Feb 23, 2019

 

Book Review - Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium (by Jeffrey G. Roberts)

Title: Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium
Series: -
Author: Jeffrey G. Roberts
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Humor
Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing
Release Date: January 12th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 35


"West of the bustling metropolis of Phoenix, along Interstate Highway 10, is the magnificent and mystical desolation of the mountains of Southwestern Arizona. It is as alien as the planet Mars, and just as foreboding. Yet hidden away between the peaks & valleys and desert vistas, is a most incongruous edifice – part diner, part carnival atmosphere, with equal measure of whimsy, and just a smidge of nightmare. And it lay smack dab between the Eastern boundaries of imagination, and the Western shores of spooky. You can’t get to it by car or plane; and you won’t reach it by helicopter or even horseback. Nor is it on any map in existence. In fact – you won’t find it at all.

Unless you’re dead. For this is Uncle Billy’s Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium. Welcome. You say your spirit can’t move on until you find that 1995 issue of Jugs Galore with Miss February – before your wife does? Come on in! Never got a chance to see the dream realized of eating oysters on the half-shell? You’ve come to the right place! Not quite sure you’re actually in the dead mode? Uncle Billy will steer you on the right path! You know you’re dead, but you’re not quite sure how it happened, or where to go? Uncle Billy will set you straight!"

(click to read an excerpt on amazon.com)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novelette in exchange for an honest review. The blurb caught my attention, it sounded like a fun read.

The Plot
In the middle of the Arizona desert stands a bizarre one story high structure, a cross between a broken down 50's diner and a carnival fun-house - Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium, an inter-dimensional crossway bigger on the inside than the outside and mostly invisible... unless you're dead, with enough emotional baggage and unfulfilled wishes to keep you stranded in the world of the living.

That's where Uncle Billy comes in, a 6'6" 300 pounds red bearded host, with 2 flaming pig tales down his back and a Texas twang. With the help of his girls Mona, Charlene and Kate, Uncle Billy helps all deserving souls transition to the after life, where their ancestors and a just reward await... unless the Cat with its luxurious red fur wins the argument, restoring the inescapable laws of karmic life.

The Good
"Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium" is a short and fast-paced urban fantasy novelette, filled with dry humor and witty one-liners guaranteed to give the reader a few giggles and smiles. The world building is vividly imaginative in all its absurdity: the Tardis-like dinner full of bizarre displays and senseless philosophical sayings, the communication lines with the divine higher-ups, the process of sending the lost souls on their respective ways to the next beyond, the sneezing talking moose head, the farting punstafulz infestations from the lower realms that can only be dealt with using hallucinogenic candles made of ear wax from psychotic owls... it's just magical and a lot of fun.

Due to the short length typical of a novelette, there isn't much room for deep character development. Most of them only make a brief appearance meant to illustrate  a typical day in the life of the Emporium: the 70-year-old bookie named Stinky Parmeter, the alcoholic Mr. Wagner, proud bully and full time thug Vinnie "the Bull" Cacciatore, sweet elderly Mrs. McGillis with unfulfilled wishes as long as a shopping list; and the Emporium's employees Mona, Charlene, Kate and the Cat, the main character's counterpart forever determined to balance the Yang with some Yin. The main character is memorable though and takes center stage with his tongue-in-cheek deliveries - the irreverent Uncle Billy, clearly on the side of the angels but not shy of suggesting the perfect karmic lesson when the occasion arises.

Definitely recommended if you're looking for a quick and fun light read.

Final Rating
"Uncle Billy's Chicken Hut & Salvation Emporium" is a short urban fantasy novelette, a quick read with a fast pace and plenty of humor. Recommended for those who enjoy satirical tales about the after life, with a mix of magical and bizarre elements that challenge your imagination.



• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: atalespinner.weebly.com
Twitter: @talejotter
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror

I was born in New York City during Millard Fillmore's presidency. At least, I feel like that sometimes.

My Dad was a decorated ace in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain, having received the Distinguished Flying Cross. I think that's where I got my love of aviation from. There's only a few Supermarine Spitfires left in the world. Pity. My Mom was a saint. Period.

I soloed on Halloween, 1968, from the old Burnside-Ott Aviation Training Center at Opa-Locka Airport in South Florida, graduating from North Miami Senior High that same year. I remember it was a beautiful little Cessna 150. Okay - it wasn't a Lear Jet. We can't have everything. Blue sky is blue sky. But the Mooney we owned later was quite a step up!

I graduated from Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1974,  where I received a Bachelors degree in writing and a Masters degree in history. Flagstaff is the home of Lowell Observatory, where Percival Lowell did so much to further our understanding of Mars at the turn of the last century, and where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. (The planet, not the dog!) It's also the home of the U.S. Geological Survey, who were the first to process the pictures of Mars, sent from the old Mariner missions in the 60's. N.A.U. astronomers were also the first to discover caves on Mars, due to the lower level of light at their entrances, when compared to the lighter surrounding areas.

I did awful in High School because I hated it. I did great in college because I loved it. No brainer. Now I know why Northern Arizona is called God's country. Visit it sometime! I've climbed down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and yes, out again - obviously!) and still feel the aches & pains some 40 years later. I'll walk it off. Maybe some liniment.

I've lived in Florida, New York, California, Ontario, Canada, and now Arizona again. And we come full circle.

I started writing seriously around 1978. Prior to that I suppose I wasn't serious - shopping lists, addressing letters, hastily scribbled recipes, threatening notes to other car owners to get out of my parking space - things like that. Since then, I've written THE HEALER, plus seven novels of science fiction, fantasy, horror, as well as numerous short stories.

I've always been attracted to the weird & unexplainable. I suppose it all began when I first looked into a mirror. I'm a great believer in UFO's, and detest the conspiracy of silence concerning them. I believe the future of space commercialization  lies in private enterprise. As such, I also believe that Mars should be our top priority. And what will we find when we get there? I'm convinced: the remnants of an ancient civilization. And - of course - the infamous Face on Mars. Don't believe me? Wait. As Fox Mulder said, "The truth is out there."

My favorite authors? Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, James Thurber, Thornton Wilder, H.G. Wells, and many others, fiction and non-fiction, and too numerous to mention.

I did my Masters thesis on THE LOST CONTINENT OF ATLANTIS. I was going to write on THE SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF SANTA CLAUS, but I was afraid of getting a lump of coal in my stocking that Christmas.

I love 60's muscle cars, cheeseburgers, kittens & puppies, Enya, Mars, peace & quiet, fringe science, airplanes, suppressed inventions, the past, the future, the Philadelphia Experiment, vexillology (the study of flags), NDE's, Disneyworld, ghosts, and the wisdom of Edmund Burke, who said, "The only requirement for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do - nothing."

The things I hate would require more storage capacity than the computers of the Starship Enterprise. So if you want to know, you'll just have to wait until the 24th century!

I'm more or less a Type "B" introvert. I believe in the contemplative, quiet life. Locked in a closet, I'd probably start writing on the walls.  I believe in the Golden Rule - and live by it. I prefer the country to the city.

Someone once said that all speculative fiction begins with a two-word premise: what if? Works for me.

Just remember, friends: at best, life is a joke. At worst, none of this is real; it's all done with smoke & mirrors. Actually, life is really a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.


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Feb 16, 2019

 

Short Stories - Life Slides / Just Like Vinyl / Worry Worry Worry, by Jamie Brindle

Jamie Brindle's micro-stories are short stories between 150 and 1000 words long. You can read some of them on the author's website at https://www.jamiebrindle.com/micro-stories for a short time before they're cycled off, collected into anthologies and replaced with new ones. In "Life Slides", two higher-order entities make a surprising discovery in the infinite expanse of time-space continuum; "Just Like Vinyl" scratches the perils of time travel gone wrong, while "Worry worry worry" follows a hypochondriac planet plagued by an itchy infestation. Short in length but with delicious humor and plot twists.


- Life Slides -
by Jamie Brindle
(Reprinted by permission of the author)

“Look what I’ve found!” exclaimed Zab.
Klex ambled over from a distant corner of the multiverse and looked on, unimpressed.
“So?” he said. “Seems pretty straightforward.”
Zab and Klex were higher-order entities operating in at least 18 dimensions. To them, time looked rather like a line, and the intricacies of something moving through it in the linear fashion of lower-order entities was comprehensible at a glance.
Zab demonstrates one of the new slides he had found, clambering on at the moment of birth, slipping down the space-time gradient of an unspooling life, before being deposited unceremoniously at the bottom as the thing terminated.
Klex shrugged.
“So what?” he said. “The multiverse is full of this ‘life’ stuff. Old news, really.”
It was true. Klex and Zab spent their existence surfing across the infinite expanse of the cosmos, occasionally regarding it with profound wonder, but more often just mucking around with stuff. Life was marginally more interesting than the birth of stars, because - although much smaller - the nascent spark of consciousness it sometimes contained had a pleasing way of interacting with space-time, turning each spark of the stuff into a tiny, inwards-facing ride.
It was fun.
Zab rolled his multidimensional sight appendages.
“Yes, but look!” he urged, mounting the life at birth once more and zipping down the thing.
“Oh, how odd,” said Klex, noticing what was unusual about the life-slide. “Do all these ones do that?”
“All of this species, in this little fragment of space-time,” said Zab, indicating a region of phase space which corresponded roughly to a particular planet over a million-year-or-so time span. “See for yourself!”
Klex did, mounting and zooming his way down the same life-slide several times.
“But...but it came out differently,” he said, puzzled.  “Every time. Different loops. Different...chains of causality.”
This was pretty odd. Across almost every inch of the multiverse, life-slides unspooled the same way every time you rode them. It was built into the fabric of causality. How could it be otherwise, if consequence was to mean anything at all?
“It’s got something funny in it,” said Zeb at last, after he had enjoyed Klex’s confusion for long enough.  “Look, see for yourself!”
Klex lifted the life up and regarded it closely.
“Oh, yes!” he said after a moment, seeing the tiny flickering spark deep within, so subtle that at first he mistook it for a reflection of the background sentience of the Universe. “Is that...?”
“Soul!” said Zeb, a little smugly. “Real, true soul-stuff! I told you it would evolve, sooner or later.”
“Yes, well,” said Klex dryly. “It’s only a very small amount. Just enough to bend the life differently every time it runs.”
“It only needs to be,” pointed out Zeb. “That’s how we started, after all. Time and infinite phase space will do the rest.”
Klex looked for a moment as if he would argue, then just shrugged, defeated.
“Fair enough,” he said. “You win. Looks like Soul does emerge, not just Intelligence. Lucky that you found it, really. What do you call this place?”
Zeb looked proudly at the little pocket of space-time.
Earth,” he said, a trifle smugly. “Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”
Klex wrinkled his multiply-protuberant scent organ.
Earth? Really?” he said. “Sounds a bit like the noise a lower-order entity makes whilst being sick.  What about the creatures, themselves? These life-slides you’re so pleased with?”
“Oh, I call them gerbils,” said Zeb excitedly. “Aren’t they magnificent?”
“They’re ok,” allowed Klex grudgingly, before looking in a bored manner around the little pocket of space-time to which Zeb had brought them. “Well, that’s that, I suppose. Nothing else interesting around here, I take it?”
Zeb shook his head.
“Not really,” he said. “Well, there are these silly ape-descended bipeds who looked promising at first, but their life-slides seem to revolve around sex, violence, and the pursuit of rudimentary reality television.”
The two higher-order entities regarded one another for a moment, then shuddered.
“So, the usual, then,” said Klex. “Doesn’t bear thinking about.”
“Absolutely,” said Zeb. “But the gerbils, now. The gerbils show real promise…”

The End


- Just Like Vinyl -
by Jamie Brindle
(Reprinted by permission of the author)

THRUM
"...Scratch."
"What...where are we?" said Wilkins. His voice was thick with confusion.
"We've been here before," said the professor. 
Wilkins looked at the volcano erupting in the distance, and ducked to avoid a swooping pterodactyl.
"Are you sure? I would have thought I would remember."
"I don't remember either," said the professor. "But my calculations predicted the possibility, and I'm sure..."
THRUM
"...that's what's happened."
"You mean something's gone wrong?" said Wilkins, trying not to fall out of the tree they were now in.  This seemed important, given the sabre toothed tiger below.
"The device failed! We are..."
THRUM
"...trapped. We are skipping through time, again and again.  Maybe forever."
Wilkins looked sadly out over the vast, broken landscape. Now it held only rubble and bones.
"How?"
"We must have ripped the fabric of time," said the professor. "Like on an old fashioned vinyl. You know.  Like a..."
THRUM

