So, I’ve had a hell of a year starting out in a very demanding job, trying to complete a course and maybe, just maybe, catch a few hours sleep in the meantime. But, from tomorrow (yay!) I finish the course and will be (almost) free. Time to get through my enormous TBR pile? Well, it will make my other half happy if I can lose some of the books back to their original owners and give us some cupboard space back!
Here is my list for the Summer Reading Challenge:
Nights of Villjamur, Mark Charan Newton
Political intrigue and dark violence converge in a superb new action series of enthralling fantasy. An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshees wail the deceased, cultists use forgotten technology for their own gain and where, further out, the dead have been seen walking across the tundra.When the Emperor commits suicide, his elder daughter, Rika, is brought home to lead the Jamur Empire, but the sinister Chancellor plans to get rid of her and claim the throne for himself. Meanwhile a senior investigator in the city inquisition must solve the high-profile and savage murder of a city politician, whilst battling evils within his own life, and a handsome and serial womanizer manipulates his way into the imperial residence with a hidden agenda. When reports are received that tens of thousands of citizens are dying in a bizarre genocide on the northern islands of the Empire, members of the elite Night Guard are sent to investigate. It seems that, in this land under a red sun, the long winter is bringing more than just snow.
A Fistful of Charms, Kim Harrison
The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her — not necessarily in that order.
Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses — savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.
Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in millennia to ravage and to rule. And suddenly more than Rachel’s soul is at stake.
The Map of All Things, Kevin J Anderson
After terrible atrocities by both sides, the religious war between Tierra and Uraba has spread and intensified, irreparably dividing the known world. What started as a series of skirmishes has erupted into a full-blown crusade.
Now that the Uraban leader, Soldan-Shah Omra, has captured the ruined city of Ishalem, his construction teams discover a priceless ancient map in an underground vault – a map that can guide brave explorers to the mysterious Key to Creation. Omra dispatches his adoptive son Saan to sail east across the uncharted Middlesea on a quest to find it.
In Tierra, Captain Criston Vora has built a grand new vessel, and sets out to explore the great unknown and find the fabled land of Terravitae. But Criston cannot forget his previous voyage that ended in shipwreck and disaster . . . and the loss of his beloved wife Adrea, who – unbeknownst to him – fights to survive against palace intrigues and constant threats against her life in far-off Uraba. For Adrea is now the wife of the soldan-shah and mother of his adopted son . . .
What I Was, Meg Rosoff
In the not too distant future, a one-hundred-year-old man called H sails the eastern coast of England with his godson. H recalls when he himself was sixteen his godson’s ageas they search for the site of H’s life-altering friendship with a boy named Finn. Finn lives alone on an isolated slip of land and follows no rules: he spends his days swimming, fishing, and collecting driftwood for his tiny beach hut. H, on the other hand, is an upper-class boarding school boy stifled by monotony and endless rules. They meet by chance on the beach, and H is immediately awed by (and jealous of) Finn’s way of life. They strike up an unlikely friendship but the gap between their lives becomes difficult to bridge, and before long the idyll that nurtured their relationship is shattered by heart-wrenching scandal.
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
It’s 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars? Susanna Clarke’s ingenious first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has the cleverness and lightness of touch of the Harry Potter series, but is less a fairy tale of good versus evil than a fantastic comedy of manners, complete with elaborate false footnotes, occasional period spellings, and a dense, lively mythology teeming beneath the narrative. Mr. Norrell moves to London to establish his influence in government circles, devising such powerful illusions as an 11-day blockade of French ports by English ships fabricated from rainwater. But however skillful his magic, his vanity provides an Achilles heel, and the differing ambitions of his more glamorous apprentice, Jonathan Strange, threaten to topple all that Mr. Norrell has achieved. A sparkling debut from Susanna Clarke–and it’s not all fairy dust.
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires)
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life, but they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.
The Death Trilogy, Terry Pratchett
Mort – Death comes to Mort with an offer he can’t refuse — especially since being, well, dead isn’t compulsory. As Death’s apprentice, he’ll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won’t need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he’d ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.
Reaper Man – When Death begins to question the P’s and Q’s of his job, he is officially retired, which leads to the kind of chaos that always ensues when a public service is withdrawn.
Soul Music – Susan Sto Helit is rather bored at her boarding school in the city of Ankh-Morpork, which is just as well, since it seems that her family business–she is the granddaughter of Death–suddenly needs a new caretaker.
Horns, Joe Hill
Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache, and a pair of horns growing from his temples. At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.
Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside.
Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge. It’s time the devil had his due.
The Adamantine Palace, Stephen Deas
The Adamantine Palace lies at the centre of an empire that grew out of ashes. Once dragons ruled the world and man was little more than prey. Then a way of subduing the dragons alchemicly was discovered and now the dragons are bred to be little more than mounts for knights and highly valued tokens in the diplomatic power-players that underpin the rule of the competing aristocratic houses. The Empire has grown fat. And now one man wants it for himself. A man prepared to poison the king just as he has poisoned his own father. A man prepared to murder his lover and bed her daughter. A man fit to be king? But uknown to him there are flames on the way. A single dragon has gone missing. And even one dragon on the loose, unsubdued, returned to its full intelligence, its full fury, could spell disaster for the Empire. But because of the actions of one unscrupulous mercenary the rivals for the throne could soon be facing hundreds of dragons.
Wolfsangel, MD Lachlan
The Viking King Athun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately but Athun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy. A prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the Gods. If Athun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory. But Athun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. Ensuring that his faithful warriors, witness to what has happened, die during the raid Athun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.
And so begins a stunning multi-volume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal viking king, down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin and Loki – the eternal trickster – spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history, and over into our lives.
(All summaries from GoodReads)
For more information on the challenge, visit the blog here.