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eBook Deals: May 2023

It’s almost summer and what could be as good as warm weather? Some hot ebook downprices! Check out what books you can snag for only $2.99 in the month of May.


Placeholder of  -94Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

STRIKE FAST, LOVE HARD, LIVE FOREVER This is the motto of the Lady Knights—sworn to fealty under a struggling kingdom, promised to defend the prospective heir, Banna Mora. But when a fearsome rebellion overthrows the throne, Mora is faced with an agonizing choice: give up everything she’s been raised to love, and allow a king-killer to be rewarded—or retake the throne, and take up arms against the newest heir, Hal Bolingbrooke, Mora’s own childhood best friend and sworn head of the Lady Knights.

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Flint & Mirror by John CrowleyFlint & Mirror by John Crowley

As ancient Irish clans fought to preserve their lands and their way of life, the Queen and her generals fought to tame the wild land and make it English. Hugh O’Neill, lord of the North, dubbed Earl of Tyrone by the Queen, is a divided man: the Queen gives to Hugh her love, and her commandments, through a little mirror of obsidian which he can never discard; and the ancient peoples of Ireland arise from their underworld to make Hugh their champion, the token of their vow a chip of flint. From the masterful author of Little, Big comes an exquisite fantasy of heartbreaking proportion.

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Poster Placeholder of - 69The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock

Postwar London, Swinging Sixties London–a time and place of creativity and social change. Young Michael Moorcock embarks upon adulthood as both editor and writer of science fiction and fantasy, helping shape the genre into its modern form through his work and his friendships with other writers. His marriage is new and fresh; his children are young and raising them, an adventure. But no adventure lasts forever, and Moorcock begins to chafe under the grind of work and family. What seems a chance encounter with a monk–one of the White Friars–leads to a secret at the heart of London. Massive yet phantasmal doors lead to the Alsacia, a hidden world inhabited by great heroes of both history and fiction.

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Our Top 5 SFF Retelling of Old Favorites

Retellings offer the chance for authors to take a new perspective on classic tales, from fairytales gone wrong to history with a twist. Read on for some fresh new takes on old favorites! 

And check out Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett, on sale in paperback now!

By Lizzy Hosty


Destroyer of LightDestroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett by Jennifer Marie Brissett

This Afro-futuristic retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone is set after the Earth was destroyed from an alien invasion, and the rest of humanity has been sequestered to the planet Eleusis. In this world divided into four habitable zones – Day, Dusk, Dawn, and Night – a young girl is kidnapped from Dusk by a violent warlord, leaving her mother desperately searching. On another side of the planet, a search for a child born from a human and alien in a criminal underground trafficking ring for unknown purposes, and a young woman with inhuman powers rises through the ranks to become a soldier. These stories build to a boiling point when the fate of humans and aliens will be determined.

The Genesis of Misery by Neon YangThe Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

Joan of Arc with mechas in space. Do we have your attention yet? This retelling delivers devious politicking, high-stakes ship battles, and ruminations on queerness and the nature of identity.

Image Place holder  of - 23She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Reimagining the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor, She Who Became the Sun follows an unnamed girl who is destined for nothingness, while her brother is destined for greatness. But when her brother, Zhu Chongba dies, the girl decides to steal his identity to flee to a monastery and escape her own death. After her safe haven is destroyed, however, Zhu realizes she also has the chance to claim another future: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

In the Lives of PuppetsPlaceholder of  -83 by TJ Klune

Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-EIn the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.

Place holder  of - 33Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

In this genderbent retelling of Henry IV, the Lady Knights are sworn to defend the prospective heir, Banna Mora. But when a rebellion ousts Mora and replaces her with leader of the Lady Knights, Hal Bolingbrooke, Mora is forced to choose between letting a king-killer rule, or taking up arms against her childhood best friend. War between the two Princes is inevitable – but Lady Hotspur could turn the tides with her support.

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Queer SFF Books from 2020 You Can Read Now!

Queer SFF Books from 2020 You Can Read Now!

