New Books! (August)

MirrenBooksContainAdventure

Featuring: Matthew de Abaitua, Stephen Aryan, Bradley Beaulieu, Ben Bova, Lila Bowen, Zen Cho, Robert DeFranco, Seth Dickinson, Tom Doyle, Peter Facinelli, Charlie Fletcher, Vince Flynn, Ryan Gattis, Derek Haas, Sam Hawken, Andrew Michael Hurley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rajan Khanna, Andrew Klavan, Julia Knight, Mike Lawson, Alison Littlewood, Barry Lyga, Ian McDonald, Kyle Mills, Seth Patrick, T.R. Richmond, Adam Roberts, Lilith Saintcrow, Kieran Shea, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, David de Sola, Gav Thorpe, Ben Tripp, Anna Waterhouse, Andy Weir, Ian Winwood, Max Wirestone

deAbaituaM-IfThenMatthew de Abaitua, IF THEN (Angry Robot)

In the near future, after the collapse of society as we know it, one English town survives under the protection of the computer algorithms of the Process, which governs every aspect of their lives. The Process gives and it takes. It allocates jobs and resources, giving each person exactly what it has calculated they will need. But it also decides who stays under its protection, and who must be banished to the wilderness beyond. Human life has become totally algorithm-driven, and James, the town bailiff, is charged with making sure the Process’s suggestions are implemented.

But now the Process is making soldiers. It is readying for war — the First World War. Mysteriously, the Process is slowly recreating events that took place over a hundred years ago, and is recruiting the town’s men to fight in an artificial reconstruction of the Dardanelles campaign. James, too, must go fight. And he will discover that the Process has become vastly more sophisticated and terrifying than anyone had believed possible.

This is published by Angry Robot Books in September 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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AryanS-BattlemageStephen Aryan, BATTLEMAGE (Orbit)

When you fight magic with magic, nothing is certain…

Balfruss is a battlemage, one of the last of a vanishing breed, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears and despises his kind.

Vargus is a soldier, and while mages shoot lightning from the walls of the city, he’s down in the front lines getting blood on his blade.

Talandra is a princess and her father’s spymaster, but the war may force her to take up a greater responsibility, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.

Known for their unpredictable, dangerous power, society has left battlemages untrained and shunned. But when a force unlike anything ever imagined attacks them, the few remaining are called upon to go to war — to save those who fear them most, and herald in a new age of peace, built on the corpses of their enemies.

This sounds like it could be pretty interesting. It’s published by Orbit Books on September 22nd, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BeaulieuB-1-TwelveKingsUKBradley Beaulieu, TWELVE KINGS (Gollancz)

An epic new fantasy series of mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of the Twelve Kings…

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

One of my most-anticipated novels of the year. Published in the US by DAW Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Brad Beaulieu; Guest Post by Brad & Steve Gaskell on Co-Writing Strata; Reviews of The Winds of Khalakovo and Strata

Review copy received from publisher

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BovaB-PowerSurgeUSBen Bova, POWER SURGE (Tor)

A gripping political thriller on the cutting-edge of science and technology

Dr. Jake Ross came to Washington, D.C., to make a difference. As the science advisor to a newly-elected freshman senator, Jake has crafted a comprehensive energy plan that employs innovative new technologies to make America the world’s leader in energy production while simultaneously boosting the economy and protecting the environment. The facts — and the science — are on Jake’s side, but his plan soon runs afoul of entrenched special interests, well-funded lobbies, cynical bureaucrats, pork-barrel politics, and one very powerful U.S. Senator.

To keep his plan alive and secure a sustainable future for America, Jake needs a crash course in the way Washington really works. Everyone keeps telling him that his plan has no hope of succeeding, but Jake is determined to prove them wrong even if it kills him… something that certain hostile parties may be all too happy to arrange.

This just sounded interesting, so I picked it up to give it a try. (I’ve also not really heard much about it around the SFF online community, but I may have just not been looking closely enough.) Published by Tor Books in North America.

