Books Received (November 2013)

BooksReceived-201311

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CarverW-DeadSetWill Carver, Dead Set (Arrow)

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

Detective Inspector January David doesn’t love me.

He loves his missing sister. He loves his job.

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

I am his wife. I am still his wife.

And I will do anything for him.

No matter what I have to sacrifice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet already it may be too late…

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

Also on CR: Interview with John R. Fultz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HuffT-Confederation1&2

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

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

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

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HuffT-TheSilveredTanya Huff, The Silvered (Titan Books)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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untitledDavid Logan, The League of Sharks (Quercus)

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

Junk’s sister has been stolen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ReillyM-TheTournamentMatthew Reilly, The Tournament (Orion)

The year is 1546.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A groundbreaking alternate history World War 2 thriller.

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

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

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

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WareD-EckoBurningDanie Ware, Ecko Burning (Titan Books)

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

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

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

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

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

Also on CR: Interview with Danie Ware

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WilliamsJ-CopperPromiseJen Williams, The Copper Promise (Headline)

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

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

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

But sometimes there is truth in rumour.

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

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

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

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

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

Also on CR: Interview with Mazarkis Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Michael Crichton’s Pulp Novels (Hard Case Crime)

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

Books Received (May-June) – Or, “An Embarrassment of Riches…”

BooksReceived-20130524

I’ve been lax about keeping up-to-date with these posts (I like to give every book I receive at least a mention on the blog), so this is a bit of a bumper-edition of Books Received. It has been a wonderfully busy few weeks, too…

First Batch…

BallantineP-KindredAndWingsPhilippa Ballantine, Kindred and Wings (Pyr)

On the back of the dragon Wahirangi, Finn the Fox flees the world he has known. As he sets out to find the brother he never knew of, he still holds in his heart the memory of the Hunter. He has denied his love for her, but he cannot deny it forever.

In the halls of the Last Believers, Talyn begins to uncover her own mysteries, but her lust for the death of the Caisah is still strong and clouds her vision. She must choose her path, as the Seer of her people or as the assassin of the overlord.

Meanwhile, Byre, Talyn’s brother, must venture into the fiery world of the Kindred, to rebuild the pact that his ancestors made. He will risk everything he is as he forms a new pact that will change his people forever.

Dragons and myths will be reborn, as the Hunter and her Fox face each other once more.

This is the sequel to Hunter and Fox, which I have sadly left in New York… I will be reunited with it soon, though, and hopefully get caught up.

Also on CR: Interview with Philippa Ballantine

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Enge-WrathBearingTreeJames Enge, Wrath-Bearing Tree (Pyr)

Into the Unguarded Lands…

The masked powers of Fate and Chaos are killing gods in the land of Kaen, facing the Wardlands across the Narrow Sea.

Vocates Aloe Oaij and Morlock Ambrosius go into the Unguarded Lands, on a mission to find the reasons for the godslaying, and to avert any threat to the lands the Graith of Guardians has sworn to protect.

After crash-landing on the hostile coast of Kaen, they will face vengeful frightened gods, a calmly murderous dragon, a demon called Andhrakhar, and a bitter old necromancer named Merlin Ambrosius.

Amid these dangers they will find that they can trust no one but themselves—and each other.

Ah, James Enge… An author I’ve always want to read, but always start a novel when I’m not really in the mood… I’ll get there eventually, I promise. This is the sequel to A Guile of Dragons, and part of the Tournament of Shadows series.

Also on CR: Interview with James Enge (2011)

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HoffmanE-ShieldOfSeaAndSpaceErin Hoffman, Shield of Sea and Spice (Pyr)

Vidarian Rulorat, called the Tesseract, a powerful magic-user whose abilities spread across multiple elements, finds himself at war with the Alorean Import Company, a powerful cabal of merchants wealthy enough to buy nations. By opening the gate between worlds, Vidarian released the Starhunter, goddess of chaos. With her coming, wild magic returned to the world of Andovar, bringing with it shape-changers and strange awakened elemental technologies, including many-sailed ships powered by air magic, and mechanical automata lit from within by earth and fire. Now, Vidarian discovers that the Alorean Import Company is determined to eliminate two-thirds of this new life on Andovar in the hopes of hoarding more magic for themselves in a new, worldwide plutocracy. Along with his human, gryphon, and shapechanger allies, he must stop the Company if he is to safeguard any future for the diverse life of Andovar, including his and Ariadel’s newborn daughter. With the existence of whole species hanging in the balance, Vidarian is locked in a race for the future of the world.

