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Happy New Year from Gavin and Simon first of all! Second of all we hope you had a wonderful Christmas and got lots of books and book tokens and maybe even an e-reader (though don’t tell Simon) over the festive period. For the first show of the year we have Gavin and Simon sharing the books that they are the most excited about in the first half of 2013…
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Happy New Year () Happy New Year everyone, a little message from Simon and Gavin will ensue. What reading resolutions have you made for the year ahead? We would love to know for next weeks show!
The Books We Are Looking Forward to in the First Half of 2013 () In what is becoming a Readers tradition, Gavin and Simon share twelve books each they are looking forward to in the first half of the year*…
Gavin’s choices are below, Simon’s will be added soon (he forgot which ones he put forward and needs to listen to the podcast again first)…
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord (Gavin)
The Sadiri were once the galaxy’s ruling élite, but now their home planet has been rendered unlivable and most of the population destroyed. The few groups living on other worlds are desperately short of Sadiri women, and their extinction is all but certain. Civil servant Grace Delarua is assigned to work with Councillor Dllenahkh, a Sadiri, on his mission to visit distant communities, looking for possible mates. Delarua is impulsive, garrulous and fully immersed in the single life; Dllenahkh is controlled, taciturn and responsible for keeping his community together. They both have a lot to learn.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente (Gavin)
In the kingdom of Fairyland-Below, preparations are underway for the annual Revels . . . but aboveground, the creatures of Fairyland are in no mood for a party. It has been a long time since young September bid farewell to Fairyland, and she is excited to see it again; but upon her return she is shocked to find that her friends have been losing their shadows, and therefore their magic, to the kingdom of Fairyland-Below… It spells certain disaster and September won’t stand for it. Determined to make amends, she travels down into the underworld where, among creatures of ice and moonlight, she encounters a face she recognizes all too well: Halloween, the Hollow Queen. Only then does September realize what she must do to save Fairyland from slipping into the mundane world forever. Come and join in the Revels with September and her friends. But be warned: in Fairyland-Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem…
The Rook (The Checquy Files) by Daniel O’Malley (Gavin)
‘The body you are wearing used to be mine.’ So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Checquy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare and deadly supernatural ability of her own. Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, The Rook is a richly inventive, suspenseful fantasy. A tense, claustrophobic and gripping science fiction thriller from the author of The Testimony. When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.
The Explorer by James Smyth (Gavin)
But in space, nothing goes according to plan. The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue. But as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiralling towards his own inevitable death … unless he can do something to stop it.
First Novel by Nicholas Royle (Gavin)
Either First Novel is a darkly funny examination of the relative attractions of creative writing courses and suburban dogging sites, or it’s a twisted campus novel and possible murder mystery that’s not afraid to blend fact with fiction in its exploration of the nature of identity. Paul Kinder, a novelist with one forgotten book to his name, teaches creative writing in a university in the north-west of England. Either he’s researching his second, breakthrough novel, or he’s killing time having sex in cars. Either eternal life exists, or it doesn’t. Either you’ll laugh, or you’ll cry. Either you’ll get it, or you won’t.
The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf (Gavin)
The year is 1750. Tristan Hart, precociously talented student of medicine practising under the legendary Dr William Hunter. His obsession is the nature of pain and preventing it; the relationship between mind and matter and the existence of God. A product of the Age of Enlightenment, he is a rational man on a quest to cut through darkness and superstition with the brilliant blade of science. Tristan Hart, madman and deviant. His obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. A product of an age of faeries and goblins, gnomes and shape-shifting gypsies, he is on a quest to arouse the perfect scream and slay the daemon Raw Head who torments his dark days and long nights. Troubled visionary, twisted genius, loving sadist. What is real and what imagined in Tristan Hart’s brutal, beautiful, complex world?
