Thursday, June 06, 2013

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


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


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)


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.


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


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.)


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…


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.


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.


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!


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


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.


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



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


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.


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!


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…


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.)


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


McIntoshW-LoveMinusEightyWill McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty (Orbit)


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.


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.


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

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