This is a big event. Rather bigger than I could reasonably cope with on my own (I’m delicate in massive crowds…), but what a blast! Also, perhaps the most insanely generous place I’ve ever been to. I was there from just after 9am until 2:30pm, and people forced on me 14 books! Ok, “forced” is probably pushing it, but still – they were more than happy to give them to me, and in seven instances, also sign them! So, below is just a quick run-down of the day, and some info on the books I picked up – all of which should feature on the blog at some point in the near future, and obviously some sooner than others. It was also nice to bump into some friendly faces – Myke Cole, Joshua Bilmes, Michael “Mad Hatter” and Jennie from Fantasy Faction, and a handful of other drive-by hello-enjoy-goodbye moments.
Anyway, here’s the pile of awesome:
So, I’ll start from the top and work my way down. Included are synopses, comments, and covers artwork.
Batman & Robin: Born to Kill (DC Comics) – I spent a few minutes staring at “Peter Tomasi” on the signing list, thinking to myself “I know that name…” but couldn’t place it. Then someone walked past with a copy of this book, and it clicked. Into the queue I went, and chatted to a nice older gentleman who was in the queue for his son. The three guys before us in the line engaged Tomasi in “deep conversation” about the book, but it was amusing to listen to. The dedication inside says “Stay out of Gotham!”
The US Constitution – uh, yeah, they had a whole pile just sitting there, so I picked one up…
(Available now. It’s hundreds of years old…)
The Passage & The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Random House) – I hadn’t intended to go to any of the bigger-name signings (those lines were just insane), but Michael “Mad Hatter” was there, and we got to chatting and I ended up jumping the queue and going through with him. So… win!
In the present day: As a man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos, desperate to find others, to survive, to witness the dawn on the other side of disaster. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, has been so broken by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced by loss of electrical power to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a minefield of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned — and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.
A hundred years in the future: Amy, Peter, Alicia, and the others introduced in The Passage work with a cast of new characters to hunt the original twelve virals... unaware that the rules of the game have changed, and that one of them will have to sacrifice everything to bring the Twelve down.
While I mention Michael – a huge thanks to him for being my Expo Sherpa, and giving me tons of advice and helping my find my way around the place!
In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield – where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like an office job. Male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox and watching NASCAR between missions, and a lot of the senior staff are more concerned about getting to the chow hall in time for the Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood special than worrying about little things like military strategy.
Darkly humorous and based on the author's own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.
The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams (DAW) – these were, quite literally, just sitting on the floor in a big pile in the middle of the Penguin area. So, yeah. I picked one up. I’ve never read anything my Williams, so I’m looking forward to checking this out, as it seems to have a rather cool premise:
Bobby Dollar has a secret. Actually he’s got a ton of them. The most important one is that his real name’s Doloriel and he’s an angel. Not an important angel, maybe, but a rough-and-tumble guy who’s always done his part in the long cold war between Heaven and Hell.
But now he’s stepped into the middle of something that’s got both sides very nervous — an unprecedented number of missing souls. And if that wasn’t enough, someone has summoned a truly unpleasant Babylonian demon that’s doing its best to track him down and rip him to pieces. Also, his opposite number on the case is arguably the world’s sexiest she-devil, and Bobby has feelings for her that Heaven definitely does not allow.
The Prophet by Michael Koryta (Little, Brown) – This was a drive-by give-away, as we walked through the Little, Brown compound to get to the other side… Never read anything by him, but he seems to have a good reputation, so thought I’d check it out. The premise actually sounds pretty interesting, too:
Adam Austin hasn't spoken to his brother in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered. Now Adam keeps to himself, scraping by as a bail bondsman, working so close to the town's criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them.
Kent Austin is the beloved coach of the local high school football team, a religious man and hero in the community. After years of near misses, Kent's team has a shot at the state championship, a welcome point of pride in a town that has had its share of hardships.
Just before playoffs begin, the town and the team are thrown into shock when horrifically, impossibly, another teenage girl is found murdered. When details emerge that connect the crime to the Austin brothers, the two are forced to unite to stop a killer—and to confront their buried rage and grief before history repeats itself again.
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Razorbill) – “It’s like Game of Thrones” I overheard from the publishing person. Ok, I’ll bite… I’m not going to expect GRRM-esque levels of epic (it’s YA, for one thing), but I’ll keep an open mind.
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
At seventeen, David “Lizard” Hochmeyer is nearly seven feet tall, a star quarterback, and Princeton-bound. His future seems all but assured until his parents are mysteriously murdered, leaving Lizard and his older sister, Kate, adrift and alone. In a mansion across the pond from their Connecticut home lives the world’s greatest ballerina, Sylphide, and her rock star husband, whose own disasters intersect with Lizard’s—and Kate’s—in the most intimate and surprising ways.
Over the years that follow, Lizard and Kate are obsessed with piecing together the motives behind their parents’ deaths, returning time and again to their father’s missing briefcase, his shady business dealings and shaky finances, and to Sylphide, who has threaded her way into Lizard’s and Kate’s lives—much more deeply than either had ever realized. From the football fields of Princeton to a stint with the NFL, from the elaborate dances at the mansion to the gourmet restaurant he opens, it only takes Lizard a lifetime to set things right again.
House Blood by Mike Lawson (Atlantic/Grove) – they had some on the shelf, I asked if I could have one, they said yes, I was a happy bibliophile. Lawson is one of my favourite thriller authors, so I’m very happy I picked this up. To be reviewed imminently, I’m sure.
Orson Mulray, CEO of Mulray Pharma, a cold and calculating man obsessed with profit and prestige. Mulray believes he has discovered a drug that could prevent a previously incurable disease. It could be the salvation of millions of people and make him billions of dollars. But the drug needs to be tested on human subjects and Mulray needs more than blood samples — he needs autopsy results.
