Books Received (April)

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Featuring: Andrew Bannister, Stephanie Burgis, Lee Child, Myke Cole, Sebastien de Castell, A.A. Dhand, N.S. Dolkart, Steven Erikson, Christie Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Jessica Grose, Guy Haley, Peter Hanington, Samantha Hayes, Kaui Hart Hemmings, D.L. Hughley, Kij Johnson, Emma Kavanagh, Laura Lam, Owen Laukkanen, Ken MacLeod, Laurence MacNaughton, Jay McInerney, Barney Norris, Daniel O’Malley, Ann Patchett, Ben Peek, Leif G.W. Perrson, Gae Polisner, Adam Rakunas, Chris Roberson, J. Todd Scott, Helen Sedgwick, J.P. Smythe, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Michael Swanwick, David Swinson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Matt Wallace, Robin Yocum

Above Picture: Crop of Injection #7, by Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (Image)


BannisterA-CreationMachineUKAndrew Bannister, CREATION MACHINE (Bantam)

It is the aftermath of civil war in the vast pageant of planets and stars known as The Spin. Three years since he crushed the rebellion, Viklun Haas, industrialist and leader of the Hegemony, is eliminating all remnants of the opposition. Starting with his own daughter.

But Fleare Haas, fighter for Society Otherwise has had a long time to plan her next move. Sprung from her remote monastery prison and reuniting with a team of loyal friends, Fleare’s journey will take her across The Spin to the cluster of fallen planets known as the The Catastrophe Curve — and from exile, to the very frontiers of war.

Meanwhile, in the brutal and despotic empire of The Fortunate, word is reaching viceroy Alameche of a most unusual piece of plunder from their latest invasion. For hundreds of millions of years, the bizarre planets and stars of The Spin itself have been the only testament to the god-like engineers that created it. Now, buried in the earth of a ruined planet, one of their machines has been found

Bannister’s debut novel, and the first in his Spin Trilogy. I’ve seen this title pop up on a couple of other websites, and think it looks pretty intriguing. Due to be published in the UK by Bantam Press, on May 19th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


BurgisS-Masks&ShadowsStephanie Burgis, MASKS AND SHADOWS (Pyr)

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress — a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

Sounded interesting, but it hasn’t really gripped me (I tried it). Published by Pyr Books, it’s out now.

Review copy received from publisher


ChildL-MakeMeUKLee Child, MAKE ME (Bantam)

Jack Reacher has no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so a remote railroad stop on the prairie with the curious name of Mother’s Rest seems perfect for an aimless one-day stopover. He expects to find a lonely pioneer tombstone in a sea of nearly-ripe wheat… but instead there is a woman waiting for a missing colleague, a cryptic note about two hundred deaths, and a small town full of silent, watchful people.

Reacher’s one-day stopover turns into an open-ended quest leading to the most hidden reaches of the internet, and right into the nightmare heart of darkness.

I have still not read any of Lee Child’s novels. This is the 20th novel in the series, which is maybe why I’ve been slow about getting caught up — I’m still not keen on reading series out of order, so it looks like a pretty large book-mountain to climb. I’ve heard only good things, though, so maybe I should just get my act together and start reading. Make Me is published by Bantam/Transworld in the UK, and Delacorte Press in the US.

Review copy received from publisher


ColeM-SO5-JavelinRainUSMyke Cole, JAVELIN RAIN (Ace)

Javelin: A code denoting the loss of a national security asset with strategic impact.

Rain: A code indicating a crisis of existential proportions.

Javelin Rain incidents must be resolved immediately, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the cost…

Being a US Navy SEAL was Jim Schweitzer’s life right up until the day he was killed. Now, his escape from the government who raised him from the dead has been coded “Javelin Rain.” Schweitzer and his family are on the run from his former unit, the Gemini Cell, and while he may be immortal, his wife and son are not. 

Jim must use all of his strength to keep his family safe, while convincing his wife he’s still the same man she once loved. But what his former allies have planned to bring him down could mean disaster not only for Jim and his family, but for the entire nation…

The fifth novel set in Cole’s critically-acclaimed and very good military fantasy series. Set before the original trilogy, and after the 2015’s Gemini Cell. Published in North America by Ace, and in the UK by Headline.

Also on CR: Reviews of Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone; Interview with Myke Cole (2011); Guest Post on “Influences & Inspirations”


deCastell-G3-SaintsBloodUKSebastien de Castell, SAINT’S BLOOD (Jo Fletcher Books)

How do you kill a saint?

Well, someone’s worked it out, and now Falcio, Kest and Brasti have to do the same, because they’ve started with a friend: the saint of mercy.

The Dukes were already looking for a way out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with Saints turning up dead all over the place, rumours are spreading across Tristia that it’s the Gods themselves who oppose King Paelis’ daughter.

