My 5 Favorite Non-U.S. Mystery Novel Series

As you may expect, I do a lot of reading, about two books a week on average, and lately, as I write my own John Simon Thrillers noir detective seriesJohn Simon Thrillers noir detective series, I have been reading a ton of mysteries, not all of them set in the U.S. My preference is toward darker, noir tales, though I do venture into cozies and lighter comedic tales from time to time. The following are five of my favorite Non-U.S. mystery series, all but one ongoing (i.e. new releases coming regularly):

Charlie Parker by John Connolly—Written by an Irish author, this series tells the story of a private detective in Maine, after the death of his beloved wife and daughter, as he not only hunts those responsible but takes on other cases of evil actors plaguing his community. Noir, with incredible prose, well drawn characters and settings, and a touch of supernatural, this is simply one of the best written detective series being written today. And a major influence on my own writing.

Rebus by Ian Rankin—The story of a Scottish police inspector, John Rebus, this story has rich settings and characters as Rebus probes criminal cases in the Scottish underworld around Edinburgh. Dark, noir, and intense with great procedural accuracy and depth, this series is one of the top selling detective series in Europe for a reason, going on 26 books strong to date with more to come. Michael Connelly of Bosch cites this series as one of his inspirations for creating Bosch and it’s certainly one of mine.

Ann Lindell by KJell Eriksson—this Swedish set series follows the adventures of a female detective as she investigates the dark underbelly of Sweden’s cities and countryside. To me, this one has a similar feel to Wallenberg and the TV series Shetland in many ways, though its richly drawn characters and setting are uniquely told and the female protagonist offers a different perspective than many of the male leads on this list.

Darko Dawson by Kwei Quartey—A Ghanaian American author, Quartey’s Darko is a Ghanaian police inspector working in Accra, Kumasi, and other locations throughout the small African country as he investigates murders, rapes, fraud, and much more, revealing a rich, nuanced world and culture filled with colorful characters. One of the few noir series set in contemporary Africa, this one stands out for the uniqueness of its voice and approach, and as one who has spent significant time in Ghana, I can say it truly brings the place to life in a powerful, relevant way.

Wallender by Henning Mankell—Kurt Wallender, now a TV show starring Kenneth Branagh (Wallender), is a classic Swedish detective working the coast of Sweden south of Stockholm where he investigates a variety of dark cases. He also struggles with relationships—from his adult aged daughter, who is also an aspiring detective, to his ex-wife, lovers, and co-workers. Mankell, now deceased, has written an incredible series of novels and short stories exploring a rich world and fascinatingly real but flawed character.

Now before you ask why there’s no female authors on this list, it’s because I haven’t discovered any I have fallen in love with who fit this category, but I know they are out there and I continue to look. I do have several female mystery authors I regularly read including Karin Slaughter, Hank Philippi Ryan, and Sara Peretsky, and I am always looking for more. But I am a new reader of foreign procedural thrillers so I am just speaking based on what I have read at the moment, which is about two books a week.

What I’m Reading

I haven’t talked here about my reading much in a long while. I am planning to start doing some limited book reviews again, but mostly I don’t do those unless I can praise a book because it isn’t worth upsetting a fellow author. Plus, if I can’t recommend a book, why bring it up?

In any case, today, I am recommended John Sandford’s incredible Virgil Flower series. I first discovered Sandford through his Lucas Davenport thrillers about a tough cop leading a specialized state police force, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, in Minnesota. It’s gritty, it’s fast paced, with good suspense and great characters. The plots are solid with nice twists, and even though some of the early ones fell into the “seen it before category,” what he did with it was so fresh it didn’t matter. I read all 30 Davenport books and they were a true pleasure. Books I could soar through in a few days.

Virgil Flowers is an investigator who works for Davenport in the BCA but covers rural areas in the Southern part of the state. Virgil is a surfer-type who’s good with the ladies and he is surrounded by a crew of colorful, eclectic characters who keep the story interesting. Sandford does well at mixing action and humor and these books are also great, fast reads with plenty of suspenseful twists and turns and fascinating characters while also being gritty and following real police procedures without bogging down in research detail.

