New Books (October)

BooksReceived-20141031

Featuring: Neal Asher, Paolo Bacigalupi, Marie Brennan, Genevieve Cogman, Brian Cox, William Gibson, Mira Grant, Kate Griffin, John Grisham, Nicholas Kaufmann, Jasper Kent, Stephen King, Ben Lerner, Peyton Marshall, Mark Charan Newton, Anne Rice, Justin Richards, Sebastian Rotella, Patrick Rothfuss, John Sandford & Michele Cook, Wilbur Smith, Edward St. Aubyn, Sam Sykes, Kazuaki Takano, Lynne Truss, John Twelve Hawks, Simon Unsworth, Debbie Viguie, SJ Watson

AsherN-T1-DarkIntelligenceUKNeal Asher, DARK INTELLIGENCE (Night Shade/Tor UK)

One man will transcend death to seek vengeance. One woman will transform herself to gain power. And no one will emerge unscathed…

Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to find he’s been brought back from the dead. What’s more, he died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago. Spear had been trapped on a world surrounded by hostile Prador forces, but Penny Royal, the AI inside the rescue ship sent to provide backup, turned rogue, annihilating friendly forces in a frenzy of destruction and killing Spear. One hundred years later the AI is still on the loose, and Spear vows for revenge at any cost.

Isobel Satomi ran a successful crime syndicate, but after competitors attacked she needed power and protection. Negotiating with Penny Royal, she got more than she bargained for: Turning part-AI herself gave Isobel frightening power, but the upgrades hid a horrifying secret, and the dark AI triggered a transformation that has been turning her into something far from human…

Spear hires Isobel to track Penny Royal across worlds to its last known whereabouts. But he cheats her in the process and quickly finds himself in her crosshairs. As Isobel continues to evolve into a monstrous predator, it’s clear her rage will eventually win out over reason. Will Spear finish his hunt before he himself becomes the hunted?

An author who continues to escape the top of my reading pile… I really don’t know why. This sounds interesting, although I can’t tell if it’s tied-in with his previous novels. (In other words, is this like Peter F. Hamilton’s latest novel, which I didn’t realise is connected to his other novels, which means I may not get everything…?)

Review copy from Edelweiss

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Bacigalupi-TheDoubtFactoryUSPaolo Bacigalupi, THE DOUBT FACTORY (Little, Brown)

Explores the timely issue of how public information is distorted for monetary gain, and how those who exploit it must be stopped.

Everything Alix knows about her life is a lie. At least that’s what a mysterious young man who’s stalking her keeps saying. But then she begins investigating the disturbing claims he makes against her father. Could her dad really be at the helm of a firm that distorts the truth and covers up wrongdoing by hugely profitable corporations that have allowed innocent victims to die? Is it possible that her father is the bad guy, and that the undeniably alluring criminal who calls himself Moses — and his radical band of teen activists — is right? Alix has to make a choice, and time is running out, but can she truly risk everything and blow the whistle on the man who loves her and raised her?

New Bacigalupi, and it sounds great. Do I need another reason to be interested in this?

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BrennanM-DaughterOfNecessityMarie Brennan, DAUGHTER OF NECESSITY (Tor)

By day she crafts; by night she unmakes. Surely somewhere, in all the myriad crossings of the threads, there is a future in which all will be well.

Marie Brennan offers an intriguing new spin on a classic tale.

This sounded pretty interesting. I really must get around to reading Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent novels, too – the first two of which are already out: A Natural History of Dragons and Tropic of Serpents.

I have already read it, too: it’s very good. Rather too short to write a full review for, but I really enjoyed it.

Also on CR: Interview with Marie Brennan

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CogmanG-1-InvisibleLibraryGenevieve Cogman, THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY (Tor)

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently… Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

This is getting some good buzz from some other reviewers who’ve also managed to get hold of early copies. It sounds fun, so I think I’ll be reading it pretty soon. It’s published in the UK by Tor in January 2015.

