Books Received: December #2 (Or, “It Rained Books Just Before Xmas…”)


A nice wave of new titles arrived or were purchased just before Christmas. I’ve just been slow about posting this, which means I’ve already read a couple (and dismissed a couple). Some more have arrived since, too, but I’ll post about those at the beginning of January.

Featuring: Kate Atkinson, Belinda Bauer, Gregory Benford, Douglas Brunt, Chelsea Cain, John Connolly, Christopher Farnsworth, Helen Giltrow, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Lev Grossman, Glenda Larke, Karen Lord, Alex Marhsall, Peyton Marshall, Brian McClellan, D.J. Molles, Syliva Moreno-Garcia, Mark Morris, Larry Niven, Claire North, Chuck Palahniuk, Matthew Pearl, D.B.C. Pierre, Jennifer Ridyard, Jeff Somers, Gabriel Squailia, Mark Sullivan, S.J. Watson, Jaye Wells

Atkinson-LifeAfterLifeUKPBKate Atkinson, LIFE AFTER LIFE (Doubleday)

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

It’s won awards, it’s been a huge success in the UK and North America… And a number of people have compared Claire North’s superb The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to it. So, I decided to finally pick it up.


BauerB-TheShutEyeBelinda Bauer, THE SHUT EYE (Transworld)

Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

And now they are all his mother has left.

Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.

When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn’t? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son…

But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?

Or is he something far, far worse?

Bauer’s previous novel, Rubbernecker, was very popular in the UK. I picked it up last year, but have yet to get around to it. When I spotted The Shut Eye on NetGalley, I thought it looked interesting. The Shut Eye is due out on March 12th, 2015, and will be published in the UK by Transworld.

Review copy via NetGalley


BenfordNiven-ShipstarUKGregory Benford & Larry Niven, SHIPSTAR (Titan)

When a landing party is sent to find out why, the Shipstar is on the same trajectory as a human party, half of the group is captured, the other half must go on the run from the bizarre inhabitants. The free group must find a way back to their vessel. In the course of their attempt, however, they will uncover the secrets of the Shipstar — secrets that will forever upend their understanding of the universe, and mankind’s place in it.

I must confess to having known nothing about this novel before it arrived. Part of this is because I tend not to look too hard at the sci-fi lists. I have no idea why, though, as I do enjoy the genre a great deal (I just read less of it — again, I don’t know why). Anyway, this looks interesting.

Review copy received from publisher


BruntD-TheMeansDouglas Brunt, THE MEANS (Touchstone)

Part Primary Colors, part House of Cards, The Means takes you deep into high-stakes politics where everyone has something to hide.

Tom Pauley is a conservative trial attorney in Durham, NC, who is tapped by GOP leaders to campaign for the Governor’s mansion. His bold style makes him a favorite for a run at the White House.

Mitchell Mason is the president-elect of the United States, pushed into politics by a father determined to create a political dynasty. Mason manages the White House with a personal touch that makes both friends and enemies.

Samantha Davis is a child actor-turned-lawyer-turned-journalist, working her way up from the bottom in a competitive industry. She is determined and brilliant, and her dogged pursuit of a decade-old story could trigger a scandal that would upend the political landscape.

Sounded interesting, and I kind of stumbled across it. Sometimes, when that happens, I really enjoy a novel. So I took a chance and picked this up. Also, “Part Primary Colors, part House of Cards…”? Well, I really enjoyed both of those…


CainC-KL1-OneKickChelsea Cain, ONE KICK (Simon & Schuster)

Meet Kick Lannigan. She’s twenty-one. She can pick any lock. She knows five ways to kill you with a jacket. Get ready to fall in love.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test. 

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound — all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children — he won’t take no for an answer. 

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate — the dark corners of her own mind.

Cain’s been writing for some time, but for some reason I’ve never read anything by her. This novel, the first in a new series starring Kick Lannigan, has been getting good reviews and sounds interesting. So I finally picked it up, after quite some delay that I can’t understand. It was on sale, and so it seemed like a great time — before, I think I’d been distracted by the other new shinies… Hopefully get to is ASAP. The sequel, Kick Back, is due to be published in September 2015.


