New Books (January 2017)

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I had anticipated a slow month, but the first couple of weeks of January have seen a flood of new ARCs and eARCs come in, as well as a few that I’ve picked up myself. So, this is the first of probably two such posts this month. Any of the below catch your attention? Have you read any already? Feel free to leave a comment.

Featuring: Sara Blaedel, Barbara Bourland, Jordanna Max Brodsky, Titus Chalk, Susan Dennard, Nicky Drayden, Nicholas Eames, Robert Elegant, Gavin Extence, N.J. Fountain, Zoe Fraade-Blanar, Alexander Freed, Sarah Gailey, Aaron M. Glazer, Joe Haldeman, Jack C. Haldeman, Jaroslav Kalfar, Cassandra Khaw, Jennifer Kitses, Tim Lebbon, Mahvesh Murad, Mindy Mejia, K.M. McKinley, Julianne Pachico, Thomas Perry, Michael Ponsor, Brian Platzer, Matthew Quirk, Steve Rasnic Tem, Emily Ruskovich, Jared Shurin, Graeme Simsion, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Strout, Corey J. White, Deborah A. Wolf, Chris Wraight

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blaedels-lr2-lostwomanusSara Blaedel, THE LOST WOMAN (Grand Central)

A housewife is the target of a shocking, methodical killing. Shot with a hunting rifle through her kitchen window, the woman is dead before she hits the ground.

Though murdered in England, it turns out that the woman, Sofie Parker, is actually a Danish citizen who’s been on the Missing Persons list for almost two decades-so Louise Rick is called on to the case. Then, in an unexpected twist, the police discover that Sofie had been reported missing eighteen years ago by none other than Eik, Louise Rick’s police colleague and lover.

Impulsive as ever, Eik rushes to England, and ends up in jail on suspicion of Sofie’s murder. Completely blindsided by Eik’s connection to the case, Louise is thoroughly unsettled and sick with worry, yet she must set aside her own emotional turmoil if she hopes to find the killer in what will become her most controversial case yet…

The follow-up to The Forgotten Girls. Published by Grand Central Publishing on February 7th, 2017; it’s available in the UK, too.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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bourlandb-illeatwhenimdeadusBarbara Bourland, I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD (Grand Central)

When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of high-concept magazine RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin.

But two months later, a cryptic note in her handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, leading Det. Mark Hutton straight into the glamorous life of hardworking RAGE editor Catherine Ono, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half-dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingenues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.

Viciously funny, this sharp and satirical take on the politics of women’s bodies and women’s work is an addictive debut novel.

This looked interesting, and rather different to what I usually read. So, I thought I’d give it a try. Published in the US by Grand Central and in the UK by Riverrun, in May 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BrodskyJM-OB2-WinterOfTheGodsUSJordanna Max Brodsky, WINTER OF THE GODS (Orbit)

Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

Winter in New York: snow falls, lights twinkle, and a very disgruntled Selene DiSilva prowls the streets, knowing that even if she doesn’t look for trouble, it always finds her.

When a dead body is discovered sprawled atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, it’s up to Selene to hunt down the perpetrators. Her ancient skills make her the only one who can track a conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the gods, Selene — once known as Artemis — among them.

This is the second novel in the Olympus Bound series, following the excellent The Immortals. I’m reading it now, so a review will hopefully be up very soon. (I’m enjoying it so far.) Published by Orbit Books in North America and the UK, it’s out in February.

Also on CR: Review of The Immortals

Review copy received from publisher

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chalkt-generationdecksTitus Chalk, GENERATION DECKS (Solaris)

Empowering geeks, making millionaires and shaking the net! 

This is the incredible true story behind the global gaming and business and geek phenomenon. For some, a game of cards is just a way to pass the time. But for an awkward generation on the cusp of the internet age, it became a way of life.

Generation Decks tells the story of the millions of fans worldwide who fell hopelessly in love with the mould-breaking fantasy card game, Magic: The Gathering. The brainchild of misfit maths genius Richard Garfield, Magic combined fiendishly complex game play with addictive collectability. When it came out in 1993, it transformed the lives of quiet braniacs who had longed for a way to connect and to compete. It made millionaires of its creators, who shook up corporate America. And it kick-started the era of professional gaming.