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CoxB-WondersOfTheUniverseBrian Cox, WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE (Harper Collins)

Experience our universe as you’ve never seen it before

13.7 billion years old. 93 billion light-years across. It contains over 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. This infinite, vast and complex Universe has been the subject of human fascination and scientific exploration for thousands of years. The wonders of the Universe might seem alien to us and impossible to understand, but away from the telescopes, the labs and the white coats, Professor Brian Cox uses the evidence found in the natural world on Earth to brilliantly explain the truth of the cosmos.

Professor Cox will show how the vast and unfathomable phenomena of deep space can be explained, and even experienced, by re-examining the familiar here on Earth. He is determined to answer the most profound questions we can ask about ourselves and the world in which we live, but in a uniquely understandable way. The laws of light, gravity, time, matter and energy that govern us here on Earth are the same as those applied in the Universe. Using his expert knowledge and his infectious enthusiasm, Professor Cox shows us that if we can understand the impact of these governing laws on Earth it will bring us a step closer to an understanding of our Universe.

I’ve been watching Cosmos, which has put me in a “Want to learn more about astrology” phase, so…

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EltonB-Time&TimeAgainBen Elton, TIME AND TIME AGAIN (Transworld)

It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.

Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?

And, if so, could another single bullet save it?

I’ve never read anything by Elton before, and this sounds really cool. Hopefully soon. I’m also apparently in the zone for time-travel/timey-wimey stories, so this got bumped up the TBR pile.

Review copy from NetGalley

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GibsonW-PeripheralUKWilliam Gibson, THE PERIPHERAL (Putnam)

Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force.

Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do — a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. He’s supposed to get in their way, edge them back. That’s all there is to it. He’s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isn’t what Burton told her to expect.

It might be a game, but it might also be murder.

New William Gibson! Although, that would have more impact if I’d read any of his other works… I now have most of them, though, so I have no excuse to not read his work. He’s attending the Toronto Inspire Book Festival in a couple of weeks, too, so I will hopefully get it signed.

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GrantM-2-SymbiontMira Grant, SYMBIONT (Orbit)

THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US.

The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world’s population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde.

Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

The sequel to Parasite, I’ve heard very good things about the series. As with so many, though, it has slipped by the way-side for various reasons. I would, however, really like to read this and also the Feed series (which sounds particularly good and interesting).

Review copy from publisher

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Griffin-MadnessOfAngelsKate Griffin, A MADNESS OF ANGELS (Orbit)

When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford – Samuel Johnson

In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in London much more than life – there is power. It ebbs and flows with the rhythms of the city, makes runes from the alignments of ancient streets and hums with the rattle of trains and buses; it waxes and wanes with the patterns of the business day. It is a new kind of magic: urban magic.

Enter a London where magicians ride the Last Train, implore favours of The Beggar King and interpret the insane wisdom of The Bag Lady. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons and scrabble with the rats, and seek insight in the half-whispered madness of the blue electric angels.

Enter the London of Matthew Swift, where rival sorcerers, hidden in plain sight, do battle for the very soul of the city …

I finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August while putting this post together, and absolutely loved it. Turns out, “Claire North” is also “Kate Griffin” (both, actually, pseudonyms for Catherine Webb), so I immediately went out and picked up both this and Stray Souls, below.

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Griffin-StraySoulsKate Griffin, STRAY SOULS (Orbit)

London’s soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows – but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she’s a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

The problem is, while everyone expects Sharon to have all the answers – from the Midnight Mayor to Sharon’s magically-challenged self-help group – she doesn’t have a clue where to start.

But with London’s soul missing and the Gate open, there are creatures loose that won’t wait for her to catch up before they go hunting.

This is the first novel in the Magicals Anonymous series, which is set in the same world as the Matthew Swift novels — something I was not aware of when I over-eagerly went out and picked up the two novels…

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Grisham-GrayMountainUSJohn Grisham, GRAY MOUNTAIN (Doubleday)

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track — until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

New Grisham. I love his novels. I don’t care that lots of people think that’s “uncool”. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Although, it does also remind me that I haven’t read Sycamore Row, yet… Hm. Will get to that soon, too. So many books, so little time… [It dropped in priority, after the author’s stupid comments to the Telegraph.]

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HolmbergCN-P1-PaperMagicianCharlie N. Holmberg, THE PAPER MAGICIAN (47 North)

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart — and reveal the very soul of the man.

Sounds interesting and different.

