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


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

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

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

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

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



Melanie's Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James


Gilded Cage
Author:  Vic James
Series:  Dark Gifts 1
Publisher:  Del Rey, February 14, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  US$20.00 (print); US$10.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425284155 (print); 9780425284131 (eBook)

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James
A darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve—for readers of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke

NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.

But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?



Melanie's Thoughts

Abi and Luke have their whole lives in front of them - Abi has been accepted into university to study medicine and the 16 year old Luke is looking forward to doing what most teenage boys do...have fun. This isn't on the cards when their parents make the big decision to leave their home, jobs, friends, family and most importantly their freedom in order to do their mandatory 10 years as slaves for the magically gifted aristocracy. When Luke is separated and sent to the brutal factory town of Millmoor it's clear that this was a decision that would irrevocably change the entire family's lives forever. Politics and revolution play hand in hand with magic and subjugation.

James sets her debut in a dystopian version of England where the ruling class are the Skilled with magical powers they barely ever have to use and the rest of humanity who give up ten years of their lives in slavery to the Equals. The majority of the story is told from four of the main characters POV including Abi and Luke where we learn what it is like to have everything you love stripped away from you by the ruling class. To avoid a totally one sided story chapters are also dedicated to two of the Equalis - Gavar and Bouda whose are both single mindedly selfish and cruel. The mystery of this story is not what happens to Abi and Luke but rather it's whether the extremely powerful Equal Silyen is working for good or evil. You are kept guessing all the way to the end (and I'm still not sure).

When I read the book summary I was convinced that this story was going to be right up my street - a bit of magic, a bit of mayhem and a fight against an evil aristocracy. While there was definitely a bit of magic the revolution aspects were pretty thin on the ground. I wouldn't say that Luke actually succeeded in proving that the power of the people was greater than the power of magic. I felt that Abi's almost instant infatuation with the Skillless aristocract Jenner was a bit trite and unbelievable. I am not sure, regardless of how handsome Jenner was, how you could fall so easily in love with someone who effectively owns you and your family for a decade. I thought that Silyen was the most interesting by far and he wasn't in it quite enough to keep my interest through the whole story.

While I think Gilded Cage was a good debut I wasn't blown away. The world building was very good but I found the characterisation a bit weak. My main criticism is that I just didn't care enough about any of the characters that I was worried about what could happen to them or angry when they did something evil. I believe that having a story told by 4-5 different POVs makes it more challenging to really draw in the reader so that they are truly invested in what they do and what happens to them. The story ended on quite the cliffhanger but I am undecided whether I want to know what happens next.

Thoughts for Debut Authors...


Thoughts for Debut Authors...


As some of you know, The Qwillery has hosted a Debut Author Challenge since 2011. (You can see the 2017 DAC here.) The Challenge centers on first Adult novel and the occasional debut YA novel with strong Adult crossover appeal. The Challenge can include interviews with and guest blogs by the author, reviews by us, and Cover Wars (because I think that cover artists/illustrators are sometimes the unsung heroes of a book launch).

So after running the Challenge for 6+ years I have some minimal advice for debut novel authors - mostly about their  websites.


First - have a website or at least a Facebook page where interested readers can find you. Facebook is free and so are places like Blogger. I don't know much about Wordpress, etc. but I'll take a guess and say it has free options too. You can of course set up a website through a domain provider directly.

If you go the free site route you may want to reserve a domain name (www.[authorname].com, etc.) and point it to your free site which is not impossible to do. That's up to you of course, but really you should have some sort of stable online presence.


Second - if you have a website make sure the website is easy to navigate. You don't have to get all fancy initially and please please please no auto playing music. It's really annoying.


Third - what should you have on your website? At a bare minimum:

Information about the book - cover, description and buy links;

Information about you - a bio, author photo, and your social media links. Please include the credit for your author photo;

Contact information - a link, a form, someway of reaching out to you;

A media section if this information is not readily available elsewhere on your site

          A downloadable book cover image;

          Author photo(s) and bio(s). Some authors include bios of various lengths and a selection of author photos;

          Contact link of some sort for you (if you handle your press directly) or to your publicist (if allowed and they handle interview requests etc.) or to whomever handles your press.

Note: All of what I call a "media section" can be spread through your site but please include it somewhere.




If you want to provide more content:

Interviews: A section listing all your interviews, guest posts, etc.;

A blog section: Whatever you want to write about of course;

A bibliography: list all you short stories, novels etc. (you might want to link to where the short stories can be found!)

