New Books (July #2)

BlackBooksSoManyBooks

[My home is a little bit like this, now…]

Featuring: Mitch Albom, David V. Barrett, D. Randall Blythe, Aliette de Bodard, Charles Bukowski, Umberto Eco, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Victor Gischler, Mark Hodder, Mitchell Hogan, Howard Andrew Jones, Stephen P. Kiernan, Ted Kosmatka, Stina Leicht, Shanna Mahin, George Mann, Ari Marmell, Rhonda Mason, Brian Panowich, Adam Rakunas, Andy Remic, Karin Slaughter, Paul Theroux, Simon Toyne, Tony Tulathimutte

AlbomM-MagicStringsOfFrankiePrestoUSMitch Albom, THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO (Harper)

An epic story of the greatest guitar player to ever live, and the six lives he changed with his magical blue strings.

In Albom’s most sweeping novel yet, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, young Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.

But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis and even KISS.

Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes, through his music, he can actually affect people’s futures — with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered.

At the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, does he reappear — just before his spectacular death — to change one last life.

Mitch Albom is an author I’ve wanted to read for some time, now. In fact, I have his previous novel, The First Phone Call From Heaven, which I sadly haven’t managed to get around to yet. This one, however, sounds really interesting and certainly in my area (music). Published in North America by Harper on November 10th, 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

BarrettDV-TalesFromVaticanVaultsUKDavid V. Barrett, TALES FROM THE VATICAN VAULTS (Robinson)

28 science fiction and fantasy stories based on an extraordinary secret history

A captivating collection of original science fiction and fantasy stories based on the same alternate world premise: a collection of documents that have been suppressed by the Vatican and hidden away for years, in some cases centuries, are revealed when the vaults are thrown open by a reforming pope.

In this alternate reality, Pope John Paul (I) does not die a month after his accession in 1978; instead he lives on for over 30 years to become the most reforming pope of all time. In addition to relaxing the rules on birth control and priestly celibacy he also opens up the most secret parts of the Vatican Library to scholars . . .

In the Vatican’s deepest vaults, documents are discovered which shed new light on world history, containing information which, if true, would cause many parts of accepted history to have to be rewritten. These include not just the undercover involvement of the Catholic Church in world affairs, but documented accounts of what really happened in historical conundrums, the real lives of saints and popes, miracles, magic, angels and even alien encounters.

This sounds rather interesting. Heard some good things, too, since I first noticed the book. Published August 6th, 2015, in the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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BlytheDR-DarkDaysUSD. Randall Blythe, DARK DAYS (De Capo Press)

On June 27, 2012, the long-running, hard-touring, and world-renowned metal band lamb of god landed in Prague for their first concert there in two years. Vocalist D. Randall “Randy” Blythe was looking forward to a few hours off — a rare break from the touring grind — in which to explore the elegant, old city. However, a surreal scenario worthy of Kafka began to play out at the airport as Blythe was detained, arrested for manslaughter, and taken to Pankrác Prison — a notorious 123-year-old institution where the Nazis’ torture units had set up camp during the German occupation of then-Czechoslovakia, and where today hundreds of prisoners are housed, awaiting trial and serving sentences in claustrophobic, sweltering, nightmare-inducing conditions.

Two years prior, a 19-year-old fan died of injuries suffered at a lamb of god show in Prague, allegedly after being pushed off stage by Blythe, who had no vivid recollection of the incident. Stage-crashing and -diving being not uncommon occurrences, as any veteran of hard rock, metal, and punk shows knows, the concert that could have left him imprisoned for years was but a vague blur in Blythe’s memory, just one of the hundreds of shows his band had performed over their decades-long career.

At the time of his arrest Blythe had been sober for nearly two years, having finally gained the upper hand over the alcoholism that nearly killed him. But here he faced a new kind of challenge: jailed in a foreign land and facing a prison sentence of up to ten years. Worst of all, a young man was dead, and Blythe was devastated for him and his family, even as the reality of his own situation began to close in behind Pankrác Prison’s glowering walls of crumbling concrete and razor wire.