The End


- Worry Worry Worry -
by Jamie Brindle
(Reprinted by permission of the author)

"But there's something wrong," said Terri, wringing her continents anxiously. "I know there is.  I can just feel it in my plates."
The doctor leant back and shook his head.
"You're mistaken," he told her. "You're the healthiest planet I've ever met. You're imagining things. You must try not to work yourself up."
Terri nodded miserably. It was true: she had always been a worrier. Even when she was no more than a cooling globule of magma, she had been convinced she would set in the wrong shape.
"Well, if you say so, doctor," she sniffled. "I'll try to forget about it."
But that night, Terri couldn't get to sleep. A terrible itching troubled her. As soon as she scratched one of her river deltas, the itching sprung up on a tundra. She rubbed at her tundra, and then the itching was one her rich rainforests, tingling and aching as if it were on fire.
But the next day, the doctor was still unimpressed.
"I can't see a thing!" he told her, after examining her surfaces most carefully. "Really, Terri, you must try to get a grip. You're such a hypochondriac. In reality, you're perfectly healthy. If you're not careful, you'll work yourself up so much you'll flip your magnetic field!"
"But...but isn't there anything you can do?" she begged.
"I can take some surface scrapings, see if there is anything to be grown," the doctor told her. "I am quite certain, however, that they will come back negative."
"What will I do then?" asked Terri, feeling  desperate.
The doctor shrugged.
"It's all psychological," he told her. "You need to spend some time in one of the new institutes. I know a wonderful black hole in Andromeda. A few millennia in there, I'm sure you'll be quite a different planet."
That sounded ominous.
"I'd really rather wait until the scrapings are back," she told him.
The doctor looked bored.
"Suit yourself," he said.
For a while after that, the itching seemed to go away.
"Maybe the doctor was right," Terri said to herself.  "Perhaps it is all in my head, after all."
But that night, the symptoms started up again.  This time, they were worse than ever. The itching was everywhere now. No amount of scratching helped.
Her head was spinning. Her whole atmosphere seemed packed with a vile smoke. And she was so hot! She didn't sleep a wink that night; in the morning, she made her way back to the surgery.
"Guess what?" the doctor greeted her. He looked rather pleased with himself. 
"What?" asked Terri.
"The surface scrapings came back positive! You were right all along!"
A wave of fear flushed through her. She knew it!  She just knew it! She was sick! She had something terrible!
"Am I...going to die?" she managed to gasp out.
But the doctor gave a laugh.
"Die? Of course not!" he said. "Oh, no, what you've got is quite rare and rather uncomfortable, but certainly nothing to worry about."
"What is it?"
"An infestation," he told her. "Nasty little buggers.  Once they get a hold, they play havoc with your ecosystems."
"That doesn't sound like nothing," said Terri uncertainly.
The doctor came closer, and began examining her features carefully.
"Textbook," he said in an abstracted voice. "Melting icecaps, sea level rising, pollutants in your atmosphere. Oh yes. I could write a paper on you, that's for sure!"
"My icecaps are melting!" gasped Terri. "But surely that's awful! Please, please, please: what is the treatment?"
"Oh don't worry, you silly planet," the doctor told her affectionately. "The symptoms are nasty for a few thousand years, but we don't need to treat it."
Terri started to ask why, but already she was feeling better. Her seas were rising, washing  the awful itch from her surface. Her atmosphere was poisoned, but it was the infestation itself that was being poisoned by it.
"I think I'm going to be alright," she said.
"Yes," agreed the doctor happily. "That's the thing about humans. They're tenacious little critters, but they are a self-limiting illness."

The End


"Just Like Vinyl" and "Worry Worry Worry" have been collected in the anthology "Diminishing Returns", book #2 of The Land Before Life Series. You can get a complimentary copy when you subscribe to the author's mailing list at www.jamiebrindle . And if you enjoy these stories, by joining the author's free newsletter you also get more of them periodically.


• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: www.jamiebrindle.com
Twitter: @mazeman11 
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror

I have been writing stories for pretty much as long as I can remember. Although I have mucked about a bit with a lot of different genres and styles, I think of myself mainly as a fantasy author.

I write a spectrum of fantasy, from light, fluffy, comedic stuff, through more more magical, fairy-tale stuff (often with a post-modern or ‘meta’ slant, and sometimes even with a hint of magical realism), to darker fantasy and grim folk-tale inspired fiction. At the very far end of the spectrum, I do write some fantasy that’s so dark it’s bordering on horror. I tend not to write heroic or epic fantasy (though that said, I do have one idea in the pipeline…)

I have worked various jobs (including driving a tractor, working in a lab, and selling boomerangs at Covent Garden in London); I am now a GP registrar in the East Midlands. I am married to a woman who thinks she is a badger, and have a beautiful young boy called Ben. My parents run a hedge maze in Bedfordshire, which you can visit (though the opening times change with the seasons).

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter; I’m also on Goodreads.

Sign up for my mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases and get free short stories.


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Feb 13, 2019

 

Book Review - Hard Time: Books 1-6 (by Erec Stebbins)

Title: Hard Time: Books 1-6
Series: -
Author: Erec Stebbins
Genre: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: Twice Pi Press
Release Date: February 6th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 370



"A harsh and punishing world. Synths, Trunes, and the remnants of humanity battle each other and an unforgiving landscape. Survival is the meaning of life.

The Complete Hard Time Series: A speculative fiction serial of adventure novellas. This omnibus contains all six books that complete the saga: Metal, Longhorn, Cult, Trune, Synth, and Deity.

Book 1, METAL: a woman finds herself in two different worlds, as two different people. In one she is a criminal, sentenced to a new and terrible punishment. In the other, she is a stranger and then a prophet, granted the visions of God.

Book 2, LONGHORN: a man awakes in a terrifying landscape without shelter, explanation, or memory. Join him as he searches for answers and struggles to survive. Find out if life and knowledge of his past are truly worth the price.

Book 3, CULT: missionaries arrive on a holy quest to fulfill their scriptures. But the desert has other plans. Will they escape with their faith, or even their lives, intact?

Book 4, TRUNE: a long awaited arrival bursts into the world, slaughtering all that stand in her way. As characters from previous novels reappear and unify, will they survive to understand their greater destiny?

Book 5, SYNTH: an ancient guardian faces a foe that could destroy them all. Can the last remnants of humanity escape the terrible wrath pursuing them from the past?

Book 6, DEITY: an entity guides a motley crew of creatures toward a new beginning in a planet's last gasp at life."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a "collection of six novellas that form a short series to tell a single tale" - I liked the idea of interconnecting short stories instead of the usual collection of independent narratives.

The Good
"Hard Time" is a collection of 6 novellas set in an undetermined time and place, a post-apocalyptic world where the remnants of humankind struggle for survival in a deadly environment - a barren world under a scorching unrelenting sun, inhabited by even deadlier fauna hiding under the sand dunes. Each novella is a semi-independent chronicle, with its own set of characters and sub-plot. Read on its own, each story will feel incomplete and even confusing since you only get a minimal amount of background information to make sense of each respective subplot, but together they form a coherent whole so you need to read all 6 novellas to get the overall picture and understand the story being told. I enjoyed this particular aspect of the narrative: each sub-plot goes one step further to set up the world and add a few more elements to the puzzle, building up the main story arc. The action takes place over the course of only a few decades but with flashbacks that reveal a past spamming thousands of years; every new layer revealed, every new historical event and character introduced in each story gets further explained and developed in the following novella, until it all comes together in the final act. It's the reason the anthology earned an extra book/star in the final rating.

The world building is complex and imaginative, with evocative descriptions and concepts that challenge your mind: the TransX technology developed 293 years Post-Singularity, which sends the dregs of society into Exile, a one way ticket to hell in an unknown place in both time and space, with no guaranties of surviving either the trip or the deadly environment at the other end; Tamnesia, the side effect of the Temport jumps that leaves the survivor amnesiac, with destroyed memory and personality pathways; the Road of (literal) Bones that leads to Waypoint, one of only two sanctuaries for Arrivals and what's left of humankind; Squids - mutant carnivores thriving under the endless sand dunes; Trunes and Hunters - genetically engineered transhumans and cyborgs created to fight in a long lost war; the AI Nation of Synths - part synthetic and part organic robots with a quantum consciousness; Bloods, Norms, Cults and Apostles - all that's left of the human race, struggling to survive in hell; the Voice - a deity with a plan of its own... this anthology includes elements from various genres that should satisfy different readers: sci-fi futuristic technology, alien bioships, a post-apocalyptic world, a Singularity event and resulting AI/human war with an AI Nation split in opposing factions, religious wars and genetically engineered mutants.

The Not So Good
Fair warning, "Hard Time" is a literal gore fest. It's set in a harsh unforgiving world and the author doesn't hold back, making it as realistic as it can get in an imaginary sci-fi world, you will need a strong stomach to go through each story. If you're particularly sensitive to "monsters, gore, death, torture, captivity, severe illness, pain, fear, medical procedures, and violence..." (in the author's own words from the review copy content guide) then this anthology is definitely not for you. It's the reason I didn't give it a higher rating, it was a little too strong for my taste. But if you enjoy this kind of grim and gritty reading then you won't be disappointed.

Final Rating
"Hard Time" is an anthology of 6 speculative fiction novellas set in a harsh apocalyptic environment. Recommended for those who enjoy science fiction in a post-singularity post-apocalyptic setting, with stories about survival in a collapsed environment, artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, eugenic wars and religious quests.



• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: www.erecstebbinsbooks.com
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fiction

Erec Stebbins is a biomedical researcher who writes novels in a variety of genres, focusing on thrillers and science fiction. His work has consistently been praised for its action and thrills alongside a deeper, often philosophical angle. The Internet Review of Books dubbed him "master of the thinking reader's techno thriller".

His novels have been called "unique" and "pulse-pounding" (THE RAGNARÖK CONSPIRACY), "altogether profound, reminiscent of Bradbury and Dan Simmons’ Hyperion“ (DAUGHTER OF TIME TRILOGY), and "startlingly dark" (EXTRAORDINARY RETRIBUTION) with five star ratings in Foreword Reviews, San Francisco Book Reviews, Portland Book Review, and others. His Daughter of Time trilogy is a Foreword Reviews' 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist.

Born in the Midwest, his mother worked as a clinical psychologist and his father was a professor of Romance languages at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. His father's specialty, old Romance languages and their literature, is the source of the strange spelling of his middle name: "Erec." It is an Old French spelling, taken from an Arthurian romance by Chrétien de Troyes written around 1170: Érec et Énide.

Erec has pursued diverse interests over the course of his life, including science, music, drama, and writing. His academic path focused on science, and he received a degree in physics from Oberlin College in 1992 and a PhD in biochemistry from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in 1999. He has worked for several decades studying the atomic structure of biological macromolecules involved in disease.


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Feb 8, 2019

 

Book Review - Daughter of Fire (by Jennifer R. Povey)


Title: Daughter of Fire

Series: -
Author: Jennifer R. Povey
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology
Publisher: Aitune Press
Release Date: January 10th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 237



"Laura led a sheltered, middle class existence. Oh, she knew she was adopted, but what did it matter? A lot when her birth mother is murdered and the killers come after her next...for reasons that are deep in her very blood."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as "an urban fantasy with a mythological basis" and the inclusion of centaurs. Not having read anything with those elements before I was curious and willing to give it a try.

The Plot
Laura Maxwell is a young collage student with an ordinary life, who wants nothing more than to be a simple school teacher. But when the police comes calling with the news that her biological mother has been murdered and Laura herself might be the next target, her life takes a turn for the worse.

Laura has always known she'd been adopted, born of a high-class hooker named Ella Miracle and father unknown. As the attacks on her life begin to take down innocents and she's framed for the murder of her adoptive family, Laura knows it's time to get some real answers. Unable to trust the police, she finds herself on the run being chased by two different groups: one is out to kill her, the other is set on using her new strange abilities.

To make matters worse, the very fabric of reality is collapsing and the boundaries between the real and the magical world are getting thinner, with the two worlds merging. Mythical creatures, not all of them benign, walk the streets side by side with humans, while the old gods want to be acknowledged again and believe an all out war is the only way to get humanity's attention.

Lauren has come to realize she's no ordinary human but something a lot more dangerous. Born from darkness to be darkness, Laura is on no one's side but her own, and as both worlds fight for survival, she must find a balance between her desire for peace and her instinct for war.