Now churches are looking to protect themselves by turning the country into a theocracy and bringing back their own military order of religious soldiers, assassins and — especially — the Inquisitors, who have their own particular (and much harsher) view of justice.

The only way our three Greatcoats can stop them is buy finding the murderer — but they have only one clue: the terrifying iron mask wrapped around the dying Saint of Mercy’s head.

And even if they do find the killer, Falcio is still going to have to kill him… and that may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can ever hope to win.

I’m a big fan of de Castell’s series — the first novel, Traitor’s Blade, was a great, taut introduction to the characters and world, with great action and good humour. The follow-up expanded on the foundations brilliantly, and I’ve been looking forward to reading Saint’s Blood ever since finishing Knight’s Shadow. Saint’s Blood is out now in the UK, published by Jo Fletcher Books; and is due to be published in June in the US by Quercus, and in Canada by Penguin.

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

Review copy received from publisher


DhandAA-HV1-StreetsOfDarknessUKA.A. Dhand, STREETS OF DARKNESS (Bantam Press)

The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.

Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.

Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…

To be honest, it was the cover that caught my attention. It also sounds rather good. Published by Bantam Press on June 16th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


DolkartNS-SilentHallN.S. Dolkart, SILENT HALL (Angry Robot)

Five bedraggled refugees and a sinister wizard awaken a dragon and defy the gods.

After their homeland is struck with a deadly plague, five refugees cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything – and anyone – to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe.

With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves – and Psander’s library – from the wrath of the gods.

All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the world.

How hard could it be?

This was announced a while ago, and it caught my attention. This looks interesting, potentially a fun fantasy adventure. It’s been a while since I last read an Angry Robot novel. Should do something about that — they certainly seem to have upped their game since the change in ownership, etc. Some great-looking titles out recently and on the way (this one included). Published by Angry Robot Books in June 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


EriksonS-K2-FallOfLightUKSteven Erikson, FALL OF LIGHT (Bantam)

Before the Malazan Empire, there was a time that set the stage for all those tales yet to be told… 

The winter is bitter. Civil war threatens Kurald Galain for the warrior Urusander’s army has begun its march on the city of Kharkanas. Led by the ruthless Hunn Raal, it intends to cast aside Mother Dark’s consort, Draconus, and set Urusander himself on the throne beside the Living Goddess. Those who would stand in the way of the rebels lie scattered and weakened – leaderless since Anomander went in search of an estranged brother. In his stead, Silchas Ruin resolves to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn families to him, and to resurrect the legendary Hust Legion, but time is not on his side.

Far to the west, an unlikely army musters. It seeks an enemy without form, in a place none can find. And yet Hood’s call has been heard and the long-abandoned city of Omtose Phellack is now home to a rabble of new arrivals: Dog-Runners from the south, Jheck warriors, and blue-skinned strangers from across the Western Sea have come to offer Hood their swords. From the distant mountains and isolated valleys of the North, Thel Akai arrive to pledge themselves in this seemingly impossible war. Soon, they will set forth with weapons drawn under the banners of the living in pursuit of Death itself.

Such events presage chaos, and now magic bleeds into this realm. Unconstrained, mysterious and savage, it begins to run loose and wild and following its scent, seeking the places of wounding and hurt – new and ancient entities gather.

In a world becoming rotten with sorcery, can honour truly exist?

This is the second book in a Malazan prequel trilogy, The Kharkanas Trilogy. I haven’t read the first one, nor any of the Malazan novels by Erikson or Ian C. Esslemont. Interestingly, Esslemont is also writing a Malazan prequel series, Path to Ascendancy, the first novel in which is Dancer’s Lament. I would like to at least try something in the Malazan world, I just keep thinking it would be a huge undertaking… So many people I know and have spoken to seem to love the series, and they have certainly become a classic of the genre. We’ll have to see. Fall of Light is out now; published by Bantam Press in the UK, and Tor Books in the US.

Review copy received from publisher


GoldenC-SW-DarkDiscipleChristie Golden, DARK DISCIPLE (Arrow)

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!

This novel is apparently based on unaired episodes of Star Wars: Rebels, a TV series I was interested in watching, but never got around to. Not sure if this can be read independently, but it does look interesting. Published in the UK by Arrow, and in the US by Del Rey.

Review copy received from publisher


GrahamJonesS-MongrelsUKStephen Graham Jones, MONGRELS (Voyager)

A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them.

He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the centre of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.

For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes — always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.

A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world.

