Books Received…

BooksReceived-20140514

Featuring: Kristen Britain, Brian Freeman, Christopher Galt, Nick Harkaway, Snorri Kristjansson, Ursula le Guin, Peter May, Karen Miller, Paul Sussman, Chris Willrich, & graphic novels

BritainK-MirrorSightUKKristen Britain, Mirror Sight (Gollancz)

Magic itself under threat – and the key to saving it lies far in the future…

Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider – a seasoned member of the royal messenger corps whose loyalty and her bravery have already been tested many times. And her final, explosive magical confrontation with Mornhavon the Black should have killed her.

But rather than finding death, and peace, Karigan wakes to a darkness deeper than night. The explosion has transported her somewhere – and into a sealed stone sarcophagus – and now she must escape, somehow, before the thinning air runs out and her mysterious tomb becomes her grave.

Where is she? Does a trap, laid by Mornhavon, lie beyond her prison? And if she can escape, will she find the world beyond the same – or has the magic taken her out of reach of her friends, home and King forever…?

That’s a nice cover. In fact, Gollancz have commissioned great covers for all of Britain’s novels. None of which, sadly, I have read… I’m not entirely sure if this is connected to her previous novels. It sounds interesting, but also not quite my preferred fantasy sub-genre. I may give it a try, but I’m afraid it’s not too high on my priority list. (If someone else would like to review it for CR, just get in touch.)

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FreemanB-CB2-SeasonOfFearUKBrian Freeman, Season of Fear (Quercus)

Lake Wales, Central Florida. Ten years ago, a political fundraiser became a bloodbath when a hooded assassin carried out a savage public execution. Three men were massacred, casting a dark shadow over the Sunshine State.

A decade on, history is threatening to repeat itself. The widow of one victim, herself now running for governor, has received an anonymous threat – a newspaper clipping from that fateful day, along with the chilling words “I’m back.”

Florida detective Cab Bolton agrees to investigate the threat against this candidate, Diane Fairmont: an attractive politician who has a complicated history with Cab’s mother, Hollywood actress Tarla Bolton – and with Cab himself.

But by doing so, Cab is entering dangerous waters. Fairmont’s political party is itself swamped in secrecy – a fact that, unknown to Cab, has led one of its junior staff to start asking very sensitive questions about the death of a party employee.

Both Cab and this young researcher, Peach Piper, are digging up the kind of dirt that ten years can’t wash away. And as the powerful crosswinds of state politics swirl around Cab and Peach, and the threat of a tropical storm hangs over Florida, this whirlwind of pressure and chaos will ultimately unearth a poisonous conspiracy, and reawaken a killer who has lain dormant for a decade.

It’s been quite a while since I last read a novel by Brian Freeman (I read his debut and maybe a couple of others after that, but I forget). This sounded interesting, so I was rather glad to get it through NetGalley. Season of Fear is the sequel to The Bone House, and is published at the end of June 2014.

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untitledChristopher Galt, Biblical (Quercus)

An apocalyptic thriller on an epic scale that will make you question your own reality.

All around the world, people start to see things that aren’t there, that cannot be. Visions, ghosts, events from the past playing out in the present.

To start with, the visions are unremarkable: things misplaced in time and caught out of the corner of the eye; glimpses of long-dead family or friends. But, as time goes on, the visions become more sustained, more vivid, more widespread. More terrifying.

As the visions become truly apocalyptic, some turn to religion, others to science.

Only one man, driven by personal as well as professional reasons, is capable of finding the real truth. But the truth that psychiatrist John Macbeth uncovers is much, much bigger than either religion or science.

A truth so big it could cost him his sanity. And his life.

This just sounds pretty interesting. Hopefully soon. It is already out, too.

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Harkaway-TigermanNick Harkaway, Tigerman ()

Lester Ferris, sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. He’s spent a lot of his life being shot at, and Afghanistan was the last stop on his road to exhaustion. He has no family, he’s nearly forty and burned out and about to be retired.

The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It’s a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution – a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centres. None of which should be a problem, because Lester’s brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye.

But Lester Ferris has made a friend: a brilliant, Internet-addled street kid with a comic-book fixation who will need a home when the island dies – who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. Now, as Mancreu’s small society tumbles into violence, the boy needs Lester to be more than just an observer.

In the name of paternal love, Lester Ferris will do almost anything. And he’s a soldier with a knack for bad places: “almost anything” could be a very great deal – even becoming some sort of hero. But this is Mancreu, and everything here is upside down. Just exactly what sort of hero will the boy need?

I’ve had rather mixed experiences with reading Harkaway’s fiction. He is undoudtedly talented, and can certain spin a fantastic yarn and phrase. It hasn’t always worked for me, but this novel I have very high hopes for. The premise just sounds really interesting. This is very high on my TBR mountain. Tigerman is published next week in the UK.

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KristjanssonS-2-BloodWillFollowSnorri Kristjansson, Blood Will Follow (Jo Fletcher Books)

Ulfar Thormodsson and Audun Arngrimsson survived the battle for Stenvik, although at huge cost, for they have suffered much worse than heartbreak. They have lost the very thing that made them human: their mortality.

While Ulfar heads home, looking for the place where he thinks he will be safe, Audun runs south. But both men are about to discover that they cannot run away from themselves. For King Olav has left the conquered town of Stenvik in the hands of his lieutenant so he can journey north, following Valgard in the search for the source of the Vikings’ power.

And all the while older beings watch and wait, biding their time, for there are secrets yet to be discovered…

Vikings! I do like me some vikings. In fact, I’m about to embark on a bit of a vikings kick, so expect the first book in this series, Swords of Good Men, to be featured soon.

Also on CR: Interview with Snorri Kristjansson, Excerpt from Blood Will Follow

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LeGuinUK-Unreal&Real-Vol.1-WhereOnEarthUrsula Le Guin, The Unreal and the Real (Gollancz)

The first volume of collected short stories by multiple award-winner Ursula K. Le Guin, selected by the author herself.

For over half a century, multiple award-winner Ursula K. Le Guin’s stories have shaped the way her readers see the world. Her work gives voice to the voiceless, hope to the outsider and speaks truth to power. Le Guin’s writing is witty, wise, both sly and forthright; she is a master craftswoman.

This two-volume selection of almost forty stories was made by Ursula Le Guin herself. The two volumes span the spectrum of fiction from realism through magical realism, satire, science fiction, surrealism, and fantasy.

WHERE ON EARTH focuses on Ursula Le Guin’s interest in realism and magic realism and includes 18 of her satirical, political and experimental earthbound stories. Highlights include World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winner “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight”, the rarely reprinted satirical short, “The Lost Children”, Jupiter Award-winner, “The Diary of the Rose” and the title story of her Pulitzer Prize finalist collection “Unlocking the Air”.

Sad to say, I haven’t read nearly enough of Le Guin’s work. This collection does look like a perfect introduction, though. Will probably read this over time, sprinkling parts of it between full-length novels.

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MayP-EF2-TheCriticPeter May, The Critic (Quercus)

GAILLAC, SOUTH-WEST FRANCE

A bottled-up secret

Gil Petty, America’s most celebrated wine critic, is found strung up in a vineyard, dressed in the ceremonial robes of the Order of the Divine Bottle and pickled in wine.

A code to crack

For forensic expert Enzo Macleod, the key to this unsolved murder lies in decoding Petty’s mysterious reviews – which could make or break a vineyard’s reputation.

A danger unleashed

Enzo finds that beneath the tranquil façade of French viticulture lurks a back-stabbing community riddled with rivalry – and someone who is ready to stop him even if they have to kill again.

The second novel featuring Enzo, and one I can’t wait to get around to.

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MillerK-1-TheFalconThroneKaren Miller, The Falcon Throne (Orbit)

NOBODY IS INNOCENT. EVERY CROWN IS TARNISHED.

A royal child, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father’s stolen throne.

A bastard lord, uprising against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.

A duke’s widow, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who’d control them both.

And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.

All of this will come to pass, and the only certainty is that nothing will remain as it once was. As royal houses rise and fall, empires are reborn and friends become enemies, it becomes clear that much will be demanded of those who follow the path to power.

The start of a new series. Will hopefully get to this pretty soon. Sounds great.

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SussmanP-FinalTestimonyRaphaelIgnatiusPhoenixPaul Sussman, The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix (Doubleday)

“My name is Raphael Ignatius Phoenix and I am a hundred years old – or will be in ten days’ time, in the early hours of January 1st, 2000, when I kill myself…”

Raphael Ignatius Phoenix has had enough. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, he is determined to take his own life as the old millennium ends and the new one begins. But before he ends it all, he wants to get his affairs in order and put the record straight, and that includes making sense of his own long life – a life that spanned the century. He decides to write it all down and, eschewing the more usual method of pen and paper, begins to record his story on the walls of the isolated castle that is his final home. Beginning with a fateful first adventure with Emily, the childhood friend who would become his constant companion, Raphael remembers the multitude of experiences, the myriad encounters and, of course, the ten murders he committed along the way…

And so begins one man’s wholly unorthodox account of the twentieth century – or certainly his own riotous, often outrageous, somewhat unreliable and undoubtedly singular interpretation of it.

I had never heard of this novel, before it arrived this morning. Sussman also wrote a handful of international thrillers (e.g., The Lost Army of Cambyses and The Last Secret of the Temple). This is his final novel, though, as he sadly passed away in 2012. It sounds pretty interesting, too. Hopefully get to this soon. (I should probably be banned from writing that statement…) This novel is published on May 22nd in the UK.

