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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - March 8, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015


For those of you who read my Week in Review will remember that I had a slightly disappointing week in my selection of books. I tried to be good and not buy or request any more books from NetGalley. I can't say I was entirely successful.....in fact...epic fail! So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015
I was perusing my Amazon recommends....again...and shouldn't have been I came across Trace of Magic (Diamond City Magic 1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Bell Bridge Books, August 29, 2014). I tried to be sensible and downloaded the sample first but ended up buying the book. Trace of Magic is set in a world of magic where criminal factions call Tyets rule the city. Riley is a very powerful tracer who can trace people even when they are dead. She is living below the radar so that she doesn't become a pawn in the battle between the Tyets. Riley uses her very specific and very special powers to save kidnapped children. She is very good at her job and very good at staying in hidden until she meets Tyet cop Detective Clay Price. Price blackmails Riley into helping him solve a missing person's case and it all becomes a bit too personal for the couple as the longer they work together the more they are drawn to one another. Price is everything Riley has avoided her whole life but her freedom may be too high price to pay.

On the whole this book was 'ok'. I say that because I liked Riley and even liked Price as characters. I thought the Tyets made for an interesting backdrop to the plot. Frances explains the society, the evolution of the Tyets' rule and mining of drugs that the Tyets' used to fund their existence in the first few chapters of the book. Unfortunately, the mining and the drugs didn't really factor in the plot so as plot points they didn't really stick in my head. In fact I completely forgot about them. I also thought that Francis introduced the romance a bit too early in the story which, for me, made it lose credibility. Imagine this if you will....you have just be shot and almost die. You have been saved by the hunky cop who represents everything you hate and have been running from your whole life but who you are attracted to. You have been unconscious for 3 days and when you wake up you the hunky cop is by your bedside. Do you:

a) roll over and go back to sleep because getting shot and almost dying is tiring stuff;
b) despite the fact you have been shot and almost die you have sex with the hunky cop who you barely know and belongs to a Tyet;
c) you manage your growing attraction to the hunky cop despite wanting a more physical relationship because you have just been shot and almost died.

I am sure that you can guess what I would have chosen but what option the author decided to go for. Despite this I still thought the action was well balanced and interesting. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015
It was a good week for pre-orders for me as Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs (Ace, March 3, 2015) appeared on my Kindle. This is the fourth novel in the Alpha and Omega series and is set 3 years after Charles and Anna first get together. In this instalment Charles and Anna travel to Arizona to visit Charles' childhood friend Joseph. Joseph is now an old man and dying from cancer which leads Charles to reminisce about his past and feel the burden of his near immortality while watching his friend slowly die. During their visit a Fae tries to harm Joseph's grandchildren which leads the couple to find and stop the kidnapper. Their investigation opens up a whole can of magical worms as they discover this is not an isolated case and just another step in the escalation of a war that the Fae want to start against humans.

I really enjoyed Dead Heat and I have decided that I prefer this series to Brigg's Mercy Thompson series. Brigg's starts the story with Anna trying to convince Charles that they should have children, something she has been researching with Samuel (Charles' doctor brother). Charles is worried that having a child will harm Anna who he loves and make him and the child vulnerable to his many enemies. This parenthood thread is woven throughout the story not just with the missing children case but also in the dynamic between Joseph, Joseph's werewolf father Hosten and Charles. Hosten is still a healthy man watching his elderly son die from a human disease when he could have been Changed. I found the scenes between Charles and Joseph rather touching and made me wonder whether Briggs had written these from personal experience. This book has everything from a perfect balance of action vs romance, good character development and the subtle development of the series plot arch. In short another great book in this series.

I am in the middle of reading The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman so I hope to tell you all about this next week. Until then Happy Reading.


Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014


Please welcome Diana Pharaoh Francis to The Qwillery. Trace of Magic, the first novel in the Diamond City Magic series, was published on August 29, 2014.



Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014




Hello everyone and thanks to Sally for inviting me to play in the sandbox!

First, I want to offer a small hosannah and hallelujah for the fact that my kids started back to school today. I love my children, but oh, I need some time to work without interruption. I’m betting a few of you are dancing around happy, yourselves.