Author Titus Chalk tells the game’s complete story from its humble origins in a Seattle basement to its continued success in today s digital age. Prepare to meet Generation Decks, a community like no other. And to discover Magic: The Gathering, the millennial phenomenon that made it OK to be a gamer.

I know nothing about Magic: The Gathering. Except that it exists. A couple of friends are mad for it, though, and I’m intrigued to learn more about it. So, this book could be interesting. Published by Solaris Books in the UK and US, on April 6th, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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dennards-2-windwitchukSusan Dennard, WINDWITCH (Tor)

Sometimes our enemies become our only allies

The Windwitch Prince Merik is presumed dead, following a lethal explosion. He’s left scarred but alive and determined to expose his sister’s treachery. Yet on reaching the royal capital, he’s shocked to find it crowded with refugees fleeing conflict. Merik haunts the streets, fighting for the weak. This leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

Hunted by the Cleaved, Iseult is struggling to stay free while she searches for her friend Safi. When the Bloodwitch Aeduan corners Iseult first, she offers him a deal: she’ll return what was stolen from him, if he locates the Truthwitch. Yet unknown to Iseult, there’s a bounty on her head – and Aeduan intends to claim it.

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. They find themselves amongst pirates, where a misstep could mean death. And the bandits’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

This is the sequel to Truthwitch, the critically-acclaimed first in the Witchlands series. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the first book too much [review], so I can’t say this is high on my priority list. Published by Tor Books in the UK and US.

Review copy received from publisher

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draydenn-preyofgodsusNicky Drayden, THE PREY OF GODS (Voyager)

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes — the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country…

An emerging AI uprising…

And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

Fun and fantastic, Nicky Drayden takes her brilliance as a short story writer and weaves together an elaborate tale that will capture your heart… even as one particular demigoddess threatens to rip it out.

“A new voice in the tradition of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor” — sign me up! This sounds great. Very happy to have an ARC. Published by Voyager in the US and UK.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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eamesn-1-kingsofthewyldukNicholas Eames, KINGS OF THE WYLD (Orbit)

GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. 

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help — the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. 

It’s time to get the band back together.

This sounds like it could be pretty good. Published in the US and UK by Orbit Books, on February 21st, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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elegantr-ic1-manchuRobert Elegant, MANCHU (Open Road Media)

Francis Arrowsmith is a man without a country, a soldier-of-fortune in search of a war. An English orphan raised in France by exiled Jesuits, he hopes to make a quick pile out of his rare skills in building and operating artillery. Little does he know that when he joins a Portuguese expedition to aid the decadent and corrupt Ming dynasty in its fight against the Manchu invaders, he is embarking on a journey that will merge his destiny with the fate of China itself.

From the opulent courts of the emperors to bloody battlefields, author Robert Elegant employs his deep knowledge and love of China to create a richly detailed world of dangers and delights, where the quest for power and pleasure drives men and women to extremes of both loyalty and betrayal.

This is the first novel in Elegant’s Imperial China trilogy. Published by Open Road Media, it’s out now. The other two novels in the series are also out now: Mandarin and Dynasty. I’m certainly intrigued — I’m always on the look-out for historical novels set in and around China.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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extenceg-mirrorworldofmelodyblackukpbGavin Extence, THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK (Hodder)

It all starts, as these things sometimes do, with a dead man.

He was a neighbour, not someone Abby knew well, but still, finding a body when you only came over to borrow a tin of tomatoes, that comes as a bit of a shock.

At least, it should.

And now she can’t shake the feeling that if she hadn’t gone into Simon’s flat, if she’d had her normal Wednesday night instead, then none of what happened next would have happened. 

And she would never have met Melody Black…

I bought this on a whim, because it was only 99p for Kindle. I’ve also picked up Extence’s The Empathy Problem and The Universe Versus Alex Woods (also when they were on sale for Kindle). Published by Hodder in the UK, it’s out now (also available in the US).

