Goodreads Sweepstakes: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

About A Natural History of Dragons: Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age.

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends March 27)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

About Shades of Milk and Honey: Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends March 26)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Goodreads Sweepstakes: People of the Morning Star

People of the Morning Star by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal GearAbout People of the Morning Star: Award-winning archaeologists and New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear begin the stunning saga of the North American equivalent of ancient Rome in People of the Morning Star. 

The city of Cahokia, at its height, covered more than six square miles around what is now St. Louis and included structures more than ten stories high. Cahokian warriors and traders roamed from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. What force on earth would motivate hundreds of thousands of people to pick up, move hundreds of miles, and once plopped down amidst a polyglot of strangers, build an incredible city?

A religious miracle: the Cahokians believed that the divine hero Morning Star had been resurrected in the flesh. But not all is fine and stable in glorious Cahokia. To the astonishment of the ruling clan, an attempt is made on the living god’s life. Now it is up to Morning Star’s aunt, Matron Blue Heron, to keep it quiet until she can uncover the plot and bring the culprits to justice. If she fails, Cahokia will be torn asunder in warfare, rage, and blood as civil war consumes them all.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends March 31)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Sneak Peek: A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva

Read an excerpt of A Scourge of Vipers, the newest Liam Mulligan novel from Bruce DeSilva, publishing April 7.

CHAPTER 1

A snake—that’s what Mario Zerilli had called me. And now, just an hour later, something was slithering across my cracked kitchen linoleum. It was three feet long with lemon racing stripes twisting the length of its brown body. I watched it slide past the wheezing fridge and veer toward the kitchen table where my bare feet rested on the floor.

It raised its head and froze, its forked tongue flickering. It had caught my scent.

Continue reading

New Releases: 3/3/2015

The Burning Dark by Adam ChristopherFlip by David LubarThe Goblin Emperor by Katherine AddisonHell or Richmond by Ralph PetersJack Cloudie by Stephen HuntMadness in Solidar by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.Monster Musume Vol. 6 by OKAYADOThe Pumpkin Rollers and The Buckskin Lin by Elmer KeltonThe Sacred Blacksmith Vol. 7 by Isao Miura and Kotaro YamadaShipstar by Gregory Benford and Larry NivenTranshuman by Ben BovaUnwrapped Sky by Rjurik DavidsonWisp of a Thing by Alex BledsoeWords of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

See upcoming releases.

Goodreads Sweepstakes: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson Every month leading up to the October 6th release of Shadows of Self, we will be offering the chance to win a copy of The Alloy of Law on Goodreads!

About The Alloy of LawNew York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson returns to the exciting world of the Mistborn in The Alloy of Law.

In the three hundred years since the events of the Mistborn trilogy, science and technology have marched on. Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads, electric lighting, and even the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Yet even with these advances, the magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for those attempting to establish order and justice.

One is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax must now put away his guns and assume the duties incumbent upon the head of a noble house—until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends March 20)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

About Of Noble Family: Jane and Vincent have finally gotten some much-needed rest after their adventures in Italy when Vincent receives word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies. His brother, who manages the estate, is overwhelmed, and no one else in his family can go. Grudgingly, out of filial duty the couple decide to go. The sea voyage is long and Jane spends enough time unable to perform glamour that towards the end of the trip she discovers that she is with child. They are overjoyed, but when they finally arrive at the estate to complete what they expect to be routine legal tasks, they realize that nearly everything they came expecting to find had been a lie. Also, the entire estate is in disarray, with horrifying conditions and tensions with the local slave population so high that they are close to revolt.

Jane and Vincent’s sense of peril is screaming out for them to flee, but Vincent cannot stand to leave an estate connected with his family in such a condition. They have survived many grand and terrifying adventures in their time, but this one will test their skills and wits more than any they have ever encountered before, this time with a new life hanging in the balance. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Of Noble Family is the final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends March 30)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

A Spectrum of Worlds

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Written by V. E. Schwab

Setting.

To most writers, it’s a backdrop, to some even an afterthought, but to me, it’s always been a character. Setting is one of the very first—if not THE first—thing that comes to me when I’m writing a book. It’s not that I don’t care about the other pieces—the people and the plot and what have you—it’s that for me, as a writer and a reader, setting IS one of the most important aspects, and it’s always integral to the plot.