Happy Pride, everyone! We’re doing some socially distant celebrating this month by moving these brand new queer SFF books to the top of our TBR pile. Which ones are you most excited to read?


image-37128Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

This is the motto of the Lady Knights—sworn to fealty under a struggling kingdom, promised to defend the prospective heir, Banna Mora. But when a fearsome rebellion overthrows the throne, Mora is faced with an agonizing choice: give up everything she’s been raised to love, and allow a king-killer to be rewarded—or retake the throne, and take up arms against the newest heir, Hal Bolingbrooke, Mora’s own childhood best friend and sworn head of the Lady Knights.

 

image-37064Burn the Dark by S. A. Hunt

Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don’t know the truth: her series isn’t fiction. Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Returning home to the rural town of Blackfield, Robin meets friends new and old on her quest for justice. But then, a mysterious threat known as the Red Lord interferes with her plans….

 

image-36437The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

What if you knew how and when you will die? Csorwe does—she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. But Csorwe will soon learn—gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

 

image-36448The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

 

image-36457Critical Point by S. L. Huang

Math-genius mercenary Cas Russell has stopped a shadow organization from brainwashing the world and discovered her past was deliberately erased and her superhuman abilities deliberately created. And that’s just the start: when a demolitions expert targets Cas and her friends, and the hidden conspiracy behind Cas’s past starts to reappear, the past, present, and future collide in a race to save one of her dearest friends.

 

image-36950The Unconquered City by K. A. Doore

Seven years have passed since the Siege—a time when the hungry dead had risen—but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Though she was trained to be an elite assassin, now the Basbowen clan act as Ghadid’s militia force protecting the resurrected city against a growing tide of monstrous guul that travel across the dunes. Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger.  To protect her city and the realm, Illi must travel to Hathage and confront her inner demons in order to defeat a greater one—but how much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

 

image-36473The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.otJack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

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Queering Shakespeare: Tessa Gratton on Lady Hotspur

Lady Hotspur author Tessa Gratton is no stranger to adapting Shakespeare. She took on King Lear in her 2018 novel The Queens of Innis Lear, and with Lady Hotspur, she’s taken on Henry IV, Part I. Tessa joined us to talk adaptations, queer reimaginings, and her unconventional favorite Shakespeare play.


By Tessa Gratton

I’ve been obsessed with Prince Hal and his mirror/foil Hotspur ever since I studied Henry IV, Part I in a college class called “Weird Shakespeare” during my freshman year in 2000. For the final, another young woman and I performed their confrontation—broadswords and all. I played Hal—playful, self-loathing, ambitious Hal—and he’s never left me.

I’ve gone through phases where my obsession shifted to the forthright, blustering warrior Hotspur, or Hotspur’s sharp, passionate wife Kate Percy, and have taken every opportunity to see performances of Part I in particular, though any of the Henriad will do it for me. I’ve liked to imagine different endings to the play, wondered what would have changed had Hal and Hotspur met before the battle that destroyed Hotspur, or how Lady Percy might’ve acted to shift the arc of the story. I imagined Hal and Hotspur childhood lovers, now made enemies for the sake of their kingmaker fathers. Over the years I sought out some fanfic to read, toyed with rewriting scenes myself, and assumed someday I’d make a novel of my obsessions.

After finishing The Queens of Innis Lear, my feminist fantasy adaptation of my least favorite Shakespeare play, I was finally ready to adapt my most favorite Shakespeare play, and one thing was immediately obvious: Hal and Hotspur would be women, and lovers, and maybe I could take everything that I loved in the play and, well, make it gayer.

When writing a queer adaptation, the first thing I do is dig into the source material to find the queer space and threads of queerness that are already present. As it turns out, a lot of analysis of Henry IV, Part I includes queer readings, though not always overtly, or even intentionally. When you look at queer space as liminal space, and how space itself can be queered, you don’t even have to consider sexual desire or gender to find a queer reading.

The play is the story of Prince Hal, a reluctant heir to the throne, dragging himself out of the gutter to take up his father’s mantle and defeat the rebellious Hotspur. Hal exists in three spaces: the court, the taverns, and the countryside, each ruled by another character. His father, the king, represents court and chivalry, familial duty, and secularism. Falstaff, the drunken, fat former knight, represents the taverns and debauchery, survival, brotherhood, and importantly, imagination and humor. Hotspur represents the old world where the lord and land are one, and the more ancient religious kinds of duty and the chivalry of nature.