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WillrichC-G&B2-SilkMapChris Willrich, The Silk Map (Pyr)

At the end of The Scroll of Years, the poet Persimmon Gaunt and her husband, the thief Imago Bone, had saved their child from evil forces at the price of trapping him within a pocket dimension. Now they will attempt what seems impossible; they will seek a way to recover their son. Allied with Snow Pine, a scrappy bandit who’s also lost her child to the Scroll of Years, Gaunt and Bone awaken the Great Sage, a monkeylike demigod of the East, currently trapped by vaster powers beneath a mountain. The Sage knows of a way to reach the Scroll – but there is a price. The three must seek the world’s greatest treasure and bring it back to him. They must find the worms of the alien Iron Moths, whose cocoons produce the wondrous material ironsilk.

And so the rogues join a grand contest waged along three thousand miles of dangerous and alluring trade routes between East and West. For many parties have simultaneously uncovered fragments of the Silk Map, a document pointing the way toward a nest of the Iron Moths. Our heroes tangle with Western treasure hunters, a blind mystic warrior and his homicidal magic carpet, a nomad princess determined to rebuild her father’s empire, and a secret society obsessed with guarding the lost paradise where the Moths are found – even if paradise must be protected by murder.

This is the second novel in the Gaunt & Bone fantasy series. Not sure how I managed to miss the first, as both of these novels sound really interesting – their Middle Eastern/Asian-influenced setting also sounds like it would make a very welcome change. I’ll have to hunt down a copy of The Scroll of Years before diving into this one, but I do hope to do so ASAP.

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Graphic Novels

CoffinHill-Vol.01Coffin Hill, Vol.1 – “Forest of the Night” (Vertigo)

Following a night of sex, drugs and witchcraft in the woods, Eve Coffin wakes up naked, covered in blood and unable to remember how she got there. One friend is missing, one is in a mental ward-and one knows that Eve is responsible.

Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed ten years ago in the woods was never contained. It continues to seep through the town, cursing the soul of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow, spilling secrets and enacting its revenge.

Set against the haunted backdrop of New England, COFFIN HILL explores what people will do for power and retribution. Noted novelist Caitlin Kittredge, author of the Black London series, brings a smart, mesmerizing style to comics. Artist Inaki Miranda (FABLES) brings his dynamic storytelling to COFFIN HILL, following an acclaimed run on FAIREST.

Collects: Coffin Hill #1-7

Heard a lot of great things about this series, not to mention really liking Inaki Miranda’s artwork from Fairest. Have very high expectations for this. Let’s hope they’re met!

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Superman-Vol.04-PsiWarSuperman, Vol.4 – “Psi War” (DC New 52)

Writer: Scott Lobdell | Art: Kenneth Rocafort & Aaron Kuder

The Queen of H.I.V.E. (Holistically Intergrated Viral Equality) has placed the telepathic Dr. Hector Hammond’s thoughts deep into the recesses of Superman’s mind in an effort to control the Man of Steel. The merging of Hammond and the Superman’s minds brings about vivid hallucinations that cause Superman to experience different realities and view longtime allies as potential threats.

With the Man of Steel unable to tell what is real and what is a hallucination, it is up to Orion of the New Gods and Wonder Woman to release the H.I.V.E.’s grip on Superman and save the universe from succumbing to power of the H.I.V.E.

Collects: Superman #18-24, Annual #2

I do like a good Superman tale. The New 52 run on the series has been a bit hit-and-miss (sadly, more miss than hit). I enjoyed the first story arc, which doesn’t appear to have been as popular among the wider readership. Lobdell’s done a decent job on the series, though, so I’m interested to see how this rather-weird-sounding tale shapes up.

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Books Received (End of April/Beginning of May)…

BooksReceived-20140502

Featuring: Jim Butcher, Trudi Canavan, Stephen Hunt, Kameron Hurley, Richard Kadrey, Stephen King, Shane Kuhn, Mark Lawrence, Sarah Lotz, Elizabeth Moon, & Graphic Novels

Butcher-DF-SkinGameUKJim Butcher, Skin Game (Orbit)

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. As Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

This time, it’s worse than that. Mab’s involved Harry in a smash-and-grab heist run by one of his most despised enemies, to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure horde in the world – which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess – assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…

A series that seems to be going from strength to strength with each new novel. And yet, I’m now so far behind, I have no idea when I’ll get around to reading this. Thankfully, a friend loves this series, and will hopefully review it for the blog.

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CanavanT-1-ThiefsMagicTrudi Canavan, Thief’s Magic (Orbit)

In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.

Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it – should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath.

But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands.

Not even the people they trust.

This is the first in a new series from Trudi Canavan, an author I have always wanted to read, but never got around to. Partly, this is because I always seem to find middle-series titles, and promptly forget to pick up series openeres. Now, though, I have this, so I shall do my damnedest to get it read! It sounds pretty cool, too. It is published in the UK on May 15th.

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HuntS-FCS1-InDarkServiceUKStephen Hunt, In Dark Service (Gollancz)

Carter has been kidnapped. Enslaved. But he’s determined to fight to the end.

Jacob is a pacifist. His family destroyed. He’s about to choose the path of violence to reclaim his son.

Their world has changed for ever. Between them, they’re going to avenge it.

Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He’s living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter… on those occasions when he isn’t having to bail him out of one scrape or another. His days of adventure are – thankfully – long behind him.

Carter Carnehan is going out of his mind with boredom. He’s bored by his humdrum life, frustrated that his father won’t live a little, and longs for the bright lights and excitement of anywhere-but-here. He’s longing for an opportunity to escape, and test himself against whatever the world has to offer.

Carter is going to get his opportunity. He’s caught up in a village fight, kidnapped by slavers and, before he knows it, is swept to another land. A lowly slave, surrounded by technology he doesn’t understand, his wish has come true: it’s him vs. the world. He can try to escape, he can try to lead his fellow slaves, or he can accept the inevitable and try to make the most of the short, brutal existence remaining to him.

… Unless Jacob gets to him first and, no matter the odds, he intends to. No one kidnaps his son and gets away with it – and if it come to it, he’ll force Kings to help him on his way, he’ll fight, steal, blackmail and betray his friends in the name of bringing Carter home.

Wars will be started. Empires will fall. And the Carnehan family will be reunited, one way or another…

That is one long synopsis (from Gollancz)… This is the first in Hunt’s new series, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to it. As the author’s first with Gollancz, it is included in their £1.99 eBook deal, which includes all of their other 2014 debuts.

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Hurley-InfidelUKKameron Hurley, Infidel (Del Rey UK)

No matter where you go, the Bel Dames will find you

Nyx used to be an assassin, part of the sisterhood of the Bel Dames. Now she’s babysitting diplomats to make ends meet and longs for the days when killing was a lot more honorable. So, when her former “sisters” lead a coup against the government, she‘s the perfect choice to stop them.

In a rotten nation of giant bugs and renegade shape shifters, Nyx must forge unlikely allies and rekindle old acquaintances if she is to survive. Otherwise, this time, the bodies she leaves scattered across the continent may include her own…

It feels like ages since I read God’s War, the critically-acclaimed first novel in Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy. This is the second novel (followed by Rapture), and I hope to read it relatively soon. Infidel was published in the UK on May 1st, 2014.

Also on CR: Guest Post (Gritty vs. Classic/Traditional Heroes); Review of God’s War

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Kadrey-6-GetawayGodUSRichard Kadrey, The Getaway God (Voyager)

??

Sandman Slim must save himself – and the entire world – from the wrath of some enraged and vengeful ancient gods…

Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude – not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer – James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil – the Wildfire Ripper – is stalking the city.

No ordinary killer, The Ripper takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He’s also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. The trouble is, he’s also Stark’s worst enemy… the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice.

The sixth Sandman Slim novel! Can’t wait to get stuck in!

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Kadrey-MetrophageUS2014Richard Kadrey, Metrophage (Voyager)

Welcome to the near future: Los Angeles in the late 21st century – a segregated city of haves and have nots, where morality is dead and technology rules. Here, a small group of wealthy seclude themselves in gilded cages. Beyond their high security compounds, far from their pretty comforts, lies a lawless wasteland where the angry masses battle hunger, rampant disease, and their own despair to survive.

Jonny was born into this Hobbesian paradise. A street-wise hustler who deals drugs on the black market – narcotics that heal the body and cool the mind – he looks out for nobody but himself. Until a terrifying plague sweeps through L.A., wreaking death and panic. And no one, not even a clever operator like Jonny, is safe.

His own life hanging in the balance, Jonny must risk everything to find the cure – if there is one.

This is the re-issue of Kadrey’s long-out-of-print, 1988 cyberpunk thriller. Having really enjoyed everything else Kadrey’s written, I’m really looking forward to trying Metrophage. It is due to be published in November 2014.

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KingS-DoctorSleepUKStephen King, Doctor Sleep (Hodder)

King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special 12-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep”. Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival…

Last year, I finally read a novel by Stephen King: The Shining. I thought it was very good, and was therefore interested in reading Doctor Sleep (which came out at around the same time). Hopefully won’t be too long until I get around to this.

Also on CR: Review of The Shining

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Kuhn-KillYourBossUKShane Kuhn, Kill Your Boss (Sphere)

A cool, clever and classy Tarantino-esque thriller from a unique new voice in fiction, American screenwriter Shane Kuhn.

If you’re reading this, you’re a new employee at Human Resources, Inc.

Congratulations. And condolences. At the very least, you’re embarking on a career that you will never be able to describe as dull. You’ll go to interesting places. You’ll meet unique and stimulating people from all walks of life. And kill them. You will make a lot of money, but that will mean nothing to you after the first job.

Assassination, no matter how easy it looks in the movies, is the most difficult, stressful, and lonely profession on the planet.

Even when you’re disguised as an intern.

John Lago is a hitman. He has some rules for you. And he’s about to break every single one.

I read the prequel short story to this, Casual Friday [review pending]. It was fun. Not amazing, but certainly amusing and a nice bit of modern-day-assassin escapism. I’m looking forward to giving the full-length novel a try. Kill Your Boss – published as The Intern’s Handbook in the US – is published in July 2014 (the eBook is available already).

