New Books (May 2017)

Featuring: Jeff Abbott, Curtis Armstrong, R.J. Barker, J. Patrick Black, Eric Brown, Sebastien de Castell, Anne Corlett, Greg Cox, Nate Crowley, Joel Dicker, Chris Dows, Jennifer Egan, Anthony Franze, Garbage & Jason Cohen, Max Gladstone, Daniel Godfrey, Dave Hutchinson, Eddie Izzard, Benedict Jacka, Cassandra Khaw, Richard Lange, Yoon Ha Lee, Graham McNeill, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Malka Older, Benjamin Percy, Josh Reynolds, Salman Rushdie, John Sandford, Tade Thompson, Wendy N. Wagner

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Jeff Abbott, BLAME (Grand Central)

Sometimes the person you thought you knew best…

Turns out to be someone you never really knew at all.

The crash that killed him

Two years ago, Jane Norton crashed her car on a lonely road, killing her friend David and leaving her with amnesia. At first, everyone was sympathetic. Then they found Jane’s note: I wish we were dead together.

A girl to blame

From that day the town turned against her. But even now Jane is filled with questions: Why were they on that road? Why was she with David? Did she really want to die?

The secrets she should forget

Most of all, she must find out who has just written her an anonymous message: I know what really happened. I know what you don’t remember…

I haven’t read much of Abbott’s work, but this sounded kind of interesting. Published in July by Grand Central (US) and Sphere (UK).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Curtis Armstrong, REVENGE OF THE NERD (Thomas Dunne Books)

Risky Business. Revenge of the Nerds. Better Off Dead. Moonlighting. Supernatural. American Dad. New Girl. What do all of these movies and television shows have in common?

Curtis Armstrong.

A legendary comedic second banana to a litany of major stars, Curtis is forever cemented in the public imagination as Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. A classically trained actor, Curtis began his incredible 40-year career on stage but progressed rapidly to film and television. He was typecast early and it proved to be the best thing that could have happened.

But there’s more to Curtis’ story than that.

Born and bred a nerd, he spent his early years between Detroit, a city so nerdy that the word was coined there in 1951, and, improbably, Geneva, Switzerland. His adolescence and early adulthood was spent primarily between the covers of a book and indulging his nerdy obsessions. It was only when he found his true calling, as an actor and unintentional nerd icon, that he found true happiness. With whip-smart, self-effacing humor, Armstrong takes us on a most unlikely journey — one nerd’s hilarious, often touching rise to the middle. He started his life as an outcast and matured into… well, an older, slightly paunchier, hopefully wiser outcast.

In Hollywood, as in life, that counts as winning the game.

Curtis Armstrong is an actor I recognize from so many TV series and movies. So, when I spotted this on Edelweiss, I thought it might be interesting. Published Thomas Dunne Books in July, in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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R.J. Barker, AGE OF ASSASSINS (Orbit)

It’s a game of assassin versus assassin.

Girton Club-foot has no family, a crippled leg, and is apprenticed to the best assassin in the land.

He’s learning the art of taking lives, but his latest mission tasks him with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

The first novel in Barker’s highly-anticipated Wounded Kingdom fantasy series. Looking forward to giving this a try. Published by Orbit Books in the US and UK, in August 2017.

Also on CR: Interview with R.J. Barker (2017)

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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J. Patrick Black, NINTH CITY BURNING (Ace)

Cities vanished, gone in flashes of world-shattering destruction. An alien race had come to make Earth theirs, bringing a power so far beyond human technology it seemed like magic. It was nearly the end of the world — until we learned to seize the power, and use it to fight back.

The war has raged for five centuries. For a cadet like Jax, one of the few who can harness the enemy’s universe-altering force, that means growing up in an elite military academy, training for battle at the front — and hoping he is ready. For Naomi, young nomad roaming the wilds of a ruined Earth, it means a daily fight for survival against the savage raiders who threaten her caravan.

When a new attack looms, these two fledging warriors find their paths suddenly intertwined. Together with a gifted but reckless military commander, a factory worker drafted as cannon fodder, a wild and beautiful gunfighter, and a brilliant scientist with nothing to lose — they must find a way to turn back the coming invasion, or see their home finally and completely destroyed.

