What We’re Looking Forward To In October

What We’re Looking Forward To is, as the name indicates, a monthly feature where we talk about what books we’re most excited to check in the coming month. 

From João:

There has always been in me a potent interest for everything war related; I blame it on growing up imagining armies of orcs and men battling on the fields of Pelennor. The synopsis of the latest Greg Bear book, War Dogslooks immensely interesting, and it reminds me of Haldeman’s The Forever War,   and, more recently, of Will McIntosh’s Defenders.

War DogsThey made their presence on Earth known thirteen years ago.
Providing technology and scientific insights far beyond what mankind was capable of. They became indispensable advisors and promised even more gifts that we just couldn’t pass up. We called them Gurus.
It took them a while to drop the other shoe. You can see why, looking back.
It was a very big shoe, completely slathered in crap.
They had been hounded by mortal enemies from sun to sun, planet to planet, and were now stretched thin — and they needed our help.
And so our first bill came due. Skyrines like me were volunteered to pay the price. As always.
These enemies were already inside our solar system and were moving to establish a beachhead, but not on Earth.
On Mars
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I have never read any genre fiction from China, and since Cixin Liu‘s The Three-Body Problem appears to be one of the great works to have come out of that scene, now published in English through Tor, and translated by the amazing Ken Liu, I am l0oking forward to give this one a shot.

The Three-Body ProblemThree-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

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This one is bound to arrive in my doorstep at any moment. I am a bit apprehensive because I am very sensitive to non-standard narration techniques and might give up on the book because of it, but Lavie Tidhar‘s The Violent Century has an incredible review buzz around it and the premise is right up my alley. Very excited for this one.

The Violent CenturyJohn le Carré meets Alan Moore’s The Watchmen in this stunning novel by one of science fiction’s most original voices.

For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism – a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields – to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?

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From Rita:

Although I haven’t yet read The Mark of Athena and The House of Hades, I’m really looking forward to read The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. It’s the conclusion to a great story, and I just cannot let Percy go… (but I’ll have to wait until the edition of the House of Hades with the cover I love is released so that I’m able to finish the series).


The Blood of Olympus
Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

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After reading The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, I decided that I just had to read more things from those two authors. After some research, I found The Couldest Girl in Coldtown and it seemed the perfect thriller to read over the winter.

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

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And George R. R. Martin does it again. The World of Ice and Fire promises to deliver a book full of “new history”, amazing illustrations, and, let’s hope, some hints of plot development. The pre-order is made, and now all we need is to wait.

The World of Ice and FireIf the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork—the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time
—warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice and Fire.

This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site Westeros.org—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.

Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers. It is a chronicle which stretches from the Dawn Age to the Age of Heroes; from the Coming of the First Men to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror; from Aegon’s establishment of the Iron Throne to Robert’s Rebellion and the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which has set into motion the “present-day” struggles of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice and Fire is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords

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What We’re Looking Forward To In September

What We’re Looking Forward To is, as the name indicates, a monthly feature where we talk about what books we’re most excited to check in the coming month. 

From João:

This is, by far, my most anticipated book for 2015. I have fallen in love with Ken Liu‘s short fiction ever since I read his multiple award-winning story Paper Menagerie – which you can read here, – and The Grace of Kings, his novel debut, promises to be one of the best this next year. The novel will be published by the new imprint SAGA Press, and you can get a taste for it in his story None Owns The Air, published in Lightspeed Magazine, which is based in the same world.

The Grace of KingsTwo men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

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K.J. Parker is one of those authors that is constantly featured on every underappreciated authors list and I have yet to see a negative thing written about her writings. I am expecting great things from The Folding Knife.

The Folding KnifeBasso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man.

He is ruthless, cunning, and above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he’s only ever made one mistake.

One mistake, though, can be enough

 

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I am cheating a bit here since I have already reviewed this book on this blog, but City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett is poised to be one of the most talked about books this year and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t do spectacularly well both critically and commercially. You have to check out this book.

