Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Catching Up With the Book Haul

It’s been a loooong time since I did one of these, but because the past few weeks have been amazing for books, I thought I’d use this opportunity for a quick round-up of what you can expect to appear on the blog in the next few weeks and months – some of these have arrived quite early, so I’ll hold back on them until closer to their publication dates.

This is not exhaustive (some very exciting books came in the mail after I took the photo below), so there is actually going to be even more awesome stuff up here as well. This post also doesn’t talk about the comics and graphic novels that will feature on the blog, but I’ll do a separate post for those.

20120320-BooksReceivedCatchUp

Grimwood-OutcastBlade2Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, The Outcast Blade (Orbit)

As the Byzantine and German emperors plot war against each other, Venice’s future rests in the hands of three unwilling people:

The newly knighted Sir Tycho. An ex-slave and trained assassin who defeated the Mamluk navy but cannot make the woman he loves love him back. Tortured by secrets, afraid of the daylight, he sees no reason to save a city he hates.

The grieving Lady Giulietta. Impossibly rich, deeply spoilt. A virgin, a mother, a widow… Both emperors want her hand for their sons in marriage. All she wants is to retire from the poisonous world of the Venetian court to mourn her husband in peace.

And finally a naked, mud-strewn girl who crawls from a paupers’ grave on an island in the Venetian lagoon and begins by killing the men who buried her.

All love affairs are complicated at times but on this one hangs the fate of Europe’s richest city and two empires…

I loved The Fallen Blade, and have been looking forward to this second novel in the series ever since. If you’re looking for vampire fiction with a historical slant and a real gothic sensibility, then this is the series for you.

Also on CR: Interview with Jon Courtenay-Grimwood

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Zito-ReturnManV.M. Zito, The Return Man (Orbit/Hodder)

The outbreak tore the US in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.But in the wastelands of America, you never know who — or what — is watching you.

I’ve actually just finished this, so the review should appear on Thursday. A thought-provoking and haunting zombie-apocalypse story, which doesn’t skimp on gribbly combat, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Along with Chuck Wendig’s Double Dead, it’s also made me re-think my prejudice against zombie fiction – as a result, I’ve bought Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies (Vintage) and Mira Grant’s Feed (also Orbit), to read at some point in the future. (Don’t want to overdose on zombies.)

Dembski-Bowden-VoidStalkerAaron Dembski-Bowden, Void Stalker (Black Library)

The hunters have become the hunted. The Night Lords flee to the dark fringes of the Imperium to escape their relentless pursuers Рthe Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwé.

Their flight takes them to the carrion world of Tsagualsa, where their primarch died and their Legion was broken. There, history will repeat itself as a deadly assassin stalks the shadows, and the Night Lords are drawn into a battle they are destined to lose.

I absolutely loved the first two books in this series, so I am both excited to read the final part of the story and also saddened there’s not going to be any more (that I know of). With this and The Emperor’s Gift and Butcher’s Nails (which arrived today, so aren’t in the photo above) there’s going to be a fair amount of Aaron on the blog over the next few weeks. I think it’s safe to say that he is my favourite author writing for Black Library at the moment. If you haven’t read his stuff, and are a fan of Warhammer 40k, then you’re nuts, and seriously missing out.

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Dunn-SMB-ArchitectOfFateChristian Dunn (ed.), Architect of Fate (Black Library)

The Space Marines stand against the darkness, and yet on countless battlefields they play unwitting roles in the schemes of Fateweaver. From the doomed world of Ilissus, through the embattled corridors of the Endeavour of Will, to the borders of the Eye of Terror itself – friend and foe alike follow the great plan that he set in motion many thousands of years ago. But not even the Architect of Fate himself can foresee the destiny that lies in wait for him...

This book includes four interconnected novellas from some of Black Library’s best up-and-coming authors: Sarah Cawkwell, Darius Hinks, John French and Ben Counter (who’s not actually new to Black Library). All of the stories revolve around Kairos Fateweaver, greater daemon of Tzeentch and master of manipulation, who “has discovered the limits of his power”. I’ll probably read these in between other novels, spreading things out a bit. Unless I get hooked (entirely possible), which will mean I read it all in one go.