The reason Sally invited me here today is because I have a new book out titled Trace of Magic. It’s a noir/urban fantasy/mystery/romance set in Colorado. It involves a magical mafia, diamonds, a kidnapping, and a corrupt cop. My main character is Riley Hollis. She’s a tracer. Everybody leads behind a trail, like a ribbon of light, called trace. Some people can see it, and they are called tracers. The thing about Riley is that she’s a super powerful tracer. She can track dead people, which is pretty much impossible. She can do a few other things too, but the problem is, she can’t let too many people know, or she’s likely to end up killed or captured by a mob group. So she spends a lot of time keeping her head down and avoiding notice.

There are five major kinds of talents in Diamond City, where the novel is set—tracers, travelers, dreamers, makers, and binders. Then there are a whole lot of more minor powers, some more useful than others. There are haunters—they have to touch you, but then they can get inside your mind and mess with your perceptions and create nightmares that you can’t escape. But they have to be touching a person the entire time. There are also tinkers, who can essentially move things telepathically. They are frequently doctors or medical personnel, but some are good with flesh, others limited to metals, others who can only work with plastic. It’s pretty arbitrary who gets what, and how much they might do with it.

There are hundreds of minor and odd sorts of little talents, and then varying levels of power. What tremendously fun about writing in this world is that even when you’re stupid powerful, your talent can only get you so far. Sure, Riley can find people, but once she does, she could be in serious trouble. It’s not like she can throw fireballs or paralyze people or throw them across the room. She has to use her brains and sometimes she gets into a fair bit of trouble. She’s caught between this place where she feels the need to hide from getting noticed (her mother was murdered and her father vanished, so she has reason to fear the mob) and yet she wants to use her talent for good.

And then . . . doing good gets her noticed by the wrong guy. Everything goes haywire from there.

It’s a really fun story—fun to write and I hope fun to read.

Now let me ask you—if you could have a magic talent to help in your daily life, what would it be?

Oh, and buy the book! I’d appreciate reviews as well, and word of mouth.


Read an excerpt: http://www.dianapfrancis.com/diamond-city-magic-books/





Trace of Magic
Diamond City Magic 1
Bell Bridge Books, August 29, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 252 pages
Review Copy: Provided by the Author

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014
Even the most powerful tracers can't track you if the magical trace you leave behind is too old. But I can track almost anything, even dead trace. That makes me a unicorn, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Lock Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake. And if anyone ever finds out, I'll be dead or a slave to one of the Tyet criminal factions.

Riley Hollis has quietly traced kidnapped children and quietly tipped the cops to their whereabouts one too many times. Now she's on the radar of Detective Clay Price, a cop in the pocket of a powerful magic Tyet faction. When he blackmails her into doing a dangerous trace for him, Riley will have to break every rule that keeps her safe. Or become a Tyet pawn in a deadly, magical war.


Qwill's Thoughts

Trace of Magic features exceptional worldbuilding, an interesting magic system and terrific characters. Francis does a wonderful job showing the relationships between the characters - whether it's Riley Hollis and her sister Taylor, Riley and her friend Patti, or Riley and Detective Clay Price. I especially love the verbal interactions between Riley and Clay. Their banter often brought a smile to my face.

Riley is the pivotal character in the novel and tells the story. The events swirl around her, usually/mostly out of her control. She's tough and does not give up even when it comes at personal cost to her. I enjoyed watching her journey during the novel. She's often conflicted, makes mistakes and treads where she should not. Riley makes some difficult decisions and by the end of the novel we, like Riley, have a much clearer sense of what she wants to do and be going forward. Detective Clay Price is a great foil for Riley and an engaging (and well-developed) character. He also has changes in store for him over the course of the novel some clearly not as welcome as others.

The worldbuilding is really well done. The magic system is both different and interesting. The story has dark touches of noir swirling around like the snow falling on Diamond City. I got a clear geographical sense of Diamond City, which is fascinating in its own right. The pacing of Trace of Magic could not be better. There is plenty of action, bad guys, and many in the grey area of are they good or bad or both?  There is a romance in the novel as well, but all that I am going to say about it is that it's very well done. Trace of Magic, however, is not primarily a romance novel, though I enjoyed that part of the novel a lot.

Bottom Line: Trace of Magic is a wonderful start to the Diamond City Magic series and Riley Hollis is one of new favorite Urban Fantasy heroines.





