New Books (March-April)

Featuring: David Annandale, Neal Asher, J.D. Barker, Giacomo Bevilacqua, Edward Carlson, Don Carpenter, Jonathan Dee, William C. Dietz, Omar El Akkad, Michael R. Fletcher, L.R. Fredericks, L.J. Goulding, David Grann, Richard Kadrey, Paul Kearney, Jardine Libaire, Leena Likitalo, Sarah Lotz, Melissa Scrivner Love, Robbie MacNiven, Graham McNeill, Sarah Menkedick, Peter Newman, Tom Perotta, Ivy Pochoda, Ben Sanders, John Scalzi, Anna Stephens, David Swinson, Marcus Thompson II, Karen Tidbek, C.L. Werner, Timothy Zahn

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David Annandale, WARLORD: WRATH OF THE GOD MACHINE (Black Library)

The mighty Warlord Titans of the Adeptus Titanicus go to war against the forces of Chaos.

The Battle Titans of the Adeptus Titanicus are towering war engines, striding to war as holy effigies of the Omnissiah, and the mighty Warlord Titans are the most renowned among all the forces of the Imperium of Man. Their weapons bring righteous death to the alien and the heretic alike, and the merest glimpse of them on the march has stalled entire planetary rebellions. But as the galaxy burns before the rampaging hordes of Chaos, it will take more than any one single Titan Legion to hold the line…

Annandale is a bit of a machine, recently — it seems like almost every other month he has something new coming out. Which is great, because his novels and short stories are great. Anyway, in this novel he takes on the Titans of Warhammer 40k. Which is bound to be pretty bombastic. Warlord: Wrath of the God Machine is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale (2012); Reviews of The Carrion AnthemThe Damnation of Pythos

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Neal Asher, INFINITY ENGINE (Tor UK)

A man battles for his life, two AIs vie for supremacy and a civilization hangs in the balance…

Several forces now pursue rogue artificial intelligence Penny Royal, hungry for revenge or redemption. And the Brockle is the most dangerous of all. This criminal swarm-robot AI has escaped its confinement and is upgrading itself, becoming ever more powerful in anticipation of a deadly showdown.

Events also escalate aboard the damaged war factory station where Penny Royal was constructed. Here Thorvald Spear, alien prador, and an assassin drone struggle to stay alive, battling insane AIs and technology gone wild. Then the Weaver arrives — last of the Atheter, resurrected from a race that suicided two million years ago. But what could it contribute to Penny Royal’s tortuous plans?

And beyond the war factory a black hole conceals a tantalizing secret which could destroy the Polity. As AIs, humans and prador clash at its boundary, will anything survive their explosive final confrontation?

Infinity Engine is the third novel in Asher’s Transformation trilogy, following Dark Intelligence and War Factory. All three novels are out now, published in the UK by Tor Books and in the US by Night Shade Books.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Building the Polity”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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J.D. Barker, THE FOURTH MONKEY (HQ)

Brilliant. Complicated. Psycopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…

This is getting a fair amount of good early buzz. Sounds like it could be pretty good. Published in June by HQ in the UK, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Giacomo Bevilacqua, THE SOUND OF THE WORLD BY HEART (Magnetic Press)

Sometimes what you don’t see is what matters most…

An experiment in social isolation turns into a journey of self-discovery as a photojournalist commits to spending sixty days in New York city without talking to a single person. More than just an exercise in observation and self-control, he’s hoping to forget a troubled past and mend a broken heart.  But the city has a sneaky way of throwing the best laid plans and noble efforts to waste, revealing secrets that lie right in front of him. All he has to do is open his eyes…

A touching, vividly illustrated journey through contemporary modern New York, exploring what it takes to find yourself — and maybe your soul mate — in the middle of a crowded, bustling modern world.

This looks really interesting, and the artwork is great. Published by Magnetic Press, it’s out now

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Edward Carlson, ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WE ONCE KNEW (Skyhorse)

For fans of Don DeLillo and Joseph O’Neill, an enthralling debut about the one percent, what they’ll do to stay on top, and the callous gaze they turn on those below them.

