Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Books Received

Mage's Blood (The Moontide Quartet) by David Hair

For years the Leviathan Bridge was a boon for prosperity and culture. But when the Rondian Emperor turned his avaricious eyes toward it, peace became war. In successive crusades the Imperial legions and their mighty battle-mages plundered the East unopposed.

Now the Moontide has come again, the Bridge is rising from beneath the waves, and the Third Crusade is poised for release. The board is set and the pieces are moving. But three lowly pawns, barely regarded, threaten the game: A failed mage, a jaded mercenary and a lowly market-girl are about to be catapulted into the maelstrom. Their choices and their courage are about to change the world.

Come to Urte, where the moon covers half the sky and the tides render the seas impassable. Where windships ply the skies and magi with god-gifted powers rule the earth. Where East and West are divided by colour, creed, language and the sea, but drawn to each other irrevocably in a dance of life and death. The Moontide is coming, to sweep away all in its path.

Kitty in the Underworld (Kitty Norville) by Carrie Vaughn

As Denver adjusts to a new master vampire, Kitty gets word of an intruder in the Denver werewolf pack’s territory, and she investigates the challenge to her authority. She follows the scent of the lycanthrope through the mountains where she is lured into a trap, tranquilized, and captured. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a defunct silver mine: the perfect cage for a werewolf. Her captors are a mysterious cult seeking to induct Kitty into their ranks in a ritual they hope will put an end to Dux Bellorum. Though skeptical of their power, even Kitty finds herself struggling to resist joining their cause. Whatever she decides, they expect Kitty to join them in their plot . . . willingly or otherwise.

Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book One by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancĂ©, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

 Some mysteries are too dangerous to leave alone.

Nate's not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, he's thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. 

But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.

Dark Talisman by Steven M. Booth

She's been banished from her home without a word of explanation. Assassins are hot on her tail, and she's fleeing without a plan. On the whole, her future looks pretty grim. Then again, it's nearly impossible to catch a dark elf. And even tougher to kill one.

Meet Altira. She set out to rob a sultan, and ended up stealing the deadliest gem in the world. Her mistake could cost Altira her life -- or save her race, and possibly the world as she knows it.

As Altira struggles to triumph over the vast forces arrayed against her, she acquires (mostly against her will) a rich cast of unexpected allies -- perceptive dwarves, giant Phoenix birds with mysterious powers, and ephemeral creatures made from nothing but air. Together they must find a way to defeat the army of assassins set against her, overcome the wrath of three nations, and forge allegiances with despised enemies, to reveal the truth to a people kept in the darkness for millennia.

The first installment in The Guardian Chronicles, Dark Talisman takes us into the magical land of Salustra, where ageless Guardians are locked in an eternal battle with their mortal enemy: a Dark Lord intent on destroying their world.

Assault on Sunrise (The Extra Trilogy) by Michael Shea

Less than a hundred years in the future, pollution, economic disaster, and the rapacious greed of the corporate oligarchy has brought America to its knees and created dystopian urban nightmares, of which L.A. may be the worst.

Curtis, Japh, and Jool are film extras, who—with the help of a couple of very gutsy women—survived being anonymous players in a “live-action” film in which getting killed on-screen meant getting killed for real. Surviving the shoot made them rich enough to escape the post-apocalyptic Hell that L.A. has become. But their survival was not what Panoply Studios’ CEO Val Margolian had in mind, especially since it cost his company millions.

Now he's taking his revenge. After several plainclothes police are found dead in the former extras' new home, the bucolic, peaceful town of Sunrise, California, the entire town is subjected to Margolian's invidious plan to punish the entire town…and make a fortune doing it. Margolian has created toxic, murderous wasp-like mechanical creatures to set upon the people of Sunrise, while his film crew captures the carnage in what promises to be the bloodiest “live-action” film yet. With their haven from L.A. besieged by the deadly assault, the former extras—and their fellow townspeople—are faced with a grim task: to defeat the creatures and take back their town and their freedom. Michael Shea's Assault on Sunrise is a saga of courage and sacrifice in a world gone mad.

Under the Empyrean Sky (The Heartland Trilogy) by Chuck Wendig

Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it.

It’s the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow — and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it.

As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables, trying to earn much-needed ace notes for their families. But Cael’s tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He’s sick of the mayor’s son besting Cael’s crew in the scavenging game. And he’s worried about losing Gwennie — his first mate and the love of his life — forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry — angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn’t seem upset about any of it.

Cael’s ready to make his own luck . . . even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.

Cain's Blood: A Novel by Geoffrey Girard

Ten Bundy. The Son of Sam. The Boston Strangler. Albert Fish. Henry Lee Lucas.

The DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers has been cloned by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a new breed of bioweapon. Now in Phase Three, the program includes dozens of young men who have no clue as to their evil heritage. Playing a twisted game of nature vs. nurture, scientists raise some of the clones with loving families and others in abusive circumstances. But everything changes when the most dangerous boys are set free by their creator. A man with demons of his own, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail. But Castillo didn’t count on the quiet young man he finds hiding in an abandoned house—a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As Jeffrey and Castillo race across the country on the trail of the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears—and who may also be his last hope. Melding all-too-plausible science and ripped from- the-headlines horror, Cain’s Blood is a stunning debut about the potential for good and evil in us all.

The Grim Company by Luke Scull

The Gods are dead. The Magelord Salazar and his magically enhanced troops, the Augmentors, crush any dissent they find in the minds of the populace. On the other side of the Broken Sea, the White Lady plots the liberation of Dorminia, with her spymistresses, the Pale Women. Demons and abominations plague the Highlands.

The world is desperately in need of heroes. But what they get instead are a ragtag band of old warriors, a crippled Halfmage, two orphans and an oddly capable manservant: the Grim Company.

Dark Shadows: Wolf Moon Rising by Lara Parker

The first all-new Dark Shadows novel in years, written by Lara Parker, one of the stars of the cult classic TV show!

When a portrait is lost that has maintained Quentin Collins’s youthful appearance for over a century—and has also kept his werewolf curse at bay—Quentin begins to dread the full moon.

Meanwhile, David, the sixteen-year-old heir to the Collins fortune, has fallen in love with Jacqueline, a young girl living at the Old House who is the reincarnation of Angelique. David and Jacqueline are swept back in time to the prohibition era of the Twenties, where David uncovers the dark secrets of the Collins family history.

Most threatening of all, Dr. Nathanial Blair, an expert in the paranormal, has come to Collinwood because he suspects they are harboring a vampire. Fortunately, Barnabas Collins has returned to his coffin after a disastrous flirtation with life as a human. Nevertheless, what Blair discovers places the entire Collins family in jeopardy.

Fiddlehead (Clockwork Century) by Cherie Priest

Young ex-slave Gideon Bardsley is a brilliant inventor, but the job is less glamorous than one might think, especially since the assassination attempts started. Worse yet, they're trying to destroy his greatest achievement: a calculating engine called Fiddlehead, which provides undeniable proof of something awful enough to destroy the world. Both man and machine are at risk from forces conspiring to keep the Civil War going and the money flowing.

Bardsley has no choice but to ask his patron, former president Abraham Lincoln, for help. Lincoln retired from leading the country after an attempt on his life, but is quite interested in Bardsley’s immense data-processing capacities, confident that if people have the facts, they'll see reason and urge the government to end the war. Lincoln must keep Bardsley safe until he can finish his research, so he calls on his old private security staff to protect Gideon and his data.

Maria “Belle” Boyd was a retired Confederate spy, until she got a life-changing job offer from the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Pinkerton respects her work, despite reservations about her lingering Southern loyalties. But it’s precisely those loyalties that let her go into Confederate territory to figure out who might be targeting Bardsley. Maria is a good detective, but with spies from both camps gunning for her, can even the notorious Belle Boyd hold the greedy warhawks at bay?

Big Egos by S.G. Browne

Does your lifestyle not fit the person inside you? Then try someone else on for size!

Call him whatever. Call him whomever. He can be any legally authorized fictional character or dead celebrity he wants for six to eight hours, simply by injecting a DNA-laced cocktail into his brain stem. It’s called Big Egos and it’s the ultimate role-playing fantasy from Engineering Genetics Organization and Systems (aka EGOS.) And, as one of the quality controllers for EGOS, he’s the ultimate ego-tripper, taking on more artificial identities than advisable—and having a hell of a time doing it. Problem is, he’s starting to lose the ability to separate fact from fiction. His every fantasy is the new reality. And the more roles he plays, the less of him remains. Sure, it’s dangerous. Yes, he’s probably losing his mind. Okay, hundreds of others could be at risk. But sometimes who you are isn’t good enough. And the truth is, reality is so overrated. . . .

With his insightful wit, smart humor, and electrifying narrative, acclaimed author S. G. Browne takes readers on a satirical and provocative trip into the not-too-distant future, where, for some, pretending to be someone you’re not is just another day at the office.

Thieves' Quarry (Thieftaker Chronicles) by D.B. Jackson

Ethan Kaille isn’t the likeliest hero. A former sailor with a troubled past, Ethan is a thieftaker, using conjuring skills to hunt down those who steal from the good citizens of Boston. And while chasing down miscreants in 1768 makes his life a perilous one, the simmering political tensions between loyalists like himself and rabble-rousing revolutionaries like Samuel Adams and others of his ilk are perhaps even more dangerous to his health.

