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Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016


Happy almost Leap Day. Yes ladies, the one day of the year when you can propose to your fellas is almost upon you. I hope you have all had good weeks. I had another pretty good week on the reading front, at least. I did almost freeze my chubby little fingers off today by forgetting to wear a scarf, hat or gloves outside today.  I momentarily forgot that it was actually still winter despite seeing my magnolia in half bloom outside my front window.  This global warming is no fun. Anyway, I digress. What did I read this week?


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
If you read my WIR last week you will remember that I had discovered Rod Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series and told you about book 1 - The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. This week I am going to tell you what I thought of book 2 - Unseemly Science. In this instalment Elizabeth is still trying to survive in a male dominated world. In order to do so Elizabeth continues to impersonate her non-existent twin brother. As in book 1 she is well and truly leading a double life. When her 'brother' Edward is asked to investigate a missing person's case on behalf of a charity for orphans and other waifs and strays Elizabeth finds that she can't resist, especially as her own friend and confident Julia Swain has unwittingly become embroiled in the middle of what turns out to be a sinister body snatching plot.

I felt that Unseemly Science was quite different to The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter and not just in the choice of storyline. In book 1 the plot focused on a case that Elizabeth (or her pretend twin) had been contracted to solve whereas this time it was out of friendship that caused Elizabeth to put herself in harms way. Also this plot was much more political. There was a prominent theme of fascism and discrimination which starts with all refugees of the Kingdom (including Elizabeth) being required to register and identify themselves as such. An extradition treaty between the Kingdom and the Republic is about to be signed and its not long before Elizabeth is being rounded up, interned and awaits deportation like some of her undeserving countrymen. This puts her once again, in the path of the Patent's Office very own American John Farthing. The cards are stacking up and not in Elizabeth's favour. This was a tense read and very dramatic especially towards the end. At certain points I wasn't sure that Elizabeth was going to come through this unscathed. The biggest surprise for me was learning about the timeline. I had thought this book was set in the late 1800's but it was actually set in present day (or near present day). This raises many questions and just added to the allure of this steampunky, noir crime novel. Great novel and definitely worth a read.


Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
Book 2 for me this week was Steve Bein's Disciple of the Wind. I have enjoyed this series although I struggled a bit with book 2 of the Fated Blades series - Year of the Demon. Once again Bein tells the story of Mariko, who in 2010 tries to capture the Jo-Ko Daishi who is the leader of a cult who is single handedly bringing Tokyo to a standstill. Suspended from the job that she loves Mariko only has her ancient sword - Glorious Victory Unsought - to keep her company and help her find a way to defeat a foe that survives just about everything.

Bein also takes us back to 1588 CE and to the life of the exiled Diagoro. He is has given up almost everything - his home, his livelihood, his wife but not his honour in order to defeat the evil Shichio. Controlled by the evil mask Shichio wants nothing more in return than to defeat the 'Bear Cub' and obtain the famous Izuama blade - Glorious Victory Unsought. This part of the story is hair-raising indeed and as much of a history lesson of the samurai as it is of the period in history.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Bein starts with a bit of a lesson on Japanese pronunciation and spelling which really drew me into the story. It really helped me to understand what was written and made me really want to learn Japanese. I found this book was much more balanced between past and present and a much more enjoyable read. I love Mariko. She is tenacious, honourable and very, very kick-ass. My kind of heroine.


That is all for me for this week. I hope you all have something enjoyable to read and until next week happy reading.





Unseemly Science
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015 (North America Print and ebook)
  May 7, 2015 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

File Under: Fantasy



Disciple of the Wind
Fated Blades 3
Roc, March 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 528 Pages
Trade Paperback and eBook, April 7, 2015
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016
Tokyo’s only female detective fights to keep her city safe in the third novel in the fantasy series that “combines the best parts of police procedurals, buddy-cop films, historical fantasy, and intrigue-laden adventure.”*

After a deadly terrorist attack in Tokyo, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro urges her commanding officers to arrest an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge.

Armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop the terrorist. But going rogue draws the attention of the Wind—an underground syndicate that has controlled Japanese politics for centuries, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends.

Now, Mariko is left with a perilous choice: join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her…

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8


This is the eighth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their 2015 works published since the last update and any upcoming works for 2016. The year in parentheses after the author's name is the year she/he was featured in the Debut Author Challenge.



Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.
Part 6 here.
Part 7 here.



Ania Ahlborn (2012)

The Pretty Ones
Pocket Star, July 6, 2015
eBook, 100 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8
A terrifying new e-novella from the bestselling author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater!

New York, 1977. The sweltering height of the Summer of Sam. The entire city is gripped with fear, but all Nell Sullivan worries about is whether or not she’ll ever make a friend. The self-proclaimed “Plain Jane” does her best to fit in with the girls at work, but Nell’s brother, Barrett, assures her that she’ll never be like them. When Nell manages to finally garner some much-yearned-for attention, the unthinkable happens to her newfound friend. The office pool blames Son of Sam, but Nell knows the awful truth…because doing the devil’s work is easy when there’s already a serial killer on the loose.


Brother
Gallery Books, September 29, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8
From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…




G. T. Almasi (2012)

Talon of Scorpio
A Novel of the Shadowstorm 3
Hydra, May 17, 2016
eBook, 352 Pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8

[description not yet available]





Madeline Ashby (2012)

reV
The Third Machine Dynasty
Trade Paperback (US/Canada) and eBook, April 5, 2016
Medium (B-Format) Paperback (UK), April 7, 2016

[cover not yet available]
In the third and final installment of the Machine Dynasty, the rapture for which the self-replicating humanoid vN were engineered finally comes to pass. Now that the failsafe that once kept vN from harming humans has been hacked, all vN are discovering the promise – and the peril – of free will.

Her consciousness unleashed across computer systems all across the world, the vicious vN Portia stands poised to finally achieve her lifelong dream of bringing humanity to its knees. The old battle between her and her grand-daughter Amy comes to its epic conclusion in the war for the very systems that keep the planet running.