About Diana

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014
I didn’t start out to be a writer. I was a storyteller from as far back as I can remember, and a daydreamer of epic stories, but it never occurred to me to write anything down. I read voraciously, but I wasn’t one of those people who said–hey! I could do this! Or even, this is so awful I could do better. I marveled at writers and thought of writing as something other people did. I did try my hand at some really horrible poetry in my senior year of high school. It was dramatic and bleak and world-tiltingly awful. When I got to college, I did poorly in my freshman comp class. I wrote in purple prose and use twenty words for what I could say in two. I loved language, but I didn’t really have much control over it. Then I took a creative writing class. It was awful. Total slaughter. I had caught the bug, though, and from there on out, I wrote. Eventually I wrote a really bad romance and finished it. I finished it! I could do that! And then I went to graduate school and another graduate school, got married, had dogs, had kids, went to work professing, and kept writing. Finally I had my first book accepted and I’ve been writing ever since. As far as the prosaic stuff goes, I like to crochet, bake bread, spoil corgis, eat chocolate, sing to the radio, pretend to play tennis, geocache, crochet, and garden. Though I really hate weeding. I also like to make my hair purple with some frequency. You can find me on Twitter as @dianapfrancis and my website at www.dianapfrancis.com or on Facebook.


Winners x 11 - January 13, 2013

And the winners are...


Wings of Redemption (Return to Sanctuary eNovella) by Sarah Gilman - Ended January 9, 2013 - Read the Interview here.

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013

Question: Angels or Demons?

wanda f who said...

I love both Angels and Demons they are both hot hot hot .



Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



The Trouble with Fate (Mystwalker 1) by Leigh Evans - Ended January 9, 2013 - Read the Interview here.

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013

Question: Which cover for The Trouble with Fate do you like better - US or UK?

Rhonda D who said...

There's really no competition. I loved the US cover the UK version didn't even compare. The cover is what drew me to the book. I can't wait to read this book! Thanks so much!



Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



Tiger's Eye (Stacy Justice Mystery 3) by Barbra Annino (5 copies) - Ended January 4, 2013 - Read the Interview here.

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013

Question: You are researching a location for a novel. Where are you going?


1) Sullivan McPig who said...

Hmmmm.... To Southampton to do research on the Titanic at the nautical museum there.


2) Martha Lawson who said...

Ireland! Always wanted to go there!


3) Sue Farrell who said...

I think I'd research Hawaii--the big island--because it's so oold outside right now so I'd like to go someplace really warm and the big island because I've heard it's not so crowded.


4) bn100 who said...

I'd do research in the Australian Outback.


5) erin who said...

Thanks for a fun post! Congrats to Barbra on the newest release! I'd say a beach somewhere tropical ;)



Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



Demon's Curse (The Imnada Brotherhood 1) by Alexa Egan - Ended January 2, 2013 - Read the Interview here.

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013

Question: If you were an author, in what genre, genres or subgenres would you write?

Barrie Mac who said...

I would be a paranormal author!



Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



Blood Winter (Horngate Witches 4) by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Ended January 1, 2013 - Read the Guest Blog here.

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013

Question: Who (or what) is one of your favorite heroes from novels, comics or movies?

donnas who said...

Roarke and Bones are two of my favorites.




Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) and The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector 2) by Chris F. Holm - Ended December 26, 2012 - Read the post here.

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013

Question: Is there a novel cover that you absolutely love and what is it?

Mel who said...

I loved the cover to Blood Rights by Kirsten Painter - so pretty! I still haven't decided though if I like the story though! :-)



Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



Touched by an Alien (Alien 1), Alien Tango (Alien 2) and Alien in the Family (Alien 3) by Gini Koch - Ended December 23, 2012 - Read the Review of Alien vs. Alien here. Note that all 3 novels are signed by Gini Koch and Dan Dos Santos (the cover artist).

Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013


Question: Which series that you read has staying power?  and/or  Which series that you read should have ended already?

Carla who said...

I'd say the BDB series by JR Ward, Gena Showlaters LOTU has staying power. Can't get enough of them!

Series that should have ended is House of Night series by PC/Kristen Cast and definitely the Anita Blake series.



Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013



The Winners have been notified and have until 11:59PM US Eastern Time on Sunday, January 20, 2013 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.


Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012

Please welcome Diana Pharaoh Francis to The Qwillery. Diana is the author of the Horngate Witches series, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and the Path series.  Diana's most recent novel is Blood Winter, the 4th book in the Horngate Witches series. Blood Winter will be published om December 26, 2012 by Pocket Books. The Horngate Witches is a fabulous UF series!


Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012


Becoming a Hero

Hello Everyone! Thank you for having me today.

I’ve been struggling with what to talk about, especially in light of recent events in our world. It feels wrong to ignore the violence, and yet, the rest of our lives must go on, including me visiting here and talking about my new book in my Horngate series, Blood Winter. Having thought about it, I finally decided to write about heroism.

One of the things that I have always explored in my characters is the question: who runs into fires for strangers? For those are true heroes. People who suffer and die for the sake of others. These are the traditional heroes—firefighters, soldiers, policeman, search and rescue . . . . But then you have those who fly under the radar. Who aren’t regularly called on to make those kinds of choices, and yet when the occasion rises, they do.

When I first started writing about Max, I wanted her to be one of those who ran into fires, even knowing she was going to hurt a lot, even die. Not that she was suicidal, but that she cared that much about the lives of others. Even strangers. She has a sharp edge and its hard to get close to, but that’s mostly because she’s been betrayed and hurt. But no matter what, she never loses her need to help people, to protect innocents, and to make the world a better, safer place.

Because of who she is, because of that fact that she’s willing to sacrifice herself, she earns the trust and faith of her fellow Shadowblades, and the rest of her covenstead. Even though she doesn’t want any of it. She doesn’t want to care so much for anyone, or have them care for her. But they won’t let her get away with isolating herself. They make her accept their friendship and devotion. They are like a swarm of obnoxious brothers and sisters, always prodding at her to be herself, never letting her wander off to lick her wounds alone, never letting her sink down too much in her bitterness.

So Max is a product of who she is, but also of the constellation of people around her who keep her grounded and give her reasons to love life and to want to come home.

Max has supernatural powers, and she has supernatural foes. But in the end, she’s a lot like every other everyday mortal who is a hero, who risks him or herself for others. She does it out of instinct and even when she thinks about it, she doesn’t stop. She needs to shield people from harm. She’s a hero and thank goodness that heroes like her don’t only exist on the pages of books, because certainly the monsters walk our world also.





About the Horngate Witches

Blood Winter
Horngate Witches 4
Pocket Books, December 26, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012
NEW GAME. SAME RULES. SHE FIGHTS. THEY DIE.

Max always does her job, no matter how brutal and bloody. That’s how it’s been ever since she was enslaved by a witch, turned into a supernatural warrior, and assigned to protect the coven of Horngate. But her job just got harder. . . .

Waves of wild magic have returned much of the world to a time when fairy tales were real and danger now lurks behind every tree and bush. As winter descends and food, heat, and water are harder to come by, many have turned to Benjamin Sterling for protection. Leader of the Earth’s Last Stand cult, Sterling claims to be the Hand of God, but his power and charisma secretly come from a dark and terrible source. With devout followers eager to do his sadistic bidding, he has his eyes on Horngate and its magical inhabitants. To save those she loves, Max will knowingly walk into a trap. But when the cult strips Max’s soul bare for all to see, will even Alexander—her lover and her strength—remain? And if she were to lose him, what does it matter if she gains the whole world. . . .



Shadow City
Horngate Witches 3
Pocket Books, December 27, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012
The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had—even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.

Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.

In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.



Crimson Wind
Horngate Witches 2
Pocket Books, December 28, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012
THERE ARE GOOD GUYS. THERE ARE BAD GUYS. AND THEN THERE'S MAX.

Max knows what trusting the wrong person can cost you. Her former friend Giselle, a powerful witch, enslaved Max years ago, turning her into a Shadowblade—a deadly warrior compelled to fight for Giselle. But there's more at stake now than Max's thirst for revenge. The Guardians, overseers of the magical world, have declared war on humanity and on any witches not standing with them. Max and Giselle have come to an uneasy truce in order to protect what's left of Horngate, their coven's home. Max would do anything for Horngate—even give herself over to a mysterious otherworldly creature in the nearby mountains in exchange for his help. But first, she intends to save the mortal family she left behind. And Alexander, the Shadowblade warrior who could be her closest ally or her deadliest enemy, is going with her.

