New Books (May-June)

Witchfinder-CityOfTheDead-01-Art crop

Featuring: Ramona Ausubel, Stephen Baxter, Peter S. Beagle, Matthew Blakstad, Marie Brennan, Gail Carriger, Joe Carter, Wesley Chu, Richard Cohen, Catherine Coulter, Justin Cronin, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Mark de Jager, Cindy Dees, Matthew Dunn, Brian Evenson, Bill Flippin, Frederick Forsyth, Tod Goldberg, Michael Hjorth, Jon Hollins, Emmi Itäranta, Cassandra Khaw, Jay Kristoff, Travis Langley, Alex Marshall, Hollie Overton, Terry Pratchett, Tim Pratt, Hans Rosenfeldt, Anthony Ryan, Jamie Sawyer, Adam Sisman, Martin Cruz Smith, Cass R. Sunstein, Michael Swanwick, K.B. Wagers, Ren Warom, Chris Whitaker, Walter Jon Williams

Above artwork: Witchfinder: City of the Dead #1 (crop), by Julian Totino Tedesco (Dark Horse Comics)

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AusubelR-Sons&DaughtersOfEase&PlentyUSRamona Ausubel, SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF EASE AND PLENTY (Riverbed)

Labor Day, 1976, Martha’s Vineyard. Summering at the family beach house along this moneyed coast of New England, Fern and Edgar — married with three children — are happily preparing for a family birthday celebration when they learn that the unimaginable has occurred: There is no more money. More specifically, there’s no more money in the estate of Fern’s recently deceased parents, which, as the sole source of Fern and Edgar’s income, had allowed them to live this beautiful, comfortable life despite their professed anti-money ideals.

Quickly, the once-charmed family unravels. In distress and confusion, Fern and Edgar are each tempted away on separate adventures: she on a road trip with a stranger, he on an ill-advised sailing voyage with another woman.

The three children are left for days with no guardian whatsoever, in an improvised Neverland helmed by the tender, witty, and resourceful Cricket, age nine.

I picked this up very much on a whim — I have no idea if it’s the sort of thing I might like, but I was intrigued nevertheless. It’s out now, published by Riverhead.

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BeaglePS-SummerlongPeter S. Beagle, SUMMERLONG (Tachyon Publications)

It was a typically miserable Puget Sound winter before the arrival of Lioness Lazos. An enigmatic young waitress with strange abilities, when the lovely Lioness comes to Gardner Island even the weather takes notice.

As an impossibly beautiful spring leads into a perfect summer, Lioness is drawn to a complicated family. She is taken in by two disenchanted lovers — dynamic Joanna Delvecchio and scholarly Abe Aronson — visited by Joanna’s previously unlucky-in-love daughter, Lily. With Lioness in their lives, they are suddenly compelled to explore their deepest dreams and desires.

Lioness grows more captivating as the days grow longer. Her new family thrives, even as they may be growing apart. But lingering in Lioness’s past is a dark secret — and even summer days must pass.

As it happens, I recently found Alyssa’s copy of The Last Unicorn, which I haven’t read yet. I’ll hopefully be reading both of these books very soon. Published by Tachyon Publications in September 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BlakstadM-SockpuppetUKMatthew Blakstad, SOCKPUPPET (Hodder)

You shared your life online. Now how will you get it back? 

Twitter. Facebook. Whatsapp. Google Maps. Every day you share everything about yourself — where you go, what you eat, what you buy, what you think — online. Sometimes you do it on purpose. Usually you do it without even realizing it. At the end of the day, everything from your shoe-size to your credit limit is out there. Your greatest joys, your darkest moments. Your deepest secrets.

If someone wants to know everything about you, all they have to do is look.

But what happens when someone starts spilling state secrets? For politician Bethany Leherer and programmer Danielle Farr, that’s not just an interesting thought-experiment. An online celebrity called sic_girl has started telling the world too much about Bethany and Dani, from their jobs and lives to their most intimate secrets. There’s just one problem: sic_girl doesn’t exist. She’s an construct, a program used to test code. Now Dani and Bethany must race against the clock to find out who’s controlling sic_girl and why… before she destroys the privacy of everyone in the UK.

I’ve really been looking forward to this, ever since it was announced on Hodderscape. So, I’ll be reading this very soon. Out now, published in the UK by Hodder.

Also on CR: Interview with Matthew Blakstad

Review copy received from publisher

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BrennanM-ColdForgedFlameMarie Brennan, COLD-FORGED FLAME (Tor.com)

A quest for blood, for answers, for identity.

