is the story about a baby, named Lissy who is stolen from her parents by the fae. She is returned but only after her mother agrees to return her in 14 years. The story fast forwards 14 years and we find Lissy, a truculent teenager returning to rural Wales and almost directly into the hands of her childhood captors. The story is largely told from Lissy's POV so  I guess it is YUF (tee hee)  - young urban fantasy. The chapters alternate between Lissy's brother Rafe, their mother Miriam and another boy named Joe. The fae are largely infertile and have been stealing babies for centuries in the hope of using them for breeding stock when they mature. Lissy is different and it isn't long before we find out why.  I normally quite enjoy UF/YA but in this case I thought Hidden Among Us was a bit boring. While there was quite a bit of action towards the end there is little character development so I just didn't care what happened to the protagonists. Perhaps this improves over the series but I don't think I will find out.

I also read Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison which is an e-novella in the Elder Races series. I got it from the good people at NetGalley. It is Harrison's first self-published work and will be out on November 25th. The clue to the plot is in the title with this one but it took a slightly different format with POV chapters from Pia, Dragos and even from little baby Liam. He sounded adorable and portrayed exactly how you imagine a baby to be thinking/doing. With all the stress of looking for new sentinels, having a baby, killing some baddies Pia decides its high time they go on a holiday so the family find themselves in sunny Bermuda looking for lost treasure. This story is all about sun, sand and sex with a little twist. I quite enjoyed this mini installment and it was like taking my own short holiday reading it as it seemed to fly by.  I am looking forward to Kinked (Berkley, November 5, 2013), the 6th Elder Races novel.

I have to admit I haven't made much progress with King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence as I picked up and started two other books. One is Kindred and Wings by Philippa Ballantine (Shifted World 2) and the other is Blood Shadows by Lindsay J. Pryor.

I always love Ballantine's writing and really enjoyed the first book of the Shifted World series. An added bonus is the cover. It is lovely although the cover of Shifted Worlds 1, Hunter and Fox, was a stunner.  I was always staring at it.  I will be reviewing Kindred and Wings so don't want to say too much plus I am not that far into either book to make any real judgements.

That is all I managed to accomplish this week and I am heading off to Canada for a holiday and to see my family. I will be in the same time zone as some of you so maybe you will leave me a comment or two! Until next week Happy Reading.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song
Series:  Raven's Shadow 1
Publisher:  Ace, July 2, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425267691 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

From “a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor, and destiny…

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

Trinitytwo’s Point of View:

Vaelin is left at the gates of the Brotherhood of the Sixth Order by his father when he is just 10 years old. Before his father rides away he whispers "Loyalty" to his young son. Vaelin begins training the day of his arrival and, with other boys in his group, must endure strict regimens and even stricter punishments to survive. They are taught that The Brotherhood is now their only family and they must pass various survival tests to prove themselves worthy of remaining behind the relative safety of its gates. During his first test, Vaelin, kills an assassin sent to murder him. A mysterious wolf comes to his aid when, while fleeing, he stumbles upon the assassin's companions. During the next trial, Vaelin hears voices outside his shelter during a blizzard. He comes to the aid of two travelers, a mute girl and a warrior. He finds that they are the Dernier, non-believers of the Way, and are being hunted by Brothers of the Order. An inner voice persuades Vaelin to help aid the travelers and he returns to his Order more confused than before. Blood Song is Vaelin's journey to fulfill his destiny. What is this mysterious voice Vaelin hears, and how does the wolf fit in? There are many factions at work and Vaelin's journey is one of brotherhood, faith, unseen opposing forces, ruthlessness, love and ultimately truth.

Blood Song is the type of book I always search for, but so seldom find. It’s the tale of a well fleshed out hero whose journey to manhood, quest for knowledge and pursuit of destiny are fraught with peril. Anthony Ryan's world building skill is flawless. It takes little effort to imagine yourself in Vaelin's Unified Realm and see people and places through his eyes. It is hard to believe that Ryan is a debut author. This story reads like a masterpiece of sights and sounds; battles and blood; longing and honor. After the first chapter, I tried to savor each page because I knew this was the kind of book that you don't want to end. There are 575 pages, but I found myself wishing for 500 more. The journey was magical, but magic combined with harsh realism. I could almost hear the creak of leather, the grunt of men, the crackling of fire. I could almost smell smoke, horse and soldier's sweat, the perfume of flowers in a secret garden. The sensations were tangible and each page sprang to life. Reading the last page filled me with elation and sadness, excitement and impatience for the next book. Blood Song is epic fantasy at its brightest and best. I absolutely loved everything about this novel.

Blood Song is a remarkable and wonderful book, and frankly, the best fantasy I have read all year.

Read our interview with Anthony Ryan here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Excerpt from The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes and Giveaway - October 25, 2013

The Palace Job
Publisher:  47North, October 8, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 438 pages
ISBN:  9781477848203 (print)
List Price:  $14.95 (print)

Loch is seeking revenge.

