New Dangers in THE DUALITY BRIDGE–Review & Giveaway

Singularity 2
Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share my review for THE DUALITY BRIDGE, a YA sci-fi book about artificial intelligence and the quest for immortality from a fave author Susan Kaye Quinn. This is the second book in a series, and you should read THE LEGACY HUMAN first. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the $25 GC giveaway.

Duality BridgeAbout the book:
What does it mean to be human? Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever.

Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies. Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all.

The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.

How about a tiny taste?

Delphina is watching me from outside the holo matrix… along with Kamali, whose wide brown eyes hold silent judgment for the things she thinks I’ve done. Forbidden things, like being a love toy for my ex-patron and current-rebel-ascender, Lenora. Who happens to be standing right next to her. While Kamali’s graceful dancer body is hidden under the black military garb of the resistance, Lenora’s perfect bodyform is barely covered in scintillating ascender-tech fabric. The thing is, I’ve never so much as kissed Lenora. Except in my dreams, which really shouldn’t count against me. Any seventeen-year-old guy would have those kinds of thoughts. But the truth is Kamali’s not wrong to judge me.

My feelings for Lenora have always been… complicated.

My Review:
This series of books takes place in a future Earth where humanity is the minority of the population and the Ascenders are humans who long ago put their knowledge and consciousness into a computer matrix called Orion. They exist in artificial bodyforms are are essentially immortal–replacing parts but not awareness over the years. Eli is a legacy human, part of a cultivated population comprised of the progeny of people who chose not to ascend over a hundred years ago. He has earned a modest living as an artist due to the payments of his Ascender patron Lenora, but his true goal was to win Ascendance at the Olympics that just ended. His goal was two-fold: he would be ascender and could pursue Lenora, for whom he always pined, and his mother, who is sick with lymphoma and unable to be cured with the limited medicines humans are allowed to take, would also ascend and she would be cured in the process.

In the previous book, THE LEGACY HUMAN, Eli’s plans did not succeed. And, he has learned that his humanity–which he ofttimes cursed–is not complete. Lenora had a hand in Eli’s conception, with a number of other Ascenders who were hoping to determine if Ascenders in fact had souls. Eli has fits, fugues, where he loses his active consciousness and sees scenes that may be future or past. He paints within these fugue-states creating art that is transcendent, but he now realizes that his visions in the fugue are far more than art–they are communion with Orion, outside of Ascendency.

Eli is a poster child for the Human Resistance, factions of humans who want Ascendency to be a right, not a privilege to “win” but, at the moment, Eli isn’t a believer in their cause. He isn’t human, but his sick mother is–and the rebels are willing to cure his mother for his cooperation. Unfortunately, their camp is compromised and Eli is singled out as a security risk. Eli and his friend Kamali (a human girl he’d like to actually date) fight to save the captured members of their camp, while also keeping Eli’s secret. It’s getting harder and harder to keep his genetic origins secret, however, especially as they are captured by human True Believers–God worshippers in the darkest sense–and other Ascenders, including Marcus, who believe Eli’s origin to be a mistake that needs to be rectified.

The plot takes amazing twists, between the harsh reality of human life in New Portland and the surreal nature of Eli’s fugues which are becoming more frequent and more detailed. Eli’s able to discern the true nature of all creatures he meets in the fugue, and his fears over some are more warranted than others. He’s also forced to make alliances that do not best suit him, in order to save the people he loves–sacrificing himself is not a viable option for his protectors and friends, however.

I really enjoyed the detailed world-building and the depth of the plot, which (naturally) features a character bent on world domination. Shame this character has such close ties to Eli. The characters within the story are fantastically crafted, with real motives and drives that cause alliances that are not always permanent. The secondary characters, Kamali, Cyrus, Lenora, Marcus and others, have true roles to play in Eli’s journey. The resolution of this novel is sufficient to remove any cliffhangers, but readers know there is more of the story to come. Can’t wait!

Interested? You can find THE DUALITY BRIDGE on Goodreads and Amazon.

legacy human
The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn

What would you give to live forever? Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.
You can find my review for the THE LEGACY HUMAN here and pick up the book on Amazon.

Praise for The Legacy Human:
“This book is Hunger Games (without the violence or controversy) meets Divergent.”
“This story is so intense I felt I couldn’t get a proper breath.”
“Science fiction with philosophical depth!”

$25 Blog Tour giveaway

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway

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SusanAuthor Susan Kay Quinn
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

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Cephalopod Coffeehouse February 2015–THE LEGACY HUMAN-A Review

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

As part of the Coffeehouse I’m obligated to share the best book I read this month. A few of my Coffeehouse friends are familiar with Susan Kaye Quinn, but this is a NEW, so I am eager to share a YA dystopian-future gem. Oh, and scroll down to enter the KINDLE GIVEAWAY!!

