New Books (October-November)

descender-vol-02crop

Featuring: Stefan Ahnhem, Ernesto Assante, Josiah Bancroft, Christopher Bollen, James Brogden, Adam Christopher, John Clarkson, Daniel Cole, E.L. Doctorow, Marc Elsberg, Carrie Fisher, Neil Gaiman, Laura Ann Gilman, Ryan Graudin, Adam Hamdy, Gregg Hurwitz, Dave Hutchinson, Gwyneth Jones, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Laura Lam, Michael Lewis, James Luceno, Josh Malerman, Seanan McGuire, Emma Newman, Chris Ould, James Patterson, Douglas Preston, Bryan Reesman, Matthew Reilly, J.P. Romney & Rebecca Romney, Richard Russo, Lento Salaperainen, Brett Savory, John Scalzi, Chris Smith, Jon Stewart, Hannah Tinti, Ian Tregillis, Thrity Umrigar, Matt Wallace, Weike Wang, Dan Wells, Ronald Wright

Above Artwork: Descender, Vol.02 (crop) by Dustin Nguyen (Image)

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ahnhems-fr2-ninthgravecaStefan Ahnhem, THE NINTH GRAVE (House of Anansi Press)

Would you kill for the one you love?

On a cold winter evening, the Swedish minister of justice disappears without a trace from the short walk between the house of Parliament and his car. At the same time the wife of a famous Danish TV-star is found brutally murdered in her luxury home north of Copenhagen. Soon more bodies are discovered, all missing different body parts. As criminal investigator Fabian Risk and Danish counterpart Dunja Hougaard race to put the pieces together, they are dragged into a conspiracy worse than anyone could imagine.

I spotted the first novel in this series when it was first release in the UK (and on deep discount on Amazon), and thought it sounded really interesting. Naturally, it went into the eternally-growing digital Mt. TBR. I haven’t forgotten about it, I just haven’t had the chance to get to it, yet. The sequel is now on the horizon, and it has reminded me to get my skates on. The Fabian Risk series is published in Canada by House of Anansi Press, and in the US by Minotaur Books. Both The Ninth Grave and Victim Without a Face are published in the UK by Head of Zeus.

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assantee-milestonesofrocknrollErnesto Assante, THE MILESTONES OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (White Star)

From Dylan’s first appearance in NYC to the Beatles’ rooftop concert, from Woodstock and Monterey to the Pink Floyd reunion tour, this illustrated book presents 68 milestones that changed the history of rock and, in some cases, the world. Beginning in 1964 with Elvis and continuing through the twenty-first century, this new edition of the music history favorite reveals how music, culture, life, and society were inextricably and irrevocably intertwined. Here are the Rolling Stones’ rocking the house in their London debut, Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire, Michael Jackson moonwalking, the superstar-studded Concert for Bangladesh and Live Aid, and so many more memorable, earth-shattering events.

This was a nice surprise bit of post. Hadn’t heard of it before, but it sounds like it could be really interesting. Published by White Star Publishing, it’s out now in North America and the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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assantee-u2Ernesto Assante, U2: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE (White Star)

U2 remains deeply rooted in tradition while still looking toward the future and pushing boundaries. Follow this popular Irish band from its formation and early years through the release of its milestone albums and arena-packed shows. Explore, also, the challenges raised by the group’s unwavering political and social commitment. U2: Past, Present, Future includes fine photographs, detailed descriptions of the band’s tours and recordings, and previously unpublished interviews.

This was another nice surprise (arrived in the same box), although I’m more interested in Assante’s other book, above. I have a mixed opinion of U2’s music (and not a particularly high opinion of Bono, given his not-infrequent bouts of hypocrisy). I’m interested in giving this book a try, though. U2: Past, Present, Future is out now, published by White Star Publishing.

Review copy received from publisher

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bancroftj-bob1-senlinascendsJosiah Bancroft, SENLIN ASCENDS (Self-Pub’d)

Thomas Senlin is a bookish headmaster from a fishing village who has always wanted to see the Tower of Babel for himself. The Tower is as immense as a mountain and as diverse as a nation. Lured by the grand promises of a guidebook, Senlin takes his new bride, Marya, on the honeymoon of their dreams. But no sooner do they arrive at the Tower than Senlin loses Marya in the teeming throng.

Senlin’s search for his wife carries him through madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just survive. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.

The first time I heard about this, I believe, was from Mark Lawrence. Since then, I’ve been seeing it ever-more frequently on social media and others’ blogs. So, I finally caved and picked it up. Not sure exactly when I’ll get around to reading it, but I’m pretty intrigued. Available via Amazon (at least).