Atop a stone mountain, amid a dozen acolytes, she is summoned, given life, and given purpose.

Facing unnatural challenges in a land that shouldn’t exist, she is compelled to forge on till the end, discovering facets of herself she never suspected might exist.

But when success could mean losing more than mere life, is winning worth the cost of the journey?

Always nice to read something new by Marie Brennan, and this sounds really interesting. Due to be published by Tor.com, on September 13th, 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Marie Brennan; Guest Post on “The Series Payoff” (one of the most popular pieces on the site, ever)

Review copy received from publisher

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CarrigerG-CP2-ImprudenceGail Carriger, IMPRUDENCE (Orbit)

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types. 

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they really are… is frightened.

The second novel in Carriger’s latest series, and sequel to Prudence, is connected (I believe) to her best-selling, critically-acclaimed Parasol Protectorate universe. I’ve heard such great things about these novels, from multiple people, that I really should get around to reading them all. Due to be published by Orbit Books, on July 19th, 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Gail Carriger

Review copy received from publisher

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CarterJ-UndercoverUKJoe Carter, UNDERCOVER (Century)

Twenty years undercover — one man’s true story of life as an undercover cop. A must-read for fans of Donnie Brasco.

For over 20 years Joe Carter has worked for the police as an undercover cop. He travelled the globe on different passports. He fraternised with thieves, international drugs and arms dealers. He worked alongside the most dangerous criminals. Always fearing that this life would come crashing down around him at any point.

His story is a gripping account of the secret, solitary work of an undercover officer and the many ‘sticky’ situations he found himself in, as well as the moving confession of the difficulty in reconciling his two identities with his family life. It’s a story of his beginnings from a being a young east end apprentice to the mean streets he walks today — it reveals the many highs and the painful lows of going undercover.

This book explores the resilience needed to lead a double life, the thrilling challenge of working with the biggest criminals in Britain, and maintaining a sense of justice through the many adventures he encounters.

This sounds pretty interesting, and I am a fan of Donnie Brasco… Published in the UK by Century, Undercover is out now.

Review copy received from publisher

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ChuW-2-TimeSiegeWesley Chu, TIME SIEGE (Angry Robot Books)

Having been haunted by the past and enslaved by the present, James Griffin-Mars is taking control of the future.

Earth is a toxic, sparsely inhabited wasteland – the perfect hiding place for a fugitive ex-chronman to hide from the authorities.

James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries: Elise Kim, who believes she can renew Earth, given time; Grace Priestly, the venerated inventor of time travel herself; Levin, James’s mentor and former pursuer, now disgraced; and the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world.

James also has enemies. They include the full military might of benighted solar system ruled by corporate greed and a desperate fear of what James will do next. At the forefront of their efforts to stop him is Kuo, the ruthless security head, who wants James’s head on a pike and will stop at nothing to obtain it.

The sequel to the critically-acclaimed Time Salvager, which has also been optioned for the silver screen (by Michael Bay). I should really get around to reading the first in the series pretty soon. Have been slacking. Published in the UK by Angry Robot Books on July 7th; and in the US and Canada by Tor Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Wesley Chu

Review copy received via NetGalley

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CohenR-SheMadeMeLaughRichard Cohen, SHE MADE ME LAUGH: MY FRIEND NORA EPHRON (Simon & Schuster)

Nora Ephron, one of the most famous writers, film makers, and personalities of her time is captured by her long-time and dear friend in a hilarious, blunt, raucous, and poignant recollection of their decades-long friendship.

Nora Ephron (1941–2012) was a phenomenal personality, journalist, essayist, novelist, playwright, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and movie director (Sleepless in Seattle; You’ve Got Mail; When Harry Met Sally; Heartburn; Julie & Julia). She wrote a slew of bestsellers (I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman; I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections; Scribble, Scribble: Notes on the Media; Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women). She was celebrated by Hollywood, embraced by literary New York, and adored by legions of fans throughout the world.

Award-winning journalist Richard Cohen, wrote this about his “third-person memoir”: “I call this book a third-person memoir. It is about my closest friend, Nora Ephron, and the lives we lived together and how her life got to be bigger until, finally, she wrote her last work, the play, Lucky Guy, about a newspaper columnist dying of cancer while she herself was dying of cancer. I have interviewed many of her other friends — Mike Nichols, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Arianna Huffington — but the book is not a name-dropping star turn, but an attempt to capture a remarkable woman who meant so much to so many other women.”

