Sunday, March 11, 2012

Books in the Mail (2012-03-09)

It’s about time I did the whole preface to the Books in the Mail post, so here goes….

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.

Some publishers are on a very predictable schedule of releases, making this blog post fairly easy to compose. For example, the fine folks at DAW publish exactly 3 mass market paperbacks a month and often, one of those books is a themed anthology of short stories, and most often, they send their books about a month prior to the actual publication date.

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 (i.e. from "this book holds ZERO appeal for me" to "I cannot WAIT to read this book yesterday"). Have a guess in the comments about which book fits my reading labels “I’ll Never Read…” “Zero Appeal” or “cannot wait” "maybe I'll get to it later" and so forth...

Here's the rundown of what arrived either in the mailbox, in front of my garage (where most packages from USPS and UPS are placed) or on my doorstep...

Range of Ghosts (The Eternal Sky #1) by Elizabeth Bear (Tor, Hardcover 03/27/2012) – Bear is one of the most consistent genre writers, both in quality and quantity. I’m sort of embarrassed I’ve yet to read one of her novels, but this is the one that changes that status quo.

Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards. These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett (BantamSpectra, Trade Paperback 03/27/2012) – Concluding volume of the series which began with The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, which seems to be a Victorian magic and manners series. Becket is also known as Mark Anthony.

Even as her husband is about to attain undreamed-of power, Ivy Quent fears for her family’s safety. With war looming and turmoil sweeping the nation of Altania, Ivy finds the long-abandoned manor on the moors a temporary haven. But nowhere is really safe from the treachery that threatens all the Quents have risked to achieve. And an even greater peril is stirring deep within the countryside’s beautiful green estates. As Ivy dares an alliance with a brilliant illusionist and a dangerous lord, she races to master her forbidden talents and unravel the terrible truth at the heart of her land’s unrest—even as a triumphant, inhuman darkness rises to claim Altania eternally for its own.

Body, Inc. by Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey 03/27/2012) – I think Alan Dean Foster is neck and neck with Harry Turtledove for the amount of books I’ve received for review over the past few years. Unfortunately, a majority of these books are part of larger series – and deeply into the series at that – so I haven’t jumped into any of the books.

New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster has always been on the cutting-edge of science fiction. In Body, Inc., he creates a tomorrow where genetic manipulation has become ubiquitous, and the very meaning of what it is to be human is undergoing drastic transformation.

In a world deeply wounded by centuries of environmental damage, two unlikely souls join forces: Dr. Ingrid Seastrom has stumbled into a mystery involving quantum-entangled nanoscale implants—a mystery that just may kill her. Whispr is a thief and murderer whose radical body modifications have left him so thin he is all but two-dimensional. Whispr has found a silver data-storage thread, a technology that will make him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. He is also going mad with longing for Dr. Ingrid Seastrom. Their quest to learn the secrets of the implant and the thread—which may well be the same secret—has led them to the South African Economic Combine, otherwise known as SAEC. Or, less respectfully, SICK. SICK, it seems, has the answers.

Unfortunately, SICK has also got Napun Molé, a cold-blooded assassin whose genetic enhancements make him the equivalent of a small army. Molé has already missed one chance to kill Ingrid and Whispr and now he has followed them to South Africa. This time, he is not only going to succeed, he is going to make them suffer.

Alien Diplomacy (Kitty Kat: Alien Super-Being Exterminator Book 5) by Gini Koch (DAW Mass Market Paperback 04/5/2012) – Koch’s writing speed is very impressive, this is the fifth book in the series since it launcehd in 2010.

Being newlyweds and new parents is challenging enough. But Jeff and Kitty Martini are also giving up their roles as super-being exterminators and Commanders in Centaurion Division while mastering the political landscape as the new heads of Centaurion's Diplomatic Corps. Enter a shadowy assassination plot and a new set of anti-alien conspirators, and nothing will ever be the same...

Age of Aztec (The Pantheon Saga#4) by James Lovegrove (Solaris Books, Mass Market Paperback 03/27/2010) – I read and thoroughly enjoyed Age of Zeus Age of Odin (second and third in the Pantheon Saga) last year and this book focuses on the Gods who held sway over the Americas before Europeans landed on the shores..

The date is 4 Jaguar 1 Monkey 1 House – November 25th 2012 by the old reckoning – and the Aztec Empire rules the world.

