With grateful acknowledgement to The Story Siren!
Here are the books that entered my house this week - I received 6 for review and brought 8 books (and I have to say that my book buying has spiralled out of all control since starting this blog! I love the generosity of the publishers, but just those books never seem to be enough for a confirmed bookaholic!)
Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter
Gollancz, to be published June 2010.
Ana is fourteen. Her father is missing, her mother is dead. Ana herself has perhaps another twenty years of life left to her. But in that time she is destined to change the shape of our world. Ana lives on the North coast of Doggerland, a vast and fertile plain that 10,000 years ago linked the British Isles to mainland Europe. Life is short for Ana's people but they live in an Eden-like world teeming with wildlife, a world yet to feel the impact of man. But their world is changing. The ice has melted, the seas are rising and one fateful year a Tsunami sweeps inland and scatters Ana's people. But if the people of distant Jericho could build a wall to keep the world out, surely Ana's people could build a wall to keep the sea out? Stephen Baxter's new imaginative epic is the story of life in the Mesolithic, a rich world of alien cultures, a world where death comes swiftly, a world about to be swept away. A world that will become our world. Unless one girl can change it forever.
Woefully, I haven't yet read any Stephen Baxter, but my penchant for alternate histories should mean that I will enjoy this book thoroughly. I like the premise, and the blurb gives just enough intrigue to ensure that I will be trying this one out in the not-too-distant future.
Dark Knights of the Soul by Jeremy Simpson
Quartet Books, published on 20th March 2010
The heroic ideals of the Templar and Teutonic Knights live on through the charitable groups working today under their names. Yet, like Alistair Crowley or more recently, the leader of the Swiss suicidal cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, corrupt individuals have sometimes claimed to be ancient Templars incarnate. Dark Knights of the Soul tells of a neo-Templar Order located on the Swiss/German border at the end of the 20th century. The public image they project is of the original Templar: one of protection of Jerusalem and its holy shrines. However their ambition is to control the Temple Mount under the auspices of the United Nations. To achieve this they plan the destruction of the Moslem Dome of the Rock using men dressed as Israeli soldiers. They ally themselves with a neo-Teutonic order of Knights, whilst the charismatic Grand Master of the neo-Templar Order prophesises the 9/11 attacks on America. He claims access to the Holy Grail in a hidden Templar abbey in Armenia which will provide the 'elixir of youth' to its inner circle of Templar leaders. Meanwhile, the Order invites three historians to study their archives - two historians from Cambridge and one from Harvard. The academics not only stumble on the Jerusalem plot, but also the dark secrets of the Order's spiritual activities, revolving around ancient Mithraic sacrificial practices. The very essence of evil becomes a stark reality as the three historians realise they have mistakenly become embroiled in a plot which threatens the balance of world power.
I confess, I have a weakness for all things Knights Templar - I have read a lot of fiction and non-fiction about this most famous martial order. So, when I was offered this copy for review by Quartet Books, I jumped at it. The novel is relatively slim as well, which only pushes it up my TBR pile faster!
Firespell by Chloe Neill
Gollancz, to be published 20th May 2010
As the new girl at the elite St. Sophia's boarding school, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she'll have to face. When Lily's guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia's. Lily's ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she's hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building. The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout's a little weird - she keeps disappearing late at night and won't tell Lily where she's been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster. Scout's a member of a splinter group of rebel teens with unique magical talents, who've sworn to protect the city against demons, vampires, and Reapers, magic users who've been corrupted by their power. And when Lily finds herself in the line of a firespell, Scout tells her the truth about her secret life, even though Lily has no powers of her own - at least, none that she's discovered yet...
This is another of the YA titles that are coming from Gollancz later this year, and it looks like a fun fast read, with nods towards the House of Night series published by Orbit. I can see it being disposable fun, personally, and I do enjoy reading well-written YA novels. I might save this one for my beach holiday later in the year!
Absorption by John Meaney
Gollancz, to be published 20th May 2010
600 years from now on the world of Fulgor Roger Blackstone, son of two Pilots (long-time alien spies, masquerading as ordinary humans) aches to see the mythical Pilot's city of Labyrinth, in the fractal ur-continuum of mu-space. In 8th century Norseland, a young carl called Wulf kills a man, watched by a mysterious warrior who bears the mark of Loki the Trickster God. In 1920s Zurich, Gavriela Silberstein enters the long, baroque central hallway of the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule where Einstein so recently studied. And on a nameless world, not knowing his human heritage, a silver-skinned youth tries to snatch back an Idea - but it floats away on gentle magnetic currents. There are others across the ages, all with three things in common: they glimpse shards of darkness moving at the edge of their vision; they hear echoes of a dark, disturbing musical chord; and they will dream of joining a group called the Ragnarok Council. ABSORPTION is the first novel of RAGNAROK, a new space opera trilogy of high-tech space warfare, unitary intelligences made up of millions of minds, the bizarre physics of dark energy, quantum mechanics and a mindblowing rationale for Norse mythology.