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bollenc-destroyersus-arcChristopher Bollen, THE DESTROYERS (Harper)

When Charlie and I were young, we played a game called  Destroyers… We were sharpening our instincts, jettisoning attachments. We were honing strategies for survival…

Arriving on the Greek island of Patmos broke and humiliated, Ian Bledsoe is fleeing the emotional and financial fallout from his father’s death. His childhood friend Charlie — rich, exuberant, and basking in the success of his new venture on the island — could be his last hope.

At first Patmos appears to be a dream — long sun-soaked days on Charlie’s yacht and the reappearance of a girlfriend from Ian’s past — and Charlie readily offers Ian the lifeline he so desperately needs. But, like Charlie himself, this beautiful island conceals a darkness beneath, and it isn’t long before the dream begins to fragment. When Charlie suddenly vanishes, Ian finds himself caught up in deception after deception. As he grapples with the turmoil left in his friend’s wake, he is reminded of an imaginary game called Destroyers they played as children — a game, he now realizes, they may have never stopped playing.

An enthralling odyssey and a gripping, expansive drama, The Destroyers is a vivid and suspenseful story of identity, power and fate, fathers and sons, and self-invention and self-deception, from a writer at the very height of his powers.

Spotted this on Edelweiss, and thought it sounded interesting. Will read soon, but it’s not published until June 2017 (in the US and UK)… Bollen is also the author of the best-selling Orient, if you want something to try/read before the release of The Destroyers.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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brogdenj-heklaschildrenJames Brogden, HEKLA’S CHILDREN (Titan)

A decade ago, teacher Nathan Brookes saw four of his students walk up a hill and vanish. Only one returned – Olivia – starved, terrified, and with no memory of where she’d been. After a body is found in the same woodland where they disappeared it is rest believed to be one of the missing children, but is soon identified as a Bronze Age warrior, nothing more than an archaeological curiosity. Yet Nathan starts to have terrifying visions of the students. Then Olivia reappears, half-mad and willing to go to any lengths to return the corpse to the earth. For he is the only thing keeping a terrible evil at bay…

This sounds really interesting. Will read ASAP. Published by Titan Books in North America and the UK in March 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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New Adam Christopher RD 1Adam Christopher, STANDARD HOLLYWOOD DEPRAVITY (Tor.com)

The moment Raymond Electromatic set eyes on her, he knew she was the dame marked in his optics, the woman that his boss had warned him about.

Honey.

As the band shook the hair out of their British faces, stomping and strumming, the go-go dancer’s cage swung, and the events of that otherwise average night were set in motion. A shot, under the cover of darkness, a body bleeding out in a corner, and most of Los Angeles’ population of hired guns hulking, sour-faced over un-drunk whiskey sours at the bar.

But as Ray tries to track down the package he was dispatched to the club to retrieve, his own programming might be working against him, sending him down a long hall and straight into a mobster’s paradise. Is Honey still the goal — or was she merely bait for a bigger catch?

Just your standard bit of Hollywood depravity, as tracked by the memory tapes of a less-than-standard robot hitman.

A new novella from Adam Christopher. Due to be published by Tor.com in March 2017 — it’ll be available in the UK, too.

Also on CR: Interview with Adam Christopher (2012); Excerpt from Elementary: The Ghost Line

Review copy received from publisher

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clarksonj-bronxrequiemJohn Clarkson, BRONX REQUIEM (Minotaur)

The death of Paco “Packy” Johnson shouldn’t have surprised anyone. 

Paco Johnson spent a lifetime in the system — starting in juvie at age 10, then prison for most of his adult life. But he managed to make some real friends in prison, friends who helped him get parole, a place to stay, and plans to help him adjust to a life outside prison after seventeen years behind bars. But only seventeen hours after he was released, he was found dead — murdered — in the streets of the Bronx.

James Beck can’t save Packy any longer — but he can try to find out what happened to Packy, and why, and exact a measure of justice. Beck, ringleader of a tight clique of ex-cons based in Brooklyn’s Red Hook section, is determined to accord Packy at least some dignity and a measure of justice. But what drove Packy out onto the streets of the Bronx his first night back? Who did he run into that hated him enough to viciously beat him before executing him, and yet left behind his wallet full of cash?

But what at first appears to be a simple, if tragic, street killing, quickly becomes something much more difficult and complex. And it will take all the skills, connections, and cunning of Beck and his team not only to learn the truth but to survive the forces they’ve unwittingly unleashed.