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Faye-GodsOfGothamUKLyndsay Faye, The Gods of Gotham (Hodder)

After a fire decimates a swathe of lower Manhattan, and following years of passionate political dispute, New York City at long last forms an official Police Department. That same summer, the great potato famine hits Ireland. These events will change the city of New York for ever.

Timothy Wilde hadn't wanted to be a copper star. On the night of August 21st, on his way home from the Tombs defeated and disgusted, he is plotting his resignation, when a young girl who has escaped from a nearby brothel, crashes into him; she wears only a nightdress and is covered from head to toe in blood. Searching out the truth in the child's wild stories, Timothy soon finds himself on the trail of a brutal killer, seemingly hell bent on fanning the flames of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment and threatening chaos in a city already in the midst of social upheaval. But his fight for justice could cost him the woman he loves, his brother and ultimately his life...

This is what I’m reading next-but-one, so I should be able to post a review either the day before or day after next Wednesday’s interview with Lyndsay. A historical thriller novel set in New York – of course I was going to be interested in this. An interview with Lyndsay Faye will be posted on the site on April 4th (and it’s a really interesting one).

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Harte-01-IreniconAidan Harte, Irenicon (Jo Fletcher)

The river Irenicon was blasted through the middle of Rasenna in 1347 and now it is a permanent reminder to the feuding factions that nothing can stand in the way of the Concordian Empire. The artificial river, created overnight by Concordian engineers using the Wave, runs uphill. But the Wave is both weapon and mystery; not even the Concordians know how the river became conscious – and hostile. But times are changing. Concordian engineer Captain Giovanni is ordered to bridge the Irenicon - not to reunite the sundered city, but to aid Concord's mighty armies, for the engineers have their sights set firmly on world domination and Rasenna is in their way.

Sofia Scaglieri will soon be seventeen, when she will become Contessa of Rasenna, but her inheritance is tainted: she can see no way of stopping the ancient culture of vendetta which divides her city. What she can't understand is why Giovanni is trying so hard to stop the feuding, or why he is prepared to risk his life, not just with her people, but also with the lethal water spirits – the buio – that infest the Irenicon. Times are changing. And only the young Contessa and the enemy engineer Giovanni understand they have to change too, if they are to survive the coming devastation – for Concord is about to unleash the Wave again...

This is a really intriguing novel. A historical fantasy, it has an interesting and original-seeming presmise. I hope to get to it relatively soon. [I write that a lot, don’t I… It’s entirely possible that there are too many good books coming out this year…]

Also on CR: Interview with Aidan Harte

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Hawke-HouseOfSecretsRichard Hawke, House of Secrets (Random House)

Senator Andrew Foster has it all: charm to spare, a loving wife, a beautiful daughter, and a fast-track career that will surely land him one day in the White House. And with the sudden resignation of the vice president, that track may have gotten a lot faster.

But there’s a problem.

There are people who know that Andy Foster’s charm can get the better of him, and they have bugged the Shelter Island bungalow where he is enjoying a midnight tryst with a beautiful campaign adviser. But all hell breaks loose when a man carrying an iron pipe comes crashing through the bedroom’s sliding glass door. Within seconds, the young woman lies bloodied, dead on the sheets, and Foster has fled in panic.

And it’s all on tape.

As momentum builds for Foster’s likely selection as the next vice president, the senator’s only hope of keeping his involvement with the murdered woman secret is to locate his blackmailers. But even they don’t have their hands on the devastating images. The man they used for the job has turned the tables and is blackmailing them.

All the while, Foster’s personal life is collapsing. His wife, Christine, senses that something is terribly wrong. Unhappy about their daughter’s living in a political fishbowl, Christine is also worried that she and her husband have drifted away from each other. Little does she know that power-hungry politicians and brutal gangsters are ready to rip her family utterly apart.