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fountainnj-painkillerukN.J. Fountain, PAINKILLER (Sphere)

I cannot go on like this. I feel such a burden to you. You are young and can start again. You deserve that chance. By the time you read this I will be dead. Do not grieve for me, for I am now without pain.

Yours truly for ever,

Monica

Monica suffers from chronic neuropathic pain. Every second of her life is spent in agony, and she is coping with it the best she can. However, there are whole years of her life which are a blur to her.

But when she finds a suicide note, written in her handwriting, she begins to question everything. She has no memory of writing it — so who did? And if someone tried to kill her once, what’s to say they won’t try again…

I’ve heard good things about this novel. Will hopefully read very soon. Published in paperback in the UK by Sphere, on February 18th, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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fraadeblanarglazer-superfandomusZoe Fraade-Blanar & Aaron M. Glazer, SUPERFANDOM (W.W. Norton)

An in-depth look at the influence of fans — society’s alpha consumers — on our lives and culture.

As fandom sheds its longtime stigmas of geekiness and hysteria, fans are demanding more from the celebrities and brands they love. Digital tools have given organizations — from traditional businesses to tech startups — direct, real-time access to their most devoted consumers, and it’s easy to forget that this access flows both ways. This is the new “fandom-based economy”: a convergence of brand owner and brand consumer. Fan pressures hold more clout than ever before as audiences demand a say in shaping the future of the things they love.

In Superfandom, Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer explain this new era of symbiosis. For producers, it can mean a golden opportunity: brands such as Polaroid and Surge, preserved by the passion of a handful of nostalgic fans, can now count on an articulate, creative, and, above all, loyal audience. Yet, the new economy has its own risks — it’s also easier than ever for companies to lose their audience’s trust, as Valve did when it tried to introduce a paid mod system for its Skyrim video game.

Examining key cases that span a wide range of consumer markets, Fraade-Blanar and Glazer explain why some kinds of engagement with fans succeed and some backfire. Throughout, the authors probe fandom’s history, sociology, and psychology. From the nineteenth-century American Alice Drake, who bribed her way into the houses of her favorite European composers, to Hatsune Miku, the Japanese virtual celebrity whose songs are composed entirely by fans, the dynamics of fandom — the activities we perform to show we belong to a group of people with common interests — may be as old as culture itself.

For groupies of financier Warren Buffet and enthusiasts of Cards Against Humanity alike, the consumer relationship has been transformed. Superfandom is an essential guide for those who care about, contribute to, and live in our rapidly expanding fan-driven economy.

This sounds really interesting. Published in March 2017 by W.W. Norton in North America, and Profile Books in the UK.

Review copy received

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freeda-sw-rogueoneAlexander Freed, ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (Century)

Go beyond the film with a novelization featuring new scenes and expanded material.

As the shadows of the Empire loom ever larger across the galaxy, so do deeply troubling rumors. The Rebellion has learned of a sinister Imperial plot to bring entire worlds to their knees. Deep in Empire-dominated space, a machine of unimaginable destructive power is nearing completion. A weapon too terrifying to contemplate… and a threat that may be too great to overcome.

If the worlds at the Empire’s mercy stand any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies: Jyn Erso, a resourceful young woman seeking vengeance; Cassian Andor, a war-weary rebel commander; Bodhi Rook, a defector from the Empire’s military; Chirrut Ïmwe, a blind holy man and his crack-shot companion, Baze Malbus; and K-2SO, a deadly Imperial droid turned against its former masters. In their hands rests the new hope that could turn the tide toward a crucial Rebellion victory — if only they can capture the plans to the Empire’s new weapon.

But even as they race toward their dangerous goal, the specter of their ultimate enemy — a monstrous world unto itself — darkens the skies. Waiting to herald the Empire’s brutal reign with a burst of annihilation worthy of its dreaded name: Death Star.

I have mixed feelings about the Rogue One movie, but I’m intrigued to see how the novelization shapes up. I still have to read James Luceno’s Catalyst, first, but I hope to get to Freed’s novel soon. Published in the UK by Century, and in the US by Del Rey.

