New Books (August-September)


Featuring: James Barclay, J. Patrick Black, Lila Bowen, Edward Cox, Blake Crouch, John French, Mira Grant, Mark Hill, Gregg Hurwitz, Greg Iles, Eowyn Ivey, Vic James, K.V. Johansen, Owen Laukkanen, John le Carré, Jill Leovy, Tim O’Mara, Susan Perabo, Sarah Perry, Anthony Riches, George Saunders, Amy Schumer, Alan Sepinwall, Matt Zoller Seitz, Michael Tolkin, Neely Tucker, Karine Tuil, Wendy N. Wagner, Django Wexler, Colson Whitehead, Fran Wilde

BarclayJ-HeartOfGraniteUKJames Barclay, HEART OF GRANITE (Gollancz)

Max Halloran is out to save his squad, his friends and his world — whoever he has to take down to do it.

The world has become a battleground in a war which no side is winning. But for those determined to retain power, the prolonged stalemate cannot be tolerated so desperate measures must be taken.

Max Halloran has no idea. He’s living the brief and glorious life of a hunter-killer pilot. He’s an ace in the air, on his way up through the ranks, in love, and with his family’s every need provided for in thanks for his service, Max has everything…

… right up until he hears something he shouldn’t have, and refuses to let it go. Suddenly he’s risking his life and the lives of all those he cares about for a secret which could expose corruption at the highest levels, and change the course of the war.

One man, one brief conversation… a whole world of trouble…

I haven’t read much of Barclay’s work — I enjoyed his first Raven novel (Dawnthief), though. Heart of Granite is the first in a new series, and apparently quite a departure. I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s out now, published by Gollancz.

Also on CR: Interview with James Barclay (2013); Review of Dawnthief

Review copy received from publisher


BlackJP-NinthCityBurningJ. Patrick Black, NINTH CITY BURNING (Ace)

We never saw them coming. 

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it — until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy’s tactics are changing, and Earth’s defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.

This has been enjoying some buzz, recently — not tons, but there has been some early praise. Also, the cover’s pretty striking. I’m not entirely sure if it’s meant to be YA or not, but I’m interested in giving it a try, so I picked it up. Published by Ace, it’s out now.


BowenL-S2-ConspiracyOfRavensLila Bowen, CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS (Orbit)

Nettie Lonesome made a leap — not knowing what she’d become. But now her destiny as the Shadow is calling.

A powerful alchemist is leaving a trail of dead across the prairie. And Nettie must face the ultimate challenge: side with her friends and the badge on her chest or take off alone on a dangerous mission that is pulling her inexorably toward the fight of her life.

When it comes to monsters and men, the world isn’t black and white. What good are two wings and a gun when your enemy can command a conspiracy of ravens?

This is the sequel to Wake of Vultures, a novel that received a tremendous amount of praise. But also one I forgot about… Oops. With the sequel now in hand, though, I think I’ll be giving the series a try ASAP. Published by Orbit Books on October 27th, 2016. Both Wake of Vultures and Conspiracy of Ravens are (or will be) published by Orbit in the UK, too.

Review copy received via NetGalley


CoxE-R3-WatcherOfDeadTimeUKTPsmEdward Cox, THE WATCHER OF DEAD TIME (Gollancz)

The Relic Guild face the culmination of two wars.

Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed. 

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over.

Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town.

But someone else is watching…

The third and final volume in Cox’s Relic Guild series, following The Relic Guild and The Cathedral of Known Things. As I’ve mentioned before on CR, I read the first novel before it was released, and very much enjoyed it. I inexplicably allowed the second book to pass me by, but now that the series is complete, I think I’ll do a bit of a re-read and catch-up in the near future. The Watcher of Dead Time is published by Gollancz. [Also, how cool are the covers for this series?]

Also on CR: Interviews with Edward Cox in 2014 and 2015; Guest Post on “Writes and Wrongs”; Review of The Relic Guild

Review copy received from publisher


CrouchB-DarkMatterUSBlake Crouch, DARK MATTER (Crown)

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. Hiswife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human — a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

This has been getting great reviews for quite some time, now. I started this right away, and blitzed through it in two days. It is really, really good. Published by Crown in North America, and Macmillan in the UK. [Many thanks to Becca at Arched Door for the book!]


