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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Top Reads of 2019


There was a point this year when I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to write a 'best of' post this year. I found it hard to find books I wanted to read, but more importantly, books I really enjoyed reading. I did hit the jackpot and found some books I really adored and here are my top 5 reads of 2019, starting in reverse order:



Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
Number 5 - Circe by Madeline Miller 

Back in April I finally decided to check out a recommendation from one of my friends Circe by Madeline Miller. I had the audio version of the book so this is technically a 'listen to' rather than a read...but lets not split hairs. Perdita Weeks brought the troubled daughter of the sun god Helios to life, as we follow Circe from her home with the gods, to her exile by Zeus on Aiaia. Miller creates a fantastic story for the mythical Circe and interweaves a number of other myths and mythical characters to share the stage with her. Miller has received awards and accolades for this Circe and here is one more - one of my fave books of 2019!





Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
Number 4 - Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

In July I took my sister's advice this time and purchased Machines Like Me (again another audio book). I loved everything about this book - the alternate history of 80's Britain, McEwan's android science, the moral conflict and finally, the narrator - Billy Howle. McEwan is one of those authors who are a bit hit and miss with me but this time it was a big hit. See my thoughts here.







Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
Number 3 - Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

I thoroughly enjoyed Arden's Winternight trilogy and thought that The Winter of the Witch was a fantastic ending to this series. Again, this was another audio book (I did actually read some books!) and the narration, again was amazing. In this final instalment we join Vasya on the end of her magical journey that is steeped in Russian folklore.  I liked it sooo much I wrote a full review if you want to check it out here.







Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
Number 2 - La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

I was late to the prequel of the His Dark Materials party.  I had La Belle Sauvage on my TBR (yes Audible library) for too long before I decided I needed to find out what it was all about.  I was totally gripped from the first word until the last. Michael Sheen is a superlative narrator but it's Pullman's story that really shines through here. The young Malcolm, his daemon and the baby Lyra have an epic adventure that only Pullman could tell.  I almost think I liked this story better than the original  - His Dark Materials.






Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
Number 1 - it's a tie for first place in my book reading heart for 2019

A Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

A Thousand Doors of January tells the story of January Scaller and her life as the ward of the very wealthy Mr Locke. The story flits from past to present and from one world to another and it's not until near the very end that the reader gets to discover the intricacies of Harrow's plot.  Needless to say I loved this book and what is even more exceptional is that it is a debut novel. Kudos x 10 to Harrow for this very first novel. I wrote a full review if you want to find out more. Check it out here.



Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
The Binding by Bridget Collins

I described The Binding in my review as a gentle love story but the more I think about my description of the story I don't think I did the book justice. There is a real ethereal and haunting quality to this story. The binding and what it really means for the main protagonist Emmett isn't uncovered until most of the way through which adds to the tension and the mood of story itself. This is a book that stays with you and even a year later (almost) I am still caught up thinking about Emmett and what happened to him and imagining what could happen next. Great book and a fantastic audio book as well.


Well that is it....my faves of 2019.



I have an honourable mention (well mentions) - Aching God and Sin Eater by Michael Shel. Aching God was a finalist in the SPFBO 4 and one of Qwill's faves in 2018 but I only just read it in 2019. This is an amazing book and Sin Eater is even better. Thought I would keep these two as 'mentions' as Aching God was part of the SPFBO. My recommendation is to read both together to get the full effect. I can hardly wait for book 3 to come out.



I would love find out what your top reads of 2019 were so please leave me your top picks in the comments section.





Circe
Little, Brown and Company, April 10, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
“A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story,” this #1 New York Times bestseller is “both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right” (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER–NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR, The Washington Post, People, Time, Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Newsweek, the A.V. Club, Christian Science Monitor and Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, Paste, Audible, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Thrillist, NYPL, Self Real Simple, Goodreads, Boston Globe, Electric Literature, BookPage, the Guardian, Book Riot, Seattle Times, and Business Insider





Machines Like Me
Nan A. Telese, April 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
New from Ian McEwan, Booker Prize winner and international bestselling author of Atonement and The Children Act

Machines Like Me takes place in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first synthetic humans and—with Miranda’s help—he designs Adam’s personality. The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong, and clever. It isn’t long before a love triangle soon forms, and these three beings confront a profound moral dilemma.

In his subversive new novel, Ian McEwan asks whether a machine can understand the human heart—or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.





