Friday, February 29, 2008

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

GRIMSPACE (Amazon US, UK, Canada)
Ann Aguirre (website, blog)
Ace Books
Mass Market Paperback


By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…
As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.

Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.

Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…

The concept in this novel reminds me of the Pilot-Masters from The Hidden Worlds, in that a special inborn ability gives one the ability to jump a spaceship into lightspeed. In fact, I see several similarities, but as in most of these cases, they are "similar but different." Over at The Good, the Bad and the Unread, Loonigrrl gave this novel a great review.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What I'm Reading

I'm in the middle of several books, so I thought I'd break up the debut announcements with some miniature progress reports.

First a guilty admission--I'm reading non-debuts! And *horrors!* some of them are not even fantasy!

Actually, I read a lot of non-fantasy, which is part of the reason that it APPEARED like I only read about fourteen books last year. However this year, I have resolved to blog on all books, whether fantasy or not, giving special emphasis to debut fantasy, of course.

(This first one may make you men cringe.)

Duty and Desire, a Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, by Pamela Aidan

Yes, it's Jane Austen fan fiction. I read the first book in this series last year (one of the Mysterious Unread) after spending about a year drooling over it. I must admit that I am a die-hard Jane Austen fan. I have multiple productions of various Jane Austen movie adaptations (2 each of P&P, S&S and Emma, and one each of the other titles, plus Clueless, which almost counts as another adaptation of Emma)

This one intrigued me because of course, I love Mr. Darcy. (I also love Mr. Tilney and Captain Wentworth. They are my favorite Jane Austen heroes.) The first novel in the series is called An Assembly Such as This, which refers to the assembly where Lizzy and Darcy first met.

The first book was very true to Austen, reproducing faithfully every line of dialog from the original, cast among Darcy's tumultuous thoughts. During this novel, the pace has slowed down quite a bit until it seems to be little more than the daily life of a country gentleman. It takes place during a separation between Lizzy and Darcy, and Lizzy's presence is much missed by both Darcy and this gentle reader. I'm about a third of the way through.

Magic Lost, Trouble Found, by Lisa Shearin

I'm about halfway through this book, and it's the only one I'm seriously reading right now. Or actually, I am rereading it, in preparation for reading the ARC that Lisa had her publisher send of the second book in the series, Armed and Magical. It's proving to be a lively reread, with details I missed during the first reading coming out during the second.

Incidently, Lisa is now hurtling toward the conclusion of the next book in the series, The Trouble With Demons. The book after that is called Bewitched and Betrayed. I must say that I love the titles of all Lisa's books.

In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck

In the wake of Febuary's multi-blog David Keck hoopla, I started reading his debut novel. I'm only a chapter or so into it, so I don't have much to say yet except I am enjoying the opening very much. It's been a long time since I read a knight novel. In fact, I think the last novel I read that featured knights was the omnibus version of The Deed of Paksenarrion, which is one of my favorites, ever. I have a soft spot for knights even though, as Keck's novel suggests, most of them were brutish thugs.

His novel is striking so far for its unflinching portrayal of medieval life. It must have been a very nasty time period to live in, and so the novel has lots of cringeworthy moments.

I have also tasted a bit of the first chapter of Liar's Diary by Patry Francis. It looks very good.

Other books sent to me by various parties are, in no particular order:

Apricot Brandy by Lynn Cesar
Queen Ferris by S. C. Butler. (Looks like I'll need to read Reiffen's Choice before tackling this one.)
Best of the Rest 4, edited by Brian Youmans (given to me by Sandra McDonald--thanks!)
Armed and Magical by Lisa Shearin
The Veil Gold by Kim Wilkins
The Ancient by R. A. SAlvatore
Griffin's Daughter by Leslie Ann Moore
The 13th Reality by James Dashner
Seekers of the Chalice by Brian Cullen
In a Time of Treason by David Keck

I'm going to put all of these in a backdated post on the sidebar, and I'll strike through them as I read them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dead to Me by Anton Strout

DEAD TO ME (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by Anton Strout (blog)
Ace Books
Mass Market Paperback
Excerpt (thanks, Anton!)


Psychometry-the power to touch an object and divine information about its history-has meant a life of petty crime for Simon Canderous, but now he's gone over to the good side. At New York's underfunded and (mostly) secret Department of Extraordinary Affairs, he's learning about red tape, office politics, and the basics of paranormal investigation. But it's not the paperwork that has him breathless.

After Simon spills his coffee on (okay, through) the ghost of a beautiful woman-who doesn't know she's dead-he and his mentor plan to find her killers. But Simon's not prepared for the nefarious plot that unfolds before him, involving politically correct cultists, a large wooden fish, a homicidal bookcase, and the forces of Darkness, which kind of have a crush on him.

Ok, this one looks awfully cute. Department of Extraordinary Affairs? Spilling coffee through a ghost? Politically correct cultists? And the forces of Darkness, which kind of has a crush on him? I adore quirky and this one looks it. I hope someone puts a comment up saying that they found an excerpt somewhere.