What transpired during Blythe’s incarceration, trial, and eventual acquittal is a rock ‘n’ roll road story unlike any other, one that runs the gamut from tragedy to despair to hope and finally to redemption. While never losing sight of the sad gravity of his situation, Blythe relates the tale of his ordeal with one eye fixed firmly on the absurd (and at times bizarrely hilarious) circumstances he encountered along the way. Blythe is a natural storyteller and his voice drips with cutting humor, endearing empathy, and soulful insight. Much more than a tour diary or a prison memoir, Dark Days is D. Randall Blythe’s own story about what went down — before, during, and after — told only as he can.

I must admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Lamb of God — they’re solid stalwarts of the metal scene, and I do like many of their songs, but I’ve always preferred a bit more groove and melody. Nevertheless, after hearing about his 2012 arrest in Prague, and later seeing this book announced, I knew I had to read it. I’ll be reading this very soon.

Review copy received from publisher

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Aliette de Bodard, THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS (Gollancz)

deBodard-HouseOfShatteredWings1

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in heaven

Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation; or the architects of its last, irreversible fall . . .

This is quite probably my most-anticipated novel of the year — I read an early draft of the first three chapters last year and was hooked. I even tweeted about it (obliquely) saying that if there was any justice in the world, it would be a huge smash — this led to an interesting, if brief, discussion about how there is too little justice in the world… Anyway, the early buzz for the novel, at least, suggests it just might well be a hit. I’m looking forward to reading this final version. It’s published in the UK by Gollancz on August 20th, 2015; and by Roc Books in the US on August 18th, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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BukowskiC-OnCatsUSCharles Bukowski, ON CATS (Ecco)

A raw and tenderly funny look at the human-cat relationship, from one of our most treasured and transgressive writers.

“The cat is the beautiful devil.”

Felines touched a vulnerable spot in Charles Bukowski’s crusty soul. For the writer, there was something majestic and elemental about these inscrutable creatures he admired, sentient beings whose searing gaze could penetrate deep into our being. Bukowski considered cats to be unique forces of nature, elusive emissaries of beauty and love.

On Cats offers Bukowski’s musings on these beloved animals and their toughness and resiliency. He honors them as fighters, hunters, survivors who command awe and respect as they grip tightly onto the world around them: “A cat is only ITSELF, representative of the strong forces of life that won’t let go.”

Funny, moving, tough, and caring, On Cats brings together the acclaimed writer’s reflections on these animals he so admired. Bukowski’s cats are fierce and demanding—he captures them stalking their prey; crawling across his typewritten pages; waking him up with claws across the face. But they are also affectionate and giving, sources of inspiration and gentle, insistent care.

Poignant yet free of treacle, On Cats is an illuminating portrait of this one-of-a-kind artist and his unique view of the world, witnessed through his relationship with the animals he considered his most profound teachers.

This collection of pieces is due to be published on December 1st, 2015, by Ecco. I’m really interested to see what Bukowski wrote about our feline companions/overlords…

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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EcoU-NumeroZeroUSUmberto Eco, Numero Zero (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

A newspaper committed to blackmail and mud slinging, rather than reporting the news.

A paranoid editor, walking through the streets of Milan, reconstructing fifty years of history against the backdrop of a plot involving the cadaver of Mussolini’s double.

The murder of Pope John Paul I, the CIA, red terrorists handled by secret services, twenty years of bloodshed, and events that seem outlandish until the BBC proves them true.

A fragile love story between two born losers, a failed ghost writer, and a vulnerable girl, who specializes in celebrity gossip yet cries over the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh. And then a dead body that suddenly appears in a back alley in Milan. 

Set in 1992 and foreshadowing the mysteries and follies of the following twenty years, Numero Zero is a scintillating take on our times from the best-selling author of The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum.

Published in North America by HMH in November 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GilmanCI-DarkOrbitUSCarolyn Ives Gilman, DARK ORBIT (Tor)

Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.

Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.

Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.

Another interesting new sci-fi to add to my expanding SF-specific TBR mountain… Published by Tor Books, it’s out now.

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GischlerV-1-GestapoMarsVictor Gischler, GESTAPO MARS (Titan)

Carter Sloan is a trained assassin — the best there is, pulled out of cryogenic sleep whenever an assignment demands his skills. So when he’s kept in the deep freeze for 258 years, he’s seriously pissed off.