Review copy from NetGalley

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KaufmannN-T1-DyingIsMyBusinessNicholas Kaufmann, DYING IS MY BUSINESS (St. Martin’s Press)

Given his line of work in the employ of a psychotic Brooklyn crime boss, Trent finds himself on the wrong end of too many bullets. Yet each time he’s killed, he wakes a few minutes later completely healed of his wounds but with no memory of his past identity. What’s worse, each time he cheats death, someone else dies in his place.

Sent to steal an antique box from some squatters in an abandoned warehouse near the West Side Highway, Trent soon finds himself stumbling into an age-old struggle between the forces of good and evil, revealing a secret world where dangerous magic turns people into inhuman monstrosities, where impossible creatures hide in plain sight, and where the line between the living and the dead is never quite clear. And when the mysterious box is opened, he discovers he has only twenty-four hours to save New York City from certain destruction.

The series has received good reviews from a few other bloggers I follow and tend to agree with, so I’m looking forward to getting around to trying this.

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KentJ-DQ5-LastRiteJasper Kent, THE LAST RITE (Transworld)

Russia – 1917. Zmyeevich, king of all vampires, is dead.

History records that the great voordalak – known across Europe as Dracula – perished in 1893 beneath the ramparts of his own castle, deep in the mountains of Wallachia. In Russia, the Romanov tsars are free of the curse that has plagued their blood for two centuries.But two decades later and Tsar Nicholas II faces a new threat – a threat from his own people. War has brought Russia to her knees and the people are hungry for change. Revolution is in the air.

Mihail Konstantinovich Danilov – who himself carries Romanov blood – welcomes the prospect of a new regime. Like his ancestors he once fought to save the Romanovs from the threat that Zmyeevich brought them. Fought and won. But now he sees no future for a Russia ruled by a tyrant. He is joined in the struggle by his uncle, Dmitry Alekseevich – a creature born in a different era, over a century before. For more than half his existence he has been a vampire, and yet he still harbours one very human desire; that his country should be free.But the curse that infects the blood of the Romanovs cannot be so easily forgotten and Mihail soon discovers that it – that he – may become the means by which a terror once thought eradicated might be resurrected…

This series I have been wanting to read since… well, since the first book came out. I took my sweet damned time getting around to buying Twelve, and promptly forgot it was on my Kindle. Now that the fifth novel is about to be released, I really think I need to get my ass in gear and read it.

Also on CR: Guest Post by Jasper Kent

Review copy from publisher

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LernerB-1004USBen Lerner, 10:04 (Penguin)

In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts. In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water.

In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called “hilarious… cracklingly intelligent… and original in every sentence,” Lerner captures what it’s like to be alive now, when the difficulty of imagining a future has changed our relation to both our present and our past. Exploring sex, friendship, medicine, memory, art, and politics, 10:04 is both a riveting work of fiction and a brilliant examination of the role fiction plays in our lives.

The author seems to be a darling of the New York literary crowd, and I managed to find it. So I figured why not?

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MarshallP-GoodhouseUKPeyton Marshall, GOODHOUSE (Doubleday)

What would happen if you could see clearly into the genetic make-up of your friends and family?America at the end of the 21st century: 17-year-old James doesn’t even know what his real name is, though he feels if someone uses it one day, he’ll know it’s his. Kindness to others is not an option at Goodhouse, a brutally run corrective school for boys with criminal genes.Awaiting him over the barbed wires of the school are the Zeros, a religious group who aim to rid the planet of impure boys like those at Goodhouse. But for James, his greatest threat is not the fundamentalists outside. His dream of walking through the gates as a civilian may yet be destroyed by the much deadlier threat from within …

A bold, visionary tale of a forseeable future where genetic profiling is meant to prevent crime, but instead becomes a tool for oppression, GOODHOUSE poses urgent questions about freedom and slavery and what it means to be alive.

Not sure what to expect from this, but it sounds like it might be interesting.

Review copy from NetGalley

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NewtonMC-D2-RetributionHCMark Charan Newton, DRAKENFELD and RETRIBUTION (Tor)

WHEN JUSTICE FAILS, REVENGE FOLLOWS…

Having just solved a difficult case in his home city of Tryum, Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld and his associate Leana are ordered to journey to the exotic city of Kuvash in Koton, where a revered priest has gone missing. When they arrive, they discover the priest has already been found – or at least parts of him have.

