Sunday, March 06, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-03-05)

With such an enormous week of book arrivals this week, I might as well drop in the semi-regular disclaimer about these Books in the Mail posts:

As a reviewer for SFFWorld and maybe because of this blog, I receive a lot of books for review from various publishers. Since I can't possibly read everything that arrives, I figure the least I can do (like some of my fellow bloggers) is mention the books I receive for review on the blog to at least acknowledge the books even if I don't read them.

Sometimes I get one or two books, other weeks I'll get nearly a dozen books. Some weeks, I’ll receive a finished (i.e. the version people see on bookshelves) copy of a book for which I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) weeks or months prior to the actual publication of the book. Sometimes I'll want to read everything that arrives, other weeks, the books immediately go into the "I'll never read this book" pile, while still others go into the nebulous "maybe-I'll-read-it-category." More often than not, it is a mix of books that appeal to me at different levels.

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial Books for Young Readers, Hardcover 03/17/2011) – This is the latest novel, about a girl who think she’s a witch, from award-winning author Billingsly.

Briony has a secret. She believes her secret killed her stepmother, destroyed her twin sister’s mind, and threatens all the children in the Swampsea. She yearns to be rid of her terrible secret, but risks being hanged if she tells a soul. That’s what happens to witches: They’re hanged by the neck until dead.

Then Eldric arrives—Eldric with his golden mane and lion eyes and electric energy—and he refuses to believe anything dark about Briony. But he wonders what’s been buried beneath her self-hatred, hidden in Rose’s mangled thoughts, and whispered about by the Old Ones. And Briony wonders how Eldric can make her want to cry.

Especially when everyone knows that witches can’t cry.

A wild, haunting mystery and romance that is as beautifully written as it is captivating.


The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne (Dutton, Hardcover 07/21/2011) – Dutton is really aiming for the Dan Brown crowd with this one.

A spectacular thriller inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost in which the final chapter of the War in Heaven is about to play out on Earth, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. The Myth

When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, The Crusades, World Wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East Crisis... The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God's angels have been fighting Satan's demons on Earth, all in hopes of bringing about Satan's greatest ambition, the Apocalypse.

The Reality

Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.

Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side- and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pair up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind's darkest imagination.


The Dark City (Relic Master Book 1) by Catherine Fisher (Dial Books for Young Readers, Hardcover 05/7/2011) – First in a YA fantasy series which originally published in the UK. The publisher is backing this one big time, based on the packages I’ve received for the book

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters—some human, some not—that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.

Seduce Me in Dreams (Three Worlds Series #1) by Jacquelyn Frank (Ballantine, Mass Market Paperback 03/25/2011) – First in a new series that seems to be a military science fiction interplanetary romance.


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightwalkers and Shadowdwellers series, Seduce Me in Dreams begins a sexy new futuristic series featuring an elite group of military heroes.

Dark. Mysterious. Sensual. When Bronse Chapel, the commander of a specialized unit of the Interplanetary Militia, begins to dream about a beautiful and exotic brunette, he wants to dismiss it as being induced by lack of sleep . . . or perhaps lack of sex. But his instincts tell him it’s something different, something far more dangerous.

Ravenna is the leader of the Chosen Ones, a small group of people from her village born with extraordinary powers. She doesn’t know that draws her to Bronse’s dreams night after night, but she senses that he and his team are in jeopardy. Ravenna can help him, but first Bronse must save the Chosen Ones from those who plan to use their powers for evil. Together, Bronse and Ravenna will be unstoppable. But Ravenna is hiding something that could endanger them all.



Hidden Cities (Moishu, the Books of Stone and Water #3) by Daniel Fox Trade Paperback 03/25/2011 Del Rey) – Final book in a trilogy about mythic China. This is the published version of the ARC I received earlier in the year.

The mythic beasts and glorious legends of feudal China illuminate a world at war in this, the conclusion to Daniel Fox’s critically acclaimed series.

Whatever they thought, this was always where they were going: to the belly of the dragon, or the belly of the sea.

More by chance than good judgment, the young emperor has won his first battle. The rebels have retreated from the coastal city of Santung—but they’ll be back. Distracted by his pregnant concubine, the emperor sends a distrusted aide, Ping Wen, to govern Santung in his place. There, the treacherous general will discover the healer Tien, who is obsessed with a library of sacred mage texts and the secrets concealed within—secrets upon which, Ping Wen quickly realizes, the fate of the whole war may turn.

