New Books (October-November)

NewBooks-20181124

Featuring: Ben Aaronovitch, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Robert Jackson Bennett, Jonathan Carr, Ryan Chapman, James Charlesworth, P. Djèlí Clark, Michael Connelly, Lucy Foley, Gareth Hanrahan, Darius Hinks (x3), Glen Hirshberg, John Hornor Jacobs, Stephen King, Jenn Lyons, Patrick McGilligan, Seanan McGuire, Scotto Moore, Haruki Murakami, Sylvain Neuvel, James Patterson, Busy Philipps, James Rollins, Craig Russell, John Scalzi, Barry Strauss, Charles Stross, Michael J. Sullivan, Tracy Townsend, Paul Tremblay, Edward Wilson-Lee

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Aaronovitch-PG7-LiesSleepingUSBen Aaronovitch, LIES SLEEPING (Ace)

The seventh book of the bestselling Rivers of London urban fantasy series returns to the adventures of Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, as he solves magical crimes in the city of London.

The Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring him to justice.

But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that the Faceless Man, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan. A plan that has its roots in London’s two thousand bloody years of history, and could literally bring the city to its knees.

To save his beloved city Peter’s going to need help from his former best friend and colleague–Lesley May–who brutally betrayed him and everything he thought she believed in. And, far worse, he might even have to come to terms with the malevolent supernatural killer and agent of chaos known as Mr Punch….

The seventh novel in the wildly popular Peter Grant series! I’ve fallen quite behind on the series, but I’m really looking forward to getting caught up. (Assuming I can wrestle the book back from my family members, who jumped on it as soon as it arrived.) Lies Sleeping is out now, published by Ace Books in North America and Gollancz in the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher

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AdjeiBrenyah-FridayBlackNana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, FRIDAY BLACK (riverrun)

Racism, but “managed” through virtual reality

Black Friday, except you die in a bargain-crazed throng

Happiness, but pharmacological

Love, despite everything

Friday Black tackles urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explores the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In the first, unforgettable story of this collection, The Finkelstein Five, Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unstinting reckoning of the brutal prejudice of the US justice system. In Zimmer Land we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And Friday Black and How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.

Fresh, exciting, vital and contemporary, Friday Black will appeal to people who love Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, the TV show Black Mirror, the work of Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders, and anyone looking for stories that speak to the world we live in now.

A debut collection that has been showered with praise, so I decided to give it a try. Friday Black is out now, published by riverrun in the UK and Mariner Books in North America.

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BennettRJ-VigilanceRobert Jackson Bennett, VIGILANCE (Tor.com)

A dark science fiction action parable from an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence.

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize.

The TV audience is not the only one that’s watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this novella ever since it was announced. I started reading it almost as soon as I received it, too. I was not disappointed: excellent, disturbing, powerful. Very highly recommended. Vigilance is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on January 29th, 2019.

Also on CR: Interview with Robert Jackson Bennett (2012); City of Stairs and the Super Tropey Fantasy Checklist”; Excerpt from City of Stairs; Reviews of The Company Man, City of Stairs and Vigilance

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Review copy received from publisher

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CarrJ-MakeMeACityUSJonathan Carr, MAKE ME A CITY (Henry Holt)

A propulsive debut of visionary scale, Make Me a City embroiders fact with fiction to tell the story of Chicago’s 19th century, tracing its rise from frontier settlement to industrial colossus.

The tale begins with a game of chess — and on the outcome of that game hinges the destiny of a great city. From appalling injustice springs forth the story of Chicago, and the men and women whose resilience, avarice, and altruism combine to generate a moment of unprecedented civic energy.

A variety of irresistible voices deliver the many strands of this novel: those of Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable, the long-unheralded founder of Chicago; John Stephen Wright, bombastic speculator and booster; and Antje Hunter, the first woman to report for the Chicago Tribune. The stories of loggers, miners, engineers, and educators teem around them and each claim the narrative in turns, sharing their grief as well as their delight.

As the characters, and their ancestors, meet and part, as their possessions pass from hand to hand, the reader realizes that Jonathan Carr commands a grand picture, one that encompasses the heartaches of everyday lives as well as the overarching ideals of what a city and a society can and should be. Make Me a City introduces us to a novelist whose talent and ambition are already fully formed.

I spotted this in a catalogue shortly after my most recent visit to Chicago, and it immediately went on my must-read list. Make Me A City is due to be published in March 2019 by Henry Holt (North America) and Scribe (UK).

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Review copy received from publisher

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ClarkPD-HauntingOfTramCar015P. Djèlí Clark, THE HAUNTING OF TRAM CAR 015 (Tor.com)

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

This novella is set in the same world as Clark’s short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo, which I picked up in advance of reading this (it’s great, FYI). The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 19th, 2019.

