Kirsten Miller Guest Post and Giveaway!

Author Kirsten Miller joins SciFiChick.com today to discuss maps and her latest release The Darkness Dwellers. And keep reading for a chance to win a copy for yourself!

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HERE BE THE MONSTERS
– Kirsten Miller

Of the seven books that I’ve written, the novels in the Kiki Strike trilogy (along with my new book,
How to Lead a Life of Crime) are by far my favorites. However, if you were to ask me what I love most about the Kiki series, I’d have to point to something I had no hand in creating—the map/diagram at the beginning of Kiki #1. It shows the Shadow City, the secret world beneath New York in which much of the trilogy takes place. I could literally stare at it for hours.


(Above: The Shadow City from the Kiki Strike books. Art by the incomparable Eleanor Davis.)

There’s nothing I adore more than a really great map. (Though if I could only own one, this would be it.) Often, what interests me most are a map’s empty spots—the uncharted areas that have yet to reveal their secrets. Back when the world was a darker (and more imaginative) place, these unexplored territories were often marked with the phrase, “Here Be Dragons.”

Believe it or not, even in the 21st century, there are still plenty empty spots on our maps—and who knows what monsters may call them home. The pristine forests of the Pacific Northwest are said to be Bigfoot’s stomping grounds. The ocean’s deepest trench could easily hold colonies of kraken. And the forgotten tunnels beneath New York City may very well be infested with mutant, man-eating rats. (As Kiki and her friends discovered in book #1.)

I love maps because they pique one’s curiosity and inspire exploration. They dare you to go places you’ve never gone before. Perhaps that’s why most of the books I’ve written either contain—or were inspired by—a map of some sort.

If you’ve read Kiki #1, you might be surprised to know that the NYCE map does exist. Kiki #2, The Empress’s Tomb, was meant to include a map of the haunted mansion at the center of the story. Kiki #3, The Darkness Dwellers (available 1/13) takes place in the catacombs beneath Paris—and was inspired in part by this phenomenal map. (Smaller version here.) And How to Lead a Life of Crime (available 2/13), which is set in a school for young criminals, will include two maps as well.

I’m taking a break from writing, which means I’ll soon be looking for new ways to spend my free time. I just stumbled across this episode of This American Life, and I’m thinking of making a few maps of my own. If I find any monsters, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Kirsten

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Courtesy of Bloomsbury Books, I have a copy of The Darkness Dwellers by Kirsten Miller for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 1. I’ll draw a name on February 2, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreKirsten Miller Guest Post and Giveaway!

Fantasy Book Review: Dog in the Dark

Dog in the Dark by Barb & JC Hendee

Synopsis:
Barely escaping the city of Calm Seatt—and the assassins hunting them—Magiere, Leesil, and the elven dog Chap sail south to continue their quest to find the powerful Orb of Air before their enemies do. But they are not alone, much to their frustration.

The aging elven assassin Brot’an has forced himself on them by offering his protection. Chap doesn’t believe this ruse, however, and seeks to uncover the assassin’s true agenda—as well as the cause of the secret civil war that has erupted into the open among Brot’an’s people. Meanwhile, Magiere struggles with her own dark nature, using Leesil’s love as an anchor to keep her grounded. For the personal price she paid to procure the Orb of Fire was more than she thought—and more than she wants to reveal to anyone.

But that is exactly what the cunning Brot’an wants to know. And he is willing to do whatever it takes—even if he must reveal his own dreaded secrets that may cost the entire party their lives…and their very souls.

Review:
This is the 2nd novel in Series 3 of the Noble Dead saga. The characters have developed quite a bit over the years. Magiere is at odds with her vampire half of her dhampir nature. And Chap is no longer just a silent observer. There’s a bit of jumping back and forth in time as memories are rehashed, which is helpful when you’re not reading these back-to-back but instead a year in between each installment.

The saga has developed and changed just as much as the characters over the years. What started out as vampire fantasy with a rich and well-developed lore now has the feel of an epic fantasy series with a slowly unfolding journey. With a complex and evolving storyline, engaging characters, and a creative fantasy world – Dog in the Dark is another charming installment in a favorite series. The Hendees never fail to impress and entertain. Don’t miss this highly enjoyable story. But be sure to start from the beginning with Dhampir. But beware; you may not be able to stop.

