New Books (December 2017-January 2018)

NewBooks-20180113

Featuring: Saladin Ahmed, Jonathan Ames, RJ Barker, Elizabeth Bear, Tom Bissell, Ezekiel Boone, Jordanna Max Brodsky, Leo Carew, Rae Carson, Ron Chernow, Mira Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Grigsby, Vaseem Khan, Margaret Killjoy, Matthew Kneale, Jessica Knoll, Phillip Margolin, Angus McIntyre, Brad Meltzer, John Jackson Miller, Michael Moreci, Laline Paull, Tristan Palmgren, Gareth L. Powell, Alastair Reynolds, Josh Reynolds, Kelly Robson, Sebastian Rotella, Rob Sanders, Tess Sharpe, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Peter Watts, Timothy Zahn

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AdcockS-CompletionistUSSiobhan Adcock, THE COMPLETIONIST (Simon & Schuster)

A young man’s search for his missing sister leads him into a disturbing and desperate underworld, where bitter freedoms are bought at a terrible price.

“Find her. You need to keep looking, no matter what. I’m afraid of what might’ve happened to her. You be afraid too.”

A young Marine, Carter Quinn, comes home from war to his fractured family, in a near-future America in which water is artificially engineered and technology is startlingly embedded in people’s everyday lives. At the same time, a fertility crisis has terrifying implications for women, including Carter’s two beloved sisters, Fred and Gardner. Fred, accomplished but impetuous, the eldest sibling, is naturally pregnant — a rare and miraculous event that puts her independence in jeopardy. And Gardner, the idealistic younger sister who lived for her job as a Nurse Completionist, has mysteriously vanished, after months of disturbing behavior. Carter’s efforts to find Gard (and stay on Fred’s good side) keep leading him back home to their father, a veteran of a decades-long war just like Carter himself, who may be concealing a painful truth that could save or condemn them all.

Hadn’t heard of the novel or author before spotting it on Edelweiss, but thought it looked interesting — the blurb also suggested it was reminiscent of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. So, that certainly suggests something pretty interesting. The Completionist is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America in June 2018. (I couldn’t find any information about an upcoming UK release at the time of writing.)

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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AmesJ-YouWereNeverReallyHereJonathan Ames, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (Vintage)

Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade.

When he’s hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe’s small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

Brutal and redemptive in equal measure, You Were Never Really Here is a toxic shot of a thriller, laced with corruption, revenge and the darkest of inner demons.

This has been adapted into the upcoming movie of the same name, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Published by Vintage in North America, in March 2018. The novel is out now in the UK, published by Pushkin Vertigo.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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BarkerRJ-AoA2-BloodOfAssassinsRJ Barker, BLOOD OF ASSASSINS (Orbit)

In a desperate bid to escape the bounty on his head, assassin Girton Club-Foot has returned to Maniyadoc, but the kingdom he knew no longer exists.

Three kings battle for supremacy in a land ravaged by war-and one of them is his old friend Rufra. With threats inside and outside the war encampment, Girton races to find the traitor behind an assassination plot. But his magic can no longer be contained and Girton may not be able to save even himself.

It’s assassin versus assassin for the life of a king.

I was surprisingly slow about getting around to Barker’s debut, Age of Assassins. It turned out to be one of the few fantasy novels I’ve been able to finish, recently — I really enjoyed it, and very much liked the characters. This is the highly-anticipated sequel, published in February 2018 by Orbit Books in North America and the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with RJ Barker (2017); Review of Age of Assassins

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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BearE-KM2-StoneMadElizabeth Bear, STONE MAD (Tor.com)

Readers met the irrepressible Karen Memory in Elizabeth Bear’s 2015 novel Karen Memory, and fell in love with her steampunk Victorian Pacific Northwest city, and her down-to-earth story-telling voice.

Now Karen is back with Stone Mad, a new story about spiritualists, magicians, con-men, and an angry lost tommy-knocker—a magical creature who generally lives in the deep gold mines of Alaska, but has been kidnapped and brought to Rapid City.

Karen and Priya are out for a night on the town, celebrating the purchase of their own little ranch and Karen’s retirement from the Hotel Ma Cherie, when they meet the Arcadia Sisters, spiritualists who unexpectedly stir up the tommy-knocker in the basement. The ensuing show could bring down the house, if Karen didn’t rush in to rescue everyone she can.