Clarkson’s second novel, following Among Thieves. Published in North America by Minotaur Books, and self-published in the UK.

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coled-ragdollusDaniel Cole, RAGDOLL (Ecco)

William Fawkes, a controversial detective known as The Wolf, has just been reinstated to his post after he was suspended for assaulting a vindicated suspect. Still under psychological evaluation, Fawkes returns to the force eager for a big case. When his former partner and friend, Detective Emily Baxter, calls him to a crime scene, he’s sure this is it: the body is made of the dismembered parts of six victims, sewn together like a puppet — a corpse that becomes known as “The Ragdoll.”

Fawkes is tasked with identifying the six victims, but that gets dicey when his reporter ex-wife anonymously receives photographs from the crime scene, along with a list of six names, and the dates on which the Ragdoll Killer plans to murder them.

The final name on the list is Fawkes.

Baxter and her trainee partner, Alex Edmunds, hone in on figuring out what links the victims together before the killer strikes again. But for Fawkes, seeing his name on the list sparks a dark memory, and he fears that the catalyst for these killings has more to do with him — and his past — than anyone realizes.

With a breakneck pace, a twisty plot, and a wicked sense of humor, Ragdoll announces the arrival of the hottest new brand in crime fiction.

This has been getting a lot of good buzz, recently. So, will try to get to it ASAP. Published in North America by Ecco, in April 2017; and in the UK by Trapeze, in February 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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doctorowel-collectedstoriesusE.L. Doctorow, DOCTOROW: COLLECTED STORIES (Random House)

He has been called “a national treasure” by George Saunders. Doctorow’s great topic, said Don DeLillo, is “the reach of American possibility, in which plain lives take on the cadences of history.” This power is apparent everywhere in these stories: the bravery and self-delusion of people seeking the American dream; the geniuses, mystics, and charlatans who offer people false hope, or an actual glimpse of greatness.

In “A House on the Plains,” a mother has a plan for financial independence, which may include murder. In “Walter John Harmon,” a man starts a cult using subterfuge and seduction. “Jolene: A Life” follows a teenager who escapes her home for Hollywood on a perilous quest for success. “Heist,” the account of an Episcopal priest coping with a crisis of faith, was expanded into the bestseller City of God. “The Water Works,” about the underbelly of 1870s New York, grew into a brilliant novel. “Liner Notes: The Songs of Billy Bathgate” is a corollary to the renowned novel and includes Doctorow’s revisions.

These fifteen stories, written from the 1960s to the early twenty-first century, and selected, revised, and placed in order by the author himself shortly before he died in 2015, are a testament to the genius of E. L. Doctorow.

This should be an interesting collection. Looking forward to giving it a try. Published in the US by Random House in January 2017. I’m sure it’ll get a UK publisher eventually, but I could only find an import link for it at the time of writing.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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elsbergm-blackoutukMarc Elsberg, BLACK OUT (Transworld)

Tomorrow will be too late.

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead. 

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse. 

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars. 

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers. 

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?

A mega-seller in Europe, it’s finally going to be available in English. Looking forward to trying this. Blackout is published in the UK by Transworld, on February 9th, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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fisherc-princessdiaristusCarrie Fisher, THE PRINCESS DIARIST (Blue Rider Press)

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved — plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time — and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

This is my current audiobook listen (review copy from Audible), although I also picked up the print version. Published in North America by Blue Rider Press, and in the UK by Bantam Press.

Also on CR: Review of Wishful Drinking

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gaimann-ag-monarchoftheglenukNeil Gaiman, THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN (Headline)

He was not sure what he had been looking for. He only knew that he had not found it.

Shadow Moon has been away from America for nearly two years. His nights are broken with dangerous dreams. Sometimes he almost believes he doesn’t care if he ever returns home. 

In the Highlands of Scotland, where the sky is pale white and it feels as remote as any place can possibly be, the beautiful and the wealthy gather at a grand old house in the glen. And when the strange local doctor offers him work at the party, Shadow is intrigued. 

He knows there is no good reason for him to be there. 

So what do they want with him?

gaimann-ag-blackdogsukNeil Gaiman, BLACK DOG (Headline)

‘It followed me home,’ he said, conversationally.

In a rural northern village, legend tells of a ghostly black dog that appears from the darkness before you die.

Shadow Moon has been on the road a while now but he can’t walk any further tonight, not with the rain lashing down. Gratefully, he heads home with a nice English couple, who offer a box room, hot whisky and local tales.