But investigating the unusual death isn’t a priority for the legislature of Kuvash; there’s a kingdom to run, a census to create and a dictatorial Queen to placate. Soon Drakenfeld finds that he is suddenly in charge of an investigation in a strange city, whose customs and politics are as complex as they are dangerous.

Kuvash is a city of contradictions; wealth and poverty exist uneasily side-by-side and behind the rich façades of gilded streets and buildings, all levels of depravity and decadence are practised.When several more bodies are discovered mutilated and dumped in a public place, Drakenfeld realizes there’s a killer at work who seems to delight in torture and pain. With no motive, no leads and no suspects, he feels like he’s running out of options. And in a city where nothing is as it seems, seeking the truth is likely to get him killed…

This is the second Lucan Drakenfeld novel, following Drakenfeld (which I also received in paperback — thank you!). I loved Newton’s Legends of the Red Sun series. I have been dreadfully slow about getting around to this. I enjoyed the prequel novella, The Messenger, and think I may have to binge-read these two novels.

Also on CR: Interview; Catch-Up Interview; Reviews of The Nights of Villjamur,
City of RuinThe Book of Transformations and The Broken Isles

Review copies from publisher

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Rice-WolfGift-UKPBAnne Rice, THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER (Arrow)

It is the beginning of December and it is cold and grey outside. In the stately flickering hearths of the grand mansion of Nideck Point, oak fires are burning. The Morphenkinder are busy getting ready for the ancient pagan feast of midwinter. Everyone is invited, including some of their own who do not wish them well…

Reuben Golding, the newest of the Morphenkinder, is struggling with his new existence as a Man Wolf, struggling to learn to control his desires and bloodthirsty urges. His pure, luminous girlfriend Laura seems all set to join him in this new way of life, but Reuben is not at all certain he will love her if she becomes as he is. Beyond the mansion, the forest echoes with howling winds, which carry with them tales of a strange nether world, and of spirits – centuries old – who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers.

As preparations for the feast gather pace, destiny continues to hound Reuben, not least in the form of a strange, tormented ghost who appears at the window, unable to speak. But he is not alone: before the festivities are over, choices must be made – choices which will decide the fate of the Morphenkinder for ever.

I enjoyed the first novel in the series, The Wolf Gift, but in getting to this sequel, I’ve been dawdling. Not sure why. Perhaps because I knew Prince Lestat was on the horizon, and that I am very excited about…

Review copy from publisher

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RiceA-PrinceLestatUSAnne Rice, PRINCE LESTAT (Knopf)

The vampire world is in crisis – their kind have been proliferating out of control and, thanks to technologies undreamed of in previous centuries, they can communicate as never before. Roused from their earth-bound slumber, ancient ones are in thrall to the Voice: which commands that they burn fledgling vampires in cities from Paris to Mumbai, Hong Kong to Kyoto and San Francisco. Immolations, huge massacres, have commenced all over the world.

Who – or what – is the Voice? What does it desire, and why?

There is only one vampire, only one blood drinker, truly known to the entire world of the Undead. Will the dazzling hero-wanderer, the dangerous rebel-outlaw Lestat heed the call to unite the Children of Darkness as they face this new twilight?

New Vampire Chronicles novel? Yeah, of course I was interested. The novels had dipped a little bit in quality towards the end, there, but I’m really looking forward to spending time with these characters again. Rice is only doing one signing in Canada for this, at the upcoming Toronto Inspire Book Fair. Which I am going to, so hopefully I’ll be able to get this signed, too. I’ll try to find a copy of the same edition of The Vampire Lestat that I first read and get that signed, too…

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RichardsJ-BloodRedCityUKHCJustin Richards, THE BLOOD RED CITY (Del Rey UK)

The alien Vril are waking, and the Never War is heating up. Colonel Brinkman and his team at Station Z desperately need answers – they have to discover exactly what they are facing and how the attack will come. But the information doesn’t come easily. With a major Vril offensive imminent, the Nazis step up their own project to exploit Vril weapons and technology.