As the synopsis states, this is the sequel to Bear’s critically-acclaimed Karen MemoryStone Mad is published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, in May 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher

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BissellT-MagicHoursUSTom Bissell, MAGIC HOURS (Vintage)

Award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of The Big Bang Theory to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox’s work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as The Believer, The New Yorker, and Harper’s, these essays represent ten years of Bissell’s best writing on every aspect of creation — be it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voices — and will provoke as much thought as they do laughter.

What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish? Bissell’s exploration of these questions make for gripping, unforgettable reading.

One of Tom Bissell’s many books is the book about The Room, the film on which James Franco et al’s The Disaster Artist is based. (An excellent movie, incidentally.) This book is a collection of essays about the creative process. Published in the US by Vintage, in March 2018. It is published in the UK by McSweeney’s.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BooneE-H3-ZeroDayUSEzekiel Boone, ZERO DAY (Atria)

The United States goes to war against the queen spiders that threaten to overtake the human race forever.

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can — more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder — and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

The third, final novel in Boone’s Hatching series — following The Hatching and Skitter. I really enjoyed the first novel in the series, but have somehow managed to miss the second. I’ll get caught up soon, and hopefully get reviews up in the next couple of months or so. Zero Day is published in March 2018 by Atria in the US, Random House in Canada, and Gollancz in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of The Hatching

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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BrodskyJM-3-OlympusBoundUSJordanna Max Brodsky, OLYMPUS BOUND (Orbit)

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

Summer in New York: a golden hour on the city streets, but a dark time for Selene. She’s lost her home and the man she loves.

A cult hungry for ancient power has kidnapped her father and targeted her friends. To save them, Selene must face the past she’s been running from – a past that stretches back millennia, to when the faithful called her Huntress. Moon Goddess. Artemis.

With the pantheon at her side, Selene must journey back to the seat of her immortal power: from the streets of Rome and the temples of Athens — to the heights of Mount Olympus itself.

I very much enjoyed Brodsky’s debut, The Immortals. The sequel was also pretty good, but not quite as gripping. Olympus Bound is the third novel to feature Selene (Artemis), and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I finished the second. Published by Orbit Books in North America and the UK, in February 2018.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Immortals and Winter of the Gods

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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CarewL-WolfUSLeo Carew, THE WOLF (Orbit)

Violence and death have come to the land under the Northern Sky.

The Anakim dwell in the desolate forests and mountains beyond the black river, the land under the Northern Sky.

Their ancient ways are forged in Unthank silver and carved in the grey stone of their heartland, their lives measured out in the turning of centuries, not years.

By contrast, the Sutherners live in the moment, their vitality much more immediate and ephemeral than their Anakim neighbors.

Fragile is the peace that has existed between these very different races – and that peace is shattered when the Suthern armies flood the lands to the north.

These two races revive their age-old hatred and fear of each other. Within the maelstrom of war, two leaders will rise to lead their people to victory.

Only one will succeed.

One of Orbit’s first 2018 debuts, this is the first in the Under the Northern Sky fantasy series. Don’t know anything about it, other than the above synopsis and that it’s set in “Albion”, the map for which is (predictably, given the name) very like the United Kingdom. I’m looking forward to giving it a try. The Wolf is published by Orbit Books in North America and the UK, in April 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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ChernowR-GrantUKRon Chernow, GRANT (Head of Zeus)

A dramatic portrait of one of America’s most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant, by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow, author of the book on which the astonishing musical Hamilton is based.

As late as April 1861, when the American Civil War broke out, Ulysses S. Grant was a dismal failure. A competent officer in the war against Mexico, he had resigned from the army over his drinking and had sunk into poverty as a civilian, losing all his money in hopeless investments. He had failed to secure the command of a volunteer unit and was about to return to his abject life working in his family’s leather-goods store when he was offered the colonelcy of an Illinois regiment. Less than four years later he was the commanding general of the victorious Union armies and was hailed as a military genius. He later served two terms as President of the United States. This is the epic biography of a very unheroic American hero, a modest, reticent and principled man who surprised the world and changed it for the better.

