New Books (October)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Asa Avdic, Myke Cole, Jeffrey Cranor, Tom Doyle, Karen Ellis, Spencer Ellsworth, Joseph Fink, James Alan Gardner, Kevin Hearne, Mike Lawson, Paul McAuley, Seanan McGuire, Adam O’Riordan, K.J. Parker (x3), C.L. Polk, Gareth L. Powell, Jane Robins, Paul M. Sammon, John Sandford, Christine Schutt, Jon Skovron, E.J. Swift, K.B. Wagers, Bill Willingham, Christopher J. Yates, Liz Ziemska

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AnnandaleD-HH-RuinstormDavid Annandale, RUINSTORM (Black Library)

Imperium Secundus lies revealed as a heretical folly. Terra has not fallen, though it remains inaccessible. Sanguinius, Guilliman and the Lion El’Johnson, the primarchs of the Triumvirate, must reach Terra at all costs. They seek to defend the Emperor, and to atone for their sins. But the Ruinstorm, a galaxy-wide maelstrom of chaos, hides the Throneworld from the primarchs. Now the fleets of three Legions depart Macragge, and the primarchs will stop at nothing to overcome the Ruinstorm. Yet an insidious enemy watches their every move, and plots against the weaknesses of the errant sons of the Emperor. Each has his own inner storm, and each marches towards his own ruin.

The 46th book in the best-selling, long-running Horus Heresy series. Into the final stretch (I believe)! Ruinstorm is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale (2012); Reviews of The Damnation of Pythos and Roboute Guilliman

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AvdicA-DyingGameUKÅsa Avdic, THE DYING GAME (Windmill)

‘Oh, it’s really quite simple. I want you to play dead.’

On the remote island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a 48-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees, and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure?

But as soon as Anna steps on to the island she realises something isn’t quite right. And then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins…

This has been described as “A Swedish Hunger Games for adults”, which caught my attention. Sounds interesting, and I’ll hopefully read it very soon. The Dying Game is out now, published in the UK by Windmill, and Penguin in North America.

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Review copy received from publisher

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BensonMajorSinclair-InvadersFromBeyondJulian Benson, Tim Major & Colin Sinclair, INVADERS FROM BEYOND (Abaddon)

WE ARE NOT ALONE… MORE’S THE PITY.

‘Alien invasion’ is one of the oldest devices in modern science fiction, dating back to Wells’ The War of the Worlds. It spoke to the paranoia of mid-twentieth-century life, spawning such classics as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Thing. Why do so many damn aliens want to invade Earth anyway? And who’s going to stop them? Is this going to take long? Only I was going to go to the pub later.

By turns funny, blackly comic and thoughtful, Invaders From Beyond: First Wave chronicles three unlikely invasion bids, in dingy commercial estates and broken-down council estates, where unlikely heroes – kids, screw-ups, survivors – will stumble their way through protecting the Earth.

This sounds like it could be rather fun. Invaders from Beyond is out now, published by Abaddon.

Follow the Author (Benson): Goodreads

Follow the Author (Major): Goodreads

Follow the Author (Sinclair): Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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ColeM-GC3-SiegeLineUSMyke Cole, SIEGE LINE (Ace)

The fate of undead Navy SEAL James Schweitzer will be decided — one way or another…

The Gemini Cell took everything from Jim Schweitzer: his family, his career as a Navy SEAL, even his life. Hounded across the country, Schweitzer knows the only way he can ever stop running, the only way his son can ever be safe, is to take the fight to the enemy and annihilate the Cell once and for all.

But the Cell won’t be easily destroyed. Out of control and fighting a secret war with the government it once served, it has dispatched its shadowy Director to the far reaches of the subarctic in search of a secret magic that could tip the balance of power in its favor. Schweitzer must join with the elite warriors of both America and Canada in a desperate bid to get there first — and avert a disaster that could put the Cell in control.

The final novel set in Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops universe, and the third novel in the Gemini Cell trilogy. I’ve fallen way behind on Cole’s work, but I very much enjoyed his first three novels. Siege Line is published by Ace Books in the US; and is due to be published in the UK in January 2018, by Headline.

Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole (2011); Reviews of Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone and The Armored Saint

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Review copy received from publisher

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DoyleT-3-WarAndCraftUSTom Doyle, WAR AND CRAFT (Tor)

America, land of the Free… and home of the warlocks.

The Founding Fathers were never ones to pass up a good weapon. America’s first line of defense has been shrouded in secrecy, magical families who have sworn to use their power to protect our republic.

But there are those who reject America’s dream and have chosen the Left Hand Path. In this triumphant conclusion to Tom Doyle’s imaginative alternate historical America, we start with a bloody wedding-night brawl with assassins in Tokyo. Our American magical shock troops go to India, where a descendant of legendary heroes has the occult mission they’ve been waiting for.

It all comes to a head in a valley hidden high in the mountains of Kashmir. Our craftspeople will battle against their fellow countrymen, some of the vilest monsters of the Left Hand Path. It’s Armageddon in Shangri-La, and the end of the world as we know it.

The third novel in Doyle’s American Craftsmen series. I haven’t had the chance to read any of the books, yet, but it does sound like it could be interesting. War and Craft (and the rest of the series) is published by Tor Books, it is also available in the UK.

Also on CR: Guest Posts on “Going Global” and “Writing a Trilogy — Lessons Learned”

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Review copy received from publisher

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EllisK-1-AMapOfTheDarkKaren Ellis, A MAP OF THE DARK (Mulholland)

While her father lies dying in a hospital north of New York City, FBI Agent Elsa Myers answers the NYPD’s call to assist in the search for Ruby, a teenage girl abducted from Forest Hills, Queens. Throughout the critical first hours of the case, a series of false leads obscures the fact that Ruby was taken by a serial offender — and that her life may not be the only one in danger.

With each passing hour, Elsa’s carefully compartmentalized world collapses around her. Everything that she has buried — her fraught relationship with her sister and niece, her self-destructive past, her mother’s death — threatens to resurface, with devastating consequences.

This is the first in Ellis’s Agent Elsa Myers series, and I think it sounds pretty interesting.  Ellis is a pseudonym for author Katia Lief. A Map of the Dark is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and the UK, in January 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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EllsworthS-S2-ShadowSunSevenSpencer Ellsworth, STARFIRE: SHADOW SUN SEVEN (Tor.com)

Jaqi, Araskar and Z are on the run from everyone — the Resistance, the remnants of the Empire, the cyborg Suits, and right now from the Matakas — and the Matakas are the most pressing concern because the insectoid aliens have the drop on them. The Resistance has a big reward out for Araskar and the human children he and Jaqi are protecting. But Araskar has something to offer the mercenary aliens. He knows how to get to a huge supply of pure oxygen cells, something in short supply in the formerly human Empire, and that might be enough to buy their freedom. Araskar knows where it is, and Jaqi can take them there. With the Matakas as troops, they break into Shadow Sun Seven, on the edge of the Dark Zone.

The second novella in Ellsworth’s Starfire space opera series. I haven’t (yet) had the chance to read the first book, A Red Peace, but I’m keen to do so. Published by Tor.com on November 28th, in North America and the UK.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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FinkCranor-ItDevoursUKJoseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, IT DEVOURS! (Orbit)

A mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

This is the follow-up to Fink and Cranor’s Welcome to Night Vale (itself, the first novel based on the authors’ podcast). I still haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast, but I am interested in giving this a try. Published by Orbit in the UK, and Harper Perennial in North America.

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Review copy received from publisher

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GardnerJA-AllThoseExplosionsUSJames Alan Gardner, ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS WERE SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT (Tor)

Monsters are real.

But so are heroes.

Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice… mostly.

Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger.

Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks — and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities — and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.

Turns out that “accident” was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius’s latest diabolical scheme. Now it’s up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team’s name should be!

It was the title that caught my attention. Thought it sounded like it could be fun. All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault is published by Tor Books in North America and the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with James Alan Gardner (2017)

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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HanksT-UncommonTypeUSTom Hanks, UNCOMMON TYPE (Knopf)

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

Hanks is one of my favourite actors, so as soon as I heard about his upcoming collection of short fiction, I was intrigued. Uncommon Type is published by Knopf in Canada and the US, and William Heinemann in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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HearneK-SK1-APlagueOfGiantsUSKevin Hearne, A PLAGUE OF GIANTS (Del Rey)

MOTHER AND WARRIOR

Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons — all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY

Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.  

