New Books (July-August)

NewBooks-20180804

Featuring: Megan Abbott, Cristina Alger, Guy Bolton, Mike Chen, Myke Cole, Delilah S. Dawson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Downing, Jasmin B. Frelih, John French, Stephen Fry, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Patrick Hasburgh, Sam Hawken, Kevin Hearne, Grady Hendrix, Michiko Kakutani, Gary Kemble, Derek Künsken, Avis Lang, Ian Nathan, Malka Older, George Pelecanos, Melissa Rivero, Justina Robson, Michael Rutger, Brandon Sanderson, Gary Shteyngart, Matt Strandberg, Tricia Sullivan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Sharlene Teo, G.B. Trudeau, K.B. Wagers, Corey J. White, Rio Youers,

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AbbottM-GiveMeYourHandUSMegan Abbott, GIVE ME YOUR HAND (Little, Brown)

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane’s academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them.

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she’s put Diane behind her forever and she’s begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.

Big fan of Abbott’s, so any new novel from her is a must-buy for me (even though I can sometimes be really slow about getting around to reading it…). Give Me Your Hand is published in North America by Little, Brown, and in the UK by Picador.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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AlgerC-BankersWifeUSCristina Alger, THE BANKER’S WIFE (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Werner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew’s death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York’s social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including a few who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel’s heartbreaking search — if Marina chooses to publish it.

I’ve had mixed experiences with Alger’s writing in the past, but this sounds like it could be a really good thriller, so I decided to pick it up. The Banker’s Wife is published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America and Mulholland in the UK.

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BoltonG-2-SyndicateGuy Bolton, THE SYNDICATE (Oneworld)

1930s Hollywood fixer Jonathan Craine is thrust into the dark underbelly of the LA mafia, only to discover more secrets and lies June 1947 Eight years have passed since the events of The Pictures. Jonathan Craine has left his old life in Hollywood behind him, content to live out his days on a farm in rural California with his teenage son. But when infamous mobster and Las Vegas founder Bugsy Siegel iskilled at his home in Beverly Hills, Craine is forced to face his past once again. Summoned to Las Vegas to meet mob head Meyer Lansky, Craine is given the impossible task of finding Siegel’s murderers. He has no access to crime reports, no police contacts and no one to help in his investigation other than an ageing hit man and a female crime reporter with her own agenda. But Lanksy’s orders aren’t to be ignored; if Craine can’t find Siegel’s murderers in five days, he and his son will both be killed.

The second novel in Bolton’s historical Los Angeles/Hollywood crime series. I still need to get around to reading the first oneThe Pictures (which I have), but I’m very keen to do so. The Syndicate is published by Oneworld Publications in the UK and US, on October 4th, 2018.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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ChenM-HereAndNowAndThenUSMike Chen, HERE AND NOW AND THEN (MIRA)

To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere — and any-when…

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career… as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives — eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda — even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.

The synopsis for this caught my attention (the cover’s nice, too). Not sure what to expect, but I have high hopes. I’ll hopefully read this soon. Here and Now and Then is due to be published by MIRA Books in North America and in the UK, in January 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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ColeM-ST2-QueenOfCrowsMyke Cole, THE QUEEN OF CROWS (Tor.com)

In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds — crippling injuries, religious tyrants — and continues her journey from obscurity to greateness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.

No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.

This is the second book in Cole’s critically-acclaimed Sacred Throne fantasy series. I’ve already read (and enjoyed) the first book, and am really looking forward to reading this one. The Queen of Crows is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on September 18th, 2018.

Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole (2011); Guest Post on “Influences & Inspirations”; Reviews of The Armored Saint, Control Point, Fortress Frontier, and Breach Zone

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Dawson&Hearne-KillTheFarmBoyDelilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne, KILL THE FARM BOY (Del Rey)

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born… and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death… and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed. 

The name caught my attention when it was first announced, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since. Looks a lot of fun. Kill the Farm Boy is published by Del Rey in North America (not sure if there’s going to be a UK edition).

Also on CR: Interview with Kevin Hearne (2011); Interview with Lila Bowen/Delilah S. Dawson (2016); Reviews of Hearne’s Hounded and Hexed

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

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

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deGrasseTysonLang-AccessoryToWarUSNeil deGrasse Tyson & Avis Lang, ACCESSORY TO WAR (W.W. Norton)

An exploration of the age-old complicity between skywatchers and warfighters…

In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. “The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions,” say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a “curiously complicit” alliance. “The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds,” they write. “Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology — which is more or less the same technology for both parties — nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage.”

Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

Thought this looked really interesting. Looking forward to reading it in the very near future. Accessory to War is due to be published by W.W. Norton in North America and in the UK, in September 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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DowningM-StillInLoveUSMichael Downing, STILL IN LOVE (Counterpoint)

This is your chance to enroll in English 10 at highly rated Hellman College — if you can find a place to sit in the fantastically overcrowded classroom.

Mark Sternum, whom readers first met in Downing’s beloved novel Perfect Agreement, is a veteran teacher. Twenty years older, separated for six months from his longtime lover, and desperate to duck the overtures of double-dealing deans above him and disgruntled adjunct faculty below him, Mark has one ambition every day he is on campus — to close the classroom door and leave the world behind. His escape, however, is complicated by his contentious, complicated wrestling match of a relationship with the Professor, the tenured faculty member with whom Mark has co-taught this creative-writing workshop for ten years.

The spectacle of their combative relationship is a chance for students — all of us — to learn what an amazing arena the classroom can be. Replete with engaging writing exercises, harsh criticism, and contrarian advice, Still in Love is the story of one semester in a college classroom. And it is an urgent reminder that we desperately need classrooms, that those singular, sealed-off from-the-world sanctuaries are where we learn to love our lives.

This is a sequel, of sorts, to Downing’s most popular novel, 1961’s Perfect Agreement (which is rather difficult to get hold of, it seems — I can’t seem to find it anywhere). I’m going to try to hunt down a copy of the first book before reading this, but I have plenty of time to do so — Still in Love is due to be published by Counterpoint Press on January 8th, 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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FrelihJB-InHalfJasmin B. Frelih, IN/HALF (Oneworld)

Twenty-five years into the future, a glitch in the global communications network is ripping a previously united world apart at the seams. The millennials find themselves hardest hit, trapped in a crumbling world they did not want – among them childhood friends Evan, an addict theatre director; Kras, a family patriarch and ex-war-minister; and Zoja, an anarchist poet. As they each prepare to celebrate their fiftieth birthdays, the friends desperately try to recapture the magic of their former lives and hold on to some sort of sense of belonging.

With its experimental style and sharp focus on the contradictions of modernity, In/Half is a powerful statement on the perils of the future, and on the nature of the novel, by an outstanding voice from the new generation of writers.

Thought this sounded like it might be interesting. Will try to get to it soon. In/Half is due to be published by Oneworld Publications on November 1st, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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FrenchJ-HH51-SlavesToDarknessJohn French, SLAVES TO DARKNESS (Black Library)

After a long and gruelling conflict, the traitors at last close upon Terra. But time is dwindling for an attack. Both Guilliman and the Lion are returning with all haste, and their armies could turn the tide. The hosts of the Warmaster must unite, for only then can they attack the Throneworld itself. While Mortarion is sent on ahead as the fleet’s vanguard, it falls to Lorgar and Perturabo to marshal Fulgrim and Angron, both now elevated to daemonhood and perhaps beyond even the will of the Warmaster to command. But Horus lies wounded and as the greatest battle the galaxy has ever know looms, it is up to Maloghurst to hold his fractious Legion together and to wrench Horus himself from the edge of oblivion.

Book 51(!) in the Horus Heresy series. Just about to go on my summer break, when I usually binge-read all of the Heresy novels I’ve collected in the past couple months. Really looking forward to reading this one. Slaves to Darkness is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Reviews of Praetorian of Dorn, Ahriman series — Exile, Exodus, Sorcerer, Unchanged

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FryS-MythosUKPBStephen Fry, MYTHOS (Penguin)

No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly or brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses.

In Stephen Fry’s vivid retelling we gaze in wonder as wise Athena is born from the cracking open of the great head of Zeus and follow doomed Persephone into the dark and lonely realm of the Underworld. We shiver when Pandora opens her jar of evil torments and watch with joy as the legendary love affair between Eros and Psyche unfolds.

Mythos captures these extraodinary myths for our modern age – in all their dazzling and deeply human relevance.

I do love mythology. After this came out in paperback, the Kindle edition plummeted in price, so I couldn’t resist. Mythos is out now in paperback, published by Penguin in the UK.

