New Books (March-April)

PopAnotherBookOnThePile

Featuring: Guy Adams, Jack Campbell, Becky Chambers, Nick Cole, Delilah S. Dawson, Robert Glinski, Sally Green, Dave Guymer, Samantha Harvey, Roger Hobbs, Lucy Hounsom, Stephen Lloyd Jones, Ken Liu, Thomas Mallon, K.T. Medina, Nnedi Okorafor, Bryony Pearce, Andrew Pyper, Josh Reynolds, Ross Ritchell, Lilith Saintcrow, J.P. Smythe, Liesel Schwarz, Sara Taylor, Steve Toltz, Daniel Torday, David Wellington, Chuck Wendig, Paul Witcover

AdamsG-AFewWordsForTheDeadUKGuy Adams, A FEW WORDS FOR THE DEAD (Del Rey UK)

Section 37 is under attack.

Toby Greene, a Clown Service agent, is running for his life. Pursued around the globe by the relentless Rain-Soaked Bride, to stop is to die. But section Chief August Shining has problems of his own. Under investigation by MI6 and at the mercy of a mysterious entity, he’s on his own.

This is the third Clown Service novel, following The Clown Service and The Rain-Soaked Bride, also published by Del Rey UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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CampbellJ-DragonsOfDorcastleJack Campbell, THE DRAGONS OF DORCASTLE (JABberwocky)

For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

Mari is a brilliant young Mechanic, just out of the Guild Halls, where she has spent most of her life learning how to run the steam locomotives and other devices of her Guild. Alain is the youngest Mage ever to learn how to change the world he sees with the power of his mind. Each has been taught that the works of the other’s Guild are frauds. But when their caravan is destroyed, they begin to discover how much has been kept from them.

As they survive danger after danger, Alain discovers what Mari doesn’t know – that she was long ago prophesized as the only one who can save their world. When Mari reawakens emotions he had been taught to deny, Alain realizes he must sacrifice everything to save her. Mari, fighting her own feelings, discovers that only together can she and Alain hope to stay alive and overcome the Dragons of Dorcastle.

I have never read anything by Jack Campbell. I was offered this for review, and thought it sounded pretty interesting. So, I’ll be reading it pretty soon. I hope. The novel is published through the JABberwocky eBook Program, who provided the review copy (via NetGalley). Campell is probably best known for his Lost Fleet SF series, which is published by Titan Books in the UK and Ace Books in North America (first book: Dauntless).

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ChambersB-LongWayToASmallAngryPlanet2Becky Chambers, THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET (Hodder)

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. 

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

I first noticed this book when it was announced that Hodder had purchased publishing rights (it was originally self-published). I popped it onto my Kindle wishlist a little while ago, but one day I spotted that the price had dropped (by almost half), so I bought it on an impulse. I often do this. In fact, my Kindle is stuffed with impulse buys… Not that I’m complaining. Hopefully I’ll read this very soon. It sounds like a lot of fun, and many of my friends and fellow reviewers have said/written great things about it.

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ColeN-SodaPopSoldierUSNick Cole, SODA POP SOLDIER (Voyager)

When the virtual world gets real . . .

Gamer PerfectQuestion fights for ColaCorp in WarWorld, an online combat-sport arena where megacorporations field entire armies in the battle for dominance over real-world global-advertising space. Within the immense virtual battlefield, players and bots are high-tech grunts, using dropships and state-of-the-art assault rifles to attack the enemy.

But when times are tough, there’s always the Black, an illegal open-source tournament where the sick and twisted desires of the future are given free reign. And what begins as PerfectQuestion’s onetime effort to make some cash quickly turns dangerous.

All too soon, the real and virtual worlds collide when PerfectQuestion refuses to become the tool of a madman intent on hacking the global economy for himself and fights to stay alive — in WarWorld, in the Black, and in the real world.

Cole’s Wasteland trilogy was pretty well-received. I have it, but have yet to read it (as is true with so many other novels…). This sounds pretty interesting, and may fit in rather nicely in my planned upcoming SF binge.

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DawsonDS-HitUSDelilah S. Dawson, HIT (Simon Pulse)

In order to save her mother, a teen is forced to become an indentured assassin in this sizzling dystopian thriller.

No one reads the fine print.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that we were bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of anarchy across the country.

Patsy didn’t have much of a choice. When the suits showed up at her house threatening to kill her mother then and there for outstanding debt unless Patsy agreed to be an indentured assassin, what was she supposed to do? Let her own mother die?

