My Bookish Ways

May 2014 Must Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for May (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. 


gemsigns

Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (Jo Fletcher Books-May 6th)

Synopsis-Starburst magazine raved that Gemsigns, the first novel in a series, is “a fascinating and compelling read, exploring the boundaries of human behavior, religious influences, and the morality of the everyday person. It comes highly recommended.”

For years the human race was under attack from a deadly Syndrome, but when a cure was found – in the form of genetically engineered human beings, Gems—the line between survival and ethics was radically altered. Now the Gems are fighting for their freedom, from the oppression of the companies that created them, and against the Norms who see them as slaves. And a conference at which Dr Eli Walker has been commissioned to present his findings on the Gems is the key to that freedom. But with the Gemtech companies fighting to keep the Gems enslaved, and the horrifying godgangs determined to rid the earth of these ‘unholy’ creations, the Gems are up against forces that may just be too powerful to oppose.


featherboundFeather Bound by Sarah Raughley (Strange Chemistry-May 6th)
Synopsis-When Deanna’s missing friend Hyde turns up at his father’s funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But re-kindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret – and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn’t play along, and help the enemy destroy him…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella.


thebeesThe Bees by Laline Paull (Ecco-May 6th)
Synopsis-Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen. A feat of bravery grants her access to the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all–daring to challenge the Queen’s preeminence–enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the hive’s strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by a greater power: a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society–and lead her to perform unthinkable deeds.

Thrilling, suspenseful, and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees and its dazzling young heroine will forever change the way you look at the world outside your window.


midnightcrossroadMidnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris (Ace-May 6th)
Synopsis-Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…


authorityAuthority by Jeff VanderMeer (FSG-May 6th)
Synopsis-In the second volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, questions are answered, stakes are raised, and mysteries are deepened . . .

In Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer introduced Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. This was the first volume of a projected trilogy; well in advance of publication, translation rights had already sold around the world and a major movie deal had been struck.

Just months later, Authority, the second volume, is here. For thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X has taken the form of a series of expeditions monitored by a secret agency called the Southern Reach. After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez, aka “Control,” is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve. And the consequences will spread much further than that.

The Southern Reach trilogy will conclude in fall 2014 with Acceptance.

Here’s why I think Authority is a Must Read


americancraftsmenAmerican Craftsmen by Tom Doyle (Tor-May 6th
Synopsis-In modern America, two soldiers will fight their way through the magical legacies of Poe and Hawthorne to destroy an undying evil—if they don’t kill each other first.

US Army Captain Dale Morton is a magician soldier—a “craftsman.” After a black-ops mission gone wrong, Dale is cursed by a Persian sorcerer and haunted by his good and evil ancestors. Major Michael Endicott, a Puritan craftsman, finds gruesome evidence that the evil Mortons, formerly led by the twins Roderick and Madeline, have returned, and that Dale might be one of them.

Dale uncovers treason in the Pentagon’s highest covert ranks. He hunts for his enemies before they can murder him and Scherie, a new friend who knows nothing of his magic.

Endicott pursues Dale, divided between his duty to capture a rogue soldier and his desire to protect Dale from his would-be assassins. They will discover that the demonic horrors that have corrupted American magic are not bound by family or even death itself.


sparrowhillroadSparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire (DAW-May 6th)
Synopsis-Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.


theoversightThe Oversight by Charlie Fletcher (Orbit-May 6th)
Synopsis-“The end always happens faster than you think.”
Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five.

When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight’s London headquarters, she could answer their hopes for new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall.

This is why THE OVERSIGHT is a Must Read.


defendersDefenders by Will McIntosh (Orbit-May 13th)
Synopsis-When Earth is invaded by telepathic aliens, humanity responds by creating the defenders. They are the perfect warriors–seventeen feet tall, knowing and loving nothing but war, their minds closed to the aliens. The question is, what do you do with millions of genetically-engineered warriors once the war is won?

A novel of power, alliances, violence, redemption, sacrifice, and yearning for connection, DEFENDERS presents a revolutionary story of invasion, occupation, and resistance.


queenofthedarkthingsQueen of the Dark Things by C. Robert Cargill (HarperVoyager-May 13th)
Synopsis-Six months have passed since the wizard Colby lost his best friend to an army of fairies from the Limestone Kingdom, a realm of mystery and darkness beyond our own. But in vanquishing these creatures and banning them from Austin, Colby sacrificed the anonymity that protected him. Now word of his deeds has spread, and powerful enemies from the past—including one Colby considered a friend—have resurfaced to exact their revenge.