One of the American masters of Big Book Biographies, Chernow is perhaps best known for this biography of Alexander Hamilton, the inspiration behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s mega-smash Hamilton Broadway musical. This is his latest masterpiece, published in the UK by Head of Zeus and in the US by Penguin Press.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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EllsworthS-S3-MemorysBladeSpencer Ellsworth, STARFIRE: MEMORY’S BLADE (Tor.com)

At the heart of the Dark Zone, a duel for the universe rages.

In an ancient Jorian temple, Jaqi faces John Starfire, the new ruler of the Empire. He has set all the worlds aflame in his quest to destroy humankind. Jaqi has sworn to stop him. Problem is, Jaqi isn’t much of a fighter.

Meanwhile, the sun-eating cosmic spiders, the Shir, have moved out of the Dark Zone and are consuming the galaxy. Araskar knows that he must hold them back, but to do that, he has to give himself over to the Resistance, under the command of John Starfire’s wife. And she wants him dead more than she wants the stars to live.

If Jaqi and Araskar can fight their way out, they can use a secret at the heart of the Dark Zone to free the galaxy, and end John Starfire’s new tyranny. They lose, and every star in the sky will go dark.

This is the third novel in Ellsworth’s Starfire space opera trilogy. I’m really looking forward to getting caught up with the novellas. Memory’s Blade is due to be published in North America and the UK by Tor.com, in February 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher

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grace2Richard J. Grace, OPIUM AND EMPIRE (MQUP)

In 1832 William Jardine and James Matheson established what would become the greatest British trading company in East Asia in the nineteenth century. After the termination of the East India Company’s monopoly in the tea trade, Jardine, Matheson & Company’s aggressive marketing strategies concentrated on the export of teas and the import of opium, sold offshore to Chinese smugglers.

Jardine and Matheson, recognized as giants on the scene at Macao, Canton, and Hong Kong, have often been depicted as one-dimensional villains whose opium commerce was ruthless and whose imperial drive was insatiable. In Opium and Empire, Richard Grace explores the depths of each man, their complicated and sometimes inconsistent internal workings, and their achievements and failures. He details their decades-long journeys between Britain and China, their business strategies and standards of conduct, and their inventiveness as “gentlemanly capitalists.” The commodities they marketed also included cotton, rice, textile goods, and silks and they functioned as agents for clients in India, Britain, Singapore, and Australia. During the First Opium War Jardine was in London giving advice to Lord Palmerston, while Matheson was detained under house arrest at Canton in the spring of 1839, an incident which helped prompt the armed British response.

Moving beyond the caricatures of earlier accounts, Opium and Empire tells the story of two Scotsmen whose lives reveal a great deal about the type of tough-minded men who expanded the global markets of Victorian Britain and played major roles in changing the course of modern history in East Asia.

This is a combined biography of William Jardine and James Matheson, two extremely important Scottish figures in the Opium and China trades. They are also (I believe) the inspiration behind Dirk Struan, the hero of James Clavell’s Tai-Pan (one of my all-time favourite books). So, I decided to pick this up with some of the book vouchers I received for Christmas. Opium and Empire is published by MQUP in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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GrantUS-PersonalMemoirs2017Ulysses S. Grant & John F. Marszalek (ed.), THE PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF ULYSSES S. GRANT: THE COMPLETE ANNOTATED EDITION (Harvard University Press)

President Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) was one of the most esteemed individuals of the nineteenth century. His two-volume memoirs, sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers, have never gone out of print and were once as ubiquitous in American households as the Bible. Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, Matthew Arnold, Henry James, and Edmund Wilson hailed these works as great literature, and Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both credit Grant with influencing their own writing. Yet a judiciously annotated clarifying edition of these memoirs has never been produced until now.

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is the first comprehensively annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs, fully representing the great military leader’s thoughts on his life and times through the end of the Civil War and his invaluable perspective on battlefield decision making. An introduction contextualizes Grant’s life and significance, and lucid editorial commentary allows the president’s voice and narrative to shine through. With annotations compiled by the editors of the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s Presidential Library, this definitive edition enriches our understanding of the antebellum era, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Grant provides insight into how rigorously these events tested America’s democratic institutions and the cohesion of its social order.

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant preserves and extends a work of profound political, historical, and literary significance and serves as the gateway for modern readers of all backgrounds to an American classic.

I’ve always meant to read this memoir. After Chernow’s new biography of the president came out, I decided to pick this up as well. This annotated edition is published by Harvard University Press in North America and the UK.

