Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim
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This week’s topic: Top Books I Picked Up On A Whim
I pick up books all the time on a whim, books that I usually know nothing about. If a book has a idea I like, a pretty cover I like, whatever, I will pick it up. Here are some of my most recent splurges.
Vermilion: The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp by Molly Tanzer
Gunslinging, chain-smoking, and Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well…they’re not wrong.
When Lou hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies, she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate. Lou fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their spirits than ensure they get home alive, but it’s the right thing to do, and she’s the only one willing to do it. On the road to a mysterious sanatorium known as the Fountain of Youth, Lou will encounter bears, desperate men, a very undead villain, and even stranger challenges. She will need every one of her talents and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive.
Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars by Howard Andrew Jones
Mirian Raas comes from a long line of salvagers, adventurers who use magic to dive for sunken ships off the coast of tropical Sargava. When her father dies, Mirian has to take over his last job: a dangerous expedition into deep jungle pools, helping a tribe of lizardfolk reclaim the lost treasures of their people. Yet this isn’t any ordinary job, as the same colonial government that looks down on Mirian for her half-native heritage has an interest in the treasure, and the survival of the entire nation may depend on the outcome….
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
It is the 14th century, and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur – the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe’s population was destroyed. But what if the plague had killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed? This is a look at the history that could have been – a history that stretches across centuries, a history that sees dynasties and nations rise and crumble, a history that spans horrible famine and magnificent innovation. These are the years of rice and salt.
This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world’s greatest scientific minds – in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions, and Christianity is merely a historical footnote.
Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry. Rewriting history and probing the most profound questions as only he can, Robinson shines his extraordinary light on the place of religion, culture, power, and even love on such an Earth. From the steppes of Asia to the shores of the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.
Ink Mage by Victor Gischler
In the first installment of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy, the city of Klaar has never fallen. No enemy has ever made it across the Long Bridge or penetrated the city’s mighty walls. Even when a powerful invading army shows up at the gates, the duke and his daughter, Rina Veraiin, are certain that it poses little threat.
But they are cruelly betrayed from within and, in a horrific spasm of violence, the city is brought to its knees.
With the help of her bodyguard, Kork, the battle-trained young Rina narrowly escapes the slaughter and makes her way to the lair of an ancient sorcerer – the Ink Mage – who gifts her with a strange, beautiful set of magical tattoos.
Now a duchess in exile, Rina sets out on a quest to reclaim what is rightfully hers, aided by a motley assortment of followers who will help her in her cause – some for noble reasons and others for their own dark purposes.
With the enemy’s agents nipping at her heels, Rina must learn to harness her new and startling magical powers if she is to assert her rightful place as ruler of Klaar.
Certain Dark Things by M.J. Pack
What grotesque surprises will you find in the secret place between the shadow and the soul?
In her debut short story collection, M.J. Pack offers up a new breed of terror sure to delight any true horror fan. Don’t miss out on tales of telepathic twins, a campfire ghost story gone terribly wrong, pills that induce life-threatening nightmares, and the disturbing new sideshow at Coney Island: Lady Alligator. Take a haunting trip down infamous Bubblehead Road and follow Danny around the country as he’s pursued by unseen (and unrelenting) creatures.
Prepare yourself, you’re about to indulge in some certain dark things…
Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii
In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world’s food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Kitamura at his side—and in mortal danger—as he pushes ever nearer to the heart of the mystery.
Mort(e) by Robert Repino
A genre-busting postapocalyptic first novel – a pause-resisting adventure channeling Animal Farm as imagined by Cormac McCarthy
The “war with no name” has begun; its goal, human extinction. The instigator of this war is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who, for thousands of years, have been silently building an army that will forever eradicate the destructive, oppressive humans. Under the Colony’s watchful eye, this utopia will be free of the humans’ penchant for violence, exploitation, and religious superstition. The final step in the Colony’s war effort is the transformation of surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who will rise up and kill their masters.
Former house cat turned war hero Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bioweapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind Mort(e)’s recklessness is his ongoing search for a pretransformation friend – a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will take him from the remaining human strongholds to the heart of the Colony, where he will discover the source of EMSAH and learn the ultimate fate of all earth’s creatures.
Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by P. W. Singer, August Cole
The year is 2026. China has taken over as the world’s largest economy, while the United States, mired in an oil shortage, struggles to adjust to its diminished role. Then, a surprise attack throws the US into a chaos unseen since Pearl Harbor. As the enemy takes control, the survival of the nation will depend upon the most unlikely forces: the Navy’s antiquated Ghost Fleet and a cadre of homegrown terrorists.
Ghost Fleet is unique in that every piece of technology featured in the novel already exists or is in the works. Peter W. Singer is Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution and a consultant for the US Department of Defense and FBI. August Cole is a journalist and writer specializing in national security issues and is an Adjunct Fellow at the American Security Project.
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye
In Dust and Shadow, Sherlock Holmes hunts down Jack the Ripper—the world’s first serial killer—with impeccably accurate historical detail and without the advantage of modern forensics or profiling. Sherlock’s desire to stop the killer who is terrifying the East End of London is unwavering from the start, and in an effort to do so he hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims. However, when Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel attempting to catch the villain and a series of articles in the popular press question his role in the crimes, he must use all his resources in a desperate race to find the man known as “The Knife” before it is too late.
Penned as a pastiche by the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson, this debut signals the arrival of a tremendous talent in the mystery and historical fiction genres.
What books have you randomly picked up recently?