The Good
"Daughter of Fire" is an urban fantasy novel set in modern day New York, with mythological elements from diverse pantheons and plenty of pop culture references that add a touch of humor. Told from the point of view of the main character Laura Maxwell, a young college student who discovers she's actually the daughter of a Greek god, born to follow in her father's footsteps as a being of war. The story is packed with visually engaging action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat, but it's also philosophical and thought-provoking as the main character ponders on what it means to be human and what makes us tick. For me that was the main appeal of the book and the reason for the highest rating, the action sequences were thrilling but I deeply enjoyed the emotional ride the main character goes through on her journey of self-discovery, how there are no easy black and white answers but all the grey areas in between that depend greatly on each person's point of view and choices.

The novel tackles themes of war and humanity's natural instinct for violence, freedom and the ability to choose and act on those choices, moral and ethical responsibilities. It's also a nod to current events, the state the world is in and the effects it has on both society and individuals.

The main character is 3-dimensional and believable, with a strong development throughout the plot. Laura feels conflicted between her inherited instinct for war and violence and her human need for normalcy and desire for peace; as the story progresses she must come to terms with her demigoddess lineage and learn to make her own choices regardless of what everyone expects of her - humans and gods alike. We follow this journey through her own musings and doubts that are easily recognizable and relatable, the setting may be mythological but the human emotions and sense of purpose is all too human.

Most of the secondary characters are mere ships passing in the night, present only for a couple of paragraphs but important all the same as each one serves as a reminder of Laura's humanity, giving her useful advice and keeping her grounded in reality. Others have a more active presence: private detective Branson, Ilion the centaur and the demigods Clark, Lucy and Nancy are both allies and antagonists who help move the plot along.

The Not So Good
There is a tendency to repeat the same ideas and thoughts frequently. Whenever Laura is brooding over a particular moral and/or ethical problem - whether is worrying about the government using her awakened demigoddess abilities for military purposes, losing the chance of having a normal life, avoiding unnecessary bloodshed... a few paragraphs or couple of pages later the author will use almost the exact same words in a dialog between characters or another introspection of the main character. It didn't stop me from enjoying the story but some readers might find the redundancy a little annoying.

Final Rating
"Daughter of Fire" is an engaging and action-packed urban fantasy novel, with mythological elements from diverse pantheons and thought-provoking introspection on the nature of humanity. Recommended for those who enjoy stories about gods and demigods, mythical and magical creatures, but also stories that make you reflect on the nature of good vs evil, war and freedom, and what makes us humans tick.



• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: www.jenniferrpovey.com
Twitter: @NinjaFingers
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Short Stories, Horror

As a fiction writer, Jennifer R. Povey has short fiction credits from a number of magazines including Analog, as well as publishers including Third Flatiron and Flame Tree Publishing. She is currently working on her fifth novel, the fourth book in the Lost Guardians series.

As a freelancer, she offers quality, human-readable web content and copy to individuals and businesses at reasonable rates. She also writes articles and guest blog posts on a variety of subjects, but specializes in material related to fiction writing, equestrian activities and travel. She also provides proofreading and basic copy editing services.

She also has a number of credits in the RPG industry, having written or co-written supplements for Fat Goblin Games, Rite Publishing, Dark Naga Games, Flaming Crab Games, Avalon Game Company, and others.

She also enjoys horseback riding, travel, role-playing games and hanging out with her highly supportive and wonderful husband, Greg.


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Feb 6, 2019

 

International Book Fairs - February 2019

"Nothing warms a book lover’s heart more than a good book. And nothing excites a book addict more than a book fair, overflowing with publishers and booksellers. So, every year we compile for you the dates of the biggest and best book fairs around the world, in the annual Kotobee International Book Fair Calendar.

Take out your calendars and start jotting down dates. This year’s events look spectacular.  The fairs are scattered all over the world, so it’s time to start booking your plane tickets."

By Kotobee on Nov 20, 2018
(reprinted by permission of the site's administrator)


- February 2019 -





Cairo, Egypt
January 24 – February 5
The Cairo International Book Fair hosts 640 publishers coming from 34 different countries, making it one of the largest annual cultural events in the Middle East. The Golden Jubilee 2019 comes with a lot of surprises including a new venue.



Havana, Cuba
February 7 – 17
Cuba’s premier cultural event boasts works of literature hailing from more than forty different countries. The festival includes book vendors, poetry readings, children’s activities, art exhibits, and concerts in the evenings.

The 2019 fair will pay special tribute to the remarkable Eduardo Heras León as well as the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. Attend meetings and colloquiums for poetry promoters, young writers, editors, booksellers, or in social sciences, health and environment, children’s literature, and digital contents, applications, and products.



Casablanca, Morocco
February 7 – 17
The annual Casablanca International Book Fair brings together hundreds of publishers from all over the world and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The book fair is not only an opportunity for publishers to market their books, but it is also a large forum for cultures to openly discuss and debate publishing works on current issues and events. The program includes lectures, debates, poetry readings and theme nights. The year 2019 will mark the 25th anniversary.



Taipei, Taiwan
February 12 – 17
TIBE is organized by the Taipei Book Fair Foundation and plays host to more than 200 international exhibitors and publishing professionals from 60 countries. It happens to be the fourth largest book exhibition in the world. TIBE 2019 will be featuring Germany as the Guest of Honor. The theme this year will be ‘Time for Reading’.



Brussels, Belgium
February 14  – 17
The book fair ‘Foire du livre’ is a gigantic library in the heart of Europe, located in the history-laden site of Tour & Taxis, where major stakeholders of the publishing world will be brought together. Publishers from France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Quebec will meet their Belgian counterparts. Each year, the International pavilion focuses on one specific country’s production in a 400m² room that includes a library, a literary club, and an exhibition room.



Samsun, Turkey
February 16 ― 24
The Black Sea Book Fair gathers a large number of visitors on a yearly basis. It has been held by TÜYAP Fairs in Samsun for 4 years and is among the leading cultural events of the Black Sea region of Turkey. The fair is held in association with the Turkish Publishers Association. It gives thousands of readers direct access to new books, showcasing new book releases and periodicals.



Muscat, Oman
February 20 – March 2
According to the Arab Publishers Union, the Muscat International Book Fair is among the best 10 book fairs at the Arab level and one of the top three fairs at the Gulf level in terms of the number of visitors and publishers. Over 650 publishing houses from 27 Arab and foreign countries are taking part in the fair.



Vilnius, Lithuania
February 21 – 24
The International Vilnius Book Fair is the main annual meeting place of publishers, authors, and readers, it is the well-known cultural activity in Lithuania, the biggest and most important book fair in the Baltic countries.

The International Vilnius Book Fair will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the slogan “20 years after” in 2019. The fair welcomes exhibitors, guests and visitors to celebrate and evaluate changes in the past and future of literature.



Nieuwegein, Netherlands
February 21 – 24
Boekenfestijn Book Festival is a place to purchase books, hobby items, festivals books, table books, and magazines, among other things. This festival purchases books that were returned to publishers, booksellers and book clubs, and offers them for sale for reduced prices.



Mexico City, Mexico
February 21 — March 4
The annual event helps both the society as a whole and the university community to learn more about the novelties of the Mexican publishing industry. It’s an event held in the historic center of the Mexican capital, Palacio de Minería, for literature enthusiasts. With over six hundred publishing houses and professionals from around the book world coming together and interacting with the public for a fortnight of conferences, readings and book signings. The fair also includes a few concerts. This year’s guest of honor at the fair will be the state of Nuevo León.


(source: www.kotobee.com - click for the full year list)

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Feb 4, 2019

 

Book Review - Eternal Soul, Eternal #1 (by Karimah Colden)


Title: Eternal Soul

Series: Eternal (book #1)
Author: Karimah Colden
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Karimah Colden
Release Date: November 16th, 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 300



"Reign Elise La' Roche is savvy in business, evasive in love, and private and protective when it comes to her personal life. Born in the flavorful city of New Orleans, she is also the descendant of powerful hoodoo magick, age-old African mysticism and dark family secrets. This Creole beauty is content living a charmed existence; that is, until a strategic retaliation against her father changes her life forever. Reign is suddenly tossed into a whirlwind of betrayal, magick and the awakening of a whole new world where nothing appears to be in her control.To protect and preserve her lineage, Reign soon learns that she must embrace the one thing she'd fought years denying...a bloodline of ancient power. And with time, Reign evolves from a successful artist and gallery owner, to a woman of unlimited means and potential with one climactic goal: vengeance."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Plot
Reign La' Roche is a successful artist and gallery owner. Shy and socially awkward by nature, Reign is content with her quiet hermit-like life in her cozy duplex in Lousiana's French Quarter. All that changes the day her outgoing best friend Alexa Leveaux sets her up on a blind date with Krystian King, an irresistible handsome man from Chicago with secrets of his own that will affect her life.

Born from a line with deep ancient roots in voodoun and the magicks of hoodoo, Reign has always had a sixth sense, having dreams and visions of death before they happen. But after an eventful night of which she has no memory of, Reign wakes up with enhanced sensibility and supernatural abilities.

Now capable of seeing ghosts, Reign starts having recurrent vivid dreams of her late mother and grandmother who warn her of impending doom and a sealed destiny, while her great-grandmother Nicola is out for her blood, threatening her with a deadly family curse. In the mundane world, her estranged father Julien Peyreaux tells her of a voodoun deal gone wrong and a dissatisfied client targeting her for revenge, while the mysterious and handsome art buyer James Alexander insinuates himself deeper and deeper in her life.

Threatened in both spiritual and mundane world, Reign must learn to control her new awakened abilities and come to terms with the family inheritance she spent her whole life rejecting, in order to remain alive.

The Good
"Eternal Soul" is the first book in the urban fantasy trilogy "Eternal". Set in Louisiana, New Orleans, the dialogs are rich with Louisiana Creole dialect and descriptive examples of Cajun and Creole cuisine to highlight that particular culture. The story follows the main character Reign La' Roche from her point of view, through the process of awakening her latent paranormal abilities and starting to learn how to control them, while setting up the mystery that drives the plot.

The Not So Good
From the blurb provided by the author, I was expecting an urban fantasy novel. What I got instead was a huge dose of romance in an urban fantasy setting. Being a genre I really dislike I wasn't able to enjoy the book as much as I'd hoped, which is why it lost a book/star in the final rating, and the only reason I even finished it was for the mystery alone - Reign's family history and why she becomes a target for some very dissatisfied voodoun clients.

Personal dislike apart, not only is the romantic element unrealistic even for a fictional story but it's also unnecessary to move the plot along, dragging the pace considerably. All men are described as being handsome and desirable and the female characters fall head over heels for their male counterparts in record time: Reign, her best friend Alexa and even one of Reign's grandmothers fall in love at first sight and go on a steady relationship within a day. Reign, who is characterized early on as a career woman without an active interest in romantic entanglements (and definitely not into blind dates) feels irresistibly attracted to, not one, but two different men, one of them an obvious stalker she's highly suspicious and wary of... which doesn't stop her from freely agreeing to meet him several times for lunch, promptly sharing her personal family history and inviting him home. Even the spiritual guides who clearly state they are formless by nature, assume a male appearance in the main character's mind. If you're into that kind of reading then you'll probably love this novel. Personally, all the mating dance got on my nerves and I soon found myself skipping whole pages just to get it over with. But that's a personal quirk of mine.

There is also excessive description of the main character's wardrobe and meals. Though it might provide some color to the narrative, specially the culinary element, we really don't need to know all the outfits Reign wears every day or everything she eats in detail; it's just too much and, again, not relevant to the plot.

As the first book of a trilogy, "Eternal Soul" is mostly an introduction to the characters (in particular the main character Reign and the effects her innate powers have on her life) and the background to the trilogy story arc - we're informed that Reign has been chosen for an unspecified higher destiny, the curse her great-grandmother Nicola cast on her and the reasons behind the dissatisfied voodoun client's vengeful retaliation. It doesn't go much beyond that though, which might be disappointing for readers who don't own the sequels.

There is some development to the main character Reign, specially her mental state in reaction to all the strange phenomena unraveling around her, but the support characters are one-dimensional and serve only as background to Reign's story and the means to provide necessary information.

Final Rating
"Eternal Soul" is an urban fantasy novel with a heavy romantic component, set in the Louisiana Creole culture. Recommended for those who enjoy the romantic genre and paranormal mystery and suspense.


• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: www.kdcolden.com
Twitter: @NativePhoenix
Genre: Suspense, Fantasy, Romance

My name is Karimah Colden, and from a very young age I recognized that I had a gift for writing poetry and description. For many years I focused on these innate skills solely in secret. However, life, and time, allowed my creative powers to grow and evolve into that of a novelist. Initially seeing this natural talent solely as a hobby, I was eventually encouraged by friends to test my marketable skill with the masses. Now, I am a full-time mother of twins desperately fighting to claw my way out of a mundane nine-to-five existence and into that of a successful author.
(source: goodreads.com)


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Feb 1, 2019

 

New Monthly Book Releases - February 2019



Time to update your to-be-read list and clear some space on your shelves. These are a few of the new book releases for February 2019.



- Science Fiction -

February 5th:

10,000 Bones by Joe Ollinger (Paperback, 240 pages, published by Diversion Books) 
On the planet Brink, calcium is cash. The element's scarcity led the world's government to declare it the official currency. In the decades since, the governments of other colonized worlds have suppressed shipments of calcium in order to maintain favorable exchange rates, while Brink's Commerce Board has struggled to negotiate importation quotas to keep the population alive and growing. Taryn Dare is a Collections Agent, a specialized detective tasked with finding black market calcium and recovering it, so that the Commerce Board can recycle it and distribute it as currency. Taryn is fueled by one goal: to save up enough currency units for a one-way ticket to a better world. But when a job recovering a human corpse uncovers a deadly conspiracy in the system, Taryn is drawn into an investigation that may threaten her life, and the very fabric of her society.

A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle (Paperback, 432 pages, published by One World Publishing)
For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States presents twenty-five never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories imagine their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People's Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy. Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, this collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, queer & trans people, Muslims and other people whose lives are often at risk.


Always Coming Home: Author's Expanded Edition by Ursula K. Le Guin (Hardcover, 800 pages, published by Library of America)
Ursula Le Guin's Always Coming Home is a major work of the imagination from one of America's most respected writers of science fiction. More than five years in the making, it is a novel unlike any other. A rich and complex interweaving of story and fable, poem, artwork, and music, it totally immerses the reader in the culture of the Kesh, a peaceful people of the far future who inhabit a place called the Valley on the Northern Pacific Coast.


Binti: The Complete Trilogy (Binti #1-3) by Nnedi Okorafor (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Daw Books)
Includes a brand-new Binti story! Collected for the first time in an omnibus edition, the Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning Binti trilogy, the story of one extraordinary girl's journey from her home to distant Oomza University. In her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella, Nnedi Okorafor introduced us to Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family's concerns, Binti's talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey. But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti's spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination. There is more to the history of the Medusae--and their war with the Khoush--than first meets the eye. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace.


Man-Kzin Wars XV by Larry Niven (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Baen Books)
New stories of the war between humanity and the catlike Kzin from Brad R. Torgersen, Brendan DuBois, Martin L. Shoemaker, and more! The predatory catlike warrior race known as the Kzin never had a hard time dealing with all those they encountered, conquering alien worlds with little effort. That is until they came face to face with the leaf-eaters known as humans. Small of stature and lacking both claws and fangs, the humans should have been easy prey. But for years now the humans and the Kzin have been engaged in a series of wars, with neither side able to declare decisive victory once and for all.


Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion #1) by Jessie Mihalik (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars. Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head. When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape. But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for...


Same Same by Peter Mendelsund (Paperback, 496 pages, published by Vintage Books)
In the shifting sands of the desert, near an unnamed metropolis, there is an institute where various fellows come to undertake projects of great significance. But when our sort-of hero, Percy Frobisher, arrives, surrounded by the simulated environment of the glass-enclosed dome of the Institute, his mind goes completely blank. When he spills something on his uniform—a major faux pas—he learns about a mysterious shop where you can take something, utter the command “same same,” and receive a replica even better than the original. Imagining a world in which simulacra have as much value as the real—so much so that any distinction between the two vanishes, and even language seeks to reproduce meaning through ever more degraded copies of itself—Peter Mendelsund has crafted a deeply unsettling novel about what it means to exist and to create... and a future that may not be far off.


Suspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1) by Gwenda Bond (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Del Rey Books) 
A mysterious lab. A sinister scientist. A secret history. If you think you know the truth behind Eleven’s mother, prepare to have your mind turned Upside Down in this thrilling prequel to the hit show Stranger Things. It’s the summer of 1969, and the shock of conflict reverberates through the youth of America, both at home and abroad. As a student at a quiet college campus in the heartland of Indiana, Terry Ives couldn’t be further from the front lines of Vietnam or the incendiary protests in Washington. But the world is changing, and Terry isn’t content to watch from the sidelines. When word gets around about an important government experiment in the small town of Hawkins, she signs on as a test subject for the project, codenamed MKUltra. Unmarked vans, a remote lab deep in the woods, mind-altering substances administered by tightlipped researchers... and a mystery the young and restless Terry is determined to uncover. But behind the walls of Hawkins National Laboratory—and the piercing gaze of its director, Dr. Martin Brenner—lurks a conspiracy greater than she could have ever imagined. To face it, she’ll need the help of her fellow test subjects, including one so mysterious the world doesn’t know she exists—a young girl with unexplainable, superhuman powers and a number instead of a name: 008. Amid the rising tensions of the new decade, Terry Ives and Martin Brenner have begun a different kind of war—one where the human mind is the battlefield.

February 10th:

Tales From The Multiverse: Stories Beyond Your Imagination by Doug Pilley (Paperback, 420 pages, published by Koehler Books)
In the multiverse there are worlds that live beyond our imaginations. Worlds where magic exists, and ghost stories are real. Where artificial intelligence is sentient, and where virtual reality is more real than reality. Each story takes you on a journey, often ending up where you least expect it. Intelligent computers carry on conversations. Magic exists in our world, and ghosts appear as harbingers of things to come. What comes after the Turing test? The nextgen AI? Wearable computers? Become an armchair astronaut and discover places you’ve never dreamed of with Tales from the Multiverse.


February 12th:

Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by BBC Books)
What are you afraid of? The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island, when their holiday is cut short by the appearance of strange creatures – hideous scarecrows, who are preying on the local population. The islanders are living in fear, and the Doctor vows to save them all. But it doesn’t go to plan – the time travellers have fallen into a trap, and Scratchman is coming for them. With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the Doctor must battle an ancient force from another dimension, one who claims to be the Devil. Scratchman wants to know what the Doctor is most afraid of. And the Doctor’s worst nightmares are coming out to play…


Terminal Uprising (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse #2) by Jim C. Hines (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by DAW Books)
It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago. Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full. Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans … or drown the galaxy in chaos. To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it. Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.


The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Tor Books)
"If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams... And from there, it's easy to control our entire lives." Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace -- though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below. But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet--before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence.


The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Crooked Lane Books)
In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history. Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?


The Revenant Express (Newbury and Hobbes #5) by George Mann (Hardcover, 256 pages, published by Tor Books)
Sir Maurice Newbury is bereft as his trusty assistant Veronica Hobbes lies dying with a wounded heart. Newbury and Veronica's sister Amelia must take a sleeper train across Europe to St. Petersberg to claim a clockwork heart that Newbury has commissioned from Faberge to save Veronica from a life trapped in limbo. No sooner do they take off then sinister goings-on start to plague the train, and it is discovered that an old villain, thought dead, is also on board and seeking revenge. Can Newbury and Amelia defeat him and get the clockwork organ back to the Fixer in time to save Veronica? And can they do so without Newbury going so far into the dark side of occult magic that he can never return? Meanwhile, Sir Charles Bainbridge is the only one of their team left in London to struggle with a case involving a series of horrific crimes. Someone is kidnapping prominent men and infecting them with the Revenant plague, leaving them chained in various locations around the city. But why? It's a rousing chase to save both London and Veronica. Will these brave detectives be up to the task?


The Test by Sylvain Neuvel (Kindle Edition, 112 pages, published by Tor.com)
Award-winning author Sylvain Neuvel explores an immigration dystopia in The Test. Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?


February 19th:

Alita: Battle Angel: The Official Movie Novelization by Pat Cadigan (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Titan Books)
When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.


Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation (Chinese Science Fiction in Translation #2) by Ken Liu (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Tor Books)
Following Invisible Planets, Liu has now assembled the most comprehensive collection yet available in the English language, sure to thrill and gratify readers developing a taste and excitement for Chinese SF. The stories span the range from short-shorts to novellas, and evoke every hue on the emotional spectrum. Besides stories firmly entrenched in subgenres familiar to Western SFF readers such as hard SF, cyberpunk, science fantasy, and space opera, the anthology also includes stories that showcase deeper ties to Chinese culture: alternate Chinese history, chuanyue time travel, satire with historical and contemporary allusions that are likely unknown to the average Western reader. While the anthology makes no claim or attempt to be "representative" or "comprehensive," it demonstrates the vibrancy and diversity of science fiction being written in China at this moment. In addition, three essays at the end of the book explore the history of Chinese science fiction publishing, the state of contemporary Chinese fandom, and how the growing interest in science fiction in China has impacted writers who had long labored in obscurity.


Fleet of Knives (Embers of War #2) by Gareth L. Powell (Kindle Edition, 416 pages, published by Titan Books)
The former warship Trouble Dog and her crew of misfits is called upon by the House of Reclamation to investigate a distress call from the human starship the Lucy's Ghost. Her crew abandon their crippled ship and seek refuge abroad an abandoned, slower-than-light generation ship launched ten thousand years before by an alien race. However, the enormous ship contains deadly secrets of its own. Recovered war criminal, Ona Sudak, faces a firing squad for her actions in the Archipelago War. But, at the last moment, she is smuggled out of her high security prison. The Marble Armada has called for her to accompany its ships as observer and liaison, as it spreads itself across the human Generality, enforcing the peace at all costs. The alien ships will not tolerate resistance, and all dissenters are met with overwhelming and implacable force. Then her vessel intercepts messages from the House of Reclamation and decides the Trouble Dog has a capacity for violence which cannot be allowed to endure. As the Trouble Dog and her crew fight to save the crew of the Lucy's Ghost, the ship finds herself caught between chaotic alien monsters on one side, and on the other, destruction at the hands of the Marble Armada.


HALO: Renegades by Kelly Gay (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Gallery Books)
An original full-length novel set in the Halo universe and based on the New York Times bestselling video game series! Find. Claim. Profit. In a post-Covenant War galaxy littered with scrap, it’s the salvager’s motto—and Rion Forge certainly made her mark on the trade. All she wanted was to grow her business and continue the search for her long-lost father, but her recent discovery of a Forerunner debris field at the edge of human-occupied space has now put her squarely in the crosshairs of the Office of Naval Intelligence and the violent remains of the Covenant. Each faction has a desire to lay claim to the spoils of ancient technology, whatever the cost, sending Rion and the crew of the Ace of Spades on a perilous venture—one that unexpectedly leads them straight into danger far greater than anything they’ve ever encountered…


The Knife at Your Back (Chronin #1) by Alison Wilgus (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Tor Books)
Samurai Jack meets Back to the Future in Alison Wilgus’s full-length debut Chronin Vol. 1, first in a duology that begins an action-packed time travel adventure. 2042, New York City: A day in the life of college student Mirai Yoshida means studying Japanese history, learning swordmanship, flirting with her TA, and preparing to go back in time to Japan in 1864. But everything changes once she goes back to the past. Immediately, Mirai and her classmates are ambushed by rebel samurai. Her friends are killed, her time-travel machine is lost, and Mirai ends up marooned. In order to survive, she disguises herself as a wandering samurai, and is hired by Hatsu, a tea waitress, as bodyguard for her travels. The two set out, but neither are prepared for the rebellion simmering among the peasants. Mirai has to find her way back to the future soon, or else she may be the first casualty on the bloody front lines of a conflict that is destined to shape a nation.


The Outcast Hours edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Solaris Books)
We live our lives in the daylight. Our stories take place under the sun: bright, clear, unafraid. This is not a book of those stories. These are the stories of people who live at night; under neon and starlight, and never the light of day. These are the stories of poets and police; writers and waiters; gamers and goddesses; tourists and traders; the hidden and the forbidden; the lonely and the lovers. These are their lives. These are their stories. And this is their time: The Outcast Hours. At first thought, “Night” seems almost too broad a concept for an anthology, but Mahvesh and Jared lean into it, with an incredibly eclectic collection of stories in all genres and all settings, by authors from around the world. With a rich, diverse assortment of new and established (and award-winning) writers stitched together with microfiction by China Miéville, it’s one you must read this year.


