Thursday, November 22, 2012

Recent Acquisitions (November 2012)

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a post like this – I’ve posted the occasional pic of new arrivals and purchases on Twitter. This month, though, I seem to have had a particularly varied selection of new acquisitions, so I thought I’d write up a bit of a post.

Here’s the selection:


A few of these actually arrived a long time ago at my previous address, but for some reason they’ve not been very good at telling us they’ve arrived. Also, a package was delivered by UPS in October, but they decided not to tell me. Which is really frikkin’ unhelpful. So, if a publisher has sent something to me in New York via UPS – I’m sorry I haven’t said thank you. I never received it, due to frustrating continual, seemingly endless need to move.

Anyway, on to what has arrived…

Joe Abercrombie, Red Country (Orbit)

Abercrombie-RedCountryUSThe latest grimdark masterpiece

Shy South comes home to her farm to find a blackened shell, her brother and sister stolen, and knows she’ll have to go back to bad old ways if she’s ever to see them again. She sets off in pursuit with only her cowardly old step-father Lamb for company. But it turns out he’s hiding a bloody past of his own. None bloodier.

Their journey will take them across the lawless plains, to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feuds, duels, and massacres, high into unmapped mountains to a reckoning with ancient enemies, and force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, a man no one should ever have to trust…

So… I still haven’t read any of Abercrombie’s novels. Despite owning them all. What the hell is wrong with me?! I have one-and-a-half months to keep to my pledge of reading at least one Abercrombie novel in 2012.

Actually, now that I think about it… I’m going to read The Blade Itself next. Starting tonight. Heir of Novron, another novel I’ve left too long, will have to wait just a little longer – though that, too, will be read before the end of 2012, too.


Amish, The Immortals of Meluha (Jo Fletcher)

Amish-1-ImmortalsOfMeluhaHugely successful in India, Amish’s story of Shiva finally comes to the West

1900 BC: the once-proud Suryavanshi rulers of the Meluha Empire are in dire peril. The empire’s primary river, the Saraswathi, is slowly drying up. There are devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis – and to make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills.

The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient prophecy: when evil reaches epic proportions and all seems lost, a hero will emerge…

This was a complete surprise, when it arrived in the mail. It is also very cool. I hadn’t heard a thing about the novel or Jo Fletcher Books’ acquisition of the UK rights. Expect this to be reviewed very soon (also a guest post about it closer to its release in January 2013).


Kate Beaton, Hark a Vagrant! (Pub)

Beaton-HarkAVagrantFun and irreverent, literary comics

Since Kate Beaton appeared on the comics scene in 2007 her cartoons have become fan favourites and gathered an enormous following, appearing in the New Yorker, Harper and the LA Times, to name but a few. Her website, Hark! A Vagrant, receives an average of 1.2 million hits a month, 500 thousand of them unique. Why? Because she's not just making silly jokes. She's making jokes about everything we learned in school, and more.

Praised for their expression, intelligence and comic timing, her cartoons are best known for their wonderfully light touch on historical and literary topics. The jokes are a knowing look at history through a very modern perspective, written for every reader, and are a crusade against anyone with the idea that history is boring. It's pretty hard to argue with that when you're laughing your head off at a comic about Thucydides. They also cover whatever's on her mind that week - be it the perils of city living or the pop-cultural infiltration of Sex and the City, featuring an array of characters, from a mischievous pony, to reinvented superheroes, to a surly teen duo who could be the anti-Hardy-Boys.

Perceptive, sharp and wonderfully irreverent, Hark! A Vagrant is as informative as it is hilarious, and a comic collection to treasure.

This was a very spur-of-the-moment purchase. A friend had a copy, when I was back in the UK for graduation and my own (latest) period of vagrancy, but I never got around to reading it. Then, when in Jim Hanley’s Universe today, Alyssa pointed out the Wonder Woman strips within. And I was sold. And because she said she’d like to read it, too, I felt justified in buying it… It looks like a lot of fun.


