This list may sound familiar if you’ve listened to this week’s edition of The Readers (to be fair it’s probably only just gone up) and enjoyed Simon and I sharing our lists after talking about book based New Year’s resolutions.

It’s not quite the same list as I thought that 12 books was a better number than 15* we mentioned but it’s ended up as 13 as I can’t cut this list back any more than I have. I hope you find some books in here that you’re going to look forward to:

January

Dark Eden

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

“You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you. You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought. You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden.”

 

Diving Belles cover

Diving Belles by Lucy Wood

Straying husbands lured into the sea can be fetched back, for a fee. Magpies whisper to lonely drivers late at night. Trees can make wishes come true – provided you know how to wish properly first. Houses creak, fill with water and keep a fretful watch on their inhabitants, straightening shower curtains and worrying about frayed carpets. A teenager’s growing pains are sometimes even bigger than him. And, on a windy beach, a small boy and his grandmother keep despair at bay with an old white door. In these stories, Cornish folklore slips into everyday life. Hopes, regrets and memories are entangled with catfish, wrecker’s lamps, standing stones and baying hounds, and relationships wax and wane in the glow of a moonlit sea. This luminous, startling and utterly spellbinding debut collection introduces in Lucy Wood a spectacular new voice in contemporary British fiction.

February

9781843545798

The Secret Book of Sacred Things by Torsten Krol

The coming of the Great Stone to Earth has erased almost everything that used to be. But in one isolated valley, the Church of Selene has found its way back from destruction. Sister Luka and her female converts offer sacrifices to the scarred (and very close) moon that hangs over their convent. It has been this way since the meteor hit. Among the Little Sisters of Selene is twelve year-old Aurora, respected Scribe of the church. She endlessly writes down the name of the moon to keep her in the sky where she belongs. But Rory has a secret book she keeps hidden in her Scribe’s chamber and into this diary she pours out her hopes and desires. Upsetting this fragile equilibrium is Willa, a young tomboy whose flamboyant arrival threatens the hard-won status quo of the sisters’ community. As Rory and Willa inch toward friendship, insurrection grows. But when an unexpected marvel occurs in the sky, it is clear that Rory’s work as the Scribe has failed. The moon is threatening to remake the world all over again…This is The Secret Book of Sacred Things, this is Rory’s story.

Advent

Advent by James Treadwell

Warded from earth, air, water, fire, spirits, thought and sight.

But now magic is rising to the world once more.

And a boy called Gavin, who thinks only that he is a city kid with parents who hate him, and knows only that he sees things no one else will believe, is boarding a train, alone, to Cornwall. No one will be there to meet him.

March

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Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch’s

Peter Grant is learning magic fast. And its just as well – he’s already had run ins with the deadly supernatural children of the Thames and a terrifying killer in Soho. Progression in the Police Force is less easy. Especially when you work in a department of two. A department that doesn’t even officially exist. A department that if you did describe it to most people would get you laughed at. And then there’s his love life. The last person he fell for ended up seriously dead. It wasn’t his fault, but still. Now something horrible is happening in the labyrinth of tunnels that make up the tube system that honeycombs the ancient foundations of London. And delays on the Northern line is the very least of it. Time to call in the Met’s Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, aka ‘The Folly’. Time to call in PC Peter Grant, Britains Last Wizard.

 

Hide Me Among The Graves

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers

“An ancient evil patrols the skies above the Thames, the Romantic poets unite in battle against the Muses, and a parallel world of magic exists in the London streets…Awoken by the poet Christina Rosetti, the vampire Polidori is awake once more. Fiercely protective of his beloved Christina, he bestows upon her the gift of divine poetry…but ensures the violent death of any potential rival for his affections. Trapped by her connection to the undead creature – poised between love, and horror for her immortal soul – Rosetti shuts herself away from the world. But Polidori’s abduction of another young girl compels her to join forces against him. With the aid of her brothers, Gabriel and William, and her sister Maria, she enters London’s unseen underworld. It is a realm of magically protected human familiars, jealous supernatural beings, and hungry ghosts.”

Fated by Benedict Jacka

Fated: An Alex Verus Novel by Benedict Jacka

Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teenagers mingle, and where you can get your ears pierced and your shoulder tattooed while eating sushi washed down with a can of super strength beer. In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you might find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won’t sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you’re looking for, he might just be able to help. That’s if he’s not too busy avoiding his apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a highly toxic Relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.

April


TheAlchemistOfSoulsThe Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods–and a skrayling ambassador–to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally–and Mal his soul.

May


QuestionmarkRailsea by China Mieville

Sham Yes ap Soorap, young doctor’s assistant, is in search of life’s purpose aboard a diesel locomotive on the hunt for the great elusive moldywarpe, Mocker-Jack. But on an old train wreck at the outskirts of the world, Sham discovers an astonishing secret that changes everything: evidence of an impossible journey. A journey left unfinished…which Sham takes it on himself to complete. It’s a decision that might cost him his life.

BlackbirdsBlackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Miriam Black knows when you will die. Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

2312

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

The year is 2312. Scientific advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer our only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system, on moons, planets, and in between. But in 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront our past, present, and future. The first event takes place on Mercury, in the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. For Swan Er Hong, it will change her life. Once a designer of worlds, now Swan will be led into a plot to destroy them. 2312 is a bold vision of humanity’s future and a compelling portrait of those individuals who will shape its events.

June

Questionmark

The City’s Son (The Skyscraper Throne) by Tom Pollock

Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen. But the hidden London is on the brink of destruction. Reach, the King of the Cranes, is a malign god of demolition, and he wants Filius dead. In the absence of the Lady of the Streets, Filius’ goddess mother, Beth rouses Filius to raise an alleyway army, to reclaim London’s skyscraper throne for the mother he’s never known. Beth has almost forgotten her old life – until her best friend and her father come searching for her, and she must choose between the streets and the life she left behind. This is the first of a series, an urban fable about friends, family and monsters, and how you can’t always tell which is which.

