Friday, 4 June 2010

Wishlist - I Wants These Books!

There are always a large number of books that I desperately want, but right now my wishlist of books out now and forthcoming seems to be becoming a sprawling monster. An epic of scrawled titles across pages and pages of a notepad. So I decided to pick the top ten of those books that I want NOW. RIGHT NOW! Please!

1) Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

The young sorceress Onyesonwu — whose name means 'Who fears death?' — was born Ewu, bearing a mixture of her mother's features and those of the man who raped her mother and left her for dead in the desert. As Onyesonwu grows into her powers, it becomes clear that her fate is mingled with the fate of her people, the oppressed Okeke, and that to achieve her destiny, she must die. Okorafor examines a host of evils in her chillingly realistic tale — gender and racial inequality share top billing, along with female genital mutilation and complacency in the face of destructive tradition — and winds these disparate concepts together into a fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling.

About a week ago I hadn't even heard of this book. Then I read a review of it by Neth and now I'm ever so slightly obsessed with it. I'm desperate to read something that sounds so elegant and different. Also, I just love that cover. It's all kinds of gorgeous.

2) The Passage by Justin Cronin

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world. She is. Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He's wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is. THE PASSAGE. Deep in the jungles of eastern Colombia, Professor Jonas Lear has finally found what he's been searching for - and wishes to God he hadn't. In Memphis, Tennessee, a six-year-old girl called Amy is left at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy and wonders why her mother has abandoned her. In a maximum security jail in Nevada, a convicted murderer called Giles Babcock has the same strange nightmare, over and over again, while he waits for a lethal injection. In a remote community in the California mountains, a young man called Peter waits for his beloved brother to return home, so he can kill him. Bound together in ways they cannot comprehend, for each of them a door is about to open into a future they could not have imagined. And a journey is about to begin. An epic journey that will take them through a world transformed by man's darkest dreams, to the very heart of what it means to be human. And beyond. THE PASSAGE.

Alright, whatever reviews this book picks up, the buzz was always going to be enormous after the advance received by Cronin and the fact a movie deal has already been brokered. Gushing from Stephen King doesn't exactly hurt its chances either. And I am a sucker for book buzz. Plus, reviews from some of my favourite reviewers have come out and shown that this book might just be as special as the hype supposes... Please can I has a copy?

3) Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But ...They are brother and sister. Forbidden will take you on an extraordinary emotional journey. Passionate and shocking, this is a book you will remember long after you have put it down.

Okay, so on the face of it, this book shouldn't be one that instantly makes it onto my radar like this. BUT. Babbling About Books has already raised the question of morality concerning a controversial subject like incest, and then The Bookette posted this on Twitter: I have just finished reading Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. I'm in pieces. And then this: I can't explain in so few characters. It was so deep, it took you beyond perceptions. Made you think so much. Yup, that did it for me. On the wishlist it goes...

4) The Love Verb by Jane Green

Love is not an abstract idea. It is not saying 'I'm here for you, let me know if you need me'. It's making the decision, when someone close to you is in trouble, about what you will do to fix as much as you can for them. It's a 'doing' thing. A verb. For Callie, love is about looking after her family - her husband and two children - and their beautiful home. For Steff, Callie's younger sister, love is about experiencing all that life has to offer without having to ever settle down. For Lila, Callie's best friend, love is about finding a soulmate. And when she meets divorced father-of-two Eddie, she knows her search is over. For Walter and Honor, Callie and Steff's divorced parents, love is about caring for the daughters they share. Then Callie gets some life-changing news. And suddenly the whole family is about to understand what 'love' really, really means...

Jane Green is one of those few chick lit authors who I will put down the cash for a hard back version of their novels. Fiona Walker, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella are the others, pretty much. It is a select group. I have loved Green's novels ever since the first, rather ropey Jemima J. I have watched her writing grow in assurance, and, more interestingly, I have also seen her move from topics that concern twenty-something women to topics that are central to being a thirty-something woman. We no longer watch the characters go out and obsess about finding Mr Right. We now read about them struggling to keep relationships alive after several years of marriage. The plots are more 'real' and pertinent and I am very much looking forward to this book.

5) Hero by Perry Moore

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.

I love The Book Smugglers - but, damn, with every review they write it seems like another book makes it onto my wishlist. The latest is Hero by Perry Moore - they raved about it to the extent that I *almost* went to buy it there and then. But in a flurry of self-discipline (yeah, it doesn't happen very often with me and books) I popped it on my wishlist instead. I like the concept. I like the cover art. I want to read this.

