Welcome to the fourth post in my Anticipated Books series for the winter and spring of 2015. Today it’s time for my mainstream fiction and thriller picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Read More …
Welcome to the fourth post in my Anticipated Books series for the winter and spring of 2014. Today it’s time for my mainstream fiction and thriller picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Read More …
Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.
Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.
Katherine Parr was Henry VIII’s sixth queen and one I’m not as familiar with as, for example, Catherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn. So this novel covering her rise to queen and her life after Henry’s death was a welcome look at Tudor history from an angle I hadn’t encountered before. The impression I had from what I had read about Katherine Parr was that she was a dutiful wife, caring and patient, and perhaps after Jane Seymour the queen that most pleased Henry. The Queen’s Gambit has shown me that while all of this may have been true, Katherine Parr wasn’t a meek and obedient helpmeet to care for Henry in his dotage. She’s shown to be a resourceful, educated, smart woman, and – together with the first Catherine – was the only one to have been named regent. The story is told from two different points of view one Katharine’s own and one from one of her servants, Dot Fownten. I found this an interesting choice as it gives us the story from the horse’s mouth and from the perspective of someone in the thick of things, but mostly invisible to those around her, which allows for a curious mixture of insider’s perspective and someone looking in for the outside. Read More …
One of my reading resolutions for 2012 was to explore more YA fiction, which I did. I did it to such an extent that this list has just exploded this year, so much so that I’ve had to split it up, much like my fantasy list. Today the Anticipated Books will showcase YA fiction published from January to March and tomorrow we’ll look at April to June. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Lenore Appelhans – Level 2 (Fantasy, Simon&Schuster)
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost–family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian–a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life–comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
A video appears online. And a boy jumps off a bridge. Jem is determined to avenge the death of Kai – her beloved best friend who was driven to desperation after being ‘outed’ by the popular crew at school. Transforming herself from introverted emo to in-crowd acceptable, Jem becomes part of the clique. She’s going to take down those responsible, one by one.
But what if Kai was keeping secrets from Jem? Could her quest for revenge be directed at the wrong people? And can Jem find out what really happened before someone else gets hurt?
Gavin Extence – The Universe versus Alex Woods (Contemporary, Hodder & Stoughton)
This is the story of seventeen-year-old Alex Woods – born to a clairvoyant mother and a phantom father, victim of an improbable childhood accident – who is stopped at Dover customs in possession of 113 grams of marijuana and the ashes of his best friend, Vietnam veteran Isaac Peterson. What follows is a highly original and compelling account of Alex’s life and the strange series of events that brought him here.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and she’s also the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope. . . .
Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King’s prophecy, but the legendary lost ruby treasure just might be the true key to victory. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
Broken by A E Rought (Science Fiction/Horror, Strange Chemistry)
Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.
When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.
And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.
Megan Shepherd – The Madman’s Daughter (Science Fiction, HarperTeen)
Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.
Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.
Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fantasy, Corsair)
In this, Valente’s second Fairyland book, September returns to Fairyland – but all is not well there. Folk have been losing their shadows and, with them, their magic. September must enter the dark, beautiful, strange kingdom of Fairyland-Below to discover what has happened and save Fairyland from losing all its magic and slipping into the mundane world entirely. But Fairyland-Below has a new ruler, Hallowe’en, the Hollow Queen – and Hallowe’en does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.
K.M. Walton – Empty (Contemporary, Simon Pulse)
Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one–not even her best friend–understands all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.
Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of heartbreak and the name-calling stop?
Brenna Yovanoff – Paper Valentine (Crime, Razorbill)
Hannah’s best friend Lillian died six months ago. Now it is high summer and Hannah can no longer pretend everything’s fine. Because Lillian’s ghost still haunts Hannah, and Hannah can’t tell anyone about her. Then a young girl is found murdered in Muncy Park—the first of three who will be killed during the summer’s heat wave. Hysteria grips the city of Ludlow. And Hannah finds herself drawn to Finny Boone, a bad boy and petty criminal. Lillian’s ghost demands that Hannah investigate the mysterious string of murders. And though she would prefer to be with Finny, Hannah enters a world populated by ghost girls and horrifying secrets. Hannah becomes obsessed with the crimes and realizes that only by confronting the killer will she be able to come to terms with her grief, and put the loss of Lillian behind her.