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Lawrence-RQW1-PrinceOfFoolsUKMark Lawrence, Prince of Fools (Voyager)

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other.

Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, and dragged against his will to the icy north.

In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice.

Experience does not lend Jalan wisdom; but here and there he unearths a corner of the truth. He discovers that they are all pieces on a board, pieces that may be being played in the long, secret war the Red Queen has waged throughout her reign, against the powers that stand behind thrones and nations, and for higher stakes than land or gold.

The start of a new trilogy by Mark Lawrence, the author of the superb Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns. This is set in the same world as his first trilogy. Prince of Fools is due to be published in the UK on June 5th, 2014.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Lawrence; Reviews of Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns

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LotzS-TheThreeSarah Lotz, The Three (Hodder)

“They’re here… The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there’s so many… They’re coming for me now. We’re all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he’s not to—” – The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961-2012)

Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.

There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world.

The message is a warning.

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this. It is easily one of my favourite books of the year so far, and even one of my favourite in the past five-to-ten years, too. This is brilliant. At the risk of creating over-hyped expectations, this is a superb novel. A lot of my fellow reviewers have also praised the novel, so don’t just take my word for it. The Three will be published in the UK on May 22nd.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Lotz

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Moon-PL5-CrownOfRenewalUKElizabeth Moon, Crown of Renewal (Orbit)

Eight kingdoms in danger, an enemy that cannot die…

Count Jeddrin has received a grisly message. His son, Filis, is dead, brutally killed by Alured the Black – the first move in his plan to take the eight kingdoms.

But Filis managed to send his own message, telling of the dark forces that control Alured, warning of something more than human behind the man’s eyes…

Meanwhile, Dorrin Verrakai, last of a long line of magelords, must forever leave the home she loves in order to protect powerful magic relics created by her ancestors. For their power is desired both by Alured, and by the dark elves infesting the kingdoms. Searching for answers, her friend and King, Kieri, considers waking the magelords from their ancient slumber…

This is the fifth novel in Moon’s epic fantasy saga, Paladin’s Legacy. I’m quite sad to report that I have never read anything by the author – despite being friends with her agent in New York. In fact, I had a nice, long chat once with him about his favourite Moon novel. I really need to get my butt in gear and read her work – I’ll probably start with a stand-alone, though – Speed of Dark or Remnant Populations, I expect.

Spookily…

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Moon-SpeedOfDarkElizabeth Moon, Speed of Dark (Orbit)

Lou is different to ‘normal’ people. He interacts with the world in a way they do not understand. He might not see the things they see, however, but he also sees many things they do not. Lou is autistic.

One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou’s work. But now they want Lou to change – to become ‘normal’ like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark.

… This arrived the day after I wrote the comment above. (I put these posts together as-and-when the books arrive.) Originally published in 2002, this is one of the modern classics of SF. It arrived as part of the Hodderscape Review Project (something I am unforgivably behind on, for which I apologise profusely), and I’m hoping to read it very soon. Maybe even next, as I haven’t decided yet (I’m experiencing some acute book-funk again…)

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Graphic Novels

Damian-SonOfBatmanDamian: Son of Batman Deluxe Edition (DC)

Damian Wayne, the son of Batman, has adopted the cape and cowl as his own… but what horrific events set this troubled hero on the path of his dark destiny? It’s a possible future that may never be in this epic written and drawn by one of Damian’s co-creators, Andy Kubert!

Plus, in a tale written by Grant Morrison, Damian Wayne is the Batman of Tomorrow in a story set 15 years from now in a nightmarish future Gotham! In a world torn apart by terrorism, plagues, rogue weather and bizarre super-crime, only 24 hours are left before the climactic battle of Armageddon – and only one man who might be able to stop it.

Collects: Damian – Son of Batman #1-4, Batman #666

I’m a fan of pretty much everything Batman-related, so I was happy to get approval for my NetGalley request. Didn’t realise it contained work by Grant Morrison (one of the most over-rated comics writers, in my opinion), but I shall go in with an open mind. Damian: Son of Batman is due to be published on July 29th 2014.

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Trillium-TPB-ArtTrillium (Vertigo)

It’s the year 3797, and botanist Nika Temsmith is researching a strange species on a remote science station near the outermost rim of colonized space.

It’s the year 1921, and renowned English explorer William Pike leads an expedition into the dense jungles of Peru in search of the fabled “Lost Temple of the Incas,” an elusive sanctuary said to have strange healing properties.

Two disparate souls separated by thousands of years and hundreds of millions of miles. Yet they will fall in love and, as a result, bring about the end of the universe. Even though reality is unraveling all around them, nothing can pull them apart. This isn’t just a love story, it’s the LAST love story ever told.

Collects: Trillium #1-8

Written and drawn by Jeff Lemire? Count me in. Heard a lot of great things about this title, so I’m really looking forward to giving it a read. May even start it tonight, if I finish my current book. This isn’t due for publication until August 2014, which makes the review embargo until release date a little annoying… (And inexplicable, given that plenty of people will have reviewed the component issues – either individually or as a bunch.)

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Unwritten-Vol.9The Unwritten, Vol.9 – The Unwritten Fables (Vertigo)

The worlds of THE UNWRITTEN and FABLES collide in the epic comic event by Mike Carey and Bill Willingham!

Tommy Taylor is thrust into the world of Vertigo’s hit series Fables! But a dark and terrible foe has seized the fairy-tale homelands and our world. In desperation, the witches of Fabletown gather to summon the greatest mage the worlds have ever seen. But they are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Collects: The Unwritten #50-55

I have a bit of catching up to do before I can read this, but I have been loving The Unwritten so far (on volume six at the moment), and have really enjoyed the first five Deluxe editions of Fables. This is one crossover I am eager to get around to reading! Also not out until August 2014.

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Recently Received Titles…

BooksReceived-201404-01

Featuring: Anne Bishop, Carole K. Carr, Joël Dicker, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff, Mark Millar, Gary Meehan, Isla Morley, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, Tom Rachman, Samantha Shannon, Joel Shepherd, F.R. Tallis, David Wingrove

Bishop-BJ2-HeirToTheShadowsUKAnne Bishop, Heir to the Shadow (Jo Fletcher Books)

Witch – the Queen who would bring freedom to the realms – has come, but now she is lost in darkness, and has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

While her adopted father, Saeten, waits for her to return to the living world, the third side of the triangle needed to complete the prophecy – the lover, Daemon – walks in the Twisted Kingdom on the edge of madness.

As insidious whispers and dark schemes ferment treachery and betrayal, Jaenelle must make a choice: to protect those she loves, she must be more than an heir, she must become a Queen.

The second novel in Bishop’s Black Jewel trilogy, available in the UK for the first time (as a non-import).

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Carole K. Carr, India Black & India Black and the Widow of Windsor (Titan Books)

CarrCK-IndiaBlack1and2UK

When Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, Madam India Black is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.

Blackmailed into recovering the missing documents by the British spy known as French, India finds herself dodging Russian agents, seducing spies and embarking on midnight sleigh rides, not to mention ignoring the attraction she starts to feel for her handsome and exasperating British co-conspirator.

These are the first two novels in Carr’s A Madam of Espionage series (of four, with also a couple of short stories). I am quite intrigued by the series, as it looks both fun and different to what I normally read.

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DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffairUKJoël Dicker, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (MacLehose Press)

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day a small New Hampshire town lost its innocence.

That summer Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard along with a manuscript copy of his career-defining novel. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon blur together. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of “The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America”. But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

This is one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’ll be reading it next-but-one (it’s always dependent on my mood, as long-time readers will know). Because before that, I’ll be reading (and have actually already started)…

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HarrisC-MT1-MidnightCrossroadUKCharlaine Harris, Midnight Crossroad (Gollancz)

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (where someone lives in the basement and runs the store during the night). There’s a diner (although those folk who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident: Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

If you stop at the one traffic light in town, then everything looks normal. But if you stay a while, you might learn the truth…

The start of a brand new urban fantasy series from mega-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series. This will actually be my first read by Harris, and I will be starting it within a couple days.

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HuffT-C4-ValoursTrialUKTanya Huff, Valour’s Trial (Titan)

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is a Confederation Marines marine. She’s survived more deadly encounters and kept more of her officers and enlistees alive than anyone in the Corps. Unexpectedly pulled from battle, Torin finds herself in an underground POW camp that shouldn’t exist, where her fellow marine prisoners seem to have lost all will to escape. Now, Torin must fight her way not only out of the prison but also past the growing compulsion to sit down and give up not realizing that her escape could mean the end of the war.

This is the fourth novel in Huff’s Confederation series – an ass-kicking military sci-fi series. It’s been available in the States for some time, but Titan have been releasing the series over the course of the past couple of years in the UK – and I’m very happy they did!

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SecretService-KingsmanMark Millar, Secret Service: Kingsman (Titan Comics)

The world’s greatest secret agent is on the most exciting case of his career. But will the end of the world as we know it take a back seat to training his street-punk nephew to be the next James Bond?

Meanwhile, what’s the secret link between a series of kidnapped sci-fi stars, the murder of an entire town, and a dark secret from inside Mount Everest? Under Uncle Jack’s supervision, Gary’s spy skills and confidence blossom – but when the duo learn what’s behind the celebrity kidnappings, the knowledge comes at a price. The conspiracy begins to unravel, but who can be trusted when so many prominent figures seem to be involved?

I read the first issue of Secret Service when it first came out in the US. It was pretty good. I don’t really know why I didn’t keep reading it… Well, now I have the opportunity to get the whole story.

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MeehanG-TrueFireGary Meehan, True Fire (Quercus)

Sixteen-year-old Megan is pregnant.

As she prepares to tell her family, the unthinkable happens. Her village is razed by soldiers: her grandfather murdered, her twin sister taken.