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GrigsbyS-SmokeEatersSean Grigsby, SMOKE EATERS (Angry Robot)

Firefighter Cole Brannigan is on the verge of retirement after 30 years on the job, and a decade fighting dragons. But during his final fire call, he discovers he’s immune to dragon smoke. It’s such a rare power that he’s immediately conscripted into the elite dragon-fighting force known as the Smoke Eaters. Retirement cancelled, Brannigan is re-assigned as a lowly rookie, chafing under his superiors. So when he discovers a plot to take over the city’s government, he takes matters into his own hands. With hundreds of innocent civilians in the crosshairs, it’s up to Brannigan and his fellow Smoke Eaters to repel the dragon menace.

Quite like the sound of this — like a cross between Rescue Me and Reign of Fire, maybe? Smoke Eaters is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in the US and UK, on March 1st, 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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KhanV-MurderAtTheGrandRajPalaceUKVaseem Khan, MURDER AT THE GRAND RAJ PALACE (Mulholland UK)

In the enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel, Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick go undercover to investigate a murder at Mumbai’s grandest hotel.

For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.

The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…

When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead — the day after buying India’s most expensive painting — the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in — and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.

Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness…

This is the fourth novel in Khan’s Baby Ganesh Agency mystery series. I’d not heard of the series before this book arrived. It sounds quite fun. Published by Mulholland in the UK in May 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher

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KilljoyM-DC2-BarrowWillSendWhatItMayMargaret Killjoy, THE BARROW WILL SEND WHAT IT MAY (Tor.com)

The Danielle Cain series is a dropkick-in-the-mouth anarcho-punk fantasy that pits traveling anarchist Danielle Cain against eternal spirits, hypocritical ideologues, and brutal, unfeeling officers of the law.

Now a nascent demon-hunting crew on the lam, Danielle and her friends arrive in a small town that contains a secret occult library run by anarchists and residents who claim to have come back from the dead. When Danielle and her crew investigate, they are put directly in the crosshairs of a necromancer’s wrath — whose actions threaten to trigger the apocalypse itself.

I really enjoyed the first novella in Killjoy’s Danielle Cain series, so I was very excited to receive this follow-up for review. One of my favourite new authors. The Barrow Will Send What it May is due out in April 2018, in North America and the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Margaret Killjoy (2017); Review of The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

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Review copy received from publisher

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KnealeM-RomeUSMatthew Kneale, ROME: A HISTORY IN SEVEN SACKINGS (Simon & Schuster)

Novelist and historian Matthew Kneale, a longtime resident of Rome, tells the story of the Eternal City — from the early Roman Republic through the Renaissance and the Reformation to Mussolini and the German occupation in World War Two — through pivotal moments that defined its history.

Rome, the Eternal City. It is a hugely popular tourist destination with a rich history, famed for such sites as the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s, and the Vatican. In no other city is history as present as it is in Rome. Today visitors can stand on bridges that Julius Caesar and Cicero crossed; walk around temples in the footsteps of emperors; visit churches from the earliest days of Christianity.

This is all the more remarkable considering what the city has endured over the centuries. It has been ravaged by fires, floods, earthquakes, and — most of all — by roving armies. These have invaded repeatedly, from ancient times to as recently as 1943. Many times Romans have shrugged off catastrophe and remade their city anew.

Matthew Kneale uses seven of these crisis moments to create a powerful and captivating account of Rome’s extraordinary history. He paints portraits of the city before each assault, describing what it looked like, felt like, smelled like and how Romans, both rich and poor, lived their everyday lives. He shows how the attacks transformed Rome — sometimes for the better. With drama and humor he brings to life the city of Augustus, of Michelangelo and Bernini, of Garibaldi and Mussolini, and of popes both saintly and very worldly. He shows how Rome became the chaotic and wondrous place it is today. Rome: A History in Seven Sackings offers a unique look at a truly remarkable city.

