Carabas February 2016 New Book Recommends!

Carabas - New Book Recommends CB - C - Rebel of the Sands CB - Feb - We Are Pirates CBP - Thor V1 Goddess CG - Jul - Armada CB - NF - I'm Buffy and You're History

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Every so often, when we’ve collated the most exciting, imaginative and thought-provoking books from Fiction, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novels and Children’s / YA Books, we’re looking at a list as jaw-dropping in its content as its length; February 2016 is one of those times. However much we might want to save ourselves the work, and after serious edits already, the titles awaiting your discovery below simply demand inclusion.

Text here is from us, a little taster on the book in question, and you can find full biblio details, extract links, and publisher title description by clicking the link to our Jan-Jun 16 page for the publisher or subject (some still in progress) or the Waterstones or Forbidden Planet (for the majority of Graphic Novel’s) link and heading to their online shop.

NB. We believe in supporting bricks and mortar stores whether online or in person and a tiny snippet of any purchase comes our way to go towards site upkeep so any and all support very much appreciated! We hope to have further options to buy from independent’s up soon as well.

So read on and see the many wonders in print coming your way in February!

 

FANTASTIC FICTION IN FEBRUARY

CG - Jul - Armada
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Perhaps we need only mention ‘Ready Player One’ and many will be clicking ‘buy’ before even hearing confirmation of the author. But yes, it’s Ernest Cline who delighted so many of us with RPO, with its engaging near-future dystopia and 80’s nostalgia; something that in another writer’s hands would smack of nerdy indulgence but here delivered something that to readers of the era, fans or otherwise, and of any other would be in doubt was super-cool. This partakes of the same – and the Last Starfighter – as alien craft from the game Zack Lightman plays appear in the real world…
CBJJ16 - HS - Feb - The Book of the Phoenix Fm
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NB. If this appeals, do check out ELECTRIC DREAMS in our Non-Fiction picks below J
NNedi Okorafor’s The Book of the Phoenix is definitely worth a look. A super-powered innocent who discovers everything she’s known is a lie… well there are more than a few things out there along those lines, but Ms Okorafor, from our reading LAGOON, brings an incredibly distinctive voice and tone to her work so we expect this to distinguish itself in ways we simply cannot imagine.
Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
CB - AR - Feb - Graft reduced
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Matt Hill’s Graft caught our attention for the choice of a comparatively more conventional setting (Manchester 2025) to contrast the interdimensional weirdness that drives the plot; also for its socially-minded concerns as regards trafficking and exploitation, and giving human life a price tag. Another thumbs up to Angry Robot for a canny acquisition.
CB - Feb - When the Floods Came
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
Meanwhile Man Booker shortlister Clare Morrall brings us a post-apocalyptic vision of Britain in which a charismatic stranger shakes the stable if lonely existence of Roza Polanski and her family. Smells to us like one of those mainstream genre break-out hits like Mike Carey’s The Girl with all the Gifts and Sarah Pinborough’s The Death House. And on the subject of Sarah Pinborough…
CBJJ16 - Go - Feb - 13 Minutes
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Gollancz, publisher of the aforementioned TDH and more from Sarah, serve up her latest in February, 13 Minutes – as in dead for 13 minutes, naturally! Less SF this time, more suspenseful thriller with a teenage lead to hit YA and general readers again. Lots of interest expected… (Our profile of the author here)
CBJJ16 - Go - Feb - Down Station
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
Still with Gollancz but back to weird Londons Simon Morden’s Down Station comes in February, concerning a bunch who escape a burning London and enter a world ‘defined by all the London’s there have ever been.’ Sounds good to us…
Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
CBJJ16 - Go - Feb - The Medusa Chronicles
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Then – what’s this? Heavyweights Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter team up to tell a new tale of cyborg Howard Falcon, created by Arthur C Clarke with permission of the Clarke estate. Don’t think we need to say more than that… *** UPDATE: Now publishing May 2016 ***
CBJJ16 - Go - Feb - Empire V
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
Also, following on from S.N.U.F.F. in January, there’s more SF satire in translation from Victor Pelevin this month. This is Empire V, regarding the ‘cults and corruption of politics, banking and power’ – definitely one to have on the radar.
Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
CBJJ16 - HS - Feb - The Reaction Fm
