Lara Elena Donnelly - Tor/Forge Blog



SFF Restaurants and Bars We Want to Go To

SFF Restaurants and Bars We Want to Go To

By Julia Bergen

There are tons of reasons to want to live inside your favorite SFF novel, but have you ever considered what restaurants and bars you would hit up? Let’s take a tour of the best ones!

First stop: The Sol Majestic from The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz

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Why we’re going: THE FOOD

We’re starting at the most delicious restaurant in space, The Sol Majestic! Located on the aptly named Savor Station (have you ever heard of a space station that sounds so delicious?), The Sol Majestic doesn’t just let anyone eat there. People line up to be selected, and then the owner, Paulius, decides who is worthy of tasting his elite cuisine, based on how they answer the question, “Why do you love food?” Some days he doesn’t even let anyone in. You’ve never tasted dishes like these before, as the technology simply doesn’t exist yet. Paulius specializes in extremely difficult to produce ingredients, like mosses from asteroids and seafood raised in vinegar oceans. Okay, maybe those don’t sound delicious, but we’re dying to try them!

Second Stop: The Bumble Bee Cabaret from Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Why we’re going: Jazz Age Perfection

We can get a nice cocktail at The Bumble Bee Cabaret, and take in a show. What could be better? Especially when that show is political intrigue. The Bumble Bee’s emcee, Aristide, is also a smuggler, and having an affair with secret operative Cyrio De Paul. The scandal! Throughout Amberlough, The Bee is portrayed as a bright, sparkling atmosphere, contrasting it to the dark underbelly of political factions throughout the city. The best kind of restaurant is one where you can go and escape from the world, and the glittering, gin-swilling world of The Bumble Bee Cabaret is just that.

Third Stop: MacAnally’s Pub from The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher

Placeholder of  -10Why we’re going: See some Fae PLUS Mac’s cooking

Designated neutral ground by the feuding factions of Chicago’s supernatural world, this is one of the only spots in the city (or anywhere, for that matter) where you can see a queen of the fey enjoying a lemonade a few stools down from a werewolf going to town on a steak sandwich. Everything in the bar is designed to defuse magical energies, keeping patrons safe from each other’s shenanigans. That’s enough to make this a stop all on its own, but also, everything Mac makes sounds absolutely delicious. It’s no wonder the supernatural community insists on everyone having access to his cooking (and so they can have neutral ground for discussions, but you know it’s more about the food). His steak sandwich absolutely sounds worth risking an encounter with a vampire over.

Fourth Stop: Milliways from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

Image Place holder  of - 90Why we’re going: The view

Also known as the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, we’re going here to witness the end of time. Milliways exists at the end of the universe’s timeline, right before everything is destroyed in a reverse Big Bang. Don’t worry, Milliways is in a time loop, so we’ll be safe from actually being disintegrated. The view doesn’t just pertain to the view outside, since the patrons of the restaurant itself are just as interesting to look at, coming from all over space and time to dine here. The food and cocktails are also quite good, including an above average Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the best drink in the universe. Please limit yourself to just one, we’re only halfway through the tour!

Fifth Stop: The Inn at the Crossroads in A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin

Place holder  of - 45Why we’re going: People watching

There are plenty of places to get an incredible meal in Westeros, but most of them are in the halls of the great houses, where you’ve got just as much chance of having a mouth-watering feast as getting poisoned. We’re much safer hitting up this inn/pub. It goes by various names, and has had various owners as the old ones get murdered (we’re just not going to find a place in Westeros where there’s zero chance of murder), but many major events of Game of Thrones revolve around this place. It’s where Catelyn Stark takes Tyrion Lannister hostage, where Sandor Clegane gets injured in a bar fight, and where Brienne of Tarth has a noteworthy encounter with Lady Stoneheart. We don’t know a lot about the type of food they serve there, though it sounds like typical Westeros smallfolk fair—bland and dry. That’s fine though, we’re going here for who we might run into rather than what they’re serving.

Sixth Stop: The Stone’s Throw/The Setting Sun/The Scorched Bone from the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab

Why we’re going: Maybe an Antari will show up!!

