New Books (September-October)

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Featuring: André Alexis, Federico Axat, Adam Baker, James Benmore, Hayley Campbell, Peter Ames Carlin, Lincoln Child, Greg Cox, Bryan Cranston, Sady Doyle, Dave Duncan, Ruthanna Emrys, Valentina Giambanco, Peter Heller, Brian Jay Jones, Richard Kadrey, Helen Keen, Stephen King, Ellen Klages, Mark Lawrence, Tom Lloyd, David Mark, Joe M. McDermott, Peter McLean, Kate Moretti, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Joyce Carol Oates, Douglas Preston, Jason Rekulak, Simon Reynolds, Anne Rice, Tony Robinson, Jonathan Safran Foer, Chris Sharp, J.P. Smythe, Bruce Springsteen, Marc Turner, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Jess Walter, Sam Wilson, Lidia Yuknavitch

Above image: The Hunt #3 by Joana Lafuente & Colin Lorimer (Image)

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alexisa-hiddenkeyscaAndré Alexis, THE HIDDEN KEYS (Coach House Books)

Parkdale’s Green Dolphin is a bar of ill repute, and it is there that Tancred Palmieri, a thief with elegant and erudite tastes, meets Willow Azarian, an aging heroin addict. She reveals to Tancred that her very wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides one clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. Willow enlists Tancred to steal these objects from her siblings and help her solve the puzzle.

A Japanese screen, a painting that plays music, a bottle of aquavit, a framed poem and a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: Tancred is lured in to this beguiling quest, and even though Willow dies before the puzzle is solved, he presses on.

As he tracks down the treasure, he must enlist the help of Alexander von Wurfel, conceptual artist and taxidermist to the wealthy, and fend off Willow’s heroin dealers, a young albino named ‘Nigger’ Colby and his sidekick, Sigismund ‘Freud’ Luxemburg, a clubfooted psychopath, both of whom are eager to get their hands on this supposed pot of gold. And he must mislead Detective Daniel Mandelshtam, his most adored friend.

Inspired by a reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s  Treasure Island,  The Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honorable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.

I picked up Alexis’s previous novel, Fifteen Dogs, after it won the Giller Prize in Canada. As it turned out, I loved it, so when The Hidden Keys was announced, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Published by Coach House in Canada, it’s out now (it will be available in the UK late October, apparently).

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axatf-killthenextoneusFederico Axat, KILL THE NEXT ONE (Mulholland)

Ted McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. Then the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else’s next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain. Ted understands the stranger’s logic: it’s easier for a victim’s family to deal with a murder than with a suicide.

However, as Ted commits the murders, the crime scenes strike him as odd. The targets know him by name and possess familiar mementos. Even more bizarrely, Ted recognizes locations and men he shouldn’t know. As Ted’s mind begins to crack, dark secrets from his past seep through the fissures.

This sounds like it could be really interesting. Published by Mulholland Books on December 13th, 2016. It is available in the UK, too, published by Text Publishing.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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bakera-pofs1-winterravenAdam Baker, WINTER RAVEN (Canelo)

One rogue Samurai will sacrifice everything – apart from his honour

As Japan’s factions head to war, this extraordinary new historical fiction series takes us into the heart of life as a Samurai

Japan’s warlords are on the march and nothing is as it appears. After a failed assassination attempt on the Emperor, an anonymous samurai is coerced into a suicide mission that will test his skills to the limit. He must face this challenge for his young charge, a girl who is the last remainder of his duty.

The samurai and the girl must journey to a far and impregnable mountain fortress, fighting off threats and dangers on the way. The girl, knowing no other life, hopes to learn all she can of the ways of the warrior.

But they do not travel alone. The hunters are also the hunted.

I’m a big fan of Baker’s work — his zombie apocalypse novels (starting with Outpost) are fast-paced, tense and brilliantly plotted and written. He seems to have retired that series, though (sad), and moved on to a new one (huzzah!). His new series, Path of the Samurai, is a historical series and clearly a different direction for the author. Pitched as for fans of James Clavell and Bernard Cornwall, I have very high hopes for this. Winter Raven is published by Canelo, and is out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Adam Baker; Guest Post on Trauma; Reviews of TerminusImpact and Killchain

Review copy received via NetGalley

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barrys-dayswithoutendukSEBASTIAN BARRY, DAYS WITHOUT END (Faber)

‘I am thinking of the days without end of my life…’

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War.

Having fled terrible hardships they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.

This sounds like it could be quite interesting. Days Without End is published in the UK on October 20th, by Faber; and in North America by Viking, on January 24th, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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benmorej-d3-dodgeroftherevolutionJames Benmore, DODGER OF THE REVOLUTION (Heron Books)

The Artful Dodger faces his most dangerous adventure yet as he leaves Dickensian London and finds himself manning the barricades in defence of liberty, fraternity and larceny in the 1848 Paris uprising

The Artful Dodger faces his most dangerous adventure yet as he leaves Dickensian London and finds himself manning the barricades in defence of liberty, fraternity and larceny in the 1848 Paris uprising. 