Can Amy get her family to the stars before Portia destroys every opportunity for escape and freedom?

File Under: Science Fiction


vN and iD, previously published in Trade Paperback, will be published in Mass Market Paperback on February 2, 2016 and March 1, 2016 respectively. More on the Machine Dynasty series as it becomes available.




Company Town
Tor Books,  May 17, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8

[description not yet available]





Steve Bein (2012)

Disciple of the Wind
Fated Blades 3
Roc, March 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 528 Pages
Trade Paperback and eBook, April 7, 2015

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8
Tokyo’s only female detective fights to keep her city safe in the third novel in the fantasy series that “combines the best parts of police procedurals, buddy-cop films, historical fantasy, and intrigue-laden adventure.”*

After a deadly terrorist attack in Tokyo, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro urges her commanding officers to arrest an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge.

Armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop the terrorist. But going rogue draws the attention of the Wind—an underground syndicate that has controlled Japanese politics for centuries, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends.

Now, Mariko is left with a perilous choice: join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her…




Christopher L. Bennett (2012)

Hub Space
Crossroad Press & Mytiqaue Press, March 15, 2015
eBook, 110 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8
The Hub is the most important place in the galaxy -- the single point through which all interstellar travel must pass. Yet no one in the galaxy understands how it works. David LaMacchia, an unimportant man from an unimportant planet called Earth, is determined to change that. He's got no qualifications and no skills. His only friends are a cynical, sharp-tongued space pilot named Nashira Wing and a smugly philanthropic alien named Rynyan, and they both think he's crazy. On top of that, the powers that profit from the Hub might just be trying to kill him. Still... that won't stop David from trying to prove that humanity can make a difference to the greater galaxy.

Now the tales of the Hub from the pages of Analog are collected for the first time in one volume, newly revised and expanded! Includes "The Hub of the Matter," "Home is Where the Hub Is," and "Make Hub, Not War," plus exclusive bonus material!



Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code
Part of Star Trek: Enterprise
Pocket Books/Star Trek, March 29, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8
The “fifth season” saga of the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series continues with this action-packed original novel!

Admiral Jonathan Archer has barely settled in as Starfleet Chief of Staff when new crises demand his attention. The Starfleet task force commanded by Captain Malcolm Reed continues its fight against the deadly Ware technology, but one of the task force ships is captured, its Andorian crew imprisoned by an interstellar Partnership that depends on the Ware for its prosperity. Worse, the Partnership has allied with a renegade Klingon faction, providing it with Ware drone fleets to mount an insurrection against the Klingon Empire. Archer sends Captain T’Pol and Endeavour to assist Reed in his efforts to free the captured officers. But he must also keep his eye on the Klingon border, for factions within the Empire blame Starfleet for provoking the Ware threat and seek to take revenge. Even the skill and dedication of the captains under Archer’s command may not be enough to prevent the outbreak of the Federation’s first war!


Upcoming in Fall 2016: Department of Temporal Investigations: Time Lock (Pocket Books/Star Trek).




Kristen Callihan (2012)

The Game Plan
Game On 3
November 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 323 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8
A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friends. That ends now.

Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.

Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away; they live vastly different lives in separate cities. And Dex is looking for a forever girl. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he's her forever man.



Forevermore
Darkest London 8
Forever, June 28, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8

[description not yet available]



Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015


Please welcome Steve Bein to The Qwillery. Disciple of the Wind, the 3rd Fated Blades novel, is published today by Roc. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Steve a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. Tell us something about Disciple of the Wind, the 3rd Fated Blades novel, that is not in the book description.

Steve:  This is the darkest of the books, but also the one that takes you through the bleakest hours and into the light of dawn. Even as I was writing it, I wasn’t sure who was going to survive this one. One death in particular took me completely by surprise. (Of course I won’t tell you whose.)

I also think it’s the best book of the three. The stakes are highest, the characters are at their most resourceful, and the moral problems are the sharpest. At this point the readers and I know the world and the culture really well, which allows me the freedom to lead us deeper into it.



TQ:  You teach philosophy and ethics. In your opinion, should novels be simply entertaining or should they make us think too?

Steve:  I don’t think every novel has to be thought provoking, but all of the best ones are. As for myself, I’m out to write the thoughtful thriller. I call my overall project “philosofiction” because I think the best fiction transcends mere entertainment and the best philosophy transcends mere scholarship. Philosophy is bigger than that. It’s for everyone, every day, and fiction can make it accessible. A good story can take you deep into a thought experiment and leave you there for a while. You can steep in it, mull it over, think about it long after you’ve put the book down.

That makes fiction a powerful vehicle for doing the real work of philosophy. I can ask you a bunch of abstract moral questions, or I can make those questions concrete by confronting a protagonist with an agonizing choice. Fiction takes it out of the abstract and makes it visceral.



TQ:  How does your experience in philosophy and ethics affect (or not) character development in your novels?

Steve:  The books are constructed around moral problems. Given those problems, the characters have to develop in response. So, for example, Daughter of the Sword is really a book about duty. The most important characters, Mariko and Daigoro, are a police detective and a fledgling samurai. Their occupations are quintessentially defined by duty. That’s true of the other POV characters too: two more samurai, an army officer, and a yakuza enforcer. All of these characters are defined by duty, and they’re at their best when I confront them with conflicting duties (family vs. profession, the letter of the law vs. its spirit, etc.).

The second book, Year of the Demon, is about sacrifice. Would you kill one family member to spare the rest? Should a cop suspend the constitution to make an important arrest? Should a daughter abandon her entire family in order to save it? There again, the principal characters transform in response to the moral quandaries I’ve mire them in.

In Disciple of the Wind, what’s at issue is the uncrossable line. Mariko might be able to stop a terrorist, but only if she betrays her badge. Daigoro can fight dishonor with dishonor, or he can hold firm to bushidō and lose everything. The same moral problems about duty arise, but this time with sharper teeth. The opportunities for sacrifice reappear, but this time at a greater cost.



TQ:  Does your experience in philosophy also affect your world-building?