There is a lot more you can add to your site and your needs will change over time!



A question for Authors and Readers - what do you look for in an author's website or Facebook page?


Review: The Well by Catherine Chanter


The Well
AuthorCatherine Chanter
Publisher:  Atria Books, May 19, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  $25.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781476772769 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Well by Catherine Chanter
From the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, a brilliantly haunting and suspenseful debut set in modern-day Britain where water is running out everywhere except at The Well—the farm of one seemingly ordinary family whose mysterious good fortune leads to suspicion, chaos, and ultimately a shocking act of violence.

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years.

Ruth and her husband Mark had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child—all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside.

Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson’s death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

A tour de force about ordinary people caught in the tide of an extraordinary situation, Catherine Chanter’s The Well is a haunting, beautifully written, and utterly believable novel that probes the fragility of our personal relationships and the mystical connection between people and the places they call home.



Deb's Review

Water impacts all of us on the most basic level. It sustains all life. It's used in manufacturing, transportation, and in the production of electricity among so many other things. If it stopped raining tomorrow and the reservoirs ran dry, how would it impact you? Life without water is scarcely life at all. Now imagine that you are the only one in the country with access to water. You and your property will thrive while all around you withers and dies. Welcome to The Well, where you will be envied and feared, hated and worshipped.

In Catherine Chanter's debut novel, The Well, Ruth Ardingly and her husband Mark leave London to escape a scandal that he cannot seem to shake. At the beginning of a dry spell, they purchase the titular farm in the English countryside for its remote location and postcard charm. They make new friends, entertain her daughter Angie and grandson Lucien, and make a go of Mark's dream of self-sufficient living. All is right in their lush corner of the world until the dry spell turns into a deadly drought, and the only place where rain continues to fall is at The Well. The Ardinglys' inexplicable good fortune attracts the attention of their envious neighbors, the press, a suspicious government, and an order of nuns, The Sisters of the Rose, who have a particular interest in the property, and in Ruth. With this powder keg of conflicting interests, something is bound to go wrong.

The story opens after everything has come crashing down, and Ruth is being transported from prison back to The Well. She is being placed under house arrest for arson and her involvement in an unspecified death. Allowed only the company of the three soldiers guarding her and an occasional visit from a local priest, she is truly isolated from the world. She passes her empty hours piecing together the events leading up to her arrest, hoping to solve the murder and finally find some semblance of peace.

It's difficult to tell if Ruth is an unreliable narrator and, by extension, the motives of those around her. She and Mark have weathered many hardships in their marriage and have stood together throughout, but after the London scandal can he really be trusted? Angie, a recovering addict, is frequently at odds with her mother and lives an unconventional life with a traveling group of friends who are also in recovery. Is she an appropriate influence on young Lucien, and should Ruth take a stand against this vagabond existence for her only grandchild? And while the Sisters of the Rose offer Ruth a sense of purpose and belonging, what do they really want?

Although The Well is a murder mystery, to simply categorize it that way is to do it an injustice. It is not an action packed story, but a beautifully written time-lapse view of the Ardinglys' days at The Well. Chanter has a lovely, ethereal style that suits the story, but might not be everyone's cup of tea. I would still recommend this book to anyone with a love of character-driven fiction. Ruth is authentically flawed and fascinating: all at once nurturing and uncertain, bright and naive, needy and headstrong, sympathetic and selfish. The hidden pieces of the story revealed in the last handful of chapters, and the consequences accepted by those still standing, left me unexpectedly teary-eyed.

I also want to make mention of the website, The Ardingly Well. Intended to be Ruth's blog to keep their London friends apprised of the goings-on at The Well, it is a nice companion piece to the book, but I was disappointed to find so few entries. I believe the site was only maintained until the UK release of the book in March.

The Well is the sort of book that can prompt a sort of empathetic self-examination of personal connections and priorities. Ruth's story will, I believe, stay with me for quite some time. This is truly an exceptional debut.

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors


Welcome to the last listing of debut authors for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  The December debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author. Please note that the debuts for December 27th will also count for January 2012. Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.



Archon
Author:  Sabrina Benulis
Series:  The Books of Raziel
Format:  Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher:  Harper Voyager (December 27, 2011)
Price:  $22.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  9780062069405

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors
There are some things worse than death . . .