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BowenL-WakeOfVulturesUSLila Bowen, WAKE OF VULTURES (Orbit)

A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound ability is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

I’ve heard a lot about this novel already, and I’m looking forward to reading it ASAP. Published by Orbit Books on October 27th, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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ChoZ-SorcerorToTheCrownUKZen Cho, SORCEROR TO/OF THE CROWN (Tor UK)

THE FATE OF ENGLISH MAGIC LIES IN THEIR HANDS…

In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul. Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty — to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France. 

Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries — and she intends to make the most of it.

At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.

This is published in the US by Roc Books.

Review copy received from publisher

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DickinsonS-TraitorUKSeth Dickinson, THE TRAITOR (Tor UK)

A mask can hide a thousand lies…

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people – even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her Fathers, Baru vows to hide her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way up enough rungs of power to put a stop to the Emperor’s influence and set her people free. 

As a natural savant, she is sent as an imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn — a post she worries will never get her the position and power she craves. But Baru soon discovers Aurdwynn is a complex and secretive country, seemingly on the brink of rebellion. All it would need is a match to the tinder…

Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious aristocrats, Baru may be able to use her position to stoke a revolution that will threaten to bring the Empire to its knees.

As Baru maintains a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with Aurdwynn’s freedom as the prize. But winning the long game of saving her own people may be far more costly than Baru imagines.

Published in the US as The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Tor Books.

Review copy received from publisher

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DoyleT-2-LeftHandWayUSTom Doyle, THE LEFT-HAND WAY (Tor)

Poe’s Red Death returns, more powerful than ever. Can anyone stop him before he summons an apocalyptic nightmare even worse than himself?

In The Left-Hand Way, the second book of Tom Doyle’s contemporary fantasy series, the American craftsmen are scattered like bait overseas. What starts as an ordinary liaison mission to London for Major Michael Endicott becomes a desperate chase across Europe, where Endicott is both hunted and hunter. Reluctantly joining him is his minder from MI13, Commander Grace Marlow, one of Her Majesty’s most lethal magician soldiers, whose family has centuries of justified hostility to the Endicotts.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul and Tokyo, Endicott’s comrades, Scherie Rezvani and Dale Morton, are caught in their own battles for survival against hired assassins and a ghost-powered doomsday machine. And in Kiev, Roderick Morton, the spider at the center of a global web, plots their destruction and his ultimate apotheosis. After centuries of imprisonment, nothing less than godlike power will satisfy Roderick, whatever the dreadful cost.

This is the second novel in Doyle’s critically-acclaimed Craft Sequence. I haven’t had a chance to read the first, American Craftsmen, yet, but it’s inching up my TBR pile quite rapidly.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Going Global”

Review copy received from publisher

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FletcherC-2-ParadoxCharlie Fletcher, THE PARADOX (Orbit)

The last members of the secret society known as the Oversight still patrol the border between the natural and supernatural, holding a candle to the darkness. But the society’s new members are unproven, its veterans weary and battle-scarred. Their vulnerability brings new enemies to London, and surprising new allies from across the sea.

But most surprising of all are revelations about the Oversight’s past, secrets that will expose the true peril of the world in which their friends Sharp and Sara are trapped — the riddle of the Black Mirrors, and what lies beyond. And the catastrophic danger that will follow the duo home, if they ever manage to return.

The dark waters rise. The candle is guttering. But the light still remains. For now…

The Paradox is published in the US and UK by Orbit Books in December 2015. It is the sequel to The Oversight, which I haven’t read, yet…

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Flynn&Mills-MR12-SurvivorUKVince Flynn & Kyle Mills, THE SURVIVOR (Simon & Schuster)

When Joe “Rick” Rickman, a former golden boy of the CIA, steals a massive amount of the Agency’s most classified documents in an elaborately masterminded betrayal of his country, CIA director Irene Kennedy has no choice but to send her most dangerous weapon after him: elite covert operative Mitch Rapp.