Questionmark

The Long Earth by Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Junior cop Sally Jansson is called out to the house of Willis Lynsey, a reclusive scientist, for an animal-cruelty complaint: the man was seen forcing a horse in through the door of his home. Inside there is no horse. But Sally finds a kind of home-made utility belt. She straps this on – and ‘steps’ sideways into an America covered with virgin forest. Willis came here with equipment and animals, meaning to explore and colonise. And when Sally gets back, she finds Willis has put the secret of the belt on the internet. The great migration has begun…

The Long Earth: our Earth is but one of a chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side in a higher space of possibilities, each differing from its neighbours by a little (or a lot): an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger the worlds get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular version of Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

On reflection this is a very SFF-centric list. I guess under pressure of selection I go back to familiar territory. Though in my notes I have 50-odd books that I’d love to read that are coming out in the next six-months from all sections. Maybe I just wasn’t confident enough to list them here I was I wasn’t sure of them myself…

What would you have chosen? Have you got any books that you are forthcoming that you can’t wait to read?

 

*The two missing books compared with “The Readers” are “The Devil’s Beat” by Robert Edric &  “Half Sick Of Shadows” by David Logan

Ok, so may is almost over but the good news is that you should be able to buy any of the books listed. All expect one are British releases though a lot of them have had or are having an American release. It’s a mix of new releases and paperback releases. I’ve cut it down to the books I’d most likely read if they were put in front of me rather than books that just look interesting otherwise it would take me another month to put up the list :D

*means it’s on the shelves.

*Rant by Chuck Palahniuck
Vintage

Synopsis:
“Rant” is the oral history of one Buster ‘Rant’ Casey, in which an assortment of friends, enemies, detractors, lovers and relations have their say on the man who may or may not be the most efficient serial killer of our time. Rant is a darkly glittering anti-hero whose recreational drug of choice is rabies, and whose own personal Viagra is the venom of a black widow spider. He soon leaves his half-feral hometown for the big city, where he becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. On designated nights, the Party Crashers chase each other in cars in the hope of a collision, and all the while Rant, the ‘superspreader’, transmits his lethal disease…

Comment:

I reviewed the hardback of Rant last year and said:

By the time I got to the end I wanted to start all over again in order to see how what’s revealed in the end is already told to you from the beginning. I probably will re-read it was the end is a little more complicated than I expected. This might make it a little disappointing to some readers who want everything a bit more cut and dry or who enjoyed the Party Crashing for just causing chaos.

Chuck’s next book Snuff is also out in the US now and in August over here and has a great review by Fantasy Book Critic

*The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
Pan Books

Synopsis:
AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to over a thousand star systems. It is a culture of rich diversity with a place for everyone. A powerful navy protects it from any hostile species that may lurk among the stars. For Commonwealth citizens, even death has been overcome. At its centre is a massive black hole. This Void is not a natural artefact. Inside there is a strange universe where the laws of physics are very different to those we know. It is slowly consuming the other stars of the galactic core – one day it will have devoured the entire galaxy. Inigo, a human, has started to dream of a wonderful existence of the Void. He has a following of millions of believers. They now clamour to make a pilgrimage into the Void to live the life they have been shown. Other starfaring species fear their migration will cause the Void to expand again. They are prepared to stop them no matter what the cost. And so the pilgrimage begins…

Comment:

I also managed to read The Dreaming Void and concluded:

The Dreaming Void is set in an amazing imaging of the future of the human race. It’s complex and challenging but has huge moments of satisfaction throughout. If you like your science fiction to explore what it is to be human with all our potential and our weaknesses and enjoys seeing new worlds and technology you’ll love Part One of The Void Trilogy. If you like your narratives to follow a more linear path this maybe a little too in-depth to be satisfactory.

Gods Behaving Badly by Marrie Phillips
Vintage

Synopsis:
Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a delapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out…Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down. “Gods Behaving Badly” is that rare thing, a charming, funny, utterly original first novel that satisfies the head and the heart.

Comment:

Lastly of this month’s paperback releases that I’ve already reviewed. I had this to say about Gods Behaving Badly:

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. It was a wonderful easy read that managed to be both entertaining and thought provoking. The characters are wonderfully imagined, though I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a few of the Gods as there was so much more I wanted to know about them.

*Iron Angel by Alan Campbell
Tor

Synopsis:
Order has collapsed in Deepgate. The chained city is now in ruins; the Deadsands beyond are full of fleeing refugees.The Spine militia, unable to come to terms with the loss of their church, are trying to halt the exodus with brutal force. Driven away by the mob, Rachel Hael leads Dill along a very dangerous route through the wastelands, but what should have been a straightforward flight to Sandport becomes a desperate march for survival after the angel is captured and mutilated. Rachel just wants to keep her friends alive, but the offspring of the dread goddess Ayen have other ideas, the death of the underworld god Ulcis having not gone unnoticed by his six siblings. Cospinol, the god of brine and fog, is coming for his brother’s murderers, and he’s bringing his own version of hell with him. Wreathed in fog, Cospinol’s foul skyship has already reached Sandport.

Cog Island will now become the focus for a clash of powers: of men and gods and archons and slaves all forced into desperate alliances, a battle in which the outcome will be decided not by force, but by sacrifice. Whoever wins, it’s bad news for everyone except Iril, god of death. For in the end there’s going to be a lot of blood.

Comment:

I received a review copy of Iron Angel a few weeks ago which speared me on to read and review its prequel – Scar Night, which I greatly enjoyed and was nothing like I expected.

Fantasy Book Critic and Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review have managed to read it and pass judgement and it seems that Campbell ups his game in Iron Angel so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

*Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan
Orbit

Synopsis:

England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs. But a great light casts a great shadow. In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second Queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above. In the thirty years since Elizabeth ascended her throne, fae and mortal politics have become inextricably entwined, in secret alliances and ruthless betrayals whose existence is suspected only by a few. And two courtiers, struggling for the favour of very different royal patrons, are about to uncover the secrets that lie behind their thrones. What they find has the potential to fracture both worlds. This is a breathtaking novel of intrigue and betrayal set in Elizabethan England.

Comment:

Chris, the Book Swede has a wonderful interview with Marie and there is a positive review at The Bookbag. If you haven’t noticed by now that I have a thing for things faerie and worlds within our worlds. I’m wondering

*Dawn Over Doomsday by Jaspre Bark
Abaddon

Synopsis:
As America lies bleeding, Native American Chief Hiamovi seeks to unite his people into a single nation capable of reclaiming the US from the white man. His growing army is on a collision course with cult leader Samuel Colt, who intends to put the country back in the iron grip of the once mighty Neo Clergy. The two men are set for a showdown at Little Bighorn, once site of Custer’s legendary last stand, now a twisted, nuclear landscape. The fate of the battle may just be decided by Anna Bontraeger, a former sex slave from Pennsylvania, rescued from a brothel by rogue scientist Matthew Greaves and taken on a perilous road trip across a devastated continent. Greaves and his small band have to get Anna to Little Bighorn before Colt or Hiamovi, so she can unlock the secrets which will save what remains of humanity and bring about a new dawn over Doomsday!