Yet his government needs him, to hunt down the enemy known as the Daughter of the Brass Dragon. The future of the galaxy-spanning Reich depends on it, so Sloan is off — screwing, swearing, and shooting his way across interstellar space.

I’m familiar with some of Gischler’s comics work (specifically, X-Men), and the cover for this caught my attention. Published by Titan Books on September 22nd, 2015. It looks bonkers…

Review copy received from publisher

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Hodder-BS5-ReturnOfDiscontinuedManUKPBMark Hodder, TITLE (Del Rey UK)

Burton and Swinburne return in a new wildly imaginative steampunk adventure, and this time they’re facing their greatest foe…

Leicester Square, London. Blood red snow falls from the sky and a strange creature, disorientated and apparently insane, materialises out of thin air. Spring Heeled Jack has returned, and he is intent on one thing: hunting Sir Richard Francis Burton.

Burton is experiencing one hallucination after another; visions of parallel realities and future history plague his every thought. These send him, and his companions, on an unimaginable expedition – a voyage through time itself…

This is the fourth novel in the Hodder’s Burton & Swinburne series. I haven’t actually read any of them… I dipped in to A Red Sun Also Rises, but while I enjoyed what I read I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time. I really must make an effort to give this author’s work a proper read.

Review copy received from publisher

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HoganM-SA1-CrucibleOfSoulsUSMitchell Hogan, A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS (Voyager)

When young Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, the boy is raised by monks who initiate him into the arcane mysteries of sorcery.

Growing up plagued by questions about his past, Caldan vows to discover who his parents were, and why they were violently killed. The search will take him beyond the walls of the monastery, into the unfamiliar and dangerous chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to become apprenticed to a guild of sorcerers.

But the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths he does not fully understand. As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that will bring the world to the edge of destruction.

Soon, he must choose a side, and face the true cost of uncovering his past.

I was sure I’d seen this novel before, and it turns out it was published first in 2013 — although, it’s not clear if it was self-published or not. It did win the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. I’m intrigued to try it. Voyager are publishing in the US on September 22nd, 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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JonesHA-PF-BeyondThePoolOfStarsUSHoward Andrew Jones, BEYOND THE POOL OF STARS (Tor)

Mirian Raas comes from a long line of salvagers, adventurers who use magic to dive for sunken ships off the coast of tropical Sargava. When her father dies, Mirian has to take over his last job: a dangerous expedition into deep jungle pools, helping a tribe of lizardfolk reclaim the lost treasures of their people. Yet this isn’t any ordinary job, as the same colonial government that looks down on Mirian for her half-native heritage has an interest in the treasure, and the survival of the entire nation may depend on the outcome…

From critically acclaimed author Howard Andrew Jones comes a fantastical adventure of deep-water danger and unlikely alliances in Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Also on CR: Interview with Howard Andrew Jones; Guest Post on “Influences & Inspirations”

Review copy received from publisher

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KiernanSP-HummingbirdUSStephen P. Kiernan, HUMMINGBIRD (William Morrow)

From the author of the acclaimed The Curiosity comes a compelling and moving story of compassion, courage, and redemption.

Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse whose daily work requires courage and compassion. But her skills and experience are tested in new and dramatic ways when her easygoing husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety, and rage. She is determined to help him heal, and to restore the tender, loving marriage they once had.

At the same time, Deborah’s primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II whose career ended in academic scandal. Alone in the world, the embittered professor is dying. As Barclay begrudgingly comes to trust Deborah, he tells her stories from that long-ago war, which help her find a way to help her husband battle his demons.

Told with piercing empathy and heartbreaking realism, The Hummingbird is a masterful story of loving commitment, service to country, and absolution through wisdom and forgiveness.

Kiernan’s The Curiosity is a novel that I really want to read, and indeed own, but keep forgetting to get around to. Hopefully, with his name back in mind, I’ll read these both in quick succession. Published by William Morrow in the US on September 8th, 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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FlickerMen-JKT.inddTed Kosmatka, THE FLICKER MEN (Henry Holt)

A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist.