For Dodger, life as a criminal kingpin is losing its allure. Leading a gang of petty thieves from the Seven Dials is not as easy as Fagin made it look and after a year in charge Jack Dawkins has been reduced to a shadow of the man who used to be the envy of every pickpocket in London. Opium-addicted and heavy-fingered, Dodger is fast becoming a laughing stock on his own patch until a chance encounter leads him to Paris and a job like nothing he’s had before. 

In a city alive with rebellion, Dodger must avoid assassins, jilted lovers and revolutionaries, and rediscover his touch if he is to lift his most precious treasure yet.

This is the third of Benmore’s Dodger novels, following Dodger and Dodger of the Dials. It’s out now, published by Heron Books.

Also on CR: Interview with James Benmore

Review copy received from publisher

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campbellh-artofneilgaimanpbHayley Campbell, THE ART OF NEIL GAIMAN (Harper)

Novelist, comics writer, scriptwriter, poet, and occasional artist, there are few creative avenues Neil Gaiman hasn’t ventured down — from unforgettable books like The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Godsto groundbreaking comics and graphic novels like The Sandman and Violent Cases; from big-screen fantasies like Coraline and Stardust to small-screen epics like Doctor Who and Neverwhere; and from short stories to songwriting, stage plays to radio plays, journalism to filmmaking, and all points in between.

The Art of Neil Gaiman is the first book to tell the full story of his amazing creative life. Never-before-seen manuscripts, notes, cartoons, drawings, and personal photographs from Neil’s own archive are complemented by artwork and sketches from all of his major works and his own intimate recollections. Each project is examined in turn, from genesis to fruition, and positioned in the wider narrative of Gaiman’s creative life, affording unparalleled access to the inner workings of the writer’s mind.

This was an impulse buy the other week. Really enjoy Gaiman’s work, so this looked like it would be very interesting, and perhaps a nice complement to Gaiman’s recent The View From the Cheap Seats? Art of Neil Gaiman is published by Harper in Canada and the UK.

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carlinpa-homewardboundPeter Ames Carlin, HOMEWARD BOUND: THE LIFE OF PAUL SIMON (Henry Holt)

To have been alive during the last sixty years is to have lived with the music of Paul Simon. The boy from Queens scored his first hit record in 1957, just months after Elvis Presley ignited the rock era. As the songwriting half of Simon & Garfunkel, his work helped define the youth movement of the ’60s. On his own in the ’70s, Simon made radio-dominating hits. He kicked off the ’80s by reuniting with Garfunkel to perform for half a million New Yorkers in Central Park. Five years later, Simon’s album “Graceland” sold millions and spurred an international political controversy. And it doesn’t stop there. 

The grandchild of Jewish immigrants from Hungary, the nearly 75-year-old singer-songwriter has not only sold more than 100 million records, won 15 Grammy awards and been installed into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame twice, but has also animated the meaning — and flexibility — of personal and cultural identity in a rapidly shrinking world. 

Simon has also lived one of the most vibrant lives of modern times; a story replete with tales of Carrie Fisher, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Shelley Duvall, Nelson Mandela, drugs, depression, marriage, divorce, and more. A life story with the scope and power of an epic novel, Carlin’s Homeward Bound is the first major biography of one of the most influential popular artists in American history.

Really looking forward to reading this. Carlin’s a great researcher — he’s perhaps best known for Bruce, his exhaustive biography of Springsteen (a very good, but perhaps over-detailed book). Published in North America by Henry Holt on October 11th, 2016; and in the UK by Constable, on October 20th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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9780765384089_CVRmech.inddGreg Cox, THE LIBRARIANS AND THE LOST LAMP (Tor)

For millennia, the Librarians have secretly protected the world by keeping watch over dangerous magical relics. Cataloging and safeguarding everything from Excalibur to Pandora’s Box, they stand between humanity and those who would use the relics for evil.

Ten years ago, only Flynn Carsen, the last of the Librarians, stood against an ancient criminal organization known as The Forty. They stole the oldest known copy of The Arabian Nights by Scheherazade, and Flynn fears they intend to steal Aladdin’s fabled lamp. He races to find it first before they can unleash the trapped, malevolent djinn upon the world.

Today, Flynn is no longer alone. A new team of inexperienced Librarians, led by Eve Baird, their tough-as-nails Guardian, investigates an uncanny mystery in Las Vegas. A mystery tied closely to Flynn’s original quest to find the lost lamp… and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

I really want to watch the Librarians TV series — it seems to be quite fun. I’ve been told it’s not necessary to have seen any in order to enjoy/get/follow this novel, though. Looking forward to this. Published by Tor Books on October 11th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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cranstonb-alifeinpartsBryan Cranston, A LIFE IN PARTS (Scribner)

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father, a struggling actor and director, cast him in a United Way commercial. Soon, Bryan was haunting the local movie theater, memorizing and reenacting favorite scenes with his older brother. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny — until one day his father disappeared. Suddenly, destiny took a back seat to survival.

Seeking something more stable, perhaps subconsciously trying to distance himself from his absent father, Cranston decided on a career in law enforcement. But then, a young man on a classic cross-country motorcycle trip, Cranston one day found himself stranded at a rest area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. To pass the time he read a tattered copy of Hedda Gabler, and in a flash he found himself face-to-face once again with his original calling. Suddenly he thought: This was what he wanted to do, what he would do, with the rest of his life. Act.