FrenchJ-HH-PraetorianOfDornJohn French, PRAETORIAN OF DORN (Black Library)

Recalled from the Great Crusade after Ullanor, Rogal Dorn and the VIIth Legion were appointed as the Emperor’s praetorians – but only after the Warmaster’s treachery was revealed did the full extent of that sacred duty become apparent. Now, the Solar System comes under attack for the first time since the war began, and many of the seemingly impregnable defences wrought by the Imperial Fists prove inadequate. With all eyes fixed firmly upon this new threat beyond the gates of Terra, who in turn will protect Dorn from the enemy within?

The 39th novel in the Horus Heresy series! The action comes to Terra. I’ve been looking forward to this for some times. I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything else of French’s that I’ve read. Published by Black Library, it’s out now.

Also on CR: Reviews of Ahriman: ExileAhriman: Exodus


grantm-feedbackMira Grant, FEEDBACK (Orbit)

There are two sides to every story… 

We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we unleashed something horrifying and unstoppable. The infection spread leaving those afflicted with a single uncontrollable impulse: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, a team of scrappy underdog reporters relentlessly pursue the facts while competing against the brother-and-sister blog superstars, the Masons.

Surrounded by the infected, and facing more insidious forces working in the shadows, they must hit the presidential campaign trail and uncover dangerous truths. Or die trying.

This is a new novel in the Feed series, and apparently overlaps with the events of the first novel — “offering a new entry point”. Which is pretty cool, considering I haven’t read any of the others. Feedback is due to be published by Orbit in the US and UK, in October, 2016. The previous novels in the series are: Feed, Deadline, Blackout, and Rise (anthology).

Review copy received from publisher


hillm-twooclockboyukMark Hill, THE TWO O’CLOCK BOY (Sphere)


One night changed their lives

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried… until today.

A truth both must hide

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders — but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

Thought this sounded quite interesting. Published by Sphere on September 22nd, 2016 — at the time of writing, it’s only £1.99 on Kindle pre-order, too.

Review copy received via NetGalley


9780765382672_JKTmech.inddGregg Hurwitz, THE RAINS (Tor)

In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding.

Most of the kids they know have been dragged away by once-trusted adults who are now ferocious, inhuman beings. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen–and Patrick’s birthday is only a few days away.

Determined to save Patrick’s life and the lives of the remaining kids, the brothers embark on a mission to uncover the truth about the parasites — and what they find is horrifying. Battling an enemy not of this earth, Chance and Patrick become humanity’s only hope for salvation.

I’m a fan of Hurwitz’s other works — whether fiction or comics, so I was interested in giving this a try. Usually, I would be less inclined to try a YA/teen title. Published by Tor Teen on October 18th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley


Greg Iles, NATCHEZ BURNING and THE BONE TREE (Harper Collins)


An epic trilogy that interweaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former prosecutor Penn Cage. 

Raised in the southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor has been accused of murdering the African American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses even to speak in his own defense.

Penn’s quest for the truth sends him deep into his father’s past, where a sexually charged secret lies. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only one thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the most powerful men in the state. Aided by a dedicated reporter privy to Natchez’s oldest secrets and by his fiancée, Caitlin Masters, Penn uncovers a trail of corruption and brutality that places his family squarely in the Double Eagles’ crosshairs.

With every step costing blood and faith, Penn is forced to confront the most wrenching dilemma of his life: Does a man of honor choose his father or the truth?

These are two of Iles’s Penn Cage novels — in what appears to be a second trilogy of novels featuring that character. Harper Collins is organizing a global blog tour for the newest book, and I was invited to take part. So, expect a couple of reviews in September (Natchez Burning) and early October (The Bone Tree). I have no doubt I’ll end up reading the third book, Mississippi Blood, as soon as it’s available. I have also picked up the prequel novella, The Death Factory, which I’ll read first.

Review copy received from publisher


IveyE-ToTheBrightEdgeOfTheWorldUSEowyn Ivey, TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD (Little, Brown)

In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn’t return — once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there’s no telling what awaits him.

The Wolverine River Valley is not only breathtaking and forbidding but also terrifying in ways that the colonel and his men never could have imagined. As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Forrester and his men discover the blurred lines between human and wild animal, the living and the dead. And while the men knew they would face starvation and danger, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives.

Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point. Can her exploration of nature through the new art of photography help her to rediscover her sense of beauty and wonder?

The truths that Allen and Sophie discover over the course of that fateful year change both of their lives–and the lives of those who hear their stories long after they’re gone — forever.