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light.

With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

I’ve been aware of Kosmatka’s novels since The Games and also Prophet of Bones, but for some reason I never got around to reading them… This sounded really interesting, though, and an author recommended it on Twitter (unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me remember who it was…). Hopefully read this soon. Published by Henry Holt in North America and Michael Joseph in the UK on November 19th, 2015.

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LeichtS-ColdIronUSStina Leicht, COLD IRON (Saga Press)

Fraternal twins Nels and Suvi move beyond their royal heritage and into military and magical dominion in this flintlock epic fantasy debut from a two-time Campbell Award finalist.

Prince Nels is the scholarly runt of the ancient Kainen royal family of Eledore, disregarded as flawed by the king and many others. Only Suvi, his fraternal twin sister, supports him. When Nels is ambushed by an Acrasian scouting party, he does the forbidden for a member of the ruling family: He picks up a fallen sword and defends himself.

Disowned and dismissed to the military, Nels establishes himself as a leader as Eledore begins to shatter under the attack of the Acrasians, who the Kainen had previously dismissed as barbarians. But Nels knows differently, and with the aid of Suvi, who has allied with pirates, he mounts a military offensive with sword, canon, and what little magic is left in the world.

The first in a new series by Leicht, The Malorum Gates, I’ve been very much looking forward to this. It’s out now, published by Saga Press.

Also on CR: Interview with Stina Leicht

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MahinS-OhYouPrettyThingsShanna Mahin, OH! YOU PRETTY THINGS (Dutton)

Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking.

Enter Jess’s mother — a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter’s downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade.

As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet.

When her food garners the attention of an actress on the rise, well, she’s all too willing to throw it in with the composer and upgrade again, a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications that could explode all her relationships.

All the while, her mother looms ever closer, forcing Jess to confront the traumatic secrets she’s been running from all her life. 

Oh! You Pretty Things is a dizzying ride at the carnival of fame, a fast-paced and sharply funny work that dares to imagine what happens when we go over the top in a town of gilded excess.

I spotted this a while ago at the library, and dipped in. At the time, I wasn’t really in the mood, but I think I’d like to try this properly soon, so I picked it up. It’s out now, published in North America by Dutton.

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MannG-NH1-AffinityBridgeGeorge Mann, THE AFFINITY BRIDGE (Titan)

Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Astounding new technologies abound; airships soar over the capital, trains rumble through the streets, and clockwork automatons carry out menial tasks. But beneath this dazzling veneer lurks a sinister world…

Ghostly policemen haunt the alleyways of Whitechapel, cadavers rise from the dead, and now an airship has crashed under strange circumstances. Mystified by a series of grisly murders, Scotland Yard call upon the brilliant Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, and his recently appointed and unflappable assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes.

So begins the first thrilling adventure of Newbury and Hobbes, in a steampunk London you will never forget.

The first Newbury & Hobbes novel. (This is a re-issue, maybe? I’m sure I’ve heard the name before…)

Review copy received from publisher

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MarmellA-MO2-HallowPointUK-SmallAri Marmell, HALLOW POINT (Titan)

Mick Oberon may look like just another 1930s private detective, but beneath the fedora and the overcoat, he’s got pointy ears and he’s packing a wand. The Spear of Lugh is in Chicago. And everyone, everyone wants it, for it is said that he who carries the spear into battle cannot be defeated. Those chasing it include an agent of the infamous Wild Hunt; a mobster who knows far more about these things than he should; and of course both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts — the very last people PI Mick Oberon would want getting hold of the spear…

The second Mick Oberon novel, following Hot Lead, Cold Iron (which I quite enjoyed). This is published by Titan on August 28th, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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MasonR-EmpressGameRhonda Mason, EMPRESS GAME (Titan)

‘Power, grace, deadliness defined. Always cunning, endlessly victorious…’

One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled: that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage. It’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat. Now the tournament, the Empress Game, has been called and the women of the empire will stop at nothing to secure political domination for their homeworlds. Kayla Reunimon, a supreme fighter, is called by a mysterious stranger to battle it out in the arena. 