The Legacy Human (Singularity #1)About the book:
When transcending humanity is the prize, winning the Game is all that matters.

Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in a new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

My Review:
This is a sci-fi YA story set in a richly described dystopian future. More than one hundred years ago, Earth had a catastrophic population event, called the Singularity. At that time, there were serious issues with population and shortages, but a new technology allowed the conscious of a human to be uploaded into a computer mainframe called Orion. This collective was then able to “download” the experiences of each “Ascender” into discrete automaton bodies. Ascenders had not only their own knowledge, but access to the minds of the billions who likewise ascended.  Those who chose not to Ascend–Legacy Humans–Have been treated like museum pieces to some extent. They are now little more than entertainment for the Ascenders, existing in small Ascender-monitored communities where they have all the “basic” needs met, or off the grid in Believer/rebel colonies.

What is celebrated by Ascenders is the creativity of the Legacy mind. The ability to create–life, art–is venerated. As Legacies are meant to live, and die, the technology that Ascenders use on a daily basis to extend and improve life is denied to the Legacies.

At the time of the Singularity, any human could choose to Ascend, however that avenue is now closed. Currently, the only way for a Legacy to join Orion’s collective is to win one of four coveted, annual spaces in the Art Olympics. Each year the best Legacy (under age 18) in Art, Drama, Writing or Music is selected in the Agon Games–and each winner plus his/her immediate family is ascended.  With the prospect of virtual immortality on the line, winning is difficult, if not downright deadly.

Eli is a 17 y/o Legacy Human who wants nothing more than to get his mother well. She suffers leukemia, a disease that Ascender gene tech can easily cure, but she is denied this treatment because, well, humans die. No point healing them if they are only going to die anyway, in the Ascender viewpoint. Eli is also a talented artist, and he is selling his art for illegal “chits” to buy the forbidden treatment. Eli has an Ascender patron, Lenora, who is helping him to improve his craft, and also assisting with the sales of his work.

Eli wishes to Ascend not only to save his mother, but also to be worthy of an equal relationship with Lenora–while Ascenders and Legacies can have “relations” this is highly frowned upon. Plus, Eli wants to be more than a domestic. He wants immortality, but Lenora will not sponsor him for the Agon Games. And, Eli’s mother doesn’t actually WANT to Ascend. She believes, as do many Legacies, that Ascending destroys the human soul.

Turns out, Lenora’s second (read: boyfriend/partner), Marcus, will. As Eli enters the Games, however, it turns out to be far harder for him than he imagined. Two “Agonites” are already dead, and the likelihood is high for another fatality. Eli is assisted by his dearest friend, Cyrus, and makes a few rebellious friends: Kamali, Basha and Delphina, all who do not actually wish to ascend. Eli is mystified; who wouldn’t wish to be perfection? Still, he hears their arguments against–the most incredible being this “soul” issue.

Eli’s art suffers from an inability to connect to his creative genius. It sometimes peeks out in a “fugue” state–he gets angry or upset and the art…happens. He wakes from this (almost) trance to find amazingly detailed paintings, the kind that could clearly win the Gold, but he cannot harness his fugue. It is transient, though seems to be happening with greater frequency. Kamali seems to be able to draw Eli into the fugue, however, and they pair up often to facilitate Eli’s chance.

As Eli and Kamali talk, Eli comes to realize that the Legacy and Ascender life are not all they seem. Eli recognizes that his true goal, to Ascend and save his mother and become Lenora’s second, are perhaps not the best goals. Well, he’s dead set on saving his mother, but perhaps being Ascended isn’t the perfection he craves after all…

THE LEGACY HUMAN is beautifully rendered with a lush world and the kind of moral dilemmas that are core issues in our own time. Do we have souls? What are the permanent effects of childhood decisions? Can we truly harness power for good, or will power always corrupt? Eli’s fight to save his mother extend throughout the Games and afterward–when he learns he’s been (perhaps) double/triple crossed. He is a strong, likable character and his plight is sympathetic. He competes for love–for his mother’s life and the woman he desires. That he is an inadvertent hero of a cause he didn’t know existed? Well, that’s for the next book.

INTERESTED? You can find THE LEGACY HUMAN on Goodreads and Amazon. It’s an interesting new series that I jumped into because, well, Sue is a dear writing friend at this point.