In his riveting memoir, A Life in Parts, Cranston traces his zigzag journey from his chaotic childhood to his dramatic epiphany, and beyond, to mega-stardom and a cult-like following, by vividly revisiting the many parts he’s played, on camera (astronaut, dentist, detective, candy bar spokesperson, President of the United States, etc.) and off (paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, son, brother, lover, husband, father). With great humor, and much humility, Cranston chronicles his unlikely rise from a soap opera regular, trying to learn the ropes and the politics of show business on the fly, to a recurring spot as Tim Whatley on Seinfeld, finding himself an indelible part of popular culture. He recalls his run as the well-meaning goofball, Hal, on Malcolm in the Middle, proving to writers and fans that he was willing to do anything, anything, for a laugh, and he gives a bracing account of his challenging run on Broadway as President Lyndon Johnson, pushing himself to the limit as he prepared, physically and mentally, for a tour de force that would win him a Tony, to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest, most fascinating details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most riveting performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his failures as few men do, describing his work as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about innate talent, its benefits, challenges, and proper maintenance, but ultimately A Life in Parts is about the necessity and transformative power of hard work.

This should be pretty interesting. Reading it very soon. Published in October in North America by Scribner, and in the UK by Orion. (I’ve also pre-ordered the audiobook.)

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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doyles-trainwreckSady Doyle, TRAIN WRECK (Melville House)

She’s everywhere once you start looking for her: the trainwreck.

She’s Britney Spears shaving her head, Whitney Houston saying, “crack is whack,” and Amy Winehouse, dying in front of millions. But the trainwreck is also as old (and as meaningful) as feminism itself.

From Mary Wollstonecraft — who, for decades after her death, was more famous for her illegitimate child and suicide attempts than for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman—to Charlotte Brontë, Billie Holiday, Sylvia Plath, and even Hillary Clinton, Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck dissects a centuries-old phenomenon and asks what it means now, in a time when we have unprecedented access to celebrities and civilians alike, and when women are pushing harder than ever against the boundaries of what it means to “behave.”

Where did these women come from? What are their crimes? And what does it mean for the rest of us? For an age when any form of self-expression can be the one that ends you, Sady Doyle’s book is as fierce and intelligent as it is funny and compassionate — an essential, timely, feminist anatomy of the female trainwreck.

This has been getting a lot of attention, recently, so I thought I’d pick it up. It sounds pretty interesting. Published by Melville House.

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duncand-portalofathousandworldsDave Duncan, PORTAL OF A THOUSAND WORLDS (Open Road Media)

The looming threat of a once-in-a-millennium magical event sends nineteenth-century China into violent chaos in this epic alternate-history fantasy.

Author of the Seventh Sword series Dave Duncan transports us to Imperial China in an alternate nineteenth century — an Asian epoch not unlike the Boxer Rebellion era — with a spellbinding tale of rebellion, political intrigue, larceny, seduction, shape-shifting, dark magic, and murder. These are troubled years in the Good Land.

Ten centuries have passed since the last time the Portal of a Thousand Worlds opened, bringing chaos, upheaval, and radical change to the then-ruling dynasty, and now the mystical gateway is rumored to be on the verge of opening once more. Only the Firstborn — he who has been reincarnated through countless generations and remembers all he has ever learned — knows what the future holds, but he has been imprisoned for refusing to comply with a repressive imperial government’s wishes.

Now, those hoping to seize the opportunity for wealth and position are hatching sinister plots. And as the cold-hearted dowager empress closely guards a fateful secret, and a rebel army led by a fanatical zealot gathers strength under the Bamboo Banner, the cataclysm approaches…

This sounds pretty interesting. This is also one of my favourite periods of history, so it’ll be interesting to see how Duncan plays around with it. Published by Open Road Media in February 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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emrysr-i1-wintertideRuthanna Emrys, WINTER TIDE (Tor.com)

After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future. 

The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race. 

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

There seems to be a real interest in messing about with Lovecraft, right now. As someone who has never read Lovecraft (but has a vague idea about the main premise and… issues with the author’s work), I’m not as clued in as some. However, what I have read from the Subversive Lovecraftian side of the genre, I’ve rather enjoyed. So, I’m looking forward to reading Winter Tide pretty soon. Also worth picking up Emrys’s The Litany of Earth (a short story). The first novel in the Innsmouth Legacy series, it’s due to be published in April 2017 by Tor.com.

Review copy received from publisher

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giambancov-bloodandboneValentina Giambanco, BLOOD AND BONE (Quercus)

After two years in the Seattle Police Department, homicide detective Alice Madison has finally found a measure of peace she has never known before — a sense of belonging.

When a local burglary escalates into a gruesome murder, Madison takes charge of the investigation, only to discover that this is no ordinary killing. She finds herself tracking a serial assassin who has haunted the city for years — and whose brutality is the stuff of legend among the super-max prisons of the Pacific Northwest.

As she delves deeper into the case, Madison learns that the widow of one of the victims is being stalked — is the killer poised to strike again? As pressures mount, Madison will stop at nothing to save the next innocent victim… even if it means playing a killer’s endgame by presenting herself as the bait.