V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy follows the fates of four interconnected Londons. They have very few things in common, but they’re all called London, they’re all on a river, and they all have a tavern at the exact same spot. In our magic-less, Grey London it’s the Stone’s Throw, in the magical Red London it’s The Setting Sun, and in the brutal White London it’s The Scorched Bone. There’s probably a tavern in Black London too, but we don’t talk about Black London. The drinks at The Stone’s Throw are watered down, but it would be worth it to stand in a place that spans four worlds. Plus, Antari, people with immense magical power who can travel between worlds, often frequent all versions of this tavern. We’ll be keeping watch for someone with one all-black eye.


Never Out of Date: The Past as Fantasy, and Our Fantasies of the Past

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In honor of the upcoming release of Amnesty, the third book in the Amberlough Dossier series by Lara Elena Donnelly, we’re revisiting her guest blog post about how the past influenced the writing of AmberloughAmnesty is on sale April 16.

Written by Lara Elena Donnelly

Victorians, Edwardians, the Great War, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, the Greatest Generation… The past is always a time when Men were Men, a time when Good fought Evil and triumphed, a time when glamor was more glamorous. Just look at all those Greats: things were real back then, were bigger, better, nobler, more.

The reality, of course, is much more ambiguous. Masculinity takes many forms. Good and Evil are two ends of a spectrum with a lot of gray in between. It’s sometimes hard to tell, from where you stand, where on the spectrum you’ve planted your feet. Nostalgia can lend glamor to banality and even ugliness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the tropes and trappings of vintage-inspired media lately, thanks to the impending release of my debut novel Amberlough: a vintage-glam spy thriller that draws heavily on the culture and climate of Berlin in the early thirties, with some interbellum England and a little bit of Fitzgerald’s Paris and New York City thrown in.

Though there is no magic, though there are no dragons or witches or spells, Amberlough is a fantasy novel; it takes place in an invented world. A world I invented because, like many people, I am in love with elements of the past. But I’m also troubled by the way we talk about it and portray it in media. So I made my novel a playground where I could put characters in impeccable evening dress without rules for who wears a gown and who wears tails. Where the color of a character’s skin doesn’t imply the conclusions we might jump to, because this history is not ours.

Which isn’t to say Amberlough City doesn’t have problems. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have rules. But because those rules are different, when someone breaks them, the transgression doesn’t carry the baggage of our real-world expectations. Because the rules are different, they require detail and elaboration in the text.

Often, period fiction fails when creators replace this complexity with nostalgia and stereotypes. Robert Zemeckis’ recent film Allied is an example: the characters are largely empty shells acting per the dictates of a “World War II Romantic Thriller”: earnest good ol’ boy fights Nazis, gets girl, loses girl, defeats Nazis. No surprises, no suspense, no moral ambiguity. Nothing to inspire emotional investment. Contrast this with the reality of Lily Sergeyev, who almost changed the course of World War II because the SOE lost her beloved dog at the border. I first read about her in Ben MacIntyre’s Doublecross, and spent most of the book as desperate as Lily herself to know: what had happened to Babs? Would she betray the D-Day plans to Germany to avenge the loss of her dog? This woman was willing to sacrifice the free world for a tiny terrier mix. If you’ve ever loved a dog, the story strikes an uncomfortable chord. What might you do, in her situation?

Some fans had negative reactions to Agent Carter’s portrayal of Peggy’s struggle against sexism in the SSR, because in Captain America: The First Avenger we had already seen that her male colleagues respected and admired her. Falling back on simple sexism as a conflict—get the coffee, Agent Carter, stand back and let men do the real work—felt lazy and insulting. Yes, there was sexism during the Cold War, but there were also women doing vitally important, difficult work, and men who trusted them to do it. John Glenn wanted a black female mathematician—Katherine Johnson—to double check the calculations for his orbital trajectory, because he believed that if the computer had made an error, she would catch it. “Get the girl to check it,” he said. Though racism and sexism are inherent in his choice of words, Glenn followed it up with “If she says the numbers are good, I am ready to go.” If prejudice and trust can coexist in life, they can in fiction too.

Downton Abbey, soaked in nostalgia for the peerage, is full of examples of this kind of stereotype-driven storytelling, but perhaps the most egregious is Thomas Barrow. He is presented as conniving, greedy, and cruel, with the implication that he became these things to survive as a gay man in Edwardian England. A conniving, greedy, cruel, gay footman could be a fascinating character if the story gave compelling reasons for his cruelty other than “it’s hard to be gay in 1914.” But here Downton lets us down.