Hal was born into the court, fled to the taverns, and must confront the old world before he can triumph as a prince and earn his eventual crown. As a character he exists between these spaces, in the shadows, a trickster who alone has the capacity to go from debauchery to chivalry and back, from play to duty and back, and combine the skills he learns in each space to better perform in the others. His success at learning to maneuver through different spaces is shown when he superimposes the worlds of court and tavern over each other in the scene where he and Falstaff act out Hal’s meeting with the king, trading roles and jokes, and in that moment of queered space Hal is able to tell Falstaff a single true thing about their future; later, just before fighting Hotspur, Hal says to his rival, “all the budding honors on thy crest I’ll crop to make a garland for my head.” He will take onto himself everything that Hotspur was, by confronting and killing him. He will become Hotspur, taking over his space and triumphant identity.

This is just one possible queer reading of Hal, but it’s one I like because I’m interested in carving queer space within existing power structures, and so I used this reading specifically in developing my adaptation. Additionally, since I was setting the story in the same world as The Queens of Innis Lear, I also knew I wanted to use themes I’d begun pulling apart in my King Lear adaptation to continue investigating connections between power, patriarchy, and rebellion, and nature, relationships, and magic.

Except this time, I was going to center queer narratives.

That became my foundational goal: to adapt Henry IV, Part I with an eye toward integrating queer lives into narratives of power.

First of all, I took the men in the play and made them women or pushed them a lot closer toward woman on the gender spectrum, and did the reverse for the few women in the source material. Second, I gave nearly all the main characters some variety of queer desire.

When it came to building my world and story so that I could focus on queering narratives and structures of power, I returned to the queer analysis of Prince Hal as a trickster moving between spaces. My Hal is a young cis lesbian desperately in love with the bright warrior woman Hotspur, but she doesn’t know how to be what her mother needs her to be for the stability of their new order, nor can she remain debauched in the shadows with her Falstaff—Oldcastle, in my version.

I kept two of the three spaces central to the play: court and taverns. The court is ruled by Hal’s mother the queen, who struggles to maintain a traditional, secular patriarchy when she herself has rebelled against it and has been betrayed by it, because she can’t imagine any other kind of power structure. The taverns are ruled by Lady Ianta Oldcastle, a lesbian and former-knight who has also been betrayed by those same power structures that harmed the queen. Ianta encourages debauchery and small playful rebellions because she no longer believes there is space for queer women in the halls of power, so queer women should focus on survival and find pleasure where and how they can.

But the third space is not merely the old world, the landscape, it is the island of Lear. For a hundred years power on Innis Lear has existed in direct opposition to Hal’s country Aremoria: on Innis Lear they do not rely on that old heteronormative institute of marriage for their lines of succession; their magic comes from a wilder, freer union between earth and wind and stars; genderfluid witches care for the forests; the dead are caught between life and heaven; the current rulers include a queen and her sister, an openly queer crown prince, and a transgender princess.

These are the landscapes Hal must map out for herself in my adaptation, must learn to commune with, finding ways to be herself, carving space for her friends and loved ones to claim identities outside the traditionally accepted without giving up any her/their power. It isn’t an option for her to burn everything down, but she is uniquely positioned to reframe the narrative of her entire country, if she can survive with her heart intact.

Lady Hotspur is a big, sprawling fantasy that delves in to the relationships and humor and politics of Henry IV, Part I that obsessed me for nearly twenty years. But throughout every round of writing and revision I tried to keep that core tension present: Hal and Hotspur loving and hating and loving and fighting each other. In the original text, Hal says to Hotspur that he will take everything Hotspur was and make it part of himself through necessary violence; in my adaptation, Hal says to her Hotspur, “What if I love you so well it changes the very landscape of our world?”