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GalloI-WorldsSeenInPassingIrene Gallo (ed.), WORLDS SEEN IN PASSING (Tor.com)

An anthology of award-winning, eye-opening, genre-defining science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Tor.com’s first ten years

Since it began in 2008 Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print.

This volume collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program. Including stories by: Charlie Jane Anders, N. K. Jemisin, Leigh Bardugo, Jeff VanderMeer, Yoon Ha Lee, Carrie Vaughn, Ken Liu, Kai Ashante Wilson, Kameron Hurley, Seth Dickinson, Rachel Swirsky, Laurie Penny, Alyssa Wong, Kij Johnson, David D. Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Max Gladstone, and many others.

A collection of fantastic speculative fiction from Tor.com. Does anything else need be said about why this book was of interest? Worlds Seen in Passing is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on September 4th, 2018.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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GoodwinDK-LeadershipUSDoris Kearns Goodwin, LEADERSHIP (Simon & Schuster)

In this culmination of five decades of acclaimed studies in presidential history, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin offers an illuminating exploration of the early development, growth, and exercise of leadership.

Are leaders born or made? Where does ambition come from? How does adversity affect the growth of leadership? Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?

In Leadership, Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely — Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson (in civil rights) — to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by others. By looking back to their first entries into public life, we encounter them at a time when their paths were filled with confusion, fear, and hope.

Leadership tells the story of how they all collided with dramatic reversals that disrupted their lives and threatened to shatter forever their ambitions. Nonetheless, they all emerged fitted to confront the contours and dilemmas of their times.

No common pattern describes the trajectory of leadership. Although set apart in background, abilities, and temperament, these men shared a fierce ambition and a deep-seated resilience that enabled them to surmount uncommon hardships. At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenge, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.

This seminal work provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency.

Easily one of my most-anticipated books of the year. Goodwin is perhaps best known for her superb biography of Lincoln (Team of Rivals), and is also the author of the excellent The Bully Pulpit (a history of Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and their relationships with the progressive muckraking journalists of the age). Leadership takes a look at a broader swathe of American history and politics, and I’m sure it will be another fantastic book. Leadership is due to be published by Simon & Schuster (North America) and Penguin (UK) in late September 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HasburghP-PirataUSPatrick Hasburgh, PIRATA (Harper Perennial)

In a former life, Nick Lutz, sold cars in the Golden State. He had a wife and a young son, and they struggled along until Nick was shot in the head when a potential customer hijacked the car he was demonstrating. The incident sets off a bad-luck domino fall, and he loses an eye, his job, his family, and, eventually, his self-respect.

With nothing left, Nick heads for Mexico, where he sheds his former self among an eclectic group of expats and locals, who fondly name him “Pirata” on account of his eye patch. There on the beaches of Sabanita, Nick and his buddy Winsor drink, surf, and — most of all — escape, buoyed away from their pasts on south swells and Tecate. Nothing epic. That is until Winsor’s girlfriend, Meagan, ends their abusive relationship and flees with her two boys to the safety and solace of Nick’s beachside casita. A monsoon season fling of convenience turns into a torrid love affair as new loyalties and dark secrets are shaped into something like a family. But when the local policía struggle to identify a body that has washed up in the surf, Nick realizes his secrets — and sins — have caught up with him. And there are dangerous new surprises that have yet to roll in with the tide…

This got a little bit of buzz shortly before its release, and it sounded both interesting and slightly different to my usual thriller-fare. And, because it doesn’t take much to convince me to try a new author, I decided to give it a try. Pirata is published by Harper Perennial in the US and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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HawkenS-CE3-MakeThemSorryUSSam Hawken, MAKE THEM SORRY (Mulholland)

A violent stalker has a terrified woman in his sights. Camaro Espinoza will make him sorry.

Life in Miami isn’t complicated for ex-army medic Camaro Espinoza: Piloting charter fishing trips, fighting at the gym, drinking at the bar. Simple doesn’t mean stable, though, and two complicating factors — okay, people — are about to disrupt Camaro’s relative peace. Faith Glazer, an accountant with no way to defend herself, begs Camaro’s help to stop a stalker who follows her every move. While Ignacio Montellano, a detective on the homicide beat, wants to be her guardian angel and all too deftly finds ways to insert himself in her path.

When Faith’s stalker takes his obsession to a new, frightening level, Camaro might find reason to appreciate Montellano after all. The deeper they look, the more trouble they find: federal agents, money-launderers, crooked security contractors, and paramilitary killers. Every one of them with a reason to come after Faith, and to put Camaro down.

