Monday, September 30, 2019

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow

A Thousand Doors of January
Author:  Alix E. Harrow
Publisher:  Redhook, September 10, 2019
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (print); US$ 9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780316421997(print); 9780316421980 (eBook)

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

Melanie's Thoughts

Living as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January Scaller is as much of a rare curiosity as the many rare treasures that fill his mansion. January spends much of her life alone and lonely with her father off searching for new treasures for Mr. Locke and the New England Archaeological Society. When she finds a strange book that tells a story of mysterious doors that lead to dangerous and exotic places her life starts to change with every turn of the page.

I absolutely love The Thousand Doors of January. I was really very pleasantly surprised to discover that this was a debut novel. Harrow has crafted an excellent story within a story that carefully unfolds as January reads the book - The Ten Thousand Doors. It took me a while to realise what was happening and how the story is interwoven with January's life. I don't want to say too much and ruin the surprise.

In my opinion Harrow mastered the three essential components of a good book - characterisation, setting, and plot. I found January completely believable as the lonely young girl who wanders the halls of Locke's mansion desperate for her father's attention. Despite having a companion and a pet January is very much on her own and even more so when her father fails to return from one of his missions abroad. This 'aloneness' and loneliness is a prevalent theme throughout. Harrow uses multiple settings for her story - everywhere from a luxurious mansion, to a desolate farm in the midwest to a multitude of exotic and dangerous 'other' worlds. Harrow writing is descriptive enough that you can feel the hot wind on your cheek or smell the perfumed air yet she does this without being verbose. Now about the plot. As I mentioned earlier there is a story within a story and this is the same with the plot. There are two main dimensions to the plot - one is a love story or the search for love and the other is about overcoming the odds. I know this sounds very vague but I don't want to accidentally give anything away by describing too much of what happens.

The Thousand Doors of January is a great book that had me gripped from page 1 all the way to the end. It has easily made it into my top 5 books of the year....and the year isn't over yet. I am also pretty sure that it will make it into my top 20 fave books ever! All these accolades and Harrow is new author. Imagine what is going to come next for Harrow! I can hardly wait.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain

The Qwillery is pleased to announce our second Semi-Finalist: Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain.

This also means that the following books have been eliminated:

Stone Bound (Chaos and Retribution 1) by Eric T. Knight;

The Borrowed Souls by Paul B. Kohler;

Broken Crossroads (Knights of the Shadows 1) by Patrick LeClerc;

Skies of Olympus (The Immortality Trials 1) by Eliza Raine;


Heavy Dirty Soul by A. A. Warne.

Blade's Edge
Chronicles of Gensokai 1
Artemis Dingo Productions, January 23, 2015
eBook, 314 pages
 Also available in Hardcover and Trade Paperback

Mishi and Taka live each day of their lives with the shadow of death lurking behind them. The struggle to hide the elemental powers that mark the two girls as Kisōshi separates them from the other orphans, yet forges a deep bond between them.

When Mishi is dragged from the orphanage at the age of eight, the girls are unsure if or when they will find each other again. While their powers grow with each season-cycle, the girls must come to terms with their true selves--Mishi as a warrior, Taka as a healer--as they forge separate paths which lead to the same horrifying discovery...

The Rōjū council’s dark secret is one that it has spent centuries killing to keep, and Mishi and Taka know too much. The two young women have overcome desperate odds in a society where their very existence is a crime, but now that they know the Rōjū’s secret they find themselves fighting for much more than their own survival.

Phil Parker's Review:

The success of this story comes from its originality and vivid portrayal of life for two orphan girls in medieval Japan – at least a fantastical version of that country. I quickly became fascinated with not just the plight of Taka and Mishi, but by the culture in which they lived. The world created by Virginia McClain is so utterly realistic. Beautiful. Violent. Unfair.

The author lived in Japan for some years and her love for the country and understanding of its distinctive culture is apparent in every aspect of the story. It’s so easy to assume that the challenges the girls face are no different to those of a few hundred years ago. The only difference is that in this story, magic exists. It’s what makes it such an original story. Magic operates in harmony with the natural world, derived from fire, water, air, and the earth.

And this is where the inherent tension is derived. Females are not allowed to possess magic. Discovery of their ‘kiso’ at birth leads to their death. Taka and Mishi survive only by the help of people desperate to eliminate this barbaric practice. The story follows the girls’ journey (both physical and allegorical) as they develop their distinctive kiso while growing up into women capable of fighting in this underground movement.

We quickly sympathise with the girls’ plights, we cheer those who support them and despise those who use violence to maintain the repressive and immoral Roju regime. World building is highly detailed. It takes time to familiarise yourself with so many terms for roles, clothes, weapons, rituals and the like but this is one of the features that makes the story so unique. Ms McClain sets her story on the imaginary island of Gensokai. This medieval land is vividly drawn, using language which is rich and vibrant, immersing you in its landscape, ecology, cultures and society.