Connolly&Ridyard-CI2-EmpireUKHCJohn Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard, EMPIRE (Headline)

She is the trophy of a civilization at war with itself.

He is its rebel captive.

Separated by millions of light years, they will fight to be united.

And they will risk everything to make their world — all worlds — right again.

The follow-up to Conquest. I’m really interested in this series. Will have to get a move on and catch up.

Review copy received from publisher


FarnsworthC-TheEternalWorldUSChristopher Farnsworth, THE ETERNAL WORLD (William Morrow)

Five hundred years ago, a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for gold, led by a young and brilliant commander named Simon De Oliveras, land in the New World. What they find in the sunny and humid swamps of this uncharted land is a treasure far more valuable: the Fountain of Youth. The Spaniards slaughter the Utiza, the Native American tribe who guard the precious waters that will keep the conquistadors young for centuries. But one escapes: Shako, the chief’s fierce and beautiful daughter who swears to avenge her people?a blood promise that spans more than five centuries…

When the source of the fountain is destroyed in our own time, the loss threatens Simon and his men, and the powerful shadowy empire of wealth and influence they have built. For help, they turn to science, to David Robinton, a scientific prodigy who believes he is on the verge of the greatest medical breakthrough of all time. But as the centuries-old war between Shako and Simon reaches its final stages, David makes a horrifying discovery about his clients and the mysterious and exotic woman he loves. Now, the scientist must decide: is he a pawn in game of hunter and predator… or will he be its only winner?

I really enjoyed the first two novels in Farnsworth’s President’s Vampire series — they were quickly-paced, action-packed urban fantasies, with interesting and fun characters and slightly bonkers plots (in the good, pulpy way). While I’ve been extremely slow about getting around to reading the third novel, I spotted this possibly-stand-alone novel on Edelweiss and requested it. It’s not due to be published until August 2015, though, so I may hold off on the review for a few months. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in, though.

Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Farnsworth; Reviews of Blood OathThe President’s Vampire

Review copy via Edelweiss


GiltrowH-TheDistanceHelen Giltrow, THE DISTANCE (Random House Canada)

Charlotte Alton is an elegant socialite. But behind the locked doors of her sleek, high-security apartment in London’s Docklands, she becomes Karla. Karla’s business is information. Specifically, making it disappear. She’s the unseen figure who, for a commanding price, will cover a criminal’s tracks. A perfectionist, she’s only made one slip in her career: several years ago she revealed her face to a man named Simon Johanssen, an ex-special forces sniper turned killer-for-hire. After a mob hit went horrifically wrong, Johanssen needed to disappear, and Karla helped him. He became a regular client, and then one day, she stepped out of the shadows for reasons unclear to even herself.

Now, after a long absence, Johanssen has resurfaced with a job, and he needs Karla’s help again. The job is to take out an inmate — a woman — inside an experimental prison colony. But there’s no record the target ever existed. That’s not the only problem: the criminal boss from whom Johanssen has been hiding is incarcerated there. That doesn’t stop him. It’s Karla’s job to get him out alive, and to do that she must uncover the truth. Who is this woman? Who wants her dead? Is the job a trap for Johanssen or for her? But every door she opens is a false one, and she’s getting desperate to protect a man — a killer — to whom she’s inexplicably drawn.

Sounds like an interesting thriller, and I’m trying to read more stuff set in the UK — I’ve always preferred novels (of all genres) set outside of the UK. Robert Galbraith’s, Ian Tregillis’s and Ben Aaronovitch’s books have, however, convinced me that maybe I should read more fiction set in my home country…


GreenfledKT-SubprimesKarl Taro Greenfeld, THE SUBPRIMES (Harper)

In a future America that feels increasingly familiar, you are your credit score. Extreme wealth inequality has created a class of have-nothings: Subprimes. Their bad credit ratings make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they’ve walked out on mortgages, been foreclosed upon, or can no longer afford a fixed address. Fugitives who must keep moving to avoid arrest, they wander the globally warmed American wasteland searching for day labor and a place to park their battered SUVs for the night.