The new paperback cover for this is much better than the original cover… Could be fun. I’ll read it soon, hopefully. Published by Ace Books, and available in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Eric Brown, BINARY SYSTEM (Solaris)

A devastating starship crash. An alien world. An incredible adventure. After surviving a catastrophic starship blow-out, Delia Kemp finds herself stranded on the inhospitable, ice-bound world of Valinda, populated by the Skelt, a race of hostile aliens who will stop at nothing to obtain Delia’s scientific knowledge. Escaping from the Skelt — assisted by a friendly chimpanzee-like alien and a giant spider-crab — she travels south through a phantasmagorical landscape as the long winter comes to an end and the short, blistering summer approaches. Pursued by the Skelt, she and her companions make a death-defying dash across the planet’s inimical equator to meet up with fellow survivors from the starship, and a final journey to the valley of Mahkanda — where salvation just might be awaiting.

This collects Brown’s two novellas Binary and System. Published by Solaris in August 2017.

Also on CR: Interview with Eric Brown (2011); Guest Post on “Influences & Inspirations”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Sebastien de Castell, TYRANT’S THRONE (Jo Fletcher Books)

After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king’s dream: Aline, the king’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In the neighboring country of Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies that have long plagued Tristia’s borders — and even worse, he is rumored to have a new ally: Trin, who’s twice tried to kill Aline to claim the throne of Tristia for herself. With the armies of Avares at her back, led by a bloodthirsty warrior, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest, and Brasti race north to stop her, but in those cold and treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player is planning to take the throne of Tristia, and with a sense of dread the three friends realize that the Greatcoats, for all their skill, may not be able to stop him.

As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. With so many powerful contenders vying for power, it will fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to utter, much less enforce. Should he help crown the young woman he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?

The fourth and final volume in de Castell’s excellent Greatcoats series. I’ve fallen behind, and still need to catch up on with the third novel, but I think I’ll manage to read these both together pretty soon. Published by Jo Fletcher Books in the US and UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Sebastien de Castell (2014); Guest Post on “Where Writers Get Their Groove”; Reviews of Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Anne Corlett, THE SPACE BETWEEN THE STARS (Berkley)

When the world ends, where will you go?

In a breathtakingly vivid and emotionally gripping debut novel, one woman must confront the emptiness in the universe — and in her own heart — when a devastating virus reduces most of humanity to dust and memories.

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…

This novel has been getting a lot of attention, recently. There have been a few in the same oeuvre, and so far they’ve all been slightly disappointing (but by no means bad). I’m looking forward to reading it, and hopefully it will meet expectations. Published in the US by Berkley, on June 13th; and out now in the UK, published by Pan Macmillan.

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Review copy received from publisher

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Greg Cox, THE LIBRARIANS AND THE MOTHER GOOSE CHASE (Tor)

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

Stories have power.

In 1719, Elizabeth Goose published a collection of rhyming spells as a children’s book, creating a spellbook of terrifying power. The Librarian of that age managed to dispose of all copies of the book except one, which remained in the possession of Elizabeth Goose and her family, temporarily averting any potential disaster.

Now, strange things are happening around the world. A tree-trimmer in Florida is blown off his elevated perch by a freak gust of wind, a woman in rural Pennsylvania is attacked by mutant rodents without any eyes, and a college professor in England finds herself trapped inside a prize pumpkin at a local farmer’s market. Baird and her team of Librarians suspect that the magic of Mother Goose is again loose in the world, and with Flynn AWOL — again — it is up to Cassandra, Ezekiel, and Stone to track down the missing spellbook before the true power of the rhymes can be unleashed.

This is the second novel based on the Librarians TV show, following The Librarians and the Lost Lamp. Published by Tor Books, it’s available in the UK as well.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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Nate Crowley, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF SCHNEIDER WRACK (Abaddon)

Schneider Wrack was dead. Until he wasn’t.

Convicted of a crime he’s almost completely sure he didn’t commit, executed, reanimated, then pressed into service aboard a vast trawler on the terrible world of Ocean, he was set to spend his afterlife working until his mindless corpse falls apart.

But now he’s woken up, trapped in a rotting body, arm-deep in the stinking meat and blubber of a sea monster, and he’s not happy. It’s time for the dead to rise up.