In these properties, we are meant to understand the characters’ motivations and challenges solely through popular assumptions about their era. The past was a “time of absolutes.” The past was a time that valued a very specific type of masculinity. The past was sexist, racist, homophobic. Press too hard on the why of any narrative decision, and the glittering façade cracks: there is no reason beyond “that’s just how it was, right?”

Some modern narratives rely on tropes rather than constructing complex characters from whole cloth, but I think we forgive it more in period pieces, because we’re told that’s how it used to be, back when. We let an aesthetic stand in for an ethos. This substitution isn’t just lazy; it can be dangerous. When we simplify the past, we erase individual experiences, contradictions, and complexity. People have always been people, no matter the decade or the social construct in which they move. We have always been apt to color outside the lines. No constructed paragon of any era will ever be as fascinating as a flawed, enthusiastic, infuriating human being.

I hope Amberlough avoids the pitfalls of readers’ preconceived notions about how we structure period narratives. The vintage glamour sets the mood, and alludes to very real time of sex, strife, and cynicism, but I hope the characters carry the plot and the emotional arcs, rather than relying on hackneyed anachronistic shorthand. I hope it tells a twisted, tangled, human story, dressed up in lipstick and evening clothes and free from expectation.

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$2.99 Ebook Sale: Amberlough by Lara Donnelly

Image Placeholder of - 57The ebook edition of Amberlough by Lara Donnelly is on sale now for only $2.99! This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today!

About Amberlough: 


The Smuggler: By day, Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for Amberlough City’s top nightclub. By night, he moves drugs and refugees under the noses of crooked cops.

The Spy: Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, but after a disastrous mission abroad, he makes a dangerous choice to protect himself…and hopefully Aristide too.

The Dancer: Streetwise Cordelia Lehane, burlesque performer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted.

As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.

Order Your Copy

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This sale ends April 1.


Excerpt: Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Image Placeholder of - 10From author Lara Elena Donnelly, a debut spy thriller as a gay double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup.

Trust no one with anything – especially in Amberlough City.

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.

Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything – not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives – dictate his life.

Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, a top dancer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.

The paperback of Amberlough is now available. Please enjoy this excerpt.


At the beginning of the workweek, most of Amberlough’s salaryfolk crawled reluctantly from their bed—or someone else’s—and let the trolleys tow them, hungover and half asleep, to the office. Amberlough City, eponymous capital of the larger state, was not home to many early risers.

In a second-story flat on the fashionable part of Baldwin Street—close enough to the river that the scent of money still perfumed the air, and close enough to the wharves for good street food and radical conversation—Cyril DePaul pulled himself from beneath a heavy duvet of moiré silk. The smell of coffee was strong outside his nest of blankets. An early spring storm freckled the bedroom windows with rain.

Though this was not his flat, Cyril slipped from bed and went directly to the washroom without hesitation. He ran a wet comb through his hair, brushed his teeth with cloying, violet-flavored toothpaste, and borrowed the dressing gown hanging on the bath rail. Despite Aristide’s penchant for over-warming his rooms, the last of winter lingered in the tiled floor. Cyril left the cold mosaic of the washroom behind and gratefully took to the plush carpet running the length of the hallway. Its tasseled end debouched onto the parlor, where he met the maid balancing an empty tray.

“He’s at the little table, Mr. DePaul,” she said, without so much as a blush.

“Thank you, Ilse.” She had charming dimples when she smiled.

At the far end of the parlor, where it joined with the dining room, the corridor belled outward into a breakfast nook bracketed by windows. An elegant, ochre-skinned man sat at his ease in one of the gilded chairs. Reading spectacles rested halfway down his dramatic nose—narrow at the top, wide at the base, deeply curved: as if a sculptor had put her thumb between his eyes and pulled firmly down. His thin lips were arranged in a pout practiced so often in the mirror it had become habitual.

He held the society pages of the Amberlough Clarion against one knee. The rest of the paper—all the crosswords done, and still damp from the storm—was scattered among a silver coffee service set out for two, and dainty plates of almond pastry. As Cyril sat down at the unattended coffee cup, Aristide snapped his paper and said, without looking up, “Finally. I was beginning to wonder if you’d d-d-died in your sleep.”