And yes, there is even a dragon.

I really enjoyed this book. Read it within a few days. It’s not filled with battles and swordplay, there are no wizards and even the dragon is restricted in its involvement. It is a story of great subtlety. The two protagonists are not the inevitable ‘kick-ass’ type that pervade fantasy stories either. Their disciplined development is painful, harsh and mirrors the process of acquiring finesse in any martial art. It’s just that the finesse includes magical expertise too. These are real women, with flaws and doubts, but with the determination to fight inequality. In this respect this is a story which resonates with our own world and that makes this book an even stronger, more commercially viable, product as a result.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming novels by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Andrew Bannister (2019)

Stone Clock
Spin Trilogy 3
Tor Books, November 19, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

From Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine and Iron Gods, comes the final thrilling, heart-in-mouth science fiction novel of the Spin.

A hundred millennia has passed since the events of Iron Gods. The Spin is dying, and its few inhabitants live unknowingly in the relative paradise of one of hundreds of Virtual Realities—'vrealities'—or they scrape a living out of remains of the real world.

As the vrealities drain the last resources of the Spin, a rebellion which could kill millions sparks and gains momentum.

In a remote star system, an ancient insectoid called Skarbo the Horologist has studied The Spin for several lifetimes. Himself near to death, he makes a final journey to look his last on the object of his studies. There he learns of the artificial system's past, the real nature of the vrealities—and the part he has to play in theirfuture...

The Spin Trilogy
Creation Machine
Iron Gods
Stone Clock

Spin Trilogy 1
Spin Trilogy 2

Rebecca Roanhorse (2018)

Resistance Reborn
Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Del Rey, November 5, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

In this pivotal prequel to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the heroes of the Resistance—Poe Dameron, General Leia Organa, Rey, and Finn—must fight back from the edge of oblivion.

The Resistance is in ruins. In the wake of their harrowing escape from Crait, what was once an army has been reduced to a handful of wounded heroes. Finn, Poe, Rey, Rose, Chewbacca, Leia Organa—their names are famous among the oppressed worlds they fight to liberate. But names can only get you so far, and Leia’s last desperate call for aid has gone unanswered.

From the jungles of Ryloth to the shipyards of Corellia, the shadow of the First Order looms large, and those with the bravery to face the darkness are scattered and isolated. If hope is to survive, the Resistance must journey throughout the galaxy, seeking out more leaders—including those who, in days gone by, helped a nascent rebellion topple an empire. Battles will be fought, alliances will be forged, and the Resistance will be reborn.

K. B. Wagers (2016)

Down Among the Dead
The Farian War 2
Orbit, December 3, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Gunrunner empress Hail Bristol must navigate alien politics and deadly plots to prevent an interspecies war, in this second novel in the Farian War space opera trilogy.

In a surprise attack that killed many of her dearest subjects, Hail Bristol, empress of Indrana, has been captured by the Shen — the most ruthless and fearsome aliens humanity has ever encountered. As she plots her escape, the centuries-long war between her captors and the Farians, their mortal enemies and Indrana’s oldest allies, finally comes to a head.

When her captors reveal a shocking vision of the future, Hail must make the unexpectedly difficult decision she’s been avoiding: whether to back the Shen or the Farians.

Staying neutral is no longer an option. Will Hail fight? Or will she fall?

For more from K. B. Wagers, check out:

The Farian War
There Before the Chaos
Down Among the Dead

The Indranan War
Behind the Throne
After the Crown
Beyond the Empire

The Farian War 1

A Pale Light in the Black
NeoG 1
Harper Voyager, March 3, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

The rollicking first entry in a unique science fiction series that introduces the Near-Earth Orbital Guard—NeoG—a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard.

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback—until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own—away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option—and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core . . . a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

SLOW CITY BLUES Coming in February 2020


ABOVE: interior artwork from the forthcoming Slow City Blues.

PORTLAND, Ore. 09/24/2019 — Image Comics is thrilled to announce an all-new, ongoing genre-bending series by writer Samuel Haine, penciler Shawn Moll, inker John Livesay, colorist JD Smith, and letterer Thomas Mauer, who have teamed up with comic book industry icon Jim Shooter for—Slow City Blues—set to launch February 2020.

"This is a dream come true. I would have never imagined in a million years that the fantastical world of Slow City Blues, that I came up with while I was slingin’ beers as a bartender, would be brought to life by the caliber of talent Livesay brought together. I could gush about our team for hours if you let me! I mean for cryin' out loud, I get to work with Jim Shooter. JIM FREAKIN' SHOOTER! He’s been instrumental in helping us realize a rich world full of kooky, complex characters and deep emotional resonance. Not to mention that he and Livesay were able to convince some of the greatest artists of all time to do covers for the book,” said Haine. “It's a surreal feeling being able to put your very first comic book out into the world through a publisher as prolific as Image. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, and love have gone into these books, and I’m so grateful to everybody involved. It’s been one hell of a wild ride and I am very excited to have the opportunity to share it with everyone!"

