I’m changing the tag of posts that highlight particular books from Promo to Spotlight. The reasoning behind the Promo tag was that I wanted to promote the book simple as that. They are always books that I want to read and usually hope to sooner rather than later.
But I’ve been thinking about books in general, and what I’ve been thinking is that if I’m going to feature a book then I want it seem like something special rather than look another book. Not that I’ve ever thought that but I think that but the tag Spotlight conveys that idea better.
As you’ll see in the companion post to this one focusing on my current reading, I’m also thinking of books as part of something beyond just being an entertaining read in their own right and looking to how they fit in to the books around them.
Here I shine my spotlight on some of that books that have been arriving over the last few weeks but being a little time poor in this post I might not manage to comment too much about the part each of these could play in the constant literary conversation.
I’d be happy to converse with any of these and intend to do that with many of these if not all of some at some point.
But I’d better start with those I want to get read by the end of October.
Dracula: the Un-dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
The official sequel to Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, written by his direct descendent and endorsed by the Stoker family. The story begins in 1912, twenty-five years after the events described in the original novel. Dr. Jack Seward, now a disgraced morphine addict, hunts vampires across Europe with the help of a mysterious benefactor. Meanwhile, Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school to pursue a career in stage at London’s famous Lyceum Theatre. The production of Dracula at the Lyceum, directed and produced by Bram Stoker, has recently lost its star. Luckily, Quincey knows how to contact the famed Hungarian actor Basarab, who agrees to take the lead role. Quincey soon discovers that the play features his parents and their former friends as characters, and seems to reveal much about the terrible secrets he’s always suspected them of harbouring. But, before he can confront them, Jonathan Harker is found murdered. The writers were able to access Bram Stoker’s hand-written notes and have included in their story characters and plot threads that had been excised by the publisher from the original printing over a century ago. Dracula is one of the most recognized fictional characters in the world, having spawned dozens of multi-media spin-offs. The Un-Dead is the first Dracula story to enjoy the full support of the Stoker estate since the original 1931 movie starring Bela Lugosi.
I didn’t have a good reaction when I heard about this at the time( and reading that post again I can understand why) but the only way of finding out if it works is to get stuck into it. Plus is it a significant release and it’ll either work or it won’t. I’ve studied and enjoyed Dracula, it’s an amazing piece of story telling and it’s always hard for any follow-up to continue the power of the original. I’m hoping that this will at least be a good story in it’s own right and I’m not going to compare it to the original? What would the point be? They are told through completely different sets of eyes with different views and use of language. I really don’t know what to think.
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
In the heart of the forest, two men sit at midnight, haunted by fear of discovery. In a few hours’ time, one of them will be dead, his secrets following him to the grave… When C. I. Gamache is called to investigate a murder in a picturesque Three Pines, he finds a village in chaos. A man has been found, bludgeoned to death, and there is no sign of a weapon, a motive or even the dead man’s name. Gamache and his colleagues, Inspector Beauvoir and Agent Isabelle Lacoste, start to dig under the skin of this peaceful haven for clues. They slowly uncover a trail of stolen treasure, mysterious codes and a shameful history that begins to shed light on the victim’s identity – and point to a terrifying killer…
I need to get more crime in my diet and when I was offered to try something new – well why not try it. Plus the idea of mysterious colds and getting under the skin of peaceful havens appeals.
Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason with translaion by both Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb
On an icy January day the Reykjavik police are called to a block of flats where a body has been found in the garden: a young, dark-skinned boy, frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The discovery of a stab wound in his stomach extinguishes any hope that this was a tragic accident. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation with little to go on but the news that the boy’s Thai half-brother is missing. Is he implicated, or simply afraid for his own life? The investigation soon unearths tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society. A teacher at the boy’s school makes no secret of his anti-immigration stance; incidents are reported between Icelandic pupils and the disaffected children of incomers; and, to confuse matters further, a suspected paedophile has been spotted in the area. Meanwhile, the boy’s murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.
I’ve read all the others in this series and looking forward to this one and Hypothermia, his next hardback. It’s as simple as that.
The Temporal Void (Void Trilogy Book 2) by Peter F Hamilton
The Intersolar Commonwealth is in turmoil as the Living Dream’s deadline for launching its Pilgrimage into the Void draws closer. Not only is the Ocisen Empire fleet fast approaching on a mission of genocide, but also an internecine war has broken out between the post-human factions over the destiny of humanity.
Countering the various and increasingly desperate agents and factions is Paula Mayo, a ruthlessly single-minded investigator, beset by foes from her distant past and colleagues of dubious allegiance…but she is fast losing a race against time.