This is the third Alice Madison novel, a series that somehow managed to slip by me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a novel set in/around Seattle, so I’m quite interested in trying this series. The first novel, Gift of Darkness was on sale for Kindle, so I picked that up, too. The second novel is The Dark. The upcoming fourth novel, Sweet After Death, is due out mid-2017 in the UK. Published by Quercus in the US and UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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hellerp-celineusPeter Heller, CELINE (Knopf)

Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed – that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed.

I enjoyed Heller’s debut, The Dog Stars, but for some reason I missed The Painter. Spotted this on Edelweiss, and the publisher was kind enough to approve my request. Looking forward to reading it — and will hopefully do so soon. Celine is publisher by Knopf on March 7th, 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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jonesbj-georgelucasBrian Jay Jones, GEORGE LUCAS (Little, Brown)

On May 25, 1977, a problem-plagued, budget-straining, independent science-fiction film opened in a mere thirty-two American movie theatres. Conceived, written, and directed by a little-known filmmaker named George Lucas, Star Wars reinvented the cinematic landscape, ushering in a new way for movies to be made, marketed, and merchandised. And if that wasn’t game-changing enough, Lucas went on to create another blockbuster series with Indiana Jones, and completely revolutionized the world of special effects, not to mention sound systems. His work and legacy have led to a rash of innovation and democratization in film and television. 

Simply put, George Lucas is one of the most influential filmmakers of the past fifty years. He is an icon, and his fans will be eager to read a biography as impressive as his achievements — especially in the midst of J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star Wars franchise.

I loved Chris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, but do remember thinking that I would also like to learn more about Lucas’s other movies. So, when I saw Jones’s biography of the director announced, I kept my eyes open for the opportunity to review it. I’ll be reading this very soon. George Lucas is due to be published on December 6th, 2016, in the US by Little, Brown, and in the UK by Headline.

Review copy received via Edelweiss.

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kadreyr-eb2-wrongdeadguyusRichard Kadrey, THE WRONG DEAD GUY (Voyager)

Chaos ensues when Coop and the team at DOPS steal a not-quite-dead and very lovesick ancient Egyptian mummy wielding some terrifying magic.

Coop, a master thief sort of gone legit, saved the world from an ancient doomsday device — heroism that earned him a gig working for the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome top secret government agency that polices the odd and strange. Now Woolrich, Coop’s boss at the DOPS, has Coop breaking into a traveling antiquities show to steal a sarcophagus containing the mummy of a powerful Egyptian wizard named Harkhuf. With the help of his pals Morty, Giselle, and a professor that’s half-cat, half-robotic octopus, Coop pulls off the heist without a hitch. 

It’s not Coop’s fault that when DOPS opened the sarcophagus they didn’t find the mummy they were expecting. Well, it was the right mummy, but it wasn’t exactly dead — and now it’s escaped, using a type of magic the organization hasn’t encountered before. Being a boss, Woolrich blames his underling for the screw up and wants Coop to find the missing Harkhuf and make it right, pronto. 

Digging into Harkhuf’s history, Coop thinks the mummy is hunting for an ancient magical manuscript that will help him bring his old lover back to life.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t a warrior sorceress hell-bent on conquering the world with her undead armies.

Coop would very much like to run from the oncoming chaos. It’s one thing to steal a mummy, but another to have to deal with head-hunting bureaucrats, down-on-their luck fortune tellers, undead mailroom clerks, and a rather unimpressed elephant. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to run. If he wants the madness to stop, he’s going to have to suck it up and play hero one more time. But if Coop manages to save the world AGAIN, he’s definitely going to want a lot of answers. And a raise.

The sequel to The Everything Box, this series sounds rather fun. Published in February 2017 by Voyager in North America and UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of Sandman SlimKill the DeadAloha From HellDevil in the DollhouseDevil Said BangKill City Blues

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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keenh-scienceofgameofthronesukHelen Keen, THE SCIENCE OF GAME OF THRONES (Coronet)

A myth-busting, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping and fun-filled expedition through the world of Game of Thrones.

Do dragons actually exist? 

Is it possible to crush a person’s head with your bare hands?

What really happened when royal families interbreed? 

How does wildfire win wars? 

Can you really kill someone with molten gold?

Award-winning comedian and popular-science writer Helen Keen uncovers the astounding science behind the world’s most popular television show. Join Helen as she sifts the fact from fantasy, discovers the truth beneath the togas, and reveals a world more fantastical than Daenerys Targaryen’s wildest dreams. So pour yourself a bowl of brown, climb on your beast of burden, and prepare yourself for an amazing adventure. It’s time to see the Seven Kingdoms as you have never seen them before.

This could be fun. Published by Coronet Books, it’s out now.

Review copy received from publisher

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kings-itukStephen King, IT (Hodder)

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw — and felt — what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

I still haven’t read much of King’s fiction (actually, only the one novel). This is a whopper, but also one of his most famous, if I’m not mistaken. A movie adaptation is on the way next year. Published in the UK by Hodder, and in North America by Scribner.

Review copy received from publisher

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klagese-passingstrangeEllen Klages, PASSING STRANGE (Tor.com)

San Francisco in 1940 is a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer “authentic” experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and the twilight world of forbidden love, where outcasts from conventional society can meet.

Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where mystery, science, and art intersect.