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Please welcome Alix E. Harrow to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was published on September 10, 2019 by Redhook.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Alix:  My mom had an MS DOS game where you could write and illustrate picture books (if anyone played this and remembers what it was called, @ me on Twitter, Google has failed me). When I was five or six I wrote a story about a little girl whose wicked mother tried to make her eat poison bread. It was titled, “The Poison Bread.” I peaked early.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Alix:  Like most writers, I’m actually a cobbled-together mess of strategies and schemes, most of which collapse at the first sign of any actual writing. I employ elaborate outlines, but I’ve recently admitted to myself that those outlines are almost always lies. They serve more as a very, very rough first draft than as a map.

In conclusion, I would like to phone a friend.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alix:  The crushing terror that each decent idea I have—each decent sentence I write—is the last one. That there is a finite number of good words assigned to each person and I used all mine up being funny on the groupchat with my brothers or sending overwrought emails to my college friends.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Alix:  Not be glib, but the answer is literally everything. Twitter threads and podcasts and talking about Twitter-threads and podcasts with my husband; good music and bad music and in-between music I can perfectly tune out to think about other things; paperback romances and my kid’s picture books and Spiderverse. Someone mentioned that my book reminded them of the movie The Journey of Natty Gann, and I realized in a single blinding flash that Natty Gann is a girl-and-her-dog-questing-across-historical-America-to-find-her-father story that deeply informed The Ten Thousand Doors.

TQDescribe The Ten Thousand Doors of January using only 5 words.

Alix:  Girl finds door; adventures ensue.

TQTell us something about The Ten Thousand Doors of January that is not found in the book description.

Alix:  There are a lot of footnotes, y’all. Like, from the book-flap you might go in thinking this is a fast-paced YA adventure full of hijinks and possibly sword-play, but I just want you to know that it shares more DNA with Jonathan Strange than with, say, Six of Crows.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Ten Thousand Doors of January?

Alix:  I started with a childhood love of portal fantasies and a lonely kid’s longing to find a door on the back acres of her Kentucky hayfield, and then waded into postcolonial theory. In grad school I studied race and empire in turn of the century British children’s literature, which meant I reevaluated a lot of my formative books and started to wonder what it would look like if I turned a portal fantasy inside out and backwards, and made it about homegoing rather than conquering some mythical, foreign land.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ten Thousand Doors of January? Why did you set the novel in the early 1900s?

Alix:  I’d argue the six years I spent getting an undergrad and then a graduate degree in history were the bulk of my research, although no number of degrees is going to fill in all the practical, mundane details you need to write a novel (like: where were the rural train stations located in 1911? How much was a laundry-worker paid per hour?). And no number of degrees is going to really, genuinely illuminate the lived experiences of people of color in the American past—that required a lot of extracurricular reading of memoirs and letters from women in similar circumstances to January.

And I chose the turn of the twentieth century because it was in many ways the peak of global imperialism. Because every empire believed in that moment their horizons would stretch on forever, that their suns would never set. One of the conceits in the book is that Doors introduce change and upheaval, and are the natural enemies of the status quo; I wanted to choose a historical moment where that effect was palpable.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  The Orbit/Redhook team very generously asked if I had any particular cover ideas, early on. I sent them a very excitable list of possibilities, which they wisely and humanely disposed of, before sending me Lisa Marie Pompilio’s brilliant cover. There wasn’t any back and forth or nit-picking or adjusting, because it was perfect and everyone knew it. She hadn’t captured anything actually, specifically from the story, but she’d captured the feeling—wonder and mystery and things waiting just out of sight.

TQIn The Ten Thousand Doors of January who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alix:  Every character was difficult to write, because characterization is the thing I’m worst at. It comes to me slowly, rising to the surface through a dozen drafts. (But the actual answer is: Adelaide was the easiest because she’s based on my own mom, and Samuel was the hardest because he’s based on my husband and therefore almost too good to be true).

TQDoes The Ten Thousand Doors of January touch on any social issues?

Alix:  I would argue that every novel--and every book, and every grocery list, probably--touches on social issues. Many people have said it better than me, but essentially: all stories are political, it’s just that some of their politics are so near the status-quo that some of us don’t notice them.

In conclusion: hell yes it touches on social issues.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  Weirdly, the line that’s stuck with me as the most practical and useful is: “Hearts aren’t chessboards and they don’t play by the rules.”

TQWhat's next?