It would help if she wasn’t in jail.

The plan: to steal a priceless elven manuscript that once belonged to her family, but now is in the hands of the most powerful man in the Republic. To do so Loch—former soldier, former prisoner, current fugitive—must assemble a crack team of magical misfits that includes a cynical illusionist, a shapeshifting unicorn, a repentant death priestess, a talking magical warhammer, and a lad with seemingly no skills to help her break into the floating fortress of Heaven’s Spire and the vault that holds her family’s treasure—all while eluding the unrelenting pursuit of Justicar Pyvic, whose only mission is to see the law upheld.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Palace Job is a funny, action-packed, high-fantasy heist caper in the tradition of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series, from debut author Patrick Weekes.

Excerpt – Chapter 1

The Palace Job

By Patrick Weekes

Published by 47North

       The rulers of the Republic lived atop the great flying city of Heaven's Spire, their magnificent palaces soaring above the world. From their great manses in the sky came the laws and decrees that kept the country in motion, and the commoners on the ground could look up every morning and see their rulers overhead.
       The prisoners of the Republic lived beneath the great city of Heaven's Spire, scouring the lapiscaela whose magic kept the city aloft. For their terrible crimes, each man and woman served a life sentence, clinging to the pipes with only a mile of empty air beneath them. There was no chance of release, no hope of escape.
       Today, however, Loch intended to change that.
       "You sure this is the best way?" Kail asked. Like Loch, he clung upside-down to the pipes that anchored the lapiscaela in place, gripping a side-rail with one hand and his scouring broom with the other.
       Loch nodded, giving him a lopsided grin, but said nothing. She was a tall, dark-skinned woman, muscular enough that she hadn't needed the protection of the women's gangs when she’d arrived last month. Her only concession to safety had been the silence she had maintained since arriving. An old superstition among the Republic's criminals held that old magic in the lapiscaela would steal the souls of prisoners who talked near them.
       "Jeridan doesn't have what we need yet," Kail noted, "and we still haven't talked price."
       Loch shrugged. They had to move while they were still newcomers, watched carefully and checked for signs of resistance. And, frankly, if she had to clean a damn magical rock with a damn magical broom one more time, she was going to go crazy and jump.
       "Your confidence is inspiring, Captain. I'd follow you to the ends of the world if we weren't already in prison.” Kail grinned sourly, his teeth bright white against his dark face, and swung himself upright. His leg-chain rattled against the pipes. "Whenever you're ready. No sense in putting in a full day's work."
       Loch pulled herself up, her scouring broom tucked casually under one arm, so that they stood atop the pipe grid. Around them, other prisoners scurried, dull gray in their prison worksuits and lit from below by the great magical stones that kept the city in the sky.
       A double grid of pipes secured the lapiscaela. During the day, when they caught light reflected from the great mirrors that hung along the rim of Heaven's Spire, the power of the enormous violet crystals held the city aloft, and the upper grid of pipes held them in place. At night, the stones sank down to rest in the lower grid, which held them safely while reserve-enchantments kept the city aloft until sunrise.
       It was vital that the lapiscaela remain free of dust or grime to maximize the absorption of sunlight. When the ancient magic that polished the crystals had failed, the most dangerous prisoners in the Republic had been pulled into unwilling service in what had come to be called the Cleaners, scouring the lapiscaela with special brooms made to clear away the toughest dirt without risking a damaging scratch to the crystal surface. It was said that in the Cleaners, a prisoner's broom was worth more than his life.
       Loch looked around, held her scouring broom out at arm's length, and let it go.
       The broom clanged off the lapiscaelum they'd been assigned to clean, rang off the lower grid, and then fell into the distance.
       Kail shook his head. "That should get their atten—"
       "Broken chain!"
       Loch and Kail turned toward the call, as did every prisoner on the grid. The rattle of leg-chains and the slow grunts of labor went deathly still.
       "It's Soggs!" someone called. "South side. He's still got a grip!"
       Loch took the grid-path at a run, one hand grabbing the cross-pipes for balance as she dashed along the narrow surface, the other yanking on her leg-chain as it rattled and jangled behind her. Kail was close behind. The other prisoners watched them run by, some shouting encouragement, most silent. "Which rock? Upper grid or lower?" Kail shouted.
       "The Tooth! Lower grid!" Loch grimaced at the reply. The lapiscaela were irregularly shaped, like natural boulders. The Tooth was a jagged stalactite that hung down like a dragon's fang, its irregular shape so unusual that it necessitated a special frame to lock it into place. The Tooth had killed more men than any other stone on the grid. At the Cleaners, prisoners kept track of that sort of thing.
       Loch and Kail had almost reached the Tooth when their pipes hit a junction.
       "Guard!" Kail hollered. "We've got a man loose!"
       Loch hit the corner as if she hadn't seen it, and her leg-chain snapped taut with a metallic twang that echoed across the grid.
       Looking down, Loch could see Soggs—an older man, not a killer, probably in for something he wrote or said or sang—clinging to a tiny spur on the great violet stone. His leg-chain snapped and jingled as he struggled to pull himself up.
       "Guard!" Kail's voice bounced tinny echoes off the shadowed grid. "Switch me over!"
       There was no way Loch could reach Soggs, not if she kept an arm on the pipes, probably not even if she leapt and trusted in her leg-chain to hold both their weights. She gripped the pipes until her knuckles turned white, keeping a scream of frustration in check through sheer willpower.
       There were murderers and worse at the Cleaners. Soggs wasn't one of them.
       "Guard!" Kail hollered up to the observation level. "Move your damn ass!"
       In the maze of gray metal pipes lit from below by the vivid glow of the lapiscaela, the prisoners were completely alone.
       "It's too far, Loch." Kail gripped the pipes.
       Loch nodded, then extended a hand without looking at Kail.
       With a sigh, he handed her his broom. "Soggs! She's coming!"
       Soggs could see Loch through the grid of pipes between them. He looked into her dark eyes and nodded even as his sweat-slicked hands began to slip.
       When she leapt, her whole body stretched to a single line that shattered into pain when her leg-chain stopped her fall. Soggs leapt as best he could for the broom she held extended for him.
       He was perhaps a handbreadth short.
       If he'd had a foothold to give him purchase, he might have reached her, even with Loch stuck on the wrong pipe and too far away.
       Instead, one more prisoner escaped the Cleaners the only way he could.
       He was too small to see after a few seconds, but everyone kept looking. The grid was silent but for the soft tinkle of chains tapping the pipes, and the regular, rusty squeak as Loch swung back and forth, her shackle digging into her ankle and the useless broom clutched in both hands.
       Then Tawyer, one of the guards, slowly clambered down from one of the topside hatches, grunting as he hopped down. "You don't watch your tone, Kail, you'll spend the night dangling," he said easily. "Guards don't come down without a flying charm, no matter how you holler." He stepped lightly past where Kail stood silent and tight-fisted, then looked down at Loch. "So, your mute friend slipped, did she? Hey, Loch, you hold onto that broom or it's coming out of your hide!"
       Tawyer chuckled. "Don't worry, boy. You two are good workers. We won't let her fall." He unlocked Kail's leg-chain, locked it back onto another pipe, and gestured for Kail to help Loch. "Byn-kodar's hell," he added with a laugh that echoed off the silent grid, "I had money on her to catch the bastard!"