There are 12 books in this series so far and I am on number 9 as of today. I have enjoyed them all. Unlike the Davenport, none of them ever felt cliche in plot and Sandford’s abilities were top of his form before this series started so the first book out of the gate, Dark of the Moon, was one of his best. Book 6, Mad River, was a chase story with nonstop action that was a highlight as well, though I have enjoyed them all so far and I think you will too.

7 YA Series Adults Will Enjoy With Their Kids

As host of SFFWRTCHT, I am exposed to authors from all different publishers, genres and styles, and recently have been getting a chance to see more and more Young Adult books. As a non-regular reader of YA, I was hesitant. Will I relate to this? Is this for me? Is it going to be a bunch of teen angst and drama? Instead, so far, I have found very interesting, well developed real people as characters with interesting plots and stories to go with. Since I often get exposed to books before they take off, here are 7 YA reads I recommend to readers of all ages. In fact, adults, enjoy them with your kids if you dare!

Darwen Arkwright 1 - Hartley1) Darwen Arkwright by A.J. Hartley — Admittedly marketed as Middle Grade, this series has enough to it to appeal far beyond. It has a set up and characters which remind me of Harry Potter, but it’s very unique. The British protagonist enrolls in a new school in the U.S. and finds a door to a fantasy dimension that winds up involving him in plots and schemes by monsters and magic to take over the world.  Entertaining, with great worldbuilding, this would be a worthy follow up for Potter fans.

 

Flash Point _ Kress2) Flash Point by Nancy Kress — A standalone by a top writer, this compelling story has a teen cast in a near future reality TV show where producers create events to get a reaction by surprising their cast, but things get far more dangerous and complicated than anyone expected, and you’ll find the journey as compelling and fascinating as I did.

 

 

Jumpers by Gould3) Jumper by Steven Gould — Admittedly, these are hits, but I just recently read Impulse, the third, after missing the middle book, and it was amazing. You can read them as standalones or as a series, but they tell the story of David Rice and his wife and daughter, hunted for their gift of Jumping through time and space to locations they can remember in various ways, this series is compelling and interesting with real situations and characters interwoven with fantastic elements. Forget the movie, Jumper. Whether you liked it or not, this is the original canon and well worth the read.

Fair Coin - Myers4) Coin Series by EC Myers — PYR sent me Fair Coin to interview the author and it was a real page turner. The story of a boy who finds he has a coin with the power to time travel, it unfolds like a mystery-thriller and keeps you guessing to the end. The three central characters are well drawn and appear in varied versions as the protagonist travels. The story of the coin and their lives turns out far more complicated and surprising than expected.

 

Lightbringer5) Lightbringer Series by K.D. McEntire — I’ve read all three of these, and, full disclosure, the author is a friend. But this is just interesting urban fantasy about a young girl who discovers, after her mother’s death, that she can send spirits to eternal rest or destroy them, depending on circumstances, and finds herself hunted and chased by them as a result, turning her world upside down. Interesting world building, great characters. Darker, but still hopeful and well worth the read.

Starters - Price6) Starters and Enders by Lissa Price — Lissa sent me a copy when she was booked on a World Con panel I was moderating and this one knocked my socks off. I had no idea what to expect but it was one of my favorite reads of 2012. The sequel, Enders, is in the works and I guarantee it’ll be among your favorite reads too! The story of a time when youth is undervalued, with society run by older, Enders, who survived an epidemic, a young girl finds herself renting her body as a vacation body for older people, only to discover the company she works for is part of a larger, evil plot and her life is on the line. Lightning pacing, great characters, a real page turner.

Lady Of Devices - Adina7) Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina — This is a fun, yet short, series of YA Steampunk adventures set in Victorian England about a girl coming of age and striving to defy mores and make her own way in life after her father’s suicide and family bankruptcy. The setup may sound depressing, but the character is so delightful you’ll quickly move on and enjoy the action, adventure, well drawn characters and great use of London settings.