****GIVEAWAY****

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A Kindle Fire and other goodies!
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Thanks for popping in, and feel free to check out what were the best reads of my fellow Coffeehouse bloggers:

1. The Armchair Squid 2. WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
3. Stephanie Faris, Author 4. Trisha @ WORD STUFF
5. Cherdo on the Flipside 6. mainewords
7. StrangePegs — Just Exactly How Life Looks 8. StrangePegs — Changes
9. A Creative Exercise 10. Life Before the Hereafter
11. V’s Reads 12. Two Square Dogs

Celebrating Bollywood! Interviews and Giveaway

Romance and Intrigue: Bollywood Style Giveaway
Something Bollywood Going On Here

Sonali Dev and Susan Kaye Quinn met in a most unusual place: Library Journal’s Top 10 E-Romance List for 2014. Sonali’s A Bollywood Affair and Susan’s Third Daughter both made the list with their Bollywood-themed romances – something that was so cool, it cried out to be celebrated!

Scroll down to win some great Bollywood-themed prizes!
Contemporary and Steampunk Bollywood Romance

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years–not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be–if her husband would just come and claim her.
Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naive village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life–cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.
The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

I have read and loved all the books in this series. Aniri is a fantastic character, and her fearless devotion to her family and friends leads her on a journey that risks much and saves her world from war. Eventually… Click the titles for my reviews on THIRD DAUGHTER, SECOND DAUGHTER, and FIRST DAUGHTER.

~*~
Romance and Intrigue: Bollywood Style

This short Q&A with Sonali and Susan talks about marrying for love and writing romance!

Q: Marrying for love is a modern, and in some ways Western, concept, but arranged marriages have a long and complicated history. How does your novel tackle the subject of arranged marriage?

Sue: Third Daughter is set in a fantasy world, but it’s a blend of cultures in the real one, including being an analog to India (both current day and some of the past). In the Dharian Affairs world, royal marriages have a history of being arranged for political purposes, but the general population of the countries marry for love. This leaves the titular Daughters with varying conflicts between marrying for duty and marrying for love ñ some embracing their arranged marriages, some fighting against it. The marriage dynamics of the three daughters in the trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter) drive much of the story- along with political intrigue and skyships, of course!
Sonali: In India where I grew up arranged marriages are still very much a part of the fabric of the culture. Having said that, one of the most interesting and unique things about Indian society is how diverse it is within itself. While you still have communities and families who will give the marrying person absolutely no say in whom they marry there are those who don’t believe their parents and families have any say when it comes to whom they choose to marry or live with, and then there is the rest of the sizable population who falls somewhere between those two belief systems. In A Bollywood Affair, Mili is from a tiny village from a very orthodox family and it is perfectly natural that her family would arrange her marriage. She would expect that. It wouldn’t even strike a girl from her background that she could choose for herself. The age at which she was married isn’t usual, though, but there is a reason why her grandmother gets her married that young. As for her being in love with her husband, again, the conditioning to be devoted to your husband is so ingrained in the culture that it would be strange if someone like Mili didn’t love someone she believed was her husband. 
Q: Whether set in a fantasy world or the modern one, romance is romance! There are many romance tropes–star-crossed lovers, lovers thrown together by circumstance, enemies turned lovers–what kind(s) of romance tropes does your novel contain?

Sue: My books are really a blend of romance and adventure, although the first book is a classic ‘lovers thrown together by circumstance’ as Aniri (the Third Daughter) goes undercover in accepting a marriage proposal from the barbarian prince in the north in order to spy on him and determine if his country truly has the rumored flying machine that would upend the political dynamics in both their countries.
Sonali: Although I didn’t set out to write it that way, several readers have pointed out that A Bollywood Affair is a Worldly Rake and an Ingenue Virgin trope. And now that I think about it, there’s truth to that. 
Q: Are you planning on writing more romances in this story-world? If so, tell us about it!

Sue: The Dharian Affairs trilogy is complete, but I’ve enjoyed writing in this east-Indian steampunk fantasy romance world so much, I’ve decided to do a follow-on trilogy from the point of view of a new character–a female tinker who has a grand invention that may change the world, but also is caught between the spy she might love and the spy she can’t resist. Those books likely won’t be written for a year or two, but I will cycle back to writing in this world in the future!
Sonali: The Bollywood Bride comes out next year and it’s the story of a Bollywood star who comes home to Chicago after ten years to escape a scandal in Mumbai and comes face to face with the man she betrayed for stardom. And then there are two more stories I’m working on in the same series. Which isn’t a series in terms of continuity or overlapping characters but because the stories are set in the same world and either the hero or the heroine work in Bollywood. 
~*~
WIN BOLLYWOOD PRIZES
Paperback of Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
The Dharian Affairs Trilogy in Ebook
2 Paperback copies of A Bollywood Affair 
Handwoven Pashmina shawl from India
Sticker Henna Tattoos
Indian bangles (bracelets)
(all physical prizes are US ONLY; ebook is INTERNATIONAL)

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Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday DEBT COLLECTOR: SEASON TWO–Review and Giveaway

The Debt Collector Season 2 Blitz Banner 851 x 315 copy

Hi there! Today I get to share the love for a dear friend’s newest release. Susan Kaye Quinn is an indie juggernaut and the variety in her books gives me the chance to dip my toes into several genres, at once. The Debt Collector is an on-going serial novel released in five “seasons” and today the final episode in Season Two is released. Also, you can now purchase the entire Season Two in one single download!