Love her movies, and what little of her writing I have read (planning on reading more), and this looked interesting. Published by Simon & Schuster in September 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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CoulterC-FBI20-InsidiousCatherine Coulter, INSIDIOUS (Gallery)

FBI agents Savich and Sherlock must discover who is trying to murder eighty-six-year-old Venus Rasmussen, a powerful, wealthy society icon. They soon find out that the danger may be closer than expected.

Venus Rasmussen, a powerful eighty-six-year-old woman who still runs Rasmussen Industries, an international conglomerate, believes someone is poisoning her. After Savich and Sherlock visit with her, someone attempts to shoot her in broad daylight. Who’s trying to kill her and why? A member of her rapacious family, or her grandson who’s been missing for ten years and suddenly reappears? Savich and Sherlock must peel away the layers to uncover the incredible truth about who would target Venus.

Meanwhile, Special Agent Cam Wittier leaves Washington for Los Angeles to work with local Detective Daniel Montoya to lead the hunt for the Starlet Slasher, a serial killer who has cut the throats of five young actresses. When a sixth young actress is murdered, Cam comes to realize the truth might be closer than she’d ever want to believe.

This is the 20th novel in Coulter’s best-selling FBI series. Of the 20, I’ve… not read a single one. However, I’ve always wanted to, but never been sure where to jump in (whether it was a series that could be dipped in to regardless of how late you arrive). Maybe I’ll just start here, then go back to the beginning at a later date? Published by Gallery, on August 9th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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CroninJ-3-CityOfMirrorsUSJustin Cronin, THE CITY OF MIRRORS (Pub)

The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?

The Twelve have been destroyed and the terrifying hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew—and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy—humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

This was a rather aspirational purchase — I’ve read the first 150~ pages of The Passage, but found it to be so damned slow… I’d really like to finish the series, but I couldn’t say for definite when that might happen. Published in North America by Ballantine Books, and Orion Books in the UK, The City of Mirrors is out now.

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SweeneyCDA-NestUSCynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, THE NEST (Harper Collins)

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down.

This has received an incredible amount of praise and attention. I took my time picking it up, but I’m keen to read it. Published by Harper Collins in Canada, it’s out now.

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deJagerM-InfernalMark de Jager, INFERNAL (Del Rey UK)

Stratus wakes alone, with no memory of his past. All he knows is his name and that he is not human. Possessing immense strength, powerful sorcery and an insatiable hunger, he sets out across a landscape torn apart by a war, as a dark magic drives the world to the brink of destruction.

Disoriented and pursued relentlessly by enemies, he will have to learn what he truly is, or risk bringing the world into ruin…

I’m really interested in reading this. I’ve known Mark for quite some time, now, via Twitter. In fact, I think he must have been among the first SFF-bloggers I connected with digitally. He’s a great guy, and this novels looks really intriguing. Hopefully have it reviewed soon. Published in the UK by Del Rey, on August 11th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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DeesFlippin-2-DreamingHuntUSCindy Dees & Bill Flippin, THE DREAMING HUNT (Tor)

In Cindy Dees and Bill Flippin’s The Sleeping King our intrepid adventurers found the imprisoned echo of a long lost king on the Dream Plane. He told them how to wake him in the mortal realm: find his lost regalia — crown, ring, sword, shield, and bow — and rejoin them with his sleeping body.

In The Dreaming Hunt, the heroes begin their quest. But they’ve caught the attention of powerful forces determined to stop them. Worse, their visit to the Dream Plane has unleashed chaos, and the fight is spilling over into the mortal realm.

They frantically outrun old enemies and pick up new ones: imperial hunters, a secret cabal of mages, a criminal league, and a changeling army. Are they just pawns in larger political dramas, or are they crystallizing into the nucleus of a rebellion? Can they find the regalia necessary to wake the Sleeping King before they are utterly destroyed?

The sequel to The Sleeping King. Due to be published by Tor Books, on September 27th, 2016.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Reader/Writer Collaboration”

Review copy received from publisher

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DunnM-S6-ASoldiersRevengeUSMatthew Dunn, A SOLDIER’S REVENGE (William Morrow)

Former operative Will Cochrane wakes up in New York’s Waldorf Astoria and is horrified to see blood on his hands — something he remembers absolutely nothing about. When he then finds a woman murdered in his bathroom he knows he’s stepped into a wilderness of terror that is far more dangerous than anything he’s ever faced.

With no memory of the night before nor of the unfortunate woman, Will believes he is being framed and needs to outrun the police who will be looking for him very soon. Until this moment, Will has been on the precipice of a new life, one outside the intelligence service, and one that includes fatherhood. He’s agreed to adopt the twin sons of his former colleague and Navy SEAL operative Roger Koenig, and had been on his way to pick them up before he’d awakened to the carnage in New York.

