Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper

Edge of Dark
AuthorBrenda Cooper
Series:  The Glittering Edge 1
Publisher:  Pyr, March 3, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 399 pages
List Price:  $18.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781633880504 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

What if a society banished its worst nightmare to the far edge of the solar system, destined to sip only dregs of light and struggle for the barest living. And yet, that life thrived? It grew and learned and became far more than you ever expected, and it wanted to return to the sun. What if it didn't share your moral compass in any way?

The Glittering Edge duology describes the clash of forces when an advanced society that has filled a solar system with flesh and blood life meets the near-AI's that it banished long ago. This is a story of love for the wild and natural life on a colony planet, complex adventure set in powerful space stations, and the desire to live completely whether you are made of flesh and bone or silicon and carbon fiber.

In Edge of Dark, meet ranger Charlie Windar and his adopted wild predator, and explore their home on a planet that has been raped and restored more than once. Meet Nona Hall, child of power and privilege from the greatest station in the system, the Diamond Deep. Meet Nona's best friend, a young woman named Chrystal who awakens in a robotic body….

Trinitytwo's Point of View

Centuries ago, humans created sophisticated AIs, and upon realizing their own inferiority banished them beyond the outer ring of the solar system in the cold dark of space with hopes that they would not survive. Now, the Next, as they call themselves, have returned. During their period of banishment they evolved and have become even more powerful than humans could have imagined. Their first show of supremacy is an efficient and coldblooded takeover of the space station High Sweet Home. Resident Chrystal Peterson, a bioengineer, finds her life is irrevocably altered the moment her home is targeted. Nona Hall has lived a privileged life that lacks purpose until she learns Chrystal and her family are on the space station that was assimilated. Loyal Nona will push her limits and use her considerable resources to try and rescue her childhood friend. Charlie Windar, a ranger and Nona's guide on the wild planet Lym, will do anything to protect the untamed beauty and raw force of nature that is his birthplace. No one is sure what the Next's ultimate goal is, but with an adversary this powerful, how will humankind preserve their way of life, and at what cost?

When I began Edge of Dark I didn't realize that Cooper had written her prior duology, The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep, in the same universe. However, not having read either of these novels didn't impede the story for me in the least. It is a riveting human drama that asks significant philosophical questions. Having already created this universe it's no surprise Cooper's world-building is superb; whether she is describing Lym's crashing waves or the seemingly endless tubes, tunnels and habitats of space stations, the author paints a clear picture for her characters to interact in. Three main characters' POVs propel the story and each are very distinctive and unique. I really identified with Charlie whose passion for the wild land and its beasts motivates him to step out of his comfort zone to fiercely protect and preserve its wildlife. Nona, is the weakest of the trio, but her character comes across as likeable and authentic. But it is Chrystal whose bravery and compassion tugs at my heartstrings and is brilliantly unforgettable. I feel this book has all the elements that are important in sci fi and I highly recommend it. Edge of Dark is a compelling, thought-provoking, chilling, and poignant tale that leaves the reader questioning who is more humane - humanity or the AI.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Interview with Ted Kosmatka - July 30, 2015

Please welcome Ted Kosmatka to The Qwillery. The Flicker Men was published on July 21st by Henry Holt and Co.

TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. The Flicker Men, your most recent novel, was published on July 21st. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Games (2012) to now? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ted:  Well, I wouldn’t say that my process has changed. I outline the books before I write them, but then the outline always changes halfway through, and by the time I get to the end, it’s usually a different book than I expected. The Flicker Men was no different. I actually ended up writing my way into a corner a few times and had to throw out a lot of material before I found the right path. The most challenging thing about writing is being okay with throwing out the stuff that’s not working. A lot of times, it seems like good writing, so there’s this resistance to just cutting it, but if it doesn’t serve the larger story, it has to go.

TQ:  What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Games came out that you know now?

Ted:  Honestly, my mother was a writer before me, published by Baen, so I had a pretty good idea of what the publishing industry was like before I broke in. There weren’t a lot of things that took me by surprise. My path to publication was different from hers, though, and I collected rejections for years before finally gaining a foothold with short fiction in magazines like Asimov’s and Fantasy & Science Fiction. It wasn’t until I’d been reprinted in seven or eight Year’s Best anthologies that I managed to sell my first novel. Our last names are the same, but I don't think a lot of people realized that my mother was my mother.

TQ:  The Games, Prophet of Bones (2013), and The Flicker Men are thrillers grounded in science and science fiction. What appeals to you about writing in this combination of genres?

Ted:  As a kid, I’d always been drawn to the sciences. I was particularly interested in genetics, anthropology, and physics, because these disciplines seemed to be asking the big questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? What is this life? When I got older, it was just natural for me to write stories based on my earlier interests. I recently stumbled across a story that I wrote in the second grade, and it stunned me, because I realized that it was exactly the kind of story I’d be drawn to write now, as a forty-year-old. I mean, hopefully I’d write it better now, but the subject matter still felt like something I’d be interested in. I haven't really changed. I also stumbled across this little clay Homo erectus skull that I’d made in middle school, so I put it on the shelf next to the museum quality replica of a Homo floresiensis skull that I’d just bought the previous year. It was so strange to see those two skulls side by side. Like the one had predicted the other. I guess you never really lose your obsessions.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Flicker Men that is not found in the book description.

Ted:  The book took me two solid years to write. To me, the whole thing is like this big, sprawling scientific proof, and I was struggling to make the equations balance as I wrote it. I had this feeling, almost, that that the story was something that had to be solved. My long-suffering editor, Michael Signorelli, was amazing, and deserves numerous editorial awards for all his advice, and guidance, and patience. He put up with a lot of different drafts and helped me find my way out of the weeds more than once.