But Camaro doesn’t flinch when violence comes her way. And she has a singular talent for making her enemies sorry they ever heard her name.

This is the third novel in Hawken’s Camaro Espinoza series. Make Them Sorry is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, on August 7th, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Grady Hendrix, WE SOLD OUR SOULS (Quirk)

HendrixG-WeSoldOurSoulsUS

In this hard-rocking, spine-tingling supernatural thriller, the washed-up guitarist of a ‘90s heavy metal band embarks on an epic road-trip across America and deep into the web of a sinister conspiracy.

In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success — but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in obscurity.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western — she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when a shocking act of violence turns her life upside down, and she begins to suspect that Terry sabotaged more than just the band.

Kris hits the road, hoping to reunite with the rest of her bandmates and confront the man who ruined her life. It’s a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a celebrity rehab center to a music festival from hell. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, pill-popping, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul… where only a lone girl with a guitar can save us all.

This sounds really interesting. Hendrix is an author I really should be reading more of. As a rock and metal junky, this one seems perfectly catered to my tastes. I’ll hopefully read it very soon. We Sold Our Souls is published by Quirk Books in the UK and Canada (distributed in the latter by Penguin Random House).

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Childhood Inspirations”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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KakutaniM-DeathOfTruthUSMichiko Kakutani, THE DEATH OF TRUTH (Tim Duggan)

An impassioned critique of America’s retreat from reason

We live in a time when the very idea of objective truth is mocked and discounted by the occupants of the White House. Discredited conspiracy theories and ideologies have resurfaced, proven science is once more up for debate, and Russian propaganda floods our screens. The wisdom of the crowd has usurped research and expertise, and we are each left clinging to the beliefs that best confirm our biases.

How did truth become an endangered species in contemporary America? This decline began decades ago, and in The Death of Truth, former New York Timescritic Michiko Kakutani takes a penetrating look at the cultural forces that contributed to this gathering storm. In social media and literature, television, academia, and politics, Kakutani identifies the trends — originating on both the right and the left — that have combined to elevate subjectivity over factuality, science, and common values. And she returns us to the words of the great critics of authoritarianism, writers like George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, whose work is newly and eerily relevant.

With remarkable erudition and insight, Kakutani offers a provocative diagnosis of our current condition and points toward a new path for our truth-challenged times.

Sounded interesting, and I’ve been a fan of Kakutani’s writing and criticism for years. I started reading this pretty soon after I got it, and zipped through it — a really good analysis of our current political environment, presented through the author’s own interpretations and also through the lens of certain new and older texts (fiction and non-fiction) that have warned us of how American politics can or could be manipulated and, ultimately, damaged/destroyed. Kakutani writes persuasively and passionately, but avoids hyperbole. I’d highly recommend this. The Death of Truth is published in North America by Tim Duggan Books, and in the UK by William Collins.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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KembleG-StrangeInkUSGary Kemble, STRANGE INK (Titan)

After moving into a new house, journalist Harry Hendrick wakes up with tattoos that aren’t his…

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out.

But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images not his own which come accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — so he begins to dig a little deeper. His search leads him to the sinister disappearance of an SAS hero and his girlfriend, whose torment is reaching back from beyond the grave.

Hadn’t heard of this before it arrived in the mail (it wasn’t on Titan Books’ website at the time). Sounds like it could be interesting — like a horror version of Memento, maybe. Strange Ink is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, in October 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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KunskenD-TheQuantumMagicianDerek Künsken, THE QUANTUM MAGICIAN (Solaris)

The ultimate heist

Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse — an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive to know, to understand. Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming
the galaxy’s greatest con man and thief.

But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women.

If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war… or the next step in human evolution.

The first novel in a new sci-fi series, it sounds pretty interesting. Looking forward to giving it a try in the near future. The Quantum Magician is due to be published by Solaris in the UK and North America, on October 2nd, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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NathanI-AnythingYouCanImagineIan Nathan, ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE (Harper Collins)

The definitive history of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth saga, Anything You Can Imagine takes us on a cinematic journey across all six films, featuring brand-new interviews with Peter, his cast & crew. From the early days of daring to dream it could be done, through the highs and lows of making the films, to fan adoration and, finally, Oscar glory.

