New Books (June-July)


Featuring: Robert Jackson Bennett, Robert Bickers, Mirah Bolender, Terry Brooks, Mason Cross, Charles Cumming, Jaine Fenn, Jonathan French, Matt Goldman, Sean Grigsby, Tessa Hadley, Charlaine Harris, David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler, Darius Hinks, Ellie Kemper, Caroline Kepnes, A.M. Khalifa, Rebecca Makkai, Nicolás Obregón, Dan Pfeiffer, Bryan Reardon, Josh Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Anthony Ryan, Alex Thomson, Lavie Tidhar, Jack Whyte, Chris Wraight, Snowden Wright


BennettRJ-F1-FoundrysideUKRobert Jackson Bennett, FOUNDRYSIDE (Jo Fletcher Books)

She thought it was just another job. But her discovery could bring the city to its knees…

The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, industrialised magical inscriptions that make inanimate objects sentient; they power everything, from walls to wheels to weapons. Scrivings have brought enormous progress and enormous wealth — but only to the four merchant Houses who control them. Everyone else is a servant or slave, or they eke a precarious living in the hellhole called the Commons.

There’s not much in the way of work for an escaped slave like Sancia Grado, but she has an unnatural talent that makes her one of the best thieves in the city. When she’s offered a lucrative job to steal an ancient artefact from a heavily guarded warehouse, Sancia agrees, dreaming of leaving the Commons — but instead, she finds herself the target of a murderous conspiracy. Someone powerful in Tevanne wants the artefact, and Sancia dead — and whoever it is already wields power beyond imagining.

Sancia will need every ally, and every ounce of wits at her disposal, if she is to survive — because if her enemy gets the artefact and unlocks its secrets, thousands will die, and, even worse, it will allow ancient evils back into the world and turn their city into a devastated battleground.

The first book in Bennett’s new series, and one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’m really looking forward to reading this. Foundryside is published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books (August 23rd), and in North America by Crown (August 21st).

Also on CR: Interview with Robert Jackson Bennett (2012); Guest Post on City of Stairs and the Super Tropey Fantasy Checklist”; Excerpt from City of Stairs; Review of City of Stairs

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Review copy received via NetGalley


BickersR-OutChinaUKRobert Bickers, OUT OF CHINA (Penguin)

The extraordinary and essential story of how China became the powerful country it is today.

Even at the high noon of Europe’s empires China managed to be one of the handful of countries not to succumb. Invaded, humiliated and looted, China nonetheless kept its sovereignty. Robert Bickers’ major new book is the first to describe fully what has proved to be one of the modern era’s most important stories: the long, often agonising process by which the Chinese had by the end of the 20th century regained control of their own country.

Out of China uses a brilliant array of unusual, strange and vivid sources to recreate a now fantastically remote world: the corrupt, lurid modernity of pre-War Shanghai, the often tiny patches of ‘extra-territorial’ land controlled by European powers (one of which, unnoticed, had mostly toppled into a river), the entrepôts of Hong Kong and Macao, and the myriad means, through armed threats, technology and legal chicanery, by which China was kept subservient.

Today Chinese nationalism stays firmly rooted in memories of its degraded past — the quest for self-sufficiency, a determination both to assert China’s standing in the world and its outstanding territorial claims, and never to be vulnerable to renewed attack. History matters deeply to Beijing’s current rulers — and Out of China explains why.

I’ve missed reading about Chinese history, lately, and after blitzing through the World War I Penguin China Specials I wanted to read something a bit more substantial. Out of China is published by Penguin in the UK (paperback just recently released) and Harvard University Press in the US.

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BolenderM-CityOfBrokenMagicUSMirah Bolender, CITY OF BROKEN MAGIC (Tor)

A bomb squad that defuses magic weapons.

Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic — and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling.

Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training.

Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last — and only — sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.

This has a pretty cool premise. Looking forward to giving it a try. Bolender’s debut, City of Broken Magic is due to be published by Tor Books on November 20th in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


BrooksT-StreetFreaksTerry Brooks, STREET FREAKS (Grim Oak Press)

It begins with a dire call-right before his father disappears and his skyscraper home’s doors explode inward.

“Go into the Red Zone. Go to Street Freaks.” his father directs Ashton Collins before the vid feed goes suddenly silent. The Red Zone is the dangerous heart of mega-city Los Angeles; it is a world Ash is forbidden from and one he knows little about. But if he can find Street Freaks, the strangest of aid awaits — human and barely human alike. As Ash is hunted, he must unravel the mystery left behind by his father and discover his role in this new world.