TQ:  Which character in The Flicker Men was hardest to write and why? Easiest and why?

Ted:  The characters actually came fairly easily to me in this book. (It was everything else that was hard.) They were always right there at the tip of my fingers when I needed them. I loved writing Satvik, and Jeremy, and Point Machine. The main character, Eric Argus, was also pretty easy to get down on the page. I worked in a lab for a long time, so I understand what it’s like to function in that kind of environment. I could relate well to all the lab characters. The character Brighton was a blast to write. Writing different characters is a great way for me to argue with myself and figure out what I really think about a subject, and this book has a lot of opportunities for that.

TQ:  Which question about The Flicker Men do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Ted:  Well, I’ll tweak that question a bit, and instead of answering the question I wish folks would ask, I’ll answer the question that I’ve been asked over and over since the original short story “Divining Light” came out (and from which the novel was expanded). The question I always get is, where does the real science end and the science fiction begin? There’s a place in the book where I talk about the “stepping-off point,” and that’s actually the place where the novel ventures into unknown territory. I don’t know what would happen if that particular experiment in the book were run in real life. Writing the novel was my way of thinking about that experiment and coming up with one possible world where things take a dark turn.

TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Flicker Men.

Ted:  There’s a bit of dialogue that I really like.
 “The more research I did, the less I believed.”

“In quantum mechanics?”

“No,” I said. “In the world.”

TQ:  What's next?

Ted:  More books, hopefully. I have another novel that I’m in the early stages of now, trying to figure out where it goes. I also have four new short stories forthcoming. Two at Asimov’s magazine; one at Lightspeed magazine; and one at Fantasy & Science Fiction. I let myself write short stories between novels, so it’s been a nice burst of activity, but I think it’s time to get back to novels again soon.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Flicker Men
Henry Holt and Co., July 21, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

"If Stephen Hawking and Stephen King wrote a novel together, you'd get The Flicker Men. Brilliant, disturbing, and beautifully told." -Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of the Wool series

A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist.

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light.

With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

About Ted

Ted Kosmatka was born and raised in Chesterton, Indiana and spent more than a decade working in various laboratories where he sometimes used electron microscopes. He is the author of Prophet of Bones and The Games, a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2012. His short fiction has been nominated for both the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards and has appeared in numerous Year's Best anthologies. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest and works as a writer in the video-game industry.

Website ~ Twitter @TKosmatka ~ Facebook


Prophet of Bones
St. Martin's Griffin, July 22, 2014
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Hardcover and eBook, April 2, 2013

Ted Kosmatka's sensational new thriller, Prophet of Bones, thrusts readers into an alternate present.

Paul Carlson, a brilliant young scientist, is summoned from his laboratory job to the remote Indonesian island of Flores to collect DNA samples from the ancient bones of a strange, new species of tool user unearthed by an archaeological dig. The questions the find raises seem to cast doubt on the very foundations of modern science, which has proven the world to be only 5,800 years old, but before Paul can fully grapple with the implications of his find, the dig is violently shut down by paramilitaries.

Paul flees with two of his friends, yet within days one has vanished and the other is murdered in an attack that costs Paul an eye, and very nearly his life. Back in America, Paul tries to resume the comfortable life he left behind, but he can't cast the questions raised by the dig from his mind. Paul begins to piece together a puzzle which seems to threaten the very fabric of society, but world's governments and Martial Johnston, the eccentric billionaire who financed Paul's dig, will stop at nothing to silence him.

The Games
Del Rey, January 29, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 31, 2012

Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new high-energy, high-concept tale from first-time novelist Ted Kosmatka, a Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist.


Brilliant geneticist Silas Williams oversees U.S. selections for the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: No entrants may possess human DNA. Desperate to maintain America’s edge in the upcoming Games, Silas’s superior engages an experimental supercomputer to design the ultimate, unbeatable combatant. The result is a highly specialized killing machine, its genome never before seen on earth. But even a genius like Silas cannot anticipate the consequences of allowing a computer’s cold logic to play God. Growing swiftly, the mutant gladiator demonstrates preternatural strength, speed, and—most chillingly—intelligence. And before hell breaks loose, Silas and beautiful xenobiologist Vidonia João must race to understand what unbound science has wrought—even as their professional curiosity gives way to a most unexpected emotion: sheer terror.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Pilots of the Borealis by David Nabhan

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

David Nabhan

The Pilots of the Borealis
Talos, August 11, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 236 pages

Top Gun heads to outer space in this throwback to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.

Strapped in to artificial wings spanning twenty-five feet across, your arms push a tenth of your body weight with each pump as you propel yourself at frightening speeds through the air. Inside a pressurized dome on the Moon, subject to one-sixth Earth’s gravity, there are swarms of chiseled, fearless, superbly trained flyers all around you, jostling for air space like peregrine falcons racing for the prize. This was the sport of piloting, and after Helium-3, piloting was one of the first things that entered anyone’s mind when Borealis was mentioned.

It was Helium-3 that powered humanity’s far-flung civilization expansion, feeding fusion reactors from the Alliances on Earth to the Terran Ring, Mars, the Jovian colonies, and all the way out to distant Titan. The supply, taken from the surface of the Moon, had once seemed endless. But that was long ago. Borealis, the glittering, fabulously rich city stretched out across the lunar North Pole, had amassed centuries of unimaginable wealth harvesting it, and as such was the first to realize that its supplies were running out.