Inspired by the pulps, film noir, and screwball comedy, Passing Strange is a story as unusual and complex as San Francisco itself.

Nice cover. Could be interesting. Published by Tor.com on January 24th, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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lawrencem-rqw3-wheelofosheimusMark Lawrence, THE WHEEL OF OSHEIM (Ace/Voyager)

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world.

Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.

This is the third novel in Lawrence’s second trilogy, The Red Queen’s War. I very much enjoyed the first novel (Prince of Fools), but for some reason have dragged my feet about reading the second (The Liar’s Key — which won the Gemmell Award in September). I think I’ll have to remedy this ASAP. The Wheel of Osheim is published by Ace in the US, and Voyager in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Lawrence; Reviews of Prince of Thorns (and a second look by Abhinav), King of Thorns and Prince of Fools

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LloydT-StrangerOfTempestUKTom Lloyd, STRANGER OF TEMPEST (Gollancz)

Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Shattered Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent’s principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. It might never bring a man fame or wealth, but he’s not forced to rely on others or kill without cause.

Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won’t turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough; the mercenaries less stupid and vicious than most he’s met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.

The first novel in Lloyd’s new God Fragments series, I picked this up when it was on sale on Amazon. The novel is out now, published by Gollancz.

Also on CR: Interviews with Tom Lloyd in 2012 and 2013, Guest Post on Terry Pratchett; Review of Moon’s Artifice

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markd-dsm6-cruelmercyukDavid Mark, CRUEL MERCY (Mulholland)

Three Irishmen went to America.

One’s dead. One’s as good as. One is missing…

The missing man is Valentine Teague. Petty criminal, bare-knuckle fighter — and DS Aector McAvoy’s brother in law.

Back home, Val’s being held responsible for the blood spilt in the snowy woods of upstate New York. If McAvoy doesn’t find out the truth, all hell will break loose, putting his own family in the crossfire.

Investigating proves harder than he could have imagined. New York City is a different world, with different rules. Soon, he finds himself up against squabbling cops, mafias old and new, and the culmination of a crime forty years in the making.

All McAvoy can do is the right thing. Even if it kills him…

This could be quite interesting. Published in the UK by Mulholland Books, on January 26th, 2017; and in the US by Blue Rider Press, on February 7th, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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mcdermottjm-fortressattheendoftimeJoe M. McDermott, THE FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME (Tor.com)

Captain Ronaldo Aldo has committed an unforgivable crime. He will ask for forgiveness all the same: from you, from God, even from himself.

Connected by ansible, humanity has spread across galaxies and fought a war against an enemy that remains a mystery. At the edge of human space sits the Citadel — a relic of the war and a listening station for the enemy’s return. For a young Ensign Aldo, fresh from the academy and newly cloned across the ansible line, it’s a prison from which he may never escape.

Deplorable work conditions and deafening silence from the blackness of space have left morale on the station low and tensions high. Aldo’s only hope of transcending his station, and cloning a piece of his soul somewhere new is both his triumph and his terrible crime.

This sounds like it could be interesting. I haven’t read anything by McDermott for what feels like a very long time, so it’s great that this is on its way. Also, when did “ansible” hit SF vogue? I feel like I’ve been seeing it mentioned in synopses quite a lot, recently. Published by Tor.com on January 17th, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

*

mcleanp-bm2-dominionPeter McLean, DOMINION (Angry Robot)

In the tunnels deep under London, the Earth Elementals are dying.

Hunted by something they know only as the Rotman, the Elementals have no one trustworthy they can turn to. Enter Don Drake, drunken diabolist and semi-reformed hitman, and an almost-fallen angel called Trixie.

When Don learns that Rotman is actually the archdemon Bianakith, he knows this is going to be a tough job. The fiend is the foretold spirit of disease and decay whose aura corrupts everything it comes near, and even the most ancient foundations of London will crumble eventually. Now Don, Trixie and his ever-annoying patron the Burned Man have to hatch a plan to keep Bianakith from wiping out the Elementals and bringing down the city. But the Burned Man has other plans and those may have dire consequences for everyone.

The past never stays buried, and old sins must be atoned for. Judgement is coming, and its name is Dominion.

The sequel to Drake, which I have sadly not yet had a chance to read. I think the series looks really interesting, though, so I hope to read both of the novels as soon as I can. It’s also been a long while since I left London, and also since I last read something based in the UK (I think it was Rowling/Galbraith’s Career of Evil). Published by Angry Robot Books in the US and UK in November 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Peter McLean

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

morettik-vanishingyearKate Moretti, THE VANISHING YEAR (Titan)

Zoe Whittaker appears to have a charmed life. Newly married to a rich and attentive man, she has the best of everything.

But five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Because back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all.

When an attempt is made on her life, Zoe fears that her past has caught up with her. But who can she ask for help when even her own husband doesn’t know her real name?

Zoe must decide who she can trust before she — whoever she is — vanishes completely…

Sounds like it could be interesting. Published by Titan Books in the UK and Atria in North America, it’s out now.

Review copy received from publisher

*

myersm-canadaMike Myers, CANADA (Doubleday)

Comedy superstar Mike Myers writes from the (true patriot) heart about his 53-year relationship with his beloved Canada.

