Monday, June 10, 2013

PHXCC 2013 Report: Previews and Recommendations

I have almost completely recapped Phoenix Comicon! Can you believe it? Soon I’ll get back to the usual reviews and recipes and read-alongs and things. But for now, here’s another potpourri sort of post, with reports on preview and rec panels I attended at the con.

Tor Books Preview

I had scampered off to the weird world underneath the convention center to grab some autographs (John Scalzi and Cherie Priest, I do believe), and ended up being a little late to the panel promoting upcoming books from Tor, the prominent SFF publisher. Still, I managed to learn about some exciting books on the horizon and to partake in a raffle! Thank you, Patty Garcia from Tor, for the info and the cool raffles and the free book (more on that last in a moment)!

This is not a complete list of everything previewed at the panel, just the ones that I was able to scrawl down while still paying attention. Up first we have:

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“A sharp, original urban fantasy about a near-immortal secret society's battle to save itself—on the streets of Las Vegas.

The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people; an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about just how to accomplish this is older than most of their individual memories.

Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better.

Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.”

Sounds like fun to me! I’ll probably give this one a go when it comes out.

Next up: The newest book by Kendare Blake, of Anna Dressed in Blood fame. Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“Old Gods never die… Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath. The Goddess War is about to begin.”

Again, sounds interesting enough that I will probably give it a go when it’s released. Maybe based on the mythology slant, Susan might be interested, too? But then again, as a hardcore classicist, maybe not. Whaddaya say, Sus? Will you read this one?

Other books coming soon from Tor include their first ever by Greg van Eekhout (they were very excited about this, as he usually publishes with Del Rey). I didn’t catch the title while I was at the panel, but based on a recent post on Tor’s blog, I will assume that it’s going to be called California Bones. They also announced that they will be publishing a new book by Leanna Renee Hieber (the astute blog reader will recognize that this is one of the people who was on the Author Chair Dancing panel!), called The Eterna Files. I can’t find any info to substantiate my claim, but for some reason I’m remembering this one to be YA. No cover art or on-sale date released for either of these, yet.

In other exciting news, Tor is predicting that gaslamp fantasy will be the next big thing in SFF publishing. (I had assumed this was another branch of steampunk, but wiki tells me this is not so. I am too lazy to explain here what I just read, so click on through the link if you care to be enlightened as well!) They also predict that science fiction will be making a comeback.

This was also an especially exciting panel because there were raffles!!! Alas, I did not win, but there was some very cool stuff given away, including books autographed by Cory Doctorow and some YA titles. And the fun didn’t stop there! Everyone who came to the panel got a FREE BOOK, Alex Bledsoe’s The Sword-Edged Blonde. It appears to be detective noir fantasy, which sounds pretty fantastic to me. Thanks again, Tor! :D Interested in more upcoming Tor releases? Check out their recent blog post.

What I’m Reading: Young Adult Edition

I attended this panel in the morning on the last day of the con and was, of course, late. So I missed the first half hour of the panel, which was a bummer, but still managed to get some good book recommendations. (Which is of course just what I need! It’s not like books are taking over my room or anything.) The panel consisted of a librarian, a book blogger, a lady who helps organize the book/author track of Phoenix Comicon, and author Shannon Messenger (her book Let the Sky Fall just came out in March). I wish I had all the panelists’ names, but I missed out on those since I arrived late. :\

At any rate, they just went along the panel taking turns talking about YA books they’ve read recently and recommend. Sometimes one person would say one someone else had been planning to talk about, and then everyone would join in and talk about some of their mutual favorites. It was fun to have some good, old-fashioned book nerding going on. :) Here are some of their recommendations:

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . ."

Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that's been in her family for three centuries. She's never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she's never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls.

But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds--and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house's past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house's secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.”

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.”

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.”

They noted that this one is quite different in tone from Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy books.

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.”

Of all their recommendations, this is one of the only ones I’ve read, and I agree whole-heartedly with their rec. This is one that everyone on the panel was like, “Ooh, you stole mine!!” So lots of Holly Black fangirling. I love her books so much (for serious. was so excited to find The Coldest Girl in Coldtown in my mailbox today.), and I’m glad to see others do, too!

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.”

I just picked this one up at the library last week, so a review should be forthcoming in the somewhat near future!

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.”

This is one of the more prominent specimens in the dystopian trend of the last few years. There was a bit of discussion on the panel about the genre and how it's growing tired, but the recommender said this trilogy was definitely one of the good ones in the morass of dystopic YA out there.

Jacket copy, according to Goodreads:

“Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart - and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon - and finds the family and excitement she's been looking for.”

(Wow, that was a short blurb.) This was definitely a throw-back rec, since this book came out in 1990. BUT it deserves to be rec’d to a new generation of readers! This was the only other book besides White Cat that occupied the center space of the Venn diagram of “books they rec’d” and “books I’ve read.” Awesome, amazing, and fun. We just read (well, for most of us, re-read) this book for book club a couple months ago. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Jacket Copy, according to Goodreads:

“Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . .”

Other topics of discussion included The Selection, much to my amusement, (the panelists seemed to agree with Susan’s and my assessment of being iffy about the book at first, and then really liking even though there are things about it that could be better), and also a discussion of whether or not “new adult” counts as a real genre. One panelist’s experience with it seemed to be toned-down Fifty Shades of Gray with 19-twentysomething protagonists, and she found it off-turning. The consensus seemed to be that there’s not enough of it out there to really decide if it’s a thing or not, yet. Thought it was interesting that this came up at PHXCC and also during Susan’s BEA trip.

Has anyone read any of these yet? Any books you're looking forward to picking up soon?

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