New Books (January-February)

NewBooks-20180203

Featuring: Stephen Aryan, Associated Press, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Buckley, Karen Cleveland, Craig DiLouie, Thoraiya Dyer, Raymond E. Feist, Kameron Hurley, Luke Jennings, Charles Johnson, Shilo Jones, Robert Karjel, Lisa Klink, Snorri Kristjansson, R.F. Kuang, Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Lynn, Claire O’Dell, David Pedreira, Terry Pratchett, Jeffrey Rosen, R.A. Salvatore, Gavin Scott, Jeremy C. Shipp, Charles Stross, Tom Sweterlitsch, RJ Theodore, Matt Wallace, Jesmyn Ward

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AryanS-B0-OfGodsAndMenStephen Aryan, OF GODS AND MEN (Orbit)

The gruff and mysterious warrior known as Vargus has meant many things to many people over the course of his long life. But when he hears of a village suffering strange attacks in the dead of night, he must take up the role of the Gath — the people’s protector — once again, before any more children go missing.

A prequel novella to Aryan’s popular Age of Darkness series. I read this the day after I got it, and very much liked what I read. An interesting taste of the world Aryan’s created — although, I think there might be a couple of spoilers within for the first book, and I may have missed a couple of things that allude to events in the main trilogy. Nevertheless, enjoyable. Of Gods and Men is out now, published by Orbit Books in the UK and the US.

Also on CR: Interview with Stephen Aryan (2018); Review of Of Gods and Men

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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SerialBox-AP-1776-Ep01Associated Press, 1776: THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, Season 1 Episode 1 (Serial Box)

The month-by-month story of the most important year in American history through the eyes of ordinary citizens — failed corset-makers, farmers, and high school dropouts, some of whom became our nation’s most revered heroes.

In collaboration with The Associated Press, Serial Box presents 1776: The World Turned Upside Down. Our first nonfiction series tells the month-by-month story of the most important year in American history through the eyes of ordinary citizens — failed corset-makers, farmers, and high school dropouts, some of whom became our nation’s most revered heroes. Letters, news articles, and diary entries from this pivotal year, combined with the insights of three of the AP’s top journalists reveal the courage, conviction, fallibility, and sometimes base motives of the people who invented America. From the publishing of Common Sense on January 10th to the battle of Trenton on December 26th, this was the year that America began to form the bold, brave and occasionally infuriating identity that we still know today.

Serial Box’s first non-fiction serial series. Sounds really interesting. 1776: The World Turned Upside Down is published by Serial Box — episode one is out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BradburyR-LetsAllKillConstanceUKRay Bradbury, LET’S ALL KILL CONSTANCE (Voyager)

On a dismal evening in the previous century, an unnamed writer in Venice, California, answers a furious pounding at his beachfront bungalow door and again admits Constance Rattigan into his life. An aging, once-glamorous Hollywood star, Constance is running in fear from something she dares not acknowledge – and vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, leaving the narrator two macabre books: twin listings of the Tinseltown dead and soon to be dead, with Constance’s name included among them.

And so begins an odyssey as dark as it is wondrous, as the writer sets off in a broken-down jalopy with his irascible sidekick Crumley to sift through the ashes of a bygone Hollywood – a graveyard of ghosts and secrets where each twisted road leads to grim shrines and shattered dreams… and, all too often, to death.

I had never heard of this novel by Bradbury until I stumbled across it on Amazon. Given that it was a bargain, I decided to get it and try it out. Let’s All Kill Constance is published by Voyager in the UK, and Avon in North America. I also picked up Death is a Lonely Business, which is also published by Voyager in the UK and Avon in North America.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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BuckleyC-JudgeHunterUSChristopher Buckley, THE JUDGE HUNTER (Simon & Schuster)

A hapless Englishman embarks on a dangerous mission to the New World in pursuit of two judges who helped murder a king.

London, 1664. Twenty years after the English revolution, the monarchy has been restored and Charles II sits on the throne. The men who conspired to kill his father are either dead or disappeared. Baltasar “Balty” St. Michel is twenty-four and has no skills and no employment. He gets by on handouts from his brother-in-law Samuel Pepys, an officer in the king’s navy.