Patsy is forced to take on a five-day mission to complete a hit list of ten names. Each name on Patsy’s list has only three choices: pay the debt on the spot, agree to work as a bounty hunter, or die. And Patsy has to kill them personally, or else her mom takes a bullet of her own. Since yarn bombing is the only anarchy in Patsy’s past, she’s horrified and overwhelmed, especially as she realizes that most of the ten people on her list aren’t strangers. Things get even more complicated when a moment of mercy lands her with a sidekick: a hot rich kid named Wyatt whose brother is the last name on Patsy’s list. The two share an intense chemistry even as every tick of the clock draws them closer to an impossible choice.

Recently stumbled across Dawson’s Twitter account (via a number of other authors), and she seems to be a lot of fun, not to mention the fact that her novels have also received pretty good reviews and endorsements. So, I made a note of this book, in anticipation of trying her work. I start it hopefully soon — it’s sufficiently different to the SFF that I usually read, so I hope it won’t be affected by my current, strange reading malaise.

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GlinskiR-FriendshipOfCriminalsUSRobert Glinski, THE FRIENDSHIP OF CRIMINALS (Minotaur)

When a new head of the Italian mob threatens Port Richmond’s long entrenched Polish crime boss Anton Bielakowski the various criminal factions of Philadelphia don’t know who to trust and the promise of war simmers in the underworld. With the help of the FBI monitoring Anton’s every move, it’s all just a question of who’s going to go to jail first… or die. This is a sensational debut that cannot be missed by a rare talent with promise.

I read a review of this novel a while back (I think in the New York Times, but I don’t recall exactly), and it sounded really interesting. The reviewer was particularly effusive about Glinski’s writing and plotting, so I thought I had to get it. So I did. Simples. Published by Minotaur Books in the US, it is out now.

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GreenS-2-HalfWildSally Green, HALF WILD (Penguin)

“You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad.”

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run – but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

I have to confess that I didn’t like white a few things about Half Bad. So why have I picked up Half Wild? Curiosity, mainly. I want to know if Green overcomes the weaknesses of the debut and moves away from Harry Potter appropriation (it doesn’t surprise me in the least that Green has been described as “the new J.K. Rowling”, given the rather obvious influence). The novel is published by Penguin.

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GuymerD-G&F-SlayerDave Guymer, SLAYER (Black Library)

With their friendship in tatters after a series of betrayals, Gotrek and Felix march south at the head of a ragtag army, intent upon driving the forces of Chaos out of the Empire and returning Felix to his wife. But Gotrek’s doom is at hand, and great powers are at work to ensure that he meets it. With enemies on all sides and destiny calling, Felix must make a choice: to follow Gotrek into the darkness that awaits him, or to abandon his oldest friend once and for all.

The final novel in the long-running Gotrek & Felix series. I still have a couple to catch up on, but I wanted to have it to hand so I can binge-read them in the not-too-distant future. If only I could get over my fantasy-funk/-slump that seems to be plaguing me at the moment. Published by Black Library, and out now.

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HarveyS-DearThiefUSSamantha Harvey, DEAR THIEF (Ecco)

“You were going to work your way into my marriage and you were going to call its new three-way shape holy,” writes the unnamed narrator of Dear Thief.

The thief is Nina, or Butterfly, who disappeared eighteen years earlier and who is being summoned by this letter, this bomb, these recollections, revisions, accusations, and confessions.

“Sometimes I imagine, out of sheer playfulness, that I am writing this as a kind of defence for having murdered and buried you under the patio.”

Dear Thief is a letter to an old friend, a song, a jewel, and a continuously surprising triangular love story. Samantha Harvey writes with a dazzling blend of fury and beauty about the need for human connection and the brutal vulnerability that need exposes.

“While I write my spare hand might be doing anything for all you know; it might be driving a pin into your voodoo stomach.”

Published in the US by Ecco, and in the UK by Jonathan Cape. Sounded kind of interesting.

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HobbsR-2-VanishingGamesUKRoger Hobbs, VANISHING GAMES (Transworld)

I work alone.

I may be the best thief in the world but no one will ever know a single thing about me. Well, almost no one. 

A lifetime ago I had a mentor, Angela. She taught me how to be a criminal, how to run a heist. 

And now, six years after she vanished and left me high and dry on a job in Kuala Lumpur, she’s sent me an SOS.

Or at least I think it’s her. If it is, then I’ve got to go. I owe her that much.

So soon I’ll be on a plane to Macau, either to see a friend or walk into a trap. Or both. 