       # # #

       Warden Orris huffed into the medical clinic where Prisoner Loch was being tended for cuts on her leg. Her hands and feet were shackled, as were those of Jeridan, a prisoner stocking supplies under a guard's watchful eye. Most prisoners hunched over a bit or shuffled when the shackles were put on, but Loch sat calmly, back straight, as a nurse applied the bandages.
       This had to be handled carefully, Loch thought. Too soft, and he'd ignore it. Too hard, and he'd snap right here. She gave him a look devoid of anger or curiosity.
       She knew Warden Orris didn't like her. It was probably her Urujar blood. Orris acted like he had Old Kingdom blood, and a dark-skinned woman who didn't act properly respectful would naturally put his back up. The fact that she was only half-Urujar would make him even angrier.
       Orris waved the nurse and the guard out of the room, then stood before Loch, waiting expectantly. Jeridan put tools on the shelf, his shackles jangling.
       "The guards tell me you lost a broom today," Orris finally said, pulling his jowly cheeks into a friendly smile. "Dropped your own and took someone else's to make up for it."
       Loch said nothing.
       "That's the story I heard, anyway. If you have a different story, I'd like to hear it." Orris gave her an encouraging smile.
       She still said nothing.
       "Loch, I want to help you here," Orris said, frowning. "I've tolerated this attitude… but that equipment you lost has to be paid for… one way or another." He tried a different smile this time. Across the room, Jeridan blanched and went back to stocking the shelves with jerky movements. His chains rattled more loudly.
       A long and silent moment passed.
       Orris wore a saber while at work, and he yanked the blade from its sheath now. It was a fine weapon, with a brass-plated guard, contoured mahogany grip, and a name worked into the blade in intricate calligraphy. He leveled it at Loch. "What happened to Soggs can happen to you! You will give me the respect I deserve!"
       After another long moment, Loch gave him a low bow and shot him the tiniest suggestion of a smirk. He glared at her, so intent on catching the look that he completely missed the quick motion that sent several small tools into Jeridan's prison worksuit.
       "Have it your way!" Orris shouted, and turned and left without a backward look.
       When Orris was gone, Loch grinned. Perfect.
       She tapped the metal frame of the bed gently, catching Jeridan's eye. She raised an eyebrow, and the other prisoner grinned, gave her a tiny nod, and went back to stocking the supplies as the guard and nurse came back in.