6) The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton

Peter F. Hamilton's startling perspectives on tomorrow's technological and cultural trends span vast tracts of space and time, his stories are as compelling as they are epic in scope, and yet they are always grounded in characters - human, alien and other - who, for all their strangeness, still touch our hearts and fire our imaginations. Now, in "The Evolutionary Void", Hamilton concludes the highly acclaimed Commonwealth saga that has unfolded in "The Dreaming Void" and "The Temporal Void".

I loved Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton - they were pretty much the first science fiction I tried my hand at, and I was near overwhelmed by the vision, the scope, the love and enthusiasm for showing a potential future. The characters were vivid and memorable, while the plot staggered me in terms of detail. I am not the only one to love Pandora's Star either...I purchased the first two books in the Void series, and now I am just waiting for the publication of this last one so that I can do all five of the Commonwealth books back to back. Can't wait!

7) Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I can't find a great deal of information about this book in terms of blurb but basically: Becky Bloomwood is back and this time she has a daughter in tow!

Oh man! Another of my hard back favourite chick lit authors! I adore Becky Bloomwood - she is relentlessly frustrating to read about, but the kernel of truth in her behaviour makes me squirm as I look at my own mountain of books which I have purchased because I couldn't help myself... I laugh out loud at Becky's misadventures and enjoy the light and fluffy nature of the novels. This should be no exception.

8) Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Moirin is alone, and far from the land of her birth, with nothing but a few resources of her own to draw upon, and few friends she can call upon, in what is about to become a nation of enemies. She has her natural ability with a bow, for survival, and a facility for languages - and then there are the gifts of her gods: a small ability for foretelling, for concealment, and to coax plants to grow. Alongside them all she has the gift of Naamah: the gift of desire. Yet these are small advantages against the challenges she will face - betrayal, treachery and indoctrination - and some of them may not prove to be advantages at all. There is a long, difficult journey ahead of her, in her search for Bao, the young Ch'in warrior who carries a piece of her soul as well as her heart, and harder decisions to make. Whether she can forgive a deliberate betrayal; whether she will fight against all odds for her love; and whether, when all believe her dead and her life and her religion hang in the balance, Moirin can sacrifice her beliefs, or will hold true to her goddess even in death...

I love Jacqueline Carey's first three Kushiel books. The politics, the characters, the gossip, the love, the sex - they were tremendous to read, with elegant prose and a world I just wanted to sink into endlessly. I now have the second Kushiel trilogy, and the two Naamah books to read, so I'm thinking about a Jacqueline Carey month for later in the year where I can focus on these books to the glorious exclusion of everything else!

9) Heartstone by C J Sansom

It was summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Events will converge on board one of the King's great warships, primed for battle in Portsmouth harbour.

A new Shardlake novel! I happen to think that Sansom is writing some of the best historical fiction out there right now, and have enjoyed the Shardlake books tremendously. Since this blog started after my reading the series, there is a lack of reviews of these exciting books - so, on the release of Heartstone, I'm thinking it is a good time to go back and re-read them all with the intention of reviews.

The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniels

Cloaked in silent winter snow the Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours spread of new Affinity Seeps, places where untamed power wells up. Meanwhile, King Rolen plans his jubilee unaware of the growing threat to those he loves. By royal decree, all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Abbey because of his innate Affinity, the King’s youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Unfortunately, he’s a gentle dreamer and the other acolytes bully him. The only way he can escape them is to serve the Abbey Mystic, but his Affinity is weak. Fiercely loyal, thirteen year-old Piro is horrified to discover she is also cursed with unwanted Affinity. It broke their mother’s heart to send Fyn away, so she hides her affliction. But, when Fyn confesses his troubles, Piro risks exposure to help him. Even though Byren Kingson is only seven minutes younger than his twin, Lence, who is the king's heir, Byren has never hungered for the Rolencian throne. When a Seer predicts that he will kill Lence, he laughs. But Lence Kingsheir sees Byren’s growing popularity and resents it. Enduring loyalty could be Byren’s greatest failing.

Have to admit, the cover art did everything for me in this case - and the covers for the other two books in the trilogy are equally lustworthy. Sure, it could just be generic fantasy tosh, but I do like the blurb, so this one will no doubt find its way into my house come July.