Brooks has long been the grandmaster of fantasy. Now he turns his hand to science fiction filled with what his readers love best: complex characters, extraordinary settings, exciting action, and a page-turning story. Through it, Brooks reimagines his bestselling career yet again.

Brooks’s epic, beloved Shannara series finally came to an end this past year, and it looks like he’s turning his attention from fantasy to sci-fi (at least for a short while). Street Freaks is due to be published by Grim Oak Press in North America and in the UK, on October 9th, 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


CrossM-5-PresumedDeadUKMason Cross, PRESUMED DEAD (Orion)

‘What do you know about the Devil Mountain Killer?’

THEN — Adeline Connor was the Devil Mountain Killer’s final victim. After she was gunned down, the murderer disappeared and the killing spree ended.

NOW — Carter Blake has been hired to do what he does best: to find someone. But this time he’s hunting a dead girl – Adeline Connor’s brother is convinced she’s still alive.

But this town doesn’t want an outsider digging up old business. And as Blake gets deeper into the case, it starts to become clear that the murders didn’t just stop fifteen years ago.

The killer is on the hunt again.

Cross’s Carter Blake series is one of my favourite thriller series — well-paced, excellent prose, and gripping stories. This is the fifth book in the series. Presumed Dead is out now in the UK, published by Orion.

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CummingC-ManBetweenUKCharles Cumming, THE MAN BETWEEN (Harper Collins)

He risked it all to become a spy. Now he must pay the price…

One simple task for British Intelligence takes him into a world of danger.

Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invites him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown.

But the glamour of being a spy is soon tainted by fear and betrayal, as Carradine finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok a mysterious fugitive with links to international terrorism.

Bartok is a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on prominent right-wing politicians have spread hatred and violence throughout the West.

As the coils of a ruthless plot tighten around him, Carradine finds himself drawn to Lara. Caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, he soon faces an awful choice: to abandon Lara to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

The latest novel by one of my favourite thriller authors. I was really looking forward to reading this one, so I started reading as soon as I bought it. And, as it turned out, very much enjoyed it. The Man Between is out now in the UK, published by Harper Collins; the novel will be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, as The Moroccan Girl, in February 2019.

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FennJ-S1-HiddenSunJaine Fenn, HIDDEN SUN (Angry Robot)

Rhia Harlyn is a noble in Shen, one of the dozens of shadowlands which separate the bright, alien skyland. She has a missing brother, an unwanted marriage proposal and an interest in science considered unbecoming in her gender. Her brother’s disappearance coincided with a violent unsolved murder, and Rhia impulsively joins the search party headed into the skyland – a place whose dangers and wonders have long fascinated her. The dangerous journey brings her into conflict with a young rebel stuck between the worlds of shadow and light, and a charismatic cult leader who believes he can defeat death itself.

A new series from sci-fi favourite. Fenn also recently penned her first story for Black Library, which I’ve also read (and was, in fact, the first of her work that I’ve ever read). Hidden Sun is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and US, in early September.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


FrenchJ-LL1-GreyBastardsUSJonathan French, THE GREY BASTARDS (Crown)

Live in the saddle.

Die on the hog.

Call them outcasts, call them savages — they’ve been called worse, by their own mothers — but Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard.

He and his fellow half-orcs patrol the barren wastes of the Lot Lands, spilling their own damned blood to keep civilized folk safe. A rabble of hard-talking, hog-riding, whore-mongering brawlers they may be, but the Bastards are Jackal’s sworn brothers, fighting at his side in a land where there’s no room for softness.

And once Jackal’s in charge — as soon as he can unseat the Bastards’ tyrannical, seemingly unkillable founder — there’s a few things they’ll do different. Better.

Or at least, that’s the plan. Until the fallout from a deadly showdown makes Jackal start investigating the Lot Lands for himself. Soon, he’s wondering if his feelings have blinded him to ugly truths about this world, and the Bastards’ place in it.

In a quest for answers that takes him from decaying dungeons to the frontlines of an ancient feud, Jackal finds himself battling invading orcs, rampaging centaurs, and grubby human conspiracies alike — along with a host of dark magics so terrifying they’d give even the heartiest Bastard pause.