“And miss the pleasure of your company at breakfast? Never.” Cyril poured for himself, luxuriating in Aristide’s affected stutter, and the soundless slip of coffee against the shining glaze of his cup. “Are you finished with the front page?”

Ages ago.”

Cyril reached for the paper and grimaced when the wet ink left streaks on his palm. “Been up long?” He asked the question casually, but over splotchy headlines he catalogued Aristide’s appearance with strict attention: satin pyjamas under a quilted dressing gown, the same set he’d—almost—worn to bed. His tumble of dark curls had been carefully brushed over one shoulder, but they still showed traces of damp. A flush lingered across his cheeks. He’d left the flat already this morning, but changed back out of his clothes. Something illicit, then, and Cyril was not supposed to notice. Obediently, he ignored it, just as Aristide ignored his scrutiny, and his question.

“Eat.” Aristide pushed one of the pastries across the table. “Or you’ll be late to work. I shiver to imagine C-C-Culpepper in a fury. She’s frightful enough as it is.”


“I know, I know. I’m not supposed to know.” He reached two bony fingers into the breast pocket of his dressing gown and removed a slip of paper, folded in half. “And neither should she, right?” Without looking at Cyril, he handed over the cheque. “Discretion, as they say, is p-p-priceless.”

Cyril made the payoff disappear up his sleeve. “You don’t have to remind me.” The money was a symbolic gesture, allowing for plausible deniability. “But I’m glad when you do.” Ignoring the pastry, he drained his coffee cup and stood. “Clothes?”

“Ilse p-p-pressed them. They’re hanging in the wardrobe.”

Cyril dipped down to kiss Aristide on the top of his head. His hair smelled of rain, salt, and smoke. Somewhere on the wharves, then. Probably the southern end, near the Spits. Bad part of town—smugglers docked there, in the wee hours.

Aristide grabbed a fistful of Cyril’s fox fur lapel and pulled, forcing him to bend deeper, until they were face-to-face. “Cyril,” he purred, and there was menace behind it. “You haven’t got the t-t-time.”

“Ah,” said Cyril, “but don’t you wish I did?” He kissed Aristide again, on his pursed, displeased mouth. After half a moment’s resistance, Ari gave in and smiled.



The rain was done by the time the Baldwin Street trolley stopped at Talbert Row. Cyril disembarked and joined a bedraggled wave of late commuters all headed for the same transfer.

Wedged at the front end of the trolley car, between the driver’s partition and a dozing woman in a loud plaid suit, Cyril took the Clarion out from under his arm—he’d bought his own copy at the Heynsgate trolley stop—and propped it against his leg. The headliner was a story about a train station bombing in Totrajov, a disputed settlement on the border of Tatié.

Of the four nation-states in Gedda’s loose federation, Tatié was the most fractious. The only state to maintain a standing army, it had been locked in a bitter territorial conflict with the neighboring country of Tzieta for generations. Lucky for the rest of the country, federal funds and energy only went to mutually beneficial projects—infrastructure and foreign policy and, particularly relevant to Cyril, national security—so the decades-long skirmishing hadn’t drained the national treasury, just nearly bankrupted an economically precarious Tatié.

By and large, Amberlinians ignored their eastern sibling except as the subject of satire, and an occasional creeping nervousness vis-à-vis Tatien firepower. Though it wasn’t strictly good form, Amberlough’s covert operatives kept a close eye on Tatié. The best of navies was no good against a landlocked, militarized state, and they weren’t the most cordial of neighbors.

Tucked neatly under the gruesome account of the bombing was a smaller headline on the upcoming western election. Parliamentary elections were all offset by two years, and this year it was Nuesklend’s turn. In the accompanying picture, outgoing primary representative Annike Staetler stood next to a young woman with marcelled hair and deep-set eyes. The caption read Staetler endorses Secondary Kit Riedlions, South Gestraacht. Below that, another picture, of a pale, flat-faced man in rimless spectacles, looking down from a podium swagged with bunting. Caleb Acherby stands for the One State Party in Nuesklend.