Stephen Harker is a disillusioned associate at Kilgore LLP, litigating on behalf of multinational companies such as insurance giant WorldScore, underwriter of a contractor that supplies private soldiers to the US military. Harker’s charismatic, womanizing boss assigns him a case defending WorldScore against a lawsuit filed by Major Michael “Bud” Thomas, an Air Force veteran, injured military contractor, and single dad seeking workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD and other injuries suffered while employed in Afghanistan. Fearing that honoring his claims will open the floodgate of payouts to returning soldiers, WorldScore demands that Harker defeat Thomas at all costs.

When Harker turns the firm’s full legal power on the wounded veteran, he finds himself in an existential downward spiral and a desperate relationship with his boss’s bohemian ex-wife until he is confronted with a final act of redemption.

A riveting insider’s indictment of the world of the corporate elite and the savage determination with which they fight to maintain control of their profits. In a society where the very institutions that should support our returning veterans instead view them with suspicion, this stunning debut is a grim reflection on the ever-growing rift between the classes.

I’d not heard of this before I spotted it available on Edelweiss, but it looked like it could be interesting. And, I do love a good novel about New York. (Not that they’re in short supply…) Published by Skyhorse Publishing, on August 1st, 2017.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Don Carpenter & Jonathan Lethem, FRIDAYS AT ENRICO’S (Counterpoint)

Don Carpenter was a close friend of Evan Connell and other San Francisco writers, but his closest friendship was with Richard Brautigan, and when Brautigan killed himself, Carpenter tried for some time to write a biography of his remarkable, deeply troubled friend.

He finally abandoned that in favor of writing a novel. Friday’s at Enricos, the story of four writers living in Northern California and Portland during the early, heady days of the Beat scene. A time of youth and opportunity, this story mixes the excitement of beginning with the melancholy of ambition, often thwarted and never satisfied. Loss of innocence is only the first price you pay. These are people, men and women, tender with expectation, at risk and in love, and Carpenter also carefully draws a portrait of these two remarkable places, San Francisco and Portland, in the 50s and early 60s, when the writers and bohemians were busy creating the groundwork for what came to be the counterculture.

Recently discovered in a complete penultimate manuscript, having been lost since the author’s death, we re thrilled to see this book into print. A great champion of Don Carpenter, Jonathan Lethem, has taken on the task of editing and developing this last draft into the shape we imagine Carpenter would have himself accomplished had he lived to see this through. And Lethem provides a wonderful introduction to this book, to Carpenter, and to the broad influence of his work which resonates until this very day.

I’ve only just discovered Don Carpenter. That is, I’ve only just stumbled across his name, in my search for interesting novels about Los Angeles and Hollywood — I haven’t yet read any of his books. His name kept popping up in my searches, so I decided to pick this up (his last novel — an unconventional starting point, to be sure). His debut, A Hard Rain Falling (1966) has been praised by many, including Richard Price and George Pelacanos who called it “a masterpiece… the definitive juvenile-delinquency novel and a damning indictment of our criminal justice system.” His novel A Couple of Comedians (since collected in The Hollywood Trilogy) is thought by some the best novel about Hollywood ever written (and how he got on my radar). I’m also pretty new to Lethem’s work, so when I saw that he edited this novel, I thought I’d give it a try. Fridays at Enrico’s is out now, published by Counterpoint.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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Jonathan Dee, THE LOCALS (Random House)

A rural, working class New England town elects as its mayor a New York hedge fund millionaire in this urgent and inspired novel for our times.

Mark Firth is a contractor and home restorer in Howland, Massachusetts, who feels opportunity passing his family by. After being swindled by a financial advisor, what future can Mark promise his wife, Karen, and their young daughter, Haley? He finds himself envying the wealthy weekenders in his community whose houses sit empty all winter.

Philip Hadi used to be one of these people. But in the nervous days after 9/11 he flees New York and hires Mark to turn his Howland home into a year-round “secure location” from which he can manage billions of dollars of other people’s money. The collision of these two men’s very different worlds — rural vs. urban, middle class vs. wealthy — is the engine of Jonathan Dee’s powerful new novel.

