Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2020.

I’m so excited for all of these! Since I just did a summer TBR post a couple of weeks ago that included a bunch of new releases for June through August, today I’m focusing on books coming out in fall to early winter. And the scary thing is, most of these are being released in September. How will I possibly have the time to read them all?

  1. A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14) by Seanan McGuire (release date 9/1/2020)
  2. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (release date 9/8/2020)
  3. The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (release date 9/8/2020)
  4. The Trials of Koli (The Book of Koli, #2) by M. R. Carey (release date 9/15/2020)
  5. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (release date 9/15/2020)
  6. Well Played (Well Met, #2) by Jen DeLuca (release date 9/22/2020)
  7. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (release date 9/29/2020)
  8. The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (release date 10/6/2020)
  9. Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (release date 10/6/2020)
  10. The Once & Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (release date 10/13/2020)

Are you planning to read any of these? What new releases are you especially excited about for the 2nd half of 2019? Please share your links!





Book Review: The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey

Title: The Book of Koli
Author: M. R. Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: April 14, 2020
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is – what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

The first in a gripping new trilogy, The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation

I got a story to tell you. I’ve been meaning to make a start for a long while now, and this is me doing it, but I’m warning you it might be a bumpy road. I never done nothing like this before, so I got no map, as it were, and I can’t figure how much of what happened to me is worth telling.

Meet Koli. Koli lives in the village of Mythen Rood, a town of 200 people — which to Koli, is a “terrible big place”, located in “a place called Ingland”. Mythen Rood is surrounded by walls, because everything in the outside world can kill. Koli is the youngest child of the town’s woodsmith — and in a world where trees are deadly, this is indeed a dangerous job.

Everything that lives hates us, it sometimes seems. Or at least they come after us like they hate us. Things we want to eat fight back, hard as they can, and oftentimes win. Thing that want to eat us is thousands strong, so many of them that we only got names for the ones that live closest to us. And the trees got their own ways to hurt us, blunt or subtle according to their several natures.

The world of Mythen Rood is protected by Ramparts, people who have a special connection to old-world tech, and use the tech to fight off the dangerous elements — like wild animals, deadly drones, and killer trees — that threaten the town. According to the town’s rituals, fifteen-year-olds enter a year of seclusion called Waiting, then undergo a test to become a Rampart. If the tech wakes when they touch it, then they become a Rampart too. But in Mythen Rood, it seems that one family in particular has the gift of waking tech, so despite Koli’s dreams of becoming a Rampart, it’s a long shot.

And when Koli learns a secret that might upend the world of Mythen Rood and threaten the power of the dominant family, he faces punishment and exile, and is cast out into the harsh world to fend for himself… or die.

Koli’s story fits the pattern of the hero’s journey, and the new world in which the story takes places is absolutely fascinating. The setting is centuries into the future, when old cities have all died, tech is something people view as practically magical, human settlements are scattered and isolated, and the natural world is deadly. The idea of trees being able to move, hunt, and kill is simply terrifying. People only venture into the forest to hunt for food and catch wood for lumber when it’s cloudy, because the trees wake up and become active when the sun shines, and if you’re caught out in the forest when it’s sunny, you’re most likely not coming back.

The interweaving of technology and mythology is so well done. Because of course, to people who have no access to technology and the knowledge of how it works, such things would appear to be magic, and the people able to use them must be favored with great powers.

Koli himself is a terrific characters, smart but illiterate, aware of his own flaws and honest about them. Koli’s life changes when he comes into contact with an old Sony music player powered by AI. The Dreamsleeve is programmed with the voice of a Japanese pop star from the old days, whose voice is perky and full of Tokyo party slang and attitude. Monono becomes the central focus of Koli’s life, and his interactions with her are what propels his story out of the safety of village life and into the unknown.

I can’t say enough good things about this book! I’ve heard that some readers find Koli’s voice irritating. I didn’t experience it that way. The author has created a unique personality in Koli, and his speech patterns let us know right away how different his world is from ours.

The Book of Koli is the first book in a trilogy, with the second book, The Trials of Koli, due out later this year. I will absolutely be reading #2 the second I can get my hands on it!

Book Review: The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

Book Review: The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts

The synopsis for The Girl With All the Gifts is certainly intriguing:

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

What kind of gifts does Melanie have? Superpowers? Some sort of incredible strength? A secret radioactive aura?

Nope, nope, and nope.

Stop reading now if you don’t want to know!

Bottom line?

(Look away now! Last chance!)

The Girl With All The Gifts is an incredibly inventive, original, and unpredictable… zombie story.

Yes, it’s a zombie story. And I kind of wish I’d known that from the start. Instead, I began the book wondering what was so special and important about this one little girl and what makes her so dangerous, expecting… oh, I don’t know, outbursts of deadly gamma rays or the ability to kill people with her brain.

But before long, we start to hear about “hungries” — the bands of undead, hungry for human brains, who’ve been preying on the remaining live people in the twenty years since the global disaster known as the Breakdown. Melanie and other children are being held as part of a scientific study conducted at a secure army base, the subjects of experimentation designed to test the fungus responsible for destroying host bodies and taking over. Most hungries are mindless beings, driven only by their need to feed — but Melanie and the other children are something more: Actual, sentient beings with the ability to think, to learn, and to feel. Are they human? Hungries? Or some sort of hybrid?

Teacher Helen Justineau is drawn to Melanie’s quick mind and sensitive heart, and feels compelled to shield her from the cruelties of Sergeant Parks and the cold laboratory of Dr. Caldwell. When the base is overrun, Justineau, Parks, Private Gallagher, Dr. Caldwell, and Melanie form a small band and attempt to survive on the road to the only safe place left in Britain, a sanctuary city called Beacon. But the road is dangerous and deadly, and the odds are very much against them.

As The Girl With All The Gifts moves into road trip territory, we get to know each of the characters as individuals and see them fleshed out from one-dimensional stock figures (teacher, soldier, scientist) into people with histories, desires, pains, and complexities. There are surprises along the way, and all are proven to be much more nuanced than they originally seemed.

The adventure aspects are well-drawn and suspenseful — sometimes almost unbearably so. There’s danger, and lots of skin-crawlingly disgusting encounters with the undead. Unlike the hungries, the plot never shambles — instead, it’s a fast-paced tear from one deadly scene to another. Survival is not guaranteed. Heck, it’s not even very likely. And as the body count rises, we get more and more clues into the origins of the Breakdown, who Melanie really is, and what the future may hold.

I absolutely could not put this book down. With echoes of The Road and Never Let Me Go, The Girl With All The Gifts tell a chilling tale of a future that’s scary and almost — but not quite — hopeless. A recurring theme of this book is the myth of Pandora, who unleashes all manner of woes upon the world but also introduces hope. Melanie herself is but the newest iteration of the disaster that’s destroyed the world as we know it, but she does also represent some sort of glimmer of hope for a world that’s fundamentally different, but perhaps not entirely horrible.

With an ending that’s completely unexpected and yet surprisingly fitting, The Girl With All The Gifts is a fascinating, thrilling read that should not be missed. Whether you’re a fan of zombie stories, post-apocalyptic worlds, or just plain good storytelling, this is one book that you definitely should check out.


The details:

Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: June 19, 2014
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Science fiction/horror
Source: Review copy courtesy of Orbit via NetGalley