Hadn’t noticed this novel before I was sent a NetGalley widget by the publisher — glad they did, though, because it looks like something I should enjoy. Published by Voyager in the UK, on May 10th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


GroseJ-SoulmatesUSJessica Grose, SOULMATES (William Morrow)

It’s been two years since the divorce, and Dana has moved on. She’s killing it at her law firm, she’s never looked better, thanks to all those healthy meals she cooks, and she’s thrown away Ethan’s ratty old plaid recliner. She hardly thinks about her husband — ex-husband — anymore, or about how the man she’d known since college ran away to the Southwest with a yoga instructor, spouting spiritual claptrap that Dana still can’t comprehend. 

But when she sees Ethan’s picture splashed across the front page of the New York Post — “Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave” — Dana discovers she hasn’t fully let go of Ethan or the past. The article implies that it was a murder-suicide, and Ethan’s to blame. How could the man she once loved so deeply be a killer? Restless to find answers that might help her finally to let go, Dana begins to dig into the mystery surrounding Ethan’s death. Sifting through the clues of his life, Dana finds herself back in the last years of their marriage… and discovers that their relationship — like Ethan’s death — wasn’t what it appeared to be.

Could be interesting. Due to be published by William Morrow on September 27th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


HaleyG-DC2-GhoulKingGuy Haley, THE GHOUL KING (

The Knight, Quinn, is down on his luck, and he travels to the very edge of the civilized world — whatever that means, any more — to restock his small but essential inventory.

After fighting a series of gladiatorial bouts against the dead, he finds himself in the employ of a woman on a quest to find the secret to repairing her semi-functional robot.

But the technological secret it guards may be one truth too many…

The second tale in Haley’s excellent post-apocalyptic series the Dreaming Cities. I enjoyed the first in the series, The Emperor’s Railroad, and am very eager to read this. The Ghoul King is published by on July 12th, 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Guy Haley; Reviews of The Emperor’s Railroad, Only BloodThe Final Compliance of Sixty-Three FourteenTwisted

Review copy received from publisher


HaningtonP-ADyingBreedPeter Hanington, A DYING BREED (Two Roads)

‘What do you think’s going to happen?’


‘In Afghanistan. With the election. What do you think will happen?’

‘Dying. Dying is going to happen.’

Dateline: Kabul

When a bomb goes off killing a local official, William Carver, a veteran but unpredictable BBC hack, is warned off the story from every direction.

But his instincts tell him something isn’t right and he won’t give up until he finds the truth. Patrick, a junior producer, is sent out to control the wayward Carver, but as the story unravels it looks like powerful forces are colluding to ensure the real story never sees the light of day.

I can’t remember where I first read about this book. Nevertheless, it made an impression, so I bought it. Published by Two RoadsA Dying Breed is out now.


HayesS-InTooDeepUKSamantha Hayes, IN TOO DEEP (Century)

Four months ago, Rick went out to buy a newspaper. He never came back.

His wife, Gina, is struggling to deal with her loss, and her daughter’s mood swings are getting worse. Then she receives a phone call from a woman at a country hotel, confirming details of a booking Rick made before he vanished.

Desperate to find out more about his disappearance, Gina and her daughter take the trip. But there is something very strange about the hotel, and the family that run it.

Soon Gina is unsure that Rick even made the booking – but one thing is clear: both mother and daughter are in serious danger.

Due to be published by Century in the UK, on December 15th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


HemmingsKH-HowToPartyWithAnInfantUSKaui Hart Hemmings, HOW TO PARTY WITH AN INFANT (Simon & Schuster)

When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else.

Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.

Lemmings is also the author of the critically-acclaimed The Descendants. This sounds rather different to what I usually read, but that was partly the appeal. Due to be published by Simon & Schuster in August 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


HughleyDL-BlackManWhiteHouseD.L. Hughley, BLACK MAN, WHITE HOUSE (William Morrow)

A bitingly funny send-up of the Obama years, as “told” by the key political players on both sides of the aisle.

What do the Clintons, Republicans, fellow Democrats, and Obama’s own family really think of President Barack Obama? Finally, the truth is revealed in this raucously funny “oral history” parody.

There is no more astute — and hilarious — critic of politics, entertainment, and race in America than D. L. Hughley, famed comedian, radio star, and original member of the “Kings of Comedy.” In the vein of Jon Stewart’s America: The Book, Black Man, White House is an acerbic and witty take on Obama’s two terms, looking at the president’s accomplishments and foibles through the imagined eyes of those who saw history unfold.

Hughley draws upon satirical interviews with the most notorious public figures of our day: Mitt Romney (“What’s ‘poverty’? Is that some sort of rap jargon?”); Nancy Pelosi (“I play F**k/Marry/Kill, and there’s a lot more kills than fu**ks in Congress, believe me.”); Rod Blagojevich (“You can’t sell political offices on eBay; I discovered that personally.”); Joe Biden (“I like wrestling.”); and other politicians, media pundits, and buffoons. It is sure to be the most irreverent — and perhaps the most honest — look at American politics today.