On a road trip into the unknown, Max and Alexander face wild magic, desperate enemies, and battles that bruise both body and soul. But the greatest challenge will come from unexpected revelations that test everything Max believes about who she is—and where her loyalties lie. . . .



Bitter Night
Horngate Witches 1
Pocket Books, October 27, 2009
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012
SOMETIMES YOU CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. AND SOMETIMES, THEY CHOOSE YOU...

Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom...and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle's personal magic weapon -- a Shadowblade -- and she's lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before....

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances -- including one with a rival witch's Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him -- and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right -- if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is....




About Diana

Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012
Diana Pharaoh Francis was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California. She spent much of her early life on horseback, or so far buried into a book that the rest of the world ceased to exist (much to the annoyance of her family). After much hijinks, adventures and near-death experiences, Francis began teaching English at the University of Montana-Western and started publishing books. She has written the Path trilogy, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and the Horngate Witches series.

She has a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, crocheting and random facts. She likes spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and she has an odd sense of humor. She has a husband, two children, and two very spoiled corgis. Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact her real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.



Diana's Links:

Website
Blog
Twitter




The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Blood Winter (Horngate Witches 4) from The Qwillery.

How:   Answer The Qwillery's Question:  

Who (or what) is one of your favorite heroes from novels, comics or movies?

Please remember - if you don't answer the questions your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012

And the winners are....


4 Dark Swan novels by Richelle Mead and 4 comics from Richelle Mead Dark Swan: Storm Born comic series - Ended December 30, 2011

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012

Question:  What is your favorite comic, cartoon series, or Urban Fantasy series?

Stephanie who said...
My favorite urban fantasy series is the Hollows series by Kim Harrison.

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012


Merry and Happy Giveaway - 12 Books by Christine Feehan - Ended January 1, 2012

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012

Question: What is the most favorite holiday present you've received?

rissatoo who said...
As you know, Qwill, this year the best gift I received was the gift of solitude & privacy. ;)
But as silly as it seems, the Christmas gift that has stayed in my heart as "best ever" was in 1973 when I got a "Baby Alive" doll and extra "food" and diapers for her. Gosh, I loved that doll! :)

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012


Bitter Night (Horngate Witches 1), Crimson Wind (Horngate Witches 2), and Shadow City (Horngate Witches 3) by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Ended January 3, 2012

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012

Question: Who is your favorite witch from literature or TV?  or  Who is your favorite female warrior from literature or TV?

Mel who said...
My favourite witch would have to be Tara from Buffy - she was so cool! I always enjoyed watching Charmed as well though. From books though I lov Paige from Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series

Favourite warrior - Xena just rocks! And Mulan of course! :-)

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012


Night Reigns (Immortal Guardians 2 ) by Dianne Duvall (signed) - Ended January 5, 2012

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012

Question:  Who is one of your favorite heroes or heroines from a book you've read in 2011?

June M. who said...
One of my favorite heroes from a book this year is Ares from Larissa Ione's ETERNAL RIDER, the first book of her Lords of Deliverance series. This was the first book of her's that I read and I became an immediate fan.

Have a Happy New Year's!

Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012


The winners have been notified and have until 11:59PM US Eastern Time on Sunday, January 15, 2012 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.

Congratulations to the winners. Thank you to all for participating!

Release Day Review - Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis - 5 Qwills

Shadow City
AuthorDiana Pharaoh Francis
Series:  Horngate Witches
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (December 27, 2011)
Price: $7.99
Language: English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9781451613858
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher

Release Day Review - Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis - 5 Qwills
The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had—even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.

Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.

In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.

My thoughts:

While I have had the first 2 books in the Horngate Witches series in my TBR since they were each released, I did not get around to reading them until I received the 3rd book in the series, Shadow City. I must say that I wish I had not waited. The Horngate Witches series is exceptional. Diana Pharaoh Francis has created a fascinating and wondrous world for what is now one of my favorite Urban Fantasy heroines, Max.