Mike Myers is a world-renowned actor, director and writer, and the man behind some of the most memorable comic characters of our time. But as he says: “no description of me is truly complete without saying I’m a Canadian.” He has often winked and nodded to Canada in his outrageously accomplished body of work, but now he turns the spotlight full-beam on his homeland.

His hilarious and heartfelt new book is part memoir, part history and pure entertainment. It is Mike Myers’ funny and thoughtful analysis of what makes Canada Canada, Canadians Canadians and what being Canadian has always meant to him. His relationship with his home and native land continues to deepen and grow, he says. In fact, American friends have actually accused him of enjoying being Canadian — and he’s happy to plead guilty as charged.

A true patriot who happens to be an expatriate, Myers is in a unique position to explore Canada from within and without. With this, his first book, Mike brings his love for Canada to the fore at a time when the country is once again looking ahead with hope and national pride. Canada is a wholly subjective account of Mike’s Canadian experience. Mike writes, “Some might say, ‘Why didn’t you include this or that?’ I say there are 35 million stories waiting to be told in this country, and my book is only one of them.”

This beautifully designed book is illustrated in colour (and not color) throughout, and its visual treasures include personal photographs and Canadiana from the author’s own collection. Published in the lead-up to the 2017 sesquicentennial, this is Mike Myers’ birthday gift to his fellow Canadians. Or as he puts it: “In 1967, Canada turned one hundred. Canadians all across the country made Centennial projects. This book is my Centennial Project. I’m handing it in a little late…. Sorry.”

I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. I’ll be reading this probably next. Expect a review in about a week or so. Published on October 22nd by Doubleday Canada.

Review copy received from publisher

*

noaht-bornacrimeTrevor Noah, BORN A CRIME (Spiegel & Grau)

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. Expect a review very soon. Published in North America by Spiegel & Grau on November 15th, 2016; and in the UK by John Murray on November 17th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

oatesjc-abookofamericanmartyrsusJoyce Carol Oates, A BOOK OF AMERICAN MARTYRS (Ecco)

In this striking, enormously affecting novel, Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of two very different and yet intimately linked American families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God’s will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town while Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief.

In her moving, insightful portrait, Joyce Carol Oates fully inhabits the perspectives of two interwoven families whose destinies are defined by their warring convictions and squarely-but with great empathy-confronts an intractable, abiding rift in American society.

A Book of American Martyrs is a stunning, timely depiction of an issue hotly debated on a national stage but which makes itself felt most lastingly in communities torn apart by violence and hatred.

The new novel by Oates, sure to be talked about by many. Sounds quite interesting (though the synopsis reads just a tad hyperbolic…). Published by Ecco in North America, on February 7th, 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

prestonchild-p16-obsidianchamberusDouglas Preston & Lincoln Child, THE OBSIDIAN CHAMBER (Grand Central)

A TRAGIC DISAPPEARANCE

After a harrowing, otherworldly confrontation on the shores of Exmouth, Massachusetts, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is missing, presumed dead.

A SHOCKING RETURN

Sick with grief, Pendergast’s ward, Constance, retreats to her chambers beneath the family mansion at 891 Riverside Drive — only to be taken captive by a shadowy figure from the past.

AN INTERNATIONAL MANHUNT

Proctor, Pendergast’s longtime bodyguard, springs to action, chasing Constance’s kidnapper through cities, across oceans, and into wastelands unknown.

BUT IN A WORLD OF BLACK AND WHITE, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS

And by the time Proctor discovers the truth, a terrifying engine has stirred-and it may already be too late…

This is the 16th novel in the Pendergast series. Which is pretty impressive. The Obsidian Chamber is published in North America by Grand Central, on October 18th, 2016, and will be published in the UK by Head of Zeus.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

rekulakj-impossiblefortressusJason Rekulak, TITLE (Simon & Schuster)

A dazzling debut novel — at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story — about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys — Billy, Alf, and Clark — who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan — they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

At its heart, The Impossible Fortress is a tender exploration of young love, true friends, and the confusing realities of male adolescence — with a dash of old school computer programming.

This sounded… different. Not at all sure what to expect from it, but I thought it sounded pretty interesting, and I was pre-approved on Edelweiss. I’ll probably read it quite soon, but delay the review until near the end of the year. Published in February 2017, by Simon & Schuster in the US, Canada and UK.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

reynoldss-shockaweukSimon Reynolds, SHOCK AND AWE (Faber)

As the sixties dream faded, a new flamboyant movement electrified the world: GLAM! In Shock and Awe, Simon Reynolds explores this most decadent of genres on both sides of the Atlantic. Bolan, Bowie, Suzi Quatro, Alice Cooper, New York Dolls, Slade, Roxy Music, Iggy, Lou Reed, Be Bop Deluxe, David Essex — all are represented here. Reynolds charts the retro future sounds, outrageous styles and gender-fluid sexual politics that came to define the first half of the seventies and brings it right up to date with a final chapter on glam in hip hop, Lady Gaga, and the aftershocks of David Bowie’s death.

