Wow, it was a serious haul this week (for which I am, as always, eternally grateful) - and this time round I received a true mix of genres. This pleases me, since it recognises that the recent direction of my blog is as I intended - that of celebrating all books, in all genres, with not a hint of bias towards or against any particular style.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to my new books - already well-loved, one and all!
Haywired by Alex Keller
Introducing Haywired, a steam punk fairytale. In the quiet village of Little Wainesford, Ludwig Von Guggenstein is about to have his unusual existence turned inside out. When he and his father are blamed for a fatal accident during the harvest, a monstrous family secret is revealed. Soon Ludwig will begin to uncover diabolical plans that span countries and generations while ghoulish machines hunt him down. He must fight for survival, in a world gone haywire.
I speak to Alex regularly on Twitter (he Tweets as @locksley_uk) and I have been hearing a little bit about his novel Haywired. I was thrilled when he asked me to be one of the reviewers for his steampunk fairytale - it is a wonderfully slight novel as well, which I am often gleeful about these days since it means I can fit a number of them in. I know Alex is waiting on tenterhooks to receive some feedback about this novel, so I intend to read it as soon as possible.
Published by Mogzilla on 1st September 2010
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
John Smith is not your average teenager. He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him. But you can't run forever. So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about - and who care about him. Never in John's short life has there been space for friendship, or even love. But it's just a matter of time before John's secret is revealed. He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed. John is Number Four. He knows that he is next...
Well, straight on the heels of the last big thing is the next big thing - they come around quickly these days, the literary big things! First up, hate the author name - I seem to recall hearing it is a nom de plume, and I really dislike it. Sure, it's probably going to be recognisable and all, but I think about having to ask for it at a bookstore! As to the story itself, well, it seems exciting and fun and I am keen to rattle through it.
Published by Penguin Books (Razorbill) on 26th August 2010.
Twenty-One Locks by Laura Barton
In a small North-Western town where it always rains, the factories have closed and everyone lives for beer, bare flesh and brawling on Saturday nights, Jeannie works in the perfume hall of Pemberton's department store. A little dowdy, a little dog-eared, she is not the most impressive of perfume girls, and largely passes her days counting down to her marriage to Jimmy, her teenage sweetheart, now a mechanic. The course of Jeannie's life has always seemed plotted out - she will remain in the town where she was raised, settle down, have children. But since Jimmy's proposal she has begun to question whether this is what she really wants. Her confusion is not aided by Daniel, a drifter she meets at the railway station. Well-read, comparatively well-travelled, and with a cultivated air of mystery, he suggests excitement, possibility, and a life beyond the town. As her wedding day nears she must decide whether to stay and get married, or take a chance on a man who may not be all he seems.
Here is the first of my more literary picks this week. I love the way the cover captures the essence of the story, a contemplative young girl making a decision that will chart the course of her life. I enjoy tales like this - thoughtful and quiet, rather than all guns blazing. I'm already intrigued to know what decision she will make.
Published by Quercus Books on 1st July 2010.
Heart of Tango by Elia Barcelo
Natalia is to be married to a German sailor much older than herself, but two days before the wedding she meets Diego, a mysterious young dancer, and they fall immediately in love. When he serenades her on the eve of the ceremony, Natalia's father unwittingly invites him to the festivities. There they dance a tango charged with passion, before Diego vanishes, knowing she is lost to him. Soon after the marriage Natalia father dies, and her husband is lost at sea, presumed dead. Penniless and alone, she endures a desperate existence until she becomes a dancer in a tango hall. Diego discovers her there and vows to bring her away from this existence, but their reunion has devastating consequences. Many years later, the spirit of the dance and the lovers' longing for each other draws together two strangers in a haunting meeting, a fusion of time and identities, despair and hope.
One of my "strenuous" hobbies (along with field hockey) is Ballroom and Latin American, so when I saw this ghostly love story concerning the romantic dance of Tango I was immediately intrigued. It looks bewitching and beguiling and I really want to read it!
Published by Maclehose Press on 29th July 2010.
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
THE PAST. Caught behind the lines of Hitler's Final Solution, Saul Laski is one of the multitudes destined to die in the notorious Chelmno extermination camp. But he will soon fall into the clutches of an evil far older and greater than the Nazis themselves. THE PRESENT. A rare few individuals have the Ability - the psychic power to influence the minds of others. Each year they meet to discuss their ongoing campaign of debauchery and slaughter. But this year things are not going according to plan...The story that follows spans decades and continents and penetrates the darkest recesses of the 20th century, as one man seeks to justify his belief that a secret society of powerful beings is behind many of the world's most horrific catastrophes. As well as ranking among the greatest reinventions of the vampire legend, Carrion Comfort explores humanity's attraction to violence and what it means for our future. Revised and with a brand new introduction by the author for the 20th anniversary of its publication.
And from teeny tiny slight volumes to a massive tome of a novel. I haven't read any Simmons but I have heard that he tells a decent story. When I saw that this was a revised and updated edition of one of his classic novels, I thought it was a great time to try him. Also, I like the idea of trying this one alongside The Passage, since they both reinvent the vampire myth.
Published by Quercus Books on 1st July 2010.
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Hollywood lawyer Danny Roth is the proud - and sometimes boastful - owner of a fantastic collection of wines, the best vintages from the finest chateaux of Bordeaux. He invites a journalist to write a piece about his treasure trove of a cellar, which is soon followed by the deft execution of a world-class wine heist. Roth is devastated. Enter Sam Levitt, former corporate lawyer, wine connoisseur, and expert on cultivated crime. Called in by Roth's insurance company, now saddled with a multi-million-dollar claim, Sam investigates. His leads take him first to Bordeaux's magnificent vineyards and then to beautiful Provence. Along the way, bien sur, he's joined by elegant and erudite French colleague, Sophie. In their quest to discover the truth, Sam and Sophie must explore many a chateau and its contents, and sample numerous culinary delights offered by the bountiful French countryside.