The distant memories of the horrific planetwide devastation spawned by the petroleum wars were not enough to quell the rising energy and political crises. A new war to rival no other appeared imminent, but the solar system’s competing powers would discover something more powerful than Helium-3: the indomitable spirit of an Earth-born, war-weary mercenary and pilot extraordinaire.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Interview with Robert Brockway and Giveaway of The Unnoticeables - July 28, 2015

Please welcome Robert Brockway to The Qwillery. The Unnoticeables was published on July 7th by Tor Books.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, panster or hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Robert:  I’m a plotter. Things change along the way, so I constantly have to revise my outlines, but I need them. The idea of just winging it and hoping I come up with something good by the end terrifies me. I feel like that’s how we wound up with the last season of Lost. There but for the grace of God, go I.

The most challenging thing for me right now is trying to get my weirder ideas down in a way that’s understandable to the reader without breaking the story. I have a compulsive aversion to exposition. It’s something I think I need to get over. Sometimes it’s just necessary.

TQYou are a Senior Editor and columnist for How does this affect your novel writing?

Robert:  It’s given me a lot of practice writing in different styles, and taught me how to research. But it has affected this book in particular in that I used some of my old columns to lay the groundwork for this story. I would practice my world-building in the columns, then string them together into a crude sort of story bible. I wasn’t sure anything would ever come of it, but when I finally pinned down the characters I knew I could finally start.

TQ:  Describe The Unnoticeables in 140 characters or less

Robert:  The universe is a problem. The angels have the solution. The only ones who can stop them are wildly incompetent. We are all truly screwed.

TQTell us something about The Unnoticeables that is not found in the book description.

Robert:  It’s a punk rock urban fantasy/sci-fi/horror mash-up, like it says in the description. But it’s also a sort of metaphysical treatise on what life really means in terms of the universe, and why that matters. I don’t propose to answer those questions, of course — I don’t know the meaning of life. But maybe there are some good questions in here.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Unnoticeables? What appealed to you about writing horror-tinged Urban Fantasy?

Robert:  I was inspired by the basic premise — that everything in the universe could be defined mathematically, and there might exist creatures who could manipulate those numbers. I couldn’t write the story until I found my characters, but I always start with the idea.

I didn’t actually know this was urban fantasy at the time — I just called it ‘sci-fi horror.’ I thought urban fantasy was exclusively about magic in the modern times before I finished the book and was informed it was, in fact, UF. I’m still not entirely sure what separates UF from SF, but I’ve always loved horror. I’ve seen every horror flick on Netflix, even (especially) the bad ones. When it came time to write, I just couldn’t separate out that obsession.

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

Robert:  I had to do a lot of research for the setting. I wasn’t alive for New York in the ‘70s, so every little thing had to be researched, from streets and clubs to music, TV and food. I once spent a few hours researching whether or not they had microwave burritos in the ‘70s and, if so, which ones were the cheapest.

TQIs there a recommended music playlist for The Unnoticeables?

Robert:  Absolutely! Mostly NYC ‘70s punk - The Ramones, The Dictators, Richard Hell, etc. For the modern sections, try Ted Leo, Future of the Left, and Chance the Rapper.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Robert:  The easiest was Wash, the young punk who behaves like a genius, but is actually moronic. That was easy, because I based him heavily on myself when I was younger. The hardest was Kaitlyn. I’m not a woman, and writing one in the first person was difficult at times. I relied heavily on my female friends and my wife to correct my many, many misconceptions about how women think. Which they did, often with extreme prejudice.

TQWhich question about The Unnoticeables do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Question: What was the Pabst Blue Ribbon of New York City in the late ‘70s?

Answer: Schlitz!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Unnoticeables.

Robert:  The first lines: “I met my guardian angel today. She shot me in the face.”

TQWhat's next?

Robert:  Next up is book three. This was conceived and sold as a trilogy — book two is already with the publisher and three is underway. I’ll still be with this story for years to come yet!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Robert:  Thanks for having me!

The Unnoticeables
Tor Books, July 7, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

From Robert Brockway, Sr. Editor and Columnist of comes The Unnoticeables, a funny and frightening urban fantasy.

There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns and remove the redundancies, and the problem that is "you" gets solved.
Carey doesn't much like that idea. As a punk living in New York City, 1977, Carey is sick and tired of watching strange kids with unnoticeable faces abduct his friends. He doesn't care about the rumors of tar-monsters in the sewers or unkillable psychopaths invading the punk scene--all he wants is to drink cheap beer and dispense ass-kickings.

Kaitlyn isn't sure what she's doing with her life. She came to Hollywood in 2013 to be a stunt woman, but last night a former teen heartthrob tried to eat her, her best friend has just gone missing, and there's an angel outside her apartment. Whatever she plans on doing with her life, it should probably happen in the few remaining minutes she has left.

There are angels. There are demons. They are the same thing. It's up to Carey and Kaitlyn to stop them. The survival of the human race is in their hands.

We are, all of us, well and truly screwed.

About Robert

ROBERT BROCKWAY is a Senior Editor and columnist for He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Meagan and their two dogs, Detectives Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. He has been known, on occasion, to have a beard.


Twitter @Brockway_LLC




The Giveaway

What:  Three entrants will win a copy of The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway from Tor Books. US / CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on August 7, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed edited by Joseph Nassise and Del Howison - and Giveaway

Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed
Editors: Joseph Nassise and Del Howison
Publisher:  Tor Books, July 28, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $24.99 (print); $11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765335425 (print); 9781466823624 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Clive Barker's Nightbreed has been controversial since the moment it was released in a version edited by the studio and roundly condemned by Barker, who wrote and directed the movie. A virtually instant cult film based on Barker's novella Cabal, it was nominated for three Saturn Awards and won several prizes at European film festivals.