But when the man collapses en route, Shadow realises that something about this place has been left untold. 

Something ancient, something within the very walls of the village.

Something shadowing them all.

Two new novellas set in the world of American Gods and Anansi BoysThe Monarch of the Glen falls between the two novels, and Black Dog is set after Anansi Boys. Published in the UK by Headline.

Also on CR: Review of The View From the Cheap Seats

Review copy received from publisher

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gilmanla-2-coldeyeusLaura Anne Gilman, THE COLD EYE (Saga Press)

Isobel is riding circuit through the Territory as the Devil’s Left Hand. But when she responds to a natural disaster, she learns the limits of her power and the growing danger of something mysterious that is threatening not just her life, but the whole Territory.

Isobel is the left hand of the old man of the Territory, the Boss — better known as the Devil. Along with her mentor, Gabriel, she is traveling circuit through Flood to represent the power of the Devil and uphold the agreement he made with the people to protect them. Here in the Territory, magic exists — sometimes wild and perilous.

But there is a growing danger in the bones of the land that is killing livestock, threatening souls, and weakening the power of magic. In the next installment of the Devil’s West series, Isobel and Gabriel are in over their heads as they find what’s happening and try to stop the people behind it before it unravels the Territory.

The much-anticipated sequel to Silver on the Road. Due to be published by Saga Press in January 2017, in North America and the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Laura Anne Gilman (2013)

Review copy received via NetGalley

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graudinr-wbw2-bloodforbloodusRyan Graudin, BLOOD FOR BLOOD (Little, Brown)

There would be blood.

Blood for blood.

Blood to pay.

An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

Picked this up on a whim, even though I haven’t had a chance to read Wolf by Wolf, yet. Both novels are published by Little, Brown in North America, and Orion in the UK.

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hamdya-pendulumukAdam Hamdy, PENDULUM (Headline)

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.

A noose is round your neck. 

You are bound, standing on a chair.

All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.

You are about to die.

John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable. 

Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour. 

He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction.  

The momentum is in his favour for now. 

But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

You have one chance. Run.

This novel was getting a lot of attention in the lead-up to its release in the UK, so I decided to buy Pendulum and the prequel-novella, Run. They are both published by Headline, and are out now.

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hurwitzg-2-nowheremanusGregg Hurwitz, THE NOWHERE MAN (St. Martin’s Press)

Spoken about only in whispers, the Nowhere Man can only be reached by the truly desperate, he can — He will do anything to save them. 

Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man. 

Taken from a group home at twelve, Evan was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create deniable intelligence assets — i.e. assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man. 

But his new life is interrupted when a surprise attack comes from an unlikely angle and Evan is caught unaware. Captured, drugged, and spirited off to a remote location, he finds himself heavily guarded and cut off from everything he knows. His captors think they have him trapped and helpless in a virtual cage but they don’t know who they’re dealing with — or that they’ve trapped themselves inside that cage with one of the deadliest and most resourceful men on earth.

The sequel to Orphan X, which I rather enjoyed. The Nowhere Man is published in January 2017 by St. Martin’s Press (US) and Michael Joseph (UK).

Review copy received via NetGalley

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HutchinsonD-3-EuropeInWinterDave Hutchinson, EUROPE IN WINTER (Solaris)

A fractured Europe. A parallel world. A global threat.

Union has come. The Community is now the largest nation in Europe; trains run there from as far afield as London and Prague. It is an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

So what is the reason for a huge terrorist outrage? Why do the Community and Europe meet in secret, exchanging hostages? And who are Les Coureurs des Bois?

Along with a motley crew of strays and mafiosi and sleeper agents, Rudi sets out to answer these questions – only to discover that the truth lies both closer to home and farther away than anyone could possibly imagine.

The third novel in the award-winning Fractured Europe series. Published by Solaris, it’s out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Dave Hutchinson (2014)

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jonesg-proofofconceptGwyneth Jones, PROOF OF CONCEPT (Tor.com)

On a desperately overcrowded future Earth, crippled by climate change, the most unlikely hope is better than none. Governments turn to Big Science to provide them with the dreams that will keep the masses compliant. The Needle is one such dream, an installation where the most abstruse theoretical science is being tested: science that might make human travel to a habitable exoplanet distantly feasible. 

When the Needle’s director offers her underground compound as a training base, Kir is thrilled to be invited to join the team, even though she knows it’s only because her brain is host to a quantum artificial intelligence called Altair. 

But Altair knows something he can’t tell. 