The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas (Gavin)
‘People will die,’ says the panic-stricken woman outside police headquarters. She has been standing in blazing sunshine for more than an hour, and refuses to speak to anyone besides Commissaire Adamsberg. Her daughter has seen a vision: ghostly horsemen who target the most nefarious characters in Normandy. Since the middle ages there have been stories of murderers, rapists, those with serious crimes on their conscience, meeting a grizzly end following a visitation by the riders. Soon after the young woman’s vision a notoriously cruel man disappears, and the local police dismiss the matter as superstition. Although the case is far outside his jurisdiction, Adamsberg agrees to investigate the strange happenings in a village terrorised by wild rumours and ancient feuds.
The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper (Gavin)
Professor David Ullman is among the world’s leading authorities on Christian religion and myth. Not that he’s a believer. He sees what he teaches as nothing more than entrenched fiction – the “things that go bump in the mind”. It’s why when he’s offered a trip to Venice to be a consultant on a case study based on his expertise as a “demonologist” he accepts, seeing it as a free vacation for his teenage daughter and himself. But what he witnesses in an attic room at an address amidst the decadent splendour of the old city will change what he believes forever. Terrified, David races back to his hotel. But now he has the unshakable feeling that he is no longer alone. And that the voice that passes from his daughter’s lips before she jumps from the hotel’s roof belongs to a being he has long studied, but until now never thought could ever be real…
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell (Gavin)
On Strong Beach, an awkward teen with a terrible haircut has a reversal of fortune when he finds artefacts from the future lining a seagulls’ nest. By the Hox River in Nebraska, a window fuels both family pride and deadly revenge. In a godforsaken barn in what they suspect is Kentucky, Presidents Eisenhower, John Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes are bemused to find themselves reincarnated as horses. And in the collection’s title story, Clyde and Magreb – he a traditional capes-and-coffins vampire, she the more progressive variety – settle in an Italian lemon grove in the hope that its ripe fruit will keep their thirst for blood at bay.
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (Gavin)
Summer. Massachusetts. An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business. Anyone could be next. We’re going to Christmasland… NOS4A2 is an old-fashioned horror novel in the best sense. Claustrophobic, gripping and terrifying, this is a story that will have you on the edge of the seat while you read, and leaving the lights on while you sleep. With the horrific tale of Charles Manx and his Silver Wraith, Joe Hill has established himself as the premiere horror and supernatural thriller writer of his generation.
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Laffery (Gavin)
Following the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel writer in New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position, though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her résumé – human. Not to be put off by anything – especially not her blood-drinking boss or death goddess co-worker – Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her assignments turn deadly when the careful balance between humans and monsters starts to crumble – with Zoe right in the middle.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins (Gavin)
The job of the skin is to keep things in. On the buttoned-down island of Here, all is well. By which we mean: orderly, neat, contained and, moreover, beardless. Or at least it is until one famous day, when Dave, bald but for a single hair, finds himself assailed by a terrifying, unstoppable.monster*! Where did it come from? How should the islanders deal with it? And what, most importantly, are they going to do with Dave? The first book from a new leading light of UK comics, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is an off-beat fable worthy of Roald Dahl. It is about life, death and the meaning of beards. (*We mean a gigantic beard, basically.)
The Anarchist Detective by Jason Webster (Gavin)
Sent on sick leave after his last case, Max Cámara returns to his home town in the plains of La Mancha – birthplace of Don Quixote and producer of the world’s finest saffron. As he arrives, the police discover the naked body of a young woman on a rubbish tip. For Cámara, it’s far too close for comfort to an unsolved case that shocked the city thirty years ago. It’s hard to stay away, though, especially when the local police chief, a childhood friend, is calling on him for help, whispering about an international saffron mafia. And then there’s his eccentric grandfather, Hilario, who appears to be harbouring secrets of his own. Back in a world he has been avoiding for years, Cámara is dogged by questions. It’s time for some difficult choices: leave the police for good, and continue with the only woman who really understands him, or join a murder investigation that will tear open old wounds?
Next Week on the Readers () We will be talking ‘new year, new reading resolutions’ and other things on the show. But in the meantime we will be back on Friday with the next in the Readers Book Group choices, ‘Last Rituals’ by Yrsa Sigurdardottir