Both of these positions have a different relationship with power: one is patriarchal and consuming and violent; the other is queer and creative and playful. It’s that difference in approaches to power and the tension of possibility created in their clashing that is at the heart of what I was trying to do by centering queerness in my adaptation.

I hope I at least succeeded in writing a dramatic, wild, and passionate story that engages with the source material in new ways. It’s amazing to me that after twenty years of thinking about a four-hundred-year-old play I can still find so many threads and spaces to pull or inhabit, but I’m happy to be part of the long story of Shakespeare’s plays and what keeps them alive through new interpretations.

Order Your Copy of Lady Hotspur:

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Your Lady Hotspur Character Guide

Image Placeholder of - 70We are so incredibly, over-the-top, crazy-in-love with Lady Hotspur, Tessa Gratton’s next book. It’s set in the same magical, mysterious world as her most recent book, The Queens of Innis Lear, but this one takes place one hundred years later.

Noticed something about the titles? Yep, both The Queens of Innis Lear and Lady Hotspur are adaptations of Shakespeare plays. We’ve already seen what Tessa Gratton can do to the wild and vicious world of King Lear―now it’s time to step into her beautiful, powerful, gender-swapped, and queer Henry IV Part I. That’s right: gender-swapped *and* queer. We could not get any more hyped for these fierce warrior women falling in love with each other. 

Like every epic fantasy and Shakespeare play, keeping all those characters straight can be a lot. Here’s a breakdown of how the major characters of Henry IV Part I have been reimagined: who they were in the original play, and who they’ve been turned into at the beginning of Lady Hotspur. Don’t worry, it’s spoiler-free. We’re not monsters.

 

Character Transformations: King Henry IV Part I Lady Hotspur

Place holder  of - 67The current king who deposed his cousin Richard II with the help of the Percy family, after being banished for flimsy reasons  is turned into Queen Celedrix of Aremoria, an exiled noble who returned from unjust banishment to depose King Rovassos, with the help of the Persy family

Image Place holder  of - 67Henry IV’s heir who hangs out with drunks and thieves, but says it’s part of a plan to stun people with how kingly and capable he is later is turned into Hal Bolinbroke, a lady knight known for playing tricks and causing scandals, who is suddenly made heir to the kingdom when the mother she has not seen since childhood wins the crown. 

Poster Placeholder of - 24The famous knight, and leader of the English rebel forces against King Henry, with very poor impulse control is turned into Lady Hotspur, a famous knight with a hot temper, and part of Celeda’s rebellion. She is heir to the earldom of Perseria.

image-36203The man who was heir to the deposed Richard II is turned into Banna Mora, a young woman who was heir to the overthrown King Rovassos, and the former leader of the Lady Knights. Her mother was Innis Lear nobility, and her father was Aremoria nobility. Banna Mora and Hal have been close friends since childhood.

wp-image-36204Prince Hal’s surrogate father in the tavern world, a big-time drunk, cheat, thief, and scoundrel is turned into Lady Ianta Oldcastle, the mentor to the Lady Knights and best friend of the former King Rovassos. Ianta is widely known to enjoy partying a bit too much.

wp-image-36202The Earl of Worcester, Hotspur’s uncle and fellow rebel leader is turned into Duke Vindomata of Mercia, Lady Hotspur’s aunt and a part of Celeda’s rebellion. Vindomata is known as the King-Killer.

wp-image-36205The leader of Welsh rebels, father of Lady Mortimer is turned into the Earl Glennadoer, Innis Lear nobility. It is said that he can transform into a bear.

image-36209Owyn Glyndwr’s daughter is turned into Prince Rowan, nephew and heir to Queen Solas of Innis Lear, and Owyn Glennadoer’s son. Rowan is known as the Poison Prince.

 

Order Your Copy of Lady Hotspur:

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Classic Tales, Modern Tellers: 5 Retellings to Check Out

Classic Tales, Modern Tellers: 5 Retellings to Check Out

By Alison Bunis

Everybody’s got their favorite classic novel. And these days, everybody’s got their favorite retelling of a classic novel, too. Personally, if we’re talking movies, I stand by Clueless until the end of time. If we’re talking books, though, there are so many incredible options that it’s pretty much impossible to choose just one. To help you out, here are five of my favorites! I tried to pick a wide range, but I’m not gonna lie, you guys, I like what I like. So let’s kick things off with my current favorite…

Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

Lady HotspurGather ye round, my fellow Shakespeare nerds: Tessa Gratton has given us an incredible gift. She’s already reimagined King Lear as an entrancing fantasy novel with The Queens of Innis Lear.