New blog discovery! Urban Fantasy Land has a review up. Angela the SciFiChick also loved it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Birmingham, 35 Miles by James Braziel

BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by James Braziel
Trade Paperback


When the ozone layer opened and the sun relentlessly scorched the land, there was nothing left but to hope. Mathew Harrison had always heard of a better life as close as Birmingham, only thirty-five miles away—zones of blue sky, wet grass, and clean breathable air. But to him it’s a myth, a place guarded by soldiers, off limits to all but the lucky few. Meanwhile Mat works alongside his father, mining only the red clay that the once fertile Alabama soil can offer.

Now, with the killing deserts on the move again and the woman he loves on a Greyhound heading north, Mat has a travel visa and every reason to leave. But his roots in this lifeless soil inexplicably hold him firmly to the past. Torn between hope and resignation, with time running out, Mat must make a fateful choice between a new life and the one that isn’t ready to let him go.

This debut releases tomorrow. I wasn't able to find a website for this author. If I find one, I'll update this post. I enjoy post-apocalyptic novels, and the idea of an off-limits paradise in the midst of a wasteland intrigues me. I do believe I will read the excerpt.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Crypt of the Moaning Diamond by Rosemary Jones

I have finished the highly entertaining CRYPT OF THE MOANING DIAMOND by Rosemary Jones. This novel is the first Forgotten Realms novel I've read in many years. The last trilogy I read in that fantasy world was the Dark Elf Trilogy about the drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden, by R. A. Salvatore. (Incidently, Tor sent me another Salvatore novel just last week, The Ancient.) Nothing in particular drove me away from reading the novels. I simply had started reading other things.

It is my belief that many fantasy readers have spent at least some time playing role-playing games. And if you've played role-playing games, you've probably at least tried Dungeons and Dragons. This novel is like reading a fictionalization of someone's role-playing game. Fights. Traps. Magic items. Undead. Puzzles. And of course, monsters. Weird ones along with the standard-issue ones.

But that's not all. The reality is like D&D rules as well. In D&D (or at least in the AD&D version, which is the last version that we purchased), a fighter who is fifth level or so doesn't have much to fear from a fall of less then, oh, about twenty feet. In real life, you could seriously break your ankle if you fall even ten feet. But in D&D, you can leap off ledges and suffer a small amount damage that might make you wince and groan with pain, but not much more than that. You'd still be in good shape to fight after said leap. Is this a critique? Not really. The author has made it consistent with the gaming world, even if that gaming world isn't quite consistent with reality. Just a head's up.

I just had a few minor quibbles. One character turns out to have an unexpected connection with someone they meet in the dungeon. I think it should have been foreshadowed earlier in the story. I wasn't particularly thinking of this character as mysterious until I got to this point. Also, the opening chapter was seriously bogged down by a bunch of information fed to the reader in a very short timespan. The lively voice of the author kept me going through this point. Once you get to the part where the characters are in the dungeon, things move along at a good, pageturning clip.

The plot of the novel is rather straightforward, at least at first. A group of siegebreakers falls into a dungeon when their digging weakens the floor. They must find their way out.

I'd say these characters are about third to fifth level, in gaming terms. Orcs give them a decent fight, but don't seriously threaten them. They are hesitant to attack a powerful mage, especially since their own mage did get badly damaged in the fall, and her spells are not functioning as well as they usually do. (Mages are physically weaker than fighters in D&D.)

(I suppose I am revealing myself to be a major geek with this review. But you probably knew that already.)

Complicating their attempts to find their way out are the undead guardians of the crypt and the fact that they aren't alone down there. They meet up with the other wanderers of the dungeon, and things go from bad to worse. And all the while, the water is rising.

Jones's strength by far as a storyteller is her use of humor. What is the last thing you would expect to discuss with a pair of bugbears while wandering through a dungeon? I ain't saying, but it was funny and unexpected. So are a lot of other situations. Jones does not try to get too serious in this novel; it's just pure entertainment.

Jones also takes stereotypes and turns them on their ear. The power-hungry mage? Well, she's actually more concerned by her looks than about power. Her magic helps her look well-turned out. And she doesn't really come across as vain.

The money-grabbing mercenary? Well, all she really wants is enough money to repair the roof of her barn. And her grubby appearance? It's all for show, to tweak the sensibilities of a certain straitlaced warrior. At least until she falls into the dungeon, that is. Then, they all get grubby.

The super-strong half-orc? Well, she's a woman for one, and a rather soft-spoken one, except when she must bellow. She is gentle and protective, but can put up a good fight when necessary.

The cantankerous dwarf? Well, he's not really all that cranky, and he doesn't come across as a very effective fighter. He IS good at figuring out traps along with . . .

The sneaky thief? He's the most interesting of all. He's some sort of pan-like creature, a sort of a faun out of The Chronicles of Narnia. He's polite and calls everyone "my dear." He's never fully explained, but I expect Jones to flesh these characters out in future books.

The honor-bound lawful-good fighter? Well, he pretty much looks and behaves as advertised. Except he has an attraction for a certain grubby mercenary and he manages to find friends in the strangest places.

I enjoyed this novel and if you are looking for a fun, quick read, you probably will as well. And if you are a former gamer, it may bring back some fond memories. I know I'll never look at a bugbear the same way again.