Debt Collector Season 2 CoverOPTIONED FOR VIRTUAL REALITY BY IMMERSIVE ENTERTAINMENT

2014 Semi-Finalist in Science Fiction in the Kindle Book Awards
The nine episodes of Season Two of the Debt Collector serial are collectively 125k words or about 500 pages.

About the book:
What’s your life worth on the open market?
In this gritty urban fantasy, debt collectors take your life energy and give it to someone more “worthy”… all while paying the price with black marks on their souls.

Wraith is a shadow in the night, haunting the bedrooms of the rich “high potentials” who have stolen life energy from the desperate and dying. The justice and the sweet mercy hit that follow keep her from falling into her own personal abyss.

Her secret nighttime work also keeps her on level for her real mission: carrying on her father’s legacy of attempting to bring an end to debt collection as a whole. But when a mysterious debt collector interrupts her in the act and discovers her secret, everything Wraith loves may be destroyed by the one thing she can never fix– the original sin of being a debt collector herself.

How about an Excerpt?

My new collection suit weighs less than a shadow on my skin, and my soft-soled boots don’t even whisper as I creep across the thick, yielding carpet of my target’s apartment. With the best bullet-resistant synthetics money can buy, the black curve-hugging suit makes me look more like female-special-forces than someone’s hot date for the night. It raised the bellman’s eyebrows, but an untraceable debit card got me waved through the lobby, no problem. Money buys a lot of things. Access to one of the highest-security luxury buildings in LA. A ninety-fifth-floor apartment high above the smog-soaked city, complete with all the clean air you can breathe. And the no-doubt illegal collection of ivory-handled daggers I passed on the way in. It’s too bad for data-mining mogul Adrien Odel that money can’t buy your way out of a blackened soul.

I know.

I’ve tried.

And tonight I’ve come to collect a debt he doesn’t even think he owes.

Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of Odel’s apartment, the city is lit up with a nighttime electric haze, the kind that makes it look seedy even in the high-rent district. It’s the perfect backdrop for a collection, and my suit is a black silhouette against it, a hole of death punched in the city’s twinkling lights. The high-tech fabric clings to me like the original sin I can never expiate, the one every debt collector is born with: the ability to deliver death with the slightest touch. We traffic in it, surround ourselves with it, and can never escape it.

Not that I haven’t tried that, too.

But even a short three-week dry spell away from collecting has me needy as all hell. The craving for a life energy hit claws at my back, and every step across the carpet amps up the desire. Even the possibility of Odel pulling a gun and shooting me dead hypes the thrill a little. My palm aches in anticipation—for the justice and the high that comes with it—but I take it slow, watching the placement of my feet and checking the windows. Along one edge, next to a mile-wide screen and some pretentious artwork, there’s a control panel. Only the rich want windows that open in the city, but it’s a bonus for me, especially given the windows face the broad expanse of the skyline and not the high-rise next door.

As I check out the control panel, the high-rise becomes a peep show. A woman’s naked body is pressed against the glass, exposed to the city’s onlookers as a man clutches her bare skin and makes love to her. I’m transfixed by the way they move, skin against skin, without care for the contact or the watchers. In a moment, they’re gone. Maybe reason broke through the passion. Maybe the glass was cold, in spite of the perpetual heat of LA.
Regardless, the image holds me hostage.

Having a lover isn’t something that’s part of my future. Or my present, for that matter. But that doesn’t stop the base need from surging up, usually at the least convenient of times. Then a different image—a cold, pale specter from my past—crawls out of the dark corners of my mind and reminds me I’m not the kind of woman who gets to have a normal life. I’m the kind who takes life and then gives it away. And the ecstasy of that is the closest I’ll ever get to the normal kind again—so it had better be good enough.

I couldn’t stomach even that pleasure for a while, not after what the debt collectors did to my father. I managed a whole three weeks without a single collection. But in the end, it’s the only thing that keeps me stable. And I’ve had a severe lack of stable ever since my father’s death nearly tore down the teetering scaffold of lies that comprises my life. That’s when the abyss reared up and stared me full in the face. Will-power alone wasn’t enough to stop it—the darkness just opened its maw and threatened to swallow me whole. At least that would have put an end the torment… but I couldn’t let the sin of who I am destroy everything my father had worked for. That we had both worked for. So here I am, dressed like a phantom, stalking the rich to give to the poor. With a tremor in my hands that’s more than a little unsettling. For better and worse, it’s the one thing that keeps me out of that dark place and gives me hope that one day I might redeem everything I am and everything I’ve done.