This novel has been receiving an amazing number of great reviews and positive buzz. So, of course, I’m intrigued. Published in the US by Little, Brown, and in the UK by Tinder Press.

Review copy received via NetGalley


JamesV-GildedCageUKVic James, GILDED CAGE (Pan)

A modern Britain

An age-old cruelty

Britain’s magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years — and now it’s the Hadleys’ turn. Abi Hadley is assigned to England’s most ruthless noble family. The secrets she uncovers could win her freedom — or break her heart. Her brother Luke is enslaved in a brutal factory town, where new friends’ ideals might cost him everything. 

Then while the elite vie for power, a young aristocrat plots to remake the world with his dark gifts. As Britain moves from anger to defiance, all three must take sides. And the consequences of their choices will change everything, forever.

The first book in the Dark Gifts trilogy, this novel has been getting some interesting buzz around the bibliosphere. Looks like it could be interesting. Published by Pan in the UK, and Del Rey in North America.

Review copy received from publisher


JohansenKV-GodsOfNabbanK.V. Johansen, GODS OF NABBAN (Pyr)

The fugitive slave Ghu has ended the assassin Ahjvar’s century-long possession by a murderous and hungry ghost, but at great cost. Heir of the dying gods of Nabban, he is drawn back to the empire he fled as a boy, journeying east on the caravan road with Ahjvar at his side.

Haunted by memory of those he has slain, Ahjvar is ill in mind and body, a danger to those about him and to the man who loves him most of all. Tortured by violent nightmares, he believes himself mad. Only his determination not to leave Ghu to face his fate alone keeps Ahjvar from asking to be freed at last from his unnatural life.

Innocent and madman, god and assassin — two men to seize an empire from the tyrannical descendants of the devil Yeh-Lin. But in war-torn Nabban, enemies of gods and humans stir in the shadows. Yeh-Lin herself meddles with the heir of her enemies and his soul-shattered companion, as the fate of the empire rests on their shoulders.

This is the third novel in Johansen’s Marakand series, following The Leopard and The Lady. The novels have been getting some great reviews. I should really check them out… But in order. Gods of Nabban is published by Pyr.

Also on CR: Excerpt from The Lady

Review copy received from publisher


LaukkanenO-SW6-ForgottenGirlsUSOwen Laukkanen, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

They are the victims no one has ever cared about, until now. Agents Stevens and Windermere return in the blistering new crime novel from the fast-rising, multi-award-nominated suspense star.

She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected — a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice.

But someone has noticed now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues — and where it ends, even they will be shocked.

This is the sixth novel in Laukkanen’s excellent Stevens & Windermere series. If you haven’t tried the series yet, I strongly urge you to do so. The Forgotten Girls is published in North America by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, on March 14th, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley


LeCarreJ-PigeonTunnelUSHCJohn le Carré, THE PIGEON TUNNEL (Viking)

From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels.

Whether he’s writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire or the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth; visiting Rwanda’s museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide; celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 with Yasser Arafat and his high command; interviewing a German woman terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev; listening to the wisdoms of the great physicist, dissident, and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov; meeting with two former heads of the KGB; watching Alec Guinness prepare for his role as George Smiley in the legendary BBC TV adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People; or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in The Constant Gardener, le Carré endows each happening with vividness and humor, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood.

Best of all, le Carré gives us a glimpse of a writer’s journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.

The highly-anticipated memoir from le Carre. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time. Published by Viking in North America and in the UK.


LeovyJ-GhettosideUSJill Leovy, GHETTOSIDE (Vintage)

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.

But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.

Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder — a “ghettoside” killing, one young black man slaying another — and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities — and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.

This, obviously, has enjoyed tons of positive press, and after giving it a try I decided to pick it up. Really well written. Published by Spiegel & Grau in North America, and Vintage in the UK.


OMaraT-NastyCutterTim O’Mara, NASTY CUTTER (Severn House)

Danger gets a little too close to home for ex-cop Raymond Donne…

When his father’s former law partner, Harry Stover, is murdered while being celebrated as Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s “Man of the Year,” ex-cop turned schoolteacher Raymond Donne fights his old police instincts and vows to stay out of the investigation. That is until his childhood home is broken into and one of his students is threatened.