Leo Davenport finds himself fighting with the Greek resistance as he struggles to solve an ancient mystery. Major Guy Pentecross must travel to the ruined deathtrap of the most dangerous city in the world to track down the one man who can help.

From a spaceship crash in Bavaria in 1934 to the rat-infested devastation of Stalingrad, from the ancient ruins of occupied Greece to the bombed-out streets of London, the second book of the Never War series continues a secret history of the Second World War in which humanity itself is fighting for survival…

This is the second novel in the Never War series, and sequel to The Suicide Exhibition, which I have sadly not yet read. I do intend to, though, as I’ve seen a few positive reviews for the novel.

Review copy from publisher

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RotellaS-ConvertsSongUSSebastian Rotella, THE CONVERT’S SONG (Mulholland)

A global manhunt sweeps up a former federal agent when his childhood friend becomes the chief suspect in a terrorist rampage.His hazardous stint in U.S. law enforcement behind him, Valentine Pescatore has started over as a private investigator in Buenos Aires. Then he runs into a long-lost friend: Raymond Mercer, a charismatic, troubled singer who has converted to Islam. After a terrorist attack kills hundreds, suspicion falls on Raymond — and Pescatore.Angry and bewildered, Pescatore joins forces with Fatima Belhaj, an alluring French agent. They pursue the enigmatic Raymond into a global labyrinth of intrigue. Is he a terrorist, a gangster, a spy? Is his loyalty to Pescatore genuine, or just another lethal scam?

From the jungles of South America to the streets of Paris to the battlegrounds of Baghdad, The Convert’s Song leads Pescatore on a race to stop a high-stakes campaign of terror.

Do like me an international relations thriller. This one’s published by Mulholland Books, which is an automatic stamp of approval, in my book.

Review copy from NetGalley

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Rothfuss-SlowRegardOfSilentThingsUKPatrick Rothfuss, THE SLOW REGARD OF THINGS (Gollancz/DAW)

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.

Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.A brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows…

Loved The Name of the Wind and really enjoyed The Wise Man’s Fear, so like a great many people I’ve been eager to get my mitts on something new by Patrick Rothfuss. Just a novella, but it’ll hopefully tide me over until the release of The Stone Door.

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SandfordCook-UncagedJohn Sandford & Michele Cook, UNCAGED (Knopf for Young Readers)

Shay Renby arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife. She’s got to find her brother before Singular does….

Odin’s a brilliant hacker but a bit of a loose cannon. He and a group of radical animal rights activists hit a Singular Corporation research lab. The raid was a disaster, but Odin escaped with a set of highly encrypted flash drives and a post-surgical dog.

When Shay gets a frantic 3 a.m. phone call from Odin — talking about evidence of unspeakable experiments, and a ruthless corporation, and how he must hide — she’s concerned. When she gets a menacing visit from Singular’s security team, she knows: her brother’s a dead man walking.

What Singular doesn’t know — yet — is that 16-year-old Shay is every bit as ruthless as their security force, and she will burn Singular to the ground, if that’s what it takes to save her brother…

This is the first novel in Sandford’s new YA series, The Singular Menace. This is also, as far as I’m aware, the first time he’s co-written something with someone else. I’m quite looking forward to trying this – I consider him to be one of my favourite authors, so it’ll be interesting to see how this new direction works, and how his style changes with another author’s input.

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StAubynE-OnTheEdgeEdward St. Aubyn, ON THE EDGE (Picador)

Sabine is the most mercurial woman Peter Thorpe has ever known. Such is his desire for her that he overturns his whole life – his disillusioned merchant-banker’s life – and leaves everything behind, not caring that his lover is of no fixed address, nor that his search for her will take him to the beating heart of New Ageism in northern California. Each of his fellow seekers is in hot pursuit of that elusive something (happiness?), and in their eccentric company Peter stumbles across vistas he had never before dared to imagine…

I’m a relative newcomer to St. Aubyn’s work, and I’m interested in trying out more of his work. I’ll also be reading his Patrick Melrose novels at some point in the hopefully-not-to-distant-future.

