New Books (July)


Featuring: Libba Bray, Mason Cross, Max Gladstone, Christie Golden, John Gwynne, Louisa Hall, Benedict Jacka, Mike Lawson, James Luceno, Maggie Mitchell, Jamie Schultz, Django Wexler, Chris Wraight

BrayL-2-LairOfDreamsUKLibba Bray, LAIR OF DREAMS (Little, Brown)

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to ‘read’ objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, ‘America’s Sweetheart Seer’. But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities . . . 

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

This is the second novel in the Diviners series, and is published in the UK by Atom in August 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley


CrossM-2-SamaritanUKMason Cross, THE SAMARITAN (Orion)

When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows she’s seen this MO before – two and a half years ago on the other side of the country.

A sadistic serial killer has been operating undetected for a decade, preying on lone female drivers who have broken down. The press dub the killer ‘the Samaritan’, but with no leads and a killer who leaves no traces, the police investigation quickly grinds to a halt.

That’s when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He’s a skilled manhunter with an uncanny ability to predict the Samaritan’s next moves. At first, Allen and her colleagues are suspicious. After all, their new ally shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man they’re tracking. But as the Samaritan takes his slaughter to the next level, Blake must find a way to stop him … even if it means bringing his own past crashing down on top of him.

This was an impulse buy – I picked up Cross’s first novel, The Killing Season, and then I saw this drop in price on Amazon, so I bought it. I’ll hopefully read them together soon. The Samaritan is out now, published in the UK by Orion.


GladstoneM-CS1-ThreePartsDeadUSMax Gladstone, THREE PARTS DEAD (Tor)

A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts — and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Some new friends said it was unacceptable that I had not yet read this series. I agree — it’s been on my radar for a while, now, but for some reason it keeps getting bumped down my to-buy list. So, I picked it up — I have no excuse now! Three Parts Dead and the rest of Gladstone’s Craft Sequence is published in North America by Tor Books.


GoldenC-SW-DarkDiscipleChristie Golden, STAR WARS: DARK DISCIPLE (Century)

When the Jedi decide to target Count Dooku — Darth Tryanus — himself, they turn to his ex-apprentice, Asajj Ventress, for help in getting close to the slippery Sith Lord. But when unexpected sparks fly between Ventress and Quinlan Vos, the unorthodox Jedi sent to work with her, the mission becomes a web of betrayal, alliances, secrets, and dark plotting that might just be the undoing of both Jedi and Sith — and everything in between!

Still not sure what I think about getting back into Star Wars fiction — I never got over that hump a little while back, during the Fate of the Jedi series, and then didn’t much like the Empire and Rebellion series. I’ve also not seen any of the Star Wars: Rebels TV series (it is on Netflix, though, so I think I might try to watch it in the near future) — as a result, I may miss some things if I read this right away. So, it’ll go on the back burner for now. Dark Disciple is out now, published in the UK by Century, and LucasBooks in the US.

Review copy received from publisher


GwynneJ-FF3-RuinUKJohn Gwynne, RUIN (Tor)

The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures. At his back stands the scheming Calidus and a warband of the Kadoshim, dread demons of the Otherworld. They plan to bring Asroth and his host of the Fallen into the world of flesh, but to do so they need the seven treasures. Nathair has been deceived but now he knows the truth. He has choices to make; choices that will determine the fate of the Banished Lands. 

Elsewhere the flame of resistance is growing — Queen Edana finds allies in the swamps of Ardan. Maquin is loose in Tenebral, hunted by Lykos and his corsairs. Here he will witness the birth of a rebellion in Nathair’s own realm. 

Corban has been swept along by the tide of war. He has suffered, lost loved ones, sought only safety from the darkness. But he will run no more. He has seen the face of evil and he has set his will to fight it. The question is, how? With a disparate band gathered about him — his family, friends, giants, fanatical warriors, an angel and a talking crow — he begins the journey to Drassil, the fabled fortress hidden deep in the heart of Forn Forest. For in Drassil lies the spear of Skald, one of the seven treasures, and here it is prophesied that the Bright Star will stand against the Black Sun.

This is the third volume in Gwynne’s The Legends of the Faithful and Fallen. I’m intrigued by the series, but haven’t yet read the first two novels (Malice and Valour). Ruin is published this coming week in the UK by Tor; it’s due out in the US in October, published by Orbit Books.

Review copy received from publisher


HallL-SpeakUSLouisa Hall, SPEAK (Ecco/HC)

A thoughtful, poignant novel that explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence — illuminating the very human need for communication, connection, and understanding.

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.

A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps — to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human — shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances — echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

I first spotted the UK edition of this (a very cool cover). Then I spotted the North American edition, and I picked it up as soon as I could. Very much looking forward to reading this one. Hopefully very soon. Speak is published in North America by Ecco/Harper and in the UK by Orbit.


JackaB-6-VeiledUKBenedict Jacka, VEILED (Orbit)

The latest novel in this compelling urban fantasy series featuring Alex Verus, the Camden-based mage who just can’t stay out of trouble despite his ability to see the future. Perfect for fans of Jim Butcher or Ben Aaronovitch


Alex Verus is a mage who can see the future, but even he didn’t see this day coming. He’s agreed to join the Keepers, the magical police force, to protect his friends from his old master, the Dark Mage Richard Drakh.

Going legit was always going to be difficult for an outcast like Alex, and there are some Keepers who aren’t keen to see an ex-Dark mage succeed. Especially when Dark mages are making a play for a seat on the council, for the first time in history.

Alex finally has the law on his side — but trapped between Light and Dark politics, investigating a seedy underworld with ties to the highest of powers, will a badge be enough to save him?

This is the sixth novel in the series, which I have inexplicably not even tried. I don’t really know why — I think I got the first one when I was in a non-urban fantasy mood, and it just got put back on the TBR pile. Then my sister pinched them, read them all and loved them. So that’s nice (she has a similar, but much broader reading taste, too). I’ll try to give it a try as soon as I can. Published in the UK on August 6th, 2015, by Orbit Books; it’s published in North America by Ace Books, on August 4th.

Review copy received from publisher


LawsonM-JD10-HouseRivalsMike Lawson, HOUSE RIVALS (Grove Atlantic)

As a fixer for influential congressman John Mahoney in Washington, D.C., Joe DeMarco has found himself in plenty of unexpected and dangerous situations. In House Rivals, the tenth book in Mike Lawson’s award-winning series, DeMarco is taken further out of his element than ever before, sent to North Dakota to protect a passionate but naive twenty-twoyear- old blogger who has put herself in harm’s way.

The young woman is Sarah Johnson, whose grandfather saved Mahoney’s life in Vietnam. For the past two years, Sarah has been on a relentless crusade against a billionaire oil tycoon who has profited handsomely from the natural gas boom in the Dakotas — and who she believes has been bribing small-time politicians and judges to keep things in his favor. Though she has no hard evidence against the man, Sarah has been assaulted and received death threats for her meddling. DeMarco, given his years of experience bending the rules in D.C., suspects that a middleman like himself is pulling strings for the tycoon. But as DeMarco tries to identify his adversaries, the situation turns unexpectedly violent, and DeMarco finds himself in a battle of wits against two ruthless problem solvers who will stop at nothing to win.

The tenth novel in Lawson’s Joe DeMarco series of political thrillers. I’ve been a fan ever since Lawson’s first novel, The Inside Ring, was published in the UK. I’ve fallen a bit behind (I still have House Reckoning to read). House Rivals is out now, published in the US by Grove/Atlantic.

Also on CR: Interview with Mike Lawson; Reviews of Dead on ArrivalHouse SecretsHouse Justice, House Divided, House Blood


LucenoJ-SW-TarkinJames Luceno, TARKIN (Arrow)

‘Of power, I could tell you much. One must seize the moment, and strike.’ — Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin

He’s the scion of an honourable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly… and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion. 

Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises the Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel — by intimidation or annihilation.

Until then, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and new-found evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious, and Tarkin — whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy… and its enemies’ extinction.

This Star Wars novel I’m pretty interested in — Tarkin is an interesting character in the movies and what fiction he’s appeared in. This is out now in paperback.

Review copy received from publisher


MillerM-TheUnderwritingUSMichelle Miller, THE UNDERWRITING (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

The Underwriting is a tantalizing glimpse into the boardrooms and bedrooms of six young hopefuls behind a Silicon Valley IPO that will launch them into the exclusive world of the über-wealthy — if it doesn’t destroy them first. Each of them is looking for success, but they may have to nail more than the deal to get to the top. 

Wall Street hotshot and playboy Todd Kent is not surprised when Hook’s eccentric founder taps him to lead the deal of the decade: taking the multibillion-dollar dating app public. Hook has been helping Todd score with women since its inception and now it’s poised to make his career. Given just two months to pull it off, Todd assembles his investment banking team — brainy Neha, party-boy Beau, and, a surprise choice, old college flame Tara Taylor.

Tara runs six miles every morning, never eats after nine p.m., is the first to arrive and last to leave the office, but is starting to wonder why she bothers. When Todd asks her to help with Hook’s IPO, she sees her opportunity to break through the glass ceiling and justify six boyfriendless years of sacrifices for her career. She quickly realizes the dating app has more in store for her than a bigger bonus.

The stars are finally aligning for Nick Winthrop. Rejected from SAE rush at Stanford by Todd Kent, Nick is now a Harvard Business School graduate and Hook’s CFO, with a chip on his shoulder even bigger than his ego. Now that Hook is going public and $80 million is about to come his way, the life Nick knows he deserves is finally at his fingertips.

But when a young woman dies, it threatens to throw the deal — and the lives of those involved — into a thrilling tailspin. The Underwriting is an insightful and prescient glimpse into the inner workings of two generation-defining worlds and might be the most accurate depiction yet of the tech generation and the power it holds to shape the future.

I first heard about this a while back, but promptly forgot about it. Then, I think I read a good review somewhere (NY TimesToronto Star? I forget…), and decided to pick it up. The Underwriting is published in North America by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and is out now.