Inspired by Hadi, Mark looks around for a surefire investment: the mid-decade housing boom. Over Karen’s objections, and teaming up with his troubled brother, Gerry, Mark starts buying up local property with cheap debt. Then the town’s first selectman dies suddenly, and Hadi volunteers for office. He soon begins subtly transforming Howland in his image — with unexpected results for Mark and his extended family.

Here are the dramas of twenty-first-century America — rising inequality, working class decline, a new authoritarianism — played out in the classic setting of some of our greatest novels: the small town. The Locals is that rare work of fiction capable of capturing a fraught American moment in real time.

I’ve enjoyed some of Dee’s past writing, and this sounded particularly interesting. I’ll probably be reading it very soon, but will hold off on the review until maybe June or July. Published in the US by Random House, and in the UK by Corsair, in August 2017.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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William C. Dietz, SEEK AND DESTROY (Ace)

The second novel in a postapocalyptic military science fiction series about America struggling to overcome a natural disaster but starting a second civil war…

As people fight to survive the aftereffects of more than a dozen meteor strikes, a group of wealthy individuals conspires to rebuild the United States as a corporate entity called the New Confederacy, where the bottom line is law. As a second civil war rages, with families fighting against families on opposite sides, Union president Samuel T. Sloan battles to keep the country whole.

To help in the fight for unity, Union Army captain Robin “Mac” Macintyre and her crew of Stryker vehicles are sent after the ruthless “warlord of warlords,” an ex–Green Beret who rules a large swath of the West. But defeating him will be even more difficult than she thought. The warlord is receiving military assistance from Mac’s sister — and rival — Confederate major Victoria Macintyre. And when the siblings come together in the war-torn streets of New Orleans, only one of them will walk away.

The second novel in Dietz’s America Rising post-apocalyptic series, following Into the Guns. Published by Ace in the US, in June; and Titan in the UK, in August.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “So you want to write Military Science Fiction?”; Excerpt from Redzone

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Omar El Akkad, AMERICAN WAR (McClelland & Stewart)

A second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle — a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war as one of the Miraculous Generation and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past — his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.

I’ve been looking forward to this for some time, so I snapped it up as soon as I could. Reading and reviewing very soon. American War is out now, published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, in the UK by Picador, and in the US by Knopf.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Michael R. Fletcher, SWARM AND STEEL (Talos)

To escape the hell she created, a woman must team up with a novice warrior and return to her homeland in this gritty epic fantasy where delusions are literally made real.

Zerfall awakens in an alley, wounded and unable to remember her past. Chased by an assassin out into the endless wastes of the desert, she is caught, disfigured, and left for dead. Her scabbard is empty, but the need for answers — and the pull of her sword — will draw her back to the city-states.

When Jateko, a naïve youth, accidentally kills a member of his own tribe, he finds himself outcast and pursued across the desert for his crimes. Crazed from dehydration, dying of thirst and hunger, he stumbles across Zerfall.

Hunted by assassins and bound by mutual need, both Zerfall and Jeteko will confront the Täuschung, an ancient and deranged religion ruled by a broken fragment of Zerfall’s mind. Swarm, the Täuschung hell, seethes with imprisoned souls, but where gods — real or imagined — meddle in the affairs of man, the cost is high.

In Swarm and Steel, the power of belief can manifest and shape reality, and for political and religious leaders, faith becomes a powerful tool. But the insane are capable of twisting reality with their delusions as well, turning increasingly dangerous as their sanity crumbles. It is here that a long prophesied evil will be born, an endless hunger. The All Consuming will rise.

This is Fletcher’s third novel in his Manifest Delusions series, which began with Beyond Redemption, and was followed by The Mirror’s Truth. It’s a really interesting-looking series, but for some reason I haven’t tried them yet. I’ve heard great things, though. Published by Talos in August 2017, it’ll be available in the UK as well.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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L R Fredericks, THE BOOK OF LUCE (Hodder)

My obsession begins in the magical year 1967, at Luce and the Photons’ legendary last secret gig. That night changes my life: I must know who Luce is. But the deeper I dig, the more questions I turn up. Is Luce a rock star or a pretender? An artist or an acid trip?

My redemption… or my delusion?

Drawn into the machinations of mysterious powers, I become the dark shadow who follows the light of Luce. But who follows me? Are they agents of evil or figments of my imagination? And do they follow me still?

