Goodreads Sweepstakes: Dead Man’s Reach by D.B. Jackson

Dead Man's Reach by D.B. Jackson About Dead Man’s Reach: Let the battle for souls begin in Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth, stand-alone novel in D.B. Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.

Boston, 1770: The city is a powder keg as tensions between would-be rebels and loyalist torries approach a breaking point and one man is willing to light the match that sets everything off to ensure that he has his revenge.

The presence of the British Regulars has made thieftaking a hard business to be in and the jobs that are available are reserved for Sephira Pryce. Ethan Kaille has to resort to taking on jobs that he would otherwise pass up, namely protecting the shops of Torries from Patriot mobs. But, when one British loyalist takes things too far and accidentally kills a young boy, even Ethan reconsiders his line of work. Even more troubling is that instances of violence in the city are increasing, and Ethan often finds himself at the center of the trouble.

Once Ethan realizes why he is at the center of all the violence, he finds out that some enemies don’t stay buried and will stop at nothing to ruin Ethan’s life. Even if that means costing the lives of everyone in Boston, including the people that Ethan loves most.

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(Ends June 18)

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Sneak Peek: The Iron Assassin by Ed Greenwood

The Iron Assassin by Ed Greenwood Energetic young inventor Jack Straker believes he has created a weapon to defend the Crown: a reanimated, clockwork-enhanced corpse he can control. He introduces “the Iron Assassin” to the highly placed Lords who will decide if Straker’s invention becomes a weapon of the Lion–or something to be destroyed.

Read an excerpt from Ed Greenwood’s The Iron Assassin, publishing June 9th.

SEPTEMMER 30

He is falling.

It is over. All over.

The game lost, and his life with it.

The soft, tiny glows of a thousand distant gaslamps rise past Langford’s gaze as he falls, despair rising bitterly to choke him.

Below, the dark ribbon of the Thames; around it, London sprawling away in all directions into the fog-shrouded night.

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Massacre at Goliad eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99

Massacre at Goliad by Elmer KeltonThe ebook for Massacre at Goliad by Elmer Kelton is now on sale for $2.99!*

About Massacre at Goliad: When Texan-born Josh Buckalew met Teresa, a young and beautiful Mexican woman, it was love at first sight. But with the Alamo recently sieged and destroyed, Josh knew this rosebud love would be unobtainable on account of the war thorns harrowing the country.

So the Buckalew brothers, Josh and Thomas, along with Josh’s friend Muley, the man-child, come together with other Texans to protect their land at Goliad against the Mexicans who have just ravished the Alamo.

But what’s at stake for Josh? Will he listen to his brother and become a war hero, eradicating Mexican control? Or will he follow his heart and take Teresa far, far away from all of the bloodshed?

Buy Massacre at Goliad today: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

*sale ends May 30

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

Last First Snow by Max GladstoneAbout Last First Snow: Last First Snow: the fourth novel set in Max Gladstone’s compellingly modern fantasy world of the Craft Sequence

Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation-especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods’ decaying edicts. As long as the gods’ wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill’s people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne’s work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace-or failing that, to save as many people as they can.

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(Ends June 17)

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Sneak Peek: Hover by Anne A. Wilson

Hover by Anne A. Wilson

Read an excerpt from Hover, a thrilling, emotional women’s journey written by a former navy pilot, Anne A. Wilson.

Chapter 1

Frigid water fills the cockpit. It seeps into my boots and crawls up my flight suit, slipping through the zippers and finding every seam. I struggle against the straps that bind me to my seat, the water moving steadily upward, flowing around my waist, sliding up my torso, encircling my chest. It is dark. I can’t see the water, but I hear it, sloshing over my shoulders, licking at my neck, splashing and gurgling, inching toward my ears. The cockpit rolls right. I crane my helmeted head upward, stealing one last breath before I’m pulled under.

The aircraft tumbles. I grab at the seat rails, muscles rigid, holding myself in place. My instincts scream to disconnect the harness and free myself. Immediately. But I remember the instructions from my training. Wait until all violent motion stops.