Those are some great reads you might want to discover with kids, for what it’s worth… Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your favorites in comments.

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Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends from Delabarre Publishing.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

A New 5-star Review for Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6 edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

A new 5-star review for Space Battes: Full Throttle Space Tales 6 from Goodreads:
Eric Townsend rated it 5 of 5 stars false
Space Battles is a collection of 17 different short stories centered on, you guessed it, space battles. They each have their own unique way of displaying a battle and include anything from one-on-one gun fights, to dogfights between single ships, to even full scale assaults on battle cruisers. Space Battles has a good mix of female and male characters, and generally speaking the women kick even more tail than their male counterparts, a refreshing thing to see especially in this genre. In Space Battles you will find mixtures of humor, a wide variety of sub-genres such as Space Opera and Military Science Fiction, as well as all the action you can handle and more. You will find sentient spacecrafts and Amish space truckers, that’s right I said Amish which are shown in a way you could never imagine! There is a little something in Space Battles for everyone.The character depth is excellent despite the fact that the average length of the stories is about 15 pages or so, quite an achievement when you consider that they have to pack these short stories with as much action as you can handle as well. You have some stories that will make you laugh such as The Thirteens by Gene Mederos where a particular incident involving slippers had me in a fit of giggles. Others will make you appreciate those in the military as admirals valiantly fight to save their ship, and their way of life such as in Like So Much Refuse by Simon C. Larter. Some examine the will to live and the will to die such as in Never Look Back by Grace Bridges. I was hardly able to set the book down as each new story sent adrenaline into my system.

If you enjoy anything in the realm of science fiction this is a book I highly recommend you go out and get. The writing is excellent and if battles themselves are your thing, regardless of genre, than this book will suit your fancy just fine as well. Honestly if you just want some quick reads that are done very well Space Battles is a good choice. The characters do not suffer for the short length of the stories, even in Bait and Switch by Jaleta Clegg which is a mere eight pages! Obviously if you have read this far you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed Space Battles. I really don’t have any complaints.

Announcing the Sprunk-Schmidt Star Wars Original Trilogy Rewatch: You’re Invited

The Project: Star Wars Original Trilogy Rewatch

The Hosts: Jon Sprunk & Bryan Thomas Schmidt

The Invitation To You: Rewatch the original trilogy in order, one a week, and join the conversation.

Jon and I are of an age where the release of the original Star Wars: A New Hope to theatres in 1977 remains a seminal moment. Bef0re that, while stories were fascinating, the possibilities had limits. Star Wars: A New Hope changed all that. It opened up possibilities for our imaginations that went beyond anything we’d seen before. From its state of the art special effects to its return to a classic storytelling style, Star Wars captured the public and never let go, launching a franchise, a legend, and an empire.

For me, Bryan, Star Wars infused my sense of what I wanted stories to be and the kind of stories I strive to tell, from witty banter to lots of action and large scale, my own Saga of Davi Rhii has been said to capture “the Star Wars feel,” and my forthcoming epic fantasies surely show that influence as well. I still enjoy a good space opera book, Star Wars tie-ins included. And I still like hopeful stories of good v. evil and the possibility of real heroes one can look up to and admire. One of my all time favorite sequences is still the opening battle of A New Hope, and I also still love the escape from the Death Star and the Battle of Yavin tons. There was something about the coming of age, innocent Luke that still attracts me, and I’ve used similar elements in both my Davi Rhii and Dawning Age novel series as well as some short stories.

Jon says: “I was seven years old when A New Hope arrived in theaters. I saw it seventeen times that summer. Never before had a movie—or any story—affected me so profoundly. The original Star Wars films were basic enough that a child could understand them, with their larger-than-life battles between the Empire and the Rebellion. Yet they were also dynamic enough to enthrall an entire generation of wannabe X-Wing pilots, smuggers, Jedi, and Sith Lords. It wasn’t until I was much older that I started to appreciate these films for their technical aspects, especially A New Hope, which I consider one of the most structurally-perfect movies ever made. There is no doubt that a little bit of Star Wars infuses my writing, no matter the subject or genre.”