Sometimes, its importance is obvious, as in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, in which a second London lurks under the surface of the first, or Andy Weir’s The Martian, set entirely on the surface of Mars. It might be a time as well as a place, as in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, in which Ursula is continuously reliving the years leading up to World War II. Other times, it’s built into the fabric of the story in other ways, like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, set across a Canadian expanse after an apocalyptic disease. Or perhaps it creates a framework for the plot, as with Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train. Whatever the form it takes, and whatever the framework is fantasy, thriller, dystopian, historical, the fact remains that a good setting is a living, breathing element, a character all its own.

My newest book, A Darker Shade of Magic, houses not one but FOUR versions of London (Grey, Red, White, and Black), and each one takes a different shape: Grey the mundane world, Red the magical empire, White the wasteland, and Black the source of all power.

In essence, A Darker Shade of Magic—or ADSoM for short—gave me a chance to turn my setting into not only a character, but an entire supporting cast. Through the four iterations of London, bound together by only a name, I was able to explore not only time, but also space, and the ways that different actions shape the world in which they happen. The color terms and relative absence/presence of magic are not the only things that set the Londons apart. Though each ones occupies the same geographical footprint, with the Thames (or the Isle, or the Siljt) at its heart, each city was inspired by a different part of the world, a different aesthetic, a different breed of empire. The worlds sit, layered like pages of paper in a book.

Grey London, which you could call the template, is based on the world as we know it, modeled on early 19th century England, with its smoke-clogged streets and its ailing mad king. If there was magic once, it has been forgotten.

The crown jewel of the worlds, Red London, features a plush, eastern motif, full of spires and night markets, spices and luxury. Here magic thrives, woven into every part of life, respected by some, worshiped by others, and used by all.

Its neighbor, White London, a world once more powerful than Red, is now slowing dying, starved out by the magic it tries to control. It has the arctic air of the far north, ruled a pair of wolf-like twins, Astrid and Athos.

And Black London, well, no one knows. The site of a magical catastrophe, and sealed off from the other worlds, it’s the city known only through bedtime stories and nursery rhymes. Until now.

The characters are as much a product of their setting as anything else. The main characters, Kell and Lila, come from different Londons. Kell, a magician with the rare ability to move between worlds, belongs to the elite and fantastical Red London, while Lila has grown up as a street rat-turned thief in the magic-less Grey world. To them we add the Danes, the rulers of White London, desperate to hold on to power, and their servant, Holland, bound not by will, but by magic.

I’m a firm believer that when crafting a story, the world—or worlds—in which it’s set must come before the characters. It must shape them. For what are people, if not the product of their environments? A setting is wasted when it simply exists to fill the space behind the action. Similarly, when the characters and the world in which they live are bound by nothing more than convenience.

The characters of ADSoM are diverse, and so are the settings they occupy. When you step into the book, you step into several worlds, each one different, but all connected, as tangled with each other as the kings and queens, magicians, smugglers, and thieves who roam them. They are a strange cast, my Londons, but I can’t wait for you to meet them all.

Buy A Darker Shade of Magic today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow V. E. Schwab on Twitter at @veschwab, on Facebook, or visit the magical Londons online.

Dolls Aren’t Just For Children

The Doll Collection edited by Ellen Datlow
Written by Ellen Datlow

Dolls, perhaps more than any other object, demonstrate just how thin the line between love and fear, comfort and horror, can be. They are objects of love and sources of reassurance for children, coveted prizes for collectors, sources of terror and horror in numerous movies, television shows, books, and stories. Dolls fire our collective imagination, for better and—too often, for worse. From life-size dolls the same height as the little girls who carry them, to dolls whose long hair can “grow” even longer, to Barbie and her fashionable sisters, dolls do double duty as child’s play and the focus of adult art and adult fear.

—The Doll Collection, Introduction

I’m a doll lover. I admit it. I collect whole dolls and parts of dolls: heads and arms and legs Datlow_VoodooDolland torsos. Voodoo dolls (I used to go down to New Orleans every few years and each time would discover different styles); three-faced dolls, the kind whose faces change from sleeping to smiling to crying with a twist of a little gadget at the top of the head; kewpie dolls, the adorable creatures invented by Rose O’Neill; Japanese kokeshi dolls, made of wood with painted faces and bodies. A changeable Little Red Riding Hood/wolf/grandma doll given to me by a friend. A two headed Chernobyl kitty made for me by that same person, inspired by my account of the tour I took to the infamous nuclear accident site in Ukraine, and given to me by my class, the summer I taught Clarion West. The next time I taught, several years later, my students each made me a doll on a stick modeled after themselves. My love of dolls is no secret. Anyone who enters my apartment can witness that interest.