Midian Unmade tells the stories of the Nightbreed after the fall of their city, Midian. Driven from their homes, their friends and family members slain before their eyes, the monsters become a mostly-hidden diaspora. Some are hunted; others, hunters. Some seek refuge. Others want revenge.

Contributors include: Karl Alexander, author of the classic novel Time After Time; actor, writer, and director Amber Benson (Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer); New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder; Hugo and John W. Campbell Award winner Seanan McGuire; Bram Stoker Award winner Weston Ochse; David J. Schow, winner of the World Fantasy Award and writer of the screenplay for The Crow; New York Times bestselling writer Stephen Woodworth; and many more--23 stories in all.

With an introduction by Clive Barker, this is an outstanding collection of original horror short stories in a dazzling variety of styles.

Deb's Review

Midian Unmade is a horror anthology edited by Joseph Nassise and Del Howison, based on the cult classic movie Nightbreed, written and directed by horror legend Clive Barker. While you don't necessarily need to see Nightbreed to enjoy Midian Unmade, you should see it anyway. The director’s cut is available on Netflix, and it is an unforgettable film. You may also want to read the original basis for both the book and the film, Clive Barker’s novella Cabal. Many of the stories in Midian Unmade are self-contained and accessible enough for all fans of short horror fiction, but your experience would be far better served with advance context provided by Barker’s rich source material.

I'm not sure what’s considered fair play in spoiling twenty-five year old cult films, but since I’m encouraging you to see Nightbreed if you haven't, I'll share the absolute minimum you'd need to read the book. Midian is a sanctuary for monsters that are referred to in this mythology as the Nightbreed. It’s a place for them to live as a community, governed by their own laws, outside of the judgmental eyes of the Naturals (that'd be you and me to the Nightbreed). Events in the film cause the Breed to flee their home and scatter across the globe, either alone or in small groups. Midian Unmade finds the remnants of their broken tribe at loose ends, and dealing with their forced autonomy in very personal, often deadly ways.

These stories put Midian’s children in cities, the suburbs, the desert, at sea, and everywhere in between. One thing that makes this collection so evocative is the implication that the Nightbreed are everywhere, sometimes undetected by the world around them, and at other times hiding in plain sight. They are your trusted friend, your lover, the cat that saw what you did, the lost soul that you reach out to with an open heart and, at worst, they are your undoing. Sometimes you’ll root for the “monster” because the people they encounter seem far more monstrous, and sometimes you’ll be taken aback by the terrible acts committed by both sides.

As with any collection of horror tales, there are those stories that speak right to the heart, and those that are more an unsettling glimpse of something in passing. It’s unlikely that all 22 stories with different authors will hit it out of the ballpark for every reader, but there are many brilliantly told tales, loaded with satisfying twists and thought-provoking situations. Here are just a few that stood out for me:

In Brian Craddock’s ‘The Angel of Isisford,’ former Midian resident Upendra and young Aboriginal Nhuwi are unlikely companions who blow into the dusty, inhospitable Isisford. Upendra is using his traveling puppet show to locate the scattered Nightbreed to gather and wait for word on a prophesied new community. Craddock’s skilled description of setting will transport you, and everything you understand in this vignette gradually shifts as the story unfolds. Where will your sympathies lie in the end?

Framed in beautiful metaphor, ‘Pride’ by Amber Benson is a tale of a savage pack of humans that look harmless enough until you get too close, and by then it's too late for even a little bit of regret. Curious but shy Abra is tempted into their orbit and winds up in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. This is one of those stories that provides contrast to this collection by showing that humans are perfectly capable of monstrous behavior.

The narrator in C. Robert Cargill’s ‘I Am the Night You Never Speak of’ is not a nice monster. He’s larger than life and unapologetic about who he is and how he exists in this world. Such a clever story, both funny and terrible, with salty, pulp-style phrasing, and some visuals that I am never going to forget. This story hooked me right away, took me places that I did not expect to go, arrived at a completely satisfying conclusion, and still left me scraping the bowl, wishing for more.

Nerine Dorman’s ‘Lakrimay’ is a somber piece about a young girl’s solitary existence in a home where adults can’t keep their personal problems from corroding her childhood. Little Jennifer makes friends with one of the Nightbreed, and their tentative alliance seems to soothe the unbearable loneliness in both of them. Jennifer's viewpoint was so moving that I was completely invested in her outcome. A haunting tale of innocence against a backdrop of horror.

Paul J. Salamoff’s ‘Tamara’ is a story of guilt and redemption. This story flips the monstrous human script and gives us a humane monster. Tamara reaches out to the family of a man she's killed to offer a gift intended to comfort. But actions we take always create ripples in our own life and in the lives of others. Watching those ripples fan out over the course of this story was a fascinating exercise in both intended and unintended consequences.

The authors included in this anthology draw from an intriguing array of career experience from poet to police officer, puppeteer to martial arts instructor, college professor to military veteran. All are accomplished authors and many are quite impressively decorated.

Those who are long time fans of this mythology will surely appreciate this beautifully done collection for expanding the Nightbreed universe and giving further voice to members of the tribe. But if you're a fan of smart short horror looking for something a little bit different, Midian Unmade is also for you. I tend to approach anthologies with healthy skepticism, but this collection has restored my faith a bit. Recommended.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of Midian Unmade from the publisher. US / CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on August 5, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Excerpt: The Devil's Game by Sean Chercover - July 27, 2015

Please welcome Sean Chercover to The Qwillery with an excerpt of The Devil's Game, the 2nd novel in The Game Trilogy, which was published on June 16, 2015 by Thomas & Mercer.