Karl Taro Greenfeld’s trenchant satire follows the fortunes of two families whose lives reflect this new dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-financially-fittest America. Desperate for work and food, a Subprime family has been forced to migrate east, hoping for a better life. They are soon joined in their odyssey by a writer and his family — slightly better off, yet falling fast. Eventually, they discover a small settlement of Subprimes who have begun an agrarian utopia built on a foreclosed exurb. Soon, though, the little stability they have is threatened when their land is targeted by job creators for shale oil extraction.

But all is not lost. A hero emerges, a woman on a motorcycle — suspiciously lacking a credit score — who just may save the world.

This sounded interesting, and like a new take on dystopian fiction (at least, new in that I haven’t seen anything like it since I started paying attention to such things).

Review copy via Edelweiss


GrossmanL-3-MagiciansLandUKPBLev Grossman, THE MAGICIAN’S LAND (Arrow)

Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of the secret magical land of Fillory and now, friendless and broke, he returns to where his story began: Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But Quentin’s past soon catches up with him…

Meanwhile, Fillory’s magical barriers are failing, and barbarians from the north have invaded. To save their beloved world from extinction, Eliot and Janet, High King and Queen of Fillory, must embark on a final, dangerous quest.

Quentin’s adventure takes him from Antarctica to the enchanted Neitherlands, where he finds old friends. But all roads lead back to Fillory, where Quentin must put things right, or die trying.

This is the UK paperback edition. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this from the US publisher, but I’ve been distracted and had to catch up with the second novel, The Magician King (which I very much enjoyed). I’m now hoping to get to this just after the Christmas break.

Also on CR: Interview with Lev Grossman; Reviews of The MagiciansThe Magician King

Review copy received from publisher


Larke-FL2-TheDaggersPathGlenda Larke, THE DAGGER’S PATH (Orbit)


When sailors came to Ardhi’s homeland, they plundered not only its riches, but its magic too. Now disgraced islander Ardhi must retrieve what was stolen, but there are ruthless men after this power, men who will do anything to possess it…

Sorcerers, pirates, and thieves collide in this thrilling sequel to Glenda Larke’s epic fantasy adventure, The Lascar’s Dagger.

Pirates! This sounds really cool, as does the previous book in the series. I’ll have to get around to it at some point.

Review copy receive from publisher


Karen Lord, THE GALAXY GAME (Del Rey/Jo Fletcher Books)


For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch, but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning – and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite. But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution – involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.

Karen Lord’s previous novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds, received rave reviews from all corners of the SFF community. This is the next novel, and it sounds equally great. The Galaxy Game is published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK on January 1st 2015 (the eBook is out this week); and Del Rey in the US on January 6th 2015.

Also on CR: Excerpt from The Best Of All Possible Worlds

Review copy received from publisher


MarshallA-CrownForColdSilverAlex Marshall, A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER (Orbit)


Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.

Oh, I am so very much looking forward to reading this… I think it will be a just-after Christmas read. Although, it’s published mid-April 2015, so I may wait until second half of January. we’ll see — as always, the winds of reading can blow any which way. I may just be unable to resist. The first line is superb (and emblazoned on the cover of the ARC)…

Review copy received from publisher


MarshallP-GoodhouseUKPeyton Marshall, GOODHOUSE (Doubleday)


An educational establishment with a difference.

Outside its walls lies danger.

But threat also lurks within.

To break out is to risk death.

To stay is worse.

Welcome to Goodhouse.

For boys with bad genes.

A bold and page-turning look into a plausible near-future — where genetic profiling is meant to prevent crime, but instead becomes a tool for oppression. If, one day, we can see into our genetic make-up — both the good and the bad — places like GOODHOUSE could be just around the corner …

I picked up an eARC of this via NetGalley not so long ago, but a print copy arrived as well. It sounds pretty interesting, and I’ve been in the mood for dystopian novels, recently. I’ve heard some good things.

Review copy received from publisher


McClellanB-PM3-AutumnRepublicBrian McClellan, THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC (Orbit)


The capital has fallen…

Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided…

With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one…

And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…

The conclusion to McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy! I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous two novels and the various short stories McClellan has written for this world. I can’t wait to get around to this. It’s not out until February 10th, 2015, so I will wait until after Christmas to read it. Maybe I’ll read it just before or just after Alex Marshall’s (above). I predict something truly epic… There’s also another short story/novella coming out, which I have pre-ordered.

Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan; Guest Posts on Favourite Novel and Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy; Reviews of Promise of BloodThe Crimson Campaign

Review copy receive from publisher


Molles-R5-FracturedD.J. Molles, THE REMAINING: ALLEGIANCE (Orbit)

Through an overwhelming storm of pain and adversity Captain Lee Harden has fought and survived. But his mission continues.

Recovering from his wounds, mental and physical, he must rally his companions at Camp Ryder and push back against the still swarming hordes of the infected that threaten to extinguish an already devastated society.

The fifth novel in Molles’s post-apocalyptic The Remaining series — this one is entirely new, and wasn’t among Molles’s original, self-published selection. I’ve still not read the first books, but I would like to.

Review copy receive from publisher


SIGNAL TO NOISESylvia Moreno-Garcia, SIGNAL TO NOISE (Solaris)

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

I’ve actually already read this. It was really good, and I think a lot of people will like it — the story, characters, even the magic ‘system’ (though slightly underdeveloped) are all written well. I highly recommend it. I’ll post a quick review hopefully next week.

Review copy received from publisher


MorrisM-OH1-TheWolvesOfLondonMark Morris, THE WOLVES OF LONDON (Titan)

A psychology professor living with his young daughter, Alex Locke is an ex-convict who’s been able to put his past behind him. When his older daughter is threatened with violence, however, he is forced back into that world in an effort to secure the cash to save her. After a botched theft of an obsidian heart for a young woman named Clover Munro, Alex and Clover are forced to go on the run. They are pursued by a variety of unearthly assassins known collectively as the ‘Wolves of London’. As the Wolves close in, Alex finds out the Obsidian Heart can enable him to travel through time, and that whilst it bestows him with his own dark powers it also corrupts, both physically and mentally…

Continuing from my comment above, regarding Helen Giltrow’s novel: for some reason, I miss London a bit. I’ve been looking for a few more novels set in the city, in any/all genres. This is the first novel in the Obsidian Heart series, and it looked interesting (more on the horror side of things, maybe?), and I vaguely remember seeing a good review for it here and there. Somewhere. I forget (and, apparently, can’t be bothered to Google…). So, I decided to pick it up. Also, that is a great cover…


NorthC-TouchClaire North, TOUCH (Redhook/Orbit)

Kepler had never meant to die this way — viciously beaten to death by a stinking vagrant in a dark back alley. But when reaching out to the murderer for salvation in those last dying moments, a sudden switch takes place.

Now Kepler is looking out through the eyes of the killer himself, staring down at a broken and ruined body lying in the dirt of the alley.

Instead of dying, Kepler has gained the ability to roam from one body to another, to jump into another person’s skin and see through their eyes, live their life — be it for a few minutes, a few months or a lifetime.

Kepler means these host bodies no harm — and even comes to cherish them intimately like lovers. But when one host, Josephine Cebula, is brutally assassinated, Kepler embarks on a mission to seek the truth — and avenge Josephine’s death.

I started reading this on Christmas day. I adored The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, so have extremely high hopes for this. Thus far, it’s entirely living up to these expectations.

Review copy received from publisher


PalahniukC-BeautifulYouUSChuck Palahniuk, BEAUTIFUL YOU (Doubleday)

“A billion husbands are about to be replaced.”

From the author of Fight Club, the classic portrait of the damaged contemporary male psyche, now comes this novel about the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of a new product that gives new meaning to the term “self-help.” 

Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens and no love life at all. So it comes as a great shock when she finds herself invited to dinner by one C. Linus Maxwell, a software mega-billionaire and lover of the most gorgeous and accomplished women on earth. After dining at Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurant, he whisks Penny off to a hotel suite in Paris, where he proceeds, notebook in hand, to bring her to previously undreamed-of heights of gratification for days on end. What’s not to like? This: Penny discovers that she is a test subject for the final development of a line of feminine products to be marketed in a nationwide chain of boutiques called Beautiful You. So potent and effective are these devices that women by the millions line up outside the stores on opening day and then lock themselves in their room with them and stop coming out. Except for batteries. Maxwell’s plan for battery-powered world domination must be stopped. But how?