Steve:  Yes, but in a more subtle way. I’ve set these books in Japan because Japan is fascinating to me, and I specialized in Japanese philosophy for the same reason. Some of the most fascinating aspects of the culture are summed up in aesthetic principles like mono no aware (the sad beauty to be found in fragility and mortality) and wabi sabi (the austere beauty to be found in the imperfect and the impermanent). Both of those concepts are far more complex than the rude translations I’ve just offered, but the novels provide the opportunity to express them in greater depth. They inform the world-building through and through, even though I never mention mono no aware or wabi sabi anywhere in the books. I think they’re a big part of how I create a world that’s distinctly Japanese.



TQ:  Would you say that the Fated Blades series is character or plot driven? Explain.

Steve:  The series is plot driven but the plots are character driven. By that I mean the story arcs couldn’t have developed the same way with any other characters. It matters that Mariko is an alien in her own land, and that she’s a woman in a male-dominated profession, and that she’s a skeptic, and that her moral compass leads her to be headstrong. If any of those things were to change, her entire storyline would change.

Similarly, it matters that Daigoro isn’t the swordsman he wants to be, isn’t the samurai he wants to be, isn’t the man he wants to be. I can’t tell his story if he’s not stuck in his father’s shadow. In Streaming Dawn, Kaida lives in a similar shadow: she’s a phenomenal talent but she’s occluded by her sensei’s legacy. She’s always deriding herself, never as strong or as quick as she feels she needs to be. If Daigoro and Kaida were capable of seeing their own strengths, their stories would have veered off in entirely new directions.



TQ:  How much of your martial arts training shows up in your novels?

Steve:  All and none. (Sorry to keep giving you Yoda answers!) There’s a delicate balance to strike. The fights aren’t just there for the action; they’re part of the world-building, a way of understanding this particular aspect of the world through this particular character. They have to feel real, and sometimes that means naming a technique or a weapon or a stance—that is, using the terms that character would use. But lean too far in that direction and you end up drowning readers in jargon.

The same is true of the training sequences. In these books martial practice is an essential part of character development. Sometimes that means naming techniques and styles and so on—but again, not too much. Mariko, Daigoro, and Kaida approach swordsmanship completely differently. Mariko is new to the art, Daigoro was born into it, and Kaida’s skills have become so sublime that she’s almost contemptuous of it. Mariko gets more jargon, the other two very little, because Mariko is closest to the reader’s perspective. The words are strange to her too.

That’s what I mean by all and none. Martial art pervades these books, but the purpose is to give insight into the world and the characters. (And yes, also to entertain. I like a kick-ass fight scene as much as the next guy.) I can talk martial trivia and martial philosophy all day long, but I keep all of that out of the novels.



TQ:  In a prior interview, I asked you “What is the most challenging thing about writing your female main character, Mariko Oshiro?” You wrote, in part, that “Everything about Mariko is hard.” Is she still difficult to write? How has she changed over the course of the 3 novels? How have you changed from writing her?

Steve:  Wow. That’s a tough question. Yes, she’s still difficult, but either I’ve tamed her a bit or else she’s tamed me. The interviews and research I’ve conducted in these books seem to have seeped in deeper than I’d expected, because now when I consult my police resources for dialogue coaching, they tell me the dialogue already sounds like copspeak. I’ve also gotten better at asking them the right questions, and better at seeing which follow-up questions I need to ask. I think internalizing that mindset has helped me get to know Mariko in a much more intimate way.

It’s a little disconcerting, discovering that you suddenly know how to think like a cop. When everything went down in Ferguson last year, the first thing I did was call my cop buddy to ask him what isn’t making the news. That’s a pretty weird response to that kind of tragedy. But one of the important relationships in Disciple of the Wind is the uneasy partnership between law enforcement and the news media, so it’s been front and center in my mind for a while—including, it seems, my subconscious mind, because otherwise my thoughts wouldn’t have followed that strange path.



TQ:  What’s uneasy about the relationship between the police and the news media in Japan? Is that relationship different there than in the US?

Steve:  Yes, quite different. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has a media liaison, and that person gets to tell reporters what to write. So, for example, yakuza groups in Japan refer to themselves ninkyō dantai (“chivalrous organizations”) but reporters are instructed by the police to refer to them as bōryokudan (“violent crime organizations”). What’s bizarre to me is that the reporters actually do as they’re told. It’s understood as part of the quid pro quo. “You want us to give you something to write? Then write it the way we tell you to.”



TQ:  Which question about Disciple of the Wind do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Steve:  The most pressing question is probably, “Where’s Kaida?” She was a fan favorite of Year of the Demon, and a favorite of mine too. Like Demon, Disciple of the Wind was originally three storylines: Mariko the cop, Daigoro the samurai, Kaida the pearl diver. But Disciple came in overweight, and rather than cut a lot of good stuff from all three storylines, my editor and I made the hard decision to remove one of the characters entirely. Kaida was the natural choice, because her story was the most independent.

So now you can catch up with her in Streaming Dawn. Extricating her from the novel turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because now I’ve been able to flesh out her story and her character in greater detail. We also get to know Daigoro’s father in that story, as well as his future nemesis, which is pretty cool.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Disciple of the Wind.

Steve:  This book includes the longest sentence I’ve ever put in print, and I had a lot of fun writing it. The only background information you need to know is that Mariko is heading out for a covert assignment, she anticipates being searched, and the Cheetah and the Pikachu are both weapons of hers.
The order of events was eat; shower; change; find favorite purse for undercover work; find cigarette case used for undercover work; hide Pikachu in cigarette case; hide Cheetah in purse’s concealed pocket; toss cigarette case, cigarette lighter, tampons, gum, wallet, phone, keys, pepper spray, peppermints, compact, pack of tissues, second pack of tissues, little detective’s notebook, pen, lipstick, lip balm, hand towel, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, and boot knife in the purse, all in plain sight; and go downstairs.


TQ:  What’s next?

