New Releases, Week of March 20, 2011

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Here’s a list of all of the sci-fi and fantasy coming out this week.

Released Monday, March 21st, 2011

Those that Wake, by Jesse Karp

They tell me that Those That Wake is science fiction. I can certainly live with that; I have a great love for that genre and whole-heartedly embrace its possibilities. But the truth is, that’s not really what I set out to write. I was trying to tell a scary story, something eerie and uncomfortable. Horror, if you will. Not horror in the classical sense, because I’ve got to admit that classic horror doesn’t scare me that much. While a madman with a knife would, I am sure, terrify me if I ever actually encountered one, I have experienced them so many times in books and films that they have somewhat lost their sense of threat. Vampires have become so iconic that their lurking menace feels all but gone for me. I guess what I’m saying is that horror standards just don’t appeal to my sense of fear.

Here’s what does scare me: that the world doesn’t work the way you think it does; that the terrible thing you always thought was impossible turns out to be true; that dark forces you can never see or name actually control your life; that the people you count on the most cannot, orwill not, help you. That’s the book I set out to write.

This certainly has precedent in science fiction. Philp K. Dick leaps immediately to mind. William Sleator’s House of Stairs, a powerful book in that style, was pivotal in my reading life. Movies likeInvasion of the Body Snatchers and the lesser known but also incredible Seconds are ideal examples. So if you want to call it science fiction, that’s okay by me. Like good science fiction, my wish would be that you find its subtext worth considering, too.

But I do hope it scares you, at least a little.

–Jesse Karp

Released Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, book 3), by Carrie Ryan

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah’s world stopped that day and she’s been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn’t feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.

Except, Catcher has his own secrets — dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah’s longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah — can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?

In the Arms of Stone Angels, by Jordan Dane

Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend–the first boy she ever loved–of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac “White Bird” Henry isn’t in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she’s pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn’t understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she’s up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she’s as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won’t turn her back on him. She’s the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret–a “gift” she’s kept hidden her whole life.

Invincible: The Chronicles of Nick (book 2), by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Nick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.

His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.

But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them…

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy), by Lauren DeStefano

When scientists engineered genetically perfect children, everyone thought it would ensure the future of the human race. Though the first generation is nearly immortal, a virus causes all successive generations to die early: age 20 for women, 25 for men. Now, girls are kidnapped for brothels or polygamous marriages to breed children. Rhine is taken from her hardscrabble life and sold with two other girls to Linden Ashby. Though they live in a palatial Florida home surrounded by gardens and treated like royalty, the girls are sequestered from the outside world, and Rhine longs to escape. Her growing affection for her sister wives, her pity for Linden, and her fear of Housemaster Vaughn, Linden’s manipulative father, keep her uncomfortably docile, until she falls for servant Gabriel. This character-driven dystopia, more thoughtful than thrilling, sets up an arresting premise that succeeds because of Rhine’s poignant, conflicted narrative and DeStefano’s evocative prose. Many will appreciate the intense character drama; however, the world building is underdeveloped, with holes in internal logic.Still, this first title in the Chemical Garden Trilogy will surely be popular.

Runescape: Return to Canifis (Runescape 2), by T. S. Church

Varrock is the greatest human city in the world, yet it is filled with dangerous secrets. People are being taken by an inhuman abductor. Its victims are murdered… or  worse, spirited away to Morytania, where vampires rule.

As unrest against the crown grows, the King chooses to send the now-famous Kara-Meir and her friends across the holy river into Morytania, the land of the dead.

Kings of the North (The Deed of Paksenarrion), by Elizabeth Moon

The languorous sequel to 2010’s Oath of Fealty finds many characters moving up in the world, including Kieri Phelan, the king of Lyonya, and Dorrin, now Duke Verrakai. Now those newly stationed must deal with assassination attempts, counterfeiting, and a new enemy who has taken to calling himself Duke Visla Vaskronin. Kieri doesn’t understand why his elven grandmother and co-ruler, the Lady, often refuses to come when he needs her, even when a war with the Pargunese and their possibly unbeatable weapon is imminent. He will also discover that his elven heritage runs stronger than he thought. The pace is slow enough to immerse readers in the world as the characters are immersed in self-discovery, with larger events impending but usually not seen directly. There’s action a-plenty, but this series most appeals to readers who enjoy their fantasy more thoughtful and intellectual.

Spirit Dances, by C. E. Murphy

For Seattle detective Joanne Walker, spring is about new beginnings. She’s mastered her shamanic abilities (mostly), survived a cannibalistic serial killer (barely) and now she’s facing the biggest challenge of her career—attending a dance concert with her sexy boss, Captain Michael Morrison. But when the performance—billed as transformative—actually changes her into a coyote, she and Morrison have bigger things to deal with.

And there’s more. Homeless people are disappearing, a mystical murder puts Joanne way out of her jurisdiction and with the full moon coming on, it’s looking like the killer is a creature that can’t possibly exist.

But Jo could probably handle all of that, if one ordinary homicide hadn’t pushed her to the very edge….

Enigmatic Pilot: A Tall Tale Too True, by Kris Saknussemm

Outrageous and baffling, this puzzle-packed yarn seems to fall in the same (non)category as Saknussem’s Zanesville (2005), combining the fusty diction of Charles Portis and the deadpan weirdness of Thomas Pynchon. Readers meet little Lloyd Meadhorn Sitturd as a young genius who resists the stifling social pressures of antebellum Ohio while creating marvelous, disturbing inventions. When Lloyd and his parents head west in search of better prospects, the boy encounters numerous wonders: a riverboat gambler with a deadly mechanical hand, a 13-year-old escaped slave who becomes Lloyd’s lover, automatons masquerading as people. The setting is convincingly gritty, and the action darts wildly from scene to scene as Lloyd develops a sense of personal responsibility—until an abrupt viewpoint shift throws, literally, everything into doubt. Readers who don’t expect all riddles to have answers will find this surreal adventure delightful.