       # # #

       Back in his own office, Orris growled and tossed his grandfather's calvary saber onto the chair. Stupid, getting flustered like that. He was in charge. He could take care of her if she wouldn't learn respect. But he couldn't kill her—the Voyancy was already going to investigate the death of Soggs.
       Orris hung his grandfather's sword back up and asked his secretary to send for another prisoner.
       Akus arrived a few minutes later, a burly man shuffling jerkily in the leg-shackles. He'd torn the sleeves off the gray worksuit, revealing ropy masses of muscle and knife scars along both arms. Orris should have disciplined him for damaging his worksuit, but the big man bowed low, then grinned and said, "Afternoon, Chief," and Orris decided to let it slide.
       "I need a certain woman to have an accident." Orris smiled. "She needs to live, and I'll have to dangle you for a night afterward, but it'll pay."
       Akus snorted. "Pay don't much matter. She's gotta live, you said?"
       Orris nodded. "But anything short of killing her is fine." He leaned forward. "Anything."
       Akus's mouth twisted into a broken-toothed grin.

       # # #

       The guards carried truncheons in the dining hall, as the dining hall was the only place aside from their own cells in which the prisoners were left unshackled. If the truncheons failed, the warden could activate a single crystal and send eldritch beams of energy sizzling across the metal floors, driving the prisoners to their knees in agony.
       Riots ended quickly at the Cleaners.
       Loch and Kail were waiting in line when Akus walked up and, without preamble, slammed his elbow into Loch's shoulder. "Hey!" he shouted. "Watch it! You messin' with me?"
       "Watch yourself," Kail shot back. "She didn't —" Akus flung out an arm, and Kail staggered back. Kail grabbed for a sword that hadn't been at his waist since his old military days with Loch, then lifted a flimsy tin dining tray. He stopped when a guard's truncheon tapped gently on his shoulder.
       "Settle down, son," Tawyer said affably. "You don't want more trouble." Using his truncheon, he gently steered Kail away from Akus and Loch.
       "You messin' with me?" Akus blocked Loch's path as she tried to walk around him. "You say you're sorry real nice, maybe I'll forget about it." Seeing the crowd of prisoners slowly gathering around them, Akus grinned. "I like you breaking your vow of silence just for me."
       Loch's eyes narrowed to thin slits, and she looked back at Kail. Kail gestured minutely at Tawyer, and Loch gave him a tiny nod, then turned around to walk the other way.
       Akus's shove sent her crashing into a flimsy bench that shattered under the impact, leaving her face-down in a pile of splintered wood. "Don't you walk away from me!"
       "Got what you asked for," Jeridan murmured as Kail stepped back into the crowd, which was starting to yell encouragement now. "But it's going to cost you."
       "I'm a bit shy," Kail said, not making eye contact, "but if you're interested in a wager...."
       "Always." Jeridan was in the Cleaners for winning a lot of money from very important people.
       As Loch pushed herself to her knees, Akus kicked her hard in the side. "You're not gonna say my name, now. You're gonna scream it!"
       "I'd take twenty at four to one," Kail said by way of opening.
       Loch struggled back to her feet, and Akus strode over, shouting for the crowd, and pulled her to her feet by her thick black ponytail. She lashed out as she rose, her fists bloodying Akus's nose, and then broke his grip and slammed a fist into his broad gut.
       Akus grunted and took Loch clear off her feet with a single backhand. She rolled and came up, shaking her head.
       "You had your chance," Akus growled. "Pulling your hair's the least I'm gonna do."
       "Two to one," Jeridan countered. "And at least a hundred, or why are we even talking?"
       "Fifty at three to one. I'm no good for a hundred."
       "Five to two?"
       "I can do that," Kail said, and the two men shook on it.
       Loch lunged in with high, fast jabs, but Akus had his hands up in a brawler's guard, and Kail heard him laughing as the smaller woman pounded his arms ineffectually. Then he ducked down, wrapped his arms around her knees, and yanked up. Loch slammed back onto the metal floor with a hiss of breath and rolled away desperately.
       The crowd roared its approval.
       "I'm impressed by your confidence," Jeridan said conversationally. "But really, against Akus?"
       "Akus is the mighty oak," Kail said, "but Loch is the slender reed."
       Pausing to acknowledge the cheers, Akus grinned, then looked to the dining hall doorway. Warden Orris was standing there, a mad leer on his face. He gave Akus a little nod.
       As Loch pushed herself to her knees, leaning on the wall for support, Akus raised one boot to crush her spine.
       The boot slammed into the wall a fraction of a second after Loch darted to the side, and Akus staggered. Loch's kick snapped into the back of his leg, and Akus crashed to his knees.
       "And sometimes," Kail added, "the slender reed kicks the crap out of the mighty oak."
       Loch slammed the heel of her palm into Akus's jaw with a crack that silenced the room, then hammered Akus's temple with an elbow. An uppercut snapped his head back up and sprayed blood across the room, and Loch grabbed a fistful of his hair and finished it by pulling him into a knee to the face.
       Jeridan closed his mouth and looked at Kail.
       Kail nodded thoughtfully. "So, about the one-twenty-five you owe me, and those items I wanted to buy...."
       Akus wasn't moving. Loch pulled her blood-spattered gray worksuit back into place. She looked to the doorway, staring at Orris for a long moment. Then she sniffed, picked up her dining tray, and returned to the serving line.