Steve:  My elevator pitch for the next project is “samurai cowboys versus space invaders.” It’s steampunk versus cyberpunk, with Neo-Bushido on one side and high-tech Arthurian legend on the other.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steve:  Thank you so much! And many mahalos to your readers too.





Disciple of the Wind
The Fated Blades 3
Roc Trade, April 7, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015
LETHAL JUSTICE

When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn’t have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator—an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, and armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate known as the Wind. For centuries, they have controlled Japanese politics from the shadows, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends—relics like Mariko’s own sword and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: Join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her….


The companion to Disciple of the Wind

Streaming Dawn: A Story of the Fated Blades
Steve Bein, March 7, 2015
eBook, 89 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015
The riveting story of a legendary magic sword, two rivals for a seat in a warlord's court, and a ninja who must use her own magic blade to complete her mission and keep herself alive. Brimming with rich historical details, Streaming Dawn places the reader deep into ancient Japan, when warriors fought with deadly sharp weapons - and even sharper wits - in their quests for power.

Lord Itsumi Akiyama is in trouble. He was a conspirator in the murder of Oda Nobunaga, Japan's most powerful warlord in 1582. Worse, he is responsible for the death of a disciple of the Wind, Japan’s deadliest ninja clan. Enter Kaida, the Wind’s most dangerous agent. She seeks to avenge her fallen protégé, but there is a complication: once she kills Akiyama, the Wind must figure out how to replace him. He occupies a key position in the inner circle of Oda’s successor, Hashiba Hideyoshi, who is set to conquer all of Japan. The Wind wants a puppet next to Hideyoshi, and Kaida is tasked with putting that puppet in place.

Kaida resents her assignment. The chosen puppet is Itsumi Kyusaku, brother and successor to Akiyama. Kyusaku took part in the murder of Kaida’s protégé, and so Kaida wants him dead. But his only rival for the position in Hideyoshi’s council is Okuma Tetsurō, a samurai with a bounty on his head—a bounty placed by the Wind. Kaida respects Okuma and has no desire to kill him. Moreover, she’s not even sure she can. His sword, Glorious Victory Unsought, is a legendary Inazuma blade. With it, Okuma is undefeatable.

But Kaida has a blade of her own. Streaming Dawn can fend off death itself, though at a bitter cost. It might even defend her from Glorious Victory Unsought, if she and Okuma should cross swords. So armed, she takes on the most difficult mission of her career. She cannot allow Kyusaku to come to power, but if she allows Okuma to rise in his stead, it will be Kaida’s head on the chopping block.

Since she cannot choose Kyusaku and she cannot choose Okuma, Kaida has no choice but to do what she does best: achieve the impossible, proving herself once again to be the Wind’s canniest, deadliest ninja.

This companion novella to the Fated Blades series finds beloved characters from those novels in a new and dangerous adventure set in medieval Japan. Bein's talent for combining rich historic detail with powerful action and magic is yet again on display in this intriguing historical fantasy read. Fans of the Fated Blades series will enjoy revisiting their favorite characters, and for those new to the series, it's the perfect place to dive into centuries of intrigue, magic, honor, and swordplay.





Previously

Only a Shadow
The Fated Blades eNovella
Roc, September 4, 2012
eBook, 59 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015
The author of Daughter of the Sword takes readers to feudal Japan, where men and empires rise and fall by the sword…

The Tiger on the Mountain is a legendary blade, crafted by the master sword smith Inazuma, and reputed to possess magical powers. In 1442 Japan, the sword dwells inside the impregnable fortress of Hirata Nobushige, the enemy of the Iga clan.

Venerable shinobi Jujiro has recruited the brave young ninja Tada to steal the sword and restore power to the Iga clan. If Tada is successful, he’ll go from being the clan’s orphaned ward to a legend for the ages—and he’ll be able to ask for Old Jujiro’s granddaughter’s hand in marriage. If he fails, the clan will be annihilated.

Getting inside the castle is next to impossible—getting out is inconceivable. But as Tada prepares himself for one of the boldest thefts in history, the greatest obstacle he faces may just prove to be himself…

Don’t miss Daughter of the Sword, the first Novel of the Fated Blades!


Daughter of the Sword
The Fated Blades 1
Roc, October 2, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Mass Market Paperback (September 3, 2013), 464 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015
ANCIENT POWER

As the only female detective in Tokyo’s most elite police unit, Mariko Oshiro has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. But when he gives her the least promising case possible—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—it proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.

The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it.

Mariko’s investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.


Year of the Demon
The Fated Blades 2
Roc Trade, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Mass Market Paperback (September 2, 2014), 528 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015
A MASK OF DESTRUCTION

Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....





About Steve

Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015
Steve Bein (pronounced "Bine") is a philosopher, photographer, traveler, translator, martial artist, and award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov's, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and in international translation. His first novel, Daughter of the Sword, was met with critical acclaim, and his second novel, Year of the Demon, was named one of the top five fantasy novels of 2013 by Library Journal. His newest book, Disciple of the Wind is in stores now, and his new novella, Streaming Dawn, is available now for your e-reader. You can find his work at Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Audible.

Steve lives in Austin, Texas. Keep up with him on Facebook at facebook/philosofiction and on Twitter @AllBeinMyself. Appearances, news, photos, links, and more can all be found at http://www.philosofiction.com.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 1, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - February 1, 2015