I’m pretty sure the first time I noticed Hughley’s work was in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, in which he played Simon Stiles. I only recently became aware of the fact that he’d written this, too. So I’m looking forward to reading it (as weird as it might end up being…). Due to be published by William Morrow on June 7th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


JohnsonK-DreamQuestOfVellittBoeKij Johnson, THE DREAM-QUEST OF VELLITT BOE (

Professor Vellitt Boe teaches at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College. When one of her most gifted students elopes with a dreamer from the waking world, Vellitt must retrieve her.

But the journey sends her on a quest across the Dreamlands and into her own mysterious past, where some secrets were never meant to surface.

This sounds pretty interesting. I’ve fallen a little behind on the novellas — just having another bout of fantasy readers’ block. Hopefully their novellas will help be break out of this seemingly-eternal pattern. I’ve really enjoyed almost all of the ones I have read. Due to be published by on August 16th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


KavanaghE-MissingHoursUKHCEmma Kavanagh, THE MISSING HOURS (Century)

A woman disappears

One moment, Selena Cole is in the playground with her children and the next, she has vanished without a trace.

A woman returns

Twenty hours later, Selena is found safe and well, but with no memory of where she has been.

What took place in those missing hours, and are they linked to the discovery of a nearby murder?

‘Is it a forgetting or a deception?’

I received Kavanagh’s previous novel, if I recall correctly. I’m not entirely sure where it is, though — I think someone borrowed it and never gave it back… Something to investigate. Anyway, I’ve been seeing more and more reviews and mentions of her novels, so I’m certainly interested in trying her work. The Missing Hours is out now, published in the UK by Century.

Review copy received from publisher


LamL-FalseHeartsUKLaura Lam, FALSE HEARTS (Macmillan)

To save her twin, she must take her identity

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She’s then arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Verve, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila’s identity and gather information to bring down the drug syndicate. The police may then let her sister live. However, Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.

The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine — yet as conjoined twins, they needed life-saving surgery to replace their failing heart. And with help from co-conspirators, they escaped. Taema now discovers that Tila had found links between the cult and the city’s criminal underworld. The twins were once unable to keep secrets, but will learn the true cost of lies.

This novel has been generating a lot of pre-release buzz. It’s not difficult to see why — that synopsis sounds great. False Hearts is Lam’s first novel for adults, and is due to be published by Macmillan in the UK, on June 16th; and in the US by Tor Books, on June 14th.

Review copy received from publisher


LaukkanenO-S&W5-WatcherInTheWallUSOwen Laukkanen, THE WATCHER IN THE WALL (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force have handled shocking cases before, but this one is different. Stevens’s daughter, Andrea, is distraught over a classmate’s suicide, but what the two investigators find is even more disturbing — an online suicide club of unhappy teenagers, presided over by an anonymous presence who seems to be spurring them on.

Soon, it becomes apparent that the classmate wasn’t the first victim — and won’t be the last, either, unless they can hunt down this psychopath once and for all.

This is the fifth novel in Laukkanen’s Stevens & Windermere series. I really enjoyed the first three, and have the fourth one ready to go. I think I’ll binge-read these in one go (as I did with the first two, if I remember correctly). The Watcher in the Wall is out now, published in North America by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Also on CR: Reviews of The ProfessionalsCriminal Enterprise and The Kill Fee.


MacLeodK-CW1-DissidenceKen MacLeod, THE CORPORATE WARS: DISSIDENCE (Orbit)

They’ve died for the companies more times than they can remember. Now they must fight to live for themselves.

Sentient machines work, fight and die in interstellar exploration and conflict for the benefit of their owners — the competing mining corporations of Earth. But sent over hundreds of light-years, commands are late to arrive and often hard to enforce. The machines must make their own decisions, and make them stick.

With this newfound autonomy come new questions about their masters. The robots want answers. The companies would rather see them dead.

THE CORPORATION WARS: DISSIDENCE is an all-action, colourful space opera giving a robot’s-eye view of a robot revolt.

I remember reading the synopsis for this novel a while ago, and thinking it sounded ace. Then they released the cover, which is understated-yet-eye-catching, and my interest was renewed. Due to be published by Orbit in the UK in May 2016; and as an eBook in the US, in May 2016, with the print edition following in September 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


MacNaughtonL-ItHappenedOneDoomsdayUSLaurence McNaughton, IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY (Pyr)

Magic is real. Only a handful of natural-born sorcerers can wield its arcane power against demons, foul creatures, and the forces of darkness. These protectors of the powerless are descendants of an elite order. The best magic-users in the world. 

Unfortunately, Dru isn’t one of them.

