Sunday, December 15, 2013

Books Received (December)


A nice selection again, this month – and a mixed bag, to boot. Two publishers have four books each – Headline and Arrow/Random House – but it’s a testament to their varied lists that they aren’t all the same (saving two Star Wars novels). Headline, actually, has been really impressing me this year: they buy and publish a great range of titles, and as far as I can tell are often pushing the boat out, too. It’s been a (thankfully) slower month, too, so I have some chance of actually being able to catch up on some/most of this. It certainly helps that a couple of these have been on my Must-Read list for a long while (here’s looking at Breach Zone, Razor’s Edge and Scoundrels), but the unexpected arrivals look interesting, too.

ColeM-SO3-BreachZoneUKMyke Cole, Breach Zone (Headline)

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers — summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

Another opportunity to feature Myke’s novels and that cover? Why yes, I shall most certainly be taking that. Anticipation is very high for this novel, from a number of readers and reviewers. I’ve had it for a week, now, but I’m saving it for my Christmas break, so I can read it without worrying about having to interrupt reading by going to work… I loved the first two books in the series (see below for review links), and I have high expectations for this one. It’s becoming a bit of an end-of-yearly ritual, reading the new Myke Cole novels. Let’s hope there are many more years of this tradition still to come.

Also on CR: Reviews of Control Point and Fortress Frontier, Interview with Myke Cole, Guest Post by Myke Cole (Inspirations)


Harris&Golden-CemeteryGirl1-PretendersCharlaine Harris & Christopher Golden, Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders (Jo Fletcher Books)

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill — names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead — and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave — and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself — or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help...

A slim graphic novel, the first of three (I believe), by mega-selling True Blood author Charlaine Harris and New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden. I’ll be reading this hopefully tonight, actually, so expect a review sometime pre-Christmas, I expect (I have a fair number of reviews I need to catch up on writing…).

Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Golden


HarrisonASA-TheSilentWifeUKPBA.S.A. Harrison, The Silent Wife (Headline)

A chilling psychological thriller portraying the disintegration of a relationship down to the deadliest point when murdering your husband suddenly makes perfect sense.

Todd Gilbert and Jodie Brett are in a bad place in their relationship. They’ve been together for twenty-eight years, and with no children to worry about there has been little to disrupt their affluent Chicago lifestyle. But there has also been little to hold it together, and beneath the surface lie ever-widening cracks. HE is a committed cheater. SHE lives and breathes denial. HE exists in dual worlds. SHE likes to settle scores. HE decides to play for keeps. SHE has nothing left to lose. When it becomes clear that their precarious world could disintegrate at any moment, Jodie knows she stands to lose everything. It’s only now she will discover just how much she’s truly capable of...

I picked this up in Sainsbury’s. It’s been all over the place, and the London Tube are lined with massive posters advertising the novel, plastered with masses of glowing, gushing quotations and blurbs. A little slow to the party, perhaps, but I started reading it this morning. Only a little bit in and it’s good. So far, it’s good. Haven’t seen yet what makes people gush so much about it, but still early days.


FordR-SH2-ShatteredCrownRichard Ford, The Shattered Crown (Headline)


Heroes must rise ...

The King is dead. His daughter, untested and alone, now wears the Steel Crown. And a vast horde is steadily carving a bloody road south, hell-bent on razing Steelhaven to the ground

... or the city will fall

Before the city faces the terror that approaches, it must crush the danger already lurking within its walls. But will the cost of victory be as devastating as that of defeat?

The second novel in Ford’s Steelhaven (grimdark fantasy) series. I have the first novel on my shelf, but have yet to dive in. I’ve heard some pretty great things, though, and I had the pleasure of chatting with Richard at WFC 2013 in Brighton. He was a very nice fellow. I hope to get to this in the new year, along with the first book. Maybe make a reading week of the two.

Also on CR: An Interview with Richard Ford


Katsu-T3-DescentAlma Katsu, The Descent (Arrow)

Lanore McIlvrae has been on the run from Adair for hundreds of years, dismayed by his mysterious powers and afraid of his temper. She betrayed Adair’s trust and imprisoned him behind a stone wall to save Jonathan, the love of her life. When Adair was freed 200 years later, she was sure that he would find her and make her existence a living hell. But things turned out far different than she’d imagined.

Four years later, Lanore has tracked Adair to his mystical island home, where he has been living in self-imposed exile, to ask for a favor. She wants Adair to send her to the hereafter so she may beg the Queen of the Underworld to release Jonathan, whom she has been keeping as her consort. Will Lanore honor her promise to Adair to return? Or is her intention to reunite with Jonathan at any cost?

Of all the forces of the universe, the most mysterious, confounding, and humbling is the power of love. The epic story of love and loss, magic and destiny that began with The Taker and sparked a chase around the world in The Reckoning comes to a surprising conclusion with The Descent.

This sounds kind of interesting, although I didn’t realise it was the third in the series… Nuts. Not sure when I’ll be able to get around to reading the first two, but I will put it on the Want To Read list, at the very least. We’ll have to see.