Rapp quickly dispatches the traitor, but Rickman proves to be a deadly threat to America even from beyond the grave. Eliminating Rickman didn’t solve all of the CIA’s problems—in fact, mysterious tip-offs are appearing all over the world, linking to the potentially devastating data that Rickman managed to store somewhere only he knew.

It’s a deadly race to the finish as both the Pakistanis and the Americans search desperately for Rickman’s accomplices, and for the confidential documents they are slowly leaking to the world. To save his country from being held hostage to a country set on becoming the world’s newest nuclear superpower, Mitch Rapp must outrun, outthink, and outgun his deadliest enemies yet.

After Flynn passed away, his estate approached Kyle Mills about finishing the twelfth novel and continuing it afterwards. Thankfully, Mills agreed — which is great, as he is one of my favourite thriller authors (his Mark Beamon series is probably in my top five). Published by Simon & Schuster in the UK, and Atria/Emily Bestler Books in the US in October 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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HaasD-ADifferentLieDerek Haas, A DIFFERENT LIE (Pegasus)

Now a new dad, the infamous Silver Bear finds himself staying up late for feedings and changing diapers — all while leading the double life of a contract killer. The struggle is not with his conscience. He enjoys his gig. But a child forces him to weigh selfishness versus safety. Continue his line of work, and he’ll always wonder if he’s putting his child’s life at risk. His partner, Risina, serves as his fence. Like Columbus, she’s good at her job and likes doing it. An unusual take on working motherhood…

When the next assignment comes in, both Columbus and Risina are surprised to find that the mark is another assassin: a brash, young killer named Castillo. Castillo is an assassin on the rise. Even Columbus is impressed by his tenacity and talent — and as he closes in on his target, he realizes that Castillo is a younger version of himself. It’s almost like looking in a mirror. Castillo has even studied Columbus’s work. But Columbus’s assignment is clear: kill the young man.

However, Castillo learns that his hero and unwitting mentor has a family — a revelation with enormous ramifications.

I keep coming across mentions of Haas’s novels, so I recently picked up the original Silver Bear novels. Then I saw this on Edelweiss, and I thought I’d give this a try, as well. It’s published by Pegasus Books on November 15th, 2015.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HawkenS-NightCharterUSSam Hawken, THE NIGHT CHARTER (Mulholland)

Camaro answers to no one — until a bad deal saddles her with a young charge.

Exactly one year ago, Camaro Espinoza killed five bad men in New York City and fled town. Now she’s keeping a low profile in Miami, running night charter catch-and-release fishing trips off the coast. It’s a simple life for a former combat medic. But it wasn’t easy to come by. Camaro plans to do everything she can to hold onto it.

Trouble comes knocking in the form of Parker Story, a man in over his head with all the wrong people. Parker wants to book Camaro’s boat to run a small errand off the coast of Cuba. Camaro knows she shouldn’t get involved. But Parker’s got a teenaged daughter named Lauren, and Parker’s associates have threatened to harm her if the mission doesn’t go off without a hitch. Camaro has never met the girl. Barely seen her picture. But that doesn’t mean she can ignore her plight.

Camaro’s used to being wanted—by men good and bad, by soldiers wounded on the field of battle, by the long arm of the law. But she’s never been needed before. Not the way Lauren needs her. Joining forces with Parker, Camaro soon finds herself in the midst of double crosses, international intrigue, broken promises and scattered bullets. Even a skilled warrior like herself may not be able to escape unscathed.

This sounded interesting, and Mulholland Books publish excellent stuff. So, naturally, I requested it. Published on December 8th, 2015 by Mulholland.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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HurleyAM-LoneyUKAndrew Michael Hurley, THE LONEY (John Murray)

If it had another name, I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney — that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest.

It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is.

I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn’t stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget…

I keep hearing great things about this novel. Really need to read it ASAP.

Review copy received from publisher

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Jabbar&Waterhouse-MycroftHolmesKareem-Abdul Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse, MYCROFT HOLMES (Titan)

“When I say, therefore, that [my brother] has better powers of observation than I… I am speaking the exact and literal truth.” — Sherlock Holmes.