Will knows his only chance to clear his name is to find the real killer while he’s still free. But he also has to find the twins, suspecting that they’re in danger as well. In Virginia, he discovers one boy alive and his brother missing and most likely kidnapped. What he also finds is the killer’s trail in the form of a man’s voice, which Will recognizes and believes belongs to an old nemesis, a Russian agent he has tangled with before. With local police, the FBI, and even his friends pursuing him, the clever and ruthless operative must track down his adversary, save the boys, and prove his innocence before it’s too late.

This is the sixth novel in Dunn’s Spycatcher series, one that I not-so-recently picked up and really need to get around to reading… A Soldier’s Revenge is published by William Morrow, on October 11th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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EvensonB-WarrenBrian Evenson, THE WARREN (Tor.com)

X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one — or many — but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X.

He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be.

But when he discovers the existence of another — above ground, outside the protection of the Warren — X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.

This looks great. Published by Tor.com on September 20th, 2016.

Next Week: Interview with Brian Evenson (June 22nd)

Review copy received from publisher

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ForsythF-OutsiderUKPBFrederick Forsyth, THE OUTSIDER (Corgi)

FREDERICK FORSYTH HAS SEEN IT ALL. AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE…

At eighteen, Forsyth was the youngest pilot to qualify with the RAF.

At twenty-five, he was stationed in East Berlin as a journalist during the Cold War.

Before he turned thirty, he was in Africa controversially covering the bloodiest civil war in living memory.

Three years later, broke and out of work, he wrote his game-changing first novel, The Day of the Jackal. He never looked back.

Forsyth has seen some of the most exhilarating moments of the last century from the inside, travelling the world, once or twice on her majesty’s secret service. He’s been shot at, he’s been arrested, he’s even been seduced by an undercover agent. 

But all the while he felt he was an outsider. This is his story.

Very much interested in this. I haven’t read a great deal of Forsyth’s work, but I think his memoir will be fascinating. (I also hope to get my hands on John le Carre’s upcoming The Pigeon Tunnel memoir.) The Outsider is published in the UK by Corgi, and in the US by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Review copy received from publisher

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GlynnA-ParadimeUKAlan Glynn, PARADIME (Faber & Faber)

After a stint as a private contractor in Afghanistan, Danny Lynch is back in New York. But nothing’s easy. Work is hard to find and his girlfriend owes more than $30,000 in student loans. Danny is also haunted by something he witnessed at the base — a fact that could ultimately destroy him. 

Then he spots Teddy Trager, tech visionary and billionaire. These two men couldn’t be more different — except for one thing: in appearance, they’re identical.

Danny becomes obsessed with Trager, and before long this member of the ninety-nine per cent is passing undetected into the gilded realm of the one per cent. But what does Danny find there? Who does he become? And is there a route home?

Glynn is the author of Limitless, which was made into a movie starring Bradley Cooper (and, later, a TV series). Paradise sounds intriguing. Review soon. Published by Faber & Faber in the UK, and Picador in the US. It’s out now.

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HjorthRosenfeldt-SB2-ManWhoWasntThereUKMichael Hjorth & Hans Rosenfeldt, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE (Century)

On the side of a mountain in Sweden, six bodies have been found. Skeletons, more precisely. These bodies were buried a long time ago.

And for Sebastian Bergman that just makes the investigation into who they are, who killed them, and why, even more complex. Because Bergman has, of course, found himself on the investigating team. At first it was a chance to escape his ex-girlfriend and spend some time with his daughter, Vanja. An opportunity to try and build a relationship with her before it’s too late.

But soon he finds that he’s more involved than he would ever want to be. And his personal life is horribly, disastrously, tangled up in it all…

This is the second Sebastian Bergman novel, written by the creator of The Bridge TV series. I’ve neither read the first novel, nor seen the series, but I’ve heard very good things. So, I’m quite looking forward to giving this a try. Published in the UK by Century, it’s out now.

Review copy received from publisher

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HollinsJ-DL1-FoolsGoldJon Hollins, THE DRAGON LORDS: FOOL’S GOLD (Orbit)

It’s not easy to live in a world ruled by dragons. The taxes are high and their control is complete. But for one group of bold misfits, it’s time to band together and steal back some of that wealth. 

No one said they were smart.

This has been described as “Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hobbit…”, which is a pretty intriguing prospect. Due to be published by Orbit Books on July 19th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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ItarantaE-CityOfWovenStreetsUKEmmi Itäranta, THE CITY OF WOVEN STREETS (Voyager)

The tapestry of life may be more fragile than it seems: pull one thread, and all will unravel.