Really striking cover art – couldn’t help but stare at it for a little while, when I opened the package. Sadly, I haven’t read the previous novel in the Chaos Knight series. I’ve heard some interesting things, though, so I will try to get to it at some point soon.

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KaneB-Hannibal2-FieldsOfBloodBen Kane, Hannibal: Fields of Blood (Preface)

The fields of Cannae provide the setting for one of the bloodiest battles in history. But who will triumph? Hannibal and his warrior army, or the mighty legions of Rome.

Hannibal’s campaign to defeat Rome continues as he marches south to confront his enemy.

With him is a young soldier, Hanno. Like his general, Hanno burns to vanquish Rome. Never has the possibility seemed so likely.

But a stealthy game of cat and mouse is being played as Rome’s generals seek to avoid confrontation.

Eventually the two armies meet under a fierce summer sun. The place is Cannae – the fields of blood.

The battle will go down in history as one of the bloodiest ever fought, a battle in which Hanno knows he must fight as never before – just to stay alive.

Also on CR: Interview with Ben Kane

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McDonald-BeMyEnemyUKIan McDonald, Be My Enemy (Jo Fletcher)

Everett Singh has escaped with the Infundibulum from the clutches of Charlotte Villiers and the Order, but at a terrible price. His father is missing, banished to one of the billions of parallel universes of the Panoply of All World, and Everett and the crew of the airship Everness have taken a wild, random Heisenberg Jump to a random parallel plane. Everett is smart and resourceful, and, from a frozen earth far beyond the Plenitude, he plans to rescue his family. But the villainous Charlotte Villiers is one step ahead of him.

The action traverses the frozen wastes of iceball earth; to Earth 4 (like ours, except that the alien Thryn Sentiency occupied the moon in 1964); to the dead London of the forbidden plane of Earth 1, where the emnants of humanity battle a terrifying nanotechnology run wild—and Everett faces terrible choices of morality and power. But Everett has the love and support of Sen, Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, and the rest of the crew of Everness—as he learns that the deadliest enemy isn’t the Order or the world-devouring nanotech Nahn—it’s yourself.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this series (for work), and I’m really interested in trying it out. Be My Enemy is the sequel to Planesrunner. I have both of the novels, and hope to get to them ASAP. (They are published by Pyr Books in the US.)

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Nevill-HouseOfSmallShadowsAdam Nevill, House of Small Shadows (Macmillan)

Catherine’s last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top antiques publication saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and now things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself – to catalogue the late M. H. Mason’s wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets.

Rarest of all, she’ll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from World War II.

When Mason’s elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection, Catherine can’t believe her luck. Until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle’s “art”. Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but M. H. Mason’s damaged visions raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she’d hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge. And some truths seem too terrible to be real…

I’ve never read anything by Nevill, before. After a discussion about horror at work, in which he was mentioned, this rather fortuitously appeared in the mail! It must be fate. Colour me intrigued. Even if the cover gives me the willies…

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Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era (Princeton)

A non-fiction book, obviously. I don’t know why I included that in the picture… I have received other non-fiction books, and they belong on Politics Reader. I’ve actually already finished this slim volume. It was good, but somewhat wanting. Review on the other site in the next few days, hopefully.