Review copy received from publisher

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gaileys-riverofteethSarah Gailey, RIVER OF TEETH (Tor.com)

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

This sounds fantastic (and look at that cover!). It’s published in May 2017, but I think I’m going to be reading it pretty soon. Available in the US and UK, published by Tor.com.

Review copy received from publisher

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haldemanj-thereisnodarknessJoe Haldeman & Jack C. Haldeman, THERE IS NO DARKNESS (Open Road)

A young man must fight — literally — for the opportunity to escape his backwater home planet and journey to the stars.

A towering young giant growing up on a high-gravity world of perilous plants and savage creatures, Carl Bok is thrilled when he’s offered a one-year scholarship to Starschool. As a new student aboard the space-traveling institution, Carl will get the opportunity to visit and learn from sixteen colonized worlds. Best of all, he’ll finally escape the dangerous and grueling life of his home planet.

A poor “country boy” cast among rich children of privilege, Carl perseveres as he and his classmates prepare to rocket from world to world. While he’s still on Earth, however, an unexpected and desperate need for funds forces him to become a professional fighter, a job that well suits his massive size and experience.

Carl hopes to earn the money he needs to continue with Starschool by battling a slew of human and bestial adversaries for the entertainment of others. But there are forces behind the scenes with an alien agenda that Carl can neither see nor comprehend — as he and a cadre of young companions undertake an educational odyssey that carries them from Earth to the astonishing artificial planet Construct to a war-torn world called Hell.

Sounds like a classic sci-fi adventure story. Looking forward to getting to it. Published by Open Road Media on February 28th, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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kalfarj-spacemanofbohemiausJaroslav Kalfar, SPACEMAN OF BOHEMIA (Little, Brown)

An intergalactic odyssey of love, ambition, and self-discovery

Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procházka has risen from small-time scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism he’s dreamt of, and a way to atone for his father’s sins as a Communist informer, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka, whose love, he realizes too late, he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions. 

Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of bacon, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Will it be enough to see Jakub through a clash with secret Russian rivals and return him safely to Earth for a second chance with Lenka?

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun.

Really looking forward to reading this. Published in March 2017 in the US by Little, Brown, and in the UK by Hodder.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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khawc-gm-rupertwongCassandra Khaw, GODS & MONSTERS: RUPERT WONG AND THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (Abaddon)

It’s not unusual to work two jobs in this day and age, but sorcerer and former triad soldier Rupert Wong’s life is more complicated than most. By day, he makes human hors d’oeuvres for a dynasty of ghouls; by night, he pushes pencils for the Ten Chinese Hells. Of course, it never seems to be enough to buy him a new car—or his restless, flesh-eating-ghost girlfriend passage from the reincarnation cycle — until opportunity comes smashing through his window. 

In Kuala Lumpur, where deities from a handful of major faiths tip-toe around each other and damned souls number in the millions, it’s important to tread carefully. Now the Dragon King of the South wants to throw Rupert right in it. The ocean god’s daughter and her once-mortal husband have been murdered, leaving a single clue: bloodied feathers from the Greek furies. It’s a clue that could start a war between pantheons, and Rupert’s stuck in the middle. Success promises wealth, power and freedom, and failure… doesn’t.

Sounds interesting. I haven’t had a chance to read any of the Gods & Monsters books, yet, but I’m hoping to get around to them soon. Published by AbaddonRupert Wong… is out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Cassandra Khaw

Review copy received via publisher

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kitsesj-smallhoursusJennifer Kitses, SMALL HOURS (Grand Central)

In the vein of Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta, a gripping, suspenseful, and gorgeous debut novel — told hour-by-hour over the course of a single day — in which a husband and wife try to outrun long-buried secrets, sending their lives spiraling into chaos.

Pretty short and uninformative synopsis, but nevertheless my interest is piqued (I’m a fan of Russo and Perrotta). Published in June 2017 by Grand Central in the US and UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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langmeado-metronomeOliver Langmead, METRONOME (Unsung Stories)

“You and I, we wear our wounds. I wear my scars, you wear your tattoos, and we don’t forget who we are.”

It is for the entities known as Sleepwalkers to cross the doors between dreams, and hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. Theirs is a world of impossible vistas, where reason is banished and only the imagination holds sway: the connected worlds that all sleeping minds inhabit, and the doors that lead between.