Kir, like all humans, is programmed to ignore future dangers. Between the artificial blocks in his mind, and the blocks evolution has built into his host, how is he going to convince her the sky is falling?

This sounds really interesting. Hadn’t heard anything about it before the review copy arrived. I’ll be reading it pretty soon, probably, but I’ll hold off on the review for a while. Due to be published by Tor.com on April 11th, in North America and the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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kiernancr-agentsofdreamlandCaitlin R. Kiernan, AGENTS OF DREAMLAND (Tor.com)

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.

In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible &mdash the Children of the Next Level &mdash and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.

A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.

And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

Tor.com are publishing a lot of stuff in the Lovecraftian-genre, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. So, here’s another, and I’m on board. Will read soon, but postpone the review until closer to the book’s release. Published by Tor.com on February 28th, 2017; also available in the UK.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Sweet & Dandy: Toots & the Maytals…”

Review copy received from publisher

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laml-mg1-pantomimeuk2Laura Lam, PANTOMIME (Pan Macmillan)

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more…

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities — last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight — but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

This is a re-issued edition of Lam’s debut novel, and first in the Micah Grey series. Published by Pan Macmillan in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Laura Lam

Review copy received from publisher

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lucenoj-sw-rogueone-catalystJames Luceno, ROGUE ONE: CATALYST (Century)

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.

I know I’ve complained on the site many times about how much I haven’t liked recent Star Wars fiction, and that my enthusiasm for the (fiction) series has plummeted. However, this novel I am very much interested in reading. Hopefully I’ll manage it before I go to see the new movie. Not sure if I’ll be able to pull that off, though… Published by Century in the UK, and Del Rey in North America.

Review copy received from publisher

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malermanj-blackmadwheelusJosh Malerman, BLACK MAD WHEEL (Ecco)

A chilling novel about a group of musicians conscripted by the US government to track down the source of a strange and debilitating sound

The Danes — the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit” — are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert — a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy. 

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious-and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

This sounds really interesting. Published in North America by Ecco on May 23rd, 2017; and in the UK by Voyager in June 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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mcguires-wc2-downamongthesticksandbonesSeanan McGuire, DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES (Tor.com)

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter — polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter — adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted. 

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

The second Wayward Children book, following Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day. Due to be published by Tor.com in June 2017, in the US and UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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newmane-brothersruinEmma Newman, BROTHER’S RUIN (Tor.com)

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Archie’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Archie Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. However, maintaining the charade will mean masquerading as Archie’s assistant, and delaying or destroying her own plans for marriage.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

This is the first book in the Industrial Magic series (not sure how many have been planned/bought), due to be published by Tor.com (US and UK) in March 2017. Sounds like it could be interesting.

Review copy received from publisher

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ouldc-f2-thekillingbayChris Ould, THE KILLING BAY (Titan)

When a group of international activists arrive on the Faroe Islands, intent on stopping the traditional whale hunts or grindadrap, tensions between islanders and protestors run high. And when a woman is found murdered only hours after a violent confrontation at a whale drive, the circumstances seem purposely designed to create even more animosity between the two sides. For Faroese detective Hjalti Hentze and DI Jan Reyna the case quickly exposes personal connections and conflicts of interest. But as they dig deeper it becomes increasingly clear that the murder has other, more sinister aspects to it. Knowing evidence is being hidden from them and faced with deception on all sides, neither Reyna or Hentze know who to trust, or how far some people might go to defend their beliefs.

This is the second novel in Ould’s Faroes series, following The Blood Strand, and sounds quite interesting. I like the idea of reading a UK crime novel set in an atypical location (for fiction). The Killing Bay is published by Titan Books in North America and the UK, in February 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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pattersonj-ac24-crossthelineusJames Patterson, CROSS THE LINE (Grand Central)

In all of Alex Cross’s years with Homicide, Washington, DC, has never been more dangerous.

After shots pierce the tranquil nighttime calm of Rock Creek Park, a man is dead: what looks at first like road rage might be something much more sinister. But Alex has only just begun asking questions when he’s called across town to investigate a new murder, one that hits close to home: Washington’s own chief of detectives. And Alex’s former boss, beloved mentor of Alex’s wife, Bree.

Now there’s a killer on the loose, a long list of possible suspects, a city in panic, and nobody in charge of the besieged police force.
Until Bree gets tapped for the job.

As Bree scrambles to find her footing and close two high-profile cases, new violence stuns the capital. What should be a time for her to rely on Alex for support and cooperation is instead a moment of crisis in their marriage as well as their city when their investigative instincts clash and their relationship reaches a breaking point.

