New Books (May)

NewBooks-20180525

Featuring: Tim Baker, David Baldacci, J.D. Barker, Steve Brusatte, Shaun Bythell, Michael Carroll, Steve Cavanagh, P. Djèlí Clark, John Cleese, Gardner Dozois, Dominic Dulley, Sarah Gailey, Guy Haley, Robert Hilburn, S.L. Huang, Dave Hutchinson, Steven Hyden, Dave Itzkoff, D.B. John, Stephen King, Derek Lambert, Yoon Ha Lee, William Martin, Michael Moreci, Hannu Rajaniemi, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Martha Wells, Drew Williams

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BakerT-CityWithoutStarsUKTim Baker, CITY WITHOUT STARS (Faber)

The only thing more dangerous than the cartels is the truth…

In Ciudad Real, Mexico, a deadly war between rival cartels is erupting, and hundreds of female sweat-shop workers are being murdered. As his police superiors start shutting down his investigation, Fuentes suspects most of his colleagues are on the payroll of narco kingpin, El Santo.

Meanwhile, despairing union activist, Pilar, decides to take social justice into her own hands. But if she wants to stop the killings, she’s going to have to ignore all her instincts and accept the help of Fuentes. When the name of Mexico’s saintly orphan rescuer, Padre Márcio, keeps resurfacing, Pilar and Fuentes begin to realise how deep the cover-up goes.

This is the second of Baker’s books I’ve bought — the first being Fever City (which I still have to read). Thought it sounded great. City Without Stars is out now, published by Faber in the UK.

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BaldacciD-AD-FallenUSHCDavid Baldacci, THE FALLEN (Grand Central)

Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes — obscure bible verses, odd symbols — have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time — when one mistake could cost him everything — Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…

The latest (fourth) Amos Decker novel. I really enjoyed the first one — Memory Man — but for some reason have fallen behind. This always seems to happen with me and Baldacci’s novels: I end up two or three novels behind in a series, then blitz through to catch up (most recently, this happened with the Will Robie series). The Fallen is out now, published in North America by Grand Central, and in the UK by Macmillan.

Also on CR: Review of Memory Man

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BarkerJD-M4K2-FifthToDieUSJ.D. Barker, THE FIFTH TO DIE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone. 

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

This is the sequel to The Fourth Monkey, which was released to much acclaim last year. I haven’t read Barker’s first novel, yet, but it’s climbing my TBR mountain. The Fifth to Die is due to be published in the US by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HQ in the UK, on July 10th, 2018.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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BrusatteS-RiseAndFallOfTheDinosaursUSSteve Brusatte, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DINOSAURS (Harper)

The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.

In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field — naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork — masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers — themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period — into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research — which he calls “a new golden age of discovery” — and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

I can’t remember where or how I first learned of this book, but shortly after doing so it arrived in bookstores. It’s a long time since I last read anything about dinosaurs, though, and thought it would be fun to do so again. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is published in North America by William Morrow, and in the UK by Macmillan.

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BythellS-DiaryOfABooksellerUKShaun Bythell, THE DIARY OF A BOOKSELLER (Profile)

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown — Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost…

In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

I heard about this some time ago, and when I saw it drop in price on Amazon, I snapped it up. Looking forward to reading it very soon. The Diary of a Bookseller is published by Profile Books.

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CarrollM-Judges-AvalancheMichael Carroll, JUDGES: THE AVALANCHE (Abaddon)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 2033 A.D.

In a time of widespread poverty, inequality and political unrest, Special Prosecutor Eustace Fargo’s controversial new justice laws have come into effect.

Protests and violence meet the first Judges as they hit the street to enforce the Law; the cure, it’s clear, is far worse than the disease.

Is this a sign of things to come?

This could be interesting — a story set in the very early years of the Judges. I spent many years happily following 2000AD, but for some reason I haven’t read much of the new fiction set in that dystopian future. I’ll hopefully remedy this soon, starting with this book. Judges: The Avalanche is out now in the UK and North America.

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Review copy received from publisher

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CavanaghS-ThirteenUKSteve Cavanagh, THIRTEEN (Orion)

‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out — he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

Cavanagh’s latest novel has been showered in praise since its release, from fans and peers alike. Published by Orion in the UK, it’s very high on my TBR mountain.