Sure, she’s got a smidge of magical potential. She can use crystals to see enchantments or brew up an occasional potion. And she can research practically anything in the library of dusty leather-bound tomes she keeps stacked in the back of her little store. There, sandwiched between a pawn shop and a 24-hour liquor mart, she sells enough crystals, incense, and magic charms to scrape by. But everything changes the day a handsome mechanic pulls up in a possessed black muscle car, his eyes glowing red.

Just being near Greyson raises Dru’s magical powers to dizzying heights. But he’s been cursed to transform into a demonic creature that could bring about the end of the world.

Then she discovers that the Harbingers, seven fallen sorcerers, want to wipe the planet clean of humans and install themselves as new lords of an unfettered magical realm. And when they unearth the Apocalypse Scroll, the possibility of a fiery cosmic do-over suddenly becomes very real.

There’s only one chance to break Greyson’s curse and save the world from a fiery Doomsday – and it’s about to fall into Dru’s magically inexperienced hands…

I hadn’t heard anything about this novel before it arrived. Sounds like an interesting new urban fantasy, though. Published by Pyr on July 12th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


McInerneyJ-BrightPreciousDaysUSJay McInerney, BRIGHT, PRECIOUS DAYS (Knopf)

Russell and Corrine Calloway seem to be living the New York dream: book parties one night and high-society charity events the next; jobs they care about (and actually enjoy); twin children, a boy and a girl whose birth was truly miraculous; a loft in TriBeCa and summers in the Hamptons. But all of this comes at a high cost. Russell, an independent publisher, has cultural clout but minimal cash; as he navigates an industry that requires, beyond astute literary taste, constant financial improvisation, he encounters an audacious, expensive and potentially ruinous opportunity. Meanwhile, instead of seeking personal profit in this incredibly wealthy city, Corrine is devoted to feeding its hungry poor, and they soon discover they’re being priced out of their now fashionable neighborhood.

Then Corrine’s world is turned upside down when the man with whom she’d had an ill-fated affair in the wake of 9/11 suddenly reappears. As the novel unfolds across a period of stupendous change — including Obama’s historic election and the global economic collapse he inherited — the Calloways will find themselves and their marriage tested more severely than they ever could have anticipated.

McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City is considered a classic. I picked it up recently, and shortly after that I spotted this on Edelweiss. I’m looking forward to reading the author’s work — a lot of his novels sound really interesting. Due to be published by Knopf on August 2nd, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


NorrisB-FiveRiversMetOnAWoodedPlainUKBarney Norris, FIVE RIVERS MET ON A WOODED PLAIN (Doubleday)

‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.

This novel is getting a lot of attention, recently. Sounds pretty interesting. Out now, published in the UK by Doubleday.

Review copy received from publisher


OMalleyD-2-StilettoUSDaniel O’Malley, STILETTO (Little, Brown)

Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic — and slimy — supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers — and the bureaucratic finesse — to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy — the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and…

The Grafters — a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

The long-awaited sequel to The Rook (which I have, but keep forgetting about because it’s on my Kindle). Due to be published by Little, Brown in the US, on June 14th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


PatchettA-CommonwealthUSAnn Patchett, COMMONWEALTH (Harper)

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly — thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. 

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

I’ve never read anything by Patchett, but have heard plenty of great things. This sounded interesting and different to a lot of what I read, so thought it would be an interesting first foray into the author’s work. Due to be published by Harper on September 13, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


PeekB-2-LeviathansBloodUKBen Peek, LEVIATHAN’S BLOOD (Macmillan)

A new god has risen.

The immortal Zaifyr has arrived at the Floating Cities in chains, to await trial for murder. Despite this, he’s preparing for war against a new child god — for she will do anything to destroy those who stand in her way.

A city has fallen.

Ayae must fight to protect the survivors, and finds herself ensnared in a web of political intrigue. She’ll find politics can be as lethal as any sword, and hers is not the only life at stake.

A warrior has arrived.

Across the ocean, the exile Bueralan returns home. And he’s bearing a dead man’s soul around his neck. God-touched and grief-stricken, he treads a dangerous path. He’ll confront a legendary fighter… and discover a secret that will change the world.

The sequel to The Godless, Leviathan’s Blood is out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Ben Peek

Review copy received from publisher


PerssonLGW-DyingDetectiveUKHCLeif G.W. Persson, THE DYING DETECTIVE (Doubleday)

Retired Chief of the National Crime Police and Swedish Security Service Lars Martin Johansson has just suffered a stroke. He is paying the price for a life of excess – stress, good food and fine wine. With his dangerously high blood pressure, his heart could fail at the slightest excitement. 