For years, Angela Mathers has been plagued by visions of a supernatural being—an angel with beguiling eyes and magnificent wings who haunts her thoughts and seduces her dreams. Newly freed from a mental institution where she had been locked away for two years, Angela hopes that attending Westwood Academy, the Vatican’s exclusive university, will bring her peace and a semblance of normality.

But Angela isn’t normal. With her stain of dark red hair and alabaster skin, she is a blood head—a freak, a monster, and the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy. Blessed with strange, mystical powers, blood heads hold a special place in the Academy. Among them, one special blood head is more powerful than them all: the Archon, the human reincarnation of the dead angel Raziel. And when the Archon arises as foretold, it will rule the supernatural universe.

Barely in control of her own life, Angela has no ambition to conquer an entire universe, not when she’s suddenly contending with a dangerous enemy who is determined to destroy her and a magnetic novitiate who wants to save her. But the choice might not be her own . . .

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, the young blood head must soon face the truth about herself and her world. It is she who holds the key to Heaven and Hell—and both will stop at nothing to possess her.

In Archon, Sabrina Benulis has created a dazzlingly imaginative tale set in a lush, vivid supernatural world filled with gargoyles and candlelight, magic and murder, in which humans, angels, demons, and those in between battle for supremacy—and survival.



Shades of Gray
Author:  Amanda Bonilla
Series:  Shaede Assassin
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Publisher:  Signet (December 6, 2011)
Price:  $7.99
Language: English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN9780451235299

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors
In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.

When Darian's next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she's taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished...



Shield of Fire
Author:  Boone Brux
Series:  Bringer and Bane
Format:  Trade Paperback, 311 pages
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing (December 13, 2011)
Price:  $16.99
Language: English
Genre:  Historical Fantasy Romance
ISBN:  9781937044336

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors
Protecting humans is the Bringers’ duty. Sending demons to the Shadow World is their pleasure.

In one night, Ravyn’s life plunges from barely tolerable to deadly. Forced to flee the only home she’s known, she stumbles headlong into the clutches of Icarus, a powerful demon intent on stealing her powers. Unfortunately for him, she has no intention of cooperating.

When Rhys realizes the woman he’s rescued from the Bane Demon is no mere human, his obligation as a Bringer dictates he protect and train her in the ways of his people. But he’s unprepared for the intense desire he feels for the fiery Ravyn. To surrender to his need may mean her death.

As the Demon King’s desire for ultimate power escalates, fathers are slated against sons, and foes are made allies. The Bane threat upon them, Rhys and Ravyn must quest to unite the last of the Bringers—and explore a passion too powerful to ignore.



Empire State
Author:  Adam Christopher 
Format: Trade Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books (December 27, 2011)
Price: $12.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Science Fiction, Noir
ISBN:   9780857661937

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors
The stunning superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.

Adam Christopher’s stunning debut novel heralds the arrival of an amazing new talent.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Pocket Universe | Heroes or Villains | Speak Easy | Loyalties Divided ].
You can read Adam's guest blog - In Blackest Night: blending science fiction and noir - here.



Babylon Steel
Author:  Gaie Sebold
Series:  Babylon Steel
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages
Publisher: Solaris (December 27, 2011)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  9781907992384

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors
Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex-other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock. She's not having a good week. The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it's tax time, and there's not enough money to pay the bill. So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it. But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain. In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night's takings are at risk when Babylon's hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat.
You can read Gaie's guest blog - Things I Didn't Know - here.



The Emperor's Knife
Author:  Mazarkis Williams
Series:  The Tower and Knife Trilogy
Format:  Hardcover, 300 pages
Publisher:  Night Shade Books (December 6, 2011)
Price:  $24.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Epic Fantasy
ISBN:  9781597803847

2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut Authors
There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon's law...but now the pattern is running over the Emperor's own arms.

His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon's agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor's only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court's stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an ageing imperial assassin, the Emperor's Knife.

As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who saw a path in a pattern once, among the waving grasses - a path that just might save them all.



Keep up to date with the 2011 Debut Author Challenge here and the 2012 Debut Author Challenge here.

Interview with Isabel Cooper and Giveway - September 26, 2011

Please welcome Isabel Cooper to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews.