Thought this sounded interesting. Will read it pretty soon, hopefully, but may hold off on the review. Rome is published in North America by Simon & Schuster in May 2018; the book is out now in the UK, published by Atlantic Books.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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KnollJ-FavoriteSisterUSJessica Knoll, THE FAVORITE SISTER (Simon & Schuster)

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio — and her recent engagement to her girlfriend — has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now — a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends — and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative — everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America — and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

Knoll’s debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, caused quite a splash on both sides of the Atlantic when it was published. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t find it as amazing as many others — it was a victim of hype, in my opinion. I’m really looking forward to reading The Favourite Sister, which is published in May 2018, in North America by Simon & Schuster and in the UK by Macmillan.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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MargolinP-ThirdVictimUSPhillip Margolin, THE THIRD VICTIM (Minotaur)

A woman stumbles onto a dark road in rural Oregon — tortured, battered, and bound. She tells a horrific story about being kidnapped, then tortured, until she finally managed to escape. She was the lucky one — two other women, with similar burns and bruises, were found dead.

The surviving victim identifies the house where she was held captive and the owner, Alex Mason — a prominent local attorney — is arrested. Although he loudly insists upon his innocence, his wife’s statements about his sexual sadism and the physical evidence found at the scene, his summer home, is damning.

Regina Barrister is a legendary criminal defense attorney, known as “The Sorceress” for her courtroom victories. But she’s got a secret, one that threatens her skill, her reputation, and, most of all, her clients. And she’s agreed to take on the seemingly impossible task of defending Alex Mason.

Robin Lockwood, a young lawyer and former MMA fighter, has just left a clerkship at the Oregon Supreme Court to work for Regina Barrister. The Alex Mason trial is her first big one, a likely death penalty case, and she’s second chair to Regina. Increasingly, she’s worried her boss’s behavior and the details in the case against their client don’t quite add up.

It’s been a while since I last read one of Margolin’s novels. I remember blitzing through his first two Dana Cutler novels, and enjoying them. I seem to have missed a few of his recent novels, though. I’ll have to remedy that at some point in the near future. This novel sounds like an interesting legal thriller, so I’ll try to get to it ASAP. Published by Minotaur in March 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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McIntyreA-WarriorWithinAngus McIntyre, THE WARRIOR WITHIN (Tor.com)

A mind-bending science fiction adventure about a man with many people living in his head

Karsman has a dozen different people living in his head, each the master of a different set of skills and hoping to gain mastery of Karsman’s body. He survives on a backwater planet dominated by the Muljaddy, a mostly ambivalent religious autocracy, where devotion and prayer can be traded in for subsistence wages and enough food to survive. Surrounded by artifacts of a long dead civilization, the population survives off its salvage, with Karsman eking out an uneventful life as the unofficial mayor of his small town.

But that life is soon interrupted, when a group of commandos arrive, coming from the wastelands as only off-worlders could. They’ve come to kill a woman, or so they say. At first the commandos merely threaten as they search. Unable to find what they’re looking for, they begin to ratchet up their measures, separating the men from the women, instigating violent encounters, and eventually staging a coup against the Muljaddy and his Temple.

Faced with the task of protecting his quiet town and a woman he might love from the commandos who could want to kill her, Karsman must balance between maintaining his personality and harnessing the personas whose skills he desperately needs.

This debut sounds really interesting, so I’m looking forward to getting around to reading it (hopefully quite soon). The Warrior Within is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on March 6th, 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher

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MeltzerB-EscapeArtistUSBrad Meltzer, THE ESCAPE ARTIST (Grand Central)

Who is Nola Brown?

Nola is a mystery

Nola is trouble.

And Nola is supposed to be dead.

Her body was found on a plane that mysteriously fell from the sky as it left a secret military base in the Alaskan wilderness. Her commanding officer verifies she’s dead. The US government confirms it. But Jim “Zig” Zigarowski has just found out the truth: Nola is still alive. And on the run.

Zig works at Dover Air Force Base, helping put to rest the bodies of those who die on top-secret missions. Nola was a childhood friend of Zig’s daughter and someone who once saved his daughter’s life. So when Zig realizes Nola is still alive, he’s determined to find her. Yet as Zig digs into Nola’s past, he learns that trouble follows Nola everywhere she goes.

Nola is the US Army’s artist-in-residence-a painter and trained soldier who rushes into battle, making art from war’s aftermath and sharing observations about today’s wars that would otherwise go overlooked. On her last mission, Nola saw something nobody was supposed to see, earning her an enemy unlike any other, one who will do whatever it takes to keep Nola quiet.

Together, Nola and Zig will either reveal a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power or die trying to uncover the US Army’s most mysterious secret — a centuries-old conspiracy that traces back through history to the greatest escape artist of all: Harry Houdini.

