Books Received… (June)

BooksReceived-20140614

Another good week (creating something of an overwhelming situation, vis-à-vis my TBR mountain). Below are the books, eBooks and graphic novels I’ve either received for review or bought over the past two weeks.

Featuring: Adam Baker, Terry Brooks, Carol K. Carr, Malcolm Cross, Emily Gould, C.B. Harvey, Ben Peek, Jodi Picoult, Gabriel Roth, Maggie Shipstead, Scott Sigler, Matthew Spektor, Jon Steele, Adrian Tchaikovsky, & Graphic Novels

Baker-ImpactUKAdam Baker, Impact (Hodder)

The world is overrun by an unimaginable horror. The few surviving humans are scattered in tiny outposts across the world, hoping for reprieve – or death.

Waiting on the runway of the abandoned Las Vegas airport sits the B-52 bomber Liberty Bell, revving up for its last, desperate mission. On board – six crew members and one 10-kiloton nuclear payload. The target is a secret compound in the middle of the world’s most inhospitable desert.

All the crew have to do is drop the bomb and head to safety.

But when the Liberty Bell crashes, the surviving crew are stranded in the most remote corner of Death Valley. They’re alone in an alien environment, their only shelter the wreckage of their giant aircraft, with no hope of rescue. And death is creeping towards them from the place they sought to destroy – and may already reside beneath their feet in the burning desert sands.

I’m a relatively recent convert to Baker’s novels, as I’ve mentioned before on the blog. My first of his was Terminus, last year, which I really enjoyed. When this dropped through the mail, I was very excited – I had no idea it was on the way (it was only recently added to Goodreads, and I just haven’t seen any mention of it before). It has also upended my reading plans for the next couple of weeks. Because I’ve already started reading it…

Also on CR: Interview with Adam Baker, Guest Post

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BrooksT-DoS1-TheHighDruidsBladeUKTerry Brooks, The High Druid’s Blade (Orbit)

Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once ruled the Highlands and waged war with magical weapons. But those kings, queens, and heroes are long gone, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Running his family’s modest shipping business, Paxon leads a quiet life – until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world… and rewrite his destiny.

When his brash young sister is abducted by a menacing stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. And in a harrowing duel, he is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him – and within his ancestors’ ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands, and Paxon must master it quickly because his nearly fatal clash with the dark sorcerer Arcannen won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the fabled Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.

But treachery is afoot deep in the Druids’ ranks. And the blackest of sorcery is twisting a helpless innocent into a murderous agent of evil. To halt an insidious plot that threatens not only the Druid order but all the Four Lands, Paxon Leah must summon the profound magic in his blood and the legendary mettle of his elders in the battle fate has chosen him to fight.

It must be twenty years since I last read a Brooks novel. I believe it was either Sword of Shannara or Elfstones of Shannara. Maybe Magic Kingdom For Sale, Sold. Between then and my rediscovery of and happy disappearance down the rabbit hole of fantasy fiction in 2008, I also developed a very strong desire to only read series in order. Naturally, this caused some difficult when it came to Brooks’s continuing Shannara series. I can’t promise I’ll get around to this, but I would like to return to the world at some point. We’ll see.

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CarrCK-IB3-AndTheShadowsOfAnarchyUKCarol K. Carr, India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy (Titan)

In Victorian London, India Black has all the attributes a high-class madam needs to run a successful brothel – wit, beauty, and an ability to lie with a smile. Luckily for Her Majesty’s Government, all these talents also make her a first-rate spy…

India Black, full-time madam and occasional secret agent, is feeling restless, when one of Disraeli’s men calls on her to meet the prime minister – alone. Even though all her previous meetings have been organized by the rakishly handsome spy French, it’s been decided this is a mission India must attempt on her own.

Revolt has spread across Europe and reached the shores of England – anarchists have begun assassinating lords and earls, one by one. Now India must infiltrate the ranks of the underground group responsible for those attacks, the sinister Dark Legion. To stop their dread plot, India will go from the murkiest slums of London to the highest levels of society, uncovering secrets that threaten her very existence…

An intriguing-looking steampunk, Victoriana spy series. I haven’t had the chance to read the first two books in the series, yet, but I am interested in checking it out.

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Various-JournalOfThePlagueYearMalcolm Cross, C. B. Harvey & Adrian Tchaikovsky, Plague Year (Abaddon)

The Cull swept the world in the early years of the twenty-first century, killing billions and ending civilisation as we know it. Only those fortunate to be blessed with the right blood were spared. In the latest instalment to the shared world of Afterblight Chronicles three fantastic authors lead us further into the apocalypse:

In Cross’ Orbital Decay, astronaut Alvin Burrows watches helplessly as the world collapses, and the crew on board the Space Station are murdered one by one.

In Harvey’s Dead Kelly, fugitive Kelly McGuire returns to the lawless city of Melbourne seeking revenge on his old gang mates.

In Tchaikovsky’s The Bloody Deluge (previously unpublished), biochemist Katy Lewkowitz and her friend Dr. Emil Weber seek refuge from the deadly cult of the New Teutonic Order.

Journal of the Plague Year is an omnibus collection of three unique novellas; it will thrill, enthral and horrify you in equal measures.