The quest for Luce will lead me to the farthest corners of the earth and into the deadliest danger. I will lose everything and everyone I love… except for Luce.

Who is pawn and who is player? Murderer or victim? Betrayer or saviour?

I am the only one who knows the truth.

This is the truth.

This is The Book of Luce.

This sounds weird, but also potentially brilliant. Published by Hodder in the UK, on August 10th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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L.J. Goulding, DAEDALUS (Black Library)

Waging a bitter war of vengeance against Hive Fleet Kraken across Ultima Segmentum, the Scythes of the Emperor must continue to look to the future if the Chapter is to survive. In a distant system of the Sotharan League, a lone Apothecary has become stranded before a fresh tyranid invasion – and the stock of Space Marine gene-seed he bears is too great a treasure to abandon to the xenos. Striking from the air, Assault Squad Cassander must push deep into enemy-held territory if they are to mount a recovery mission, facing all the winged spawned horrors of the hive ship Daedalus.

Goulding has been busy with the Scythes of the Emperor, recently — this is the first audio-drama starring the Chapter, but the Marines have already featured in the short stories The Aegidan OathHeloth and Terminal Velocity, as well as the novel Slaughter at Giant’s Coffin.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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L.J. Goulding (ed.), SHATTERED LEGIONS (Black Library)

Driven almost to the brink of self-destruction at Isstvan V, the Iron Hands now seek vengeance for the murder of their primarch Ferrus Manus. Gathering survivors from the Raven Guard and the Salamanders aboard any vessels capable of warp travel, these Shattered Legions wage a new campaign of annihilation against the traitor forces across the galaxy – a campaign masterminded by legendary warleader Shadrak Meduson. This Horus Heresy anthology contains ten short stories by authors including Dan Abnett, Chris Wraight, John French and many more. Also, in the novella The Seventh Serpent, Graham McNeill revisits the ragtag crew of the starship Sisypheum as they are drawn into a war of subterfuge against the Alpha Legion.

The 43rd book in the Horus Heresy series: a collection of novellas and short fiction following the campaigns of the Legions most devastated at Isstvan V, the first betrayal of the civil war.  I’ve already read some of the contents, but I’m looking forward to completing the story. Shattered Legions is published by Black Library on April 22nd, 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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David Grann, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Doubleday)

A twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West — where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed — many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. 

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long.

Grann is also the author of The Lost City of Z, which was recently adapted into a movie. This sounded really interesting. Published by Doubleday in North America, and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Richard Kadrey, THE KILL SOCIETY (Voyager)

Sandman Slim has been to Heaven and Hell and many places in between, but now he finds himself in an unknown land: the far, far edge of the Tenebrae, the desolate home of the lost dead. Making his way inland with nothing but his unerring instinct for trouble to guide him, he collides with a caravan of the damned on a mysterious crusade, led by the ruthless Magistrate. Alone and with no clue how to get back home, he throws in with this brutal bunch made up of human souls, Hellion deserters, rogue angels — and Father Traven.

Slim didn’t land in Tenebrae by chance. His little stunt of trying to open Heaven has set off a tsunami across the universe. Now, the afterlife is falling apart because of the ensuing warfare. And when Heaven finds out Slim is close by, the angels put a fat bounty on his head.

It’s one thing to ride with a ferocious criminal pack across the treacherous plains — it’s another to do it when everyone in the land of the dead is itching to keep you there permanently. But Slim’s not too worried. He’s been fighting cosmic forces bent on destroying Heaven, Hell, Earth, and him for years. A pack of vicious bounty hunters, vengeful angels, and dangerous enemies with friendly smiles isn’t going to stop him fixing the chaos he’s caused… one way or another.

Sandman Slim rides again, in his ninth novel. Looking forward to getting caught up on the series. Planning to do that very soon. Published by Voyager in the US and UK, in June.

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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Paul Kearney, CALGAR’S FURY (Black Library)

The Realm of Ultramar stands as a shining beacon of order and strength in a galaxy wracked by war and torment. Custodian of this realm, the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar, has fought many foes and won countless wars to ensure its borders remain safe. But when an immense space hulk emerges into the Ultramar system, carrying with it the threat of something ancient and terrible, it is Calgar once again who stands in defence of his realm, prepared to meet whatever horrors are aboard and discover the mystery at the heart of the ship dubbed Fury.