SciFi Book Review: Shades of Earth

Shades of Earth

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Synopsis:
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

Review:
Amy, Elder, and the crew of the Godspeed have finally arrived at their new home. And Amy’s parents and the rest of the frozen passengers finally awaken. But it seems Orion may have been right about some things. Amy’s father soon takes over with the military. And the planet is hostile and holds a big mystery. And Amy and Ender’s relationship is soon strained when the earth-borns and ship-borns take sides.

This is the final installment in Revis’ science fiction trilogy and the most exciting. The adventure has built up to this climactic finale with plenty of twists and surprises along the way. This is an outstanding space opera that doesn’t disappoint. With an abundance of danger, suspense, drama, and romance – Shades of Earth is a wild ride that I didn’t want to end.


Shades of Earth releases from Razorbill on January 15, 2013.

Continuum and Being Human Premier Sneak Peeks

Continuum — Series Premieres Monday at 8/7c on Syfy.
A Stitch in Time – Sneak Peek
SUMMARY: See the beginning of the time-traveling drama of Continuum unfold as we watch the Liber8 escape their impending execution.

Being Human — Premieres Monday at 9/8c on Syfy.
It’s a Shame About Ray – Sneak Peek
SUMMARY: Aidan is dug up & freed! Or is he? Our favorite vampire may be out of the ground, but he’s not out of trouble yet.

Nancy Gideon Guest Post and Giveaway!

On a stop along her blog tour, author Nancy Gideon joins SciFiChick.com today with a guest post and giveaway of her latest novel, Betrayed by Shadows!

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WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT WRITING ROMANCE FROM SCI-FI
by Nancy Gideon

Long, long ago in a library far away, before paranormal romance became a blip on my radar screen, I discovered the building blocks of storytelling in another galaxy where I crewed for Bradbury, Heilein, Asimov and L’Engle. I relished those voyages with the Starship Enterprise (mostly to ogle Ensign Chekov) as a training ground for future adventures with Moya, the Maltese Falcon, and Serenity. I discovered the Hero’s Journey on the dusty planet of Tatooine with a whiny kid in baggy leggings. And once cable became a part of my life, there was only one true channel – SyFy.

My mother got lost in the plots of Star Trek (which she called Star Track). My ex couldn’t wrap is attention around tall blue women and a royal toad who floated on cushions. But I was a firm convert to the Outer Limits of the imagination. The universal truths I learned going through those worm holes are the ones I use today in shaping my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal world of Shape-shifters. Here are just a few of the celestial wisdoms I gathered from my science fiction friends:

My world – My rules. You can do anything you want if you can make it believable. Royal toads can fly on cushions. Huge slimy slugs can imprison sexy princesses. A clan of shape changers can live undetected in New Orleans struggling for survival. The one rule you can’t break is if you break it, you have to explain it satisfactorily.

Talk the Talk: An important part of building that otherworldly place is tone. I created my own species: Shifter, Chosen, and Ancient, my own glossary of terms: Glimmer, Upright, Reader, Controller, and Lesser to give the “By Moonlight” world a distinctive feel. But a little jargon goes a long way. Never sprinkle that spice on so heavy that it smothers the taste of the meal. “Frell,” “Frack,” “the Vulcan Mind Meld,” Banthas and Jawas, “Shiny” – these terms became part of our vernacular. The trick is to make the new terms relatable and not to lose the observer under the weight of distancing technical details.

A hero isn’t always heroic: When smuggler Han Solo declares it’s not his problem and walks out on the Rebels in their time of need, that’s in character. It’s what he is. But when he swoops in at the last minute to save the day, that’s WHO he is. A hero in rogue’s clothing. I love reluctant heroes, those who through circumstance or choice disregard the moral highroad to do things their own way. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, anyone? Where they come from, the dark paths they’ve walked are what make their ultimate heroic gestures all the more powerful. My heroes (and heroines) have been assassins (Nica Fraser), mob hitmen (Max Savoie and Giles St. Clair), thugs (Cale Terriot), manipulators (Brigit MacCreedy) which in the end make their sacrifices and redemption all the sweeter.

Courage Comes in Small Packages: Remember that whiny kid in the baggy leggings? Like Luke Skywalker, the children in A Wrinkle in Time and Something Wicked This Way Comes were forced by tragic situations to shoulder the mantle of courage way too young. This push into early adulthood is something many of my characters have in common to prepare them for the difficult actions they’ll confront before that happily-ever-after.

