October New Releases

There is nothing more exciting than the release of an amazing sounding book. I for one love the whole process of book releases: the slow reveal of the title, the cover, the synopsis, extracts and teasers, and then, finally, the publication day. So here is my personal list of books I’m looking forward to this month with their UK release dates.

Books I can’t wait for:
The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst – 22nd October
17738211Description:

Lost your way? Your dreams?

Yourself?

Welcome to Lost.

It was supposed to be a small escape. A few hours driving before turning around and heading home. But once you arrive in Lost…well, it’s a place you really can’t leave. Not until you’re Found. Only the Missing Man can send you home. And he took one look at Lauren Chase and disappeared.

So Lauren is now trapped in the town where all lost things go-luggage, keys, dreams, lives-where nothing is permanent, where the locals go feral and where the only people who don’t want to kill her are a handsome wild man called the Finder and a knife-wielding six-year-old girl. The only road out of town is engulfed by an impassable dust storm, and escape is impossible….

Until Lauren decides nothing-and no one-is going to keep her here anymore.

Across A Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2) by Diana Peterfreund
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Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

The Broken Hearted by Amelia Kahaney – 8th October
14498145Description:
A teenage girl is transformed into a reluctant superhero and must balance her old life with the dark secret of who she has become.

Prima ballerina Anthem Fleet is closely guarded by her parents in their penthouse apartment. But when she meets the handsome Gavin at a party on the wrong side of town, she is immediately drawn into his dangerous world. Then, in a tragic accident, Anthem falls to her death. She awakes in an underground lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest. As she navigates her new life, she uncovers the sinister truth behind those she trusted the most, and the chilling secret of her family lineage…and her duty to uphold it.

The Dark Knight meets Cinder in this gripping and cinematic story of heartbreak and revenge. From Alloy Entertainment, this inventive new superhero story is sure to captivate any reader.

Tandem (Many-World Trilogy #1) by Anna Jarzab – 8th October
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Everything repeats.
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives–infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she’ll be trapped in another girl’s life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love–one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she’s someone she’s not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing–and no one–is what it seems.

Books that have caught my eye:
Perfect Ruin (the Interment Chronicles #1)  by Lauren DeStefano – 1st October
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On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

Waterfell (The Aquarathi #1) by Amalie Howard – 29th October
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THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

Backward Glass by David Lomax – 8th October
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Crack your head, knock you dead, then Prince Harming’s hunger’s fed.

It’s 1977, and Kenny Maxwell is dreading the move away from his friends. But then, behind the walls of his family’s new falling-apart Victorian home, he finds something incredible–a mummified baby and a note: “Help me make it not happen, Kenny. Help me stop him.”

Shortly afterwards, a beautiful girl named Luka shows up. She introduces Kenny to the backward glass, a mirror that allows them to travel through time. Meeting other “mirror kids” in the past and future is exciting, but there’s also danger. The urban legend of Prince Harming, who kidnaps and kills children, is true–and he’s hunting them. When Kenny gets stranded in the past, he must find the courage to answer a call for help, change the fate of a baby–and confront his own destiny.

That’s my list for July, what about you? What books are you most looking forward to this month?

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Book Review: Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

16124692Title: Necessary Evil

Author: Ian Tregillis

Series: Milkweed Triptych #3

Cover Comment: Screams military, but I like it.

Rating: 4 stars

Review:

(Spoilers for the first two books in the series.)

To be given the chance to undo the mistakes of his past, to not only change the fate of his family but also save the world, Raybould Marsh has agreed to trust his most despised enemy. Gretel is one of the few living genetic experiments created by the mad Dr Von Westarp, who were used as soldiers during the Second World War. She can see the future, and has used her powers to kill Marsh’s infant daughter once already. But the only wait to save his baby, and everyone else, is to trust Gretel. As the Eidolons – a race of god-like beings who abhor humans – destroy the world Gretel is able to send Marsh back in time from 1963 to 1940 in order to save this time line from destruction and redeem himself.

Necessary Evil is a very bittersweet book. After seeing Marsh become a shadow of the man he used to be in the last book, The Coldest War, he is given a chance to change history – but for a different version of himself. He gets to see his wife, when she still loved him, and his baby daughter, who has been dead for nearly twenty years, but can’t reveal who he truly is. Marsh’s pain and loneliness is visible throughout the novel, and heart-wrenching to read.

The comparisons between Old Marsh and Young Marsh is interesting to read. Both are obviously stubborn and determined to protect their family,  but Old Marsh has become better at scheming and manipulating people: more willing to do the “necessary evil” in order to reach his goals. His loneliness has hardened him, and the possibility of saving his child has made him desperate. Yet, despite these faults, Old Marsh is a constantly sympathetic character.

The few insights we get into Gretel’s mind are fascinating, in a very disturbing way. She has been described as “evil” constantly throughout the series, and these chapters certainly show she is unstable and obsessive, willing to kill anyone who gets in her way. No-one is safe, and a few key characters are killed in a fairly gruesome way.

Ultimately, this is a satisfying and emotional ending to a great series.

4 stars.

Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

17855844Title: The Shining Girls

Author: Lauren Beukes

Rating: 2 stars

Cover Comments: Fairly standard, though I do like the graphics on the word “shining”.

Review:
Discovering a key that allows him into a house that travels through time could be the escape from a bleak life during the Great Depression that Harper Curtis needs. But Harper finds himself drawn to darker, more twisted desires. As he journeys between the 1920s and the 1990s, Harper searches for his shining girls; brilliant girls who practically burn with potential. He hunts these girls out, gives them a gift and a promise they will meet again.