City of StairsThe city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

From Rita:

I first heard of The Iron Trial after some of my favourite booktubers went to BEA and received an ARC. Although I have never read anything by Holly Black, I have heard very good things about her writing… and well I really, really like Cassandra Clare books. Now that I have my copy (thanks to Netgalley) I’m just going to have to devour it, because who doesn’t love a book about mages and magic school?


1395846739000-IronTrialCover

From the imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping plunge into the magical unknown.

Think you know magic?

Think again.

The Magisterium awaits . . .

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt.

Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing.

Now he must enter the Magisterium.

It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .

 

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Marissa Meyer is one of my favourite authors, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my ultimate favourite sagas and I just can’t get enough of it. So, obviously, when I heard of this companion I was in heaven! You’ve got to love a good villan, and Levana fits the profile perfectly…


22489107In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

What We’re Looking Forward To In August

What We’re Looking Forward To is, as the name indicates, a monthly feature where we talk about what books we’re most excited to check in the coming month. 

From João:

I will be the first to say that I truly dreaded reading Lev Grossman‘s The Magician King and ended the experience by firmly stating that I would not be reading the next installment. Alas, you all know how fickle some resolutions are. Let’s hope Grossman lets go of his juvenile ramblings and detestable characters and delivers on the promises that made me enjoy the first book so much.

The Magician's Land

Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. Everything he had fought so hard for, not to mention his closest friends, is sealed away in a land Quentin may never again visit. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. Meanwhile, the magical barriers that keep Fillory safe are failing, and barbarians from the north have invaded. Eliot and Janet, the rulers of Fillory, embark on a final quest to save their beloved world, only to discover a situation far more complex—and far more dire—than anyone had envisioned.

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A fantasy debut from author Ben Peek, The Godless sounds like the type of book that is right up my alley, with imaginative magic emanating from dead gods and besieging armies. Certainly one of my most anticipated reads for this month.

The GodlessThe Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world’s ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea.

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A retelling of the Snow White fairytale from Catherynne M. Valente, the same author who has given us The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Six-Gun Snow White has been nominated for pretty much all the major genre awards and is receiving glowing reviews from everywhere. This will be the first time I read anything written by Valente, but I am certain this won’t be my last.

Six Gun Snow WhiteA plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother’s death in childbirth, so begins a heroine’s tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, readers will be enchanted by this story at once familiar and entirely new

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I will be honest and say that I have no idea what to expect from Kameron Hurley‘s The Mirror Empire. The concept seems intriguing, the cover art is drop-dead gorgeous, and Hurley herself, whose essay We Have Always Fought is nominated for an Hugo, is a regular recommended read online. Though not a huge fan of grimdark as a framework, I am looking forward to this one.

The Mirror EmpireOn the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself. In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress. Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself. In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

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From Rita:

When I saw the synopsis of I Kill The Mockingbird I immediately thought that I had to have it. It has everything in a book that I love: a story based in one of my favorite classics (To Kill a Mockingbird), a story about books, it pretends to honor teachers everywhere, and, finally, it is a story that seeks to inspire people to read. I already have it in my Kobo and I’m sure that I will be reading it in the following month. (And look at that cover, isn’t it just asking to be read and loved?)

18465605When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.

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Last week, when João and I were at the movies, we overheard a conversation where a little girl was telling her grandmother that when you break a pinky swear promise you will die right on the spot. When I saw this book’s review from The Book Smugglers, I just laughed out loud and decided that I definitely had to read it.

13643064Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
A gripping YA action-adventure fantasy, the first part of a planned duology.

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I have something to confess: I am one of those awful persons who, more times than I care to admit, often judges a book by its cover. You have to understand, who can resist a cover such as this one? When I first saw it on Tumblr I immediately fell in love with it, and, when I read its description, it was just impossible for me to resist. 

18047651Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam-a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion-a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant
“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?