I am going to start this Week in Review by thanking my cat Tilly for walking across my keyboard and deleting everything I had written (not very much but still!) Hopefully, this will result in a more fabulous post since I have been able to write it twice Fingers crossed! Anyway what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - February 1, 2015
I finished Year of the Demon which is the second in the Fated Blades series by Steve Bein. I read book 1, Daughter of the Sword, a couple of years ago and loved the Japanese folklore and tradition, the history of the fated sword - Glorious Victory Unsought - told by the retired academic, Yamada, and the story of Mariko. Mairko is one of the few women in the Japanese police force and she ends up owning the sword. Book 2 follows a few months after the events of book 1 where Mariko struggles with the loss of her sensei Yamada and of her trigger finger. Danger is never far away from Mariko when her beloved Inazuma blade is stolen from her locked apartment the same evening after a demon mask is stolen from a drug lord. Coincidence? Of course not. Bein takes us back to the 16th century and tells the story of Okuma Diagora who has been bequeathed the blade from his father and Shichio who has the demon mask which draws him to Glorious Victory Unsought. Bein also takes us even further back in time to approximately the 15th century, to a poor fishing village. We meet Kaida, who lost her arm in storm that killed her mother. Kaida is an ama - a pearl diver and cruelly tormented by her step-sisters. Following a ship wreck a group land in the village in search of the Inazuma blade which how rests in a watery tomb. The vicious group of thugs terrorize the village in an attempt to find the sword and create a demon mask in order to find it. As a talented diver Kaida is fated to retrieve the blade by using the demon mask which sets off a violent chain of events. Back to Mariko where the mask and sword come together again and in the hands of a terrorist group who want to use both to bring about  - the year of the demon.

I enjoyed Year of the Demon but I wasn't quite as gripped as I had been with book 1. It felt unbalanced in the telling of the three main characters - Mariko, Diagora and Kaida. Much of the book focused on Diagora and the evil Shichio whereas Kaida's story seemed to be mostly left untold. Despite the violence the story had a gentleness to it which I think came mainly from Diagora and his samurai code. The book reads a bit more like historical fiction but a worthy read nonetheless.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 1, 2015Year of the Demon was one of those books you could dip in and out of and my 'dip out' consisted of two short stories - The Light Within by Grace Draven and Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs (technically this was a re-read). The Light Within is from the Master of Crows series and tells the story of Silhara and Martise's visit to his father's family to celebrate the winter festival. I think this story could have been easily named - Silhara Lights a Bonfire. Draven took the term short story too literally and very little happens in the few words dedicated to these two characters. I was rather disappointed. I had already read Alpha and Omega as part of anthology On The Prowl but found it on Amazon as a single short story. I have pre-ordered the soon to be released Dead Heat and felt the need to re-acquaint myself with these two characters. I do like these two characters and looking forward to the release of book 4.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 1, 2015
For those of you who follow my WIR will remember that I have been part of the beta review group for Michael Sullivan's new book Rhune. I have been taking my time reading this book (very hard for me to do) but I finished my first read through and will be starting a re-read next week. The final book I read this week was Flex by the author with the coolest name EVER  - Ferrett Steinmetz. This book is part of the Debut Author Challenge and I will be writing a full review so don't want to give anything away. Keep your eyes out for it.

That is it for me this week. I hope you all have a fantastic February and I look forward to sharing my weekly reads with you next Sunday. Happy Reading!

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4


This is the fourth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their upcoming books 2015. This update covers some of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge authors. What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 5  will cover additional 2012 DAC authors.


See Part 1 here
See Part 1.5 here
See Part 2 here
See Part 3 here
See Part 5 here
See Part 6 here


What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4



Ania Ahlborn

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4
Within These Walls
Gallery Books, April 21, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

From indie horror author and bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn, this brand-new supernatural thriller questions: how far would you go for success, and what would you be capable of if the promise of forever was real?

With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed up crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime—a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State—a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.



In addition, The Pretty Ones (digital) will be published in July by Pocket Star and Brother will be published by Gallery Books in September 2015.  More on these when the covers are available.




Steve Bein

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4
Disciple of the Wind
The Fated Blades 3
Roc Trade,  April 7, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

LETHAL JUSTICE

When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn’t have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator—an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, and armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate known as the Wind. For centuries, they have controlled Japanese politics from the shadows, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends—relics like Mariko’s own sword and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: Join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her….





Christopher L. Bennett

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4
Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic
Star Trek: Enterprise Series
Pocket Books/Star Trek, March 24, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages |

An original novel continuing the saga of the TV series Star Trek: Enterprise—featuring Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the Enterprise!

Years ago, Jonathan Archer and T’Pol helped unearth the true writings of Vulcan’s great philosopher Surak, bringing forth a new era of peaceful reform on Vulcan. But when their discovery is seemingly proven to be a fraud, the scandal threatens to undo a decade of progress and return power to the old, warlike regime. Admiral Archer, Captain T’Pol, and the crew of the U.S.S. Endeavour investigate with help from their Vulcan allies, but none of them suspect the identity of the real mastermind behind the conspiracy to reconquer Vulcan—or the price they will have to pay to discover the truth.

Meanwhile, when a long-forgotten technological threat re-emerges beyond the Federation’s borders, Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer attempts to track down its origins with help from his old friend “Trip” Tucker. But they discover that other civilizations are eager to exploit this dangerous power for their own benefit, even if the Federation must pay the price!

™, ®, & © 2015 CBS Studios, Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.





Kristen Callihan

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4
Soulbound
Darkest London 6
Forever, February 24, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Once two souls are joined . . .

When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone . . .

Their hearts will beat together forever
No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken . . .





Amanda Carlson

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 4
Pure Blooded
Jessica McClain 5
Orbit, June 16, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

The fifth Jessica McClain novel -- a fast-paced and irresistibly sexy urban fantasy series reminiscent of Kelley Armstrong.

Jessica arrives back from the Underworld to find her father embroiled in a battle against the Made wolves. She and her crew drop everything to join them.

Once she arrives, the threat is after her. Jessica is lured into danger when her adversary takes something precious from her. With help from an unlikely source, Jessica goes up against her creator in a battle that will decide the path of everyone involved. She must war against a new set of foes, ones who could not only steal her power, but could take her soul as well.


2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014


Here are upcoming books for some of the authors who were featured in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.


Madeline Ashby

Company Town
Angry Robot Books, September 30, 2014 (US/Can and eBook)
    October2, 2014 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook
Cover Art by Erik Mohr

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
They call it Company Town – a Family-owned city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes.

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability – serial killer? Or something much, much worse..?