DC-teaser

My Review:
I was a skeptic for the serial format–until I tried it. Being a busy mom/worker bee/reader/writer/blogger etc I didn’t think I could “waste” my time on a book that wasn’t even CLOSE to done. Silly me. It turned out to be the perfect in-between read for me, for when I have 30-45 minutes of time that I want to read, but don’t want to get sucked into a full-length novel. Plus, I always had a new episode to anticipate. Well, until now. Because Season Two is in the books.

Alexa “Wraith” Sterling has lived a double-life too long. By day, she’s the anti-life-energy activist owner of Sterling Cybernetics, fighting the good fight to end energy transfers from poor people to wealthy “high potentials”–essentially literally ‘cashing them out’ when their potential earnings outstrip their personal debts. It’s a horrific new reality, and resulted in the the early demise of not only her mother, but her father as well.

So, anyone can understand why Alexa would want life energy transfers to cease, but Alexa’s terrifying secret, that she was born adebt collector, is one she does not want to see the light of day. By night, Alexa dons the debt collecting persona of Wraith and preys upon people who illegally purchase life energy trades in order to enhance their youth, appearance, or just for a high. Wraith is a mean mama jamma, terrorizing the wealthy, life-stealers and paying out to sick kids—well, until she can’t anymore.

And, definitely not once she falls on the radar of a fringe group of debt collectors, called Gehenna, who want to render themselves immortal by eternal collection of humans. By turns, Alexa is pressured, with life or death consequences, to undo the good work of her anti-debt collection non-profit, Lifetime. The Gehenna collectors, headed by Molloch, will get Alexa’s compliance, or kill her–and all those she loves. Alexa find allies where she can, but she’s continually choosing between bad and worse options, always a few steps behind the well-orchestrated plan to de-regulate life-energy transfers and create an open season for debt collectors to ascend into the role of demigods, essentially.

Throughout, Alexa seeks to save her loved ones, and herself, but mostly to shut down Gehenna and its criminal activity. Working within the Gehenna system isn’t really feasible; the debt collectors don’t trust her, and surviving each more harrowing experience in their captivity is a challenge even this high potential/debt collector is hard-pressed to manage. And, frankly, lots of other people would have simply walked.

Not Alexa. She’s a warrior in corporate skirts. She may have been dealt a raw hand, but she bluffs and bets her way to the best victory she can. And, we’re all the better for this maverick willing, not to buck the system, but to tear it all down if it means saving the world from Gehenna overlordship. If I were lost in a dystopian future, I’d want Alexa by my side.

There’s a good bit of steam, and a love story, but mostly there is an amazing story of endurance and doing the right thing, even if it costs you everything.

Interested? You can find DEBT COLLECTOR: SEASON TWO on Amazon. It is recommended that you start with the first season, but each season is a complete story for that debt collector and can serve as an entry point to the series. There are five planned seasons in the Debt Collector series, the first four each from the perspective of a different debt collector with the fifth season bringing all four together.

*****GIVEAWAY*****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win
a two-book paperback set of Debt Collector (Season One and Season Two)
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Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

2978c-susankayequinnwebAbout Susan Kaye Quinn:
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It’s possible she’s easily distracted. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).

She is also NOMINATED for the Illinois Librarian’s “Soon to be Famous Author Project” wherein librarians hope to discover local authors whose “work will jump off the page for readers.”

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Serially Addicted…to Serials–SOCIAL MEDIA and DEBT COLLECTOR–Reviews!

Hi all! Today I want to ramble a bit on some great serials I’ve enjoyed and new ones I’m gearing up to read. I’m a fan of the serial–which I have mentioned before–because I’m a busy gal. I do not always have a week to devote to a book (I’m looking at you, Diana Gabaldon!)

I can generally finish a 300 page paperback in a day or less. Still, I work, and I’m a mom, and a blogger and a writer, and, well, you get it–all this other stuff of life cuts into my reading-time, the one thing that I do only for myself.

So, a novella, or serially-written novel series, allows me to wedge in a bit of escapism between my kid’s practices, or while waiting at the doctor’s office, or on a lunch break. Serials aren’t new, they have been around since the printed word existed. They were most often printed in magazines or newspapers–and some still are. For me they like a TV series–one I don’t have to present for every week at the same time to enjoy.

I’m currently reading two fantastic serials: The six-part SOCIAL MEDIA series by JA HUSS and the nine-part serial, DEBT COLLECTOR: SEASON TWO by Susan Kaye Quinn.

