Tuesday 31 May 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favourites

Okay, I'm starting a new feature on Tuesdays going forwards - it is a lovely little meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Since I am just beginning the Top Ten Tuesday, I will go right back to the beginning of their list and start with my Top Ten Childhood Favourites. I would love you to join in - with them and with me - so it would be great for you to post yours as well, but please send credits and love to The Broke and The Bookish if you do!

Top Ten Childhood Favourites

1) Shadow the Sheepdog - Enid Blyton

This first one is a story about a young boy and his dog, Shadow - their adventures and friendship. I loved this one because it is a very simple story, but showcases a clever and brilliantly-characterised animal in the tradition of tales such as Lassie. I read and re-read my dog-eared copy of this little book and wished that I had a dog like Shadow. Unlike most of Enid Blyton's work, this one courts little controversy and gives a great deal of pleasure.

2) Matilda - Roald Dahl

I simply couldn't have a top ten list of childhood favourites without including one Dahl book and, of them all, this is the one I came back to the most. I adored the character of Matilda, the bright little girl who read too much and made friends with a teacher. I could see a lot of myself in Matilda, although, luckily, my family are MUCH nicer and definitely appreciate reading! Also, the cake scene. So funny.

3) The Silver Brumby - Elyne Mitchell

I've mentioned this one a few times before on the blog. I ADORE this book. It tells the story of Thowra, the beautiful and unusual silver brumby who grows to adulthood in the lovely surroundings of the Australian bush. I was most disappointed to find out that, in reality, brumbies are scrubby little wild horses - in my head, they'll always be flowing grace. Thowra's adventures, his trials and successes against both man and horse, are a great way of introducing children to wild nature.

4) Night of the Red Horse - Patricia Leitch

This is the fourth book of twelve in the series about Jinny and her chestnut Arab mare, Shantih. I love all twelve books to death, but this fourth one was wonderfully mystical as well. The Red Horse is a strange and terrifying character. I ended up having nightmares as a result of this book, but can't help returning to it again and again.

5) Room 13 - Robert Swindells

You want a decent vampire story for kids? This'll be the one. I can't believe that more people haven't read this book, in all honesty! It's funny, scary and leaves a lasting impression. Swindells writes with great pace and humour, and both my brother and I called this our favourite book at times during our childhood.

6) The Animals of Farthing Wood - Colin Dann

For me, this is a lovely little book. It describes the adventures of a disparate group of animals who set out to find a new home - the faraway Reserve - when their own woodland is in danger from redevelopers. It is a great commentary on the various effects that humans are having on the countryside around them, and has some great and very memorable characters.

7) In the Fifth at Malory Towers - Enid Blyton

Another on the list by Blyton, but, truly, she coloured my reading as a child. I devoured her books. Had this been a longer list than just ten, you would have seen plenty more of her books on it! I simply can't understand the reaction to Blyton these days - sure, some of her stories include what we deem to be rather racist references these days, but they were written as a product of her time and should be read as such. At their heart, her books are excellent tales for children. This one is the fifth in the Malory Towers series. As with the Patricia Leitch series, I do love them all, but this is the one I read the most, so onto the list it goes. In this book the girls of Malory Towers have to put on a play and I liked the descriptions of how they produced it all.

8) Mattimeo - Brian Jacques

I was absolutely devastated earlier this year to discover that Brian Jacques had passed away. His Redwall series is just brilliant, and Mattimeo was my absolute favourite of the early books. The descriptions of the feasts still stays with me - how on earth did that man make me want to eat everything he described, even when it was made of acorns and clover?!

9) Deep Wizardry - Diane Duane

This is the second in the Young Wizards series, and was the novel where I became properly invested - and it's all thanks to a shark. The shark character is just fantastic - dark and deadly, but with a surprising amount of compassion. If you're not reading the Young Wizards series, I would urge you to start. These books are deeply imaginative, funny, dark and fantastically written. I think they're enormously under-read.

10) Watership Down - Richard Adams

When the top 100 best beloved books were picked, I voted for this one of them all. I love it. I named Bigwig as my favourite character of all time in the 30 Days of Genre meme. I like everything about it - the journey to the new warren, the fight against General Woundwort, strange Fiver and his prophecies, the dog, and BIGWIG! It's so much fun, and, as with The Animals of Farthing Wood, has a lot to say about our treatment of the English countryside.

So those are my ten childhood favourites! Which of mine have you read and loved? Which books would find their way onto your top ten list?