Winter of the Witch
Winternight Trilogy 3
Del Rey, October 1, 2019
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover, Audiobook, and eBook, January 8, 2019

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Vasilisa Petrovna is an unforgettable heroine determined to forge her own path. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.





La Belle Sauvage
The Book of Dust 1
June 4, 2019
Trade Paperback, 480 pages
 eBook, October 19, 2017

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of His Dark Materials–soon to be an HBO original series starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda–to expand on the story of Lyra, “one of fantasy’s most indelible heroines” (The New York Times Magazine).

Don’t miss Volume II of The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth

Malcolm Polstead and his daemon, Asta, are used to overhearing news and the occasional scandal at the inn run by his family. But during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm finds a mysterious object—and finds himself in grave danger.

Inside the object is a cryptic message about something called Dust; and it’s not long before Malcolm is approached by the spy for whom this message was actually intended. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he begins to notice suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.

Lyra is at the center of a storm, and Malcolm will brave any peril, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through it.

“Too few things in our world are worth a seventeen-year wait: The Book of Dust is one of them.” —The Washington Post
 
“The book is full of wonder. . . . Truly thrilling.” —The New York Times
 
“People will love the first volume of Philip Pullman’s new trilogy with the same helpless vehemence that stole over them when The Golden Compass came out.” —Slate





A Thousand Doors of January
Redhook, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.





The Binding
William Morrow, April 16, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
Proclaimed as “truly spellbinding,” a “great fable” that “functions as transporting romance” by the Guardian, the runaway #1 international bestseller

"A rich, gothic entertainment that explores what books have trapped inside them and reminds us of the power of storytelling. Spellbinding.” — TRACY CHEVALIER

Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.


Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice amongst their small community, but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

An unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love, The Binding is a beautiful homage to the allure and life-changing power of books—and a reminder to us all that knowledge can be its own kind of magic.





Honorable Mention

Aching God
Iconoclasts 1
April 9, 2018
   eBook, 604 pages
March 27, 2019
   Trade Paperback 602 pages

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019
“Closer, mortal. You are here, finally, to feed the Aching God…”

The days of adventure are passed for Auric Manteo. Retired to the countryside and isolated with his scars and riches, he no longer delves into forbidden ruins seeking dark wisdom and treasure. But just as old nightmares begin plaguing his sleep, he receives an urgent summons back to that old life.

To save his only daughter, he must return to the place of his greatest trauma: the haunted Barrowlands. Along with a group of inexperienced companions and an old soldier, he must confront the dangers of the ancient and wicked Djao civilization. He has survived fell beasts, insidious traps, and deadly hazards before. But how can he contend with the malice of a bloodthirsty living god?

First volume in the planned epic fantasy trilogy Iconoclasts, Aching God is the debut novel by RPG adventure designer Mike Shel.

Also included is an advanced preview of Iconoclasts - Book II: Sin Eater.



Sin Eater
Iconoclasts 2
May 20,  2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 574 pages

Melanie's Top Reads of 2019

"I SHALL BAPTIZE YOU, SIR, AND MY BAPTISM WILL BURN YOUR FOLLY AND FLESH AWAY."

A year has passed since Auric Manteo descended into the haunted depths of a Djao ruin to return a lethal artifact, only to face down a bloodthirsty, imprisoned god. Now his daughter Agnes comes to bring him back to the capital with promises of hidden secrets finally revealed.

But the city decays, poisonous disorder is rife, and whispered prophecy foretells of cataclysm and doom. Summoned by their no-longer human queen, Auric and Agnes are commanded to carry out an impossible task, one that can be accomplished only with the mysterious blade Szaa’da’shaela, gifted to Auric on a lunatic's whim.

Can Auric and his daughter survive a journey fraught with blood, menace, and madness? And can they pay the price demanded by a being every bit as evil as the Aching God?

Sin Eater is the sequel to 2018’s widely praised Aching God and book 2 of the Iconoclasts Trilogy. Get your copy today!

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow


A Thousand Doors of January
Author:  Alix E. Harrow
Publisher:  Redhook, September 10, 2019
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (print); US$ 9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780316421997(print); 9780316421980 (eBook)

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.



Melanie's Thoughts

Living as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January Scaller is as much of a rare curiosity as the many rare treasures that fill his mansion. January spends much of her life alone and lonely with her father off searching for new treasures for Mr. Locke and the New England Archaeological Society. When she finds a strange book that tells a story of mysterious doors that lead to dangerous and exotic places her life starts to change with every turn of the page.

