Constable & Robinson have an amazing line-up for 2013, especially from their literary imprint, Corsair. Here are some of the books that have caught my eye.
The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan
I love this sort of stuff. Just as I like retellings of myths I love knowing how they came about in the first place and which parts of the stories are based in fact.
We all know ‘there’s no such thing as monsters’, although our imaginations might persuade us otherwise. In an entertaining mix of cutting-edge research and a love of lore, science journalist Matt Kaplan – an enthusiast of both scientific hard facts and myth’s fantastic fictions – explains why monsters have held us in such thrall for millennia.
Kaplan’s eye-opening trawl through history’s legendary monsters tackles questions that arise on the frontier between reality and fantasy. Why did Minoans create the tale of the Minotaur imprisoned in a subterranean maze? What inspired vampires and werewolves? Did dragons really exist? While detailing the scientific discoveries that might verify some of our more enduring monsters, in recognition of how our fears change, Kaplan also charts the rise of a new beast: humans.
The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
I’m always drawn to books that have a coastal or ocean setting and on closer inspection it sounds like a great character driven novel. So two things I like.
Jason Prosper is a smart, athletic teenager, born into an exclusive world of Manhattan penthouses and Maine summer estates. Yet Jason’s passions are simple: the ocean, a sailing boat, and his friend and roommate, Cal.
When Cal dies, shockingly, Jason is devastated. Unable to cope, he moves schools to the prestigious Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan – a fellow student with a troubled past – and they embark on a tender, awkward, emotional relationship. When a hurricane hits coastal New England, its destruction brings further upheaval for Jason. He is forced to untangle a terrible secret, until now hidden from him by the young men he has thought of as friends.
This is a powerful and provocative novel about life and death, friendship and love, and the emotional depths a young man must explore to save himself.
Lost & Found by Tom Winter
There’s been a lot of about reviving the art of letter writing this year and I think there is something special about them so this sounds like a lovely read.
‘Writing a letter seems like a solid, old-fashioned thing to do. I mean, does anyone write letters any more? They feel like they belong to a different time, like milkmen and getting film developed.’
Carol is married to a man she doesn’t love and mother to a daughter she doesn’t understand. Stuck in a life she doesn’t want, she can’t shake the feeling she has wasted her life. So she puts pen to paper and writes a letter to the Universe.
Albert is a widowed postman, approaching retirement, and living with his cat. Slowly being pushed out at work, he is relegated to the section of the post office where they sort undeliverable mail. When a series of letters turn up with a smiley face in place of an address, he can’t help reading them.
The Man from Primrose Lane by James Renner
I really like the cover of this one and the story sounds great too; I think it’s a crime and sci-fi fusion.
Once upon a time in Ohio there lived an elderly recluse known, far and wide, as ‘the man with a thousand mittens’. One summer’s day he was murdered. But why, and by whom? The case is a riddle.
David Neff is a bestselling author of true crime, alone, bereft and broken ever since his wife’s inexplicable suicide. When he learns of the curious, unsolved murder case, he decides to investigate.
As David gets closer to uncovering the mitten man’s true identity, he begins to make connections between the deaths of the hermit and his beloved wife – and, with horror, he grows to understand the power of his own dangerous obsessions.
When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek
Did I mention I like books about the sea? This could get quite confusing as this one also has a character called Cal! I’m also quite interested in reading more abaout Alaska after the wonderful Snow Child.
Loyalty Island’s fishing community depends on the Gaunt family fleet for survival. Each winter, Cal’s father sets sail for Alaska to trawl for crab, leaving Cal to imagine him bound for a place as mythical and mysterious as Treasure Island. At 14, Cal may be too young to join the adventure, but he is old enough to know everything depends on those few boats thousands of miles north.
When fleet owner John Gaunt dies, he leaves the community’s livelihood and future in peril. Soon, Cal starts to question his mother’s relationship with Gaunt and is plagued by suspicions that his father may have taken extreme measures to save the fleet from extinction. As winter approaches, Cal begins to doubt his loyalty to his own flesh and blood. With his moral compass in shatters, Cal makes a terrible choice.
Mr g by Alan Lightman
I might not believe in god but I do like a good retelling of a Bible story and this just sounds wonderful.
‘As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe.’
So begins Alan Lightman’s playful and profound new novel, the story of Creation as narrated by God. But Mr g discovers that even the best-laid plans can go awry. With his creation come unforeseen consequences – especially in his devious rival, Belhor, who delights in provocation. As Mr g watches his favourite universe mature, he sees how the act of creation can change the Creator.
Lightman’s imaginative work celebrates the tragic, joyous nature of existence, with echoes of Calvino, Rushdie and Saramago.
Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
Photography, check. Windswept island setting, check. Mystery to be solved, check. Yup this one checks enough boxes to go straight on my TBR!
Famous in the seventies as a NYC punk photographer, thirty years later, Cass Neary’s on her way down until an old acquaintance gives her a lifeline. Sent to interview a reclusive photographer on a wind-lashed island off Maine, Cass stumbles upon a decades-old mystery still claiming new victims – and realises she’s got one final shot at redemption.
Among Others by Jo Walton
Oooooh pretty! It also sounds fantastic; 70s Welsh bookish witches and boarding school. Also Hugo and Nebula award winning if you care about those things.
‘It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.’
Fifteen-year-old Mori lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother she hates. When her twin dies, Mori blames her mother and runs away from home, into the arms of her erstwhile father in England. He sends Mori to boarding school, where – with her Welsh accent, crippled leg and unhealthy bookishness – she is a natural misfit. Not that Mori minds, because in the sci-fi and fantasy novels she adores, she isn’t alone in knowing that magic is real. For Mori knows about magic, she has lived with it all her life; she knows, too, that danger lurks: her mother is hunting her down, and Mori must be prepared to do battle when she finds her.
Tooth and Claw – Jo Walton
Another one from Jo, this time with dragons!
A family of dragons gathers on the occasion of the death of their father, the elder Bon Agornin. As is custom, they must eat his body. But even as Bon’s last remains are polished off, his sons and daughters jostle for position in the new hierarchy. While the youngest son seeks greedy remuneration through the courts, the eldest son – a dragon of the cloth – agonises over his father’s deathbed confession. While one daughter is caught between loyalty to her family by blood and her family by marriage, another daughter follows her heart – only to discover that true love comes at a great cost …
Here is a Victorian story of political intrigue, family ties and political intrigue. Full of fiery wit, this is a novel unlike any other.
Deadlands by Lily Herne
A young adult zombie novel which sounds like it has a more political edge, partly due to its South African setting. Also written by a mother and daughter team.
Ten years have passed since Cape Town was destroyed in the War with the living dead. Now, human survivors go about their lives in walled shantytowns, protected from the zombies that lurch through the suburban Deadands by shrouded, faceless figures known as Guardians. But the price for protection is steep: once a year, the Guardians hold a human Lottery and five teenagers are selected for a secret purpose …
Seventeen-year-old Lele hates everything about her life in the city: her school, the brainwashed zombie-lovers, the way everyone seems creepily obsessed with teenage bodies … She wants out. But when she is named as a Chosen one, she’s not prepared to face whatever shady future the Guardians have in store for her. So she runs for her life – straight into the Deadlands. Prepare to enter the Deadlands – where life is a lottery.
Blink of an Eye by Cath Staincliffe
I have loved Cath’s standalone crime novels in the past, they are always so thought-provoking.
A sunny Sunday afternoon, a family barbecue, and Naomi Baxter and boyfriend Alex celebrate good news. Driving home, Naomi’s recklessness causes an accident, leaving nine-year-old Lily Vasey dead, Naomi fighting for her life, Alex bruised and bloody, and the lives of three families torn apart. In a heartbeat, life changes …
Traumatised, Naomi has no clear memory of the crash and her mother, Carmel, is forced to break the shocking truth of the child’s death to her. Naomi may be prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving. If convicted she faces a lengthy jail term, especially if her sister’s claim that Naomi was drink-driving is proven. In the months before the trial, Carmel strives to help a haunted and remorseful Naomi cope with the consequences of her actions. This is a novel about the nightmare that could be just around the bend for any one of us.
The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance
A collection of short stories combining two genres that rarely meet!
The good news is that in the future there will be no shortage of romance. On space ships, on newly colonized planets or a barely recognizable Earth, life forms, whether human, alien or something in between, will find their way to love.
As giant corporations grasp new opportunities for profit, and future armies clash, both in deep space and ‘dirtside’, former romantic partners try to put the past behind them, and time-travelling rebels set out to romance the past. These sci-fi tales of future love and lust, specially selected by expert anthologist Trisha Telep, brim with passion and humour. So, even though in space, no one can hear you scream, they might just be able to hear you laugh.
The Mammoth Book of Angels & Demons
The second of the anthologies that caught me eye; lots of big names but I also like the idea of the role reversal.
Despite our tendency to think of the demonic as evil and the angelic as good, our own legends don’t always bear this out. These 27 stories by worldrenowned authors of cience fiction and fantasy – including Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin and Joyce Carol Oates – as well as its rising stars, portray angels in all their glory, demons at their most dreadful and a surprising variety of modern interpretations of ancient myths.
If you’re a publicist with a catalogue you’d like featured, please send me a link to the PDF or get in touch to send me a paper copy.
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