Back to the nice slight novels *grin*. I love France. I love wine. I love humorous novels. Add those three together and I assume nothing can go wrong! I hope that is the case!
Published by Quercus Books on 27th May 2010.
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
The island Republic has emerged from a ruined world. Its citizens are safe but not free. Until a man named Adam Forde rescues a girl from the sea. Fourteen-year-old Anax thinks she knows her history. She'd better. She's sat facing three Examiners and her five-hour examination has just begun. The subject is close to her heart: Adam Forde, her long-dead hero. In a series of startling twists, Anax discovers new things about Adam and her people that question everything she holds sacred. But why is the Academy allowing her to open up the enigma at its heart? Bernard Beckett has written a strikingly original novel that weaves dazzling ideas into a truly moving story about a young girl on the brink of her future.
This was one of those surprises through the post - a book I've never heard of before, by an author I don't know. I like these surprises because they open me up to new experiences, but, on the other hand, the book is slightly less likely to be read because I know nothing about what to expect. Who else has read this book? Why do you think I would like it?
Published by Quercus Kids on 27th May 2010.
Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
Dru Anderson: Night Hunter. Knife Wielder. Heart Breaker. Dru can sense evil, which helps when she and her Dad are tracking down ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional reanimated corpse. It's a dangerous life, but it's the only one she knows. Then Dru's dad turns up dead and she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deadly game where every move she makes could be her last. Dru is more special than she realizes - and whatever killed her dad could be coming for her next. Can Dru stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections?
Haven't we been here before? Supernatural young woman, dangerous men trying to win her heart? I feel a little jaded with these concepts at the moment after reading a succession of poor novels (Infinity, By Midnight etc.) but I am willing to take another chance. This is an author with a string of successful adult novels to her name, which does bode well.
Published by Quercus Kids on 3rd September 2009.
Betrayals by Lili St. Crow
The second novel in the Strange Angels series picks up with Dru neatly tucked away in a Schola that's more like a prison than a secret training facility. Except for one tiny detail ...she's the only girl in the place and is totally surrounded by tons of cute boys. But a traitor in the Order wants Dru dead and she can't trust anyone except for Graves. Too bad he's being kept busy with a new crew of wulfen teens and doesn't have time for her. As she learns the truth about who she can and can't trust, Dru's only hope may be to save herself - although the one gift that makes her special is draining away, and she doesn't know how to get it back. Will Dru survive long enough to find out who is really after her? Or is she destined for the same fate as her murdered parents?
And here we have the second book in the series by Lili St. Crow - if I like the first, then I'm sure I'll be chomping at the bit to get going on the second! If I don't like the first - well, this one will be heading to the charity shop...
Published by Quercus Kids on 4th November 2009.
Zero History by William Gibson
Former rock singer Hollis Henry has lost a lot of money in the crash, which means she can't turn down the offer of a job from Hubertus Bigend, sinister Belgian proprietor of mysterious ad agency Blue Ant. Milgrim is working for Bigend too. Bigend admires the ex-addict's linguistic skills and street knowledge so much that he's even paid for his costly rehab. So together Hollis and Milgrim are at the front line of Bigend's attempts to get a slice of the military budget, and they gradually realize he has some very dangerous competitors. Which is not a great thought when you don't much trust your boss either. Gibson's new novel, set largely in London, spookily captures the paranoia and fear of our post-Crash times.
Intriguing premise - bang up to date, considering the situation in the world right now. A new Gibson novel is something to be celebrated, and I believe this to be no exception. If written to the same level as previous novels, this could be winning awards next year.
Published by Penguin Books on 2nd September 2010.
Hero of Rome by Douglas Jackson
The Roman grip on Britain is weakening. Emperor Nero has turned his face away from this far-flung outpost. The Druids are on the rise, spreading seeds of rebellion among the British tribes. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects. The warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. Standing against the rising tide of Boudicca's rebellion is Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens, Commander of the veteran legions at Colonia. Valerius leads the veterans in a last stand against the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army. Step by step, the bloodied survivors are forced back into the Temple of Claudius. It is here that Valerius wins lifelong fame and the accolade Hero of Rome.
Ooh, my other main literary love: I adore a good slice of historical fiction, and this looks to be ideal, dealing with the dying days of Roman rule in Britain. Simon Scarrow and Manda Scott have both written fabulous books that deal with a similar period in history and if Jackson does even half as good a job as them, this book will be excellent fun!
Published by Transworld on 8th July 2010.
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
This is a stunning novel in the great tradition of American coming-of-age novels from "Catcher in the Rye" to "The Secret History". Lee Fiora is a shy fourteen-year-old when she leaves small-town Indiana for a scholarship at Ault, an exclusive boarding school in Massachusetts. Her head is filled with images from the school brochure of handsome boys in sweaters leaning against old brick buildings, girls running with lacrosse sticks across pristine athletics fields, everyone singing hymns in chapel. But as she soon learns, Ault is a minefield of unstated rules and incomprehensible social rituals, and Lee must work hard to find - and maintain - her place in the pecking order.
Doesn't this sound amazing? I have seen some excellent reviews of this on blogs I frequent, and couldn't help but ask for a copy. I need to read this soon. Really soon. I want it to be my next book!
So... Books I Adopted This Week was a little more eclectic than usual - what are your thoughts on this? Do you come here just for one specific genre and begrudge the time I spend reading other sorts of books? Or does my wide taste just increase your own wishlist?
Happy reading! x