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Review copy received from publisher

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ClarkPD-BlackGodsDrumsP. Djèlí Clark, THE BLACK GOD’S DRUMS (Tor.com)

An alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure…

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air – in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.

This sounds really interesting, and I’ll be reading it very soon. The Black God’s Drums is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on August 21st, 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher

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CleeseJ-ProfessorAtLargeUSJohn Cleese, PROFESSOR AT LARGE: THE CORNELL YEARS (Cornell University Press)

And now for something completely different. Professor at Large features beloved English comedian and actor John Cleese in the role of ivy league professor at Cornell University. His almost twenty years as professor-at-large has led to many talks, essays, and lectures on campus. This collection of the very best moments from Cleese under his mortarboard provides a unique view of his endless pursuit of intellectual discovery across a range of topics. Since 1999, Cleese has provided Cornell students and local citizens with his ideas on everything from scriptwriting to psychology, religion to hotel management, and wine to medicine.

His incredibly popular events and classes — including talks, workshops, and an analysis of A Fish Called Wanda and The Life of Brian — draw hundreds of people. He has given a sermon at Sage Chapel, narrated Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, conducted a class on script writing, and lectured on psychology and human development. Each time Cleese has visited the campus in Ithaca, NY, he held a public presentation, attended and or lectured in classes, and met privately with researchers. From the archives of these visits, Professor at Large includes an interview with screenwriter William Goldman, a lecture about creativity entitled, “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind,” talks about Professor at Large and The Life of Brian, a discussion of facial recognition, and Cleese’s musings on group dynamics with business students and faculty.

Professor at Large provides a window into the workings of John Cleese’s scholarly mind, showcasing the wit and intelligence that have driven his career as a comedian, while demonstrating his knack of pinpointing the essence of humans and human problems. His genius on the screen has long been lauded; now his academic chops get their moment in the spotlight, too.

Spotted this on Edelweiss, hadn’t heard about it before, but I was pre-approved. Really looking forward to reading it. Professor at Large is due to be published by Cornell University Press in mid-October 2018, and will be available in the UK.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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DozoisG-YearsBestSF35Gardner Dozois (ed.), THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME 35 (St. Martin’s Griffin)

The multiple Locus Award-winning annual collection of the year’s best science fiction stories.

In the new millennium, what secrets lay beyond the far reaches of the universe? What mysteries belie the truths we once held to be self-evident? The world of science fiction has long been a porthole into the realities of tomorrow, blurring the line between life and art. Now, in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection, the very best SF authors explore ideas of a new world. This venerable collection brings together award-winning authors and masters of the field. With an extensive recommended reading guide and a summation of the year in science fiction, this annual compilation has become the definitive must-read anthology for all science fiction fans and readers interested in breaking into the genre.

Looking to discover some new sci-fi authors? Well, this hefty collection should suit your needs perfectly: it includes 38 stories by a diverse range of authors. (I also quite like the… what is that — a space-monkey-lizard on the cover?) The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Vol.35 is published by St. Martin’s Griffin in July 2018, and will be available in the UK.

Follow the Editor: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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DulleyD-LG1-ShattermoonUKDominic Dulley, SHATTERMOON (Jo Fletcher Books)

A shattered moon. A secret plan. Last girl standing.

Orry’s father is the best conman in the quadrant, running elaborate heists with Orry and her brother Ethan to target the ruling families of the Ascendancy. This time should be no different: straight in and out with a fortune in spice paragon in hand…

… until Orry goes off-script and everything falls apart. Less than an hour later the Count of Delf’s only grandson is dead and she’s on the run, accused of a murder she didn’t commit.

Turns out, the pendant Orry stole was crafted by the mysterious civilisation who once lived on the Shattermoon — and a lot of powerful people want it. It doesn’t take ruthless space pirate Morven Dyas long to track her down, and he’s not the only one on her tail. When she’s unexpectedly rescued by loner Jurgen Mender and his spaceship, Dainty Jane, Orry knows there’s only one thing to do.

It requires all of her powers of persuasion to get Mender to agree to her plan, especially when even she can see the madness of pitting an inexperienced young grifter, a space-dog long past his best and an obsolete spaceship against the Imperial Fleet, the worst of the space pirates — and the alien Kadiran, who are getting bored with their uneasy truce with humankind…

But what other choice does she have?