Lights

A nine-year-old boy in New Zealand’s Pukerua Bay stays up late and is spellbound by a sixty-year-old vision of a giant ape on an island full of dinosaurs. This is true magic. And the boy knows that he wants to be a magician.

Camera

Fast-forward twenty years and the boy has begun to cast a spell over the film-going audience, conjuring gore-splattered romps with bravura skill that will lead to Academy recognition with an Oscar nomination for Heavenly Creatures. The boy from Pukerua Bay with monsters reflected in his eyes has arrived, and Hollywood comes calling. What would he like to do next? ‘How about a fantasy film, something like The Lord of the Rings…?’

Action

The greatest work of fantasy in modern literature, and the biggest, with rights ownership so complex it will baffle a wizard. Vast. Complex. Unfilmable. One does not simply walk into Mordor – unless you are Peter Jackson.

Anything You Can Imagine tells the full, dramatic story of how Jackson and his trusty fellowship of Kiwi filmmakers dared take on a quest every bit as daunting as Frodo’s, and transformed JRR Tolkien’s epic tale of adventure into cinematic magic, and then did it again with The Hobbit. Enriched with brand-new interviews with Jackson, his fellow filmmakers and many of the films’ stars, Ian Nathan’s mesmerising narrative whisks us to Middle-earth, to gaze over the shoulder of the director as he creates the impossible, the unforgettable, and proves that film-making really is ‘anything you can imagine’.

Loved the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy (although, the first one’s extended edition did put me to sleep at one point), and I love behind-the-scenes/making-of accounts. So, this book was almost perfect for me. I’ll be reading it very soon. Anything You Can Imagine is published by Harper Collins in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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OchseW-BurningSky.pngWeston Ochse, BURNING SKY (Solaris)

Everything is dangerous in Afghanistan, nothing more so than the mission of a Tactical Support Team or T.S.T. All veterans, these men and women spend seasons in hell, to not only try and fix what’s broken in each of them, but also to make enough bank to change their fortunes.

But seven months later, safely back on American soil, they feel like there’s something left undone. They’re meeting people who already know them, remembering things that haven’t happened, hearing words that don’t exist. And they’re all having the same dream… a dream of a sky that won’t stop burning.

A new novel from the author of the Task Force OMBRA series. I believe this is a stand-alone novel, so a good place to give Ochse’s work a try. Burning Sky is due to be published by Solaris in the UK and North America, on September 25th, 2018.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Planet Jacked!”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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OlderM-CC3-StateTectonicsMalka Older, STATE TECTONICS (Tor.com)

The future of democracy must evolve or die.

The last time Information held an election, a global network outage, two counts of sabotage by major world governments, and a devastating earthquake almost shook micro-democracy apart. Five years later, it’s time to vote again, and the system that has ensured global peace for 25 years is more vulnerable than ever.

Unknown enemies are attacking Information’s network infrastructure. Spies, former superpowers, and revolutionaries sharpen their knives in the shadows. And Information’s best agents question whether the data monopoly they’ve served all their lives is worth saving, or whether it’s time to burn the world down and start anew.

This is the third novel in Older’s critically-acclaimed Centenal Cycle. I have all three of the novels, but for some reason I keep forgetting to read them. The upcoming release of this third book really should give me the boost I need to try to get caught up. State Tectonics is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on September 11th, 2018.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Travel in Both Directions”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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PelecanosG-ManWhoCameUptownUSGeorge Pelecanos, THE MAN WHO CAME UPTOWN (Mulholland)

An ex-offender must choose between the man who got him out and the woman who showed him another path

Michael Hudson spends the long days in prison devouring books given to him by the prison’s librarian, a young woman named Anna who develops a soft spot for her best student. Anna keeps passing Michael books until one day he disappears, suddenly released after a private detective manipulated a witness in Michael’s trial.

Outside, Michael encounters a Washington, D.C. that has changed a lot during his time locked up. Once shady storefronts are now trendy beer gardens and flower shops. But what hasn’t changed is the hard choice between the temptation of crime and doing what’s right. Trying to balance his new job, his love of reading, and the debt he owes to the man who got him released, Michael struggles to figure out his place in this new world before he loses control.

Smart and fast-paced, The Man Who Came Uptown brings Washington, D.C. to life in a high-stakes story of tough choices.