And the fiendish mind behind all the violence has appointed himself judge, jury, and executioner, with a terrifying master plan he’s only begun to put in motion. To beat him at his own game, Alex and Bree must take the law back into their own hands before he puts them both out of commission… permanently.

The 24th novel in the Alex Cross series, picking up after the Book Shot Cross Kill. Published by Grand Central in North America and Century in the UK.

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prestond-lostcityofthemonkeygodusDouglas Preston, THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD (Grand Central)

A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world’s densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernan Cortes, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location. 

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization. 

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn’t until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.

This is a memoir of an expedition the author joined. Sounds like it could be quite interesting. Published by Grand Central Publishing, and available in the UK on import.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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reesmanb-bonjovithestoryBryan Reesman, BON JOVI: THE STORY (Sterling)

With their catchy hooks, good looks, and irresistible pop-metal sound, Bon Jovi became one of the bestselling bands of all time. Bon Jovi: The Story is the first fully illustrated comprehensive book paying tribute to the mega-popular group from their beginning 30 years ago — when they shot to stardom with the release of their multiplatinum smash album Slippery When Wet — to the present day. Containing original interviews and memorabilia, this unofficial volume is a must-have for every Bon Jovi fan.

I’ve been a fan of Bon Jovi’s for many years. They’ve always seemed to fall in and out of favour over the years, but I’ve remained a casual fan ever since. I’m really looking forward to reading this — the only biography of the band I’ve seen.

Review copy received from publisher

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reillym-jw4-fourlegendarykingdomsukMatthew Reilly, THE FOUR LEGENDARY KINGDOMS (Orion)

There are sixteen contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow.

Now he awakes to find himself in a hellish scenario. Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit.

In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.

I enjoyed the first three novels in this series — they are fast-paced adventure stories. So, when it was announced that Reilly was going to return to this series, I jumped at the chance to review the novel. It was as fast-paced as I’d expected. Some of the cliffhanger aspects of the third novel’s ending were glossed over, and I didn’t like this quite as much as the previous books, but if you’re a fan, you’ll get what you expect. Full review soon. Published in the UK by Orion, and in North America by Gallery in 2017.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Four Kingdoms and Twelve Labours”; Reviews of Six Sacred StonesFive Greatest Warriors and The Great Zoo of China

Review copy received from publisher

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romney-printerserrorusJ.P. Romney & Rebecca Romney, PRINTER’S ERROR (Harper)

A funny and entertaining history of printed books as told through absurd moments in the lives of authors and printers…

Since the Gutenberg Bible first went on sale in 1455, printing has been viewed as one of the highest achievements of human innovation. But the march of progress hasn’t been smooth; downright bizarre is more like it. Printer’s Error chronicles some of the strangest and most humorous episodes in the history of Western printing, and makes clear that we’ve succeeded despite ourselves. Rare-book expert Rebecca Romney and author J. P. Romney take us from monasteries and museums to auction houses and libraries to introduce curious episodes in the history of print that have had a profound impact on our world.

Take, for example, the Gutenberg Bible. While the book is regarded as the first printed work in the Western world, Gutenberg’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on it. Today, Johannes Gutenberg is recognized as the father of Western printing. But for the first few hundred years after the invention of the printing press, no one knew who printed the first book. This long-standing mystery took researchers down a labyrinth of ancient archives and libraries, and unearthed surprising details, such as the fact that Gutenberg’s financier sued him, repossessed his printing equipment, and started his own printing business afterward. Eventually the first printed book was tracked to the library of Cardinal Mazarin in France, and Gutenberg’s forty-two-line Bible was finally credited to him, thus ensuring Gutenberg’s name would be remembered by middle-school students worldwide.

Like the works of Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman, and Ken Jennings, Printer’s Error is a rollicking ride through the annals of time and the printed word.

Thought this looked interesting. Published by Harper on March 14th, 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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russor-trajectoryusRichard Russo, TRAJECTORY (Knopf)

Russo’s characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we’re familiar with from many of his novels. In “Horseman,” a professor confronts a young plagiarist as well as her own weaknesses as the Thanksgiving holiday looms closer and closer: “And after that, who knew?” In “Intervention,” a realtor facing an ominous medical prognosis finds himself in his father’s shadow while he presses forward — or not. In “Voice,” a semiretired academic is conned by his increasingly estranged brother into coming along on a group tour of the Venice Biennale, fleeing a mortifying incident with a traumatized student back in Massachusetts but encountering further complications in the maze of Venice. And in “Milton and Marcus,” a lapsed novelist struggles with his wife’s illness and tries to rekindle his screenwriting career, only to be stymied by the pratfalls of that trade when he’s called to an aging, iconic star’s mountaintop retreat in Wyoming.