I’ve never read a novel by Palahniuk. This is his latest, and it sounds… weird as hell. Generally, I prefer my fiction to not be too weird and ‘out there’, but I thought I’d give this a try.


PierreDBC-BreakfastWithTheBorgiasUKD.B.C. Pierre, BREAKFAST WITH THE BORGIAS (Hammer)

‘Hell is other people.’

The setting: a faded, lonely guesthouse on the Essex coast. Outside, it’s dark, and very foggy. Inside there’s no phone or internet reception, no connection with the outside world.

Enter Ariel Panek, a promising young academic en route from the USA to an important convention in Amsterdam. With his plane grounded by fog at Stanstead, he has been booked in for the night at the guesthouse. Discombobulated and jetlagged, he falls in with a family who appear to be commemorating an event.

But this is no ordinary celebration. And this is no ordinary family.

As evening becomes night, Panek realises that he has become caught in an insidious web of other people’s secrets and lies, a Sartrian hell from which for him there may be no escape.

Pierre is the author of Vernon God Little which, while I haven’t read it, I have heard a lot about. This sounds pretty interesting.

Review copy received from publisher


Jeff Somers, FIXER and WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE (Gallery)


The ethics in a world of blood are gray — and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people.

Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work.

When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her — and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.

The re-released version of Trickster (first in the Ustari Cycle), plus the prequel short story. I bought the original version of the novel, but I kept forgetting it was on my Kindle. So, I guess I’ll just read this version.


SquailiaG-DeadBoysGabriel Squailia, DEAD BOYS (Talos)

A decade dead, Jacob Campbell is a preservationist, using the dark arts of taxidermy to keep his clients looking lifelike for as long as the forces of entropy will allow. But in the Land of the Dead, where the currency is time itself and the citizens drink, thieve, and gamble eternity away, Jacob will abandon his home and his fortune for an opportunity to meet the man who cheated the rules of life and death entirely.

According to legend, the Living Man is the only adventurer ever to cross into the underworld without dying first. It’s rumored he met his end somewhere in the labyrinth of pubs beneath Dead City’s streets, disappearing without a trace. Now Jacob’s vow to find the Living Man and follow him back to the land of the living will send him on a perilous journey through an underworld where the only certainty is decay.

Accompanying him are the boy Remington, an innocent with mysterious powers over the bones of corpses, and the hanged man Leopold l’Eclair, a flamboyant rogue whose criminal ambitions spark the undesired attention of the shadowy ruler known as the Magnate.

This sounds delightfully weird and interesting. And maybe a little like John McHugo’s Tristopolis series (Dark Blood and Black Blood). Dead Boys is due to be published in March 2015.

Review copy via Edelweiss


SullivanM-RM2-ThiefUSMark Sullivan, THIEF (Minotaur)

Robin Monarch is a man with a complicated past and dangerous present.  He’s been a soldier, a CIA agent, a freelance operative but first and foremost, Robin Monarch is a thief of the highest order. Orphaned at twelve, Monarch originally stole for survival, then he stole for his friends and cohorts, now he steals to order, and to give back to the to the woman who saved his life many years ago.

With the help of his team, Monarch breaks into the legendary Christmas party of Beau Arsenault, a shady investor and behind-the-scenes player at the very highest levels of power politics. Arsenault is not above bending or breaking the rules if there’s illicit profit to be made. Monarch has decided that those illicit profits will be better used to take care of orphans and street kids. Using the party as cover to break into Arsenault’s secret vaults, Monarch comes away with two unexpected things. One is a bullet — he gets shot when he’s caught trying to escape with tens of millions of negotiable instruments. The second is a lead on what might be his most audacious exploit ever. A previously undiscovered tribe in South America may well have the secret to the most sought after knowledge in history — that of eternal life. And Robin Monarch must use all his skills — as an operative, as a thief — to keep this secret from falling into the worst possible hands.

I shared an excerpt of this not so long ago. Sounds interesting. The third in the series, though, so I will read the first two novels and the three prequel novellas before getting to this (the first two of the latter were free via Amazon UK).