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Tortuous Training Devices: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Regency England

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
Written by Kathleen Baldwin

Part 3

You brave soul—after all my warnings you still want to time travel back to the Regency era. You must really like guys with high starched collars. Okay then, we’ve covered dress, keeping your brains under wraps, linguistic pitfalls, and the danger of fans. Now, it’s time for the all-important lesson on manners.

Pretend you are a super rich teenage girl. Well, maybe you really are super rich, I don’t know. But supposing you were mega-wealthy and lived in the biggest house in town, how would your family expect you to behave?

RichGirlWould you carry a little dog like Paris Hilton and make the rounds at all the trendiest clubs? Would your parents want you to go to college and major in something classy, like renaissance art? Or maybe you would be required to play the violin and study medicine.

Things were different for young ladies during the Regency era.

As we discussed in A Time Traveler’s Guide to Regency England Part 1 and Part 2 keeping your intelligence under wraps was a must. It would be okay to play the pianoforte, but not study medicine. You can have a little dog like Hilton, but you can’t go anywhere unescorted. No late night balls, soirees, or opera houses without your mother or your grumpy Aunt Agatha tagging along to keep you out of mischief.

Do’s and Don’ts, or Else…

If you follow the herd and do what everyone else is doing you’ll probably be fine.

Peggy Ann Garner as young Jane EyreHere are four helpful hints:

First: Mind your posture. Posture was extremely important to Regency high society. So keep that spine straight or else you may find yourself strapped to a torturous device called a backboard.

Backboards consisted of a slab of wood with leather straps tying the young lady into proper position. Such boards were used extensively until the 20th century.

Second: Whatever you do, don’t get cheeky. Corporal punishment was still the mode. Women and children were legally allowed to be whipped so long as the rod used to beat them was not any larger than a man’s thumb. That’s a pretty hefty stick if anyone were to ask me. So, mind your guardians and chaperones, and don’t talk back.

Another common method of reforming a smart-alecky daughter was to lock her in a closet for several days with only bread and water to eat. If that didn’t get results there was always a reform school like the one in A School for Unusual Girls.

FoodForkThird: Table manners. It was the custom to put a little bit of each kind of food on your fork, a sliver of parsnip, a penny carrot, a bite of ham, a tuft of asparagus, a small slice of roast beef. This all goes down your gullet together. Good luck. It isn’t easy. Try stabbing one pea. You may want to practice this task before you pop into your time machine.

Fourth: When a lull arises in the conversation a well-bred young lady may be expected to strike an attitude. How does one strike an attitude, you ask? Are those awful thumb-width whipping sticks involved?

No. An attitude is a pose based on classical Greek art, or historical figures such as Rebecca or Cleopatra. As in charades, guests at the gathering would then guess which historical figure the young lady was impersonating. Some of the attitudes were fairly provocative, for instance Venus or Aphrodite. Young ladies practiced their poses, and even hired tutors to instruct them, all in the hope of performing and impressing gentlemen.

You see, there were fun and games to be had after all. Just stay away from backboards and whipping sticks. Bon Voyage!

Preorder A School for Unusual Girls today:
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Follow Kathleen Baldwin on Twitter at @KatBaldwin, on Facebook, or visit her online.

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman About Dark Orbit: From Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit,a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder. Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.

Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.

Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends June 16)

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Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ Like Lagertha Really Exist?

Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha

By Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

As archaeologists, we’ve spent over thirty years studying warrior women from a variety of cultures around the world, and, we have to tell you, shieldmaidens pose a problem.

Stories of Viking warrior women are found in a number of historical documents, but several come from factually unreliable heroic sagas, fornaldarsogur. A good example is Hervor’s and Heidrek’s Saga. After the hero, Angantyr, falls in battle his daughter Hervor takes her father’s sword and uses it to avenge his death by killing his enemies. There are similar stories of Brynhilde and Freydis, in Sigurd’s Saga and the Saga of the Greenlanders. But in each case the story is more about myth-making than fact. As well, these are tales of individual women who are highly skilled with swords and fight in battles, but give no evidence for a ‘community’ of women warriors, which the shieldmaidens are supposed to have been.