          Today is a good day to die.
          Daniel Byrne handed the counterfeit identification card to the soldier be-hind the metal desk. To the left of the desk another soldier stood blocking the solid steel inner door. Mounted to the cinderblock wall beside the door, an electronic palm-print reader. A third soldier—the one cradling an assault rifle—stood behind Daniel, blocking the larger metal door through which he’d entered, and which he knew was the only exit. They wore plain green uniforms, no identifying patches or insignia.
          Today is a good day to die. But I’ve decided to stay alive until tomorrow.
          The soldier at the desk examined the forgery, which identified Daniel as Colonel Walter Pomerance of the Defense Intelligence Agency, then tapped on the computer keyboard and looked at the screen. His mouth twitched once and he became very still. The sentry of the inner door moved his hand an inch closer to his holster.
          The soldier at the desk said, “Sir, there’s no record—”
          “Typical,” snapped Daniel. The persona he’d created for Colonel Walter Pomerance was that of an insufferable bastard—he would play the role all the way, whatever the outcome. “Is it too much to presume your computer is at least capable of providing you the phone number of the Pentagon?” He resisted the urge to adjust his uniform. Putting ice in his voice he added, “Don’t waste my time...Sergeant.” Forcing that last word, having no way of knowing if the man was in fact a sergeant.
          During the pre-insertion briefing Raoul told him the one behind the desk would be a sergeant and said to address him by rank. And Daniel had just now bet his life of the accuracy of that intel. Intel provided by a man he’d known less than three months.
          He raised his left wrist and pressed the button on the side of his watch—starting the chronograph—and shot the young man a look. From the soldier’s perspective, the move would scan as an ego-driven high-ranking officer tossing his clout around. But Daniel needed to track time. From the moment the soldier had entered Daniel’s cover name into the computer, he would have one hour. That is, if the Foundation computer geeks, tapping away furiously 538 miles away in New York City, were successful.
          If they were successful, the phone call would be intercepted by the Foundation, who would also take control of the local computer network and upload the military file for Daniel’s legend—not a complete file, because much of the fictional Colonel Pomerance’s file would be classified even above the level of this place—but a file even more impressive for what was redacted than for what it contained. Colonel Walter Pomerance. A very powerful DIA spook.
          Not a man whose time you wanted to waste.
          Daniel watched a half-dozen seconds tick by—he loved the smooth micro-ticks of his new watch’s automatic movement—and when none of the three soldiers put a bullet in his head, he figured the guy was really a sergeant. He dropped his wrist to waist level.
          The room was a perfect square, 20 feet wall-to-wall. No furniture beyond the steel desk and single chair, nothing on the desktop but the computer and a telephone. LED light fixtures set into the ceiling, protected by thick sheets of clear bulletproof plexiglass. Nothing on the walls. No military shields or symbols, no flags, no official portrait of the Commander-in-Chief. Of course, there wouldn’t be. Officially this facility, which ran twelve stories down into the earth, did not exist. Black Ops, according to the case file Daniel had spent two days studying. It was once a coalmine, and hundreds of West Virginia men and boys had died here in the early 1900s. How many men died here now, and what they died of, was not in the case file.
          The sergeant at the desk picked up the telephone receiver and pressed a speed-dial button. He offered a verbal passphrase, paused for confirmation, and began to explain the problem. There was nothing Daniel could do now but act inconvenienced and wait for it to play out.
          And breathe.
          He took his mind back to the zazen meditation that had started his day. Sitting seiza—kneeling, sitting on his feet with his back straight and his hands cupped together in his lap—on the impossibly plush royal blue carpet of the Greenbriar hotel’s Congressional Suite. Counting breaths, mentally tuning out the riotous floral print that assaulted him from the draperies, headboard, duvet cover…the smell of coffee beckoning from his room-service breakfast table…the sound of a distant woodpecker working to find its own breakfast. Tuning out thoughts, worries, fears about the day ahead. Tuning in to counting breaths. Then moving past counting, tuning in to breathing itself.
          Tuning in, to the now.

Excerpted from THE DEVIL’S GAME by Sean Chercover. Copyright 2015 by Sean Chercover. Published by Thomas & Mercer, a Division of Amazon Publishing. Reprinted with permission.

The Devil's Game
The Game Trilogy 2
Thomas & Mercer, June 16, 2015
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 336 pages

The universe is trying to tell us something.

Daniel Byrne spent ten years as a Vatican investigator, scrutinizing and debunking miracle claims—until he burned that life to the ground when one investigation shook his faith and revealed disturbing earthly conspiracies. Determined to find the truth, he steps into a new life of secrets and lies, joining a powerful group that wields hidden influence over world events.

Daniel infiltrates a covert government facility and uncovers a bizarre new strain of the Plague that seems to flood the minds of its victims with visions of the future. Teaming up with disgraced physician Kara Singh, a woman beset with inexplicable visions of her own, Daniel traces the root of this deadly pathogen around the globe, and discovers a terrifying truth.

In this fast-paced sequel to the bestselling The Trinity Game, can Daniel navigate a shadow world of secrets and conspiracy to stop a pandemic with devastating global consequences?


The Trinity Game
The Game Trilogy 1
Thomas & Mercer, July 31, 2012
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 430 pages

2013 International Thriller Award Nominee

Daniel Byrne is an investigator for the Vatican’s secretive Office of the Devil’s Advocate—the department that scrutinizes miracle claims. Over ten years and 721 cases, not one miracle he tested has proved true. But case #722 is different; Daniel’s estranged uncle, a crooked TV evangelist, has started speaking in tongues—and accurately predicting the future. Daniel knows Reverend Tim Trinity is a con man. Could Trinity also be something more?