REBEL AND HERO

Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all — if it doesn’t destroy him first.

Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine — and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

I enjoyed the first two of Hearne’s Iron Druid novels, so I’ve been really looking forward to giving his new fantasy series a try. A Plague of Giants is out now, published by Del Rey in North America, and Orbit in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Kevin Hearne (2011); Reviews of Hounded and Hexed

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HurwitzG-OX3-HellBentUSGregg Hurwitz, HELLBENT (Minotaur)

Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate.

But this time, the voice on the other end is Jack Johns, the man who raised and trained him, the only father Evan has ever known. Secret government forces are busy trying to scrub the remaining assets and traces of the Orphan Program and they have finally tracked down Jack. With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: find and protect his last protégé and recruit for the program.

But Evan isn’t the only one after this last Orphan — the new head of the Orphan Program, Van Sciver, is mustering all the assets at his disposal to take out both Evan (Orphan X) and the target he is trying to protect.

This is the third novel in Hurwitz’s enjoyable Orphan X series. I still have the second book to catch up on, but I think I’ll be reading the two back-to-back very soon. Hellbent is due to be published by Minotaur Books in North America (January), and Penguin in the UK (February).

Also on CR: Excerpt from The Rains

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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LawsonM-JD12-HouseWitnessUSMike Lawson, HOUSE WITNESS (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Joe DeMarco is on the trail of a different kind of fixer — one whose job is to influence, and sometimes disappear, witnesses in seemingly airtight criminal cases.

Minority Leader of the House and DeMarco’s long-time employer John Mahoney has kept more than one secret from his wife over the years, but none so explosive as this: He has a son, and that son has just been shot dead in a bar in Manhattan. Mahoney immediately dispatches DeMarco to New York to assist prosecutor Justine Porter, but with five bystanders willing to testify against the killer — rich-boy Toby Rosenthal — the case seems like a slam-dunk. That is, until Porter begins to suspect that someone is interfering with those witnesses, and that this may be connected to a pattern of cases across the country. Is there someone who is getting witnesses out of the way when the fate of a wealthy defendant is on the line?

With the help of Porter’s intern, as outrageously smart as she is young, DeMarco becomes determined to follow that question through to its violent resolution in what turns out to be this series’ most unexpected plot yet.

This is the twelfth novel in Lawson’s excellent Joe DeMarco series. I’ve read and enjoyed each of the previous eleven novels, and I have no doubt I’ll enjoy this one, too. House Witness is due to be published by Atlantic Monthly Press in February 2018.

Also on CR: Interview with Mike Lawson (2011); Reviews of House Rules, House Secrets, House Justice, House Divided, House Blood, House Reckoning and House Rivals

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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McAuleyP-AustralUKPaul McAuley, AUSTRAL (Gollancz)

The great geoengineering projects have failed.

The world is still warming, sea levels are still rising, and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to Earth’s newest nation, with life quickened by ecopoets spreading across valleys and fjords exposed by the retreat of the ice.

Austral Morales Ferrado, a child of the last generation of ecopoets, is a husky: an edited person adapted to the unforgiving climate of the far south, feared and despised by most of its population. She’s been a convict, a corrections officer in a labour camp, and consort to a criminal, and now, out of desperation, she has committed the kidnapping of the century. But before she can collect the ransom and make a new life elsewhere, she must find a place of safety amongst the peninsula’s forests and icy plateaus, and evade a criminal gang that has its own plans for the teenage girl she’s taken hostage.

Blending the story of Austral’s flight with the fractured history of her family and its role in the colonisation of Antarctica, Austral is a vivid portrayal of a treacherous new world created by climate change, and shaped by the betrayals and mistakes of the past.