A new collection of short stories from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Russo, coming pretty soon after the release of Everybody’s Fool (which I still need to read). These sound really interesting, and I think I’ll read them pretty soon. Published in North America by Knopf in May 2017, and it’ll be available in the UK (at least) as an import.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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salaperaineno-fieldguidetofantasticalbeastsLento Salaperainen, A FIELD GUIDE TO FANTASTICAL BEASTS (Sterling)

A beautiful, illustrated guide to the most magical creatures of legend and myth.

Fairies, demons, four-legged fiends, and, of course, zombies: the world is filled with fantastical beings, beautiful and scary. Come meet them in this magnificently illustrated menagerie, which includes many creatures made famous by popular fantasy and sci-fi film franchises. Take a detailed look at everything from goblins, pixies, and gnomes to vampires and dragons, and discover their origins in literature, folklore, and ancient history.

This is a fun, short book about mythical creatures. Certainly recommended for anyone interested in myths and fantasy (as a reader and writer). It’s out now, and you can read my quick review here.

Review copy received from publisher

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savoryb-aperfectmachineBrett Savory, A PERFECT MACHINE (Angry Robot)

Henry Kyllo is a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. A Runner whose goal is to achieve full-body lead content. He is chased through the city every day by Hunters whose goal is to shoot the Runners — with the threat to both sides that if they do not participate, through a mysterious force no one understands, one of their loved ones will simply vanish from the face of the earth.

Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves “ascension”, but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure.

Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again. This time, to Henry Kyllo

A pretty dark, striking cover. So, naturally, my attention was grabbed. Sounds interesting, too. Published in the UK and US by Angry Robot Books in February 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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scalzij-agenttothestarsusJohn Scalzi, AGENT TO THE STARS (Tor)

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

I picked this up at Bakka Phoenix after a chat about Scalzi’s work, and this was recommended as a very good novel. Published by Tor Books, it’s also available in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of Redshirts and Lock In

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stewartj-dailshowbookusChris Smith, Jon Stewart et al, THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK) (Grand Central)

The complete, uncensored history of the award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as told by its correspondents, writers, and host. 

For almost seventeen years, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart brilliantly redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire, and opinionated news coverage. It launched the careers of some of today’s most significant comedians, highlighted the hypocrisies of the powerful, and garnered 23 Emmys. Now the show’s behind-the-scenes gags, controversies, and camaraderie will be chronicled by the players themselves, from legendary host Jon Stewart to the star cast members and writers — including Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Lewis Black, Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, and Larry Wilmore-plus some of The Daily Show’s most prominent guests and adversaries: John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and many more. 

This oral history takes the reader behind the curtain for all the show’s highlights, from its origins as Comedy Central’s underdog late-night program hosted by Craig Kilborn to Jon Stewart’s long reign to Trevor Noah’s succession, rising from a scrappy jester in the 24-hour political news cycle to become part of the beating heart of politics-a trusted source for not only comedy but also commentary, with a reputation for calling bullshit and an ability to effect real change in the world. 

Through years of incisive election coverage, Jon Stewart’s emotional monologue in the wake of 9/11, his infamous confrontation on Crossfire, passionate debates with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, feuds with Bill O’Reilly and Fox, the Indecisions, Mess O’Potamia, and provocative takes on Wall Street and racism, The Daily Show has been a cultural touchstone. Now, for the first time, the people behind the show’s seminal moments come together to share their memories of the last-minute rewrites, improvisations, pranks, romances, blow-ups, and moments of Zen both on and off the set of one of America’s most groundbreaking shows.

Loved the show (still do), so this was a must-buy. It’s my current non-fiction read, so hopefully I’ll have a review up soon. Published by Grand Central, it’s out now. (It’s available in the UK on import, too.)

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tintih-twelvelivesofsamuelhawleyusHannah Tinti, THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY (The Dial Press)

Samuel Hawley isn’t like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his daughter Loo on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that Loo’s a teenager, Hawley wants only to give her a normal life. In his late wife’s hometown, he finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at the local high school.

She also grows more and more curious about the death of the mother she never knew. Soon, everywhere she turns, she encounters the mysteries of her parents’ lives before she was born. This hidden past is made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body. Each scar is from a bullet Hawley took over the course of his criminal career. Each is a memory: of another place on the map, another thrilling close call, another moment of love lost and found. As Loo uncovers a history that’s darker than she could have known, the demons of her father’s past spill over into the present — and together both Hawley and Loo must face a reckoning yet to come.