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A cluster of discretionary book two inclusions next. First among sequels (thanks to Mr Jasper Fforde for the pun) is Helena Coggan who’s been getting some real accolade for her debut The Catalyst. ‘The next J.K. Rowling’ the U.S.’s Today Programme believes – well maybe. Either way, while we are a tad more focused on book one’s here, we thought we ought to mention the sequel ‘The Reaction’ is coming in February…
CBP Titan - Darker.jpg.size-230
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
Then we’re back to weird and alternative Londons – well we are at least a little about fantastical London at Carabas – with the sequel to V.E. Schawb’s A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows. Others may write about a single, darker ‘second London’, Simon Morden might write about a single one that incorporates every London: Victoria Schwab has concocted four: Grey, Red, White and Black London. We’ve yet to read the first but this magic-based reality mash-up sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.
Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
CB - Or - Jul - Speak
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From Orbit this month comes the paperback of Louisa Hall’s noted Speak. Following in the footsteps of films A.I., I, Robot, and 2015’s Ex-Machina, and perhaps Ian Tregillis’ recent steampunkish The Mechanical, Speak is an emotive narrative by a paralysed machine about human lives and it’s own – another cross-genre break-out like Clare Morall and Sarah Pinborough above.
CB - Feb - The Silver Tide
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
Last among sequels – though in no respect least – is Jen William’s The Silver Tide which follows up from The Copper Promise and the Iron Ghost, featuring those same ‘reckless heroes’ visiting the isle of the gods. We heard an extract of book 2 at the fabulous Super Relaxed Fantasy Club and didn’t half enjoy it. Jen’s also the co-host of SRFC with Den Patrick; not that they only read their own books of course (!) but was great to hear…
CBP Apr - The Vagrant
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Never judge a book by its cover. Only we quite like this cover as well as what we’ve read about it. Fantasy is full of loners but there’s something about the nameless Vagrant and his odyssey to deliver a weapon that is the last hope in a terrible war that makes us think this is one of those classic set-ups made fresh and invigorating. Looking forward to reading…
CBJJ16 - DR - Feb - Devil's Detective Fm
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
Horror author Simon Kurt Unsworth debuted in long form with Del Rey in 2015 with The Devil’s Detective. Out in trade paperback in Feb, this is perhaps less detective horror, more horrific detection: Fool is an Information Man, one of the Devil’s Detectives tasked with solving a murder in Hell, possibly unearthing his own identity and memories in the process. Expect wry humour (divine comedy?), wild interpretations of Abrahamic beliefs and characters and fantastical revelations…
Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
CBJJ16 - Feb - A Robot in the Garden
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Then comes Deborah Install’s A Robot in the Garden from Black Swan. Already getting attention, it strikes us as a slipstream title that will get a lot more, the sort of perfectly mainstreaming SF that will probably sell more to general readers than genre fans – might it be in the running for a few awards? Loosely described as ‘About a Boy’ but with a robot… Well why not?
CB - Feb - This Census Taker
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February also brings us China Mieville’s THIS CENSUS TAKER, a novella “filled with beauty, terror and strangeness”. Mieville is one of those writers with the singular capacity to form story from the utterly bizarre and (usually!) make it relatable. Whether he’s writing his signature New Weird SFF or ‘real world’ strangeness as here he’s always worth a look.
CB - Feb - We Are Pirates
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Finally from the adult fiction output is Daniel Handler’s We Are Pirates in paperback. Daniel Handler? Lemony Snickett! Because why should kids have all the benefit of his genius? We won’t say more ourselves but here are a few reviews which will have you clicking the links if not hammering ‘Buy’ without reading further…
“Honest and funny, dark and painful, We Are Pirates reads like the result of a nightmarish mating experiment between Joseph Heller and Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s the strangest, most brilliant offering yet from the mind behind Lemony Snicket” (Neil Gaiman)
“This, his fifth novel for adults, retains the whimsy, intrigue and high camp of his children’s fiction. Silly but poignant” (Sunday Telegraph)
“It’s been a long time since I read a book quite as crazy as We Are Pirates. It manages to be funny, weird, dark and moving all at once. It’s a wild and anarchic ride, as gleefully out-of-step with much literary fiction as a pirate galleon amid a fleet of sailing dinghies, and all the better for it. I loved it” (Matt Haig, author of The Humans)