       # # #

       Loch's silence since arriving at the Cleaners wasn't uncommon. The criminals who believed that the lapiscaela would catch the words and steal their souls often didn't talk for the first few weeks, until fear and loneliness and grim acceptance broke the barriers down.
       In the small cell she shared with Kail, Loch kept her silence, saying not a single word.
       Not aloud, anyway.
       Are we clear? she signed to Kail. He had top bunk—Loch hated hearing him snore beneath her—and had swung his upper body down over the edge to look at her from above.
       "Jeridan will get us the goods tomorrow," he said quietly. "You okay?"
       Fine, she signed. Hurry. Not much time.
       "You think the warden will move that soon?" Kail frowned. "Seems fast after sending the thug at you today."
       Tomorrow. The sign-language she and Kail and learned as scouts didn't allow for nuance, but she put a fierce snap into each gesture. He killed before.
       "I'm sorry about Soggs." Kail sighed, then shrugged. "Did give you a chance to piss off the warden even more, though."
       After a moment of silence, Kail's large eyes closed, two points of white blinking shut in the dim light. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
       Soggs was a civilian.
       "I know, Loch. I'm sorry."
       Fight the enemy, not their people. When Kail had joined her unit, that was the first thing she’d taught him. It was the first thing she'd learned herself when she'd joined, years before that. Every scout in the Republic's army learned that phrase, signed or spoke it before every mission. They were soldiers, not thieves, not murderers.
       "I know." Kail sighed. "Tomorrow, then. Assuming the warden is as blood-crazy as he seems."
       Tomorrow. Follow the plan. It will be okay.
        "Where have I heard that before?" Kail shook his head and pulled himself back up onto the top bunk.
       She'd caught the brief flash of his white teeth in the darkness, though, and the smile meant a lot that night.

       # # #

       When the prisoners lined up at the supply station desk that morning, Warden Orris was there alongside Tawyer. The change in routine had the prisoners nervously murmuring to each other. The warden greeted each prisoner as Tawyer switched the shackles for the leg-chain, handed them their broom, and called out their assignment.
       "Morning, Rastik. How's block C treating you? Lewerryn, you take it easy today, you hear? Haha!"
       "Got it?" Kail murmured to Jeridan as they neared the desk. Loch was in front of them.
       "Of course." Jeridan rocked gently and bumped into Kail, who staggered and pushed him back into place. A small, cloth-covered bundle disappeared into the sleeves of Kail's worksuit.
       "Morning, Loch!" Orris said jovially. "Let's hope you run into less trouble today than yesterday! Haha!"
       Loch stepped up to Tawyer and wordlessly held out her shackled arms.
       "Not today, I think," Warden Orris said easily. "The lady lost a broom, nearly fell, got into a fight. She can keep the arm shackles on today. Hell, those Urujar are more comfortable in chains anyway, right?"
       Tawyer chuckled weakly. "I have to sign off for each pair of shackles—"
       "Just mark it down, Tawyer. Here, let me put my initials by it." Orris grabbed the pen. "There. Take her legs, though. Can't wear your leg shackles and the leg-chain."
      "Right, sir." Tawyer didn't meet Loch's stare as she stepped onto the stand to have her leg shackles removed. "Here, I'll just—"
       "No, no, Tawyer. Give her this leg-chain, here." Orris produced one with a smile. "Fasten it good and tight, too. I'd be real sad if anything should happen to her."
       Tawyer fastened the leg-chain. "Where would you like—"
       "The Tooth, I think." Warden Orris nodded thoughtfully. "She was so eager to get there yesterday, after all. Put them on the lower grid. In fact, why don't you go ahead and walk them there yourself?" He gave Loch a wide smile. "You take care now, girl."
       Tawyer did Kail's shackles and leg-chain in silence, then snapped a single-use flying charm secure on his shoulder and followed them to the hatch nearest the Tooth. He carefully fastened each of their leg-chains to one of several vertical pipes labeled with different grid sections. They climbed down a short metal pipe along a rusted iron ladder, their leg-chains squeaking and rattling beside them.
       At the bottom, Tawyer had to float a bit to get around them. "Go on," he muttered. "You know which way it is."
       "He's gonna kill her," Kail said conversationally.
       "That kind of talk gets a man a night dangling down under, Uru."
       They started moving, Loch in the lead since her chain was connected to the pipe ahead of Kail's. They followed the pipe along the narrow walkway, the cold morning air still tasting of the metal of the grid.
       "You think the warden can kill two prisoners in one week and not be investigated?" Kail asked. "When the heat comes down on the warden, who do you think he'll blame?"
       "You just stay careful." Tawyer prodded Kail with his truncheon. "Can't blame the warden for getting angry. Byn-kodar's hell, all she had to do was show a little respect!"
       "Oh, damn, Tawyer, you're right," Kail said as he and Loch turned a corner on the pipe, their leg-chains protesting the uneven fittings with shrill screeches. "I guess she has to die. What was I thinking?"
       They reached the Tooth. From the upper grid, standing level with the top, it was a violet jewel. The sun hadn't risen above the rim of the city yet, and the Tooth shone with a clear brilliance as the sun's light caught it directly.
       "Lower grid," Tawyer said sharply.
       Loch and Kail moved to the junction where the upper grid linked to the special frame that locked the Tooth into place all four sides. A vertical pipe led down to the lower grid, which connected to the frame below as well.
       "You think about what you did to make the warden so mad." Tawyer gestured for them to head down. "Maybe he'll change his mind."
       "See," Kail said thoughtfully, "I don't know what I did to make him so mad. I know it wasn't sleepin' with his mama, because I was sleeping with your mama last night."
       "Shut your fat mouth!"
       "That's not what your mama said. Man, she couldn't get enough of my mouth. And your mama's a screamer, too—"
       The truncheon came whistling down at Kail's head, and Kail dove back. The truncheon clanged off of the pipes instead, and then Loch's shackled arms crashed down on Tawyer's wrist.
       As the truncheon clattered on the pipes, Loch's palms slammed into Tawyer's temples. Then she looped her shackles over the back of his neck, yanked down hard, and brought her knee up.
       "So, today it is," Kail said as Tawyer hit the ground. He pulled a small bundle out of his sleeve, passed Loch what looked like a pair of thick cloth slippers, and produced another pair for himself.
       Loch shot him a look and pulled on the cloth slippers.
       "Yes, I always use it," Kail said, "every time. Because it always works."
       Loch raised an eyebrow as she got to her feet.
       "Swear to Gedesar, if I run into a guard who doesn't fall for it, I'll find a new one." Kail reached into his sleeve again, produced a thin metal wire, and bent down to work on the leg-chain. A moment later, it snapped free. "Here, let me see yours."
       With a wry smile, she reached down and yanked hard, and the special leg-chain Warden Orris had saved for her snapped clean away.
       "Or that," Kail allowed, and then, grinning, reached into the bundle to produce a pair of pipefitter's tools. "Shall we?"