This story occurs when Mycroft, an athletic Cambridge graduate, assisted the Secretary of State. He becomes embroiled in a mystery in Trinidad — based on actual history.

I must admit I’m really not too fussed about he seemingly-endless new Sherlock Holmes spin-offs, homages, remakes, etc. (Though, I did enjoy the Guy Ritchie movies.) This past year, though, has seen an unwieldy number of Sherlock-related novels coming out. This one is among the few that I think look actually interesting (this and Dan Simmons’s The Fifth Heart). Mycroft Holmes is published on September 25th, 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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KhannaR-2-RisingTideUSRajan Khanna, RISING TIDE (Pyr)

Ben Gold has sacrificed his ship to prevent an attack on the hidden island city of Tamoanchan. He and Miranda, the scientist he loves, evade pirates and rescue some old scientist friends of Miranda’s. But when a strange new disease starts affecting people on the island, it seems there’s something sinister afoot. 

Miranda develops a test for the original virus that turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals two generations ago, but it proves ineffective against the new bug. Soon, Miranda falls ill and people start dying. When an invasion hits the island, Ben must leave her side to help repel the attackers.

Can Ben and the people of Tamoanchan fight off the invaders? And even if they do, will it be in time to save themselves from the disease?

This is the sequel to Falling Sky, and it’s a series I really want to read. This is published by Pyr in October 2015.

Review copy received from publisher

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KnightJ-D1-Swords&ScoundrelsJulia Knight, SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS (Orbit)

Two siblings. 

Outcasts for life…. together. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

Vocho and Kacha are champion duelists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be-until they were thrown out of the Duelist’s Guild. 

As a last resort, they turn reluctant highwaymen. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast. 

After barely besting three armed men and a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. But the contents will bring them much more than they’ve bargained for when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power…

The start of a new series by a great author (also published as Francis Knight). I’ll be reading this very soon (possibly next). It’s published by Orbit Books on October 6th, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LawsonM-JD10-HouseRivalsMike Lawson, HOUSE RIVALS (Atlantic Monthly Press)

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-two-year-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.

I recently finished both this novel and House Reckoning, the previous book in this series, and I have reviewed them together, hereHouse Rivals, the tenth novel in Lawson’s Joe DeMarco series, is out now, published in North America by Atlantic/Grove.

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LittlewoodA-2-AColdSilenceUKAlison Littlewood, A COLD SILENCE (Jo Fletcher Books)

New game Acheron offers you all you desire… at the cost of your soul. Would you?

Ben Cassidy has strict instructions from his mother, Cass, never to return to his childhood home of Darnshaw. But when an old friend dies, he returns to investigate a computer game she was playing named Acheron. 

Acheron claims it will give you all that you ask for, something Gaila, Ben’s sister, knows all too well. But there is a price, and hers is to get Ben to London.

As Ben and his friends delve ever deeper into the world of Acheron, good motivations and morality begin to slip, and they find themselves falling further into corruption. Ben and Gaila could save them all, but the price for doing so might just be too high to pay…

This is the next novel in the series that started with A Cold Season, which I have sadly not yet had the chance to read. I’m not sure if it’s necessary to have read the first book in order to enjoy this, but I’m hoping it is — this sounds really interesting. This is published on September 3rd, 2015, in the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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LygaFacinelliDeFranco-AfterTheRedRainUKBarry Lyga, Peter Facinelli & Robert DeFranco, AFTER THE RED RAIN (Little, Brown)

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to mega-cities, and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day, she comes across a beautiful boy struggling to cross the river. A boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet. A boy with an unusual name… Rose.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart by the murder of the Magistrate’s son, and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do they know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.

I spotted this a while ago, and thought it sounded interesting. So, I’ll be taking a stab — although, I’ll admit that the three authors does make me worry about potential “Too Many Cooks” syndrome. This is published by Little, Brown.

