New Books (April-May)

Featuring: James Abbott, Nina Allan, Fredrik Backman, Bandi, Paul Beatty, Robert Jackson Bennett, Marie Brennan, Jesse Brown, M.R. Carey, Don Carpenter, Ben Coes, Jenny T. Colgan, Mason Cross, Cory Doctorow, Alan Drew, Amy Engle, Steve Erickson, Nigel Foster, David Guymer, John Gwynne, Tom Holt, Christopher Husberg, James Islington, Howard Jacobson, Stephen King, Andrew Lane, Dale Lucas, Grace O’Connell, Sam Peters, Eliza Robertson, Vivian Shaw, Michael Farris Smith, Brian Staveley, Allen Steele, Stephan Talty, Gav Thorpe, Alison Umminger, Jeff Vandermeer, Paul Vidich, Chris Wraight

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James Abbott, THE NEVER KING (Tor)

A new legend begins…

Xavir Argentum is rotting in gaol. Sentenced to life in the squalor of Hell’s Keep, punishment for an atrocity he didn’t commit, the once legendary commander is all but forgotten. His elite band of warriors are dead – and the kingdom he was poised to inherit is oppressed by the tyrant who framed him. For half a decade now, Xavir has ruled nothing but a prison gang.

Yet vengeance comes to those who wait. When a former spymaster infiltrates the Keep, bearing news of his old enemy’s treachery, plans are forged. A few are compelled to restore peace – an exiled queen, an outcast witch, and an unlikely alliance of rogues and heroes. But peace and vengeance make poor companions. And first, Xavir must make his escape…

I’ve been looking forward to this quite a bit. Abbott is a pseudonym for Mark Charan Newton, whose earlier novels I thought were superb. Published by Pan/Tor in the UK on May 18th.

Also on CR: Interviews with Mark Charan Newtown, 2011 and 2012; Reviews of The Nights of VilljamurCity of RuinThe Book of Transformations and The Broken Isles

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Nina Allan, THE RIFT (Titan)

Selena and Julie are sisters. As children they were closest companions, but as they grow towards maturity, a rift develops between them. There are greater rifts, however. Julie goes missing at the age of seventeen. It will be twenty years before Selena sees her again. When Julie reappears, she tells Selena an incredible story about how she has spent time on another planet. Selena has an impossible choice to make: does she dismiss her sister as a damaged person, the victim of delusions, or believe her, and risk her own sanity in the process? Is Julie really who she says she is, and if she isn’t, what does she have to gain by claiming her sister’s identity? The Rift is a novel about the illusion we call reality, the memories shared between people and the places where those memories diverge, a story about what might happen when the assumptions we make about the world and our place in it are called into question.

Allan’s latest novel, following the acclaimed The Race. Sounds interesting. Published by Titan in July 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Fredrik Backman, BEARTOWN (Simon & Schuster)

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain.

This has been getting some good pre-publication buzz. I’m looking forward to giving it a try. Out now in Canada, published by Simon & Schuster. The novel will be published as The Scandal in the UK by Penguin, on August 24th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Bandi, THE ACCUSATION (House of Anansi)

In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer, known to us only by the pseudonym Bandi, began to write a series of stories about life under Kim Il-sung’s totalitarian regime. Smuggled out of North Korea and set for publication around the world in 2017, The Accusation provides a unique and shocking window into this most secretive of countries.

Bandi’s profound, deeply moving, vividly characterized stories tell of ordinary men and women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: a factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend and loyalty to the Party; a woman struggling to feed her husband through the great famine; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the theatre that is their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare.

The Accusation is a heartbreaking portrayal of the realities of life in North Korea. It is also a reminder that humanity can sustain hope even in the most desperate of circumstances — and that the courage of free thought has a power far beyond those who seek to suppress it.

This has understandably been getting a fair amount of buzz. Really looking forward to reading it. Published by House of Anansi in Canada, Serpent’s Tail in the UK, and Grove Press in the US.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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Paul Beatty, THE WHITE BOY SHUFFLE (Oneworld)

An electrifying debut novel about teenage-surf-bum Gunnar Kaufman who is forced to wise up when his mother moves from suburban Santa Monica to urban West Los Angeles. There, he begins to undergo a startling transformation from neighbourhood outcast to basketball superstar, and eventually to reluctant messiah of a “divided, downtrodden people”.