Finally, Jackal must ride to confront a threat that’s lain in wait for generations, even as he wonders whether the Bastards can — or should–survive.

Delivered with a generous wink to Sons of Anarchy, featuring sneaky-smart worldbuilding and gobs of fearsomely foul-mouthed charm, The Grey Bastards is a grimy, pulpy, masterpiece — and a raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure that’s like nothing you’ve read before.

This novel was the first winner of Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Book Off event. I’ve heard great things, and am looking forward to reading it (I’ve dipped in already, and it looks really interesting). The Grey Bastards is out now, published by Crown in North America and Orbit in the UK.

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GoldmanM-NS2-BrokenIceUSMatt Goldman, BROKEN ICE (Forge)

Nils Shapiro has been hired to find missing Linnea Engstrom, a teenager from the small northern hockey town of Warroad, MN. Most of Warroad is in Minneapolis for the state high school hockey tournament, and Linnea never returned from last night’s game. Linnea’s friend Haley Housch is also missing — and soon found dead.

Shot through the arm with an arrow at the Haley Housch crime scene, only the quick work of medical examiner Char Northagen saves Nil’s life.

Nils should be in the hospital recovering from his near fatal injury, but he knows that the clock is ticking. Linnea could be anywhere, and someone doesn’t want her found. Is Linnea a victim, or is she playing a dangerous game? As bodies start piling up, the clues lead Nils and Ellegaard north to Warroad, a small, quiet town with many secrets to hide.

The second novel in the Nils Shapiro crime series, from the Emmy-award winning writer on SeinfeldEllen and more. I’ve had a fondness for Minnesota-set crime series ever since I started reading John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport/Prey series. I’m looking forward to reading this one (I already have book one, Gone to Dust). Broken Ice is published by Forge Books, and is available in the UK on import.

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Review copy received from publisher


GrigsbyS-DaughtersOfForgottenLightSean Grigsby, DAUGHTERS OF FORGOTTEN LIGHT (Angry Robot)

Deep space penal colony Oubliette, population: scum. Lena “Horror” Horowitz leads the Daughters of Forgotten Light, one of three vicious gangs fighting for survival on Oubliette. Their fragile truce is shaken when a new shipment arrives from Earth carrying a fresh batch of prisoners and supplies to squabble over. But the delivery includes two new surprises: a drone, and a baby. Earth Senator Linda Dolfuse wants evidence of the bloodthirsty gangs to justify the government finally eradicating the wasters dumped on Oubliette. There’s only one problem: the baby in the drone’s video may be hers.

A new sci-fi action novel, from the author of the Smoke Eaters series. I’m looking forward to giving this a try. Daughters of Forgotten Light is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and US, in early September.

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Review copy received from NetGalley


HadleyT-LateInTheDayUSTessa Hadley, LATE IN THE DAY (Harper)

The lives of two close-knit couples are irrevocably changed by an untimely death…

Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.

In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

Late in the Day explores the complex webs at the center of our most intimate relationships, to expose how, beneath the seemingly dependable arrangements we make for our lives, lie infinite alternate configurations.

Thought this looked interesting, and different from a lot of the other fiction I read. Late in the Day is due to be published by Harper in the US (January 19th, 2019) and Jonathan Cape in the UK (February 7th, 2019).

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss


HarrisC-GM1-AnEasyDeathUSCharlaine Harris, AN EASY DEATH (Saga Press)

Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.

As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.

The first novel in a new alternative history/supernatural/crime/mystery series from the author of the True Blood novels (among many others). It sounds pretty interesting to me. An Easy Death is due to be published in North America by Saga Press (October 2nd) and in the UK by Piatkus (October 4th).

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Review copy received via Edelweiss


Heidler-RiseOfAndrewJacksonUSDavid S. Heidler & Jeanne T. Heidler, THE RISE OF ANDREW JACKSON (Basic Books)

The story of Andrew Jackson’s improbable ascent to the White House, centered on the handlers and propagandists who made it possible

Andrew Jackson was volatile and prone to violence, and well into his forties his sole claim on the public’s affections derived from his victory in a thirty-minute battle at New Orleans in early 1815. Yet those in his immediate circle believed he was a great man who should be president of the United States.

Jackson’s election in 1828 is usually viewed as a result of the expansion of democracy. Historians David and Jeanne Heidler argue that he actually owed his victory to his closest supporters, who wrote hagiographies of him, founded newspapers to savage his enemies, and built a political network that was always on message. In transforming a difficult man into a paragon of republican virtue, the Jacksonites exploded the old order and created a mode of electioneering that has been mimicked ever since.