The evangelist himself is baffled by his newfound power—and the violent reaction it provokes. After years of scams, he suddenly has the ability to predict everything from natural disasters to sports scores. Now the mob wants him dead for ruining their gambling business, and the Vatican wants him debunked as a false messiah. On the run from assassins, Trinity flees with Daniel’s help through the back roads of the Bible Belt to New Orleans, where Trinity plans to deliver a final prophecy so shattering his enemies will do anything to keep him silent.

About Sean

Sean Chercover is the author of the bestselling thriller The Trinity Game and two award-winning novels featuring Chicago private investigator Ray Dudgeon: Big City, Bad Blood and Trigger City. After living in Chicago; New Orleans; and Columbia, South Carolina, Sean returned to his native Toronto, where he lives with his wife and son. Sean’s fiction has earned top mystery and thriller honors in the US, Canada, and the UK. He has won the Anthony, Shamus, CWA Dagger, Dilys, and Crimespree Awards and has been short-listed for the Edgar, Barry, Macavity, Arthur Ellis, and ITW Thriller Awards.

Website  ~  Tumblr

Facebook  ~  Twitter @SeanChercover

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2015 Winner

We had a hotly contested Cover Wars for July! The winner of the July 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Darkhaven by A.F.E. Smith with 306 votes equaling 39% of all votes. The cover is by Alexandra Allden.

The Final Results

The July 2015 Debut Covers

Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the August Debut covers starting on August 15, 2015.

The View From Monday - July 27, 2015

Happy last Monday in July. This week we have one debut:

The Drowning God by James Kendley;

and one novel from a formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Author:

Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer.

July 27, 2015
Saint's Testimony (e) Frank O'Connor SF - Halo

July 28, 2015
Half a War Joe Abercrombie F - Shattered Sea 3
Half the World (h2tp) Joe Abercrombie F - Shattered Sea 2
Visions (h2tp) Kelley Armstrong CF - Cainsville 2
Primal Heat Part 3: A Paranormal Shapeshifter Werejaguar Romance A. C. Arthur PNR - Shadow Shifters 6
Zombies vs. Unicorns Holly Black (e)
Justine Larbalestier (ed)
F - Anthology
Siren's Call Jayne Castle PNR - Rainshadow 4
Excalibur Michael Clary CF - Camelot Wars 1
Treasure Planet (tp2mm) Hal Colebatch
Jessica Q. Fox
SF - Man-Kzin Wars 16
Liberty: 1784 (h2mm) Robert Conroy AH
The Deep (h2mm) Nick Cutter H
Redzone William C. Dietz SF - Mutant Files 2
The Primarchs Christian Dunn (ed) SF - The Horus Heresy 20
Spider's Trap Jennifer Estep UF - Elemental Assassin 13
The Land of the Silver Apples Nancy Farmer F - Sea of Trolls Trilogy 2
Neverwhere: Author's Preferred Text Neil Gaiman CF
The Forgotten (h2mm) Heather Graham Sus/P - Krewe of Hunters 16
To Mate an Assassin Ceri Grenelle PNR - Lost Alphars 1
The Conquering Dark Clay Griffith
Susan Griffith
HistF - Crown & Key 3
Crooked Austin Grossman AH
Fool's Assassin (h2mm) Robin Hobb F - The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy 1
The Good, The Bad and The Smug Tom Holt F/Hu
Biogenesis Tatsuaki Ishiguro SF - Collection
Shades in Shadow (e) N. K. Jemisin F - An Inheritance Triptych - Short Stories
Vampyr (e)(ri) Jan Jennings H
The Terrans Jean Johnson SF - First Salik War 1
Killing Pretty Richard Kadrey UF - Sandman Slim 7
The Golem of Hollywood (h2mm) Jonathan Kellerman
Jesse Kellerman
The Drowning God (D) James Kendley Th/Sup
Dragon Fall Katie MacAlister PNR - Dragon Fall 1
Seekers: Long Shot David Mack SF - Star Trek 3
Master of Formalities Scott Meyer SF
The Dinosaur Lords Victor Milán F
The Remaining: Extinction D.J. Molles Dys - The Remaining 6
Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed Joseph Nassise (ed)
Del Howison (ed)
H - Anthology
Grunt Traitor Weston Ochse SF - Task Force Ombra 2
The Map of Time Collection: Map of Time, Map of the Sky, and Map of Chaos (e) Félix J. Palma Hist/GB
The Fall R. J. Pineiro SF/Th
Clink or Cooler? Jutta Profijt PM - Morgue Drawer 5
A Stellar Affair Laurel Richards PNR
Tortures of the Damned Hunter Shea H/Th
Koko Takes a Holiday (tp2mm) Kieran Shea SF - Koko 1
The Chalice of Death: Three Novels of Mystery in Space  (e)(ri) Robert Silverberg SF - Omnibus
Hunt the Space-Witch!: Seven Adventures in Time and Space  (e)(ri) Robert Silverberg SF - Collection
The Man in the Maze (e)(ri) Robert Silverberg SF
The Planet Killers: Three Novels of the Spaceways  (e)(ri) Robert Silverberg SF
Tom O'Bedlam (e)(ri) Robert Silverberg SF
To the Land of the Living  (e)(ri) Robert Silverberg SF
The Edge of Ruin Melinda Snodgrass CF - Edge 2
Magnificent Vibration (h2tp) Rick Springfield F
The Ultra Thin Man: A Science Fiction Novel (h2tp) Patrick Swenson SF
Fish Tails (h2tp) Sheri S. Tepper SF
The Fifth House of the Heart Ben Tripp H
The Final Descent (ri) Rick Yancey H - The Monstrumologist 4
The Domino Pattern (e)(ri) Timothy Zahn SF - Quadrail 4
Judgment at Proteus (e)(ri) Timothy Zahn SF - Quadrail 5
Night Train to Rigel (e)(ri) Timothy Zahn SF - Quadrail 1
Odd Girl Out (e)(ri) Timothy Zahn SF - Quadrail 3
The Third Lynx (e)(ri) Timothy Zahn SF - Quadrail 2

