Debut Showcase – Feburary 16, 1020

I did a little experiment on you guys. I posted the last Showcase without any of my usual impressions after each book. Superwench was the only one who commented. Therefore, this time, I added my comments and left off the images. Something has to go; these posts take hours to assemble as it is. And since we bloggers live for comments — they feed our blogging energies — I’ve dropped the images. I figure a post with just images and blurbs would be boring, anyway.

Also, in most cases, the author’s website had sufficient information, in my opinion, to inform your buying decision. In areas where the information was insufficient, I included a link to the publisher’s buy page.

Some additional catalogs became available on Edelweiss, so this is a bit of a catch-up post. I’ve also included everything from my Debut Calendar up to today.


by Katharine Beutner

In Greek mythology, Alcestis is known as the good wife; she loved her husband so much that she died to save his life and was sent to the underworld in his place. In this poetic and vividly imagined debut, Katharine Beutner gives voice to the woman behind the ideal, bringing to life the world of Mycenaean Greece, a world peopled by capricious gods, where royal women are confined to the palace grounds and passed as possessions from father to husband.

Alcestis tells of a childhood spent with her sisters in the bedchamber where her mother died giving birth to her and of her marriage at the age of fifteen to Admetus, the young king of Pherae, a man she barely knows, who is kind but whose heart belongs to a god. She also tells the part of the story that’s never been told: What happened to Alcestis in the three days she spent in the underworld before being rescued by Heracles? In the realm of the dead, Alcestis falls in love with the goddess Persephone and discovers the true horror and beauty of death.

A lot here appeals to me. The ancient-world setting, the retelling of a myth. Kelly reviewed it over at Fantasy Literature, and she thinks those who liked Black Ships might like this one.

by Blake Charlton

Hat Tip: A Dribble of Ink (links to review)

Imagine a world in which you could peel written words off a page and make them physically real. You might pick your teeth with a sentence fragment, protect yourself with defensive paragraphs, or thrust a sharply-worded sentence at an enemy’s throat.

Such a world is home to Nicodemus Weal, an apprentice at the wizardly academy of Starhaven. Because of how fast he can forge the magical runes that create spells, Nicodemus was thought to be the Halcyon, a powerful spellwright prophesied to prevent an event called the War of Disjunction, which would destroy all human language. There was only one problem: Nicodemus couldn’t spell.

Runes must be placed in the correct order to create a spell. Deviation results in a “misspell”—a flawed text that behaves in an erratic, sometimes lethal, manner. And Nicodemus has a disability, called cacography, that causes him to misspell texts simply by touching them.

Now twenty-five, Nicodemus lives in the aftermath of failing to fulfill prophecy. He finds solace only in reading knightly romances and in the teachings of Magister Shannon, an old blind wizard who’s left academic politics to care for Starhaven’s disabled students.

But when a powerful wizard is murdered with a misspell, Shannon and Nicodemus becomes the primary suspects. Proving their innocence becomes harder when the murderer begins killing male cacographers one by one…and all evidence suggests that Nicodemus will be next. Hunted by both investigators and a hidden killer, Shannon and Nicodemus must race to discover the truth about the murders, the nature of magic, and themselves.

Ok, this one looks very interesting, even though I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of spelling-based magic. The invented magical disability looks especially intriguing.

Lake Magic
by Kimberly Fisk
Paperback – $7.99
Contemporary Romance

After the sudden loss of her fiancé, Steven, Jenny Beckinsale has more than a broken heart to deal with—she’s also facing too many financial surprises over Blue Sky, the fledgling seaplane service she and Steven built. Too late she’s discovered Steven was in over his head, and deeply in debt to his best friend and fellow Navy pilot Jared Worth. The sexy, cynical Top Gun demands his money back now. He doesn’t care what will happen to Jenny or her small town dreams of success.

But Jenny has a few surprises of her own, including a way out of her predicament—she’ll force this steel-eyed flyboy into service for Blue Sky. It’s the only way Jared will ever see a dime. But as the summer fades, these two lost souls will discover they’re saving more than a business…they’re saving each other.

Ooh. A Top Gun? This one might tempt me into reading a romance. The author posted an excerpt on her website, and it looks so fun.

by Leila Meacham
Grand Central Publishing
Hardback – $24.99
Literary Fiction

Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.

The author has no website. 🙁 However, she has written an article that is on her publisher’s website about her experience of being first published at age 69.

by Kia DuPree
Grand Central Publishing
Paperback – $13.99

Camille Logan feels trapped. After she is sexually and emotionally abused by her foster parents, she turns to the one person she knows she can trust–her boyfriend Chu, a mid-level drug dealer. But when life finally starts looking up for Camille, Chu is brutally murdered. Again feeling abandoned and helpless, and refusing to return to the system, Camille finds herself living with a stable of women in a tiny run-down apartment building in Washington, D.C., working for Nut, a deranged pimp. Fed up with her life, Camille is forced to right her wrongs, and slowly learns that her past does not necessarily determine her future.