Julianna Baggott – Fuse (Science Fiction, Headline)
After a young Wretch is abducted by the Dome and “cleansed” of her fusings and imperfections, she is only able to repeat the Dome’s latest message: “We want our son returned. This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.” Willux will go to any lengths to get his son Partridge back, including murder. Partridge sacrifeces himself and returns, in the hope of taking over the Dome from within, only to uncover more of his father’s chilling, dark secrets.
Robyn Bavati – Dancing in the Dark (Contemporary, Flux)
Ditty Cohen is passionate about ballet–she loves how it feels to stand en pointe, to rise and spin across the room. But her Orthodox Jewish parents want Ditty to focus on the teachings of the Torah and to marry at a young age according to their religious tradition. Although her parents forbid her to take dance lessons, Ditty secretly signs up for ballet and becomes entangled in a web of deceit. As one lie leads to another and another, Ditty knows she must stop dancing, but she can’t abandon the one thing that gives her freedom. She begins to question her faith and everything her parents have taught her, realizing just how much is at stake as her two worlds collide.
Instead she finds Mr Anderson – intelligent, handsome, married Mr Anderson, who just happens to be her chemistry teacher. With a dark past and a difficult family, Jenna is just happy to have someone to protect her, to worry about her, to love her.
But should she be suspicious of Mr Anderson’s reputation for helping ‘damaged’ students? Why is the most popular girl in school suddenly jealous of her? And where is Mr Anderson’s wife?
This is a love story that breaks all the rules, but that won’t stop it breaking your heart.
Gail Carriger – Etiquette & Espionage (Fantasy, Atom)
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.
Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners – and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrols Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s young ladies learn to finish . . . everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion and espionage – in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
Miriam Forster – City of a Thousand Dolls (Fantasy, HarperTeen)
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.
It’s Maine. It’s winter. And it’s FREEZING STINKIN’ COLD! Dinah is wildly worried about her best friend, Skint. He won’t wear a coat. Refuses to wear a coat. It’s twelve degrees out, and he won’t wear a coat. So Dinah’s going to figure out how to help. That’s what Dinah does–she helps. But she is too busy trying to help to notice that sometimes, she’s doing more harm than good. Seeing the trees instead of the forest? that’s Dinah.
And Skint isn’t going to be the one to tell her. He’s got his own problems. He’s worried about a little boy whose dad won’t let him visit his mom. He’s worried about an elderly couple in a too-cold house down the street.
But the wedge between what drives Dinah and what concerns Skint is wide enough for a big old slab of ice. Because Skint’s own father is in trouble. Because Skint’s mother refuses to ask for help even though she’s at her breaking point. And because Dinah might just decide to…help. She thinks she’s cracking through a sheet of ice, but what’s actually there is an entire iceberg.
Pantomime by Laura Lam (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.
Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
Kristin Bailey – Legacy of the Clockwork Key (Fantasy, Simon Pulse)
When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key–a key that only Meg can use–that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.
Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect–and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.
to her family
to her friends
to the world
but still missing
In Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery, sixteen-year-old Angie Chapman must piece together the story of her kidnapping and abuse. Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing—and ultimately empowering—page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.
Alan Gibbons – Raining Fire (Contemporary, Indigo)
Ethan is a promising footballer, and when he is selected to go on a training programme in the US, he feels sure that he has found his chance to escape the gangs that dominate his streets. But as life spirals out of control for his brother, Alex, and things unexpectedly take a turn for the worse for Ethan, he finds himself drawn into the midst of an explosive feud with the gun at its heart.
Shannon Messenger – Let the Sky Fall (Fantasy, Simon Pulse)
Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. and he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.
Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian–Vane’s guardian–and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.
When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim–the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them–but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.
Julianna Scott – The Holders (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother – from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland’s “problem” and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.
She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece find out information about their family’s heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for—but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.
Sherri L. Smith – Orleans (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
After a string of devastating hurricanes and a deadly epidemic of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast had been quarantined. Now, years later, a new primitive society has been born over the wall.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen soon meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States researching a cure for Delta Fever. The pair form an unlikely bond and, in the end, may be each other’s last hope for survival.
The next of my Anticipated Books (Summer/Fall) 2012 is all about crime and historical crime fiction. I adore a good crime story and I love historical fiction, so the combination of the two is a double win for me. The other posts will follow Thursday and Saturday, with the Anticipated Reads post up on the Sunday.