The battle for political power isn’t contained by the tournament’s ring, however. The empire’s elite gather to forge, strengthen or betray alliances in a dance that will determine the fate of the empire for a generation. With the empire wracked by a rising nanovirus plague and stretched thin by an ill-advised planet-wide occupation of Ordoch in enemy territory, everything rests on the woman who rises to the top. 

This looks like an interesting new series. Empress Game is out now, published by Titan Books.

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PanowichB-BullMountainUSBrian Panowich, BULL MOUNTAIN (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

From a remarkable new voice in Southern fiction, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.

Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws.  For generations, the Burroughs clan has made its home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law. To distance himself from his family’s criminal empire, Clayton took the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can.  But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.

In a sweeping narrative spanning decades and told from alternating points of view, the novel brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of the mountain and its inhabitants: forbidding, loyal, gritty, and ruthless. A story of family — the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or in some cases destroy it — Bull Mountain is an incredibly assured debut that heralds a major new talent in fiction.

Spotted this a while ago via Twitter, been keeping my eyes open for it ever since. Sounds interesting. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America, it’s out now. Bull Mountain is published by Head of Zeus in the UK.

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RakunasA-1-WindsweptAdam Rakunas, WINDSWEPT (Angry Robot Books)

Padma Mehta has to save her city, her planet, and Occupied Space from a devastating crop-killing plague — all before Happy Hour.

Labor organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she’s supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before she can. She’s only thirty-three short. So when a small-time con artist tells her about forty people ready to tumble down the space elevator to break free from her old bosses, she checks it out — against her better judgment. It turns out, of course, it was all lies.

As Padma should know by now, there are no easy shortcuts on her planet. And suddenly retirement seems farther away than ever: she’s just stumbled into a secret corporate mission to stop a plant disease that could wipe out all the industrial sugarcane in Occupied Space. If she ever wants to have another drink of her favorite rum, she’s going to have to fight her way through the city’s warehouses, sewage plants, and up the elevator itself to stop this new plague.

The cover caught my eye, and then the synopsis piqued my interest. Published by Angry Robot Books on September 1st (US) and 3rd (UK), 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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RemicA-TheDragonEngineAndy Remic, THE DRAGON ENGINE (Angry Robot Books)

Five noble war heroes of Vagandrak get drunk one night and sign a contract – to journey to the Karamakkos in search of the Five Havens. There, it is written, there lies untold, abandoned wealth and, more importantly, the three Dragon Heads, legendary jewels claimed to give unspeakable power and everlasting life to those who wield them.

But the Dragon Heads aren’t what the adventurers think they are, and the world has not encountered their like in many, many generations!

File Under: Fantasy [ Infamous Five / A Drunken Pact / Ultimate Evil / Metal and Blood ]

This sounds pretty interesting. It’s been a long time since I read anything by Remic. Looking forward to giving his new novel a try. Published by Angry Robot Books on September 1st (US) and 3rd (UK), 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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SaulterS-R3-RegenerationUKStephanie Saulter, REGENERATION (Jo Fletcher Books)

The gems — genetically modified humans — are thriving, but fear blackens their efforts, and the return of an old enemy could see their fragile peace destroyed.

The gillungs — genetically modified, waterbreathing humans — are thriving. They’ve pioneered new aquatic industries, and their high-efficiency quantum battery technology coupled to tidal turbines in the Thames estuary looks set to revolutionise the energy industry. But as demand grows, so does fear of what their newfound power might mean.

Then a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their London headquarters, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. Was it an accident born of overconfidence, or was it sabotage?

DS Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, and Gabriel sees parallels in the propaganda war he’s trying to manage: politicians and big business have stakes in this game too. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is out of prison. With powerful new followers and nothing to lose, she’s out to reclaim everything they took from her.

The third volume in Saulter’s excellent Revolution series — I loved Gemsigns, and Binary is rapidly climbing by TBR mountain. If you haven’t tried the series, yet, I urge you to do so ASAP. The first two novels in the series are published in the US by Quercus Books (I assume Regeneration will also be published, but couldn’t find a publisher page). Regeneration will be published in the UK on August 6th, 2015.