I don’t think I’d heard of this novel before it arrived in the mail. Could be quite interesting, and seems like it might be in the sub-genre of ‘lighter’ sci-fi, reinvigorated by the success of (among others) Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers series. Shattermoon is out now, published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher

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GaileyS-AmericanHippoSarah Gailey, AMERICAN HIPPO (Tor.com)

Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.

An omnibus edition collecting River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, as well as some new short stories set in the same world. American Hippo is due to be published by Tor.com on May 22nd, in North American and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Gailey (2017); Review of River of Teeth

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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HaleyG-HH-WolfsbaneGuy Haley, WOLFSBANE (Black Library)

The time has come for Leman Russ, primarch of the Space Wolves, to fulfil his vow and attempt to stop Warmaster Horus before he breaks through to the Segmentum Solar.

In the face of opposition from three of his brother primarchs, Russ withdraws the Space Wolves legion from Terra and makes all haste for Horus’s position.

Reports from Malcador the Sigillite’s agents suxggest that Horus is utterly changed, and infused with a diabolical power so great that no man can stand against him. A warrior of Fenris would never willingly abandon his oaths, but with Horus beyond the touch of mortal blades, the Lord of Winter and War may have doomed himself for the sake of honour…

This is the 49th book in the Horus Heresy series. It’s been a long road… Really looking forward to reading this. I still have a couple of the previous books to read, but I’ll hopefully have a little binge-catch-up soon. Wolfsbane is published by Black Library, and is out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Guy Haley (2015); Reviews of PharosPerturabo and Dante

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HilburnR-PaulSimonTheLifeUSRobert Hilburn, PAUL SIMON: THE LIFE (Simon & Schuster)

An intimate, candid, and definitive biography written with Simon’s full participation — but without his editorial control — by acclaimed biographer and music writer Robert Hilburn.

For more than fifty years, Paul Simon has spoken to us in songs about alienation, doubt, resilience, and empathy in ways that have established him as one of the most beloved artists in American pop music history. Songs like “The Sound of Silence,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and “Graceland” have moved beyond the sales charts and into our cultural consciousness. But Simon is a deeply private person who has resisted speaking to us outside of his music. He has said he will not write an autobiography or memoir, and he has refused to talk to previous biographers.

Finally, Simon has opened up — for more than one hundred hours of interviews — to Robert Hilburn, whose biography of Johnny Cash was named by Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times as one of her ten favorite books of 2013. The result is a landmark book that will take its place as the defining biography of one of America’s greatest artists.

It begins in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, where, raised by a bandleader father and schoolteacher mother, Simon grew up with the twin passions of baseball and music. The latter took over at age twelve when he and schoolboy chum Art Garfunkel became infatuated with the alluring harmonies of doo-wop. Together, they became international icons, and then Simon went on to even greater artistic heights on his own. But beneath the surface of his storied five-decade career is a roller coaster of tumultuous personal and professional ups and downs. From his remarkable early success with Garfunkel to their painfully acrimonious split; from his massive early hits as a solo artist to the wrenching commercial failures of One-Trick Pony and Hearts and Bones; from the historic comeback success of Gracelandand The Rhythm of the Saints to the star-crossed foray into theater with The Capeman and a late-career creative resurgence — his is a musical life unlike any other.

Over the past three years, Hilburn has conducted in-depth interviews with scores of Paul Simon’s friends, family, colleagues, and others — including ex-wives Carrie Fisher and Peggy Harper, who spoke for the first time — and even penetrated the inner circle of Simon’s long-reclusive muse, Kathy Chitty. The result is a deeply human account of the challenges and sacrifices of a life in music at the highest level. In the process, Hilburn documents Simon’s search for artistry and his constant struggle to protect that artistry against distractions — fame, marriage, divorce, drugs, record company interference, rejection, and insecurity — that have derailed so many great pop figures.

Paul Simon is an intimate and inspiring narrative that helps us finally understand Paul Simon the person and the artist.

