Must Reads of March 2014 (SF, Fantasy, and Horror)

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for March (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. These are in no particular order. 


codezeroCode Zero (Joe Ledger) by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s-March 25th)

Synopsis-For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?

Code Zero, a Joe Ledger novel from Jonathan Maberry, is the exciting direct sequel to Patient Zero.


theshibbolethThe Shibboleth by John Hornor Jacobs (Carolrhoda Labs-March 1st)
Synopsis-“There are certain shibboleths to our condition.”

At the end of the first book of The Twelve-Fingered Boy Trilogy, Jack and Shreve are incarcerado—physically locked up. Shreve’s back in the custody of the state of Arkansas, and Jack’s somewhere in the clutches of Mr. Quincrux—both problems Shreve aims to rectify.

Cages might hold Shreve’s body, but the power that’s been growing since his encounter with Quincrux has reached a pinnacle. Nothing can prevent his mind from scaling the etheric heights. Freed from his body, Shreve discovers the magnitude of the evil that’s stirring in the east. The wave of insomnia that’s paralyzed the nation is only the beginning.

To save Jack—and maybe all of the humanity he no longer feels part of—Shreve has no choice but to join Quincrux and the Society of Extranaturals.


blackmoonBlack Moon by Kenneth Calhoun (Crown-March 4th)
Synopsis-Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows. Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world. Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.

He ventures out into a world ransacked by mass confusion and desperation, where he meets others struggling against the tide of sleeplessness. Chase and his buddy Jordan are devising a scheme to live off their drug-store lootings; Lila is a high school student wandering the streets in an owl mask, no longer safe with her insomniac parents; Felicia abandons the sanctuary of a sleep research center to try to protect her family and perhaps reunite with Chase, an ex-boyfriend. All around, sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it. However, Biggs persists in his quest for Carolyn, finding a resolve and inner strength that he never knew he had.

Kenneth Calhoun has written a brilliantly realized and utterly riveting depiction of a world gripped by madness, one that is vivid, strange, and profoundly moving.

Here’s why this one is, indeed, a must read.


notesfromNotes From the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone (St. Martin’s-March 4th)
Synopsis-When the Internet suddenly stops working, society reels from the loss of flowing data and streaming entertainment. Addicts wander the streets talking to themselves in 140 characters or forcing cats to perform tricks for their amusement, while the truly desperate pin their requests for casual encounters on public bulletin boards. The economy tumbles and the government passes the draconian NET Recovery Act.

For Gladstone, the Net’s disappearance comes particularly hard, following the loss of his wife, leaving his flask of Jamesons and grandfather’s fedora as the only comforts in his Brooklyn apartment. But there are rumors that someone in New York is still online. Someone set apart from this new world where Facebook flirters “poke” each other in real life and members of Anonymous trade memes at secret parties. Where a former librarian can sell information as a human search engine and the perverted fulfill their secret fetishes at the blossoming Rule 34 club. With the help of his friends—-a blogger and a webcam girl, both now out of work—-Gladstone sets off to find the Internet. But is he the right man to save humanity from this Apocalypse?

For those of you wondering if you have WiFi right now, Wayne Gladstone’s Notes from the Internet Apocalypse examines the question “What is life without the Web?”


theweirdnessThe Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell (Melville House-March 4th)
Synopsis-At thirty, Billy Ridgeway still hasn’t gotten around to becoming a writer; he thinks too much to get anything done, really, except making sandwiches at a Greek deli with his buddy Anil. But the Devil shows up with fancy coffee one morning, promising to make Billy’s dream of being published come true: as long as Billy steals The Neko of Infinite Equilibrium, a cat-shaped statue with magical powers, from the most powerful warlock in the Eastern United States.

The Devil’s bidding sends Billy on a wild chase through New York City, through which Billy discovers his own strength, harnessing his powers as a hell-wolf and finally fighting the warlock face-to-face. God even makes a guest appearance, and He’s not who you thought He was.

Bushnell’s stunningly imaginative debut is about finding meaning in life, confronting your biggest critics, and discovering that a boring life might be the best life of all.


hungerandhowlingThe Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone (Marble Arch-March 11th)
Synopsis-Killian Lone comes from a long line of gifted cooks, stretching back to the seven­teenth century, and yearns to become a famous chef himself. When he starts an apprenticeship under Max Mann, the most famous chef in London, he looks set to continue the family tradition. But the reality of kitchen life is brutal. Even his fellow apprentice, Kathryn, who shows Killian uncharacteristic kindness, can’t stop his being sucked into the vicious, debauched world of 1980s fine dining, and gradually he is forced to surrender his dream.

Then he discovers a dark family secret—the legacy of an ancestor who was burnt as a witch for creating food so delicious it was said to turn all who tasted it mad. Killian knows he can use this secret to achieve his ambitions and maybe, finally, to win Kathryn’s affections. But is he willing to pay the price?

This is Killian’s confession—a strange tragedy about love, ambition andincredible food . . .

I was fortunate enough to review this one for Library Journal, and it’s a dark, delicious, and very twisted faerie tale!


truthandfearTruth and Fear by Peter Higgins (Orbit-March 25th)
Synopsis-Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air raids are a daily occurrence and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defense of the city.

But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.

But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?


theburningdarkThe Burning Dark by Adam Christopher (Tor-March 25th)
Synopsis-Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.

But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?


deadroadsDeadroads by Robin Riopelle (Night Shade Books-March 17th (ebook))
Synopsis-Lutie always wanted a pet ghost—but the devil’s in the details.

The Sarrazins have always stood apart from the rest of their Bayou-born neighbors. Almost as far as they prefer to stand from each other. Blessed—or cursed—with the uncanny ability to see beyond the spectral plane, Aurie has raised his children, Sol, Baz, and Lutie, in the tradition of the traiteur, finding wayward spirits and using his special gift to release them along Deadroads into the afterworld. The family, however, fractured by their clashing egos, drifted apart, scattered high and low across the continent.

But tragedy serves to bring them together. When Aurie, while investigating a series of ghastly (and ghostly) murders, is himself killed by a devil, Sol, EMT by day and traiteur by night, Baz, a traveling musician with a truly spiritual voice, and Lutie, combating her eerie visions with antipsychotics, are thrown headlong into a world of gory sprites, brilliant angels, and nefarious demons—small potatoes compared to reconciling their familial differences.

From the Louisiana swamps to the snowfields of the north and everywhere in between, Deadroads summons you onto a mysterious trail of paranormal proportions.


thedetaineeThe Detainee by Peter Liney (Quercus-March 11th)
Synopsis-Peter Liney honed his strong narrative skills and attention to detail during his long career as a writer of German, Australian, British, and South African television and radio programs. In his debut novel, The Detainee, Liney has crated a dystopian world in which the state has gone bust and can no longer support its weakest members.

The Island is a place of hopelessness. The Island is death. And it is to this place that all the elderly and infirm are shipped, the scapegoats for the collapse of society. There’s no escape, not from the punishment satellites that deliver instant judgment for any crime—including escape attempts—and not from the demons that come on foggy nights, when the satellites are all but blind. But when one of the Island’s inhabitants, the aging “Big Guy” Clancy, finds a network of tunnels beneath the waste, there is suddenly hope—for love, for escape, and for the chance to fight back.


fiftysevenlivesThe Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare by MG Buehrlen (Strange Chemistry-March 4th)
Synopsis-For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.


nightbrokenNight Broken by Patricia Briggs (Ace-March 11th)
Synopsis-An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from a stalker. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s stalker is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

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