Comment:

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review has a not so positive review and to be honest it’s not my kind of thing but I’ll give a try at some point.

*The Fabric of Sin by Phil Rickman
Quercus
Synopsis:

The Master House, close to the Welsh border, is medieval and slowly falling into ruins. Now the house and its surrounding land have been sold to the Duchy of Cornwall. But the Duchy’s plans to renovate the house and its outbuildings are frustrated when the specialist builder refuses to work there. ‘This is a place,’ he tells the Prince’s land-steward, ‘that doesn’t want to be restored. Directed by the Bishop of Hereford to investigate, deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins discovers ancient connections between the house and the nearby church, built by the Knights Templar whose shadow still envelopes isolated Garway Hill and its scattered communities. Why did all the local inns have astrological names? What deep history lies behind the vicious feud between two local families? And what happened here to intimidate even the great Edwardian ghost-story writer M R James?When Merrily learns that she – and even her daughter, Jane – are under surveillance by the security services, she’s ready to quit.

But a sudden death changes everything, and she returns to Garway to uncover fibres of fear and hatred stitched into history and now insidiously twisted in the corridors – and the cloisters – of power.

Comment:

I’ve enjoyed all the books in the six Merrily Watkins series that I’ve read so far. This is number nine and I have seven, eight and this one lined up to indulge myself in. And for some weird reason I always put books I know I’m going to enjoy below writer I’ve never tried or not sure of. Looking forward to seeing what Merrily Watkins gets involved in next.

*Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Gollancz

Synopsis:
‘Buy my stepfather’s ghost’ read the e-mail. So Jude did. He bought it, in the shape of the dead man’s suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock. But the rest of his collection doesn’t make the house feel cold. The bones don’t make the dogs bark; the movie doesn’t make Jude feel as if he’s being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life …

Comment:

I’ve been following this book and waiting for the paperback release for ages. I know you shouldn’t compare but having a famous father should, I hope, help make this a cracking read.

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks
Penguin
Synopsis

BOND IS BACK…
The publication of DEVIL MAY CARE is set to be one of the key literary moments of 2008. Written to celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, the novel is the electrifying new chapter in the life of the most iconic spy of literature and film – Bond, James Bond.
The manuscript of the novel is currently being kept under 24 hour guard in a top-secret secure facility in the UK – the details of the plot and characters are strictly embargoed until 00.01 hours on May 28th 2008. However, snippets of information have already leaked from the publishers, including one line from the text… ]

`Come in, 007,’ said M. `It’s good to see you back.’

We have also been told that that, picking up from where Ian Fleming left off, Sebastian Faulks takes Bond back to the height of the Cold war in a story of almost unbearable pace and tension. Add to this all the glamour, thrills and excitement that one would expect from any adventure involving Bond, and DEVIL MAY CARE promises to be one of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated books of the year.

Comment:

This is probably the release of the year for a lot of James Bond fans. It comes 40 years after the last Ian Fleming penned bond, Octopussy and The Living Daylights. I’ve never read a Fleming Bond book though I have been tempted. I grew up watching Bond movies when there was only three channels and films were shown at Bank Holidays and Christmas. So my idea, like my idea of Sherlock Holmes as the Jeremy Brett version is fixed from what I’ve seen rather than read and I’m not sure if the cinematic and literary versions will gel or conflict.

The Host by Stephanie Myer
Sphere

Synopsis:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading ‘soul’ who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Comment:

This is a bit of a surprise entry for me. Not because of its subject matter but because it came out of nowhere and rocketed up the hardback charts. Actually that’s not quit true. I had seen books from her Twilight Series in Borders and I avoided as I’m feeling anti-vampire at the minute. Though I understand they are quite popular ;). Again Fantasy Book Critic and Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review have already read it and have a slight difference of opinion. See the comments on Graeme’s post for more thoughts.

The Kingdom Beyond The Waves by Stephen Hunt.
HarperVoyager

Synopsis:
From the author of The Court of the Air, a hugely engaging, Victorian-style adventure, filled with perilous quests, dastardly deeds and deadly intrigue – perfect for all fans of Philip Pullman and Susanna Clarke Professor Amelia Harsh is obsessed with finding the lost civilisation of Camlantis, a legendary city from pre-history that is said to have conquered hunger, war and disease — tempering the race of man’s baser instincts by the creation of the perfect pacifist society. It is an obsession that is to cost her dearly. She returns home to Jackals from her latest archaeological misadventure to discover that the university council has finally stripped her of her position in retaliation for her heretical research. Without official funding, Amelia has no choice but to accept the offer of patronage from the man she blames for her father’s bankruptcy and suicide, the fiercely intelligent and incredibly wealthy Abraham Quest. He has an ancient crystal-book that suggests the Camlantean ruins are buried under one of the sea-like lakes that dot the murderous jungles of Liongeli.Amelia undertakes an expedition deep into the dark heart of the jungle, blackmailing her old friend Commodore Black into ferrying her along the huge river of the Shedarkshe on his ancient u-boat.

With an untrustworthy crew of freed convicts, Quest’s force of female mercenaries on board and a lunatic steamman safari hunter acting as their guide, Amelia’s luck can hardly get any worse. But she’s as yet unaware that her quest for the perfect society is about to bring her own world to the brink of destruction!

Comment:

After hearing mixed things about The Court of the Air, I’ve put it to one side into the “if it’s a rainy day I really should really read it” pile (I don’t have such a pile but you get the idea). Though after reading the Fantasy Book Critic‘s emphatic review of The Kingdom of the Waves plus he liked the first one I’ll have to make up my own mind I think and actually read it ;).

Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont
Myrmidon Books

Synopsis:

Stephen Bardot is a taxi driver working on the night shift in Brighton. He works such long shifts that he is often driving while exhausted, and it is then that he starts to experience major alterations to his perception of reality. People start to take lifts in his cab who know things they shouldn’t, and who ultimately may not even be real, although the question of what constitutes reality forms one of the basic themes of the novel. He regularly gives lifts to Valerie – beautiful, haunting, but terminal – from 13 Wish Road to her positive thinking classes at the Cornerstone Community Centre on Palmeira Square. When he is no longer asked to collect her, he fears that she is dead, and queries this with Sal, one of the night operators. Her response turns Stephen’s world upside down. ‘But Stephen,’ she tells him, ‘there is no such address. Wish Road doesn’t have a number thirteen.’ As time passes, the world gets weirder. People appear (and disappear) who know far too much about Stephen and his past, and who lure him further and further into the twilight world of Thirteen. But if he asks any questions, he gets hurt. Ultimately, he decides, for the sake of both his safety and his sanity, he must walk away… but Thirteen has no intention of letting him go.