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McDonaldI-Luna1-NewMoonUKIan McDonald, LUNA: NEW MOON (Gollancz)

Luna is a gripping thriller about five corporate families caught in a bitter battle for supremacy in the harsh environment of the moon. It’s very easy to die on the moon but with its vast mineral wealth its also easy to make your fortune.

This is one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’ll be reading it very soon. As an aside, though, I must say the UK synopsis is not particularly illuminating (above is just an excerpt from it, because the rest is just publicity stuff, referencing his past novels and other authors). Here’s the US synopsis (from Tor Books‘ edition), which gives us a bit more:

The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon’s near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

Review copy received from publisher

CommunityHappyDancingAbed

(This emotion refers to a number of titles featured in this post…)

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PatrickS-2-LostSoulsUKSeth Patrick, LOST SOULS (Macmillan)

JONAH MILLER, REVIVER

Able to wake the recently dead for testimony that is accepted in courts worldwide, the use of revivers has long been a routine part of police investigation. But now those who consider it blasphemy are in resurgence — well-funded and gaining ground, they threaten the work of Jonah and his colleagues in the Forensic Revival Service.

Jonah is still recovering from the injuries received after unearthing the existence of a creature bent on terrible destruction, a creature defeated at the cost of many lives. Then the discovery of a bizarrely mutilated corpse makes Jonah suspect that the victory was not as complete as it seemed, and that not all the evil was destroyed.

For in the darkness, shadows are waiting. And they are hungry…

This is the sequel to the acclaimed The Reviver, which I have still not had a chance to read, yet… I think I’ll binge read the pair of novels pretty soon.

Review copy received from publisher

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RichmondTR-WhatSheLeftUST.R. Richmond, WHAT SHE LEFT (Simon & Schuster)

On a snowy February morning, the body of twenty-five-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. The sudden, shocking death of this beloved local girl becomes a media sensation, and those who knew her struggle to understand what happened to lively, smart, and savvy Alice Salmon. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Or… murder?

Professor Jeremy Cooke, known around campus as Old Cookie, is an anthropologist nearing the end of his unremarkable academic career. Alice is his former student, and the object of his unhealthy obsession. After her death, he embarks on a final project — a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her: her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages. He collects news articles by and about her; he transcribes old voicemails; he interviews her friends, family, and boyfriends.

Bit by bit, the real Alice — a complicated and vulnerable young woman — springs fully formed from the pages of Cookie’s book… along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies, and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle — including Jeremy himself.

Thought this sounded interesting. Published by Simon & Schuster in January 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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RobertsA-BeteUKAdam Roberts, BÊTE (Gollancz)

A man is about to kill a cow. He discusses life and death and his right to kill with the compliant animal. He begins to suspect he may be about to commit murder. But kills anyway…

It began when the animal rights movement injected domestic animals with artificial intelligences in a bid to have the status of animals realigned by the international court of human rights. But what is an animal that can talk? Where does its intelligence end at its machine intelligence begin? And where might its soul reside?

As we place more and more pressure on the natural world and become more and more divorced Adam Roberts’ new novel posits a world where nature can talk back, and can question us and our beliefs.

I kept picking this up in book shops, reading the first page, being intrigued and then realizing I didn’t have any more money for books. So, the other week when I happened to have just finished a book and was in Indigo in Toronto, I bought this in paperback. And have promptly forgotten I had it (until finalising this post). It’s out now, published by Gollancz in the UK.

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SaintcrowL-BloodCallLilith Saintcrow, BLOOD CALL (Orbit)

Anna Caldwell has spent the last few days in a blur. She’s seen her brother’s dead body, witnessed the shooting of innocent civilians, and been shot at herself. Now she has nowhere to turn-and only one person she can possibly call. 

Since Anna dumped him, it seems waiting is all Josiah Wolfe has done. Now, she’s calling, and she needs his help, or rather, the ‘talents’ she once ran away from. As a liquidation agent, Josiah knows everything about getting out of tough situations. He’ll get whatever she’s carrying to the proper authorities, then settle down to making sure she doesn’t leave him again.