Original Debut Annoucement (with Amazon links)
Rosemary Jones's Website and Myspace

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the dog! They inadvertently bring along a small, white dog. The dog belongs to the dwarf and the dwarf keeps it in his pocket. The dog is very good against the skeletal undead. Why? It will make perfect sense if you read it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Giveaway Winners - David Keck Novels

The two winners of autographed copies of David Keck's In the Eye of Heaven and In a Time of Treason are . . .

Roy H. of Richmond, British Columbia and Sue L. of Citrus Heights, California!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feeling Icky

This explains the lack of motivation lately. Tonight will be a quiet night between the covers . . . of a book that is. Not much blogging. However, I have another Super Debut Tuesday coming up--five debuts this time. Therefore, I'll get an early start on them this weekend. And I'd like to do a news round-up, plus maybe a review.

Oh, and tomorrow I'll announce the winners of the contest.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

So, Where's the Content?

I usually don't let this many days go by without posting and I want to assure any new readers who discovered this blog through the giveaway that I usually post much more often than this. Whenever I'm not posting, I'm still here, stuffing links into the Other Debut Coverage box.

In the meantime, here are a couple of shout-outs of new blog discoveries.

Speculative Horizons is a UK-based blog. The author, JG, has some interesting ideas, including "Crap Fantasy Book Covers" and "Recommended Reading", which focuses on authors rather than individual books.

Jumpdrives and Cantrips, which is run by Sara Johnson. I love the name of her blog; very imaginative. Her blog is a mixture of "tidbits" and reviews. I've learned some interesting news there, so her blog is well worth reading.

(I have to admit that I'm thrilled whenever new bloggers include Fantasy Debut on their short lists of other blogs!)

I'm halfway through The Crypt of the Moaning Diamond, and I'm in the midst of a battle right now. Or rather, the characters are in the midst of the battle. When the battle is finished, I'll put up a post on what I think so far.

Monday, February 18, 2008

DEBATABLE SPACE by Philip Palmer

Raven has finished reading DEBATABLE SPACE and has agreed to guest blog about it here. First, for some context, here's the blurb:

Flanagan (who is, for want of a better word, a pirate) has a plan. It seems relatively simple: kidnap Lena, the Cheo's daughter, demand a vast ransom for her safe return, sit back and wait.

Only the Cheo, despotic ruler of the known universe, isn't playing ball. Flanagan and his crew have seen this before, of course, but since they've learned a few tricks from the bad old days and since they know something about Lena that should make the plan foolproof, the Cheo's defiance is a major setback. It is a situation that calls for extreme measures.

Luckily, Flanagan has considerable experience in this area . . .

Now, here is Raven's review.

* * *

I had mixed feelings about Philip Palmer's scifi novel DEBATABLE SPACE, which I finished last week. On the one hand, Palmer created a very detailed world - no, a very detailed universe, and I thought he did an amazing job with the political and social structure. As our society advances, I could conceivably see it developing in the directions he chose. I also liked the fact that his universe wasn't entirely Anglo, although many of the main characters were. And I was pleased because he carefully avoided one of my pet peeves in scifi: there were no computers or robots that came to life. Those always break my suspension of disbelief. But Palmer's speaking computer repeatedly reminds the person it's speaking to that it has been programmed to behave the way it does. In terms of robots, I loved what Palmer came up with: Doppelganger Robots, remotely controlled from elsewhere. You get all the power and invincibility of a machine, but a human is controlling it. These robots are also set up with sensors so the controlling human can virtually experience whatever the robot is doing. Naturally, this leads to abuses at times, but I won't spoil anything by going into detail.

I had no problems with the story. The main issue I had was with the characters, because I simply couldn't get connected to some of them emotionally. It's not that they weren't well developed, it's just that I didn't connect. I'm not entirely sure why not, because Palmer does a great job of putting the reader inside the heads of the various characters. He switches viewpoints a lot, but it's not confusing. When we're in their heads, we basically get a stream-of-consciousness flow of thoughts using each character's individual syntax and way of thinking. That was fine. I liked it. I think the problem for me may have been that Lena, the main character, wasn't very likable.

I'm all about antiheroes, but I couldn't find enough redeeming qualities in Lena. However, I think she's the kind of character other people might really enjoy: rounded, individual, well developed even if she's not likable. So I can't say Palmer did a bad job with her. It's just that she didn't work for me.

I did like most of the other characters. My favorite was Alby, a flame beast who basically looks like a pillar of fire. He was so unusual that I couldn't help finding him fascinating, and Palmer conveyed his alienness very well. Alby can never really understand humankind (and vice versa), but he's trying.

Overall, I think DEBATABLE SPACE is a good book, even if it didn't completely work for me. The reasons it didn't work for me were personal and had nothing to do with the quality of the writing.

* * *

Thank you, Raven! Here are some links:

Philip Palmer (Website -- doubles as a blog)
Excerpt, Later Excerpt (scroll down)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Apricot Brandy by Lynn Cesar

Apricot Brandy by Lynn Cesar
Juno Books
Mass market paperback

Deep in ancient Darkness where seed and spore and root and sleepless worm commingle -- Xibalba awaits. To the ancient god, human life has become a disease destroying the earth and the now-demonic Xibalba is coming to feed on the good and the evil alike, to scour humankind from the face of the earth...