Comment:
Slipping from the end of April but I can’t let it get away. I’ve let my more literary interests wain for the last few months so I’m a little out of the loop but I know this book has been a favourite by quite a few people so I’m glad it’s finally had a paperback release. I’m going to pick this one up when I get paid.

The Reapers by John Connolly
Hodder & Stoughton
Synopsis:

They are the Reapers, the elite among killers. Men so terrifying that their names are mentioned only in whispers. The assassin Louis is one of them. But now Louis, and his partner, Angel, are themselves targets. And there is no shortage of suspects. A wealthy recluse sends them north to a town that no longer exists on a map. A town ruled by a man with very personal reasons for wanting Louis’s blood spilt. There they find themselves trapped, isolated, and at the mercy of a killer feared above all others: the assassin of assassins, Bliss. Thanks to former detective Charlie Parker, help is on its way. But can Angel and Louis stay alive long enough for it to reach them?

Comment:

If I’m a little behind on the Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman (see The Fabric of Sin above) then I’m seriously in arrears with John Connolly, having read only the first two Charlie Parker books and this is book eight and I’ve only dipped into Nocturnes, not to mention having The Book of Lost Things waiting. Though I always think that it’s a good thing when you know you have more books in a series that are already out there for you to move onto when you’ve finished the last one. At least that’s what I keep telling myself ;)

Hero by Perry Moore
Corgi Childrens

Synopsis:
Even though Thom Creed’s a basketball star, his high school classmates keep their distance. They’ve picked up on something different about Thom. Plus, his father, Hal Creed, was one of the greatest and most beloved superheroes of his time until a catastrophic event left him disfigured and an outcast. The last thing in the world Thom wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And he’s been asked to join the League – the very organization of superheroes that disowned Hal. But joining the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes: Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and, Ruth, a wise old woman who can see the future. Together these unlikely heroes become friends and begin to uncover a plot to kill the superheroes. This groundbreaking and widely acclaimed novel tells an unforgettable story about love, loss, and redemption.

Comment:

I’m buying this one, apart from the fact that I’ve heard good things about it. I think more publishers should take risks in their schedules and this one needs to supported!

Blind Faith by Ben Elton
Black Swan

Synopsis:
Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where ‘sharing’ is valued above all, and privacy is considered a dangerous perversion. Trafford wouldn’t call himself a rebel, but he’s daring to be different, to stand out from the crowd. In his own small ways, he wants to push against the system. But in this world, uniformity is everything. And even tiny defiances won’t go unnoticed. Ben Elton’s dark, savagely comic novel imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a sex-obsessed, utterly egocentric culture. In this world, nakedness is modesty, independent thought subversive, and ignorance is wisdom. A chilling vision of what’s to come? Or something rather closer to home?

Comment:

Ben Elton is a strange man. First coming to wide public attention as a verbal, almost ranting, political stand-up comedian, but on top of that he’s a novelist, sit-com writer, and even written musicals. This has been recommended by a friend of mine and I’d like to see what’s he’s up to. I greatly enjoyed Popcorn when I read that.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
McSweeney’s Publishing

Synopsis:
A series of linked essays analyzes works of literature important to the author, argues for the importance of enjoying a diverse range of reading options, and explores the author’s own writings from a perspective of personal history.

Comment: Another one from the end of April. His novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, brought him to attention and it would be interesting to see some non-fiction.

Death Message by Mark Billingham
Sphere

Synopsis:

The first message sent to Tom Thorne’s mobile phone was just a picture – the blurred image of a man’s face, but Thorne had seen enough dead bodies in his time to know that the man was no longer alive. But who was he? Who sent the photograph? And why? While the technical experts attempt to trace the sender, Thorne searches the daily police bulletins for a reported death that matches the photograph. Then another picture arrives. Another dead man …It is the identities of the murdered men which give Thorne his first clue, a link to a dangerous killer he’d put away years before and who is still in prison. With a chilling talent for manipulation, this man has led another inmate to plot revenge on everyone he blames for his current incarceration, and for the murder of his family while he was inside. Newly released, this convict has no fear of the police, no feelings for those he is compelled to murder. Now Tom Thorne must face one of the toughest challenges of his career, knowing that there is no killer more dangerous than one who has nothing left to lose.

Comment:

I keep meaning to try Mark Billingam… maybe this one.

Whatever Makes You Happy by William Suttcliffe
Bloomsbury

Synopsis:

In William Sutcliffe’s new novel, the hapless gap-yearers of “Are You Experienced?” have given way to three men in their early thirties who are not (in the eyes of their alienated mothers) properly settled. Matt works for lads mag BALLS! and is a serial dater of girls half his age. Paul is an experienced hand at lying and evasion to keep his life choices a secret from his mother. Daniel spends his Saturday nights alone in his flat reading novels, pining for ex-girlfriend and love of his life Erin. The mothers decide to launch a co-ordinated attack: they will arrive, without warning, to stay with their sons for one week with the intention of man-handling them back onto the right path. Wonderfully funny, with some characteristically hilarious set pieces, William has once again shone a brilliantly incisive spotlight on his generation.

Comment:

I read two of Sutcliffe’s novels what I was an emotional teenager and really enjoyed them. I wonder what he’s like now he’s grown up,

The Alchemist by Michael Scott
Corgi Childrens
Synopsis:

Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects – the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

Comment:

A mix of fantasy, fact and fiction for children. I’d give it a go.

The Deep by Helen Dunmore
HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks

Synopsis:

The third spellbinding story about Sapphy and Conor’s adventures in the powerful and dangerous underwater world of Ingo. A devastating flood has torn through the worlds of Air and Ingo, and now, deep in the ocean, a monster is stirring. Mer legend says that only those with dual blood — half Mer, half human — can overcome the Kraken. Sapphy must return to the Deep, with the help of her friend the whale, and face this terrifying creature — and her brother Conor and Mer friend Faro will not let her go alone!