But the story Anna’s stumbled into is far bigger than even Josiah suspects. Anna wants to survive, Josiah wants Anna back, and the powerful people chasing her want the only thing worth killing for — immortality. An ancient evil has been trapped, a woman is in danger, and the world is going to see just how far a liquidation agent will go…

Blood Call is published by Orbit Books in the US and UK. Another author whose work I am familiar with, but have not actually read — maybe because I always seemed to discover her work mid-series, which is anathema to my reading OCD… (Something I really need to get over: it didn’t used to be a problem, and in fact I used to look at synopses and not series chronology to pick the novel I wanted to try first.) This could work in my current preference for thrillers/crime novels, though. This and Kim Harrison’s Peri Reed Chronicles, which I’ll be starting very soon. Blood Call is published by Orbit, and is out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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SheaK-K2-KokoTheMightyUKKieran Shea, KOKO THE MIGHTY (Titan)

Koko Martstellar (ex-corporate mercenary) and Jedidiah Flynn (depressed former sky-cop) are back running a saloon/brothel on The Sixty Islands — the world’s most violent and decadent resort. But when bounty agent Jackie Wire comes to collect the price on Koko’s head, it’s time for her and Flynn to make tracks. Things only go from bad to worse for our heroes… but, hey, that’s the 26th Century for you. Buckle up, buttercup. Only the mighty survive.

Second in the series, sadly haven’t had a chance to read the first one, yet. Sounds like fun, though.

Review copy received from publisher

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SigurdardottirY-UndesiredUKYrsa Sigurdardottir, THE UNDESIRED (Hodder)

The light spilling in from the corridor would have to do. Though weak, it was sufficient to show Aldís a boy sitting in the gloom at the furthest table. He had his back to her, so she couldn’t see who it was, but could tell that he was one of the youngest. A chill ran down her spine when he spoke again, without turning, as if he had eyes in the back of his head. ‘Go away. Leave me alone.’

‘Come on. You shouldn’t be here.’ Aldís spoke gently, fairly sure now that the boy must be delirious. Confused, rather than dangerous.

He turned, slowly and deliberately, and she glimpsed black eyes in a pale face. ‘I wasn’t talking to you.’

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

This sounds quite interesting, and I’ve never read anything by Sigurdardottir. I’ve heard great things, though.

Review copy received from publisher

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DeSolaD-AliceInChainsUntoldStoryDavid de Sola, ALICE IN CHAINS (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)

Alice in Chains were one of the loudest voices out of Seattle, iconic pioneers who mixed grunge and metal in ways that continue to influence today’s artists. Theirs is a story of hard work, self-destruction, rising from the ashes and carrying on a lasting legacy. 

Four years after their first meeting at a warehouse under Seattle’s Ballard Bridge, Alice in Chains became the first of grunge’s big four – ahead of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden — to get a gold record and achieve national recognition. With the charismatic Layne Staley behind the microphone, they became one of the most influential and successful bands to come out of the Seattle music scene. But as the band got bigger, so did its problems. 

Acclaimed journalist David de Sola delves beneath the secrecy, gossip and rumor surrounding the band to tell its full story for the first time. Based on a wealth of interviews with people with direct knowledge of the band, many speaking on record for the very first time, de Sola explores how drugs nearly destroyed the band and claimed the lives of Staley and founding bassist Mike Starr, Jerry Cantrell’s solo career and Mike Starr’s life after being fired from the band and the band’s resurrection with new lead singer William DuVall.

From their anonymous struggles to topping the charts with hits like “Would?” “Man in the Box” and “Rooster,” Alice in Chains reveals the members of the band, not as caricatures of rock stars but as brilliant, nuanced and flawed human beings, whose years of hard work led to seemingly overnight success that changed the music scene forever.

I’ve actually already finished this biography — review can be found here. I spotted it in a bookstore, unaware that it was already out, so I picked it up on impulse and started it pretty soon after. Needless to say, it’s a must-read for any/every fan of the band and the Seattle music scene of the 1980s-90s. Published by Thomas Dunne Books in North America.