This novel has been getting a great deal of pre-publication buzz, and I’m really interested in reading it. McAuley is writing some of the more interesting novels in SF today. Austral is published by Gollancz in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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McGuireS-Deadlands-BoneyardSeanan McGuire, DEADLANDS: BONEYARD (Tor Books)

Step right up to see the oddities and marvels of The Blackstone Family Circus and Travelling Wonder Show! Gasp at pit wasps the size of a man’s forearm. Beware the pumpkin-headed corn stalker, lest it plant its roots in you!

Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past… and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect.

Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. Word is that a travelling show can turn a tidy profit at The Clearing, but there are whispers, too, of unexplained disappearances that afflict one out of every four shows that pass through the town.

The Clearing has it secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter — and the circus — from both.

The latest novel set in the Weird West, Deadlands roleplaying game-world. I haven’t read any of the others, but it does sound like it could be interesting. Boneyard is published by Tor Books, and is available in the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher

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ORiordanA-BurningGroundUSAdam O’Riordan, THE BURNING GROUND (W.W. Norton)

Moving from remote, sun-scorched towns to the charged hum of Venice Beach, The Burning Ground is a collection of eight stories populated by men haunted by their past and by their dreams, set against the canvas of California, where beauty and bleakness go hand in hand. In “A Thunderstorm in Santa Monica,” a man’s unmoored lifestyle is reflected back at him after a long flight. In “Black Bear in the Snow,” a divorced advertising executive tries to rekindle a relationship with his son. And in the title story, “The Burning Ground,” a painter is haunted by memories of his former lover. The stories take familiar roles — the deadbeat dad, the drifting divorcé, the wayward man — and bring them new emotional depth, peeling back the layers to reveal interiors both unexpected and arresting in their complexity.

I’ve never read anything by O’Riordan, but this anthology caught my eye (I’m still on an LA-based fiction kick, so…). The Burning Ground is out now, published by W.W. Norton in North America, and Bloomsbury in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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ParkerKJ-FatherOfLiesK.J. Parker, THE FATHER OF LIES (Subterranean Press)

Bringing together KJ Parker’s recent novellas and novelettes, totaling over 500 pages of wry, twisty fiction, Father of Lies delves into the arcane as never before. Set amid the world of Parker’s critically acclaimed novels and award winning stories, as well as our own, this volume reveals a side rarely glimpsed in his other works. Contained herein are the tales of creatures that pluck the strings of existence, exposing the seedy underbelly of ultimate power as only Parker can.

It begins with love, as it often does. In All the Things We Do for Love, Parker demonstrates the age old proverb ‘be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.’ It continues with a fall from grace, in Downfall of the Gods, where a daughter of heaven unwittingly pits herself against her divine family. Demonic pacts are everywhere, in The Devil You Know, where Parker returns to Saloninus, his iconic character who will finish what he started so many years ago. It ends with a beginning, in No Peace for the Wicked, as a New Pope is chosen to push back the darkness.

Filled with Parker’s hallmark wit and biting humor, Father of Lies is an essential collection, not just for the dedicated fantasist, but for anyone committed to a great story well told. Like all of KJ Parker’s brilliant fiction, these stories whisper the truth. 

Just ask yourself, can you trust the Father of Lies?

The latest collection of Parker’s short fiction, to be published by Subterranean Press in January 2018. I’ve already read three of the stories contained in this volume (Downfall of the Gods, The Last Witness, and The Devil You Know), and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of them.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

K.J. Parker, THE TWO OF SWORDS Vols.2 & 3 (Orbit)

ParkerKJ-TwoOfSwords-Vols.2&3

“Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it’s better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings,” he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, “mostly from force of habit.”

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No-one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no-one knows how it will end.

The Two of Swords is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.

It’s turning into a very K.J. Parker couple of months… The final two volumes of Parker’s previously-serialised epic fantasy series. Really looking forward to reading the books. The Two of Swords Vols. 2 & 3 are published November and December, respectively, by Orbit in North America and the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of Downfall of the GodsThe Last Witness and The Devil You Know

Review copy received from publisher

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Witchmark RD3 fixedbleeds new dressC.L. Polk, WITCHMARK (Tor.com)

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

I knew nothing about this novel before it arrived from the publisher. After my attention was grabbed by that cover, I was further intrigued by the synopsis. I’ll read this probably quite soon, but I may hold off on the review for a while. Witchmark is due to be published in June 2018 by Tor.com, in North America and the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher

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PowellGL-AckAckMacaque-CompleteTrilogyGareth L. Powell, ACK-ACK MACAQUE: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY (Solaris)

Welcome to Europe in 2058, a place where Britain and France have been united for a century and vast, nuclear-powered Zeppelins carry passengers between Paris, London and New York.