It’ll be the last meeting they ever have.

Harper crosses through the years, taking these shining girls spark away from them, one after another, until one girl somehow manages to survive. Kirby will never be the same again after the gruesome attack that nearly killed her. Scarred both physically and mentally, she is determined to hunt down her unknown assailant and bring him to justice. After hunting through news articles and chasing down possible leads, Kirby begins to suspect that these murders seem to be spanning over seventy years. But how can that be possible? And can she stop him before he kills again?

This novel sounds like a fascinating mix of sci-fi and thriller, full of tension, death, and the twisted psychological workings of a serial killer. Sadly though, The Shining Girls fails to live up to this great premise. Ultimately, the house that allows Harper to time travel is little more than a gimmick that is never fully explained. It just is. In fact, “it just is” seems to be the explanation for most of the novel. Why is Harper a killer? He just is. Why does he choose these “shining” girls? He just does. How does the House work? It just does. I could go on. Once the time travel theme is used, all that is left is a standard thriller, with nothing particularly amazing to make the novel worth much interest. This includes very poor “investigative” skills on part of the mine character Kirby, who seems to get lucky with her search more than anything else which proves to be very annoying.

There are several major questions left unanswered about the serial killer. Harper is not a character: he is a plot device. He has no history, no depth, and nothing interesting other than his narrated action, which only serve to tell the story. This novel could have been a fascinating study of motives and the inner workings of a serial killer. Instead we simply get a blow by blow account of his actions, which reads as dryly during a murder scene as it does during his daily routine. We are told what he does, but not why he does it. There is no real explanation as to how or why Harper chooses his victims. What exactly is it that makes them shine? This leads to another problem: the unquestioned sexism that rises from the stereotypical portray of a male serial killer who only ever attacks women (who are frequently referred to as “girls” in a very patronising tone). Issues have been raised by other reviews about the gendered violence against women (The Book Smugglers have a great review which looks at this), which is used in a graphic and often sexualised way. As well as this, there is also the issue of the serial killer being a man. Though there have been many male serial killers who target women, the problem The Shining Girls has is that it is treated as the norm, never challenged and only ever mentioned once in the text: “Always a ‘him’, these perpetrators of terrible violence upon women. As if women were incapable of evil.” This idea is is then dropped completely from the novel. Even a brief description at what drove Harper to murder would have helped these issues, but sadly there wasn’t one to be found.

With these problems, and others (unnecessary gore and sex, the use of the murder victims as devices to show how disturbed Harper is, and a slightly creepy romantic angle between Kirby and a journalist who acts more like a father figure) I’m afraid this book simply didn’t shine for me. For more of these issues in greater detail see Wendy Darling’s brilliant review.

2 stars

Book Review: Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell

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Title: Man in the Empty Suit

Author: Sean Ferrell

Rating: 2.5 stars

Cover Comments: Simple, though the coloured silhouette of the man is very eye catching.

Review:

Time travel can be messy business. Especially if you celebrate your birthday every year with your former and future selves in an abandoned hotel, watching your younger selves get unashamedly drunk, whilst your older selves shake their heads in pity at how stupid and reckless you used to be. But this is where we find our unnamed protagonist, on the eve of his 39th birthday, preparing eagerly for his party as this year he gets to be ‘The Suit’.

However, his night is ruined when he discovers ‘The Body’: himself at age 40, dead. It turns out the Elder versions of him have been hiding this conspiracy from the youths, and it’s up to The Suit to determine what exactly happened, and how to stop it. Only 41, The Drunk, knows how to escape this fate, but he’s in no state to help. Things become even more complicated when an outsider, Lily, arrives at the party for the first time ever. Can she help, or is she just at risk? Can The Suit save himself?

This was an interesting concept that sadly didn’t work out for me.

Firstly, there is a huge problem with the time travel element of the book. Basically, you can either have the ‘time is linear’ theory (everything that happened happened, you can’t change history), or the multiverse theory (travel to another universe where you can change things because it’s not actually your time line). To make a time travel novel successful you have to pick one theory and stick to it, especially if this is the centre fold of your entire premise. Man in the Empty Suit, however, doesn’t do this. It starts with a linear idea of time, then suddenly revels that it can be changed, even in a small way. Since there is no mention of other universes, we must just assume that the author doesn’t understand these rules.

Now, the other issues I had was with the characters and the pacing.

I found both the nameless main character and the mysterious woman Lily to be fairly unlikable. You never really connect with either, despite being inside his head. All I can tell you is he’s arrogant, self-loathing, and an alcoholic. Even when surrounded by his other selves, the main character can only pity the Youngsters and resent the Elders, all whilst seeing his current self as better. Perhaps this is a comment by the author about how our perceives change over time, and how we view ourselves, always comparing how we used to be to what we are now, and what we’d like to become. But it seemed that the protagonist never learns from his this, only ever seeing his current state as been right.

As for Lily, even after hearing her story I found it hard to care. She felt a little tacked-on, more of a plot device to give The Suit a motive and a romantic interest, and so she fell a bit flat to me.

I also disliked the pacing and sudden change from the party to six months before hand. I felt like the story would have worked better if had been isolated to the party. It would have given a tighter time constraint, causing more tension and interest.

A couple of other questions; what happened to the world in 2071? What did the time machine/raft actually look like and how did it work? What made him build one in the first place? Why come back to a rundown hotel in 2071, of all the points in history?

2.5 stars for the original and intriguing idea.