Fed up with his needy relative, Pepys offers Balty a job in the New World. He is to track down two missing judges who were responsible for the execution of the last king, Charles I. When Balty’s ship arrives in Boston, he finds a strange country filled with fundamentalist Puritans, saintly Quakers, warring tribes of Indians, and rogues of every stripe. Helped by a man named Huncks, an agent of the Crown with a mysterious past, Balty travels colonial America in search of the missing judges. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Samuel Pepys prepares for a war with the Dutch that fears England has no chance of winning.

Christopher Buckley’s enchanting new novel spins adventure, comedy, political intrigue, and romance against a historical backdrop with real-life characters like Charles II, John Winthrop, and Peter Stuyvesant. Buckley’s wit is as sharp as ever as he takes readers to seventeenth-century London and New England. We visit the bawdy court of Charles II, Boston under the strict Puritan rule, and New Amsterdam back when Manhattan was a half-wild outpost on the edge of an unmapped continent. The Judge Hunter is a smart and swiftly plotted novel that transports readers to a new world.

I’m not sure what to expect from this novel. I don’t read a great deal of historical fiction, but I’m intrigued. The Judge Hunter is published by Simon & Schuster in May 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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ClevelandK-NeedToKnowUSKaren Cleveland, NEED TO KNOW (Doubleday Canada)

In hot pursuit of a Russian spy ring on U.S. soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a deadly secret that will test her loyalty to the agency — and to her family.

Vivian and Matt are a seemingly normal suburban couple, experiencing the same struggles as many North American families: juggling work and children, budgeting for a house in a decent school district. They’re in love and life is good. Though Vivian can’t share much about her CIA assignment with him, Matt has always been supportive, and his job as a software engineer allows him the flexibility needed to raise their four kids. But when she makes a startling discovery researching the CIA’s Russian account, everything about her life and her marriage is cast in a new light — forcing her to make impossible and dangerous choices before she loses her job, her family and her life.

This novel had been getting a fair amount of pre-publication buzz, so I picked it up upon release. Looking forward to reading it very soon. Need to Know is published by Doubleday in Canada, Ballantine in the US, and Bantam in the UK.

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DiLouieC-OneOfUsCraig DiLouie, ONE OF US (Orbit)

They call him Dog.

Enoch is a teenage boy growing up in a rundown orphanage in Georgia during the 1980s. Abandoned from the moment they were born, Enoch and his friends are different. People in the nearby town whisper that the children from the orphanage are monsters.

The orphanage is not a happy home. Brutal teachers, farm labor, and communal living in a crumbling plantation house are Enoch’s standard day to day. But he dreams of growing up to live among the normals as a respected man. He believes in a world less cruel, one where he can be loved.

One night, Enoch and his friends share a campfire with a group of normal kids. As mutual fears subside, friendships form, and living together doesn’t seem so out of reach.

But then a body is found, and it may be the spark that ignites revolution.

Not really sure what to expect from this, but I thought it sounded interesting. One of Us is published by Orbit in the US and UK, in July 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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DyerT-TF2-EchoesOfUnderstoreyUSThoraiya Dyer, ECHOES OF THE UNDERSTOREY (Tor)

Trees loom large as skyscrapers, mortals can be reborn as gods, and a young woman finds herself part of an adventure that is destined to become legend…

Great deeds are expected of Imeris.

She has trained endlessly to become an extraordinary fighter. Yet she wants more than to compete against the glories of her divine sister and the charms of her courtesan brother.

Imeris thought she could prove her worth during a mission to kill a body-snatching sorceress, but fails disastrously. With death on her conscience and in hiding from her peers, Imeris is determined to find a way to redeem herself.

What she doesn’t expect is to be recruited in a Hunt for the Ages, chasing a terrifying, magical beast that will take all her skills to stop.

This is the second novel in the Titan’s Forest series, following Crossroads of Canopy. I still have the first book to read, but I am eager to do so. Echoes of Understorey is due out in mid-February 2018, published by Tor Books (it will also be available in the UK).

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Review copy received from publisher

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FeistRA-FS1-KingOfAshesUKRaymond E. Feist, KING OF ASHES (Voyager)

The world of Garn once boasted five great kingdoms, until the King of Ithrace was defeated and every member of his family executed by Lodavico, the ruthless King of Sandura, a man with ambitions to rule the world.

Ithrace’s ruling family were the legendary Firemanes, and represented a great danger to the other kings. Now four great kingdoms remain, on the brink of war. But rumour has it that the newborn son of the last king of Ithrace survived, carried off during battle and sequestered by the Quelli Nacosti, a secret society whose members are trained to infiltrate and spy upon the rich and powerful throughout Garn. Terrified that this may be true, and that the child will grow to maturity with bloody revenge in his heart, the four kings have placed a huge bounty on the child’s head.