 

NON-FICTION PICKS IN FEBRUARY

CB - NF - Incident's of Travel in the Multiverse
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Published to coincide with AL and AL’s exhibition at HOME in Manchester, wild science meets art and the most eye-boggling, jaw-dropping concepts you’re likely to encounter all year. If in doubt or if you’ve never heard of A&A (holding our hands up) just take a look at the contributors: Brian Greene, Grant Morrison, Marina Warner – and those are just the ones we know!
CB - NF - Feb - The Aliens are Coming
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More on the (popular) science side – and there’s some cracking titles this month, comedian and science writer Ben Miller brings us the latest on the search for extraterrestrial life… Nuff said, much to be read.
CB - NF - The Persuaders
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There’s always something interesting and poignant from Icon Books. We’re very much of the opinion that we’re all too busy to notice just how much we’re being manipulated – not some big conspiracy theory rather, worryingly, business as usual. The Persuaders could very well put you right on what’s going on. Click link for more…
CB - NF - Feb - The Idiot Brain
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And if Icon have the nonsense of the external world covered, then Faber have the internal covered. Your brain really doesn’t behave as it ought – or at least how we think it does or should. Particular highlights of the content within include why we lose arguments to stupid people (beyond them bringing you down to their level and beating you with experience) and the fact that alcohol makes you smart. Okay improves your memory. Okay, this does come with an editorial advisory note to read the book before testing the assertion. (Sorry, what? Well I’m sure we’ll remember what we were meant to do first shortly)
CB - NF - Electronic Dreams
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Tom Lean, via Bloomsbury, serves up multiple courses of 80’s computer nostalgia in Electric Dreams this month. The boom, the industry, the classic games…
CB - NF - I'm Buffy and You're History
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NB. And if this appeals, did you check out Armada by Ernest Cline in the Fiction picks above? If not you really should…
“Exploring the Slayer s postmodern politics, her position as a third wave feminist icon, her placing of masculinity into extremis, her fandom and legacy in popular culture, this is a fresh and challenging contribution to the growing literature on the pitfalls and pleasures of a great cult TV show.” Look it’s Buffy okay?
CB - NF - Feb - Cowboy Song
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Onto music. There’ve been other biographies of Phil Lynott but this is the first to be written with the cooperation and endorsement of the family and draws on exclusive interviews with family, friends and collaborators. An important work beyond the man’s appreciators.
CB - NF - Tales of the Smiths US Jacket
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And, given we’re all about the graphic form (see below) and music besides we just had to mention Tales of the Smiths. This is more about their younger years ‘before they were famous’ and goes into their influences as well as their lives; it’ll be fascinating to see what it’s all about and just how Chris Chrisoulis captures it…

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More great Non-Fiction titles from Jan-Jun 2016 here…

 