Returning to the family homestead after her father's suicide, Karen Fox finds herself haunted by her past and bound by rage and guilt to a place she despises. Her lover, Susan, shows up help Karen confront her past, but she, too, is overwhelmed by malevolent powers that have seeded the earth with evil. Only Karen, ex-con Kyle, an ancient Guatemalan bruja named Quetzal, and an army of ghosts Quetzal commands stand between Xibalba and the annihilation of us all.
This appears to be a fascinating journey into Central American mythology--a setting we don't see much in fantasy. I'll get a chance to read it because Juno books sent me a review copy, so expect to see my thoughts on it posted here soon.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Joint David Keck Interview, Plus a Giveaway!

Back in December, Robert over at Fantasy Book Critic, Aidan at A Dribble of Ink and Graeme at Graeme's Fantasy Book Review and I put together a joint interview for David Keck, author of In the Eye of Heaven and In a Time of Treason, which comes out in hardcover on Febuary 19th. La Gringa had sent us all copies of both books, and we therefore decided to team up our coverage. I'm reading In the Eye of Heaven, now, so expect a review of it in the next week or so. According to Robert's review, it's a quick read!

Robert now has the interview online. As usual, he has done a terrific job with the way he laid out the interview.

As an added bonus, David Keck has agreed to a giveaway! The prizes are TWO SETS of David's books including SIGNED COPIES of both In the Eye of Heaven and In a Time of Treason. Check 'em out!

The contest is open to everyone! To enter, follow these instructions:
  • Send an email with your name and address to tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com.
  • Place "Keck Book Giveaway" in the subject of your email.
  • I'll give you a week to enter, so send me your entries by Friday, Febuary 22nd at 11:59 PM EST.
Please do NOT attempt to enter by leaving a comment here. Send me an email as described above.

I will announce the winners next Saturday.

And don't forget to read the interview!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Review--The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald

It's easy to see why THE OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald is a Nebula nominee. It's just plain good storytelling. Regular readers will know that I'm not usually given to superlatives, but THE OUTBACK STARS is a great science fiction novel. It has everything that I've come to expect of a space-faring science fiction novel, and each has their own twists.

  • A milieu. All too often, science fiction novels are based on American culture. Not this one. Unsurprisingly, when you consider the title, it is based on Australian culture. There's no attempt to spell out dialog and no one says "good day, mate", but the "mates" are there along with an aboriginal mythology that borders on fantasy.
  • A hero and a heroine. Instead of a studly officer and a hapless young female ensign, we have a female lieutenant and a male sergeant who fall in love. Both Jodenny and Myell start the novel from positions of weakness and grow in strength as they face their challenges. Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that fraternization between officers and enlisted ranks are strictly prohibited. Therefore, tension grows throughout the novel as they realize their feelings and struggle to set them aside. Forbidden love will always intrigue.
  • Intrigue and secret schemes. So much is going on that even routine officer meetings are riveting. Bad guys turn out to be good guys, then turn out to be bad guys after all, or did they? Who is who they say they are, and who has some sort of secret function? Who belongs to secret organizations, and within these secret organizations, who is really in charge, the officer, or the enlisted guy? You get the idea.
  • Comic relief. The way Jodenny handled her malingering (faking illness, to you civilians) subordinate just cracked me up. She promised him every medical test she could get him into, "no matter how arduous." He was aghast. It was hilarious.
  • An alien mystery. Humanity has stumbled across the Alcheringa, a sort of an interstellar river that ships can use to travel between the stars. Who created the Alcheringa? We don't know, but it's damned useful, especially since Earth is suffering from a Debasement that makes it a right unpleasant place to live. The alien mystery is tied to Aboriginal culture and it deepens when Jodenny and Myell stumble across another alien transport system, this one unknown to the general public. It's neat the way it all fits together, but all is not revealed in the end.
  • An animal sidekick. Not really a sidekick, but a gecko that is almost a live animal totem.
  • Bad guys. There's one bad guy named Chiba that you just love to hate. He's a bully and he's up to no good and worse. But he's slippery as a greasy wrench in gloved hands. There's also all sorts of hidden bad guys along with, happily, hidden good guys.
  • Multiple cultures. Those of you who disapprove of novels filled with an all-white cast of characters will be satisfied with this novel. Along with whites we have Muslims, Japanese, Aboriginals and the occasional American. And there are bad and good guys scattered among them all.
  • Forgiveness. I don't want to give too much away, but I admired one scene about forgiveness in this novel. I didn't expect it, which made it even better.
  • Self-sacrifice. One scene toward the end just made me fall in love with one of the characters. It was noble and heroic.
I could go on. This novel is highly re-readable, because I want to see if the seeds of certain plotlines were planted before I caught onto them. I suspect they are.

I thoroughly enjoyed THE OUTBACK STARS. It's a fun read steeped in military culture, but I don't think you will need to have served in the military to enjoy it. It's about ordinary people, not superheroes, and how they manage to be heroic after all. If you appreciate military science fiction suspense with just a dash of romance, then you will probably love it. If you've never tried reading such a novel, you might want to give it a try. I think you will find it highly accessible and a quick and entertaining read. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Colleen Lindsay, Literary Agent

La Gringa is now a literary agent. Got a fantasy novel? Go query her.