I have to admit that what sold me on this collection was the inclusion of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s novella. It is, I believe, his first published sci-fi/dystopia fiction. Don’t mean to be disrespectful to the other two authors, of course, but I am a big fan of Tchaikovsky’s already. I haven’t read anything else in the Afterblight Chronicles, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have past experience with it. If nothing else, I’m going to read Adrian’s story ASAP, and then get back to the other two at a later date (alternating between this and full-length novels, perhaps).

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky, Guest Post by Adrian

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GouldE-FriendshipUKEmily Gould, Friendship (Virago)

Bev Tunney is stuck in circumstances that would have barely passed for New York bohemian in her mid-twenties: temping, living in a shared house, drowning in debt. Her friend Amy Schein is a charismatic and fiercely impetuous Brooklyn media darling still riding the tailwinds of early success, but reality is catching up with her – her job, her lease and her relationship are on the brink of collapse. And now Bev is unexpectedly pregnant.

As Amy and Bev are dragged into their thirties and genuine adulthood, they are forced to contemplate the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart. They want to help each other but can’t help themselves; want to make good decisions, but fall prey to their worst impulses; find their generosity overwhelmed by petty concerns. An unsettling encounter with an accomplished older woman, Sally, throws their problems into sharp relief.

Emily Gould’s dazzling debut novel traces the evolution of a friendship with wry sympathy, refreshing honesty and humour.

I like stories set in New York City. I’m in my thirties. Thought it might be a nice change to the SFF/thrillers I mainly read. I’ve been reading more in the contemporary and literary fiction genres, and I’ve found a lot that I like. True, there are certain tropes and structural consistencies across the genre, but I like them, too. Mostly. I’m looking forward to reading this.

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PeekB-C1-GodlessUKBen Peek, The Godless (Tor UK)

The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world’s ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies.

The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of “cursed” men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make.

Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret. Split between the three points of view, The Godless’s narrative reaches its conclusion during an epic siege, where Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan are forced not just into conflict with those invading, but with those inside the city who wish to do them harm.

I started reading this when I was really not in the mood for a new fantasy series. But, I read the first few pages while sorting out newly arrived books, and found it really well-written. Peek’s done a great job of crafting this world. I’ve put the book aside for a little bit, though, as I didn’t want to force myself to push throught he Fantasy Funk I’m in. I think I’m going to really like the rest of it. Watch this space for more.

Also on CR: Interview with Ben Peek

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PicoultJ-WhereTheresSmokeUKJodi Picoult, Where There’s Smoke (Hodder)

Even as a child, Serenity Jones knew she possessed unusual psychic gifts. Now, decades later, she’s an acclaimed medium and host of her own widely viewed TV show, where she delivers messages to the living from loved ones who have died. Lately, though, her efforts to boost ratings and garner fame have compromised her clairvoyant instincts.

When Serenity books a young war widow to appear as a guest, the episode quickly unravels, stirring up a troubling controversy. And as she tries to undo the damage – to both her reputation and her show – Serenity finds that pride comes at a high price.

I’ve never read anything by Picoult. Not really sure why, either. I spotted this in my Amazon recommendations, saw that it was a free short story, and jumped on the opportunity to give her work a try. It appears to tie in to Picoult’s upcoming full-length novel, too, so that could bode very well.

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RothG-TheUnknownsUKPBGabriel Roth, The Unknowns (Picador)

Eric has survived his ostracised teens in the school computer basement of the mid-80s and seems to have everything: the dot com millions, the beautiful apartment, the quick mind, and even passable looks. But he has never quite found love. Until, with all the glamorous alliteration of a movie star, Maya Marcom arrives on his horizon.

It’s not easy to pursue the most alluring woman in North America when you’re a misfiring circuit of over-analytical self-doubt and she has a killer line and a perfectly raised eyebrow. But as Eric refines his email technique, his date patter and his capacity to shut up after sex, he finds there’s more to Maya Marcom than meets the eye.

Will our loveable geek be able to conquer his dogged need to discover the whole truth about his lover – or will they continue in bliss and wonder? This is a story about the mysteries of the heart, and the ways in which one fragile human being is harder to really know than enough computer code to make a fortune.

I’d been hovering over buying this novel for some time. It sounded really fun and quirky. So, I eventually bought it. I’ll be reading it pretty soon, hopefully.

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ShipsteadM-SeatingArrangementsUKMaggie Shipstead, Seating Arrangements (Blue Door)

The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the New England island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to an impeccably appropriate young man. The weekend is full of lobster and champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust seep through the cracks in the revelry.

Winn Van Meter, father-of-the-bride, has spent his life following the rules of the east coast upper crust, but now, just shy of his sixtieth birthday, he must finally confront his failings, his desires, and his own humanity.

I’ve heard good things, and it was difficult to miss it for a while, if you spent any time in a UK bookstore. It then popped up as a Kindle Daily Deal, and I thought that left no excuse to give it a try.

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Sigler-3-PandemicScott Sigler, Pandemic (Hodder)

The alien intelligence that unleashed two horrific assaults on humanity has been destroyed. But before it was brought down in flames, it launched one last payload – a tiny soda-can-sized canister filled with germs engineered to wreak new forms of havoc on the human race. That harmless-looking canister has languished under thousands of feet of water for years, undisturbed and impotent… until now.

