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It's fascinating how the different communities we live in will shift and intersect in unexpected ways over time. Way back in the early '90s Kathleen Knowles and I worked at the same biotech company. I went off to grad school and then to a different biotech company, and she went in other professional directions as well. And then one day I went to a bookstore reading in San Francisco and found we'd come back on an intersection course as authors of lesbian fiction. Two Souls is the most recent book in a loose series beginning with Awake Unto Me, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, set in turn of the century San Francisco and involving a social network of professional women. Two Souls brings the series up to the 1906 earthquake, which is a guarantee of drama for any historical San Francisco story!

Abigail Eliot is a brilliant naturalist whose entire life is dedicated to her work. When she meets an earnest doctor, Norah Stratton who’s new to San Francisco, they start an unlikely friendship. When the 1906 earthquake and fire strike, they’re both caught up in the event in very different ways. Will their tentative connection turn to a lasting love or will San Francisco’s great tragedy drive them apart?


One of the challenges in writing lesbian historical fiction set before the mid-20th century is to show women in the context of a like-minded community. How did they find and recognize each other? How did they come out to each other in a context when indiscretion could destroy lives? And how did that closed and secret aspect of their lives affect their personal relationships? One of the challenges and joys I've had in writing the Alpennia series--including the most recent book, Mother of Souls--is to create networks of this sort that are as realistic and believable as the rest of the historic setting.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.


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I've listened to Lauren Beukes talk about her books on a number of podcasts. This collection--Slipping--looks like an excellent introduction to the range of her writing.

A Punk Lolita fighter-pilot rescues Tokyo from a marauding art installation. Corporate recruits harvest poisonous plants on an inhospitable planet. An inquisitive adolescent ghost disrupts the life of a young architect. Product loyalty is addictive when the brand appears under one’s skin. Award-winning Cape Town author and journalist Lauren Beukes (Zoo City, Moxyland, Broken Monsters) spares no targets in this edgy and satiric retrospective collection. In her fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Johannesburg across the galaxy, Beukes is a fierce, captivating presence throughout the literary landscape.


The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events. And I'm at a loss to come up with a clever way to tie in a reference to Mother of Souls on this one. Look: I wrote this fabulous book and more people should know about it and read it and tell their friends about how fabulous it is. That's all I've got this time.

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Back when my first novel was just barely out on the shelves, Tami Veldura interviewed me for the newsletter she sends out to her fans and readers. It meant a lot to me to have someone treat me like a real author at that point. I'm delighted to return the favor by featuring Tami's book Learning to Want as part of the Great November Book Release Re-Boot. It's an erotic story of dominance and submission in a science-fictional setting.

Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he's stranded on a desert planet he's never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia's complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man's worth. He's struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn't here to play Atash's political games. He's going to escape, if his former employer doesn't see him killed first.


I really appreciate the way networks of independent and small-press authors support each other in carving out niches in the publishing market. In many ways, they're reminiscent of the networks of connections and support built by the women of the Alpennia novels to carve out a place in a society that sees them as lesser creatures. Mother of Souls features networks of all kinds: of blood, of desire, of aspiration, of common purpose.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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This is the only non-fiction post in the Great November Book Release Re-Boot: a biography of Barbara Grier, one of the founders of Naiad Press and a long-time lesbian activist. Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier by historian Joanne Passett chronicles her complex and jam-packed life.

Barbara Grier—feminist, activist, publisher, and archivist—was many things to different people. Perhaps most well known as one of the founders of Naiad Press, Barbara’s unapologetic drive to make sure that lesbians everywhere had access to books with stories that reflected their lives in positive ways was legendary. Barbara changed the lives of thousands of women in her lifetime.

For the first time, historian Joanne Passet uncovers the controversial and often polarizing life of this firebrand editor and publisher with new and never before published letters, interviews, and other personal material from Grier’s own papers. Passet takes readers behind the scenes of The Ladder, offering a rare window onto the isolated and bereft lives lesbians experienced before the feminist movement and during the earliest days of gay political organizing. Through extensive letters between Grier and her friend novelist Jane Rule, Passet offers a virtual diary of this dramatic and repressive era. Passet also looks at Grier’s infamous “theft” of The Ladder’s mailing list, which in turn allowed her to launch and promote Naiad Press, the groundbreaking women’s publishing company she founded with partner Donna McBride in 1973. Naiad went on to become one of the leaders in gay and lesbian book publishing and for years helped sustain lesbian and feminist bookstores—and readers—across the country.