This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks. Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is an unforgettable story that explores what it means to be a hero — and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

This sounds great. Very high on my TBR mountain. Published by The Dial Press in the US, in March 2017; and by Tinder Press in the UK, in April 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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umrigart-everybodyssonusThrity Umrigar, EVERYBODY’S SON (Harper)

During a terrible heatwave in 1991—the worst in a decade — ten-year old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan. With no electricity, the refrigerator and lights do not work. Hot, hungry, and desperate, Anton shatters a window and climbs out. Cutting his leg on the broken glass, he is covered in blood when the police find him. Juanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious and half-naked. When she comes to, she repeatedly asks for her baby boy. She never meant to leave Anton — she went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high. Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jail.

The Harvard-educated son of a U. S. senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege. Desperate to have a child in the house again after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton, with him and his wife, Delores — actions that will have devastating consequences in the years to come. Following in his adopted family’s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment. But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most.

Always on the look-out for new and interesting fiction, and this caught my attention. Published by Harper in June 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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wallacem-sdj4-idleingredientsMatt Wallace, IDLE INGREDIENTS (Tor.com)

Catering for a charismatic motivational speaker, the staff of the Sin du Jour catering agency find themselves incapacitated by a force from within their ranks. A smile and a promise is all it took.

And for some reason, only the men are affected. It’s going to take cunning, guile and a significant amount of violence to resolve.

Another day of cupcakes and evil with your favorite demonic caterers.

This is the fourth instalment in Wallace’s popular Sin du Jour series. Published by Tor.com in February 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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wangw-chemistryusWeike Wang, CHEMISTRY (Knopf)

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research — and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own. Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?

Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry — one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

Thought this sounded interesting, and I was approved on Edelweiss. Hopefully reading it soon. Published by Knopf in North America, it’s available in the UK on import.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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wellsd-extrememakeoverusDan Wells, EXTREME MAKEOVER (Tor)

A satirical new suspense about a health and beauty company that accidentally develops a hand lotion that can overwrite your DNA.

Lyle Fontanelle is the chief scientist for NewYew, a health and beauty company experimenting with a new, anti-aging hand lotion. As more and more anomalies crop up in testing, Lyle realizes that the lotion’s formula has somehow gone horribly wrong. It is actively overwriting the DNA of anyone who uses it, turning them into physical clones of someone else. Lyle wants to destroy the formula, but NewYew thinks it might be the greatest beauty product ever designed — and the world’s governments think it’s the greatest weapon.

This looks great. I’d forgotten it was coming out, until I spotted it in Bakka Phoenix in Toronto. So, naturally I bought it right away (I have very little impulse control, when it comes to books.) It also made me realize (again) that I haven’t read anything by Dan Wells before. Huh. Published by Tor Books, it’s out now (and available in UK via import).

Also on CR: Interview with Dan Wells (2015)

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wrightr-cutstonescrossroadscaRonald Wright, CUT STONES AND CROSSROADS (Penguin Canada)

Traveling through Peru, tracing the history of the Incas from their royal cities of Cusco and Machu Picchu to their mythic origin in Lake Titicaca, Ronald Wright explores a country of contrasts — between Spanish and Indian, past and present, coastal desert and mountainous interior.

In his highly entertaining and perceptive account, Wright brings to life a complex culture, a land of ancient traditions seeking its place in the modern world. Embracing history, politics, anthropology, and literature, Cut Stones and Crossroads is a fascinating travel memoir and the study of a civilization by a writer who has won international awards as both a novelist and a historian.

This is Wright’s memoir of travelling around Peru in 1984 — which, as it happens, is when I lived there (age 1-2). I picked this up while I was visiting family in Lima, and thought it would be an interesting complement to The Gold Eaters, which I received not so long ago from his Canadian publisher. Unfortunately, my plan to read it while I was in Peru failed miserably, and I only ended up reading a third of a single book. Cut Stones and Crossroads is published in Canada by Penguin (I couldn’t actually tell if it is still widely available in the US and UK).

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One thought on “New Books (October-November)

  1. I’m a fan of John Scalzi but I have to say AGENT TO THE STARS is not one of his better works. I think you need to be a fan of the movies or be interested in the inner workings of Hollywood for it to work. His work on Redshirts & Fuzzy Nation were much better.

    Like

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