I absolutely love The Thousand Doors of January. I was really very pleasantly surprised to discover that this was a debut novel. Harrow has crafted an excellent story within a story that carefully unfolds as January reads the book - The Ten Thousand Doors. It took me a while to realise what was happening and how the story is interwoven with January's life. I don't want to say too much and ruin the surprise.

In my opinion Harrow mastered the three essential components of a good book - characterisation, setting, and plot. I found January completely believable as the lonely young girl who wanders the halls of Locke's mansion desperate for her father's attention. Despite having a companion and a pet January is very much on her own and even more so when her father fails to return from one of his missions abroad. This 'aloneness' and loneliness is a prevalent theme throughout. Harrow uses multiple settings for her story - everywhere from a luxurious mansion, to a desolate farm in the midwest to a multitude of exotic and dangerous 'other' worlds. Harrow writing is descriptive enough that you can feel the hot wind on your cheek or smell the perfumed air yet she does this without being verbose. Now about the plot. As I mentioned earlier there is a story within a story and this is the same with the plot. There are two main dimensions to the plot - one is a love story or the search for love and the other is about overcoming the odds. I know this sounds very vague but I don't want to accidentally give anything away by describing too much of what happens.

The Thousand Doors of January is a great book that had me gripped from page 1 all the way to the end. It has easily made it into my top 5 books of the year....and the year isn't over yet. I am also pretty sure that it will make it into my top 20 fave books ever! All these accolades and Harrow is new author. Imagine what is going to come next for Harrow! I can hardly wait.

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January


Please welcome Alix E. Harrow to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was published on September 10, 2019 by Redhook.



Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Alix:  My mom had an MS DOS game where you could write and illustrate picture books (if anyone played this and remembers what it was called, @ me on Twitter, Google has failed me). When I was five or six I wrote a story about a little girl whose wicked mother tried to make her eat poison bread. It was titled, “The Poison Bread.” I peaked early.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Alix:  Like most writers, I’m actually a cobbled-together mess of strategies and schemes, most of which collapse at the first sign of any actual writing. I employ elaborate outlines, but I’ve recently admitted to myself that those outlines are almost always lies. They serve more as a very, very rough first draft than as a map.

In conclusion, I would like to phone a friend.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alix:  The crushing terror that each decent idea I have—each decent sentence I write—is the last one. That there is a finite number of good words assigned to each person and I used all mine up being funny on the groupchat with my brothers or sending overwrought emails to my college friends.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Alix:  Not be glib, but the answer is literally everything. Twitter threads and podcasts and talking about Twitter-threads and podcasts with my husband; good music and bad music and in-between music I can perfectly tune out to think about other things; paperback romances and my kid’s picture books and Spiderverse. Someone mentioned that my book reminded them of the movie The Journey of Natty Gann, and I realized in a single blinding flash that Natty Gann is a girl-and-her-dog-questing-across-historical-America-to-find-her-father story that deeply informed The Ten Thousand Doors.



TQDescribe The Ten Thousand Doors of January using only 5 words.

Alix:  Girl finds door; adventures ensue.



TQTell us something about The Ten Thousand Doors of January that is not found in the book description.

Alix:  There are a lot of footnotes, y’all. Like, from the book-flap you might go in thinking this is a fast-paced YA adventure full of hijinks and possibly sword-play, but I just want you to know that it shares more DNA with Jonathan Strange than with, say, Six of Crows.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Ten Thousand Doors of January?

Alix:  I started with a childhood love of portal fantasies and a lonely kid’s longing to find a door on the back acres of her Kentucky hayfield, and then waded into postcolonial theory. In grad school I studied race and empire in turn of the century British children’s literature, which meant I reevaluated a lot of my formative books and started to wonder what it would look like if I turned a portal fantasy inside out and backwards, and made it about homegoing rather than conquering some mythical, foreign land.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ten Thousand Doors of January? Why did you set the novel in the early 1900s?

Alix:  I’d argue the six years I spent getting an undergrad and then a graduate degree in history were the bulk of my research, although no number of degrees is going to fill in all the practical, mundane details you need to write a novel (like: where were the rural train stations located in 1911? How much was a laundry-worker paid per hour?). And no number of degrees is going to really, genuinely illuminate the lived experiences of people of color in the American past—that required a lot of extracurricular reading of memoirs and letters from women in similar circumstances to January.

And I chose the turn of the twentieth century because it was in many ways the peak of global imperialism. Because every empire believed in that moment their horizons would stretch on forever, that their suns would never set. One of the conceits in the book is that Doors introduce change and upheaval, and are the natural enemies of the status quo; I wanted to choose a historical moment where that effect was palpable.


TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  The Orbit/Redhook team very generously asked if I had any particular cover ideas, early on. I sent them a very excitable list of possibilities, which they wisely and humanely disposed of, before sending me Lisa Marie Pompilio’s brilliant cover. There wasn’t any back and forth or nit-picking or adjusting, because it was perfect and everyone knew it. She hadn’t captured anything actually, specifically from the story, but she’d captured the feeling—wonder and mystery and things waiting just out of sight.



TQIn The Ten Thousand Doors of January who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alix:  Every character was difficult to write, because characterization is the thing I’m worst at. It comes to me slowly, rising to the surface through a dozen drafts. (But the actual answer is: Adelaide was the easiest because she’s based on my own mom, and Samuel was the hardest because he’s based on my husband and therefore almost too good to be true).



TQDoes The Ten Thousand Doors of January touch on any social issues?

Alix:  I would argue that every novel--and every book, and every grocery list, probably--touches on social issues. Many people have said it better than me, but essentially: all stories are political, it’s just that some of their politics are so near the status-quo that some of us don’t notice them.

In conclusion: hell yes it touches on social issues.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  Weirdly, the line that’s stuck with me as the most practical and useful is: “Hearts aren’t chessboards and they don’t play by the rules.”



TQWhat's next?

Alix:  My next project is another standalone historical fantasy! This one is pitched as “suffragists, but witches,” set around the early American women’s movement except instead of fighting for the vote, they’re fighting for the return of women’s magic. It’s still in hideous, shambling draft-form right now, but it’s getting there!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alix:  Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure.





The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Redhook, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.





About Alix

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Alix E. Harrow is a part-time historian with a full-time desk job, a lot of opinions, and excessive library fines. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Apex, and other venues. She and her husband live in Kentucky under the cheerful tyranny of their kids and pets. Find her at @AlixEHarrow on Twitter


Website  ~  Twitter @AlixEHarrow

2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2019 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on September 30, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2019 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Artwork by Julie Dillon




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover illustration by Na Kim
Jacket design by Kelly Blair




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Stephan Martiniere




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by Tommy Arnold
Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Francesca Corsini




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Matthew Revert




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by John Coulthart




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art and design by Jason Booher




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts

The View From Monday - September 9, 2019


Happy Monday!

There are SIX debuts this week!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow;

The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes;

Tinfoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve Moulton;

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir;

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker;

and

The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga.

The View From Monday - September 9, 2019 The View From Monday - September 9, 2019
The View From Monday - September 9, 2019 The View From Monday - September 9, 2019
The View From Monday - September 9, 2019 The View From Monday - September 9, 2019
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



From formerly featured DAC Authors:

The Silver Wind by Nina Allan is out in Trade Paperback.

The View From Monday - September 9, 2019
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



The View From Monday - September 9, 2019



Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

September 10, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Silver Wind (h2tp) Nina Allan SF/TT/F
The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood Dys/LF/SF
The Divers' Game Jesse Ball LF
Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of shapeshifting women Sharon Blackie SocSci/FairyT/FolkT/LM
Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy Desirina Boskovich LC/SF/F/PerfArts/HC
Buried in the Stacks Allison Brook PCM - A Haunted Library Mystery 3
Echoes of War Cheryl Campbell SF/AP/PA - Echoes Trilogy 1
The Women's War (h2tp) Jenna Glass F - The Women's War 1
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock (h2tp) Imogen Hermes Gowar HistF
The Ten Thousand Doors of January (D) Alix E. Harrow MR/CoA/HistF/RF
The Imaginary Corpse (D) Tyler Hayes UF/Cr
An Orc on the Wild Side Tom Holt CF/HU/UF
At Death's Door Sherrilyn Kenyon HistF/RF/PNR - Deadman's Cross 3
The Ruin of Kings (h2tp) Jenn Lyons F - A Chorus of Dragons 1
Tinfoil Butterfly (D) Rachel Eve Moulton LF/H/Sus/PsyTh
Gideon the Ninth (D) Tamsyn Muir SF/SO/F
A Song for a New Day (D) Sarah Pinsker Dys/LF/AP/PA
Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling (h2tp) Philip Pullman Essays
Red Moon (h2tp) Kim Stanley Robinson SF/HSF
A Choir of Lies Alexandra Rowland F - Conspiracy of Truths 2
Boundless: A Drizzt Novel R. A. Salvatore F - Generations 2
The Resurrectionist of Caligo (D) Wendy Trimboli
Alicia Zaloga
F/P/HistF
Master of the World Edward Willett F/UF - Worldshapers 2
The Collected Stories of Diane Williams (h2tp) Diane Williams SS/LF/AB