This novel looks awfully intense. I like the part about her righting her wrongs, and I’m intrigued by how she is going to escape the pimp.

Mr. Shivers
by Robert Jackson Bennett (blog)
Hardback – $19.99
Historical Fiction

It is the time of the Great Depression.

Thousands have left their homes looking for a better life, a new life. But Marcus Connelly is not one of them. He searches for one thing, and one thing only. Revenge.

Because out there, riding the rails, stalking the camps, is the scarred vagrant who murdered Connelly’s daughter. No one knows him, but everyone knows his name: Mr. Shivers.

In this extraordinary debut, Robert Jackson Bennett tells the story of an America haunted by murder and desperation. A world in which one man must face a dark truth and answer the question-how much is he willing to sacrifice for his satisfaction?

I find myself wanting a more fleshed-out blurb. This is classified as a historical novel, but the title and blurb reads more like horror. On his blog, the author calls it a “horror-ish, literary-ish novel”.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
by Tiffany Baker
Grand Central Publishing
Trade Paperback – $13.99
General Fiction

When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother’s death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated–Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane’s beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book–containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers–has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly’s biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly’s brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling–the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques–hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan’s family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly’s reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

This novel appeals to the writer in me, because I have written a novel about a giantesque woman as well. The blurb — which is rather long — makes the novel sound a bit otherworldly, almost a fantasy, but not quite. This novel has already hit the NYTimes bestseller list.

The Book of Fires: A Novel
by Jane Borodale
Viking Books
Hardback – $26.95
Literary Fiction

1752. As winter approaches, two guilty secrets drive seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel to run away from her home in rural Sussex. Pregnant with an unwanted child and carrying stolen coins, she is shocked by the squalor and poverty of London.

She finds work as an assistant to John Blacklock, a dark, laconic firework-maker. As her weaver’s fingers learn to make rockets, portfires, stars, fiery rain, she becomes intrigued by the glitter and roar of fireworks.

Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her. But why does Blacklock so vehemently disapprove of Mr Soul? And what is Blacklock hiding from her? Could he be on the brink of a discovery that will change pyrotechny forever?

Meanwhile, her own secret is becoming harder to conceal, especially from the suspicious eye of Mrs Blight, the housekeeper with a thirst for hangings. Caught between her crime and her condition it appears that ruin must be inevitable…

I’ve only been announcing debuts outside of the fantasy and science fiction genres for a while, but already I’m seeing that a pregnant heroine as a recurring theme. I wish I understood why Mrs. Blight’s thirst for hangings was a factor, and what Agnes’s crime is. Does she face a hanging for being pregnant out of wedlock?

The Bird Room: A Novel
by Chris Killen
Harper Perennial
Paperback  – $13.99
Literary Fiction

Painfully average and introverted Will finally has a bird. Her name is Alice. She’s smart, sexy, and much to Will’s surprise, she is in love with him. But the course of love never did run smooth, and soon devotion—and its uglier manifestations—lead Will to a dark place within himself.

Elsewhere in the city, Helen is an actress—or she will be some day. For now, she finds work as a “model”—or whatever her online acquaintances need her to be. Her real name is Clair, but she desperately wants to be someone new, someone glamorous and real—someone worth something.

A love story with a twist, this exuberant and funny debut novel brings Will and Helen’s lives together in a tale as tight as a rope and as black as tar. Sharp, playful, and brimming over with wicked comedy, The Bird Room heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent.

The author’s experimental website didn’t have the usual information, so I linked the title to the publisher’s page for this novel. Not sure what to think here — again, I find myself wanting a longer blurb.

Congratulations to all these debut authors!

9 Thoughts to “Debut Showcase – Feburary 16, 1020”

  1. Oh my gosh, that Spellwright book sounds just amazing! The Greek mythology book sounds good, too, but Spellwright especially sounds neat. I’m definitely putting that one on my to-read list.

  2. Ooh, Spellwright does sound fun. I’ve already got Alcestis purchased. 🙂

  3. I like the sound of those first two books!

  4. I’m also intrigued by the first two books. I’ll have to lookinto them further. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  5. By the way, I like the decision you mention at the beginning. If it’s a choice between covers and reactions, I want to read your reactions. I can track down the covers more easily than I can find as good a source of reader reactions. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  6. Spellwright intrigues me too. I’m wondering if the author got this idea after getting fed up with the poor spelling and grammar that so often surrounds us these days… 😀

    Lake Magic sounds kind of fun too, and I say this as someone who’s not generally into romance.

    But the more literary novels further down on the list, including the one on the NYT bestseller list, don’t interest me as much…

  7. Chicory

    A world where you can do magic by spelling well? I would be so dead, so fast. (The spell-checker is one of my best friends.) Makes the hero seem like he would be very easy to relate to. 🙂

  8. Wow; you guys really liked Spellwright. We’ll have to try to get a review in for it, then.

    And thanks, Anne!

    1. You’re most welcome, Tia! {BIG SMILE}

      Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Comments are closed.