In the hospital, a chance encounter with a neurologist provides an important piece of information about a 25-year-old murder investigation and alerts Lars Martin Johansson’s irrepressible police instincts. The period for prosecution expired just weeks earlier and that isn’t the only limitation. Lars Martin Johansson is determined to solve the atrocious crime – from his deathbed.

Persson is an author whose novels always seem to pop onto my radar, but promptly escape. Maybe the ones I’ve seen before have been part of a series, so I hesitated. This appears to be a standalone, though, so maybe a good place to jump in. Due to be published by Doubleday, on June 30th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


PolisnerG-MemoryOfThingsUSGae Polisner, THE MEMORY OF THINGS (St. Martin’s Griffin)

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows, covered in ash, and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home?

A story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain — it tells a story of hope.

Looked interesting, thought I’d give it a try. Due to be published by St. Martin’s Griffin in September 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


RakunasA-W2-LikeABossAdam Rakunas, LIKE A BOSS (Angry Robot Books)

In this breathless and hilarious followup to Windswept, former labor organiser Padma’s worst nightmare comes true: she gets yanked out of early retirement.

After buying her favourite rum distillery and settling down, she thought she’d heard the last of her arch nemesis, Evanrute Saarien. But Saarien, fresh out of prison for his misdeeds in Windswept, has just fabricated a new religion, positioning himself as its holy leader. He’s telling his congregation to go on strike, to fight the system. And unfortunately, they’re listening to him.

Now Padma’s summoned by the Union president to help stop this strike from happening. The problem is, she’s out of practice. And, the more she digs, the more she realises this whole strike business is more complicated than the Union president let on…

This is the sequel to Windswept, which I also still need to read. The series looks like a lot of fun, and I’ve heard great things. Like a Boss is due to be published by Angry Robot Books, in June 2016.

Also on CR: Guest Post “On Worldbuilding (Food, in Particular”)

Review copy received via NetGalley


Chris Roberson, FIREWALK (Night Shade Books)RobersonC-Firewalk

Izzie Lefevre was the newest investigator for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit when she first came to Recondito, a coastal city that’s been shrouded in mystery and legend for centuries. Local law enforcement had requested the Bureau’s assistance in hunting a sword-wielding serial killer who’d left a dozen mutilated bodies in his wake. Patrick Tevake was a local homicide detective assigned to the taskforce, and together he and Izzie managed to track down and stop the killer before he claimed another victim.

Five years later, Izzie and Patrick remain haunted by what the killer said before he fell in a hail of gunfire. Izzie’s ancestors were “mambos,” voodoo priestesses who claimed to communicate with the dead and protect the faithful from evil spirits. Patrick’s Polynesian great uncle told stories of Recondito’s supernatural menaces that lurk in flame and shadow. The killer’s last words have brought up a past both Izzie and Patrick thought they’d long since left behind, and neither has been able to shake the feeling that their case was never completely solved.

So when Patrick, now working with the vice squad to investigate a dangerous new street drug, discovers a connection between the street drug and the serial killer’s victims, he realizes that their instincts were right: the threat is far from over. Reunited again, he and Izzie will discover that Recondito is a city of dark secrets, and their own pasts may be the key to unlocking them.

I’m a fan of Roberson’s comics work, so wanted to give a novel of his a try. Due to be published by Night Shade Books on October 4th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


ScottJT-FarEmptyUSJ. Todd Scott, THE FAR EMPTY (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Seventeen-year-old Caleb Ross is adrift in the wake of the sudden disappearance of his mother more than a year ago, and is struggling to find his way out of the small Texas border town of Murfee. Chris Cherry is a newly minted sheriff’s deputy, a high school football hero who has reluctantly returned to his hometown.

When skeletal remains are discovered in the surrounding badlands, the two are inexorably drawn together as their efforts to uncover Murfee’s darkest secrets lead them to the same terrifying suspect: Caleb’s father and Chris’s boss, the charismatic and feared Sheriff Standford “Judge” Ross.

Dark, elegiac, and violent, The Far Empty is a modern Western, a story of loss and escape set along the sharp edge of the Texas border. Told by a longtime federal agent who knows the region, it’s a debut novel you won’t soon forget.

This sounds really interesting (and look at that cover!). I spotted it shortly before I got a review copy, and am looking forward to giving it a try. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on June 7th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


SedgwickH-CometSeekersUSHelen Sedgwick, THE COMET SEEKERS (Harper)

Róisín and François are immediately drawn to each other when they meet at a remote research base on the frozen ice sheets of Antarctica. At first glance, the pair could not be more different. Older by a few years, Róisín, a daughter of Ireland and a peripatetic astronomer, joins the science team to observe the fracturing of a comet overhead. François, the base’s chef, has just left his birthplace in Bayeux, France, for only the second time in his life. Yet devastating tragedy and the longing for a fresh start, which they share, as well as an indelible but unknown bond that stretches back centuries, connect them to each other.