This is one of my most-anticipated history books, covering a time period that is something of an obsession/specialty of mine. I’ve already started reading it, and while I immediately saw some parallels with the current political climate, I appreciated that the authors haven’t decided to make that an explicit hook for their new book (although, I do think it’ll be difficult to read the introduction and not think “Well, that sounds like a fair number of people surrounding Trump…”). The Rise of Andrew Jackson is due to be published by Basic Books in the US and in the UK, on October 23rd, 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


HinksD-M2-RevenantCrusadeDarius Hinks, REVENANT CRUSADE (Black Library)

As the Great Rift tears the galaxy apart, portents and darkness beset Mephiston. At the time when he needs his psychic sight the most, the Chief Librarian’s powers are rendered blind by some inexplicable force. Haunted by the ghosts of the damned, their purpose unclear, Mephiston takes his ship the Blood Oath and the Blood Angels in his charge to the world of Morsus where he believes source of his psychic blindness is to be found. But Morsus is embroiled in conflict too, a longstanding struggle between the Imperium and some of its most ancient foes called the Revenant Crusade.

The second novel in Hinks’s excellent Mephiston series. I really enjoyed the first novel, Blood of Sanguinius, and have been eagerly awaiting this sequel since it was announced. Revenant Crusade is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Darius Hinks (2011); Review of Blood of Sanguinius

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KemperE-MySquirrelDaysUSEllie Kemper, MY SQUIRREL DAYS (Scribner)

Comedian and star of The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper delivers a hilarious and uplifting collection of essays about one pale woman’s journey from Midwestern naïf to Hollywood semi-celebrity to outrageously reasonable New Yorker.

There comes a time in every sitcom actress’s life when she is faced with the prospect of writing a book. When Ellie Kemper’s number was up, she was ready. Contagiously cheerful, predictably wholesome, and mostly inspiring except for one essay about her husband’s feet, My Squirrel Days is a funny, free-wheeling tour of Ellie’s life — from growing up in suburban St. Louis with a vivid imagination and a crush on David Letterman to moving to Los Angeles and accidentally falling on Doris Kearns Goodwin.

But those are not the only famous names dropped in this synopsis. Ellie will also share stories of inadvertently insulting Ricky Gervais at the Emmy Awards, telling Tina Fey that she has “great hair — really strong and thick,” and offering a maxi pad to Steve Carell. She will take you back to her childhood as a nature lover determined to commune with squirrels, to her college career as a benchwarming field hockey player with no assigned position, and to her young professional days writing radio commercials for McDonald’s but never getting paid. Ellie will guide you along her journey through adulthood, from unorganized bride to impatient wife to anxious mother who — as recently observed by a sassy hairstylist — “dresses like a mom.” Well, sassy hairstylist, Ellie Kemper is a mom. And she has been dressing like it since she was four.

Ellie has written for GQ, Esquire, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and The Onion. Her voice is the perfect antidote to the chaos of modern life. In short, she will tell you nothing you need to know about making it in show business, and everything you need to know about discreetly changing a diaper at a Cibo Express.

I’ve had mixed reactions to Kemper’s TV work, but I’m interested in reading this because I think she’s funny. My Squirrel Days is due to be published in October by Scribner in North America and Hodder in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley


KhalifaAM-TerminalRageA.M. Khalifa, TERMINAL RAGE (Mavenhill)

When a mysterious man besieges an office tower in Manhattan, he threatens to execute his hostages and unleash terror if his demands are not met. He informs the authorities he will only communicate with Alexander Blackwell, a former FBI hostage negotiator whose stellar career had ended abruptly a few years before.

The FBI tracks Blackwell down on a tiny Caribbean island and he reluctantly agrees to negotiate with the suspect. As the clock ticks fast to the deadline, Blackwell soon realizes the only way to save the hostages and prevent catastrophe is to figure out who this enigmatic hostage-taker really is, and why he asked for him by name. But what he discovers is a chilling global conspiracy at the highest levels of government that threatens to destroy his life all over again.

Terminal Rage is an explosive novel set in the post 9/11 world, where terrorism is no longer defined by who the terrorists are, but the sophistication and impunity by which they operate.