This sounds pretty cool. Calgar’s Fury is published by Black Library on April 29th, 2017. I haven’t read much by Kearney, but I’ve heard only great things about his fiction. I’ll hopefully be reading this very soon (after Magnus the Red, no doubt — see below).

Also on CR: Guest Post on “On Writing & Being a Writer”

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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Margaret Killjoy, THE LAMB WILL SLAUGHTER THE LION (Tor.com)

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveler, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit — a blood-red, three-antlered deer — begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town — or get out alive.

A story of ancient witchcraft among modern-day vagabonds, and about the hope we find in the strangest of places.

This is the first book in Killjoy’s Danielle Cain series, and has been described as “utopian anarchists against rogue demon deer” and “dropkick-in-the-mouth punk fantasy”. Also, Alan Moore described it as “scary and energetic.” So that’s pretty interesting. And that’s a damn fine cover. Published by Tor.com on August 15th, in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Jardine Libaire, WHITE FUR (Crown)

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City

When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.

White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.

Another novel in a growing collection of 1980s-New York-set novels. Many of them, including this one, sound really interesting. Published on May 30th by Crown in the US; and W&N in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Leena Likitalo, THE FIVE DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON (Tor.com)

The Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, and the Five Daughters of the Moon are the ones to determine its future.

Alina, six, fears Gagargi Prataslav and his Great Thinking Machine. The gagargi claims that the machine can predict the future, but at a cost that no one seems to want to know.

Merile, eleven, cares only for her dogs, but she smells that something is afoul with the gagargi. By chance, she learns that the machine devours human souls for fuel, and yet no one believes her claim.

Sibilia, fifteen, has fallen in love for the first time in her life. She couldn’t care less about the unrests spreading through the countryside. Or the rumors about the gagargi and his machine.

Elise, sixteen, follows the captain of her heart to orphanages and workhouses. But soon she realizes that the unhappiness amongst her people runs much deeper that anyone could have ever predicted.

And Celestia, twenty-two, who will be the empress one day. Lately, she’s been drawn to the gagargi. But which one of them was the first to mention the idea of a coup?

Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fuelled by evil magic.

This sounds really intriguing. Published by Tor.com in North America and the UK, on July 25th, 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Sarah Lotz, THE WHITE ROAD (Mulholland)

A cutting-edge thriller about one man’s quest to discover horror lurking at the top of the world.

Desperate to attract subscribers to his fledgling website, Journey to the Dark Side, ex-adrenalin junkie and slacker Simon Newman hires someone to guide him through the notorious Cwm Pot caves, so that he can film the journey and put it on the internet. With a tragic history, Cwm Pot has been off-limits for decades, and unfortunately for Simon, the guide he’s hired is as unpredictable and dangerous as the watery caverns that lurk beneath the earth. After a brutal struggle for survival, Simon barely escapes with his life, but predictably, the gruesome footage he managed to collect down in the earth’s bowels goes viral.

Ignoring the warning signs of mental trauma, and eager to capitalize on his new internet fame, Simon latches onto another escapade that has that magic click-bait mix of danger and death — a trip to Everest. But up above 8000 feet, in the infamous Death Zone, he’ll need more than his dubious morals and wits to guide him, especially when he uncovers the truth behind a decade-old tragedy — a truth that means he might not be coming back alive. A truth that will change him — and anyone who views the footage he captures — forever.

Big fan of Lotz’s novels, so always look forward to reading something new. The White Road is published by Mulholland Books in North America, on May 30th; and Hodder in the UK, on May 4th.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Lotz (2014); Reviews of The Three and Day Four

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Melissa Scrivner Love, LOLA (Crown)

The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia… but what no one has figured out is that the gang’s real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia’s girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man’s world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter – and in many ways tougher and more ruthless – than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.