       # # #

       Orris pounded the desk so hard that his hand throbbed. "Guards! Guards, get in here!"
       As warden, he had access to several powerful artifacts. He'd taken a vicious pleasure in pulling out the flat disc of polished ivory, laying it flat on the table, breaking a vision charm over the artifact, and watching as the dust sprinkled down and the pale ivory surface resolved into a view of the grids. He shifted through the divining crystals set throughout the Cleaners until he found the perfect view of the Tooth, complete with Tawyer, Kail, and Loch herself.
       Then he watched in helpless rage as she took down Tawyer with brutal efficiency, broke the chain he'd prepared for her, and got to her feet. She and Kail began to do something with metal tools on the pipes of the grid. His grid.
       But he was still master of the grid, and he had a few surprises of his own. It had been awhile since the Cleaners had seen real discipline.
       Orris reached into a special drawer in his desk and drew out a narrow wand of polished crystal. At its tip was set a single gem, a muddy green-black whose whirling pattern constantly shifted.
       A pair of guards came into the room, and one of them asked him what he needed. He ignored them.
       Instead, he looked down into the polished ivory surface at Loch. "Time to dance, little princess." Then he touched his personal signet ring to the wand.
       The screams that echoed up from the grid made the whole office vibrate, or perhaps it was the magic itself that shook the very underside of Heaven's Spire. Orris felt a lustful rush as he stared into the ivory, watched the writhing tendrils of scarlet fire snake across every metal surface on the grid. Every prisoner at work would curl up in helpless torment or fall screaming from the pipes until their metal leg-chains caught them. Then they would dangle, writhing in agony while the pain raced down their chains.
       Loch and Kail jumped in surprise, then stopped and waited.
       After half a minute, the scarlet flames flickered and died.
       Loch grinned, turned to the divining crystal that she knew he was using to watch her, and waved.

       # # #

       The nurse sighed as the vibrations ran through the clinic. The containment magic was wonderful for neutralizing prisoners, but there were always injuries. He was going to have prisoners complaining of all sorts of aches and pains for the rest of the day, and the warden hated it when the nurse used supplies.
       He looked down at his only overnight prisoner, a man who'd lost a fight in the dining hall and was shackled to the bed for treatment. "Count yourself lucky," the nurse said conversationally, leaning in to check the unconscious man's pulse. "Better to be in here than down there this—"
       The man's shackled hand shot up, closed around the nurse's throat before he could pull back out of reach, and yanked him down toward the bed.
       "Key," the prisoner growled.
       The nurse tried to pull back, realized that that wasn't going to help his breathing, and sputtered frantically. "Can't escape!" he gasped. "They'll kill you as soon as you go up!"
       The prisoner grinned horribly. "Not going up."