From the stench and brine of Ocean to the fetid jungle of Grand Amazon, Schneider’s career as a revolutionary won’t be easy. But sometimes a zombie’s gotta do what a zombie’s gotta do…

This collects Crowley’s two Scheider Wrack novellas, The Sea Hates a Coward and Grand Amazon. Published by Abaddon on August 8th, 2017.

Also on CR: Interview with Nate Crowley (2015)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Joël Dicker, THE BALTIMORE BOYS (MacLehose Press)

Fresh from the staggering success of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, Marcus Goldman is struggling to write his third novel. A chance encounter in Florida throws him some inspiration from a surprising source: Alexandra Neville, the beautiful, phenomenally successful singer and Marcus’s first love. All at once, memories of his childhood come flooding back. Memories of a family torn apart by tragedy, and a once glorious legacy reduced to shame and ruin.

The Baltimore Boys. The Goldman Gang. That was what they called Marcus, and his cousins Hillel and Woody. Three brilliant young men with their whole lives ahead of them, before their kingdom crumbled beneath the weight of lies, jealousy and betrayal. For years, Marcus has struggled with the burdens of his past, but now, he must attempt to banish his demons and tell the real story of the Baltimore Boys.

Like many, I very much enjoyed The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, and have been eagerly awaiting Dicker’s next novel. Translated by Alison Anderson, The Baltimore Boys is published by MacLehose Press in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

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Review copy received from publisher

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Chris Dows, SCIONS OF ELYSIA (Black Library)

The Elysian Drop Troops are famed throughout the Astra Militarum for their rapid deployment tactics, utter fearlessness and expertise at grav-chute assaults. The 158th Elysian are once such regiment, ordered to pacify piratical warbands at large in their native system. But as the campaign commences, disaster strikes, the regiment’s inexperienced and arrogant captain the cause. Only through the ingenuity of Sergeant Zachariah is a victory salvaged, but at a terrible cost. [Narrated by John Banks]

A new WH40k audiodrama. Always been a fan of Black Library’s audio stories. Published by Black Library in June.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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Jennifer Egan, MANHATTAN BEACH (Simon & Schuster)

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have been murdered.

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a magnificent novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.

I really want to read A Visit From the Goon Squad, Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. For some reason, though, the two times I’ve tried it, I’ve struggled to connect. I’ll have to give it another try. Maybe before I get around to this one. We’ll see. Published in in October 2017 in North America by Simon & Schuster, and Corsair in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Anthony Franze, THE OUTSIDER (Minotaur)

A young Supreme Court law clerk finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a serial killer…

Things aren’t going well for Grayson Hernandez. He just graduated from a fourth-tier law school, he’s drowning in student debt, and the only job he can find is as a messenger. The position stings the most because it’s at the Supreme Court, where Gray is forced to watch the best and the brightest — the elite group of lawyers who serve as the justices’ law clerks—from the outside.

When Gray intervenes in a violent mugging, he lands in the good graces of the victim: the Chief Justice of the United States. Gray soon finds himself the newest — and unlikeliest — law clerk at the Supreme Court. It’s another world: highbrow debates over justice and the law in the inner sanctum of the nation’s highest court; upscale dinners with his new friends; attention from Lauren Hart, the brilliant and beautiful co-clerk he can’t stop thinking about.

But just as Gray begins to adapt to his new life, the FBI approaches him with unsettling news. The Feds think there’s a killer connected to the Supreme Court. And they want Gray to be their eyes and ears inside One First Street. Little does Gray know that the FBI will soon set its sights on him.

Racing against the clock in a world cloaked in secrecy, Gray must uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again…

I’m really looking forward to reading this one — have been, ever since I spotted it in the Macmillan catalogue a while back. I also have Franze’s previous novel, The Advocate’s Daughter. Published by Minotaur Books, The Outsider is out now.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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Garbage & Jason Cohen, THIS IS THE NOISE THAT KEEPS ME AWAKE (Akashic)

Garbage are known around the world for songs that mix pop sweetness with the dour thunder of industrial music and the rhythmic punch of hip-hop. Now, for the first time, the four band members tell the story of that music in their own words. Packed with rare photos and personal snapshots, this book examines how Garbage make their music, and how they’ve kept it together (or not) for more than twenty years.