File Under: Science Fiction


Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository

Books-A-Million : IndieBound




Steve Bein

Disciple of the Wind
Fated Blades 3
Roc, April 7, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
LETHAL JUSTICE

When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn’t have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator—an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, and armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate known as the Wind. For centuries, they have controlled Japanese politics from the shadows, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends—relics like Mariko’s own sword and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: Join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her….





Stephen Blackmoore

Broken Souls
Eric Carter 2
DAW, August 5, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 272 pages
(description from Author's website)
Cover Art by Chris McGrath 

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.

His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game—go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.

He’s hoping that’s a good thing.





Kristen Callihan

Evernight
Darkest London 5
Forever, August 26, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
Once the night comes . . . 
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.


Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository

Books-A-Million : IndieBound




Amanda Carlson

Red Blooded
Jessica McClain 4
Orbit, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
Jessica is going to Hell.

After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast -- new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository

Books-A-Million : IndieBound




A.J. Colucci

Seeders
Thomas Dunne Books, July 15, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island.  After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

A.J. Colucci masterfully weaves real science with horror to create a truly terrifying thriller, drawing from astonishing new discoveries about plants and exploring their eerie implications. Seeders is a feast of horror and suspense.





Max Gladstone

Full Fathom Five
Craft Sequence 3
Tor Books, July 15, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can't stop it first.

Full Fathom Five is the third novel set in Max Gladstone's addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead





Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013


Please welcome Steve Bein to The Qwillery. Year of the Dragon, the 2nd novel in The Fated Blades series, was published yesterday, October 1, 2013.



Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery! Please tell us something about Year of the Demon (Fated Blades 2) that is not in the book description.

Steve:  This is really three novels in one. Two of the protagonists will be familiar to readers of Daughter of the Sword: Mariko and Daigoro. So we’ve got the 21st century police story that you can read about on the cover copy, but there’s also the story of the 16th century samurai who finds himself at the head of his clan and totally unprepared to contend with the new enemies he now has to face. Their stories intertwine with that of the third protagonist, Kaida, a one-armed pearl diver who I must say has been stealing hearts left and right. Early readers have been telling me she’s their favorite.



TQ:  What do you wish you'd known when your first novel, Daughter of the Sword, came out that you know now?

Steve:  Great question. I still consider myself quite new to this game, so the sheer volume of what I don’t know about publishing could fill the Grand Canyon. My most important lessons have been purely pragmatic: better bookkeeping skills, a better system for backing up files—boring stuff, but useful.



TQ:  In The Fated Blades series, so far, which character has surprised you the most and why?

Steve:  Another great question! I think I’ll go with Kaida. I never planned on writing a Cinderella story, but Kaida’s story shares too many points in common to deny the comparison. She’s got three merciless stepsisters and a father who is so aloof that he’s not even aware she’s suffering. She gets short-changed on the pretty dresses and pumpkin coach, but she gets a ninja master instead of a fairy godmother, so I think Kaida comes out way ahead.

I also never thought I’d have two teenage protagonists in this book. Of course 16th century teenagers aren’t the same as today’s: Daigoro is a commanding officer, Kaida has a full time job, and both of them have to worry about who they’ll be married off to. Even so, Kaida surprised me. Once I discovered this book needed a pearl diver, I was surprised to see how young she was.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing about writing your female main character, Mariko Oshiro?

Steve:  Everything about Mariko is hard. Structurally, her story is the toughest to construct, because she has to tie the rest of the book together. Personally, while she and I do share a couple of things in common, in most respects she’s so different from me that it can be a real challenge to get into her head. Philosophically, she is the clearest lens I can offer the reader to peer through as I show them Japan. She’s a critic of her own culture in a way that none of the other characters are, but even so, I can’t tell readers what I think about this or that aspect of Japan; I can only show them Mariko’s thoughts, and I’m not allowed to make that whatever I want it to be. It has to be authentic for her. So for the reader she’s a reliable narrator, but for me she’s not. She’s obstreperous and disobedient.

I think I said this on The Qwillery last year, but I never intended to write a book about Mariko. She just stormed in and took over. To people who don’t write maybe that sounds hokey, but it’s true: I had all the historical pieces finished, and I just wanted someone to stitch them together. Mariko fit the bill, but once I started writing her, the whole book became about her.



TQ:  You teach Asian philosophy and history. What is the most unusual bit of information that you've included in The Fated Blades novels?

Steve:  Researching the pearl divers was fascinating. I can’t think of another profession in Japan that is defined by demanding physical labor and is also dominated by women. But it was clear in Japanese fishing villages very early on that women were the best divers—and older women at that. Women in their fifties and sixties and even seventies outperform women in their twenties and thirties, ages when you’d think the diver was at her physical prime.

I started doing that research in earnest after Kaida had already been cast for the part, so I was delighted to learn that at thirteen she isn’t supposed to be any good at deep dives. Kaida is an outcast in every other aspect of her life, so the fact that she’s an incredibly strong diver alienates her even further. It’s great when you accidentally find historical data that suit the storyline perfectly.



TQ:  Do you base your mythology on existing myths, make things up, or both?

Steve:  Both. The swords are fictional, as is their creator, Master Inazuma, but he’s based on master swordsmiths like Masamune and Muramasa, and some of their swords did have names. Central to this book is a mask with magical properties; that’s entirely made up. But apart from that, everything else is authentic. My characters refer to foxfires, hungry ghosts, goblins, Buddhist deities, Shintō deities, all very real to them, all based in existing folklore.



TQ:  What would you like readers to take away from reading The Fated Blades series?

Steve:  First and foremost, a compelling story with captivating characters. Second, as many “oh, wow” moments as I can deliver. Third, if I can get you thinking about something in a way you haven’t been thinking about it before, that’s the ultimate achievement. My web site is called Philosofiction, and I really do see fiction writing as an extension of my philosophical work. Daughter of the Sword was a book about duty. Mariko is duty-bound by her profession, Daigoro by his birthright, Fuchida by his syndicate and his family name, Yamada by his haunted past. Year of the Demon is about traveling through weakness to find strength. Mariko, Daigoro, and Kaida all have injuries or physical disabilities that threaten how they define themselves. I’m interested in what “weakness” and “strength” really mean if each of them can be a conduit to the other. Now maybe no readers pick up on that, and maybe they pick up on some other philosophical ideas at play—maybe ideas that I never saw myself. That’s perfect. That’s what philosofiction is supposed to do.