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Pryor-CryptThiefMark Pryor, The Crypt Thief (Seventh Street)

It’s summer in Paris and two tourists have been killed in Père La Chaise cemetery in front of Jim Morrison’s grave. One of the dead tourists is American and the other a woman linked to a known terrorist; so the US ambassador sends his best man and the embassy’s head of security – Hugo Marston – to help the French police with their investigation. At first, Hugo is stumped. How does this killer operate unseen? And why is he stealing the bones of once-famous can-can girls?

Hugo cracks the secrets of the graveyard, but soon realizes that old bones aren’t all this serial killer wants: his ultimate plan requires the flesh and organs of the living. And when the crypt thief spots the former FBI agent on his tail, he decides that Hugo’s body will do just fine.

This is the sequel to The Bookseller, which I thought was a pretty interesting debut. It wasn’t perfect (what is), but I enjoyed the writing, the character and the location. Pryor does a great job of bringing Paris to life on the page.

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RyanA-RS1-BloodSongUKAnthony Ryan, Blood Song (Orbit)

We have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.

Vaelin Al Sorna’s life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.

Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

The latest self-published author to be given the traditional-publisher roll-out, I’ve been hearing good things about this series for a while. A number of reviewers have reviewed the novel before Orbit picked it up for wider distribution. I’m certainly intrigued. I’ve also heard there’s a cockney urchin in it. This troubles me… Nevertheless, I’ll be reading it pretty soon, I hope.

And hey: broody-fella on the cover? Not wearing a hood!

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SaulterS-GemsignsStephanie Saulter, Gemsigns (Jo Fletcher)

For years the human race was under attack from a deadly Syndrome, but when a cure was found – in the form of genetically engineered human beings, Gems – the line between survival and ethics was radically altered.

Now the Gems are fighting for their freedom, from the oppression of the companies that created them, and against the Norms who see them as slaves. And a conference at which Dr. Eli Walker has been commissioned to present his findings on the Gems is the key to that freedom.

But with the Gemtech companies fighting to keep the Gems enslaved, and the horrifying godgangs determined to rid the earth of these ‘unholy’ creations, the Gems are up against forces that may just be too powerful to oppose.

I’ve already reviewed this novel (see, I told you I’ve been slow about getting this posts written…). Great novel. Highly recommended.

Also on CR: Excerpt from Gemsigns

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NebulaAwardsShowcase2013Various, Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 (Pyr)

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories in the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. The editor selected by SFWA’s anthology committee (chaired by Mike Resnick) is two-time Nebula winner, Catherine Asaro.

This year’s volume includes stories and excerpts by Connie Willis, Jo Walton, Kij Johnson, Geoff Ryman, John Clute, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Ferrett Steinmetz, Ken Liu, Nancy Fulda, Delia Sherman, Amal El-Mohtar, C. S. E. Cooney, David Goldman, Katherine Sparrow, E. Lily Yu, and Brad R. Torgersen.

A smorgasbord of fiction from a number of interesting authors. I’ll dip in, now and then.

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WilliamsM-2-KnifeSwornMazarkis Williams, Knifesworn (Jo Fletcher)

After years locked in a tower, Prince Sarmin has come into his own. He has been crowned emperor; he has wed Mesema of the horse tribes; the Pattern-Master is dead. Everything should be happy-ever-after.

But war has begun, Sarmin has no royal assassin, and both his wife and mother have given birth to sons, throwing the succession into question.

The last thing anyone needs is for Kavic, the Yrkman peace envoy, to be murdered in his bed. There are numerous possible killers, and with no convincing explanation for Kavic’s death, there is no hope for peace. It’s up to Grada, Sarmin’s trusted investigator, to solve the mystery – no matter how close to the throne the answer may lie.

I enjoyed The Emperor’s Knife, the first in this series. I’ll be interested to see how it continues, and hopefully before the third novel comes out, later this year.

Also on CR: Interview with Mazarkis Williams

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BooksReceived-20130605

And, the Second Batch…

Baker-TerminusAdam Baker, Terminus (Hodder)

The world has been overrun by a lethal infection, ravaged by a pathogen that leaves its victims locked half-way between life and death. New York, bombed to prevent the spread of the disease, has been reduced to radioactive rubble. A rescue squad enters the subway tunnels beneath Manhattan, searching for the one man who can create an antidote.