Review copy received from publisher


Various-HH-LegaciesOfBetrayalVarious, LEGACIES OF BETRAYAL (Black Library)

Only from out of great conflict can true heroes arise. With the galaxy aflame and war on an unimaginable scale tearing the Imperium apart, champions of light and darkness venture onto countless fields of battle in service to their masters. They ask not for remembrance or reward – simply to meet their destiny head-on, and only by embracing that destiny will they come to learn what the unseen future may yet hold for them.

This is the 31st book in the Horus Heresy series, collecting together 18 short stories and novellas. Some of these I had already read and reviewed (actually, more than I would have hoped), but my completist tendencies and a lack of impulse control when it comes to books led me to purchase it. I do like the idea of having the stories collected in one handy volume — especially the prose versions of audiodramas. I have already reviewed the book, here.


WatsonSJ-SecondLifeUKS.J. Watson, SECOND LIFE (Transworld)

She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger.

She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything.

She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control.

She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin.

She’s living two lives. She might lose both…

Before I Go To Sleep was a huge success, and was made into a star-studded movie. Now, Watson is back with Second Life, which sounds pretty intriguing. Due to be published in the UK by Doubleday, on February 12th, 2015.

Review copy via NetGalley


WellsJ-PW3-DeadlySpellsJaye Wells, DEADLY SPELLS (Orbit)



After the grisly murder of a dirty magic coven leader, Kate Prospero and The Magical Enforcement Agency team up with the local police to find the killer. When a tenacious reporter sticks her nose in both the investigation and Prospero’s past in the covens, old ghosts resurface.

As the infighting between covens turns ugly, an all-out war brews in the slums of Babylon…

The third novel in the well-received Prospero’s War urban fantasy series. There’s a short story on the way, too. I feel like doing a binge-read of these at some point.

Review copy receive from publisher


Which of these strikes your fancy? Did you get any interesting books for Christmas that you think readers should check out, or like to hear about? Feel free to share in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Books Received: December #2 (Or, “It Rained Books Just Before Xmas…”)

  1. Wow that is a stack of goodies!! How are you not completely overwhelmed??

    Is the Benford/Niven the sequel to Bowl of Heaven that came out last year? Sounds like it might be. I got an early copy of Karen Lord’s The Galaxy Game and have already read it twice. that one is a sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds, but it’s got a nice little worldbuilding prologue, so you can easily read it as a stand alone if you don’t have time to read Best Of All.

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    • I have no idea about the Benford/Niven novel — I missed last year’s Bowl of Heaven entirely. According to Goodreads it is a sequel. Hm. Maybe I should hunt down BoH…

      Oh, I am a bit overwhelmed by choice (oh, boo-hoo…). But, a couple of these I’ve already managed to finish or discard (because of the sheer amount of choice, I have to be brutal). A couple aren’t out for a while, or are late instalments in series which I’ve not started yet (so they’re bumped back). So… It’s not terrible. But I still have a stack of others to get through, too — we are living (reading) in interesting times for SFF and thrillers. I’m trying to branch out a bit more, too, so I’m picking up a few more contemporary fiction and historical fiction novels. I used to read thrillers pretty much always, but they’ve fallen to the wayside once I started reading more SFF (it was a nice distraction from my work). I kind of miss them. There are a few Big Novels, too, that I’ve been delaying because I never felt like I had the time to devote to getting through 800+ page novels. Maybe I’ll just go ahead and reading one, regardless of time.


      • or, it could be interesting to try to read the Benford/Niven cold? see if they give you any background in early chapters. 😉

        The way you used to read thrillers, I used to read Historical Fiction, and I miss it. Ocassionally I find some historical novels with speculative elements, but I’ve not been thrilled with the glut of Victoriana / steampunk out there.

        I’ve been meaning to reread Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (got it out of the library years ago, and loved it), and I finally own all three volumes. All together that’s what, 2000 pages? I’ll need to set aside an entire month to get through them.


      • I want to read the Baroque Cycle, too – it would be the first time for me, though. Haven’t read anything of Stephenson’s in a long time (Diamond Age, Snow Crash). I’ll see what the Benford/Niven is like without reading first book. Maybe it’ll work.


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