The beautifully designed, large-format coffee-table book is bound with an embossed cloth hardcover and finished with a dust jacket. The edges of the text pages, printed on luxurious matte art paper in six colors, are finished with a stunning pink spot color. This Is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake is a must-have (and perfect gift) for Garbage’s fans.

Like I think many people, I discovered Garbage properly when their second album, Version 2.0 dropped, and the single “Push It” blew up. I heard it seemingly everywhere, and became hooked. A great band, and Manson’s singing voice is still one of my favourites. This could be a great book to read while also listening to the band’s latest album, Strange Little Birds. This is the Noise that Keeps Me Awake is published by Akashic Books in July (US) and August (UK) 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Max Gladstone, THE RUIN OF ANGELS (Tor.com)

The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren’t looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city — while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.

Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex’s burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Lei. But Kai finds Lei desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Lei ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Lei has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead — and some people want to finish the job.

The highly-anticipated sixth book in Gladstone’s critically-acclaimed Craft SequenceThe Ruin of Angels is one of my most-anticipated novels of the year (and I really need to get caught up on the series). It is published by Tor.com in the US and UK, in September.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Daniel Godfrey, EMPIRE OF TIME (Titan)

For fifteen years, the Romans of New Pompeii have kept the outside world at bay with the threat of using the Novus Particles device to alter time. Yet Decimus Horatius Pullus — once Nick Houghton — knows the real reason the Romans don’t use the device for their own ends: they can’t make it work without grisly consequences.

This fragile peace is threatened when an outsider promises to help the Romans use the technology. And there are those beyond Pompeii’s walls who are desperate to destroy a town where slavery flourishes. When his own name is found on an ancient artifact dug up at the real Pompeii, Nick knows that someone in the future has control of the device. The question is: whose side are they on?

The sequel to New Pompeii, about which I’ve heard good things. Published in the US and UK by Titan in June 2017.

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Review copy received from publisher

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Dave Hutchinson, ACADIE (Tor.com)

The first humans still hunt their children across the stars.

The Colony left Earth to find utopia, a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore their genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries. Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.

Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?

This sounds really interesting, like something that should appeal to fans of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time and big, epic sci-fi in general. Published by Tor.com in September, in the US and UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Dave Hutchinson (2014)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Eddie Izzard, BELIEVE ME (Blue Rider Press)

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Eddie Izzard has proved himself to be a creative chameleon, inhabiting the stage and film and television screen with an unbelievable fervor. Born in Yemen and raised in Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, he lost his mother at the age of six — a devastating event that affected the rest of his life. In his teens, he dropped out of university and took to the streets of London as part of a comedy double act. When his partner went on vacation, Izzard kept busy by inventing a one-man escape act, and thus a solo career was ignited. As a stand-up comedian, Izzard has captivated audiences with his surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy — lines such as “Cake or Death?” “Death Star Canteen,” and “Do You Have a Flag?” have the status of great rock lyrics. As a self-proclaimed “action transvestite,” Izzard broke a mold performing in makeup and heels, and has become as famous for his “total clothing” rights as he has for his art. In Believe Me, he recounts the dizzying rise he made from the streets of London to West End theaters, to Wembley Arena, Madison Square Garden, and the Hollywood Bowl.

Izzard is arguably one of today’s top comedians. At the time of publication, he is still performing his Force Majeure show — so far in more than forty countries worldwide and in four languages: English, French, German, and Spanish. With his brand of keenly intelligent humor that ranges from world history to historical politics, sexual politics, mad ancient kings, and chickens with guns, he has built an extraordinary fan base that transcends age, gender, and race. Writing with the same candor and insight evident in his comedy, he reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running, and philanthropy. Honest and generous, Izzard’s Believe Me is an inspired account of a very singular life thus far. 

Eddie Izzard is one of my favourite comedians, easily. I spent many an afternoon/evening listening to his stand-up shows, or watching the videos (remember those?) and DVDs. Really looking forward to reading this. Published in June by Blue Rider Press in the US, and Penguin in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Benedict Jacka, BOUND (Orbit)

Alex Verus can see the future. But he never thought he’d see this day.

Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he’s agreed to work for his old master once more.