I’ve only read one book about Paul Simon, and while it was informative it wasn’t the most grippingly told biography. I saw a good review of Hilburn’s book in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, and then saw that it was available via Edelweiss. So, I requested it on a whim. Hopefully read it soon. Paul Simon: The Life is out now, published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HuangSL-ZeroSumGameUSS.L. Huang, ZERO SUM GAME (Tor)

A math-genius mercenary finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power…

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower… until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…

She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

Thought this sounded interesting. Not sure I’ve heard much about it prior to now. Seems to have been self-published before Tor picked it up, and is the first in the Russell’s Attic series. Zero Sum Game is due to be published by Tor Books in October 2018, in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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HutchinsonD-A1-ShelterDave Hutchinson, SHELTER (Solaris)

Rural English Post-Apocalypse survival for a new generation.

For Adam Hardy and his small Berkshire community, hardship is all they’ve ever known. For almost a century after the coming of The Sisters, the survivors of rainswept England have huddled in their tiny communities, scavenging the ruins of the old world. Now, finally, the Long Autumn is coming to an end, and society of a kind is starting to rebuild.

But for how long? A new tyrant, Frank Pendennis, has risen in the east, while rumours of something even worse are coming from the north.

The struggle to inherit the world is just beginning…

The first novel in a news shared-world setting, this one based in a post-apocalyptic Britain. Sounds pretty interesting. Shelter is due to be published on June 12th, 2018, in the UK and North America.

Also on CR: Interview with Dave Hutchinson (2014); Review of Acadia

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Review copy received from publisher

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HydenS-TwilightOfTheGodsUSSteven Hyden, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS (Dey Street Books)

The author of the critically acclaimed Your Favorite Band is Killing Me offers an eye-opening exploration of the state of classic rock, its past and future, the impact it has had, and what its loss would mean to an industry, a culture, and a way of life.

Since the late 1960s, a legendary cadre of artists — including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Black Sabbath, and the Who — has revolutionized popular culture and the sounds of our lives. While their songs still get airtime and some of these bands continue to tour, its idols are leaving the stage permanently. Can classic rock remain relevant as these legends die off, or will this major musical subculture fade away as many have before, Steven Hyden asks.

In this mix of personal memoir, criticism, and journalism, Hyden stands witness as classic rock reaches the precipice. Traveling to the eclectic places where geriatric rockers are still making music, he talks to the artists and fans who have aged with them, explores the ways that classic rock has changed the culture, investigates the rise and fall of classic rock radio, and turns to live bootlegs, tell-all rock biographies, and even the liner notes of rock’s greatest masterpieces to tell the story of what this music meant, and how it will be remembered, for fans like himself.

Twilight of the Gods is also Hyden’s story. Celebrating his love of this incredible music that has taken him from adolescence to fatherhood, he ponders two essential questions: Is it time to give up on his childhood heroes, or can this music teach him about growing old with his hopes and dreams intact? And what can we all learn from rock gods and their music — are they ephemeral or eternal?

I listened to a podcast interview with Hyden a little while ago, and thought he came across really well, interesting and knowledgeable. So, I decided to pick up his book. Twilight of the Gods is published by Dey Street Books in North America, and is available in the UK.

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ItzkoffD-RobinUSDave Itzkoff, ROBIN (Henry Holt)

From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He often came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics while mixing in personal revelations – all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed.

But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams’s comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; Aladdin; and Mrs. Doubtfire, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life a wide range of characters. And in Good Will Hunting he gave an intense and controlled performance that revealed the true range of his talent.

Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression – topics he discussed openly while performing and during interviews – and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew. Drawing on more than a hundred original interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as extensive archival research, Robin is a fresh and original look at a man whose work touched so many lives.

Robin Williams was one of my favourite actors and comedians. I saw a few episodes of Mork & Mindy when I was very young, and then Good Morning, Vietnam which remains one of my all-time favourite movies. Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire are on frequent rotation in my household, too. I would also highly recommend his energetic stand-up (he bit about golf is hilarious). He was a genius. I really hope this biography lives up to my expectations. Robin is published by Henry Holt in North America, and Sidgwick & Jackson in the UK.

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JohnDB-StarOfTheNorthUSD.B. John, STAR OF THE NORTH (Crown)

A propulsive and ambitious thriller about a woman trying to rescue her twin sister from captivity in North Korea, and the North Korean citizens with whom she forms an unlikely alliance

Star of the North opens in 1998, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twelve years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her–including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed. As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax.

I spotted this by accident, when an author Tweeted about it (unfortunately, I forget who it was). I put it on my wish-list, and when it came out in Canada I snapped it up. Star of the North is out now, published by Crown in North America and Vintage in the UK.