Alix:  My next project is another standalone historical fantasy! This one is pitched as “suffragists, but witches,” set around the early American women’s movement except instead of fighting for the vote, they’re fighting for the return of women’s magic. It’s still in hideous, shambling draft-form right now, but it’s getting there!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alix:  Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Redhook, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

About Alix

Alix E. Harrow is a part-time historian with a full-time desk job, a lot of opinions, and excessive library fines. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons,, Apex, and other venues. She and her husband live in Kentucky under the cheerful tyranny of their kids and pets. Find her at @AlixEHarrow on Twitter

Website  ~  Twitter @AlixEHarrow

Monday, September 23, 2019

Celebrate Banned Books Week with Image Comics and the ALA

Celebrate Banned Books Week At Your Library With Image Comics & the American Library Association

PORTLAND, Ore. 09/23/2019 — Image Comics is celebrating Banned Books Week with the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table by producing a week of Library Livestream webinars featuring creators and librarians in conversation on a number of pressing topics.

Libraries around the country are invited to welcome their patrons for these exciting creator conversations during Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read.

The webinars are scheduled daily during Banned Books Week - September 23–27 at 12 pm CT (1 pm ET / 10 am PT) and will be hosted on the Zoom platform and live-streamed to the American Library Association YouTube channel.


Andre R. Frattino (SIMON SAYS) and Sanford Green (BITTER ROOT) in conversation with Dr. Katie Monnin (Author of 8 books on teaching graphic novels, Why so serious? Productions Founder) about banned voices throughout history.

Sloane Leong (PRISM STALKER) and Henry Barajas (VOZ DE M.A.Y.O. TATA RAMBO) in conversation with Alea Perez (GNCRT President-Elect) about banned people, the legacy of colonialism in literature and popular culture, and the rise of post-colonial voices.

Ronald Wimberly (BLACK HISTORY IN ITS OWN WORDS) and Nate Powell (MARCH) in conversation with Scott Bonner (IFRT, Ferguson Municipal Public Library Director) about the role of censorship in civil rights movements, and how their comics address legacies of erasure.

Michelle Perez (THE PERVERT) and Grace Ellis (MOONSTRUCK) in conversation with Monica Barette (Principal Librarian at Chula Vista Library) about the disproportionately high incidence of bans and challenges levied against LGBTQ+ books and programs in libraries.

David F. Walker (BITTER ROOT) in conversation with Ray James (IFRT Coalition Building Committee) about how privatization impacts access, particularly as it relates to prison libraries. This discussion will also touch on gatekeeping and biases.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has six individuals on the Board of Directors: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and Eric Stephenson. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit

The View From Monday - September 23, 2019

Happy Monday!

There are no debuts this week.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

The Bone Ships (Tide Child Trilogy 1) by RJ Barker;

The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone is out in Trade Paperback;

The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade 2) by Seth Dickinson is out in Trade Paperback;

Fallen (Alex Verus 10) by Benedict Jacka;

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz;

Unearthed (A Death Seeker Novel 1) by Cecy Robson;

Grave Importance (A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel 3) by Vivian Shaw;

A Savage Generation (ri) by David Tallerman;


Venom: Lethal Protector Prose Novel by James R. Tuck is out in Mass Market Paperback.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

September 23, 2019
A Fist or a Heart Kristín Eiríksdóttir
Larissa Kyer (Tr)
Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (ri) Simon J. James SF/HC