Has a decades old case of his father’s come back to haunt the Donne family? Could the murder have something to do with the victim’s charitable work connecting low-income kids with business leaders in Williamsburg? Raymond never has liked unanswered questions, and when the answers come a little too close to his home and school, he decides he’s not above giving the cops a little unwanted help.

Thought this could be interesting. Published by Severn House in the UK (September 30th, 2016) and US (January 1st, 2017).

Review copy received via NetGalley


PeraboS-FallOfLisaBellowUSSusan Perabo, THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW (Simon & Schuster)

When a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

What happens to the girl left behind?

A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

Like Everything I Never Told You and Room, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime. It is a dark, beautifully rendered, and gripping novel about coping, about coming-of-age, and about forgiveness. It is also a beautiful illustration of how one family, broken by tragedy, finds healing.

Thought this sounded interesting, and I was pre-approved on Edelweiss. Perhaps one for fans of Sarah Pinborough’s 13 Minutes and Robin Wasserman’s Girls on Fire (both of which are excellent)? Published by Simon & Schuster in March 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


PerryS-EssexSerpentUKSarah Perry, THE ESSEX SERPENT (Serpent’s Tail)

London 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis — a curious, obsessive boy — she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.

When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.

Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in ways entirely unexpected.

This was getting some buzz a little while ago, and after a chat with my in-laws, I decided to pick it up. Published by Serpent’s Tail.


RichesA-E09-AltarOfBloodUKAnthony Riches, ALTER OF BLOOD: EMPIRE IX (Hodder)

The ninth novel in the thrilling Empire sequence leads Centurion Marcus Aquila and the Tungrians to the battlefield that was one of Rome’s most disastrous defeats.

The Tungrians have no sooner returned to Rome than they find themselves tasked with a very different mission to their desperate exploits in Parthia. 

Ordered to cross the river Rhenus into barbarian Germany and capture a tribal priestess who may be the most dangerous person on the empire’s northern border, they are soon subject to the machinations of an old enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage their plans before they have even set foot on the river’s eastern bank. 
But after their Roman enemy is neutralised they face a challenge greater still. 

With two of the Bructeri tribe’s greatest treasures in their hands they must regain Roman territory by crossing the unforgiving wilderness that was the graveyard of Roman imperial strategy two hundred years before. And capture by the Bructeri’s vengeful chieftain and his warband can only end in one way — a horrific sacrificial death on the tribe’s altar of blood.

The ninth Empire novel! I have read none of the first eight… But I do like a bit of Roman-era fiction. The first novel in the series, Wounds of Empire, was published in 2009 by Hodder. Alter of Blood is out now, also published by Hodder.

Review copy received from publisher


SaundersG-TenthOfDecemberUKGeorge Saunders, TENTH OF DECEMBER (Bloomsbury)

George Saunders’s most wryly hilarious and disturbing collection yet, Tenth of December illuminates human experience and explores figures lost in a labyrinth of troubling preoccupations. A family member recollects a backyard pole dressed for all occasions; Jeff faces horrifying ultimatums and the prospect of DarkenfloxxTM in some unusual drug trials; and Al Roosten hides his own internal monologue behind a winning smile that he hopes will make him popular. With dark visions of the future riffing against ghosts of the past and the ever-settling present, this collection sings with astonishing charm and intensity.

I picked this up based on the chapter about Saunders in Nick Offerman’s Gumption (I highly recommend this book, too). And because it got so much attention when it first came out. But I’m a little slow, sometimes, so I waited until now. Uhm… Published by Random House in North America, and Bloomsbury in the UK.


SchumerA-GirlWithLowerBackTattooAmy Schumer, THE GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO (Simon & Schuster)

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is — a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend — an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably — but only because it’s over.

I started reading this the same day my pre-order came through. It’s entertaining and Schumer’s narration is welcoming and sometimes conspiratorial. Really enjoyed this. Published in print by Simon & Schuster.

Review copy received from Audible


sepinwallseitz-tvthebookAlan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz, TITLE (Grand Central Publishing)

Is The Wire better than Breaking Bad? Is Cheers better than Seinfeld? What’s the best high school show ever made? Why did Moonlightingreally fall apart? Was the Arrested Development Netflix season brilliant or terrible?

For twenty years-since they shared a TV column at Tony Soprano’s hometown newspaper-critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz have been debating these questions and many more, but it all ultimately boils down to this: 

What’s the greatest TV show ever?