Richard Drakh, the sadistic dark mage Alex escaped as an apprentice, has him in his clutches again. And this time, he won’t let go so easily.

This is the eighth novel in Jacka’s well-reviewed Alex Verus urban fantasy series. I haven’t read any of the books, yet, but my sister really enjoys them. In fact, it’s partly her fault that I haven’t read the books — she borrowed the first one before I was able to read it, and never returned it. (Well, ok, I left the country, so that’s why I never got it back.) Published by Orbit Books in the UK, and Ace in the US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Cassandra Khaw, A SONG FOR QUIET (Tor.com)

Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can’t escape, and music that won’t let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble — visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destroy the world if he lets it hatch.

The mad ravings chase Deacon to his next gig. His saxophone doesn’t call up his audience from their seats, it calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. As Deacon flees, chased by horrors and cultists, he stumbles upon a runaway girl, who is trying to escape the destiny awaiting her. Like Deacon, she carries something deep inside her, something twisted and dangerous. Together, they seek to leave Arkham, only to find the Thousand Young lurking in the woods.

The song in Deacon’s head is growing stronger, and soon he won’t be able to ignore it any more.

This is the sequel to Khaw’s first, critically-acclaimed Tor.com novella, Hammers on BoneA Song for Quiet is published by Tor.com in late August.

Review copy received from publisher

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Cassandra Khaw, FOOD OF THE GODS (Abaddon)

By day, Rupert Wong – former triad soldier and sorcerer turned chef – prepares delicious meals from human meat for a dynasty of powerful ghouls in Kuala Lumpur; by night, he’s a seneschal and arbitrator for the Ten Chinese Hells. It’s a living, if not much of one.

When Ao Qin – Dragon of the South, god of the seas – smashes in Rupert’s window and demands he investigate his daughter and her mortal husband’s murders, his peaceful (if not particularly comfortable) life comes to an end.

Caught up in a war between pantheons, shipped around the world, going toe-to-toe with Elder Gods From Outside Space And Time, and always taking the time to read the fine print, Rupert’s going to need all his wits and a lot of luck to survive.

More Khaw! This collects Khaw’s two Rupert Wong contributions to Abaddon’s Gods & Monsters shared-world: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef and Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth. I haven’t read them, yet, but I am very eager to do so. Food of the Gods is out now, published by Abaddon.

Also on CR: Interview with Cassandra Khaw (2016); Guest Post on “Everything is Exhausting…”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Nick Kyme, SONS OF THE FORGE (Black Library)

Charged with a solemn duty by the primarch himself, Forgefather T’kell of the Salamanders prepares for what may well be his final journey. Along with a chosen few of the Legion’s elite Firedrakes, he must bear the last seven of Vulkan’s greatest weapons away to the secret vault known as the Wrought, putting them forever beyond the reach of treacherous enemy and well-intentioned ally alike. But word has already spread of these legendary artefacts, and there are many who would see T’kell’s endeavour fail for their own gain – the Salamanders must remain true, no matter what horrors they might face…

Kyme’s latest Heresy story is another about the Salamanders — a Legion the author has done so much to flesh out and make a fan-favourite. I’ve already read it a while ago (it was published first as a limited edition), and really enjoyed it. A must for all fans of Kyme’s Salamander fiction, and also a very good addition to the Heresy canon in general. Published by Black Library in June.

Also on CR: Interview with Nick Kyme (2011); Reviews of Promethean SunScorched EarthVulkan Lives and Deathfire

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Richard Lange, THE SMACK (Mulholland)

Rowan Petty is a conman down on his luck. He’s flat broke, living out of cheap hotels, and wondering how it all went wrong. His car quits on him in Reno, and he takes a job there on the bottom rung of a lousy phone scam. When he’s not swindling lonely widows, he tries to turn nickels into dimes at the poker table. One snowy night, he crosses paths with a sweet-talking hooker who’s tired of the streets, and sparks fly.

When an old friend of his turns up spreading a rumor about two million dollars in army money smuggled out of Afghanistan and stashed in an apartment in Los Angeles, it seems like a chance at the score of a lifetime. So Petty and his girl head south, and straight into trouble. A wounded vet, a washed-up actor, and Petty’s estranged daughter are all players in the dangerous game they find themselves caught up in. For the winner: a fortune. For the loser: a bullet to the head.