September 12, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
On the Night Border James Chambers Occ/SS



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
mm - Mass Market Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator



AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
Bio - Biographical
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romane
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HC - History & Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PerfArts - Performing Arts
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PolTh - Political Thriller
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
RF - Romantic Fantasy
RS - Romantic Suspense
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SS - Short Stories
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

September 2019 Debuts


September 2019 Debuts


There are 15 debut novels for September.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The September debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite September cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on September 15, 2019.




Farooq Ahmed

Kansastan
7.13 Books, September 16, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 204 pages

September 2019 Debuts
Inspired by the American Civil War, KANSASTAN takes place in a dystopic Kansas that is besieged by its neighboring state, Missouri. Close to the state line, an orphaned and disabled goatherd lives atop a minaret and is relegated to custodial work by the mosque s imam while the threat of occupation looms. When his aunt and cousin arrive, the mosque s congregants believe that the cousin, Faisal, is a young prophet. Faisal comes to also believe in his divinity, stoking the goatherd s envy and hatred. When the cousins fall in love with the same woman, the goatherd hatches a plan to supplant Faisal in all ways possible as suitor and the mosque s savior. Kansastan is a singular work, infused with Islamic folklore, Quranic lyricism, and Old Testament tales, as American as Cormac McCarthy, and most importantly viciously funny.





L. X. Beckett

Gamechanger
Tor Books, September 17, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages

September 2019 Debuts
Neuromancer meets Star Trek in Gamechanger, a fantastic new book from award-winning author L. X. Beckett.

First there was the Setback.

Then came the Clawback.

Now we thrive.

Rubi Whiting is a member of the Bounceback Generation. The first to be raised free of the troubles of the late twenty-first century. Now she works as a public defender to help troubled individuals with anti-social behavior. That’s how she met Luciano Pox.

Luce is a firebrand and has made a name for himself as a naysayer. But there’s more to him than being a lightning rod for controversy. Rubi has to find out why the governments of the world want to bring Luce into custody, and why Luce is hell bent on stopping the recovery of the planet.





Shaun Hamill

A Cosmology of Monsters
Pantheon, September 17, 2019
Hardcover and ebook, 336 pages

September 2019 Debuts
“If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it.” —Stephen King

Noah Turner see monsters.

His father saw them—and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.

His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe—too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.

And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won’t admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight . . . until it swallows her up.

Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in . . .





Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Redhook, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

September 2019 Debuts
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.





Tyler Hayes

The Imaginary Corpse
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

September 2019 Debuts
A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends.

Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into the Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.

File Under: Fantasy [ Fuzzy Fiends | Death to Imagination | Hardboiled but Sweet | Not Barney ]





Deborah Hewitt

The Nightjar
Tor Books, September 3, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook 480 pages

September 2019 Debuts
The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt is a stunning contemporary fantasy debut about another London, a magical world hidden behind the bustling modern city we know.

Alice Wyndham has been plagued by visions of birds her whole life...until the mysterious Crowley reveals that Alice is an ‘aviarist’: capable of seeing nightjars, magical birds that guard human souls. When her best friend is hit by a car, only Alice can find and save her nightjar.

With Crowley’s help, Alice travels to the Rookery, a hidden, magical alternate London to hone her newfound talents. But a faction intent on annihilating magic users will stop at nothing to destroy the new aviarist. And is Crowley really working with her, or against her? Alice must risk everything to save her best friend—and uncover the strange truth about herself.





David Koepp

Cold Storage
Ecco, September 3, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

September 2019 Debuts
For readers of Andy Weir and Noah Hawley comes an astonishing debut by the screenwriter of Jurassic Park: a wild and terrifying adventure about three strangers who must work together to contain a highly contagious, deadly organism

When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction. He contained it and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository.

Now, after decades of festering in a forgotten sub-basement, the specimen has found its way out and is on a lethal feeding frenzy. Only Diaz knows how to stop it.

He races across the country to help two unwitting security guards—one an ex-con, the other a single mother. Over one harrowing night, the unlikely trio must figure out how to quarantine this horror again. All they have is luck, fearlessness, and a mordant sense of humor. Will that be enough to save all of humanity?