September 24, 2019
The Winter Vow (h2mmp) Tim Akers F - Hallowed War 3
Harpy Thyme (e) Piers Anthony F/HU - Magic of Xanth 17
Demons Don't Dream (e) Piers Anthony F/HU - Magic of Xanth 16
Geis of the Gargoyle (e) Piers Anthony F/HU - Magic of Xanth 18
The Bone Ships RJ Barker F - Tide Child Trilogy 1
The Mansion (h2tp) Ezekiel Boone H
The Kingdom of Copper (h2tp) S. A Chakraborty F - Daevabad Trilogy 2
The Water Dancer Ta-Nehisi Coates HistF/MR
Star Destroyers (tp2mm) Tony Daniel (Ed)
Christopher Ruocchio (Ed)
SF/SO - Anthology
The Monster Baru Cormorant (h2tp) Seth Dickinson F - The Masquerade 2
Gift of Griffins (h2mm) V. M. Escalada F/DF - Faraman Prophecy 2
Toxic Game (h2mm) Christine Feehan PNR/GenEng - GhostWalker 15
Shatter War (h2tp) Dana Fredsti
David Fitzgerald
SF/TT - Time Shards
The Monster of Elendhaven Jennifer Giesbrecht DF/H
Siege of Stone: Sister of Darkness (h2mm) Terry Goodkind F - Nicci Chronicles 3
The Late Great Wizard (tp2mm) Sara Hanover F - Wayward Mages 1
Japanese Ghost Stories Lafcadio Hearn
Paul Murray (Ed)
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store Keigo Higashino MR
The World That We Knew Alice Hoffman LF
Fallen Benedict Jacka UF/CF - Alex Versus 10
The Orchid Throne Jeffe Kennedy FR - Forgotten Empires 1
The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham Leslie S. Klinger (Ed) H/Classics
Heartsong TJ Klune PNR - Green Creek 3
Steel Crow Saga Paul Krueger F
The Bartered Brides (h2mm) Mercedes Lackey HistF/Gaslamp - Elemental Masters 13
Past Master R. A. Lafferty SF/HU/TT
Bright Morning Star Simon Morden HSF/AC
The Future of Another Timeline Annalee Newitz SF/TT
Only Some Can Hear My Voice Brian O'Grady SF/AP/PA/UF/TechTh/PolTh/SupTh
The Warrior Moon K Arsenault Rivera F/HistF - Ascendant 3
Year One (h2mm) Nora Roberts F/PNR/SupTh/SF/AP/PA/Dys - Chronicles of The One 1
Unearthed (e) Cecy Robson UF/DF - Death Seeker 1
The Secret of Life (ri) Rudy Rucker SF/CyP
The Sex Sphere (ri) Rudy Rucker SF/CyP
Mistborn: The Final Empire (ri) Brandon Sanderson F - Mistborn 1
Immortal Born Lynsay Sands PNR - An Argeneau Novel 30
The Consuming Fire (h2mm) John Scalzi SF/SO - Interdependency 2
The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr Susan Holloway Scott Hist/Bio/AH
The Fool and Other Moral Tales Anne Serre
Mark Hutchinson (Tr)
Grave Importance Vivian Shaw CF/P/UF - A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel 3
Archangel's War Nalini Singh PNR - Guild Hunter 12
The Sky-Blue Wolves (h2mm) S.M. Stirling SF/AP/PA/AH -  Novel of the Change 15
The Riyria Revelations: Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron Michael J. Sullivan F
Split Tooth (h2tp) Tanya Tagaq LF/MR
Violet Scott Thomas GH/Sus/H
Venom: Lethal Protector Prose Novel (h2mm) James R. Tuck SH/CF
The Savior (h2mm) J.R. Ward PNR - Black Dagger Brotherhood 17
Uncompromising Honor (h2mm) David Weber SF/So - Honor Harrington 19
The Beauty (tp2mm) Aliya Whiteley SF/AP/PA
Sisters of the Fire (h2tp) Kim Wilkins F - Daughters of the Storm 2

September 26, 2019
One by One (ri) D.W. Gillespie H/DF - Fiction Without Frontiers
The Guardian (ri) J.D. Moyer SF/AP/PA/DF - Fiction Without Frontiers
A Savage Generation (ri) David Tallerman H - Fiction Without Frontiers

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
mm - Mass Market Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator

AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
Bio - Biographical
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romane
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HC - History & Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PerfArts - Performing Arts
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PolTh - Political Thriller
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
RF - Romantic Fantasy
RS - Romantic Suspense
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SS - Short Stories
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day

Please welcome Sarah Pinsker to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Song for a New Day was published on September 10, 2019 by Berkley.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Sarah:  I wrote horse stories starting when I was around eight. I think some of them were just rewrites of books I'd liked. The kind of thing where there's a scruffy-looking horse about to go to auction, and the girl buys the horse for one dollar more than the meat buyers, and the horse turns out to be super fancy once he's healed/groomed/trained. I think my first genre story had to do with an open-mic singer taking bids on his soul from god and the devil. On brand.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sarah:  I would normally say I'm an unrepentant pantser, but I had to turn in an outline for the novel I'm currently working on, and I have to admit it was a surprisingly fun and interesting process. It let me ask a lot of questions of the book early on that would normally have taken me a while to reach through trial and error and discovery. So...still a pantser, but with a new appreciation for the other modes? Does that make me a hybrid? My rebel spirit is still in pantsing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sarah:  These days it's a physical/mental thing. My usual writing spaces aren't feeling comfortable right now. I think maybe I need a standing desk. Once I'm writing I'm good, but getting to the point of sitting down and focusing is taking me more time than it used to, and staying seated is taking more discipline than it used to. We also adopted a new dog recently, and he's very good at convincing me I'd rather be playing with him.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sarah:  What doesn't influence my writing? I guess I write a lot of stories rooted in place. I love traveling and I've been a lot of places. I love the challenge of trying to get at the heart of a place. Music. New technologies and my own paranoia about them. Dreams. Misread road signs, strange coincidences...

TQDescribe A Song For A New Day using only 5 words.

Sarah:  Live music. Found family. Connection.

TQTell us something about A Song For A New Day that is not found in the book description.

Sarah:  The description makes the black and white/good and bad distinction between the Before and After periods the book describes, which makes it seem like the former was fine, and after is dystopic. The book has more shades of gray. I tried to acknowledge that the world we live in now, ostensibly the Before, is already dystopic for some people. There are aspects of the After that are better, or different in a not-entirely-bad way. Even characters who disapprove of the corporate shenanigans acknowledge some positive results of the changes. I find those shades far more interesting to write than a simple everything's-not-awesome dystopia.

