Review: The United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

May Contain Spoilers

I decided to give United States of Japan a whirl because of the mecha on the cover.  I thought this would be an action adventure type read in an alternate US.  While there are mecha fighting scenes and shoot outs between the protagonists and the bad guys, it’s more of a hard-boiled, gritty mystery.  Set in a grim alternate history where the Japanese and the Germans win WWII, the story is broken up in three primary time periods;  1948, 1988, and 1978.  The chapters featuring Beniko’s parents were my favorite.  Starting with the restoration of freedom from the Japanese internment camps after the Japanese win the war, the Japanese begin to shape the western US into their vision of a Japanese territory.  Forty years later, the totalitarian government is firmly in place, along with government censors, secret police, and horrible atrocities committed on the populace to keep rebels and dissidents, real and imagined,  firmly in check.

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Cover Shot! The Prince of Lies by Anne Lyle

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I have loved every cover for Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque series, and the cover for The Prince of Lies is no exception.  What a bad-ass cover!  I have these on my TBR pile, and I’m hoping that I’ll get to them soon!  In the meantime, I’ll just drool over the covers.

In stores November 2013



Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn has everything he ever wanted—his twin brother Sandy restored to health, his family estate reclaimed and a son to inherit it—but his work isn’t over yet. The guisers’ leader, Jathekkil, has reincarnated as the young Prince Henry Tudor, giving Mal a chance to eliminate his enemies whilst they are at their weakest.

With Sandy’s help Mal learns to harness his own magic in the fight against the renegade skraylings, but it may be too late to save England. Schemes set in motion decades ago are at last coming to fruition, and the barrier between the dreamlands and the waking world is wearing thin…

Cover Shot! The Merchant of Dreams by Anne Lyle

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I haven’t read The Alchemist of Dreams by Anne Lyle, but it is in my TBR.  With the next book in the series, The Merchant of Dreams, set to release in December, I have a little bit of time to catch up.  I love the covers for these; the lighting and poses of the characters make me want to snap these right up.



Exiled from the court of Queen Elizabeth for accusing a powerful nobleman of treason, swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has been living in France with his young valet Coby Hendricks for the past year.

But Mal harbours a darker secret: he and his twin brother share a soul that once belonged to a skrayling, one of the mystical creatures from the New World.

When Mal’s dream about a skrayling shipwreck in the Mediterranean proves reality, it sets him on a path to the beautiful, treacherous city of Venice – and a conflict of loyalties that will place him and his friends in greater danger than ever.

Interview with Anne Lyle, Author of The Alchemist of Souls


Anne Lyle is the author of The Alchemist of Souls, a historical fantasy that releases March 27th.  Once I was the awesome cover, I knew I had to read the book!  I asked Anne to drop in the virtual offices so I could ask her a few questions about her new book, and she graciously took time out of her busy schedule to chat.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Anne Lyle] I’m a zoology graduate & Mac geek with a passion for history & languages. I’ve never been a "girly" girl – I prefer swords to handbags 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Alchemist of Souls?

[Anne Lyle] It’s an alternate history fantasy, set in Elizabethan London. Explorers have discovered a race of mysterious creatures called skraylings living alongside the natives of the New World – creatures with apparently magical powers. Now the skraylings have sent an ambassador to England, but their purpose remains unclear.

The hero of the story, Mal Catlyn, has been plucked almost literally from the gutter to be the ambassador’s bodyguard, but finds himself a pawn in a dangerous game that could lose him his life – and his soul.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Anne Lyle] I wanted to write something a bit different from the usual medieval fantasy, and I’d always loved Shakespeare, so I decided on an Elizabethan setting and started doing some research. My main inspiration came after reading an account of the murder of playwright Christopher Marlowe and the likely involvement in those events of Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. I loved the idea of writing a cloak’n’dagger fantasy full of spies and actors!

The skraylings came out of my interest in pre-Columbian America and a desire to see history turned on its head, with the Europeans being on the receiving end of visitors they don’t really understand.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Anne Lyle] For me, it was marshalling all my ideas for the way the story might go – I spent a lot of the four years’ writing time messing about with the plot rather than polishing the actual prose. Once I finally had the story pinned down, getting it into shape for submitting to publishers was relatively easy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mal?

[Anne Lyle] Honourable, stubborn, protective.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Mal would never have in his pocket?