Wow, now this one has shot right to the top of my anticipated reading! A space opera with lashings of Norse mythology? Sounds awesome to me! Also, I want to give a shout out to the cover art by Jim Burns, which is just gorgeous. I am really looking forward to reading this book.
Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur
Piatkus Books, to be published 27th May 2010.
A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson works for Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races, an organisation created to police the supernatural races - and protect humans from their depredations. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming. But that's the least of her worries. Evil is on the rampage in Melbourne and it's up to her to stop it...
Riley Jenson Guardian series:
1. Full Moon Rising
2. Kissing Sin
3. Tempting Evil
4. Dangerous Games
5. Embraced by Darkness
6. The Darkest Kiss
7. Deadly Desire
8. Bound to Shadows
9. Moon Sworn
This is book 9 of the series that I have been sent. Luckily, I do believe I have book 1 (Full Moon Rising) on my bookshelves already, so I will give that one a read first and see if it intrigues me enough to go pick up the other books in the series. Consequently, if I do review Moon Sworn, don't expect it any time soon!
Lover Mine by J. R. Ward
Piatkus Books, published 6th May 2010
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - vampire warriors, defenders of their race...John Matthew has been through his vampire transition and taken to the life of the Brotherhood with a vengeance, but he still can't shake the nightmare of his past and is unsure of his future as a warrior hero. He's made a promise to honour the Brotherhood and their fight with the slayers at all costs, until the love of his life is kidnapped and he is forced to make a choice that could change his life and the Brotherhood's forever...
Black Dagger Brotherhood series:
1. Dark Lover
2. Lover Eternal
3. Lover Awakened
4. Lover Revealed
5. Lover Unbound
6. Lover Enshrined
7. Lover Avenged
8. Lover Mine
Another long-running paranormal series! When will these ladies learn to write nice, neat trilogies like their fantasy counterparts?! I liked the premise of this series, and I remembered that my local Oxfam store had a couple of these in stock last time I browsed, so you will see below that I have now managed to pick up most of this series and will embark on a read pretty soon.
As I have just mentioned, 6 of the 8 books I purchased were those from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I am not going to list all of them but here is the Wikipedia page if you wanted any more information about them!
Tony and Susan by Austin Wright
Atlantic Books, published 1st May 2010
Fifteen years ago, Susan Morrow left her first husband Edward Sheffield. One day, comfortable in her home, and her second marriage, she receives, entirely out of the blue, a parcel containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says. As Susan reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of his character Tony Hastings, a maths professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine. And as we read with her, so are we. As the Hastings' ordinary, civilized lives are disastrously, violently sent off course, Susan is plunged back into the past, forced to confront the darkness that inhabits her, and driven to name the fear that gnaws at her future and will change her life. "Tony and Susan" is a dazzling achievement: simultaneously a riveting portrayal of the experience of reading and a page-turning thriller, written in startlingly arresting prose. It is also a novel about fear and regret, revenge and aging, marriage and creativity. It is simply unique.
Okay, it is positively dangerous for me to be stuck in an airport with a handy W H Smith nearby! I was delayed coming back from Leeds last week and two books found their way home with me, this being one of them. It was definitely an impulse purchase based on both the blurb and the cover quotes from such distinguished authors. I don't really know much about it beyond the blurb, but I am definitely curious about the story within the pages.
The Captive Queen by Alison Weir
Cornerstone, published 1st April 2010
It is the year 1152 and a beautiful woman of thirty, attended by only a small armed escort, is riding like the wind southwards through what is now France, leaving behind her crown, her two young daughters and a shattered marriage to Louis of France, who had been more like a monk than a king, and certainly not much of a lover. This woman is Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and her sole purpose now is to return to her vast duchy and marry the man she loves, Henry Plantagenet, a man destined for greatness as King of England. Theirs is a union founded on lust which will create a great empire stretching from the wilds of Scotland to the Pyrenees. It will also create the devil's brood of Plantagenets - including Richard Cuur de Lion and King John - and the most notoriously vicious marriage in history. "The Captive Queen" is a novel on the grand scale, an epic subject for Alison Weir. It tells of the making of nations, and of passionate conflicts: between Henry II and Thomas Becket, his closest friend who is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on his orders; between Eleanor and Henry's formidable mother Matilda; between father and sons, as Henry's children take up arms against him; and, finally between Henry and Eleanor herself.
I firmly believe every woman should read about Eleanor of Aquitaine - she was such an amazing woman, and her achievements were legion. I have already read historical fiction that includes her - such as the work by Sharon Kay Penman - but I am more than happy to try the take of other authors. This was my other spur of the moment purchase while waiting for my flight.
So, that was my list of books that have now been adopted into my home. I promise to care for them diligently and give them lots of love!
Are there any that you feel particularly interested in? Any that you would urge me to read earlier than the others? I'm particularly interested in hearing from people who have been reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Riley Jenson Guardian series - are they worth my time and effort?