Thomas Brennan, Doktor Glass (Ace)

BrennanT-DoktorGlassAlternative Victorian Steampunk

In an age of Zeppelins and gyroplanes, atomics and horseless carriages, the Transatlantic Span is the industrial marvel of the nineteenth century. A monumental feat of engineering, the steel suspension bridge stretches across the Atlantic from Liverpool to the distant harbor of New York City, supported by no less than seven hundred towers. But in the shadows of its massive struts, on the docks of the River Mersey, lies a faceless corpse…

Inspector Matthew Langton is still seized with grief when he thinks of Sarah, his late wife. Tortured by nightmares and afflicted by breathless attacks of despair and terror, he forces himself to focus on the investigation of the faceless man. The victim wears the uniform of the Transatlantic Span Company but bears the tattoos of the Boers — could there be a Boer conspiracy to assassinate Queen Victoria on the upcoming Inauguration Day of the Span?

But the truth, as it begins to emerge, is far more bizarre than a political coup. As additional victims turn up — each with strange, twin burn marks on their necks — Langton draws a connection between the dead man beneath the bridge and chilling rumors of the Jar Bars, soul snatchers who come under cover of night. Most frightening of all is the mythic and elusive Doktor Glass, who may not only be behind the illicit trade in souls… but who may hold the key to what happened to the inspector’s own beloved wife on her deathbed…

Another novel I knew nothing about before it arrived (along with Between Two Fires, below). I haven’t read much Victorian Steampunk, but this could be the one that gets me into the genre. We’ll see what happens. I actually seem to have acquired a number of new Victorian Steampunk novels in recent weeks, so one can probably assume that there will be more featured on the site in the near future.


Christopher Buehlman, Between Two Fires (Ace)

Buehlman-BetweenTwoFiresAn intriguing Heaven-&-Hell war novel…?

And Lucifer said: “Let us rise against Him now in all our numbers, and pull the walls of heaven down…”

The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found a young girl alone in a dead Norman village. An orphan of the Black Death, and an almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that plague is only part of a larger cataclysm—that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on heaven, and that the world of men has fallen behind the lines of conflict.

Is it delirium or is it faith? She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the righteous dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across a depraved landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission: to confront the evil that has devastated the earth, and to restore to this betrayed, murderous knight the nobility and hope of salvation he long abandoned.

As hell unleashes its wrath, and as the true nature of the girl is revealed, Thomas will find himself on a macabre battleground of angels and demons, saints, and the risen dead, and in the midst of a desperate struggle for nothing less than the soul of man.

Heaven. Hell. Fallen angels. War. Yeah, I was always going to be interested in this…


Miles Cameron, The Red Knight (Orbit)

Cameron-TheRedKnightHotly-tipped, dragon slayin’ fantasy

Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern’s jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men – or worse, a company of mercenaries – against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he’s determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it’s just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can’t deal with.

Only it’s not just a job. It’s going to be a war...

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while – it’s out in the UK through Gollancz – and I do like the idea of a dragon-slaying fantasy. It feels like a very long time since I read something like that… Updated for modern sensibilities, this could be really good.


Brenda Cooper, The Creative Fire (Pyr)

CooperB-TheCreativeFireA social science fiction novel

Nothing can match the power of a single voice…

Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots while avoiding the dangerous peacekeeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship the Creative Fire. The social structure of the ship is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom. Then a ship-wide accident gives Ruby a chance to fight for the freedom she craves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and knowledgeable. Her weapons are a fabulous voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness.

Complicating it all – an unreliable A.I. and an enigmatic man she met – and kissed – exactly once – who may hold the key to her success. If Ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future.

Like the historical Evita Peron, Ruby rises from the dregs of society to hold incredible popularity and power. Her story is about love and lust and need and a thirst for knowledge and influence so deep that it burns.

I’ve written about this book before on the blog. I’m really keen to read it, I just haven’t been in quite the right mood for it just yet. It’ll feature soon, though. Watch this space! I’ve heard good things from others about it, so I will be getting to it.