Also on CR: Excerpt from GemsignsReview of Gemsigns; Interview with Stephanie Saulter; Guest Posts on “Influences & Inspirations” and “Spreading the Revolution”

Review copy received from publisher

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SlaughterK-PrettyGirlsUSKarin Slaughter, PRETTY GIRLS (William Morrow)

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss — a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

Sounds great, and I need to read more of Slaughter’s novels. This is published in North America by William Morrow on September 29th, 2015. It’s out now in the UK, published by Century.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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TherouxP-DeepSouthUSPaul Theroux, DEEP SOUTH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Paul Theroux has spent fifty years crossing the globe, adventuring in the exotic, seeking the rich history and folklore of the far away. Now, for the first time, in his tenth travel book, Theroux explores a piece of America — the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation’s worst schools, housing, and unemployment rates. It’s these parts of the South, so often ignored, that have caught Theroux’s keen traveler’s eye. 

On road trips spanning four seasons, wending along rural highways, Theroux visits gun shows and small-town churches, laborers in Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi where they still call the farm up the road “the plantation.” He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families — the unsung heroes of the south, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without.

An ode to a region, vivid and haunting, full of life and loss alike.

I’ve never read any of Theroux’s books — I’ve seen a couple of his documentaries, though, and have always found them to be both interesting and intelligent. This popped up on Edelweiss so I requested it on a whim. Published by HMH on September 29th, 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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ToyneS-SC1-TheSearcherUSSimon Toyne, THE SEARCHER (William Morrow)

The first novel in the mesmerizing Solomon Creed series in which a man with no memory of his past must save a lost soul in a small Arizona town.

On a hilltop in the town of Redemption, Arizona, the townspeople gather at an old cemetery for the first time in decades to bury a local man. The somber occasion is suddenly disrupted by a thunderous explosion in the distant desert. A plane has crashed, and it’s pouring a pillar of black smoke into the air.

As Sheriff Garth Morgan speeds toward the crash, he nearly hits a tall, pale man running down the road, with no shoes on his feet and no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only clues to his identity are a label in his handmade suit jacket and a book that’s been inscribed to him: both giving the name Solomon Creed. When Morgan tells Solomon that he is in Redemption, Arizona, Solomon begins to believe he’s here for a reason — to save a man he has never met . . . the man who was buried that morning.

Miles away, three men scan the skies for an overdue plane carrying an important package. Spotting a black cloud in the distance, they suspect something has gone badly wrong, and that the man who has sent them will demand a heavy price if the package has been lost.

To uncover the secret of his identity, Solomon Creed must uncover Redemption’s secrets too and learn the truth behind the death of the man he is there to save. But there are those who will do anything to stop him, men prepared to call on the darkest forces to prevent Solomon from seeing the light.

This I have been looking forward to for some time. Published in the US by William Morrow on October 6th, 2015, it is published in the UK as Solomon Creed by Harper Collins, on September 10th, 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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TulathimutteT-PrivateCitizensUSTony Tulathimutte, PRIVATE CITIZENS (William Morrow)

Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads in the aughts, Private Citizens embraces the contradictions of our new century: call it a loving satire. A gleefully rude comedy of manners. Middlemarch for Millennials. The novel’s four whip-smart narrators — idealistic Cory, Internet-lurking Will, awkward Henrik, and vicious Linda — are torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it. In boisterous prose that ricochets between humor and pain, the four estranged friends stagger through the Bay Area’s maze of tech startups, protestors, gentrifiers, karaoke bars, house parties, and cultish self-help seminars, washing up in each other’s lives once again. 

A wise and searching depiction of a generation grappling with privilege and finding grace in failure, Private Citizens is as expansively intelligent as it is full of heart.

A couple of friends of mine live and work in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and I frequently hear about the changing nature of the city, thanks to the Silicon Valley boom, and the inherent shifts in social and economic structures, realities and inequities. The synopsis for this sounds a little too hyperbolic for my taste, but I decided to look beyond that and give this a try. And, if I’m honest, the cover was sufficiently trippy to grab my attention… Published by William Morrow in North America on February 2nd, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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One thought on “New Books (July #2)

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