In the small village of Oncon, Declan is apprenticed to a master blacksmith, learning the secrets of producing the mythical king’s steel. Oncon is situated in the Covenant, a neutral region lying between two warring kingdoms. Since the Covenant was declared, the region has existed in peace, until violence explodes as slavers descend upon the village to capture young men to press as soldiers for Sandura.

Declan must escape, to take his priceless knowledge to Baron Daylon Dumarch, ruler of Marquensas, perhaps the only man who can defeat Lodavico of Sandura, who has now allied himself with the fanatical Church of the One, which is marching across the continent, imposing its extreme form of religion upon the population and burning unbelievers as they go.

Meanwhile, on the island of Coaltachin, the secret domain of the Quelli Nacosti, three friends are being schooled in the deadly arts of espionage and assassination: Donte, son of one of the most powerful masters of the order; Hava, a serious girl with fighting abilities that can set any opponent on their back; and Hatu, a strange, conflicted lad in whom fury and calm war constantly, whose hair is a bright and fiery shade of red.

This is the first novel in Feist’s new fantasy series, Firemane. I still haven’t actually read anything by Feist — although, I did pick up The Magician, after I did a work experience placement at Voyager UK (many moons ago, it seems). This sounds pretty interesting. I’ll hopefully read it soon. King of Ashes is due to be published by Voyager in the UK and US, in May 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher

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HurleyK-BDA4-ApocalypseNyxKameron Hurley, APOCALYPSE NYX (Tachyon)

Move over Mad Max — here comes Nyx.

Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter Nyx is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey — it’s a living.

Her disreputable reputation has been well earned. To Nyx’s mind, it’s also justified. After all, she’s trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices.

Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future — but only if she can survive.

The highly-anticipated fourth full-length novel in Hurley’s critically-acclaimed Bel Dame Apocrypha series. I’m not sure if this has to be read after the original three novels, but they’re very good, so I’d recommend them as well. Published in the US and UK by Tachyon Publications, in July 2018.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “And the World Turned Grey: Gritty vs. Classic Heroes”; Review of God’s War

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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JenningsL-CodenameVillanelleUSLuke Jennings, CODENAME VILLANELLE (Mulholland)

A stylish, thrilling game of spy vs. spy played by Villanelle, a peerless international assassin, and Eve, the fiercely intelligent MI6 analyst whose mission is to take her out…

Villanelle (a codename, of course) is one of the world’s most skilled assassins. A catlike psychopath whose love for the creature comforts of her luxurious lifestyle is second only to her love of the game, she specializes in murdering the world’s richest and most powerful. But when she murders an influential Russian politician, she draws a relentless foe to her tail.

Eve Polastri (not a codename) is a former MI6 operative hired by the national security services for a singular task: to find and capture or kill the assassin responsible, and those who have aided her. Eve, whose quiet and otherwise unextraordinary life belies her quick wit and keen intellect, accepts the mission.

The ensuing chase will lead them on a trail around the world, intersecting with corrupt governments and powerful criminal organizations, all leading towards a final confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed.

I’m on a bit of an espionage kick at the moment, so when I saw this I was very much interested in giving it a try. Apparently, it is being developed for television, too, and will air on BBC America in the not-too-distant future. Codename Villanelle is published by Mulholland in the US, and John Murray in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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JohnsonC-NightHawksUSCharles Johnson, NIGHT HAWKS (Scribner)

A masterful story collection — thirteen years in the making — from National Book Award winner Charles Johnson, showcasing the incredible range and resonant voice of this American treasure.

This new collection of stories from National Book Award winner Charles Johnson offers an eclectic, engaging range of narratives, tied together by Buddhist themes and displaying all the grace, heart, and insight for which he has long been known.

In “The Weave,” Ieesha and her boyfriend carry out a heist at the salon from which she has just been fired — coming away with thousands of dollars of merchandise in the form of hair extensions. “Night Hawks,” the titular story, draws on Johnson’s friendship with the late playwright August Wilson to construct a narrative about two writers who meet at night to talk. In “Kamadhatu,” a lonely Japanese abbot has his quiet world upended by a visit from a black American Buddhist whose presence pushes him toward the awakening he has long found elusive. “Occupying Arthur Whitfield,” about a cab driver who decides to rob the home of a wealthy passenger, reminds readers to be grateful for what they have. And “The Night Belongs to Phoenix Jones” combines the real-life story of a “superhero” in the city of Seattle with an invented narrative about an aging English professor who decides to join him.