Follow (Social Media, #1)You can check out my review of the first two Social Media episodes HERE. This is a contemporary erotic romance series between moviestar extraordinaire Vaughn Asher and event coordinator with a horrific past, Grace.

Here are my reviews for FOLLOW, LIKE, BLOCK and STATUS. Check them out to see if this serial is for you. I can tell you, I’m eagerly awaiting the next, penultimate, episode: PROFILE.

The fifth episode, PROFILE, drops on Wed Oct 22. As with all the Social Media episodes pre-orders are $.99–which increases to $2.99 after release day. A small aside, pre-orders are so fun! I love waking up and finding a new book waiting in my iPad! 😀

Susan Kaye Quinn’s DEBT COLLECTOR: Season One was one of my fave books last year. Please check out my series-long review. for more info on this future noir, dystopian series.If you haven’t read the first season, however, you can STILL jump into Season Two.

What is IMPORTANT TO KNOW: in this futuristic world a debt collector has unique ability to absorb and harness the life energy of a human. One can draw the energy through any skin-to-skin contact, and drawing energy will shorten the life span of the people they touch. They also have the ability to transfer the life energy they collect to others. In the world of Debt Collectors, they are licensed by the government to draw life energy from dying adults and transfer it (legally) to high-potential peoples who can live longer to solve the world’s problems. Of course, there is HUGE black market for this skill–and lots of rogue debt collectors exist on illegal life energy collections….

Wraith (Debt Collector 10)My Review of WRAITH: Debt Collector Season Two, Episode One:
Alexa Sterling is heiress to Sterling Cybernetics–and she’s not happy. Mostly because her father was murdered, presumably by debt collectors, only three weeks ago. What Alexa’s anti-debt collection crusader father didn’t know? That Alex herself is a debt collector.

Yeah. Alexa has an alter ego as Wraith. She discovered her Debt Collector ability inadvertently, it seems, and it hurt someone close to her. Believing that Debt Collectors killed her father, she is averse to dealing with them. She does have a physical need to transfer life energy–as doing so is a bit of a high and not doing so leads to severe depression.

So, Alexa/Wraith is a bit Robin Hood. She takes energy from people she knows to have gotten life energy pulses illegally, and donates them to sick individuals–giving them the strength to survive their diseases. It’s an admirable use of a deleterious skill, which make Alexa/Wraith an anti-hero of my favorite sort.

The read is intense, picking up in the throes of a life energy hit. Alexa is creative and utilizes her power in the best way she can, but she’s also impetuous, and this leads not only to a bad collection, but also puts her on the radar of a rogue Debt Collector network, Gehanna. She is being recruited against her will–with exposure of her secret life as a Debt Collector in the offing.

So looking forward to the next episode!

WRAITH releases Oct 20th. Now’s your chance to get in at the beginning. Preorders being taken at Amazon and for those people who want to read the WHOLE BOOK ALL AT ONCE, they can pre-order Season Two for release on Dec 15–just in time to rock your Christmas reads!

Please also consider checking out Season One. Every person with whom I’ve shared this book has come back with RAVE reviews. I seriously swooned for the anti-hero, Lirium, as he fought to keep himself free of the mafia and save the lives of terminally ill children. Yeah. I still get melty remembering…

Thanks for popping in my friends, and keep reading!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse September 2014–FIRST DAUGHTER–A Review

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Before I get started, I’d like to say I read/reviewed >20 books this month–so getting to be my Top Pick is kind of a honor. (Though I will admit that winning my favor is a rather dubious honor…I’m pretty instinctual which is why I connect so well with the protaganist of the book I’m featuring.) And, I wish to highlight my own accomplishment–turning 40 this week. If you read MY BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY post, you’ll know why I’m feeling pretty stoked about reaching this milestone, and you might could win yourself $40. So, there’s that.

This month I’m sharing FIRST DAUGHTER from my friend Susan Kaye Quinn. It’s the third (final?) book in her Dharian Affairs trilogy. I make the question mark because, with Sue one never knows if a series is ever “finished,” but where she left it right now is very complete story-wise. Is she ever travels back to Dharia, it will be with a whole new storyline.

First Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #3)About the book:
Skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue…

With the war begun, Aniri, Third Daughter of the Queen, has to battle not only a prince with a deadly skyship, but her own sister, the First Daughter, who finally sees her chance to become Queen. With their mother gravely ill and the Second Daughter kidnapped along with Aniri’s husband-to-be, Aniri embarks on a desperate mission to save the people she loves from a war that will tear all three countries apart.

First Daughter is the third book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

My Review:
I’ve read both previous books in this fast-paced, steampunk romance series and I had high expectations for the finale. Those were exceeded!