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KingS-OutsiderUSStephen King, THE OUTSIDER (Scribner)

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face?

A new thriller from Stephen King — it’s almost redundant to say that’s an event to look forward to. I’ll hopefully read this quite soon. The Outsider is out now, published in North America by Scribner and in the UK by Hodder.

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LambertD-RedHouseUSDerek Lambert, THE RED HOUSE (Harper Impulse)

The Red House follows a year in the life of Russian diplomat Vladimir Zhukov, the new Second Secretary at the Soviet Embassy in Washington – a ‘good Communist’ in 1960s America.

Seeing what life in the West is really like, he discovers there is more to America than what Soviet propaganda has taught him. Increasingly intrigued by the Washington circuit, from outspoken confrontation between diplomats to the uninhibited sexual alliances arranged by their wives with other diplomats, the capitalist ‘poison’ begins to work on him and his wife.

As he struggles to remain loyal to his country and begins to question who is the real enemy, he has to decide to whom is first loyalty due: country or lover, party or conscience.

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LambertD-ISaidTheSpyUSDerek Lambert, I, SAID THE SPY (Harper Impulse)

Each year a nucleus of the wealthiest and most influential members of the Western world meet to discuss the future of the world’s superpowers at a secret conference called Bilderberg.

A glamorous millionaire just sighting loneliness from the foothills of middle age … a French industrialist whose wealth matches his masochism and meanness … a whizz-kid of the seventies conducting a life-long affair with diamonds, these are just three of the Bilderbergers who have grown to confuse position with invulnerability. A mistake which could prove lethal when a crazed assassin is on the loose…

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LambertD-ManWhoWasSaturdayUSDerek Lambert, THE MAN WHO WAS SATURDAY (Harper Impulse)

Moscow treated defectors from the West with kid-gloves. That is, until they had outlived their usefulness. But the American Robert Calder was different. He had defected to Russia with information so explosive that even the iron-clad regime of the Kremlin shook with fear. It had kept him alive. Until now. For Calder is desperately keen to return to the West. So they place the ruthless and scheming Spandarian on his trail, a KGB chief with a mind as sharp as the cold steel of an ice pick. And as a back-up they unleash Tokarev, a professional assassin who kills for pleasure…

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LambertD-AngelsInTheSnowUSDerek Lambert, ANGELS IN THE SNOW (Harper Impulse)

Derek Lambert’s classic spy novel exposes the truth about the life of the Western community in post Stalin Moscow, and their existence in which tensions and hostility of the Soviet Union sometimes prove intolerable.

An American working for the US embassy and the CIA, a young Englishman at the British Embassy gradually cracking under the strain of Moscow life, and a member of the Twilight Brigade. In an alien land their lives become inextricably joined in a vivid and tense story of diplomats, traitors, Soviet secret police and espionage.

I’ve never read any of Lambert’s novels, but I noticed that I was pre-approved for a whole host of them on NetGalley. I decided to check out some of his Cold War fiction (I’m still quite in the mood for espionage thrillers and mysteries, so seemed perfectly timed). Each of these novels is published by Harper Impulse.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LeeYH-MoE3-RevenantGunYoon Ha Lee, REVENANT GUN (Solaris)

When Shuos Jedao wakes up for the first time, several things go wrong. His few memories tell him that he’s a seventeen-year-old cadet–but his body belongs to a man decades older. Hexarch Nirai Kujen orders Jedao to reconquer the fractured hexarchate on his behalf even though Jedao has no memory of ever being a soldier, let alone a general. Surely a knack for video games doesn’t qualify you to take charge of an army?

Soon Jedao learns the situation is even worse. The Kel soldiers under his command may be compelled to obey him, but they hate him thanks to a massacre he can’t remember committing. Kujen’s friendliness can’t hide the fact that he’s a tyrant. And what’s worse, Jedao and Kujen are being hunted by an enemy who knows more about Jedao and his crimes than he does himself…

The conclusion to the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Machineries of Empire sci-fi trilogy. Revenant Gun is due to be published on June 12th, 2018, in the UK and in North America.