When one hundred sailors of King George III's Royal Navy are mysteriously killed on a ship in Boston Harbor, Ethan is thrust into dire peril. For he—and not Boston’s premier thieftaker, Sephira Pryce—is asked to find the truth behind their deaths. City Sheriff Edmund Greenleaf suspects conjuring was used in the dastardly crime, and even Pryce knows that Ethan is better equipped to contend with matters of what most of Boston considers dark arts. But even Ethan is daunted by magic powerful enough to fell so many in a single stroke. When he starts to investigate, he realizes that the mass murderer will stop at nothing to evade capture. And making his task more difficult is the British fleet's occupation of the city after the colonials' violent protests after the seizure of John Hancock's ship. Kaille will need all his own magic, street smarts, and a bit of luck to keep this Boston massacre from giving the hotheads of Colonial Boston an excuse for inciting a riot—or worse.

Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans) by Suzanne Johnson

Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson is the fun, fast-paced third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans, a series of urban fantasy novels filled with wizards, mermen, and pirates. These novels are perfect for readers of paranormal fiction and “fans of Charlaine Harris and Cat Adams” (Booklist) and RT Bookreviews agrees that “for readers missing Sookie Stackhouse, this series may be right up your alley.”

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combating an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

Mist by Susan Krinard
Mist lives a normal life. She has a normal job, a normal boyfriend, and a normal apartment in San Francisco. She never thinks about her past if she can help it.
She survived. That’s the end of it.

But then a snowy winter descends upon San Francisco. In June. And in quick succession, Mist is attacked by a frost giant in a public park and runs into an elf disguised as a homeless person on the streets…and then the man Mist believed was her mortal boyfriend reveals himself to be the trickster god, Loki, alive and well after all these years.

Mist’s normal world is falling apart. But thankfully, Mist isn’t quite so normal herself. She’s a Valkyrie, and she’s going to need all her skill to thwart Loki’s schemes and save modern Earth from the ravages of a battle of the gods.

A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood
A dark and disturbing tale from a bold new voice in horror writing: After the battlefront death of her husband, a soldier, in the sands of the Middle East, a distraught Cass decides to move to the bucolic, picture-perfect village of Darnshaw with her teenaged son. Since Cass’s website design business can be run from anywhere with an internet connection and Ben could benefit from a change of scenery, a move to the highlands village seems like just the thing.

But the locals aren’t as friendly as she had hoped and the internet connection isn’t as reliable as her business requires. And when Ben begins to display a hostility that is completely unlike his usual gentle nature, Cass begins to despair. Finally, the blizzards thunder through and Darnshaw is marooned in a sea of snow.

When things look their blackest, she finds one sympathetic ear in the person of her son’s substitute teacher. But his attentions can’t put to rest her growing anxiety about her son and her business. And soon, she finds herself pitted against dark forces she can barely comprehend. The cold season has begun.

Revelations (The Elysium Chronicles) by J.A. Souders

The Elysium Chronicles, J.A. Souders’ riveting SF series for teens which began with the psychological thriller Renegade, continues in Revelations.

Six weeks after her arrival on the Surface, Evelyn Winters is no closer to unlocking the memories lost in her subconscious than she was when she first came. Isolated in a strange new society, Evie has only Gavin Hunter to remind her of who she once was.

But even with a clean slate, it’s easy to see that Evie doesn’t fit in on the Surface. And as her differences make her feel more and more alone, she can’t help but yearn for that place she doesn’t remember: the isolated city hidden in the depths of the ocean. Elysium. Home.

But she can’t exactly tell Gavin what she’s feeling. Not when he’s the one who helped her escape Elysium in the first place, and has the scars to prove it. Though the doctors say otherwise, Gavin believes that Evie just needs time. And if her memories don’t come back, well, maybe she’s better off not remembering her past.

But the decision may be out of their hands when Evie’s ever-elusive memories begin to collide with reality. People and images from her past appear in the most unlikely places, haunting her, provoking her…and making her seem not only strange but dangerous.

Evie and Gavin can’t wait around for her memories to return. They’ll have to journey across the Outlands of the Surface to find help, and in the end, their search may just lead them back to the place it all started…

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

In the world of SORROW'S KNOT, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry, something deadly. Most of the people of this world live on the sunlit, treeless prairies. But a few carve out an uneasy living in the forest towns, keeping the dead at bay with wards made from magically knotted cords. The women who tie these knots are called binders. And Otter's mother, Willow, is one of the greatest binders her people have ever known.

But Willow does not wish for her daughter to lead the lonely, heavy life of a binder, so she chooses another as her apprentice. Otter is devastated by this choice, and what's more, it leaves her untrained when the village falls under attack. In a moment of desperation, Otter casts her first ward, and the results are disastrous. But now Otter may be her people's only hope against the shadows that threaten them. Will the challenge be too great for her? Or will she find a way to put the dead to rest once and for all?