Monday 30 May 2011

Out of This World - British Library

The Out of This World exhibition is a celebration of science fiction, running at the British Library from 20th May to 25th September. It is free to enjoy, and there are many associated seminars and discussions scheduled as well as the exhibition itself.

Yesterday Tom Hunter of Arthur C Clarke Award fame invited tweet peeps to join him at the exhibition for an afternoon of science fiction geekery.

A nice little group of us showed up and I was thrilled to make the acquaintance of Sakura (better known as chasingbawa). We spent a little bit of time chatting about Malazan and I might have frothed at the mouth about the coolness of Anomander Rake.

The exhibition is described as: "Science Fiction But Not As You Know It". This has given carte blanche for the exhibition to include such diverse authors as Terry Pratchett, Margaret Atwood, Lauren Beukes and Philip Pullman. I wouldn't class all of these authors as science fiction, by any means, but I do like that the exhibition is trying to open the casual readers' eyes to the idea that science fiction is much more than space ships and aliens.

There was a nod to multimedia, with some interviews, TV shows and music extracts to peruse as well as the plentiful manuscripts and books on show - but, as you'll expect, my very favourite parts of the exhibition were those manuscripts and books.

I adored the fact that we could see the actual first draft manuscripts of books such as Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman:

Being able to see the crossings out and the clear development of ideas is absolutely fascinating!

There was also a TREMENDOUS letter from George Orwell to his publisher:

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Fred,

You will have had my wire by now, and if anything crossed your mind I dare say I shall have had a return wire from you by the time this goes off. I shall finish the book, D.V., early in November, and I am rather flinching from the job of typing it, because it is a very awkward thing to do in bed, where I still have to spend half the time. Also there will have to be carbon copies, a thing which always fidgets me, and the book is fearfully long, I should think well over 100,000 words, possibly 125,000. I can't send it away because it is an unbelievably bad MS and no one could make head or tail of it without explanation. On the other hand a skilled typist under my eye could do it easily enough. If you can think of anybody who would be willing to come, I will send money for the journey and full instructions. I think we could make her quite comfortable. There is always plenty to eat and I will see that she has a comfortable warm place to work in.

I am not pleased with the book but I am not absolutely dissatisfied. I first thought of it in 1943. I think it is a good idea but the execution would have been better if I had not written it under the influence of TB. I haven't definitely fixed on the title but I am hesitating between NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR and THE LAST MAN IN EUROPE.

I have just had Sartre's book on antisemitism, which you published, to review. I think Sartre is a bag of wind and I am going to give him a good boot.

How tremendously cool is that letter? I love it more than I can say, especially the fact that he vacillated so between the two titles. Do you think it would have been such a seminal work with the title The Last Man in Europe?

Around the exhibition, which was carved loosely into areas including Alien Worlds, Virtual Worlds, and The End of the World, there were some wonderful quotes from scientists, authors and social commentators such as this one below:

I felt that the exhibition was beautifully laid out and exceptionally interesting, although there was a limited amount for younger children. Of the exhibits and fun bits and pieces for them, my favourite was this - I might have played a little too much with it:

My own little alien is now a permanent fixture in the exhibition!

I was also thoroughly entertained by the idea that the Bronte sisters were complete geeks, and wrote the first example of fan fiction:

I really loved the Out of This World exhibition - it was interesting, geeky and full of great facts. I sincerely hope that visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to pick up works of literature that they might have thus far avoided.

Also, GREAT location! Unbelievably, this was my first visit to the British Library and being surrounded by all those BOOKS was a simply delicious feeling.

After the high brow facts and the great literary discussions, it was onto a pub where David Monteith and I proceeded to create the shortlived #pornbooktitles hashtag which caused great hilarity for a while. And I wasn't even drunk *shamefaced*

Since this was a Tweet Up, I now urge you to promptly follow:

@EwaSR @ThermobaricTom @DavidMonteith @ClarkeAward @chasingbawa @loudmouthman @chriszombieblog @mermaid99 @sennydreadful @boxroom @soylentsimon

And DEFINITELY make time to visit the Out of this World exhibition at the British Library!

Books I Adopted This Week

Slightly delayed this week because of a day out at That London going to the Out of this World exhibition at the British Library (blog post to follow). After the enormous list from last week, it'll be a short and sweet post today, but some really nice books among them...

1) Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey

Humanity has colonized the planets - interstellar travel is still beyond our reach, but the solar system has become a dense network of colonies. But there are tensions - the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military clout they wield over the Belt and beyond. Now, when Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.

Leviathan Wakes will be released by Orbit on 15th June 2011.