I’ve been a fan of some of Meltzer’s previous novels — I’ve fallen behind, however, and seem to have a continuously-growing stack of his novels still to read. I’m looking forward to reading this, so I may bump this up to near the top of my TBR mountain. The Escape Artist is published by Grand Central in March 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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MoreciM-BlackStarRenegadesUSMichael Moreci, BLACK STAR RENEGADES (St. Martin’s Press)

Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.

Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option: He has to fight.

Cade’s not going to let destiny send him on a suicide run, though. With some help from his friends — rebels and scoundrels alike — Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.

He just has to do so before everyone around him discovers that he’s a complete and total fraud.

Blending the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures — all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.

This sounds really fun. The novel has been getting some good pre-publication buzz, and with it now out, I really should get my act together and read it… I’m also going to host Michael for an interview in the near future. Published by St. Martin’s Press, it’s available in North America and the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher

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PalmgrenT-QuietusTristan Palmgren, QUIETUS (Angry Robot)

In medieval Italy, Niccolucio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from an alien world racked by plague, is overwhelmed by the suffering. Unable to maintain her neutrality, she saves Niccolucio from the brink of death. Habidah discovers that neither her home’s plague nor her assignment on Niccolucio’s ravaged planet are as she’s been led to believe. Suddenly the pair are drawn into a worlds-spanning conspiracy to topple an empire larger than the human imagination can contain.

This has been getting some good pre-publication buzz. It doesn’t sound like the typical SFF that attracts my attention, but I’m willing to give it a try. Quietus is published by Angry Robot Books in the US and UK, on March 1st, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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PaullL-TheIceUKHCLaline Paull, THE ICE (Fourth Estate)

It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.

It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections and who was the last person to see him alive.

Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom’s need to save the world often clashed with Sean’s desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals.

But as the inquest into Tom’s death begins, the choices made by both men in love and in life are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean’s glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment’s table.

Just how deep do the lies go?

I picked this up when it was on sale on Amazon (seemed to be discounted for some time). Sounds interesting. The Ice is published by Fourth Estate in the UK. (As far as I could tell at the time of writing, there was no US release just yet, but Fourth Estate do seem to export it there.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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PowellGL-EmbersOfWarGareth L. Powell, EMBERS OF WAR (Titan)

The sentient warship Trouble Dog was built for violence, yet following a brutal war, she is disgusted by her role in a genocide. Stripped of her weaponry and seeking to atone, she joins the House of Reclamation, an organisation dedicated to rescuing ships in distress. When a civilian ship goes missing in a disputed system, Trouble Dog and her new crew of loners, captained by Sal Konstanz, are sent on a rescue mission.

Meanwhile, light years away, intelligence officer Ashton Childe is tasked with locating the poet, Ona Sudak, who was aboard the missing spaceship. What Childe doesn’t know is that Sudak is not the person she appears to be. A straightforward rescue turns into something far more dangerous, as Trouble Dog, Konstanz and Childe find themselves at the centre of a conflict that could engulf the entire galaxy. If she is to save her crew, Trouble Dog is going to have to remember how to fight…

The first in a new series, also titled Embers of War, this novel sounds really interesting. I haven’t read as much of Powell’s work as I would like, so hopefully I’ll start to remedy that with Embers of War. The novel is published by Titan Books in North America and the UK, in late February 2018.

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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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ReynoldsA-P2-ElysiumFireUSAlastair Reynolds, ELYSIUM FIRE (Orbit)

A smoldering tale of murderers, secret cultists, tampered memories, and unthinkable power, of bottomless corruption and overpowering idealism from the king of modern space opera.

Ten thousand city-state habitats orbit the planet Yellowstone, forming a near-perfect democratic human paradise.

But even utopia needs a police force. For the citizens of the Glitter Band that organization is Panoply, and the prefects are its operatives.

Prefect Tom Dreyfus has a new emergency on his hands. Across the habitats and their hundred million citizens, people are dying suddenly and randomly, victims of a bizarre and unprecedented malfunction of their neural implants. And these “melters” leave no clues behind as to the cause of their deaths…

As panic rises in the populace, a charismatic figure is sowing insurrection, convincing a small but growing number of habitats to break away from the Glitter Band and form their own independent colonies.