Poor Staetler. She’d been good to her constituents, and they would have had her for another eight years if she’d let the state assembly dissolve Nuesklend’s term limits. Cyril hadn’t been at the luncheon where Director Culpepper and Amberlough’s primary parliamentary representative, Josiah Hebrides, went to work on her, but Culpepper had come back in a foul humor, filled with apocalyptic premonitions. Staetler was a staunch ally against encroaching Ospie influence in parliament. As long as regionalist Amberlough and Nuesklend stood against unionist Farbourgh and Tatié, things stayed at a deadlock. If Acherby took the primary’s seat … well, he’d always been the brains behind the Ospie cause. He’d had to wait through two election cycles, unable to run for office outside his birth state. Now it was his turn, and he’d have a long to-do list.

He’d probably calm things down in the east, and feed the starving orphans in Farbourgh, but at a crippling cost to Gedda as a whole. Acherby’s aim was unification: the loose federation into one tightly controlled entity. The manifold diversity of Gedda’s people into one homogenous culture.

Sighing, Cyril opened the paper to the center and folded it back on itself, hiding Acherby’s severe expression under layers of cheap newsprint.

He was deep in a conservative opinion piece in favor of further increasing domestic border tariffs—the same tariffs Aristide had been neatly avoiding in the small hours of the morning—when the trolley cables caught and the gripman bawled out “Station Way!”

Cyril disembarked to walk what was left of his commute. The gutters ran fast; bicyclists and motorcars splashed oily water across the footpath as they passed. Behind the marble edifice of the capitol, masts and smokestacks striped the sky above the harbor. Seabirds wheeled and shrieked, peppering the green copper dome of government with their droppings.

Amberlough’s branch of the Federal Office of Central Intelligence Services hid on the top three floors of an unassuming office building, just across Station Way from the capitol’s sloping gardens. Like everything in the FOCIS, the office had its own facetious nickname: the Foxhole.

“Morning, Mr. DePaul,” said Foyles, from behind his racing form. Foyles had presided over the lobby as long as Cyril had been working in the Foxhole, and probably twice again as long as that. Deep wrinkles creased his face, and the tight spirals of his hair stood out in striking white against his slate-dark skin.

Cyril half-waved at him and stepped into the lift, standing back while the attendant shut the grate. He didn’t need to tell her his floor.

The lift paused once, at three, where the clerks and auditors held court amidst the clamor of ringing lacquer telephones, heads bent over pencils and adding machines. Floors four and five were sleight of hand—espionage to ensure the security of the Federated States of Gedda—but three was where the true sorcery happened. The bursar’s team made eye-popping embezzlements into minor calculating errors. Bribes and payoffs disappeared into endless columns of numbers and names. Agents were paid in secretive exchanges, the intricacies of which could escape even authorizing division heads. The accountants were, to a person, discreet, clean-cut, and scrupulously polite. They terrified the rest of Central.

The attendant scissored the lift grate open and stepped back for a new passenger. A young man in a shabby suit got on, ducking his head of bright copper hair. He smiled at Cyril without making eye contact. Against his chest, he held a sheaf of papers under a fat leather datebook, arms crossed tightly over it all like a shield. Cyril ticked through his mental files, checking names against faces, stories against facts.

Low-level auditor. Been in the office two years. Uncommonly straight, for an Amberlinian: He’d never tried his hand at extortion. Painfully fair, with a winning tendency to blush when embarrassed. Embarrassed very easily. What was his name, again? Lourdes. That was it. Finn Lourdes.

They’d only spoken once or twice—Finn had visited Cyril, just out of hospital, to express Central’s sympathies, and deliver by hand a comfortable bonus and promise of promotion: Culpepper’s blood money.

They ran into each other sometimes in the halls, now that Cyril was settled behind a desk. And anyway, Cyril wouldn’t be working on the fifth floor if he didn’t have a mind for details.

Copyright © 2017 by Lara Elena Donnelly

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New Releases: 5/15/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly

Placeholder of  -80 In a tropical country where shadowy political affairs lurk behind the scenes of its glamorous film industry, three people maneuver inside a high stakes game of statecraft and espionage: Lillian, a reluctant diplomat serving a fascist nation, Aristide, an expatriate film director running from lost love and a criminal past, and Cordelia, a former cabaret stripper turned legendary revolutionary.

Each one harbors dangerous knowledge that can upturn a nation. When their fates collide, machinations are put into play, unexpected alliances are built, and long-held secrets are exposed. Everything is barreling towards an international revolt…and only the wiliest ones will be prepared for what comes next.