The Crossing of Ingo by Helen Dunmore

Synopsis:

The breathtaking conclusion to Helen Dunmore’s critically-acclaimed Ingo series. Sapphire, Conor and their Mer friends Faro and Elvira are ready to make the Crossing of Ingo — a long and dangerous journey that only the strongest young Mer are called upon to make. No human being has ever attempted this thrilling voyage to the bottom of the world. Ervys, his followers and new recruits, the sharks, are determined that Sapphire and Conor must be stopped — dead or alive!

Comment:

Not overly keen on water related tales but Helen Dunmore read from the first in a series at an event I went to and it was interesting enough.

Incandescence by Greg Egan
Gollancz

Synopsis:

A million years from now, the galaxy is divided between the vast, cooperative meta-civilisation known as the Amalgam, and the silent occupiers of the galactic core known as the Aloof. The Aloof have long rejected all attempts by the Amalgam to enter their territory, but have permitted travellers to take a perilous ride as unencrypted data in their communications network, providing a short-cut across the galaxy’s central bulge. When Rakesh encounters a traveller, Lahl, who claims she was woken by the Aloof on such a journey and shown a meteor full of traces of DNA, he accepts her challenge to try to find the uncharted world deep in the Aloof’s territory from which the meteor originated. Roi and Zak live inside the Splinter, a world of rock that swims in a sea of light they call the Incandescence. Living on the margins of a rigidly prganised society, they seek to decipher the subtle clues that can reveal the true nature of the Splinter. In fact, the Splinter is orbiting a black hole, which is about to capture a neighbouring star, wreaking havoc. As the signs of danger grow, Roi, Zak, and a growing band of recruits struggle to understand and take control of their fate.

Meanwhile, Rakesh is gradually uncovering their remote history, and his search for the lost DNA world ultimately leads him to a civilisation trapped in cultural stagnation, and startling revelations about the true nature and motives of the Aloof

Comment:

I’m thinking I should read more Sci-fi, and Egan is a grand master.

Kethani by Eric Brown
Solaris

Synopsis:
It takes an alien race to show us what humanitiy truly is. This is the irony faced by a group of friends whose lives are changed forever when the mysterious alien race known as the Kethani come to Earth bearing a dubious but amazing gift: immortality. These superbly crafted episodes deal with human emotions in the face of the vast consequences of the alien arrival, and show how people across the world react to this benign invasion, how ultimately we evolve as we gain the stars.

Comment:

More sci-fi this time from the guardian’s sci-fi/fantasy reviewer. I’m just curious if he can practice what he preaches.

Song of the Shiver Barrens by Glenda Lake
Orbit

Synopsis:
Ligea’s son, Arrant, leaves Tyrans for Kardiastan to take his place as Mirager-heir, while Ligea prepares to halt an insurrection. But Arrant’s skills as a Magoroth are dangerously inconsistent, and his father, Temellin, finds it difficult to communicate with this secretive young man he barely knows. Arrant’s singular ability to communicate with his half-brother, Tarran – a part of the collective mind known as the Mirage Makers – leads them both towards the possibility of a tragic clash with the encroaching Ravage. As Arrant’s enemies among the Magoroth plot to ruin his family and his future as heir, he begins to realise there is a greater mystery to solve if he is to prevail.

Comment:

I’ve fallen for the cover of this one – and collective minds sounds quite cool and a little scary.

The Front by Patricia Cornwell
Little, Brown

Synopsis:
Massachusetts State Investigator Win Garano is given one of his most challenging cases yet when he is asked to investigate the death of a young British woman murdered more than forty years ago. Assumed to be a victim of the Boston Strangler, blind Janie Brolin was raped and left for dead in 1962. With no DNA and sketchy police records, this is a case that will test Garano to his limits. It will take him on a journey through the archives, into the latest innovations in forensic technology, and into partnership with senior officers at London’s New Scotland Yard. And as Garano unearths deadly secrets from the past, his hard-nosed boss Monique Lamont is putting both their lives in jeopardy with her lust for power and success. With past and present colliding, the tension mounts with every page…

Comment:

Finally, I’m wondering if a different set of character will stretch Cornwell into upping her game!

And there are probably more but I think 30-odd is more than enough. Not a bad selection of stuff even if I do say so myself!

Going on Amazon is a really dangerous thing for me, as is stepping in places that sell books, as I usually end up buying something. On this occasion I resisted buying anything but here are some of the books that caught my eye. I’ve also added a couple of moments about why they looked interesting.

It’s also a reminder why it’s impossible to read all the books that come out month by month, where could you find the time? Hopefully I’ll find time for a couple of these at some point. And if you’ve read any of them please do let me know what you thought. Thanks.

The Burning Man by Mark Chadbourn
Published by Gollancz

Synopsis

After a long journey across the ages, Jack Churchill has returned to the modern world, only to find it in the grip of a terrible, dark force. The population is unaware, mesmerised by the Mundane Spell that keeps them in thrall. With a small group of trusted allies, Jack sets out to find the two ‘keys’ that can shatter the spell. But the keys are people – one with the power of creation, one the power of destruction – and they are hidden somewhere among the world’s billions. As the search fans out across the globe, ancient powers begin to stir. In the bleak North, in Egypt, in Greece, in all the Great Dominions, the old gods are returning to stake their claim. The odds appear insurmountable, the need desperate …This is a time for heroes.

If you’ve following this blog for a while you’ll know I have a huge admiration for the works of Mark Chadbourn and would recommend that anyone with any sort of interest in modern fantasy read his work. I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons next and how he’s changing the rules of the game again. Very exciting. This Book Two of the Kingdom of the Serpent. You can find my review of Book One, Jack of Ravens, here and I’ve also written a brief overview of the series so far here. Plus I managed to get my hands on a review copy so look for a review soon!

The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell
Published by Gollancz

Synopsis

This is The Bourne Identity …as if Neil Gaiman had written it …A man comes round on the floor of a shabby flat in the middle of Budapest. His head is glued to the floorboards with his own blood. There’s a fortune in cash on the kitchen table. And he has no idea where, or who, he is. He can do extraordinary things – speak any number of languages fluently, go three days without food or sleep, and fight with extraordinary prowess. But without a name, without a past, he’s isolated from the rest of the world; a stranger to everyone, including himself – until a chance encounter with a young scholar leads to his first friendship, and his first hint that someone out there knows more about him than he does. Someone is sending him clues about his past. Photographs hidden in books and crates of wine.Cryptic clues pointing towards a murdered woman. And clear warnings against Stephomi, his only friend. But that’s not all; Gabriel Antaeus is seeing strange, impossible things: a burning man is stalking his dreams and haunting his mirrors, his dreams are filled with violence from the past, and his pregnant young neighbour is surrounded by an extraordinary golden aura.Something dark and violent in Gabriel’s past is trying to resurface.