But tonight, one Sleepwalker has gone rogue. Abandoning her sworn oath to protect the dreamscapes, she has devoted herself to another cause, threatening to unleash a nightmare older than man. The only chance of stopping her lies with a man named Manderlay. Once a feted musician, William Manderlay is living his twilight years in an Edinburgh care home, riddled with arthritis and filled with a longing for his youth, for the open seas, and for the lost use of his hands and the violin he has always treasured.

For too long now, Manderlay’s nights have been coloured by dark, corrupted dreams: dreams of leprous men in landscapes plucked from his memory, of dark figures seeking him on city streets. His comrades in the retirement home believe Manderlay is giving in to age and senility – but the truth is much worse. For in dreams, maps are made from music – and it just might be that one of William Manderlay’s forgotten compositions holds the key to unleashing the nightmare that holds the world of dreams in balance. The Sleepwalkers are zoning in on him. He might be their saviour, or his music might be their damnation…

This sounds pretty interesting. It’s out now, published by Unsung Stories.

Review copy received from publisher

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lebbont-relicsTim Lebbon, RELICS (Titan)

Beneath the surface of our world, mythological creatures and their artifacts still exist — corrupt people pay fortunes for a sliver of dragon bone, a basilisk’s scale, or an angel’s wing. Angela Gough is an American criminology student in London whose fiancé Vince disappears, and her investigation leads her into a black market specializing in arcane relics. She meets Mary Rock, a criminal of mythic status who also wants to find Vince… to kill him. Angela and a growing team of adventurers must stop this horrific trade, yet they face a growing menace as the hunted creatures begin to fight back.

I haven’t read much of Lebbon’s fiction. This has been enjoying some pretty good pre-publication buzz, so I hope to get to it soon. Published by Titan Books in the US and UK, in March 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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muradshurin-djinnfallsinloveMahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin (eds.), THE DJINN FALLS IN LOVE & OTHER STORIES (Solaris)

Imagine a world filled with fierce, fiery beings, hiding in our shadows, in our dreams, under our skins. Eavesdropping and exploring; savaging our bodies, saving our souls. They are monsters, saviours, victims, childhood friends.

Some have called them genies: these are the Djinn. And they are everywhere. On street corners, behind the wheel of a taxi, in the chorus, between the pages of books. Every language has a word for them. Every culture knows their traditions. Every religion, every history has them hiding in their dark places. There is no part of the world that does not know them. 

They are the Djinn. They are among us.

With stories from: Neil Gaiman, Nnedi Okorafor, Amal El-Mohtar, Catherine King, Claire North,  E.J. Swift, Hermes (trans. Robin Moger), Jamal Majoub, James Smythe, J.Y. Yang, Kamila Shamsie, Kirsty Logan, K.J. Parker, Kuzhali Manickavel, Maria Dahvana Headley, Monica Byrne, Nada Adel Sobhi, Saad Hossein, Sami Shah, Sophia Al-Maria and Usman Malik.

Looks like a great anthology. Will read very soon. Published by Solaris Books in the UK and US, on March 9th, 2017.

Review copy received via publisher

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mejiam-everythingyouwantmetobeusMindy Mejia, EVERYTHING YOU WANTED ME TO BE (Emily Bestler/Atria)

Reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront… and she inches closer and closer to her death.

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view — Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling — Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery — or destruction?

This has been getting some great pre-publication buzz, so I’m happy to finally have it. Published by Emily Bestler in North America, it’s out now. The novel is published in the UK by Quercus as The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman (eBook out now, hardcover published in March 2017).

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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mckinleykm-2-cityoficeK.M. McKinley, THE CITY OF ICE (Solaris)

Industry and magic, gods and steampower collide in the epic sequel to The Iron Ship.

Deep in the polar south stands a city like no other, a city built aeons ago by a civilisation mighty and wise. Locked in a race with the a rival engineer, Trassan Kressind’s great iron ship crosses uncharted seas.

The City of Ice promises the secrets of the ancients to whomever can reach it first. It may prove too little knowledge too late, for the closest approach of the Twin in 4000 years draws near, an event that has heralded terrible destruction in past ages.