Max is the Shadowblade Prime for Giselle, who is a witch and leader of the Horngate covenstead. Max is full of snark, incredible power, and a sense of right that makes her one of the best Urban Fantasy characters that I have read in quite some time. Despite the fact that she is a major badass, she is extremely likable. She takes care of her own and does the right thing without thought of personal physical (and emotional) consequences. Fortunately as a Shadowblade (think 'magically created and enhanced super warrior') she's hard to kill. In Shadow City, Max grows both in her abilities and in emotion. She can do things that no other Shadowblade can do. She also has major trust issues.  However, she finally is starting to let her feelings for another Shadowblade show. They make a great couple. While the focus of Shadow City is certainly not their relationship, the relationship enhances the story. 

In Shadow City, Max is not at Horngate. She's in the 'Shadow City' of the title. The story switches from what is happening with her there and what is happening in Horngate until everyone is brought back together for the rousing end of the book. This is not confusing to the reader and is really well done.  Diana Pharaoh Francis can write fight scenes. They are exciting and fun to read despite the egregious injuries that some receive. Shadow City is full of a wonderful ensemble of characters. You feel the strong camaraderie of Max with the Shadowblades that she leads and get to know each of them as well as other interesting beings. While the story is sometimes dark there are balancing moments of levity. There's just so much to like about Shadow City - terrific writing, an absorbing fast-paced plot, interesting worlds, and truly engaging characters. I will eagerly await the next book in the series.

I give Shadow City 5 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis - 5 Qwills


While it is not necessary to read the first two books in the series to understand and enjoy Shadow City, I recommend that you do because of the deeper background it will give you into Shadow City and because they are terrific novels.

Prior Books in the Horngate Witches series:

Release Day Review - Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis - 5 Qwills

Read my interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and enter to win all three books in the Horngate Witches series here.

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and Giveaway - December 27, 2011

Please welcome Diana Pharaoh Francis to The Qwillery. Diana is the author of the Horngate Witches series, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and the Path series.  Diana's most recent novel is Shadow City, the 3rd book in the Horngate Witches series. Shadow City is published today by Pocket Books.


TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery and Happy Release Day for Shadow City!

Diana:  Hello and thanks for inviting me to play in the sandbox with you!

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Diana:  Hmmm. A quirk. Well, you know how people at home will shout at the people on the TV expecting them to listen? Like when the person on Wheel of Fortune should know the puzzle but doesn’t? I do that at the characters on my computer. I will yell at them and tease them and generally abuse them. Out loud. And pretend like I have no control over what they do. I mean, I OWN the delete button, right?

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Diana:  Honestly, it depends on the story. I like to have some things planned out and the more the better. But a lot of times it takes me writing the story to discover what will happen. So even if I plan, I often end up pantsing. But sometimes when I plan, I will actually follow it. And sometimes I start with a voice or an image or a scene and just chase it down to see where it’s going to end up.

TQ:  What inspired you to write the Horngate Witches series, Bitter Night, Crimson Wind and Shadow City?

Diana:  I was noticing that all sorts of things were happening all over the world. Bridges collapsing, the mud volcano in Jakarta, hurricanes, tornadoes, famines, floods, disease . . . Pretty apocalyptic stuff. And I started wondering, what if someone was behind all of it? That it was purposeful? Then I started wondering who and why and the answers evolved into the Horngate books. I also had this face in my head of a girl I’d seen on a bus in Ames, Iowa a number of years ago. I never forgot her or her expression and walked into my questions and started tearing up the place and became Max.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do to create the world of the Horngate Witches?

Diana:  I read a lot about magic and folklore. Most all the critters in the books come from some kind of real stories from around the world. I have very little that I make up. There is such a rich story heritage out there and I want to take advantage of it. Who knew that Easter Island had its own peculiar brand of fairy? Or that Hags came in varieties? It makes writing very exciting.

I also research places. I want them accurate. I go there if I can, but Google World is my friend and so is the internet in general. And people. My goodness, but I’ve had some amazing help from kind strangers on the net who go visit places for me and report back, or they take pictures. I can’t tell you how important that has been.

TQ:  Describe Shadow City (Horngate Witches 3) in 140 characters or less.

Diana:  Max goes to war with Scooter and Horngate ends up with a magical nuclear bomb in the backyard. It gets very ugly.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Shadow City?