GRAPHIC NOVEL HIGHLIGHTS IN FEBRUARY

CBP - Thor V1 Goddess
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Finally in paperback for the trade, Thor: Goddess of Thunder collects the first issues of Aaron, Dautermann and Molina’s new female Thor. Naturally getting big attention, inevitably the cheap shots and accusations of cynical sales-grabbing were flying. But why? Thor’s magic hammer bequeaths godly power on the worthy so a female Thor was a natural development. We now know the reveal as to who she is (no spoilers here) but the mystery was one of the attractions; plus Aaron is a writer at the top of his game so every reason to find out if you haven’t already.
CG - Feb - Olympus
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Geoff Johns is one of the lead writers at DC and we’re always on the look-out for such creators personal projects with the indies, here coming to you courtesy of Humanoids. Promised to be high-octane mythical action, Olympus sounds a little like Lost meets The Beach with added Hellenic nasties…
CG - Va - Feb - Book of Death
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We also just have to mention Valiant’s crossover event, the Book of Death. Valiant have been patiently building the latest iteration of their universe, with excellent creators and some cracking stories. We think we’re right in saying that this is their first BIG crossover. And yes, of course the ‘prevent the dark future’ plot is a staple of comics but no reason for Valiant not to have their turn. Aside from anything else they’ve got it down pretty concisely into two 4-issue arcs collected into two volumes. Bravo for that aside from anything else Valiant.
CG - Va - Feb - Book of Death Fall of the Valiant Universe
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CG - DC - Feb - Batman by Ed Brubaker
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No month goes by without a Batman collection of some sort but this is noteworthy as the first volume collecting the run by top comics scribe Ed Brubaker. One for the mainstream fans and recommendations to if they’re unsure of what their next fix should be.
CG - V - Feb - Egypt
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Meanwhile we must just mention Egypt, collected from the vaults of all but the very beginning of Vertigo. Vincent Me joins an Egyptian revivalist cult, finds himself buried alive – then finds himself in what seems to be ancient Egypt. Whatever the case Pete Milligan’s Vertigo work took us on wildly creative and inspiring adventures of the mind, exploring reality, perception and identity – the only reason we failed to pick this up at the time was because we’d spent our meagre student income on Pete’s other titles of the time! (Shade, The Extremist, The Enigma… okay and fellow Vertigo scribes Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis…)
CG - Feb - Comics Dementia
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February also brings a blast from that era courtesy of Fantagraphics. We were too busy buying Vertigo to pick up the indie work by the Hernandez brothers though Love and Rockets was one of the much lauded series of the time, and appreciated by female comics readers alongside guys.
Comics Dementia is more for lovers of comic art and hardcore L&R fans (of which there are more than a few), a collection of ‘extra pages’ from the early run. Because these guys didn’t have advertisers queuing up, but rather than waste the space Gilbert Hernandez used it to experiment with the form as collected here.
CG - Feb - Love and Rockets No 8
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And from a collected past to the collected present, Fantagraphics bring the latest instalment of Love and Rockets by Gilbert and bro Jamie this month as well!
CG - NB - Feb - An Unreliable History of Tattoos - R
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Back across the Atlantic to via independent means to the UK and NoBrow have newspaper illustrator Paul Thomas’s An (Un)reliable History of Tattoos. It doesn’t need us to say what a passion there is for the art, the culture and the movement – but is it ready for and desirous of something a little more satirical of itself? Either way Paul Thomas has got the ink down…
CG - Im - Feb - The Wicked + The Divine V3
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For more details on Carabas on this and other great titles from NoBrow just click here…
Meanwhile current top talent Gillen and McKelvie have the latest volume of their creator owned ongoing superhero series The Wicked + The Divine, coming from Image in February. People become gods with two years to live: lots of power, little time, highly rated. (NB. Waterstones link – still awaiting Image feed to Forbidden Planet)
CG - Ma - Feb - Captain America White
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And the Eisner Award-Winning team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale reunited for another ‘Marvel in Colour’ series, Captain America: White, collected here in Hardback from Marvel. Set back in WW2 it’s an untold tale of Cap and Bucky: you need know no more – these stories and their creators tend to sell themselves. Check out our preview here…
CGJJ16 - Ti - Feb - Surface Tension
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Lastly something rather different from Titan Comics, SURFACE TENSION by Jay Gunn. It’s a post-apocalyptic SF eco-thriller in which humanity survives on an island enclave with the surrounding water and seas everywhere turned utterly hostile to human life. Two people emerge from the sea, physiologically changed, kicking off the drama. Of course it’s too easy to imagine we’re heading toward an American style comic origin story, but the freshness of Gunn’s art and subject matter holds true in the plot. Man has been, continues to be, punished for his environmental folly. Yet this is the retribution of exotic bioscience rather than divine wrath: no smart money is going on clemency or a happy-ever-after for anyone concerned. *** Check out also Jay Gunn’s musical influences for Surface Tension on Carabas here and our preview of the interior art here! ***

