Pre-Publication Urban Fantasy Web Serials I’m Currently Following

I’m following along with the publication of two web serials by veteran urban fantasy authors, and I thought I’d share while they’re running:

Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong dozens of books across the fantasy and mystery/thriller genres, including a long history of urban fantasy. In Cursed Luck, she introduces us to a new setting, featuring the curse weaver Kennedy–who runs her own antiques shop in Boston, as she tries to ply the family trade on her own.

Kennedy’s minding her own business, until a whole slew of supernaturals turn up hunting an infamous cursed item–and turn to Kennedy’s family to uncurse it. By abducting her sisters. (Obviously, she’d not letting that stand.)

I’ve been enjoying how the protagonist draws lines for what she won’t tolerate. I’m not fully caught up–I tend to like getting a bit of a backlog so I can read several parts of these kinds of series in one go–but what I’ve read so far has been a fun story.

Ryder by Ilona Andrews (I think the title is temporary?)

This story is set in the same universe as the authors’ Kate Daniels series, following one of the side characters after she’d had time to grow up. In a post-apocalyptic Atlanta with alternating waves of magic and tech, Ryder’s returning home after a long absence.

She can’t actually contact most of her family for world-building reasons and she looks completely different, which leads to an interesting dynamic–she’s back in the city where she grew up, she’s meeting a lot of people that she knows already, but all of them think they’re strangers. That’s an intriguing dynamic to watch unfold.

The story has only started kicking off with her getting into her investigations, but it’s promising, and I’m really enjoying it so far. You might have to use the search bar to find all the parts, but they’re clearly labeled.

Free Digital Copies of Terrestrial Magic and Natural Sorcery is Released

Natural Sorcery is now out.

I’ve also been thinking about what to make available for free during the current upheaval–unfortunately, I don’t have a huge back catalog to choose from. So I decided to give away digital ebook copies of Terrestrial Magic (first in the series for Natural Sorcery, not including the bonus content in the retail version) alongside the hundred other books available at the Pages and Potions Giveaway. This giveaway will be active until May 6th.

The almost-final draft of Terrestrial Magic is also available as a web series here. Note that the ebook version has been lightly edited from the original web serial.

Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics

Words read "Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo". A snake is entwined through the words.

You may have heard some of the discussion about this book, the heavy topics that it deals with. Trigger warnings that people have mentioned. So I will say upfront that, yes, this book tackles some uncomfortable topics. I’d advise anyone interested to look up those trigger warnings beforehand, just so you know what you’re getting into.

That said, I found this to be a powerful story about power dynamics. About how power is used and how it’s abused. And about an angry protagonist who’s been burned by the world reclaiming some of that power. Continue reading “Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics”

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles

I was super surprised to discover I’d never actually done a list for this topic before? And since That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday is having a free topic, now is a great time to remedy that. Including all of the covers would defeat the purpose of having the titles stand on their own, so this post will have to do without.

Titles can do a lot to pique our interest, but it is genuinely hard to pull off even when the author/marketing team wants to–because often it’s more important to have the title match the genre and brand. I find that very few titles stick out. These are the ones that really impressed me (please note that I haven’t read all of them yet):


Dead Witch Walking

Did I say that authors have to choose between cool titles and branding? Because here’s Kim Harrison, proving that’s not always the case. This is still the greatest urban fantasy title I’ve ever come across even over a decade post-publication. Continue reading “Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles”

Suspense and Arcane Horror in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace One-Shot from Critical Role

 

(The show starts around the 6-minute mark, as it doesn’t seem to be autoplaying from there properly.)

Victorian London is holding its annual cat show at the Crystal Palace–an exhibition center made of glass, now fallen into disrepair. It is under the guise of this event that six enterprising professionals are hired to “procure” an artifact from the closed portions of the building for a collector. A world-trotting explorer, an enterprising daughter of Japanese ambassadors, an archivist from the British Museum, an engineer previously employed by Edison, a spiritualist, and a veteran now employed by the gentlemen collector paying for this enterprise–all of these people venture into the depths of the Crystal Palace to find much more than what they were looking for.

A cross between historical fiction and arcane horror, this is a role-playing adventure with a cast of professional voice actors. And it’s awesome. Continue reading “Suspense and Arcane Horror in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace One-Shot from Critical Role”

5 Character Traits I Love (And Want to See More Often)

This is an interesting Top Ten Tuesday prompt (by way of That Artsy Reader Girl), that I’m interpreting as characteristics I’d like to see in protagonists. And there are definitely personality traits I want to see more of in heroes (especially female heroes, who usually get a much more limited range of characteristics to work with). I’ll be ignoring the stuff I think is already pretty common, like various types of compassion or diplomacy.

Here’s five things I wish more protagonists would be:

Awkward

There’s a stereotypical notion of awkwardness, but the reality is way more varied than we usually get to see in fiction. As someone who’s pretty awkward myself, I want more representation of that range. And I want those kinds of characters to be mostly unapologetic about how they are.