That debate reaches an epic conclusion in TV (THE BOOK). Sepinwall and Seitz have identified and ranked the 100 greatest scripted shows in American TV history. Using a complex, obsessively all- encompassing scoring system, they’ve created a Pantheon of top TV shows, each accompanied by essays delving into what made these shows great. From vintage classics like The Twilight Zone and I Love Lucy to modern masterpieces like Mad Men and Friday Night Lights, from huge hits like All in the Family and ER to short-lived favorites like Firefly and Freaks and Geeks, TV (THE BOOK) will bring the triumphs of the small screen together in one amazing compendium.

Sepinwall and Seitz’s argument has ended. Now it’s time for yours to begin!

This could be fun. Published by Grand Central Publishing, it’s out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley


TolkinM-NK3Michael Tolkin, NK3 (Atlantic Monthly Press)

The H LYW OD sign presides over a Los Angeles devastated by a weaponized microbe that has been accidentally spread around the globe, deleting human identity.

In post-NK3 Los Angeles, a sixty-foot-tall fence surrounds the hills where the rich used to live, but the mansions have been taken over by those with the only power that matters: the power of memory. Inside the Fence, life for the new aristocracy, a society of the partially rehabilitated who call themselves the Verified, is a perpetual party. Outside the Fence, in downtown Los Angeles, the Verified use an invented mythology to keep control over the mindless and nameless Drifters, Shamblers, and Bottle Bangers who serve the new aristocracy until no longer needed. The ruler, Chief, takes his guidance from gigantic effigies of a man and a woman in the heart of the Fence. They warn him of trouble to come, but who is the person to watch: the elusive Eckmann, holed up at LAX; Shannon Squier, a chisel-wielding pop superstar from the pre-NK3 world; a treacherous member of Chief’s inner circle; or Hopper, a Drifter compelled by an inner voice to search for a wife whose name and face he doesn’t know? Each threatens to upset the delicate power balance in this fragile world.

In deliciously dark prose, Tolkin winds a noose-like plot around this melee of despots, prophets, and rebels as they struggle for command and survival in a town that still manages to exert a magnetic force, even as a ruined husk.

This sounds really interesting (as do Tolkin’s previous novels, like The Player and Among the Dead, both of which I’ve also picked up). Published by Atlantic Monthly Press in February 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss


TuckerN-3-OnlyTheHuntedRunUSNeely Tucker, ONLY THE HUNTED RUN (Viking)

The riveting third novel in the Sully Carter series finds the gutsy reporter investigating a shooting at the Capitol and the violent world of the nation’s most corrupt mental institution

In the doldrums of a broiling Washington summer, a madman goes on a shooting rampage in the Capitol building. Sully Carter is at the scene and witnesses the carnage firsthand and files the first and most detailed account of the massacre. The shooter, Terry Waters, is still on the loose and becomes obsessed with Sully, luring the reporter into the streets of D.C. during the manhunt. Not much is known about Waters when he is finally caught, except that he hails from the Indian reservations of Oklahoma. His rants in the courtroom quickly earn him a stay at Saint Elizabeth’s mental hospital, and the paper sends Sully out west to find out what has led a man to such a horrific act of violence.

As Sully hits the road to see what he can dig up on Waters back in Oklahoma, he leaves his friend Alexis to watch over his nephew, Josh, who is visiting DC for the summer. Traversing central Oklahoma, Sully discovers that a shadow lurks behind the Waters family history and that the ghosts of the past have pursued the shooter for far longer than Sully could have known. When a local sheriff reveals the Waterses’ deep connection with Saint Elizabeth’s, Sully realizes he must find a way to gain access to the asylum, no matter the consequences.

I really enjoyed Tucker’s first two novels — The Ways of the Dead and Murder, D.C. — and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Only the Hunted Run ever since turning the final page of the second book. The wait is over, though, and I’ll be reading this very soon. Published in the US by Viking, and I assume it might be published in the UK by Windmill (who published the first two).

Also on CR: Review of The Ways of the Dead and Murder, D.C.



TuilK-AgeOfReinventionCAPBKarine Tuil, THE AGE OF REINVENTION (Washington Square Press)

Top Manhattan criminal defense attorney Sam Tahar seems to have it all: fame, fortune, an enviable marriage to a prominent socialite, and two wonderful children. But his success is built on a lie — he isn’t the person he pretends to be.