As the Kressind siblings pursue their fortunes, the world stands upon the dawn of a new era, but may yet be consumed by a darkness from the past.

The sequel to The Iron Ship (which I still need to read). Published by Solaris Books in the UK and US, The City of Ice is out now.

Also on CR: Interview with K.M. McKinley; Guest Post on “Whole Cloth Worlds, A Cheeky Cost-Benefit”

Review copy received from publisher

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pachicoj-luckyonesukJulianne Pachico, THE LUCKY ONES (Faber)

Set mostly in lush, heady Colombia but even in a jungle-like New York City, they yoke together the fates of guerrilla soldiers, rich kids, rabbits, hostages, bourgeois expats, and drug dealers.

Interconnected yet fractured in places, the result is a narrative jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing, or a kaleidoscope where different characters spin into focus as they take turns to come into focus. Her characters’ voices are completely haunting — and Pachico’s playfulness with language and mastery of consciousness create a mesmerising collective atmosphere in this collection.

At once terse and tender, with a manic, crazed energy, these stories will scalpel their way into your memory.

I requested this on NetGalley a while back. Then promptly forgot that I’d requested it. But the request was approved. I’ll try to get to it soon. Published by Faber in the UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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perryt-oldmanThomas Perry, THE OLD MAN (Mysterious Press)

To all appearances, Dan Chase is a harmless retiree in Vermont with two big mutts and a grown daughter he keeps in touch with by phone.

But most sixty-year-old widowers don t have multiple driver’s licenses, savings stockpiled in banks across the country, and a bugout kit with two Beretta Nanos stashed in the spare bedroom closet. Most have not spent decades on the run.

Thirty-five years ago, as a young hotshot in army intelligence, Chase was sent to Libya to covertly assist a rebel army. When the plan turned sour, Chase reacted according to his own ideas of right and wrong, triggering consequences he could never have anticipated. And someone still wants him dead because of them.

Just as he had begun to think himself finally safe, Chase must reawaken his survival instincts to contend with the history he has spent his adult life trying to escape.

I’ve heard good things about Perry’s novels, but still haven’t had a chance to read any. This one sounds like an interesting stand-alone, though, so I’ll maybe start here. Published by Mysterious Press, it’s available in the US and UK.

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platzerb-bedstuyisburningusBrian Platzer, BED-STUY IS BURNING (Atria)

Aaron, a disgraced rabbi turned Wall Street banker, and Amelia, his journalist girlfriend, live with their newborn in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the most dynamic and historically volatile neighborhoods in New York City. The infusion of upwardly mobile professionals into Bed-Stuy’s historic brownstones belies the tension simmering on the streets below. But after a cop shoots a boy in a nearby park, conflict escalates to rioting — with Aaron and his family at its center.

Pulled into the riot’s vortex are Antoinette, devout nanny to Aaron and Amelia’s son; Jupiter, the single father who lives on their block with his son, Derek; Daniel, Aaron’s unhinged tenant in their basement unit; and Sara, a smart local girl, broiling with confusion and rage. As the day unfolds, these diverse characters are forced to reckon with who they are and what truly matters to them.

Platzer conjures a sharp-eyed, fast-paced, and empathetically rendered narrative about a changing neighborhood and its residents, as they struggle to raise children, establish careers, and find love, fulfillment, and meaning. Bed-Stuy Is Burning offers a window into an array of complex lives and deftly wrestles with the most pressing issues of our time with unflinching focus, wisdom, and hope.

Think this sounds interesting, and I’m a sucker for New York-based novels. Published by Atria in July 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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ponsorm-2-oneeyedjudgeMichael Ponsor, THE ONE-EYED JUDGE (Open Road Media)

When FBI agents barge into the home of Sidney Cranmer, accusing him of possession of child pornography, the respected literature professor’s life becomes a nightmare. Cranmer insists the illicit material is not his, but the charge appears airtight, and his academic specialty — the works of suspected pedophile Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — convinces investigators he is lying.