I'm woefully behind on the Daniel Abraham lovefest. This is an author garnering a LOT of praise for his fantasy and urban fantasy work. This here is his sci fi effort, and I'd like to give this one a shot. I've already seen some pretty glowing reviews of Leviathan Wakes from favourite bloggers and I'd like to see if it is all justified.

2) Deadline - Mira Grant

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organisation he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has. But when a researcher from the Centre for Disease Control fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun's relieved to find a new purpose in life. Because this researcher comes bearing news: the monster who attacked them may be destroyed, but the conspiracy is far from dead. Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

Deadline will be released by Orbit on 2nd June 2011.

I didn't read Feed. Gosh, I really didn't keep up with many of the high profile releases last year, did I? Once again, Feed was incredibly well-received and has now been nominated for Best Novel at the Hugos 2011. Deadline is the sequel to this novel and I do believe it is high time I caught up.

3) The Final Evolution - Jeff Somers

The world is dying. With avatars replacing humans and the birth rate non-existent, the human race is almost extinct. Only one man could save it - and it's not Avery Cates. In the end, it comes down to Canny Orel, Avery's long sought after nemesis - transformed now into something other than human - and Cates. And when Cates chances on a way to trick the advantage away from the old master, he suddenly has a choice to make: get his long-delayed revenge, or save the world.

The Final Evolution will be released by Orbit on 2nd June 2011.

Aha! Now I did read the first Avery Cates novel and enjoyed it very much..... but then didn't read the other three currently released. Now the fifth and final has popped through my door and I think it's time I completed this series. I really enjoyed the first!

4) Theodore Boone: The Abduction - John Grisham

Theodore Boone is back in a new adventure, and the stakes are higher than ever. When his best friend, April, disappears from her bedroom in the middle of the night, no one, not even Theo Boone - who knows April better than anyone - has answers. As fear ripples through his small hometown and the police hit dead ends, it's up to Theo to use his legal knowledge and investigative skills to chase down the truth and save April. Filled with the page-turning suspense that made John Grisham a number one international bestseller and the undisputed master of the legal thriller, Theodore Boone's trials and triumphs will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Theodore Boone The Abduction will be released by Hodder on 9th June 2011.

I did read the first book in this series, and I enjoyed Grisham's first effort at children's fiction. I found it entertaining and I look forward to seeing more about Theodore Boone.

That was my little lot! What did you get this week?

Saturday 28 May 2011

10 Best Reading Holidays

So, hey, clearly I'm in a holiday mood, what with it being a Bank Holiday weekend and my vacation to Florida less than four months away. I've decided to bring you ten of the nicest places to take your book for peaceful reading on vacation. Enjoy! (and, no, I'm not getting commission on this *grins*). By the way, I'm using numbers, but these aren't in any particular order...

1) Herm Island

I've already written an article about this place. I visited it on the first weekend of April this year and I'm aching to go back. Wonderful scenery, no cars allowed, wholesome food, and a beautiful bar area with a roaring fire.

Check out this website for more details and pretty pictures!

2) Scotland

I accept that Scotland is a rather large place, but, when I say this, I'm thinking more about the wilds of Scotland. The Highlands. A little cottage on the shores of a loch, with a good selection of whiskeys.

This sounds like the ideal place...

3) The Library Hotel, New York

New York itself isn't the best place for reading - this bustling city has far too much to see and do - but within New York there is a hotel that I am desperate to stay at. From the hotel website: "Each of the ten guestroom floors at the Library Hotel in New York City are dedicated to one of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System*: Social Sciences, Literature, Languages, History, Math & Science, General Knowledge, Technology, Philosophy, The Arts and Religion."

I adore boutique hotels anyway, and the idea that this one is completely devoted to books makes it somewhere I *have* to go! Alex Bell has already visited, and I am green with envy *grins*

The Library Hotel in New York

4) Chateau in France

Howabout booking a castle for the weekend? With your own grounds? And lashings of good red wine!

Not only do you have an outstanding place to stay with historical importance, but you also can pretend that you're *part* of a novel, like a swashbuckling Dumas!

The chateau featured in the picture is Ch√Ęteau de Noizay. In the heart of the Loire Valley castles and Vouvray vineyards, the castle of Noizay was the stronghold of the Protestants during the conspiracy of Amboise in 1560.

Here is a decent website!

5) Norfolk Broads cruising

My parents did this. They hired a boat and drifted at a snail's pace up and down various waterways. They pulled in to moor at various pubs along the way, and enjoyed a distinctly peaceful way of life. I'm pretty certain this sort of atmosphere would be ideal for reading those days away - as long as you're not driving, obviously *winks*

This is a great little cruising guide.