Danger Makes Strange Bedfellows: The goal of over-arcing hero Max Savoie in my “By Moonlight” series is to convince warring Shifter clans that the only way they all can survive is to stop fighting each other and band together against the sinister forces of the Chosen in the North. Nothing like a greater mutual threat to unite enemies. The Shadows in Babylon Five, the Peacekeepers in Farscape, the Alliance in Firefly are powerful galactic bullies who are trying to crush independent friend and foe alike. Throw a group of wildly different outsiders together to common defend a cause and let the chaos and conflict begin.

Evil isn’t Always Ugly: Like the elegant Alliance and my intellectual Chosen, or the Stone Angels of Dr. Who, benevolent-appearing entities don’t always have your best interests at heart. The most frightening enemy is one who comes to you in the guise of a friend. “V” (both the alien series and the Hugo Weaving movie) are all about one hand extending in unity while the other holds a knife. Betrayal is a common theme in Sci-Fi and in the next book of my series PRINCE OF SHADOWS (5-27-13) because by its very nature it cuts to the heart and soul and has characters questioning their beliefs and integrity. The greater good usually gets that way by crushing individual will.

Dreams are Born of Disaster: Nothing’s more poignant than a character struggling to hold onto a dream in the face of adversity. To return to home (astronaut John Crichton/ Giles St. Clair). To find out who they are (Total Recall/SEEKER OF SHADOWS). To establish peace for their people (John Sheridan/Max Savoie). To gain freedom (the Serenity crew/the MacCreedy family). To avenge their loved ones (Luke Skywalker/Cale Terriot). And to have that happily-ever-after. A hero and heroine with a dream hold the shield that protects them from all odds . . . once they are confronted with the pain of loss. The power of that dream is what sustains them, even if the dream proves an illusion.

Have you found these universal truths in your favorite Sci-Fi / paranormal books, TV shows and movies?

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Along with the blog tour, we have a copy of Betrayed by Shadows by Nancy Gideon for one (1) lucky winner!

Balancing a criminal empire and a preternatural clan war, reluctant front man Giles St. Clair doesn’t need a problem like Brigit MacCreedy . . . How much trouble can the head-strong and manipulative Shifter beauty get into in two weeks? Plenty when her schemes range from kidnapping to fleeing the retribution of her dead lover’s clan.

With her family’s lives on the line, Brigit is willing to do whatever it takes to save them. The only thing standing in her way is an immovable stone wall of a man she can’t bully or beguile . . . a human, no less, who has promised to protect her from the secrets and dangers she conceals.

Risking her own safety gets complicated when an honorable and annoyingly desirable man puts himself between her and her powerful enemies in a battle he can’t win in this Taming of the Shrew meets Shifter Goodfellas on the Bayou tale of consequences, redemption and finding love in all the wrong places.

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 1. I’ll draw a name on February 2, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreNancy Gideon Guest Post and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: Area 51: Nightstalkers

Area 51 Nightstalkers

Area 51: Nightstalkers by Bob Mayer

Synopsis:
Staff Sergeant Winthrop Carter has just been drafted into the Nightstalkers—an elite group of soldiers that… Actually, he’s not quite sure what they do. Born from the Area 51 initiative, the Nightstalkers defy sanity and decorum and include among their ranks Moms, a Black Ops trainee too extreme for Special Forces; Doc, a scientific crackpot; Roland, the weapons enthusiast; and Mac, a contemporary MacGyver. All of them take their orders from the elusive Ms. Jones, who everyone claims is just a hologram.

Those orders include tracking down and sealing tears in our reality that are releasing interdimensional beings known only as Fireflies— creatures that take control of both living and inanimate matter in order to unleash wanton destruction. Just as Carter is settling in, a rogue scientist triggers a fresh invasion of Fireflies that swarm a swanky gated community. Now it’s up to Carter and his new teammates to neutralize the threat while figuring out who’s behind the breach.

Review:
The Nightstalkers are a secret military group that hunts down alien Fireflies and neutralizes them with as little public knowledge as possible. I was hoping this would be an off-shoot series of Bob Mayer’s Area 51 series, which is one of my favorites. But unfortunately, other than being military science fiction, there seems to be little in common.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed romp with plenty of humor and colorful characters. In fact, young civilian Scout stole the show with her wit and vivacity. The story works well as a standalone, though I would have liked more explanation behind the science and alien entities. Hopefully, further installments will expound more. It’s an interesting start to a new series for military science fiction fans, with plenty of secrets yet to uncover.

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