A bombastic coming-of-age novel that has the uncanny ability to make readers want to laugh and cry at the same time, Beatty mingles horrific reality with wild fancy in this outlandish, laugh-out-loud funny and poignant vision of contemporary America.

Beatty’s latest novel, The Sellout, has been acclaimed far and wide. On a whim, I decided to pick this up. I may read it before The Sellout. Published in the UK by Oneworld and in the US by Picador.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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Robert Jackson Bennett, CITY OF MIRACLES (Jo Fletcher Books)

Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is back, and this time he’s out for vengeance.

Shara Komayd, once Prime Minister of Saypur, has been assassinated. News travels fast and far, even to a remote logging town somewhere northwest of Bulikov, where the silent, shaven-headed Dreyling worker ‘Bjorn’ picks up the newspaper and walks out. He is shocked and grieved and furious; he’s been waiting thirteen years for Shara, his closest friend, to reach out to him – to tell him to come home. He’s always believed she was running a long operation, that there would be a role for him at the right time. Now he has no one else in his life, and nothing to live for — except to find the people who did this.

Sigrud wasn’t there for the death of his daughter Signe, and he wasn’t there when Shara was murdered. Now Bjorn is dead and Sigrud is back. And he will find answers, for Shara, and for himself. He’s made a promise…

The highly-anticipated third novel in Bennett’s awesome Divine Cities series. Published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK, and Broadway Books in North America.

Also on CR: Interview with Robert Jackson Bennett (2012); Guest Post City of Stairs & the Super Tropey Fantasy Checklist”; Excerpt from City of Stairs; Reviews of The Company ManCity of Stairs

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Marie Brennan, WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS (Tor)

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent — dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet — after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia — the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure — scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland’s enemies — and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.

The final novel in the critically-acclaimed Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I haven’t actually read any of the series, yet, but I have either bought or received ARCs of the other four books. I see a binge-read in my future… Out now, published in the US by Tor Books, and in the UK by Titan Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Marie Brennan (2013); Guest Post on “The Series Payoff” (the most popular GP on CR, ever); Reviews of In Ashes LieCold-Forged Flame and A Natural History of Dragons (reviewed by Ryan Frye)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Jesse Brown, Vicky Mochama & Nick Zarzycki, THE CANADALAND GUIDE TO CANADA (Touchstone)

Do you think of Canada as that “nice” country with free health care, majestic woodlands, and polite people?

Think again.

The CANADALAND Guide to Canada (Published in America) is an outrageous exposé of Canada’s secrets, scandals, and occasional awkward lapses in proper etiquette.

Inside, you’ll find illustrations, maps, quizzes, and charts that answer the most pressing questions about Canadian history, politics, and culture, such as:

Canadian cuisine and sexuality: Do they exist?

What does “sorry” actually mean?

Justin Bieber, Rob Ford, Malcolm Gladwell: Why?

What is Québec?

Should I f*** the prime minister?

This absurd guide digs up everything from buried rage to buried oil, uncovering Canada’s bizarre history and shocking present. One thing is certain: you’ll never look at a Canadian the same way again.

This could be… interesting. I wonder if it might be useful for my citizenship test…? Published by Touchstone, it’s out now in North America and the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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M.R. Carey, THE BOY OF THE BRIDGE (Orbit)

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

The sequel to the critically-acclaimed The Girl with all the Gifts! Published in May by Orbit Books in the US and UK.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Writing Strong Women”; Review of The Girl With All the Gifts

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Don Carpenter, THE HOLLYWOOD TRILOGY (Counterpoint)

Don Carpenter wrote about Hollywood like no one else. The Hollywood Trilogy collects, for the first time, Carpenter’s most significant Hollywood novels — A Couple of Comedians, The Turnaround and The True Life Story of Jody McKeegan — into a single volume. Here readers will find the jungle of “B” movie Hollywood with no attempt to dress up the rawness and vulgarity of this “glamorous” town. Carpenter’s characters occupy every facet of Hollywood — there are naïve and shy young men trying to break into the business, one-picture wonders, comedy duos, beautiful starlets and middle-aged moguls wondering how exactly they got where they are. All are drawn with the wit, pace and above all, the authenticity that were Don Carpenter’s trademarks.