Spanning genres from science fiction to realism, these stories convey messages of tolerance, hope, and gratitude. With precise, elegant, and moving language, Johnson creates memorable characters and real, human struggles that have the power to enlighten and change us as we read.

Thought this collections sounded really interesting. I started reading it pretty soon after I got it, and it’s great — Johnson’s prose is fantastic, his stories interesting, thoughtful and well-paced. Highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a collection of great short stories (and a really interesting introductory essay about the history of the short fiction form.) Night Hawks is published by Scribner in May 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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JonesS-OnTheUpShilo Jones, ON THE UP (McClelland & Stewart)

Jasminder is determined. Carl is blitzed. Mark is righteous.

Unfortunately, they’ve pitted themselves against one another and they’re throwing everything they have at the same condo development in North Vancouver. The Solstice deal promises what they want most for themselves — freedom, respect, status, wealth — and it is their chance to be truly “on the up.”

Over the course of a week, the trio vie for their piece. But there are complex personal obstacles standing in the way for each. Jasminder Bansal, an aspiring journalist with a powerful ambition and a family connection to gangland violence, is playing a dangerous game to get the information she needs from a slick property lawyer with links to an international criminal boss. Carl “Blitzo” Reed, co-founder of an ecological investment firm, has a wildly distorted sense of reality and a morally questionable connection to the property. Mark Ward, a veteran of the Afghanistan War with a strong conscience, is barely coping with the effects of PTSD, but he’s forced to call on the skills he has learned as a soldier in order to repay a debt to his criminal brother, Clint. Jasminder, Blitzo, and Mark use anything at their disposal in pursuit of their goal, and no one is left untouched: speculators, government officials, realtors, activists, builders, day-labourers, foreign investors, lawyers — even a pot-bellied pig.

This has been described as a “wild, stylish, wickedly funny… raucous, biting satire”. Pretty effusive, which does give me pause, but I’m keen to give it a try. On the Up is due to be published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, in May 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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KarjelR-EG-AfterTheMonsoonUSRobert Karjel, AFTER THE MONSOON (Harper Collins)

An electrifying thriller set in the terrorist- and pirate-infested world of the Horn of Africa — where the sea caresses the desert, alliances shift like sand, and a Swedish detective can count on nothing but his own shrewdness to survive.

A Swedish army lieutenant drops dead on a shooting range in the desert. Was it an unfortunate accident — or something more nefarious? Ernst Grip, an agent of the Swedish security police, is sent to the Horn of Africa to find out. Once he’s on the ground, however, he quickly discovers he’s on his own. No one wants him snooping around — especially not the U.S. Embassy’s CIA station. Which is no surprise, given that military transport planes are leaving from the base carrying untraceable pallets loaded with cash.

What’s more, Grip’s investigation is complicated by another dangerous situation. Somali pirates have kidnapped a wealthy Swedish family during the adventure of a lifetime: a sailing trip from Sweden to the Great Barrier Reef. Why, Grip wonders, is no one back home willing to pay the ransom in order to save these innocent lives?

Solving the mystery of the soldier’s death isn’t the end of Grip’s involvement — it’s a tipping point that leads him deep into a web of intrigue, greed, and dark dealings ensnaring both allies and enemies… and a world where no one can be trusted.

After the Monsoon explores the tough compromises made every day in pursuit of the greater good. How do you know which is the lesser of two evils? And what is the cost of betraying one interest to save another? In this provocative, pulse-pounding, and sophisticated thriller, Robert Karjel vividly creates a world in which the stains of innocent blood cannot be cleansed, and the sins of good men forced to make impossible choices cannot be washed away.

This is the sequel to The Swede, which I have not yet read (but do have, so will probably read the two novels back-to-back). After the Monsoon is due to be published by Harper Collins in North America and the UK, in July 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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FalseIdols-OperationCairo-S1E1Lisa Klink, FALSE IDOLS: OPERATION CAIRO, Season 1 Episode 1 (Serial Box)

High society. Higher stakes.