But that’s the way I like it. Sometimes the only thing that makes me happy is risking my life. 

Time to go.

The sequel to Ghostman, I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. Published by Transworld in the UK, on July 30th, 2015. Vanishing Games is published in North America by Knopf, on July 7th, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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HounsomL-W1-StarbornUKLucy Hounsom, STARBORN (Tor UK)

Death and destruction will bar her way. . . 

Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man’s terrifying response. She’ll learn more in the city’s subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.

If she survives the ordeal, she’ll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But 

could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?

This book has been enjoying a lot of buzz around the UK publishing world (online and off). I’m looking forward to giving it a try. It’s the first book in the The Worldmaker Trilogy, and will be published in the UK on April 23rd, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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JonesSL-WrittenInTheBloodUSStephen Lloyd Jones, WRITTEN IN THE BLOOD (Mulholland)

See the girl. Leah Wilde is twenty-four, a runaway on a black motorbike, hunting for answers while changing her identity with each new Central European town.

See the man, having come of age in extraordinary suffering and tragedy in nineteenth-century Budapest; witness to horror, to love, to death, and the wrath of a true monster. Izsák still lives in the present day, impossibly middle-aged. He’s driven not only to hunt this immortal evil but to find his daughter, stolen from an Arctic cabin and grown into the thing Izsák has sworn to kill.

See the monster, a beautiful, seemingly young woman who stalks the American West, seeking the young and the strong to feed upon, desperate to return to Europe where her coven calls.

I haven’t read Jones’s first novel, yet, but he’s published by Mulholland – guaranteed interest from me.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LiuK-DD1-GraceOfKingsKen Liu, THE GRACE OF KINGS (Saga Press)

Two men rebel together against tyranny — and then become rivals — in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions — two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.

This novel has been getting a lot of attention around the SFF internet community (and in the real world, too, of course). It sounded interesting, so I picked it up. It’s out now.

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MallonT-FinaleThomas Mallon, FINALE (Pantheon)

Finale takes readers to the political gridiron of Washington in 1986; the wealthiest enclaves of southern California; and the volcanic landscape of Iceland, where the president engages in two almost apocalyptic days of negotiation with Mikhail Gorbachev. Along with Soviet dissidents, illegal arms traders, and antinuclear activists, the novel’s memorable characters include Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Pamela Harriman, John W. Hinckley, and even Bette Davis, with whom the president long ago appeared on screen.

Several figures — including a humbled, crafty Richard Nixon; the young, brilliantly acerbic Christopher Hitchens; and an anxious, astrology-dependent Nancy Reagan — become the eyes through which readers see the last convulsions of the Cold War, the AIDS epidemic, a clash of ideologies, and a political revolution. At the center of it all — but forever out of reach — is Reagan himself, whose genial remoteness confounds his subordinates, his children, and the citizens who elected him.

Mallon wrote the critically-acclaimed Watergate. He seems to have cornered the market for new political/historical novels. This one sounded pretty interesting. Considering that I also recently got a review copy of H.W. Brand’s new Reagan biography, I could have a Gipper Binge… Finale is due to be published in September 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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MedinaKT-WhiteCrocodileUSK.T. Medina, WHITE CROCODILE (Mulholland)

Tess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there’s something in his voice she hasn’t heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he’s dead.

Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Cambodia and to the killing fields. Keeping her relationship to Luke a closely guarded secret, Tess joins his team of mine clearers, who are shaken to the core by Luke’s sudden death. Even in their grief, the group remains a tightly knit and tightly wound community in which almost everyone has something to hide.

At the same time, the circle of death begins to expand. Teenage mothers are disappearing from villages around the minefields, while others are being found mutilated and murdered, their babies abandoned. Everywhere there are whispers about the White Crocodile, a mythical beast that brings death to all who meet it. Caught in a web of secrets and lies, Tess must unravel the truth, and quickly. The crocodile is watching, and Tess may be its next victim.

Sounded really interesting — published by Mulholland Books in the US and Faber in the UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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OkoraforN-BookOfPhoenixUKNnedi Okorafor, PHOENIX (Hodder)

They call her many things – a research project, a test-subject, a specimen.An abomination. 

But she calls herself Phoenix, an ‘accelerated woman’ – a genetic experiment grown and raised in Manhattan’s famous Tower 7, the only home she has ever known. Although she’s only two years old, Phoenix has the body and mind of an adult – and powers beyond imagining. Phoenix is an innocent, happy to live quietly in Tower 7, reading voraciously and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human.

