Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
Bantam/Spectra
MM Paperback – 7.99
Urban Fantasy

Justine Jones isn’t your typical kick-ass type – she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear.

She’s lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists – vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

Justine isn’t interested in Packard’s troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals.

Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

I’ve briefly mentioned this novel before, but here is the full treatment. Such as it is. I remember a lot of you liked the idea of “disillusionists”, so consider this a little reminder for you. Carolyn runs a hilarious and popular blog called The Thrillionth Page.

Master of None by Sonya Bateman
Pocket Books

Read the First Chapter (pdf)

Paperback – 7.99
Urban Fantasy

Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.

Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.

At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price. . . .

This one should look familiar, too. I reviewed it last month, and I’ve seen it pop up on some of your blogs since then. This novel is hilarious. Now, if we can only get Sonya to start a blog.

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
Simon & Schuster
Trade Paperback – 14.00
Mystery

Portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, Vish Puri cuts a determined swathe through modern India’s cheats, swindlers and murderers.

In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centers and malls are changing the ancient fabric of Indian life, Puri’s main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests.

But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri’s resources to investigate. How will he trace the fate of the girl, known only as Mary, in a population of more than one billion? Who is taking potshots at him and his prize chili plants? And why is his widowed “Mummy-ji” attempting to play sleuth when everyone knows mummies are not detectives?

With his team of undercover operatives — Tubelight, Flush, and Facecream — Puri ingeniously combines modern techniques with principles of detection established in India more than two thousand years ago — long before “that Johnny-come-lately” Sherlock Holmes donned his deerstalker.

I must have this one. Must. I took a trip to India once, and it was unforgettable. This reminds me of the playful African-based mystery series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which is also written by a British white guy.

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos
BarnaBooks
Trade Paperback – $14.99
Christian (I think)

Imaginary Jesus is an hilarious, fast-paced, not-quite-fictional story that’s unlike anything you’ve ever read before. When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing. On his wild ride through time, space, and Portland, Oregon, he encounters hundreds of other Imaginary Jesuses determined to stand in his way (like Legalistic Jesus, Perpetually Angry Jesus, and Magic 8 Ball Jesus). But Matt won’t stop until he finds the real Jesus-and finally gets an answer to the question that’s haunted him for years. Be warned: Imaginary Jesus may bring you face-to-face with an imposter in your own life.

The author’s website is a bit scanty of information (like a blurb, which was surprisingly hard to find), but his blog is pretty funny — the current post is about how Amazon is classifying this novel. For example, Imaginary Jesus is ahead of C.S. Lewis: “Ah, C.S. Lewis.  Allow me to take a moment to say IN YOUR FACE, C.S. LEWIS! Imaginary Jesus is totally rocking The Screwtape Letters.” Anyway, if the blog is any indication of the novel, then it’s probably pretty zany.

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
Berkley Trade
Trade Paperback – $15.00
Historical Fiction

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress’s rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life—that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome’s aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian’s games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor’s mistress.

I like stories that take place in Rome, but I’m not sure about this one. She has a blurb by the fabulous Diana Gabaldon, so maybe I would like it.  However, Domitian is one of the more horrible Roman emperors, and my interest in Rome is more in the Republican era, not the Empire. I do think this is worth checking out if you like historical fiction.

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary
Forge Books
Hardcover – 24.99
Mystery

The world’s most famous reporter, the intrepid Nellie Bly, teams up with science fiction genius Jules Verne, the notorious wit and outrageous rogue Oscar Wilde, and the greatest microbe-hunter in history, Louis Pasteur. Together, they must solve the crime of the century.

They are all in Paris—the capital of Europe and center of world culture—for the 1889 World’s Fair. A spectacular extravaganza dedicated to new industries, scientific discoveries, and global exploration, its gateway is the soaring Eiffel Tower. But an enigmatic killer stalks the streets and a virulent plague is striking down Parisians by the thousands. Convinced that the killings are connected to the pandemic, Nellie is determined to stop them both… no matter what the risks.

This kind of sounds like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but with historical figures rather than fictional. It has already been shortlisted for an International CrimeFest Award.

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov
Tor Books
Hardcover – 24.99
Fantasy

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.

An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.

Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala. Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort, and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).

Wow. A debut epic fantasy that features elves! It was first published in 2002 in Russia, so that might explain it. Or maybe it is still possible to sell an epic fantasy with elves. This novel sold in the US for six figures.

~*~

I’m posting this on Sunday instead of Tuesday because these have all been out for a while. I’m going to try to put these out weekly — like I used to — and in smaller chunks. Also, please notice that I’m only including novels of genres that interest me. It’s hard to muster up enthusiasm for novels that I have no interest in. In fact, I’d rather not have to muster up enthusiasm at all. I’d rather it came naturally.

I hereby certify that any and all enthusiasm in the posts above came naturally.

So what did you think? Any of these float your boat? Any you’d like to cuss and discuss?