The Aztecs’ reign is one of cruel and ruthless oppression, encompassing regular human sacrifice. In the jungle-infested city of London, one man defies them: the masked vigilante known as the Conquistador.

Then the Conquistador is recruited to spearhead an uprising, and discovers a terrible truth about the Aztec and thier gods. The clock is ticking. Apocalypse looms, unless the Conquistador can help assassinate the mysterious, immortal Aztec emperor, the Great Speaker. But his mission is complicated by Mal Vaughn, a police detective who is on his trail, determined to bring him to justice.

A Game of Thrones The Graphic Novel Volume 1 (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin (adaptation by Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson Bantam Spectra, Hardcover 03/27/2012) – What can I say about Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire that hasn’t been said or people don’t know? Well, relevant to this volume, the artist, Tommy Patterson, did work for Boom!’s FarScape comic and his work looks better now .

You’ve read the books. You’ve watched the hit series on HBO. Now acclaimed novelist Daniel Abraham and illustrator Tommy Patterson bring George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy masterwork A Game of Thrones to majestic new life in the pages of this full-color graphic novel. Comprised of the initial six issues of the graphic series, this is the first volume in what is sure to be one of the most coveted collaborations of the year.

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jamie and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys

Railsea by China Miéville (Del Rey, Hardcover 04/15/2012) – Miéville’s first Young Adult novel since the terrificUn Lun Dun .

Playful and clever, this is the new gloriously imagined novel from China Miéville

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt.

The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life. Even if his philosophy-seeking captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing – ever since it took her arm all those years ago.

When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds in the derelict leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers.

And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.

The Shining City: (Book 3 of the Warriors of Estavia by Fiona Patton (DAW Mass Market Paperback 04/05/2012) - The concluding volume in Patton’s trilogy and the third copy of this book I’ve received:

"Expert world builder"* Fiona Patton concludes The Warriors of Estavia saga. *Midwest Book Review

With the three children of prophecy-the seers Spar and Graize, and the warrior Brax-now grown, and the young God Hisar ready to stake his claim to a place in the pantheon of Anavatan, a time of chaos and change is fast approaching. For only if sworn enemies Spar and Graize can come together as Hisar's priests will the God stand any chance of surviving the coming battles with both the hungry spirits seeking to devour him, and the war with the mortal invasion fleet, which is even now sailing for Anavatan.

Year Zero: A Novel by Rob Reid (Del Rey, Hardcover 04/15/2012)– SF Humor, and a debut that seems like it could be fun..

An alien advance party was suddenly nosing around my planet.
Worse, they were lawyering up. . . .

In the hilarious tradition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Rob Reid takes you on a headlong journey through the outer reaches of the universe—and the inner workings of our absurdly dysfunctional music industry.

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

Shadow’s Son by John Sprunk (Pyr Trade Paperback 03/27/2012) – Mr. Sprunk has impressively managed to publish this trilogy over the course of three years and to a fair amount of positive buzz. John hangs out at the SFFWorld Forums and has been a solid member. This book has a really nice cover by Michael Komarck.


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 lies waiting. To succeed on this mission, Caim will have to do more than just survive. He must face the Shadow's Master.

With this novel, Jon Sprunk brings his action-packed trilogy to an epic conclusion.

The Helix War by Edward Willett (DAW Mass Market Paperback 04/03/2012) – As the fine folks at DAW are wont to do with their authors backlist, this book is an omnibification of Marseguro and Terra Insegura.

Marseguro Water world Marseguro is home to the Selkies, a water-dwelling race created from human DNA. When an unmodified human seeks revenge on a Selkie by activating a distress beacon taken from the remains of the original colony ship, a strikeforce is sent from Earth to eradicate the genetic abomination. Yet Marseguro will not prove as easy to conquer as the Earth force anticipates...

Terra Insegura
Marseguro, a water world far from Earth, is home to a colony of humans and the Selkies, a water-dwelling race created from modified human DNA. For seventy years the colony has lived in peace. Then Earth discovers Marseguro, and a strike force is sent to eradicate this "abomination." But Marseguro has created a genetically tailored plague to use against Earth’s Holy Warriors. With the enemy defeated, the people of Marseguro feel they are safe. But Chris Keating, the traitor who signaled Marseguro's location to the Holy Warriors, has fled to Earth, unknowingly carrying the deadly plague within him. The people of Marseguro feel they must send a ship to Earth with a life-saving vaccine. Only time will tell what awaits them when they reach their destination.

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