By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis

Poster Placeholder of - 74 “All’s fair in love and war,” according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown of Durum becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, “Nothing’s fair except bombing those Vins to high hell.”

Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum—only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.

In the Region of Summer Stars by Stephen R. Lawhead

Image Placeholder of - 91 Ravaged by barbarian Scálda forces, the last hope for Eirlandia lies with the island’s warring tribes. Wrongly cast out of his tribe, Conor, the first-born son of the Celtic king, embarks on a dangerous mission to prove his innocence.

What he discovers will change Eirlandia forever. For the Scálda have captured the mystical Fae to use as an ultimate weapon.


Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin

Place holder  of - 98 It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war….

Napoleon’s invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Janefor, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind.


Crisis Girls Vol. 1 Story and art by Hiroyuki Yoshikawa

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol. 6 Story by Ao Jyumonji; Art by Eiri Shirai

Hungry for You: Endo Yasuko Stalks the Night Vol. 1 Story and art by Flowerchild

Juana and the Dragonewts’ Seven Kingdoms Vol. 2 Story and art by Kiyohisa Tanaka

Magical Girl Site Vol. 6 Story and art by Kentaro Sato


Nebula Awards eBook Sale

The Nebula Awards are coming up in May! Haven’t read all the nominees yet? Here’s your chance to pick up the Tor books in the running this year, discounted for a limited time.*

On Sale for $2.99


Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly (Best Novel)

Image Placeholder of - 84 In Amberlough, amidst rising political tensions, three lives become intertwined with the fate of the city itself.

As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.

Buy Amberlough: B& | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (Best Novel)

Place holder  of - 82 Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understand.

And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?

Buy Autonomous: B&N Nook | | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren (The Andre Norton Award)

Image Place holder  of - 50 Freddy doesn’t want people to think she’s weird. Her family makes that difficult, though: her deaf stepbrother Roland’s a major geek, and her genius little sister Mel’s training to be the next Sherlock Holmes. All Freddy wants is to survive high school.

Then two extremely odd neighbors move in next door.

Buy Weave a Circle Round: B&N Nook | | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

Sale ends on April 30th.


New Releases: 2/13/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

1972: A Novel of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution by Morgan Llewelyn

Placeholder of  -93 The Irish Century series is the narrative of the epic struggle of the Irish people for independence through the tumultuous twentieth century. Morgan Llywelyn’s magisterial multi-novel chronicle of that story began with 1916, continued in 1921 and 1949, and now continues with 1972.

1972 tells the story of Ireland from 1950–1972 as seen through the eyes of young Barry Halloran, son and grandson of Irish revolutionaries. Following family tradition, at eighteen Barry joins the Irish Republican Army to help complete what he sees as ‘the unfinished revolution’.

Echoes of Understorey by Thoraiya Dyer

Place holder  of - 22 Great deeds are expected of Imeris. She has trained endlessly to become an extraordinary fighter. Yet she wants more than to compete against the glories of her divine sister and the charms of her courtesan brother.

Imeris thought she could prove her worth during a mission to kill a body-snatching sorceress, but fails disastrously. With death on her conscience and in hiding from her peers, Imeris is determined to find a way to redeem herself.

What she doesn’t expect is to be recruited in a Hunt for the Ages, chasing a terrifying, magical beast that will take all her skills to stop.

Final Strike by William S. Cohen

Image Placeholder of - 33 Sixty million years ago, the K-T Asteroid obliterated the dinosaurs, and now its apocalyptic twin is rocketing toward the US on a similar mission of extermination. Russian President Boris Lebed, the charismatic successor to Vladimir Putin, wants to turn that asteroid into a superweapon to use against the US and is holding Hamilton hostage in Moscow until Hamilton agrees to help. Former Senator and National Security Advisor Sean Falcone leads a dangerous off-the-books operation to bring Hamilton home and derail Lebed’s disastrous plan.

But will Falcone succeed in time?

Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid

Poster Placeholder of - 64 When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during a late night run at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she posts that photo—along with the caption, “See the Pretty Boy Run,”—Peter knows he’s in trouble. But when hostiles drop through the ceiling of his 6th period Chem Class, Peter’s pretty sure his trouble just became a national emergency.

Because he’s not really Peter Smith. He’s Jake Morrow, former foster-kid turned CIA operative.

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

Image Place holder  of - 37 Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.


Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

In Amberlough, amidst rising political tensions, three lives become intertwined with the fate of the city itself. As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.


Tomorrow’s Kin by Nancy Kress

The aliens have arrived… they’ve landed their Embassy ship on a platform in New York Harbor, and will only speak with the United Nations. They say that their world is so different from Earth, in terms of gravity and atmosphere, that they cannot leave their ship. The population of Earth has erupted in fear and speculation.

One day Dr. Marianne Jenner, an obscure scientist working with the human genome, receives an invitation that she cannot refuse. The Secret Service arrives at her college to escort her to New York, for she has been invited, along with the Secretary General of the UN and a few other ambassadors, to visit the alien Embassy.


Citrus Vol. 7 Story and art by Saburouta

Magical Girl Site Vol. 5 Story and art by Kentaro Sato


Books to Give the Fantasy Fan On Your List

Welcome to the procrastinator’s club! We know there are people out there who have already finished their Christmas shopping, but we’re honestly not sure how they do it. We’ve barely started. Luckily, we know the best last minute gift for nearly everyone: books. If you’re like us, and looking for some last minute gifts, never fear–we’re here to help. Here are some recommendations for the fantasy fans in your life. And don’t forget to check out our Science Fiction and Young Adult lists as well!

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

Place holder  of - 5 Do you have a friend or family member that simultaneously wants to escape our current world and resist what’s going on in it? Then give them Amberlough. As twinkling lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, a smuggler, a spy, and a dancer try to survive using any means necessary–including each other.
Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

Placeholder of  -11 For the Shakespeare fan on your list, we have Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey’s beautiful retelling of The Tempest. We know the story of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what about Miranda? What about Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero has chained to his will? Carey flips the coin on its head, showing us the rich inner lives of these neglected characters.

Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson

Poster Placeholder of - 45 We all know someone totally obsessed with Stranger Things. Hell, we’re pretty obsessed with Stranger Things. Randy Henderson’s quirky, fun series is the perfect gift for them. Finn Gramaraye was exiled to the Other Realm for the crime of necromancy at the age of 15, in 1986. Now he’s served his time, and is back in the modern world trying to make his way–and to figure out how things changed since his beloved 80s.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Image Place holder  of - 56 For the literary reader who’s ready for a walk on the weird side, we recommend the Nebula Award-winning All the Birds in the Sky. An ancient society of witches has gone to war with a hipster tech startup, and the result just might be the end of the world. As the battle between magic and science wages in San Francisco, childhood friends Patricia and Laurence must decide if they’re going to choose sides–or stand together and try to save the world.

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Image Placeholder of - 88 Are you looking for a gift for the feminist in your life? Look no further than the badass women in debut author K. Arsenault River’s The Tiger’s Daughter. Divine Warrior Empress O Shizuka and her best friend and partner, Qorin warrior Barsalayaa Shefali must defend the land from demons swarming from behind crumbling border walls. As the world falls apart, two goddesses arm themselves.

The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove

The master of alternative history returns with a tale that baseball fans and history fans alike will love. Set in an alternate Great Depression America full of wild magic, Harry Turtledove’s story of minor league baseball, zombies, and hotshot wizards will enchant you. The world–and baseball–will never be the same.
Wild Cards I: Volume One edited by George R. R. Martin

For the person eagerly awaiting the last season of Game of Thrones and the next book in A Song of Ice and Fire, we recommend Wild Cards I, edited by George R. R. Martin. An alien virus struck the Earth, and in the aftermath humanity is changed–some become Aces, with superhuman mental and physical abilities. Others become Jokers–cursed with bizarre abilities and physical deformities. A shared world, the Wild Cards series features stories from a wide variety of authors, from Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, Melinda Snodgrass, and of course, George R. R. Martin himself.

From the Two Rivers by Robert Jordan

Trying to get someone on your list into epic fantasy? From the Two Rivers is the perfect entry point. This sleek new edition is perfect for fans of the Wheel of Time series as well as newbies to the series. And after you start reading the adventures of Rand and his friends, you won’t want to stop. Luckily, the series clocks in at 14 books, so there’s plenty of adventure ahead! Love the look of this new mini-edition? There are five more of them!