As all sides of this seething conflict prepare for more butchery, a miner of magical jade, himself invulnerable, desperately tries to save his beautiful and yet brutally scarred clan cousin; a priestess loses her children, who are taken as pawns in a contest beyond her comprehension; and a fierce and powerful woman commits an act of violence that will entwine her, body and soul, with the spirit of jade itself. Amid a horde of soldiers, torturers, and runaways, these people will test both their human and mystical powers against a violent world. But one force trumps all: the huge, hungry, wrathful dragon.


Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman (Viking, Hardcover 04/19/2011) – Sequel to Eon (aka Two Pearls of Wisdon in Australia) which Bride at SFFWorld enjoyed.


Once she was Eon, a girl disguised as a boy, risking her life for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. Now she is Eona, the Mirror Dragoneye, her country’s savior — but she has an even more dangerous secret.

She cannot control her power.

Each time she tries to bond with her Mirror Dragon, she becomes a conduit for the ten spirit dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered by Lord Ido. Their anguish floods through her, twisting her ability into a force that destroys the land and its people.

And another force of destruction is on her trail.

Along with Ryko and Lady Dela, Eona is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. Sethon has declared himself Emperor. In order to stop him, the renegades must find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power if he is to wrest back his throne.

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama, thrilling fight scenes, sizzling tension — and many surprises — brings to a close an epic story.


Star Wars: The Old Republic: Decieved by Paul S. Kemp (Del Rey, Hardcover 03/25/2011) – I enjoyed Kemp’s Erevis Cale novels, he seems to be doing very well with Star Wars now..

The Sacking of Coruscant. It was the crowning achievement of the Sith Empire’s ambitious military strategy and the moment that changed the history of the Old Republic forever. You may have read about it before, but our first cinematic trailer captures this event with breathtaking action and beautiful detail.

Republic leaders have traveled to Alderaan to engage in promised peace talks with the Sith Empire. The most powerful Jedi have accompanied them to safeguard against an Imperial deception. The Empire’s real motive, however, was simply to lure the Republic’s strongest defenders away from Coruscant and set the stage for an audacious attack. Under the command of Lord Angral, the Sith fleet approaches the Republic’s capital planet for the first time in centuries. In advance of the fleet, the strongest Sith Warriors have flown a stolen Republic ship into Coruscant’s orbit. Their mission is critical – to destroy the planet’s defense grid mainframe hidden in the heart of the Jedi Temple.


Night Magic (Wing Slayer #3) by Jennifer Lyon (Ballantine, Mass Market Paperback 03/25/2011) – Third in a series about witches who have lost their magic.

THEIR LOVE IS DESTINED TO RISE AGAIN

Ailish Donovan is a witch ready to do battle. Raised unaware of her powers, she is just sixteen when her mother tricks her into binding with the demon Asmodeus. Pure-hearted Ailish escapes with the connection incomplete but pays a heavy price: For the next eight years, she is shunned by her earth sisters and tormented by Asmodeus’s lust. After hardening her body and mind as a champion kickboxer, Ailish returns home to break the bond—or die.

The Wing Slayer Hunter Phoenix Torq is sworn to protect earth witches, but he is shaken by Ailish’s fierce independence—and his own forbidden cravings. Dark, impulsive, and haunted by his troubled past, Phoenix likewise arouses Ailish in ways she finds disturbing—and irresistible. Torn between mistrust and desire, each must go to hell and back to seek the magic that could set them both free.




Kraken by China Miéville (Del Rey Trade Paperback 03/15/2011) – This is Miéville’s obligatory squid novel, which Mark / Hobbit enjoyed a great deal. This would be the third version of the book I received (after the ARC and Hardcover).

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux—better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery

with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.


Kings of the North (Book Two of Paladin’s Legacy ) by Elizabeth Moon (Del Rey Hardcover 03/12/2011) – Last year, when I read Oath of Fealty it was the first book I read by Mrs. Moon and I quickly became a fan. Mark and I also interviewed her for SFFWorld last year.

Elizabeth Moon returns to the fantasy world of the paladin Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter—Paks for short—in this second volume of a new series filled with all the bold imaginative flights, meticulous world-building, realistic military action, and deft characterization that readers have come to expect from this award-winning author. In Kings of the North, Moon is working at the very height of her storytelling powers.

Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike.

On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large. Kieri is being hounded to marry and provide the kingdom with an heir—but that is the least of his concerns. A strange rift has developed between him and his grandmother and co-ruler, the immortal elven queen known as the Lady. More problematic is the ex-pirate Alured, who schemes to seize Kieri’s throne for himself—and Mikeli’s, too, while he’s at it. Meanwhile, to the north, the aggressive kingdom of Pargun seems poised to invade.

