Stephen B. Frank

STEPHEN (S.B.) FRANK, one of our guest contributors, earned a Ph.D. at Duke University and works in the field of education reform. When he needs a break from real life, he likes to indulge in urban fantasy. He has a particular love for humor, so some of his favorite authors are Dakota Cassidy, Mary Janice Davidson, Mark Henry, Julie Kenner, Katie MacAlister, Richelle Mead and Christopher Moore.

A chat with Carrie Vaughn

FanLit welcomes our regular guest Stephen Frank. He’s a big fan of Carrie Vaughn’s KITTY NORVILLE series and he had a chance to talk with her about the newest installment which was released today. Thanks, Stephen!

We are pleased to have with us today Carrie Vaughn, bestselling author as well as the ingenious creator of my personal favorite fictional radio show host: Kitty Norville. Her latest novel, Kitty Steals the Show is being released by Tor today. Comment below to win a copy.

Stephen Frank: Hi Carrie. Thanks so much for being willing to answer a few questions for our readers. On your website, I notice that you are a self-proclaimed werewolf psychologist. If I wanted to learn how to psychoanalyze a werewolf, how would you recommend that I go about learning? Is there some formal schooling? Or ... Read More

Waking the Witch: Contrived setting, but enjoyable series

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Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong is a fine addition to the Women of the Otherworld series. It relays the adventures of Savannah Levine, whom we met as a precocious orphan in earlier novels and who is now a grown woman. The mystery is strong, compelling, and reasonably twisted; the plot is well paced and packed with action; and the characters and their stories are, as always, strong. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel.

What’s not to like? Well, to be brutally honest, while I enjoy reading the novels of Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, the world setting has always struck me as a bit contrived. For instance, when female witches have children with male sorcerers (protagonist Sava... Read More

The Reckoning: Chloe Saunders is a great YA protagonist

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The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

While Kelley Armstrong is best known for her Women of the Otherworld series, which I have read and mostly enjoyed, I personally prefer her YA-geared Darkest Powers series. The Darkest Powers novels, which begin with The Summoning and The Awakening, detail the stories of Chloe Sanders, a girl raised in a wealthy yet non-magical home who, upon hitting puberty, discovers that she can see ghosts.

A misinterpreted incident at school leads to a diagnosis of mental illness and soon lands her in a halfway house for disturbed teens with serious psychological problems, or so she is told. She and the othe... Read More

Shade: Enjoyable YA

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Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Everyone in the world who is Aura’s age or younger can see ghosts, while older people can't see them. Aura dreads her “gift” (mostly) until her boyfriend, Logan, dies of a drug-alcohol overdose and returns to watch over her. Despite Logan’s lack of a physical body, their relationship deepens.

Meanwhile, Aura begins to fall for a living boy: Zachary. Zachary was born scant minutes before Aura, and whereas she was the first born with the ability to see ghosts, Zach is the last child born without that ability. As Zach and Aura grow closer, Logan’s ghost begins to “shade,” turning dark and ugly. It's up to Aura to save him if she can, while resisting the strong-arm tactics of a group of government agents who lock dangerous ghosts up for public safety. They are are well aware of Zach and Aura’s special status and are observing them closely.
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Hellfire: Sets a new bar for Ann Aguirre

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Hellfire by Ann Aguirre

Hellfire sets a new bar for Ann Aguirre. While I have always admired Aguirre’s writing talent, I have never had trouble setting down her books and coming back later — sometimes much later. To me, Hellfire represents a significant improvement over her earlier works. It was not immediately clear to me why. For one thing, this second book in the CORINE SOLOMON series is almost a cliché of an urban fantasy, featuring a single woman protagonist with paranormal abilities trying to decide between two hunky supernaturally talented guys as she moves through a whirlwind adventure filled with action, danger, and intrigue. Been there, liked that…

So what makes Hellfire better than Aguirre’s previous work? All I can say with certainty is that the suspense, drama, and pacing feels much improved.... Read More

Dinner with Jaye Wells

I recently had the great pleasure of dining and talking with urban fantasy author Jaye Wells, whose Mage In Black hits shelves today. In fact, in our two-book giveaway, one lucky commenter on this interview will receive a free copy of Mage in Black while a second will receive a copy of Red-Headed Step Child. So, be sure to comment below.