I’ve only recently started reading Lange’s work. I started with the Dead Boys anthology, which I picked up after reading only a couple of pages — his prose grabbed me almost immediately, and as I read more I just became ever-more impressed by his ability to write engaging, real characters. Before I’d finished the first story, I bought This Wicked WorldAngel Baby and Sweet Nothing. I’m really looking forward to reading The Smack. Published by Mulholland Books in the US and UK, in mid-July.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Yoon Ha Lee, RAVEN STRATAGEM (Solaris)

War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies as a weapon, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh enemy incursion, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, is able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev — or Brezan — trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

The highly-anticipated second novel in Lee’s Machineries of Empire sci-fi series. I have the first novel, Ninefox Gambit, but have yet to read it yet. I’m really looking forward to it, though. Published by Solaris in June.

Also on CR: Interview with Yoon Ha Lee (2016); Guest Post on “Culture as Weapon”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Graham McNeill, THE CRIMSON KING (Black Library)

After the razing of Prospero, Magnus the Red spirited the Thousand Sons away to the aptly un-named Planet of the Sorcerers, deep within the Eye of Terror. Removed from the concerns of the galaxy at large and regarding the Warmaster’s unfolding Heresy with cold detachment, he has dedicated his hollow existence to the preservation of all the knowledge once held in the great libraries of Tizca, should mankind ever seek such enlightenment again. But his sons can see the change in their primarch – he is a broken soul, whose mind and memories are slipping away into the tumult of the warp. Only by returning to the scenes of his greatest triumphs and tragedies can they hope to restore him, and allow the Crimson King to be crowned anew by the Ruinous Powers.

The Horus Heresy continues, with more of Magnus’s story! McNeill is one of Black Library’s best authors (not to mention pretty prolific), and Magnus the Red is one of my favourite characters. So, I’m pretty happy about this, and will read it very soon. Published in June by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Graham McNeill (2011); Guest Post on “BL Expo Canada”; Reviews of A Thousand SonsThe Outcast DeadAngel ExterminatusVengeful Spirit, and Magnus the Red

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, THE BEAUTIFUL ONES (Thomas Dunne)

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society in hopes of landing a suitable husband. But Antonina is telekinetic, and strange events in her past have made her the subject of malicious gossip and hardly a sought-after bride. Now, under the tutelage of her cousin’s wife, she is finally ready to shed the past and learn the proper ways of society.

Antonina, who prefers her family’s country home to the glamorous ballrooms of the wealthy, finds it increasingly difficult to conform to society’s ideals for women, especially when she falls under the spell of the dazzling telekinetic performer Hector Auvray. As their romance blossoms, and he teaches her how to hone and control her telekinetic gift, she can’t help but feel a marriage proposal is imminent.

Little does Antonina know that Hector and those closest to her are hiding a devastating secret that will crush her world and force her to confront who she really is and what she’s willing to sacrifice.

I’m really looking forward to reading this. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Moreno-Garcia (though I’ve fallen a bit behind), and therefore have high hopes for this, too. Published in October by Thomas Dunne in the US. (Could only find it on import for the UK, which I’m surprised by — I’m really surprised a British SFF publisher hasn’t acquired publication rights for this and Certain Dark Things.)

Also on CR: Excerpt from Signal to Noise

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Malka Older, NULL STATE (Tor.com)

The future of democracy is about to implode.

After the last controversial global election, the global infomocracy that has ensured thirty years of world peace is fraying at the edges. As the new Supermajority government struggles to establish its legitimacy, agents of Information across the globe strive to keep the peace and maintain the flows of data that feed the new world order.

In the newly-incorporated DarFur, a governor dies in a fiery explosion. In Geneva, a superpower hatches plans to bring microdemocracy to its knees. In Central Asia, a sprawling war among archaic states threatens to explode into a global crisis. And across the world, a shadowy plot is growing, threatening to strangle Information with the reins of power.

The sequel to the critically-acclaimed Infomocracy, I’m really looking forward to reading this. Published by Tor.com on September 19th, it will also be available in the UK.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Travelling in Both Directions”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Benjamin Percy, THE DARK NET (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Hell on earth is only one click of a mouse away… 

The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew: 

Twelve-year-old Hannah — who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness– wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people. 