I can’t remember who recommended this to me (I’m 90% sure it was a publicist, but not the author’s publicist), but after checking it out I thought it looked fantastic. Now that I’ve picked it up, I’ll be reading it very soon. The author has worked on a number of great TV series, too, as a producer and also writer — for example, Person of Interest (wrote nine episodes) and Life (wrote two episodes), and now Rosewood (which I’m interested in trying). Lola is published by Crown in the US, and Oneworld in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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Robbie MacNiven, DAWN OF WAR III (Black Library)

Every 5,000 years, the accursed world of Acheron emerges from the warp. Drawn by its legend, three factions – Space Marines, eldar and orks – battle each other to possess the great weapon that is said to reside there. But when the weapon is finally revealed, a terrible threat rears its head. Can the three warring armies do whatever it takes to put aside their differences and defeat the ultimate evil?

I really enjoyed the first Dawn of War computer game. It was pretty much World of Warcraft/Command & Conquer but with WH40k races. I was less keen on the second game (it was a bit tedious). This novel could be fun, though — MacNiven’s been growing as an author, writing more and more. Dawn of War III is out now, published by Black Library.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Graham McNeill, MAGNUS THE RED: MASTER OF PROSPERO (Black Library)

Lord of the mystical and uncanny, Magnus the Red has long studied the ancient crafts of sorcery. A psyker without peer, save only for the Emperor himself, he commands his loyal followers of the Thousand Sons Legion in the Great Crusade, always vigilant for any lost knowledge they might recover from the remains of dead human civilisations. Now, fighting alongside his brother Perturabo of the Iron Warriors, Magnus begins to foresee an approaching nexus of fate. Will he remain true to their mutual aims, or divert his own efforts towards furthering his own mastery of the warp?

This is the third novel in the Horus Heresy: Primarchs series, and easily one of my most-anticipated sci-fi novels of the year. I’ll be reading it very soon. Out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Graham McNeill (2011); Guest Post on Black Library Expo Canada (2012); Reviews of A Thousand SonsThe Outcast DeadAngel ExterminatusVengeful Spirit

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Sarah Menkedick, WILD RIVER BLUES (Knopf)

In her early thirties and an aspiring literary journalist, Sarah Menkedick joins her baby brother Jackson and his precious Honda, the ”Jackwagon,” for fourteen transformative days on an east-coast backpacking adventure. The two cross mountains and by the end — exhausted to the core and unshowered — they reflect on the trajectory of their lives, the music they make and listen to, the principles to which they strive, and the disillusionment one can encounter after years of doggedly pursuing a passion. With only each other for company, they escape the trappings of their material lives. Together, they learn to heal, to love, and finally — to listen to one another.

Thought this sounded interesting, and I’ve enjoyed a number of other Vintage Shorts. Published by Vintage in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Peter Newman, THE SEVEN (Voyager)

Years have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in arm and Gamma’s sword in hand.

Since then the world has changed. Vesper, following the footsteps of her father, journeyed to the breach and closed the tear between worlds, protecting the last of humanity, but also trapping the infernal horde and all those that fell to its corruptions: willing or otherwise.

In this new age it is Vesper who leads the charge towards unity and peace, with seemingly nothing standing between the world and a bright new future.

That is until eyes open.

And The Seven awaken.

The third novel in Newman’s well-received Vagrant series, following The Vagrant and The MaliceThe Seven is published by Voyager in the US (out now) and UK (April 20th).

Also on CR: Interview with Peter Newman (2015)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

Tom Perrotta, MRS. FLETCHER (Scribner)

Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life — serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night — Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.

Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan — a jock and aspiring frat boy — discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.

Sharp, witty, and provocative, Mrs. Fletcher is a timeless examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure of who they are or where they belong.

Could be interesting. Will likely read this soon, but will hold off on the review (maybe) until around June. Published by Scribner in North America in August 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Ivy Pochoda, WONDER VALLEY (Ecco)

Los Angeles, the 110 during peak morning rush hour: an endless sea of commuters. But this traffic jam is different-a runner is dodging and weaving between the cars at an astonishing clip-and it sets the course for a handful of Angelenos, all of whom are in desperate need of a change.