I’m always on the look-out for new, interesting books about rock and music. Given how good Faber’s books tend to be, I was very glad to get a review copy of this one. Review hopefully soon. Published by FaberShock and Awe is out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

ricea-princelestattherealmsofatlantisusAnne Rice, PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS (Knopf)

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

At the novel’s center: the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, hero, leader, inspirer, irresistible force, irrepressible spirit, battling (and ultimately reconciling with) a strange otherworldly form that has somehow taken possession of Lestat’s undead body and soul. This ancient and mysterious power and unearthly spirit of vampire lore has all the force, history, and insidious reach of the unknowable Universe.

It is through this spirit, previously considered benign for thousands of vampire years and throughout the Vampire Chronicles, that we come to be told the hypnotic tale of a great sea power of ancient times; a mysterious heaven on earth situated on a boundless continent – and of how and why, and in what manner and with what far-reaching purpose, this force came to build and rule the great legendary empire of centuries ago that thrived in the Atlantic Ocean.

And as we learn of the mighty, far-reaching powers and perfections of this lost kingdom of Atalantaya, the lost realms of Atlantis, we come to understand its secrets, and how and why the vampire Lestat, indeed all the vampires, must reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit.

The second and third novels in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles — The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned — I still consider to be two of my favourite novels (I always read them together). After a pretty long hiatus from the series, the author returned with Prince Lestat in 2014, which upended some core elements of the vampire mythology the author had created. It was an interesting direction to take the series. I’m interested to see where Rice take the Brat Prince next… Published on November 29th, 2016, by Knopf in North America and by Chatto & Windus in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of Prince Lestat and The Wolf Gift

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

robinsont-nocunningplanukTony Robinson, NO CUNNING PLAN (Sidgwick & Jackson)

Sir Tony Robinson is a much-loved actor, presenter and author with a stellar career lasting over 50 years. Now, in his long-awaited autobiography, he reveals how the boy from South Woodford went from child stardom in the first stage production of Oliver!, a pint-size pickpocket desperately bleaching his incipient moustache, to comedy icon Baldrick, the loyal servant and turnip aficionado in Blackadder. 

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. Along the way he was bullied by Steve Marriott, failed to impress Liza Minnelli and was pushed into a stinking London dock by John Wayne. He also entertained us with Maid Marion and Her Merry Men (which he wrote and starred in) and coped manfully when locked naked outside a theatre in Lincoln during the live tour of comedy series Who Dares Wins. He presented Time Team for 20 years, watching countless gardens ruthlessly dug up in the name of archaeology, and risked life and limb filming The Worst Jobs in History. 

Packed full of incident and insight, No Cunning Plan is a funny, self-deprecating and always entertaining listen.

It’s Baldric’s biography! I’m a big fan of Robinson’s work, so when I saw that he’d written a memoir, I was eager to get hold of it in audio. I’m listening to it at the moment, so I should get a review up pretty soon. I’m enjoying it. Published in print by Sidgwick & Jackson.

Review copy received via Audible

*

safranfoerj-hereiamJonathan Safran Foer, HERE I AM (Hamish Hamilton)

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Abraham replied obediently, “Here I am.”

This is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. Over the course of three weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., three sons watch their parents’ marriage falter and their family home fall apart. Meanwhile, a large catastrophe is engulfing another part of the world: a massive earthquake devastates the Middle East, sparking a pan-Arab invasion of Israel. With global upheaval in the background and domestic collapse in the foreground, Jonathan Safran Foer asks us: What is the true meaning of home? Can one man ever reconcile the conflicting duties of his many roles – husband, father, son? And how much of life can a person ultimately bear?

The new Safran Foer novel, after an extended hiatus from fiction. I’ve not read any of his other novels, but a great many people seem to really like them, so… Will give this a try. Here I Am is published by Hamish Hamilton in Canada and the UK, and by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

sharpc-coldcounselChris Sharp, COLD COUNSEL (Tor.com)

Slud of the Blood Claw Clan, Bringer of Troubles, was born at the heart of the worst storm the mountain had ever seen. Slud’s father, chief of the clan, was changed by his son’s presence. For the first time since the age of the giants, he rallied the remaining trolls under one banner and marched to war taking back the mountain from the goblin clans.

However, the long-lived elves remembered the brutal wars of the last age, and did not welcome the return of these lesser-giants to martial power. Twenty thousand elves marched on the mountain intent on genocide. They eradicated the entire troll species — save two. 

Aunt Agnes, an old witch from the Iron Wood, carried Slud away before the elves could find them. Their existence remained hidden for decades, and in that time, Agnes molded Slud to become her instrument of revenge.

For cold is the counsel of women.

This sounds like it could be really interesting. Don’t see many stories told from the perspective of a usually-evil creature. (At least, I haven’t seen too many.) Published by Tor.com on February 21st, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

*

smythejp-a3-darkmadedawnJ.P. Smythe, DARK MADE DAWN (Hodder)

There was one truth on Australia, the derelict ship on which Chan was born and raised: you fight or you die. Usually both.

But everything on Australia was a lie. Abandoned and alone, Chan was forced to live a terrible existence on the fringes of society, Australia’s only survivor after a terrible crash-landing on Earth.

But Chan discovered she was not alone. Together with the unlikeliest of allies, Chan carved out a place for herself on Earth. And now the time has come: she’s finally found a reason to keep going. But friends have become enemies, and enemies have become something worse. It’s time for Chan to create her own truths, and discover a life beyond fighting and death. 

A life beyond Australia.