July 30, 2015
Stealing Into Winter (e) Graeme K. Talboys F - Shadow in the Storm 1

July 31, 2015
The Best of Gregory Benford David G. Hartwell (ed) SF - Collection
Teaching the Dog to Read Jonathan Carroll Meta/F
Savages K. J. Parker F

August 1, 2015
Leopard Enchanted (e) Doranna Durgin PNR - Sentinels 8
The Einstein Prophecy Robert Masello SF/Sup/Th
Plague of the Manitou Graham Masterton H - Harry Erksine 7
Community (ri) Graham Masterton H
Water (e) K J Taylor F - Drachengott 4
Seduced by the Moon (e) Linda Thomas-Sundstrom PNR

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

AH - Alternate History
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
GB - Genre Bender
H - Horror
HistF - Historical Fantasy
Hu - Humor
Meta - Metaphysical
P - Paranormal
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
Sup - Supernatural
Sus - Suspense
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - July 26, 2015

Sorry folks I was AWOL again from my Week in Review. This lack of commuting business means I am not reading as much as I normally do.

I am going to focus this WIR on 1 book for no other reason than it deserves your (almost) full attention. Breakout the final book of The Dred Chronicles will be out on the 25th of August from Ace.

You only have 30 more sleeps until you get to find out what happens to Dred and her friends aboard the Predition but until then I will give you a non-spoilery review.

Book 3 starts almost immediately after the events of book 2  - Havoc. The many battles on board Perdition have whittled down the the Dread Queen's soldiers and this has driven her to make an uneasy alliance with the mercenary Vost and the few remaining members of his crew. All that remains of Queensland are Jael, Tam, Martine, Calypso and the Queen herself. Vost has offered them a way off the ship but Silence and her tongueless horde have other ideas. Its all hands on deck to try to build a way off Perdition and not get killed in the process. 

Breakout takes nail biting to a whole new level. This final instalment of the trilogy is very exciting...well the first 3/4 is very exciting. Will they escape? Will they all escape? What will become of them if they do? Aguirre really ramps up the tension while at the same time continues to fully develop her remaining characters. We learn more about Jael's previous life in the lab, about what Tam did to earn a life sentence on the ship, and bit more of the circumstances around Dred's path to her undoing. These experiences described through POV chapters gives the reader a full picture of what the characters are like and why they have made the decisions they have. I think that Jael's POV chapters are the most compelling and as his memories merge with current events they become especially chilling. Be sure not to be eating dinner when you are reading these! Aguirre also gives us a mystery to enjoy when Dred discovers a video diary of a young woman who was on Perdition before it became a prison ship. This was quite predictable but I enjoyed it all the same. The last 1/3 of the book is much closer to romance than it has been so far and it almost came across as being a bit self indulgent. Aguirre leaves nothing to chance with the ending and everything is tied up quite nicely. I was just a tiny bit disappointed with the ending as I thought the author would be a bit 'meaner' to her characters. I LOVE this cover although I think I have loved them all. Overall, I was still satisfied with the conclusion of the trilogy if not just a tiny bit predictable.

I had a little unexpected trip down memory lane in the last few weeks. I was thinking about Harry Dresden and found Cold Days on Amazon. I couldn't remember if I had read it and searched my Kindle for the book. As I couldn't find it I bought the book and after about page 3 I remembered the plot and figured I must have had a hard copy in the past. If only I had checked Goodreads I would have realised I read it back in 2013. OOPS! Oh well. I read it again and still enjoyed it. I would like to read book 15  - Skin Game but alas I avoid buying books on Kindle that cost more than £5. I will have to wait awhile for this one to go on sale I guess. (You can see Qwill's review of Cold Days here.)

Apart from that I have only read the third part of the Lost City series by Kelley Armstrong. I am loathe to tell you much more about it as unless you live in the UK you have to wait until next year to find out what I am talking about. I am not that much of a tease.

That is all for this week. I am doing some travelling this week so hopefully I will have a chance to get through a few more books. Until then Happy Reading.

The Dred Chronicles 3
Ace. August 25, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,  336 pages

All hell is breaking loose in the edge-of-your-seat follow-up to Havoc and Perdition from New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre…

The prison ship Perdition has become a post-battle charnel house with only a handful of Dred’s soldiers still standing and now being hunted by Silence’s trained tongueless assassins. Forging an uneasy alliance with mercenary commander Vost—who is their only chance at escape—the Dread Queen will do whatever it takes to end her life sentence on Perdition and keep the survivors alive long enough to cobble together a transport capable of getting them off station.

If Dred and her crew can win the deadly game of cat and mouse, the payoff is not only life but freedom—a prize sweeter than their wildest dreams. Yet the sadistic Silence would rather destroy Perdition than let a single soul slip from her grasp…

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Hooked on Ewe by Hannah Reed

Hooked on Ewe
Author:  Hannah Reed
Series:  A Scottish Highlands Mystery 2
Publisher:  Berkley, July 7, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425265833 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

In national bestselling author Hannah Reed’s latest Scottish Highlands mystery, aspiring romance novelist Eden Elliott discovers the landscape isn’t the only thing that’s dramatic when a local woman is done in…

It’s early September in Glenkillen, Scotland, when American expat (and budding romance novelist) Eden Elliott is recruited by the local inspector to act as a special constable. Fortunately it’s in name only, since not much happens in Glenkillen.