So, starting this week, Jon and I will watch Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and dialogue about it. That post will go up on his blog. We’ll talk about things we like and don’t like and why, how we react to them now as opposed to when we first encountered them as children, influences on our writing, genre, and so much more. You’re invited to join us in comments. We think it’ll be a lot of fun.

So let’s take a trip back to a galaxy far, far away together. We look forward to engaging with you.

Our conversation begins on A New Hope here: http://jonsprunk.blogspot.com/2012/11/hello-friends-today-i-have-special-treat.html

About Us:

Jon Sprunk grew up in central Pennsylvania, the eldest of four and attended Lock Haven University. He graduated with a B.A. in English in 1992. After his disastrous first novel failed to find a publisher, he sought gainful employment. Finally, after many more rejections and twists and turns of life, he joined Pennwriters and attended their annual conference in 2004. His short fiction has appeared in Cloaked in Shadow: Dark Tales of ElvesDreams & Visions #34 andCemetery Moon #4. In June 2009, he signed a multi-book contract with Pyr Books by whom his Shadow Trilogy dark fantasy series have been published. He can be found on twitter as @jsprunk70, on Facebook and via his website athttp://jonsprunk.com/.

 

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince(2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, a Ray Gun Revival Best Of Collection for Every Day Publishing and World Encounters and Space & Shadows: SpecNoir with coeditor John Helfers, all forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Another 4-Star Review For THE WORKER PRINCE at Amazon

As readers continue discovering The Worker Prince, yet another 4-star review has rolled in on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Worker-Prince-Bryan-Thomas-Schmidt/dp/098402090X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346945711&sr=8-1&keywords=the+worker+prince

At 22 reviews, that means the totals look like this so far:

4.0 out of 5 overall
With 4 5 star reviews,  16 4 star reviews, and 1 each of 3 star and 2 star reviews.
Naturally, I’m thankful it’s being so well received.

4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of Moses’ story set in space, August 28, 2012
This review is from: The Worker Prince (Paperback)

This book was a bit of Moses’ story set in space minus the direct supernatural intervention of God. The Worker Prince was both creative and imaginative taking a Biblical story and reworking it into a similar but not identical plot. The author kept the idea of a people belonging to God, but took the spiritual aspects down a notch by placing his slave raised prince character at the center of the conflict, rather than making God the primary character.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t a “keep me up at night can’t put it down” novel, but it was good. As with many new authors I found that I never lost the narrative voice of the author so I never truly lived inside of the story. This left me feeling as if I was watching it unfold from the outside and it made me consider whether this book wouldn’t have made a better movie than a novel. I personally think that visualization on screen would do much to help the sometimes flat and dictionary life descriptive explanations come alive.

I did think that the author did an excellent job of helping his readers understand the background and motivation of his characters. I also appreciated the fact that I never lost track of the plot line as the author kept it moving steadily forward.

As I mentioned above, the religious elements of the story were toned down so that if you weren’t familiar with the story of Moses you might never guess that this story drew heavily from a Biblical narrative. I did find it disheartening that the author used a phrase that took God’s name in vain twice, just pages from where he spent a couple of paragraphs contrasting the personal God of the workers to the gods that he grew up with. I know that it is a commonly occurring phrase in our culture and many people may not take notice of the exclamation, but I personally was still saddened to find it in this novel.

Star Rating:
Characters: 5
Plot and pace: 5
Descriptive Voice/Writing style: 3
Overall rating: 4 stars

I am certain that the author will continue to develop his writing style as he receives feedback from his audience and I look forward to seeing how he will grow as a novelist as he continues to gift us with further creative and imaginative tales like The Worker Prince.

I received a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

New 4 star Amazon Review for “The Worker Prince”

This review took me to over 20 so the book will show up in more searches now, so that’s a real blessing, too.