I remember seeing the review for this in Publishers Weekly, which led me to add it to my Kindle wishlist. When it went on sale, I decided to snap it up and give it a try. Terminal Rage is out now, published by Mavenhill.

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MakkaiR-GreatBelieversUSRebecca Makkai, THE GREAT BELIEVERS (Viking)

A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

I spotted this novel in a catalogue a little while ago, and the synopsis sounded interesting. I then spotted a blurb from Richard Russo, one of my favourite authors, and I immediately put Makkai’s work into the Must Read column. I’ve picked up all of her available books, and hope to get started very soon. The Great Believers is published by Viking in North America and Fleet in the UK.

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ObregonN-KI2-SinsAsScarletUKNicolás Obregón, SINS AS SCARLET (Penguin)

Former homicide detective Kosuke Iwata is on the run from his past.

Living in LA and working as a private detective he spends his days spying on unfaithful spouses and his nights with an unavailable woman. Still he cannot forget the family he lost in Tokyo.

But that all changes when a figure from his old life appears at his door demanding his help.

Meredith Nichol, a transgender woman and his wife’s sister, has been found strangled on the lonely train tracks behind Skid Row.

Soon he discovers that the devil is at play in the City of Angels and Meredith’s death wasn’t the hate crime the police believe it to be. This is dangerous territory. But Iwata knows that risking his life and future is the only way to silence the demons of his past.

Reluctantly throwing himself back in to the dangerous existence he only just escaped, Iwata discovers a seedy world of corruption, exploitation and murder — and a river of sin flowing through LA’s underbelly, Mexico’s dusty borderlands, and deep within his own past.

This sounds really interesting. The first novel in the series was set in Japan, but Inspector Iwata has moved to LA — and, as some readers of CR may have noticed by now, I am a big fan of LA-based crime novels. Sins as Scarlet is published in the UK by Penguin next week (26th), and in the US by Minotaur Books (December 18th).

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Review copy received from publisher


PfeifferD-YesWeStillCanUSDan Pfeiffer, YES WE (STILL) CAN (Twelve)

From Obama’s former communications director and current co-host of Pod Save America comes a colorful account of how politics, the media, and the Internet changed during the Obama presidency and how Democrats can fight back in the Trump era.

On November 9th, 2016, Dan Pfeiffer woke up like most of the world wondering WTF just happened. How had Donald Trump won the White House? How was it that a decent and thoughtful president had been succeeded by a buffoonish reality star, and what do we do now?

Instead of throwing away his phone and moving to another country (which were his first and second thoughts), Pfeiffer decided to tell this surreal story, recounting how Barack Obama navigated the insane political forces that created Trump, explaining why everyone got 2016 wrong, and offering a path for where Democrats go from here.

Pfeiffer was one of Obama’s first hires when he decided to run for president, and was at his side through two presidential campaigns and six years in the White House. Using never-before-heard stories and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, YES WE (STILL) CAN examines how Obama succeeded despite Twitter trolls, Fox News (and their fake news), and a Republican Party that lost its collective mind.

An irreverent, no-BS take on the crazy politics of our time, YES WE (STILL) CAN is a must-read for everyone who is disturbed by Trump, misses Obama, and is marching, calling, and hoping for a better future for the country.

A former Obama adviser, and one of the hosts of the Pod Save America podcast (which I’m addicted to), I’ve been looking forward to this memoir for quite some time. I started reading it the day after I got it, and blitzed through. It’s really good, and I’d highly recommend it to all those interested in the changing state of US politics and how it interacts with the media. Yes We (Still) Can is out now, published by Twelve in North America and Biteback Publishing in the UK.

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ReardonB-RealMichaelSwannUSBryan Reardon, THE REAL MICHAEL SWANN (Dutton)

A suburban family is rocked in the wake of a terrorist attack on American soil.

On a typical late summer day, Julia Swann is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly goes dead. Then the news rolls in: A bomb has gone off at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home. New York City is in a state of chaos.

A frantic Julia races to the city to look for Michael, her panic interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she’s now desperate to find. When someone finds a flier she’s posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her dreams seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered.

Weaving between the aftermath of the explosion and Julia’s memories of her life with Michael, new developments raise troubling questions. Did Michael survive the explosion? Why hasn’t he contacted her? What was he doing when their last call was cut off? Was he — or is he still — the man she fell in love with?