Until the night that Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated, Phoenix begins to search for answers – only to discover that everything that she has ever known is a lie. 

Tower 7 isn’t a haven. It’s a prison.

And it’s time for Phoenix to spread her wings and rise. 

Spanning continents and centuries, The Book of Phoenix is an epic, incendiary work of magial realism featuring Nnedi Okorafor’s most incredible, unforgettable heroine yet.

I loved Lagoon, and I’m quite looking forward to reading this. It’s the sequel to Who Fears Death, though, so not sure if it’s a good idea to read without having read the first… Anyone know?

Review copy received from publisher

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ReynoldsJ-ET5-LordOfTheEndTimesJosh Reynolds, THE LORD OF THE END TIMES (Black Library)

The End Times have come. Archaon Everchosen marches on the city of Middenheim, and if he captures it, the key to the Chaos gods’ ultimate victory will be his. The last heroes of men, elves and dwarfs gather to stop him, but to stand against the hordes of the Ruinous Powers, they must turn to darker allies. Against all reason, the last hope for the world may be the Undying King, Nagash himself – if he and the mortal races can find common cause and work together. If they cannot, Archaon’s plan will come to fruition and the world will be consumed by Chaos.

The fifth book in the Warhammer: End Times series, and a kind-of third novel in the Archaon series, I’m looking forward to reading this. As with Slayer, above, I have some other books to catch up with first, but I’m really looking forward to it. Published by Black Library, and out now.

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PearceB-PhoenixRisingUKBryony Pearce, PHOENIX RISING (Stripes)

Sail. Salvage. Survive.

Toby’s father is a wanted man. For as long as Toby can remember, they’ve been on the run. The Phoenix has become their home, their backyard the junk-filled seas surrounding it.

The crew of the Banshee lives for hunting down the Phoenix and now they’re closing in. Ayla has spent her whole life fighting – preparing for the moment when the Banshee will face its ultimate enemy.

But Toby doesn’t want to run any more and Ayla is his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance?

The future is in their hands.

Sounded interesting, so I said yes to the offer of a review copy.

Review copy received from publisher

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PyperA-TheDamnedUKAndrew Pyper, THE DAMNED (Orion)

Ashleigh and Danny Orchard are twins, not that you’d ever tell by looking at them – Danny distant and shy, Ash beautiful and accomplished. But there’s a secret in the Orchard house: Ash is a monster, a psychopath who can feel only through bringing others pain.

When Ash and Danny are caught in a fire on their 16th birthday, both of them die. But only Danny comes back. Since then, Ash has haunted Danny, denying him any form of normal life … or love. 

When Danny meets Willa and her son Eddie he glimpses the life he could have without Ash. To stop her from ruining his new-found happiness, Danny must venture into the frightening underworld of Detroit, where he will unearth the mystery of the night his and Ash’s fates changed for ever. 

Dark and compelling, THE DAMNED is a story of how heaven and hell aren’t about death, but about the decisions we make in life.

I also recently picked up The Demonologist, which I’ve been told is excellent.

Review copy received from publisher

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RitchellR-TheKnifeRoss Ritchell, THE KNIFE (Blue Rider Press)

It’s hot and getting hotter this summer in Afghanipakiraqistan—the preferred name for the ambiguous stretch of the world where the U.S. Special Forces operate with little outside attention. Team Leader Dutch Shaw is missing his late grandmother. She was the last link he had to civilian life, to any kind of world of innocence.

But there’s no time to mourn. After two helicopters in a sister squadron are shot down, Shaw and his team know that they’re going to be spun up and sent back in, deep into insurgent territory, where a mysterious new organization called Al Ayeelaa has been attracting high-value targets from across the region. As Shaw and his men fight their way closer to the source, mission by mission, they begin to realize that their way may have been prepared for them in advance, and not by a welcoming host.

The Knife is a debut novel of intense authenticity by a former soldier in a United States Special Operations Command direct-action team. As scenes of horseshoes and horseplay cut to dim Ambien-soaked trips in helicopters and beyond, Ritchell’s story takes us deep beneath the testosterone-laced patter into the lonelier, more ambivalent world of military life in the Middle East. The result is a fast-paced journey into darkness; a quintessential novel of the American wars of the twenty-first century.

The Knife is out now. Thought it sounded interesting — and, I realized I haven’t read much war fiction that looks at the Afghanistan or Iraq wars. Yes, CIA/espionage/terrorism thrillers, but none from the perspective of a soldier on the ground. (Tweaked as this one is.)