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

Isabel:  I don’t really need peace and quiet to write: I completed most of No Proper Lady when I was at work, and have written the sequel while on lunch break or on the train. I’m very good at tuning out distractions when I’m writing, which lets me get work done, but which I suspect makes me reasonably hard to live with.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Isabel:  My favorites in fantasy and horror: Stephen King, Mercedes Lackey, Robin McKinley, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, S.M. Sterling, and E.E. Knight. In romance, my favorites include Emma Holly, Angela Knight, Julie Anne Long, Rose Lerner, and Susanna Fraser.

All of these writers have been pretty influential to my writing, since I pick up influences like a sponge. Lovecraft, King, Sterling, and Knight have probably contributed the most to my world-building (though I do a somewhat more optimistic universe than H.P.), while Carey, Holly, and Knight have been most influential on my romance plots.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Isabel:  That depends on how many meetings I have to sit through. I tend to write out vague plots when I’m in boring situations and need to look like I’m writing, then flesh things out more spontaneously.

TQ:  Describe No Proper Lady in 140 characters or less.

Isabel:  She’s an assassin from a future where demons rule Earth. He’s a Victorian occultist whose friend turned to a dark path. They fight crime!

TQ:  What inspired you to write No Proper Lady?

Isabel:  I tend to write stories in my head when I’m walking—I commute on foot a fair amount—and one of them started with a Victorian guy watching as a woman in leather armor skinned some sort of demon. That seemed to lend itself to time travel, and I decided I wanted to give my heroine a reason to come back in time: “sent from the future to change the past” came to mind, as it would for anyone of my generation, and the novel took off from there.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do to create the world of No Proper Lady?

Isabel:  The Internet was very helpful, particularly since I wrote a lot of the novel at work, where looking things up in books would be risky! That said, I learned a lot from Daily Life in Victorian England, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, and Inventing the Victorians. It also helped that I’d taken a couple classes in college on magical belief and practice through the ages, and I keep in touch pretty well with the professor who taught them. Some of the material there provided the occult details.

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

Isabel:  I’m really fond of the final confrontation and some of the lines I got there; I also quite like the dancing scenes, both the one where Simon is giving Joan lessons and the one where they’re actually at the ball. The fancy dress and the charge of dancing with someone you’re attracted to is a lot of fun to describe.

TQ:  In No Proper Lady, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Isabel:  Joan was definitely the easiest. Her voice came very naturally to me, and I had no trouble figuring out what she’d do in any given situation.
Eleanor, on the other hand, was really tough. I needed to show her progression out of trauma to a place where she can take initiative, and pacing that was hard.

TQ:  How many books are planned for Englefield series?

Isabel:  The Englefield series has three books so far: No Proper Lady, No Honest Woman, and No Time at All. Each is going to be a basically stand-alone novel, though with some characters overlapping.

TQ:  What's next?

Isabel:  Next is No Honest Woman, a novel set at Englefield when it becomes a school for future guardians of humanity—sort of Victorian magical X-Men. Two of the faculty start out fighting and end up falling for each other, while the students and their powers cause all sorts of trouble.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Isabel:  Thank you for having me!



About No Proper Lady

No Proper Lady
Englefield 1
Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 1, 2011)

Interview with Isabel Cooper and Giveway - September 26, 2011
It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.

Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.


About Isabel

Interview with Isabel Cooper and Giveway - September 26, 2011
Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2012. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com.







The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  Two commenters will win a copy of No Proper Lady from Sourcebooks. US and Canadian mailing addresses only.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

If you were time traveling to the past, what is the one thing 
you would absolutely want to bring with you? 

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 with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, October 3, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Early Review - Awakenings by Edward Lazellari - 4 1/2 Qwills

Awakenings
Author:  Edward Lazellari
Series:  Guardians of Aandor
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Publisher:  Tor Books (8/30/2011)
Price: $24.99
Language: English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy / Fantasy / Epic Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0-7653-2787-1
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher

Cover and description:

Early Review - Awakenings by Edward Lazellari - 4 1/2 Qwills
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.

Cal's and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men's past lives. But these creatures aren't here to help; they're intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they're being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.

Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga by an amazing and talented new storyteller.

My thoughts:

Awakenings is an apt title for this novel. The main characters, Cal MacDonnell (a NYPD officer) and Seth Raincrest (a porn photographer) both have retrograde amnesia. They can't remember their pasts. Their lives become infinitely complicated and dangerous when attempts are made to kill them.With help, they start a harried journey of self re-discovery while trying to stay alive, come to grips with who they really are, and begin the search for a lost child.