Now she’s turned Henry IV Part I into a heart-stopping novel of betrayal, battlefields, and destiny, Lady Hotspur. Here’s a glimpse at the characters to give you a quick taste of what it’s about: 

Hal Bolinbroke: A lady knight known for playing tricks and causing scandals, Hal is suddenly made heir to the kingdom when the mother she has not seen since childhood wins the crown. She loathes being a Prince but yearns to live up to the wishes of everyone she loves best—even if that means sacrificing her own heart.

Banna Mora: Heir to the overthrown king, Banna Mora is faced with an agonizing choice: give up everything she’s been raised to love and allow a king-killer to be rewarded—or retake the throne and take up arms against Prince Hal, her childhood best friend.

Lady Hotspur: The fiery and bold knight who stands between these two fierce Princes, and whose support may turn the tides of the coming war and decide everyone’s fates.

Tessa Gratton’s lush, lyrical fantasy world is the perfect setting for this gender-swapped retelling. Mark your calendars, Shakespeare-loving friends: Lady Hotspur hits shelves in January!

Black Leviathan by Bernd Perplies

Black LeviathanBuckle up, everybody, because Black Leviathan is the Herman Melville classic Moby Dick—but with dragons. You heard me. Moby Dick. Except instead of whales, it’s dragons, instead of “Call me Ishmael,” dragons, and instead of chapters on whaling technique, more dragons. And don’t worry, the revenge stuff is still in there. Seriously, what more do you need? 

In the coastal city Skargakar, dragon-hunting powers the economy. Dragons are used in everything from clothing to food, while airborne ships hunt them in the white expanse of a cloud sea, the Cloudmere. Lian does his part carving the kyrillian crystals that power the ships through the Cloudmere, but when he makes an enemy of a dangerous man, Lian ships out on the next vessel available. But he chooses the wrong ship. The fanatic captain, Adaron, hunts the Firstborn Gargantuan—and he is prepared to sacrifice everything for revenge.

You know what they say… revenge is a dish best served with dragons. (This particular dish comes out February 25th, 2020.)

Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk

NottinghamMost authors retelling a classic start with their favorite book, story, legend, myth…Not Nathan Makaryk. He saw all the things he hated about the Robin Hood legend, and he just had to rewrite the whole thing into an epic novel that examines who’s really the hero or villain of a story. Think less Men-In-Tights and more historically-accurate Game of Thrones.

The setup is a political nightmare: King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it. But don’t worry, Robin Hood and his Merry Men are here to save the day! Steal from the greedy rich and give to the poor! …Not really. Nothing is that simple in this world. Instead, the lives of six people—Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief—become intertwined. And a strange story begins to spread…

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen 

Briar RoseNo list about retellings is complete without including a fairy tale reimagining. It’s kind of a rule. And Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose, a historically sensitive retelling of Sleeping Beauty set amid forests patrolled by the German army during World War II, is a terrifically moving, graceful entry into the fairy tale retelling genre.

It starts off with a tale being passed down through the generations: Since childhood, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories of Briar Rose, a young girl who arrived at a castle controlled by an evil army in the Polish forest during the summer of 1942. As Gemma tells it, Briar Rose was corrupted by dark deeds and choked by poisonous mist, and plunged into a deep sleep in the castle that soon came to be known as Chełmno extermination camp. Becca would have sworn the stories were made up, but on her deathbed Gemma extracts from Becca a promise to fulfill three impossible requests: find the castle, find the prince, and find the spell-maker. Her vow sends Becca on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: She is Briar Rose.

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

Miranda and CalibanAnother Shakespeare retelling? Yes. Let’s go there with Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what about Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage? In Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey gives us their side of the story: the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge. Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship. 

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