Tia's Bio

Here is my rather long-winded bio, written up pretentiously in third person.


Tia Nevitt first became interested in fantasy through fairy tales and the sweetest Cinderella production ever made, starring Leslie Ann Warren. The first true fantasy she ever read was T. H. White's The Once and Future King, which she read half a dozen times by 1986. The next fantasy she picked up was Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance, then she undertook the obligatory reading of The Lord of the Rings. From that point on, she preferred fantasy to all other genres.

By the time she had read White's novel about a dozen times, Tia decided to try this writing thing for herself. Three novels later, and she's still at it.

Tia--who loves writing about herself in the third person because it makes her feel almost royal--would have hesitated to mention this whole messy novel-writing thing if it had not been responsible for her fixation on debuts. In short, she started wondering what might have gotten them out of the slush pile. The book that started it all was probably Sheepfarmer's Daughter, the first book in the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon. She looked for and read other first novels of authors like J. V. Jones, Elizabeth Haydon and Deborah Chester.

Then, one day in the spring of 2007, Tia got the idea for Fantasy Debut. Before this, Tia was completely absent from the whole book blogging scene. She had never even heard of the venerable Pat, or of a place called Neth Space, and they had certainly never heard of her. She never dreamed that publishers actually took notice of book blogs, or that they sent bloggers Advance Reader Copies. She realizes that she may have committed a faux pas or two, but she hopes that she has not embarrassed herself too much in her ignorance.

Now if she can only find time to write.


I try to glance at these places at least once, daily.

Dragon Federation (blogger hangout)
Book Blogger Convention

Monday, February 11, 2008


If this rate of new debuts keeps up, I may have to scale down my debut announcements again. After all, this is a blog, not a magazine. It's a wonderful thing that so many debuts are coming out that one time-pressed blogger can barely keep up. For the time being, I'll handle announcements in chunks as I did below. That way, I can work on them for a few nights before posting.

I finished Sandra McDonald's The Outback Stars and I LOVED it. It was truly an outstanding novel. Rates up there with the best books I've ever read. This is definitely a re-read novel. I'll have a review in a few days.

I have six or seven books in my reading stack, so I'm not going to accept any more reader copies for a few weeks.

I'm going to try to get some interviews written and sent out in the next few days.

I'm still thinking about doing the newsletter thing, but so far I have not progressed beyond the "thinking about" stage. If I do such a thing, I may use Amazon Associate links (or Barnes and Noble, since they have a better shipping policy) because I'll have to shell out Actual Money for the newsletter service unless a) I want to send out text-only messages (drag) or b) I want irrelevant ads in the newsletter (bigger drag) or I want to encode the HTML myself (biggest drag of all). I also could use a subscription to Locus Magazine. Publisher's Marketplace would be nice as well.

Oh, and I'm hoping to cajole my guest reviewer into returning!

Seven Debuts in One Day

All of these novels came out on Tuesday, Feb. 5th, according to Amazon. Sorry kids; no pictures this time!

Waking Brigid (Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by Francis Clark (no valid website found)
Tor Hardcover

Waking Brigid is a darkly evocative novel set in haunting Savannah, Georgia. Though the city was physically spared during the Civil War, its citizens did not come through unscathed.
Into this dark and battered culture comes young Brigid Rourke, a beautiful Irish nun. Driven by the ravages of the famine, Brigid's family chose to give the girl up to the service of the Church to ensure her survival. But in order to do that she had to reject her people's pagan ways. The Church is all she has known and she seeks to do her duty…all the while fighting the lure of her people’s legacy.

Brigid's resolve is tested when a prominent Savannah citizen is cruelly murdered behind a locked and bolted door in an insane asylum. The last words of the man chilled the blood of all who heard him, and the fact that he was murdered while he was alone in the cell defies all logical reason.
What follows is nothing less than an amazing clash between the forces of good and evil—dedicated white magicians versus the entrenched devil worshippers--for the soul of a city.

It seemed like a straight historical until I got to the last few sentences. I live just around the corner (well, a few hours) from Savannah, so this one interests me because I can visit the scene of the book in person!

* * *

Last Dragon
(Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by J.M. McDermott (blog)
Wizards of the Coast Discoveries Trade Paperback
Awesome Jeff Vandermeer Review
Excerpt (zipfile)

My fingers are like spiders drifting over memories in my webbed brain. The husks of the dead gaze up at me, and my teeth sink in and I speak their ghosts.

Zhan has been sent to find her grandfather, a man accused of killing not only Zhan's family, but every man, woman, and child in their village.

What she finds is a shell of a man, a city of angry secrets, a family dissolved by ambition, and a web of deceit that will test the very foundations of a world she thought she understood.

First was the murder and the murder and the murder and this moment: I cried, and Prince Tsui's bloody, fat hand stroked my hair. He whispered in my ear, Shh. . . .

This one is exciting because I practically feel like I know the guy. Back before I started Fantasy Debut, I hung out quite a bit at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, where this author is a regular. I think he's even critiqued my queries!

* * *

The Somnambulist (Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by Jonathan Barnes
William Morrow (Harper Collins) Hardcover
Online Book Browsing Tool

Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. Needless to say, I doubt you'll believe a word of it.