Days after the new disease is unleashed, a quarter of the human race is infected. Entire countries have fallen. And our planet’s fate now rests on a small group of unlikely heroes, racing to find a cure before the enemies surrounding them can close in.

I’ve always wanted to read this series, but it’s one of the ones that started when I was hopping across the Atlantic too frequently. This meant my copy of the first in the series got lost in the shuffle. I’ll be sure to pick the preceding two books ASAP so I can get around to this one. I’ve heard really good things about it and Sigler’s writing.

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SpektorM-AmericanDreamMachineUKPBMatthew Spektor, American Dream Machine (Sphere)

A big sweeping story of Los Angeles and of the rise and fall and rise of one man amongst the grit, glamour, desperation and ambition of the movie business in the ’60s and ’70s.

Beau Rosenwald – overweight, far from handsome, and improbably charismatic – arrives in Los Angles in 1962 with nothing but an ill-fitting suit and a pair of expensive brogues. By the late 1970s he has helped found the most successful agency in Hollywood.

Through the eyes of his son, we watch Beau and his partner go to war, waging a battle that will reshape an entire industry. We watch Beau rise and fall and rise again, forging and damaging remarkable relationships. We watch Beau’s partner, the enigmatic Williams Farquarsen, struggle to control himself and this oh-so-fickle world of movies. We watch two generations of men fumble and thrive across the LA landscape, revelling in their successes and learning the costs of their mistakes.

This sounds really good. I caught wind of it quite a while ago, but for some reason I never got around to reading it. It popped up this week on NetGalley, and my request was approved! So that’s nice. I’m hoping to get to it pretty soon.

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SteeleJ-A2-AngelCityUKJon Steele, Angel City (Corgi)

Jay Harper, one of the last “angels” on Planet Earth, is hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law and finds himself a wanted man. That doesn’t stop his commander, Inspector Gobet of the Swiss Police, from sending him back to Paris on a recon mission… a mission that uncovers a truth buried in the Book of Enoch.

Katherine Taylor and her two year old son Max are living in a small town in the American Northwest. It’s a quiet life. She runs a candle shop and spends her afternoons drinking herbal teas, imagining a crooked little man in the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral, a man who believed Lausanne was a hideout for lost angels. And there was someone else, someone she can’t quite remember… as if he was there, and not there at the same time.

A man with a disfigured face emerges from the shadows. His name is Astruc, he’s obsessed with the immortal souls of men. Like a voice crying in the wilderness, he warns the time of The Prophecy is at hand… a prophecy that calls for the sacrifice of the child born of light…

This is the second book in Steele’s Angelus Trilogy, following on from The Watchers – which, as with so very many books, now, I have yet to read. I really like the new cover designs for the series, too. Very good decision. I’ve heard pretty mixed things about The Watchers – some have said it’s amazing, others have been cool on it. I’ll be sure to form my own opinion. Just… not sure when. It does sound interesting, though. Probably good for fans of Lou Morgan’s Blood and Feathers, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, and Anne Rice’s Seraphim duology.

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GRAPHIC NOVELS

Haven’t featured the graphic novels I’ve received for a while, so these go back a fair way. Some interesting ones, though…

BlackScience-Vol.01Black Science, Vol.1 – “How to Fall Forever” (Image)

Writer: Rick Remender | Art: Matteo Scalera, Dean White

Anarchist scientist Grant McKay has done the impossible! Using the Pillar, he has punched a hole through the barriers between dimensions, allowing travel to all possible universes. But now Grant and his team are trapped in the folds of infinity, the Pillar sending them careening through a million universes of unimaginable adventure, sanity-flaying danger and no way home…

Collects: Black Science #1-6

New science fiction series from Rick Remender, who’s doing some great work, recently. Therefore, I’m very interesting in reading this.

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Bunker-Vol.01The Bunker, Vol.1 (Oni Press)

Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov | Art: Joe Infurnari

On their way to bury a time capsule, five friends – Grady, Heidi, Natasha, Daniel, and Billy – uncover a metal bunker buried deep in the woods. Inside, they find letters addressed to each of them… from their future selves.

Told they will destroy the world in the very near future, the friends find, over the next few days, growing further and further apart.

Though they’ve been warned against making the wrong choices, how do they know what the right ones are?

Can the future really be changed, or will an even darker fate engulf the world?

Collects: The Bunker #1-4

I met Fialkov in September 2011, at a signing in Los Angeles. He was very affable, and chatted with me for a bit about I, Vampire, his other work, and gave me a couple of suggestions. This is a new series of his, and it’s been doing really well with critics and fans alike. I’ve just been really slow about getting around to reading it. Looking forward to it.

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DeathSentence-Vol.01Death Sentence Vol.1 (Titan Comics)

Writer: Monty Nero | Art: Mike Dowling

What would you do with superpowers – and six months to live?

That’s the dilemma facing three people who’ve contracted the G+ Virus, an infectious agent that gives you incredible superpowers – before killing you!

What will struggling graphic designer Verity, failing indie guitarist Weasel and roguish media personality Monty do in the time that remains? Fade away – or go out in a blaze of glory?