On a desperate mission to rescue her beloved Gwyneth, Megan discovers a terrifying truth – that the destruction of her old life is inextricably linked to her unborn child. The feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfilment of a prophecy: one that will put Megan and her new friends – Eleanor, a fiery ex-aristocrat, and Damon, a wayward charmer – at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever known.

This could be interesting. Not sure how quickly I’ll get around to it, but I do hope to read this relatively soon.

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MorleyI-AboveIsla Morley, Above (Two Roads)

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in – the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice – between survival and freedom.

Never heard anything about this book or author, before it arrived in the mail. Guess I’ll just have to dive in, see what I find…

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PratchettBaxter-TheLongWarTerry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, The Long War (Transworld)

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind… A new “America”, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth – and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government…

Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation… Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.

The second volume in Pratchett and Baxter’s shared science fiction series, The Long Earth. I haven’t read the first in the series, but I’m willing to give the series a try.

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RachmanT-Rise&FallOfGreatPowersTom Rachman, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (Sceptre)

Tooly Zylberberg, the American owner of an isolated bookshop in the Welsh countryside, conducts a life full of reading, but with few human beings. Books are safer than people, who might ask awkward questions about her life. She prefers never to mention the strange events of her youth, which mystify and worry her still.

Taken from home as a girl, Tooly found herself spirited away by a group of seductive outsiders, implicated in capers from Asia to Europe to the United States. But who were her abductors? Why did they take her? What did they really want? There was Humphrey, the curmudgeonly Russian with a passion for reading; there was the charming but tempestuous Sarah, who sowed chaos in her wake; and there was Venn, the charismatic leader whose worldview transformed Tooly forever. Until, quite suddenly, he disappeared.

Years later, Tooly believes she will never understand the true story of her own life. Then startling news arrives from a long-lost boyfriend in New York, raising old mysteries and propelling her on a quest around the world in search of answers.

I’ve only read one of Rachman’s short stories, but I’m really looking forward to giving this a try.

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ShannonS-BoneSeasonSamantha Shannon, The Bone Season (Bloomsbury)

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city – Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly – as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

I’m hoping to read this pretty soon – I’ve been dragging my feet. I’ve heard mixed things, but I’m going to go in with an open mind.

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ShepherdJ-CK2-OperationShieldUSJoel Shepherd, Shield (Pyr)

Part military SF, part cyberpunk, part grand-scale space opera, and part techno-psychological thriller, the Cassandra Kresnov novels transcend the recently narrow segmentation of the science fiction genre.

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra’s own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

I’ve been aware of Joel Shepherd for a little while, having seen his name and novels mentioned in Pyr’s catalogues and on their website for a while. And yet, for some reason I’ve never picked one up. They seem to be in the same sub-genre of science fiction as Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity series (also published by Pyr in the US, and Gollancz in the UK). This is the second in the series, so I’m not sure how long it will take me to catch up and read the first one before moving on to this. It does sound cool, though…

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SmytheJ-NoHarmCanComeToAGoodManJames Smythe, No Harm Can Come to a Good Man (Borough Press)

How far would you go to save your family from an invisible threat?

ClearVista is used by everyone and can predict anything. It’s a daily lifesaver, predicting weather to traffic to who you should befriend.

Laurence Walker wants to be the next President of the United States. ClearVista will predict his chances. It will predict whether he’s the right man for the job. It will predict that his son can only survive for 102 seconds underwater. It will predict that Laurence’s life is about to collapse in the most unimaginable way.

This has a really intriguing premise. I’ve dipped in already, and am not sure what I think. I’ll come back to it when I’m more in the mood for something along these lines. Hopefully won’t be too long.

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TallisFR-VoicesF.R. Tallis, The Voices (Pan Macmillan)

In the scorching summer of 1976 the hottest since records began Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices. For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime a grand symphony incorporating the voices and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard…

I’ve never read anything by Tallis. Not sure when (or if) I’ll be able to get around to this one, but it does sound interesting.

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Wingrove-1-TheEmpireOfTimeDavid Wingrove, The Empire of Time (Del Rey UK)

There is only the war.

Otto Behr is a German agent, fighting his Russian counterparts across three millennia, manipulating history for moments in time that can change everything.

Only the remnants of two great nations stand and for Otto, the war is life itself, the last hope for his people.

But in a world where realities shift and memory is never constant, nothing is certain, least of all the chance of a future with his Russian love…

Wingrove is the author of the multi-volume Chung Kuo series. I have the first book in that series, but for some reason I just never got around to reading it. This novel has a really intriguing premies, though, so I may get to this far sooner than the author’s previous series.

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Which of these has caught your eye? Any other books you’ve received recently that you’re excited to get started on?

Books Received (November 2013)

BooksReceived-201311

Another impressive book-haul, this month. Also rather varied, too, which is always nice. As per usual, I can’t read them all instantaneously, so here is an initial, first-look at the books that are coming soon to the blog and to bookstores/-shelves near you.

Anon-SagaOfTheVolsungsAnonymous & James L. Byock (trans,), The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin)

Legends from the Ancient North: Five classics of Norse literature that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic vision in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

Legendary fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien spent much of his life studying, translating, and teaching the ancient tales of northern Europe at Oxford and drew on them for his own writing. These epic stories, with their wizards and knights, dragons and trolls, cursed rings and magic swords, are as fascinating today as they were thousands of year ago. Reading them brings us as close as we will ever get to the magical worlds of the Vikings and the origins of their twentieth-century counterpart: Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Based on Viking Age poems and composed in thirteenth-century Iceland,The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend, and sheer human drama in telling of the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer, who acquires runic knowledge from one of Odin’s Valkyries. Yet the saga is set in a very human world, incorporating oral memories of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman empire. In his illuminating introduction Jesse L. Byock links the historical Huns, Burgundians, and Goths with the extraordinary events of this Icelandic saga. With its ill-fated Rhinegold, the sword reforged, and the magic ring of power, the saga resembles the Nibelungenlied and has been a primary source for such fantasy writers as J.R.R. Tolkien and for Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle.

Viking mythology? Love it. Really looking forward to reading this ASAP.

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CarverW-DeadSetWill Carver, Dead Set (Arrow)

Following on from Girl 4 and The Two, Det. Inspector January David is back in a fantastic new thriller.

Detective Inspector January David doesn’t love me.

He loves his missing sister. He loves his job.

But he doesn’t love me. Not in the way he should.

I am his wife. I am still his wife.

And I will do anything for him.

No matter what I have to sacrifice.

A British crime series’ latest instalment heads to New York. I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but I am rather intrigued. I do have a tendency to prefer US-based Thrillers (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned on here many times), so something that straddles both the US and UK? Well, this could be interesting.

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Crilley-T&N2-TheOsirisCursePaul Crilley, The Osiris Curse (Pyr)

Steampunk Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files with a dash of romantic tension and a large dose of adventure.

When Nikola Tesla is murdered and blueprints for his super weapons are stolen, Tweed and Nightingale are drawn into a global cat and mouse chase with his killers. What’s more, it seems that the people who shot Nikola Tesla are the same people responsible for Octavia’s mother’s disappearance. As the two cases intertwine, Tweed and Nightingale’s investigations lead them to a murdered archeologist and a secret society called The Hermetic Order of Set. Fleeing the cult’s wrath, they go undercover on the luxury airship, The Albion, setting out on her maiden voyage to Tutankhamen’s View, a five star hotel built in the hollowed-out and refurbished Great Pyramid of Giza.

In Egypt, the duo begin to unravel the terrible truth behind Tesla’s death, a secret so earth-shattering that if revealed it would mean rewriting the entire history of the world. But if the cult’s plans aren’t stopped, Britain may lose the future.

The second Tweed & Nightingale Adventure. I haven’t been swept up by the steampunk revival. From my (admittedly brief) look at synopses, they do seem to be rather same-y. True, a lot of fantasy and sci-fi novels are also striking me as similar/derivative. I do, however, really like Egyptian mythology and history, so maybe a steampunk-ification of same might be enough to get me hooked? We’ll see.

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Fultz-SevenSorcerersJohn R. Fultz, Seven Sorcerers (Orbit)

The Almighty Zyung drives his massive armies across the world to invade the Land of the Five Cities. So begins the final struggle between freedom and tyranny.

The Southern Kings D’zan and Undutu lead a fleet of warships to meet Zyung’s aerial armada. Vireon the Slayer and Tyro the Sword King lead Men and Giants to defend the free world. So begins the great slaughter of the age…

lardu the Shaper and Sharadza Vodsdaughter must awaken the Old Breed to face Zyung’s legion of sorcerers. So begins a desperate quest beyond the material world into strange realms of magic and mystery.

Yet already it may be too late…

This is the third novel in Fultz’s epic fantasy series, one I have sadly not been able to get around to. Part of this is because I heard very mixed things when the first book (Seven Princes) came out. I am, nevertheless, somewhat interested in giving this a try. I’ll have to dig out my copy of the first book.

Also on CR: Interview with John R. Fultz

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HartC-CastleRock-2014Carolyn Hart, Castle Rock (Seventh Street)

A young woman is convinced she’s living with a murderer among family members, lodgers, and ranch hands in New Mexico.

Serena Mallory came to the huge New Mexico ranch of Castle Rock as a twelve-year-old orphan. She grew up as the ward of owner Dan McIntire. Now in her early twenties, Serena watches the ranch’s idyllic summer charm disappear when Dan dies in a riding accident. The night before his accident, she overheard him arguing with someone, and since his death, a series of strange accidents has plagued the ranch. Convinced that Dan’s accident was anything but, Serena sets out to find the guilty party.

The latest re-issue from Seventh Street Books. Hart’s novels are all well-crafted, enjoyable, and pretty quick reads. Seventh Street Books, an imprint of Prometheus (who also own Pyr), have been doing a wonderful job of re-issuing classic crime and thriller novels, alongside a roster of new authors as well. If you haven’t checked any of their books out yet, I would strongly recommend you do.