Following the Spring 2014 publication of Friday at Enrico’s, Carpenter’s “forgotten” novel finished and championed by Jonathan Lethem, interest in Carpenter’s work is at an all time high. The Hollywood Trilogy will introduce readers to an entirely new facet of Carpenter’s work, just waiting to be discovered by a contemporary audience.

After picking up Friday at Enrico’s last month, I decided to hunt down a copy of this book. Luckily, I had a book voucher, and was able to find one of two apparently available via Indigo in Toronto. Looking forward to reading it. Published by Counterpoint, it’s out now (and available in the UK on import).

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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Ben Coes, TRAP THE DEVIL (St. Martin’s Press)

Only one man stands between a powerful cabal planning an invisible coup of the U.S. government and their brutal goals — Dewey Andreas.

A group of some of the most powerful people in the government, the military, and the private sector, has begun a brutal plan to quietly take over the reins of the U.S. government. They’ve begun to remove the people who stand in their way — and replace them with their own sympathizers and puppets. They’ve already taken out the Speaker of the House — whose death was made to look like an accidental drowning — and the president and vice president are next. Once they have their own people in place, they plan to start a bloody, brutal war on an unimaginable scale.

On restricted duty while he recovers from injuries incurred on a previous mission, Dewey Andreas is sent to Paris by CIA Director Hector Calibrisi. The Secretary of State is going there for secret talks, and Dewey is to be an extra layer of security above the State Department team. But what should be an easy mission couldn’t go more wrong. The cabal has sent in a hit man to take out the Secretary of State and lay the blame for this murder at the feet of Dewey himself.

With the Secretary of State dead, shot by Dewey’s weapon, Dewey is on the run and out in the cold, desperately trying to unravel the plot before the conspirators succeed in killing millions of innocents.

This is the seventh Dewey Andreas novel from Coes, a series that started with Power Down. I haven’t read any of Coes’s novels, which is a surprise, given how frequently he’s compared (favourably) with Vince Flynn, Brad Thor and other authors of that ilk. It’s true that I’ve fallen way behind on my thriller reading of late, but I’m interested in giving this series a try. Not sure if I’ll start with the first novel, or dive right into this one (apparently it’s fine to do so). Published in June by St. Martin’s Press, and will be available in the UK as well. (Many of Coes’s novels have been released as eBooks in the UK.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Jenny T. Colgan, SPANDEX AND THE CITY (Orbit)

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ — a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn — and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

The latest novel from the author of Resistance is Futile and Doctor Who: In the Blood (among others). Hadn’t heard of this before it arrived in the mail. Published by Orbit Books in the UK on May 18th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Mason Cross, DON’T LOOK FOR ME (Orion)

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six long years Carter Blake kept his word and didn’t search for the woman he once loved. But now someone else is looking for her.

He’ll come for you.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people – dead or alive. His next job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, who is harbouring a secret many will kill for.

Both men are hunting the same person. The question is, who will find her first?

The highly-anticipated fourth novel in Cross’s excellent Carter Blake series. Published in the UK by Orion. The first three novels in the series were published in the US by Pegasus, so I’m guessing they’ll publish the fourth…

Also on CR: Reviews of The Killing SeasonThe SamaritanThe Time to Kill/Winterlong

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Cory Doctorow, WALKAWAY (Tor Books)

Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza — known to his friends as Hubert, Etc — was too old to be at that Communist party.

But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be — except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society — and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life — food, clothing, shelter — from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years… and the very human people who will live their consequences.

There’s a lot of excitement for Doctorow’s first adult novel in years. It will be my first of his books. Published by Tor Books in North America, and Head of Zeus in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Alan Drew, SHADOW MAN (Random House)

Detective Ben Wade has returned to his hometown of Rancho Santa Elena in search of a quieter life and to try to save his marriage. Suddenly the community, with its peaceful streets and excellent public schools, finds itself at the mercy of a serial killer who slips through windows and screen doors at night, shattering illusions of safety. As Ben and forensic specialist Natasha Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the killer — and deal with painful episodes in the past — Ben’s own world is rocked again by violence. He must decide how far he is willing to go, and Natasha how much she is willing to risk, to protect their friendship and themselves to rescue the town from a psychotic murderer and a long-buried secret.