And if they choose to kick back… will there be anything left of the world when they’re through?

From the streets of London to the North Atlantic, from intimate betrayals to the death of thousands, from muses lost and futures thrown away to the fall of society – DeathSentence is the jaw-dropping next step in superpowered storytelling!

Funny, fearless and frightening, packed with shocks, dialogue you can’t stop quoting, and the character finds of a generation – don’t miss this unforgettable comics debut!

The collection comes with 26-pages of exclusive commentary by the creators.

Collects: Death Sentence #1-6

This is a really interesting premise. I read the first issue after a ComiXology sale on Titan Comics, and really liked it. As I am wont to do, I promptly forgot to get the rest of the series, as I was distracted by many other things. With the collection coming out soon, I was happy to get this for review. Should be fun. I’m halfway through it already. It has some pretty interesting commentary in there, but it does lean a little bit towards the “shocking” (which isn’t really), which buries the thrust of the story a little bit. Still, it’s pretty good.

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ForeverEvil-HCForever Evil (DC Comics)

Writer: Geoff Johns | Art: David Finch

The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! In a flash of light, the world’s most powerful heroes vanish as the Crime Syndicate arrives from Earth-3! As this evil version of the Justice League takes over the DC Universe, no one stands in the way of them and complete domination… no one except for Lex Luthor.

Collects: Forever Evil #1-7

One of DC’s latest mega-event things. Not really sure what it’s about, or how it ties in with the main New 52 series (both DC and Marvel seem to have gone down the cross-over rabbit hole in 2013 and 2014). It’s a pretty big book, so should be a nice, long read. Johns does good work, for the main, so I am cautiously optimistic.

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Letter44-Vol.01Letter 44, Vol.1 – “Escape Velocity” (Oni Press)

Writer: Charles Soule | Art: Alberto Alburquerque

On Inauguration Day, newly elected President Stephen Blades hoped to tackle the most critical issues facing the nation: war, the economy, and a failing health care system. But in a letter penned by the outgoing President, Blades learns the truth that redefines “critical”: seven years ago, NASA discovered an alien presence in the asteroid belt, and kept it a secret from the world. A stealth mission crewed by nine astronauts was sent to make contact, and they’re getting close – assuming they survive the long journey to reach their destination.

Today, President-elect Blades has become the most powerful man on the planet. This planet!

Collects: Letter 44 #1-6

I picked up the first issue in this series a couple months back, and rather enjoyed the premise and writing, and the artwork is pretty good, too. This is the first collection, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the story panned out.

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SupermanWonderWoman-Vol.01Superman/Wonder Woman, Vol.1 – “Power Couple” (DC Comics)

Writer: Charles Soule | Art: Tony Daniel

Beginning a bold new series that details the relationship between The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess as writer Charles Soule (Swamp Thing) is joined by artist Tony S. Daniel (Batman) to tell the tale of a romance that will shake the stars themselves. These two super-beings love each other, but not everyone shares their joy. Some fear it, some test it – and some will try to kill for it. Some say love is a battlefield, but where Superman and Wonder Woman are concerned it spells Doomsday!

Collects: Superman/Wonder Woman #1-6

This was a controversial title, when it was first announced. I don’t actually think I’ve seen anyone review it, among the circle of reviewers I pay attention to. This means I’ll be coming at it with no preconceptions or expectations. I am still hoping for a good New 52 Superman title – Superman has become rather bland, and Action Comics suffered from… well, Grant Morrison. Please let this one not disappoint.

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Umbral-Vol.01Umbral, Vol.1 – “Out of the Shadows” (Image)

Writer: Antony Johnson | Art: Christopher Mitten

AN INCREDIBLE NEW DARK FANTASY STARTS HERE!

The young thief called Rascal witnesses the horrific and brutal murder of the royal family – now the world’s dark legends will be relived, and only Rascal even knows it’s happening!

Master worldbuilders ANTONY JOHNSTON (Wasteland, Daredevil) and CHRISTOPHER MITTEN (Wasteland, Criminal Macabre) bring you a new fantasy world rich in mythology, history, and blood!

Collects: Umbral #1-6

Image Comics hasn’t steered me wrong, recently. This is one of their new series, so of course I’m interested in checking it out. Looks weird and potentially creepy. Bodes well.

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Books Received…

BooksReceived-20140608

Featuring: Rachel Aaron, Tanya Huff, Charlie Human, John Hornor Jacobs, Matthew K. Manning, Rachel Pollack, Robert Rotstein, Kieran Shea, Taylor Stevens, Daniel Wallace

Aaron-NiceDragonsFinishLastRachel Aaron, Nice Dragons Finish Last

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: stay quiet, don’t cause trouble, and keep out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t cut it in a family of ambitious predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ – a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit – Julius has one month to prove to his mother that he can be a ruthless dragon or lose his true shape forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are seen as monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes that humans are more trustworthy than dragons.

I am a big fan of Aaron’s writing – her Eli Monpress fantasy series and her new sci-fi trilogy, written under the pseudonym “Rachel Bach” were great, light-hearted examples of the genre. I do have some catching up to do, though. This novel, the first in a new urban fantasy series, will be self-published by the author. It sounds interesting, too. An interesting twist on some popular UF tropes. I’ll hopefully be reading this pretty soon.