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SaintcrowL-TrailerParkFaeLilith Saintcrow, TRAILER PARK FAE (Orbit)

A new series where the fairy world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae – by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding…

You know, this cover elicits both a raised eye-brow and the thought, “That guy looks kinda rad.” Yes, “rad”. I don’t know why. I’ve still not read anything by Saintcrow, but this looks like a good place to start. Trailer Park Fae is published on June 23rd, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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Smythe-A1-WayDownDarkUKJ.P. Smythe, WAY DOWN DARK (Hodder)

There’s one truth on Australia.

You fight or you die.

Usually both.

Imagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.

This is a hell where no one can hide.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

This is Australia.

Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery – a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger. 

And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain.

The first novel in Smythe’s Australia Trilogy. It sounds pretty interesting. Published in July 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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SchwartzL-CLS3-SkyPiratesUKLiesel Schwarz, SKY PIRATES (Del Rey UK)

Whatever it takes…

Eleanor Chance has made it her mission to find her husband who has been cursed to roam the netherworld.

But her plans are scuppered when a band of sky pirates attack, led by a man hell-bent on revenge. And rumour has it the Council of Warlocks has fallen under the sway of the nefarious Shadow Master – who wants her dead at any cost.

Being chased from all sides, Elle will have to channel all of her powers as the Oracle to try to save the man she loves…

The third novel in Schwarz’s Chronicles of Light and Shadow steampunk series.

Also on CR: Interview with Liesel Schwarz

Review copy received from publisher.

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TaylorS-BoringGirlsCASara Taylor, BORING GIRLS (ECW PRESS)

A visceral story of friendship, music, and bloody revenge

Rachel feels like she doesn’t fit in — until she finds heavy metal and meets Fern, a kindred spirit. The two form their own band, but the metal scene turns out to be no different than the misogynist world they want to change. Violent encounters escalate, and the friends decide there’s only one way forward . . .

A bloodstained journey into the dark heart of the music industry, Boring Girls traces Rachel’s deadly coming of age, Fern at her side. As the madness deepens, their band’s success heightens, and their taste for revenge grows ravenous.

I’m a big fan of metal and rock, but am turned off by some of the less enlightened, progressive elements of its fandom. So, this caught my eye. Could be interesting.

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ToltzS-QuicksandUSSteve Toltz, QUICKSAND (Simon & Schuster)

A daring, brilliant new novel from Man Booker Prize finalist Steve Toltz, for fans of Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, and David Foster Wallace: a fearlessly funny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.

Liam is a struggling writer and a failing cop. Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As Aldo’s luck worsens, Liam is inspired to base his next book on his best friend’s exponential misfortunes and hopeless quest to win back his one great love: his ex-wife, Stella. What begins as an attempt to make sense of Aldo’s mishaps spirals into a profound story of faith and friendship.

Sounded interesting and different to most other things on my TBR pile…

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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TordayD-LastFlightOfPoxlWestDaniel Torday, THE LAST FLIGHT OF POXL WEST (St. Martin’s Press)

Poxl West fled the Nazis’ onslaught in Czechoslovakia. He escaped their clutches again in Holland. He pulled Londoners from the Blitz’s rubble. He wooed intoxicating, unconventional beauties. He rained fire on Germany from his RAF bomber. Poxl West is the epitome of manhood and something of an idol to his teenage nephew, Eli Goldstein, who reveres him as a brave, singular, Jewish war hero. Poxl fills Eli’s head with electric accounts of his derring-do, adventures and romances, as he collects the best episodes from his storied life into a memoir.

He publishes that memoir, Skylock, to great acclaim, and its success takes him on the road, and out of Eli’s life. With his uncle gone, Eli throws himself into reading his opus and becomes fixated on all things Poxl.

But as he delves deeper into Poxl’s history, Eli begins to see that the life of the fearless superman he’s adored has been much darker than he let on, and filled with unimaginable loss from which he may have not recovered. As the truth about Poxl emerges, it forces Eli to face irreconcilable facts about the war he’s romanticized and the vision of the man he’s held so dear.

I don’t remember where, or from whom I first heard about this novel. But it sounded interesting. It’s out now.

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Various-HH-ImperialTruthVarious, THE IMPERIAL TRUTH (Black Library)

The Emperor decreed long ago that there were no gods upon the Earth or in the sky, and that all of mankind’s belief and aspirations should be poured into His vision for the galaxy instead. Upon such unshakeable foundations was the Imperium to be built – except that the Imperial Truth was a lie, and the powers that the Emperor denied had already sunken their claws into many of his sons. With the treachery of Horus now known from the Eastern Fringe to holy Terra itself, how many more of his father’s words will be proven false in the days to come?