The squad battle floodwaters, lethal radiation and infected, irradiated survivors as they race against the disease that threatens to extinguish the human race.

Adam Baker has not featured enough on this blog. His novels all sound pretty cool, and right smack-dab in the middle of my wheelhouse. (Eh?) So, when I learned of the premise of his third novel (zombies in New York!), I knew it would have to get read very quickly. So expect a review of Terminus very soon. (It’ll be my next read, after I finish Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere, but I’ve stored up a few reviews now, so it’ll be a couple of weeks before the review actually appears…)

Also on CR: Interview with Adam Baker (Video), Guest Post on Trauma

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BarryM-LexiconMax Barry, Lexicon (Mullholland)

Two years ago, something terrible was unleashed in an Australian mining town called Broken Hill. Thousands died.

Few people know what really happened.

Emily Ruff is one of them. She belongs to an elite organisation of ‘poets’: masters of manipulation who use language to warp others to their will. She was one of their most promising recruits until she made a catastrophic mistake: she fell in love.

Wil Parke knows the truth too, only he doesn’t remember it. And he doesn’t know why he’s immune to the poets’ powers. But he knows he needs to run.

As their stories converge, the past is revealed, and the race is on for a deadly weapon: a word.

Because the poets know that words can kill…

Max Barry is a superb author. Jennifer Government was superb, so I’m really looking forward to reading Lexicon. It’s going to be placed very near the top of Mt. TBR.

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BrennanML-GenerationVM.L. Brennan, Generation V (Ace)

Reality Bites

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him…

I first heard of this via Bastard Books (whose taste in Urban Fantasy I respect and value very highly), so when this turned up, I was most intrigued. I’m working on an interview with the author, too. Watch this space!

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Human-ApocalypseNowNow-UKCharlie Human, Apocalypse Now Now (Century)

Baxter Zevcenko is your average sixteen-year-old-boy — if by average you mean kingpin of a schoolyard porn syndicate and possible serial killer who suffers from surreal  nightmares. Which may very well be what counts as average these days. Baxter is the first to admit that he’s not a nice guy. After all, if the guy below you falls, dragging you down into an icy abyss you have to cut him loose — even in high school. That is until his girlfriend, Esmé, is kidnapped and Baxter is forced to confront a disturbing fact about himself — that he has a heart, and the damn thing is forcing him to abandon high-school politics and set out on a quest to find her. The clues point to supernatural forces at work and Baxter is must admit that he can’t do it alone. Enter Jackie Ronin, supernatural bounty hunter, Border War veteran, and all-round lunatic, who takes him on a chaotic tour of Cape Town’s sweaty, occult underbelly.

What do glowing men, transsexual African valkyries, and zombie-creating arachnids have to do with Esmé’s disappearance? That’s what Baxter really, really needs to find out.

I’ve actually already read this novel. It’s kinda awesome. Review sometime in July…

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LordK-BestOfAllPossibleWorldsKaren Lord, The Best of all Possible Worlds (Jo Fletcher)

The Sadiri were once the galaxy’s ruling élite, but now their home planet has been rendered unlivable and most of the population destroyed. The few groups living on other worlds are desperately short of Sadiri women, and their extinction is all but certain.

Civil servant Grace Delarua is assigned to work with Councillor Dllenahkh, a Sadiri, on his mission to visit distant communities, looking for possible mates. Delarua is impulsive, garrulous and fully immersed in the single life; Dllenahkh is controlled, taciturn and responsible for keeping his community together. They both have a lot to learn.

I’m really intrigued by this novel, so I was very happy to get a copy in the mail. I’ll also be sharing an excerpt of it in the near future. (Can’t remember the exact date I settled on, but be sure to keep checking back.)

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Marmell-ICC1-InThunderForgedAri Marmell, In Thunder Forged (Pyr)

An action-packed steam-tech fantasy that combines elements of epic wartime adventure with thrilling cloak-and-dagger espionage.