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HuffT-C5-TruthOfValourUKTanya Huff, The Truth of Valour (Titan)

Having left the Marine Corps, former Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is attempting to build a new life with salvage operator Craig Ryder. Turns out, civilian life is a lot rougher than she’d imagined. Torin is left for dead when pirates attack their spaceship and take Craig prisoner. But “left for dead” has never stopped Torin. Determined to rescue Craig, she calls in her Marines. And that’s when her mission expands from stopping the pirates to changing the balance of power in known space.

The fifth book in the Confederation series! Review soon.

Also on CR: Reviews of Valour’s Choice, The Better Part of Valour, The Heart of Valour, and Valour’s Trial

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Human-KillBaxterUKCharlie Human, Kill Baxter (Century)

AND HE THOUGHT THE HARD PART WAS OVER…

The world has been massively unappreciative of sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko. His bloodline may be a combination of ancient Boer mystic and giant shape-shifting crow, and he may have won an inter-dimensional battle and saved the world, but does anyone care? No.

Instead he’s packed off to Hexpoort, a magical training school that’s part reformatory, part military school, and just like Hogwarts (except with sex, drugs, and better internet access). The problem is that Baxter sucks at magic. He’s also desperately attempting to control his new ability to dreamwalk, all the while being singled out by the school’s resident bully, who just so happens to be the Chosen One.

But when the school comes under attack, Baxter needs to forget all that and step into action. The only way is joining forces with his favourite recovering alcoholic of a supernatural bounty hunter, Ronin, to try and save the world from the apocalypse. Again.

The anticipated follow-up to Apocalypse Now Now, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this. I think I’ll probably read it next, or next-but-one. Sounds fun.

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JacobsJH-IncorruptiblesUKJohn Hornor Jacobs, The Incorruptibles (Gollancz)

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way upstream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do.

In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together.

For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

I’ve actually already finished this. It was very good. Review either tomorrow or Tuesday.

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WorldAccordingToWolverineMatthew K. Manning, The World According to Wolverine (Bantam)

In The World According to Wolverine, Marvel Comics’ favorite stoic loner finally opens up on a range of topics that are close to his mutant heart. With helpful tips on everything from clawed combat to outdoor survival and dealing with the agony of adamantium implantation, this book will delight fans who want to learn how to be just like the headstrong hero. Also featuring Logan’s ruminations on an extremely long and checkered life, his global travels, and the art of picking the perfect partner, The World According to Wolverine will offer unparalleled insight into one of the most fascinating and mysterious characters in the Marvel Comics universe. The book will also come with a number of removable items, including a postcard from Madripoor, snapshots of Wolverine’s lost loves, a wanted poster for Dog Logan, an exclusive Wolverine poster, and much, much more.

I hadn’t been aware of this title (nor the Spider-Man one, below) before they arrived in the mail. I’ve had a flick through them both already, and I must say they’re rather fun. I’ll have them reviewed in the coming week.

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PollackR-ChildEaterUKRachel Pollack, The Child Eater (Jo Fletcher Books)

On Earth, the Wisdom family has always striven to be more normal than normal. But Simon Wisdom, the youngest child, is far from normal: he can see the souls of the dead. And now the ghosts of children are begging him to help them, as they face something worse than death. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how.

In a far-away land of magic and legends, Matyas has dragged himself up from the gutter and inveigled his way into the Wizards’ college. In time, he will become more powerful than all of them – but will his quest blind him to the needs of others? For Matyas can also hear the children crying.

But neither can save the children alone, for the child eater is preying on two worlds…

This sounds pretty interesting. Another Wizards’ College novel, but I have always had something of a weakness for such novels. I’ll hopefully be getting to this soon.

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RotsteinR-2-RecklessDisregardRobert Rotstein, Reckless Disregard (Seventh Street)

Parker Stern’s last case was highly publicized, so it’s no surprise when he is asked to defend a video game designer in a libel suit brought by a Hollywood media mogul, who may also be a murderer.

Former topnotch attorney Parker Stern, still crippled by courtroom stage fright, takes on a dicey case for an elusive video game designer known to the world only by the name of “Poniard.” In Poniard’s blockbuster online video game, Abduction!, a real-life movie mogul is charged with kidnapping and murdering a beautiful actress who disappeared in the 1980s. Predictably, the mogul – William “the Conqueror” Bishop – has responded with a libel lawsuit. Now it’s up to Parker to defend the game designer in the suit.

In defending Poinard, Parker discovers that people aren’t who they claim to be and that nothing is as it seems. At one point, his client resorts to blackmail, threatening to expose a dark secret about Parker. Then, many of the potential witnesses who could have helped the case die prematurely, and the survivors are too frightened to talk. Parker begins to feel as if he’s merely a character in a video game, fighting malevolent Level Bosses who appear out of nowhere and threaten to destroy him.

Reckless Disregard explores the lure of celebrity, the limits of the legal system to get to the truth, and the elusive assumptions that we make about the people and the reality around us.

