In what is fast becoming the Book Flood of Summer 2014, even more exciting books have been turning up in the post and as eARCs…
Featuring: Anna Caltabiano, Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston, Richard A. Clarke, James S.A. Corey, Ellen Datlow (ed.), Emma Donohue, Daryl Gregory, Elliott Hall, Doug Hulick, Kameron Hurley, Kendra Leighton, D.J. Molles, Edward St. Aubyns, Liesel Schwarz, Graeme Shimmin, Nalini Singh, James Thornton
Anna Caltabiano, The Seventh Miss Hatfield (Gollancz)
Rebecca, a 15-year-old American, isn’t entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn’t talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Rebecca wasn’t entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.
For Miss Hatfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Rebecca is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.
But before the process goes too far, Rebecca must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world. In order to retrieve the painting, Rebecca must infiltrate a wealthy household, learn more about the head of the family, and find an opportunity to escape. Before her journey is through, she will also have – rather reluctantly – fallen in love. But how can she stay with the boy she cares for, when she must return to her own time before her time-travelling has a fatal effect on her body? And would she rather stay and die in love, or leave and live alone?
And who is the mysterious stranger who shadows her from place to place? A hunter for the secret of immortality – or someone who has already found it?
One of Gollancz’s 2014 debuts, I was very much looking forward to reading this. I’m reading it at the moment and, while interesting and pretty well done, it isn’t really grabbing me… Hopefully it will pick up as I near the end…
Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston, Earth Awakens (Orbit)
Nearly 100 years before the events of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game, humans were just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. No one had seen any sign of other space-faring races; everyone expected that First Contact, if it came, would happen in the future, in the empty reaches between the stars. Then a young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun.
When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications between the far-flung human mining ships and supply stations, and between them and Earth. So Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. But there are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.
This is the third volume in Card & Johnston’s The First Formic War series. Sadly, I haven’t read any of the Ender’s Game-related novels, so I’m not sure I’ll get to this in the immediate future. I will, however, be reading Ender’s Game pretty soon.
Richard A. Clarke, Sting of a Drone (Thomas Dunne)
In Washington, the Kill Committee gathers in the White House’s Situation Room to pick the next targets for the United States drone program. At an airbase just outside Las Vegas, a team of pilots, military personnel and intelligence officers follow through on the committee’s orders, finding the men who have been deemed a threat to national security and sentenced to death. On the other side of the world, in the mountains where the drones hunt their prey, someone has decided to fight back. And not just against the unmanned planes that circle their skies, but against the Americans at home who control them.
I’ve read a fair bit of Clarke’s non-fiction, so I’m curious to see what his fiction is like. Hot topic, drones.
James S.A. Corey, Cibola Burn (Orbit)
The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush has begun. Settlers stream out from humanity’s home planets in a vast, poorly controlled flood, landing on a new world. Among them, the Rocinante, haunted by the vast, posthuman network of the protomolecule as they investigate what destroyed the great intergalactic society that built the gates and the protomolecule.
But Holden and his crew must also contend with the growing tensions between the settlers and the company which owns the official claim to the planet. Both sides will stop at nothing to defend what’s theirs, but soon a terrible disease strikes and only Holden – with help from the ghostly Detective Miller – can find the cure.
I’m so behind on this series… This is the fourth novel in The Expanse series, yet I’ve only managed to read the first one, Leviathan Wakes. It was recently announced that the TV rights for the series have been bought and (possibly) started development. I’d like to catch up, and I’ll do my best to do so.
Ellen Datlow (ed.), Lovecraft’s Monsters (Tachyon)
This deliciously creepy and loving tribute to the master of modern horror features riveting illustrated stories of his wicked progeny.
In the century since the master of horror, H. P. Lovecraft, published his first story, the monstrosities that crawled out of his brain have become legend: the massive, tentacled Cthulhu, who lurks beneath the sea waiting for his moment to rise; the demon Sultan Azathoth, who lies babbling at the center of the universe, mad beyond imagining; the Deep Ones, who come to shore to breed with mortal men; and the unspeakably-evil Hastur, whose very name brings death. These creatures have been the nightmarish fuel for generations of horror writers, and the inspiration for some of their greatest works.