TQWhat inspired you to write A Song For A New Day? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular a dystopian novel?

SarahA Song For A New Day takes place in the same world as one of my previous stories, "Our Lady of the Open Road." I realized I had more to say about this world, and that there was more to explore than the slice of future tour life that story showed. There are so many interesting future music technologies, both for listening and for live music, but we're also living in a time where people have more and more distractions at home. Everything competes with the bands who are out there playing small clubs every night. I wanted to explore all sides of that question, and look at a future where some people might have even more reason to stay home, and some people might fight it.

I love science fiction for the expanded palette it provides. I like the "what ifs" and Theodore Sturgeon's "ask the next question." Many aspects of this novel reflect today's hopes and fears, but it's easier to look at those from a slight distance. It's an exaggeration of one possible path. This story takes place in a very near future, but you still need those world building tools to get there.

I didn't actually put the dystopia label on it myself, though in retrospect it obviously is one. In my head, it's just an exploration of a possible future.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Song For A New Day?

Sarah:  This book took less research than a lot of short stories. The music stuff was stuff I knew. A little about VR and AR, I guess? I had to double check how long some of the distances between cities would take if highways weren't options for your rebel human-driven van.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Song For A New Day.

Sarah:  The cover was done by Jason Booher. I don't know who the photo captures. It reminds me of a couple of singers, but I don't know if it is actually any of them. It's not meant to represent a particular character. I had asked for a cover that looked like a DIY rock show poster, and this is exactly that.

TQIn A Song For A New Day who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sarah:  I wrote about Luce previously in a story called "Our Lady of the Open Road," and part of why I returned to her was that her voice was so easy to slip into. She voices a lot of my own concerns. Rosemary was a little more challenging. Fun, also; there's an interesting challenge in trying to see the whole world through the eyes of someone who has never been anywhere or done anything. Rosemary consistently surprised me in her reactions to things. She made me look for the positives in the so-called dystopia I'd created, since it was the only world she'd ever known, and she didn't mind it all that much. Finding the positives was itself more difficult than the bad-made-worse parts.

TQDoes A Song For A New Day touch on any social issues?

Sarah:  Lots! The big ones involve the trauma that we're all living right now. Guns and the constant threat of violence. Our societal willingness to trade freedom for safety instead of addressing the root problem. School inequities. Prisons. Corporations. Data privacy.

I wanted to make this future one where, even though it's dystopic in many ways, some of our current problems have been addressed and have become non-issues. Accessibility in devices and the physical world. Asking before hugging people. Pronoun pins. It's not a perfect world – racism and homophobia still exist – but in the context of the spaces these characters inhabit, they've sought places where people would be striving to both see those situations and improve upon them. I wanted to normalize seeing differences and acknowledging them and then moving on from there to form community. I love, love, love writing queer characters and just letting them exist in community with each other. As in real life, we find each other, and support each other. I think letting multiple queer characters exist in a novel where queerness isn't the point is still a statement of its own, and I can't wait until it's not.

TQWhich question about A Song For A New Day do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: "Beyond the novelette 'Our Lady of the Open Road,' have you written or do you plan to write anything else about these characters?"

I adore standalone novels, and this is meant to be a standalone as far as these main characters are concerned, but I've written stories about some of the peripheral characters. There's an inventor/musician named Katja in the book who was the protagonist of my story "A Song Transmuted," which appeared in the Cyber World anthology and was reprinted in Sunspot Jungle and the upcoming A Punk Rock Future anthology. My story in the Apex Do Not Go Quietly anthology has a cameo from another character, Joni, as a kid.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Song For A New Day.


"There were, to my knowledge, one hundred and seventy-two ways to wreck a hotel room."

"Fear is a virus. Music is a virus, and a vaccine, and a cure."

TQWhat's next?

Sarah:  I'm working on another near-future novel right now, set in a different near future. There's a dark fantasy novelette called "Two Truths and a Lie" that'll be on, but I think that might not show up until next year. And I have a dozen short stories I'm dying to finish and send out into the world.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A Song for a New Day
Berkley, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.

Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.

About Sarah

Photo © Emily Osborne
Sarah Pinsker‘s Nebula and Sturgeon Award-winning short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, F&SF, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, as well as numerous other magazines, anthologies, year’s bests, podcasts, and translation markets. She is also a singer/songwriter who has toured nationally behind three albums on various independent labels. Her first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea, was released in early 2019 by Small Beer Press. This is her first novel. She lives with her wife in Baltimore, Maryland.

Website  ~  Twitter @SarahPinsker

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

SPFBO 5 Semi-Finalist Review - Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell

The Qwillery is pleased to announce our first Semi-Finalist: Knight and Shadow by Flint Maxwell.