There are, however, more reliable historical resources. In the 1070s, for example, Adam of Bremen (chronicling the Hamburg-Bremen archdiocese) wrote that a northern region of Sweden near lake Malaren was inhabited by war-like women. But he doesn’t say how many women, nor does he clarify what “war-like” means. Were these women just zealously patriotic, bad-tempered, aggressive, or maybe even too independent for his Medieval Christian tastes? It’s hard to say.

Then we have the splendid references to ‘communities’ of shieldmaidens found in the works of 12th century Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, whose writing is sure to make every modern woman livid. Keep in mind, Saxo was likely the secretary of the Archbishop of Lund, and had specific Christian notions about appropriate female behavior. He wrote, “There were once women in Denmark who dressed themselves to look like men and spent almost every minute cultivating soldiers’ skills. …They courted military celebrity so earnestly that you would have guessed they had unsexed themselves. Those especially who had forceful personalities or were tall and elegant embarked on this way of life. As if they were forgetful of their true selves they put toughness before allure, aimed at conflicts instead of kisses, tasted blood, not lips, sought the clash of arms rather than the arm’s embrace, fitted to weapons hands which should have been weaving, desired not the couch but the kill…” (Fisher 1979, p. 212).

Okay. Saxo says there were ‘communities’ of shieldmaidens. Apparently, he means more than one community. How many? Ten? Fifty? Five thousand? In his The Danish History, Books I-IX, he names Alfhild, Sela, and Rusila as shieldmaidens, and also names three she-captains, Wigibiorg, who fell on the field at Bravalla, Hetha, who became queen of Zealand, and Wisna, whose hand was cut off by Starcad at Bravalla. He also writes about Lathgertha and Stikla. So…eight women? They might make up one community, but ‘communities?’

Historical problems like these have caused many scholars conclude that shieldmaidens were little more than a literary motif, perhaps devised to counter the influences of invading Christians and their notions of proper submissive female behavior. There are good arguments for this position (Lewis-Simpson, 2000, pp. 295-304). However, historically most cultures had women warriors, and where there were more than a few women warriors, they formed communities. If the shieldmaidens existed, we should find the evidence in the archaeological record.

For example, do we see them represented in Viking material culture, like artwork? Oh, yes. There are a number of iconographic representations of what may be female warriors. Women carrying spears, swords, shields, and wearing helmets, are found on textiles and brooches, and depicted as metallic figurines, to name a few. One of the most intriguing recent finds is a silver figurine discovered in Harby, Denmark, in 2012. The figurine appears to be a woman holding an upright sword in her right hand and a shield in her left.  Now, here’s the problem: These female warrior images may actually be depictions of valkyries, ‘choosers of the slain.’ Norse literature says that the war god, Odin, sent armed valkyries into battle to select the warriors worthy of entering the Hall of the Slain, Valhalla. Therefore, these images might represent real warrior women, but they could also be mythic warrior women.

And where are the burials of Viking warrior women? Are there any?

This is tricky. What would the burial of a shieldmaiden look like? How would archaeologists know if they found one?  Well, archaeologists recognize the burials of warriors in two primary ways:

1) Bioarchaeology. If you spend your days swinging a sword with your right hand, the bones in that arm are larger, and you probably have arthritis in your shoulder, elbow and wrist. In other words, you have bone pathologies from repetitive stress injuries. At this point in time, we are aware of no Viking female burials that unequivocally document warrior pathologies.  But here’s the problem: If a Viking woman spent every morning using an axe to chop wood for her breakfast fire or swinging a scythe to cut her hay field—and we know Viking women did both—the bone pathologies would be very similar to swinging a sword or practicing with her war axe. Are archaeologists simply misidentifying warrior women pathologies? Are we attributing them to household activities because, well, they’re women. Surely they weren’t swinging a war axe. See? The psychological legacy of living in a male dominated culture can have subtle effects, though archaeologists work very hard not to fall prey to such prejudices.