When former journalist Victoria Valois starts investigating the murder of her ex-husband, she attracts a motley assortment of unlikely allies — including a surgically upgraded monkey who drinks, smokes and curses, and can even fly a plane!

Collected together here for the first time in one volume, the award-winning Ack-Ack Macaque novels are a gripping examination of what it means to be truly human. And in Ack-Ack Macaque, they introduce us to one of literature’s most unpredictable and exciting heroes.

These novels were widely praised and reviewed when they were first released. For some reason, though, I completely missed reading them. Now, I have no excuse. Looking forward to giving them a try. The Ack-Ack Macaque Complete Trilogy is published in the UK and North America by Solaris, in December.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Thinking Like a Monkey”

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Review copy received from publisher

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RobinsJ-WhiteBodiesUKJane Robins, WHITE BODIES (HQ)

Sometimes we love too much

Callie loves Tilda. She’s her sister, after all. And she’s beautiful and successful

Tilda loves Felix. He’s her husband. Successful and charismatic, he is also controlling, suspicious and, possibly, dangerous. Still, Tilda loves Felix.

And Callie loves Tilda. Very, very much.

So she’s determined to save her. But the cost could destroy them all…

This looks like it could be quite interesting. White Bodies is published in December in the UK, by HQ; and is out now in North America, published by Touchstone.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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SammonPM-FutureNoir2017Paul M. Sammon, FUTURE NOIR (Dey Street)

Rediscover the groundbreaking magic of Blade Runner with this revised and updated edition of the classic guide to Ridley Scott’s transformative film — and published in anticipation of its sequel, Blade Runner 2049, premiering October 2017 and starring Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, and Harrison Ford.

Ridley Scott’s 1992 “Director’s Cut” confirmed the international film cognoscenti’s judgment: Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick’s brilliant and troubling science fiction masterpiece Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, is the most visually dense, thematically challenging, and influential science fiction film ever made. Future Noir offers a deeper understanding of this cult phenomenon that is storytelling and visual filmmaking at its best. 

In this intensive, intimate and anything-but-glamorous behind-the-scenes account, film insider and cinephile Paul M. Sammon explores how Ridley Scott purposefully used his creative genius to transform the work of science fiction’s most uncompromising author into a critical sensation, a commercial success, and a cult classic that would reinvent the genre. Sammon reveals how the making of the original Blade Runner was a seven-year odyssey that would test the stamina and the imagination of writers, producers, special effects wizards, and the most innovative art directors and set designers in the industry at the time it was made. This revised and expanded edition of Future Noir includes:

– An overview of Blade Runner’s impact on moviemaking and its acknowledged significance in popular culture since the book’s original publication
– An exploration of the history of Blade Runner: The Final Cut and its theatrical release in 2007
– An up-close look at its long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049
– A 2007 interview with Harrison Ford now available to American readers
– Exclusive interviews with Rutger Hauer and Sean Young

A fascinating look at the ever-shifting interface between commerce and art, illustrated with production photos and stills, Future Noir provides an eye-opening and enduring look at modern moviemaking, the business of Hollywood, and one of the greatest films of all time.

With the release of Blade Runner 2049, and my growing interest in reading about the movie industry, I spotted this updated edition of Future Noir was available. I ordered it from Bakka Phoenix in Toronto, and I’ll read it after re-watching the original movie, and also after seeing the sequel. Hopefully a review soon. Future Noir is published by Dey Street in North America and the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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SandfordJ-VF10-DeepFreezeUSJohn Sandford, DEEP FREEZE (Pub)

Class reunions: a time for memories — good, bad, and, as Virgil Flowers is about to find out, deadly…

Virgil knows the town of Trippton, Minnesota, a little too well. A few years back, he investigated the corrupt — and as it turned out, homicidal — local school board, and now the town’s back in view with more alarming news: A woman’s been found dead, frozen in a block of ice. There’s a possibility that it might be connected to a high school class of twenty years ago that has a mid-winter reunion coming up, and so, wrapping his coat a little tighter, Virgil begins to dig into twenty years’ worth of traumas, feuds, and bad blood. In the process, one thing becomes increasingly clear to him. It’s true what they say: High school is murder.