For now Eden has her hands full with other things: preparing for the sheepdog trial on the MacBride farm—a fundraiser for the local hospice—and helping her friend Vicki with her first yarn club skein-of-the-month deliveries. Everything seems to be coming together—until the head of the welcoming committee is found strangled to death with a club member’s yarn.

Now Eden feels compelled to honor her commitment as constable and herd together the clues, figure out which ones are dogs, and which ones will lead to a ruthless killer . . .

Jennifer's Review

The second installment in Hannah Reed’s Scottish Highlands Mystery Series is entitled Hooked on Ewe and again follows budding romance author, Eden Elliott, as she continues her six month sojourn in Glenkillen, Scotland, gathering material for her steamy Scottish romance series. Eden loves the quaint village she has been staying in, making friends and drinking in the landscape and local color. She is surprised and gratified when, while working at a town fundraiser for a local hospice, she is asked to become a special constable by the local police inspector, Kevin Jamieson, a volunteer job that is intended to be in name only. Unfortunately, the job becomes more real when Eden discovers the body of the head of the festival’s welcoming committee, the irascible Isla Lindsey, murdered in another volunteer’s van. The murder weapon, a length of scarlet yarn made by her dear friend Vicki MacBride, that was left tied neatly around the victim’s neck, causes Eden to earnestly search for a dangerous killer.

Eden is obviously smitten with Glenkillen and its eccentric and varied residents, clearly thinking of staying, but knowing that would be difficult because her extended visa is expiring soon. She is still charmingly inept at the Scottish vernacular, but, with her innate warmth and openness, has made friends and is enjoying her stay. Eden can be a bit prideful and headstrong, along with her more pleasant qualities, but she is also sharp as a tack and observant, which makes her good choice for the inspector when he finds himself in need of a special constable. Jamieson, a brilliant detective but reticent man, prefers to work alone, but must have an assistant due to regulations. He is a handsome widower who could very easily be turned into a love interest for Eden. When Jamieson's rather bumbling but well meaning current constable, Sean Stevens, is accepted into the police academy, Jamieson is thrilled, and hopes that the busy romance American romance writer will be less of a nuisance than Sean. His hopes are definitely not realized. With Ilsa’s murder hitting so close to her friend, Eden is determined to do her duty and catch the killer, even if it means putting herself in danger and going against Jamieson's orders.

There are a myriad of supporting characters in the form of townspeople featured in the first novel of the series, who are fleshed out more in this book, and new characters introduced over the course of the mystery. Eden met Vicki, a high energy, talkative American transplant on the flight over to Scotland and now stays in a small cottage on the sheep farm Vicki inherited from her father. Kristine Derry is Vicki's cantankerous half-sister who runs the shop on the sheep farm, and John is her taciturn husband who manages the farm itself. Neither are thrilled to have Vicki back in Scotland and Kristine especially has a grudge against Eden for some perceived slight. Dale and Marge, who own Eden's favorite writing spot, the Kilt and Thistle Pub, are a happily married couple who are kind and hardworking. Bill Morris is the town drunk who has a fairly permanent spot at the pub, where he is rarely coherent. Charlotte Penn is a practical local who travels the countryside providing sheep shearing services to the various sheep farmers. Leith Cameron, a neighbor who runs a fishing and adventure business for tourists is robustly handsome and cheerful. Eden has based her romantic hero on Leith and often wonders if their new friendship could morph into something more intimate.

The list of suspects for the murder is a mile long, including anyone present at the festival, but especially those who received at knitting kit from Vicki, containing the hand spun scarlet yarn that was used to strangle the domineering Isla. Topping the list are Isla's long suffering, browbeaten husband Bryan and his sister Andrea, a mousy nurse who dotes on her loving brother. Other plausible suspects include Harry Taggart, the head of the hospice that benefited from the festival, who was also Isla's boss and a good friend of Bryan, and Oliver Wallace, a meek town resident who served on the festival's welcoming committee under Isla. Lily Young, a lifelong rival of Isla's who also worked at the hospice and served on the welcoming committee and Senga Hill, the retiree who was recently fired by Isla as an accountant for the hospice could also have committed the crime.

The mystery flows naturally, with hints and clues dropped throughout the story, ending with a satisfying action scene involving the killer and Eden in a life and death struggle. All of the characters have depth and realism and each one makes sense to the story, creating a lovely portrait of a small town in Scotland. With the solid foundation of the first two novels, this series could go far and, with the twist of a little romance thrown in one the side and the intricacies of the townsfolk explored even further, Glenkillen could become the Cabot Cove and Eden the Jessica Fletcher of Scotland.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Hardcover copy of Hooked on Ewe by Hannah Reed from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on August 3, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Off Kilter
A Scottish Highlands Mystery 1
Berkley, October 7, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

National bestselling author Hannah Reed brings mystery lovers the first in a brand-new series, in which a young writer finds herself swept up in a murder amidst the glens and lochs of the Scottish Highlands…

After the recent death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, thirty-something Eden Elliott is seriously in need of a fresh start. At the urging of her best friend, bestselling author Ami Pederson, Eden decides to embark on an open-ended trip to the picturesque village of Glenkillen in the Scottish Highlands, to do some hands-on research for a book of her own. But almost as soon as Eden arrives in the quaint town, she gets caught up in a very real drama…

The town’s sheep shearer is found murdered—clipped with his own shears—and the locals suspect Vicki MacBride, an outsider whose father’s recent death left her the surprise heir to his lucrative sheep farm. Eden refuses to believe the affable heiress is a murderer, but can she prove that someone is out to frame her new friend before she finds herself on the receiving end of more shear terror?

See Jennifer's Review here.