The latest Horus Heresy anthology, originally a limited edition at a convention. Now available as an eBook collection. I’ve already read the stories herein. They’re all good — none of them move the overall story forward, though. Not strictly speaking a bad thing, but I can’t help but feel that Black Library is starting to stretch this out more than it needs to be. So, a good collection, but one that left me feeling a little dissatisfied. Time to stop treading water, I think.

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WellingtonD-PositiveUSDavid Wellington, POSITIVE (Voyager)

Anyone can be positive . . . 

The tattooed plus sign on Finnegan’s hand marks him as a Positive. At any time, the zombie virus could explode in his body, turning him from a rational human into a ravenous monster. His only chance of a normal life is to survive the last two years of the potential incubation period. If he reaches his twenty-first birthday without an incident, he’ll be cleared.

Until then, Finn must go to a special facility for positives, segregated from society to keep the healthy population safe. But when the military caravan transporting him is attacked, Finn becomes separated. To make it to safety, he must embark on a perilous cross-country journey across an America transformed — a dark and dangerous land populated with heroes, villains, madmen, and hordes of zombies. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger may be his fellow humans.

Spotted this a little while ago on Voyager‘s US website, and thought it looked interesting. Will hopefully read it soon. (I really need to stop typing that, though, because I am a most fickle reader…)

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

WendigC-Zer0esUSChuck Wendig, ZER0ES (Voyager)

An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, ZerOes explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.

A new novel by Wendig is bound to get many in the SFF community excited. What I’ve read of his I’ve liked, but it has thus-far been more his horror-oriented work. This novel, though, is an espionage thriller. Which is another genre I really like, so that bodes rather well. Zeroes is due to be published in August 2015, by Voyager.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

WitcoverP-2-WatchmanOfEternityUKPaul Witcover, THE EMPEROR OF ALL THINGS and THE WATCHMAKER OF ETERNITY (Bantam)

In the seventh year of its war against France, England faces threats from abroad and at home, from above — and below. Buoyed by a series of military victories on land and at sea, French forces are gathering for their final push across the Channel. In Scotland, Jacobites loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie plot to restore the Stuart dynasty to the throne. Beneath the bustling streets of London, a subterranean race prepares to rise. And in the realm known as the Otherwhere — home to dragons, demons and gods — civil war has erupted, causing a great and powerful weapon to be cast into the world. That weapon is a clock – a watch, to be precise, of a size to fit comfortably in a man’s hand… a watch with a taste for blood — a mechanism that contains the doom of all that lives.

Daniel Quare, of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, was sent by his masters to find that deadly time-piece. But he was not alone in his pursuit: both the mysterious thief Grimalkin and the ruthless French spy and assassin Thomas Aylesford were on its trail. But with the help of Lord Wichcote — an aristocrat of many talents and more disguises — Quare succeeded in seizing the watch. But not for long: Aylesford took it from him — and with it, Quare’s hand. And now the French spy is on his way back to his masters, Lord Wichcote lies gravely wounded and Daniel Quare has vanished… which would seem to mean that all hope for the world is lost…

I’m really interested in reading both of these novels. I’ve been slacking off, though, and really should have read The Emperor of All Things already. Hopefully soon. Both novels are published by Bantam in the UK: The Emperor of All Things and The Watchmaker of Eternity.

Also on CR: Interview with Paul Witcover

Review copies received from publisher

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4 thoughts on “New Books (March-April)

  1. I also got Dragons of Dorcastle through the publisher and was pretty excited about that because until now the book was only available through Audible. Never heard of this done before but apparently it was specifically written to be made into an audiobook, so I was happy to hear an ebook is coming. And I didn’t realize it was that same Jack Campbell the author of Lost Fleet until I saw this. Ha 😀

    I was also very tempted to pick up Murder in the Blood, but my NetGalley pile is already a mini-mountain and I need to polish off some eARCs first. I did go to Edelweiss and got Zer0es though, I’m hopeless!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know that Jack Campbell had started writing this new series until you’ve mentioned it here. I immediately got the first novel and started reading. And you certainly should give his writing a try 😀 . Jack Campbell is one of my favorite authors to read when I’m not sure what to read next or when I’m not in the mood for anything heavy. His series aren’t that thought-provoking or stylish but he has a great way of making his settings easily accessible and populating those with sympathetic characters. It’s enjoyable, that’s really all there is to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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