I haven’t read Rotstein’s first novel, but this sounds pretty interesting. I shall endeavour to get to it before I move to Canada (a point at which I am going to have to bid farewell to too many of my books, and begin the slow, laborious and expensive process of replacing ARCs with eBooks). It does sound really good, mind…

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SheaK-KokoTakesAHolidayKieran Shea, Koko Takes a Holiday (Titan)

Five hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an easy early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic komodo dragons, Koko finds the most challenging part of her day might be deciding on her next drink.

That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.

I’ve dipped into this already, and I think it sounds pretty interesting and bonkers. It feels like ages ago, though, that I first heard about the novel. The book and one-sheet are covered in praise from other authors, many of whom I am already familiar with. I have high hopes for this.

*

StevensT-M2-TheInnocentUKTaylor Stevens, The Innocent (Arrow)

Eight years ago, a man walked five-year-old Hannah out the front doors of her school and spirited her over the Mexican border, taking her into the world of a cult known as The Chosen.

Now, after years of searching, childhood survivors of the group have found the girl in Argentina. But getting her out is a whole new challenge.

For the rescue they need someone who is brilliant, fearless and utterly ruthless.

They need Vanessa Michael Munroe.

Because the only way to get Hannah out is for Munroe to go in

This series has been described as being perfect “for fans of Lisbeth Salander, Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne”. That’s a pretty interesting selection, so I’m hoping to get to this soon. I’ve heard very good things, but have been oh-so-slow about getting around to reading anything by Stevens.

Also on CR: Interview with Taylor Stevens

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WorldAccordingToSpiderManDaniel Wallace, The World According to Spider-Man (Bantam)

It’s not easy being a Super Hero when you’ve got a steady job to hold down and girlfriend problems to deal with. Somehow, Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) manages to do it while regularly saving New York City from a rogues’ gallery of super villains. In The World According to Spider-Man, the wisecracking hero spills the beans on how he balances his two lives and manages to keep his trademark sense of humor, even while he’s tangling with Doc Ock or the Green Goblin. The book comes with a wealth of incredible inserts, including clippings from the Daily Bugle, snapshots taken by Spidey on his adventures, a letter from Oscorp, a note from Mary Jane Watson, a page from Uncle Ben’s diary, schematics showing how the web-shooters work, and much, much more.

See my earlier comments, above, about The World According to Wolverine. Both of these Marvel characters are among my favourite from that publisher, so I’ve enjoyed the quick reads of them both already.

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(MORE) Books Received…

BooksReceived-20140525

In what is fast becoming the Book Flood of Summer 2014, even more exciting books have been turning up in the post and as eARCs…

Featuring: Anna Caltabiano, Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston, Richard A. Clarke, James S.A. Corey, Ellen Datlow (ed.), Emma Donohue, Daryl Gregory, Elliott Hall, Doug Hulick, Kameron Hurley, Kendra Leighton, D.J. Molles, Edward St. Aubyns, Liesel Schwarz, Graeme Shimmin, Nalini Singh, James Thornton

Caltabiano-SeventhMissHatfieldUKAnna Caltabiano, The Seventh Miss Hatfield (Gollancz)

Rebecca, a 15-year-old American, isn’t entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn’t talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Rebecca wasn’t entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.

For Miss Hatfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Rebecca is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.

But before the process goes too far, Rebecca must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world. In order to retrieve the painting, Rebecca must infiltrate a wealthy household, learn more about the head of the family, and find an opportunity to escape. Before her journey is through, she will also have – rather reluctantly – fallen in love. But how can she stay with the boy she cares for, when she must return to her own time before her time-travelling has a fatal effect on her body? And would she rather stay and die in love, or leave and live alone?

And who is the mysterious stranger who shadows her from place to place? A hunter for the secret of immortality – or someone who has already found it?

One of Gollancz’s 2014 debuts, I was very much looking forward to reading this. I’m reading it at the moment and, while interesting and pretty well done, it isn’t really grabbing me… Hopefully it will pick up as I near the end…

*

CardOS-EarthAwakensOrson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston, Earth Awakens (Orbit)

Nearly 100 years before the events of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game, humans were just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. No one had seen any sign of other space-faring races; everyone expected that First Contact, if it came, would happen in the future, in the empty reaches between the stars. Then a young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun.

When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications between the far-flung human mining ships and supply stations, and between them and Earth. So Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. But there are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.

This is the third volume in Card & Johnston’s The First Formic War series. Sadly, I haven’t read any of the Ender’s Game-related novels, so I’m not sure I’ll get to this in the immediate future. I will, however, be reading Ender’s Game pretty soon.

*

ClarkeRA-StingOfTheDroneRichard A. Clarke, Sting of a Drone (Thomas Dunne)

In Washington, the Kill Committee gathers in the White House’s Situation Room to pick the next targets for the United States drone program. At an airbase just outside Las Vegas, a team of pilots, military personnel and intelligence officers follow through on the committee’s orders, finding the men who have been deemed a threat to national security and sentenced to death.  On the other side of the world, in the mountains where the drones hunt their prey, someone has decided to fight back. And not just against the unmanned planes that circle their skies, but against the Americans at home who control them.

I’ve read a fair bit of Clarke’s non-fiction, so I’m curious to see what his fiction is like. Hot topic, drones.