February 21st:

No Way (Frank Kitteridge #2) by S.J. Morden (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Gollancz)
In the sequel to the terrifying science fiction thriller, One Way, returning home from Mars may mean striking a deal with the very people who abandoned him.
They were sent to build a utopia, but all they found on Mars was death. Frank Kitteridge has been abandoned. But XO, the greedy--and ultimately murderous--corporate architects of humanity's first Mars base made a costly mistake when they left him there: they left him alive. Using his skills and his wits, he's going to find a way back home even if it kills him. Little does he know that Mars isn't completely empty. Just over the mountain, there's another XO base where things are going terribly, catastrophically wrong. And when the survivors of that mission find Frank, they're going to want to take even the little he has away from him. If there's anything in Frank's favor, it's this: he's always been prepared to go to the extremes to get the job done. That's how he ended up on Mars in the first place. It just might be his ticket back.


February 26th:

The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois (Paperback, 704 pages, published by St. Martin's Griffin)
For the first time in a decade, a compilation of the very best in science fiction, from a world authority on the genre. For decades, the Year's Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after thirty-five annual collections comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies. In The Very Best of the Best, legendary editor Gardner Dozois selects the finest short stories for this landmark collection.


• • • •

- Fantasy -

February 1st:

Smoke and Summons (Numina #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg (Hardcover, 332 pages, published by 47North)
As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally. A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs. Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…


February 5th:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy #1) by Marlon James (Hardcover, 640 pages, published by Riverhead Books)
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. As Tracker follows the boy's scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?


Endgames (Imager Portfolio #12) by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (Hardcover, 576 pages, published by Tor Books)
Endgames is the twelfth novel in L. E. Modesitt, Jr's, New York Times bestselling epic fantasy series the Imager Portfolio, and the third book in the story arc that began with Treachery's Tools and Assassin's Price. Solidar is in chaos. Charyn, the young and untested ruler of Solidar, has survived assassination, and he struggles to gain control of a realm in the grip of social upheaval, war, and rioting. Solidar cannot be allowed to slide into social and political turmoil that will leave the High Holders with their ancient power and privilege, and the common people with nothing. But the stakes are even higher than he realizes.


Fog Season: A Tale of Port Saint Frey (Tales of Port Saint Frey #2) by Patrice Sarath (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Angry Robot)
A web of secrets and hidden identities ensnare two sisters and their family, in this delightful historical fantasy sequel to The Sisters Mederos. After the shocking events of last summer, the high society of Port Saint Frey has plenty to gossip about. Who was the Gentleman Bandit? Why hasn't he been captured? And what really happened that night when the Guildmaster disappeared? When the Guild hires Abel Fresnel, a detective with special powers of his own, to find the answers, Tesara and Yvienne Mederos have to avoid his probing questions and keep mum about their role in the events of that dark night. Everything's more or less under control until a dead man turns up in the dumbwaiter...


House of Assassins (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior #2) by Larry Correia (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Baen Books)
Ashok Vidal was once a member of the highest caste in all of Lok. As a Protector, he devoted his life to upholding the Law, rooting out those who still practiced the old ways and delivering swift justice with his ancestor blade Angruvadal. None was more merciless than he in stamping out the lingering belief in gods and demons among the casteless. His brutality was legendary and celebrated. But soon Ashok learned that his life to that point had been a lie. He himself, senior member of the Protector Order, was casteless. He had been nothing more than an unwitting pawn in a political game. His world turned upside down and finding himself on the wrong side of the Law, he began a campaign of rebellion, war, and destruction unlike any Lok had ever seen. Thera had been first daughter of Vane. A member of the Warrior Order, she had spent her life training for combat. Until a strange sight in the heavens appeared one day. Thera was struck by lighting and from that day forward she heard the Voice. A reluctant prophet with the power to see into the future, she fought alongside Ashok Vadal and his company of men known as the Sons of the Black Sword until a shapeshifting wizard with designs on her powers of precognition spirited her away. He holds her prisoner in the House of Assassins. Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword march to rescue Thera. With his sword Angruvadal, Ashok was unstoppable. But Angruvadal is gone, shattered to pieces on the demon possessed husk of a warrior. Now, Ashok must fight without the aid of the magic blade for the first time. Thera’s life depends on it. But there is much more at risk in the continent of Lok. Strange forces are working behind the scenes. Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword are caught up in a game they do not fully understand, with powerful forces allied against them. Ashok no longer knows what to believe. He is beginning to think perhaps the gods really do exist. If so, he’s warned them to stay out of his way. They would do well to listen.


Sisters of the Fire (Blood and Gold #2) by Kim Wilkins (Kindle Edition, 464 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
In a Norse-flavored fantasy series that follows the lives of five sisters: the warrior, the magician, the lover, the zealot, the gossip--an old enemy threatens the fragile peace they have built. Four years have passed since the five sisters--daughters of the ruling king--worked together to restore their father to health and to the throne, while fracturing the bonds between themselves almost irreparably. Only Bluebell is still at home, dutifully serving as heir to her father's kingdom. Rose has been cast aside by her former husband and hides in exile with her aunt, separated forever from her beloved daughter, Rowan. Ash wanders the distant wastes with her teacher, learning magic and hunting dragons, determined that the dread fate she has foreseen for herself and her loved ones never comes to pass. Ivy rules over a prosperous seaport, married to an aged husband she hates, yet finding delight in her two young sons and the handsome captain of the guard. And as for Willow, she hides the most dangerous secret of all--one that could destroy all that the sisters once sought to save!


Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems by Theodora Goss (Paperback, 224 pages, published by Mythic Delirium Books)
A young woman hunts for her wayward shadow at the school where she first learned magic—while another faces a test she never studied for as ice envelopes the world. The tasks assigned a bookish boy lead him to fateful encounters with lizards, owls, trolls and a feisty, sarcastic cat. A bear wedding is cause for celebration, the spinning wheel and the tower in the briar hedge get to tell their own stories, and a kitchenmaid finds out that a lost princess is more than she seems. The sea witch reveals what she hoped to gain when she took the mermaid’s voice. A wiser Snow White sets out to craft herself a new tale. In these eight stories and twenty-three poems, World Fantasy Award winner Theodora Goss retells and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, the works gathered in SNOW WHITE LEARNS WITCHCRAFT re-center and empower the women at the heart of these timeless narratives.


Stray Moon (Strays #2) by Kelly Meding (Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages, published by Harper Voyager Impulse)
Para-Marshal Shiloh Harrison has always been a great number two for the East Coast unit. But after her boss is found dead (having betrayed the paranormals he was sworn to protect), she’s suddenly thrust into a leadership role she isn’t prepared for. And it doesn’t help that she traded away memories of one of her most important team members to save another’s life during her last mission. Too, she’s in charge of a unit that is mired in bureaucratic red tape, meaning she’s essentially under house arrest. But a West Coast Para-Marshal has astral-projected a warning: werewolves are going missing, and she needs Shiloh’s help. Last time it was vampires. This time it’s werewolves. Half-djinn herself, she knows she can’t just sit around and do nothing while paranormals are getting snatched. Her old boss may have broken his oath, but Shiloh will do anything to serve and protect.


Strife's Bane (Shattered Kingdoms #3) by Evie Manieri (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Tor Books)
Lahlil--once known to all as the Mongrel, a feared, nameless warrior--has tried to escape the horror and blood strewn about her past, but now, faced with even greater recent destruction, she is at a loss. Hoping to save the life of the one she loves most, she once again must take refuge with the Nomadic Nomas tribe--bringing her full circle to her childhood spent just outside the Shadar. And, in the Shadar, unrest reigns supreme. Though the Shadari managed to oust the Norlander regime through uprising, internal strife and rumors of an approaching plague are lending new terror, and their old enemy's ships have been seen back on the horizon. A leader is denounced for his failures, and an old Asha is installed in place--but is she planning on using her powers to help the Shadari, or just in service of an old, hidden vengeance...


The Ingenious by Darius Hinks (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Angry Robot)
Thousands of years ago, the city of Athanor was set adrift in time and space by alchemists, called "the Curious Men". Ever since, it has accumulated cultures, citizens and species into a vast, unmappable metropolis. Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles live off petty crime and gangland warfare in Athanor's seediest alleys. Though they dream of returning home to lead a glorious revolution, Isten's downward spiral drags them into a mire of addiction and violence. Isten must find a way to save the exiles and herself if they are ever to build a better, fairer world for the people of their distant homeland.


The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons (Hardcover, 560 pages, published by Tor Books)
There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens. Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised. Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins. Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire. He’s destined to destroy it...


Three Eves (Marked #1-3) by S.J. Day/Sylvia Day (Paperback, 688 pages, published by Tor Books)
This steamy urban fantasy series tells the story of Evangeline Hollis, a heavenly bounty hunter, who's cursed by God, hunted by demons, and desired by none other than Cain and Abel. Eve of Darkness -- Years ago, Evangeline Hollis spent a blistering night with a darkly seductive man she can't forget. Now Eve is thrust into a world where sinners are marked and drafted to kill demons. Her former one-night stand, Cain, is now her mentor-and his equally sexy brother Abel is her new boss. Eve of Destruction -- When Eve's training class takes a field trip to an abandoned military base, things take a dark turn. Meanwhile, her body is still adapting to her new abilities and the challenges that came with them--such as uncontrollable bloodlust...which seems to be inciting another kind of lust altogether. Eve of Chaos -- Eve runs over Satan's hellhound during training, so he puts a bounty on her head, and every demon in the country wants to deliver. Meanwhile, as Cain's role in Eve's life becomes more and more uncertain, Abel doesn't hesitate to step in.


Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore (Paperback, 128 pages, published by Tor.com)
Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You is a story of music, obsession, violence, and madness by Scotto Moore. I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life. Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band's fans. A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band's lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret.


February 12th:

DC Comics novels - Batman: The Court of Owls: An Original Novel by Greg Cox (Kindle Edition, 336 pages, published by Titan Books)
For generations, an apocryphal cabal has controlled Gotham from the shadows, wielding fear and violence through its undead assassins, the Talons. THE COURT OF OWLS. Dating back centuries, its leaders are men and women of wealth and influence who meet in secrecy, hiding their identities behind stark white masks. Employing science and alchemy, they sought to kill Bruce Wayne who, as Batman, dealt them their greatest defeats. Even then they faded back into the darkness, and he could not eliminate them entirely. Now, Gotham City is plagued with a series of brutal murders in which mutilated bodies are burned almost beyond recognition. Batman and his allies—including Nightwing and Batgirl—quickly realize that the Talons have returned, yet the reason for the killings remains tauntingly unknown. As the heroes seek answers, their path stretches back more than a century. Should the Owls obtain what they seek, it could grant them power that no one could counter. With each moment that passes, more victims appear. Batman must stop the Talons before they kill again.


Early Riser by Jasper Fforde (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Viking Press)
Every Winter, the human population hibernates. During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity. Well, not quite . Your name is Charlie Worthing and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind. When the dreams start to kill people, it's unsettling. When you get the dreams too, it's weird. When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity. But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping, and stamp collecting, ensure you aren't eaten by Nightwalkers, whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk. But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you'll be fine.


Lord by João Gilberto Noll (Paperback, 120 pages, published by Two Lines Press)
As Lord begins, a Brazilian author is arriving at London’s Heathrow airport for reasons he doesn’t fully understand. Only aware that he has been invited to take part in a mysterious mission, the Brazilian starts to churn with anxiety. Torn between returning home and continuing boldly forward, he becomes absorbed by fears: What if the Englishman who invited him here proves malign? Maybe he won’t show up? Or maybe he’ll leave the Brazilian lost and adrift in London, with no money or place to stay? Ever more confused and enmeshed in a reality of his own making, the Brazilian wanders more and more through London’s immigrant Hackney neighborhood, losing his memory, adopting strange behaviors, experiencing surreal sexual encounters, and developing a powerful fear of ever seeing himself reflected in a mirror. A novel about the unsettling space between identities, and a disturbing portrait of dementia from the inside out, Lord constructs an altogether original story out of the ways we search for new versions of ourselves. With jaw-dropping scenes and sensual, at times grotesque images, renowned Brazilian author João Gilberto Noll grants us stunning new visions of our own personalities and the profound transformations that overtake us throughout life.


The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Berkley Books)
I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both. I am the Beast. The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time. My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded. My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again. And now I might lose her forever. Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast's heart.