[Anne Lyle] His pockets are all-too-frequently empty. Is this a trick question?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Anne Lyle] Ursula Le Guin, both for her fantasy and SF and for her critical essays; Terry Pratchett, whose fictional city of Ankh-Morpork (itself inspired by historical London), probably influenced my choice of London as the setting for my own book; and Ellen Kushner and Lynn Flewelling, for the revelation that great fantasy heroes don’t have to be heterosexual.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Anne Lyle] Not absolutely necessary, but an enormous help: silence, my MacBook and a cup of tea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Anne Lyle] The first book I really remember reading is Alice in Wonderland – I was probably very young, as I found it hard going even though I was a precocious reader.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Anne Lyle] Writing takes up a lot of my spare time, since I also have a day-job. I read, of course, but in the evenings I mostly just chill out with a DVD, my cats and maybe a glass of wine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Anne Lyle] I’m on Twitter nearly every day (@AnneLyle), I’m on Goodreads, and I blog regularly on my website, I also have a Facebook page, though I don’t visit it as often as I should.

Readers in the UK can also find me at various SFF conventions, where I do readings and/or participate in panels, and I’m hoping to go to WorldCon in Chicago this year. Check out the calendar on my website!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thanks!

You can pre-order The Alchemist of Souls from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.



After the massive news last week about Strange Chemistry’s first two authors, we are delighted to add another stellar name to our launch roster!

Strange Chemistry are thrilled to announce the signing of Gwenda Bond, in a two book deal with World English rights concluded between Amanda Rutter and Jennifer Laughran, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. The first book, Blackwood, will be one of the imprint’s September 2012 launch titles, with the second following in 2013.


On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.


Gwenda Bond is a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly, reviews books for the Washington Post and Locus Magazine, and has appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition. She won the 2010 Veritas Media Award from the Romance Writers of America for her article "Romancing the Recession" in PW, and recently guest edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online featuring work by Kelly Link, Sarah Rees Brennan, Malinda Lo, and others.

Gwenda also holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ program in writing for children and young adults, and maintains an active online presence. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, SF author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie.

Visit Gwenda online at

Gwenda says: "Angry Robot has quickly built a reputation as one of the smartest, most innovative imprints publishing speculative fiction. I was instantly intrigued when I saw the news about the launch of their new YA imprint, and I couldn’t be happier to become a Strange Chemistry author. I can’t wait to work with Amanda and the rest of the Angry Robot team as they continue on the path toward world domination."

Amanda says: "Gwenda is clearly a massive talent and I am absolutely delighted to have signed her in a two book deal. BLACKWOOD is a truly impressive debut novel and I’m absolutely certain it will be a great success."

Check out the full news announcement on for more details, folks. Gwenda can be also found on Twitter (@Gwenda), so do say hello and join us in welcoming her to Strange Chemistry!

[PR] Robot Army Incoming: Announcing the Return of Open Door!

{Ed. Here’s a press release that should be of interest to all aspiring novelists!  Get busy polishing off that manuscript – you’ve got until April 16th to get it prepped for submission!  Good luck!}


During April last year, Angry Robot Books temporarily suspended its usual submission policy to run its first Open Door Month; accepting unsolicited, un-agented manuscripts from would-be genre fiction authors.

The scheme was a huge success: nearly 1,000 submissions resulted in publishing contracts for three authors – Cassandra Rose Clarke, Lee Collins, and Lee Battersby – and the commissioning of at least six brand new novels for publication for the Angry Robot lists in 2012 and 2013.

Today, Angry Robot are announcing that Open Door will return, with a second phase running from April 16th – April 30th 2012. During this frantic fortnight the floodgates will once more be opened to admit brand new work by hopeful (and, of course, hugely talented) writers from across the globe.

This time around, the rules are slightly different. Angry Robot will only be considering submissions that meet the following genre criteria:

a) Epic Fantasy – ideally with a bit of an edge or the sort of left-field twist the Angry Robot audience has come to expect.

b) YA – any subject welcome, but must be science fiction or fantasy, and intended for a Young Adult audience, for potential publication via Angry Robot’s new Strange Chemistry imprint.

More details can be found at

Giant Thief by David Tallerman Excerpt

I ran across this excerpt while surfing the web this morning.  Giant Thief by David Tallerman looks intriguing!  I love all of the details on the cover, too.  What do you think?  Is this something that you are interested in reading?

From Angry Robot website:

Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.

Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.

Big time.

Giant Thief hits stores January 31 in both print and digital formats.


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Cover Shot! The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle

Wowsers!  I love this cover!  I so would not want to meet that guy in the middle of a dark alley – unless he was there to protect me!  The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle looks awesome!


When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods–and a skrayling ambassador–to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally–and Mal his soul.


In stores March 2012