Ms. Wells is one of my favorite new urban fantasy authors. Her books are driven by action and suspense and spiced with humor and remind me of the popular series by Jeaniene Frost and Karen Chance. To be honest, though, I was a bit nervous about a face-to-face lunch with Ms. Wells, because during my research, I stumbled across reports of her Read More

Mage in Black: Better than the first Sabina novel

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Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

Jaye Wells is getting better. Mage in Black is the sequel to Wells’ debut novel, Red-Headed Stepchild. In Red-Headed Stepchild, Sabina Kane foiled a plot by the head of the vampires (her own grandmother) and is now on the run from vampire assassins.

In Mage in Black, war is brewing between mages and vampires. Sabina, who was raised by vampires, is caught in the middle. Having discovered that she has a twin sister who was raised by mages, she visits mage headquarters in New York, where she runs afoul of a pack of werewolves and is targeted for assassination by a traitor within the mage camp.

While Mage in Black embraces many of the tropes of the urban fantasy genre, the story remains fresh and the plot speeds along n... Read More

Bite Me: Christopher Moore is the king of crass

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Bite Me by Christopher Moore

Tired of reading about sexy vampires having sword fights… or orgiastic love fests? What about tragically misunderstood yet sensitive and compassionate vampires? Much as MaryJanice Davidson is the godmother of vampire chick lit, Christopher Moore owns the market of the stoner-loser vampire. In Bite Me, the sequel to You Suck (which was in turn the sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends), Moore once again puts the fun in dysfunctional and demonstrates why he is the king of crass, the executor of non sequitur... err, anyway, one of the funniest fantasy authors writing today.

It starts with the sometimes narrator. Imagine Juno’s snarky her... Read More

Unperfect Souls: Creative characters, setting, and plot

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Unperfect Souls by Mark Del Franco

Unperfect Souls by Mark Del Franco stars Connor Grey, a druid who has lost his powers but still helps investigate the magical goings-on in the Boston neighborhood known as the Weird. In this fourth book of the Connor Grey series, the Dead who had visited earth in Unfallen Dead (book 3) are now stranded on earth. The Weird has become tainted — heightening the aggressive tendencies of its living and dead inhabitants — and Connor has attracted the attention of both faerie courts who are rushing to control him, even if their rivalry threatens a war that will destroy both humans and fey. To prevent war, Connor must solve a murder mystery and survive the political machinations of both courts while learning to harness the potential of the mysterious soul-s... Read More

Vintage Soul: First of what should be a good series

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Vintage Soul by David Niall Wilson

Vintage Soul by David Niall Wilson is a well-written short novel billed as the first in The DeChance Chronicles. Wilson is the winner of the Bram Stoker award for his horror stories, and it’s clear from the start that Vintage Soul was written by a master wordsmith. I particularly enjoyed reading the indulgent setting of the opening party scene in which a powerful vampire is kidnapped right in front of her guests. The vampires call upon mage and investigator DeChance, an excellent gumshoe character who — through a series of adventures and with help from a small cast of interesting friends — solves the crime.

What’s not to like? Two things made me rate this novel lower than it would otherwise have merited on the str... Read More

THE HAVEN SERIES: Once Bitten & Twice Dead

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Once Bitten & Twice Dead by Kalayna Price

One of the great joys of book blogging is the discovery of a new authorial talent. I recently had the distinct pleasure of reading two books — Once Bitten and Twice Dead — by new author Kalayna Price.

The protagonist of this excellent series, Kita, is a shapeshifter — a tiny tabby cat who hails from a world dominated by lions and tigers. Forbidden to marry the man she loves, she has run away to a world that closely resembles our own. While she is on the run, in order to hide from those who would take her back to her home world, she pretends to be a stray, hiding in the homes of strangers. As Once Bitten starts, an attack results in her accidentally becoming a vampire and losing her ability to shift. Before Kita can eve... Read More

Rachel Vincent talks about werecats

Today, we are pleased to welcome fantasy author Rachel Vincent. Rachel is the author of two outstanding fantasy series: SHIFTERS and the YA series SOUL SCREAMERS. Shift, the latest novel in Rachel’s Shifter’s series, starring werecat Faythe Sanders, which went on sale this week. Please join us today in welcoming Rachel and be sure to comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Shift, which she is graciously donating.