At an elegant soiree organized for her benefit — so she can meet the players in Cairo’s expensive art scene, who figure prominently in her FBI investigation — Layla feels a little out of place. She’s undercover, and convincing these people that she’s one of them is her hardest assignment yet. They’re a mystery to her: rich, entitled, well-connected… and some of them are probably working with terrorists.

Layla el-Deeb left Egypt for good eleven years ago, after a childhood spent in Cairo’s slums. Now she’s a language expert for the FBI… and she’s right back where she started, in Cairo, investigating a terrorist organization that’s funding its activities through fraudulent art sales. But this isn’t the Cairo she knew. She’s landed right in the middle of the city’s glittering elite, whose dealings in the art world may be the key to infiltrating the terrorist network. Undercover in the place she was born, trying to fit in with the city’s high rollers, Layla is a stranger in every way — even to herself.

I’m still only just trying out the Serial Box series. The Witch Who Came in from the Cold began really well (I have the rest of it, now, so will read very soon), and 1776 (above) also looks really interesting. This crime/thriller series is promising. Episode 1 is out now, published by Serial Box.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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KristjanssonS-KinUKSnorri Kristjansson, KIN (Jo Fletcher Books)

Everyone loves a family reunion.

He can deny it all he likes, but everyone knows Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson brought home a great chest of gold when he retired from the longboats and settled down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. Now, in the summer of 970, adopted daughter Helga is awaiting the arrival of her unknown siblings: dark, dangerous Karl, lithe, clever Jorunn, gentle Aslak, henpecked by his shrewish wife, and the giant Bjorn, made bitter by Volund, his idiot son.

And they’re coming with darkness in their hearts.

The siblings gather, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface as Unnthor’s heirs make their moves on the old man’s treasure — until one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed: kin has been slain.

No one confesses, but all the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save the innocent from the axe and prevent more bloodshed, she’s got to solve the mystery — fast…

Lies. Manipulation. Murder. There’s nothing quite like family…

New Viking novel from Kristjansson! Sounds great. Kin is published by Jo Fletcher Books in March 2018.

Also on CR: Interview with Snorri Kristjansson (2013); Guest Posts on “Don’t Worry, It’s Not My Blood: On Tough Guys” and “The Undertaking”; Excerpt from Blood Will Follow

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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KuangRF-1-PoppyWarUSR.F. Kuang, THE POPPY WAR (Voyager)

When Rin aced the Keju — the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies — it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard — the most elite military school in Nikan — was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power — an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive — and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away…

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity… and that it may already be too late.

I posted something about this novel a little while ago, and I have been eagerly awaiting a chance to read it. A fantasy inspired by Chinese history? Sold. I’ll be reading this very soon, but I’ll hold off on the review for a little while. The Poppy War is due to be published by Voyager in the US and the UK in May 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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KushnerR-MarsRoomUSRachel Kushner, THE MARS ROOM (Scribner)

A compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Thought this sounded interesting, and Kushner’s novels usually get praised far and wide. So, decided to give this one a try. (I also have her previous novel, The Flamethrowers, but haven’t had the chance to read it yet.) The Mars Room is due to be published in North america by Scribner, in May 2018; and in the UK by Jonathan Cape, in June 2018

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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LynnJ-MaydayJonathan Lynn, MAYDAY (Endeavour)

Ernest Mayday, a best-selling British author living in a Hollywood Hills mansion with a beautiful masseuse, has everything that money can buy – except an idea for his next book.

Then he replies to the personal ad placed by the mysterious, tantalizing Joanna. She needs money, fast, and will do anything to get it. Compromising a juror on a major fraud trial is just the beginning of an increasingly labyrinthine plot – a plot that Ernest realizes will make the perfect novel.

But is Ernest observer or voyeur? When does fact end and fiction begin? What is the truth about the Reverend Abel Pile and the sinister Angel of Darkness? Suddenly Ernest finds he is no longer calling the shots – and the bullets are real!

From the writer of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister comes a satire about Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. Sounds like fun. Eric Idle said it was laugh-out-loud funny, so that’s a pretty good endorsement. Published by Endeavour Press (and it available in the UK).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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ODellC-AStudyInHonorUSClaire O’Dell, A STUDY IN HONOR (Voyager)

Set in a near future Washington, D.C., a clever, incisive, and fresh feminist twist on a classic literary icon — Sherlock Holmes — in which Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes will use espionage, advanced technology, and the power of deduction to unmask a murderer targeting Civil War veterans.

Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black LGBTQA woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay.

Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one — and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery — and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.

“Claire O’Dell” is a new pen name for Beth Bernobich. This novel sounds really interesting, too, so I’ll be reading it hopefully very soon. A Study in Honor is due to be published by Voyager in the US and UK, in July 2018 (so I will probably hold off on posting a review until May or June).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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OndaatjeM-WarlightUSMichael Ondaatje, WARLIGHT (Knopf)

A dramatic story set in the decade after World War II, told through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.

In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself — shadowed and luminous at once — we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey — through facts, recollection, and imagination — that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

The latest novel by the author of (among others) The English PatientWarlight is due to be published in North America by Knopf in May 2018, and by Jonathan Cape in the UK in June.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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PedreiraD-GunpowderMoonUSDavid Pedreira, GUNPOWDER MOON (Voyager)

The Moon smells like gunpowder. Every lunar walker since Apollo 11 has noticed it: a burnt-metal scent that reminds them of war. Caden Dechert, the chief of the U.S. mining operation on the edge of the Sea of Serenity, thinks the smell is just a trick of the mind — a reminder of his harrowing days as a Marine in the war-torn Middle East back on Earth.

It’s 2072, and lunar helium-3 mining is powering the fusion reactors that are bringing Earth back from environmental disaster. But competing for the richest prize in the history of the world has destroyed the oldest rule in space: Safety for All. When a bomb kills one of Dechert’s diggers on Mare Serenitatis, the haunted veteran goes on the hunt to expose the culprit before more blood is spilled.

But as Dechert races to solve the first murder in the history of the Moon, he gets caught in the crosshairs of two global powers spoiling for a fight. Reluctant to be the match that lights this powder-keg, Dechert knows the lives of him and his crew are meaningless to the politicians. Even worse, he knows the killer is still out there, hunting.

In his desperate attempts to save his crew and prevent the catastrophe he sees coming, the former Marine uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that, with one spark can ignite a full lunar war, wipe out his team… and perhaps plunge the Earth back into darkness.

A debut that looks like it will appeal to fans of Ian McDonald and Andy Weir. Looking forward to reading it. Gunpowder Moon is published by Voyager in the US and UK, in February 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Pratchett-D4-MortUKTerry Pratchett, MORT (Corgi)

Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.

Henceforth, Death is no longer going to be the end, merely the means to an end. It’s an offer Mort can’t refuse. As Death’s apprentice he’ll have free board, use of the company horse — and being dead isn’t compulsory. It’s a dream job — until he discovers that it can be a killer on his love life…

I decided mid-way through January that I was going to buy two Discworld novels in eBook each month, until I’d replaced my lost, lent-but-never-returned and worn out editions. I’m starting with my favourites — that means, the Death and City Watch novels first. Mort is the fourth Discworld novel overall, and the first in the Death sequence. Published in the UK by Corgi, and in the US by Harper.

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Pratchett-D8-GuardsGuardsUKTerry Pratchett, GUARDS! GUARDS! (Corgi)

‘Vimes ran a practised eye over the assortment before him. It was the usual Ankh-Morpork mob in times of crisis; half of them were here to complain, a quarter of them were here to watch the other half, and the remainder were here to rob, importune or sell hotdogs to the rest.’

Insurrection is in the air in Ankh-Morpork. The Haves and Have-Nots are about to fall out all over again. Captain Sam Vimes of the city’s ramshackle Night Watch is used to this. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. Well, to drink more. But this time, something is different – the Have-Nots have found the key to a dormant, lethal weapon that even they don’t fully understand, and they’re about to unleash a campaign of terror on the city. Time for Captain Vimes to sober up.

The eighth Discworld novel, and the first in the City Watch sequence (my favourite, and I’m pretty sure the most popular generally). Published in the UK by Corgi, and in the US by Harper.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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RosenJ-APS27-WilliamHowardTaftJeffrey Rosen, WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT (Times Books)

The only man to serve as president and chief justice, who approached every decision in constitutional terms, defending the Founders’ vision against new populist threats to American democracy

William Howard Taft never wanted to be president and yearned instead to serve as chief justice of the United States. But despite his ambivalence about politics, the former federal judge found success in the executive branch as governor of the Philippines and secretary of war, and he won a resounding victory in the presidential election of 1908 as Theodore Roosevelt’s handpicked successor.