Quick Fix (Ciel Halligan) by Linda Grimes

QUICK FIX—the second installment of the original urban fantasy series by LINDA GRIMES.

Ciel Halligan, an aura adaptor with a chameleon-like ability to step into the lives of her clients and fix their problems for them—as them—is working a job at the National Zoo with her boyfriend, Billy, and his ten-year-old sister, Molly. It's supposed to be a quick fix, giving her time to decide if it's wise to pursue the romantic relationship her charming scoundrel of a best friend wants, or if she should give Mark, the CIA spook she's crushed on since hormones first rattled her pubescent brain, a chance to step up to the plate.

Molly has already begun to show signs of being an adaptor herself. She's young for it, but she's always been precocious, so it's not impossible. What is impossible is her taking on the form of the baby orangutan she touches—adaptors can only project human auras. Until now, apparently. Worse, Molly is stuck in ape form. She can't change herself back.

Escaping from the zoo with their new baby orang, Ciel and Billy head for New York City and the only person they know can help: Ciel's brother James, a non-adaptor scientist who's determined to crack the aura adaptor genetic code. But when Billy winds up in jail, accused of attempted murder, Ciel begins to suspect Molly's unusual adapting ability is more than just a fluke. Who's been experimenting on Molly, and what do they hope to gain? And will Ciel survive to find out?

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Tamora Pierce returns to the magical world of Winding Circle.

On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?


Bob Milne said...

I've got a copy of The Grim Company waiting for a read, byt Mage's Blood, Under the Empyrean Sky, and Thieves' Quarry all look interesting. Assault on Sunrise looks like a lot of fun too, but I guess I need to check out The Extra first.

Charles Gramlich said...

Looks like quite a lot of good stuff. I fear I have none of it. I'm on a bit of a book buying budget crunch at the moment.

Blodeuedd said...

I like the sound of that first one

Maurice Mitchell said...

"Frozen" sounds fascinating in "Day after Tomorrow" kind of way.

SQT said...

@Bob- "The Grim Company" does look good. I'm going to try to make time for it.

@Blodeuedd- Me too!

@Charles- Sorry to hear that. I'll keep an eye for some book deals to post. Strange Chemistry (publisher) has $1.99 ebooks right now. http://strangechemistrybooks.com/2013/08/23/strange-chems-first-birthday-our-ebook-price-promo-present-to-you-2/

@Maurice- I love it when an author goes the frozen route instead of another global warming cautionary tale. I think it makes the story more interesting if it isn't wrapped up with an overt agenda. (If it's subtle I don't care- but few people know how to do subtle.)

William Silvia said...

SQT, did you ever happen to look at Blue Remembered Earth in any way? If so, how do you feel about the environmental message there? If you haven't, it was essentially, "global warming caused the seas to rise, there was a huge catastrophe, eventually African science helped the world get over it".

SQT said...

I haven't read that one. Though the premise sounds interesting because Reynolds makes Africa a dominant power- that's an unexpected twist!

The thing is, for me, not the politics espoused but the way it's done. I have read some books that are so heavy-handed and one-sided that I don't have much tolerance for it anymore. I can't slog my way through Ayn Rand for that very reason. On the opposite side of the coin Stephen King can get so anti-Christian that the characters are nothing but caricatures- and not very good ones. Though I hear his last book was really good and I may have to give it a chance.

William Silvia said...

I've never read an anti-Christian book by Stephen King, but I have seen a lot of things that can be badly misread. For example, in The Stand, an old woman becomes the avatar of good simply because she was a devout Christian, whereas fanatics (The Mist) or doubters ('Salem's Lot) become targets. In the Dark Tower, all of the good guys are Christians, even the extras. I've heard people describe King as anti-Christian, but of the two or three dozen of his books I've read, I've never once got that impression myself.

SQT said...

"Under the Dome" was baaaaad for its bias. The Christian character was a cardboard cutout of a religious bigot and hypocrite. I've talk to others who felt the same way. I don't think King's earlier works were like that. Some have speculated that his post-accident fiction was really bitter compared to his early work- though I think "Carrie" wasn't too kind either.

I went through a huge King phase about 18 years ago and wore myself out. I read a lot of his books back in the day. But I took about a 15- year break and wasn't prepared for how his writing had changed.

William Silvia said...

His writing is seriously negative against fanatics, and his bullies are always two-dimensional. Despite that, from my experience he tends to portray the non-fanatical Christians in a good light. He also tends to draw some frightening parallels if you don't realize that he's usually looking more at what is scary than putting forth his actual beliefs; ie, traditional values are often put on a pedestal not because he believes them (at least, not ALL of them), but because of how scary the idea of Change=Bad is. Which is why when he writes Christians, he usually goes for the fanatic=monster angle, or the Doubt=Susceptibility angle. If he has written things that prove me wrong, I haven't read them, and they've probably been in the past seven years when I started branching out in my reading more.