Back when I started reading lesbian fiction in the 1980s, Naiad Press was one of the few companies publishing it, possibly the only one exclusively focusing on lesbian stories. Bella Books is something of a loosely-connected heir to Naiad, having picked up their inventory and continuing to publish many of their authors when the Naiad proprietors wanted to retire. That history was one of the reasons that Bella was at the top of my list when I was ready to submit Daughter of Mystery to publishers. As it happened, I didn't need to work further down the list. My most recent novel, Mother of Souls carries the heritage of a pubishing line that first and foremost supports the right of fictional women to love other fictional women, without apology or flinching.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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There are many types of romantic adventures in the wide world, even within the confines of contemporary realism. Lorelie Brown's Take Me Home plays out an adventure that start with what must be a fantasy for many contemporary lesbians. No, not that sort of fantasy. The fantasy of figuring out just how thoroughly one can blow the minds of disapproving relatives in a single go.

"Thanksgiving arrives in one week and one day. Feeling hemmed in by parental expectations? Are they disappointed by your sapphic proclivities? I can help! The only pay I want is the holiday meal!"

I didn’t know what I was looking for until I saw her Craigslist ad.

I love my family. I’m lucky to have them—well, most of them. But my aunt? I’m so tired of her giving my mom crap because I happen to be a lesbian. So one pink-haired tattoo artist pretending to be my girlfriend will annoy my Christian fundamentalist aunt right back and make my Thanksgiving perfect.

Only . . . Brooke turns out to be cuter and more complicated than I expected. And before you can say “yorkiepoo,” we kiss . . . and abduct a dog together. I want to keep them both—but Brooke isn’t the kind to be kept. Lucky for me, I’m the kind to chase what I want.


How times change! The characters in Mother of Souls are usually more concerned with flying under the radar--and essential component of happiness for a queer woman in the early 19th century. And Antuniet Chazillen wasn't specifically intending to shock Rotenek society in general, and her cousin Barbara in particular, when she embarked upon her new Great Work of alchemy. Margerit Sovitre wasn't intending to shock the dozzures of Rotenek University when she opened her women's college. Luzie Valorin never meant to shock anyone at the debut of her opera on the life of the philosopher Tanfrit. And yet somehow they all turned the world upside down.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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I suppose I'm cheating a little by including Naomi Novik's League of Dragons in this series, because technically the hardback was released in June. But the mass market paperback was a November book, so that's my excuse. And it isn't that Novok's Hugo-finalist series needs any extra publicity boost from me, but it's an opportunity to tell an amusing story about the power of the knowledgable independent bookseller. Back when the first book in the Temeraire series had been out for a little while, I wandered into my local SFF bookstore, The Other Change of Hobbit (now, alas, out of business) and while I was browsing the relatively new releases I idly remarked to Tom Whitmore that I was trying to remember the title of a new book that various friends thought I might like. He instantly handed me a copy of His Majesty's Dragon and I recognized it as the title people had been recommending. That was the extent of the clue: "a new book my friends thought I might like" and Tom's familiarity with my reading habits as a long-time customer. That's what we lose when we lose face-to-face independent booksellers. (P.S. They were all correct about me liking the book.) League of Dragons is the final volume in the Temeraire series.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all—if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country—and the ferals, loyal only to themselves—vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa—and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready—one that that may win him the war, and the world.