In this provocative assessment, Jeffrey Rosen reveals Taft’s crucial role in shaping how America balances populism against the rule of law. Taft approached each decision as president by asking whether it comported with the Constitution, seeking to put Roosevelt’s activist executive orders on firm legal grounds. But unlike Roosevelt, who thought the president could do anything the Constitution didn’t forbid, Taft insisted he could do only what the Constitution explicitly allowed. This led to a dramatic breach with Roosevelt in the historic election of 1912, which Taft viewed as a crusade to defend the Constitution against the demagogic populism of Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Nine years later, Taft achieved his lifelong dream when President Warren Harding appointed him chief justice, and during his years on the Court he promoted consensus among the justices and transformed the judiciary into a modern, fully equal branch. Though he had chafed in the White House as a judicial president, he thrived as a presidential chief justice.

This is the latest (and long-awaited) instalment in Times Books’ American Presidents Series — each is a short biography of a president, usually around 150 pages or so in length (not including back-matter). I’ve read all of the published volumes, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting this one for what feels like a very long time (another author was originally attached to write the book). I think this volume also brings the series up-to-speed — with only Obama and Trump not yet released. William Howard Taft is due to be published by Times Books on March 20th, 2018 (it will also be available in the UK).

I started reading the biography the day I got it, and I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. The focus is more on the legal aspects of Taft’s career (Rosen is a legal scholar), and seemed to rush (a little) through his presidency, but it was nevertheless an interesting and engaging read. Definitely a recommended introduction to Taft’s life and work. (If you’re looking for something more substantial, I’d highly recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit — a dual-biography of Taft and Teddy Roosevelt, and their relationship with the press.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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SalvatoreRA-C1-ChildOfAMadGodUSR.A. Salvatore, CHILD OF A MAD GOD (Tor)

When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home.

The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night.

This is the first novel in Salvatore’s new series, The Coven. A new series by the author of the legendary Drizzt, I’m looking forward to trying this. Child of a Mad God is published by Tor in the US and UK, in February 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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Gavin Scott, THE AGE OF TREACHERY and THE AGE OF OLYMPUS (Titan)

ScottG-DuncanForresterMysteries1&2

It is 1946, and after years of war, ex-Special Operations Executive agent Duncan Forrester is back at his Oxford college as a junior Ancient History Fellow. But his peace is shattered when a hated colleague is found dead, and his closest friend is arrested for the murder. Convinced that the police have the wrong man, and hearing rumours that the victim was in possession of a mysterious Viking saga, Forrester follows the trail of the manuscript from the ruins of Berlin to the forests of Norway, hoping that it is the key to the man s death. But he is not alone in his search, and he soon discovers that old adversaries are still at war…

I picked these up on a whim — I was browsing Titan Books’ upcoming titles, saw the third in the series — The Age of Exodus — and decided to get the first two in the series. I’ll hopefully have at least the first reviewed soon. The Duncan Forrester series is published by Titan Books.

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ShippJC-AtrocitiesJeremy C. Shipp, THE ATROCITIES (Tor.com)

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn’t suffer.

But Isabella’s parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella’s… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.

Or is there…?

This sounds really interesting. The Atrocities is published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK in April 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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StrossC-EG2-DarkStateUKCharles Stross, DARK STATE (Tor)

In the near future, the collision of two nuclear superpowers — in two different timelines — is imminent. One America is experiencing its first technological revolution, whilst a parallel United States is a hi-tech police state. But both are poised to wreak destruction.

In Miriam Burgeson’s America, internal politics are pulling the government apart. But if one of her agents secures a high-profile defection, civil war may be averted. Rita Douglas, rival US spy, arrives during this crisis. Her world is rocked when she realizes Miriam is her mother, who gave her up for adoption as a baby. But what impact will this have on the conflict?

Then the US discovers another timeline, and the remains of an advanced society. Something annihilated that civilization — and Rita’s people are about to rouse it.

This is the second novel in Stross’s Empire Games series, set in the same universe as his critically-acclaimed Merchant Princes series. Dark State is published by Tor Books in the UK and North America.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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SweterlitschT-GoneWorldUSTom Sweterlitsch, THE GONE WORLD (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

March 9th, 1997: A family murdered, a daughter missing. All evidence points to a dangerous suspect: ex-Navy Seal Patrick Mursult, who has vanished without a trace. NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss is determined to take down Mursult and bring the girl home. But Moss isn’t only up against the clock – working together with the FBI, the case runs against walls of uncooperative witnesses and a lack of solid leads. Spanning the coal towns and mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, every moment without a break in the case brings everyone involved closer to tragedy.