In the City of Woven Streets, human life has little value. You practice a craft to keep you alive, or you are an outcast, unwanted and tainted. Eliana is a young weaver in the House of Webs, but secretly knows she doesn’t really belong there. She is hiding a shameful birth defect that would, if anyone knew about it, land her in the House of the Tainted, a prison for those whose very existence is considered a curse.

When an unknown woman with her tongue cut off and Eliana’s name tattooed on her skin arrives at the House of Webs, Eliana discovers an invisible network of power behind the city’s facade. All the while, the sea is clawing the shores and the streets are slowly drowning.

That cover… Wow. Of course, it caught my attention when I first saw it. The synopsis sounds fascinating, and after first reading about this novel, I also picked up the author’s debut, Memory of WaterThe City of Woven Streets is out now, published by Voyager.

Also on CR: Interview with Emmi Itäranta

Review copy received from publisher

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JemisinNK-BE2-ObeliskGateN.K. Jemisin, THE OBELISK GATE (Orbit)

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME. 

The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night. 

Essun — once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger — has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power — and her choices will break the world.

The sequel to The Fifth Season. Due to be published by Orbit Books, on August 16th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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KhawC-HammersOnBoneCassandra Khaw, HAMMERS ON BONE (Tor.com)

John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable. 

He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.

As Persons investigates the horrible McKinsey, he realizes that he carries something far darker than the expected social evils. He’s infected with an alien presence, and he’s spreading that monstrosity far and wide. Luckily Persons is no stranger to the occult, being an ancient and magical intelligence himself. The question is whether the private dick can take down the abusive stepdad without releasing the holds on his own horrifying potential.

This sounds interestingly dark and twisted. Published by Tor.com on October 11th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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KristoffJ-N1-NevernightUSJay Kristoff, NEVERNIGHT (Thomas Dunne Books)

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

Revenge.

A new series, and one that has been getting a lot of buzz since it was first announced, and also since the two covers (US and UK) were unveiled — both are rather nice, though I think I do prefer the UK cover. Published in August by Thomas Dunne Books in the US and Voyager in the UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LangleyT-CaptainAmericaVsIronManTravis Langley (ed.), CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. IRON MAN (Sterling)

Freedom vs. security, the basic human dilemma. Can heroes really protect both? Two iconic figures, two living symbols whose choices make them superheroes and leaders, come to completely opposite conclusions.

This provocative collection, edited by acclaimed media psychology writer Travis Langley and with a foreword by the legendary Stan Lee(!), examines the complex psychological and political choices made by Captain America and Iron Man throughout their careers, culminating in Marvel’s superhero civil war which spreads far beyond the Avengers themselves. Why do Steve Rogers and Tony Stark see things so differently? What are their motivations? Is either one truly in the right?

Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology, our latest entry in this popular psychology series. analyzes the polar sides of this debate — individual freedom vs. national security. How does trauma shape these heroic characters? What does it take to become a hero? What roles do empathy, gender, genius, morality, leadership, and teamwork play in starting conflicts and in resolving them? Fans will find thought-provoking psychological material to contemplate for hours. Do we really have to take sides?

LangleyT-GameOfThronesPsychologyTravis Langley (ed.), GAME OF THRONES PSYCHOLOGY (Sterling)

This thought-provoking anthology offers a close examination of the psychology behind the intricate narrative and compelling characters in author George R.R. Martin’s bestselling work, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the the popular HBO TV series based upon his books, Game of Thrones.

In Martin’s richly detailed world, deceit, manipulation, and greed rule the day, and almost everyone fights for power over the realm or simply over their own lives. How do love and hate, good evil, need and greed, altruism and narcissism drive the very best and very worst human behaviors? With no moral boundaries honored, the psychological games played by the series’ conniving protagonists are seemingly limitless.

Game of Thrones Psychology: The Mind is Dark and Full of Terrors explores motivations, relations, personality disorders, psychopathy, trauma, and much more. What kind of person can survive the game of thrones, much less hope to win?

I haven’t read many books like either of these edited volumes. I’m interested in giving them a try, though. Both are out now, published by Sterling.

Review copy received from publisher

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MarshallA-2-ABladeOfBlackSteelAlex Marshall, A BLADE OF BLACK STEEL (Orbit)

An outstanding, game-changing epic adventure featuring an unforgettable female warrior. 

After five hundred years, the Sunken Kingdom has returned, and brought with it a monstrous secret that threatens to destroy every country on the Star. 