The Honorable David S. Norcross regrets not recusing himself from this routine criminal case, especially considering that his girlfriend, Claire Lindemann, knows the defendant and is convinced he is innocent. Soon, she will take matters into her own hands. Meanwhile, a family tragedy leaves Norcross responsible for his two young nieces, and a separate investigation identifies a murderous predator still at large. Now Judge Norcross must navigate through a maelstrom of deceit, revenge, and unspeakable evil looming over everyone he loves.

This is the sequel to The Hanging Judge. Which I think I may have, somewhere. Published by Open Road Media in June 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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quirkm-jh2-deadmanswitchusMatthew Quirk, DEAD MAN SWITCH (Mulholland)

Thousands of American lives are at stake, and their survival rests on Captain John Hayes and his special operations team.

A deadly fall on a rugged stretch of California coast. A home invasion gone wrong in Brittany. No one connects the killings because the victims are living under cover, their true identities closely-held secrets. They are members of America’s most select kill/capture team, which combines special operations lethality with CIA tradecraft. They are the last line of defense against foreign threats, and someone is assassinating them one by one where they sleep, taking family and innocent bystanders to make the deaths seem like accidents.

Captain John Hayes, a special operations legend, has left the military and spent the past year at home with his family. Once he uncovers the pattern behind the killings, he returns to the field to protect the men and women he once worked with. One of those women, Claire Sutherland, draws suspicion for her brilliant abilities as an assassin, and vanishes into thin air. Meanwhile, the attacks on Hayes’s team members grow bolder, the killers conspiring to draw them into Manhattan by orchestrating a devastating attack on Independence Day.

Hayes and his teammates are racing against the clock to save their own lives, and thousands more.

This is the sequel to Cold Barrel Zero, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet. I’ve had mixed experiences with Quirk’s novels: I read his debut, The 500 in one sitting, while finding The Directive a little thin. Hopefully this series will live up to expectations. Published by Mulholland Books in North America and the UK, on March 21st, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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rasnictems-uboSteve Rasnic Tem, UBO (Solaris)

A chilling story exploring the roots of violence and its effect on a possible future.

Daniel is trapped in Ubo. He has no idea how long he has been imprisoned there by the roaches.

Every resident has a similar memory of the journey to Ubo: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic, or science. The creatures, like a deck of baroquely ornamented cards, fanning themselves from one hidden world into the next.

And now each day they force Daniel to play a different figure from humanity’s violent history, from a frenzied Jack the Ripper to a stumbling and confused Stalin to a self-proclaimed god executing survivors atop the ruins of the world. The scenarios mutate day after day in this camp somewhere beyond the rules of time. As skies burn and prisoners go mad, identities dissolve as the experiments evolve, and no one can foretell their mysterious end.

Could be interesting. Published by Solaris Books in the UK and US, on February 7th, 2017.

Also on CR: Interview with Steve Rasnic Tem

Review copy received from publisher

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ruskoviche-idahoEmily Ruskovich, IDAHO (Vintage/Random House)

Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives — including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison — we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho.

In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade’s past becomes the center of Ann’s imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew — and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own.

I remember seeing this on a few “Most Anticipated for 2017” lists, so I picked it up. Published by Vintage/Random House in North America and the UK.

*

simsiong-bestofadamsharpusGraeme Simsion, THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP (St. Martin’s Press)

On the cusp of turning fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT. But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find — and then lose — love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

The new novel by the author of the phenomenally successful The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect. It sounds pretty good. Published by St. Martin’s Press in the US on May 2nd, 2017; and by Penguin in the UK on February 9th, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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strossc-eg1-empiregamesCharles Stross, EMPIRE GAMES (Tor)

A time of ambition, treachery and dangerous secrets…

Rita Douglas is plucked from her dead-end job and trained as a reluctant US spy. All because she has the latent genetic talent to hop between alternate timelines — and infiltrate them. Her United States is waging a high-tech war, targeting assassins who can move between worlds to deliver death on a mass scale, and Rita will be their secret weapon.

Miriam Beckstein has her own mission, as a politician in an industrial revolution US. She must accelerate her world’s technology before their paranoid American twin finds them. It would blow them to hell. After all, they’ve done it before. Each timeline also battles internal conspiracies, as a cold war threatens to turn white hot. But which world is the aggressor — and will Rita have to choose a side?