This impressive anthology celebrates Lovecraft’s most famous beasts in all their grotesque glory, with each story a gripping new take on a classic mythos creature and affectionately accompanied by an illuminating illustration. Within these accursed pages something unnatural slouches from the sea into an all-night diner to meet the foolish young woman waiting for him, while the Hounds of Tindalos struggle to survive trapped in human bodies, haunting pool halls for men they can lure into the dark. Strange, haunting, and undeniably monstrous, this is Lovecraft as you have never seen him before.
Sounds like an interesting anthology.
Emma Donohue, Frog Music (Picador)
Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice – if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.
In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boom town like no other.
Some of my own research touched upon Chinese immigration into San Francisco during this period, so I thought the novel sounded quite interesting.
Daryl Gregory, We Are All Completely Fine (Tachyon)
Harrison was the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties, and spends most of his time popping pills and not sleeping. Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by unreadable messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. Martin never takes off his sunglasses. Never.
No one believes the extent of their horrific tales, not until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these seemingly-insane outcasts form a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within – and which are lurking in plain sight.
I’m a big fan of Gregory’s writing – especially his latest novel, Afterparty (Tor in the US, Titan in the UK). This is very high on my TBR list.
Elliott Hall, The First Stone (John Murray)
Private eye Felix Strange doesn’t work homicide cases. He saw enough dead bodies fighting in Iran, a war that left him with a crippling disease that has no name and no cure. So when Strange is summoned to a Manhattan hotel room to investigate the dead body of America’s most-loved preacher, he’d rather not get involved.
Strange has a week to find the killer, and even less time to get the black-market medicine he needs to stay alive. In an America where biblical prophecy is foreign policy, Strange knows that his hiring is no accident. He can’t see all the angles, and he knows he’s being watched. In a race against time Strange must face religious police, organized crime and a dame with very particular ideas, while uncovering a conspiracy that reaches the very heart of his newly fundamentalist nation.
This is the June title for the Hodderscape Review Project, for which I am shamefully behind on my reading. Shamefully! In fact, there may not be a Cone of Shame large enough to encompass my lackadaisical approach… This is by no means do to a lack of interest in the titles I’ve received (indeed, this one sounds really interesting, and definitely up my street). I’ll be getting to this hopefully very soon, after I get my review of Speed of Dark ready. The First Stone is the first in a trilogy, so hopefully I’ll like this one and have more to read! The rest of the series includes The Fall (a prequel short story), The Rapture and The Children’s Crusade. I just bought the prequel, so I’ll slot that in before starting this.
Doug Hulick, Sworn in Steel (Tor)
It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend, burned down a portion of the imperial capital, and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the criminal elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince in the underworld, he’s learning just how good he used to have it.
With barely the beginnings of an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one dies, all signs point to Drothe as wielding the knife. As members of the Kin begin choosing sides – mostly against him – for what looks to be another impending war, Drothe is approached by a man who not only has the solution to Drothe’s most pressing problem, but an offer of redemption. The only problem is the offer isn’t for him.
Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire’s long-standing enemy, with an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out, fast…
Loved the first book, very glad this one has finally arrived!
Also on CR: Interview with Doug Hulick
Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire (Angry Robot)
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.
As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
I’ve mentioned this before on the blog. Will get to it pretty soon.
Also on CR: Guest Post by Kameron Hurley
Kendra Leighton, Glimpse (Much-In-Little)
I’ve mentioned this novel a few times on the blog, recently. It sounds really interesting. The publicity material makes a big deal out of the fact that the novel is inspired by Alfred Noyes’s The Highwayman. Before reading the synopsis for this novel, I had never heard of that story, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to comment on that aspect, when I get around to reviewing this. I recently sent interview questions to Kendra, so expect that to go up mid-June. [Full disclosure: Kendra and I are friends from undergrad.]
D.J. Molles, The Remaining (Orbit)
In a steel-and-lead encased bunker a Special Forces soldier wait on his final orders.
On the surface a bacterium has turned 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators.
Now Captain Lee Harden must leave the bunker and venture into the wasteland to rekindle a shattered America.