4.0 out of 5 stars Gladiator, Moses, Skywalker, Rhii, July 25, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

It’s not that often that a science fiction story bordering on space opera comes along that everyone will enjoy reading. That’s what Schmidt accomplishes with the Worker Prince. Revolving around a recent graduate prince who leaves home for his first assignment only to discover his slave-class origins, the story mirrors that of the Biblical Moses in many aspects.

While the main protagonist, Davi Rhii, does not spend 40 years in the dessert, he does wrestle with identity issues and the status quo of an empire built on the back of slave labor. The conflict that ensues is the classic story of one against the many. The result is watching an individual discover his unique place, and this is something most of us long for in our own lives.

Schmidt finds a nice balance between moralizing and adventure in his tale that I thought suited anyone between the ages of 13 and dead.

That being said, it didn’t hit the sweet spot for me. I prefer a little more grime and grit in my space opera. Rhii is a champion and hero more along the lines of Luke Skywalker (without all the whining) and less like Han Solo. But the prose is elegant and well-paced.

If you enjoy young adult literature, coming of age tales, and/or science fiction adventure then you’ll enjoy The Worker Prince. Read it! Review it! Share it!

9 Great Urban Fantasy Series You Don’t Want To Miss

In 2009 when I started writing The Worker Prince, my debut science fiction novel, I had no idea what urban fantasy was. Of course, as I got into the industry and reading I heard bits and pieces. True Blood showed up and I met and became friends with Kat Richardson and John A. Pitts whose novels fell in that category. One of the advantages of hosting Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat is that I get sent tons of books to read and deliberately book and ask for a variety of genres. So I finally managed to read John and Kat’s books and I loved them. I have never been that into paranormal. Poltergeist was amusing but silliness. I do believe in spirits but I’m don’t think about ghosts a lot, and vampires and zombies to me are about the most tired things out there. It takes a lot to get me interested in them. I loved Anne Rice’s series and that did it for me on vamps. Zombies have just never interested me. Let dead people stay in the ground. Just a body. Meh. On the other hand, urban fantasy is huge with tons of bestselling authors, including Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson…need I go on? So of course SFFWRTCHT needs to cover it and I need to be aware.

Now, I simply love it! One of my favorite genres and someday I will write some. I have ideas in development now, in fact. I read 52 books a year just for chat plus extras for blogging on SFSignal, etc. and blurbs, which I get asked for now. Usually 70 books at least is around the number, so it may take me a while to get through a lot of stuff (no Hamilton or Butcher yet). But these 9 are the Urban fantasy I’ve read so far. And I loved all of them for different reasons. They’re quite distinctive from each other.

1) Greywalker by Kat Richardson – Harper Blaine is a P.I. who died after an attack for two minutes then came back with the ability to see spirits. Yep, she’s a Greywalker now, and this series has gotten deserved high praise. [See Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Paul Goat Allen raving about them here. ]These are bestsellers for a reason and the seventh book, Seawitch, just arrived this month. Mysteries with Harper investigating and dealing with all kinds of spooky creatures from vampires to ghosts, etc., they are well paced with a great noir feel and make good use of their Pacific Northwest settings. From the cover description, although I like Kat as a person a lot, I was not at all sure I’d enjoy her books. Never have I been so wrong. I’ve read two so far and own all but the latest. Cannot wait to find time to read them!

2) Sarah Beauhall by  John A. Pitts – Another where I love the writer as a person but the description didn’t enthrall me. And again, I was soooo wrong. (Are you noticing a pattern?) Pitts has taken the old tropes and made them new with this one. Also set in the Pacific Northwest, Sarah Beauhall is a blacksmith apprentice and movie props maven whose prop sword turns out to be a magical dragon killing sword. The magical dragon killing sword. And she finds this out, of course, by encountering someone looking for the sword to kill dragons. But these are not the green, scaly dragons of legend and lore just yet. They are men and women who work on Wall Street and various places. And when their schemes begin to threaten Sarah and her world, she puts her sword to good use. Great fight sequences, a fun play with an SCA-like reenactment group, nice humor, and a touch of romance with Sarah struggling to open up to her girlfriend.  Packing enough testosterone-laced action to satisfy male readers and enough romantic emotional moments to please female readers, this series is for everyone and books 2 and 3 are out too. Fantastic!

3) Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter – A member of the illustrious Magical Words blog team with David B. Coe, amongst others, Hunter has been inspired by Anne Rice but made vampire tales set in New Orlean’s her own. If you read my introduction, you already know I would not have picked me up if her publicist hadn’t scheduled her for SFFWRTCHT. I’m so glad she did. The last of her kind, a part Cherokee vampire hunter and skinwalker capable of shapeshifting into any creature she wants, Jane’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps. In the process, she gets more than she bargained for when her employer is murdered and Jane winds up working for Leo, the head vampire of the entire region. In subsequent books, she works with Leo to investigate incidents involving other vampires, even heading off to North Carolina at one point as a mediator. Jane is not the dainty heroine but an ass kicking, motorcycle riding, take no prisoners badass, but yet Hunter manages to write the books with no gratuitous sex, violence or language, keeping it PG despite the violence. And I doubt you’d have noticed if I hadn’t said that. Great writing, inventive worldbuilding and pure fun. Highly recommended.

4) Hallie Michaels by Deborah Coates – Brand new, the first book having just arrived a few months back, this series surprised me too. A new author sent to me by Alexis Nixon, publicist at TOR, Coates’ stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy and Science Fiction and Best American Fantasy, amongst other places. Hallie Michaels is a soldier fighting a war in Afghanistan when she’s called home for her sister’s funeral. The police and townsfolk say “suicide,” but Hallie can’t believe it and her investigation into it uncovers a startling plot that endangers the entire town. Something magical or supernatural is going on and a trail of bodies are associated with it. She soon discovers someone she used to know is responsible and winds up fighting for her life. I don’t know where book 2 will take us when it comes out, but Coates used the rural South Dakota setting masterfully in Wide Open and I can’t wait to read more!

5) Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris – I came to this series late, after already watching the TV show, because I was invited to interview Harris. (Confession: yes, I watch True Blood despite my lack of interest in vampires. It hooked me early on and I can’t look away, okay? Is that so wrong? Plus, I have a crush on Anna Paquin…)  The books are better than the series and filled with great humor, southern charm and fun. I really enjoyed these. Told solely from Sookie’s quirky point of view, these are fast, can’t put them down reads. I can’t wait to read more.

 

6) Control Point by Myke Cole – Not your typical urban fantasy, Cole, a veteran of the Gulf War, has envisioned a contemporary world with various types of magic. The military even has a special unit assigned to hunt down rogue users. A few with the approved classes of magic actually work for the military, but then Oscar Britton finds out he’s a portomancer–ah oh, verbotten–and he’s forced to run, leaving everything behind. Caught and interned for training by the military he’s sworn to serve, he discovers the gift is the least of his worries. An evil magical force is on the rise and this Army officer must save the world or else.  Packed with action and intrigue and great characters, Cole takes you inside military life in an intimate way and still makes you believe its a world where magic could happen. Gritty and powerful, this book opened my eyes to possibilities for creativity I hadn’t imagined and it’ll open yours too.

7) Grigori Legacy by Linda Poitevin – Ah, angels, the tired 80s trope are back. I booked Linda for chat and expected to be bored. Instead, I found myself reading two detective thrillers that just happened to have angels in them. Heaven and hell are at war and humans are caught in between, including homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis whose investigation of a serial killer points to a surprising and unusual suspect. Yes there’s angels and a romance between an angel and a human. Yes, there’s God and the Devil and some Catholic theological worldbuilding used here, but Poitevin used it to enhance worldbuilding not to sell an ideology or religion. Gritty, intense, fast-paced and engaging. Another set of books you won’t want to put down until you reach the end.