This is the third book in Smythe’s Australia series. I haven’t read any of them, yet. I’ve heard some good things, though, so maybe I’ll give them a try at some point. All three books in the series — Way Down DarkLong Dark Dusk, and Dark Made Dawn — are published in the UK by Hodder.

Review copy received from publisher

*

springsteenb-borntorunBruce Springsteen, BORN TO RUN (Simon & Schuster)

“Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” — Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Probably one of the most-anticipated memoirs of the year (decade?). I have very high hopes for this — I read Peter Ames Carlin’s Bruce earlier this year (maybe late last year? I forget exactly), and I found it exhausting in its detail. Ever since, I’ve wanted to read a good, direct biography of Springsteen, so hopefully this will be it. Published by Simon & Schuster in Canada, the US and UK.

*

9780765337146_JKTmech.inddMarc Turner, RED TIDE (Tor)

The Augerans are coming. And their ships are sailing in on a red tide.

The Rubyholt Isles are a shattered nation of pirate-infested islands and treacherous waterways shielding the seaboards of Erin Elal and the Sabian League, a region even dragons fear to trespass.

The Augerans beseech the Warlord of the Isles, seeking passage for their invasion fleet through Rubyholt territory. But they are sailing into troubled waters. Their enemies have sent agents to sabotage the negotiations, and to destroy the Augeran fleet by any means necessary. 

The emperor of Erin Elal seeks to forge an alliance with the Storm Lords, hoping to repulse the Augerans with a united front. But the battle lines for the struggle are not as clearly drawn as it first appears, for the Emira of the Storm Isles mistrusts the Erin Elalese as much as she does their common enemy. And the Augerans might just be planning a little sabotage of their own.

But nothing in the realm of mortals escapes the notice of their meddling gods; every step they take is shadowed, and every choice they make ensnared in a web so subtle and vast, its true shape may be fathomed only when it is far, far too late.

This is the third novel in Turner’s Chronicles of the Exile, following When the Heavens Fall and Dragon Hunters. I enjoyed the first novel, and have been meaning to read the second ever since I received a copy for review. Sadly, it kept getting pushed back (through no fault of the novel’s/author’s), and now I’ll have two to get caught up on. This is happening a lot more frequently — at the beginning, I was pretty bad at keeping on top of review copies, but then I managed to, well, manage things better. Then a deluge of review titles came in over the past couple of years. No bad thing, certainly, but it has meant that a good number of books I am keen to read have yet to be picked up. Published by Tor Books in North America and Titan Books in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Marc Turner; Review of When the Heavens Fall

Review copy received from publisher

*

unsworth-2-devilsevidenceukSimon Kurt Unsworth, THE DEVIL’S EVIDENCE (Del Rey UK)

When a violent outbreak of fires plunges his city into chaos, Thomas Fool, commander of Hell’s Information Men, finds himself outsmarted by a shadowy new department called the Evidence.

Sent away to Heaven on a diplomatic mission he discovers murder has come to paradise, yet no one is willing to admit it. As tensions mount on both sides of the afterlife, can Fool solve the ultimate paradox?

The sequel to the excellent The Devil’s Detective. Published in the UK by Del Rey, on October 6th, 2016; it’s out now in the US, published by Doubleday.

Also on CR: Review of The Devil’s Detective

Review copy received from publisher

*

walterj-beautifulruinsuspbJess Walter, BEAUTIFUL RUINS (Harper)

The story begins in 1962. Somewhere on a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and views an apparition: a beautiful woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an American starlet, he soon learns, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away in Hollywood, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot searching for the woman he last saw at his hotel fifty years before.

Gloriously inventive, funny, tender and constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a novel full of fabulous and yet very flawed people, all of them striving towards another sort of life, a future that is both delightful and yet, tantalizingly, seems just out of reach.

I’ve heard great things about Walter’s fiction. So, I’ve picked up a couple of the last couple of years. Beautiful Ruins has enjoyed some great press and reviews, so I thought I’d get this one, too. Published in North America by Harper, and in the UK by Penguin.

*

wilsons-zodiacusSam Wilson, ZODIAC (Pegasus)

In a volatile society ruled and divided by its citizens’ zodiac signs, a serial killer is on the loose: is it a misguided revolution or something more sinister?

A starting new thriller with one of the most original concepts in years, where the line between a life of luxury and an existence of poverty can be determined by the stroke of midnight.

In San Celeste, a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims from totally different walks of life. In a society divided according to Zodiac signs, those differences are cast at birth and binding for life. All eyes are on detective Jerome Burton and astrological profiler Lindi Childs—divided in their beliefs over whether the answer is written in the stars, but united in their conviction that there is an ingenious serial killer executing a grand plan.

Together, they will unravel a dark tale of betrayal, lost love, broken promises and a devastating truth with the power to tear their world apart…

This popped onto my radar quite some time ago. I can’t remember exactly when, but it may have been an Amazon recommendation. It sounds really interesting. Published in North America by Pegasus, on February 7th, 2017; and in the UK by Penguin (out now).

*

yuknavitchl-bookofjoanusLidia Yuknavitch, THE BOOK OF JOAN (Harper)

In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin.

Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule — galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one — not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself — can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations.

An interesting premise. Published by Harper in North America, on April 18th, 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

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