This is the tenth Virgil Flowers novel. I’ve still only read the first one, but I’ve bought each new one as soon as it comes out. Sandford is one of my favourite authors, of any genre — his Lucas Davenport/Prey crime series is easily one of my favourites, and his Kidd & LuEllen novels are fantastic as well. I really need to get caught up on his Flowers series, too. Maybe I should plan this for the winter…? Deep Freeze is published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America, and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SchuttC-PureHollywoodUSChristine Schutt, PURE HOLLYWOOD (Grove Press)

Hailed by George Saunders as “a truly gifted writer,” with Pure Hollywood, Pulitzer Prize finalist and O. Henry Prize winner Christine Schutt returns to the short-story form that launched her acclaimed career and her inimitable style John Ashbery once described as “pared down but rich, dense, fevered, exactly right and even eerily beautiful.”

In eleven captivating tales, Pure Hollywood brings us into private worlds of corrupt familial love, intimacy, longing, and danger. From an alcoholic widowed actress living in desert seclusion to a young mother whose rejection of her child has terrible consequences, a newlywed couple who ignore the violent warnings of a painter burned by love to an eerie portrait of erotic obsession, each story in Pure Hollywood is an imagistic snapshot of what it means to live and learn, love and hurt. 

In league with short-story virtuosos J.D. Salinger, Katherine Mansfield, and Guy de Maupassant, Schutt gives us sharply suspenseful and masterfully dark interior portraits of ordinary lives, infused with her signature observation and surprise. Timeless, incisive, and precise, these tales are a rush of blood to the head, portals through which we open our eyes and see the world anew.

I’ve never read anything by Schutt, but this caught my eye when I last browsed the Grove/Atlantic catalogue. I requested it on a whim, and I’m looking forward to reading it very soon. Pure Hollywood is published by Grove Press in March 2018 (I may, therefore, hold off on the review).

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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SkovonJ-3-Blood&TempestUKJon Skovron, BLOOD AND TEMPEST (Orbit)

The thrilling conclusion to Jon Skovron’s adventure fantasy series, two young people from a fracturing empire spread across savage seas must find a way to keep their nation together.

Still reeling from the events at Dawn’s Light, Hope struggles to understand what it means to be a warrior who has vowed to never again take up a sword.

Red is enjoying his new role as imperial spy. Perhaps a bit too much. But his loyalties will be tested when his employer, Lady Hempist, relents and assigns him the one task he’s been begging for all along: recruiting Hope and Brigga Lin to help rid the empire of biomancery once and for all.

Fate brought them together; it will tear their empire apart.

This is the final novel in Skovron’s Empire of Storms trilogy, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ve only read the first, so far, but I really enjoyed it. Blood and Tempest is published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in late November.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Progressive World-Building: Screw Restoring Order to the Kingdom”; Review of Hope and Red

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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SwiftEJ-ParisAdriftE.J. Swift, PARIS ADRIFT (Solaris)

Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. She falls in with the eclectic expat community as a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge. Here she meets Gabriela, a bartender who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris. Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns, as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self.

How gorgeous is that cover? (It’s by the ever-excellent Joey Hi-Fi.) I’ve heard a bit about this novel already, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. Paris Adrift is due to be published by Solaris in the UK and North America, in February 2018.

Also on CR: Interview with E.J. Swift (2012); Guest Post on “Inspiration in Translation”; Excerpt from Tamaruq

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Various-SW-FromACertainPointOfViewUKVarious, STAR WARS: FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW (Century)

40 Years. 40 Stories.

Experience Star Wars: A New Hope from a whole new point of view.

