Monday, January 26, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/24

Last week I had a huge list of books, mostly manga. This week I have two books -- both novels, both set in alternate late 19th centuries, both looking a bit steampunky around the edges. (Those last two things may be repetitious.) So the mail is providing me with variety -- and that's a lovely thing when it comes unexpectedly on your doorstep.

As always, these are new books, and the people who published them would love for thousands or millions of you to buy and read and love them. I'd like books to sell massive numbers, too, and I want people to find things they enjoy reading, so I describe those books here every Monday morning. I may be biased, and I may be wrong, but my plan is to make books sound interesting to the people who would like them. I should, though, admit that I'm unavoidably handicapped by not having read any of the books I write about each week.

First up is Karen Memory, the new novel by Elizabeth Bear. (She's prolific and talented and interesting, and I despair of ever catching up with her books. But I hope that won't stop me from reading this one.) The main character's name is actually Karen Memery, and she's a "seamstress" in the boom-town Rapid City in something like 1880 -- what we'd probably call a whore in a very early Seattle. She works in a good house, but bad things can happen anywhere -- and this novel seems to be about very bad things, including a serial murderer and a machine that can take over anyone's mind. Karen narrates the book directly, and I just read almost the first chapter just from glancing at the beginning of the book -- it's a compelling and enticing voice, easier to keep reading than to stop. Karen Memory is a hardcover from Tor, available February 3rd.

Also from Tor, also in hardcover, and also available on the same day is Leanna Renee Hieber's new novel, The Eterna Files, about the hunt for the thought-destroyed base of a secret US government operation to render the American President invulnerable to attack (itself founded immediately after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln showed the need). There looks to be lots of other stuff going on in this alternate 1882, including a tough London detective, a secret cabal of child-killing British aristocrats, psychics, codebreakers, and massive supernatural interventions.

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