At the heart of all this is Edeard the Waterwalker, who once lived a long time ago deep inside the Void. He is the messiah of Living Dream, and visions of his life are shared by, and inspire billions of humans. It is his glorious, captivating story that is the driving force behind Living Dream’s Pilgrimage, a force that is too strong to be thwarted. As Edeard nears his final victory the true nature of the Void is finally revealed.
I finally read a Peter F Hamilton with The Dreaming Void but has it really been 2 years since I read it? Hell’s teeth. No more excuses!
The Quiet War by Paul McAuley
Twenty-third century Earth, ravaged by climate change, looks backwards to the holy ideal of a pre-industrial Eden. Political power has been grabbed by a few powerful families and their green saints. Millions of people are imprisoned in teeming cities; millions more labour on Pharaonic projects to rebuild ruined ecosystems. On the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the Outers, descendants of refugees from Earth’s repressive regimes, have constructed a wild variety of self-sufficient cities and settlements: scientific utopias crammed with exuberant creations of the genetic arts; the last outposts of every kind of democratic tradition. The fragile detente between the Outer cities and the dynasties of Earth is threatened by the ambitions of the rising generation of Outers, who want to break free of their cosy, inward-looking pocket paradises, colonise the rest of the Solar System, and drive human evolution in a hundred new directions. On Earth, many demand pre-emptive action against the Outers before it’s too late; others want to exploit the talents of their scientists and gene wizards. Amid campaigns for peace and reconciliation, political machinations, crude displays of military might, and espionage by cunningly wrought agents, the two branches of humanity edge towards war . . .
I’m slowly getting back into sci-fi, and from the revelation above probably a bit too slowly. But The Quiet War and Mr McAuley are considered on the side of hard sci-fi. I’ve promised a review for the booksmugglers along with its sequel. Will let you know when it’s up
Amberville by Tim Davys
Eric Bear thinks he has escaped his violent past, but when crime boss Nicholas Dove threatens Eric’s beloved wife Emma Rabbit, Eric has no choice but to do what he asks: find a way to remove Dove’s name from the Death List. Problem is, no one knows if the Death List really exists. Nevertheless, Eric gathers his old team together – sadistic male prostitute Sam Gazelle, sweet but dangerous Tom-Tom Crow, and wily Snake Marek – and they set off to find the elusive list. What Eric learns will forever change the way he thinks about his life, his family, and his town.
Apparently the blurb is highly off putting so I’ve made it my challenge to read this one as the next thing I start and see what I think. It had a great review on Fantasy Book Critic.
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Blending fairytale, fantasy, horror, myth and mischief in a delicious cocktail, Kelly Link creates a world like no other, where ghosts of girlfriends past rub up against Scrabble-loving grandmothers with terrifying magic handbags, wizards sit alongside morbid babysitters, and we encounter a people-eating monster who claims to have a sense of humour. With more than a pinch of macabre humour, this is writing to come back from the dead for.
A short story mistress and it has a most amazing cover.
But if none of those end up taking your fancy there is always these.
We’ll Always Have Paris by Ray Bradbury
From one of the greatest living literary imaginations and the celebrated author of FAHRENHEIT 451 comes a collection of never-before-published effortlessly beautiful tales. Recently described in The Times as ‘the uncrowned poet laureate of science fiction’ Ray Bradbury has won numerous awards including a Pulitzer Prize special citation in 2007 and an Emmy. In this new volume of never-before-published stories, follow a space shuttle crew as they voyage sixty million miles from home, discover what happens when a writer ‘with the future’s eye’ believes his friend to be writing stories aboard a UFO, and listen in on a couple talking themselves backwards through time to the moment when they first held hands. This entertaining and gripping collection is a treasure trove of Bradbury gems — eerie and strange, nostalgic and bittersweet, searching and speculative — to delight readers of all ages.
If there an award for the most published short story collections I think Ray Bradbury would win hands down. He’s not an author I’ve ever been able to get into. Maybe this one will capture me?
Oscar’s Books: A Journey Through the Library of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright
An entirely new kind of biography, "Oscar’s Books" explores the personality of Oscar Wilde through his reading. For Wilde, as for many people, reading could be as powerful and transformative an experience as falling in love. He referred to the volumes that radically altered his vision of the world as his ‘golden books’; he gave books as gifts – often as part of his seduction campaigns of young men; and sometimes he literally ate books, tearing off corners of paper and chewing them as he read. Wilde’s beloved book collection was sold at the time of his trials to pay creditors and legal costs. Thomas Wright, in the course of his intensive researches, has hunted down many of the missing volumes which contain revealing markings and personal annotations, never previously examined.