Why do I collect weird dolls? No idea. I’ve recently found photographs of me as a young child with a doll I was given by my grandparents. She’s pretty normal. I remember owning a knock off of the popular “Ginny” doll of the 1950s. Again, nothing weird about her. My mom wouldn’t buy me or my sister Barbie dolls—she thought they were too mature for kids, but also they and their clothing were expensive.

So I never owned a Barbie doll—until an enterprising friend created a three-faced Barbie Datlow_VampireBarbiefor me: Piranha Barbie (with a mouth made of a wicked-looking sea shell), Vampire Barbie (a couple of very pointy canine teeth) , and the dog-faced girl (not adapted from a Barbie, but instead a baby doll). I’ve also been privileged to visit Japan’s largest private collection of Barbie Dolls, owned by a Tokyo businessman.

I personally am not creeped-out by most dolls (except perhaps the very disturbing, lifelike dolls created by Japanese artist Katan Amano), but I know many people who are. Why might that be? Dolls often reside in “the uncanny valley” a phrase that refers to a theory developed by robotics professor Masahiro Mori in 1970: it posits that objects with features that are human-like, that look and move almost, but not quite, like actual human beings, elicit visceral feelings of revulsion in many people. The “valley” in question refers to the change in our comfort with these objects—our comfort level increases as the objects look more human, until, suddenly, they look simultaneously too human and not quite human enough, and our comfort level drops off sharply, only to rise again on the other side of the valley when something appears and moves exactly like a human being.

Pre-order The Doll Collection today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow Ellen on Twitter at @EllenDatlow, on Facebook, or visit her website.

On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in March

The Glass Arrow by Kristen SimmonsOf Irish Blood by Mary Pat KellyFinn Fancy Necromancy

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in March! Once a month, we’re collecting info about all of our upcoming author events. Check and see who’ll be coming to a city near you:

Ellen Datlow, The Doll Collection

Tuesday, March 10
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Books provided by WORD Bookstore.
Brooklyn, NY
7:00 PM

Monday, March 16
Jean Cocteau Cinema
Santa Fe, NM
6:30 PM

Saturday, March 21
Functionally Literate
Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Also with Pat Rushin and Teege Braune.
Orlando, FL
7:00 PM

James Grady, Last Days of the Condor

Wednesday, March 11
Barnes & Noble at The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC
6:00 PM

Randy Henderson, Finn Fancy Necromancy

Tuesday, March 3
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park, WA
7:00 PM

Thursday, March 5
Village Books
Bellingham, WA
7:00 PM

Leanna Renee Hieber, The Eterna Files

Tuesday, March 3
Barnes & Noble
West Chester, OH
7:00 PM

Mary Pat Kelly, Of Irish Blood

Friday, March 6
Hackney’s On Lake
Songs and Stories with Catherine O’Connell
Glenview, IL
12:00 PM

Orland Park Public Library
Irish Tales and Tunes with Catherine O’Connell
Orland Park, IL
7:00 PM

Saturday, March 7
Irish American Heritage Center
Songs and Stories with Catherine O’Connell
Chicago, IL
1:00 PM

Monday, March 9
Evergreen Park Public Library
Evergreen Park, IL
6:30 PM

Wednesday, March 11
Anderson’s Bookshop
Naperville, IL
7:00 PM

Hank Phillippi Ryan, Truth Be Told

Thursday, March 26
West Boynton Branch Library
Boynton Beach, FL
2:00 PM

Kristen Simmons, The Glass Arrow

Saturday, March 7
NoVa Teen Book Festival
Washington-Lee High School
Books provided by One More Page Books.
Arlington, VA
2:00 PM

Wednesday, March 18
Inkwood Books
Tampa, FL
7:00 PM

Thursday, March 26
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Crestview Hills, KY
7:00 PM

Jo Walton, The Just City

Monday, March 16
57th Street Books
Chicago, IL
6:30 PM