Part family drama, part tragic love story, and part disaster narrative that hits terrifyingly close to home, The Real Michael Swann is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable — both in our country and in our own homes.

Spotted this in a catalogue quite a while ago, and thought it sounded really interesting. The Real Michael Swann is out now, published by Dutton in North America and in the UK.

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ReynoldsJ-AoS-SoulWarsJosh Reynolds, SOUL WARS (Black Library)

It is said that all who live belong ultimately to the Undying King. In the shadowy lands of Shyish, Nagash, God of Death, calls forth his soulless legions to reassert his dominion. His dread advance begins with the free city of Glymmsforge, bastion of Azyr in the Realm of Death. Standing between Nagash and his prize are the brooding Anvils of the Heldenhammer, an ancient host of Stormcast Eternals, and Lord-Castellant Pharus Thaum, guardian of the Ten Thousand Tombs. As battles between the living and the dead rage throughout the Mortal Realms, the War of Heaven and Death begins anew. But even Sigmar’s chosen may not be enough to cease the onslaught. For how does one destroy what is already dead.

The next step in the Age of Sigmar meta-story begins. I really like the way Reynolds writes Nagash and the various undead characters, so I’m looking forward to reading this one. I may try to read Mortarch of Night and Lord of Undeath first, though (the undead portions of the Realmgate Wars series). Soul Wars is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Josh Reynolds (2018); Reviews of The Return of NagashThe Lord of the End Times and Nagash: The Undying King

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RobertsA-HavenAdam Roberts, HAVEN (Solaris)

Young Forktongue Davy has visions; epilepsy, his Ma calls it. He’s barely able to help around the family farm.

But something about the lad is attracting attention: the menacing stranger who might be the angel of death himself; the women-only community at Wycombe; Daniel, sent by the mysterious Guz.

They all want Davy for their own reasons.

But what use can he be to anyone? He has visions of flight, but how can flight ever be possible in this shattered world?

A simple farmboy, caught up in events beyond his power to control — but his visions may be the key to the future.

This is the second novel in the Aftermath series, which kicked off with Dave Hutchinson’s ShelterHaven is due to be published by Solaris in the UK and North America, in early August.

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Review copy received publisher


RyanA-DM3-EmpireOfAshesUKAnthony Ryan, THE EMPIRE OF ASHES (Orbit)

The White Drake’s army has cut a bloody swathe across the world, leaving nothing but ash in its wake. Thousands of innocents have died beneath its blades and countless more will surely follow.

Only small-time criminal Claydon Torcreek and master spy Lizanne Lethridge — along with their ragtag band of allies — stand between the white drake’s fury and the world’s end.

To save the future, they must delve into the past — and unravel a timeless mystery that might just turn the tide once and for all.

This is the conclusion to the critically-acclaimed Draconis Memoria fantasy series. I haven’t read as much of Ryan’s work as I would like. I really need to address that… The Empire of Ashes is published by Orbit in the UK and Ace Books in North America.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Inspiration for Fantasy Authors”

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Review copy received from publisher


StitchG-LiteratureGuillermo Stitch, LITERATURE (Nineveh Editions)

We don’t know exactly when Literature® takes place and we don’t know exactly where. All we know is that Philip Marlowe would fit right in.

We don’t get Marlowe though. We get Billy Stringer. And Billy is on nobody’s trail.

He’s the prey.

The day hasn’t begun very well for Billy. He just messed up his first big assignment, he’s definitely going to be late for work, his girlfriend won’t get back to him and, for reasons she has something to do with, he’s dressed like a clown.

Also, he’s pretty sure someone is going to kill him today. But then, that’s an occupational hazard, when you’re a terrorist.

He’s a bookworm too, which wouldn’t be a problem — or particularly interesting — except that in Billy’s world, fiction is banned. Reading it is what makes him an outlaw.

Why? Because people need to get to work.

It’s fight or flight time for Billy and he’s made his choice. But he has to see Jane, even if it’s for the last time — to explain it all to her, before she finds out what he has become. That means staying alive for a little while.

And the odds are against him.

The author reached out to me via Goodreads, and thought I’d give it a try. No promises for a quick turnaround, but it does sounds interesting. Literature is out now, published by Nineveh Editions in the UK and North America.