 

CHILDREN’S BOOK HIGHLIGHTS IN FEBRUARY

CB - C - These Dark Wings
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Head of Zeus bring us John Owen Theobald’s fantastical vision of London in WW2 which sounds like it really hits the mark. An orphaned girl goes to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster of the Tower of London, and its ghosts. Then it’s a case of save the ravens, beat the Nazis – best hope she can find the ravens in the first place…
CB - HV - Apr - The Map of Bones
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Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
2015 saw award-winning poet Francesca Haig’s The Fire Sermon being published to acclaim and a great deal of interest. In this post-apocalyptic future everyone is born with a twin; one of you is imperfect and cast out, one perfect who will live a life of comparative luxury. This is the much awaited sequel.
Complete title info on this and other great titles from the publisher
CB - C - Rebel of the Sands
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Now comes something which is promised as – and the evidence supports this – a global super-lead. Alwyn Hamilton’s REBEL OF THE SANDS was snapped up immediately at auction, by canny but leading independent Faber in the UK (Penguin in the US), and touted by the Bookseller magazine as one of their Feb Ones to Watch. Doubtless the writing itself is exceptional, but Hamilton is tapping the redolent mythos of the Middle East and sounds to have assembled the ingredients of a fantastical classic as well with Djinni, shooting contests, evocatively named characters and places, magic, dangerous desert lands, Sultans… And yes of course there’s some kind of love story there as well.
CB - C - Bullet Catcher
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If we’re going to make a ‘x-meets-x comparison we’ll forego the more recent laboured examples: Disney’s Aladdin meets His Dark Materials then maybe? In terms of appeal if not exactly scope or content. Either way with some many great titles coming this month we’re at a loss to pick one book of the month – but if we had to this would probably be it.
Bravo Alwyn – very much looking forward to this.
Joaquin Lowe has also nailed down a desert setting, of the American variety in his debut The Bullet Catcher. Published by the fabulous Hot Key books (always worth a check on what those guys are doing) the ‘magical’ element is provided by the legendary bullet-catching outlaws who Imma hopes to join. A coming-of-age journey in which she’ll discover whether she can find the hero within and become one or give in to other emotions and become a gunslinger…
CB - C - Feb - Demon Road PB
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If Derek Landy has a book coming out in any format on any month, well we just have to include it in our recommends. Harry Potter, it must be said, really was a one off, sitting as a phenomenon beyond all. At the same time there’ve been series and authors who occupy the next lofty tier, projecting beyond the rest on grounds of concept, characterisation, creativity, sheer entertainment and sales also. To us, on this level, you’ll find names – in the Children’s / YA scene – such names as Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman, also Eoin Colfer, Jonathan Stroud, Philip Reeve and Derek Landy (we suspect Alwyn Hamilton will shortly be moving in next door to them).
CB - C - Burning Midnight
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With his brilliant eight book Skullduggery Pleasant series concluded Mr Landy begins his new epic The Demon Road Trilogy, out in paperback this month. Want a tagline? Let’s say ‘Horns’ meets ‘Buffy’ – something along those lines anyway. Definitely one to check out.
Will McIntosh has a Hugo under his belt but this is his first YA book – and it sounds superb. Mysterious gemstone ‘spheres’ have appeared all over the world and become the main commodity: because when you burn a pair they improve you: mentally, physically, in appearance… And a pair of teens, one with a talent for finding them, are going up against an evil billionaire and will find out what they are and why they’re here in the process.
Really, really intrigued by this.

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More Children’s and YA picks from Jan-Jun 2016 here…

 

Check out our portal page to discover more great books publishing January to June 2016 here!

Or click one of the below for our top fantastical adults & kids YA, graphic novels and non-fiction…

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