I remember seeing this book included in a list of anticipated upcoming novels, I just can’t remember where… It looked interesting, though, so when it popped up on Edelweiss, I requested. The Comet Seekers is due to be published in the US by Harper, on October 11th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


SmytheJP-A1-WayDownDarkUSJ.P. Smythe, WAY DOWN DARK (Quercus)

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. Generations later, they are still searching…

Every day aboard the interstellar transport ship Australiais a kind of hell, where no one is safe, no one can hide. Indeed, the only life Chan’s ever known is one of endless violence. A life of survival. Fiercely independent and entirely self-sufficient, she has learned to keep her head down as much as possible, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the mayhem. For the Australia is a ship of death, filled with murderous gangs and twisted cults, vying for supremacy in a closed environment with limited resources and no hope.

And then one day Chan makes an extraordinary discovery — there may be a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so will only bring her to the attention of the fanatics and murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.

Is it worth endangering her life and the lives of her few friends and loved ones for an uncertain return to a home world that may be uninhabitable? Especially since to do so she must descend into the deep dark in the bowels of the ship, which is piled high with the bodies and the secrets of the dead…

I received this a couple years back from Smythe’s UK publisher, Hodder. Didn’t realize it was coming out soon in the US via Quercus — maybe because there was no online footprint for the book. (Quercus’s website is limited, and searching on Hachette’s main website came up with nothing — only details are on the Business Portal.)

Review copy received from publisher


StaveleyB-CUT3-LastMortalBondUKBrian Staveley, THE LAST MORTAL BOND (Tor)


The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts — and it’s unclear who is in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle and now calls herself Emperor. However, she can’t hold back the nomadic Urgul forces for much longer. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?

Her brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he’ll accept a Republic to save his divided people. And he faces something even more terrible than war. He’s unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race who attempted to destroy mankind. The general plans to finish what they started, and is amassing all the power he needs. 

The empire calls on the Kettral, its toughest soldiers, but their order has been decimated. Its last fighters are in disarray, but could they still turn the tide of war? Most disturbingly of all, capricious gods walk the earth in human guise. And their desires could seal the fate of a world.

The last volume in the spectacular Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. Tor UK also sent through the paperbacks editions of The Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire. Fantastic series, and a must-read for any fan of fantasy. Out now, published in the UK and US by Tor Books.

Also on CR: Excerpt from The Providence of Fire; Guest Post on “Fire Lookout, Monk, Water-Skier, Teacher: The Best Profession for a Writer”; Reviews of The Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire

Review copy received from publisher


SwallowJ-NomadJames Swallow, NOMAD (Zaffre)

A pulse-racing terrorist thriller with a sickening twist

Marc Dane is a MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when a brutal attack on his team leaves Marc as the only survivor — and with the shocking knowledge that there are traitors inside MI6 — he’s forced into the front line.

However the evidence seems to point towards Marc as the perpetrator of the attack. Accused of betraying his country, he must race against time to clear his name. With nowhere to turn to for help and no one left to trust, Marc is forced to rely on the elusive Rubicon group and their operative Lucy Keyes. Ex US Army, Lucy also knows what it’s like to be an outsider, and she’s got the skills that Marc is sorely lacking. A terrorist attack is coming, one bigger and more deadly than has ever been seen before.

With the eyes of the security establishment elsewhere, only Lucy and Marc can stop the attack before it’s too late.

I’m familiar with Swallow’s work for Black Library (his Horus Heresy fiction in particular), so when I saw that he was writing this novel, my interest was piqued. Nomad is published by Zaffre in June 2016. There isn’t much information on Gaffer’s website — at the time of writing it seemed to be dedicated to L.S. Hilton’s Maestra. You can find more information on Amazon.

Review copy received via NetGalley


SwanwickM-NotSoMuchSaidTheCatMichael Swanwick, NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT (Tachyon)

The master of literary science fiction returns with this dazzling new collection. Michael Swanwick takes us on a whirlwind journey across the globe and across time and space, where magic and science exist in possibilities that are not of this world.

Travel from Norway to Russia, and America to ancient Gehenna. Discover a calculus problem that rocks the ages and robots who both nurture and kill. Meet a magical horse who protects the innocent, a semi-repentant troll, a savvy teenager who takes on the Devil, and time travelers from the Mesozoic who party till the end of time.

These are tales intimate in their telling, galactic in their scope, and deliciously sesquipedalian in their verbiage.

This looks like an interesting anthology. Due to be published by Tachyon Publications, on July 15th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


SwinsonD-SecondGirlUSDavid Swinson, THE SECOND GIRL (Mulholland)

He’s a good detective… with a bad habit.