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Review copy received from publisher

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ConnellyM-RB2-DarkSacredNightUSMichael Connelly, DARK SACRED NIGHT (Little, Brown)

Harry Bosch teams up with LAPD detective Renée Ballard to solve the murder of a young girl…

Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat — known in LAPD slang as “the late show” — and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin.

Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift — and she wants in.

The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.

Dark Sacred Night for the first time brings together these two powerhouse detectives in a riveting story that unfolds with furious momentum.

The second novel featuring Connelly’s excellent new character Renée Ballard brings her into Harry Bosch’s orbit. I loved the first novel featuring Ballard (The Late Show), and have since become quite addicted to Connelly’s novels — I blitzed through the first five Bosch novels shortly after reading the first Ballard, as well as The Poet. All of them have been excellent so far, and I intend to do another binge-read over the Christmas and New Year period. If you haven’t read Connelly yet, then I strongly urge you to do so. Dark Sacred Night is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Orion in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Black EchoThe Black IceThe Concrete Blonde and The Last Coyote, and The Late Show

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FoleyL-HuntingPartyUSLucy Foley, THE HUNTING PARTY (William Morrow)

Everyone’s invited… everyone’s a suspect…

A group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge… and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands — the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead… and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

This novel is generating a certain amount of buzz in advance of its publication. It’s still relatively quiet, but I’ve certainly started to see more and more mentions of it. I am, therefore, rather looking forward to reading it and pleased to have a review copy. The Hunting Party is due to be published in North America by William Morrow (February) and Harper Collins in the UK (December 3rd).

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HanrahanG-BIL1-GutterPrayerGareth Hanrahan, THE GUTTER PRAYER (Orbit)

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The city has always been. The city must finally end.

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.

I first spotted this book in a Hachette catalogue on Edelweiss, and I thought the synopsis sounded quite interesting. Then they released the cover, and I’m ashamed to say my interest ratcheted up even more. (I know, we shouldn’t focus on the cover, because it’s not necessarily a proper reflection of what’s in the book. But still. I’m shallow, on occasion.) Really looking forward to reading this. The Gutter Prayer is due to be published in January 2019 by Orbit Books, in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher

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HinksD-IngeniousDarius Hinks, THE INGENIOUS (Angry Robot)

Thousands of years ago, the city of Athanor was set adrift in time and space by alchemists, called the “Curious Men”. Ever since, it has accumulated cultures, citizens and species into a vast, unmappable metropolis.

Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles live off petty crime and gangland warfare in Athanor’s seediest alleys. Though they dream of returning home to lead a glorious revolution, Isten’s downward spiral drags them into a mire of addiction and violence. Isten must find a way to save the exiles and herself if they are ever to build a better, fairer world for the people of their distant homeland.

I’ve been a fan of Darius Hinks’s fiction for years. Thus far, though, I’ve only read his work that has been published by Black Library. I’m really looking forward to reading this new novel, set in a new fantasy world. It sounds fascinating. The Ingenious is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and North America.

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HinksD-40k-BlackstoneFortressDarius Hinks, BLACKSTONE FORTRESS (Black Library)

There are those in the great expanse of the galaxy that seek profit wherever it is to be found: the deal makers, the opportunists and explorers – the Rogue Traders. Granted power by an ancient charter, sanctioned by the Emperor Himself, these scoundrels, entrepreneurs and adventurers roam the galaxy in search of fortune and glory. None perhaps are as hungry for these twin-vices as Janus Draik. All but disowned by his wealthy family, regarded as a wayward son of ill repute and little potential, Draik knows he must restore his fortunes soon or his misadventures will see him destitute and discarded.

So it is then that when he finds a truly exceptional prize, one that will return him to his deserved station, Draik recruits a crew of fellow treasure seekers and sets them to the task. Draik’s obsession is all-consuming, and he will risk everything to obtain his prize and its many secrets, including his life or even that of his crew…

Hinks’s latest novel for Black Library is the story behind their new tabletop game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Blackstone Fortress is out now, published by Black Library (in North America and the UK, so far, probably other translations on the way).

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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HirshbergG-MC3-NothingToDevourUSGlen Hirshberg, NOTHING TO DEVOUR (Tor)

Librarian Emilia is alone in a library that is soon to close its doors forever. Alone save for one last patron, his head completely swathed in bandages, his hands gloved, not one inch of skin exposed. Emilia feels sorry for him — like her, he is always alone.

Today, he sees, really sees, Emilia.
What he does to her then is unspeakable.

Thousands of miles away, another victim rises — a dead woman who still lives. Sophie is determined to protect the people she loves best in the world — but she is a monster.

To Jess, it doesn’t matter that Sophie was once as close to her as her own daughter. It doesn’t matter that Sophie’s baby died so that Jess’s grandson could live. It only matters that Sophie is a vampire.

Vampires can’t be trusted.
Even if they love you.