       # # #

       Orris watched helplessly as Loch and Kail started working on the pipes again.
       "It can't be," he murmured again. "She played me. She played me!" He thrust the crystal wand at the ivory plate and focused his will, but the magic required time to gather its strength again. Orris hurled the wand and spun away as it shattered against the wall. "Get down there and… No!" With sheer force of will, he lowered his voice. "No. Tend to the prisoners." He pulled his grandfather's saber from the wall, unsheathed it, and tossed the scabbard aside.
       "I'll deal with Loch myself."
       His pronouncement was ruined when another guard burst into the room. "Sir! Sir!"
       "You don't get paid to run around screaming, guard!" Orris barked, brandishing the saber. The intruding guard flinched back, sputtering. "I know damn well the security wards were activated!"
       "That's not why I'm here, sir," the guard cut in, still eyeing Orris's saber nervously.
       "Well, why the hell are you here?" Orris shouted, bustling forward and urging the guards out of his way with flourishes of his grandfather's saber.
       "It's, well, it's about the prisoner who got beaten in the dining hall yesterday." The guard stepped back at Orris's stare. "He was at the clinic when the wards were activated, but it appears that in all the excitement…."
       "Where is he now?" Orris asked, biting off each word.
       "He, er…" The guard winced. "He subdued the orderly treating his injuries and told the man that he intended to settle a score with the woman."
       Orris laughed. "Well, now, that's not bad news at all!" he declared grandly, heading for the drop-hatches with a jaunty step. "I just hope I get to see him do it!"

       # # #

       "Done." Kail stepped back from the upper grid. They'd worked fast since Orris had activated the wards and had gotten through most of the frame holding the Tooth in place. If not for the insulation slippers Kail had scrounged up, they'd likely have been dead already. "Want me to head down?"
       Loch turned and nodded shortly, then jerked her head back to the eastern walkway where footsteps clanged in sharp contrast to the groans of shaken prisoners. Then came a roar of sheer hatred that could have been the war trumpet of Esa-jolar herself. "LLLLLOCCCCH!"
       Akus came around the corner, a massive figure of battered flesh and rippling muscle. His nose was broken, and one eye was swollen nearly shut. He wore no worksuit, only boots and a clinic blanket wrapped around his waist several times like a kilt. His broad chest was covered with hair, knife scars, and purple-green bruises. She threw a punch, but he ignored it in his rage, slamming her against the pipes and driving the breath from her lungs.
       "Get off her!" Kail shouted, leaping at the enormous man. His punch glanced harmlessly off Akus's shoulder, and with a grunt, Akus grabbed hold of Kail's worksuit with thick, knotted hands and lifted him off the ground.
       "No leg-chain, little Urujar?" Akus growled. "That's gonna cost you." As Kail struggled helplessly, Akus walked to the edge of the upper grid. Then, with a smile, he flung Kail off the edge, laughed harshly, and turned back to Loch. "Hope your friend has a nice—"
       Her elbow caught him in the gut. Her kick caught him in the groin. The open palms of her shackled hands smashed into his already-broken nose. And as he howled and lashed out blindly, her shoulder, with the full power of her lunging body behind it, caught him in the midsection, knocking him back a full three steps.
       He'd only been two steps from the edge.
       He screamed as he fell, and Loch spun away, not wanting to see it.
       Instead, she saw Warden Orris himself, standing at the edge of the walkway with his saber raised in a mocking salute.
       "That poor dumb brute was never in your league, Loch," the warden said conversationally, "but then, I guess your little friend Kail was never in his league."
       Loch spread her arms as far apart as they could go, shackled as they were, and set herself in an unarmed fighting stance.
       "What, nothing?" Orris shook his head. "You stupid girl, you know you're not leaving the Cleaners alive. You thought you could play me, do something to my grid, but I caught you. And still you cling to that stubborn pride?" His face reddened at her silence, and sweat began to bead on the thick jowls of his neck. "Or maybe you're too stupid to talk. Is that it? You too stupid to spit out any last words, you Uru?"
       Loch walked forward, her padded feet nearly silent on the metal of the grid.
       "Fine!" Orris shouted, raising his saber. "Die like the—"
       Loch lunged in and kicked Orris in the shin. As he howled and brought the saber down, she raised her shackled arms, caught the saber on the shackles, crossed her wrists to trap the blade, and spun away, yanking the sword from his grasp. With practiced ease, she flipped the blade free of the chains and caught it with one hand.
       Then she turned away from Orris and walked to the edge of the upper grid, her new sword held high to keep it clear of the shackles.
       "I'll see you scream before you die, you..." Orris stammered to a halt. "Where are you going?"
       Loch tapped the sword twice on the edge of the grid, looked down for a moment, and then strode to one of the corners. From the lower grid below, Kail's voice clearly called up, "Ready when you are, Captain!"
       Orris dashed to the edge and stared down at the lower grid in dumbfounded shock. He'd clearly seen Kail thrown from the upper grid by Akus, who had then been knocked off by Loch.
       Kail and Akus were working side by side. Akus was naked except for his boots, and the large blanket Akus had worn wrapped around his waist was now wrapped around the Tooth, covering the vast majority of its lower surface like a massive stocking.
       Blocking it from the light of the sun.
       Orris was not a stupid man. The Tooth was so irregular and so large that it required a special frame to connect it to the grid. His gaping stare took in the missing screws and broken pins on that frame, both on the upper grid and the lower grid.
       There was only one major support pipe still connected to the Tooth's harness, and it was creaking ominously, metal whining in protest as Loch approached it.
       "You can't!" Orris blurted, then felt himself reddening as Loch turned and raised an eyebrow. "You'll be... That's... You're a madwoman!"
       Loch smiled, and it was that more than anything that made Orris backpedal frantically. She raised the sword in her shackled arms, her whole body bending like a fully stretched bow, and then she brought the blade down on the last junction holding the entire Tooth and its frame in place.
       There was a sharp metallic crack, followed an interminable moment later by a low creak that built rapidly in pitch and volume as the entire structure of the grid around the Tooth began to sink. Small pipes twisted, bent, and snapped under the weight of the great stone, and as Orris scrambled back, the entire section of scaffolding sheared away in a screaming crescendo of tearing metal.
       The last thing Orris saw as the Tooth and the three prisoners fell away to freedom was Loch's smiling face. One shackled arm clung to the twisted wreckage of the grid around the stone, and the other held his grandfather's sword. Orris watched that face until he could no longer see it, and then, when his shaking legs would bear his weight again, he pulled himself back to his feet.
       Behind him, the prisoners began cheering.