8 ) Low Town by Daniel Polansky – Another departure and one that’s hard to classify but I’m putting it here. Unlike the others, it’s not set in our contemporary world but a fictional medieval -type world and the protagonist is a disgraced intelligence agent and forgotten war hero turned independent drug dealer. Yes, that’s right. Known as the Warden, he leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs as he constantly hustles for customers and protecting his turf from competition. Then he discovers a murdered child and feels compelled to discover who’s responsible. The mission finds him caught up in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psy­chotic head of Black House intelligence bureau that once employed him. What he finds is far more sinister and dark than he’d ever imagined. Noir and action packed, Polansky has invented a genre almost. He mixes epic/adventure fantasy and urban fantasy with detective noir seamlessly and it’s a compelling debut. Book 2 arrives this Fall.

9) Magic Ex Libris by Jim C. Hines – Hines switches from Goblins and fairy tale princesses to an urban fantasy about Libriomancers, basically people who can pull magic from books and use it in the contemporary world. Hines is a smartass in real life and it extends to his writing, but that’s okay, because the book is laugh out loud funny as a result and endears you tot he characters. This is a voice you’ll be willing to spend time with for a while, and it won’t be long because Libriomancer is a fast, compelling read.   Isaac Vainio, a member of the secret order of Libriomancers founded by Johannes Gutenberg himself (yes, that Gutenberg), Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world and barely manages to escape. Then he discovers his mentor has been killed and Gutenberg himself kidnapped and a hot, motorcyle-riding dryad shows up asking him to help track down her former lover, leading to their discovery of a dark power that’s manipulating both vampires and humans and causing major havoc.  Hines cleverly incorporates the mythos of every vampire world you’ve encountered, creating a world of vampire types and layers, and throws in books by famous authors real and imagined as well. Fun, fast-paced, with plenty of action and good coming of age and romantic arcs, this book was a delightful way to while away hours. I can’t wait for the second one, coming from Daw next year.

So there you have 9 Urban Fantasy series that I think you’ll really like. Great weekend, summer or Fall reads to keep you entertained and remind you why you love books. I’m looking for more to read now. So what are some of your favorite Urban Fantasies? I’d love to hear about them in comments. Oh, and click here to buy any of these books, too. For what it’s worth…  To the writers, I love you guys!

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Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011  Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. A freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction and also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

The Worker Prince, My First Novel, Comes to NetGalley For A Limited Time

It rarely happens. While NetGalley is a goto place now for reviewers and others to get advanced looks at forthcoming books, it’s also expensive and thus, dominated primarily by bigger publishers and authors who have the cash to spend on it. Color me surprised when, in July, I was given a special one time opportunity to get my debut novel, The Worker Prince, listed there. While the listing is for around a month only, it’s a great chance to have a book named Honorable Mention by Barnes & Noble Book Club’s reviewer Paul Goat Allen on his Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 out to more reviewers and, thus, more readers.

Within five minutes of the listing going live, we had five requests already. The listing can be found at http://netgalley.com/PopupHandler.php?module=catalog&func=galleyTitleDetails&projectid=19576 and is available in various ebook formats from .mobi and .epub to pdf and palm. Members of NetGalley simply need to search for it by name, click the More Info or Read Now links and then request their copy. It’s that simple. And as soon as my publicist sees it, she’ll approve it and you’ll be allowed to download it and read it.  Of course, we’re hoping you love it, but regardless, please review it. Not just at NetGalley but at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and Library Thing.  Why? Not just because I’m asking or out of guilt for  a free copy, but because without reviews, authors and books like me and mine won’t survive. The number of reviews increases the number of people who find the book in searches, and also let’s them know a lot of people are reading it, giving them some idea of outside perspective on what it’s about and whether it’s worth their time, and that word of mouth, above all, is what sells books.