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Review copy received from author


ThomsonA-DeathOfACloneUSAlex Thomson, DEATH OF A CLONE (Abaddon)




The Overseers may call it Hell, but for Leila and the other clones, the mining base on asteroid Mizushima-00109 is the only home they’ve ever known. But then Leila’s sister Lily is murdered, and the Overseers seem less interested in solving the crime than in making their mining quota and returning to Earth.

Leila decides to find the murderer, just like the heroes of her old detective novels would. But Hell is a place of terrible secrets, and courage and determination — and a love of mysteries — may not be enough to keep Leila from ending up like her sister.

Sounds like it could be fun. Death of a Clone is published by Abaddon, and is out now in the UK and North America.

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Review copy received from publisher


Tidhar-UnholyLandLavie Tidhar, UNHOLY LAND (Tachyon)

When pulp-fiction writer Lior Tirosh returns to his homeland in East Africa, much has changed. Palestina — an alternate Jewish state established in the early 20th century — is constructing a massive border wall to keep out African refugees. Unrest in the capital, Ararat, is at a fever pitch.

While searching for his missing niece, Tirosh has come to believe he is a detective from one of his own novels. He is pursued by ruthless members of the state’s security apparatus while unearthing deadly conspiracies and impossible realities.

For if it is possible for more than one holy land to exist, the barriers between the worlds are beginning to break.

A new novel from Lavie Tidhar is always something to cheer. And this one sounds really interesting. (And what a gorgeous cover…!) Unholy Land is due to be published by Tachyon Publications in North America and in the UK, on September 28th, 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


WhyteJ-BurningStoneCAJack Whyte, THE BURNING STONE (Viking)

Fleeing the massacre of his entire family save a single uncle, young Roman aristocrat Quintus Varrus arrives in fourth-century London not knowing who is to blame for the murders nor whom he can trust now. He fears for his life, but when he meets a young Irish woman named Lydia Mcuil, their lives quickly become intertwined and her father offers to set the young Roman up as a smith (under an Irish alias) in the town of Colchester while the young lovers get to know each other from a distance.

But the assassins haven’t forgotten Quintus and a deadly ambush is barely thwarted, bringing the young Roman into friendship with his rescuer, a hardened former military policeman known as Rufus Cato, who has his own score to settle with the powerful man behind the attack. Quintus is introduced to the secrets of an ancient brotherhood that is trying to halt the rot that is destroying their beloved Empire — secrets that may finally reveal the identity of those who murdered his family, and expose the shocking reason why.

This is the prequel to The Skystone, first in the author’s Dream of Eagles series. I haven’t read any of Whyte’s work before, so this should be a good place to start. I haven’t been reading much historical fiction, though, so I’m not sure when I’ll get to it. Hopefully not too far in the future. The Burning Stone is published by Viking in Canada, on September 25th, 2018.

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Review copy received from publisher


WraightC-HHP-JaghataiKhanChris Wraight, JAGHATAI KHAN: WARHAWK OF CHOGORIS (Black Library)

Ever since the Imperium’s discovery of Chogoris, the White Scars’ culture of warrior mysticism has sat uneasily with the ideals of Unity. As the Crusade burns across the stars, their enigmatic primarch Jaghatai Khan fights to preserve their distinctiveness amid a galaxy where cold rationality holds sway. Despite his selfimposed isolation, others in the brotherhood of primarchs seek to draw him into the greatest ideological battle of them all – the place of psychic power within the Legions. As the librarius project is born, and opposition to it grows, the Khan must decide where his greatest allegiance lies – to the Imperial Truth, or to his own heritage.

Chris Wraight takes on the eighth Primarchs novel. He wrote the two White Scars-focused novels (Scars and The Path of Heaven) and novella (Brotherhood of the Storm) in the Horus Heresy series proper, so it makes sense that he takes on this early story of their Primarch.

Also on CR: Interview with Chris Wraight (2011)

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Snowden Wright, AMERICAN POP (William Morrow)

The story of a family.

The story of an empire.

The story of a nation.

Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, an epic saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty — the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company — against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history.

The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always hungered for more — from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father’s drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age.

As the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the “infernal twins,” are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability — and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider: who should control the company after he’s gone?

A tour de force of original storytelling, American Pop is an irresistible blend of fact and fiction, the mundane and the mythical, and utilizes techniques of historical reportage to capture how, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “families are always rising and falling in America,” and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory — and the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.

This sounds like it could be quite interesting. American Pop is due to be published by William Morrow in North America on February 5th, 2019, and will be available in the UK.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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