February is my favorite month of the year, and not just because it's my birthday month! You also have the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, and (most years, anyway) the Oscars. It's a month made for parties, glitz and glamour, which is why I especially enjoy decadent books at this time of year. And this week's new releases don't disappoint, kickstarting the month with a book set in an opulent world called Orleans where beauty is a literal power and commodity. Yes, please.
This week also brings a Publisher's Weekly starred review of a mind-bending read about a miraculous girl who was born of a virgin, two new high fantasy series from bestsellers R.A. Salvatore and Tamora Pierce that both sound wickedly dark, and a unique YA dystopian that explores what it means to live and love as the only human in a world full of clones.
Time travel is also a theme this week, with a time travel thriller that's billed as Inception meets True Detective — I mean, how awesome does that sound? And one of the year's most anticipated reads, described as a poignant time travel novel in the vein of The Time Traveler's Wife... except that it's not actually about time travel, but is instead a poignant kind of historical speculative fiction about a man who suffers from the same slow-aging "immortal" condition that Keanu Reeves surely must have.
Here are this week's best new sci-fi and fantasy books...
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
Shaun David Hutchinson
From the critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe comes a mind-bending, riveting novel about a teen who was born to a virgin mother and realizes she has the power to heal—but that power comes at a huge cost.
Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.
This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.
As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.
Goodreads 3.9 ★ ★ ★ ★ (73 ratings)
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it's not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
Goodreads 4.17 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ (645 ratings)
Child of a Mad God: A Tale of the Coven
From R. A. Salvatore, the legendary creator of Drizzt Do’Urden, comes the start of abrand new epic journey.
When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home.
The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night.
Goodreads 3.73 ★ ★ ★¾ (15 ratings)
The Gone World
Inception meets True Detective in this science fiction thriller of spellbinding tension and staggering scope that follows a special agent into a savage murder case with grave implications for the fate of mankind...
Shannon Moss is part of a clandestine division within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In western Pennsylvania, 1997, she is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL's family--and to locate his vanished teenage daughter. Though she can't share the information with conventional law enforcement, Moss discovers that the missing SEAL was an astronaut aboard the spaceship U.S.S. Libra--a ship assumed lost to the currents of Deep Time. Moss knows first-hand the mental trauma of time-travel and believes the SEAL's experience with the future has triggered this violence.
Determined to find the missing girl and driven by a troubling connection from her own past, Moss travels ahead in time to explore possible versions of the future, seeking evidence to crack the present-day case. To her horror, the future reveals that it's not only the fate of a family that hinges on her work, for what she witnesses rising over time's horizon and hurtling toward the present is the Terminus: the terrifying and cataclysmic end of humanity itself.
Luminous and unsettling, The Gone World bristles with world-shattering ideas yet remains at its heart an intensely human story.
Goodreads 3.85 ★ ★ ★ ¾ (84 ratings)
How to Stop Time
Named one of the most anticipated books of 2018 by Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, HelloGiggles, and Bustle.
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.
So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher--the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.
How to Stop Time tells a love story across the ages - and for the ages - about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. It is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.
Goodreads 4.1 ★ ★ ★ ★ (7,811 ratings)
Tempests and Slaughter
The Numair Chronicles, Book One
YA | Fantasy | High Fantasy
Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for danger.
Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm's most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness--and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the "leftover prince" with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram's heart, Arram realizes that one day--soon--he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom's future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Act fast! The first printing of the hardcover includes a collector's edition poster!
Goodreads 4.06 ★ ★ ★ ★ (363 ratings)
Your One & Only
Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?
While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?
Goodreads 4.09 ★ ★ ★ ★ (98 ratings)