This blog series is all about recommending books, or at least featuring them (when I don't know enough about the specific work to recommend it). The fate of brick-and-mortar bookstores is not the only handicap that non-bestsellers face. While the rise of electronic self-publishing and small specialty presses has meant greater access of marginalized authors to publication, it has created a vast array of books that will never have shelf space in a physical bookstore. Other than the lost Other Change of Hobbit, and Laurel Bookstore in downtown Oakland, I have only once seen any of the Alpennia books on a physical bookstore shelf. (Though I have reports of sightings from readers.) This makes reader recommendations an invaluable resource. I am massively grateful to those readers who have enjoyed my books, including the most recent Mother of Souls, and who have shared that love with others.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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The description for The Hidden People by Allison Littlewood is intriguingly ambiguous with regard to genre. Is this a historic mystery? A fantasy? A dark psychological exploration? One can, of course, come to some useful conclusions based on publisher and on bookseller marketing category, but perhaps it would be fun to read it without that advance evidence.

In 1851, within the grand glass arches of London’s Crystal Palace, Albie Mirralls meets his cousin Lizzie for the first—and, as it turns out, last—time. His cousin is from a backward rural village, and Albie expects she will be a simple country girl, but instead he is struck by her inner beauty and by her lovely singing voice, which is beautiful beyond all reckoning. When next he hears of her, many years later, it is to hear news of her death at the hands of her husband, the village shoemaker. Unable to countenance the rumors that surround his younger cousin’s murder—apparently, her husband thought she had been replaced by one of the “fair folk” and so burned her alive—Albie becomes obsessed with bringing his young cousin’s murderer to justice. With his father’s blessing, as well as that of his young wife, Albie heads to the village of Halfoak to investigate his cousin’s murder. When he arrives, he finds a community in the grip of superstition, nearly every member of which believes Lizzie’s husband acted with the best of intentions and in the service of the village. In a village where the rationalism and rule of science of the Industrial Revolution seem to have found little purchase, the answers to the question of what happened to Lizzie and why prove elusive. And the more Albie learns, the less sure he is that there aren’t mysterious powers at work.


Judging a book based on publisher defaults and marketing language is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, when we're looking for a specific type of read, we don't want the equivalent of finding a pickle in our peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But what of books that cross categories in a complex way? The Mystic Marriage is, inevitably, assumed to be a romance, because romance is what Bella Books specializes in, and because the blurb juxtaposes the characters of Serafina and Luzie in the default format for a romance plot. None of the Alpennia books will satisfy a reader looking for a romance-genre plot, despite having romantic arcs.

I always wonder about that, when I see a reader commenting that they felt misled about the nature of the books. Would they have liked the book if they didn't expect a category-romance? Or would they have failed to give the book a try at all in that case? If my books were default (straight) historic fantasy, they wouldn't be marketed with romance trappings but neither would any reader specifically seek them out or bounce off them based on the presence of a romantic arc. Writing about queer women presents a special conundrum. How do you market a book in a way that lets readers know about the focus on those characters without drawing them to mistaken conclusions about the prominence and explicitness of the romantic content?

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a month-long project to features books released in November 2016 that may have been overlooked in the aftermath of the US presidential election.


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It's hard enough in ordinary times to keep up with all the books one might want to acquire. Paying attention in the aftermath of The Unfortunate Election was a special challenge. That must be why I was oblivious to the collection A Certain Persuasion: Modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by Jane Austen's novels, edited by Julie Bozza, when it first came around. I have remedied that oversight, as I have a great fondness not only for Austen's fiction but for creative re-tellings and extrapolations of her stories.

Thirteen stories from eleven authors, exploring the world of Jane Austen and celebrating her influence on ours. Being cousins-by-marriage doesn't deter William Elliot from pursuing Richard Musgrove in Lyme; nor does it prevent Elinor Dashwood falling in love with Ada Ferrars. Surprises are in store for Emma Woodhouse while visiting Harriet Smith; for William Price mentoring a seaman on board the Thrush; and for Adam Otelian befriending his children's governess, Miss Hay. Margaret Dashwood seeks an alternative to the happy marriages chosen by her sisters; and Susan Price ponders just such a possibility with Mrs Lynd. One Fitzwilliam Darcy is plagued by constant reports of convictions for 'unnatural' crimes; while another must work out how to secure the Pemberley inheritance for her family. Meanwhile, a modern-day Darcy meets the enigmatic Lint on the edge of Pemberley Cliff; while another struggles to live up to wearing Colin Firth's breeches on a celebrity dance show. Cooper is confronted by his lost love at a book club meeting in Melbourne while reading Persuasion; and Ashley finds more than he'd bargained for at the Jane Austen museum in Bath. A Pemberley-sized anthology...