6) Kuredu

Try travelling further afield.... How about travelling directly to paradise?

A villa that leads out onto the soft white beaches. Warmth and peace and tranquility. Yes, this sounds ideal for a reading holiday...

Kuredu is just one of the many, many beautiful Maldives resorts.

7) Rocky Mountaineer

This is a slightly unusual choice, but I know I would love it. These trains run coast to coast across Canada, and through the Rockies. They have glass tops so that you can see panoramic views of the glorious scenery. And, when you tire of drinking in the spectacular views, you can snuggle down with a favourite book!

The Rocky Mountaineer website has full details of all their tours. I couldn't choose between them.

8) Stratford upon Avon

This gorgeous little medieval town is, of course, the birthplace of good old Will Shakespeare, and definitely worth a visit. With plentiful walking tours, chances to head to the theatre and watch one of his beloved plays, and lovely pubs and cafes at which to sit and enjoy your latest read, Stratford upon Avon is excellent holiday fodder for the literary type.

This is the official site for Stratford upon Avon.

9) A Nordic Cruise

Read Philip Pullman? Fancy seeing the Northern Lights? One of the best ways to do this is via a Nordic cruise. It includes whale watching, fine dining, and visits to key Nordic cities. Cruises, for me, seem like an ideal holiday for the reader - while the ship sails for the next destination, there is plentiful opportunity to sit and read.

This is one of the many websites offering this sort of holiday.

10) Germany

This final one is a little special for me. I lived in Germany for many years, and two years ago I finally went back to visit. I stayed in a tiny little village down near the Czech border called Bayerisch Eisenstein (I sort of love the name for the Warhammer 40K connotations!)

I took 14 books with me for two weeks and read 11 of them. I spent my days exploring the tiny village, and reading in stunning locations. I don't think I've so far had a better holiday.

This here is a picture of the actual place I stayed at:

Now, I might not be on any commission, but if you happened to want to head to this gorgeous village in Bavaria, I can recommend these people.

As a sort of 11th choice, I did find this wonderful website: Storybook England. If you can get past the cutesy music and bits, then it is a great resource for visiting all the locations in England that feature in the books you enjoyed during your childhood - from The Famous Five to The BFG. Just brilliant!

Anyway, I'm sure I've missed many wonderful places to go on holiday and enjoy quality reading time *grin*. Howabout you suggest me some?

Friday 27 May 2011

How About This Holiday?

I have a dream. It involves me firstly winning lots of money (doesn't it always?) Seriously, I was chatting to a friend about what I would do if I won a serious amount on the lottery - the usual sort of conversation when you're a little fed up with your work. After sorting out family and close friends, paying off my mortgage, splashing out on a nice holiday, I got to thinking about what to do with the rest of my multi-millions.

It would invole buying somewhere like this:

I would outfit the bedrooms like this:

There would be bathrooms like this:

I would offer a free bar with a range of drinks such as this:

The food would look a bit like this:

Most importantly, there would be a reading room like this:

Featuring THIS:

Would you come and stay?

Thursday 26 May 2011

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

Imprisoned for a heinous crime when she was just a teenager, Allison Glenn is now free. Desperate for a second chance, Allison discovers that the world has moved on without her...

Shunned by those who once loved her, Allison is determined to make contact with her sister. But Brynn is trapped in her own world of regret and torment.

Their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden...

These Things Hidden is not the type of book I usually read and enjoy, but I was intrigued enough by the description to say yes to a review copy. I found myself reading late into the night, saying 'just one more chapter, just one more chapter...' as I took on this gripping book. These Things Hidden is a startling, complex look at the mother-child relationship, and how different women react to it.

We principally follow the story of Allison, and I loved the way that we gradually discovered the reasons behind her jail sentence. This was handled beautifully by Gudenkauf, who gave compelling and realistic reasons for every one of Allison's actions. Despite the fact we should dislike this woman for the crime she committed, it is easy to feel great sympathy for her plight and her estrangement from her family and the life she had before.

Alongside Allison, we are shown the viewpoints of Brynn, Allison's sister, and Charm, the girl who has become embroiled in the secrets of the two sisters. Gudenkauf does sterling work presenting very different voices for these three women, and showcasing how their situations have led to the way they react when encountering Joshua Kelby, a boy who is about to become central to their lives.