As an inhuman army gathers on its shores, poised to invade the Immaculate Isles, the members of the Cobalt Company face an ugly choice: abandon their dreams of glory and vengeance to combat a menace from another realm, or pursue their ambitions and hope the Star is still there when the smoke clears.

Five villains. One legendary general. A battle for survival.

The second novel in Marshall’s critically-acclaimed Crimson Empire series, it’s published by Orbit Books.

Review copy received from publisher

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MeltzerGoldberg-HouseOfSecretsUSBrad Meltzer & Tod Goldberg, THE HOUSE OF SECRETS (Grand Central)

When Hazel Nash was six years old, her father taught her: mysteries need to be solved. He should know. Hazel’s father is Jack Nash, the host of America’s favorite conspiracy TV show, The House of Secrets.

Even as a child, she loved hearing her dad’s tall tales, especially the one about a leather book belonging to Benedict Arnold that was hidden in a corpse.

Now, years later, Hazel wakes up in the hospital and remembers nothing, not even her own name. She’s told she’s been in a car accident that killed her father and injured her brother. But she can’t remember any of it, because of her own traumatic brain injury. Then a man from the FBI shows up, asking questions about her dad-and about his connection to the corpse of a man found with an object stuffed into his chest: a priceless book that belonged to Benedict Arnold.

Back at her house, Hazel finds guns that she doesn’t remember owning. On her forehead, she sees scars from fights she can’t recall. Most important, the more Hazel digs, the less she likes the person she seems to have been.

Trying to put together the puzzle pieces of her past and present, Hazel Nash needs to figure out who killed this man-and how the book wound up in his chest. The answer will tell her the truth about her father, what he was really doing for the government-and who Hazel really is. Mysteries need to be solved. Especially the ones about yourself.

It has been a while since I last read something by Meltzer. On the whole, I’ve enjoyed his novels — but the past couple I’ve tried haven’t been fantastic. This one sounded interesting, though, so I’m eager to give his new stuff a try. Published by Grand Central in the US.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

OvertonH-BabydollUKHollie Overton, BABYDOLL (Century)

She kept moving forward. She didn’t stop. She didn’t look back.

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she’s been locked away from the outside world. During that time she’s changed from a girl into a woman. She’s had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know — to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend — and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily’s perfect life as a teenager doesn’t exist any more. Since she’s been gone, her family’s lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

Sounds somewhat similar to Room, which I suppose is understandable — after the incredible success of that novel and its movie adaptation (Oscar nods for almost everyone, Brie Larson winning one, etc.), it was only a matter of time before more novels of that ilk started to appear. Babydoll does sound interesting, and given the biography of the author this could be quite interesting. Published on June 30th by Century in the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

*

PratchettBaxter-LE-LongCosmosUKTerry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, THE LONG COSMOS (Doubleday)

2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day and in the Long Earth, the new Next post-human society continues to evolve.

For Joshua Valienté, now in his late sixties, it is time to take one last solo journey into the High Meggers: an adventure that turns into a disaster. Alone and facing death, his only hope of salvation lies with a group of trolls. But as Joshua confronts his mortality, the Long Earth receives a signal from the stars. A signal that is picked up by radio astronomers but also in more abstract ways – by the trolls and by the Great Traversers. Its message is simple but ts implications are enormous:

JOIN US.

The super-smart Next realise that the Message contains instructions on how to develop an immense artificial intelligence but to build it they have to seek help from throughout the industrious worlds of mankind. Bit by bit, byte by byte, they assemble a computer the size of a continent – a device that will alter the Long Earth’s place within the cosmos and reveal the ultimate, life-affirming goal of those who sent the Message. Its impact will be felt by and resonate with all – mankind and other species, young and old, communities and individuals – who inhabit the Long Earths…

This is, I believe, the final part in Pratchett & Baxter’s Long Earth series. I really have no excuse to not read these, now… Out now, published in the UK by Doubleday.

Review copy received from publisher

*

PrattT-LiarsBargainTim Pratt, LIAR’S BARGAIN (Tor)

For charming con man Rodrick and his talking sword Hrym, life is all about taking what you can and getting away clean. But when the pair are arrested in the crusader nation of Lastwall, Rodrick faces immediate execution, with Hrym spending the rest of eternity trapped in an enchanted scabbard. Their only hope lies in a secret government program in which captured career criminals are teamed up and sent on suicide missions too sensitive for ordinary soldiers. Trapped between almost certain death and actual certain death, the two join forces with a team of rogues and scoundrels, ready to serve their year-long tenure as best they can. Yet not everyone in their party is what they seem, and a death sentence may only be the start of the friends’ problems.