So those are the top ten books I am looking forward to getting my grubby paws on as soon as they're available. Which have you read? And which are you most looking forward to? Are there any other releases that you think I would love and that I've completely missed?

I'm also faintly amused by the fact that my top ten wishlist reflects my general reading tastes: fantasy, historical, science fiction, YA. But there are certain genres not represented at all, and I feel I may be missing out! What about new releases coming in the literary genre, for instance? Which new classic am I neglecting to mention?

9 comments:

  1. Hero definitely looks like one I might be into. And the Hamilton book looks good too.

    The rest, so-so. Too many female protags for my taste, lol.

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  2. Some good choices there, and some I've not heard of before. You should add The Scarab Path by Adrian Tchaikovsky to your list. The Passage is definitely on my wish list.

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  3. @Daniel Chuter - well, yes, the chicklit stuff probably isn't your bag ;-)

    @Steve - I have the first four Tchaikovsky books on my TBR pile; are they worth it?

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  4. Naamah's Curse is already on my radar... pre-ordered since it first appeared on amazon uk, and it has a spider on the cover!
    A whole month of Jacqueline Carey - bring it on!!! But no-one else seems to mention her *sad face* which is surprising given the quality of her writing and the amazing world/alternate earth she has created. Phaedra is probably my all-time favourite fantasy character.

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  5. @Cara - the spider I'm not so fond of :-p. I've seen a few other people mention the Kushiel books, but there is not the love for them I expected considering the strength of the prose and the characters. Maybe the erotic/sensual element will put a lot of people off? Have you read Santa Olivia, Carey's YA, or her fantasy duology (Godslayer and Banewreaker)?

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  6. I'm with Stephen regarding Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Scarab Path. I read the first 4 a few months ago and surprised myself at how much I enjoyed them!
    I never read Carey's books and it looks like I might have to give them a shot. Is Kushiel's Dart the place to start?
    I'm with you regarding Who Fears Death. Neth put together a great review, and now I'm really curious about despite of never hearing about it until I read that review (the cover art is a plus too).
    I'm also looking forward to Brandon Sanderson's THe Way of Kings and Jack Whyte hisorical fiction, The Forest Liard. It is the first of a trilogy (i think) about William Wallace.

    Jennifer

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  7. @Jennifer - Yes, Kushiel's Dart is the place to start, and I would urge you to give them a go. The writing is something special. The Way of Kings is definitely on my radar, but I'm trying not to think about 2011 books until 2010 is done - we've got more than enough great fiction coming our way without adding next year (which, by the way, looks to be one of the best years for fantasy EVER!)

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  8. For me the original 6 volume (Phedre/Imriel) Kushiel series is the top finished fantasy one of all time, while Naamah 1 was one of my top fantasy novels of last year and as good as it gets; Naamah's Curse is very good, but not as good as Naamah's Kiss for two reasons - it's a transitional novel and it's less exuberant and darker and Moirin as opposed to Phedre is less suited a heroine for such.

    I strongly recommend the "Firethorn" series by Sarah Micklem - Firethorn/Wildfire so far with a 3rd to come - as another similar series with Kushiel, though grittier and more brutal

    Evolutionary Void is my top sf novel of the year so far and raised the whole 5 volume Commonwealth/Void series to a co-#1 all time finished sf series alongside Night's Dawn

    The Passage was good but not as good as the hype imho; at least the second 500 pages long part set 100 years or so in the future, since the first 250 pages present day part is indeed awesome.

    I tried Who Fears Death but so far it did not work for me, though I plan to retry it later

    As for my "new top expected books" - The Last Page by A. Huso (July) is another awesome debut that I've read and would recommend strongly but like Void 3 would not be included there since I already have it:

    1: The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers
    2. The Half Made World by Felix Gilman
    3. Passion Play by Beth Bernobich ( a debut that is a must for any lover of Kushiel from the description; the author writes wonderful, lovely prose as her short fiction which I reviewed earlier proves)
    4. Empire of Light by Gary Gibson
    5. The Scarab Path by A. Tchaikovsky (Shadows of the Apt is my top ongoing fantasy series and I interviewed the author and reviewed most of his novels)

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  9. The Tchaikovsky books are definitely worth it. I've read first 3, book 4 is now my next but one book. Need to get it sorted before Scarab Path. I know you're reading Dresden, but have you read Mike Carey's Felix Castor books? Imagine a darker, London-based, less shiny version, with the protagonist is a bit of a git, and you're on the right path.

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