These Things Hidden is a quiet story, with a chilling denouement that I just did not see coming. In fact, there were a number of twists in this relatively short book which kept me guessing. This, alongside the short chapters, meant I compulsively read These Things Hidden every chance I got - literally opening the book for five minutes while I waited for my work computer to boot up because I couldn't wait any longer to read more about Allison, Brynn and Charm. Make sure you set aside a lengthy period of time to enjoy These Things Hidden.

This is a lyrical and very poignant book, which surprised me on all levels. I am definitely going to be picking up more work by Heather Gudenkauf.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Books I Adopted This Week

I am resurrecting the 'Books I Adopted This Week' feature, loosely based on In My Mailbox by The Story Siren. I stopped doing it because a) it takes a surprising amount of time to do each post and b) it felt a lot like me saying 'look at all the books I'm getting!' I'm resurrecting it because I'm now receiving way more books each week than I can expect to read in good time and I would still like to do some justice and give cover time to the books coming my way. I am NOT boasting. Please God, I don't want anyone to feel jealous. Instead, consider this my method of passing thanks to the publishers who have taken the time to send me novels they think I might like.

Without any more ado, let's get on - we have a lot to get through this week....

1) Mad Love - Suzanne Selfors

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalised for mental illness. After putting on a brave face for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother - and she needs one fast. That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth - that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Mad Love is published by Bloomsbury on 6th June 2011.

I do like the sound of this. It reads in a quirky manner, and appears to include a chick lit element alongside mythology. I can imagine sitting and reading this in one sitting on a sunny Saturday afternoon - and imagine I shall be doing such over the summer!

2) Blood Oath - Christopher Farnsworth

'There are worse things in this world than al-Qaeda and North Korea, Zach. And they are just waiting for their chance at us.' Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it's not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America's best kept secret: Nathaniel Cade. The President's vampire. And Cade is the world's only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out ...

Blood Oath is published by Hodder on 26th May 2011.

A vampire thriller! Sounds like some strange cross between Tom Clancy and Bram Stoker - or a grown up version of Department 19! I'm really intrigued by this. I didn't know anything about it when it arrived and now I really want to read it *grins*

3) Now You See Me - S. J. Bolton

Despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, Detective Constable Lacey Flint has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now...As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey's car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey's quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?...

Now You See Me is published by Bantam Press on 26th May 2011.

Now, I can never tell whether the crime books I receive are part of a long running series (has anyone else noticed that crime books seem to result in very long series?), but from what I've researched Now You See Me is a standalone. Can anyone confirm? As it happens, I am currently editing a book about Jack the Ripper and consequently this piques my interest whereas at another point in time it might have passed me by.

4) Promethean Sun - Nick Kyme

The Great Crusade reaches a feral world known only as One-Five-Four-Four. The forces of the Imperium arrive to deliver the primitive natives from enslavement at the hands of the alien eldar. The Iron Hands of Ferrus Manus and Mortarion’s Death Guard fight in theatres of war across the world, but the most vicious combat takes place in the deep jungles, where Vulkan and the Salamanders bring the Emperor’s wrath to the heathen aliens.

Vulkan and his sons must brave the deadly jungles, battle monstrous reptilian beasts and contend with the vile sorcery of the eldar if they are to liberate this world and bring the Emperor’s light to its backwards inhabitants.

Promethean Sun is a limited edition Horus Heresy novella that I bought myself from Black Library (yes, I do still buy a few books *grin* - special ones!)

So... I love Horus Heresy. I am starting to get a taste for limited edition releases. The fact that I bought this one myself shows a massive intent to read!

5) The Queen Must Die - K.A.S. Quinn

Why is Katie Berger-Jones-Burg under a sofa in Buckingham Palace? The last thing she can remember is reading in her bedroom, trying to block out the sound of the TV. Now she is in London, at the height of Queen Victoria's reign. Something very strange is going on. Together with her two new friends - Princess Alice, the young daughter of Queen Victoria, and James O'Reilly, the son of the royal doctor - Katie must discover why she has been sent back in time. And who are the weird and frightening creatures who seek her out? The key, it seems, lies with the enigmatic Bernardo DuQuelle. As the dark forces moving through the royal household begin to take control, Katie and her friends uncover a plot to assassinate the Queen and unearth an even darker mystery...

The Queen Must Die is published by Corvus on 1st June 2011.

I was offered this one for review, so you'll definitely see a review within the next few weeks. It was offered on the basis of being a fast-paced time travel adventure, which sounds excellent. I particularly enjoy this type of children's book because it is something I can share with my two nephews if I believe they will like it too.

6) The Order of the Scales - Stephen Deas

As the various factions fight for control of the Adamatine Palace mankinds nemesis approaches. The realms dragons are awakening from their alchemical sedation and returning to their native fury. They can remember why they were created and they now know what mankind has done to them. And their revenge will be brutal. As hundreds of dragons threaten a fiery apocalypse only the Adamantine Guard stand between humanity and extinction. Can Prince Jehal fight off the people who want him dead and unite their armies in one final battle for survival? Noted for its blistering pace, awesome dragons and devious polticking Stephen Deas's landmark fantasy trilogy moves to a terrifying epic conclusion in The Order of the Scales.

The Order of the Scales is published by Gollancz on 19th May 2011.

Woe. Woe is me. Stephen Deas I would count now amongst my friends. He has been producing consistently well received novels for the past few years. And DRAGONS! Why have I not read his Memory of Flames trilogy yet? With the release of this third novel, I do think I'll be correcting this oversight. In fact, can I see The Adamantine Palace from here....? *gets distracted*

7) Wonder - Robert J. Sawyer

The Internet has become sentient. The world's governments are terrified, it seems the evolution of a new intelligence might have left mankind behind. It is up to one blind girl, a maths genius, to convince mankind that this new digital life is not its enemy. Perfect for fans of Charles Stross and Vernor Vinge this is a rich imagining of a future that may be just around the corner.

Wonder will be published by Gollancz on 19th May 2011.

So, the third in another trilogy that I have not managed to read the prior two novels of! This happens more commonly than you'd think. Watch and Wake have both looked to receive decent reviews, and I do like the idea of a sentient Internet, but I can't see me getting to this too soon with some of the other books I've been receiving.

8) Tiger's Curse - Colleen Houck

Would you risk it all to change your destiny? The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that's exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger's Curse will be published by Hodder on 26th May 2011.

I cannot express how beautiful this cover is in the flesh. It is truly gorgeous, and I can imagine it really jumping out when placed on the (almost universally) black table of 3 for 2 offers in Waterstones. Handily the story itself also seems to be something pretty decent and I'm genuinely excited about reading Tiger's Curse.

9) Magus of Stonewylde - Kit Berry

Sylvie is dying. A victim of crippling allergies, poisoned by the pollution and chemicals of modern life, Sylvie is trapped in a hospital bed while her mother and doctors watch her life slipping away. But one of them offers her a chance. There's an alternative community - Stonewylde - hidden away behind high boundary walls in a corner of Dorset. If their leader, the charismatic Magus, would let Sylvie visit then perhaps the clean air and green lifestyle may restore her vitality. Or at least give her some measure of peace before she dies. It's a chance, and when Sylvie and her mother take it, they find themselves in a haven of tranquillity and beauty. But it's not all idyllic. The Magus sends a moody, secretive Village boy to work in their garden as a punishment. He warns them to stay away from him - he's rebellious and in deep trouble. But Sylvie is curious about Yul and, as their forbidden friendship grows, she sees that all is not quite as it seems at Stonewylde. Why was she told to keep away from Yul - and why are she and her mother so drawn to the Magus? Is the crone on the hill really a powerful wise-woman, or just a crazed old hag bent on destroying the peace with her wild prophecies? And what exactly is the magical secret at the heart of this seemingly perfect community?

Magus of Stonewylde is published by Orion on 5th May 2011.

For me the most interesting part of the story is that Kit Berry shipped the Stonewylde books round 13 publishers originally, and was rejected by all. So she self-published, and managed to grow a community around her novels. When she realised that she was unable to both promote her novels and write future books in the Stonewylde series, she decided to try the agented route again - and, happily, Orion picked up the series. Four books will be published in four months, and I'm definitely intrigued enough to pick up the first at least.

10) The Foxes Come At Night - Cees Nooteboom

Set in the cities and islands of the Mediterranean, and linked thematically, the eight stories in The Foxes Come At Night read more like a novel, a meditation on memory, life and death. Their protagonists collect and reconstruct fragments of lives lived intensely, and now lost, crystallized in memory or in the detail of a photograph. In 'Paula', the narrator evokes the mysterious, brief life of a woman he once loved; in 'Paula II', the same woman is aware of the man thinking of her. No longer a body, she is slowly fading into the distance, remembering the time they spent together, and his fear of the black night when the foxes appear. And yet the tone of these stories is far from pessimistic: it seems that death is nothing to be afraid of. Nooteboom is a superb stylist who observes the world with a combination of melancholy and astonishment. These stories are textured with humour, pathos and vast knowledge, the hallmarks of this outstanding and highly respected European writer.

The Foxes Come at Night will be published by MacLehose on 26th May 2011.

Now and then an absolute gem will drop through my mailbox - something utterly unexpected, and out of my regular reading zone. The last such was the absolutely delightful Benny and Shrimp, and I'm hoping that The Foxes Come at Night will prove similar. Certainly Cees Nooteboom appears to be extremely well-regarded in European literary circles and I look forward to dipping into this collection of short stories.

11) The Emperor's Gold - Robert Wilton

This is an intense, imaginative and darkly atmospheric historical spy thriller set in 1805, when Britain was within hours of invasion and defeat by Napoleon. O'Brian meets le Carre with a nod towards "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell". 1805. The armies of France have beaten every challenger. Now they camp by the English Channel, awaiting only safe passage to complete Napoleon's domination of Europe. Britain is militarily weak, politically divided, unsettled by her rioting poor and under constant threat of another Irish insurrection. Into this feverish environment, ripe for treason and sedition, comes a dead man. Pulled half-drowned from a shipwreck, his past erased, Tom Roscarrock is put to work for the Comptrollerate-General for Scrutiny and Survey, a dubious and obscure off-shoot of the Government operating independently and to uncertain ends. He is thrown into a bewildering world of political intrigue and violence, moving from the refined salons of Francophile London high society to brutal skirmishes between the militia and food-rioters and shadowy underground meetings where revolution is now close to fruition. In France, a plan is underway to neutralise the Royal Navy and shatter the last of England's political stability. In England, the man who recruited Roscarrock has disappeared, Comptrollerate-General agents keep turning up dead, and reports of a secret French fleet are panicking the authorities. Roscarrock begins to realise that his mission is a deliberate device to reveal the British spy network in France...His own past, previously opaque even to himself, is now the key to the conspiracy. What to everyone else is a battle of Empires becomes for Tom Roscarrock a quest for private vengeance. Will he prove nemesis or saviour?

The Emperor's Gold will be published by Corvus on 1st June 2011.

This ticks a lot of boxes for me. I love a good historical novel, and I appreciate the comparisons with Susanna Clarke as well. I am pleased that Robert Wilton has agreed to do a guest post for me within the next few weeks to discuss the influences that caused him to write The Emperor's Gold.

12) (and technically 13 and 14 as well) The Numbers trilogy by Rachel Ward

Post-Chaos 2029. Adam, Sarah and Mia are living together, struggling with the fame of seeing numbers - the dates when people will die. But something is about to tear them apart. During The Chaos Mia swapped her number for another. Suddenly her powerful new ability makes her a terrifying target. Everyone wants to live for ever.

On 2nd June Chicken House are releasing the third novel in the Number series by Rachel Ward. When I was offered the third, I realised that I hadn't read any of them and so *very* cheekily asked for the first two as well, so that I could review all three. I was kindly sent them and so shall guarantee reviews sooner rather than later! I'm looking forward to these - and can I just say that the covers look brilliant side by side.

15) Rockoholic - C J Skuse

Jody loves Jackson Gatlin. At his only UK rock concert, she's right at the front. But when she's caught in the crush and carried back stage she has more than concussion to contend with. Throw in a menacing manager, a super-wired super-star, and a curly-wurly, and she finds herself taking home more than just a poster. It's the accidental kidnapping of the decade. But what happens if you've a rock-god in your garage who doesn't want to leave Jody's stuck between a rock-idol and a hard place! From the pen of C.J. Skuse, author of 2010's super cool debut "Pretty Bad Things", comes a tale of rock star obsession gone nuts.

Rockoholic was published by Chicken House on 7th March 2011.

After reading and loving Withering Tights by Louise Rennison, I'm definitely ready for another humorous and quirky tale about girls getting caught in madcap sitations. I'm jealous of the fact that these sorts of novels are available for tweens now - I would have devoured them if they'd existed when I was a younger reader!

16) Flawless - Lara Chapman

Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She has killer blue eyes, gorgeous blonde hair and impeccable school grades. She has just one tiny flaw - her nose! But even that's not so bad as Sarah has the bestest friend and big goals for print journalism fame. On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into Sarah's journalism class and rocks her world. The problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too, and when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her attract Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do - she agrees. What was she thinking? This retelling of "Cyrano de Bergerac" is a sweet and witty romance that gently reminds us that we should all embrace our flaws.

Flawless was published by Bloomsbury on 3rd May 2011.