And as he pieces the clues together, everything points towards an astounding war between angels and demons …and a battle not just for the future of the world, but for the minds and souls of everyone in it.

Ok, I must admit that I’m interested in any book that’s described as, ‘The Bourne Identity …as if Neil Gaiman had written it’. What more can you say?

The Battle for Gullywith by Susan Hill

Published by Bloomsbury

Synopsis

A stone army, an enchanted castle, mysterious ancient powers – and some very clever tortoises – Olly finds there’s more than meets the eye at Gullywith. When his family move to Gullywith Farm in the Lake District, Olly just can’t imagine being happy in his new home. Gullywith is the coldest house in the world and no one has lived there for years. Then Olly meets KK and she tells him locals won’t go near the place. It does seem to be jinxed – the roof falls in, walls collapse but even more strangely, Olly notices that there are stones at Gullywith that can move around of their own accord – stones with ancient markings on them. He feels sure that they are angry about something.KK takes Olly to see the mysterious NonnyDreever to ask his advice and he tells them they must return the stones to Withern Mere. As they search for the answer to Gullywith’s secret, Olly is drawn into a world of myth, magic and midnight adventure deep inside the surrounding hills. What is the ancient power that controls the stones and can anything be done to end their hold over Gullywith? Susan Hill deftly weaves a tale of real life and enchantment to delight young readers.

I must admit that I have a soft spot for celtic-centred stories (I guess that comes from having Welsh rural roots and loving my country.) And this is a book I’ve seen mentioned a couple of times during blog post of the author and Scott Pack whose children has a sneak peek. I’m also a big kid at heart so this intrigues me. The cover is also amazing.

Small Favour by Jim Butcher
Published by Orbit

Synopsis

Harry Dresden’s life finally seems to be calming down. The White Council’s war with the vampiric Red Court has entered a period of detente, no one’s tried to kill him in nearly a year, and the worst problem he’s had lately is working out how to remove the stains his apprentice bungled into his carpeting. The future looks fairly bright. Unfortunately, the past isn’t nearly as promising. An old bargain placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe and the Queen of Air and Darkness. Harry still owes the Winter Queen of Faerie two favours, and it’s time to pay one of them off. It’s a small favour that he really can’t refuse, but it will trap Harry between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, stretching his skills and loyalties to their very limits. It figures. Everything was going too well to last.

I was a great fan of the sort-lived Dresden Files TV series and tuned into the books when I couldn’t get my TV fix. Jim Butcher is a wonderfully immediate writer and I’ve enjoyed the first two and so this’ll make book ten. I might have to be a few books behind for quite a while but as someone said, and I can’t remember who, this series just gets better and better. I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

Oh and Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review has a…review.

The Butt by Will Self
Published by Bloomsbury

Synopsis

Tom Brodzinski is a man who takes his own good intentions for granted. But when he finally decides to give up smoking, a moment’s inattention to detail becomes his undoing. Flipping the butt of his final cigarette off the balcony of the holiday apartment he’s renting with his family, Tom is appalled when it lands on the head of one his fellow countrymen, Reggie Lincoln. The elderly Lincoln is badly burnt, and since the cigarette butt passed through public space before hitting him, the local authorities are obliged to regard Tom’s action as an assault, despite his benign intentions. Worse is to follow: Lincoln is married to a native from one of the rigorous, mystical tribes of the desert interior, and their customary law is incorporated into the civil statute.In order to make reparations to Mrs Lincoln’s people, Tom will have to leave his family behind, and carry the appropriate goods and chattels deep into the arid heart of this strange, island continent. Any of this might be bearable, were it not for Tom’s companion, forced on him by his enigmatic lawyer, the mixed-race Jethro Swai-Phillips.

Brian Prentice, like Tom, has to make reparations and although there is a taboo that prevents either man from knowing the exact detail of the other’s offence, Tom’s almost 100 per cent certain that he’s a child-abuser. As they drive into the desert and encounter a violent counter-insurgency war that Tom has allowed himself to remain in ignorance of, the relationship between the two men becomes one of complicit guilt as well as seething mistrust. Refusing facile moral certitudes, Will Self’s latest novel is set in a distorted world, in a country that is part Australia, part Iraq, part Greeneland and part the heart of a distinctively modern darkness.

The reviews are already in the Independent on Sunday and The Times. Plus the guardian has a picture of and comment by Will Self on his Writing Room.

Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell
Published by Sphere

Synopsis

The ‘book of the dead’ is the morgue log, the ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Kay Scarpetta, however, it is about to have a new meaning. Fresh from her bruising battle with a psychopath in Florida, Scarpetta decides it’s time for a change of pace. Moving to the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues offer expert crime scene investigation and autopsies to communities lacking local access to competent death investigation and modern technology. It seems like an ideal situation, until the murders and other violent deaths begin. A woman is ritualistically murdered in her multi-million-dollar beach home. The body of an abused young boy is found dumped in a desolate marsh. A sixteen-year-old tennis star is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome. Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones before her now. Before she is through, that book of the dead will contain many names – and the pen may be poised to write her own.

I’ve fallen out of love with Patricia. It was the gap that did it when she went off to find Jack the Ripper and somehow forgot how to write. Or at least that’s how I felt and still feel after picking up Blow Fly. With an ongoing series it’s always dangerous to play with the format too much. You’ve got to shake things up a bit but changing the narration from first to third person was a step too far. Cornwell isn’t a great writer, she’s good, but not outstanding and what kept me reading was the will and the mind of Kay Scarpetta and that was compelling enough that I didn’t mind Cornwell’s lack of flair. In Blow Fly all the roots and foundations that I was used to is missing. I might still pick this up and add it to the rest in case urge to find out what happens takes me.

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan
Published by Pocket Books

Synopsis

Charlie Howard doesn’t just write books about a career thief, he also happens to be one. In Amsterdam working on his latest novel, Charlie is approached by a mysterious American who asks him to steal two apparently worthless monkey figurines from two separate addresses on the same night. At first he says no. Then he changes his mind. Only later, kidnapped and bound to a chair, the American very dead and a spell in police custody behind him, does Charlie begin to realise how costly a mistake he might have made. The police think he killed the American. Others think he knows the whereabouts of the elusive third monkey. But for Charlie only three things matter: Can he clear his name? Can he get away with the haul of a lifetime? And, can he solve the briefcase-shaped plot-hole in his latest novel?