Once the toast of good society in Victoria's England, the extraordinary conjurer Edward Moon no longer commands the respect or inspires the awe that he did in earlier times. Despite having previously unraveled more than sixty perplexing criminal puzzles (to the delight of a grateful London constabulary), he is considered something of an embarrassment these days. Still, each night without fail, he returns to the stage of his theatre to amaze his devoted, albeit dwindling audience with the same old astonishments—aided by his partner, the silent, hairless, hulking, surprisingly placid giant who, when stabbed, does not bleed . . . and who goes by but one appellation:

The Somnambulist

I think the opening lines of this novel are already famous. This book is all over the place. It probably needs no help from me, but it looks tempting anyway. (Note to self: must narrow down number of books you want to read.)

* * *

Whitechapel Gods (Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by S.M. Peters
Roc (Penguin Putnam) Mass Market Paperback


In Victorian London, the Whitechapel section is a mechanized, steam-driven hell, cut off and ruled by two mysterious, mechanical gods-Mama Engine and Grandfather Clock. Some years have passed since the Great Uprising, when humans rose up to fight against the machines, but a few brave veterans of the Uprising have formed their own Resistance-and are gathering for another attack. For now they have a secret weapon that may finally free them-or kill them all...
Oooh! Steampunk! I wish there was a bit more to the blurb. Sounds downright bizarre. The cover (click on the Amazon link to see it; sorry) looks like a monster out of Doom.

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The Monsters of Templeton (Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by Lauren Groff (Website, Blog)
Hyperion Hardcover

One dark summer dawn, at the exact moment that an enormous monster dies in Lake Glimmerglass, twenty-eight-year-old Willie Upton returns pregnant and miserable to her hometown of Templeton, N.Y. Willie is a descendant of the creator of the town, Marmaduke Temple, and she expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for centuries. But the monster changes the fabric of the village and Willie's mother, Vivienne, has a surprise for the girl that will send Willie careening through her family's history to dig up clues about her heritage. Spanning two centuries, the story is told through a panoply of voices, from Templeton ghosts to residents, masters to servants, natives to interlopers, and historical figures to literary characters.
Amazon has this novel at a pretty significant discount off the cover price. You may want to check it out if the blurb tempts you. It was chosen as picks at Barnes and Noble, Booksense and Powells, and has a starred Publisher's Weekly review.

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Singularity's Ring (Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by Paul Melko (Website, Blog)
Tor Books, Hardcover

There is an artificial ring around the Earth and it is empty after the Singularity. Either all the millions of inhabitants are dead, or they have been transformed into energy beings beyond human perception. Earth’s population was reduced by ninety percent. Human civilization on Earth is now recovering from this trauma and even has a vigorous space program.

Apollo Papadopulos is in training to become the captain of the starship Consensus. Apollo is a unique individual in that he/she/it is not an individual at all, but five separate teenagers who form a new entity. Strom, Meda, Quant, Manuel, and Moira are a pod, as these kinds of personalities are called, genetically engineered to work as one and to be able to communicate non-verbally. As a rare quintet, much relies on the successful training of Apollo, but as more accidents occur, the pod members struggle just to survive.
Wow. This one sounds really different. I wonder how the author handled point of view here, if there are five teenagers in one "pod." I don't get much of a sense of the plot here, other than Apollo going through his/her/its training. The author is widely published in short fiction.

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Seekers of the Chalice (Amazon USA, UK, Canada) by Brian Cullen
Tor Books, Hardcover

In the time when gods and men walked the earth along with demons, the Chalice of Fire, the symbol of peace for Ulster, is stolen from the Red Branch by Bricriu Poisontongue. A small band of Seekers sets out to recover and return the Chalice to the Red Branch to restore peace to the Ulster kingdom.

The Seekers are a group of two elves, Bern and Lorges; Cumac, the son of Cucullen, the greatest Red Branch warrior; Fedelm of the Sidhe; Tarin, the Swordwanderer; and the wizard-druid, Seanchan. Together they must make their way through the world brought as Maliman, the evil wizard, uses his powers to stop them as he seeks the Chalice himself to bend its magic to his will.
The Seekers battle their way through the creatures of darkness that threaten to conquer the world. But they are determined to bring light back from darkness and restore the land that has fallen into ruin and decay with the theft of the Chalice.
Sounds like a good, old-fashioned party quest! It also sounds like the Grail. I was not able to find a website for this author.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Thanks to Robert, who must have known something of what I face this month, my debut calendar for February is now complete. And the tally is . . . 19 debuts! Let me say that louder.

19 debuts!

No wonder I'm feeling behind already. Way, way behind. There were seven debuts just yesterday! I'm going to have to come up with some way to manage this. 19 debuts means that there are only (quick math) 10 days where there aren't debuts this month. Therefore, I will break my unofficial rule about only posting one announcement per day.

In case you are curious, this is about nine or ten more than I find in a typical month. I'm wondering if this is because some of these debuts appear to be releasing in the USA and the UK at once.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
Robert V.S Redick (novel website, author website)
Excerpt (pdf)

The Chathrand - The Great Ship, The Wind-Palace, His Supremacy's First Fancy - is the last of her kind - built 600 years ago she dwarves all the ships around her. The secrets of her construction are long lost. She was the pride of the Empire. The natural choice for the great diplomatic voyage to seal the peace with the last of the Emperor's last enemies.