SB Frank: In your SHIFTERS series, I really enjoy how Faythe is constantly challenging traditional female role models in the Pride. In Prey, I think it was, Faythe finally began to understand and accept the vital role that her mother had played in the Pride despite not having a formal position except as the Alpha’s wife. As the pride politics turn deadly, does her mother’s role in the pride continue to grow ... Read More

Dead Matter: Plenty of laughs, not enough sweat

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Dead Matter by Anton Strout

Dead Matter is the third book in the Simon Canderous series by Anton Strout. Overall, it was entertaining, worth reading, and just missed being exceptional. One unexpected strength of Dead Matter is the plot, including the mystery. Too often, in fantasy billed as comedic, the plot or mystery suffers. Not so here. Anton Strout is an excellent story crafter, and his talent shines throughout. The setting is also strong: imagine Ghostbusters meets Dilbert. In this case, Simon works as a psychometrist (reading object histories) for the New York City Bureau of Extraordinary Affairs, an organization so wrapped up in red tape it’s amazing anyone can ever get out in the field to fight the Forces of Darkness. The main characters, too, especially Simon Canderous and his girlfriend ... Read More

A chat with Anton Strout

We are pleased today to welcome Anton Strout, author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series.  His latest novel, Dead Matter, goes on sale today. Mr. Strout has graciously offered to give away two novels to commenters on today's post. Winners can choose between any of his novels:

SB Frank: Welcome Anton! On your website, you have the most intriguing factoid. You write that you are the co-creator of the faux folk musical Sneezin’ Jeff & Blue Raccoon: The Loose Gravel Tour (winner of the Best Storytelling Award at the First Annual New York International Fringe Festival). Can you tell us a little bit about the musical, about the festival, and about the award?

Anton Strout: The NY Inter... Read More

A chat with Katie MacAlister

We are pleased to welcome with us today Katie MacAlister, author of many urban fantasy novels, including both the Silver Dragons and the Aisling Grey series, which are two of my favorite funny, light-hearted fantasy romance series.  Her latest novel, Steamed: A Steampunk Romance hits shelves today. Katie will be stopping by throughout the day to respond to comments and questions, and we'll be giving away two copies of Steamed. So, make sure to thank her for stopping by for a chance to win.

SB Frank: Welcome Katie, let's start off on the topic of humor in fantasy. Can I ask who are some of your favorite funny fantasy a... Read More

First Drop of Crimson: Another Fast-paced thriller from Frost

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First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

In First Drop of Crimson, Jeaniene Frost returns us to the world of her popular NIGHT HUNTRESS series, which starts with Halfway to the Grave. In fact, the novel’s protagonists, Denise and Spade, are the best friends of Kat and Bones from the earlier series.

Denise is still recovering from the brutal death of her husband and wants nothing to do with the world of vampires. But then a demon with a grudge against her family shows up and threatens to kill her family members and turn her into a shapeshifting monster unless she helps him track down a rogue member of her family tree who is being sheltered by vampires. Denise is forced to reach out to Spade and the two soon find themselves on a perilous journey through the vampire underworld.

As always, Frost grabs you fa... Read More

Steamed: A Steampunk Romance

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Steamed by Katie MacAlister

Steamed is the first novel in what promises to be a rollicking steampunk fantasy series as Katie MacAlister delivers her trademark humor and romance in a new world setting.

Jack Fletcher and his sister get sucked into an alternative reality and find themselves on a Aerocorps steamship captained by Octavia Pye. The novel’s premise is inventive and fun, as is the romantic interplay between Jack Fletcher and Octavia Pye. The zany steamship crew members form a great supporting cast. MacAlister always seems to have one side character who steals the show. In this case, I particularly enjoyed the dialogue of the Spanish cook who is also madly and inappropriately attracted to Octavia.

What’s not to like? Well, while the plot was fast-paced and action-packed, I never truly understood certain aspects of the world setting, suc... Read More

A chat with Caitlin Kittredge

Please welcome today, Caitlin Kittredge. Caitlin is the  author of two popular urban fantasy series: BLACK LONDON and NOCTURNE CITY and the co-author with Jackie Kessler of the ICARUS PROJECT. She will be stopping by throughout the day to respond to fan questions and comments and to give away a copy of Street Magic and Demon Bound. So, please make sure to thank her for stopping by and let her know which novel you prefer to receive.

SB Frank: Caitlin, you are a self-confessed rocker, but I note on your website at your website that you also play the violin. When did you start playing? How often you play now? And with whom? And what type of music, groups, concerts, you enjoy? [I’m pausing a moment... Read More

Kitty’s House of Horrors: A solid installment in a fun series

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Kitty’s House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty’s House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn is a solid addition to the story of radio talk-show host Kitty the werewolf that began with Kitty and the Midnight Hour. I’ve enjoyed the entire Kitty series and House of Horrors was no exception.