Lela, a technophobic journalist, has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover. 

Mike Juniper, a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons, has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs. 

And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous. 

They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains. 

Set in present-day Portland, The Dark Net is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in, a timely and wildly imaginative techno-thriller about the evil that lurks in real and virtual spaces, and the power of a united few to fight back.

Shouldn’t come as a surprise to even newer readers of CR that I’m a big fan of Percy’s work — whether his novels, his non-fiction, or his comic work, I’ve pretty much enjoyed it all. So, very happy to have an advance copy of this, and I’ll be reading it very soon. The Dark Net is published in August, in the US by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; and in the UK by Hodder.

Also on CR: Interview with Benjamin Percy (2013); Reviews of Red MoonThe Dead Lands and Thrill Me

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

Josh Reynolds, PLAGUE GARDEN (Black Library)

As the War for the Realm of Life continues, Lord-Castellant Lorrus Grymn leads the battered remnants of the Steel Souls warrior chamber against the sargasso-citadels of the Verdant Bay. The Hallowed Knights claim victory, but at a terrible cost – Grymn is lost to Realm of Chaos. Now Gardus, newly-reforged and fresh from the destruction of the Scabrous Sprawl, must lead his warriors into the foetid heart of Nurgle’s realm in search of the Lord-Castellant, where they must once more brave the horrors of the Realm of Decay…

I still haven’t figured out what I think about the new Warhammer re-boot. This is probably because I was so comfortable and familiar with the original (25 years, I think I read about it and the fiction), and so I’m struggling to adjust my impression of the new world and so forth. I am keen to find an ‘in’, as it were, as a lot of the imagery and little bits of new lore I’ve read do sound interesting. (I haven’t played a Games Workshop game in well over 15 years, so the game system is of little import to me.) Plague Garden, Reynolds’s latest contribution to the growing body of Age of Sigmar fiction, sounds pretty like it could be pretty good. I’ll give it a try hopefully soon. Published in June 2017 by Black Library.

Also on CR: Reviews of End Times: The Return of NagashEnd Times: The Lord of the End Times and Fabius Bile: Primogenitor

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Salman Rushdie, THE GOLDEN HOUSE (Random House)

On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons: agoraphobic, alcoholic Petya, a brilliant recluse with a tortured mind; Apu, the flamboyant artist, sexually and spiritually omnivorous, famous on twenty blocks; and D, at twenty-two the baby of the family, harboring an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king — a queen in want of an heir.

Our guide to the Goldens’ world is their neighbor René, an ambitious young filmmaker. As research for a movie about the Goldens, he ingratiates himself into their household. Seduced by their mystique, he is inevitably implicated in their quarrels, their infidelities, and, indeed, their crimes. Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down.

Set against the strange and exuberant backdrop of current American culture and politics, The Golden House also marks Salman Rushdie’s triumphant and exciting return to realism. The result is a modern epic of love and terrorism, loss and reinvention — a powerful, timely story told with the daring and panache that make Salman Rushdie a force of light in our dark new age.

I’ve only read one of Rushdie’s novels: Haroun and the Sea of Stories. I enjoyed it when we read it at school. I didn’t pick up anything else by him until Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, although I ended up forgetting about it. The Golden House sounds really interesting, though, so I’m going to make extra effort to get it read in a timely manner. Due to be published by Random House in the US, and Jonathan Cape in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

John Sandford, GOLDEN PREY (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Lucas Davenport’s first case as a U.S. Marshal…

The man was smart and he didn’t mind killing people. Welcome to the big leagues, Davenport. 

Thanks to some very influential people whose lives he saved, Lucas is no longer working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but for the U.S. Marshals Service, and with unusual scope. He gets to pick his own cases, whatever they are, wherever they lead him.

And where they’ve led him this time is into real trouble. A Biloxi, Mississippi, drug-cartel counting house gets robbed, and suitcases full of cash disappear, leaving behind five bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl. Davenport takes the case, which quickly spirals out of control, as cartel assassins, including a torturer known as the “Queen of home-improvement tools” compete with Davenport to find the Dixie Hicks shooters who knocked over the counting house. Things get ugly real fast, and neither the cartel killers nor the holdup men give a damn about whose lives Davenport might have saved; to them, he’s just another large target.