On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the fortieth anniversary, more than forty contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the forty short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars

– Gary Whitta bridges the gap from Rogue One to A New Hope through the eyes of Captain Antilles.
– Aunt Beru finds her voice in an intimate character study by Meg Cabot.
– Nnedi Okorofor brings dignity and depth to a most unlikely character: the monster in the trash compactor.
– Pablo Hidalgo provides a chilling glimpse inside the mind of Grand Moff Tarkin.
– Pierce Brown chronicles Biggs Darklighter’s final flight during the Rebellion’s harrowing attack on the Death Star.
– Wil Wheaton spins a poignant tale of the rebels left behind on Yavin.

Plus thirty-four more hilarious, heartbreaking, and astonishing tales

I’ve been really looking forward to this ever since it was announced. I’ll be starting it pretty soon. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View is published by Century in the UK, and Del Rey in North America.

Review copy received from publisher

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WagersKB-3-BeyondTheEmpireK.B. Wagers, BEYOND THE EMPIRE (Orbit)

Gunrunner-turned-Empress Hail Bristol was dragged back to her home planet to take her rightful place in the palace. Her sisters and parents have been murdered, and the Indranan Empire is reeling from both treasonous plots and foreign invasion.

Now, on the run from enemies on all fronts, Hail prepares to fight a full-scale war for her throne and her people, even as she struggles with the immense weight of the legacy thrust upon her. With the aid of a motley crew of allies old and new, she must return home to face off with the same powerful enemies who killed her family and aim to destroy everything and everyone she loves. Untangling a legacy of lies and restoring peace to Indrana will require an empress’s wrath and a gunrunner’s justice.

This is the third novel in Wagers’s Indranan War trilogy (yet another trilogy I really want to read, but haven’t yet found the time for). Beyond the Empire is published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 14th.

Also on CR: Interview with K.B. Wagers (2016)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Fables-Deluxe15Bill Willingham, FABLES DELUXE VOLUME FIFTEEN (Vertigo)

FABLES: THE DELUXE EDITION BOOK FIFTEEN brings the award-winning series to a close with the epic tales “Happily Ever After” and “Farewell” from issues #141-150 of the award-winning Vertigo series, and features a new introduction by FABLES creator Bill Willingham as well as a special sketchbook section from artist Mark Buckingham.

Imagine that all the characters from the world’s most beloved storybooks were real and living among us, with all of their powers intact. How would they cope with life in our mundane, un-magical reality?

The answer can be found in FABLES, Bill Willingham’s celebrated reimagining of the venerable fairy tale canon. From Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf to Goldilocks and Little Boy Blue, the folk characters of old are reborn here as exiles living in the magically camouflaged New York City neighborhood of Fabletown.

Collects: Fables #141-150

I love this series. I’ve let myself fall behind quite a bit at this stage. This is the final volume, though, so I think I’m going to try to catch up. Fables Deluxe 15 is published by Vertigo on November 28th, 2017.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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YatesCJ-GristMillRoadUSChristopher J. Yates, GRIST MILL ROAD (Picador)

A dark, twisted, and expertly plotted Rashomon-style tale. The year is 1982; the setting, an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends — Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah — are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty-six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again — with even more devastating results.

Yates’s previous novel, Black Chalk was on my radar but (like so many interesting-looking books) sadly it ended up falling by the wayside. I spotted this on NetGalley, and thought it also sounded really good. Grist Mill Road is published by Picador in the US, in January 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Mandelbrot RD4 BLACK with bleedsLiz Ziemska, MANDELBROT THE MAGNIFICENT (Tor.com)

A stunning, magical pseudo-biography of Benoit Mandelbrot as he flees into deep mathematics to escape the rise of Hitler

Born in the Warsaw ghetto and growing up in France during the rise of Hitler, Benoit Mandelbrot found escape from the cruelties of the world around him through mathematics. Logic sometimes makes monsters, and Mandelbrot began hunting monsters at an early age. Drawn into the infinite promulgations of formulae, he sinks into secret dimensions and unknown wonders.

His gifts do not make his life easier, however. As the Nazis give up the pretense of puppet government in Vichy France, the jealousy of Mandelbrot’s classmates leads to denunciation and disaster. The young mathematician must save his family with the secret spaces he’s discovered, or his genius will destroy them.

This sounds really interesting. Published by Tor.com on November 11th, 2017, and will be available in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

 

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