Austen wasn't a direct source of inspiration for the Alpennia series--except second-hand through the Regency fiction of Georgette Heyer. And even that inspiration applied primarily to Daughter of Mystery with its themes of disguise and mysterious parentage, first young love and finding one's way though the tangle of polite society. In some ways, Mother of Souls may hearken back to more Austenesque themes of the hardships women face alone in the world and especially their economic struggles.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is intended to re-shine a light on books release in November 2016 that may have suffered an unfair handicap at the gate.

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What: featuring Mother of Souls again? But of course, because it's my birthday. And if you can't jump the queue and take a second turn on your birthday, when can you?

(I had a lovely essay written here and then did one of those accidental "swipe sideways" things on my trackpad that disappeared it. So let's do something different.)

One review noted of Mother of Souls that it's the book where I say, "So, we're all established and comfy, yes? Good, because now I'm going to start breaking things." That's not entirely wrong. The Alpennia series starts off, as yet a different reviewer notes, as "a tropetastic Heyeresque romance" with innocent young love and a fairly simple (hah!) mysterious-parentage and defying-social-expectations plot. Pretty much everything my characters thought they knew about the world in that book will eventually be exploded. And Mother of Souls starts challenging not only the characters, but the reader expectations of what sort of series I'm writing.

For one thing, it isn't a romance--not in the genre sensenot even as marginally as the first two books were. I think that shakes up a number of readers, even more than the amount of non-romantic plot in the previous books did. Not that the characters may not eventually find a lasting love, but life isn't that simple. And sometimes you have lessons to learn along the way first.

Reading Daughter of Mystery, some readers--along with Margerit Sovitre--got the impression that magic in the world of Alpennia was purely a matter of "Christian miracles are real". But Margerit's confidence in her understanding of mystic forces is rapidly being eroded. The world isn't that simple. And what happens to Margerit's faith in God and in the intercession of the saints when she accepts that magic can exist outside of them?

Barbara has built her whole self-image on being supremely competent in her sphere of activity: her skill with a blade, her ability to untangle the social and political currents in Rotenek's ballrooms and council halls, and her ability to direct and protect the lives of those she cares for and watches over for their own benefit and good. Even it, as Jeanne so succinctly puts it, she comes across as a bit of a bully. Just because Barbara thinks she is responsible for someone's life doesn't mean that person accepts her authority, and it's no suprise that Antuniet Chazillen sees no reason why she must answer for her plans to Baroness Saveze. Antuniet, as usual, is tripped up by her single-minded obliviousness. But Barbara is the one who pays the greatest price for her pride and self-confidence. That price will challenge everything she loves and holds dear.

And Serafina--poor Serafina! She's been given so many wonderful things in life: a happy and loving family, an acceptance and delight in her mystic visions, marriage to a scholar who values her abilities...only to have them erode away until all that's left is the need to master her confusing skills and maybe, just maybe, someday find a place where she feels she belongs, the way she did in her childhood home. But what if she will never find those things? What if she needs to look for new goals? Ones she hadn't previously thought to want?

Luzie enjoyed the acclaim of being a prodigy in a musical family in her youth, but she equally delighted in finding happiness as an ordinary middle-class wife and mother settled in Rotenek. And now that widowhood has become a habit, she is glad her musical talents can support her sons in the path her late husband planned for them. But she knows she can do more than compose little exercises and occasional pieces for her students, even if her friend the great composer Fizeir thinks that's what her talents are suited to. Daring to tackle a project as daunting as an opera would have been impossible if not for the encouragement and unexpected collaboration from one of her boarding-house tenants: a foreign thaumaturgy student named Serafina Talarico. Neither of them expect that Luzie's opera will be the key to the greatest magical ritual Alpennia has known for centuries.

Yes, I start breaking things. But not my characters. They will bend; they will rage; they will fight. And--as Jeanne so poetically puts it--they will come through the fire and they will be transformed. The fiercest fires are yet to come.