With fine, eerie, chilling prose, acclaimed author Alan Drew weaves richly imagined characters into the first of several thrilling novels of suspense featuring the California world of Ben Wade and Natasha Betencourt. Shadow Man reveals the treacherous underbelly of suburban life, as a man, a woman, a family, and a community are confronted with the heart of human darkness.

This sounds really interesting, and I’m always on the lookout for new thriller series/authors. Shadow Man is out now, published by Random House in the US, and in the UK by Corvus.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Amy Engle, THE ROANOKE GIRLS (Hodder)

Beautiful.

Rich.

Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing — and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

This novel has been getting a lot of attention recently. I picked this up when it was on sale on Amazon. Looking forward to giving it a read. Published by Hodder in the UK, and Crown in the US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Steve Erickson, SHADOWBAHN (Blue Rider Press)

When the Twin Towers suddenly reappear in the Badlands of South Dakota twenty years after their fall, nobody can explain their return. To the hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands drawn to the American Stonehenge including Parker and Zema, siblings on their way from L.A. to visit their mother in Michigan the Towers seem to sing, even as everybody hears a different song. A rumor overtakes the throng that someone can be seen in the high windows of the southern structure.

On the ninety-third floor, Jesse Presley the stillborn twin of the most famous singer who ever lived suddenly awakes, driven mad over the hours and days to come by a voice in his head that sounds like his but isn’t, and by the memory of a country where he survived in his brother’s place. Meanwhile, Parker and Zema cross a possessed landscape by a mysterious detour no one knows, charted on a map that no one has seen.

This sounds a little weird. But also possibly really interesting. Published by Blue Rider Press in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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David Guymer, THE EYE OF MEDUSA (Black Library)

Ever since the dark days of the Great Heresy, the Iron Hands have a long and tortured history. Their years of suffering and war has left them hardened and believing in a brutal tenet – the flesh is weak. Heavily cybernetic, their flesh extensively altered, these warriors of the Imperium are more machine than man, cold in aspect as well as demeanour. Their methods of recruitment are harsh, their rituals arcane, their pride unshakable. So when a world under the protection of the Chapter falls foul of insurrection, the Iron Hands answer with fire and cold retribution. It matters not that Thennos is considered sovereign territory of the Adeptus Mechanicus, for the Iron Hands’ campaign is one of extermination. But there is something dark lurking within Thennos, a horror that defies the purity of cold logic and the machine, and offers something more, something ruinous…

A new Iron Hands novel (maybe the beginning of a new series?), it could be interesting. Published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Reviews of Kinslayer, Slayer

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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John Gwynne, WRATH (Tor UK)

It’s time to brave the final battle

King Nathair has seized the fortress at Drassil, and now possesses three of the Seven Treasures. And with Calidus and Queen Rhin, Nathair will do anything to obtain the rest. They will allow him to open a portal to the Otherworld — so Asroth and his demon-horde can break into the Banished Lands and finally become flesh.

Meanwhile Corban has been captured by the Jotun, warrior giants who ride enormous bears into battle. His warband scattered, Corban must make new allies to survive. But can he bond with competing factions of warlike giants? Somehow he must, to counter the threat Nathair represents. His life hangs in the balance — and with it, the fate of the Banished Lands. Truth, courage and loyalty will be tested as never before.

The fourth and final novel in Gwynne’s well-received The Faith and the Fallen epic fantasy series. Published in the UK by Tor Books, and Orbit in the US. It’s out now in paperback.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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Tom Holt, THE MANAGEMENT STYLE OF THE SUPREME BEINGS (Orbit)

When the Supreme Being and his son decide that being supreme isn’t for them any more, it’s inevitable that things get a bit of a shake-up.

It soon becomes apparent that our new owners, the Venturi brothers, have a very different perspective on all sorts of things. Take Good and Evil, for example. For them, it’s an outdated concept that never worked particularly well in the first place.

Unfortunately, the sudden disappearance of right and wrong, while welcomed by some, raises certain concerns amongst those still attached to the previous team’s management style.

In particular, there’s one of the old gods who didn’t move out with the others. A reclusive chap, he lives somewhere up north, and only a handful even believe in him.