Shannon Moss, however, is one of the few federal agents with clearance to investigate strands of the multiverse – to experience possible futures that grow out of the circumstances of the present.

April 19th, 2014: Seventeen years have passed since the Mursult family was killed, but Moss still questions witnesses whose lives have changed far from their fears and tensions that had made them so reticent to talk about the original incident when it was close at hand. Filling in details of the long past case, Moss learns the terrible truth about Mursult and the fate of the missing girl.

Moss returns to the present with the information she needs to close the case, but at what cost? Every decision she makes, every plot she unravels, has terrifying consequences – consequences she sees with every trip to a new future.

This is Sweterlitsch’s second novel, a stand-alone following the critically-acclaimed Tomorrow and Tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to reading it. The Gone World is published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America, and Headline in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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TheodoreRJ-PS1-FlotsamRJ Theodore, PERIDOT SHIFT: FLOTSAM (Parvus Press)

A fantastical steampunk first contact novel that ties together high magic, high technology, and bold characters to craft a story you won’t soon forget.

Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Now on the run from cultists with powerful allies, Talis needs to unload the ring as quickly as possible. Her desperate search for a buyer and the fallout from her discovery leads to a planetary battle between a secret society, alien forces, and even the gods themselves.

Talis and her crew have just one desperate chance to make things right before their potential big score destroys them all.

I hadn’t heard of the publisher of this novel, let alone the book itself, before the publicist reached out to me. (I do love the internet, sometimes.) This sounds like it could be quite interesting. I’ll try to get to it soon-ish. Flotsam, the first book in the Peridot Shift series, is  due to be published in late March 2018, by Parvus Press (it will be available in the UK, too).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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Various-HH47-BurdenOfLoyaltyVarious, THE BURDEN OF LOYALTY (Black Library)

As the darkness of the war slowly consumes the galaxy, those who still serve the Throne are faced with a struggle for their survival and the continued existence of everything they hold dear. With the threat of the Warmaster’s fleet looming ever closer to Terra, if will fall to such heroes to halt the tide, but the enemies arrayed against them are powerful and the burden of loyalty is great…

This Horus Heresy anthology contains six short stories, some of which are in print for the first time or originally released as audio dramas, and by authors such as Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Gav Thorpe and John French. Also included are the novellas The Wolf King, by Chris Wraight, and Cybernetica, by Rob Sanders.

This is the 48th(!) book in the Horus Heresy series, an anthology collecting together shorter fiction that has been available in the past. I had read about half of them already, but as a completist, I decided to get this book as well. I remember reading that the series was going to be 50 books… I’m not convinced that is still the case. The Burden of Loyalty is out now, published by Black Library.

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WardJ-SingUnburiedSingUKJesmyn Ward, SING, UNBURIED, SING (Bloomsbury UK)

An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds.

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use.

When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. It is a majestic new work from an extraordinary and singular author.

I picked this up recently, after seeing the stunning UK cover — for a moment, I didn’t connect the book to the US editions that has been getting a lot of attention. I also picked up Ward’s Where the Line BleedsSing, Unburied, Sing is published in the UK by Bloomsbury, and in North America by Scribner.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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WallaceM-SdJ7-TasteOfWrathMatt Wallace, TASTE OF WRATH (Tor.com)

Bronko and his team of crack chefs and kitchen staff have been serving the New York supernatural community for decades. But all that could be about to change.

The entity formerly known as Allensworth has been manipulating Bronko and his team from Day One, and the gang at Sin du Jour have had enough.

Old debts are called in, and an alliance is formed with the unlikeliest of comrades.

Some will die. Some will descend. And some will rise.

The seventh and final novella in Wallace’s Sin du Jour series. Published by Tor.com in the US and UK, in April 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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WhiteheadC-ColossusOfNewYorkUSColson Whitehead, THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK (Anchor)

Recreates the exuberance, the chaos, the promise, and the heartbreak of New York. Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in — or spent time — in the greatest of American cities.

A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New Yorkcaptures the city’s inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.

Whitehead’s style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.

The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.

Picked this up on a whim. Sounded interesting, and it was recently re-issued in North America (Anchor) and the UK (Fleet).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

 

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