New Pelecanos novel, and I’ve been coming around to crime fiction set in DC after reading David Swinson’s superb series (also published by Mulholland, as it happens). The Man Who Came Uptown is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America (September 4th), and Orion in the UK (September 6th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

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RiveroM-AffairsOfTheFalconsUSMelissa Rivero, THE AFFAIRS OF THE FALCÓNS (Pub)

A stunning debut novel about a young undocumented Peruvian woman fighting to keep her family afloat in New York City

Ana Falcón, along with her husband Lucho and their two young children, has fled the economic and political strife of Peru for a chance at a new life in New York City in the 1990s. Being undocumented, however, has significantly curtailed the family’s opportunities: Ana is indebted to a loan shark who calls herself Mama, and is stretched thin by unceasing shifts at her factory job. To make matters worse, Ana must also battle both criticism from Lucho’s cousin — who has made it obvious the family is not welcome to stay in her spare room for much longer — and escalating and unwanted attention from Mama’s husband.

As the pressure builds, Ana becomes increasingly desperate. While Lucho dreams of returning to Peru, Ana is deeply haunted by the demons she left behind and determined to persevere in this new country. But how many sacrifices is she willing to make before admitting defeat and returning to Peru? And what lines is she willing to cross in order to protect her family?

The Affairs of the Falcóns is a beautiful, deeply urgent novel about the lengths one woman is willing to go to build a new life, and a vivid rendering of the American immigrant experience. 

Always looking for new debut authors to try, and this one sounded really interesting (not least because I have lived in both Peru and New York, and have still relatives in both). The Affairs of the Falcóns is due to be published by Ecco on April 2nd, 2019. (It’ll be available in the UK, but not sure if this is an import edition, or if it will be published by a UK publisher.)

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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RobsonJ-AtW2-SalvationsFireJustina Robson, SALVATION’S FIRE (Solaris)

The Tzarkomen necromancers sacrificed a thousand women to create a Bride for the Kinslayer so he would spare them in the war. But the Kinslayer is dead and now the creation intended to ensure his eternal rule lies abandoned by its makers in the last place in the world that anyone would look for it.

Which doesn’t prevent someone finding her by accident.

Will the Bride return the gods to the world or will she bring the end of days? It all depends on the one who found her, Kula, a broken-hearted little girl with nothing left to lose.

This is set in the After the War fantasy series, and is the sequel to Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Redemption’s Blade. I still haven’t had the chance to read the first book, but I’m eager to dive into the series — it’s been getting some great buzz and reviews. Salvation’s Fire is due to be published by Solaris in the UK and North America, on September 4th, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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RutgerM-AnomalyUSMichael Rutger, THE ANOMALY (Grand Central)

Not all secrets are meant to be found.

If Indiana Jones lived in the X-Files era, he might bear at least a passing resemblance to Nolan Moore — a rogue archaeologist hosting a documentary series derisively dismissed by the “real” experts, but beloved of conspiracy theorists.

Nolan sets out to retrace the steps of an explorer from 1909 who claimed to have discovered a mysterious cavern high up in the ancient rock of the Grand Canyon. And, for once, he may have actually found what he seeks. Then the trip takes a nasty turn, and the cave begins turning against them in mysterious ways.

Nolan’s story becomes one of survival against seemingly impossible odds. The only way out is to answer a series of intriguing questions: What is this strange cave? How has it remained hidden for so long? And what secret does it conceal that made its last visitors attempt to seal it forever?

The new novel from Michael Marshall Smith, published under a new nom-de-plume. Pitched as “Indiana Jones meets The X-Files“, it certainly sounds pretty intriguing. The Anomaly is published by Grand Central in North America, and Zaffre in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Sanderson-SnapshotUKBrandon Sanderson, SNAPSHOT (Gollancz)

A detective thriller in a police beat like no other.

Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are the only real people in a city of 20 million, sent there by court order to find out what happened in the real world 10 days ago so that hidden evidence can be brought to light and located in the real city today.

Within the re-created Snapshot of May 1st, Davis and Chaz are the ultimate authorities. Flashing their badges will get them past any obstruction and overrule any civil right of the dupes around them. But the crimes the detectives are sent to investigate seem like drudgery — until they stumble upon the grisly results of a mass killing that the precinct headquarters orders them not to investigate. That’s one order they have to refuse.

The hunt is on. And though the dupes in the replica city have no future once the Snapshot is turned off, that doesn’t mean that both Davis and Chaz will walk out of it alive tonight.