But he’s watching. And he really does need to know if you’ve been naughty or nice.

I’ve read a fair number of Holt’s novels — under this name and also as “K.J. Parker”. This sounds like it could be quite fun. This will be published by Orbit Books in the US and UK, in late June.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Christopher Husberg, DARK IMMOLATION (Titan)

A new religion is rising, gathering followers drawn by rumors of prophetess Jane Oden. Her sister Cinzia — one-time Cantic priestess — is by her side, but fears that Jane will lead them to ruin. For both the Church and the Nazaniin assassins are still on their trail, and much worse may come. Knot, his true nature now revealed if not truly understood, is haunted by the memories of others, and is not the ally he once was. Astrid travels to Tinska to find answers for her friend, but the child-like vampire has old enemies who have been waiting for her return. And beyond the Blood Gate in the northern empire of Roden, a tiellan woman finds herself with a new protector. One who wants to use her extraordinary abilities for his own ends…

The second novel in Husberg’s Chaos Queen Quintet, following Duskfall. Published by Titan Books in June.

Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Husberg

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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James Islington, AN ECHO OF THINGS TO COME (Orbit)

In the wake of the devastating attack on Ilin Illan, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs — finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. However as Davian and his new allies hurry north toward the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.

In the capital, Wirr is forced to contend with assassins and an increasingly hostile Administration as he controversially assumes the mantle of Northwarden, uncovering a mystery that draws into question everything commonly believed about the rebellion his father led twenty years ago. Meanwhile, Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows, determined to discover not only where they went but the origin of the Vessels that created them — and, ultimately, a cure.

And with time against him as he races to fulfill the treacherous bargain with the Lyth, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed…

I’m really looking forward to giving this series a read. I’m falling a bit behind on my reading, of course, but I’ve heard very good things about the first novel, The Shadow of What Was Lost. Published by Orbit Books in the US and UK in August.

Also on CR: Interview with James Islington (2016)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Howard Jacobson, PUSSY (Jonathan Cape)

The story of Prince Fracassus, heir presumptive to the Duchy of Origen, famed for its golden-gated skyscrapers and casinos, who passes his boyhood watching reality shows on TV, imagining himself to be the Roman Emperor Nero, and fantasizing about hookers. He is idle, boastful, thin-skinned and egotistic; has no manners, no curiosity, no knowledge, no idea and no words in which to express them. Could he, in that case, be the very leader to make the country great again?

This could go either way — it could be a cathartic send-up of the Clown in Chief, or it could be a disaster. I’m confident Jacobson knows what he’s doing, however, so am looking forward to reading this. Published by Jonathan Cape in the UK, it’s out now. (I couldn’t find any mention of a US edition of the novel. Perhaps unsurprisingly. For the moment…)

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Stephen King, END OF WATCH (Hodder)

The cell rings twice, and then his old partner in his ear… “I’m at the scene of what appears to be a murder-suicide. I’d like you to come and take a look. Bring your sidekick with you, if she’s available…”

Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the “Mercedes Massacre” when a queue of people was run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield.

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways…

This is the third novel in King’s Bill Hodges series, following Mr Mercedes and Finders Keepers (both of which I have, and fully intend to read). Published in the UK by Hodder, and Gallery in the US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Andrew Lane & Nigel Foster, NETHERSPACE (Titan)

Contact with aliens was made forty years ago, but communication turned out to be impossible. Humans don’t share a way of thinking with any of the alien species, let alone a grammar. But there is trade, trade that produces scientific advances that would have taken a thousand years.

Earth may be a better place but it’s no longer our own. We may be colonizing the stars, but we’re dependent on inexplicable alien netherspace drives, and they come at a heavy cost: live humans. When a group of colonists are captured by a group of Cancri aliens, a human mission is sent to negotiate their release. But how can you negotiate when you don’t know what your target wants or why they took your people in the first place?

Hadn’t heard much about this before it arrived in the mail. Could be interesting. Published by Titan Books, it’s out now.

Follow the Author: Website (Lane), Goodreads – Lane, Foster; Twitter (Lane)

Review copy received from publisher

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Dale Lucas, FIRST WATCH (Orbit)

Humans, orcs, mages, elves, and dwarves all jostle for success and survival in the cramped quarters of Yenara, while understaffed Watch Wardens struggle to keep its citizens in line.