This also means that the following books have been eliminated:

A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy by Blaine D. Arden;

A White Horizon (Stars and A Wind 1) by Barbara Gaskell Denvil;

Sea of Lost Souls (Oceanus 1) by Emerald Dodge;

Apprentice Quest (Ozel the Wizard 1) by Jim Hodgson;


Masters of Deception (A Legends of Tivara Epic Fantasy) by J.C. Kang.

Knight and Shadow
March 2019
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 268 pages

Many years ago Ansen Kane prevented the end of the world by killing an insane king. Instead of praise, Kane and the rest of his order were shunned for their efforts.

Now he is the last living gun knight.

With a price on his head bigger than anyone in the kingdom of Aendvar, Ansen Kane traveled west, toward the Infected Lands, where he’s been hiding ever since.

But in the capital city, evil rises again.

And whether he likes it or not, Ansen Kane will be forced to pick up his weapon and fight.

Melanie's Review:

Ansen Kane is the last Knight of the Gun and  hiding out in the Infected Lands barely eeking out a living.  Many years ago Kane saved the world by killing an insane and malevolent king but rather than being celebrated as a hero Kane was hunted, all of his companions killed. He is alone and vulnerable. When the evil force rises again Kane is a target and his life is in danger.

On the other side of the continent Issac Bleake's 17th birthday ends in tragedy. His mother is brutally murdered on the eve of his birthday by a shadowy creature. With her dying breath Issac's mother gives him a mysterious gun and tells him to find Ansen Kane, in the Infected Lands. A long an perilous journey awaits the teenager as he travels across the country in search of the last Knight of the Gun. He better be quick as time is running out.

Maxwell sets a frenetic pace for his characters with a brutal murder and rise of evil in the first few pages. Issac's journey across the continent is action packed but not as action packed as what awaits Ansen Kane in the Infected Lands. I liked these characters and Maxwell develops the story quickly and well. My main criticism with this story is that it is far too short. The majority of the story sets up Ansen and Issac as characters and then it ends rather abruptly after the first main battle. I felt kind of ripped off and that this was a plot to get me and others to buy the next book. It was good but I don't think I want to invest in a story that is a bit of a drip feed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Interview with Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

Please welcome Shaun Hamill to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Cosmology of Monsters is published on September 17, 2019 by Pantheon.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Shaun:  The first piece of fiction I remember was a story I wrote for “Young Author’s Day” at my school in 4th grade. I’m pretty sure it was a straight rip-off of the first Star Wars movie and the X-Men cartoon version of Days of Future Past. It had Sentinels and a Death Star. My teacher liked it, though, and so did my classmates. I’ve been chasing that approval-high ever since.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Shaun:  I’m a hybrid. I’ve tried both methods “pure” and neither quite works for me. If I plot too much, the story can get stale and boring, but if I don’t plot at all, I write myself into a corner. I like to plot a little ahead and leave plenty of blank space ahead of me so I can surprise myself (and hopefully, by extension, my reader).

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Does living " the dark woods of Alabama..." affect (or not) your writing?

Shaun:  The most challenging thing about writing is coming up with a project that marries an interesting plot to a strong emotional hook. I’ve come up with lots of great ideas for stories, but haven’t been able to write them because I had trouble caring about the characters. If I’m not invested in the people, the best high concept in the world won’t save me.

          Living in the dark woods of Alabama has been good for my writing, I think. I grew up in a big suburb, nothing but concrete as far as I could see, and Alabama has a lot of unspoiled nature. It’s a haunted place, quiet and foggy, full of decaying houses and abandoned gas stations on winding roads. It’s the perfect place for dark daydreaming.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Shaun:  My earliest influences were movies. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a filmmaker, and I spent most of high school writing screenplays. I think that cinematic mindset shows in my fiction. I’m a scene-focused writer and I’m still learning character interiority and how to summarize big swatches of time.

          I was always a reader, as well. I read a lot of Stephen King and Anne Rice and John Irving as a kid, and I think their influence is all over A Cosmology of Monsters too.

          The other big influence on my writing was a great creative writing teacher at the University of Texas at Arlington—her name is Laura Kopchick, and she still teaches there. She was the first person to take my writing ambition seriously, and she mentored me even after I graduated from college. Everything she told me to read, I read. She taught me how to pay attention to language and character, and to move beyond simple twist-ending plots and easy clichés into murkier, more interesting narrative territory. I’m still trying to impress her whenever I write something.

TQDescribe A Cosmology of Monsters using only 5 words.

Shaun:  A literary horror family saga.

TQTell us something about A Cosmology of Monsters that is not found in the book description.

ShaunA Cosmology of Monsters is secretly a bunch of love stories disguised as a horror novel.

TQWhat inspired you to write A Cosmology of Monsters? What appeals to you about writing Horror / Dark Fantasy?

Shaun:  I’d always wanted to write a book about a family running a business, and I went to a lot of haunted houses in my 20s. At some point the two ideas melded. I was curious—what sort of people run a haunted house? What’s it like to take your lunch break while your customers are screaming themselves silly a few feet down the hall? What’s it like to dress as a monster for weeks, months, or years on end? It felt like a perfect backdrop for a troubled family.