More Pathfinder fiction (they really are publishing a lot of these, pretty quickly). I probably should read one of these at some point… They do sound like fun. This is the sequel to Pratt’s Liar’s Island.

Review copy received from publisher

*

RyanA-TheWakingFireAnthony Ryan, THE WAKING FIRE (Orbit)

A thrilling new epic fantasy of exploration and adventure, spies and assassins, explosive magic and the furious battle to forge an empire.

For decades the lands of the Ironship Syndicate have been defended by the Blood-blessed — men and women able to channel the powers contained in the potent blood of wild drakes. Elite spies and assassins, their loyalty has established the Syndicate’s position as the greatest power in the known world.

Yet now a crisis looms. The drake bloodlines are weakening, and war with the Corvantine Empire seems inevitable. The Syndicate’s only hope of survival lies with the myth of a legendary drake, whose powerful blood might just turn the tide of the war — if it even exists.

The task of hunting down this fabled creature falls to Claydon Torcreek, a petty thief and unregistered Blood-blessed. He’s handled many valuable things in his time (most of them illegal) but nothing as priceless as his nation’s future.

Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song was a massively popular epic fantasy series — one I, regrettably, didn’t get around to reading in a timely manner. This year, his new series, Draconis Memoria, begins. The Waking Fire is published in the UK by Orbit (July 7th), and in the US by Ace (July 5th).

Review copy received from publisher

*

SawyerJ-LW2-LegionJamie Sawyer, LAZARUS WAR: LEGION (Orbit)

Conrad Harris is the legend known as Lazarus, and he has died hundreds of times. Using simulant bodies, he runs suicide missions in the depths of space. But he always comes back.

As commanding officer of the Lazarus Legion, Harris and his elite Simulant Operations team are humanity’s last line of defence against the hostile alien race known as the Krell.

Having survived their ordeal on Helios, they’re now leading a large-scale mission to the perilous, unexplored region of the Damascus Rift. There, another Artefact has been discovered. It is the product of an ancient alien life form – and a possible weapon to be used against the Krell.

This Artefact could finally help humanity win the war. But what Harris and the Lazarus Legion will discover there is from their worst nightmares…

The second novel in Sawyer’s sci-fi series. I quite enjoyed the first one (didn’t love it, but thought it was interesting and well-written). Looking forward to giving this a try. Published by Orbit Books, it’s out now.

Review copy received from publisher

*

SismanA-JohnLeCarreCAAdam Sisman, JOHN LE CARRE (Knopf Canada)

John le Carré is still at the top more than half a century after The Spy Who Came in from the Cold became a worldwide bestseller. Written with exclusive access to le Carré, his personal archives, and many of the people closest to him, Adam Sisman’s definitive biography is a highly readable, fascinating portrait of the life, times and espionage career that inspired a literary master.

Always secretive about his background and Secret Service career (blocking one biography from publication in the 1990s, then choosing a biographer who abandoned the project), John le Carré (David Cornwell) has finally given his blessing to Adam Sisman, who has delivered a biography that reads like a novel. From his bleak childhood — the departure of his mother when he was five was followed by “sixteen hugless years” in the dubious care of his father, a serial-seducer and con-man — through recruitment by both MI5 and MI6, his years as an agent for British Intelligence during the Cold War, to his emergence as the master of the espionage novel, le Carré has repeatedly quarried his life for his fiction. His acute psychological renderings of undercover operations and the moral ambiguities of the Cold War and our present-day politics lend his novels a level of credibility that is unmistakable. Sisman’s great biography uncovers for us the remarkable story of an enigmatic writer whose commercial success has sometimes overshadowed appreciation for his extraordinary abilities.

Very much looking forward to reading this. Will go nicely with Frederick Forsyth’s memoir… (John le Carre is also publishing a memoir, later this year.) Published in Canada by Knopf, in the US by Harper, and in the UK by Bloomsbury.

Review copy received from publisher

*

CruzSmithM-GirlFromVeniceUSMartin Cruz Smith, THE GIRL FROM VENICE (Pub)

A suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice.

Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman’s body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the Wehrmacht SS. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini’s broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.

The Girl from Venice is a thriller, a mystery, and a retelling of Italian history that will take your breath away. Most of all it is a love story.

This sounded interesting. And I still have never read anything by Martin Cruz Smith, despite pretty much every single one of his past novels sounding interesting. Published by Simon & Schuster in October 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

SunsteinCR-WorldAccordingToStarWarsUKCass R. Sunstein, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO STAR WARS (Harper Collins)

There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’s score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and explores why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines a bright new light on the most beloved story of our time.