I almost missed the paperback release of The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan. I bought the Long Barn Books hardback last year and greatly enjoyed it as you can see from my review. I hope if you like crime fiction you go out and buy a copy. It’s a great little mystery.

The Pool of Unease by Catherine Sampson
Published by Pan

Synopsis

The scream – female, high-pitched, terrified, breathless, a wordless, formless, plea for mercy – arrived from silence and was cut off, abruptly strangled, leaving a gurgling echo in its airy wake …Robin Ballntyne is investigating the murder of a British man in Beijing. But in a city thick with paranoia and corruption, she struggles to separate rumour from reality. Meanwhile, late one freezing night, Chinese private detective Song rescues a young boy from a fire on a building site. With witnesses appearing from the murky surrounds, bloody clothes on the ground but no body, and flames blazing around him, Song panics and flees through the woods – still clutching the boy.From the smog of the capital to the poverty-stricken countryside, and from the mansions of millionaires to a disused quarry where the children of scavengers root among the rubbish, Song and Robin must unravel the truth behind the murders before they find themselves silenced – and before the killer can make another sinister move …

If The Good Thief’s Guide... was a gentle little tale from the cover this doesn’t look that gentle. Not sure why this caught my eye. Maybe it’s all the Beijing Olympics? Or maybe it’s the mix of British foreigner, and rich and poor?

Murder at Deviation Junction by Andrew Martin
Published by Faber and Faber

Synopsis

A train hits a snow drift in the frozen Cleveland Hills. In the process of clearing the line a body is discovered, and so begins a dangerous case for struggling Edwardian railway detective, Jim Stringer. Jim’s new investigation takes him to the mighty blast furnaces of Ironopolis, to Fleet Street in the company of a cynical reporter from The Railway Rover, and to a nightmarish spot in the Highlands. Jim’s faltering career in the railway police hangs on whether he can solve the murder – but before long the pursuer becomes the pursued, and Jim finds himself fighting not just for his job, but for his very life as well.

Maybe I’m having a thing for historical crime fiction. I’m looking forward to reading The Necropolis Railway, book one in the Jim Stringer Steam Detective series. This is book four with book five, Death On A Branch Line, just about to be released in HB it looks like this series has steam! 

The Mesmerist’s Apprentice by L M Jackson
Published by William Heinemann Ltd

Synopsis

When the enigmatic Sarah Tanner re-opens her Dining and Coffee Rooms soon after a disastrous fire, the gossips of Leather Lane grudgingly admit she has ‘the luck of the devil’. Yet when a local butcher is falsely accused of a heinous offence, selling horse-meat, it seems her luck has run out…Drawn into an ever more dangerous series of confrontations with a gang of youths who seem determined to put an innocent man out of business, Sarah Tanner’s own livelihood looks set for ruin into the bargain.But what links the persecution of a humble butcher with a certain Dr. Stead – a leading practitioner of the strange art of mesmerism – and a desperate plea from Sarah’s former lover, the aristocrat Arthur DeSalle? As Mrs. Tanner investigates, she increasingly fears that the mesmerist, patronised by the highest in society, is a charlatan and his latest patient, the unwitting victim of a grotesque fraud. To preserve a family’s honour, Sarah Tanner sets out upon a trail of suicide, murder, deception and deceit which stretches from the alleys of Leather Lane to the drawing-rooms of Mayfair. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more she seems to be putting herself in danger…

See another historical mystery or at least that’s what it looks like from the blurb.

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale.
Published by Bloomsbury

Synopsis

It is a summer’s night in 1860. In an elegant detached Georgian house in the village of Road, Wiltshire, all is quiet. Behind shuttered windows the Kent family lies sound asleep. At some point after midnight a dog barks. The family wakes the next morning to a horrific discovery: an unimaginably gruesome murder has taken place in their home. The household reverberates with shock, not least because the guilty party is surely still among them. Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, the most celebrated detective of his day, reaches Road Hill House a fortnight later. He faces an unenviable task: to solve a case in which the grieving family are the suspects.The murder provokes national hysteria. The thought of what might be festering behind the closed doors of respectable middle-class homes – scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing – arouses fear and a kind of excitement. But when Whicher reaches his shocking conclusion there is uproar and bewilderment.

A true story that inspired a generation of writers such as Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, this has all the hallmarks of the classic murder mystery – a body; a detective; and, a country house steeped in secrets. In “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher”, Kate Summerscale untangles the facts behind this notorious case, bringing it back to vivid, extraordinary life.

And another one! But his one is non-fiction. Life is sometimes stranger?

Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon
Published by Orbit

Synopsis

A vast and hostile force is attacking prosperous trade centres, destroying their space fleets then moving on, leaving death and chaos in their wake. Admiral KyVatta’s family was decimated by one such attack and Turek, the pirate force’s leader, will not escape her vengeance. Ky has a loyal taskforce, but the enemy have three times the ships and the firepower to match. She must offset these advantages with her knowledge of military strategy and her ace: superior ansible technology, facilitating fast and accurate in-space intelligence. The alternative to victory is unthinkable – devastation of interplanetary trading networks on a galaxy-wide scale – and the end of a way of life.

I’m having a sci-fi pull and heard a lot about Elzabeth Moon. Not sure if this would be a good place to start!

Line War ( AgentCormac 5) by Neal Asher
Published by Tor

Synopsis

The Polity is under attack from a ‘melded’ AI entity with control of the lethal Jain technology, yet the attack seems to have no coherence. When one of Erebus’swormships, kills millions on the world of Klurhammon, a high-tech agricultural world of no real tactical significance, agent Ian Cormac is sent to investigate, though he is secretly struggling to control a new ability no human being should possess …and beginning to question the motives of his AI masters. Further attacks and seemingly indiscriminate slaughter ensue, but only serve to bring some of the most dangerous individuals in the Polity into the war.Mr Crane, the indefatigable brass killing machine sets out for vengeance, while Orlandine, a vastly-augmented haiman who herself controls Jain technology, seeks a weapon of appalling power and finds allies from an ancient war. Meanwhile Mika, scientist and Dragon expert, is again kidnapped by that unfathomable alien entity and dragged into the heart of things: to wake the makers of Jain technology from their five-million-year slumber. But Erebus’s attacks are not so indiscriminate, after all, and could very well herald the end of the Polity itself.