The Iron Kingdoms are at war – a war fought with machine guns and magic, knights of valor, and earth shaking titans of steam and steel. And now that war may hinge entirely on nothing more than a sheaf of papers.

An alchemical formula, stolen by an ally they thought they could trust, could cost the brave soldiers of Cygnar everything. Their only hope: a cunning spy, a knight out of her element, and a frighteningly small unit of the best that Cygnar has to offer.

Arrayed against them is not only a single, devious enemy, but the combined intelligence apparatus-and possibly the full military might-of the most brutal martial power Cygnar has ever known.

This is the first novel in a new tie-in series, based on the Warmachine: Iron Kingdoms roleplaying game. I know nothing about the game (except for a quick visit to their website – it looks kinda interesting), but I’m a fan of Marmell’s novels (the Widdershins YA series, and also The Conqueror’s Shadow, the sequel for which I really need to get around to…). I’m going to have to squeeze this in near the top of the TBR mountain.

Also on CR: Interview with Ari Marmell (2010), Guest Post

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McIntoshW-LoveMinusEightyWill McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty (Orbit)

A NOVEL OF LOVE AND DEATH, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

The words were gentle strokes, drawing her awake. “Hello. Hello there.” She felt the light on her eyelids, and knew that if she opened her eyes they would sting, and she would have to shade them with her palm and let the light bleed through a crack. “Feel like talking?” A man’s soft voice. And then her mind cleared enough to wonder: who was this man at her bedside? She tried to sigh, but no breath came. Her eyes flew open in alarm.

The Minus Eighty… Where millionaires browse the catalogue of icy women, judging on beauty ratings and revival costs. Where a freezer’s gentle hum plays the background symphony for the world’s most expensive first dates. Where death is only the beginning.

This has been lauded around the SFF reviewing community already (and beyond – it’s causing quite the stir), so I’m hoping to get to it ASAP. It has a superb premise, too, which can’t fail but grab your attention.

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PatrickS-ReviverSeth Patrick, Reviver (Macmillan)

Death won’t silence them. Revivers. Able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise.

Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation.

In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service. Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain.

Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers. Working with Harker’s daughter Annabel, he’s determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long-hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger…

This has been getting a fair bit of buzz on the Twitters, so I’m hoping to get to it relatively soon. It sounds pretty cool.

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Which of these grab your fancy? Any other upcoming books you’re really looking forward to?

Upcoming: “The Tower Broken” by Mazarkis Williams (Jo Fletcher)

I just caught this over on BookSworn, and thought I’d share it on here as well. I’ve only read the first novel in Williams’ series, The Emperor’s Knife, and do intend to get to the second, Knife Sworn, as soon as time permits.

WilliamsM-3TowerBroken

Is it just me, or does the fellow on the cover have a bit of a cheeky smile on his face…?

The only synopsis I could find of the novel was this single-sentence from Rising Shadow:

“Cerana faces down its historical enemy while a greater threat creeps through the desert towards the capitol city of Nooria.”

And over at the above-linked BookSworn page, Mazarkis Williams had this to say about the plot:

“Govnan gets a point of view in this final book, and the Tower is the focus of the story. When faced with the prospect of its utter ruin and the destruction of Nooria, Govnan must make some tough choices.”

I’ll keep my eyes open for a proper synopsis, and update this post as-and-when something more concrete becomes available.

UPDATE! [May 10] Here is the publisher’s synopsis for the book:

Nooria is at breaking point. The nothing bleeds out the very essence of all, of stone, silk – and souls. Sarmin thought he had stopped it, but it is spreading towards Cerana – and he is powerless to halt the destruction.

Even as Cerana fills with refugees, the Yrkmen armies arrive, offering to spare Sarmin’s people if they will convert to the Mogyrk faith.

Time is running out for Sarmin and 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 Tower Broken will be available in “Late 2013”, published by Jo Fletcher books in the UK on November 7th 2013. (US details still pending confirmation.)