Enter Rem: new to Yenara and hungover in the city dungeons with no money for bail. When offered a position with the Watch to compensate for his crimes, Rem jumps at the chance.

His new partner is less eager. Torval, a dwarf who’s handy with a maul and known for hitting first and asking questions later, is highly unimpressed with the untrained and weaponless Rem.

But when Torval’s former partner goes missing, the two must consort with the usual suspects — drug dealing orcs, mind-controlling elves, uncooperative mages, and humans being typical humans — to uncover the truth and catch a murderer loose in their fair city.

Another new fantasy series from Orbit, and another one that leans to the lighter side of fantasy (see also Nicholas Eames’s Kings of the Wyld). I’m looking forward to giving this a try. Published by Orbit Books in the US and UK in July. (I’ve also seen a blue cover for the novel, but I stuck with the red that I saw first.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Grace O’Connell, BE READY FOR THE LIGHTNING (Random House Canada)

On the surface, Veda’s life in Vancouver seems to be going just fine — at nearly thirty, she has a good job, lifelong friends, and a close bond with her brother, Conrad. But Conrad’s violent behavior, a problem since he was a teen, is getting more and more serious, and Veda’s ongoing commitment to watch out for him is pushing her to a breaking point.

When Veda is injured as a bystander during one of Conrad’s many fights, she knows it’s time to leave Vancouver for a fresh start. She heads to New York, staying in the Manhattan apartment of old friends Al and Marie. Exploring the city, she swings between feeling hopeful and lost — until one day the bus she’s on is hijacked by a sweet-faced gun-toting man named Peter. He instructs Veda and the other passengers to spray paint the bus windows black, and what ensues is a gripping and unpredictable hostage situation, the outcome of which will make Veda question everything she knows about herself and the nature of fear.

A story of violence, its attractions and repulsions; of love, loyalty and friendship; and of a young woman finding an unexpected kind of bravery.

Sounds like it could be interesting. Published in Canada by Random House in June.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

K Arsenault Rivera, THE TIGER’S DAUGHTER (Tor)

Even gods can be slain

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach — but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

A crack in the wall heralds the end… two goddesses arm themselves…

The first novel in the new Their Bright Ascendancy fantasy series. Love the cover, story sounds like it could be interesting. Published by Tor Books in the US and UK, in October 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received NetGalley

*

Eliza Robertson, DEMI-GODS (Hamish Hamilton Canada)

It is 1950, and nine-year-old Willa’s sheltered childhood is about to come to an end when her two new stepbrothers arrive at her family’s summer home in British Columbia. As Willa’s older sister pairs off with the older of these boys, Willa finds herself alone in the off-kilter company of the younger, Patrick. When, one afternoon, Patrick lures Willa into a dilapidated rowboat, Willa embarks upon an increasingly damaging relationship with Patrick, one that will forever reconfigure her understanding of herself and her place in a menacing, male-dominated world.

Demi-Gods traces the tumultuous years of Willa’s coming-of-age, as she is drawn further into Patrick’s wicked games. Though they see each other only a handful of times, each of their encounters is increasingly charged with sexuality and degradation. When Willa finally realizes the danger of her relationship with Patrick, she desperately tries to reverse their dynamic, with devastating results.

Daring, singular, and provocative, Demi-Gods explores a girl’s attempt to make a life of her own choosing in a world where woman’s independence is suspect, a world that threatens to claim a woman’s body as a mere object for men’s pleasure. A sensitive, playful, and entirely original evocation of the dualities within ourselves and our history, Eliza Robertson’s debut novel announces the arrival of one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary literature.

Could be interesting. Published by Hamish Hamilton in Canada in September.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Vivian Shaw, STRANGE PRACTICE (Orbit)

Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations.

Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills — vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

This sounds like it could be fun. Published by Orbit Books in the US and UK, in July.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Michael Farris Smith, DESPERATION ROAD (Lee Boudreaux Books)

For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sits in Parchman Penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His sentence is now up, and he believes his debt has been paid. But when he returns home, he soon discovers that revenge lives and breathes all around him.

On the same day that Russell is released from prison, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running through the darkness holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled in the middle o the road in the glow of his own headlights.

With the dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save — his own or those of the woman and child.