Now, as war threatens to erupt from without and within, the two kings are dangerously divided. Old alliances and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested as never before. And a shocking discovery will change everything.


The River of Shadows (The Chathrand Voyage Book 3) by Robert V.S. Redick (Del Rey Hardcover 4/19/2011) – This series seems t be flying under the radar – the reviews and response from readers I’ve seen is very good. Makes me wonder why the publisher is switching format in mid-series to trade paperback for the third book.

In the gripping sequel to Robert V. S. Redick’s acclaimed epic fantasy novels The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea, the crew of the vast, ancient ship Chathrand have reached the shores of the legendary southern empire of Bali Adro. Many have died in the crossing, and the alliance of rebels, led by the tarboy Pazel Pathkendle and the warrior Thasha Isiq, has faced death, betrayal, and darkest magic. But nothing has prepared them for the radically altered face of humanity in the South.

They have little time to recover from the shock, however. For with landfall, the battle between the rebels and centuries-old sorcerer Arunis enters its final phase. At stake is control of the Nilstone, a cursed relic that promises unlimited power to whoever unlocks the secrets of its use—but death to those who fail. And no one is closer to mastering the Stone than Arunis.

Desperate to stop him, Pazel and Thasha must join forces with their enemies, including the depraved Captain Rose and the imperial assassin Sandor Ott. But when a suspicious young crewmember turns his attentions to Thasha, it is the young lovers themselves who are divided—most conveniently for Arunis. As the mage’s triumph draws near, the allies face a terrible choice: to break their oaths and run for safety, or to hunt the world’s most dangerous sorcerer through the strange and deadly dream kingdom known as the River of Shadows, and to face him a last time among the traps and horrors of his lair.

Brimming with high adventure, dark enchantment, and unforgettable characters, The River of Shadows deftly secures Redick’s place in the ranks of epic fantasy’s most original and enthralling storytellers.


Enigmatic Pilot: A Tall Tale Too True by Kris Saknussemm (Del Rey, Trade Paperback 3/28/2011) – This is the author’s second novel, after the controversial Zanesville. This is the published version of the ARC I received earlier in the year.


Enigmatic Pilot is Kris Saknussemm’s outrageously brilliant yet profoundly moving exploration and excavation of the American dream—and nightmare.

In 1844, in a still-young America, the first intimations of civil war are stirring throughout the land. In Zanesville, Ohio, the Sitturd family—Hephaestus, a clubfooted inventor; his wife, Rapture, a Creole from the Sea Islands; and their prodigiously gifted six-year-old son, Lloyd, whose libido is as precocious as his intellect—are forced to flee the only home they have ever known for an uncertain future in Texas, whence Hephaestus’s half-brother, Micah, has sent them a mysterious invitation, promising riches and wonders too amazing to be entrusted to paper.

Thus begins one of the most incredible American journeys since Huck Finn and Jim first pushed their raft into the Mississippi. Along the way, Lloyd will learn the intricacies of poker and murder, solve the problem of manned flight, find—and lose—true love, and become swept up in an ancient struggle between two secret societies whose arcane dispute has shaped the world’s past and threatens to reshape its future. Each side wants to use Lloyd against the other, but Lloyd has his own ideas—and access to an occult technology as powerful as his imagination.


The Council of Shadows (The Shadowspawn) by SM Stirling (Roc, Hardcover 04/05/2011) – Second offering in prolific author Stirling’s take on urban fantasy

New from the New York Times bestselling author of A Taint in the Blood.

Adrian Brézé defied his own dark heritage as a near-purebred Shadowspawn for years, until his power-hungry sister Adrienne kidnapped his human lover Ellen.

Now, Adrienne is dead, and the Council of Shadows is gathering its strength. To stop the Council from launching an apocalypse, Adrian and Ellen must ally with the Brotherhood, a resistance group dedicated to breaking the Council's hold on humankind...by any means necessary.

In the coming confrontation, Adrian must fight not only the members of the Council but also his own nature-and, as he will come to suspect, traitors within the Brotherhood itself...


Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding (Spectra Trade Paperback 04/26/2011) – Wooding has been writing for quite some time, his YA books have been well received . This is his first adult novel and, when published in the UK two years ago, garnered a great deal of praise, from no less than SFFWorld’s own Hobbit/Mark. Chris has also taken to visiting the forums.

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.



2 comments:

Luke Brown said...

Retribution Falls is not Chris Wooding's first novel for adults. The Fade was published before this and it wasn't YA.

RobB said...

Retribution Falls will be Chris's first novel for adults to be published in the US.