Also on CR: Interview with Brenda Cooper


Paul Crilley, The Lazarus Machine (Pyr YA)

Crilley-T&N1-LazarusMachineMore intriguing alternative Victorian Steampunk

An alternate 1895...

A world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference Engine. Where steam and Tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.

It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.

But all is not well...

A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. As the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.

Professor Moriarty.

When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father's disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British

Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.

This was a surprise, out-of-the-blue arrival. It sounds pretty interesting, and as a YA it should be a pretty fun read. I’ll try to fit this into the schedule relatively soon, as well as organise an interview with the author if at all possible.


Ethan Cross, The Prophet (Arrow)

CrossE-1-TheProphet2A US Serial Killer Crime Thriller


Francis Ackerman Jr. is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Having kept a low profile for the past year, he is ready to return to work – and he’s more brutal, cunning, and dangerous than ever.


Scarred from their past battles, Special Agent Marcus Williams cannot shake Ackerman from his mind. But now Marcus must focus on catching the Anarchist, a new killer who drugs and kidnaps women before burning them alive.


Marcus knows the Anarchist will strike again soon. And Ackerman is still free. But worse than this is a mysterious figure, unknown to the authorities, who controls the actions of the Anarchist and many like him. He is the Prophet – and his plans are more terrible than even his own disciples can imagine.

With attacks coming from every side, Marcus faces a race against time to save the lives of a group of innocent people chosen as sacrifices in the Prophet’s final dark ritual.

Don’t know how I missed this author before. This is the second book in the Shepherd series, so I’m not sure when I’ll get to it – the completist in me is insisting I get the first novel before reading this one. So I’ll be doing that. Hopefully soon.


James Luceno, Darth Plagueis (Pub)

SW-DarthPlagueis(Luceno)The Emperor’s Backstory

Darth Plagueis: Like all Sith Lords before him, he craves absolute power. But like no Sith Lord ever, he possesses the ultimate power – over life and death.

Darth Sidious: In secret he masters the power of the dark side, while publicly climbing to the highest government office.

One desires to rule supreme; the other dreams of living forever. Together, they will destroy the Jedi and rule the galaxy. Unless merciless Sith tradition becomes their undoing…

So, there’s certainly a lot of interest in learning more about the history of the second-ultimate bad-guy (sorry, Emperor, but Darth Vader is still the baddest of the bad). At the same time, I wonder about getting the full story – there is something nice in the mystery of the Emperor’s background and Sith training. I’ll probably still really want to read this at some point… I’ve heard very good things (actually, I don’t think I’ve read or heard of a bad review outside of Amazon, so that’s got to be a good sign).


Rob Salkowitz, Comic-Con & the Business of Pop Culture (McGraw Hill)

Salkowitz-ComicConBusinessPopCultureThe business of comics, the comic industry & the greatest convention in geek culture

Welcome to Comic-Con: where the future of pop culture comes to life

Every summer, more than 130,000 comic fans, gamers, cosplay enthusiasts, and nerds of all stripes descend on San Diego to mingle with the top entertainment celebrities and creative industry professionals in an unprecedented celebration of popular culture in all its forms.

From humble beginnings, Comic-Con has mutated into an electrifying, exhausting galaxy of movies, TV, video games, art, fashion, toys, merchandise, and buzz. It’s where the future of entertainment unspools in real time, and everyone wants to be there.

In Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, author Rob Salkowitz, a recognized expert in digital media and the global digital generation (and unabashed comics enthusiast), explores how the humble art form of comics ended up at the center of the 21st-century media universe. From Comic-Con’s massive exhibit hall and panels to its exclusive parties and business suites, Salkowitz peels back the layers to show how comics culture is influencing communications, entertainment, digital technology, marketing, education, and storytelling.

What can the world’s most approachable and adaptable art form tell us about the importance of individual talent and personal engagement in the era of the new global audience, the iPad, and the quarter-billion-dollar summer blockbuster? Here are some of the issues Salkowitz explores:

How do you succeed in the transmedia maelstrom? Comics have hopscotched across the media landscape for decades. What can we learn from their successes and failures as we careen toward a converged digital future?