Growing up a poor Muslim immigrant inside a grimy Paris apartment tower, Samir Tahar seemed destined for a life on the margins — until he decided “he was going to cut through the bars of his social jail cell, even if he had to do it with his teeth.” At law school in Montpelier, France, he became fast friends with Jewish student Samuel Baron. The two were inseparable until the irresistible Nina, torn between the men, ultimately chose Samuel. Samir fled to America, where he assumed Samuel’s identity and background while his former friend remained stuck in a French suburb, a failed, neurotic writer seething at Samir’s overseas triumphs.

Decades later, the three meet again in this dark, powerful story of a deeply tangled love triangle that becomes subsumed by the war on terror.

Spotted this in Indigo, and thought it sounded interesting. Although, I remember giving it a pass when it first came out… Weird. Published by Washington Square Press in North America, and Scribner in the UK.


WagnerWN-PT2-StarspawnWendy N. Wagner, PATHFINDER TALES: STARSPAWN (Tor)

Once a notorious viking and pirate, Jendara has at last returned to the cold northern isles of her home, ready to settle down and raise her young son. Yet when a mysterious tsunami wracks her island’s shore, she and her fearless crew must sail out to explore the strange island that’s risen from the sea floor. No sooner have they arrived in the lost island’s alien structures, however, than they find themselves competing with a monstrous cult eager to complete a dark ritual in those dripping halls. For something beyond all mortal comprehension has been dreaming on the sea floor. And it’s begun to wake up…

This is the sequel to Skinwalkers, also written by Wagner. It is also the 34th novel in the Pathfinder Tales series. I really should read some of these Pathfinder novels… Published by Tor Books.

Review copy received from publisher


WexlerD-SC4-GunsOfEmpireUSDjango Wexler, THE GUNS OF EMPIRE (Roc)

As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace…

After their shattering defeats at the hands of brilliant General Janus bet Vhalnich, the opposing powers have called all sides to the negotiating table in hopes of securing an end to the war. Queen Raesinia of Vordan is anxious to see the return of peace, but Janus insists that any peace with the implacable Sworn Church of Elysium is doomed to fail. For their Priests of the Black, there can be no truce with heretics and demons they seek to destroy, and the war is to the death.

Soldiers Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass find themselves caught between their general and their queen. Now, each must decide which leader truly commands their loyalty — and what price they might pay for final victory.

And in the depths of Elysium, a malign force is rising — and defeating it might mean making sacrifices beyond anything they have ever imagined.

This is the fourth volume in Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series. I’ve only read the first (The Thousand Names), but I have picked up each new one as it came out. I see a fun binge-read in the future. Published in the US by Roc, and in the UK by Head of Zeus.

Also on CR: Interview with Django Weller; Guest Post on Terry Pratchett; Reviews of The Thousand Names and The Penitent Damned


WhiteheadC-UndergroundRailroadUSColson Whitehead, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (Knopf)

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood — where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned — Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor — engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey — hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

This doesn’t really need an introduction. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. Published in North America by Knopf, and in the UK by Fleet. [I also have Whitehead’s Zone One, which I’ll also be reading hopefully very soon. I’ve also heard great things about The Intuitionist, which is getting a UK re-issue next year.]


WildeF-2-CloudboundUSHCFran Wilde, CLOUDBOUND (Tor)

After the dust settles, the City of living bones begins to die, and more trouble brews beneath the clouds…

When Kirit Densira left her home tower for the skies, she gave up many things: her beloved family, her known way of life, her dreams of flying as a trader for her tower, her dreams. Kirit set her City upside down, and fomented a massive rebellion at the Spire, to the good of the towers — but months later, everything has fallen to pieces. 

With the Towers in disarray, without a governing body or any defense against the dangers lurking in the clouds, daily life is full of terror and strife. Naton, Kirit’s wing-brother, sets out to be a hero in his own way — sitting on the new Council to cast votes protecting Tower-born, and exploring lower tiers to find more materials to repair the struggling City. 

But what he finds down-tier is more secrets — and now Nat will have to decide who to trust, and how to trust himself without losing those he holds most dear, before a dangerous myth raises a surprisingly realistic threat to the crippled City…

The sequel to Updraft. I really need to get on with reading this series… Published by Tor Books in October 2016.

Also on CR: Interviews with Fran Wilde — 2015 and 2016; Review of Updraft (reviewed by Ryan Frye)

Review copy received from publisher



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