This novella was published a while ago in North America, but only recently released in the UK by Gollancz. I haven’t read much of Sanderson’s work — only The Emperor’s Soul and Steelheart (both of which were fun, quick reads). I keep meaning to read the Mistborn series, but I never seem to have the time. I started reading Snapshot pretty soon after I bought it, though, and enjoyed it (interesting premise, good characters). It’ll make a good movie, if they ever exercise the optionSnapshot is out now, published by Gollancz in the UK. (The eBook is still distributed by Dragonsteel, Brandon’s own company.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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ShteyngartG-LakeSuccessUSGary Shteyngart, LAKE SUCCESS (Random House)

Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son’s diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema — a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth — has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.

Really looking forward to read this. I’ll probably read it very soon, and hold off on the review until closer to release. Lake Success is published by Random House in North America (September 4th) and Penguin in the UK (September 6th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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StrandbergM-BloodCruiseUKMats Strandberg, BLOOD CRUISE (Jo Fletcher Books)

On the Baltic Sea, no one can hear you scream.

Tonight, twelve hundred expectant passengers have joined the booze-cruise between Sweden and Finland. The creaking old ship travels this same route, back and forth, every day of the year.

But this trip is going to be different.

In the middle of the night the ferry is suddenly cut off from the outside world. There is nowhere to escape. There is no way to contact the mainland. And no one knows who they can trust.

Welcome aboard the Baltic Charisma.

This sounds like it could be quite creepy. Looking forward to giving it a try. Blood Cruise is out now, published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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SullivanT-OccupyMeUSTricia Sullivan, OCCUPY ME (Titan)

Pearl is an angel. She works for the Resistance – an organisation dedicated to improving the world by stealth; by tiny, incremental acts of kindness. But Pearl also has wings. They blossom at moments of stress. And she is strong; an extraordinary, terrifying strength capable of breaking the fabric of reality. The Resistance can’t account for that, nor for Pearl’s mysterious origins. All anyone knows is that she appeared in a New York junkyard in the early 21st century. Truth is, Pearl doesn’t really know what she is, let alone who she is. Now she is on pell-mell chase across the world. In pursuit of a killer wearing another man’s body. The killer carries a briefcase that is a ragged hole in the Universe. A global conspiracy revolves around it. The nature of reality is determined by it. Pearl’s got to get the briefcase back – no matter how shocking its contents may turn out to be.

This came out a while ago in the UK, to much acclaim, and now it’s on the way to North America. Occupy Me is due to be published in North America by Titan Books, in September; and is out now in the UK published by Gollancz.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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Tchaikovsky-ExpertSystemsBrotherAdrian Tchaikovsky, THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER (Tor.com)

After an unfortunate accident, Handry is forced to wander a world he doesn’t understand, searching for meaning. He soon discovers that the life he thought he knew is far stranger than he could even possibly imagine.

Can an unlikely saviour provide the answers to the questions he barely comprehends?

One of my most-anticipated books of the year. It should really go without saying, at this point, that Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of my favourite authors. So, I started reading this very soon after I got it (I should finish it later this afternoon — it’s really good and an interesting take on the genre). The Expert System’s Brother is published by Tor.com 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”, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places”, “Eye of the Spider”, and “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Guns of the DawnEmpire in Black & GoldSpiderlight and Ironclads

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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TeoS-PontiUSSharlene Teo, PONTI (Simon & Schuster)

“I am Miss Frankenstein, I am the bottom of the bell curve.” So declares Szu, a teenager living in a dark, dank house on a Singapore cul-de-sac, at the beginning of this richly atmospheric and endlessly surprising tale of non-belonging and isolation.

Friendless and fatherless, Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress — who gained fame for her portrayal of a ghost — and now a hack medium performing séances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into a fraught friendship that will haunt them both for decades to come.

With remarkable emotional acuity, dark comedy, and in vivid prose, Sharlene Teo’s Ponti traces the suffocating tangle the lives of four misfits, women who need each other as much as they need to find their own way. It is an astounding portrayal of the gaping loneliness of adolescence, the surrealness of the modern city, and the strangeness of living with and loving other people.

A friend of mine said they’d just read this one and enjoyed it, so when it popped up on Edelweiss, I decided to give it a try. It sounds really interesting. Ponti is due to be published in North America by Simon & Schuster in November 2018; and was published in the UK by Picador, back in April 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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TrudeauGB-SadG.B. Trudeau, #SAD! (Andrews)

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist whose acclaimed Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump blew up the bestseller list, comes the sequel millions prayed would be unnecessary. #SAD!: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump tracks the shocking victory, the inept transition, and the tumultuous eternity of POTUS’s First 500 Days.