Mother of Souls is a story of dreams and ambitions, of finding new alliances and risking fatal fractures, of the conflict between personal triumphs and daring everything for a greater good. You should read it. It's a great book.


The Great November Book Release Reboot is a series I'm posting throughout the month of May to shine a light on books that were releasted in November 2016, and which therefore may not have gotten the attention and promtion they deserved due to the US electio results.

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Reviewer Shira Glassman at the Lesbrary says: "One way to describe Marian by Ella Lyons is that it’s a kiddie version of Heather Rose Jones’s Daughter of Mystery — both are costume dramas featuring a traditionally feminine lesbian with a nurturing personality and a lesbian swordfighter living in a world where it’s not customary for women to participate in combat, both feature father figures who a main character is both attached to and in opposition to, and both feature court intrigue — just to name a few similarities. So if you like the Alpennia books, rejoice because now there’s a young adult novel with a similar flavor."

When Marian Banner moves to the glittering city of Nottingham with her father, Sir Erik the Fortunate, her entire life changes. She is no longer allowed to run about the countryside in trousers and braids, climbing fences and shooting turkeys, but is thrust into a life of dresses and jewels and dancing lessons, none of which Marian is particularly pleased about. Her dark mood changes when she meets a tiny whip of a girl called Robin Hood. Robin is fierce and brave, and wants more than anything to become a knight, regardless of her gender. Together they explore the city, becoming fast friends along the way.

As time passes, their friendship into something bigger and scarier and far more wonderful. But then Marian’s father is killed in service to the king and she catches the king’s eye.

Can Robin save her one more? Or will Marian discover how to save herself?


So maybe just for today I should change it up and suggest that if you like Ella Lyons' Marian, then you should also check out Daughter of Mystery!


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Christmas at Winterbourne by Jen Silver was perhaps a bit more topical as a holiday book when it was released back in November. But if you like contemporary lesbian romance with large complex casts, check it out! You can get a taste of the book at the Book Clips series of The Lesbian Talk Show podcast. (Disclaimer: my own Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast is one of the Lesbian Talk Show segments!)

The Christmas festivities for the guests booked into Winterbourne House have all the goings-on of a traditional holiday. The only difference is that this guesthouse is run by lesbians, for lesbians.

When the guests arrive, tensions are already simmering between the house's owner Wilma (Wil) and very pregnant partner, Gabriella. Wil has a lot on her plate...ensuring the smooth running of the events, looking after all the guests, including her in-laws and business partners. What she hasn't planned for is a ghost from Christmas past.

Wil inherited Winterbourne from her adopted mother, Kim Russell, author of a series of successful lesbian novels. Most of the guests who stay, do so because they are fans of the author.

One guest, Sally Hunter, is on a mission to write Kim's official biography. She meets with resistance from the people at the house she tries to interview, stirring up memories from those who knew the reclusive writer well.

For a bit of extra spice to the festivities, add in an unexpected snowstorm, a disappearing guest, and an imminent birth. Join the guests and staff at Winterbourne for a Christmas you'll not soon forget.


And talk about large complex casts, the third Alpennia novel, Mother of Souls, braids together the points of view of five characters: Serafina Talarico, a frustrated thaumaturgist from an Italian/Ethiopian family who seeks a teacher in...Margerit Sovitre, appointed thaumaturgist to the princess of Alpennia, who is struggling to understand the seeming curse looming over the land but finds the rock of her existence in...Barbara, Baroness Saveze, tackling the challenges of adding to her estates and responsibilities while getting further enmeshed in Alpennian politics...whose cousin Antuniet Chazillen has decided to ensure her legacy with a new and different alchemical project to the dismay of her lover...Jeanne, Vicomtesse de Cherdilac, who is finding a new vocation in training Antuniet's apprentice as a salonniere and is expanding her patronage of overlooked women artists like...Luzie Valorin, a widowed music teacher who has an ambition to write an opera on the life of the medieval philosopher Tanfrit, and who finds an unexpected collaborator in her tenant...Serafina Talarico!

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Timekeeper by Tara Sim looks like a fascinating story, and one I haven't heard any buzz about in the circles I run in (which are usually pretty interested in young adult fantasy, especially books with queer romantic elements). I hope some of my readers check it out and let me know what you think!

Seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart’s father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors. And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve. But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.


The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a month-long series covering November 2016 books that may have been overlooked in the aftermath of the US election. I encourage people to check these books out, and to give another look at my own November release, Mother of Souls, the third book in the Alpennia Ruritanian regency-era fantasy series.

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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is to focus attention on books that might have been over-shadowed by reactions to the US election results--at least, books that might be of interest to my readers. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst is a young adult fantasy targeted at the "princesses and magic and horses and girls kissing" readership.

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden. Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed. When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


A lot of us have waited a long time for fantasy novels about girls falling in love with girls to find their place on the bookstore and library shelves as just one more part of the world of stories. One of the driving inspirations behind my Alpennia series is to write the books that I didn't get when I was the target age for books like Of Fire and Stars. If you like fantasy novels where you're allowed to hope that the girl might get the girl, check out my most recent book, Mother of Souls.


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Although my Great November Book Release Re-Boot series is aimed at November 2016 books that might have been shorted on buzz due to post-election anxiety, there's no actual requirement that a book be languishing in obscurity to be included. After Atlas by Emma Newman is on the recently-announced Clarke Award shortlist and has received a fair amount of attention as the not-a-sequel to her previous Planetfall. But I confess I'm most familiar with Newman as the hostess of the Tea and Jeopardy SFF interview podcast. If you enjoy tea, conversation, mild peril, and singing chickens, you should check it out. As for After Atlas, here's the blurb:

Gov-corp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes...


I confess I can't think of a clever way to tie in Newman's science fiction novels with my own November 2016 release, Mother of Souls. So I'll just admit to this entire book re-boot series being a ruse to spend the entire month re-promoting my historic fantasy series. It would be interesting to know if any books get sold because of it. Let me know!

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I'm seeing a lot of mer-folk in my Twitter feed currently -- evidently there's some sort of "Mer-MAYd" art meme going around. So today's November book-boost fits right in. Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith is a young adult fantasy about being caught between two worlds.

The people of Carrick Island have been whispering behind Neen’s back ever since her father drowned and her mother disappeared. The townspeople say her mother was a merrow and has returned to the ocean. Neen, caught in her hazy new in-between self—not a child, but not quite grown up—can’t help but wonder if the villagers are right. But if her mother was a merrow, then what does that make Neen?


The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a series I'm running during the month of May to point attention to books of potential interest to my readers that might have been lost in the shuffle of the US election results. The third novel in the Alpennia historic fantasy series, Mother of Souls, also touches on themes of being caught between different worlds, as Serafina Talarico tries to find a place for herself and her magic.

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Bella Books put out three other books besides Mother of Souls in November, all of them rather different in flavor from each other. T. L. Hart's Walk-In is a supernatural mystery in which a ghost must solve her own murder!

Being rich makes coming back from the dead so much easier. 

Dallas socialite Jennifer Strickland narrowly survives a harrowing car accident and returns to a home she doesn’t remember, friends she doesn’t recognize, and a husband she doesn’t like. Dreams of a mysterious raven-haired beauty send her to a psychiatrist who discovers Jennifer’s experience was nearer to death than she imagined. 

Notorious gay rights activist Dr. Cotton Claymore was beaten and left for dead in an alleyway. Her body didn’t survive the trauma, but her spirit did—in the body of Jennifer Strickland. 

Living as Jennifer, Cotton has to convince the two most important people in her life that she is back and find the person who murdered her—before they do it again.


The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a whimsical project to promote November 2016 releases that--like my own Mother of Souls--may have languished at their launching due to the distractions of the U.S. presidential election and its aftermath.

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I read Emmi Itäranta's previous book A Memory of Water and found it intriguingly different in flavor than the typical run of dystopian fiction I encountered. Her latest novel, The Weaver, looks to be similarly different (if that's an appropriate concept). Per the blurb:

The author of the critically acclaimed Memory of Water returns with this literary ecological tale in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin and Sheri S. Tepper, in which an innocent young woman becomes entangled in a web of ancient secrets and deadly lies that lie at the dark center of her prosperous island world.

Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society.

But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and could she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand?