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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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MartinW-PF6-BoundForGoldUSWilliam Martin, BOUND FOR GOLD (Forge)

Rare-book dealer Peter Fallon and his girlfriend, Evangeline Carrington. They are headed to California, where their search for a lost journal takes them into the history of Gold Rush. The journal follows young James Spencer, of the Sagamore Mining Company, on a spectacular journey from staid Boston, up the Sacramento River to the Mother Lode. During his search for a “lost river of gold,” Spencer confronts vengeance, greed, and racism in himself and others, and builds one of California’s first mercantile empires.

In the present, Peter Fallon’s son asks his father for help appraising the rare books in the Spencer estate and reconstructing Spencer’s seven-part journal, which has been stolen from the California Historical Society. Peter and Evangeline head for modern San Francisco and quickly discover that there’s something much bigger and more dangerous going on, and Peter’s son is in the middle of it. Turns out, that lost river of gold may be more than a myth.

Past and present intertwine as two stories of the eternal struggle for power and wealth become one.

This is the sixth book in Martin’s Peter Fallon series, which began with 1979’s Back Bay. It’s a series I’ve wanted to read for a long time, but for some reason I keep delaying it. Alyssa got me Harvard Yard (book two) when we were in Boston a couple of years ago, so I really don’t know why I’m dragging my heels. Bound For Gold is due to be published by Forge Books on July 3rd.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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MoreciM-ThrowawayUSMichael Moreci, THE THROWAWAY (Forge)

THROWAWAY [throh-uh-wey] — Noun — An agent who isconsidered expendable.

Mark Strain had it all — beautiful wife, a baby on the way, and askyrocketing career as a D.C. lobbyist. But when Mark is violently abductedfrom his home by masked men, everything he knows is turned upside down.

They say Mark committed treason. They say he’s a traitor to theUnited States.

They say he’s a spy.

Moreci has been pretty prolific, of late — as well as his comic projects and Black Star Renegades, he has The Throwaway about to come out. I thought it sounded rather interesting, so got an ARC. The Throwaway is published by Forge Books on June 19th, and will be available in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Michael Moreci (2018)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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RajaniemiH-SummerlandUSHannu Rajaniemi, SUMMERLAND (Tor)

Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning.

In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased.

Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.

When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.

But how do you catch a man who’s already dead?

I didn’t love Rajaniemi’s Jean le Flambeur trilogy (hard-sci-fi isn’t really my thing), but this latest novel sounds really interesting, so I thought I’d give him another try. Summerland is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (June 26th), and Gollancz in the UK (June 28th).

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Tchaikovsky-AtW1-RedemptionsBladeAdrian Tchaikovsky, REDEMPTION’S BLADE (Solaris)

Ten years ago, the renegade demigod known as the Kinslayer returned. His armies of monsters issued from the pits of the earth, spearheaded by his brutal Yorughan soldiers. He won every battle, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell as he drove all before him. And then he died. A handful of lucky heroes and some traitors amongst his own, and the great Kinslayer was no more.

Celestaine was one such hero and now she has tasked herself to correct the worst excesses of the Kinslayer and bring light back to her torn-up world. With two Yorughan companions she faces fanatics, war criminals and the monsters and minions the Kinslayer left behind as the fragile alliances of the war break down into feuding, greed and mistrust.

The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow she may never truly escape.

The first novel in a new shared-world setting, and one I’ve been very much looking forward to. (The next book will be by Justina Robson.) Redemption’s Blade is due to be published in July 2018, in North America and in the UK.

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”, “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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WellsM-MB3-RogueProtocolMartha Wells, ROGUE PROTOCOL (Tor.com)

Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?

Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

The third novella in Wells’s Murderbot Diaries series. Shortly after getting this, I started reading the series, and ended up finishing the first three books over the course of a couple weeks, and alternating with other novels. A lot of fun. Rogue Protocol is due to be published on August 7th by Tor.com, in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of Murderbot Diaries 1-3

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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WilliamsD-UA1-StarsNowUnclaimedUSDrew Williams, THE STARS NOW UNCLAIMED (Tor)

Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.

Hot on her trail is the Pax — a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.

Think big guns, smugglers, and epic space battles.

And that’s just the beginning…

This novel got a little bit of buzz when it was announced, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since. The first in the author’s Universe After series, The Stars Now Unclaimed is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (August 21st) and Simon & Schuster in the UK (August 23rd).

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

 

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