*

CoreyJSA-E4-CibolaBurnJames S.A. Corey, Cibola Burn (Orbit)

The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush has begun. Settlers stream out from humanity’s home planets in a vast, poorly controlled flood, landing on a new world. Among them, the Rocinante, haunted by the vast, posthuman network of the protomolecule as they investigate what destroyed the great intergalactic society that built the gates and the protomolecule.

But Holden and his crew must also contend with the growing tensions between the settlers and the company which owns the official claim to the planet. Both sides will stop at nothing to defend what’s theirs, but soon a terrible disease strikes and only Holden – with help from the ghostly Detective Miller – can find the cure.

I’m so behind on this series… This is the fourth novel in The Expanse series, yet I’ve only managed to read the first one, Leviathan Wakes. It was recently announced that the TV rights for the series have been bought and (possibly) started development. I’d like to catch up, and I’ll do my best to do so.

*

DatlowE-LovecraftsMonstersFullEllen Datlow (ed.), Lovecraft’s Monsters (Tachyon)

This deliciously creepy and loving tribute to the master of modern horror features riveting illustrated stories of his wicked progeny.

In the century since the master of horror, H. P. Lovecraft, published his first story, the monstrosities that crawled out of his brain have become legend: the massive, tentacled Cthulhu, who lurks beneath the sea waiting for his moment to rise; the demon Sultan Azathoth, who lies babbling at the center of the universe, mad beyond imagining; the Deep Ones, who come to shore to breed with mortal men; and the unspeakably-evil Hastur, whose very name brings death. These creatures have been the nightmarish fuel for generations of horror writers, and the inspiration for some of their greatest works.

This impressive anthology celebrates Lovecraft’s most famous beasts in all their grotesque glory, with each story a gripping new take on a classic mythos creature and affectionately accompanied by an illuminating illustration. Within these accursed pages something unnatural slouches from the sea into an all-night diner to meet the foolish young woman waiting for him, while the Hounds of Tindalos struggle to survive trapped in human bodies, haunting pool halls for men they can lure into the dark. Strange, haunting, and undeniably monstrous, this is Lovecraft as you have never seen him before.

Sounds like an interesting anthology.

*

DonoghueE-FrogMusicUKEmma Donohue, Frog Music (Picador)

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice – if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boom town like no other.

Some of my own research touched upon Chinese immigration into San Francisco during this period, so I thought the novel sounded quite interesting.

*

GregoryD-WeAreAllCompletelyFineDaryl Gregory, We Are All Completely Fine (Tachyon)

Harrison was the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties, and spends most of his time popping pills and not sleeping. Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by unreadable messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. Martin never takes off his sunglasses. Never.

No one believes the extent of their horrific tales, not until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these seemingly-insane outcasts form a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within – and which are lurking in plain sight.

I’m a big fan of Gregory’s writing – especially his latest novel, Afterparty (Tor in the US, Titan in the UK). This is very high on my TBR list.

*

HallE-S1-FirstStoneElliott Hall, The First Stone (John Murray)

Private eye Felix Strange doesn’t work homicide cases. He saw enough dead bodies fighting in Iran, a war that left him with a crippling disease that has no name and no cure. So when Strange is summoned to a Manhattan hotel room to investigate the dead body of America’s most-loved preacher, he’d rather not get involved.

Strange has a week to find the killer, and even less time to get the black-market medicine he needs to stay alive. In an America where biblical prophecy is foreign policy, Strange knows that his hiring is no accident. He can’t see all the angles, and he knows he’s being watched. In a race against time Strange must face religious police, organized crime and a dame with very particular ideas, while uncovering a conspiracy that reaches the very heart of his newly fundamentalist nation.

This is the June title for the Hodderscape Review Project, for which I am shamefully behind on my reading. Shamefully! In fact, there may not be a Cone of Shame large enough to encompass my lackadaisical approach… This is by no means do to a lack of interest in the titles I’ve received (indeed, this one sounds really interesting, and definitely up my street). I’ll be getting to this hopefully very soon, after I get my review of Speed of Dark ready. The First Stone is the first in a trilogy, so hopefully I’ll like this one and have more to read! The rest of the series includes The Fall (a prequel short story), The Rapture and The Children’s Crusade. I just bought the prequel, so I’ll slot that in before starting this.

*

Hulick-SwornInSteelDoug Hulick, Sworn in Steel (Tor)

It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend, burned down a portion of the imperial capital, and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the criminal elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince in the underworld, he’s learning just how good he used to have it.

With barely the beginnings of an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one dies, all signs point to Drothe as wielding the knife. As members of the Kin begin choosing sides – mostly against him – for what looks to be another impending war, Drothe is approached by a man who not only has the solution to Drothe’s most pressing problem, but an offer of redemption. The only problem is the offer isn’t for him.

Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire’s long-standing enemy, with an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out, fast…

Loved the first book, very glad this one has finally arrived!

Also on CR: Interview with Doug Hulick

*

HurleyK-WS1-TheMirrorEmpireKameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire (Angry Robot)

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog. Will get to it pretty soon.

Also on CR: Guest Post by Kameron Hurley

*

LeightonK-GlimpseUKKendra Leighton, Glimpse (Much-In-Little)

??