A story of troubled souls twisted with regret and bound by secrets that stretch over the years and across the land.

Very well reviewed by a great many people, I’m really looking forward to reading this. Published by Lee Boudreaux in North America and No Exit Press in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Brian Staveley, SKULLSWORN (Tor)

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer — she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love… and ending it on the edge of her sword.

The very highly-anticipated stand-alone novel. Skullsworn focuses on a side-character from Staveley’s excellent Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. Out now, published by Tor Books in the US and UK.

Also on CR: Excerpt from The Providence of Fire; Guest Post on “Fire Lookout, Monk, Water-Skier, Teacher: The Best Profession for a Writer”; Reviews of The Emperor’s BladesThe Providence of Fire and The Last Mortal Bond

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Allen Steele, AVENGERS OF THE MOON (Tor)

Curt Newton has spent most of his life hidden from the rest of humankind, being raised by a robot, an android, and the disembodied brain of a renowned scientist. This unlikely trio of guardians has kept his existence a closely guarded secret after the murder of Curt’s parents.

Curt’s innate curiosity and nose for trouble inadvertently lead him into a plot to destabilize the Solar Coalition and assassinate the president. There’s only one way to uncover the evil mastermind — Curt must become Captain Future.

With the permission of the Edmond Hamilton estate, Allen Steele revives the exciting adventures of Captain Future.

I think this sounds quite interesting. Looking forward to giving it a try. Published by Tor Books in North America, it’s out now.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

*

Stephan Talty, THE BLACK HAND (Ebury)

Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering tabloid press and heated ethnic tensions to the boiling point.

Standing between the American public and the Black Hand’s lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed the “Italian Sherlock Holmes,” he was a famously dogged and ingenious detective, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand’s activities spread far beyond New York’s borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the country’s anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. Petrosino’s quest to root out the source of the Black Hand’s power would take him all the way to Sicily — but at a terrible cost.

Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.

I heard about this book only a few days before an ARC arrived in the mail, and I am very much looking forward to reading this — sounds really interesting. Published by Ebury in the UK, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Gav Thorpe, JAIN ZAR: THE STORM OF SILENCE (Black Library)

The eldar are an ancient race whose mode of war blends spirituality with a unique mastery of technology. In times of need, their entire race will rouse to war – led by terrifying, almost mythological figures – the phoenix lords, immortal beings embody the warrior nature of the eldar. A swift and deadly fighter, Jain Zar can harness the rage of her scream to slaughter any who dare oppose her.

When a burgeoning ork empire starts to pose a threat to the eldar peoples, Jain Zar travels to the craftworld Ulthwé to warn them of the danger. However, she finds her plans to divert disaster are opposed by one of the craftworld’s own seers, Eldrad. With so many futures possible, which path should the eldar walk to avert destruction of their craftworlds and put an end to the greenskin menace?

Thorpe’s second Phoenix Lords novel, following Asurmen: Hand of Asuryan. Published by Black Library.

Review copy received from publisher

*

Gav Thorpe, AZRAEL (Black Library)

The Dark Angels Chapter sprang from the First Legion of Space Marines to fight and die at the Emperor’s side. But over ten thousand years, even the most staunchly loyal warriors of the Imperium can fall from grace, and the Dark Angels guard their own murky secrets most carefully — only Supreme Grand Master Azrael knows them all. A legend among Space Marines, he has fought for centuries and ever at the forefront of battle. Now, with the enigmatically alien eldar as his uneasy and unlikely allies, he must tread the fine line once more between the pursuit of victory, and keeping the Chapter’s past safely buried…

Now in paperback, a story of the leader of the Dark Angels. I’m still looking for a novel about this Chapter/Legion that lives up to the incredible amount of mystery that surrounds them and their past. (The Horus Heresy novels have not been as satisfying as I would have hoped, on this score.) Published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interviews with Gav Thorpe, 2011 and 2016; Reviews of The Curse of KhaineDeliverance LostAngels of Caliban

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Alison Umminger, MY FAVOURITE MANSON GIRL (Atom)

Anna has had a miserable year. Everything feels wrong with her life. And rather than stay and face the mess, she steals a credit card and books herself a seat on the first flight out of town to Los Angeles, to crash with her sister. But soon after she lands, cold reality soon dawns on her: Hollywood isn’t the escape she needs. She is trapped in a town full of lost souls and wannabes, with no friends, no cash and no return ticket.