This is the second novel featuring Prefect Dreyfus, following. Published in North America by Orbit, and in the UK by Gollancz. The first book in the series, Aurora Rising is also published by Gollancz in the UK; and Ace in the US (as The Prefect). I’m not sure if one has to read the first to be able to enjoy this one, but I’ll hunt it down nevertheless.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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ReynoldsJ-AoS-Nagash-UndyingKingJosh Reynolds, NAGASH: THE UNDYING KING (Black Library)

Since the dark days of the Great Awakening, the scattered remnants of humanity have clung to a bleak existence, surviving howsoever they can, no matter what the cost. Tamra, a voivode of the Rictus clans, fights one last, desperate battle for the survival of her tribe, the Drak. Now her people face their most relentless enemy ever — the lumbering minions of the Plague God. Where is their lord Nagash, the Undying King, when his people need him most? As the gods and their servants vie for power in the Mortal Realms, Tamra is drawn into a deadly game between life and death, as beings long thought gone start to exert their powers once again.

This was first released as a limited edition hardcover for a Black Library event (I forget which). It was supposed to get a wide release in March, but on Christmas Day BL made the eBook available early. So, being a fan of Reynolds’s work, I snapped it up and started reading it pretty much right away. I very much enjoyed it (full review soon), and after finishing I really wanted to read more set in the Age of Sigmar. So, I guess mission accomplished, Mr. Reynolds. Nagash: The Undying King is out now in eBook, and is out in March in hardcover and audio in March 2018.

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ReynoldsJ-HHP-FulgrimJosh Reynolds, FULGRIM: THE PALATINE PHOENIX (Black Library)

Lord of Chemos and bearer of the Palatine Aquila, Fulgrim, primarch of the Emperor’s Children, is determined to take his rightful place in the Great Crusade, whatever the cost. A swordsman without equal, the Phoenician has long studied the art of war and grows impatient to put his skills, and those of his loyal followers, to a true test. Now, accompanied by only seven of his finest warriors, he seeks to bring a rebellious world into compliance, by any means necessary. But Fulgrim soon learns that no victory comes without cost, and the greater the triumph, the greater the price one must pay…

The latest novel in the Horus Heresy Primarchs series, by one of the publisher’s busiest authors. I’ve been looking forward to this novel for some time. Published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Josh Reynolds (2017); Review of Primogenitor

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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RobsonK-GodsMonstersAndTheLuckyPeachKelly Robson, GODS, MONSTERS, AND THE LUCKY PEACH (Tor.com)

Experience this far-reaching, mind-bending science fiction adventure that uses time travel to merge climate fiction with historical fantasy.

Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted pass.

In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

This sounded really interesting, so I started reading it pretty much as soon as I got it. I enjoyed what I found, but can’t say that I loved it. It was a little slower than I would have liked (it’s possible this was because of my mood at the time of reading), and it drops the reader into a world without really explaining the tech or jargon. It didn’t take long to adjust, though, and I ultimately enjoyed the story. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and the UK, in March 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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RotellaS-VP3-RipCrewUSSebastian Rotella, RIP CREW (Mulholland)

Maverick agent Valentine Pescatore investigates a brutal killing that leads him across borders and reveals a vast conspiracy of wealth and power terrifyingly close to home.

Valentine Pescatore, the dashing ex-U.S. Border Patrol agent, finds himself back on American soil, investigating the merciless killing of a group of women in a motel room. At first, the crime seems to be a straightforward case of gangsters battling for territory. Soon, however, the motive is revealed to be much deeper and more sinister: a single witness who knows too much is being hunted, at any cost.

This is the third novel in Rotella’s Valentine Pescatore series — following Triple Crossing and The Convert’s Song. I haven’t read the previous two books, but I’m interested in doing so. Hopefully I’ll get hold of them in the near future, so I can read this in a timely manner. Rip Crew will be published by Mulholland Books in North America and the UK, in March 2018.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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SandersR-SonsOfTheHydraRob Sanders, SONS OF THE HYDRA (Black Library)

In the hostile universe of the 41st millennium, where allegiances are ever fickle, few of the Emperor’s sons are more difficult to understand or predict than the Alpha Legion. Branded traitor since the Heresy, their motives and actions have always been shrouded in mystery. Alpha Legionnaire Occam the Untrue leads his warband out of its hunting grounds in the Maelstrom on an epic quest for salvation, not just for himself, but for his whole Legion. With the forces of the Inquisition snapping at their heels, Occam and his followers must use all their guile and considerable martial prowess as they make their way to the cold heart of the galaxy, to a confrontation that no one, least of all Occam himself, could have foreseen.