LeGuinUK-LeftHandOfDarkness1992Ursula le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (Orbit)

Winter is an Earth-like planet with two major differences: conditions are semi-artic even at the warmest time of the year, and the inhabitants are all of the same sex. Tucked away in a remote corner of the universe, they have no knowledge of space travel or of life beyond their own world. And when a strange envoy from space brings news of a vast coalition of planets which they are invited to join, he is met with fear, mistrust and disbelief…

This is one of the classics of science fiction. Naturally, it is also one of the many novels I have never read… So it was nice that this came up as part of the Hodderscape review project (they have teamed up with Orbit for this month’s title). I’ll hopefully get it read A.S.A.P.


LeonardA-MothAndSparkAnne Leonard, Moth and Spark (Headline)


He’s cursed with an impossible task. She’s blessed with magical visions.

Together they can save a divided Empire.

Prince Corin has been given the task of freeing the dragons from their bondage to the Empire. However, it seems that that not even the dragonriders themselves know how these terrifying beasts are kept under control.

When Tam, a doctor’s daughter, arrives in the capital she makes an amazing discovery: she is a Seer, gifted with visions.

Sparks fly when Corin and Tam meet ... but it’s not all happily ever after. Not only is the prince forbidden to marry a commoner, but war is coming to Caithen. Torn between love and duty, they must work together to uncover the secret that threatens to destroy their country.

I don’t really know much about this novel. I’ve seen it mentioned here-and-there, not to mention in the Headline Catalogue I was reading not so long ago. I’m intrigued, certainly – “Game of Thrones meets Jane Austen” is an interesting way of pitching a novel, even if Martin’s epic has become a bit of a publicity crutch in fantasy circles. Never seen it twinned with Austen, though, which is why it caught my attention. I have high hopes for this one. Will probably read it in the new year, after I get back from Canada. [Also, that’s a really nice cover…]


StevensT-InformationistUKTaylor Stevens, The Informationist (Arrow)

Vanessa Munroe deals in information – covert information. With an extraordinary intellect, a physique that allows her to pass as either male or female, and ruthless martial arts skills, she offers a unique service to anyone – government or individual – who’ll pay her.

Now a Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter, who vanished in Africa four years earlier. Where international investigators have tried and failed, Munroe follows a cold trail far into the lawless lands of central Africa.

And then things spin out of control.

Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself cut off from civilisation and left for dead. Her only hope of discovering the truth – and of getting out of Africa alive – is to face up to the violent past that she’s fought so hard to forget.

The first in Stevens’s Vanessa Michael Munroe series, this sounds like a pretty intriguing thriller. Not sure exactly when I’ll get to it, but hopefully not in the too-distant future. Sounds like an interesting protagonist, and I like the idea of another thriller set in Africa (it’s been a while since I last read one set there).


Wells-SW-RazorsEdgeMartha Wells, Razor’s Edge (Century/ Lucas Books)

Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.

But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive — and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire... if they find out her true identity.

Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death — or embrace it — to keep the rebellion alive.

The first of a new series of novels – Empire and Rebellion, focusing on the core characters from the movies, and adding to that era’s canon. I’m really looking forward to reading this, and also the next in the series, Honour Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey. [Interestingly, going to the series page on Goodreads, you will see “Untitled Luke Skywalker Novel by Kevin Hearne”, due out in 2015 – that could be very cool, too. Watch this space!]

I’m hoping this novel, Scoundrels (below), and also Crucible herald a shift in Lucas Books’ approach to writing fiction in the Star Wars universe: no more nine-book, drawn-out series. Please. They were getting a little tiresome – which is partly why I struggle to rustle up the enthusiasm for reading Apocalypse… But I hopefully will relatively soon, so I can enjoy the aforementioned Crucible.


Zahn-Scoundrels(SW)Timothy Zahn, Scoundrels (Arrow)

To make his biggest score, Han’s ready to take even bigger risks.

But even he can’t do this job solo.

Han Solo should be basking in his moment of glory. After all, the cocky smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon just played a key role in the daring raid that destroyed the Death Star and landed the first serious blow to the Empire in its war against the Rebel Alliance. But after losing the reward his heroics earned him, Han’s got nothing to celebrate. Especially since he’s deep in debt to the ruthless crime lord Jabba the Hutt. There’s a bounty on Han’s head — and if he can’t cough up the credits, he’ll surely pay with his hide. The only thing that can save him is a king’s ransom. Or maybe a gangster’s fortune? That’s what a mysterious stranger is offering in exchange for Han’s less-than-legal help with a riskier-than-usual caper. The payoff will be more than enough for Han to settle up with Jabba — and ensure he never has to haggle with the Hutts again.

All he has to do is infiltrate the ultra-fortified stronghold of a Black Sun crime syndicate underboss and crack the galaxy’s most notoriously impregnable safe. It sounds like a job for miracle workers… or madmen. So Han assembles a gallery of rogues who are a little of both — including his indispensable sidekick Chewbacca and the cunning Lando Calrissian. If anyone can dodge, deceive, and defeat heavily armed thugs, killer droids, and Imperial agents alike — and pull off the heist of the century — it’s Solo’s scoundrels. But will their crime really pay, or will it cost them the ultimate price?

Excellent, the paperback edition of this highly-anticipated novel! Zahn also wrote one of my favourite Star Wars trilogies, The Thrawn Trilogy, and I’ve been eagerly reading everything else he’s written for the franchise. This is a rather long novel, so the hardcover was utterly impractical for someone who has a three-hour commute into London for work. It would have just become destroyed. So, now that I have the novel in a more-manageable size, I may read on the plane to Canada on Wednesday. We’ll see.


No comments:

Post a Comment