In Kitty’s House of Horrors, Kitty and her friends, including several fun new characters, are trapped in an isolated cabin and hunted down one by one. They must determine who has betrayed them and how to get away. The greatest strength of House of Horrors may have been the suspense, which I thought exceeded that of Vaughn’s previous novels.

What’s not to like? Well, if you read for romance, there was little in this book. And there was less development... Read More

Death’s Mistress: The Chance You’ve Been Waiting For

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Death’s Mistress by Karen Chance

I adored Death’s Mistress by Karen Chance. For character, action, mystery, suspense and setting, I place this novel on a par with Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files or Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series — two of my personal favorites — and for humor, I rate it even higher. Death’s Mistress is insanely funny in just the right spots. It is as entertaining a novel as I have read in many years.

In this second book of the Dorina Basarab series, Dorina, a half-human, half-vampire Dhampir, is asked to conduct the seemingly simple task of picking up a low-level Master Vampire, Ray, for interrogation. She immediately decapitates Ray so t... Read More

A chat with Karen Chance

We have with us today, Karen Chance, author of two extremely enjoyable fantasy series that I count among my personal favorites: the CASSANDRA PALMER and DORINA BASARAB series. Karen has graciously agreed to stop by throughout the day to answer fan questions, and we're giving away two more copies of Midnight's Daughter the prequel to today's newly released Death's Mistress, so please make sure to comment or ask questions.

On her website, you can read some of her short stories and learn all sorts of gossipy things about Karen, including her penchant for giving advice about relationships with vampires. Loyal readers may recall that just before Christmas, I posed some open questions to Karen on behalf of a, um, friend who suspects that my, ... Read More

“Tenacity, Patience & Drive” by Rinda Elliott

We're pleased today to have a guest blog by up-and-coming fantasy author Rinda Elliott. I ran across Rinda on Twitter and read some of the samples of her work (which you will find links to at the bottom of the blog post) and  really thought she had a compelling, funny story, with great characters. Check it out by clicking at the link at the bottom of the post.

Rinda Elliott: I’m honored to be a guest here at Fantasy Literature. Thank you for the invitation!

Since I don’t (yet) have books of my own on the shelves, I’m going to instead give away a copy of my critique partner, Rachel Vincent’s, new book in her young adult series about bean sidhes! (Releases this week!) Just comment here and I’ll let the trusty RNG... Read More

Nancy Holzner talks about Deadtown

Today we'd like to welcome Nancy Holzner author of the mystery novel Peace, Love, and Murder, and of the urban fantasy novel, Deadtown which is on sale today at bookstores everywhere. Nancy will be hanging around after the interview -- or at least checking in throughout the day to respond to your questions.  And we will be giving away a copy of Deadtown to not one but two lucky commenters. If you're a fantasy fan, you don't want to miss Deadtown; It's a fun, fast read.

... Read More

Santa a Vampire? You decide.

Dear Karen Chance: Thank you for agreeing to do an author interview at fantasy literature.com on January 5th. Normally, I start an interview asking about an author's childhood, work habits and hobbies and the like. But during my research, I noticed that someone has written the most extraordinarily frank and well researched answers to these questions on your website at www.karenchance.com For instance,
• Place you grew up? The land of make believe
• Work habits: Astonishingly lazy
• Morals: Prone to relationships with vampires (note: this may be more implied than stated)
• Hobbies: giving relationship advice to women. You even have a section about why relationships with vampires are so great (written from a female’s perspective, I might add). It is this last point I wish to blog about today by way of an ... Read More

The Better Part of Darkness: An excellent tale

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The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

I thoroughly enjoyed The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay.

Charlie Madigan is a policewoman and a single mother in a dystopian Atlanta in which we share our world with beings from two magical realms that are vaguely reminiscent of heaven and hell. Shortly before the novel starts, Charlie is beaten to death and brought back to life with a new set of nightmares and supernatural powers she must come to terms with if she hopes to solve the mystery. The story begins when a pre-teen friend of her daughter is found comatose from inhaling a magical drug. Charlie must investigate.

I admired Kelly Gay’s craft in spinning this excellent tale. The plot and gritty world setting had sufficient twists and surprises and details that I didn’t want to set The Better Part of Darkness Read More

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