Frank Marr knows crime in Washington, DC. A decorated former police detective, he retired early and now ekes out a living as a private eye for a defense attorney. Frank Marr may be the best investigator the city has ever known, but the city doesn’t know his dirty secret.

A longtime drug addict, Frank has lent his considerable skills to hiding his habit from others. But after he accidentally discovers a kidnapped teenage girl in the home of a local drug gang, Frank becomes a hero and is thrust into the spotlight. He reluctantly agrees to investigate the disappearance of another girl — possibly connected to the first — and the heightened scrutiny may bring his own habits to light, too.

Frank is as slippery and charming an antihero as you’ve ever met, but he’s also achingly vulnerable. The result is a mystery of startling intensity, a tightly coiled thriller where every scene may turn disastrous. The Second Girl is the crime novel of the season and the start of a thunderous new series from an author who knows the criminal underworld inside and out.

Really looking forward to reading this — looks great. Published by Mulholland Books in the US and UK in June 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


Tchaikovsky-SpiderlightAdrian Tchaikovsky, SPIDERLIGHT (

The Church of Armes of the Light has battled the forces of Darkness for as long as anyone can remember. The great prophecy has foretold that a band of misfits, led by a high priestess will defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian, armed with their wits, the blessing of the Light and an artifact stolen from the merciless Spider Queen.

Their journey will be long, hard and fraught with danger. Allies will become enemies; enemies will become allies. And the Dark Lord will be waiting, always waiting…

New Tchaikovsky! (I feel like I write something like that pretty frequently.) This novel (although, by the author’s standards, it’s basically a novella) looks great. I started reading it pretty soon after receiving it, and should have a review up very soon (I’ve very much enjoying it). Due to be published by, on August 2nd, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher


WallaceM-SdJ-PridesSpellMatt Wallace, PRIDE’S SPELL (

The team at Sin du Jour — New York’s exclusive caterers-to-the-damned — find themselves up against their toughest challenge, yet when they’re lured out west to prepare a feast in the most forbidding place in America: Hollywood, where false gods rule supreme.

Meanwhile, back at home, Ritter is attacked at home by the strangest hit-squad the world has ever seen, and the team must pull out all the stops if they’re to prevent themselves from being offered up as the main course in a feast they normally provide 

Starring: The Prince of Lies, Lena Tarr, Darren Vargas. With Byron Luck. Introducing: the Easter Bunny.

The third novella in Wallace’s well-received Sin du Jour series. They look like fun novellas. Must get caught up. Due to be published on June 21st, 2016, by

Review copy received from publisher


YocumR-ABrilliantDeathRobin Yocum, A BRILLIANT DEATH (Seventh Street Books)

Amanda Baron died in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1953. Or, did she?

While it was generally accepted that she had died when a coal barge rammed the pleasure boat she was sharing with her lover, her body was never found.

Travis Baron was an infant when his mother disappeared. After the accident and the subsequent publicity, Travis’s father scoured the house of all evidence that Amanda Baron had ever lived, and her name was never to be uttered around him. Now in high school, Travis yearns to know more about his mother. With the help of his best friend, Mitch Malone, Travis begins a search for the truth about the mother he never knew. The two boys find an unlikely ally: an alcoholic former detective who served time for falsifying evidence. Although his reputation is in tatters, the information the detective provides about the death of Amanda Baron is indisputable — and dangerous.

Nearly two decades after her death, Travis and Mitch piece together a puzzle lost to the dark waters of the Ohio River. They know how Amanda Baron died, and why. Now what do they do with the information?

It’s been quite a while since I last read a novel published by Seventh Street — another casualty of my too-frequent moving. A very good publisher, releasing very interesting books. This one sounds pretty good. It’s out now.

Review copy received from publisher


Various-BeyondTheWoodsUSVarious/Paula Guran (ed.), BEYOND THE WOODS: FAIRY TALES RETOLD (Night Shade Books)

Once upon a time, the stories that came to be known as “fairy tales” were cultivated to entertain adults more than children; it was only later that they were tamed and pruned into less thorny versions intended for youngsters. But in truth, they have continued to prick the imaginations of readers at all ages.

Over the years, authors have often borrowed bits and pieces from these stories, grafting them into their own writing, creating literature with both new meaning and age-old significance. In the last few decades or so, they’ve also intentionally retold and reinvented the tales in a variety of ways — delightful or dark, wistful or wicked, sweet or satirical — that forge new trails through the forests of fantastic fiction.

This new anthology compiles some of the best modern fairy-tale retellings and reinventions from award-winning and bestselling authors, acclaimed storytellers, and exciting new talents, into an enchanting collection. Explore magical new realms by traveling with us, Beyond the Woods…

Looked like an interesting anthology, and I was pre-approved on Edelweiss. Published by Night Shade Books on July 5th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


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