February 19th:

DC Comics novels - Batman: The Killing Joke by Christa Faust and Gary Phillips (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Titan Books)
A tragic, unnamed engineer-turned-criminal is immersed in chemicals that disfigure him bizarrely, driving him mad and thus giving birth to the Joker. While the insane criminal is imprisoned, Batman and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) patrol Gotham City together, taking down perps such as the crime boss Maxie Zeus. Simultaneously Detective Harvey Bullock works with Commissioner James Gordon to take down a drug factory. Back in Arkham Asylum, Joker learns of a new technology he wants to acquire and escapes, setting out on a mission designed to break the Commissioner, forcing him to abandon his ideals as a police officer. In a violent home invasion he shoots and cripples Barbara, then takes Gordon hostage. Batman races to rescue Gordon, ultimately confronting his arch-foe in an amusement park fun house.


Dreams of the Dark Sky (The Legacy of the Heavens #2) by Tina LeCount Myers (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Night Shade)
The war between men and immortals that raged across the frozen Northland of Davvieana has ended. For men, the balance of power between Believer and Brethren, between honoring the gods and honoring the sword, has shifted to favor priests over Hunters. But it is the legacy of one man’s love for his son that shapes the lives of all who survived. While Irjan, the once-legendary immortal hunter, has saved his son’s life, he cannot save Marnej from the men who will make him a killer, nor can he save the immortal girl he’d promised to protect from the secret of her birth. Raised by Irjan among the immortals, Dárja has been trained to fight by a man who once hunted her kind. Prisoner among the humans, her hatred for them is challenged by the chance to give Irjan what he has always wanted—his son Marnej returned to him. Together, Marnej and Dárja, human and immortal, must find a way to trust one another if they are to live long enough to learn the truth behind the secrets and lies that have forged their lives.


Firstborn (The House War #7) by Michelle West (Hardcover, 592 pages, published by Daw Books)
Jewel ATerafin has never wanted to be a power. What she truly wants, she built in the streets of the poorer holdings. To protect what she built, to protect what she values above all else, she has accepted that power is necessary. But with power comes responsibility. Jewel has forced herself to do what would have once been unthinkable: She has surrendered her den-kin, Carver, to the wilderness, because she must if she is to have any hope of saving the rest of her family, and the city in which they dwell. But she cannot leave him with nothing. Into his hands, she has placed the single, blue leaf that came from the wilderness and the dreaming combined. She doesn't know what it does or what it was meant to do--but it is the most powerful item on her person, and it is the only thing she can leave him. That leaf, however, was created to serve a purpose that Jewel does not understand. Nor does Carver, who now possesses it. With Ellerson by his side, Carver intends to traverse the wild Winter in an attempt to reach home--and the people who are waiting for him. There are those who do understand the significance of Carver's gift, and the disaster that will prevail if it remains in his hands. But time is of the essence. These lands are not unclaimed, and the Lord of these lands is waking from his ancient slumber. Nor is the Lord the only threat. Firstborn, demons, and wild elementals are swirling around two mortal men in a storm that threatens to end the only chance the city of Averalaan has of surviving what is to follow.


For the Killing of Kings (The Ring-Sworn Trilogy #1) by Howard Andrew Jones (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
Their peace was a fragile thing, but it had endured for seven years, mostly because the people of Darassus and the king of the Naor hordes believed his doom was foretold upon the edge of the great sword hung in the hall of champions. Unruly Naor clans might raid across the border, but the king himself would never lead his people to war so long as the blade remained in the hands of his enemies. But when squire Elenai's aging mentor uncovers evidence that the sword in their hall is a forgery, she's forced to flee Darassus for her life, her only ally the reckless, disillusioned Kyrkenall the archer. Framed for murder and treason, pursued by the greatest heroes of the realm, they race to recover the real sword, only to stumble into a conspiracy that leads all the way back to the Darassan queen and her secretive advisers. They must find a way to clear their names and set things right, all while dodging friends determined to kill them - and the Naor hordes, invading at last with a new and deadly weapon.


Gates of Stone (Lord of the Islands #1) by Angus Macallan (Paperback, 544 pages, published by Ace Books)
AN EMPEROR'S DAUGHTER WHO WILL NOT BE DENIED Just before her sixteenth birthday, Princess Katerina is refused her rightful place as heir to the Empire of the Ice-Bear--solely because of her sex. Determined to regain her inheritance, she murders the foreign lord she's been ordered to marry and embarks on a perilous voyage to the lush, tropical islands of the Laut Besar in search of the vast wealth and power she needs to claim the Empire for herself. A PRINCE FORCED TO TAKE A STAND On a small island kingdom, Prince Arjun's idyllic life is shattered when a malignant sorcerer invades, slaughters his people and steals the sacred sword of Jun's ancestors. With his royal father dead and his palace in ruins, Jun reluctantly tracks the sorcerer and the magical blade far across the pirate-infested waters of the Laut Besar. A SORCERER SEEKING TO DESTROY THE WORLD Long ago the powerful relics known as the Seven Keys were used to safely lock away the terrifying evils of the Seven Hells. With Jun's ancient sword in his grasp, the sorcerer Mangku has claimed the first Key, and begun his mission to unleash catastrophe upon the land. As the destinies of these three entwine in the lawless islands of the Laut Besar, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. For if the sorcerer cannot be stopped, the world itself will be unmade...


The Afterward by E.K. Johnston (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Dutton Books for Young Readers)
It has been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought the gem home are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity do not come easily. Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn't meant for heroism this early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she has earned, her reputation does not pay her bills. With time running out, Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves. Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar, pick pocket, thief, she lived hand to mouth on the city streets until fortune--or fate--pulled her into Kalanthe's orbit. And now she's quite reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her recognizable, which makes her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn't much of a choice at all. Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn't quite done with them and that new golden age isn’t a sure thing yet. In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.


The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Paperback, 144 pages, published by Tor.com)
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.


The Light of All That Falls (The Licanius Trilogy #3) by James Islington (Hardcover, 608 pages, published by Orbit Books)
The Boundary is whole once again, but it may be too late. Banes now stalk Andarra, while in Ilin Illan, the political machinations of a generation come to a head as Wirr's newfound ability forces his family's old enemies into action. Imprisoned and alone in a strange land, Davian is pitted against the remaining Venerate as they work tirelessly to undo Asha's sacrifice - even as he struggles with what he has learned about the friend he chose to set free. Finally, Caeden is confronted with the reality of the plan he laid centuries ago - heartbroken at how it began, and devastated by how it must end.


Where Oblivion Lives (Los Nefilim #4) by T. Frohock (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
Born of daimon and angel, Diago Alvarez is a being unlike all others. The embodiment of dark and light, he has witnessed the good and the horror of this world and those beyond. In the supernatural war between angels and daimons that will determine humankind’s future, Diago has chosen Los Nefilim, the sons and daughters of angels who possess the power to harness music and light. As the forces of evil gather, Diago must locate the Key, the special chord that will unite the nefilim’s voices, giving them the power to avert the coming civil war between the Republicans and Franco’s Nationalists. Finding the Key will save Spain from plunging into darkness. And for Diago, it will resurrect the anguish caused by a tragedy he experienced in a past life. But someone—or something—is determined to stop Diago in his quest and will use his history to destroy him and the nefilim. Hearing his stolen Stradivarius played through the night, Diago is tormented by nightmares about his past life. Each incarnation strengthens the ties shared by the nefilim, whether those bonds are of love or hate... or even betrayal. To retrieve the violin, Diago must journey into enemy territory... and face an old nemesis and a fallen angel bent on revenge.


February 21st:

Kellanved's Reach (Path to Ascendancy #3) by Ian C. Esslemont (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Bantam Press)
The incessant war between the bickering city states of Quon Tali rages. So engrossed are the warring lords and princes in their own petty feuds that few notice that an upstart mage from Dal Hon has gained control of the southern seas. But some powers are alarmed. And in the meantime, as Purge and Tali indulge in what seems like a their never-ending game of war, a mercenary caught up in the fight between the two states suddenly refuses to play along and causes all sorts of chaos. Simultaneously, a pair of escapees from Castle Gris make their way across this ravaged landscape of flame and butchery. Their intention to seek out the legendary Crimson Guard. And then there's Kellanved who could not care less about any of this petty politicking or strategy or war. Something other and altogether more mysterious has caught his attention and he - together with a reluctant and decidedly sceptical Dancer - traverse continents and journey through the Realms in pursuit... But this ancient mystery that has so captivated Kellanved is neither esoteric nor ephemeral. No, it is of an altogether darker and more dangerous hue. It involves the Elder races themselves, and more specifically - certainly more alarmingly - the semi-mythic, and universally dreaded, Army of Dust and Bone. Surely no one in their right mind would be so foolish as to embark on a journey from which none have returned? Well, no one except Kellanved that is...


Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods #1) by Justin Travis Call (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Gollancz)
You have heard the story before - of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world. But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same? What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world... or destroy it? Among the Academy's warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents' killers. Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy's masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil. Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is... and the darker truth of what he may become...


February 26th:

In the Land of the Everliving: Eirlandia, Book Two (Eirlandia #2) by Stephen R. Lawhead (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Tor Books)
Conor and his sword companions must leave the safety of the fary kingdom for the barbarian Sclda threaten to overrun Eirlandia. As he fights for his people's survival, Conor discovers that several of the clan leaders have betrayed their nation by aiding the Sclda. The corruption is such that Conor and his men choose to become outcasts, clan-less and open to attack by friend and foe alike. They form their own warband... and the beginning of a legend as Conor unites the common people of Eirlandia to drive the poison from their land.


Miss Violet & the Great War (Strangely Beautiful #4) by Leanna Renee Hieber (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Tor Books)
The Guard have always been with us, their powers passed on from generation to generation. Usually the old and new Guards have no connection, but that all changed when the six became seven and the brooding Alexi Rychman, leader of the Victorian Guard, found himself hopelessly in love with the gentle Percy Parker, who barely understood her own tremendous power. In Miss Violet and the Great War, Percy and Alexi's daughter, Violet, leads a new Guard onto a new battlefield. Not just a psychic war this time, but a real one, with bullets flying, gas attacks, and death on every side.


Phoenix Falling (Wildlands #5) by Laura Bickle (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
In the Yellowstone backcountry, a merciless source of evil carries a torch for the past… Petra Dee and her immortal husband, Gabe, have been trying to gain a toehold in what passes for ordinary life in Temperance, Wyoming— a wickedly enchanted land founded generations ago by the alchemist, Lascaris. Petra may be adept when it comes to the uncanny, but as a seasoned geologist, Petra still can’t fathom the wildfires suddenly engulfing Yellowstone National Park, or why Gabe claims to have seen the sky explode in flames. The answers could lie in the past. It was a dreadful night in 1862 when Lascaris went harvesting for souls, only to be set upon by townsfolk determined to eliminate the root of all evil in a trial by fire. Petra can’t help fearing that Lascaris has crawled out of the ashes of history to wreak vengeance—and to complete his mission by claiming every vulnerable soul in Temperance. With the help of Gabe and her coyote sidekick, Sig, Petra must now venture into Lascaris’s shadow before he turns her world into an inferno burning out of control.


The Blackest Heart (Five Warrior Angels #2) by Brian Lee Durfee (Paperback, 960 pages, published by Saga Press)
Gladiator. Assassin. Thief. Princess. And the Slave. The Five Warrior Angels have been revealed, one by one the mystical weapons they once wielded are being found, and an ancient prophecy is finally being fulfilled. Or is it? For when it comes to recorded history, much is intended to manipulate and deceive. Returning to the kingdom of Gul Kana, Princess Jondralyn has suffered a devastating loss, discovering that not all prophecy is to be assumed, not all scripture to be trusted. At the same time, her younger sister, Tala, has found faith within herself while facing off against villains, who are using her for their devices. Hawkwood, the former Bloodwood Assassin, is captured. And the knight, Gault, betrayed by the Angel Prince, can only wonder of the fate of his daughter who has fallen into terrible hands. All while Nail embarks upon the deadliest quest the Five Isles has ever known.


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Paperback, 896 pages, published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC)
A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens. The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.


The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Orbit Books)
For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven's Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven's watch, the city flourishes. But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods. It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo--aide to Mawat, the true Lease--arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven's Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself... and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.


Tor.com Publishing Editorial Spotlight #2: A Selection of Novellas edited by Lee Harris (Kindle Edition, 658 pages, published by Tor.com)
Tor.com Publishing Editorial Spotlight #2 is a curated selection of novellas by editor Lee Harris. This collection includes: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire, All Systems Red by Martha Wells and The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp.


