Books I'm Reading

This past week was a little like Christmas. My Barnes & Noble order hit the door along with a very nice surprise from a fan who only wants to be known as Sean McGivney. Three novels and COFFEE (Yo te amo, Columbia). My most heartfelt thanks to Sean. The coffee has been amazing and the books look to be just as delicious.

But first, a picture of the elusive Mr. Macavity inspecting the items!

Mr. Macavity, checking out the goods.

Mr. Macavity, checking out the goods.

That's right! For years, I've been jealous of authors who manage to spend hours chasing their pets with their cameras only to deliver up intriguing and sweet pictures of their pets alongside books.

Time and time again, I ask them, "How? How do you manage to do that?"

Now I know the secret: let the animal think that he is messing up the photoshoot so he can get attention. I won't treat you to the eight shots I have of his sinuses, but I will show  you the big picture.

Not pictured: Mazarkis Williams' novel The Tower Broken.

Not pictured: Mazarkis Williams' novel The Tower Broken.

So what is all the good stuff?

On my Nook (not pictured) is Mazarkis Williams final installment of The Tower and Knife Trilogy, The Tower Broken. I've loved both The Emperor's Knife and Knife Sworn.

I'm already a good way into The Tower Broken, and I really believe this is Williams' best novel yet. Here's the blurb for The Tower Broken:

The world is at its breaking point. The nothing, a terrible darkness caused by the festering wounds of a god, bleeds out the very essence of all, of stone, silk—and souls. Emperor Sarmin thought he had stopped it, but it is spreading toward his city, Cerana—and he is powerless to halt the destruction.

Even as Cerana fills with refugees, the Yrkmen armies arrive with conquest in mind, but they offer to spare Sarmin’s people if they will convert to the Mogyrk faith.

Time is running out for Sarmin and his wife, Mesema. The Mage’s Tower is cracked; the last mage, sent to find a mysterious pattern-worker in the desert, has vanished; and Sarmin believes his kidnapped brother, Daveed, still has a part to play. The walls are crumbling around them . . .

As the Tower and Knife trilogy thunders to the finish line, author Mazarkis Williams expands his masterful world-building a final time, putting the pieces in place for an explosive conclusion.

If you're looking for the first two books in the trilogy, check out The Emperor's Knife and Knife Sworn.

Both are well worth your time. The Emperor's Knife first exposed me to Williams' captivating style. Realistic characters and a mad prince held captive in a tower. Excellent stuff. 

Up next will be M. J. Locke's Up Against It. One day on Twitter, I posed a question asking for female protagonists over forty. Locke's book came up time and time again. Now it's coming up fast in my to-read pile because I've promised to write a blog post about older protagonists, and I'd like to be familiar with Locke's style.

The blurb for Up Against It::

Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System's frontier. They're your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of 'Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans' lives.

Life isn’t as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff's brother Carl and puts the entire colony at risk. And in short order, we discover that the whole thing may have been cooked up by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a rogue AI that was spawned during the industrial emergency and slipped through the distracted safeguards, and a giant x-factor in the form of the Viridians, a transhumanist cult that lives in Phocaea's bowels.

In addition to Geoff, our story revolves around Jane, the colony's resource manager — a bureaucrat engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on an artificial island of humanity poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. She's more than a century old, and good at her job, but she is torn between the technical demands of the colony and the political realities of her situation, in which the fishbowl effect of 'Stroiders is compounded by a reputation economy that turns every person into a beauty contest competitor.  Her maneuverings to keep politics and engineering in harmony are the heart of the book.

Kate Elliott's Spirit Gate. This sounds like the kind of dark epic fantasy that I enjoy.

Spirit Gate is the first in the Crossroads series.

For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians' power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.

A haunting tale of people swept up by the chaos of war, this is superlative fantasy adventure, rich in texture, filled with color and excitement, masterfully crafted by a brilliantly gifted storyteller.

Robert Jackson Bennett's name kept coming up each time I ran a search for cerebral horror. Picking a title, though, was a lot harder than I thought. In the end, I went with The Troupe. Vaudeville, missing parents, and dark secrets. I'm totally in. Here's the blurb:

Vaudeville: mad, mercenary, dreamy, and absurd, a world of clashing cultures and ferocious showmanship and wickedly delightful deceptions.

But sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole has joined vaudeville for one reason only: to find the man he suspects to be his father, the great Heironomo Silenus. Yet as he chases down his father's troupe, he begins to understand that their performances are strange even for vaudeville: for wherever they happen to tour, the very nature of the world seems to change.

Because there is a secret within Silenus's show so ancient and dangerous that it has won him many powerful enemies. And it's not until after he joins them that George realizes the troupe is not simply touring: they are running for their lives.

And soon...he is as well.

So that is what is on my summer reading list.

What's on yours?