A.J. Cross – Gone in Seconds (Orion)
When the skeleton of a young woman is found near a West Midlands motorway, evidence suggests that it is that of teenager Molly James, who went missing five years ago.
Forensic psychologist Dr Kate Hanson and the Unsolved Crime Unit are called in to re-investigate Molly’s case. The deeper they dig the dirtier the clues get, and when a second set of remains is unearthed Kate suspects they’re looking for a Repeater: a killer who will adapt, grow and not stop until they are caught.
Will Dr Hanson manage to unravel the tangle of clues that the killer has left behind before he has a chance to take another innocent victim?
Sebastian Fitzek – The Eye Collector (Corvus)
Ready or not, here he comes…
It’s the same each time. A woman’s body is found with a ticking stopwatch clutched in her dead hand. A distraught father must find his child before the boy suffocates – and the killer takes his left eye.
Alexander Zorbach, a washed-up cop turned journalist has reported all three of the Eye Collector’s murders. But this is different. His wallet has been found next to the corpse and now he’s a suspect. The Eye Collector wants Zorbach to play.
Zorbach has exactly forty-five hours, seven minutes to save a little boy’s life. And the countdown has started…
Casey Hill – Torn (Simon & Schuster)
Read the clues. Decode the science. Reveal the murderer.
That’s Reilly Steel’s mantra. Find the answers, solve the crime. But the Quantico-trained forensic investigator is finding her skills aren’t enough when a ferociously intelligent killer strikes Dublin.
The modus operandi is as perplexing as it is macabre. What connects the two seemingly disparate, high-profile victims?
Their corpses refuse to give up their secrets and the crime scenes prove a forensic investigator’s worst nightmare. Reilly soon suspects that she may be dealing with a killer – or killers – who know all about crime scene investigation.
The police are just as frustrated by the crimes’ impenetrable nature and it’s only when a third murder occurs – equally graphic and elaborate in its execution – that they discover that this particular killer is using a very specific blueprint for his crimes.
Who is the killer’s next victim, the real target? And what’s his endgame?
Richard Castle – Frozen Heat (Hyperion)
NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother’s background.
Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Nikki’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?
Kristine Ohlsson – Unwanted (Emily Bestler Books)
One mistake changes everything…
In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken. Her distraught mother was left behind at the previous station in what seemed to be a coincidence. The train crew was alerted and kept a watchful eye on the sleeping child. But when the train pulled into Stockholm Central Station, the little girl had vanished. Inspector Alex Recht and his special team of federal investigators, assisted by the investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman, are assigned to what at first appears to be a classic custody fight. But when the child is found dead in the far north of Sweden with the word “unwanted” scribbled on her forehead, the case soon turns into the investigation team’s worst nightmare—the pursuit of a brilliant and ruthless killer.
Historical Crime Fiction
Andrew Swanston – The King’s Spy (Transworld)
England is at war with itself. King Charles I has fled London, his negotiations with Parliament in tatters.
The country is consumed by bloodshed. For Thomas Hill, a man of letters quietly running a bookshop in the rural town of Romsey, knowledge of the war is limited to the rumours that reach the local inn.
When a stranger knocks on his door one night and informs him that the king’s cryptographer has died, everything changes. Aware of Thomas’s background as a mathematician and his expertise in codes and ciphers, the king has summoned him to his court in Oxford.
On arrival, Thomas soon discovers that nothing at court is straightforward. There is evidence of a traitor in their midst. Brutal murder follows brutal murder. And when a vital message encrypted with a notoriously unbreakable cipher is intercepted, he must decipher it to reveal the king’s betrayer and prevent the violent death that defeat will surely bring.
Anthony Hays – The Divine Sacrifice (Corvus)
Welcome to fifth-century Britain: the Romans have left, the Saxons have invaded, the towns are decaying and the countryside is dangerous.
Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, an embittered former soldier who lost a limb in combat, is now a trusted advisor to Arthur, the High King of all Britannia. When a monk dies in horrific circumstances in Glastonbury Abbey, the Abbot calls for Malgwyn to investigate.
His search for the truth will draw him into an intricate web of religious, economic and political deceit – and a conspiracy that could endanger everything Arthur has fought for.