Diana:  Hmmm. Not giving anything away. That’s not hard or anything. I would say . . . there are several, but I can’t mention a couple. But I can mention: When Giselle gets to meet Holt and Valerie and has to ask them for help. I did like that scene. Oh, and when someone very important dies and someone very important goes off the deep end. And the Torchmarch. I love the Torchmarch.

TQ:  In the Horngate Witches series, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Diana:  I think Scooter is the hardest to write because he is so enigmatic to everyone, even me, and I know a lot about him. Making him feel like a real person was tough. The easiest is probably Max. I know her so well now. And she’s so fun to write. I guess troublemakers are.

TQ:  Do you and Max have anything in common?

Diana:  She and I both like to eat a lot? Only she never gains weight, dang it. I like guns too. And I’m a bit snarky with my friends. Who are snarky back.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the series?

Diana:  Right now, four. I’d like to explore some other characters and some other places and have some ideas for those, but a lot depends on how well received these books are. So please! Go buy one for Christmas! Buy ten and give them a way!

TQ:  What's next?

Diana:  I’ve got a short story coming out in Demon Lover: Succubi, which will release very soon. I’m finishing up Blood Winter, which is the fourth Horngate book, and I’m working on some other things that I hope will see the light of day soon. And maybe sleeping. And probably shoveling snow. And doing laundry, dishes, and cleaning bathrooms . . . Ah, the glamorous life of a writer.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.


About the Horngate Witches

Shadow City
Horngate Witches 3
Pocket Books, December 27, 2011
Mass Market, 384 pages

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and Giveaway - December 27, 2011
The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had—even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.

Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.

In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.


Crimson Wind
Horngate Witches 2
Pocket Books, December 28, 2010
Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and Giveaway - December 27, 2011
THERE ARE GOOD GUYS. THERE ARE BAD GUYS. AND THEN THERE'S MAX.

Max knows what trusting the wrong person can cost you. Her former friend Giselle, a powerful witch, enslaved Max years ago, turning her into a Shadowblade—a deadly warrior compelled to fight for Giselle. But there's more at stake now than Max's thirst for revenge. The Guardians, overseers of the magical world, have declared war on humanity and on any witches not standing with them. Max and Giselle have come to an uneasy truce in order to protect what's left of Horngate, their coven's home. Max would do anything for Horngate—even give herself over to a mysterious otherworldly creature in the nearby mountains in exchange for his help. But first, she intends to save the mortal family she left behind. And Alexander, the Shadowblade warrior who could be her closest ally or her deadliest enemy, is going with her.

On a road trip into the unknown, Max and Alexander face wild magic, desperate enemies, and battles that bruise both body and soul. But the greatest challenge will come from unexpected revelations that test everything Max believes about who she is—and where her loyalties lie. . . .

Bitter Night
Horngate Witches 3
Pocket Books, October 27, 2009
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and Giveaway - December 27, 2011
SOMETIMES YOU CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. AND SOMETIMES, THEY CHOOSE YOU...

Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom...and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle's personal magic weapon -- a Shadowblade -- and she's lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before....

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances -- including one with a rival witch's Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him -- and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right -- if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is....


About Diana

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and Giveaway - December 27, 2011
Diana Pharaoh Francis was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California. She spent much of her early life on horseback, or so far buried into a book that the rest of the world ceased to exist (much to the annoyance of her family). After much hijinks, adventures and near-death experiences, Francis began teaching English at the University of Montana-Western and started publishing books. She has written the Path trilogy, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and the Horngate Witches series.

She has a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, crocheting and random facts. She likes spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and she has an odd sense of humor. She has a husband, two children, and two very spoiled corgis. Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact her real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.



Diana's Links:

Website
Blog
Twitter



The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a Bitter Night (Horngate Witches 1), Crimson Wind (Horngate Witches 2) and Shadow City (Horngate Witches 3) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering 1 of the following question:

Who is your favorite witch from literature or TV? 
or 
Who is your favorite female warrior from literature or TV?

You can list more than one if you have more than one favorite!

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

The View From Monday - December 26, 2011

Happy Last Monday of 2011. This year just flew by. I hope everyone received bookstore gift cards because there are a lot of books out tomorrow!

This week at The Qwillery:

Tuesday - Interview with Diana Pharaoh FrancisShadow City, the 3rd book in Diana's marvelous Horngate Witches series, will be published on December 27, 2011

Wednesday - 2011 Debut Author Challenge Interview with Dani Harper. Changeling Dawn, the 3rd book in Dani's Changeling series, will be published on December 27, 2011.