Citizens who rise every morning in dread, braced for disruptive, Randomly Capitalized, atrociously grammarized, horrably speld, toxic tweeting from the Oval Office, can curl up at night with this clarifying collection of hot takes  on the First Sociopath, his enablers, and their appalling legacy. Whether resisting or just persisting, readers will find G.B. Trudeau’s cartoons are just the thing to ease the pain of remorse (“Could I have done more to prevent this?”) and give them a shot at a few hours of unfitful sleep.

There are worse things to spend your tax cut on.

#SAD! is the new Trump-era collection from Doonesbury creator G.B. Trudeau. I really enjoyed Yuge!, his prescient collection of Trump strips from (mostly) pre-2016, and while there is always a certain amount of psychological angst whenever one reads anything about Trump, Trudeau has a fantastic knack for skewering everything about the Mango Mussolini (h/t to Larry Wilmore for that epithet). I started reading #SAD! the same day that I got it. Review very soon. #SAD! is due to be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing in North America and in the UK, on September 18th, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via NetGalley

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WagersKB-FW1-ThereBeforeTheChaosK.B. Wagers, THERE BEFORE THE CHAOS (Orbit)

The battle for the throne is over. The war for the galaxy is just beginning.

Hail Bristol, infamous galactic gunrunner and former runaway princess, never expected to inherit the throne of Indrana. But after avenging the murder of her entire family and cleansing the Empire of usurpers in a bloody civil war, the former outlaw must fulfill her duties to her people. Hail retires her gun and throws herself into the rebuilding of her Empire.

Her hard-won peace is short-lived. When Indrana’s closest ally asks Hail to intervene in an interstellar military crisis, she embarks on the highest stakes diplomatic mission the Empire has ever faced. Caught between two alien civilizations at each other’s throats, she must uncover each side’s true intentions before all of humanity becomes collateral damage in a full-blown galactic war.

This is the first book in The Farian War, Wagers’s second sci-fi trilogy featuring Hail Bristol. This is great news! But it also shames me, because I have fallen way behind on the first series, The Indranan War… It’s fun, fast-paced and entertaining. Highly recommended. There Before the Chaos is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on October 9th, 2018.

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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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WhiteCJ-VS3-StaticRuinCorey J. White, STATIC RUIN (Tor.com)

She killed the man who trained her. She killed the fleet that came for her. She killed the planet that caged her. Now she must confront her father.

Mars Xi is on the run, a bounty on her head and a kill count on her conscience. All she has left are her mutant cat Ocho and her fellow human weapon Pale, a young boy wracked by seizures who can kill with a thought. She needs him treated, and she needs to escape, and the only thread left to pull is her frayed connection to her father, Marius Teo. That thread will take her to the outskirts of the galaxy, to grapple with witch-cults and privately-owned planets, and into the hands of the man who engineered her birth.

This is the third novella in White’s Voidwitch Saga series, following Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow. Now that I have all three, I think I’m going to try to binge-read them together at some point in the near future. Static Run is published by Tor.com in November 2018, in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Corey J. White (2017)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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YouersR-HalcyonUSRio Youers, HALCYON (St. Martin’s Press)

HALCYON is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems. A beautiful island in the middle of Lake Ontario — a self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed. Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth — however terrible it might be — behind the island and its mysterious founder, Mother Moon.

This caught my attention. Youers is an author whose novels always sound interesting, but for some reason I keep forgetting to get them or read them. Hopefully I’ll address this oversight in the near future. Halcyon is published in North America by St. Martin’s Press, and in the UK by Titan Books.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher

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ZahnT-SW-Thrawn2-AlliancesTimothy Zahn, THRAWN: ALLIANCES (Century)

“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root — its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs — including the Death Star project — the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown… and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance — neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged — by a test of their allegiance to the Empire… and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

The second novel featuring Thrawn in the new Star Wars expanded universe. The original Thrawn Trilogy (also by Zahn) features probably my three favourite SW novels (thinking about them makes me realize just how long it’s been since I last read them — decades!). I haven’t yet had the chance to read Thrawn, but I’m looking forward to getting caught up with this fantastic character. Thrawn: Alliances is published in the UK by Century, and in North America by Del Rey.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher

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