I’d hate for someone to go through my library and use that as a basis for a biography of me plus they’d have a job getting anything from my volumes as I never write in a book or if I can help it damage the spine.
Howards End is on the Landing: A year of reading from home by Susan Hill
Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again. A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill’s eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. Howard’s End is on the Landing charts the journey of one of the nation’s most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing.
This though I can really see myself doing. It might have to wait until I’m retired though or when I move to an island with no power or internet or tv!
Let Them Come Through by Neil Forsyth
Nick Santini would have made a good living as a medium if his manager wasn’t a theif and he didn’t operate in a world of endless corruption. With a TV show cancelled in murky circumstances, a crew member dead on his tour and the police and his past fast catching up with him, Santini is a man on the edge. The medium’s job is to lie and lie well and only Santini’s talent can save him while his life steadily unravels. Neil Forsyth’s novel is a darkly comic investigation of celebrity, illusion, and the lower strata of this world and the next.
I’m a sucker for these type of programmes. I can’t watch them very often as I either get too emotionally connected or I start shouting at the telly. Will be interesting to see what Forsyth does with the concept.
Stairway to Hell by Charlie Williams
Something very strange has been happening in Warchester, and local pub singer Rik Suntan is about to have his doors of perception blown wide open. It seems that during the 1970s, Jimmy Page’s experiments with the occult wandered into the art of soulshifting – namely, swapping the souls of celebrity rivals with those of newly born babies in the Warchester maternity ward. Obviously this news is a tad hard to swallow, and Rik’s got other problems on his plate – his regular slot doing Cliff Richard covers at the local nightclub is axed, and his girlfriend’s dumped him for a ginger bloke. But not nearly as jaw-dropping as finding out he’s the reincarnation of David Bowie..
I loved the description of flies in the opening pages of this one. Charlie Williams I’ve been meaning to read for ages, ever since I picked up his debut for a £1 in Hay-on-Wye.
The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
The Death of Bunny Munro recounts the last journey of a salesman in search of a soul. Following the suicide of his wife, Bunny, a door-to-door salesman and lothario, takes his son on a trip along the south coast of England. He is about to discover that his days are numbered. With a daring hellride of a plot The Death of Bunny Munro is also a modern morality tale of sorts, a stylish, furious, funny, truthful and tender account of one man’s descent and judgement. The novel is full of the linguistic verve that has made Cave one of the world’s most respected lyricists. It is his first novel since the publication of his critically acclaimed debut And the Ass Saw the Angel twenty years ago.
Lots of great press around this one and a brilliant iPhone app that you can try for free. You have to love that cover!
The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin
‘For several hours I believed that my daughter had drowned and my wife as alive, when in fact the reverse was true’. It is bitter mid-winter when Katrine and Joakim Westin move with their children into the old manor house at Eel
Point on the Swedish
island of Oland. But their new home is no remote idyll. Just days later, Katrine is found drowned off the rocks nearby. While Joakim struggles to keep his sanity, Tilda Davidsson – a young policewoman fresh out of college- becomes convinced that Katrine was murdered. Then, on Christmas Eve, a blizzard hits Eel Point. Isolated by the snow, Joakim does not know that visitors – as unwelcome as they are terrifying – are making their way towards him. For this is the darkest night of the year, and the night when the living meet the dead.
I read Echoes from the Dead and loved it. And this seems to notch up the pressure a bit.
The Osiris Ritual by George Mann
Death stalks London and the newspapers proclaim that a mummy’s curse has been unleashed. Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, is drawn into a web of occult intrigue as he attempts to solve the murders. And he soon finds himself on the trail of a rogue agent – a man who died to be reborn as a living weapon. Newbury’s able assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, has her own mystery to unravel. Girls are going missing from a magician’s theatre show. But what appears to be a straightforward investigation puts Miss Hobbes in mortal danger. Can Newbury save his assistant, solve the riddle of the mummy’s curse, capture the deadly man-machine – and stop the terrifying Osiris Ritual from reaching its infernal culmination? The second "Newbury & Hobbes" adventure is a thrilling mystery featuring rooftop chases, swordfights, an exhilarating steampunk car chase, and a race through the London Underground. If you enjoyed "The Affinity Bridge", you will love "The Osiris Ritual". This special slipcased edition features a jacketed hardback edition with two exclusive short stories, plus vintage adverts and gold embossed casing, in a laminated slip case combined with a folded poster for ‘The Mysterious Alfonso’ and an embossed printed invitation to the Mummy Unveiling Party at Lord Winthrop’s house.
I bought the limited edition of this one to join The Affinity Bridge on the shelves love the characters and this one comes with two more short stories, which was a bigger reason for buying it than the limited edition itself.