I do like post-apocalyptic novels. This was a self-published success before Orbit picked up the series. Hopeful it’ll be entertaining, and better than the Ex-Heroes series, which was another move-to-big-publisher zombie series that I… did not like much. This printed edition also includes the novella, “An Empty Soul” (not, as the back cover copy suggests, “Faith”).
Edward St. Aubyns, Lost For Words (Picador)
The judges on the panel of the Elysian Prize for Literature must get through hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year. Meanwhile, a host of writers are desperate for Elysian attention: the brilliant writer and serial heartbreaker Katherine Burns; the lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black; and Bunjee, convinced that his magnum opus,The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm. Things go terribly wrong when Katherine’s publisher accidentally submits a cookery book in place of her novel; one of the judges finds himself in the middle of a scandal; and Bunjee, aghast to learn his book isn’t on the short list, seeks revenge.
Lost for Words is a witty, fabulously entertaining satire that cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and asks how we can ever hope to recognize real talent when everyone has an agenda.
I’m almost finished, actually. It’s pretty good, too. Imagine everything you don’t like about publishing, literary society, and the most annoying denizens that inhabit it. Then make fun of them in a clever, wry manner. Short review coming soon (it doesn’t need a long one).
Liesel Schwartz, A Clockwork Heart & Sky Pirates (Del Rey UK)
FOR BETTER OR CURSE. That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.
As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle – who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay – Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart… literally.
In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device – a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.
I met Liesel Schwartz at a signing for her debut novel (the first in this series). Sadly, I haven’t got around to reading that novel, yet… Sigh. So many books, so very little time to get through them all…
Also on CR: Interview with Liesel Schwarz
Graeme Shimmin, A Kill In The Morning (Bantam Press)
“I don’t like killing, but I’m good at it. Murder isn’t so bad from a distance, just shapes in my scope. Close up work though, the garrotte around the neck, the knife in the heart, it’s not for me. Too much empathy, that’s my problem. Usually. But not today. Today is different…”
The year is 1955 and something is very wrong with the world: Churchill is dead and WW2 didn’t happen. Europe is in thrall to a nuclear-armed Nazi Germany. Only Britain and its Empire holds out, bound by an uneasy truce and all the while German scientists are experimenting with terrifying forces beyond their understanding – forces that are driving them to the brink of insanity and beyond.
Berlin is a hotbed of suspicion and betrayal – a lone British assassin is fighting a private war with the Nazis; the Gestapo are on the trail of a beautiful young resistance fighter and the head of the SS plots to dispose of an increasingly decrepit Adolf Hitler and become Fuhrer. While in London, a sinister and treacherous cabal will stop at nothing to conceal the conspiracy of the century.
Four desperate scenarios that are destined to collide with catastrophic effect. And it all hinges on a single kill in the morning…
Never heard of this before it arrived in the mail. Sounds kind of interesting, too.
Nalini Singh, Shield of Winter (Gollancz)
Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch – if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.
For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…
Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption.
But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…
I’ve never read anything by Nalini Singh, although I’ve only heard very good things. One thing I’m not sure about, though, is if this novel can be read without prior knowledge? If not, then I’ll hopefully give it a try pretty soon. If yes, then…
James Thornton, Sphinx: The Second Coming (Barbican Press)
SPHINX: THE SECOND COMING delves into the powers of the Ancient Gods of Egypt, and conjures them into a thrilling science fiction adventure. The Sphinx waits. Methane bubbles beneath the ocean’s beds. Catastrophe is coming. A team of westerners is set to unlock a code found deep in the fabric of the Great Pyramid. The puzzle goes beyond time – for secrets of Ancient Egypt are alive beneath modern Cairo. The puzzle stretches into the universe, where the ruling powers on distant galaxies stay alert for the future of planet Earth. This is visionary storytelling of the highest order that takes you deep into the mysteries of Egypt, and the wildest reaches of the imagination.
Thornton seems to be a pretty accomplished fellow – especially in the realms of environmental protection and policy. Whether or not that will translate into a skill at penning gripping adventure stories…? We’ll just have to see. It sounds interesting – a bit like Lovegrove’s Pantheon series, perhaps? Maybe less action and war than that, though. Age of Ra meets Da Vinci Code…?