       # # #

       Kail had insisted that he had timed it exactly, but Loch was very near the end of her trust when, below her on the remains of the lower grid, Kail shouted, "Three! Two! One! Now!"
       As the ground raced toward them, green and brown and blue resolving into fields and rivers, farms and townships, Kail and Akus yanked hard on the sheet and pulled it free from the Tooth. The wind caught it, and in seconds, the blanket was far above them, floating gently on its lazy path to the ground.
       As the Tooth caught the morning sunlight, its dull purple surface blossomed into violet and its ancient magic slowed their plummeting descent. The wind that threatened to tear Loch free from the grid fell from a scream to a throaty whisper, and the ground that had been hurtling toward them at breakneck speed slowed to the comparative crawl of a galloping horse.
       Which, Loch noted as she hit the damp turf of a dazzling green meadow and rolled, taking the impact in her legs and shoulders and hips and back, was still faster than you wanted to be going when you hit the ground.
       Loch found herself lying face-down in the damp grass. The sword stood embedded in the earth a few paces away, vibrating from the impact. She took in a deep breath, heard the ominous creak of metal, and rolled away instinctively. Sparks of light trailed dizzily across her eyes, but she still got a good look.
       Its glow now rising to its normal dazzling violet brilliance, the Tooth rose from the shattered wreckage of the grid. It moved slowly at first, rocking and swaying like a charm dangling on a chain. Then, picking up speed, it leapt into the heavens, straight back toward the glowing purple disk that hung high above them like a sullen sun, the only glimpse of Heaven's Spire most citizens ever saw. It would, Loch guessed, be going quite fast by the time it returned to the Cleaners.
       "Damn!" Akus groaned as he pushed himself back to his feet. "I don't know who hits harder, Loch, you or the damn ground." He looked up at Heaven's Spire high above and laughed. "Still, worth a few beatings. Anybody seen my blanket?"
       "I'm looking, believe me," Kail said shakily, leaning on the wreckage of the grid. "I don't need my first glimpse of freedom ruined by your sorry naked body."
       "Hah!" Akus clapped Kail on the shoulder. "Almost wish I could see Orris's face when the Tooth gets back. Hope it hits him square in the ass."
       "Given the size of his ass, you've got good odds," Kail said, and Akus laughed again.
       "Damn straight! Hey, you ever got a job that needs some muscle, you let me know."
       "Will do," said Kail. "Thanks again for coming to us when Orris made his offer. I had no idea how in Byn-kodar's hell we were going to smuggle a tarp out to the grid."
       "Worked out for all of us." Akus looked to Loch, who was still staring upward. "Ma'am, I'm going to put some distance between me and this wreckage before the airships come looking. Pleasure working with you."
       Loch smiled and raised a fist in a warrior's salute. He returned it, ducked his head, and walked off toward the woods to the east, naked and whistling off-key.
       "So, Captain," Kail said, still swaying where he stood, "what now?"
       Loch reached down and ran her hand along the damp grass, then licked the dew from the palm. She swallowed, tasting the sweet water as it loosened her throat. High overhead, she imagined she could see a sudden blossom of light across the underside of Heaven's Spire.
       "Now," she said, "we pay back the son of a bitch who put us there."

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