As darkness gathers around the city and time runs out, Colby has to turn to forces even darker than those he once battled for aid.


birdboxBird Box by Josh Malerman (HarperCollins-May 13th)
Synopsis-Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, Malorie has long dreamed of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but Malorie’s wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?


thenewblackThe New Black edited by Richard Thomas (Dark House Press-May 13th)
Synopsis-The New Black is a collection of twenty neo-noir stories exemplifying the best authors currently writing in this dark sub-genre. A mixture of horror, crime, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, and the grotesque—all with a literary bent—these stories are the future of genre-bending fiction.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Laird Barron
Stephen Graham Jones, “Father Son, Holy Rabbit”
Paul Tremblay, “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks”
Lindsay Hunter, “That Baby”
Roxane Gay, “How”
Kyle Minor, “The Truth and All Its Ugly”
Craig Clevenger, “Act of Contrition”
Micaela Morrissette, “The Familiars”
Richard Lange, “Fuzzyland”
Benjamin Percy, “Dial Tone”
Roy Kesey, “Instituto”
Craig Davidson, “Rust and Bone”
Rebecca Jones-Howe, “Blue Hawaii”
Joe Meno, “Children Are the Only Ones Who Blush”
Vanessa Veselka, “Christopher Hitchens”
Nik Korpon, “His Footsteps are Made of Soot”
Brian Evenson, “Windeye”
Craig Wallwork, “Dollhouse”
Tara Laskowski, “The Etiquette of Homicide”
Matt Bell, “Dredge”
Antonia Crane, “Sunshine for Adrienne”


fearfulsymmetriesFearful Symmetries edited by Ellen Datlow (ChiZine-May 20th)
Synopsis-“Every anthology is a balancing act, be it reprint or original, theme or unthemed. While I love editing themed anthologies, there’s something especially challenging and fun about moulding an anthology with fewer boundaries. The editor has to be even more aware of varying tones, themes, voice, and locale in the stories she acquires.

So what can you look forward to in Fearful Symmetries? There are monsters—human and non-human. There are children—those who victimize, and those who are victims. There are supernatural horrors, psychological terrors, nourish dark fantasies, and downright weird fictions.

Come on in, and make yourself a cozy little nook in the dark, and enjoy.”

—from Ellen Datlow’s introduction

Fearful Symmetries was funded on Kickstarter. In addition to sixteen stories specifically solicited for the anthology, Ellen Datlow chose four stories submitted during the month-long open reading period, adding some excellent new writers to the mix. So in addition to award-winning and/or bestselling writers such as Brian Evenson, Jeffrey Ford, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Pat Cadigan, and Michael Marshall Smith, there are a few names with whom readers might not yet be familiar—yet. Writers such as Siobhan Carroll, Catherine MacLeod, and Carole Johnstone. Each writer in this book has a unique voice, and this multitude of voices has created a symphony that will continue to be appreciated for many years to come.


hotleadcoldironHot Lead, Cold Iron by Ari Marmell (Titan-May 13th)
Synopsis-Hot Lead, Cold Iron is the first novel in a brand-new fantasy detective series that will appeal to fans of Rivers of London and The Dresden Files

Chicago, 1932. Mick Oberon may look like just another private detective, but beneath the fedora and the overcoat, he’s got pointy ears and he’s packing a wand.

Oberon’s used to solving supernatural crimes, but the latest one’s extra weird. A mobster’s daughter was kidnapped sixteen years ago, replaced with a changeling, and Mick’s been hired to find the real child. The trail’s gone cold, but what there is leads Sideways, to the world of the Fae, where the Seelie Court rules. And Mick’s not really welcome in the Seelie Court any more. He’ll have to wade through Fae politics and mob power struggles to find the kidnapper – and of course it’s the last person he expected.


motherlesschildMotherless Child by Glen Hirshberg (Tor-May 13th)
Synopsis-In his powerful novel, Motherless Child, Bram Stoker Award–nominee Glen Hirshberg, author of the International Horror Guild Award–winning American Morons, exposes the fallacy of the Twilight-style romantic vampire while capturing the heart of every reader.

It’s the thrill of a lifetime when Sophie and Natalie, single mothers living in a trailer park in North Carolina, meet their idol, the mysterious musician known only as “the Whistler.” Morning finds them covered with dried blood, their clothing shredded and their memories hazy. Things soon become horrifyingly clear: the Whistler is a vampire and Natalie and Sophie are his latest victims. The young women leave their babies with Natalie’s mother and hit the road, determined not to give in to their unnatural desires.

Hunger and desire make a powerful couple. So do the Whistler and his Mother, who are searching for Sophie and Natalie with the help of Twitter and the musician’s many fans. The violent, emotionally moving showdown between two who should be victims and two who should be monsters will leave readers gasping in fear and delight.