TQ:  What's next?

Steve:  Book three! Kaida, Daigoro, and Mariko all return. All of their lives get much more difficult. Not all of them live to tell the tale.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steve:  Thank you so much for having me again. I’ve really enjoyed my time with you and your readers.






The Fated Blades

Year of the Demon
The Fated Blades 2
Roc Trade, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013
A MASK OF DESTRUCTION

Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....



Daughter of the Sword
The Fated Blades 1
Roc, October 2. 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Mass Market Paperback (September 3, 2013), 464 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013
ANCIENT POWER

As the only female detective in Tokyo’s most elite police unit, Mariko Oshiro has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. But when he gives her the least promising case possible—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—it proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.

The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it.

Mariko’s investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.



Only a Shadow
The Fated Blades eNovella
Roc, September 4, 2012
eBook, 59 pages

Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013
The author of Daughter of the Sword takes readers to feudal Japan, where men and empires rise and fall by the sword…

The Tiger on the Mountain is a legendary blade, crafted by the master sword smith Inazuma, and reputed to possess magical powers. In 1442 Japan, the sword dwells inside the impregnable fortress of Hirata Nobushige, the enemy of the Iga clan.

Venerable shinobi Jujiro has recruited the brave young ninja Tada to steal the sword and restore power to the Iga clan. If Tada is successful, he’ll go from being the clan’s orphaned ward to a legend for the ages—and he’ll be able to ask for Old Jujiro’s granddaughter’s hand in marriage. If he fails, the clan will be annihilated.

Getting inside the castle is next to impossible—getting out is inconceivable. But as Tada prepares himself for one of the boldest thefts in history, the greatest obstacle he faces may just prove to be himself…

Don’t miss Daughter of the Sword, the first Novel of the Fated Blades!





About Steve
from the author's website

Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013
Steve Bein (pronounced "Bine") is a philosopher, photographer, traveler, translator, climber, diver, and award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and in international translation. Daughter of the Sword, his first novel, was met with critical acclaim.

Steve was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a near west suburb of Chicago. His first career as a perpetual student took him to universities in Illinois, Germany, Japan, and Hawai‘i. That all culminated in a PhD in philosophy from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Today Steve is a visiting professor of Asian philosophy at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he also teaches ethics and philosophical themes in science fiction.

His other academic interests include bioethics, which led him to a short stint as a visiting researcher at the Mayo Medical School, and environmental philosophy, which led him to see polar bears in Canada and penguins and whales in Antarctica. His more recent travels have taken him to historical sites and art museums around the Mediterranean and to wildlife preserves across southern Africa.

Website  ~  Facebook




You may read The Qwillery's previous interview with Steve here and a guest blog here.

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to in 2013?  This is the seventh in a series of posts.

See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.



Ania Ahlborn

The Shuddering
47North, June 18, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 294 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents’ mountain Colorado cabin—until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane’s hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls…and hunger rises.

After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight—tooth and nail, bullet and blade—for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.




Madeline Ashby

iD
Machine Dynasty 2
Angry Robot, June 25, 2013 (US/Can Print / eBook); July 4, 2013 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
Javier is a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption.

Javier’s quest takes him from Amy’s island, where his actions have devastating consequences for his friend, toward Mecha where he will find either salvation… or death.

File Under: Science Fiction [ vN2 | Island in the Streams | Failsafe No More | The Stepford Solution ]




Steve Bein

Year of the Demon
Fated Blades 2
Roc Trade, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
A MASK OF DESTRUCTION

Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....




Alexa Egan

Shadow's Curse
Imnada Brotherhood 2
Pocket Books, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
The second novel in the dark and sexy Imnada Brotherhood trilogy featuring shape- shifters in Regency-era England.

Suffering under a horrible curse and renounced by his clan, the Imnada shape-shifter, David St. Leger, stalks the London nights in the form of a large black wolf, channeling his desperate rage on thieves and murderers. But when he’s captured by the very woman he sought to rescue, he’s thrown into the magical and dangerous world of the Other—half human, half-Fey, and one of the Imnada’s ancient enemies.

Forced by her half-brother to use her gift of necromancy as a money-making scheme, Callista Hawthorne wants only to flee to her aunt in Scotland where she’ll be safe. Considering David her last hope, she offers him a deal—freedom in exchange for his protection on the long journey north.

Now in a race for their lives, Other and Imnada must put aside centuries of animosity and work together if they are to overcome the dark forces intent on stopping them before they reach safety. For Callista is far more powerful than she knows, and with her help and her love, David may finally be able to break the curse of the Imnada…




Max Gladstone

Two Serpents Rise
Craft Sequence 2
Tor Books, October 29, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7
Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc—casual gambler and professional risk manager—to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father—the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists—has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire…and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.


2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012

PLEASE NOTE: The votes have been completely restored! The results stand.


It's time for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for October 2012!




As part of this year's Debut Author Challenge I thought it would be fun for you to choose a favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2012 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US.

You have 12 novels to choose from in October!
































































Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101



Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101



Japanese Police Work 101

Not all cops are created equal. Neither are all cop stories. We certainly have no shortage of cop stories these days; I think the Law & Order: Podunk pilot is coming any day now.

Because the market is so saturated with cop stories, everyone has suddenly become a police expert—or at least they think so. (Prosecuting attorneys now have to explain to juries that only the FBI’s crime lab can solve the cases they see on CSI, and even then it takes weeks, not hours.)

My novel Daughter of the Sword features a Tokyo police detective, and her jurisdiction is radically different from anything you’ve seen on CSI or Law & Order. I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you a little about police work in Japan, and how different it is from anything you’ll see in the States.