The 27th Lucas Davenport series! Long-time readers of CR will know that this is one of my favourite series. I’ll be reading it very soon. Published in North America by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Simon & Schuster have been publishing Sandford’s novels in the UK, recently, so I’m guessing they will eventually release this one as well (currently no details).

Also on CR: Reviews of Phantom PreyWicked PreyStorm PreyBuried PreyStolen PreySilken PreyField of PreyDark of the Moon

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

*

Tade Thompson, THE MURDERS OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE (Tor.com)

Every time she bleeds a murderer is born.

The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

This sounds pretty interesting. Looking forward to giving it a try. Published by Tor.com on October 3rd, in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

Various, CHAMPIONS OF THE ETERNAL WAR (Black Library)

Heed now three tales of the Champions of the Eternal War…

The Calculus of Battle by David Guymer: As the defenders of Varasine battle a tyranid invasion, Warleader Kardan Stronos and the Iron Hands come to their aid, measuring the Chapter’s cold logic and strategy against the cost in human lives.

The Embrace of Pain by Ian St Martin: When blademaster Lucius the Eternal is challenged by a champion of the Death Guard, he accepts without hesitation… but could a daemonhost of Nurgle, or the voices inside his own head, be the undoing of his Slaaneshi curse?

The Art of Provocation by Josh Reynolds: When orks amass on Polix Tertius, Lukas the Trickster decides to play a dangerous game. Risking the ire of the Wolf Lords, he turns his attentions to the planetary vox, and begins to broadcast…

Running time approx. 60 minutes. Performed by John Banks, Antonia Beamish, Robin Bowerman, Cliff Chapman, Steve Conlin, Jonathan Keeble, Toby Longworth and Luis Soto.

A trio of pretty good audio-dramas. Full review coming soon.

Review copy received from publisher

*

Wendy N. Wagner, AN OATH OF DOGS (Angry Robot)

Kate Standish has been on the forest-world of Huginn less than a week and she’s already pretty sure her new company murdered her boss. But the little town of mill workers and farmers is more worried about eco-terrorism and a series of attacks by the bizarre, sentient dogs of this planet, than a death most people would like to believe is an accident. That is, until Kate’s investigation uncovers a conspiracy which threatens them all.

This sounds pretty interesting. Published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and US, in July 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

Alec Worley, ANDERSON (Abaddon)

The untold story behind Mega-City One’s most famous telepath and Judge Dredd partner, Judge Anderson, in her first year on the job!

Mega-City One, 2100. Cassandra Anderson is destined to become Psi-Division’s most famous Judge, foiling supernatural threats and policing Mega-City One’s hearts and souls. For now, she’s fresh out of Academy and Psi-Div themselves are still finding their feet.

Heartbreaker: After a string of apparently random, deadly assaults by customers at a dating agency, Anderson is convinced a telepathic killer is to blame. Putting her career on the line, the newly-trained Psi-Judge goes undercover to bring the romance-hating murderer to justice, with the big Valentine’s Day parade coming up…

The Abyss: Sent to interrogate Moriah Blake, leader of the notorious terror group ‘Bedlam,’ Anderson gets just one snippet of information – Bedlam’s planning on detonating a huge bomb – before Blake’s followers take over the Block. It’s a race against time, and Anderson’s on her own amongst the inmates…

A Dream of the Nevertime: Anderson – a rookie no more, with a year on the streets under her belt – contracts what appears to be a deadly psychic virus, and must explore the weirdest reaches of the Cursed Earth in search of a cure. She must face mutants, mystics and all the strangeness the land can throw at her as she wrestles weird forces…

This could be interesting. I’m a fan of the Judge Dredd/2000AD world, so looking forward to reading this. Published by Abaddon in June.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

*

JY Yang, THE BLACK TIDES OF HEAVEN (Tor.com)

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?

*

JY Yang, THE RED THREADS OF FORTUNE (Tor.com)

Fallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.

On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.

These two books by Yang are standalone introductions to the author’s Tensorate series. Both novels are published by Tor.com in September in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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