I first heard about this book a little while ago, and was reminded again when I wandered through Harvard Yard last month — it looked interesting, so I thought I’d pick it up. As it turned out, it was a pretty good book. Not fantastic, as I think Sunstein could have done much more with the book without fear of alienating readers who maybe aren’t as informed about legal or political issues. Some of his observations were very good, while others didn’t really go far enough. And he has not convinced me that Episode I is “actually pretty great”… Published by Harper Collins, it’s out now.

*

SwanwickM-IronDragonsDaughterMichael Swanwick, THE IRON DRAGON’S DAUGHTER (Open Road Media)

Jane is trapped as a changeling in an industrialized Faerie ruled by aristocratic high elves and populated by ogres, dwarves, night-gaunts, and hags. She is the only human in a factory where underage forced labor builds cybernetic, magical dragons that are weaponized and sent off to war. When the damaged dragon Melanchthon tempts Jane with promises of freedom, the stage is set for a daring escape that will shake the foundations of existence.

Combining alchemy and technology, a coming-of-age story like no other, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter takes place against a dystopic mindscape of dark challenges and class struggles that force Jane to make costly decisions at every turn.

I’ve heard so much about this novel, but for some reason never got around to picking it up. Then I saw that it was going to be released as an eBook, and jumped at the chance. Published in eBook by Open Road Media, it’s out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

WagersKB-1-BehindTheThroneK.B. Wagers, BEHIND THE THRONE (Orbit)

Hail Bristol has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire.

When she is dragged back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir, she finds that trading her ship for a palace is her most dangerous move yet.

This one looks really good. Will read and review very soon. Due to be published August 2nd, 2016, by Orbit Books.

Review copy received from publisher

*

WaromR-EscapologyUKRen Warom, ESCAPOLOGY (Titan)

Shock Pao is not just any Haunt — he’s the best. There isn’t a system that he can’t crack into, no virtual lock he can’t pick, nothing he can’t steal for the right price. Outside virtual world the Slip, though, he’s a Fail — no degree, no job, no affiliations to protect him from angry ex-customers. Of which he has quite a few. So when his ex brings Shock a job which could help him escape his miserable existence, he accepts, little realizing that it will turn out to be his most impossible, illegal and insane assignment yet.

Amiga works for Twist Calhoun, one of the toughest crime lords in the Gung, as a Cleaner—assassin. Trapped in a world of kill-or-be-killed, she wants out. But when Shock’s war comes to her, she doesn’t have a choice: it’s her job to bring him to Twist, dead or alive — or it’ll be her head in a bag in Twist’s vault.

The cover caught my attention at first, but turns out the novel sounds pretty interesting. Published by Titan Books, Escapology is out now.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Finding Burroughs”

Review copy received from publisher

*

WhitakerC-TallOaksChris Whitaker, TALL OAKS (twenty7)

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town.

Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.

Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.

Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.

Photographer Jerry, who’s determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.

And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own…

In Chris Whitaker’s brilliant and original debut novel, missing persons, secret identities and dangerous lies abound in a town as idiosyncratic as its inhabitants.

I spotted this via Bonnier’s Twitter feed, as it was on sale at the time. Looked interesting, and it was less than the cost of a coffee, so… Yeah. Impulse buy. It’s out now in eBook, published by twenty7. The paperback edition is out in September 2016.

*

WilliamsWJ-P-ImpersonationsWalter Jon Williams, IMPERSONATIONS (Tor.com)

Nebula Award-winning author Walter Jon Williams returns to the sweeping space opera adventure of his Praxis universe with an exciting new novel featuring the hero of Dread Empire’s Fall!

Having offended her superiors by winning a battle without permission, Caroline Sula has been posted to the planet Earth, a dismal backwater where careers go to die. But Sula has always been fascinated by Earth history, and she plans to reward herself with a long, happy vacation amid the ancient monuments of humanity’s home world.

Sula may be an Earth history buff, but there are aspects of her own history she doesn’t want known. Exposure is threatened when an old acquaintance turns up unexpectedly. Someone seems to be forging evidence that would send her to prison. And all that is before someone tries to kill her.

If she’s going to survive, Sula has no choice but to make some history of her own.

As the synopsis states, this is set in Williams’s Praxis universe — which I have no experience reading. Thankfully, I’ve been informed that Impersonations works as a good entry-/jumping-on-point, so I’ll read this and then decide if I want to also pick up Dread Empire’s Fall (also published as The Praxis). Due to be published by Tor.com, on October 4th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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