February 28th:

Death & Honey by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Subterranean Press)
In The Buzz Kill by Kevin Hearne, Oberon the Irish wolfhound and Starbuck the Boston Terrier sink their teeth into a new Meaty Mystery when they discover a body underneath a beehive in Tasmania. It's been badly stung, but the bees aren't at fault: This is homicide. The hounds recruit the help of their Druid, Atticus O'Sullivan, and the Tasmanian police to track down the killer in the interest of a reward—but this time, they want more than food and justice. Grist of Bees, by Delilah S. Dawson writing as Lila Bowen, follows Rhett Walker, who has given up his destiny as the monster-hunting Shadow to settle down with his beloved Sam. But when the call to action grows too strong, Rhett saddles up to follow a peculiar bee into the unforgiving desert. The bee leads him to a weeping mother in a strangely prosperous valley, and Rhett has no choice but to hunt the creature that's stolen her child—even if it destroys a land of milk and honey. Interlude: Tanager by Chuck Wendig returns us to the world of Miriam Black. Lauren “Wren” Martin is a young psychic woman who can see the stained souls of killers; it is her gift, or as she sees it, her curse. And up until now, it has been her mission to kill those killers, to remove them from the pattern so that they may not murder again. But now, after a death that may not have been deserved, she's left rudderless, without plan or purpose, until a woman with a strange power of her own takes her in and gives her a new mission—and a new target.

• • • •

- Historical Fiction -

February 1st:

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (Paperback, 332 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child. In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger. Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.


February 5th:

American Pop by Snowden Wright (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by William Morrow)
The story of a family. The story of an empire. The story of a nation. Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, a saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty—the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company—against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history. The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more—from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father’s drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age. Now the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the “infernal twins,” are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability—and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider who should control the company after he’s gone.


The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Little, Brown and Company)
"I'd rather take a picture than be one," says Lee Miller after she arrives in Paris in 1929. Yearning for a different life and haunted by her past, Lee leaves behind a successful modeling career to pursue her dream of being an artist. She catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray, and though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to teach her photography as well. Man Ray is an egotistical, charismatic force, and their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined as the lines between maker and muse begin to blur. Lee's story unfolds against the sumptuous backdrop of bohemian Paris, with nights spent at smoky cabarets, opium dens, and wild parties, and days spent working with Man Ray to discover radical new photography techniques. But as Lee begins to find success as an artist in her own right, Man Ray's jealousy spirals out of control, and soon their mutual betrayals threaten to destroy them both.


The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey (Paperback, 366 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered. Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines. Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.


The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber (Hardcover, 312 pages, published by Skyhorse Publishing)
In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried. Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief. When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith. But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.


The Last Thing You Surrender by Leonard Pitts Jr. (Paperback, 464 pages, published by Agate Bolden)
An affluent white marine survives Pearl Harbor at the cost of a black messman’s life only to be sent, wracked with guilt, to the Pacific and taken prisoner by the Japanese. A young black woman, widowed by the same events at Pearl, finds unexpected opportunity and a dangerous friendship in a segregated Alabama shipyard feeding the war. A black man, who as a child saw his parents brutally lynched, is conscripted to fight Nazis for a country he despises and discovers a new kind of patriotism in the all-black 761st Tank Battalion. Set against a backdrop of violent racial conflict on both the front lines and the home front, The Last Thing You Surrender explores the powerful moral struggles of individuals from a divided nation. What does it take to change someone’s mind about race? What does it take for a country and a people to move forward, transformed?


The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Park Row Books)
1946, Manhattan. Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station. Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.


Wild Life by Molly Gloss (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Saga Press)
Set among lava sinkholes and logging camps at the fringe of the Northwest frontier in the early 1900s, Wild Life is the story—both real and imagined—of the free-thinking, cigar-smoking, trouser-wearing Charlotte Bridger Drummond, who pens dime-store women’s adventure stories. One day, when a little girl gets lost in the woods, Charlotte anxiously joins the search. When she becomes lost in the dark and tangled woods, she finds herself face to face with a mysterious band of mountain giants… or more commonly known as Sasquatch.


February 12th:

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts (Paperback, 565 pages, published by Random House Large Print Publishing)
Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy--especially when Maud heard her sing "Over the Rainbow," a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living--until Frank Baum's book became a national sensation. This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud's youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank's early days when they lived among the people--especially young Dorothy--who would inspire Frank's masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.


The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Flatiron Books)
When 11-year-old Ren's master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master's soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace. Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother's Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin's dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner. As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren's lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love.


The Cassandra by Sharma Shields (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Henry Holt & Company)
Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs. Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.


The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen (Paperback, 305 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage. When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow. As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.


February 19th:

Daughter of Moloka'i (Moloka'i #2) by Alan Brennert (Hardcover, 309 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
A companion tale that tells the story of Ruth, the daughter that Rachel Kalama—quarantined for most of her life at the isolated leprosy settlement of Kalaupapa—was forced to give up at birth. The book follows young Ruth from her arrival at the Kapi'olani Home for Girls in Honolulu, to her adoption by a Japanese couple who raise her on a farm in California, her marriage and unjust internment at Manzanar Relocation Camp during World War II—and then, after the war, to the life-altering day when she receives a letter from a woman who says she is Ruth’s birth mother, Rachel. DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA′I expands upon Ruth and Rachel’s 22-year relationship, only hinted at in MOLOKA′I. It’s a richly emotional tale of two women—different in some ways, similar in others—who never expected to meet, much less come to love, one another. And for Ruth it is a story of discovery, the unfolding of a past she knew nothing about. In prose that conjures up the beauty and history of both Hawaiian and Japanese cultures, it’s the powerful and poignant tale that readers of MOLOKA′I have been awaiting for fifteen years.


Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel of George Washington's First Love by Mary Calvi (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
"Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contended that it cannot be resisted." --George Washington. Did unrequited love help spark a flame that ignited a cause that became the American Revolution? Never before has this story about George Washington been told. Crafted from hundreds of letters, witness accounts, and journal entries, Dear George, Dear Mary explores George's relationship with his first love, New York heiress Mary Philipse, the richest belle in Colonial America. From elegant eighteenth-century society to bloody battlefields, the novel creates breathtaking scenes and riveting characters. Dramatic portraits of the two main characters unveil a Washington on the precipice of greatness, using the very words he spoke and wrote, and his ravishing love, whose outward beauty and refinement disguise a complex inner struggle. Dear George, Dear Mary reveals why George Washington had such bitter resentment toward the Brits, established nearly two decades before the American Revolution, and it unveils details of a deception long hidden from the world that led Mary Philipse to be named a traitor, condemned to death and left with nothing. While that may sound like the end, ultimately both Mary and George achieve what they always wanted.


February 26th:

The Huntress by Kate Quinn (Paperback, 560 pages, published by William Morrow Paperbacks)
In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted… Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive. Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it. Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family... secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear. In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.


• • • •

- Literary Fiction -

February 1st:

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Simon & Schuster)
In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned. Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what? Written in gorgeous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking novel that startles and provokes, about the possibilities contained within a human life—in our waking days and, perhaps even more, in our dreams.


The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann (Paperback, 362 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
At twenty-four, Katie Gregory feels like life is looking up: she’s snagged a great job in New York City and is falling for a captivating artist—and memories of her traumatic past are finally fading. Katie’s life fell apart almost a decade earlier, during an idyllic summer at her family’s cabin on Eagle Lake when her best friend accused her father of sexual assault. Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Katie insisted on his innocence, dodging reporters and clinging to memories of the man she adores. Now he’s getting out. Yet when Katie returns to the shuttered lakeside cabin, details of that fateful night resurface: the chill of the lake, the heat of first love, the terrible sting of jealousy. And as old memories collide with new realities, they call into question everything she thinks she knows about family, friends, and, ultimately, herself. Now, Katie’s choices will be put to the test with life-altering consequences.


February 5th:

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
When a video call between friends captures a shocking incident no one was supposed to see, the secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever. Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage. When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child. What Liza sees next will change everything. Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw. Or is there? In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own. And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either. But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.


Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds. In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries—not to mention her own family's—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.


The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound. Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day. Yara Zgheib's poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman's struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.


The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by William Morrow)
When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time. It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected.  Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love. A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.


The Prayer Box (Carolina Heirlooms #1) by Lisa Wingate (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Tyndale House Publishers)
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house. Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.


The Spirit of Science Fiction: A Novel by Roberto Bolaño (Hardcover, 208 pages, published by Penguin Press)
Two young poets, Jan and Remo, find themselves adrift in Mexico City. Obsessed with poetry, and, above all, with science fiction, they are eager to forge a life in the literary world–or sacrifice themselves to it. Roberto Bolaño’s The Spirit of Science Fiction is a story of youth hungry for revolution, notoriety, and sexual adventure, as they work to construct a reality out of the fragments of their dreams. But as close as these friends are, the city tugs them in opposite directions. Jan withdraws from the world, shutting himself in their shared rooftop apartment where he feverishly composes fan letters to the stars of science fiction and dreams of cosmonauts and Nazis. Meanwhile, Remo runs headfirst into the future, spending his days and nights with a circle of wild young writers, seeking pleasure in the city’s labyrinthine streets, rundown cafés, and murky bathhouses.


When You Read This by Mary Adkins (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Harper)
Iris Massey is gone. But she’s left something behind. For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish. Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other. Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.


February 12th:

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Viking Press)
In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives. Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film icon Anja Bloom, lives as a recluse in the present-day U.S., until a young man connected to the events of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams's final play. What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can't save ourselves? Like The Master and The Hours, Leading Men seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to navigate the tensions between public figures and their private lives. In an ultimately heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the complex negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness, Castellani creates an unforgettable leading lady in Anja Bloom and reveals the hidden machinery of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth-century.


The Heavens by Sandra Newman (Hardcover, 272 pages, published by Grove Press)
New York, late summer, 2000. A party in a spacious Manhattan apartment, hosted by a wealthy young activist. Dozens of idealistic twenty-somethings have impassioned conversations over takeout dumplings and champagne. The evening shines with the heady optimism of a progressive new millennium. A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate--and they begin to fall in love. From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn't that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she's had since childhood. In the dream, she's transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life. And soon she's waking from it to find the world changed--pictures on her wall she doesn't recognize, new buildings in the neighborhood that have sprung up overnight. As she tries to make sense of what's happening, Ben worries the woman he's fallen in love with is losing her grip on reality. Transporting the reader between a richly detailed past and a frighteningly possible future, The Heavens is a powerful reminder of the consequences of our actions, a poignant testament to how the people we love are destined to change, and a masterful exploration of the power of dreams.


The Nine Cloud Dream by Kim Man-Jung (Kindle Edition, 288 pages, published by Penguin Classics)
Often considered the highest achievement in Korean fiction, The Nine Cloud Dream poses the question: Will the life we dream of truly make us happy? Written in 17th-century Korea, this classic novel’s wondrous story begins when a young monk living on a sacred Lotus Peak in China succumbs to the temptation of eight fairy maidens. For doubting his master’s Buddhist teachings, the monk is forced to endure a strange punishment: reincarnation as the most ideal of men. On his journey through this new life full of material, martial, and sensual accomplishments beyond his wildest dreams, he encounters the eight fairies in human form, each one furthering his path towards understanding the fleeting value of his good fortune. As his successes grow, he comes closer and closer to finally comprehending the fundamental truths of the Buddha’s teachings. Like Hesse’s Siddhartha, The Nine Cloud Dream is an unforgettable tale that explores the meaning of a good life and the virtue of living simply with mindfulness.


February 19th:

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Riverhead Books)
A house in Bangkok is the confluence of lives shaped by upheaval, memory, and the lure of home. A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-WWII society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary future. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the resident spirits. A young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in New Krungthep, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember. Time collapses as these stories collide and converge, linked by the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing capital itself.


The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Berkley Books)
The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives. Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened. As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.


The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Berkley Books)
Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri's boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she'll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her -- until she needs that strength the most... A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart.


February 26th:

Mother Country by Irina Reyn (Hardcover, 288 pages, published by Thomas Dunne Books)
Nadia's daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities: as a senior home attendant, she is always in danger of being fired; as a part-time nanny, she is forced to navigate the demands of her spoiled charge and the preschooler's insecure mother; and as an ethnic Russian, she finds herself feuding with western Ukrainian immigrants who think she is a traitor. The war back home is always at the forefront of her reality. On television, Vladimir Putin speaks of the "reunification" of Crimea and Russia, the Ukrainian president makes unconvincing promises about a united Ukraine, while American politicians are divided over the fear of immigration. Nadia internalizes notions of "union" all around her, but the one reunion she has been waiting six years for - with her beloved daughter - is being eternally delayed by the Department of Homeland Security. When Nadia finds out that her daughter has lost access to the medicine she needs to survive, she takes matters into her own hands.