So, if you enjoy reading and free books, won’t you please consider taking advantage of this unique opportunity? The Worker Prince has been frequently compared to Star Wars: A New Hope. People say it captures the feel of the original Star Wars. It’s been compared to pulp and classic old fashioned space operas like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or the Jason January tales. And it’s garnered praise from authors like Brenda Cooper, Maurice Broaddus, Mike Resnick, David Lee Summers and more.

Here’s the teaser:

What if everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world turned out to be wrong?

For Davi Rhii, Prince of the Boralian people, that nightmare has become a reality. Freshly graduated from the prestigious Borali Military Academy, now he’s discovered a secret that calls into question everything he knew about himself. His quest to rediscover himself brings him into conflict with his friends and family, calling into question his cultural values and assumptions, and putting in jeopardy all he’s worked for his whole life. One thing’s for sure: he’s going to have to make decisions that will change his life forever…

It’s a space western fantasy, epic space opera with great action, space battles, family drama, political scheming, and a bit of romance. Based in part on the Moses story, but also original and takes off from that story into different directions. It’s family friendly and has been enjoyed by 8 year olds and readers in their 70s. It’s 326 pages, trade paperback at $14.95. Released October 4, 2011 from Diminished Media.

I think this is an exciting opportunity for us both. I hope you’ll agree. And if you like it, book 2 is out, too.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011  Honorable Mention, andThe Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Review: Thieftaker by D.B.Jackson: Compelling, Authentic, Couldn’t Put It Down

Imagine, if you will, the dark streets of Boston. Trouble is afoot, a revolution against the wealthy and the authorities. Equality and justice are demanded by protesting crowds, some of which get out of hand at times, leading to smoky, dark nights. Add to that ghosts and dark magic at hand, a secret sorcerer working his will in the midst of the chaos. Sounds like a pretty good urban fantasy, right?

Now imagine all this is occurring during the Stamp Act uprising in the 18th Century. Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty, the original Tea Party, the Colonists stirring against the British Crown.

D.B. Jackson’s debut alternate history novel is the tale of a thieftaker, one who hunts down stolen property for a fee and returns it to its rightful owners. What separates him from his competition, however, is Ethan’s gift for conjuring. He was born with the gift, inherited from his mother, and now Ethan Kaille is called upon to investigate the theft of a brooch off the neck of a murdered daughter of one of Boston’s wealthy merchants. Murders are not the sorts of crimes men like Ethan typically get involved with, but the girl’s cause of death is undetermined and some believe conjuring was involved, and so Ethan promises to find the stolen brooch and return it, revealing what he also discovers about the murderer in the process.

But once he gets involved, finding himself haunted by ghosts and voices of not just the dead daughter but others who’ve died in similar fashion, attacked by his main rival, Sephira Pryce, a thieftaker who rules the city in ways less honorable than Ethan and many of her trade, and hunted by the authorities. Drawn into an unfolding mystery by his compulsion to understand and his desire to set things right, Ethan uncovers a dark conspiracy that brings him into encounters with the British leadership, upper crust merchants, and even Samuel Adams himself.

Jackson is the nom de plume of a well respected fantasy writer with numerous fantasies under his belt. And his skill at prose, worldbuilding, and character development shine through on every page. Add to this his degree in history and passion for that, and you have a book that drips with authenticity, despite the fantastical elements wove into the historical narrative. Colonial Boston really comes alive here, and the story draws you in quickly, compelling you to read onward with every page.

Alternate history is as tricky as working in a contemporary setting because so much documentation and knowledge exists that one has to study hard and tread carefully in order to use history both responsibly, meaningfully and fairly in weaving a fictional tale around and within it, while still crafting elements which would appeal to the genre fans for whom the book will be primarily targeted. But my opinion is that any fan of history, particularly Revolutionary War America, would love Thieftaker. And I think it’s a not to be missed start of a new not to be missed series.

Jackson is scheduled to follow next year with Thieve’s Quarry and everything from the beautiful cover art to the prose, dialogue and settings works together to bring this charming, authentic, well paced tale to life. It’s unique and yet familiar. And it’s one of my favorite reads of 2012 so far. Highly recommended!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011  Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.