The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.
With my BEA trip this week, I didn’t end up writing one of these last week even though I bought a couple of books and had a couple of review copies. This week is dedicated to BEA books, but next week I will be back on schedule and will get caught up with the few I missed.
Compared to other BEAs, I didn’t get a lot of books, but I didn’t miss too many of the ones I really wanted to get. There were a couple I wanted to get but didn’t get to in time or missed because of other signings (like The Turning by Francine Prose, Adaptation by Malinda Lo, and For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund). But I had the best time I’ve ever had at BEA this year and I think that’s because I ended up just talking with people quite a bit instead of just wandering around looking for books. After all, I can always buy the book later if I really want it, but I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to talk to some of the people who are at BEA again.
Anyway, on to the books, and I’ll write more about BEA itself later.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland #2) by Catherynne M. Valente
This sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making will be released in hardcover and audiobook on October 2. I haven’t read the first book yet so normally I wouldn’t have picked up the second one, but since Catherynne M. Valente is an author whose work I already love this was one of my must-get books of BEA. The first book is supposed to be amazing, and I love what Catherynne Valente had to say about the criticism that these middle grade books are “too smart for kids.” She also wrote a great article on Tor.com about the second Fairyland book and how writing it differed from the first one, a serialized novel she put up online.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a New York Times Children’s Bestseller, the winner of the Andre Norton Award, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011.
I’ll be talking about this more later in a post about BEA, but I went to one of the New York Book Week events and had the opportunity to hear Catherynne M. Valente read a section from The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. I really liked what she read, and I’m now even more excited about reading the two Fairyland books! (As an aside, I cannot believe how few people showed up for this event, which also had N. K. Jemisin, Kristin Cashore, and Naomi Novik.)
September returns to Fairyland to reunite with A-Through-L, Saturday, and Gleam, and to confront her shadow-self, who has become the queen of Fairyland-Below, the upside-down world beneath the Fairyland of the first novel, filled with creatures of water and shadow, tales of ancient Fairyland before the human world was born, and not a few hungry buffins, blind birds of ice and moonlight. The yearly revels of Fairyland-Below climax in a mysterious rite September must avert or else lose her shadow forever.
No Peace for the Damned (Damned #1) by Megan Powell
This debut dark urban fantasy novel is coming from 47North (Amazon’s relatively new science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint) on July 10. It will be available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook. A second book, No Rest for the Damned, will be released in winter 2012.
I like dark books so I was very interested in this, particularly given that I like to read some new-to-me authors (which I haven’t been doing enough of lately since so many authors I love have had new books out).
To find out more, I suggest reading this article Megan Powell wrote on The Qwillery entitled “If I Can’t Be a Magical, Undercover, Secret Agent, At Least My Heroine Can.”
Magnolia Kelch is no stranger to pain. Beautiful and powerful, she’s spent her entire life at the mercy of her sadistic father and the rest of the Kelch clan, who have tortured her and tested the limits of her powers. After one particularly heinous night that leaves Magnolia nearly dead, she finally sees her chance for escape…
But this first taste of freedom is short-lived when she collides with Thirteen, head of the Network—a secret organization dedicated to fighting supernatural criminals—who recruits her into the group. Even as she’s coming to grips with this new life and the horrific memories that still haunt her, she’s conflicted by her growing attraction to fellow team member Theo and the emergence of new, untested abilities. After months of grueling training, her loyalty to the team is tested when she learns her target is the Network’s most wanted: the Kelch family.
Revenge may course through her veins, but so does the blood of the Kelches. And opposing her family may cost her the thing she treasures most. After all, Magnolia is still a Kelch. And the Kelch are damned.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding this title, which is being compared to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games (yeah, I know). I got to this signing 25 minutes early and still waited in line for over an hour.
Throne of Glass will be released in hardcover and ebook formats on August 7. I saw on Twitter that Sarah J. Maas is working on book 2 and is hoping the series will be longer than a trilogy. There are 4 Throne of Glass novellas being released as ebooks before publication. According to the page about the novellas, they “form the arc of how Celaena Sardothien, the heroine of ToG, went from the world’s most feared assassin to being thrown into the Salt Mines of Endovier.” The first three novellas (The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld) can be downloaded from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo for 99 cents each. The Assassin and the Empire, the final novella, must be coming out fairly soon since the book will be out in less than 2 months, but it doesn’t have a date.
I was really intrigued to see in “The Story Behind the Story” section on this page that this book started as a Cinderella retelling. Maas describes the premise as “What if Cinderella was an assassin, and went to the ball not to dance with the prince, but to kill him?” She says it has since moved away from being a Cinderella story, although the influence can still be found in a few places.
The first couple of chapters from Throne of Glass can be read at Page-Turner.
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Breed by Chase Novak
This horror novel will be released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook in September. An excerpt from Breed is available online. (By the way, Chase Novak is the pen name of Scott Spencer, author of Endless Love and A Ship Made of Paper.)
I thought this sounded interesting and creepy, but the headline on the Kirkus review has me wondering if I should read it:
A cautionary tale about the perils of fertility treatments turns into a gore fest for the strong of stomach.
Um, yeah, I’m not exactly strong of stomach when it comes to gory descriptions. So we’ll see about this one…
Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.
Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.
Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.
The City’s Son (The Skyscraper Throne #1) by Tom Pollock
This young adult urban fantasy will be released in August in the UK and September in the US (hardcover). It seems to be too early for excerpts, but I really like the last line of the book description on the author’s page for the book:
The City’s Son is the first book of The Skyscraper Throne: a story about family,friends and monsters, and how you can’t always tell which is which.
Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.
But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Urchin’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Urchin raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.
The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion by Walter Mosley
This sounded like an interesting book, and I was especially curious after hearing what Walter Mosley had to say in the Science Fiction in the Mainstream panel at BEA. It just came out last month and is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.
The hardcover is a neat book. It’s two books in one with a cover for each book. If you flip it over, you can start reading the second book, and the author signed the title page for each at the signing. An excerpt from each can be read on Tor.com.
New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosley delivers two speculative tales, in one volume, of everyday people exposed to life-altering truths.
The Gift of Fire
In ancient mythology, the Titan Prometheus was punished by the gods for bringing man the gift of fire—an event that set humankind on its course of knowledge. As punishment for making man as powerful as gods, Prometheus was bound to a rock; every day his immortal body was devoured by a giant eagle. But in The Gift of Fire, those chains cease to be, and the great champion of man walks from that immortal prison into present-day South Central Los Angeles.
On the Head of a Pin
Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are working at Jennings-Tremont Enterprises when they make the most important discovery in the history of this world—or possibly the next. JTE is developing advanced animatronics editing techniques to create high-end movies indistinguishable from live-action. Long dead stars can now share the screen with today’s A-list. But one night Joshua and Ana discover something lingering in the rendered footage…an entity that will lead them into a new age beyond the reality they have come to know.
The Weird Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
This sounds amazing, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer were also at the aforementioned Science Fiction in the Mainstream panel at BEA (along with John Scalzi whose book I missed due to waiting in a long line). The Weird just came out last month and is available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.
The Weird is a massive book containing over 1000 pages of stories, plus a “foreweird” by Michael Moorcock and an “afterweird” by China Mieville. The earliest stories go as far back as the early 1900s and span the years through 2010. Authors include Lord Dunsany, Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft, Daphne du Maurier, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Tanith Lee. That’s a very small sampling of the authors included since there are a lot!
Unfortunately, I got caught in the rain after I got this one and my signed copy got some water damage. Oh well, it’s at least not so bad that I can’t read it.
A landmark, eclectic, leviathan-sized anthology of fiction’s wilder, stranger, darker shores. From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird and amongst its practitioners number some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.
Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities; you won’t find any elves or wizards here… but you will find the boldest and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.
The Weird features an all star cast of authors, from classics to international bestsellers to Booker prize winners. Here are Ben Okri and George R.R. Martin, Angela Carter and Kelly Link, Franz Kafka and China Miéville, Clive Barker and Haruki Murakami, M.R. James and Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake and Michael Chabon, Stephen King and Daphne Du Maurier.
The Killing Moon (The Dreamblood #1) by N. K. Jemisin
As you may know, this is my favorite book I have read so far this year so I was thrilled for the chance to get a signed copy and meet the author (who was so very nice). This is going to be one of those books I treasure forever. Unfortunately, it’s another one of the books that got some of the worst of the water damage when I got stuck in the rain. I’ll probably never dare read this copy since the corner near the binding is yellowed and fraying and looks like it may fall apart, but at least seeing the signature will remind me of the great time I had meeting the author! That was definitely one of my highlights of BEA.
The Killing Moon is available now in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The sequel, The Shadowed Sun, will be released next week. (I do want to note that there is no cliffhanger ending and the sequel has a different main character.) I haven’t read the sequel yet, but N. K. Jemisin read from it at the New York Public Library event I went to and it sounds fantastic.
The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.
In the city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, where time is marked by the river’s floods, there is no crime or violence. Within the city’s colored shadows, priests of the dream-goddess harvest the wild power of the sleeping mind as magic, using it to heal, soothe… and kill.
But when corruption blooms at the heart of Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru—most famous of the city’s Gatherers—cannot defeat it alone. With the aid of his cold-eyed apprentice and a beautiful foreign spy, he must thwart a conspiracy whose roots lie in his own past. And to prevent the unleashing of deadly forbidden magic, he must somehow defeat a Gatherer’s most terrifying nemesis: the Reaper.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Flight Behavior will be released in hardcover, audiobook, and ebook in November.
This book was given out at the adult author breakfast I attended. Stephen Colbert was the Master of Ceremonies, and Barbara Kingsolver was one of the authors who spoke along with Jo Nesbo and Junot Diaz. All the authors were great speakers, and I was very intrigued by what Barbara Kingsolver had to say. She was a scientist before she was a writer and this book is about climate change. According to the back of the ARC I have, it “explores the complexities that lead us to believe in our chosen truths.” In her speech, Barbara Kingsolver discussed how the same people can look at the same facts but come to completely different conclusions. This fascinates me as well, so even though this isn’t the type of book I’d normally pick up, I am a bit curious.
Set in a small town in Tennessee, about a young woman who happens upon a forested valley filled with silent red fire, and whose attempt to share the wonder and find an explanation throws her into a spiraling confrontation with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.