I really enjoyed Awakenings. There is a great deal of action while the characters learn about their pasts, their mission, what was lost, and what still may be lost. Yes, I'm being vague as I don't want to spoil the story. There are two worlds involved so in many ways the Guardians of Aandor series is about what will happen if the bad from one world overwhelms the other. Awakenings is the first foray into this battle. We are offered glimpses of the other world. from both the point of view of the bad guys and from Cal, primarily, as he remembers who and what he is with the help of the "strange and beautiful" woman Lelani.  The story is told from several viewpoints, Cal, Seth, the lost child, and others. This worked very well. The different viewpoints weave together to make a compelling read.

I found the character development to be very well done. I have a true sense of who Seth and Cal are and what they may become. The secondary characters, if they can even be relegated to that status, are also well drawn. Cat, Cal's wife, is a particular favorite as she struggles with the fact that her husband is not exactly who she thought he was.

There are turns and twists, battles, magic, monsters, and a sense of the epic in Awakenings. Awakenings is a beginning for the characters. Questions are left open for the following books to resolve: Will the life of the child be saved? Will Cal and Seth fully embrace their pasts? Will the worlds be saved from destruction?

Awakenings is a thrilling debut with great pacing, characters you care about, and a riveting story. I found it hard to put down. I've become a fan of this series and can't wait to read the next book.

I give Awakenings 4 1/2 Qwills.

Early Review - Awakenings by Edward Lazellari - 4 1/2 Qwills

2012 Debut Challenge Update - Adam Christopher and Empire State - August 8, 2011

Welcome to the very first 2012 Debut Author Challenge Update.

I couldn't be more pleased to announce that Adam Christopher is taking part in the Challenge. His debut novel, Empire State, has a wonderful cover that I absolutely love. I want a poster of it so I can hang it in my office. I really like it!

This is the US cover and is by William Staehle. There will be a different cover for the UK, yet to be revealed.

2012 Debut Challenge Update - Adam Christopher and Empire State - August 8, 2011
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State - a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Pocket Universe | Heroes or Villains | Speak Easy | Loyalties Divided ]

Empire State is available for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and probably lots of other places! It will be available in early 2012 from Angry Robot Books.

2011 Debut Author Challenge - July Debut Authors

2011 Debut Author Challenge - July Debut Authors

Here are the debut authors and their novels for July 2011. Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.


Miserere: An Autumn Tale
AuthorTeresa Frohock
Format:  Trade Paperback, 300 pages
Publisher:  Night Shade Books (July 1, 2011)
Price:  $14.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  978-1-59780-289-5

2011 Debut Author Challenge - July Debut AuthorsExiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen's hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven's frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn't so easy to escape.

In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen's hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven's Gates.


No Hero
Author:  Jonathan P. Wood
Format: Trade Paperback, 318 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books (July 1, 2011)
Price: $14.99
Language: English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-59780-282-6

2011 Debut Author Challenge - July Debut Authors
Night Shade books is proud to present the debut novel from Jonathan Wood, NO HERO.

"What would Kurt Russell do?"

Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He's a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals.

But then, secretive government agency MI37 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO.

Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?



Look for interviews with Teresa Frohock on July 20, 2011 and Jonathan Wood on July 5, 2011.



For more information on the 2011 Debut Author Challenge visit the 2011 DAC page.

Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla - Cover - May 9, 2011

Amanda Bonilla's debut novel, Shaedes of Gray (Shaede Assassin 1) will be published in December 2011.  Here is the gorgeous cover and the official back of cover blurb.

Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla - Cover - May 9, 2011
In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind—an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.

Darian finds herself struggling to keep her employer Tyler at arm’s length, especially since his seductive smile makes her want to break her rules about love. The work he offers is necessary to protect the innocent—and a welcome distraction. But when Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow, but a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished…

Amanda is participating in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge so look for an interview with Amanda later this year!
Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E HarrowReview: Gilded Cage by Vic JamesThoughts for Debut Authors...Review: The Well by Catherine Chanter2011 Debut Author Challenge - December Debut AuthorsInterview with Isabel Cooper and Giveway - September 26, 2011Early Review - Awakenings by Edward Lazellari - 4 1/2 Qwills2012 Debut Challenge Update - Adam Christopher and Empire State - August 8, 20112011 Debut Author Challenge - July Debut AuthorsShaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla - Cover - May 9, 2011

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