Lizzie Warwick, a naive philanthropist who provides relief to third-world victims of wars and natural disasters, is the ideal tool. But then her D.C. lobbyist uncovers the plan, so Mulray has him killed and frames his partner, Brian Kincaid, for the murder.
Two years later, DeMarco is asked to look into the seemingly hopeless case but he has other things on his mind: his powerful boss, John Mahoney, has been ousted from his position as Speaker of the House; his girlfriend has left him; and his friend Emma may be dying. DeMarco has no expectation of freeing Kincaid—and he certainly doesn’t expect to become the target of two of the most ruthless killers he and Emma have ever encountered.
Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman (Luna) – I’ve been following Gilman on twitter for a while (that does not sound legal or healthy), and it was nice to finally meet her. This is the first in one of her series.
Welcome to P.U.P.I. — Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations
A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can’t touch — crimes of magic.
My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work — so off I went.
Two days later I’m a PUPI — me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.
The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We're sniffing out things they’d rather keep buried.
Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along….
The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (Flux) – a fellow Brit! Again, connected via Twitter, and it was nice to meet him finally. Expect more from Mr Pollock on the blog in the near future (a review and guest post, certainly, but I’m going to pester him about an interview, too). A very nice chap – and it amused me how much the girls in front of me in line fell in love with him (one walked away and had to fan her face). I do think I prefer the UK cover, though – slightly more artistic and distinctive, but I do like the blue of the US version.
Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen—where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.
But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Urchin’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Urchin raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.
As a senator’s daughter and the widow of a congressman who died tragically, Molly Malone was driven from Washington, D.C. by political backstabbing, scandals, and threats — as well as personal heartbreak. But after getting thrown out of her ex’s Denver condo and losing everything in the market crash, Molly is starting over in the one place she swore she’d never return to.
When the accounting job she was promised falls through, Molly reluctantly agrees to work as a consultant for a senator. Days after learning that her niece, Karen, is intimately involved with a congressional chief of staff — and that Karen had discovered suspicious campaign contributions — Molly finds her niece shot to death. Investigating further puts Molly in the crosshairs of a shadowy group that’s orchestrating a political plot . . . and killing anyone who gets in the way.
Further Beyond the Threshold by Chris Roberson (47 North) – I’ve read some of Roberson’s comics-work, and I had been humming-and-hahing over getting this novel. Then, I saw it on the shelf at Amazon’s publishing stall (the last copy, too!), so I nabbed it. I’ll read it relatively soon, hopefully.
Humankind is spread across three thousand light years in a myriad of worlds and habitats known as the Human Entelechy. Linked by a network of wormholes with Earth at its center, it is the world Captain RJ Stone awakens to after a twelve-thousand-year cryogenic suspension.
Stone soon finds himself commanding the maiden voyage of the first spacecraft to break the light speed barrier: the FTL Further. In search of extraterrestrial intelligence, the landing party explores a distant pulsar only to be taken prisoner by the bloodthirsty Iron Mass, a religious sect exiled from the Entelechy millennia before. Now Stone and his crew must escape while they try to solve the riddle of the planet’s network of stone towers that may be proof of the intelligence they’ve come to find.
The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Mark Teppo, Cooper Moo, E.D. deBirmingham (47 North) – I’m really intrigued by this series, as well as cautious. It’s written by multiple authors, and I’d like to see how they pulled it off. Novels/stories by committee are rarely top-quality, but given the authors involved, this could change that opinion.
The first novel to be released in The Foreworld Saga, The Mongoliad: Book One, is an epic-within-an-epic, taking place in 13th century. In it, a small band of warriors and mystics raise their swords to save Europe from a bloodthirsty Mongol invasion. Inspired by their leader (an elder of an order of warrior monks), they embark on a perilous journey and uncover the history of hidden knowledge and conflict among powerful secret societies that had been shaping world events for millennia.
But the saga reaches the modern world via a circuitous route. In the late 19th century, Sir Richard F. Burton, an expert on exotic languages and historical swordsmanship, is approached by a mysterious group of English martial arts aficionados about translating a collection of long-lost manuscripts. Burton dies before his work is finished, and his efforts were thought lost until recently rediscovered by a team of amateur archaeologists in the ruins of a mansion in Trieste, Italy. From this collection of arcana, the incredible tale of The Mongoliad was recreated.
Full of high adventure, unforgettable characters, and unflinching battle scenes, The Mongoliad ignites a dangerous quest where willpower and blades are tested and the scope of world-building is redefined.
A new kind of alien invasion…
When Quentin Draith wakes up in a private sanatorium, he has no memory of who he is or how he received the injuries riddling his body. All he knows is that he has to get out, away from the drugs being pumped into him and back to the real world to search for answers. His first question: How did his friend Tony’s internal organs fill with sand, killing him in a Las Vegas car crash?
After a narrow escape, he tracks down the basic facts: he is an investigator and blogger specializing in the supernatural—which is a good thing, because Quentin’s life is getting stranger by the minute. It seems he is one of a special breed, a person with unusual powers. He’s also the prime suspect in a string of murders linked by a series of seemingly mundane objects. The deeper he digs and the harder he works to clear his name, the more Quentin realizes that some truths are better off staying buried…
So, that’s it for day one. I’ll be going again on Wednesday and Thursday, but I have a more focused plan for those two days – especially tomorrow, where I’m hoping to get to a certain signing to get a special birthday present for someone even more special… Then, on Thursday when it should be quieter and less hectic, I’ll putter around looking for any interesting signings or people just wandering about. So far, though, this has been a manic-but-fun experience.
Oh, one final thing. Little Brown were also giving out these, from Lemony Snicket:
Which opened up to have…