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HelmreichWB-NewYorkNobodyKnowsWilliam B. Helmreich, The New York Nobody Knows (Princeton University Press)

As a kid growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father they called “Last Stop.” They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever.

Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs–an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch. Their stories and his are the subject of this captivating and highly original book.

We meet the Guyanese immigrant who grows beautiful flowers outside his modest Queens residence in order to always remember the homeland he left behind, the Brooklyn-raised grandchild of Italian immigrants who illuminates a window of his brownstone with the family’s old neon grocery-store sign, and many, many others. Helmreich draws on firsthand insights to examine essential aspects of urban social life such as ethnicity, gentrification, and the use of space. He finds that to be a New Yorker is to struggle to understand the place and to make a life that is as highly local as it is dynamically cosmopolitan.

It’s no secret how much I love New York City. I have lived there three times, and I wish I could move there semi-permanently. After reading (and loving) Sudhir Venkatesh’s Floating City, I was really interested in reading more books about the city. Luckily, Princeton University Press offered this one. I’ll be starting it as soon as I finish The Bully Pulpit (another superb history book from Doris Kearns Goodwin).

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Tanya Huff, Valour’s Choice & The Better Part of Valour (Titan Books)

HuffT-Confederation1&2

VC: In the distant future, humans and several other races have been granted membership in the Confederation – at a price. They must act as soldier/protectors of the far more civilized races who have long since turned away from war…

BPoV: Best known for her Quarters series and vampire novels, Tanya Huff stunned critics and fans with Valour’s Choice, her first military science fiction novel. This thrilling sequel follows the Confederation’s investigation of a seemingly abandoned alien spaceship.

I’ve only recently mentioned these two novels on the blog (in Upcoming posts). They look, on the surface, like great, fun military sci-fi novels – must-reads for fans of Jack Campbell, Rachel Bach and many others. I do like that the genre is starting to get more attention in the UK, and Titan Books in particular have been releasing some of the best available. Hopefully, other publishers will get in on the act, too, and bring some more of the great authors writing in the sub-genre to our shores.

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HuffT-TheSilveredTanya Huff, The Silvered (Titan Books)

The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen — she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader — to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. But with every step the odds against their survival, let alone their success, grow steeper…

Fantasy, Werewolves, and a dash of Steampunk? That sounds pretty cool… True, as I mentioned above, I’m not the largest steampunk fan. But, given how well-received this novel has been, not to mention how great Huff is as an author, I’m really looking forward to diving into this one.

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Lloyd-1-MoonsArtificeTom Lloyd, Moon’s Artifice (Gollancz)

In a quiet corner of the Imperial City, Investigator Narin discovers the result of his first potentially lethal mistake. Minutes later he makes a second.

After an unremarkable career Narin finally has the chance of promotion to the hallowed ranks of the Lawbringers – guardians of the Emperor’s laws and bastions for justice in a world of brutal expediency. Joining that honoured body would be the culmination of a lifelong dream, but it couldn’t possibly have come at a worse time. A chance encounter drags Narin into a plot of gods and monsters, spies and assassins, accompanied by a grief-stricken young woman, an old man haunted by the ghosts of his past and an assassin with no past.

On the cusp of an industrial age that threatens the warrior caste’s rule, the Empire of a Hundred Houses awaits civil war between noble factions. Centuries of conquest has made the empire a brittle and bloated monster; constrained by tradition and crying out for change. To save his own life and those of untold thousands Narin must understand the key to it all – Moon’s Artifice, the poison that could destroy an empire.

Tom Lloyd. The fantasy author who hasn’t received nearly as much attention on CR as he deserves. With the start of this new series, though, I really have no excuse not to get in early. Hopefully very soon. (Oh, I’ve said that a lot, recently…)

Also on CR: Interview with Tom Lloyd, Catch-Up Interview,
Guest Post (on Terry Pratchett)

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untitledDavid Logan, The League of Sharks (Quercus)

In a world where humans have disappeared, sharkmen are the ultimate predators.

Junk’s sister has been stolen.

Snatched from her bed in the dead of night, Ambeline doesn’t stand a chance. No one believes Junk saw a monster take his sister. No one believes he’s not to blame.

So begins Junk’s quest to find Ambeline’s kidnapper. His journey will take him to a future world where animal species have evolved, and where the cult of the League of Sharks – the cult that stole Junk’s sister – is etched into folklore…

The publisher offered this to me, and I was rather confused by the premise. So I said sure, I’ll take a look. Still not 100% sure what to expect from it, but it’s a YA novel that isn’t too long, so I may read this in between Big Book Fantasies, or if I need a genre-palette-cleanser. The publicity materials make a big deal about his previous novel, but I must admit I’d never heard of him before this came onto my radar.

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Olson-AdventureTimeEncyclopaediaMartin Olson, The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia (Titan Books)

Written by the Lord of Evil Himself, Hunson Abadeer (a.k.a. Marceline the Vampire Queen’s dad), to instruct and confound the demonic citizenry of the Nightosphere, The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia is perhaps the most dangerous book in history. Although seemingly a guidebook to the Land of Ooo and its postapocalyptic inhabitants, it is in fact an amusing nightmare of literary pitfalls, bombastic brain-boggles, and ancient texts designed to drive the reader mad.

Complete with secret lore and wizard spells, fun places you should visit and places where you will probably die, advice on whom to marry and whom not to marry, and how to make friends and destroy your enemies, this volume includes hand-written marginalia by Finn, Jake, and Marceline.

Arguably the greatest encyclopaedia ever written since the beginning of the cosmos, it is also an indispensable companion to humans and demons who know what time it is: Adventure Time!

I must admit, the Adventure Time craze took me completely by surprise. I’ve had access to review copies of the comic since before it was released by Boom Studios. But… it never clicked for me. Maybe I should give it another go. This book, which I have already dipped into, is rather fun. Recommended for your Christmas lists!

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Pratchett-40-RaisingSteamTerry Pratchett, Raising Steam (Doubleday)

To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital… but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse…

Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails…

Does Terry Pratchett really need an introduction? He’s my favourite author. I have read and re-read all of the Discworld novels at least twice, and some (Vimes novels) four or five times. I really enjoyed Going Postal and Making Money (ah, that’s one I’ve only read once, actually…), so it’ll be nice to be re-united with Moist. That being said, I struggled with Snuff, so I hope this is a return to form.

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ReillyM-TheTournamentMatthew Reilly, The Tournament (Orion)

The year is 1546.

Europe lives in fear of the powerful Islamic empire to the East. Under its charismatic Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, it is an empire on the rise. It has defeated Christian fleets. It has conquered Christian cities.

Then the Sultan sends out an invitation to every king in Europe: send forth your champion to compete in a tournament unlike any other.

We follow the English delegation, selected by King Henry VIII himself, to the glittering city of Constantinople, where the most amazing tournament ever staged will take place.

But when the stakes are this high, not everyone plays fair, and for our team of plucky English heroes, winning may not be the primary goal. As a series of barbaric murders take place, a more immediate goal might simply be staying alive…

I am a big fan of Reilly’s novels. I’ve read a number of the Scarecrow novels, and all three Shane West novels (so much fun). With The Tournament, he seems to be doing something a little different – a wholly historical novel, rather than a contemporary adventure rooted in history. I’m really looking forward to reading this, so expect this on the blog very soon. Having lived in Istanbul, too, it’ll be interesting to see how the author realises the historical city on the page. It’s a fascinating city, with such a turbulent history. This is very promising. Before Christmas, hopefully.

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ResnickM-DoctorAndTheDinosaursMike Resnick, The Doctor and the Dinosaurs (Pyr)

Welcome to a Steampunk wild west starring Doc Holliday, with zombies, dinosaurs, robots, and cowboys.

The time is April, 1885. Doc Holliday lies in bed in a sanitarium in Leadville, Colorado, expecting never to leave his room again. But the medicine man and great chief Geronimo needs him for one last adventure. Renegade Comanche medicine men object to the newly-signed treaty with Theodore Roosevelt. They are venting their displeasure on two white men who are desecrating tribal territory in Wyoming. Geronimo must protect the men or renege on his agreement with Roosevelt. He offers Doc one year of restored health in exchange for taking on this mission.

Welcome to the birth of American paleontology, spearheaded by two brilliant men, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two men whose genius is only exceeded by their hatred for each other’s guts.

Now, with the aid of Theodore Roosevelt, Cole Younger, and Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday must save Cope and Marsh not only from the Comanches, not only from living, breathing dinosaurs, but from each other. And that won’t be easy.

I am woefully behind on this series. I’ve read the first book, The Buntline Special, which I found rather fun, but then I’ve just been unable to keep up-to-date. This sounds fun, too, though. I’ll endeavour to get caught up.

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RichardJ-SuicideExhibitionJustin Richards, The Suicide Exhibition (Del Rey UK)

A groundbreaking alternate history World War 2 thriller.

The threat is not new. The aliens have been here before – if indeed they are aliens. Obsessed with the Occult, Hitler and other senior Nazis believed they were destined to inherit the Earth. To this end, they are determined to recover ‘their’ ancient artifacts – the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Spear of Destiny. When Dunkirk veteran and Foreign Office trouble-shooter Major Guy Pentecross stumbles across a seemingly unbelievable conspiracy, he, together with pilot and American spy Sarah Diamond and SOE operative Leo Davenport, enter the shadow world of Section Z. All three have major roles to play as they uncover the Nazis’ insidious plot to use the alien Vril’s technology to win the war… at any cost.

This is The Thirty-Nine Steps crossed with Indiana Jones and Quatermass. Justin Richards has an extremely credible grasp of the period’s history and has transformed it into a groundbreaking alternate reality thriller.

This sounds pretty cool. I love alternate history, and Secret History. Having recently read and adored Lavie Tidhar’s The Violent Century and Ian Tregillis’s three Milkweed novels, I’m rather hoping this is another great addition to the sub-genre. I hadn’t heard of Richards before this arrived, but as it turns out, he is another alumnus of the Dr. Who novel-writing stable. I’m looking forward to this.

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WareD-EckoBurningDanie Ware, Ecko Burning (Titan Books)

Ruthless and ambitious, Lord Phylos has control of Fhaveon city, and is using her forces to bring the grasslands under his command. His last opponent is an elderly scribe who’s lost his best friend and wants only to do the right thing.

Seeking weapons, Ecko and his companions follow a trail of myth and rumour to a ruined city where both nightmare and shocking truth lie in wait.

When all of these things come together, the world will change beyond recognition.

Back in London, the Bard is offered the opportunity to realise everything he has ever wanted – if he will give up his soul.

A series that I have sadly not read, yet. It sounds great, and the premise makes it sound pretty original, too. I must make time to give this a try.

Also on CR: Interview with Danie Ware

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WilliamsJ-CopperPromiseJen Williams, The Copper Promise (Headline)

There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…

Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.

For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him… and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.

But sometimes there is truth in rumour.

Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.

A debut, and another one I hadn’t heard of before it turned up in the mail. Sounds pretty interesting. I’ll hopefully get to it ASAP. (I recently got a copy of Headline’s new catalogue – there are some really interesting titles coming from them in the near future! Watch this space for more information…)

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WilliamsM-3TowerBrokenMazarkis Williams, The Tower Broken (Jo Fletcher Books)

The world is at breaking point. The nothing, a terrible darkness caused by the festering wounds of a god, bleeds out the very essence of all, of stone, silk – and souls. Emperor Sarmin thought he had stopped it, but it is spreading towards his city, Cerana – and he is powerless to halt the destruction. Even as Cerana fills with refugees, the Yrkmen armies arrive with conquest in mind, but they offer to spare Sarmin’s people if they will convert to the Mogyrk faith. Time is running out for Sarmin and his wife, Mesema: the Mage’s Tower is cracked; the last mage, sent to find a mysterious pattern-worker in the desert, has vanished; and Sarmin believes his kidnapped brother Daveed still has a part to play. The walls are crumbling around them…

The first novel in this series, The Emperor’s Knife, was pretty interesting. It started incredibly strong, but some of the steam was lost as the novel went on. Then, when the second novel was released, I ended up moving, and it got lost in the mix. (I do still have Knife Sworn, though, which will make it easier to catch up.)

Also on CR: Interview with Mazarkis Williams

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ZuckermanG-TheFrackersGregory Zuckerman, The Frackers (Portfolio/Penguin)

Everyone knew it was crazy to try to extract oil and natural gas buried in shale rock deep below the ground. Everyone, that is, except a few reckless wildcatters – who risked their careers to prove the world wrong.

Things looked grim for American energy in 2006. Oil production was in steep decline and natural gas was hard to find. The Iraq War threatened the nation’s already tenuous relations with the Middle East. China was rapidly industrializing and competing for resources. Major oil companies had just about given up on new discoveries on U.S. soil, and a new energy crisis seemed likely.

But a handful of men believed everything was about to change.

Far from the limelight, Aubrey McClendon, Harold Hamm, Mark Papa, and other wildcatters were determined to tap massive deposits of oil and gas that Exxon, Chevron, and other giants had dismissed as a waste of time. By experimenting with hydraulic fracturing through extremely dense shale — a process now known as fracking — the wildcatters started a revolution. In just a few years, they solved America’s dependence on imported energy, triggered a global environmental controversy — and made and lost astonishing fortunes.

No one understands these men — their ambitions, personalities, methods, and foibles — better than the award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman. His exclusive access enabled him to get close to the frackers and chronicle the untold story of how they transformed the nation and the world. The result is a dramatic narrative tracking a brutal competition among headstrong drillers. It stretches from the barren fields of North Dakota and the rolling hills of northeastern Pennsylvania to cluttered pickup trucks in Texas and tense Wall Street boardrooms.

Activists argue that the same methods that are creating so much new energy are also harming our water supply and threatening environmental chaos. The Frackers tells the story of the angry opposition unleashed by this revolution and explores just how dangerous fracking really is.

The frackers have already transformed the economic, environmental, and geopolitical course of history. Now, like the Rockefellers and the Gettys before them, they’re using their wealth and power to influence politics, education, entertainment, sports, and many other fields. Their story is one of the most important of our time.

That’s quite the epic-length synopsis… An issue that has fascinated me for years, I’m very glad I was able to get a review copy of this book. Hopefully get to it very soon.

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Michael Crichton’s Pulp Novels (Hard Case Crime)

There are just too many to write about them individually, so I’ll just say – these are a lot of fun. Slightly dated, but in an amusing way. I have four of them to give away, too, so keep an eye open for that giveaway post coming up next week.

Books Received (Three Weeks’ Worth! ’Twas Like Early Christmas…)

I was away for a couple of weeks, and when I returned home, I had a veritable jackpot in books waiting for me:

BooksReceived-20130814

In the spirit of full-disclosure (and just in case it takes a while for me to get around to reading and reviewing them), here’s what turned up, and a few preliminary, pre-reading thoughts…

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ArmstrongK-OmensUKKelley Armstrong, Omens (Sphere)

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

I’ve only read a couple of Armstrong’s novels – and, strangely, not the ones I always wanted to… I discovered her Women of the Otherworld series around the time I started receiving ARCs from publishers, which meant I could never really justify buying them for myself. Then the later books in the series started turning up, and my sister pinched them (she did buy the first ones, you see). I did, however, read Armstrong’s two non-supernatural thrillers, ?? and ??, which I enjoyed a great deal. This novel is the start of a new series, so I’m hoping to read it very soon (and prevent my sister from liberating it first…).

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CooperB-RS2-DiamondDeepBrenda Cooper, The Diamond Deep (Pyr)

What if a woman as strong and as complex as Eva Perón began her life as a robot repair assistant threatened by a powerful peacekeeping force that wants to take all she has from her?

The discovery ship, Creative Fire, is on its way home from a multi-generational journey. But home is nothing like the crew expected. They have been gone for generations, and the system they return to is home to technologies and riches beyond their wildest dreams. But they are immediately oppressed and relegated to the lowest status imaginable, barely able to interact with the technologies and people of the star station where they dock, the Diamond Deep.

Ruby Martin and her partner, Joel North, must find a way to learn what they need to know and to become more than they have ever been if they are to find a way to save their people.

I have sadly been unable to keep on top of all my reading from Pyr Books. I feel pretty bad about this, given how willing they are to send me review copies (not to mention how much I like their authors…). The previous book in this series, This Creative Fire, is one such missed book. I’ll do my best to catch up ASAP.

Also on CR: Interview with Brenda Cooper

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SW-Crucible(Denning)Troy Denning, Crucible (Century)

Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

I’m rather behind on my Star Wars reading. I have to finish Fate of the Jedi, and then read Mercy Kill before I can get to this. Hopefully soon-ish. Interestingly, I was also able to find an early draft version of the cover. I think it’s rather good, so I decided to share it again here…

SW-Crucible(Denning)Draft

I may actually like this one better…

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Hodder-SecretOfAbduElYezdiUKMark Hodder, The Secret of Abdu el-Yezdi (Del Rey UK)

Burton & Swinburne return in a new series!

The Beast is coming. History will be remade.

Since the assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840, a cabal of prominent men-including King George V, HRH Prince Albert, Benjamin Disraeli, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel-has received guidance from the Afterlife. The spirit of a dead mystic, Abdu El Yezdi, has helped them to steer the empire into a period of unprecedented peace and creativity. But on the eve of a groundbreaking alliance with the newly formed Greater German Confederation, scientists, surgeons, and engineers are being abducted-including Brunel!

The government, in search of answers, turns to the Afterlife, only to find that Abdu El Yezdi is now refusing to speak with the living. Enter the newly-knighted Sir Richard Francis Burton, fresh from his discovery of the source of the Nile. Appointed the king’s agent, he must trace the missing luminaries and solve the mystery of Abdu El Yezdi’s silence. But the Beast has been summoned.

How can the famous explorer fulfill his mission when his friends and loved ones are being picked off, one by one, by what appears to be a supernatural entity-by, perhaps, Abdu El Yezdi himself?

I’ve never read any of Hodder’s series… I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe this will be the first? Anyone know if that’s not a good idea? Should I start from the very beginning, or can I just dive straight in?

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Karpyshyn-ChildrenOfFireUKDrew Karpyshyn, Children of Fire (Del Rey UK)

Long ago the gods chose a great hero to act as their agent in the mortal world and to stand against the demonic spawn of Chaos. The gods gifted their champion, Daemron, with three magical Talismans: a sword, a ring, and a crown. But the awesome power at his command corrupted Daemron, turning him from savior to destroyer. Filled with pride, he dared to challenge the gods themselves. Siding with the Chaos spawn, Daemron waged a titanic battle against the Immortals. In the end, Daemron was defeated, the Talismans were lost, and Chaos was sealed off behind the Legacy—a magical barrier the gods sacrificed themselves to create.

Now the Legacy is fading. On the other side, the banished Daemron stirs. And across the scattered corners of the land, four children are born of suffering and strife, each touched by one aspect of Daemron himself—wizard, warrior, prophet, king.

Bound by a connection deeper than blood, the Children of Fire will either restore the Legacy or bring it crashing down, freeing Daemron to wreak his vengeance upon the mortal world.

I’ve mentioned this on the blog before. I’m certainly interested in seeing what Karpyshyn has come up with. I enjoyed his Star Wars novels (at least, the Darth Bane books, which are the only ones of his that I’ve read). Hopefully get to this pretty soon.

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Polansky-SheWhoWaitsDaniel Polansky, She Who Waits (Hodder)

Low Town: the worst ghetto in the worst city in the Thirteen Lands.

Good only for depravity and death. And Warden, long ago a respected agent in the formidable Black House, is now the most depraved Low Town denizen of them all.

As a younger man, Warden carried out more than his fair share of terrible deeds, and never as many as when he worked for the Black House. But Warden’s growing older, and the vultures are circling. Low Town is changing, faster than even he can control, and Warden knows that if he doesn’t get out soon, he may never get out at all.

But Warden must finally reckon with his terrible past if he can ever hope to escape it. A hospital full of lunatics, a conspiracy against the corrupt new king and a ghetto full of thieves and murderers stand between him and his slim hope for the future. And behind them all waits the one person whose betrayal Warden never expected. The one person who left him, broken and bitter, to become the man he is today.

The one woman he ever loved.

She who waits behind all things.

Possibly my most-anticipated novel of the year. Ever since I read Straight Razor Cure/Low Town, and Tomorrow the Killing shortly thereafter, I have been impatient for this novel. Expect it to be read and reviewed very soon. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend that you do. It’s superb.

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Polansky

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RansomC-OrphanUKChristopher Ransom, The Orphan (Sphere)

The truth is more terrifying than you can imagine. Darren and Beth Lynwood always dreamed of having a son, but when young amnesiac runaway Adam enters their lives, he brings with him a creeping darkness that threatens to engulf their family and everyone around them. When Adam’s memories claw their way to the surface, Darren finds himself haunted by thoughts of his own childhood – and of a boy very much like Adam who was done an unspeakable wrong. As buried secrets are unearthed, the Lynwood’s happy home becomes the hunting ground for a relentless evil and an obsession that will not die. There’s no point locking the door. There’s no use shutting out the night. Because the orphan is already inside. Dare you read to the end of The Orphan? Discover the chilling new novel from the author of The Birthing House and The People Next Door.

I’ve never read anything by Christopher Ransom. Sounds pretty cool, though…

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crowntower-2-5Michael J Sullivan, The Crown Tower (Orbit)

TWO MEN WHO HATE EACH OTHER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE MISSION. A LEGEND IN THE MAKING.

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

Loved the Riyria Revelations, Sullivan’s original six-part series set in this world. The Crown Tower (and The Rose and Thorn) takes place prior to that series, and introduces us to Hadrian and Royce as they meet for the first time.

Also on CR: Interview with Michael J. Sullivan, Guest Posts – Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy and History & Riyria

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Tchaikovsky-9-WarMastersGateAdrian Tchaikovsky, War Master’s Gate (Tor)

Relentlessly advancing towards Collegium, the Empire is again seeking to break down its walls. The mighty imperial armies have learnt from their failures, and Empress Seda will brook no weakness in her soldiers. However, Stenwold Maker has earned his title, and the War Master has strategies to save his city. His aviators rule the skies – but the Wasp Kinden Empire has developed a terrifying new aerial weapon.

Yet the campaign may be decided far from marching armies and the noise of battle. In an ancient forest, where Mantis clans pursue their own civil war, the Empress Seda is seeking lost magic. Some dangerous shadow of old night is locked up among these trees and she is wants its power. Cheerwell Maker must stop her, at any cost, but will their rivalry awaken something far deadlier? Something that could make even their clash of nations pale into insignificance…

A series I have shamefully left un-caught-up… I plan to do a mega catch-up at some point in the near future. Perhaps one a month or something (I overdose easily). Hopefully in time so I am ready for the final book, when it’s published. Really enjoyed the first book in the series, Empire in Black & Gold.

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky, Guest Post

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Lavie Tidhar, The Violent Century (Hodder)

They’d never meant to be heroes.

For seventy years they’d guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable at first, bound together by a shared fate. Until a night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism, a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms; of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields, to answer one last, impossible question:

What makes a hero?

It’s Lavie, dealing with Super-Heroes and 20th Century history. Of course I’m interested in reading this. I’ll be reading it very soon. I’ve also seen a mock-up of the cover art, which I think is really cool. Can’t wait to see the final version.

[Disclaimer: I work for Lavie’s agent. Which means this is also ‘work’ reading. It’s a hard life…]

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TowseyD-YourBrothersBloodDavid Towsey, Your Brother’s Blood (Jo Fletcher)

Thomas is thirty-two. He comes from the small town of Barkley. He has a wife there, Sarah, and a child, Mary; good solid names from the Good Book. And he is on his way home from the war, where he has been serving as a conscripted soldier.

Thomas is also dead – he is one of the Walkin’.

And Barkley does not suffer the wicked to live.

I’ve mentioned Your Brother’s Blood on the blog before (as well as hosted an excerpt), and it’s one of my most-anticipated of 2013. Hope to get to this ASAP. The novel is due to be published in the UK on September 26th 2013.

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Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Djinni (HarperCollins)

WeckerH-Golem&Djinni

If you were bewitched by The Night Circus…

If you were mesmerised by A Discovery of Witches…

If you were enthralled by Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell…

You will be enchanted by

THE GOLEM & THE DJINNI

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Having read none of those comparisons, I really don’t know what to expect from this novel. But it was available through Amazon Vine, so I thought why not? I’m certainly interested in reading it, as I try to mix up the genres I’m reading and featuring on the blog. The title is slightly (pointlessly) different in the US: The Golem and the Jinni (also published by Harper).

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From the Library…

BooksReceived-20130817

A new additional component of the Books Received posts – I will now include mention of anything I’ve picked up in the local library. Because… well, why not?

 

Adobe Photoshop PDFRichard Kadrey, Kill City Blues (Voyager)

James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall-a multi-story copy of LA-infested with Lurkers and wretched bottom-feeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods-and a few killers-on his tail.

I love this series. It’s dark, irreverent, funny, and has plenty of action and weird goings-on. This is book five, and each of the previous four was a strong addition to the series. Everyone should read it. Go on, what are you waiting for?

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AstroCity-Vol.1-LifeInTheBigCity-ArtAstro City, Vol.1 – “Life In The Big City” (DC Comics)

Welcome to Astro City, a shining city on a hill where super heroes patrol the skies. Each chapter in this collection is a standalone story, highlighting different aspects or characters in the Astro City world. The city’s leading super hero tries to be everywhere at once, and berates himself for every wasted second as he longs for just a moment of his own. A smalltime hood learns a hero’s secret identity, and tries to figure out how to profit from the knowledge. A beat reporter gets some advice from his editor on his first day on the job. A young woman tries to balance the demands of her family with her own hopes and desires. Despite the fantastic settings, the characters in these slice-of-life stories feel like real people, and that gives the stories real power.

This series has just been re-booted/-launched by DC, so I figured it was a good time to start at the very beginning, and see what it was like before investing in the new series (which I think has reached #3).

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BlackOrchid-CoverBlack Orchid (Vertigo)

Before introducing the modern version of The Sandman, Neil Gaiman wrote this dark tale that reinvented a strange DC Comics super hero in the Vertigo mold. Featuring spectacular art by Gaiman’s frequent collaborator, Dave McKean, BLACK ORCHID is now collected in a deluxe trade paperback

After being viciously murdered, Susan Linden is reborn fully grown as the Black Orchid, a hybrid of plant and human, destined to avenge her own death. Now, as this demigoddess attempts to reconcile human memory and botanical origins, she must untangle the webs of deception and secrets that led to her death. Beginning in the cold streets of a heartless metropolis and ending in the Amazon rainforest, this book takes the reader on a journey through secrets, suffering and self-rediscovery.

I’ve never read this, but I’ve heard a lot of great things. After reading my first volume of Sandman, too, I’m interested in reading a lot more of Gaiman’s comic-work. So when I saw this on the shelf, I picked it up right away – after all, where better to start than at the beginning?

Books that Fell Through the Cracks (Late Acquisitions)

Given my peripatetic existence over the last couple of years, there have been a number of address changes. These have resulted in a number of books getting sent to old and/or obsolete addresses. I’m currently visiting one of these old addresses, and have finally managed to get my hands on the following books (below) – so, apologies to publishers for not saying thank you, and hopefully I’ll be able to get to some of these soon (two in particular are very high on my TBR mountain, now).

Received: Julianna Baggott’s Fuse, Susan Ee’s Angelfall, Hugh Howey’s Shift, Stephen Kiernan’s The Curiosity, Stephen King’s The Wind Through the Keyhole, Gail Z. Martin’s Ice Forged, Frank P. Ryan’s The Snowmelt River

BooksReceived-20130801 (Shevaun)

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Baggott-2-FuseUKJulianna Baggott, Fuse (Headline)

After a young Wretch is abducted by the Dome and ‘cleansed’ of her fusings and imperfections, she is only able to repeat the Dome’s latest message: ‘We want our son returned. This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.’ Willux will go to any lengths to get his son Partridge back, including murder. Partridge sacrifices himself and returns, in the hope of taking over the Dome from within, only to uncover more of his father’s chilling, dark secrets.

Outside the Dome, Pressia, Bradwell, and El Capitan are decoding the secrets from the past – tucked away in one of the Black Boxes – to uncover the truth that might set the wretches free of their fusings forever. Those fighting Willux will be pushed over boundaries, both land and sea, heart and mind, in their quest – further than they ever imagined.

This is the sequel to Pure, which I also (shamefully) haven’t had a chance to read. It sounds like a fascinating series, but I kept missing it for one reason or another. Now that I have this second novel, as well as an ARC for book one, I really don’t have much excuse (save lack of time…) to read it. I’ll do my best to get to it soon.

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Ee-AngelfallSusan Ee, Angelfall (Hodder)

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I kept seeing this advertised on the London Tube after I got back in January. I was intrigued, certainly (there seems to be a rise in Angel-related fiction in the past couple of years – some good, some not so much), and so when I was told a copy of this had arrived for me, I decided to place it relatively high on my TBR pile. I’ll hopefully get to this very soon (ah, those Famous Last Words, again…). I have sent some interview questions to the author, too.

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HoweyH-ShiftUKHugh Howey, Shift (Century)

In a future less than fifty years away, the world is still as we know it. Time continues to tick by. The truth is that it is ticking away.

A powerful few know what lies ahead. They are preparing for it. They are trying to protect us.

They are setting us on a path from which we can never return.

A path that will lead to destruction; a path that will take us below ground.

The history of the silo is about to be written.

Our future is about to begin.

I still have to read Wool before I can get to this, but I’ve heard a great many people say they enjoy the series. Ill-considered blog posts that the author may write notwithstanding, there is something about the series’s premise that intrigues me. So, I suppose I’ll get to it relatively soon, if I feel in the mood for some dystopian fiction (which is more often than not).

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KiernanS-CuriosityStephen Kiernan, The Curiosity (William Morrow/John Murray)

A haunting love story in which a man frozen for 100 years wakes up in today’s America to be hounded by tabloids, condemned by religious conservatives, and hunted by a presidential candidate while he strives to come to terms with his unique second life, one in which he falls in love with a beautiful scientist from a century after him.

Maverick scientific genius Erastus Carthage has developed a technique to bring frozen simple-celled animals back to life. But when his Arctic research vessel discovers a body encased in an iceberg, he seizes the chance to apply his pioneering process to a human being. The man Carthage’s lad awakens from death is Jeremiah Rice, a Massachusetts judge, who was born in 1868 and fell overboard in 1906. Jeremiah is an instant celebrity – chased by paparazzi, vilified by the religious right, and overwhelmed by a society he sees as brilliant and diverse but also vulgar and violent.

As his only ally biologist Kate Philo attempts to protect him from financial and political exploitation, the two fall in love. Meanwhile, Jeremiah’s time on earth is slipping away.

I hadn’t heard anything about this, until my sister mentioned it had arrived and she’d read (and enjoyed) it. It sounds rather intriguing, certainly, so I may have to read it within a week or two.

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KingS-DT4-WindThroughTheKeyholeStephen King, The Wind Through the Keyhole (Hodder)

Stephen King returns to the rich landscape of Mid-World, the spectacular territory of the Dark Tower fantasy saga that stands as his most beguiling achievement. Roland Deschain and his ka-tet – Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy, the billy-bumbler – encounter a ferocious storm just after crossing the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies. As they shelter from the howling gale, Roland tells his friends not just one strange story but two… and in so doing, casts new light on his own troubled past.

In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death, Roland is sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man” preying upon the population around Debaria. Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, the brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Only a teenager himself, Roland calms the boy and prepares him for the following day’s trials by reciting a story from the “Magic Tales of the Eld” that his mother often read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” Roland says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, never too old. We live for them.” And indeed, the tale that Roland unfolds, the legend of Tim Stoutheart, is a timeless treasure for all ages, a story that lives for us.

I have never read any of King’s Dark Tower series, despite always seeing it in bookstores (on both sides of the Pond). The series, begun in 1974, gained momentum in the 1980s, and was concluded between 2003-2004, after the final three volumes were published. This is apparently a novel that can stand on its own for readers new and old (Goodreads lists it as “Dark Tower #4.5”). I think I’ll probably still try to hunt down at least the first book, before diving into this. It’s high on my Life Reading Priority list, but I’m not sure how quickly it will make its way onto the top of the TBR mountain. (I think I’ll probably read King’s On Writing, first, as I already own that…)

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Martin,GZ-IceForgedGail Z. Martin, Ice Forged (Orbit)

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

I am really interested in reading this series. I recently got the second volume, so now that I have picked up this as well, I hope to get to it ASAP.

Also on CR: Guest Posts “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (Again)” & “After Apocalypse

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RyanFP-3P1-SnowmeltRiverFrank P. Ryan, The Snowmelt River (Jo Fletcher)

Chance has brought together four young people in the small, historic Irish town of Clonmel. Alan is Irish-American, Kate Irish, and the adoptive brother and sister Mark and Mo are Londoners although Mo originally hails from Australia and has an exotic spiritual quality that suggests something strange, almost magical, about her. They discover that they share a terrible secret, one that cannot be coincidence, and it makes them wonder if it was fate, and not happenstance, that really brought them together, and which now binds them inseparably as friends. And then, over the long hot Irish summer, the enchantment begins… The Snowmelt River is the first of a four-volume epic fantasy series, with each book a separate adventure in itself. All four novels revolve around the coming of age, and power, of the central characters, Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo, each a very different personality, yet each making his or her personal contribution to an epic odyssey.

Another series I didn’t know much about, before this came along (it’s possible this is the second copy that’s arrived – as I faintly recall seeing the second book at some point…). Not sure when I’ll be able to get to it, but I’ve heard and read some interesting things about it.

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Any of these grab your attention? Received anything good I should know about, or that I (or CR readers) might like?

Book Haul, End of June 2013…

BooksReceived-20130622

A final Books Received post for June, and it’s an absolute doozy. Four of these are among my Most Anticipated for 2013. Read on for some more info about these books…

Allston-XWing-MercyKillAaron Allston, Star Wars – X-Wing: Mercy Kill (Arrow)

The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series!

Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand — for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.

A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers… and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.

Ah, Star Wars. My all-time favourite franchise, probably. I’ve read pretty much every book/novella/short story set after Episode IV, and a handful set before (I’m not a fan of the prequel-trilogy fiction, really). That being said, for some reason I’ve not yet finished the latest nine-book story-arc, Fate of the Jedi. I only have the final book, Apocalypse, to read – it was one of the books I had to leave back in New York, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get it read. I’ll have a look in the local library, I suppose. I bring this up because Mercy Kill is set after Apocalypse (and before Crucible, which I already have as an eARC via NetGalley). Really have to get on with it. This may, actually, be the longest break since 2007 when I haven’t read a Star Wars novel… Weird.

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JamesH-WhatMaisieKnewHenry James, What Maisie Knew (Penguin)

After her parents’ bitter divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled between her selfish mother and vain father, who value her only as a means for provoking each other. Maisie – solitary, observant, and wise beyond her years – is drawn into an increasingly entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal until she is finally compelled to choose her own future.

Published in 1897 as Henry James was experimenting with narrative technique and fascinated by the idea of the child’s-eye view, What Maisie Knew is a subtle yet devastating portrayal of an innocent adrift in a corrupt society.

Don’t know much about the novel, but I know a bit about the author. So, when this arrived in the mail, I was rather intrigued. It’s a slim volume, so I’m hoping to squeeze it into my reading schedule in the not-to-distant-future.

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Grimwood-LastBanquetJonathan Grimwood, The Last Banquet (Canongate)

Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things. Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover. And chef.

This is his story.

We meet Jean-Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to it and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.

Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.

Passionate love, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean-Marie’s life, but his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feast.

But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind.

SFF fans will also know Jonathan Grimwood as Jon Courtenay Grimwood – author of superb science fiction and an excellent historical vampire trilogy (The Assassini). I managed to miss a lot of the press surrounding this novel (it’s not SFF, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it didn’t get much attention). Nevertheless, I really like the way Grimwood writes, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

Incidentally, it’s interesting that this has a food-related premise. I’ve been noticing a few of those popping up in submissions at work, and also seen mention online from a couple of other aspiring authors. Has there been something in the water…? Needless to say, I imagine Grimwood’s will be the best, and I’m eager to get to it.

Also on CR: Interview with Jonathan Grimwood, Guest Post

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Lawrence-EmperorOfThornsMark Lawrence, Emperor of Thorns (Voyager)

The path to the throne is broken – only the broken may walk it.

To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

Does this really need an explanation or introduction? The final part of Lawrence’s debut fantasy trilogy, there are a lot of expectations. I’ve been told Mark manages to pull it all off, so I have very high hopes indeed. Watch this space…

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Lawrence

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NewtonMC-DrakenfeldMark Charan Newton, Drakenfeld (Tor)

“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and peace keeper. Although sometimes it seems I am the only person who wishes to keep it …”

The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.

Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.

Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

Long-time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Newton’s novels – the four Legends of the Red Sun books were superb. As a result, I’ve been eager to read Drakenfeld ever since Mark announced it on his website a few months ago (I forget the actual date). Really looking forward to reading this. Hopefully very soon.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Charan Newton, Follow-Up Interview

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Stenson-FiendUKPeter Stenson, Fiend (Random House)

When Chase sees the little girl in umbrella socks savaging the Rottweiler, he’s not too concerned. As someone who’s been smoking meth every day for as long as he can remember, he’s no stranger to such horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations. But as he and his fellow junkies discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. And with Chase’s life already destroyed beyond all hope of redemption, armageddon might actually be an opportunity — a last chance to hit restart and become the person he once dreamed of being. Soon Chase is fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among the ruins. But is salvation just another pipe dream?

Propelled by a blistering first-person voice and featuring a powerfully compelling anti-hero, Fiend is at once a brilliant portrait of addiction, a pitch-black comedy, and the darkest, most twisted love story you’ve ever read — not to mention one hell of a zombie novel.

I have a guest post upcoming from Stenson, telling the story of how he came to write the novel. It’s a good piece, and I’m eager to share it with people. (It goes live on July 4th.) This sounds like a really interesting spin on the zombie apocalypse genre.

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Wexler-ThousandNamesUKDjango Wexler, The Thousand Names (Del Rey UK)

Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic….

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

This is one of my most-anticipated debuts of 2013, and I’ve been itching to get to it. I’ll probably be reading this very soon (I have some time with minimal commutes coming up, so no fear of the HC getting beaten to hell in my bag).

Also on CR: Interview with Django Wexler, Guest Post