Originally published in a sold-out, limited edition, Motherless Child is an extraordinary Southern horror novel that Tor Books is proud to bring to a wider audience.


houseoftherisingsunHouse of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter (Orbit-May 13th)
Synopsis-Every vampire has heard rumor of the mythical place where their kind can daywalk. But what no vampire knows is that this City of Eternal Night actually exists.

And its name is New Orleans.

For centuries, the fae have protected the city from vampire infestation. But when the bloodsuckers return, the fragile peace in New Orleans begins to crumble.

Carefree playboy Augustine, and Harlow, a woman searching for answers about her absent father, are dragged into the war. The fate of the city rests on them — and their fae blood that can no longer be denied.

Book one in the brand new, action-packed urban fantasy Crescent City series, from award winning, House of Comarre author Kristen Painter!


thethreeThe Three by Sarah Lotz (Little, Brown-May 20th)
Synopsis-EFour simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…


thegirlintheroadThe Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (Crown-May 20th)
Synopsis-Stunningly original and wildly inventive, The Girl in the Road melds the influences of Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Erin Morgenstern for a dazzling debut.

In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, two women embark on vastly different journeys—each harrowing and urgent and wholly unexpected.

When Meena finds snakebites on her chest, her worst fears are realized: someone is after her and she must flee India. As she plots her exit, she learns of The Trail, an energy-harvesting bridge spanning the Arabian Sea that has become a refuge for itinerant vagabonds and loners on the run. This is her salvation. Slipping out in the cover of night, with a knapsack full of supplies including a pozit GPS system, a scroll reader, and a sealable waterproof pod, she sets off for Ethiopia, the place of her birth.

Meanwhile, Mariama, a young girl in Africa, is forced to flee her home. She joins up with a caravan of misfits heading across the Sahara. She is taken in by Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. They are trying to reach Addis Abba, Ethiopia, a metropolis swirling with radical politics and rich culture. But Mariama will find a city far different than she ever expected—romantic, turbulent, and dangerous.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama’s fates are linked in ways that are mysterious and shocking to the core.


sufferthechildrenSuffer the Children by Craig DiLouie (Gallery-May 20th)
Synopsis-
From an acclaimed horror writer, a chilling tale of blood-hungry children who rise from the dead in this innovative spin on apocalyptic vampire fiction.

Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod’s Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were…but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?


strangecountryStrange Country by Deborah Coates (Tor-May 27th)
Synopsis-After facing Death himself and banishing a reaper bent on the destruction of Sheriff’s deputy Boyd Davies, Hallie Michaels had hoped things would finally settle down; that she and Boyd would find more time to spend together, and that the ghosts she attracts would stay in the cemeteries where they belong.

But on a wintry night in mid-December, a woman is murdered with a high-powered rifle. Not long after, another of West Prairie City’s citizens is killed in exactly the same way, drawing the attention of state investigators. But the connection between the victims is not easily uncovered.

Meanwhile, Hallie finds a note tied to post outside her home. “What do you fear most?” it asks, accompanied by a set of map coordinates. Over the next few days she receives an anonymous phone call, and a letter left for Hallie at the local ag supply. All pose the same question and offer the same set of coordinates. The mystery deepens, and Hallie must solve it before the body count rises again, in Strange Country by Deborah Coates.


skingameSkin Game by Jim Butcher (Roc-May 27th)
Synopsis-Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day…

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it…

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town, so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash and grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…


riverofsoulsThe River of Souls by Robert McCammon (Subterranean Press-May 31st)
Synopsis-The year is 1703. The place: the Carolina settlement of Charles Town. Matthew Corbett, professional ‘problem solver,’ has accepted a lucrative, if unusual, commission: escorting a beautiful woman to a fancy dress ball.

What should be a pleasant assignment takes a darker turn when Matthew becomes involved in a murder investigation. A sixteen-year-old girl has been stabbed to death on the grounds of a local plantation. The suspected killer is a slave who has escaped, with two family members, into the dubious protection of a nearby swamp. Troubled by certain discrepancies and determined to see some sort of justice done, Matthew joins the hunt for the runaway slaves. He embarks on a treacherous journey up the Solstice River, also known as the River of Souls. He discovers that something born of the swamp has joined the hunt…and is stalking the hunters with more than murder in mind.

What follows is a shattering ordeal encompassing snakes, alligators, exiled savages, mythical beasts, and ordinary human treachery. The journey up the River of Souls will test Matthew’s courage, commitment, and powers of endurance. It will also lead him to a confrontation with a figure from his recent past, which will alter Matthew’s life, setting the stage for the next installment in this compulsively readable series.

One Response to “May 2014 Must Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy”

Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments

Leave a Reply

© 2014 My Bookish Ways. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy