New Books (April-May)

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Featuring: Kate Atkinson, Jenny T. Colgan, Sebastien de Castell, Jeffery Deaver, Nelson DeMille, Katie Disabato, Richard Ford, Jonathan Freedland, S.L. Grey, Charlaine Harris, Aleksandar Hemon, Chris Holm, Jason LePier, Duff McKagan, Todd Moss, K.J. Parker, Joe Perry, John Sandford, Stephanie Saulter, Stefan Spjut, Sabaa Tahir, Dan Wells, Robert Charles Wilson

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KAtkinsonK-AGodInRuinsCAate Atkinson, A GOD IN RUINS (Bond Street Books)

This novel tells the story of Ursula Todd’s beloved younger brother Teddy — would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband, and father — as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is facing the difficulties of living in a future he never expected to have.

The stunning companion to Life After Life, A God in Ruins explores the loss of innocence, the fraught transition from the war to peace time, and the pain of being misunderstood, especially as we age.

This must be one of the most anticipated novels of the year on (at least) both sides of the Atlantic. Life After Life was a huge hit in the UK, where the novel won the Costa Award and plaudits galore. It was just as popular in North America. Naturally, I haven’t read it yet, because I’m difficult and tend to steer away from books that are mega-successes. Because I’m difficult. However, it’s been recommended to me quite a bit since I told others that I absolutely loved The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. A God in Ruins is a companion novel to Life After Life. I’m hoping to read them together, now. It is published in Canada by Bond Street Books, in the UK by Doubleday, and in the US by Little, Brown.

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ColganJT-ResistanceIsFutileJenny T. Colgan, RESISTANCE IS FUTILE (Orbit)

She’s smart.

She’s funny.

But she’s only human . . . 

As a high-ranking mathematician in a male-dominated field – with bright red hair – Connie’s used to being considered a little unusual. 

But she’s nowhere near as peculiar as Luke, who is recruited to work alongside her on a top-secret code breaking project. 

Just what is this bizarre sequence they’re studying? It isn’t a solution to the global energy crisis. It isn’t a new wavelength to sell microwave ovens. The numbers are trying to tell them something . . . and it seems only Luke knows what.

The truth is out there. Will Connie dare to find it?

This sounds like it could be quite fun. Will hopefully read it very soon. It’s published by Orbit Books on May 28th, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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deCastell-2-KnightsShadowUS smSebastien de Castell, THE KNIGHT’S (Quercus US)

A thrilling and dark tale of heroism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers’ corruption.

A few days after the horrifying murder of a duke and his family, Falcio val Mond, swordsman and First Cantor of the Greatcoats, begins a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland.

I’ve already read and reviewed this novel – it’s a very good continuation of the Greatcoats series, and I highly recommend it for all fans of fantasy.

Also on CR: Interview with Sebastien de Castell; Guest Post on “Where Writers Get Their Groove”; Reviews of Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow

Review copy received from publisher

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DeaverJ-KD4-SolitudeCreekUSJefferey Deaver, SOLITUDE CREEK (Grand Central)

A tragedy occurs at a small concert venue on the Monterey Peninsula. Cries of “fire” are raised and, panicked, people run for the doors, only to find them blocked. A half dozen people die and others are seriously injured. But it’s the panic and the stampede that killed; there was no fire.

Kathryn Dance — a brilliant California Bureau of Investigation agent and body language expert — discovers that the stampede was caused intentionally and that the perpetrator, a man obsessed with turning people’s own fears and greed into weapons, has more attacks planned. She and her team must race against the clock to find where he will strike next before more innocents die.

I’ve not read anything by Deaver, before. I think the first time I came across his name was way back when The Bone Collector was adapted into a movie starring Denzel Washington (it was excellent). This didn’t translate into buying and reading the novels, though, for some reason. I spotted Solitude Creek on NetGalley, and requested it on a whim. It’s the fourth novel starring Kathryn Dance, but I think I’ll try it without going back to the first book. Solitude Creek is published in North America by Grand Central Publishing (due out next week), and in the UK by Hodder (published this week).

Review copy received via NetGalley

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DeMilleN-JC7-RadiantAngelUSNelson DeMille, RADIANT ANGEL (Grand Central)

A soft breeze fluttered the white, blue, and red Russian flag in front of the U.N. mission. I remember when the Soviet hammer and sickle flew there. I kind of miss the Cold War. But I think it’s back.”

After a showdown with the notorious Yemeni terrorist known as The Panther, John Corey has left the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and returned home to New York City, taking a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. Although Corey’s new assignment with the DSG — surveilling Russian diplomats working at the U.N. Mission — is thought to be “a quiet end,” he is more than happy to be out from under the thumb of the FBI and free from the bureaucracy of office life.

But Corey realizes something the U.S. government doesn’t: The all-too-real threat of a newly resurgent Russia.

When Vasily Petrov, a colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service posing as a diplomat with the Russian U.N. Mission, mysteriously disappears from a Russian oligarch’s party in Southampton, it’s up to Corey to track him down. What are the Russians up to and why? Is there a possible nuclear threat, a so-called radiant angel? Will Corey find Petrov and put a stop to whatever he has planned before it’s too late? Or will Corey finally be outrun and outsmarted, with America facing the prospect of a crippling attack unlike anything it’s ever seen before?

Prescient and chilling. DeMille’s new novel takes us into the heart of a new Cold War with a clock-ticking plot that has Manhattan in its crosshairs.

It feels like ages since I last read a novel by DeMille. I’ve read all but one of the previous John Corey novels, and rather enjoyed them — although, I felt there was a distinct dip in quality with the previous one, The Panther (which I didn’t finish). This one looks at a different antagonist (moving away from Islamic terrorism, thankfully), so maybe it will be enough to revive the series. Radiant Angel is published in North America by Grand Central Publishing, on May 26th, 2015; and in the UK by Sphere as A Quiet End, on June 2nd, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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DisabatoC-GhostNetworkCatie Disabato, THE GHOST NETWORK (Melville House)

One minute insanely famous pop singer Molly Metropolis is on her way to a major performance in Chicago, and the next, she’s gone, her cell phone found abandoned. Has she been kidnapped? Gone into hiding?

Molly’s personal assistant and a journalist who’d been writing about Molly launch a desperate search to find her using her songs and journal as a guide.

It leads them to a map of half-completed train lines underneath Chicago, which in turn leads them to the secret, subterranean headquarters of an obscure intellectual sect — and the realization that they’ve gone too far to turn back. And if a superstar can disappear without a trace … what can happen to these young women?

Suspenseful and wildly original, The Ghost Network is a novel about larger-than-life fantasies — of transportation, love, sex, pop music, amateur detective work, and personal reinvention.

I don’t remember when or where I first heard about this novel, but it sounded pretty interesting and quirky, so I picked it up. Another author who’s written for The Millions, too, which bodes well (see also: Emily St. John Mandel, Edan Lepucki). The novel is out now, published by Melville House.

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FordR-S3-LordOfAshesUKRichard Ford, LORD OF ASHES (Headline)

FIGHT TO THE DEATH…

The queen of Steelhaven has grown in strength. Taking up her dead father’s sword, she must defend the city from the dread warlord Amon Tugha and his blood-thirsty army now at the gates. A vicious, unrelenting four-day battle ensues, the most perilous yet. 

… OR BOW TO THE ENEMY

No side is immune from danger as all hell breaks loose, with the threat of coups and the unleashing of the deadliest and darkest magick. Loyalty, strength and cunning will be put to test in the quest for victory. What fate awaits the free states?

The third novel in Ford’s Steelhaven (grim dark) fantasy series. Published in the UK by Headline on May 7th, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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FreedlandJ-The3rdWomanUSJonathan Freedland, THE 3RD WOMAN (Harper)

A daring reporter’s investigation into her sister’s death draws her into the crosshairs of enemies determined to keep their secrets safe — at any cost.

The United States and China have struck a shocking bargain: In return for forgiving trillions in debt, the People’s Republic of China — now the world’s dominant global superpower — has established a permanent military presence on US soil. Years of decline have left America economically vulnerable, and evidence of China’s cultural and political dominance is everywhere.

Journalist Madison Webb is obsessed with exposing the lies and corruption that have corroded her once great society. When her sister is savagely murdered, the police insist it’s an isolated crime. But Madison suspects the cops are hiding something. Digging for answers, she discovers her sister’s death may be one of many … and part of a dangerous conspiracy. Even though her life is on the line, Madison refuses to give up on the story. And sooner or later, she will have to confront the consequences of exposing the powerful forces intent on hiding the truth.

Freedland is a well-known journalist in the UK, who originally published his fiction as Sam Bourne. I’ve read two of his novels under that pseudonym – The Chosen One and The Final Reckoning, both of which were pretty good. I picked up Pantheon as a result, but haven’t managed to get around to it yet. This novel seems to be larger in scope and more ambitious, and I’ve been eager to get my hands on it ever since it was first announced. I’ll be reading this very soon. The 3rd Woman is due to be published by Harper in both the US (August) and UK (July).

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GreySL-UndergroundUKS.L. Grey, UNDER GROUND (Macmillan)

They thought they were safe . . .

A global outbreak of a virus sends society spinning out of control. But a small group of people have been preparing for a day like this. Grabbing only the essentials, they head to The Sanctum, a luxury self-sustaining underground survival facility where they’ll shut themselves away and wait for the apocalypse to pass. 

All the residents have their own motivations for buying into the development. A mix of personalities, they are strangers separated by class and belief, all of them hiding secrets. They have only one thing in common: they will do anything to survive.

The doors close, locked and secured with a combination that only one man knows. It’s the safest place they could be. Nothing could go wrong. They’re ready for anything . . . 

But when a body is discovered, they realize that the greatest threat to their survival may be trapped in The Sanctum with them.

“S.L. Grey” is actually Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg. This will be the first of their collaborative novels that I’ve read, and I’m very much looking forward to it. Hopefully read it ASAP. It’s due to be published by Macmillan in the UK in July 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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HarrisC-MT2-DayShiftUSCharlaine Harris, DAY SHIFT (Ace Books)

There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.

Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular — and very wealthy — clients dies during a reading.

Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…

Midnight Crossroad was my first novel by Harris – I had also read the first volume in her Cemetery Girl graphic novel series, co-written with Christopher Golden. I wasn’t sure what to expect, therefore. What I found was a rather interesting, quirky mystery with a dash of the supernatural. The characters were interesting, the prose engaging. So, I picked this up as soon as it was published. Day Shift is published by Ace Books in North America and Gollancz in the UK.

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Zombie Wars_cvr.inddAleksandar Hemon, THE MAKING OF ZOMBIE WARS (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)

Script idea #142: Aliens undercover as cabbies abduct the fiancée of the main character, who has to find a way to a remote planet to save her. Title: Love Trek.

Script idea #185: Teenager discovers his girlfriend’s beloved grandfather was a guard in a Nazi death camp. The boy’s grandparents are survivors, but he’s tantalizingly close to achieving deflowerment, so when a Nazi hunter arrives in town in pursuit of Grandpa, he has to distract him long enough to get laid. A riotous Holocaust comedy. Title: The Righteous Love.

Script idea #196: Rock star high out of his mind freaks out during a show, runs offstage, and is lost in streets crowded with his hallucinations. The teenage fan who finds him keeps the rock star for himself for the night. Mishaps and adventures follow. This one could be a musical: Singin’ in the Brain.

Josh Levin is an aspiring screenwriter teaching ESL classes in Chicago. His laptop is full of ideas, but the only one to really take root is Zombie Wars. When Josh comes home to discover his landlord, an unhinged army vet, rifling through his dirty laundry, he decides to move in with his girlfriend, Kimmy. It’s domestic bliss for a moment, but Josh becomes entangled with a student, a Bosnian woman named Ana, whose husband is jealous and violent. Disaster ensues, and as Josh’s choices move from silly to profoundly absurd, The Making of Zombie Wars takes on real consequence.

This is the first novel by Hemon that has caught my eye (probably because it’s the only one that is somewhat related to SFF). It looks really interesting, and I’ve also added his other novels to my To Buy list. The novel is out now, published in the US by FSG. I’ll possibly be reading this next. I’m not sure. And I really need to stop making predictions like that — I seem to be singularly incapable at sticking to any kind of reading schedule I propose…

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HolmC-KillingKindUSChris Holm, THE KILLING KIND (Mulholland)

A hitman who only kills other hitmen winds up a target himself.

Michael Hendricks kills people for money. That aside, he’s not so bad a guy.

Once a covert operative for a false-flag unit of the US military, Hendricks was presumed dead after a mission in Afghanistan went sideways. He left behind his old life — and beloved fiancée — and set out on a path of redemption… or perhaps one of willful self-destruction.

Now Hendricks makes his living as a hitman entrepreneur of sorts: he only hits other hitmen. For ten times the price on your head, he’ll make sure whoever’s coming to kill you winds up in the ground instead. Not a bad way for a guy with his skill-set to make a living — but a great way to make himself a target.

I’ve not read anything by Holm before, but this sounds really good. The Killing Kind is due to be published by Mulholland in the US (September) and UK (August).

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LaPierJ-UnexpectedRainJason LaPier, UNEXPECTED RAIN (Voyager)

In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, a recently hired maintenance man named Kane has just committed murder.

Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.

His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

The first time I heard about this novel, it didn’t really register. It popped up again on my radar, and I read an excerpt on Amazon. It was rather good, so I pre-ordered it. This shows a lot of promise. Unexpected Rain is published by Voyager in the UK, and is out now.

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McKaganD-ItsSoEasyUSDuff McKagan, IT’S SO EASY – AND OTHER LIES (Touchstone)

A founding member of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver — and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee — shares the story of his rise to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, his personal crash and burn, and his phoenix-like transformation.

IN 1984, AT THE AGE OF TWENTY, Duff McKagan left his native Seattle — partly to pursue music but mainly to get away from a host of heroin overdoses then decimating his closest group of friends in the local punk scene. In L.A. only a few weeks and still living in his car, he answered a want ad for a bass player placed by someone who identified himself only as “Slash.” Soon after, the most dangerous band in the world was born. Guns N’ Roses went on to sell more than 100 million albums worldwide.

In It’s So Easy, Duff recounts Guns’ unlikely trajectory to a string of multiplatinum albums, sold-out stadium concerts, and global acclaim. But that kind of glory can take its toll, and it did — ultimately — on Duff, as well as on the band itself. As Guns began to splinter, Duff felt that he himself was done, too. But his near death as a direct result of alcoholism proved to be his watershed, the turning point that sent him on a unique path to sobriety and the unexpected choices he has made for himself since.

In a voice that is as honest as it is indelibly his own, Duff — one of rock’s smartest and most articulate personalities — takes readers on a harrowing journey through the dark heart of one of the most notorious bands in rock-and-roll history and out the other side.

The first album I ever bought was Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I (I was maybe 11 or 12 years old). The first rock/metal magazine I ever read was an issue of Hit Parader that featured Duff McKagan as the cover story. So, G’n’R has been a pretty central band during my life in listening to music.

Given my recent, growing interest in reading biographies, and music biographies in particular (since reading Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself) I decided it was finally time to read this one. It’s So Easy is published by Touchstone in North America, and Orion Books in the UK.

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MossT-2-MinuteZeroUSTodd Moss, MINUTE ZERO (G.P. Putnam’s)

In the life of every country, at a moment of extreme national disruption, there is a brief period of breakdown, when everything is uncertain, events can turn on a dime. That is the moment to act, to shape events how you want them to go. That is Minute Zero.

Fresh off the harrowing events of The Golden Hour, State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker is suddenly thrown into a quickly developing emergency in Zimbabwe, where a longtime strongman is being challenged for the presidency. Rumors are flying furiously: armed gangs, military crackdowns, shady outside money pouring in, and, most disturbing for the United States, reports of highly enriched uranium leaking into the market.

And that’s all before Ryker even lands in the country. It gets much worse after that. If he can’t get control, shape his Minute Zero, a lot of people are going to die—not least of all himself.

This is Moss’s second novel, following The Golden Hour, and is due to be published in the US by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, in September 2015. I have the first novel, so I should really get my skates on and read it. It feels like ages since last I read an international relations-related thriller…

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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ParkerKJ-TwoOfSwords-Pt1K.J. Parker, THE TWO OF SWORDS, Pts.1-3 (Orbit)

“Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it’s better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings,” he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, “mostly from force of habit.”

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No-one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no-one knows how it will end.

As far as I can tell, this is going to be an eight-part serial novel, from one of fantasy’s most critically-acclaimed authors. Until very recently, it was not known that “K.J. Parker” was actually Tom Holt. The first three parts of the novel were released in March, with the rest following in monthly intervals. I dipped in to the first part and thought it was pretty good. I’ll be sure to read these three together and write something up.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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PerryJ-RocksJoe Perry w. David Ritz, ROCKS: MY LIFE IN AND OUT OF AEROSMITH (Touchstone)

Before the platinum records or the Super Bowl half-time show or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Joe Perry was a boy growing up in small-town Massachusetts. He idolized Jacques Cousteau and built his own diving rig that he used to explore a local lake. He dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. But Perry’s neighbors had teenage sons, and those sons had electric guitars, and the noise he heard when they started playing would change his life. 

The guitar became his passion, an object of lust, an outlet for his restlessness and his rebellious soul. That passion quickly blossomed into an obsession, and he got a band together. One night after a performance he met a brash young musician named Steven Tyler; before long, Aerosmith was born. What happened over the next forty-five years has become the stuff of legend: the knockdown, drag-out, band-splintering fights; the drugs, the booze, the rehab; the packed arenas and timeless hits; the reconciliations and the comebacks. 

Rocks is an unusually searching memoir of a life that spans from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel—several times. It is a study of endurance and brotherhood, with Perry providing remarkable candor about Tyler, as well as new insights into their powerful but troubled relationship. It is an insider’s portrait of the rock and roll family, featuring everyone from Jimmy Page to Alice Cooper, Bette Midler to Chuck Berry, John Belushi to Al Hirschfeld. It takes us behind the scenes at unbelievable moments such as Joe and Steven’s appearance in the movie of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (they act out the murders of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees). 

Full of humor, insight, and brutal honesty about life in and out of one of the biggest bands in the world, Rocks is the ultimate rock-and-roll epic. In Perry’s own words, it tells the whole story: “the loner’s story, the band’s story, the recovery story, the cult story, the love story, the success story, the failure story, the rebirth story, the re-destruction story, and the post-destructive rebirth story.”

Bought for very much the same reason as McKagan’s book, above: Aerosmith have long been an important band for me. I first noticed them (or, at least, first paid attention to their name) after seeing them in Wayne’s World 2, and again after “Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)” (the Nine Lives album, 1997, is truly amazing). Rocks is published by Touchstone in North America and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

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SandfordJ-P25-GatheringPreyUSJohn Sandford, GATHERING PREY (G.P. Putnam’s)

They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes — they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them.

Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty, is home from college when she gets a phone call from a woman Traveler she’d befriended in San Francisco. The woman thinks somebody’s killing her friends, she’s afraid she knows who it is, and now her male companion has gone missing. She’s hiding out in North Dakota, and she doesn’t know what to do.

Letty tells Lucas she’s going to get her, and, though he suspects Letty’s getting played, he volunteers to go with her. When he hears the woman’s story, though, he begins to think there’s something in it. Little does he know. In the days to come, he will embark upon an odyssey through a subculture unlike any he has ever seen, a trip that will not only put the two of them in danger — but just may change the course of his life.

Sandford’s Prey series is probably my favourite crime/thriller series. I’ve read them all, as well as Sandford’s semi-related/-connected Kidd series, and have started the Virgil Flowers novels (though I’m way behind on these). I’m also quite excited about the fact that I will finally be visiting Minnesota, in June, for a couple of friends’ wedding. Gathering Prey is out now in North America, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. I couldn’t find any UK publication information — some of the previous Prey novels have been published by Simon & Schuster, but I don’t know what the situation is for this latest book.

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SaulterS-R2-BinaryUSStephanie Saulter, BINARY (Quercus US)

Zavcka Klist has reinvented herself: no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems they created enslaved, she’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike. 

Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr Eli Walker are convinced that Klist or Bel’Natur can have changed so dramatically, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction. 

Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more DI Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after – not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past…

Stephanie Saulter is one of the best authors writing SF today. This is the second novel in her Revolution series, which was published a short while ago in the UK. Binary is out now, published by Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus in both North America and the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Stephanie Saulter; Guest Post on “Influences & Inspirations”; Excerpt from Gemsigns; Review of Gemsigns

Review copy received from publisher

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SpjutS-StalloUKStefan Spjut, STALLO (Faber & Faber)

What if something is out there?

In the summer of 1978 a young boy disappears without trace from a summer cabin in the woods. His mother claims that he was abducted by a giant. The boy is never found.

The previous year, over in a Swedish National Park, a wildlife photographer takes a strange picture from his small airplane, of a bear running over the marshes. On its back sits a creature, which the photographer claims is something extraordinary.

Twenty-five years later, and back in Laponia, Susso runs a much-maligned web page, one dedicated to searching for creatures whose existence have not yet been proven: the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot. But Susso has her own obsession, one inherited from her grandfather, the well-known wildlife photographer.

When an old woman claims that a small creature has been standing outside her house, observing her and her five year old grandson for hours, Susso picks up her camera and leaves for what will become a terrifying adventure into the unknown …

This sounds fantastic. It’s a big beast, too, so I’m hoping this will be a very good, long and absorbing (perhaps disturbing) read. Stallo is due to be published in the UK by Faber & Faber, on June 4th, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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TahirS-AnEmberInTheAshesUSSabaa Tahir, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (Razorbill/Penguin)

Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

This novel has been getting a lot of buzz, recently. It sounds pretty interesting, too. An Ember in the Ashes is out now in the US, published by Razorbill; and due out in the UK via Voyager in June 2015.

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WellsD-JC4-DevilsOnlyFriendSSDan Wells, THE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND (Tor)

John Wayne Cleaver hunts demons: they’ve killed his neighbors, his family, and the girl he loves, but in the end he’s always won. Now he works for a secret government kill team, using his gift to hunt and kill as many monsters as he can . . .

. . . but the monsters have noticed, and the quiet game of cat and mouse is about to erupt into a full scale supernatural war. John doesn’t want the life he’s stuck with. He doesn’t want the FBI bossing him around, he doesn’t want his only friend imprisoned in a mental ward, and he doesn’t want to face the terrifying cannibal who calls himself The Hunter. John doesn’t want to kill people. But as the song says, you can’t always get what you want. John has learned that the hard way; his clothes have the stains to prove it.

When John again faces evil, he’ll know what he has to do.

This is the fourth novel by Wells to feature John Wayne Cleaver, and the first in a new trilogy. Not sure how important it will be to have read the first three, but I’m hoping not too important. Although, it sounds interesting enough that I might just pick up the first three anyway. The Devil’s Only Friend is published in North America by Tor Books, in June 2015.

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WilsonRC-AffinitiesUSRobert Charles Wilson, THE AFFINITIES (Tor)

In our rapidly-changing world of “social media”, everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria.

In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson’s The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies — genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral. To join one of the twenty-two Affinities is to change one’s life. It’s like family, and more than family. Your fellow members aren’t just like you, and they aren’t just people who are likely to like you. They’re also the people with whom you can best cooperate in all areas of life — creative, interpersonal, even financial.

At loose ends both professional and personal, young Adam Fisk takes the suite of tests to see if he qualifies for any of the Affinities, and finds that he’s a match for one of the largest, the one called Tau. It’s utopian — at first. Problems in all areas of his life begin to simply sort themselves out, as he becomes part of a global network of people dedicated to helping one another — to helping him.

But as the differing Affinities put their new powers to the test, they begin to rapidly chip away at the power of governments, of global corporations, of all the institutions of the old world. Then, with dreadful inevitability, the different Affinities begin to go to war — with one another.

What happens next will change Adam, and his world, forever.

An author praised quite consistently across the SFF community, Robert Charles Wilson is yet another whose work I have never tried. This sounded pretty interesting and relevant, so I picked it up. The Affinities is published by Tor Books.

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