There’s Ren, just out of juvie, who travels to LA in search of his mother. There’s Owen and James, teenage twins who live in a desert commune, where their father, Patrick, a self-proclaimed healer, holds a powerful sway over his disciples. There’s Britt, harboring secrets of her own, who shows up at the commune and captures Patrick’s attention. There’s Tony, a bored and unhappy lawyer who is inspired by the runner. And there’s Blake, a violent drifter hiding in the desert, whose path collides with Patrick’s in a shocking way.

Whether running away from their past, or looking to reclaim their future, these characters, imbued with endless amounts of empathy and wisdom, will do anything for a semblance of peace.

This sounds really interesting, and appealed to my current mood for Los Angeles/California fiction. Pochoda’s previous novel, Visitation Street also sounded interesting, so I picked that up as well. Published by Ecco in North America, in July 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

Ben Sanders, MARSHALL LAW (Minotaur)

Ex-undercover cop Marshall Grade is hiding out in California when he learns that federal agent Lucas Cohen has survived a kidnapping. Cohen was Marshall’s ticket into witness protection, and his captors have a simple question: where’s Marshall now?

Marshall’s undercover work gave him a long list of enemies, and the enemy in this case is a corrupt businessman named Dexter Vine. Vine’s almost broke, in debt to people even worse than himself, and he wants to settle old scores while he has time. He’s hired Ludo Coltrane — a nonchalant psychopath and part-time bar manager — to find Marshall at any cost. Ludo’s no stranger to killing, but his associate, the cash-strapped ex-con Perry Rhodes, may prove more of a liability than an asset.

The question is: what has Marshall done to make Dexter want him dead? And are the contacts from his old life — ex-colleague Lana, and the heroin dealer Henry Lee — prepared to help him, or will they just sell him out?

The sequel to Sanders’s popular American BloodMarshall Law is published by Minotaur Books in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

*

John Scalzi, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE (Tor UK)

Does the biggest threat lie within?

In the far future, humanity has left Earth to create a glorious empire. Now this interstellar network of worlds faces disaster — but can three individuals save their people?

The empire”s outposts are utterly dependent on each other for resources, a safeguard against war, and a way its rulers can exert control. This relies on extra-dimensional pathways between the stars, connecting worlds. But ‘The Flow’ is changing course, which could plunge every colony into fatal isolation.

A scientist will risk his life to inform the empire’s ruler. A scion of a Merchant House stumbles upon conspirators seeking power. And the new Empress of the Interdependency must battle lies, rebellion and treason. Yet as they work to save a civilization on the brink of collapse, others have very different plans…

The latest novel from Scalzi is a space opera that’s been getting a lot of very good buzz. I’ll be reading it very soon. Published in the UK and US by Tor Books, it’s out now.

Also on CR: Reviews of Redshirts and Lock In

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Anna Stephens, GODBLIND (Talos)

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

This novel has been getting a lot of pre-publication buzz. Mainly on the UK-side of the pond, it seems, but I’m sure there is plenty of spill-over for North American readers. The novel has been described as “For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Mark Lawrence” — all authors whose work I very much enjoy. So, expectations are high (which can be both a good and dangerous thing.) Godblind is due to be published in June by Talos in North America, and Voyager in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

David Swinson, CRIME SONG (Mulholland)

Marr, a retired D.C. police detective working as a private eye for a defense attorney, has a serious problem. He is secretly a drug addict, and his long-time supply of cocaine is about to run out.

While staking out an upscale nightclub in an attempt to target the stash-houses of dealers from whom to steal for his fix, he settles on a target: a young college student. After a long night in pursuit of his quarry, Marr returns home to find he has been burglarized. Though his drugs are safe, several items are missing: his .38 revolver and his cherished music collection (with dozens of albums belonging to his deceased mother.) Marr immediately begins investigating the crime himself.

But when the dealer Marr had been following is stabbed to death in his own fortified home, Frank is certain that the burglary and murder are related. With good cops, bad cops, and exceptionally dangerous drug lords on his tail, Frank is determined to find out the truth, even if it kills him. This time, it just might.