I do like it when an old story is given a new spin - this time the telling of Cyrano de Bergerac and his overly large nose. Flawless sounds lovely, and the book is a nice slim 272 pages, so I can see myself getting to this shortly. I've also seen some rather good reviews, which makes me more inclined to read.

17) Savage City - Sophia McDougall

Imagine a world where Rome never fell. Now the Empire stretches across the Atlantic. Slaves are constructing a giant bridge over the Persian Gulf. Magnetic railways span the globe. But political tensions are growing at home and abroad, and one man's ambition is about to change the face of the earth. A massive explosion at the Coliseum kills the Emperor Faustus, making his nephew and heir, Marcus Novius, the new leader of the Roman Empire. Marcus, the healer Sulien and Una, his sister - and Marcus' own love - have been together through thick and thin, fighting for freedom, fighting for their lives, fighting for justice. Marcus' ascension to the Roman throne was supposed to be the start of something magnificent ...But Marcus himself is horribly wounded in the explosion, and Sulien is having problems fighting his way through the terrible devastation to get to his friend, the new emperor. It's not long before Sulien and Una realise the explosion did far more damage than just killing the old emperor, and life is never going to be the same again.

Savage City was published by Gollancz on 19th May 2011.

Sophia McDougall is a truly lovely lady. And I read older versions of Romanitas and Rome Burning, so Savage City is a must for me. I did buy the first two novels in the trilogy at Eastercon (again!) so that I could have the new versions with the gorgeous covers and I plan on skimming them once more to check out what changes have been made for the repackaging. Look out for reviews of all three *smiles*

18) Before I Go To Sleep - S J Watson

As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Welcome to Christine's life.

Before I Go To Sleep was published by Doubleday on 28th April 2011.

Okay, this wasn't on my radar at all - but then Ben from Transworld started conducting THE best publicity campaign. First of all, I received through the post a couple of extracts of the novel to whet my appetite. Then I received a key, which mystified me. Finally the novel itself arrived, all padlocked up and the message 'Don't Trust Ben' on the outside. I might be shallow, but anything like this will pique my curiosity and have me wondering what the book is all about. Add into that a high concept plot and some wonderful write ups, and I want to read Before I Go To Sleep.

19) Child Wonder - Roy Jacobsen

Finn lives with his mother in an apartment block in a working-class suburb of Oslo. It is 1961, a time when 'men became boys and housewives women', the year the Berlin Wall is erected and Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to travel into space. Life is electrical, beautiful and stubbornly social-democratic. One day a mysterious half-sister appears 'with an atom-charge in a light blue suitcase', and she turns his life upside-down. Over an everlasting summer, Finn attempts to grasp the incomprehensible adult world and his place within it. His mother appears to carry a painful secret, but one which pushes them ever further apart. And why is his new sister so different from every other child? Child Wonder is a powerful and unsentimental portrait of childhood, a coming-of-age novel full of light and warmth. Through the eyes of a child Roy Jacobsen has captured the complexities of his characters through their actions, and has produced an immensely uplifting novel that shines with humanity.

Child Wonder will be published by MacLehose on 26th May 2011.

Another out-of-the-blue sweet looking novel from MacLehose. I enjoy being included on these literary lists so that I can try something incredibly new to me.

20) Trial By Fire - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

At seventeen, Bryn is has the usual schoolgirl worries: a new boyfriend, a new school and a new home. But she has one major concern that her friends don't have: she is an alpha - a human girl in charge of her own werewolf pack. When Bryn and her closest friends, Dev and Lake, broke from the werewolf Callum's pack, it had all felt right. Together with Chase, Bryn's new love, they had rescued some newly made female werewolves from a despicable master and established their own pack, with Bryn as leader. Yet Bryn has always resented the rules of Pack life - the constant bowing to authority, the submission to the alpha. And she is determined to live differently, to run this pack openly and justly. Then one night, a badly beaten werewolf shows up on her territory. He needs help, sanctuary, care. But taking him in could violate inter-pack rules, and no one knows better than Bryn the costs of challenging those rules. Obedience is law in Pack life, but Bryn is going to break the rules, again.

Trial By Fire will be published by Quercus on 26th May 2011.

I never did read Raised By Wolves, although that was incredibly well-received by reviewers around the blogosphere. With the arrival of the second it reminded me that I always intended to read the first! I will be attempting to get in quick reviews of both, but look at the list of books above that I also want to review! There are TOO MANY BOOKS!

Okay, so that's the lot. I know I've been exceptionally lucky! Which of the above are you interested by?