A Darker Shade of Magic Collector’s Edition by V. E. Schwab

Know someone who loves magic? London? Portals to parallel worlds? Characters you can’t help but ship? Then V. E. Schwab is perfect for you! And this new collector’s edition of A Darker Shade of Magic is perfect for newbies to Schwab’s worlds, but even more perfect for her superfans, who will jump for joy at the sight of the new short stories and gorgeous fan art in this edition.

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

Know someone who loves the worldbuilding aspect of fantasy? Look no further than Elizabeth Bear. In The Stone in the Skull, Bear returns to the world she created in her Eternal Sky trilogy, expanding it to even greater breadth and scope. Even as she explores the new territory of the Lotus Kingdoms, a contested territory of warring states, she delves into the close-knit and complex relationships between her vividly realized characters, anchoring epic fantasy in humor and humanity.


Genre Novels with LGBTQ+ Characters

Happy Pride! In between the parades and parties, relax with books that celebrate the range of diversity. From epic fantasy to urban steampunk, here are some recent novels featuring LGBTQ+ characters for your reading pleasure.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Place holder  of - 68 Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They will conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, join the Masquerade, and claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.


Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

Placeholder of  -65 Trust no one with anything—especially in Amberlough City.

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.

Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything—not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives—dictate his life.

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

Image Placeholder of - 25 After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race. Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

Poster Placeholder of - 7 On the island of Kavekana, Priestess Kai builds gods to order—sort of. Kai’s creations are perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the Old World. For beyond the ocean, true deities still thrive, untouched by the God Wars that stransformed the city-states of Alt Coulumb and Dresediel Lex.

When Kai tries to save a friend’s dying idol, she’s gravely injured—then sidelined from the business, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and digs into the cause of the idol’s death, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear that will break her if she can’t break it first.

Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey

Image Place holder  of - 37 In this epic fantasy series, step into the land of Terre d’Ange, a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.


A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

A Companion to Wolves is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a wolfcarl—a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father’s heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go.

The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though the supernatural creatures have not come in force for many years. Men are growing too confident. The wolfhealls are small, and the lords give them less respect than in former years. But the winter of Isolfr’s bonding, the trolls come down from the north in far greater numbers than before, and the holding’s complaisance gives way to terror in the dark.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Set in the late nineteenth century—in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground—when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town.

Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Green by Jay Lake

Her exquisite beauty and brilliant mind were not enough to free her from captivity. That took her skills with a knife, plus the power of a goddess.

She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name—her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a courtesan…and the skills of an assassin…she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke’s collection of beauties. She calls herself Green.


New Releases: 2/7/17

Here’s what went on sale today!

An Irish Country Cookbook by Patrick Taylor

Placeholder of  -87Told from the perspective of beloved housekeeper Kinky Kincaid, one of the cherished starring characters in Taylor’s An Irish Country series, An Irish Country Cookbook explores Ireland’s rich culture through its delicious dishes and stories of its charming people. These authentic tried-and-true family recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, and are the original comfort food for millions.

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

Place holder  of - 24From author Lara Elena Donnelly, a debut spy thriller as a gay double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup. Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.

Trust no one with anything – especially in Amberlough City.

The People’s Police by Norman Spinrad

Image Place holder  of - 24Norman Spinrad, a National Book Award finalist for his short fiction collection The Star-Spangled Future, has now written The People’s Police, a sharp commentary on politics with a contemporary, speculative twist. Martin Luther Martin is a hard-working New Orleans cop, who has come up from the gangland of Alligator Swamp through hard work. When he has to serve his own eviction notice, he decides he’s had enough and agrees to spearhead a police strike.

To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Poster Placeholder of - 31Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.


Idle Ingredients by Matt Wallace

Image Placeholder of - 25Catering for a charismatic motivational speaker, the staff of the Sin du Jour catering agency find themselves incapacitated by a force from within their ranks. A smile and a promise is all it took. And for some reason, only the men are affected. It’s going to take cunning, guile and a significant amount of violence to resolve. Another day of cupcakes and evil with your favorite demonic caterers.


Assassin’s Silence by Ward Larsen

Cape Hell and the Book of Murdock by Loren D. Estelman

The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod

The Pilgrims by Will Elliott


The Imager Portfolio: Volume I by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.


My Pathetic Vampire Life Vol. 2 Story and art by Rose Ishikawa

Please Tell Me! Galko-chan Vol. 2 Story and art by Kenya Suzuki

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