700 souls boarded her. Her sadistic Captain Nilus Rose, the Emperor's Ambassador and Thasha, the daughter he plans to marry off to seal the treaty, a spy master and six assassins, one hunderd imperial marines, Pazel the tarboy gifted and cursed by his mother's spell and a small band of Ixchel. The Ixchel sneaked aboard and now hide below decks amongst the rats. Intent on their own mission.

But there is treachery afoot. Behind the plans for peace lies the shadow of war and the fear that a dead king might live again. And now the Chathrand, having survived countless battles and centuries of typhoons has gone missing.

This is her story.

Lots of my fellow reviewers have checked this novel out. Just browse around in my Other Review Coverage section for some of the latest.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blogrolling and My Diabolic Plan

Well, I was going to announce a debut tonight, but my debut calender will not load. It's a Google calendar and this has NEVER happened before. Wonder what's up? In the meantime, here's some links.

The most interesting link that's popped up recently is Chip Stone, Mighty Hunter. This is a serialized novel by Jim Collette. I've only read the first few chapters, and they are fairly amusing once you can get around a volcano having a conversation with an aspiring hunter. It's a stone age novel where "funny beats logic and certainly trumps historical reality." The author is an archaeologist. Since I know some of you enjoy free web fiction, I thought I'd pass it on.

La Gringa has a new domain. She's been making up for her lengthly absence by linking every skiffy site I ever heard of, and many that are new to me. She went way back to the beginning of January when she linked Fantasy Debut, thus shaming me into finally putting up this post.

Mervi reviews at Curled Up With a Good Book, but points to her posts from her blog. She's Finnish. I'm thrilled to have a reader from Finland. She also has some rather impressive academic credentials. I had not yet added her blog to my Google Reader, but it's there now.

I felt like I was recognized by one of the demi-gods of fantasy reviewers when OF Blog of the Fallen popped up in my Technorati Authority. I see that they have put up a review of Last Dragon, which was one of the debuts I hoped to announce tonight.

The overly-humble JT runs JT's Booklist. You want to meet a humble lawyer? Check JT out. Unfortunately, JT has not posted in over a month; maybe seeing the link here will inspire him. Hopefully all is well.

Thunderweasel has not actually linked here, but this blog attracted my attention enough for me to bookmark it for this post. She seems to review all sorts of fantasy. We have a lot of blogroll buddies in common.

The Bookling seems to be astonishingly prolific. I wish I could read that fast! And I love the bug! Fantasy Debut is one of just a handful of links, which makes me feel all kinds of special.

Speaking of feeling special, Maria Zannini did a very nice mention of both this blog and my other blog a few weeks ago. Her novel, Touch of Fire, comes out through Samhain Publishing this summer.

Not everything pops up on Technorati or Google Analytics, so if you've blogrolled this site and I missed you, please let me know!

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And now, my plan. My plan isn't really diabolic, but it got you reading didn't it? I know . . . cheap trick. But my plan is this: I'm thinking about starting a newsletter. My husband might very well think of this as a diabolic plan, but I'm going to try not to make it very time-intensive. It would come out roughly the first week of the month and would include:
  • links to all debut announcements,
  • links to all interviews and author guest posts,
  • links to all "final" review posts,
  • exclusive behind-the-blog anecdotes, which won't make it in the blog.
I'm trying to think of a name for this newsletter. I'm also trying to find a decent newsletter host. I'm leaning toward Google Groups. With Google Groups I'd be stuck with plain text, but Zinester will put ads in it. I'm looking around at other places as well.

The only title I thought of so far -- other than Fantasy Debut Newsletter, is Fantasy Debutzine. However, I think that title really sucks, if you'll pardon my French. Let me know if you can think of anything better.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Outback Stars - Unexcusably Late First Post

This weekend, I was frightfully neglectful of my blog. I didn't answer my comments and I didn't look at other blogger's posts. I'm behind on two debuts, but I made no effort to get caught up. I have been meaning to do a "blogrolling" post to thank those who have linked this blog lately, but I didn't do that either. I have an interview to write, but I neglected that as well.

Why? Because I cannot put Sandra McDonald's novel down. I read THE OUTBACK STARS all day yesterday, with interruptions every now and then to help my daughter make Tinker Toys musical instruments and various wildlife. (We made a flute, a saxaphone, a violin, an alligator (which had a moving jaw for that all-important chomp) two fish, an aquarium and about 11 rocks for the aquarium.)

The truly sad thing is that the excellence of this novel sabotaged the coverage I usually give to debut novels. I usually put up at least three posts per book, now I won't be able to do more than two, since I'm over halfway through it. I'll have to make up for it somehow.

The cover blurb makes it sound like a science fiction romance, but I would describe it more as a suspense novel than a romance. It's an engrossing story about a young navy Lieutenant named Jodenny Scott who takes over a supply division on a huge military spaceship. One never knew that a supply officer's life was so interesting. (We referred to them as "supply weasels" in the Air Force.) The book is rife with intrigue. Jodenny's daily life -- which seems to be meeting after meeting after meeting -- is fascinating because of all the intrigue going on during all the said meetings.