The Alpha Legion seem to be getting a little bit more love, of late — given that they are a very secretive Legion, they offer great potential for authors. Sons of the Hydra is published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Rob Sanders (2012)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SharpeT-BarbedWireHeartUSTess Sharpe, BARBED WIRE HEART (Grand Central)

Never cut the drugs–leave them pure.

Guns are meant to be shot — keep them loaded.

Family is everything — betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County’s biggest criminal. Duke McKenna’s run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley’s been working for him since she was sixteen — collecting debts, sweet-talking her way out of trouble, and dreading the day he’d deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he’s built.

Her time’s run out. The Springfields, her family’s biggest rivals, are moving in. Years ago, they were responsible for her mother’s death, and now they’re coming for Duke’s only weak spot: his daughter.

With a bloody turf war threatening to consume North County, Harley is forced to confront the truth: that her father’s violent world will destroy her. Duke’s raised her to be deadly — he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she’s got to take out Duke’s operation and the Springfields.

Blowing up meth labs is dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father’s daughter. And McKennas always win.

This sounds really interesting. Hopefully going to read it very soon. (Although, I’ll hold off on the review until February.) Barbed Wire Heart is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in the US and UK, in March 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Tchaikovsky-DogsOfWarUKAdrian Tchaikovsky, DOGS OF WAR (Head of Zeus)

My name is Rex. I am a good dog.

Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he’s part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, south-eastern Mexico.

Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies.

But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?

A new novel by Adrian Tchaikovsky — one of the most consistently great authors writing today. Dogs of War is out now, published by Head of Zeus.

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing — Writing Guns of the Dawn, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places : Fantasy and Religion” and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire in Black and Gold, Guns of the DawnSpiderlight, Ironclads

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SW-CantoBightVarious, STAR WARS: CANTO BIGHT (Century)

Welcome to the casino city of Canto Bight. A place where exotic aliens, captivating creatures, and other would-be high rollers are willing to risk everything to make their fortunes. Set across one fateful evening, these four original novellas explore the deception and danger of the lavish casino city.

An honest salesman meets a career criminal as a dream vacation turns into the worst nightmare imaginable in a story by Saladin Ahmed.

Dreams and schemes collide when a deal over a priceless bottle of wine becomes a struggle for survival as told by Mira Grant.

Old habits die hard when a servant is forced into the mad struggle for power among Canto Bight’s elite in a tale by Rae Carson.

A deadbeat gambler has one last chance to turn his luck around, all he has to do is survive one wild night as told by John Jackson Miller.

In Canto Bight, one is free to revel in excess, untouched from the problems of a galaxy once again descending into chaos and war. Dreams can become reality, but the stakes have never been higher — for there is a darkness obscured by all the glamour and luxury.

This is a collection of novella-length stories, focused on the eponymous planet — the casino world of excess that we saw in The Last Jedi. It is published in the UK by Century, and in North America by Del Rey.

Follow the Author, Ahmed: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Follow the Author, Carson: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Follow the Author, Grant: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Follow the Author, Miller: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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WattsP-FreezeFrameRevolutionPeter Watts, THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION (Tachyon)

She believed in the mission with all her heart.

But that was sixty million years ago.

How do you stage a mutiny when you’re only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your eyes and hears through your ears and relentlessly, honestly, only wants what best for you?

Sunday Ahzmundin is about to find out.

Thought this was an interesting-sounding sci-fi novel. The Freeze-Frame Revolution is due to be published by Tachyon in May 2018, in North America and the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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ZahnT-SW-ThrawnTimothy Zahn, THRAWN (Arrow)

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

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

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

Zahn’s original Star Wars Expanded Universe Thrown Trilogy was fantastic — I thoroughly enjoyed his continuation of the Star Wars story, and the new characters were great (especially the titular villain). I’m on the fence, a bit, about whether or not I want to read this new series. It’s set in the new canon, which I have been quite enjoying. I’ll probably give this a try soon. Thrawn is out now in paperback, published by Arrow in the UK and Del Rey in North America. The sequel, Thrawn: Alliances is due out in June 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

 

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