MitchellM-PrettyIsUSMaggie Mitchell, PRETTY IS (Henry Holt/Orion)

“Everyone thought we were dead. We were missing for nearly two months; we were twelve. What else could they think?” — Lois

“It’s always been hard to talk about what happened without sounding all melodramatic. . . . Actually, I haven’t mentioned it for years, not to a goddamned person.” — Carly May

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. Maggie Mitchell’s Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

I’ve seen a fair bit of advance praise for this novel, so naturally I picked it up. Published in the US by Henry Holt and in the UK by Orion.


PelevinV-SNUFFUKVictor Pelevin, S.N.U.F.F. (Gollancz)

Damilola Karpov is a pilot. Living in Byzantium, a huge sky city floating above the land of Urkaine, he makes his living as a drone pilot – capable of being a cameraman who records the events unfolding in Urkaine or, with the weapons aboard his drone, of making a newsworthy event happen for his employers: ‘Big Byz Media’.

His recordings are known as S.N.U.F.F.: Special Newsreel/Universal Feature Film.

S.N.U.F.F. is a superb post-apocalyptic novel, exploring the conflict between the nation of Urkaine, its causes and its relationship with the city ‘Big Byz’ above. Contrasting poverty and luxury, low and high technology, barbarity and civilisation – while asking questions about the nature of war, the media, entertainment and humanity.

I don’t really know much about this novel, but it was on sale and I took a better look — it sounds great. I’ll hopefully read this very soon. Published in the UK by Gollancz, it’s out now.


SchultzJ-2-SplinteredUSJamie Schultz, SPLINTERED (Roc)

Anna Ruiz is on a mission: Help her friend and partner-in-crime Karyn Ames break free of the tangle of hallucinations and premonitions that have cut her off from reality. With the aid of her crew — ex-soldier Nail and sorcerer Genevieve — she’ll do whatever it takes to get Karyn help, even if it means tracking down every lowlife informant and back alley magic practitioner in the occult underworld of Los Angeles.

But since a magical heist went to hell, the crew has been working for crimelord and doomed magus Enoch Sobell. Between fighting Sobell’s battles with some seriously scary demonic forces and tangling with a group of violent fanatics who want to manipulate Karyn’s abilities for their own gains, Anna, Nail, and Genevieve are beginning to realize they’re in way over their heads.

And now that Karyn’s secret about seeing the future is out, even more unpleasant parties — human and otherwise — are about to come knocking…

The second novel in Schultz’s Arcane Underground series, I still haven’t managed to read the first, Premonitions (rather shamefully, as I’ve had it for almost a year…). Out now, published by Roc Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Jamie Schultz


WexlerD-SC3-PriceOfValorUSDjango Wexler, THE PRICE OF VALOR (Ace)

In the wake of the King’s death, war has come to Vordan.

The Deputies-General has precarious control of the city, but it is led by a zealot who sees traitors in every shadow. Executions have become a grim public spectacle. The new queen, Raesinia Orboan, finds herself nearly powerless as the government tightens its grip and assassins threaten her life. But she did not help free the country from one sort of tyranny to see it fall into another. Placing her trust with the steadfast soldier Marcus D’Ivoire, she sets out to turn the tide of history.

As the hidden hand of the Sworn Church brings all the powers of the continent to war against Vordan, the enigmatic and brilliant general Janus bet Vhalnich offers a path to victory. Winter Ihernglass, newly promoted to command a regiment, has reunited with her lover and her friends, only to face the prospect of leading them into bloody battle.

And the enemy is not just armed with muskets and cannon. Dark priests of an ancient order, wielding forbidden magic, have infiltrated Vordan to stop Janus by whatever means necessary…

The third (and final) novel in Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series. Like many series, now, I’m a bit behind — I still have to read the second volume, The Shadow Throne — but I’m really looking forward to seeing how the author ties it all up and brings the story to a close. Published by Ace Books, it’s out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Django Wexler; Guest Post “On Terry Pratchett”; Review of The Thousand Names and The Penitent Damned


WraightC-AoS-GatesOfAzyrChris Wraight, AGE OF SIGMAR: GATES OF AZYR (Black Library)

The war is over, and the Mortal Realms have all but fallen to Chaos… Khorgos Khul rampages across the fiery Realm of Aqshy, hunting down mortal kind to slaughter or subjugate to Khorne. His Goretide have crushed all resistance… until the storm. From the heavens hurtle paladins clad in gold. Sent by Sigmar, the Stormcast Eternals have come to liberate all the realms from the yoke of Chaos.

The novelization of the new Warhammer game/reality. There has been much discussion about the new direction (an awful lot of it frothing mad, but hey — it’s the internet!), and this is meant to set the stage, I believe. I’ve read a fair bit about the reboot, and I must confess to still being a little confused and having difficulty visualizing the new worlds/situation. Hopefully this will set me straight. It’s a novella, so I’ll possibly read it in between novels, so a review could appear relatively soon. It’s out now, published by Black Library in hardcover/eBook and also as a Limited Edition.


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