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SmithW-DesertGodUSWilbur Smith, DESERT GOD (William Morrow)

Game of Thrones meets ancient Egypt in this magnificent epic from one of the world’s biggest-selling authors. Conjuring the magic, mystery and bloody intrigue of a fascinating lost world, Desert God presents Wilbur Smith at the helm of one of the greatest stories of all time.

On the gleaming banks of the Nile, the brilliant Taita–a freed slave and advisor to the Pharaoh–devises a plan to destroy Egypt’s most feared enemy, the mighty Hyksos. His quest will take him on an epic journey up the ancient river, through Arabia and the magical city of Babylon and across the open seas–all in the company of the Pharaoh’s exquisite sisters. With the future of the kingdom itself on his shoulders, Taita plunges into a world where the line between loyalty and betrayal shifts like the desert sands, evil waits in the shadows and death lingers on the edge of darkness.

Hundreds of millions have fallen in love with the magic of Wilbur Smith. In Desert God, he is at the peak of his powers, transporting readers to an extraordinary time and place. This is a novel of supreme adventure, blazing action, heart-racing romance and a sense of history so real that you will feel the dunes moving beneath you and the Nile lapping at your feet.

A number of people in my family are huge fans of Smith’s novels. I haven’t read any of his novels, though, so I’m not sure when I’ll get around to this — this is the fifth in his Ancient Egypt series. Nevertheless, I am intrigued and would like to read something of his at some point in the not-too-distant-future.

Review copy from publisher

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Sam Sykes, CITY STAINED RED (Orbit/Gollancz)

SykesS-4-TheCityStainedRed

The Scion’s Gate is a trilogy that tells the story of the struggle between the adventurer, Lenk, and his companions and the demons trying to break free from hell in order to resume their own agendas.

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialised slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs, the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.

And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

‘Your world is breaking around you,’ He Who Makes says, ‘let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.’

New Sam Sykes! If you like your fantasy epic, quirky, exciting, and gritty, then you have to read Sam Sykes. Buy this book. And his others.

Also on CR: Reviews of Tome of the Undergates and Black Halo;
Interview; Catch-Up Interview

Review copies from publishers

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TakanoK-GenocideOfOneKazuaki Takano, GENOCIDE OF ONE (Mulholland)

The internationally bestselling, award-winning Japanese thriller about a child who may be the future of the human race — or the cause of its extinction.

During a briefing in Washington D.C., the President is informed of a threat to national security: a three-year-old boy named Akili, who is already the smartest being on the planet. Representing the next step in human evolution, Akili can perceive patterns and predict future events better than most supercomputers, and is capable of manipulating grand-scale events like pieces on a chess board. And yet, for all that power, Akili has the emotional maturity of a child — which might make him the most dangerous threat humanity has ever faced.

An American soldier, Jonathan Yeager, leads an international team of elite operatives deep into the heart of the Congolese jungle under Presidential orders to destroy this threat to humanity before Akili’s full potential can be realized. But Yeager has a very sick child, and Akili’s advanced knowledge of all things, medicine included, may be Yeager’s only hope for saving his son’s life. Soon Yeager finds himself caught between following his orders and saving a creature with a hidden agenda, who plans to either save humanity as we know it — or destroy it.

This just sounds great, and given my past experiences with Mulholland Books’ novels, I am expecting great things. I’ll be reading this very soon.

Review copy from NetGalley

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TrussL-CatOutOfHellUKLynne Truss, CAT OUT OF HELL (Hammer)

The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening. Inside, a room with curtains drawn. Tea has just been made. A kettle still steams.

Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table. A man and a cat.

The story about to be related is so unusual yet so terrifyingly plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting.

The man clears his throat, and leans forward, expectant.

“Shall we begin?” says the cat…

I never got around to reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves (despite wanting to). This novel, however, I’m not sure I can pass on – it sounds quirky and interesting. Hopefully get to it pretty soon.

Review copy from publisher

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TwelveHawksJ-SparkUKJohn Twelve Hawks, SPARK (Transworld)

Jacob Underwood is not like other people.

He has Cotard’s Syndrome. He believes he is dead. Which makes his job as a hired assassin neutralising ‘problems’ for DBG, a massive multinational corporation, very simple. He carries out the task – and feels nothing.