Thursday - Interview with Dianne Duvall. Night Reigns, the 2nd book in Dianne's Immortal Guardian series, was published on December 1, 2011.


A book shopping list in PDF format may be found by clicking here. Click "File" on the left and then "Print (PDF)."

December 27, 2011

TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Claws and Effect (e)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Amanda Arista PNR - Diaries of an Urban Panter
Archon (d)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Sabrina Benulis F - The Books of Raziel
Bestial
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
William D Carl H
Empire State (d)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Adam Christopher SFN
The Demon Lover
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Juliet Dark PNR
Spirit Bound (h2mm)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Christine Feehan PNR - Sisters of the Heart 2
Hell Train
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Christopher Fowler H
Shadow City
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Diana Pharaoh Francis UF - Horngate Witches 3
Bedeviled
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Sable Grace UF - Dark Breed 2
Ghost Walk
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Heather Graham H
A Hard Day's Knight (h2mm)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Simon R. Green UF - Nightshade 11
A Discovery of Witches (h2tp)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Deborah Harkness F
Changeling Dawn
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Dani Harper PNR - Changeling 3
'Salem's Lot (ri)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Stephen King H
77 Shadow Street
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Dean Koontz H
In Too Deep (h2mm)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Jayne Ann Krentz PNR - Arcane Society, The Looking Glass Trilogy 1
Invasion
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Mercedes Lackey
Steve Libbey
Dennis Lee
Cody Martin
SF - Secret World Chronicle 1
Ghoul Interrupted
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Victoria Laurie PM - Ghost Hunter Mystery 6
The Mortal Bone
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Marjorie M. Liu UF - Hunter Kiss 4
The Warlord's Legacy (h2mm)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Ari Marmell FA -Corvis Rebaine 2
Warrior's Redemption
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Melissa Mayhue PHR - Warrior 1
No Limits (e)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011

Jenna McCormick SFER - Dark Breed 2
The Bitter Seed of Magic
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Suzanne McLeod UF - Spellcrackers 3
Shadow Heir
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Richelle Mead UF - Dark Swan 4
Winter
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Rod Rees SF/SP - Demi-Monde 1
Heir of Danger
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Alix Rickloff PNR - Heirs of Kilronan 3
Wicked Circle
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Linda Robertson UF - Persephone Alcmedi 5
Illegal Alien
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Robert J. Sawyer SF
Babylon Steel (d)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Gaie Sebold FA - Babylon Steel 1
Switchblade Goddess
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Lucy A. Snyder UF - Spellbent 3
Back to the Moon
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Travis S. Taylor
Les Johnson
SF
Deliverance Lost
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Gav Thorpe SF - Horus Heresy 18
City of Light and Shadow
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Ian Whates EF - City of a Hundred Rows 3



December 31, 2011

TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Hidden
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Kelley Armstrong UF - Otherworld Illustrated Novella
Phases of Gravity (ri)
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Dan Simmons SF
Gothic High-Tech
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Bruce Sterling SF - Collection
The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Peter Straub H - Novella
All About Emily
The View From Monday - December 26, 2011
Connie Willis SF - Novelette



d - Debut
e - ebook
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - Reissue

AH - Alternative History
EF - Epic Fantasy
F - Fantasy
FA - Fantasy Adventure
FAR - Fantasy Adventure Romance
FR - Fantasy Romance
H - Horror
HFR - Historical Fantasy Romance
PER - Paranormal Erotic Romance
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PP - Paranormal Parody
PT - Paranormal Thriller
SF - Science Fiction
SFN _ Science Fiction Noir
SP - Steampunk
UF - Urban Fantasy
W - Western
Melanie's Week in Review  - March 8, 2015Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis and Review of Trace of Magic - September 3, 2014Because sometimes I end up buying two copies...Winners x 11 - January  13, 2013Guest Blog by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Becoming a Hero - and Giveaway - December 18, 2012Winners x 4 - January 8, 2012Release Day Review - Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis - 5 QwillsInterview with Diana Pharaoh Francis and Giveaway - December 27, 2011The View From Monday - December 26, 2011

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