          As to your second question, I’ve been thinking a lot about the appeal of horror and dark fantasy lately. I’ve always been drawn to both, but not for gore, or even terror. What I love about the genres is the sense of dark wonder they can provide—a glimpse beyond the veil at things unknown and unguessed. Strange things at the corners of our reality, waiting to step in. I get the same feeling when I drive down a twisting Alabama road at night, with no illumination but the moon and my headlights. Shadows flicker in the woods to my left and right, and I know it’s probably just a trick of the light, but maybe … maybe not.

          This sense of mystery is my favorite feeling in fiction and in life.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Cosmology of Monsters?

Shaun:  On the literature side, I read all of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, and any scholarship/criticism of his work that I could find. I also read some surveys of the history of horror fiction, re-read my favorite Stephen King novels, and dipped my toes into other horror writers—Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Ligotti, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, etc.—to try and round out my understanding of the tradition I was writing in.

          For the haunted house stuff, some of it is adapted from real life. I did theater in high school, so I was familiar with the process of putting together an amateur production—sets, makeup, lines to memorize, etc. All of that translated easily enough to the haunted house milieu. I also got to tour a closed haunted house while I was working on a short film a few years ago, and seeing the place with all the lights on made a lasting impression (and was another inspiration for the book).

          In addition to my personal experience, I watched every documentary about haunted house attractions that I could find. I solicited stories from friends, googled how-to articles, watched web series, listened to podcasts, and trolled Internet forums. Basically I used every resource I could think of!

TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Cosmology of Monsters.

The cover illustration is by Na Kim, and the jacket was designed by Kelly Blair. It was their first pass at the cover for the book, and everyone on the Cosmology publishing team loved it so much that we never tried another. To stay spoiler-free, I’ll just say I think it’s an image that sums up the themes of the book very nicely.

TQIn A Cosmology of Monsters who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Shaun:  Noah’s sister Eunice was the easiest to write. I never had trouble locating her emotional state in a scene, or knowing what she was going to say. She was a gentle presence, easy to spend time with. Margaret, Noah’s mother, was the hardest, because she has the longest, most complex arc in the book. Without giving too much away, the book features some big jumps in time, and Margaret’s state of mind was always the toughest to locate each time I started a new section. It was also a tricky balancing act, because I wanted her to be sympathetic but also cold and pragmatic.

TQDoes A Cosmology of Monsters touch on any social issues?

Shaun:  Yes. It deals with religion, sexuality, and gender power dynamics, among other things.

TQWhich question about A Cosmology of Monsters do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


          Q: Will you write a sequel?

          A: Yes! If the book does well and somebody lets me! I think there’s at least one or two more stories to tell in this world if people want them.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Cosmology of Monsters.

Shaun:  I really love the opening, and that’s about as non-spoilery as it gets!
          I started collecting my older sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was ten years old. I still keep them all in my bottom desk drawer, held together with a black binder clip. They were among the only things I was allowed to bring with me, and I’ve read through them often the last few months, searching for comfort, wisdom, or even just a hint that I’ve made the right choices for all of us.
          Eunice eventually discovered that I was saving her missives and began addressing them to me. In one of my favorites, she writes, “Noah, there is no such thing as a happy ending. There are only good stopping places.”
          My family is spectacularly bad at endings. We never handle them with grace. But we’re not great with beginnings, either. For example, I didn’t know the first quarter of this story until recently, and spent the better part of my youth and young adulthood lingering like Jervas Dudley around the sealed tombs of our family’s history. It’s exactly that sort of heartache I want to prevent for you, whoever you are. For that to happen, I have to start at the outermost edges of the shadow over my family, with my mother, tall, fair-skinned and redheaded Margaret Byrne, in the fall of 1968.

TQWhat's next?

Shaun:  I’m working on a new novel right now. I don’t want to say too much because I’m superstitious, but I will say I’m excited about the project. It’s more ambitious than Cosmology, but still in the dark fantasy genre. I hope I’ll be able to finish and share it sooner rather than later!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Shaun:  Thanks so much for having me! I hope you and your readers will check out A Cosmology of Monsters and let me know what you think! I’m in all the usual places—FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc.—and I’d love to hear from you (as long as you’re nice)!

A Cosmology of Monsters
Pantheon, September 17, 2019
Hardcover and ebook, 336 pages

“If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it.” —Stephen King

Noah Turner see monsters.

His father saw them—and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.

His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe—too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.

And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won’t admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight . . . until it swallows her up.

Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in . . .

About Shaun

Photo © Rebekah H. Hamill
A native of Arlington, Texas, SHAUN HAMILL holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in the dark woods of Alabama with his wife, his in-laws, and his dog. A Cosmology of Monsters is his first novel.

Website  ~  Twitter @shaunhamill  ~  Facebook