I picked this up in The Strand for half-price. I’ve been in the mood for political thrillers, recently, and while browsing the stacks for something else, I stumbled across this. This is what makes the Strand awesome and terrible all at the same time. If you’re ever in New York, you must go there!

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Jemisin-DB1-KillingMoon-TBCN.K. Jemisin, The Killing Moon (Orbit)

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers — the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe…and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru — the most famous of the city’s Gatherers — must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill — or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

Jemisin’s one of my favourite authors. I am verily giddy about starting this. But, because it’s not published until the beginning of May, I’m going to save it for the second half of April. If you haven’t read anything by Jemisin, then you’re seriously missing out – her worlds and characters are superb.

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Jordan-WhenSheWokeHillary Jordan, When She Woke (Algonquin)

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens in a new body to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes – criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime – is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.

I picked this up at a panel discussion at Housing Works in New York (which also featured Myke Cole and Naomi Novak), and thought Jordan’s explanation and discussion of her novel made it sounds right up my street and fascinating. I like the idea of a speculative novel based on some of the fundamental American political arguments, and I have very high hopes for this novel. I’m also going to organise an interview with Hillary if possible.

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Lyle-TheAlchemistOfSoulsAnne Lyle, The Alchemist of Souls (Angry Robot)

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

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

File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of Terrors ]

Another novel I keep putting back to “save for later”. I’ve had it for a while, and it now seems to occupy a “Too Early to Review This” place in my mind. It’s ridiculous, because it’s out in about a week or so. I need to get my ass in gear and read this! It’s receiving rave reviews all over the internet, too, so I’m expecting something great. [Please let me be right!]

Also on CR: Interview with Anne Lyle

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Martinez-EmperorMolluskVersusTheSinisterBrainA. Lee Martinez, Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain (Orbit)

Emperor Mollusk. Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth. Not bad for a guy without a spine.

But what’s a villain to do after he’s done . . . everything. With no new ambitions, he’s happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel aliens invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he’d prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course. Retirement isn’t easy though. If the boredom doesn’t get him, there’s always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or... well, you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn’t about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another.

So it’s time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he’s not out to rule the world. He’s out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!

After reading the guest post Martinez wrote for me, I just had to read this. It’s pretty short, so I’m going to fit it in when I need something fun. Hopefully very soon.

Also on CR: Guest Post by A. Lee Martinez

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McAuley-CowboyAngelsUSPaul McAuley, Cowboy Angels (Pyr)

The first Turing gate, a mere hundred nanometers across, is forced open in 1963, at the high-energy physics laboratory in Brookhaven; three years later, the first man to travel to an alternate history takes his momentous step, and an empire is born.

For fifteen years, the version of America that calls itself the Real has used its Turing gate technology to infiltrate a wide variety of alternate Americas, rebuilding those wrecked by nuclear war, fomenting revolutions and waging war to free others from communist or fascist rule, and establishing a Pan-American Alliance. Then a nation exhausted by endless strife elects Jimmy Carter on a reconstruction and reconciliation ticket, the CIA's covert operations are wound down, and the Real begins to wage peace rather than war.

But some people believe that it is the Real's manifest destiny to impose its idea of truth, justice, and the American way in every known alternate history, and they're prepared to do anything to reverse Carter's peacenik doctrine. When Adam Stone, a former CIA field officer, one of the Cowboy Angels who worked covertly in other histories, volunteers for reactivation after an old friend begins a killing spree across alternate histories, his mission uncovers a startling secret about the operation of the Turing gates and leads him into the heart of an audicious conspiracy to change the history of every America in the multiverse – including our own.

This is a novel I’ve been pondering for a while – I don’t have the greatest experience with parallel universe fiction, but I’ve read some pretty great stuff recently, and Pyr were kind enough to send me a review copy of this. It also has an awesome premise, which is what originally grabbed my attention. Expect a review relatively soon.

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McCarthy-ExogeneT.C. McCarthy, Exogene (Orbit)

Exogene (n.): factor or agent (as a disease-producing organism) from outside the organism or system. Also: classified Russian program to merge proto-humanoids with powered armor systems (slang).