In FIRST DAUGHTER we connect with Aniri, our high-spirited princess, on the brink of leading her country to war. Well, sorta. I mean, she’s not QUITE queen of Jungali, the land where she WOULD be queen if her wedding hadn’t been crashed by bombs dropped from a heretofore unknown Samirian skyship. She may have even married Ash, prince of Jungali, and gone to battle with him–if he haddn’t been kidnapped for ransom by Samirian forces.

Still, Aniri knows she is going to hunt down Natesh, the wayward second son of Samir who has not only provoked war, he has Ash and Aniri’s pregnant sister (Seledri) in his control. Oh, and his assassins almost succeeded in killing Aniri’s mother.

It’s a tense time, and Aniri’s eldest sister, Nahali, is now in control of Dharia as their mother convalesces. Nahali is brilliant, but cold. She has a longheld jealousy for the capricious Aniri and is not inclined to seek rescue of Aniri’s beloved, not when vengeance is sweeter and warranted.

It’s up to Aniri to wage a battle on many fronts: to convince Nahali to move slowly, and allow a rescue of both Ash and Seledri, while also seeking to foment rebellion in Samir. Aniri is sure assisting Seledri’s husband Pavan to rise to the throne will remove the threat of war, but she must go undercover in Samir in order to find Pavan, first.

So, we get a whole lotta intrigue, espionage, clockworks, and daring maneuvers in FIRST DAUGHTER. Aniri rises to the top, pushing for peace while scouring all avenues for signs of Ash and Seledri. One thing that princess won’t abide is leaving them to Natesh’s murderous whim.

It is a full-tilt race to not only rescue the two people most central to Aniri’s heart, but to disable Natesh’s armada of skyships that are poised to invade and bomb her homeland into oblivion.

At it’s core, FIRST DAUGHTER is a tale of constant love–familial and romantic. There are many positive examples of loving couples, and of people going beyond all borders to save those they love–Aniri foremost because she tells this tale, but also Pavan who is determined to reclaim his wife, and Janak–steadfast protector of the Queen who is inexorably in love with her and seeks to avenge her wounding.

The climax is nothing other than brilliant, with battling skyships and a weapon of mass destruction poised to decimate the Samirian war complex. Everything happens just as I hoped it would, but not in the order I had expected, leaving me turning the pages in haste to get to the ending I needed–faster.

If you are a fan of this series you will not be disappointed. For all that it’s a love story, the prose is innocent and appropriately-paced. There is no instalove, just affection growing over time and in volume. Aniri is a good protaganist. She makes mistakes and she owns them. She strives hard to protect and save not only her own loves, but to help her sister make decisions that will benefit their world.

I loved getting lost in the steampunk elements and the East Indian flavor of Dharia, Samir and Jungali. It is rare to see a culture of “color” and a matrilineal society in literature, but this world is rendered beautifully. I appreciated the lengths to which the author went to create a society that celebrates women, not only for their beauty and status, but for their courage and ingenuity. It is a place in which I would like to live.

Interested? You can find FIRST DAUGHTER on Goodreads, Amazon, Nook, iTunes and Kobo. I received an ARC from Sue because we are friends, and because I hounded her for the end of the series, and because I’d probably read her grocery lists if they were available–I’m just that big a fan of her writing.

The two previous books in the series: THIRD DAUGHTER and SECOND DAUGHTER are phenomenal and should probably be read first, on account of lots of story points that are working through FIRST DAUGHTER. Please click their titles for review and purchase links.

THIRD DAUGHTER is currently FREE on all digital outlets, so you can get started on this series!

Thanks for popping in, today. I hope you’ll hop over to my fellow coffeehousers and see what books they recommend this month. And, as always, keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. mainewords
3. Berriesandmore 4. Linda Kay
5. Cherdo on the Flipside 6. V’sReads
7. Aristotle’s Mistake 8. Life Before the Hereafter
9. Subliminal Coffee. 10. My Creatively Random Life
11. WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME 12. Stephanie Faris
13. About Myself By Myself 14. StrangePegs — The Marvelous Land of Oz
15. MOCK! 16. StrangePegs — Many Waters
17. StrangePegs — A Flock of Ill Omens 18. Words Incorporated

Steampunk StoryBundle is Amazeballs…

Hi there! Today I’m talking about a great deal I ran across through my friend and fellow writer, Susan Kaye Quinn. I have featured a few of her books in the past, not hard to–she’s a talented and prolific indie author–but today’s deal is unique to me. A story bundle.

1efc1-thirddaughter_cvr_medThe way a StoryBundle works is described below, so please read on. In the meantime, I’m going to share mini-reviews from two of the books in the bundle.