2) Artifacts. Sometimes warriors wear uniforms, or are buried with the severed heads of their enemies, but they almost always have weapons: swords, shields, bows, arrows, stilettos, spears, helmets, or mail-coats. A good example is the Kaupang burial.

There are many Viking “female weapons burials,” as archaeologists call them. Let us give you just a few examples. At the Gerdrup site in Denmark the woman was buried with a spear at her feet. This is a really interesting site for another reason: The woman’s grave contains three large boulders, two that rest directly on top of her body, which was an ancient method of keeping souls in graves—but that’s a discussion for another article. In Sweden, three graves of women (at Nennesmo and Klinta) contained arrowheads. The most common weapon included in female weapons burials are axes, like those in the burials at the BB site from Bogovej in Langeland (Denmark), and the cemetery at Marem (Norway). The Kaupang female weapons burials also contained axeheads, as well as spears, and in two instances the burial contained a shield boss.

There are many other examples of female weapons burials. For those interested in the details please take a look at the Analecta Archaeologica Ressoviensia, Vol. 8, pages 273-340.

In conclusion, did the shieldmaidens exist?  When taken as a whole, the literary, historical, and archaeological evidence suggests that there were individual Viking women who cultivated warriors’ skills and, if the sagas can be believed, some achieved great renown in battle. Were there communities of Viking women warriors, as Saxo claims?  There may have been, but there just isn’t enough proof to definitively say so…yet.

However, Lagertha, you personally are still on solid ground. You go, girl.

Lewis-Simpson, Shannon. Vinland Revisited. The Norse World at the Turn of the First Millennium. Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc., 2000: 295-304.

IMAGE: History Channel

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Kathleen O’Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear are Anthropologists and award winning authors who have authored and co-authored over 40 books. Their next book, People of the Songtrail, releases on May 26th.

Follow the Gears on Twitter at @GearBooks, on Facebook, or visit them online.

An Evening with Cixin Liu, Hosted by John Scalzi

Cixin LiuThe-Three-Body-ProblemScalzi Credit Athena Scalzi

China’s best-selling and most beloved science fiction writer, Cixin Liu, will be joined by Hugo Award-winning sci-fi author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War) to discuss the art of sci-fi writing and the English-language publication of Liu’s groundbreaking trilogy The Three-Body Problem. A reception will be held afterwards where the authors will be signing their books, which will be available for sale.

Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Time (Talk): 6:00-7:15 pm
Time (Reception): 7:15-8:30 pm
Location: China Institute Library, 125 East 65th Street, New York, NY
Event Fees:
Talk: $10 for members of the China Institute/$15 non-members. Reception Only: $5

To register for the event please visit http://www.chinainstitute.org/art-culture/programs-events/.

If you wish to only attend the reception, tickets can be purchased at the door starting at 7pm. Please register with Aaron Nicholson (anicholson@chinainstitute.org; 212-744-8181 ext 138).

Cixin Liu, or Da Liu, as he is affectionately called by his fans, is the most prolific and popular science fiction writer in the People’s Republic of China. Liu is an eight-time winner of the Galaxy Award (the Chinese Hugo) and a winner of the Nebula Award. Prior to becoming a writer he worked as an engineer in a power plant in Yangquan, Shanxi.

John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel for Redshirts, and his debut novel Old Man’s War was a finalist for Hugo Award. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Android’s Dream, The Last Colony, The Human Division and Lock In. He has won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. Material from his widely read blog Whatever has also earned him two other Hugo Awards.

New Releases: 5/19/2015

Dance in the Vampire Bund II: Scarlet Order, Vol. 2 by Nozomu TamakiThe Hanged Man by P. N. ElrodHidden Talents by David LubarLucifer and the Biscuit Hammer Vol. 5-6 by Satoshi MizukamiMy Real Children by Jo WaltonA School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen BaldwinSkies of Ash by Rachel Howzell HallSly Mongoose by Tobias S. BuckellWhen the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner

See upcoming releases.