One of Miz Scott's subordinates is Sergeant Terry Myell. Myell's been accused of a crime and has become a pariah on the ship. Myell also has enemies, including a big Chief named Chiba who calls himself Myell's "worst problem." To top off their respective problems -- which are legion -- Jodenny and Myell (which I keep wanting to spell "Myrell", so forgive me if any spelling errors get through) are falling for each other. The romantic suspense is terrific. They have hardly touched each other unless the situation forced it.

Both Jodenny and Myell (referred to mostly by his last name) display weaknesses. Jodenny has a display of outright cowardice early in the story (which is belied by her heroic actions on her previous assignment) and Myell is filled with distrust of both friend and foe. Neither are what one would describe as "kick-ass." They are both trying to do a good job, and they are stymied by the forces around them.

Add to this some intriguing alien artifacts. I'm a sucker for alien artifacts. One of my favorite all-time computer games was called Starflight, and it centered around alien artifacts. My husband and I played it together for hours. I also loved Arthur C. Clark's 200X and Rama series, which of course has even more artifacts. I don't read enough science fiction to know if it's overdone, but even if it is, McDonald's handling of it is terrific. She doles out just enough to make us wild with curiosity.

The best thing about this debut is the next book is out in just a few days! So I'll be able to close the one and open the other right away.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

SHARP TEETH (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by Toby Barlow (website)


An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will—and they're bent on domination at any cost.

Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results.

Blending dark humor and epic themes with card-playing dogs, crystal meth labs, surfing, and carne asada tacos, Sharp Teeth captures the pace and feel of a graphic novel while remaining "as ambitious as any literary novel, because underneath all that fur, it's about identity, community, love, death, and all the things we want our books to be about" [Nick Hornby, The Believer].

Sharp Teeth is a verse novel. Robert loved it. The website is professionally designed and chock full of videos, so make sure your sound is on. The website shown above is the site for the novel. The website under the author's name is parked, so I'm interested to see what the author eventually does with that.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Locus's Recommended Reading for 2007

Locus has posted their recommended reading list for 2007, and it includes a section on debuts. Here it is.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Why I Love to Read and Opinion Sought

I'm reading three books right now. I'm in the opening chapters of all of them, and I'm not sure which one I'll finish first. I'm furthest along in Sandra McDonald's The Outback Stars, and while I've been reading it, I'm reminded of why I love to read.

Sandra and I -- we've met, so I'll go so far as to claim a bit of familiarity here -- have a shared background; we've both served time in the military. She was an officer, I was enlisted. She was in the Navy, I was in the Air Force. I know, I know; many people think that the Air Force doesn't qualify as "military." Well, if it didn't, then why would so many things that she brings up in her novel bring back such familiar memories? I can almost smell the aircraft lubricant as I read.

When I was in the AF, I was an "aircraft maintenance technician." That means I was a mechanic. Righty-tighty, lefty loosey. Marking up an aircraft component as "AFU" or "FUBAR" in the aircraft records. Signing off a replaced component as "R&R'd," R "squared," or "C/W". Safety wire. Wing-walking. Break-riding. FOD walks. Lost Tool Reports. Refueling. Defueling. LOX servicing. Wingroot inspections. Preflights. Thruflights. Postflights. Signing your name so many times you feel like a movie star. Sending off the pilot with one last thumb's up and a waving salute. And if your jet happens to go down (they were trainers and it happened a few times during my term), Standing Tall Before the Man.

Sandra's rendering of her "really big spaceships" brings all this back, even though I served on a flightline, not a flightdeck. She describes the smell of oil in the air. Oh, yes. Every aircraft hanger has it -- even the open-air ones-- along with the smell of hydraulic fluid and jet fuel. I'm not even fifty pages into it, and I already know why it's a Nebula nominee. But more important to me as a reader, I can intimately identify it because of my background. An author never knows when she will strike a chord.

I'm also reading Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found. I'm re-reading this one, in preparation for reading the ARC she sent me (thanks Lisa and Ace!) of Armed and Magical. I love re-reading because I always pick up things that I missed the first time around. For example, I just read a part where the main character, Raine, is suddenly overcome by a strange feeling. She brushes it off and continues on. However, because I've read it before, I KNOW what that feeling was and who caused it. It made me break out in a huge grin. Things like this are not possible to pick up the first time around.

And I'm reading Rosemary Jones's The Crypt of the Moaning Diamond. It is hilarious. There's this ate-up military commander who's so straight that his trouser creases can draw blood. However, a bevy of dogs that follow around the main character, the delightfully scruffy Ivy, has him hard-pressed to keep his proud military bearing. I'm only a few pages into this one, but what a hoot it is so far.

I love books that remind me of how much I love reading. And I love that I've found three of them to read at once.

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Over to the left, I've put up a little poll. During Raven's review, someone expressed an opinion that I should just post final reviews, not as-I-read-its. I post as-I-read-its mostly because when I read a book, I just have to share it. I also like to take advantage of blogging technology to give each Featured Debut as much coverage as possible. I have not done as-I-read-it posts of every book I've reviewed, but I have done it for most of them. Now's your chance to anonymously tell me which you prefer, as-I-read-it posts or straight-up reviews. Thanks!