The first is Quinn’s own THIRD DAUGHTER. I have adored both this and the sequel SECOND DAUGHTER (not part of the bundle).

They are steampunk books set in the fictional East Indian-inspired matriarchal world of Dharia and feature a daredevil of a princess bent on saving herself from a loveless marriage and her country from a war.

imageThe second book in the Bundle I finished was THE MACHINE GOD by MeiLin Miranda. This story focuses on the adventure of Dr. Adewole, a linguist and Humanities expert investigating the floating island of Risenton. Myths surround this site, and when a power source becomes available, Adewole and a team of explorers and military-folk ascend a mile into the sky to meet an untouched culture. Their arrival is legendary, but the mystery surrounding Risenton’s history takes up the tale.

Adewole’s mission to study the history of the city uncovers the primary documents of a sinister inventor who combined magic with metal and brought about his own destruction–along with those of thousands of Risenton-folk. Now, a thousand years later, Adewole’s research uncovers the power behind that destruction, and he’s an inadvertent accomplice to (perhaps) the second coming.

It’s like STARGATE and THE IRON GIANT had a love child and called it THE MACHINE GOD. I loved it. Like both of those movies, malevolent forces are working behind the scenes to weaponize an ordinarily peaceful invention.

Beyond creative, I also loved that the main character of THE MACHINE GOD, Adewole, was a man of color and a scholar. The steampunk elements remain throughout, but the fantasy elements, from living metal to sentient, speaking birds, make this story unique. This book is truly well-written allowing the fantasy to simply blend instead of outshine. The fun thing is there’s another book in the Bundle–BLACK MERCURY–which adopts a similar setting, so I’m anxious to dive into it.

Now, each of these books purchased through Amazon would cost $3.99. You can set your own price on the StoryBundle site for the purchase of the first four books in the Bundle, but if you pay more than $10, they kick in three bonus books (a $12 value).

I’m new to StoryBundle, but I’m going to watching this take off. What is also cool as that each book comes separate, unlike a boxed set where you have to page through six books to get to the last one in the set…something prolific eReaders (like myself) can appreciate.

The Bundle of Extraordinary Steampunk

Story Bundle is like Price Line for Books where you choose your own price! It’s a great way for readers to discover new authors in a genre they already love. This steampunk story bundle was curated by Susan Kaye Quinn (author of Third Daughter, a steampunk fantasy romance), and she explains what steampunk is all about below.  Hop over to see how you set-your-own-price on these story bundles and scoop it up for yourself (bundle lasts a limited time only)!

The Bundle of Extraordinary Steampunk
Curated by Susan Kaye Quinn

The most common question I get about steampunk books is, What is steampunk?

The easy answer is that steampunk stories are set in the 19th century Victorian era when steam-driven technology was primary, corsets were tight, and tea was a formal affair. But that’s like saying science fiction is about spaceships when the genre is much broader, deeper, and more amazing than that. (And yes, steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction.)

With a thriving real-life steampunk culture that is very do-it-yourself in inventing characters, costumes, and gadgets, the real answer is that steampunk can be virtually anything you want it to be. It’s this tremendous devotion to creativity that actually drew me in to writing steampunk in the first place (along with the gorgeous costumes!). In this steampunk bundle, we have an east-Indian fantasy romance, an Asian-flavored pirate love story, a Shakespearean retelling, two stories set in a common world with a floating island, a young adult adventure about a lightning invention, and a story that uses Arcane Science in the modern world. These stories are perfect examples of the truly rich diversity of steampunk stories, while each also portrays a world where steam technology shifts the ground under their characters feet.

We think of the Victorian era as being somewhat repressed, but it really was a time of tremendous change: class divisions, and the aristocracy it supported, were being challenged by the everyday men and women who were bringing about amazing technological advances. Science was on the rise! And the beautiful costuming and formal traditions of the past were coming into conflict with those first hints of the modern world. Steampunk stories in general resonate with readers not just because of their fun, escapist fantasy; a flight into the past when things were simpler, adventures were fought with sword and gun, and social strictures brought some order to the world, but because the upheaval wrought by technological change still resonates with our real lives today.

What is steampunk?
It’s a story like any other story: a chance to escape the world for a few hours, to live in the wilderness of an author’s imagination, to adventure, to fall in love, to die for one’s friends. It’s classic storytelling in a visually rich, emotionally gripping era that still resonates with us today. Plus you get to rollick about in corsets and top hats, inventing gadgets and saving the world from the villains who turn that fantastic steam technology to their own dastardly purposes.

Strap on your goggles and prepare for the ride!
— Susan Kaye Quinn

The Bundle of Extraordinary Steampunk

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, Tweet us at @storybundle, Like us on Facebook, and Plus us on Google Plus. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.