Saturday, 28 February 2015

Books Received in February 2015

My thanks to the publishers who sent me books for review this month.  It's such a privilege.  And though I don't have time to read everything I get, I'd really really love to, because there are so many interesting books coming out.

Empire by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard -  This is the second book in the series that started with last year's Conquest, which I reviewed.  I'm curious to see what happens to the 4 teen protagonists, and how the alien and human politics develop.

She is the trophy of a civilization at war with itself.
He is its rebel captive.
Separated by millions of light years, they will fight to be united…
Earth has been conquered and occupied. The war is lost.
The Resistance still fights the invaders, but they are nothing more than an annoyance to the Illyri, an alien race of superior technology and military strength.
When caught, the young rebels are conscripted. Part soldiers, part hostages, they join the Brigades, sent to fight at the edges of the growing Illyri Empire.
Paul Kerr is one such soldier—torn from his home and his beloved Syl Hellais. She is the first alien child born on Earth, a creature of two worlds—and a being possessed of powers beyond imagining. Now both must endure the terrible exile that Syl’s race has deemed just punishment for their love.
But the conquest of Earth is not all it seems.
There is another species involved, known only as the Others, and the Illyri will kill to keep their existence secret.
Light years from Earth and millions of miles apart, Paul and Syl must find a way to reveal the horrifying truth behind the Empire, and save all that they hold dear from the hunger of the Others.
Even at the cost of their own lives…

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear - This book's been getting a lot of positive press, and the plot sure sounds interesting.

“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me.”

Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, beggin sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.

The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber - A 20th Century mystery/spy novel.  Sounds cool.

London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.

Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna.

Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal - This is the final book in the Glamourist Histories and I'm sorry to see it end.  I've enjoyed the Jane Austen style romance with the addition of magic, and each book shows different parts of the world and has the protagonists deal with new situations and challenges.  And the covers are simply gorgeous.

Jane and Vincent have finally gotten some much-needed rest after their adventures in Italy when Vincent receives word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies. His brother, who manages the estate, is overwhelmed, and no one else in his family can go. Grudgingly, out of filial duty the couple decide to go.

The sea voyage is long and Jane spends enough time unable to perform glamour that towards the end of the trip she discovers that she is with child. They are overjoyed, but when they finally arrive at the estate to complete what they expect to be routine legal tasks, they realize that nearly everything they came expecting to find had been a lie. Also, the entire estate is in disarray, with horrifying conditions and tensions with the local slave population so high that they are close to revolt.

Jane and Vincent's sense of peril is screaming out for them to flee, but Vincent cannot stand to leave an estate connected with his family in such a condition. They have survived many grand and terrifying adventures in their time, but this one will test their skills and wits more than any they have ever encountered before, this time with a new life hanging in the balance. 

The Scull Throne by Peter Brett - Out March 31st, I've already read this book and it is definitely worth the wait.  While the books have some grimdark elements, there's such a feeling of hope in the books that they remind me of older fantasy books I read in my teens (think Brooks, Eddings, etc.). The story is complex and there's a great mix of characters from all walks of life.  I'm giving the synopsis for book 1, The Warded Man, so there's no spoilers for those who haven't read the other books.

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

Footsteps in the Sky by Greg Keyes - It's cool to see an SF book based around native culture.  The press release I got on the book states, "Greg Keyes was introduced at an early age to the cultures and stories of the Native Southwest when his father took a job on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona." This is the first book Keyes wrote and has been re-mastered for publication.

The pueblo people who landed on the Fifth World found it Earthlike, empty, and ready for colonization . . . but a century later, they are about to meet the planet's owners

One hundred years ago, Sand's ancestors made the long, one-way trip to the Fifth World, ready to work ceaselessly to terraform the planet. Descendants of native peoples like the Hopi and Zuni, they wanted to return to the way of life of their forebears, who honored the Kachina spirits.

Now, though, many of the planet's inhabitants have begun to resent their grandparents' decision to strand them in this harsh and forbidding place, and some have turned away from the customs of the Well-Behaved People. Sand has her doubts, but she longs to believe that the Kachina live on beyond the stars and have been readying a new domain for her people.

She may be right. Humans have discovered nine habitable worlds, all with life that shares a genetic code entirely alien to any on Earth. Someone has been seeding planets, bringing life to them. But no other sign of the ancient farmers has ever been discovered—until one day they return to the Fifth World. They do not like what they find.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman - This is the sequel to last year's Seraphina, which I heard a lot of good things about.

As Seraphina Dombegh travels the Southlands in search of the other half-dragons to help in the war effort, the dragon general Comonot and his Loyalists fight against the upstart Old Guard with the fate of Goredd and the other human countries hanging in the balance.

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