Speaking of good sci-fi. Neal Asher is another name that I keep meaning to read. Again, maybe not the best place to start.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire Derek Landy
Published by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks

Synopsis

Just when you think you’ve saved the world! “You will kill her?” the Torment asked. Skulduggery sagged. “Yes.” He hesitated, then took his gun from his jacket. “I’m sorry, Valkyrie,” he said softly. “Don’t talk to me,” Valkyrie said. “Just do what you have to do.” Valkyrie parted her tunic, and Skulduggery pointed the gun at the vest beneath. “Please forgive me,” Skulduggery said, then aimed the gun at the girl and pulled the trigger. With Serpine dead, the world is safe once more. At least, that’s what Valkyrie and Skulduggery think, until the notorious Baron Vengeous makes a bloody escape from prison, and dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. With Baron Vengeous after the deadly armour of Lord Vile, and pretty much everyone out to kill Valkyrie, the daring detective duo face their biggest challenge yet. But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home!?

I’m just curious about what all the fuss is about.

Voice of Gods by Trudi Canavan
Publsihed by Orbit

Synopsis

In her new role as protector of the Siyee, Auraya investigates sightings of a landwalker stranger in their land. She meets a mysterious woman claiming to be a friend of Mirar’s: a woman who makes an offer Auraya is unable to refuse, but which she must conceal or risk the wrath of the gods. In the south, Mirar enjoys acceptance and respect as he reclaims his place among his people, but that freedom will come at a cost. Meanwhile, Emerahl is at last able to join the Thinkers in their search for the Scroll of the Gods, but the truth may not be revealed in the form she expects. And the Pentadrians, frustrated by their defeat at the hands of the Circlians, plot and scheme to bring down their enemies by means other than direct conflict. As the promise of peace dies, and two peoples are once more drawn inexorably into war, Auraya is unable to avoid being caught up the conflict. The key to everything, though, may lie with the Wilds, who embark upon a quest for secrets buried long ago. Secrets that could change the world.

Trudi Canavan gave a great quote on Scar Night by Alan Campbell, which I’m read and really enjoying at the moment. Plus this looks like a fantasy detective novel. Can you see a theme?

Dark Wraith of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Published by Orbit

Synopsis

‘The past is always with us, but sometimes we fail to recognise it for what it is.’ These were JairOhmsford’s final thoughts as he walked away from the carnage at Dun Fee Aran, having destroyed at last the book of dark magic known as the Ildatch. Following this great event, told in The Wishsong of Shannara, Jair discovers that he can draw on a form of magic that allows him to transform into other living creatures, both human and non-human. The magic is both powerful and seductive, for Jair can feel himself wanting to remain in each new form that he tries. Jair sets out for the family home of Shady Vale, seeking peace from the temptations of his unwanted gift. But fate has other plans for the heir to the elvenmagics of Shannara, and the shade of the Druid Allanon sets him, and his sister Brin, on a new path. The way is perilous, but Jair can provide protection with his new magical ability. Of course, that may be the most dangerous path of all …

Another of those big names I really should read.

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
Publshed by Gollancz HB

Synopsis

Six million years ago, at the very dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones: the shatterlings. Sent out into the galaxy, these shatterlings have stood aloof as they document the rise and fall of countless human empires. They meet every two hundred thousand years, to exchange news and memories of their travels with their siblings. Campion and Purslane are not only late for their thirty-second reunion, but they have brought along an amnesiac golden robot for a guest. But the wayward shatterlings get more than the scolding they expect: they face the discovery that someone has a very serious grudge against the Gentian line, and there is a very real possibility of traitors in their midst. The surviving shatterlings have to dodge exotic weapons while they regroup to try to solve the mystery of who is persecuting them, and why – before their ancient line is wiped out of existence, for ever.

The Prefect Alastair Reynolds
Published by Gollancz PB

Synopsis

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a policeman of sorts, and one of the best. His force is Panoply, and his beat is the multi-faceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone. These days, his job is his life. A murderous attack against a Glitter Band habitat is nasty, but it looks to be an open-and-shut case – until Dreyfus starts looking under some stones that some very powerful people would really rather stayed unturned. What he uncovers is far more serious than mere gruesome murder: a covert takeover bid by a shadowy figure, Aurora (who may once have been human but certainly isn’t now), who believes the people of the Glitter Band should no longer be in charge of their own destiny. Dreyfus discovers that to save something precious, you may have to destroy part of it.

I read and greatly enjoyed Revelation Space and these are a reminder that I really should read Chasm City.

Shadow Gate by Kate Elliot
Published by Orbit

Synopsis

Marit was pretty sure she had been murdered. She recalled the assassin’s dagger, thrust up to pierce her heart. A certain path to a swift death, as any reeve would know. Her dying vision had shown her the next world but her spirit had not made the journey. She woke alone, sprawled on a Guardian altar with only a cloak for a covering. Her eagle was dead. The Guardians had ruled the Hundred, but they had long disappeared from the world, leaving the reeves to administer justice in their stead. But this peace has been shattered by a desperate army, slaughtering all in its path. And its leaders are shadowy undead, wearing the cloaks of lost Guardians …

I’ve fallen for the cover art. It’s lovely. It’s a sequel to Spirit Gate

Empress by Karen Miller
Published by Orbit

Synopsis

When a scrawny, unwanted child – so lowly that she does not even have a name – is sold into slavery, a chain of events is set in motion that will have a profound impact on all the civilised world. Naming herself ‘Hekat’ (after a slaver’s observation that she is quite the hellcat), the girl is taken in chains to Mijak’s largest city, but makes a bargain with a ruthless god and escapes her captors. After she saves the life of a warlord, he takes her in and teaches her ways that an orphan might use to prosper in an uncaring world. When the warlord’s family dies, the way becomes clear for Hekat to carve a dynasty out of infidelity and betrayal…

Karen Miller has been an instant hit since the release of The Innocent Mage/The Awakened Mage. Chris, the book swede has had chance to interview Karen and it’s a good read to.

And that’s the lot. I’ve missed some I’m sure. But I wasn’t expecting it to take this long to do seeing as we’re in May.

I hope you found it interesting. I’ve got a list of books for May ready plus I’ve received some exciting books that I need to talk about so expect another exciting list soon-ish with a bit of luck.

gav.