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ThorpeG-Asurmen-HandOfAsuryanGav Thorpe, ASURMEN: HAND OF ASURYAN (Black Library)

The Phoenix Lords are demigods of battle, warriors whose legends span the stars. They are embodiments of the warrior nature of the eldar, and each walks his own path. The first, and greatest, is Asurmen, the Hand of Asuryan. Since he led his people from destruction at the time of the Fall, he has guided his children, the Dire Avengers, in defending the remnants of the eldar as they plan their rise back to galactic dominance. A superlative warrior and peerless leader, Asurmen is one of the greatest hopes of the eldar race.

When it comes to Warhammer 40,000, the first army I was interested in was the Eldar. I can’t quite remember what it was, specifically, about them that caught my interest (especially because, generally, I find elves and their ilk to be pretty meh), but I found the doomed aspect rather interesting. I remember getting Codex: Eldar for Christmas one year, and reading and re-reading the background portion — this was many, many years ago, when the Codex books were pretty substantial reads, as well as rulebooks. The Phoenix Lords were particularly interesting to me, so I was very happy when this novel was first announced. With luck, I’ll get to it pretty soon. Probably after I read Nick Kyme’s Deathfire, but I might actually read it before that. It’s out now, published by Black Library.

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TrippB-FifthHouseOfTheHeartUSBen Tripp, THE FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART (Gallery)

Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang, a vainglorious and well-established antiques dealer, has made a fortune over many years by globetrotting for the finest lost objects in the world. Only Sax knows the true secret to his success: at certain points of his life, he’s killed vampires for their priceless hoards of treasure.

But now Sax’s past actions are quite literally coming back to haunt him, and the lives of those he holds most dear are in mortal danger. To counter this unnatural threat, and with the blessing of the Holy Roman Church, a cowardly but cunning Sax must travel across Europe in pursuit of incalculable evil — and immeasurable wealth — with a ragtag team of mercenaries and vampire killers to hunt a terrifying, ageless monster… one who is hunting Sax in turn.

I learned about this a while ago, and have been eagerly awaiting it ever since — looks great. Hopefully will read this ASAP. Out now, published by Gallery.

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WallaceD-SW-ImperialHandbookDaniel Wallace, IMPERIAL HANDBOOK (Titan)

Set in-world, Star Wars: The Imperial Handbook shares the knowledge of a newly promoted Commander in the Imperial Military, providing a comprehensive overview of the Imperial war machine.

After the Battle of Endor, the guide fell into the hands of the Rebel Alliance who provide handwritten annotations. Writers and annotators include Emperor Palpatine, Admiral Yularen, Wedge Antilles, and Han Solo.

This looks pretty interesting. I’ve already read a fair bit of it — having dipped in-and-out whenever I’m between novels — and I’d say it’s a must-read for fans of the original trilogy and now-obsolete Expanded Universe (“Legends”) fiction. Filled with interesting details, not to mention Luke Skywalker’s annotations (also notes from others), it’s a fun read. Recommended.

Review copy received from publisher

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WeirA-MartianUSAndy Weir, THE MARTIAN (Broadway Books)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Published by Broadway Books in North America, there is also a film tie-in edition. I really need to read this at some point soon. Still haven’t decided if I want to read it before the movie or not. A friend has told me it’s superb, while another has told me it was ok but “disposable”. I’m not sure if the latter was a book snob or not. I’ll make up my own mind, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

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WirestoneM-UnfortunateDecisionsOfDahliaMossMax Wirestone, THE UNFORTUNATE DECISIONS OF DAHLIA MOSS (Redhook)

The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she’s not living her best life. But that’s all about to change.

Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she’s offered a job. A job that she’s woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).

Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she’s just the girl to deal with them.

The novelization of geek culture continues. I’m hoping this is entertaining. And certainly hoping it’s better than Armada… Published by Redhook on October 20th, 2015.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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