Have comics cracked the digital code? Everyone is scrambling to deal with the business disruptions of digital distribution. Does the recent success of comics on tablets demonstrate a new model for other industries, or do dangers lie ahead?

What’s next for “peak geek”? Will the ascendant nerd culture of the early 2010s keep its new audience engaged or burn out from overexposure?

Really not sure what this is going to be like, but it looked interesting, so I’ll dip in and report back.


Scott Sigler, Nocturnal (Pub)

Sigler-NocturnalA horror thriller

Homicide detective Bryan Clauser is losing his mind.

How else to explain the dreams he keeps having — dreams that mirror, with impossible accuracy, the gruesome serial murders taking place all over San Francisco? How else to explain the feelings these dreams provoke in him — not disgust, not horror, but excitement?

As Bryan and his longtime partner, Lawrence “Pookie” Chang, investigate the murders, they learn that things are even stranger than they at first seem. For the victims are all enemies of a seemingly ordinary young boy — a boy who is gripped by the same dreams that haunt Bryan. Meanwhile, a shadowy vigilante, seemingly armed with superhuman powers, is out there killing the killers. And Bryan and Pookie’s superiors — from the mayor on down — seem strangely eager to keep the detectives from discovering the truth.

Doubting his own sanity and stripped of his badge, Bryan begins to suspect that he’s stumbled into the crosshairs of a shadow war that has gripped his city for more than a century — a war waged by a race of killers living in San Francisco’s unknown, underground ruins, emerging at night to feed on those who will not be missed.

And as Bryan learns the truth about his own intimate connections to the killings, he discovers that those who matter most to him are in mortal danger…and that he may be the only man gifted — or cursed — with the power to do battle with the nocturnals.

I missed this the first time around (hardcover), so I’ll definitely be checking this out. Now that I’m being more careful about rotating genres that I’m reading, this will probably take one of the thriller slots in the near future.


Allen Steele, Apollo’s Outcasts (Pyr YA)

Steele-ApollosOutcastsA YA Space adventure

Jamey Barlowe has been crippled since childhood, the result of being born on the Moon. He lives his life in a wheelchair, only truly free when he is in the water. But then Jamey’s father sends him, along with five other kids, back to the Moon to escape a political coup d’etat that has occurred overnight in the United States. Moreover, one of the other five refugees is more than she appears.

Their destination is the mining colony, Apollo. Jamey will have to learn a whole new way to live, one that entails walking for the first time in his life. It won’t be easy and it won't be safe. But Jamey is determined to make it as a member of Lunar Search and Rescue, also known as the Rangers. This job is always risky but could be even more dangerous if the new US president makes good on her threat to launch a military invasion. Soon Jamey is front and center in a political and military struggle stretching from the Earth to the Moon.

Quite like the sound of this. I’ll try to squeeze it in very soon.


J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis, Superman: Earth One Vol.2 (DC)

Superman-EarthOne-02The second book in the original graphic novel Superman series

Young Clark Kent continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero, but finds dealing with humanity to be a bigger challenge than he ever imagined! From a ruthless dictator to a new love interest who’s NOT Lois Lane, things are never easy for this emerging Man of Steel.

And the worst is yet to come, in the form of a man-monster with an insatiable appetite, the Parasite! The only thing that might appease his hunger is The Last Son of Kryptonian! But that will also mean he will have Superman's powers without his conscience, and Kal-El cannot come anywhere near him, even though he has to stop him!

I really enjoyed the first volume in this series – the story was very good, and the artwork was stunning. So, naturally, I had to get the second volume when I could. It was on sale in Barnes & Noble, and I was feeling indulgent. So there we go. I’ll read it probably over the Thanksgiving break.


There have also been a number of eBooks and non-fiction books, but I’ll end the post at this point. There are, once again, a dazzling number of exciting releases – in fiction and comics – and I am just about to contain myself with all the excitement and sensory overload of biblio-coveting.

1 comment:

  1. Nice haul! Nocturnal is a good read, and I love the sound of Hark! A Vagrant.