Drew Minh

Neon Empire
Rare Bird Books, September 17, 2019
Trade Paperback, 220 pages

September 2019 Debuts
Bold, colorful, and dangerously seductive, Eutopia is a new breed of hi-tech city. Rising out of the American desert, it’s a real-world manifestation of a social media network where fame-hungry desperados compete for likes and followers. But in Eutopia, the bloodier and more daring posts pay off the most. As crime rises, no one stands to gain more than Eutopia’s architects―and, of course, the shareholders who make the place possible.

This multiple-POV novel follows three characters as they navigate the city’s underworld. Cedric Travers, a has-been Hollywood director, comes to Eutopia looking for clues into his estranged wife’s disappearance. What he finds instead is a new career directing―not movies, but experiences. The star of the show: A’rore, the city’s icon and lead social media influencer. She’s panicking as her popularity wanes, and she'll do anything do avoid obscurity. Sacha Villanova, a tech and culture reporter, is on assignment to profile A’rore―but as she digs into Eutopia’s inner workings, she unearths a tangle of corporate corruption that threatens to sacrifice Cedric, A’rore, and even the city itself on the altar of stockholder greed.





Kassandra Montag

After the Flood
William Morrow, September 3, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

September 2019 Debuts
An inventive and riveting epic saga, After the Flood signals the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.

A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

A compulsively readable novel of dark despair and soaring hope, After the Flood is a magnificent, action packed, and sometimes frightening odyssey laced with wonder—an affecting and wholly original saga both redemptive and astonishing.





Rachel Eve Moulton

Tinfoil Butterfly
MCD x FSG Originals, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook 272 pages

September 2019 Debuts
The Shining meets About a Boy in this electrifying debut about a troubled young woman and a lonely boy facing their demons in the frozen Black Hills.

Emma is hitchhiking across the United States, trying to outrun a violent, tragic past, when she meets Lowell, the hot-but-dumb driver she hopes will take her as far as the Badlands. But Lowell is not as harmless as he seems, and a vicious scuffle leaves Emma bloody and stranded in an abandoned town in the Black Hills with an out-of-gas van, a loaded gun, and a snowstorm on the way.

The town is eerily quiet and Emma takes shelter in a diner, where she stumbles across Earl, a strange little boy in a tinfoil mask who steals her gun before begging her to help him get rid of “George.” As she is pulled deeper into Earl’s bizarre, menacing world, the horrors of Emma’s past creep closer, and she realizes she can’t run forever.

Tinfoil Butterfly is a seductively scary, chilling exploration of evil—how it sneaks in under your skin, flaring up when you least expect it, how it throttles you and won't let go. The beauty of Rachel Eve Moulton's ferocious, harrowing, and surprisingly moving debut is that it teaches us that love can do that, too.





Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth
Tor.com, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

September 2019 Debuts
The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.
Of course, some things are better left dead.





Sarah Pinsker

A Song for a New Day
Berkley, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

September 2019 Debuts
In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.

Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.





Grant Price

By the Feet of Men
Cosmic Egg Books, September 1, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 344 pages

September 2019 Debuts
WANTED: Men and women willing to drive through the valley of the shadow of death.

The world’s population has been decimated by the Change, a chain reaction of events triggered by global warming. In Europe, governments have fallen, cities have crumbled and the wheels of production have ground to a halt. The Alps region, containing most of the continent’s remaining fresh water, has become a closed state with heavily fortified borders. Survivors cling on by trading through the Runners, truck drivers who deliver cargo and take a percentage.

Amid the ruins of central Germany, two Runners, Cassady and Ghazi, are called on to deliver medical supplies to a research base deep in the Italian desert, where scientists claim to be building a machine that could reverse the effects of the Change. Joining the pair are a ragtag collection of drivers, all of whom have something to prove. Standing in their way are starving nomads, crumbling cities, hostile weather and a rogue state hell-bent on the convoy's destruction. And there's another problem: Cassady is close to losing his nerve.





Wendy Trimboli
Alicia Zaloga

The Resurrectionist of Caligo
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

September 2019 Debuts
With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

File Under: Fantasy [ Straybound | Royal Magic | A Good Hanging | Secret Sister ]





Valerie Valdes

Chilling Effect
Harper Voyager, September 17, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

September 2019 Debuts
A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.
Melanie's Top Reads of 2019Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E HarrowInterview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September DebutsThe View From Monday - September 9, 2019September 2019 Debuts

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