This is the first in a new series, set in the universe/reality of Stross’s Merchant Princes series. I’ve read the first anthology in that series, but never got around to finishing it. I did enjoy what I read, though. Hopefully this will be accessible even though I haven’t read the other novels. Published in the UK and US by Tor Books, later this month.

Review copy received from publisher

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stroute-anythingispossibleusElizabeth Strout, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE (Random House)

Written in tandem with My Name Is Lucy Barton and drawing on the small-town characters evoked there, these pages reverberate with the themes of love, loss, and hope that have drawn millions of readers to Strout’s work.

“As I was writing My Name Is Lucy Barton,” Strout says, “it came to me that all the characters Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories — of course! — and so the unfolding of their lives became tremendously important to me.” Here, among others, are the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” now adults: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. Tommy, the janitor at the local high school, has his faith tested in an encounter with an emotionally isolated man he has come to help; a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD discovers unexpected solace in the company of a lonely innkeeper; and Lucy Barton’s sister, Vicky, struggling with feelings of abandonment and jealousy, nonetheless comes to Lucy’s aid, ratifying the deepest bonds of family.

With the stylistic brilliance and subtle power that distinguish the work of this great writer, Elizabeth Strout has created another transcendent work of fiction, with characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned.

This should be an interesting read. I read My Name Is Lucy Barton not too long ago, and while I enjoyed it I was left a little cold by the end. I am nevertheless looking forward to reading this companion piece. Published on April 25th by Random House in the US, and on May 4th by Viking in the UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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whitecj-1-killinggravityCorey J. White, KILLING GRAVITY (Tor.com)

Mars Xi can kill you with her mind, but she’ll need more than psychic powers to save her…

Before she escaped in a bloody coup, MEPHISTO transformed Mariam Xi into a deadly voidwitch. Their training left her with terrifying capabilities, a fierce sense of independence, a deficit of trust, and an experimental pet named Seven. She’s spent her life on the run, but the boogeymen from her past are catching up with her. An encounter with a bounty hunter has left her hanging helpless in a dying spaceship, dependent on the mercy of strangers.

Penned in on all sides, Mariam chases rumors to find the one who sold her out. To discover the truth and defeat her pursuers, she’ll have to stare into the abyss and find the secrets of her past, her future, and her terrifying potential.

This is the first book in the Voidwitch Saga, and sounds great. Will read very soon. Published by Tor.com on May 9th in the US and UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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wolfda-dragonslegacyDeborah A. Wolf, THE DRAGON’S LEGACY (Titan)

The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.

Hadn’t heard of this before it arrived in the mail. The synopsis isn’t as attention-grabbing as many others that I’ve received this month. I may get around to it at some point, give it a try. Published by Titan Books in the US and UK, in April 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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wraightc-hhp-lemanrussChris Wraight, LEMAN RUSS: THE GREAT WOLF (Black Library)

Many are the sagas of Leman Russ, Lord of Winter and War, most fearsome of the Emperor’s primarch sons. At the height of the Great Crusade, his Space Wolves fight to bring the rebel world of Dulan to compliance. Enraged by the defiance of the tyrant Durath, Russ has pledged to strike him down personally – but his brother Lion El’Jonson of the Dark Angels advises more caution. With the might of two Legions arrayed against Durath, tensions nevertheless run high, and the rivalry between the Wolf and the Lion threatens to engulf them all.

This is the second novel in Black Library’s new Primarchs series — set during the early years of the Great Crusade (pre-Horus Heresy), the books aim to improve readers’ pictures of the 19 super-human lords of the Astartes. I also have the first in the series — David Annandale’s Roboute Guilliman — and am looking forward to reading them both. Out now, published by Black Library and available for Kindle.

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2 thoughts on “New Books (January 2017)

  1. Heya! Thanks for getting yourself a copy of Kings of the Wyld! I really appreciate it, and sincerely hope you like it when you get around to reading it–though you’ve got quite a haul on your hands!

    Nick

    Like

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