The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Thomas Nelson)
A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England--a place she's learned to love through the words of her favorite author--and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she's renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace. Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat. Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily's journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth. The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.


• • • •

- Young Adult -

February 1st:

Station Zero (Railhead #3) by Philip Reeve (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Capstone Press)
What happens after the adventure of a lifetime? For Zen, it's a safe, comfortable life of luxury. But it's not what Zen wants. He misses the thrill of riding the rails, of dodging danger, and of breathing the air of different planets. Most of all of course he misses Nova, lost to him forever in a distant world. But then one day a mysterious message arrives, and that's all Zen needs to head right off, ready for anything. Except that no one could be ready for what he finds...


February 5th:

Courting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology #1) by Robin LaFevers (Hardcover, 512 pages, published by HMH Books for Young Readers)
Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning… Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them. Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent. As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?


Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) by Joanna Hathaway (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Tor Teen)
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children. Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.


Enchantée by Gita Trelease (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Flatiron Books)
Love. Magic. Revolution. When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic--la magie ordinaire--Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won't hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family's savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. With the dark magic she learned from her mother, Camille transforms herself into 'the Baroness de la Fontaine' and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. Her resentment of the rich at odds with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille is astonished to find that her would-be suitor Lazare, a handsome young inventor whom she thought shared her dreams of liberty, is also living a double life. As the Baroness de la Fontaine, Camille gambles at cards and flirts, desperate to maintain her place at court and keep herself and her sister off the streets. But la magie has its costs. When a scheming courtier blackmails her and Lazare's affections shift, Camille loses control of her secrets. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose--love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or la magie--before Paris burns.


Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part. But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her. As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction. With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.


Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian (Hardcover, 512 pages, published by Delacorte Press)
The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon. Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne. To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done. Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Hardcover, 447 pages, published by Balzer + Bray)
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.


Stolen Time (Dark Stars #1) by Danielle Rollins (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Seattle, 1913 Dorothy spent her life learning the art of the con. But after meeting a stranger and stowing away on his peculiar aircraft, she wakes up in a chilling version of the world she left behind—and for the first time in her life, realizes she’s in way over her head. New Seattle, 2077 If there was ever a girl who was trouble, it was one who snuck on board Ash’s time machine wearing a wedding gown—and the last thing he needs is trouble if he wants to prevent his terrifying visions of the future from coming true.


The Antidote by Shelley Sackier (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by HarperTeen)
In the world of healers, there is no room for magic. Fee knows this, just as certainly as she knows that her magic must be kept secret. But the crown prince Xavi, Fee’s best friend and only source of comfort, is sick. So sick, that Fee can barely contain the magic lying dormant inside her. She could use it, just a little, to heal him. But magic comes at a deadly cost—and attracts those who would seek to snuff it out forever. A wisp of a spell later, Fee finds herself caught in a whirl of secret motivations and dark pasts, where no one is who—or what—they appear to be. And saving her best friend means delving deeper into the tempting and treacherous world whose call she’s long resisted—uncovering a secret that will change everything.


The Queen's Rising (The Queen's Rising #1) by Rebecca Ross (Paperback, 480 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron. Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne. With war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.


The Waning Age by S. E. Grove (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Viking Books for Young Readers)
In a parallel present San Francisco, Natalia Peña works as a hotel maid, practices martial arts, and cares for her eleven-year-old brother, Calvino. In this version of our world, all children start to "wane" when they reach Cal's age; by their teen years, they've lost their ability to feel emotion. But Cal isn't waning. When a mysterious corporation kidnaps him for testing, Natalia's reaction surprises her: she's crushed, and she'll do anything to save her brother from their experiments. But the road to his rescue leads her into the path of a dashing but troubled billionaire's son, a cadre of killers, and, eventually, the shocking truth about waning. Filled with twists and turns, The Waning Age is a powerful mirror that shows us the danger of becoming desensitized to violence and the remarkable, transformative power of love.


February 7th:

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Soho Press)
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.


February 12th:

Corpse & Crown (Cadaver & Queen #2) by Alisa Kwitney (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Inkyard Press)
Corpse & Crown follows the story of Agatha DeLacey, an Ingold nursing student who travels to London and uncovers a devastating secret about the country's Bio-Mechanicals. Inspired by the classic story of Oliver Twist and complete with a dashing Artful Dodger-inspired male lead, this retelling is a satisfying follow-up to Kwitney's clever and critically acclaimed young adult debut.


Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers #1) by Nicki Pau Preto (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by Simon Pulse)
I had a sister, once… In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart. I promised her the throne would not come between us. Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks. But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled. Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all. Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.


Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Tor Teen)
Paris, 1887. Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day's new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered--from the perspective of the murderer himself. When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie's search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie's strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer's identity--and she'll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.


The Blood Spell (Ravenspire #4) by C. J. Redwine (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Balzer + Bray)
Blue de la Cour has her life planned: hide the magic in her blood and continue trying to turn metal into gold so she can help her city’s homeless. But when her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her—and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan. Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata, is walking a thin line between political success and devastating violence. Newly returned from boarding school, he must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal—but escalating tension among the families makes the search nearly impossible. He’s surprised to discover that the one person who makes him feel like he can breathe is Blue, the girl who once ruined all his best adventures. When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together to find the truth. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts. When romance is forbidden and evil is rising, can Blue save those she loves, even if it costs her everything?


The Triumphant (The Valiant #3) by Lesley Livingston (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Razorbill)
“You are from a world, Fallon, that values honor over everything else. Rome is not that world.” In the wake of their victorious fight to win back the Ludus Achillea, Fallon and her gladiatrix sisters have become the toast of the Republic. Only for Fallon, glory turns to ashes when she learns that Cai has been stripped of his Decurion rank and declared infamia, cast down to serve as one of Caesar’s gladiators. All because he chose his love for her over the life of his treacherous father during the ludus uprising. But treachery in Rome runs far deeper than Fallon ever suspected. While she is fighting for Cai’s freedom, the unthinkable happens and the Republic begins to tear itself apart at the seams. In the chaos that follows, the Achillea gladiatrices lose any protection they might have had once and for all. They’re not the only ones. When Fallon discovers that Cleopatra is in grave danger, she and her sister Sorcha rally their war band in an attempt to spirit the Queen of Aegypt out of Rome, embarking on a remarkable journey that will take them to Alexandria—the wonder of the ancient world—and beyond. Far beyond. Along the way, Fallon will have to decide where her heart truly lies, as well as what—and who—she is willing to sacrifice to get there.


Winter Glass (Spindle Fire #2) by Lexa Hillyer (Paperback, 352 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Aurora, torn from the dream world and Heath, plots to assassinate the faerie queen Malfleur, only to confront temptations she never expected. Isabelle, meanwhile, opens her heart to Prince William as they attempt to unite their kingdoms and wage a winning war against Malfleur’s army of Vultures. But when the appearance of an unbreakable glass slipper prompts Isabelle to discover more about her lineage, her true identity begins to take shape and her legacy becomes as clear as ice. Devoted half sisters Isabelle and Aurora will grapple with their understanding of love and loyalty as they face a threat even greater than that of the evil queen—the threat of losing each other forever.


February 19th:

A Soldier and A Liar by Caitlin Lochner (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Swoon Reads)
Lai Cathwell is good at keeping secrets. As a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager who is feared and shunned by the ungifted, this skill is essential to survival. Orchestrating her own imprisonment to escape military duty has only honed her ability to deceive others. But when rebels start attacking the city, Lai is dragged back into the fight with a new team of Nytes. Thrown together with Jay, a self-conscious perfectionist consumed by the desire to be accepted; Al, a short-tempered fighter lying for the sake of revenge; and Erik, an amnesiac hell-bent on finding his memories and his place in the world, Lai realizes she's facing an entirely different kind of challenge--one that might just be impossible. But if this team can't learn to work together, the entire sector will be plunged into war.


Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3) by Susan Dennard (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Tor Teen)
High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets. The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.


Honor Bound (The Honors #2) by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
Zara Cole was a thief back on Earth, but she’s been recently upgraded to intergalactic fugitive. On the run after a bloody battle in a covert war that she never expected to be fighting, Zara, her co-pilot Beatriz, and their Leviathan ship Nadim barely escaped the carnage with their lives. Now Zara and her crew of Honors need a safe haven, far from the creatures who want to annihilate them. But they’ll have to settle for the Sliver: a wild, dangerous warren of alien criminals. The secrets of the Sliver may have the power to turn the tide of the war they left behind—but in the wrong direction. Soon Zara will have to make a choice: run from the ultimate evil—or stand and fight.


Mist, Metal, and Ash (Ink, Iron, and Glass #2) by Gwendolyn Clare (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Imprint)
In an alternate 19th-century Italy, Elsa has an incredible gift: she can craft new worlds with precise lines of script written in books. But political extremists have stolen the most dangerous book ever scribed―one that can rewrite the Earth itself. Now Elsa must track down the friend who betrayed her and recover the book before its destructive power is unleashed. Can she handle the secrets she’ll uncover along the way―including the ones hiding in her own heart?


Tarot by Marissa Kennerson (Hardcover, 288 pages, published by Razorbill)
Anna was never supposed to exist. Born of a forbidden union between the Queen and the tyrannical King’s archnemesis, Anna is forced to live out her days isolated in the Tower, with only her mentors and friends the Hermit, the Fool, and the Magician to keep her company. To pass the time, Anna imagines unique worlds populated by creatives and dreamers—the exact opposite of the King’s land of fixed fates and rigid rules—and weaves them into four glorious tapestries. But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday and her promised release from the Tower, Anna discovers her true lineage: She’s the daughter of Marco, a powerful magician, and the King is worried that his magical gifts are starting to surface in Anna. Fearing for her life, Anna flees the Tower and finds herself in Cups, a lush, tropical land full of all the adventure, free-spiritedness, and creativity she imagined while weaving. Anna thinks she’s found paradise in this world of beachside parties, endless food and drink, and exhilarating romance. But when the fabric of Cups begins to unravel, Anna discovers that her tapestries are more than just decoration. They’re the foundation for a new world that she is destined to create—as long as the terrors from the old world don’t catch up with her first.


The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Simon Pulse)
A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up. Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead. As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.


February 26th:

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)
Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she's, in fact, one of Quadara's most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara's most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara's queens dead. With no other choices and on the run from Keralie's former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation's four dead queens.


Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Scholastic Press)
Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered--down to their youngest child, Princess Anya--and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn't think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father's vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol. That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia's sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare. Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail.


Raising Monsters (The Legacy Chronicles #5) by Pittacus Lore (Kindle Edition, 100 pages, published by HarperCollins)
This is the fifth 100-page novella, continuing the exhilarating story of fan favorite characters Six and Sam. The two Garde must escape the clutches of an old enemy they thought had been defeated long ago. Contrary to what the government would have the world believe, not all of the Mogadorians are safely imprisoned. A small contingent of the alien invaders has been in hiding, working on a vicious plan for revenge and foiling Six and Sam’s every move. Even the couple’s failed attempt to rescue Ghost was nothing but a trap, and now they’ve been abducted by their old foes. Held captive in an impenetrable underground bunker, they’ll have to find each other and then somehow find a way out if they’re going to have any hope of survival. But with their Legacies still on the fritz and Mogs out for blood it may be nearly impossible. Luckily, Six and Sam have more than a few allies with powers of their own who can help… if they’re not too late.


The Dysasters by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Wednesday Books)
Foster Stewart knows she's different. Her life has never been "normal." Talking to plants and controlling cloud formations aren't things most seventeen year olds are into. Tate "Nighthawk" Taylor is perfect. Star quarterback and all around dreamy boy next door he never thought about his "extra" abilities. What quarterback wouldn't want night vision? That's not weird, right? It's cool! But on the night of their first meeting a deadly tornado brings them together and awakens their true abilities - the power to control the element air. Unbeknown to Tate and Foster, they are the first in a group of teens that were genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements. Which truly sucks for Foster, as she has to face the fact that Dr. Rick Stewart, her beloved scientist father, betrayed her and now wants to use her and the others for his own nefarious world domination plot. Foster and Tate must stop Dr. Stewart and his minions before he destroys their lives and the world.


We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society. And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?



(sources: Goodreads.com 1 2 3, Tor.com 1 2 3 4 5 6,
io9.gizmodo.com, Barnes&Noble 1 2 3, Bookbub.com 1 2 3 4 5 6)

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