Examples: Beka (Terrier), Keyleth (Critical Role)

An image of a pendent, with a creature's head on it, with the words "#1 New York Times Bestsellling Author Tamora Pierce, Beka Cooper, Terrier, 'Tamora Pierce is a pillar, an icon, and an inspiriation.' - Sarah J. Maas, #1 New York Times bestselling author" Continue reading “5 Character Traits I Love (And Want to See More Often)”

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: Another Layer of Secrets Is Revealed, as Our Protagonists Recover from the Last Book’s Ordeal

A woman with a knife. The text reads "New York Times Bestselling Author Seanan McGuire, Night and Silence, An October Daye Novel"

If I needed any more evidence that grad school was driving me hard here it is: I didn’t even realize the latest October Daye novel had been out for a year. My ultimate auto-buy series, the one that’s reached a dozen novels now without my interest in the story dipping even a little.

Yeah, wasn’t expecting that. But now I’ve finally caught up with my favorite series…just in time for the next book to come out.

Centuries of Backstory Catching Up with Our Protagonists

The protagonist of these novels is Toby Daye, a part-fae detective whose heritage is so convoluted even she’s still figuring it all out. Daughter of a powerful but absent blood worker and a human man, Toby has had to carve a place for herself in a world that didn’t want her. She’s built her own circle of support, solved mysteries, been declared a hero of the realm…and made ridiculously powerful enemies. (Though to be fair, her greatest enemy had already been in place the moment she was born.) Continue reading “Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: Another Layer of Secrets Is Revealed, as Our Protagonists Recover from the Last Book’s Ordeal”

Tyranny: Fighting Your Way to Power and Agency

The last hold out against an all-powerful conqueror

The armies of the Overlord have conquered most of the known world. The Tiers is the last battleground remaining, as the rebels make one final, desperate stand against two of the Overlord’s fiercest generals–who might hate each other more than they hate their mutual enemies.

You are an agent of the Overlord, directly answerable to the Overlord’s head of justice, Tunon. Sent to deliver an Edict–a powerful magic that follows the exact stipulations laid out when it’s first read–you declare the Overlord’s words that everyone in the valley will die unless they claim the rebel’s base.

‘Everyone in the valley’ includes you, by the way.

Which makes you as much of an interested party here as anyone. You hold authority as an agent of the Court, and you have to decide how you’re going to use it. Will you work with one of the generals? Will you work alone? Or, in a daring move when faced with the seemingly inevitable dominance of the Overlord, will you defect to the rebels? Continue reading “Tyranny: Fighting Your Way to Power and Agency”

First Five Books I Reviewed (Which Somehow Turned into a Critique of My Past Writing Ability?)

This topic prompt was proposed over at Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Thankfully, my old blog serves as an online record of my first book reviews (from 2012!). Wow, was I nowhere near as good of a writer then as I am now. In chronological order, here are the first five books I’ve ever reviewed and a quote from my not-that-well-written thoughts on them. (Also some criticisms about my former self’s reviewing skills–but with full appreciation that using whatever words I had back then is what allowed me to get better.)

1. The Lies of Locke Lamora

Genre: Fantasy

The view of a city built over a canal. Text reads "National Bestseller, The Lies of Locke Lamora, 'Fresh, original, and engrossing...gorgeously realized.' - George R.R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Author of The Republic of Thieves."
Image: Spectra/Random House LLC

“This book, set in a city evocative of Venice, is about a group of conmen who unwittingly become dragged into the middle of a political power struggle…From gladiators fighting sharks to a religious cult obsessed with their own mortality, it’s the details of the world and how it works that pulls readers in.” – World Building in The Lies of Locke Lamora  Continue reading “First Five Books I Reviewed (Which Somehow Turned into a Critique of My Past Writing Ability?)”

Into the Drowning Deep: Character-Driven Expedition Towards an Unknown Danger

Into the Drowning Deep is about a scientific expedition to retrace a voyage that’d gone missing seven years prior. No one knows what really happened to the Atargatis, except that the ship was found with no one left alive. But that failed voyage left consequences–for a young scientist who wonders why her sister never came home, a professor who carries the guilt for making the last expedition possible, a company whose reputation was left in tatters after the fiasco.

These people and more assemble to solve the mystery of the Atargatis…but how many of them will survive the answer?

Hands reaching out towards a streak of blood in dark water. The text reads "Into the Drowning Deep, New York Times Bestselling Author Mira Grant."
Image: Orbit

There is absolutely no way I would go anywhere near a story where the premise is ‘killer mermaids’ if I didn’t already trust the author.

I rarely venture into the horror genre at all, though I make exceptions for character-driven adventures. And Mira Grant (a penname for Seanan McGuire, who writes probably my favorite urban fantasy series ever) knows how to write a powerful, emotional story. Continue reading “Into the Drowning Deep: Character-Driven Expedition Towards an Unknown Danger”