As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island’s dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.

I've been trying to read some current Finnish SFF before traveling to Helsinki for this year's Worldcon, and I may try to fit this in as part of that project.


The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is intended to highlight books of potential interest to my readers that might have gotten lost in the shuffle during the angst after the USA presidential election last November. This is also a clever ruse to still my conscience about re-promoting my own November release, Mother of Souls, the third book in the Alpennia historic fantasy series.

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(What is the Great November Book Release Re-Boot? This will explain it.)

I've been drawing up lists of books to include in this project from various sources. A very few were suggested by their authors in response to my offer when I announced the project. Most have been selected from various lists of November 2016 books that I've found around the web in genres I thought my readers might like. Given my to-be-read list, only a few are books I've already picked up to read myself.

It's possible that Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis is the only book currently on my re-boot spreadsheet that I've already read. (Other than my own book, of course!) For my enthusiastic endorsement, see my review. Here's the official blurb:

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline's childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father's old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline's childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?


And because the Book Release Re-Boot is unashamedly a cover for promoting my Mother of Souls, I'll note that if the magical early 19th century European setting of Congress of Secrets strikes your fancy, then Mother of Souls is likely to be right up your alley as well!

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I decided that books released in the aftermath of the USA's election deserved to have a release "do-over" six months later, now that resistance has become a way of life. My goal is to feature a different book every day in May. Of course, the project also has the purpose of making me feel less self-conscious about doing a fresh promotion push for my own novel, Mother of Souls.


One in the Hand is Caitlin Drake's debut novel from Bella Books. This contemporary lesbian romance...or is it a romance?...features one of those "OMG am I making the right decision?" situations that makes for good drama. Let's let the blurb tell it:

Three passionate women are about to learn that the difference between “I do” and “I don’t” is a lot more than two little letters… 

Birdy Cartwright has a problem. A big problem. Newly engaged to her lover of two years, Birdy is shocked to find herself spending more time thinking about hitting the sheets with her gorgeous new coworker than about waking up next to her bride-to-be. But what’s a crush compared with true love, right?

And who wouldn’t have a crush on athletic optimist Sydney Ramos with that killer smile and a body to match? Sydney wouldn’t have dreamed of flirting with Birdy if she’d known about the engagement—a fact that Birdy somehow “forgot” to mention—but the more their friendship grows, the harder it is to keep from dreaming of a lot more… 

But charming and charismatic Brooke Winters is used to getting what she wants—and she wants nothing more than to keep Birdy’s future wrapped around her ring finger. Persistent and persuasive—in addition to being a sexual dynamo—Brooke will use every trick she knows to keep “her” bird from flying the coop.

Caitlin Drake is a high school art and theater teacher in Portland Oregon, where she lives with her wife.


If angsty romantic drama is your thing, check out this book from my fellow Bella Books author! You can read an excerpt at the Bella website or on Amazon.

hrj: (Mother of Souls)

I felt so horrible about trying to do book promotion in the wake of the election in November that I felt like Mother of Souls didn't get a proper launch. So six months later, I'm going to spend all of May re-promoting books that were released in November, starting off with my own. I'll be including some books that people specifically requested me to cover, and for the rest it will simply be books that I think look interesting.

Mother of Souls is the third book in the Alpennia historic fantasy series. When most of 1820s Europe is threatened by the effects of a curse that locks the Alps in winter, Alpennia's thaumaturgists seek allies to find the source. And the most unexpected help may come from Serafina Talarico, an Italian-Ethiopian scholar from Rome who comes to Alpennia to study mysteries with Margerit Sovitre, and from Luzie Valorin, a widowed music teacher who aspires to write opera.

All your favorite characters from Daughter of Mystery and The Mystic Marriage return as politics, peril, and espionage blend with family drama and a touch of romance.


Liz Bourke at Tor.com says: "[Mother of Souls] is a quiet book, not a flashy one. And Jones is ambitious in the kind of quiet stories she’s choosing to tell: it is an unusual choice in a fantasy novel to have the politics and sorcery, although an integral part of the story, come second (not co-equal with, but very definitely second) to character growth and development. Mother of Souls is an interesting novel, and a compelling one."

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