I’ve mentioned this novel a few times on the blog, recently. It sounds really interesting. The publicity material makes a big deal out of the fact that the novel is inspired by Alfred Noyes’s The Highwayman. Before reading the synopsis for this novel, I had never heard of that story, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to comment on that aspect, when I get around to reviewing this. I recently sent interview questions to Kendra, so expect that to go up mid-June. [Full disclosure: Kendra and I are friends from undergrad.]

*

Molles-R1-TheRemainingD.J. Molles, The Remaining (Orbit)

In a steel-and-lead encased bunker a Special Forces soldier wait on his final orders.

On the surface a bacterium has turned 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators.

Now Captain Lee Harden must leave the bunker and venture into the wasteland to rekindle a shattered America.

I do like post-apocalyptic novels. This was a self-published success before Orbit picked up the series. Hopeful it’ll be entertaining, and better than the Ex-Heroes series, which was another move-to-big-publisher zombie series that I… did not like much. This printed edition also includes the novella, “An Empty Soul” (not, as the back cover copy suggests, “Faith”).

*

StAubynE-LostForWordsEdward St. Aubyns, Lost For Words (Picador)

The judges on the panel of the Elysian Prize for Literature must get through hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year. Meanwhile, a host of writers are desperate for Elysian attention: the brilliant writer and serial heartbreaker Katherine Burns; the lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black; and Bunjee, convinced that his magnum opus,The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm. Things go terribly wrong when Katherine’s publisher accidentally submits a cookery book in place of her novel; one of the judges finds himself in the middle of a scandal; and Bunjee, aghast to learn his book isn’t on the short list, seeks revenge.

Lost for Words is a witty, fabulously entertaining satire that cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and asks how we can ever hope to recognize real talent when everyone has an agenda.

I’m almost finished, actually. It’s pretty good, too. Imagine everything you don’t like about publishing, literary society, and the most annoying denizens that inhabit it. Then make fun of them in a clever, wry manner. Short review coming soon (it doesn’t need a long one).

*

Liesel Schwartz, A Clockwork Heart & Sky Pirates (Del Rey UK)

Schwarz-2&3

FOR BETTER OR CURSE. That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.

As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle – who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay – Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart… literally.

In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device – a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.

I met Liesel Schwartz at a signing for her debut novel (the first in this series). Sadly, I haven’t got around to reading that novel, yet… Sigh. So many books, so very little time to get through them all…

Also on CR: Interview with Liesel Schwarz

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ShimminG-AKillInTheMorningGraeme Shimmin, A Kill In The Morning (Bantam Press)

“I don’t like killing, but I’m good at it. Murder isn’t so bad from a distance, just shapes in my scope. Close up work though, the garrotte around the neck, the knife in the heart, it’s not for me. Too much empathy, that’s my problem. Usually. But not today. Today is different…”

The year is 1955 and something is very wrong with the world: Churchill is dead and WW2 didn’t happen. Europe is in thrall to a nuclear-armed Nazi Germany. Only Britain and its Empire holds out, bound by an uneasy truce and all the while German scientists are experimenting with terrifying forces beyond their understanding – forces that are driving them to the brink of insanity and beyond.

Berlin is a hotbed of suspicion and betrayal – a lone British assassin is fighting a private war with the Nazis; the Gestapo are on the trail of a beautiful young resistance fighter and the head of the SS plots to dispose of an increasingly decrepit Adolf Hitler and become Fuhrer. While in London, a sinister and treacherous cabal will stop at nothing to conceal the conspiracy of the century.

Four desperate scenarios that are destined to collide with catastrophic effect. And it all hinges on a single kill in the morning…

Never heard of this before it arrived in the mail. Sounds kind of interesting, too.

*

SinghN-ShieldOfWinterUKNalini Singh, Shield of Winter (Gollancz)

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch – if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption.

But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

I’ve never read anything by Nalini Singh, although I’ve only heard very good things. One thing I’m not sure about, though, is if this novel can be read without prior knowledge? If not, then I’ll hopefully give it a try pretty soon. If yes, then…

*

ThorntonJ-SphinxSecondComingJames Thornton, Sphinx: The Second Coming (Barbican Press)

SPHINX: THE SECOND COMING delves into the powers of the Ancient Gods of Egypt, and conjures them into a thrilling science fiction adventure. The Sphinx waits. Methane bubbles beneath the ocean’s beds. Catastrophe is coming. A team of westerners is set to unlock a code found deep in the fabric of the Great Pyramid. The puzzle goes beyond time – for secrets of Ancient Egypt are alive beneath modern Cairo. The puzzle stretches into the universe, where the ruling powers on distant galaxies stay alert for the future of planet Earth. This is visionary storytelling of the highest order that takes you deep into the mysteries of Egypt, and the wildest reaches of the imagination.

Thornton seems to be a pretty accomplished fellow – especially in the realms of environmental protection and policy. Whether or not that will translate into a skill at penning gripping adventure stories…? We’ll just have to see. It sounds interesting – a bit like Lovegrove’s Pantheon series, perhaps? Maybe less action and war than that, though. Age of Ra meets Da Vinci Code…?

*

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.)

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.