Catherine is a soldier. Fast, strong, lethal, she is the ultimate in military technology. She’s a monster in the body of an eighteen year old girl. Bred by scientists, grown in vats, indoctrinated by the government, she and her sisters will win this war, no matter the cost.

And the costs are high. Their life span is short; as they age they become unstable and they undergo a process called the spoiling. On their eighteenth birthday they are discharged. Lined up and shot like cattle.

But the truth is, Catherine and her sisters may not be strictly human, but they’re not animals. Catherine may have only known death, but she dreams of life and she will get it at any cost.

I loved Germline, and I really have no excuse for not getting to this sooner other than sensory overload when it comes to looking at my bookshelves and attempting to decide what I’m in the mood for.

Also on CR: Interview with T.C. McCarthy

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Sigler-NocturnalScott Sigler, Nocturnal (Hodder)

For centuries, their race has lived beneath the earth, emerging only at night, to feed quietly on the dregs of society and slip back into the shadows. But now their time has come – their time to rise up from their hiding places and take back what is theirs.

San Francisco homicide detective Bryan Klauser is supposed to be hunting a serial killer. But a serial killer couldn’t be responsible for the seemingly impossible DNA evidence the crime-scene techs keep finding – or for the gory, strangely prophetic dreams Bryan keeps having. And what about the connections he keeps finding to a century-old cult – and his superiors’ sudden reluctance to give him the answers he needs about cases that should be dead and buried?

Ultimately, Klauser’s investigations will reveal a race of killers who’ve long lurked beneath San Francisco’s streets – and are preparing to take back the city. Klauser is the only man who can stop them, because... he might not be a man at all.

I don’t really know anything about this novel, except that it’s a lot longer than I was expecting… Supernatural thriller, though, so I’m hopeful that it’ll appeal. It certainly sounds interesting, based on the synopsis. Not sure exactly when I’ll be able to get to this, but hopefully in the next few weeks.

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Sprunk-3-ShadowsMasterJon Sprunk, Shadow’s Master (Pyr)

The northern wastes...

A land of death and shadow where only the strongest survive. Yet that is where Caim must go to follow the mystery at the heart of his life. Armed only with his knives and his companions, he plunges into a world of eternal night where the sun is never seen and every hand is turned against him.

Caim has buried his father’s sword and found some measure of peace, but deep in the north an unfathomable power lays waiting. To succeed on this mission, Caim will have to more than just survive. He must face the Shadow’s Master.

The last in Sprunk’s Shadow series, I’ll be reading this very soon. I really enjoyed the first two novels in the series – Shadow’s Son and Shadow’s Lure – so I have every expectation that Sprunk will be able to finish off the series with style. If you like fantasy featuring thieves and assassins, with an increasingly epic scale, then you’ll love this.

Also on CR: Interview with Jon Sprunk & Guest Post

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Werner-DeadWinterC.L. Werner, Dead Winter (Black Library)

More than a thousand years after the Age of Sigmar, the Empire he struggled to create rests on the edge of destruction – the reign of the greedy and incompetent Emperor Boris Goldgather has shaken down the great and prosperous edifice of his erstwhile realm. Without warning, a terrible and deadly plague strikes, wiping out entire villages and leaving towns eerily silent through the long frozen months. As the survivors struggle to maintain order and a worthy military presence, vermin pour up from the sewers and caverns beneath the cities, heralding a new and unspeakable threat – the insidious skaven!

C.L. Werner has a delightfully dark mind, and has a wonderful way of writing about Skaven – the hideous rat-men of the Warhammer world. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, so expect a review sometime very soon.

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Incredibly, these are not the only books I’ve received or bought for review – there are plenty of eBooks and graphic novels as well. I hope to get to all of them, but time may be against me. I’ll try to get as many read in advance as possible, but depending on how engaging they are, and assuming I’m in the mood for them, I may not be able to get them all read in time for their release dates. I may have to dragoon people into helping…

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