Hidden Cities (Moshui: The Books of Stone and Water), by Daniel Fox

The conclusion of Fox’s trilogy set in a magical version of ancient China (Dragon in Chains; Jade Man’s Skin) mixes action with scenes that feel like timeless, almost perfect moments. The emperor is exiled, and his pregnant beloved is being targeted by assassins. Rebels battle for control of the nation. An island-dwelling dragon is linked to the boy Han in ways neither understands, and an old man bargains with the dragon for access to the sea in which she was once imprisoned. While some try remaking the dragon’s chains, others learn that the best way to escape their own bonds is to relax. The result is an oddly pleasing feel of unhurried harmony even while the world seems ready to tear itself apart. The story and conclusion alike retain Fox’s hallmark graceful prose and pace.

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man (Burton & Swinburne in), by Mark Hodder

It is 1862, though not the 1862 it should be

Time has been altered, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the king’s agent, is one of the few people who know that the world is now careening along a very different course from that which Destiny intended.

When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection—black diamonds rumored to be fragments of the Lemurian Eye of Naga, a meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times.

His investigation leads to involvement with the media sensation of the age: the Tichborne Claimant, a man who insists that he’s the long lost heir to the cursed Tichborne estate. Monstrous, bloated, and monosyllabic, he’s not the aristocratic Sir Roger Tichborne known to everyone, yet the working classes come out in force to support him. They are soon rioting through the streets of London, as mysterious steam wraiths incite all-out class warfare.

From a haunted mansion to the Bedlam madhouse, from South America to Australia, from seances to a secret labyrinth, Burton struggles with shadowy opponents and his own inner demons, meeting along the way the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Doyle (father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

Can the king’s agent expose a plot that threatens to rip the British Empire apart, leading to an international conflict the like of which the world has never seen? And what part does the clockwork man have to play?

Burton and Swinburne’s second adventure—The Clockwork Man Of Trafalgar Square—is filled with eccentric steam-driven technology, grotesque characters, and a deepening mystery that pushes forward the three-volume story arc begun in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.

Black Halo (The Aeons’ Gate, Book 2), by Sam Sykes

THE TOME OF THE UNDERGATES HAS BEEN RECOVERED

…and the gates of hell remain closed. Lenk and his five companions set sail to bring the accursed relic away from the demonic reach of Ulbecetonth, the Kraken Queen. But after weeks at sea, tensions amidst the adventurers are rising. Their troubles are only beginning when their ship crashes upon an island made of the bones left behind from a war long dead.

And it appears that bloodthirsty alien warrior women, fanatical beasts from the deep, and heretic-hunting wizards are the least of their concerns. Haunted by their pasts, plagued by their gods, tormented by their own people, and gripped by madness personal and peculiar, their greatest foes may yet be themselves.

The reach of Ulbecetonth is longer than hell can hold.

Released Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The Neon Court: Or, the Betrayal of Matthew Swift (book 3), by Kate Griffin

War is coming to London. A daimyo of the Neon Court is dead and all fingers point towards their ancient enemy – The Tribe. And when magicians go to war, everyone loses.

But Matthew Swift has his own concerns. He has been summoned abruptly, body and soul, to a burning tower and to the dead body of Oda, warrior of The Order and known associate of Swift. There’s a hole in her heart and the symbol of the Midnight Mayor drawn in her own blood. Except, she is still walking and talking and has a nasty habit of saying ‘we’ when she means ‘I.’

Now, Swift faces the longest night of his life. Lady Neon herself is coming to London and the Tribe is ready to fight. Strange things stalk this night: a rumored ‘chosen one,’ a monster that burns out the eyes of its enemies, and a walking dead woman. Swift must stop a war, protect his city, and save his friend – if she’ll stop trying to kill him long enough for him to try.

The Enterprise of Death, by Jesse Bullington

As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave finds herself the unwilling apprentice of an ancient necromancer. Unfortunately, quitting his company proves even more hazardous than remaining his pupil when she is afflicted with a terrible curse. Yet salvation may lie in a mysterious tome her tutor has hidden somewhere on the war-torn continent.

She sets out on a seemingly impossible journey to find the book, never suspecting her fate is tied to three strangers: the artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, the alchemist Dr. Paracelsus, and a gun-slinging Dutch mercenary. As Manuel paints her macabre story on canvas, plank, and church wall, the young apprentice becomes increasingly aware that death might be the least of her concerns.

Released Friday, March 25th, 2011

The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse, by Steven C. Schlozman

Presented as the journal kept by a neuroscientist investigating the medical causes of zombiism, Schlozman’s clever debut shows that there’s still life left in the overworked horror theme of the living dead. Dr. Stanley Blum is already infected (as is two-thirds of humankind) with ataxic neurodegenerative satiety deficiency syndrome (ANSD)—the virus that makes flesh-eating zombies lurch and lunch—when he decamps to Bassas da India, an island overseen by the U.N., to vivisect captive zombies in the hope of isolating the pathogen before he succumbs to it. Schlozman makes the science both accessible and plausible. In lieu of a meaty plot, he provides a grim vision of zombie apocalypse and a surprise explanation for the virus’s origin. Printed as a handwritten diary and illustrated in gory glory with clinical drawings by Andrea Sparacio, this book is sure to be scarfed up by ravenous zombiephiles.

List from Borders.com and descriptions/reviews from Amazon.com

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