When she’s offered a job researching the murderous Manson girls for a dubious film, she reluctantly accepts — she needs the money. But soon enough, among the fake smiles and glitter-fuelled parties, things turn from strange, to dark, to dangerous…

This is not going to be the summer Anna had in mind.

Published as American Girls in the US, I started this on the day I bought it. (And very much enjoyed it. Definitely looking forward to Umminger’s next book.) Published by Atom in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of My Favourite Manson Girl

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

*

Jeff Vandermeer, BORNE (MCD/FSG)

“Am I a person?” Borne asked me.

“Yes, you are a person,” I told him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”

In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company — a biotech firm now derelict — and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech.

One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump — plant or animal? — but exudes a strange charisma. Borne reminds Rachel of the marine life from the island nation of her birth, now lost to rising seas. There is an attachment she resents: in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet, against her instincts — and definitely against Wick’s wishes — Rachel keeps Borne. She cannot help herself. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. For Borne makes Rachel see beauty in the desolation around her. She begins to feel a protectiveness she can ill afford.

“He was born, but I had borne him.”

But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. For the Company, it seems, may not be truly dead, and new enemies are creeping in. What Borne will lay bare to Rachel as he changes is how precarious her existence has been, and how dependent on subterfuge and secrets. In the aftermath, nothing may ever be the same.

There’s a lot of excitement for Vandermeer’s new novel. His Southern Reach trilogy was incredibly well-received (although, I inexplicably still haven’t read it…) Published by MCD/FSG in the US, Harper Collins in Canada, and Fourth Estate in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

*

Paul Vidich, THE GOOD ASSASSIN (Atria)

A suspenseful tale of Cold War espionage set in 1950s Cuba, as foreign powers compete to influence the outcome of a revolution.

Former CIA Agent George Mueller arrives in Havana in August 1958 — the last months before the fall of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista — to look into the activities of Toby Graham, a CIA officer suspected of harboring sympathies for the rebel forces fighting the unpopular Batista regime. Mueller knew Graham as an undergraduate and later they were colleagues in Berlin fighting the Soviet NKVD. Under the guise of their long acquaintance Mueller is recruited to vet rumors that Graham is putting weapons, covertly provided by the CIA to Batista, into the hands of Castro’s forces. Public exposure of the CIA weapons mission, and the activity of one rogue agent, threaten to embarrass the agency.

Mueller uncovers a world of deceit as the FBI, CIA, and State Department compete to influence the outcome of the revolution in the face of the brutal dictatorship’s imminent collapse. Graham, meanwhile, is troubled by the hypocrisy of a bankrupt US foreign policy, and has fallen in love with a married American woman, Liz Malone.

A powerful story of ideals, passions, betrayals, and corrupting political rivalries in the months before Castro’s triumphant march into Havana on New Year’s Day 1959.

The second George Mueller spy novel, following An Honorable Spy. I have the first, and I think I may binge read the two of them ASAP. Published by Atria in North America and No Exit Press in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

*

Chris Wraight, THE CARRION THRONE (Black Library)

In the hellish sprawl of Imperial Terra, Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Erasmus Crowl serves as a stalwart and vigilant protector, for even the Throneworld is not immune to the predations of its enemies. In the course of his Emperor-sworn duty, Crowl becomes embroiled in a dark conspiracy, one that leads all the way to the halls of the Imperial Palace. As he plunges deeper into the shadowy underbelly of the many palace districts, his investigation attracts the attention of hidden forces, and soon he and his acolyte Spinoza are being hunted – by heretics, xenos, servants of the Dark Powers, or perhaps even rival elements of the Inquisition itself. Soon they discover a terrible truth, one that if allowed to get out could undermine the very fabric of the Imperium itself.

The first novel in a new Inquisition series! Wraight wrote a short story featuring Spinoza a little while back, Argent, which served as an excellent aperitif. I have high hopes for this one. Published by Black Library in ‘regular’ and Limited Edition.

Also on CR: Interview with Chris Wraight (2011); Reviews of The Fall of AltdorfBrotherhood of the StormThe Path of Heaven

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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