The first difference for Mariko, my detective, is kind of a biggie: in Japan women aren’t usually allowed to be detectives! It’s not that women can’t be cops. They can, but paradoxically enough, they’re typically restricted to very low-level and very high-level positions. Meter maids and upper management, but not much in-your-face street work. (In that sense Mariko’s police department is comparable to the US Army of a generation ago: women could advance in the ranks even to the point of advising the president, but they weren’t allowed to fight on the front lines.)

I had to go out of my way to make Mariko a real standout, or else she’d be working a much more typical beat: the koban. This is the most visible difference you’d see if CSI were set in Japan. The koban is kind of a hybrid between a miniature police station and an information booth, and you’ll find one in every neighborhood of Tokyo. One or two cops are stationed there around the clock, and their primary job seems to be to give people directions when they’re lost. They provide other public services too, of course, and if there were an emergency in the area they’d be the first to respond, but mostly it’s, “Go down to that stoplight, hang a left, then turn right at the McDonald’s.”

Another major difference is that patrol cars are almost an endangered species in Japanese cities. This is in part because of the ubiquitous koban, in part because traffic is hellacious, and in larger part, I think, because the streets are so safe it’s almost absurd. Tokyo has as many burglaries in a year as New York has in a day. Even in seedy neighborhoods of major cities, street crime is so rare that you can pass out drunk on the sidewalk and wake up with your wallet and your passport still in your pocket. I can attest to this from personal experience.

That means Japanese cops typically don’t wear body armor, they almost never draw their sidearms—to say nothing of actually drawing down on a human being—and they exercise a degree of restraint we would find unthinkable in the US. When I lived in Japan a guy got a screw loose and took a whole bus full of passengers hostage. A Special Assault Team (Japan’s equivalent of SWAT) surrounded the bus, and I’m told that if they’d been trained in American SWAT tactics, a sniper would have killed the hostage taker at the first safe opportunity. This particular perp wasn’t all that careful in his movements, and gave many such opportunities.

However, the SAT cops managed to enter the bus, detonate a flash-bang grenade, and tackle the perp to the ground with no loss of life. When I tell American cops this story, many of them shake their heads and wonder why they didn’t just shoot the guy.

You’d like to think it literally didn’t occur to them, that Japan is such a peaceful Eden that violence simply doesn’t enter into their thinking. Given the fact that the homicide rate in Japan is just 6.8% of what it is in the States, that would be an easy conclusion to draw. But the reality isn’t that simple. Thousands of Japanese vanish every year, and cops don’t know where they go. Reporters can’t find them either. They just disappear.

Your friendly neighborhood yakuza probably knows where lots of them are buried. But another huge difference between Japanese and American cops is their strange relationship with organized crime. It’s hard to even call it crime. Yakuzas conduct most of their business openly—so openly, in fact, that they have business cards that plainly identify them as criminals. I can’t tell you how much I want to get my hands on one of those cards.

I suppose I could make my own. Steve Bein, Criminal Mastermind. It has kind of a nice ring to it.




The Fated Blades

Daughter of the Sword
The Fated Blades 1
Roc, October 2. 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101
Mariko Oshiro is not your average Tokyo cop. As the only female detective in the city’s most elite police unit, she has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. While she wants to track down a rumored cocaine shipment, he gives her the least promising case possible. But the case—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.
The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it. Or so says Yamada, and though he has studied swords and swordsmanship all his life, Mariko isn’t convinced.
But Mariko’s skepticism hardly matters. Her investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.


Only a Shadow
Fated Blades eNovella
Roc, September 4, 2012
eBook, 59 pages

Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101
The author of Daughter of the Sword takes readers to feudal Japan, where men and empires rise and fall by the sword…

The Tiger on the Mountain is a legendary blade, crafted by the master sword smith Inazuma, and reputed to possess magical powers. In 1442 Japan, the sword dwells inside the impregnable fortress of Hirata Nobushige, the enemy of the Iga clan.

Venerable shinobi Jujiro has recruited the brave young ninja Tada to steal the sword and restore power to the Iga clan. If Tada is successful, he’ll go from being the clan’s orphaned ward to a legend for the ages—and he’ll be able to ask for Old Jujiro’s granddaughter’s hand in marriage. If he fails, the clan will be annihilated.

Getting inside the castle is next to impossible—getting out is inconceivable. But as Tada prepares himself for one of the boldest thefts in history, the greatest obstacle he faces may just prove to be himself…

Don’t miss Daughter of the Sword, the first Novel of the Fated Blades!




About Steve

Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101
Steve Bein is a philosopher, martial artist, climber, photographer, diver, world traveler, and award-winning sci fi and fantasy author. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, as a winner in the Writers of the Future contest, and in international translation. Daughter of the Sword, his first novel, has already received critical acclaim.

Steve divides his time between Rochester, Minnesota, and Rochester, New York, where is a visiting professor of Asian philosophy and Asian history at SUNY-Geneseo. His other academic interests include bioethics, which led him to a brief stint as a visiting researcher at the Mayo Clinic, environmental philosophy, which led him to see polar bears in Canada and penguins in Antarctica, and philosophy and science fiction, which leads him everywhere else in the universe.

Please visit Steve at www.philosofiction.com. If you like Steve on Facebook, you can receive an autographed sampler from Ace and Roc featuring the first two chapters of Daughter of the Sword. You can also find a preview of Daughter of the Sword in the companion novella, Only a Shadow, which will bring lots of ninja action to your e-reader.



Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101

Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour
October 2 - Under The Covers
October 3 - Grasping For The Wind
October 4 - Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
October 5 - Fantasy Book Critic
October 8 - A Book Obsession
October 9 - The Qwillery
October 10 - Night Owl Reviews
October 11 - All Things Urban Fantasy
October 12 - Goldilox And The Three Weres

Melanie's Week in Review - February 28, 2016 What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 8Interview with Steve Bein, author of The Fated Blades series- April 7, 2015Melanie's Week in Review - February 1, 2015What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 42012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014Interview with Steve Bein, author of the The Fated Blades series - October 2, 2013What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 72012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012Steve Bein's Daughter of the Sword Blog Tour - Japanese Police Work 101

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