The sequel to The Second Girl, and second novel in Swinson’s very well-received Frank Marr series. I started the first novel in the series when I received this sequel, and blitzed through it in a couple of evenings. I moved straight on to Crime Song after finishing, and it’s equally excellent. Published by Mulholland Books in the US and UK, in May 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Marcus Thompson II, GOLDEN: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry (Touchstone)

The incredible and inspiring story of Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter basketball has ever seen, and the ascension of the Golden State Warriors, a team on the verge of being an NBA dynasty, by long-time Warriors beat reporter and Bay Area News Group sports columnist Marcus Thompson.

When it comes to Stephen Curry — point guard for the Golden State Warriors and reigning MVP of the NBA — journalists, fans, and sports analysts are running out of ways to say “wow.” Deemed too small and too short at 6’3 and 180 pounds by NBA coaches around the league, Curry has taken the game back from the bigger men who usually dominate the court. With his incredible shooting ability that started a “three-point revolution” he led the Warriors to seventy-three wins in the 2015-2016 season, beating out Michael Jordan and the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ long-time record.

Told by Marcus Thompson, a lifelong Warriors insider who has been reporting on the team for twelve seasons, Golden is the definitive story of this singular talent. Thompson explores this all-star player, his love for the game and his team, and his close-knit and supportive family — including his Instagram celebrity chef wife Ayesha and adorable young daughters. From avid fans to newcomers of the sport, Curry has become a role model for both children and aspiring players everywhere. And he leads the ultimate team, a collection of talent and personalities that complement Curry’s game and push him to heights no one ever imagined for a kid from Davidson or this beleaguered franchise. These Warriors have carved out their place in history as one of the most memorable and transformative the NBA has ever seen. And they are led by a superstar who has solidified his place among the greats.

Looking forward to reading this. Published by Touchstone in North America, and available in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Karin Tidbeck, AMATKA (Vintage)

Vanja, an information assistant, is sent from her home city of Essre to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka with an assignment to collect intelligence for the government. Immediately she feels that something strange is going on: people act oddly in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja falls in love with her housemate, Nina, and prolongs her visit. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony, and a cover-up by its administration, she embarks on an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk.

In Karin Tidbeck’s world, everyone is suspect, no one is safe, and nothing — not even language, nor the very fabric of reality — can be taken for granted. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by a captivating new voice.

Described as “in the tradition of Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin”, this sounds really interesting. Published by Vintage on June 27th, 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

C.L. Werner, CULT OF THE WARMASON (Black Library)

The Sisters of Battle clash with inhuman monsters in a desperate defence of a vital Imperial shrine world.

In a galaxy teeming with alien aggressors, nothing unites the Imperium more than the worship of the immortal God-Emperor. Without the shining light of his divinity, travel through the stars would not be possible, and humanity would be swallowed by darkness. The shrine world of Vadok attracts billions of pilgrims who visit to reaffirm their faith and catch a glimpse of the sacred relic held in its great cathedral. But the reach of man’s enemies is long, and when civil unrest breaks out and rumours of four-armed monsters abound, the Adeptus Sororitas tasked with defending the world must face the fight of their lives. For the Sisters of Battle are few, but their enemies are numberless.

I’m a fan of Werner’s fiction, much of which taps into the darker, more insidious elements of the WH40k universe. Cult of the Warmason seems to offer more of this, and I’m rather looking forward to reading it — the genestealer cults are a mainstay of WH40k fiction, but don’t seem to have featured too prominently for quite some time. With their recent re-release for the game, I’m looking forward to seeing what Werner’s come up with. Published by Black Library, it’s out now.

Also on CR: Reviews of WulfrikThe Red Duke

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

*

Timothy Zahn, STAR WARS: THRAWN (Century)

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire, through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power — and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Anakin Skywalker; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again — even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat, leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral — and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy — and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendency.

I was 16, I think, when I first started reading Star Wars fiction. Tim Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy (first published in 1991) was absolutely a stand-out for me. I’ve only re-read the series once, and have pretty fond memories of it still. I have not, however, enjoyed much Star Wars fiction since 2013… I’ll always have a soft spot for the Thrawn trilogy (and the later duology to featured Thrawn). I am also, however, interested to see how Zahn reinvents his iconic character for the “new” SW canon. I’ll try to review it soon. Thrawn is out now, published by Century in the UK, and Del Rey in the US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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