Now DBG has such a problem. A key employee, Emily Buchanan, has disappeared, taking with her a fortune and priceless information which could destroy the company. Jacob must track her down. In previous assignments, he had worked with cold logical precision, but this time he has to confront a threat that he first must understand before it destroys him…

I’ve never read anything by John Twelve Hawks, but this sounded really interesting.

Review copy from NetGalley

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UnsworthS-DevilsDetectiveUSSimon Unsworth, THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE (Doubleday)

A sea change is coming to Hell… and a man named Thomas Fool is caught in the middle.

Thomas Fool is an Information Man, an investigator tasked with cataloging and filing reports on the endless stream of violence and brutality that flows through Hell. His job holds no reward or satisfaction, because Hell has rules but no justice. Each new crime is stamped “Do Not Investigate” and dutifully filed away in the depths of the Bureaucracy.

But when an important political delegation arrives and a human is found murdered in a horrific manner — extravagant even by Hell’s standards — everything changes. The murders escalate, and their severity points to the kind of killer not seen for many generations. Something is challenging the rules and order of Hell, so the Bureaucracy sends Fool to identify and track down the killer…

But how do you investigate murder in a place where death is common currency? Or when your main suspect pool is a legion of demons? With no memory of his past and only an irresistible need for justice, Fool will piece together clues and follow a trail that leads directly into the heart of a dark and chaotic conspiracy. A revolution is brewing in Hell… and nothing is what it seems.

I’ve actually already read this – it’s very, very good. The atmosphere reminded me of Teresa Frohock’s work and gift for the macabre; while the story is an excellent crime thriller/murder mystery. Only, set in Hell and populated by some of the most horrific, imaginative creatures and tortures… And the ending is great. I’ll get a review up ASAP. I also love that cover…

The Devil’s Detective will be published in the UK by Del Rey. It’s not out until 2015, though, so I’m afraid you’ll all have to wait for a bit longer.

Review copy from Edelweiss

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ViguieD-WH3-CircleOfBloodUKDebbie Viguie, CIRCLE OF BLOOD (Arrow)

Samantha Ryan — cop by choice, witch hunter by necessity — is about to confront the witch who has been secretly manipulating her life. But her search for the truth about her past may end in her death…

All her life, Samantha Ryan has been haunted by a circle of blood, which she has tried to keep at bay — ever since she escaped a vicious Salem coven of witches as a child. But now her carefully constructed life has given way to the darkness she might have embraced, had she not run away.

Angry, focused, and more than willing to use her powers on anyone who gets in her way, Samantha travels to New Orleans to confront Lilith Black, the witch who has been mercilessly shaping events around her for months.

But little does Samantha know that her own nightmarish past and Lilith’s are inescapably intertwined — and that what Lilith wants most of all is for Samantha to suffer until her final breath

I think this is the third novel in the Witch Hunt series. I’ve never heard of it before, I don’t think. Sounds intriguing, but I’d be lying if I said I was itching to read it. I may get to it at some point.

Review copy from publisher

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WatsonSJ-BeforeIGoToSleepMovieS.J. Watson, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (Transworld)

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

It’s been made into a movie, and I’ve seen the book all over the place, so I decided it was time I gave it a look.

Review copy from NetGalley

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This is probably the last time I’m going to do a “Books Received” post like this — it’s a lot more time-consuming on WP than it was on Blogger. I’ll just have to figure out a better way of doing it, something quicker, perhaps. Probably more stripped down and to-the-point.

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4 thoughts on “New Books (October)

  1. Great list Stefan. The new Rothfuss looks wonderful, and I am also looking forward to reading The Stone Door when its released. I just finished The City Stained Red which I shall be posting a review for in the next few days.

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      • Absolutely. I get what he was trying to do, but I think it was ultimately self-indulgent and over-long. What’s particularly interesting and annoying in equal measure is that Rothfuss himself recognises it in the introduction and author’s note at the end: it’s “weird and wrong and tangled”. It really is. I was, sadly, ultimately rather bored reading it. So much about it was just off – word choices, imagery… just not sure. Lots of people may well consider it “lyrical” and “artistic”. But I am not one of those people.

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