Aunt Sally loved all the monsters she’d created in the hundreds of years since she died and rose again. She loved her home in the bayou. When her existence was exposed to the human world, she didn’t hesitate to destroy her home, and her offspring, to save herself. Herself, and one special girl, Aunt Sally’s last chance to be a perfect mother.

These people are drawn together from across the United States, bound by love and hatred, by the desire for reunification and for revenge.

In their own ways, they are all monsters.
Some deserve to live.
Some do not.

This is the third novel in Hirshberg’s Motherless Children series. Unfortunately, I haven’t read the first two, so I’m not sure how quickly I’m going to be able to get around to this one. Nevertheless, the series does sound interesting, so I will try to read it soon. Nothing to Devour is published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK. It is out now.

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Review copy received from publisher

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JacobsJH-SeaDreamsItIsTheSkyJohn Hornor Jacobs, THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY (Voyager)

They had escaped their country, but they couldn’t escape the past

Having lost both her home and family to a brutal dictatorship, Isabel has fled to Spain, where she watches young, bronzed beauties and tries to forget the horrors that lie in her homeland. 

Shadowing her always, attired in rumpled linen suits and an eyepatch, is “The Eye,” a fellow ex-pat and poet with a notorious reputation. An unlikely friendship blossoms, a kinship of shared grief. Then The Eye receives a mysterious note and suddenly returns home, his fate uncertain.

Left with the keys to The Eye’s apartment, Isabel finds two of his secret manuscripts: a halting translation of an ancient, profane work, and an evocative testament of his capture during the revolution. Both texts bear disturbing images of blood and torture, and the more Isabel reads the more she feels the inexplicable compulsion to go home. 

It means a journey deep into a country torn by war, still ruled by a violent regime, but the idea of finding The Eye becomes ineluctable. Isabel feels the manuscripts pushing her to go. Her country is lost, and now her only friend is lost, too. What must she give to get them back? In the end, she has only herself left to sacrifice. 

THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY asks:

How does someone simply give up their home… especially when their home won’t let them?

I haven’t read as much of Jacobs’s fiction as I would like. This new novella, however, really caught my attention, and I hope to read it very soon. The Sea Dreams it is the Sky is out now, published by Harper Voyager in North America and in the UK.

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KingS-ElevationUSStephen King, ELEVATION (Scribner)

A riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together — a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade — but escalating — battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own — he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

A new short novel from one of the greatest modern authors. This one is billed as “an antidote to our divisive culture”, and sounds pretty interesting. I’ll read it very soon. Elevation is out now, published in North America by Scribner and in the UK by Hodder.

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LyonsJ-1-RuinOfKingsUSJenn Lyons, THE RUIN OF KINGS (Tor)

When destiny calls, there’s no fighting back.

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel’s son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless power plays and political ambitions.

Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he isn’t the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.

He’s destined to destroy it.

This must be one of the most-anticipated fantasy debuts of early 2019. The Ruin of Kings is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (February 5th) and in the UK (February 7th).

Follow of the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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MartineA-T1-AMemoryCalledEmpireArkady Martine, A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE (Tor)

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident — or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion — all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret — one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life — or rescue it from annihilation.

Another highly-anticipated 2019 debut, this one a space opera. A Memory Called Empire is published in April 2019 by Tor Books in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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McGilliganP-FunnyManMelBrooksUSPatrick McGilligan, FUNNY MAN (Harper)

Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy award–winner Mel Brooks was behind (and sometimes in front the camera too) of some of the most influential comedy hits of our time, including The 2,000 Year Old Man, Get Smart, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. But before this actor, writer, director, comedian, and composer entertained the world, his first audience was his family.

The fourth and last child of Max and Kitty Kaminsky, Mel Brooks was born on his family’s kitchen table in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, and was not quite three-years-old when his father died of tuberculosis. Growing up in a household too poor to own a radio, Mel was short and homely, a mischievous child whose birth role was to make the family laugh.

Beyond boyhood, after transforming himself into Mel Brooks, the laughs that came easily inside the Kaminsky family proved more elusive. His lifelong crusade to transform himself into a brand name of popular humor is at the center of master biographer Patrick McGilligan’s Funny Man. In this exhaustively researched and wonderfully novelistic look at Brooks’ personal and professional life, McGilligan lays bare the strengths and drawbacks that shaped Brooks’ psychology, his willpower, his persona, and his comedy.

McGilligan insightfully navigates the epic ride that has been the famous funnyman’s life story, from Brooks’s childhood in Williamsburg tenements and breakthrough in early television — working alongside Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner — to Hollywood and Broadway peaks (and valleys). His book offers a meditation on the Jewish immigrant culture that influenced Brooks, snapshots of the golden age of comedy, behind the scenes revelations about the celebrated shows and films, and a telling look at the four-decade romantic partnership with actress Anne Bancroft that superseded Brooks’ troubled first marriage. Engrossing, nuanced and ultimately poignant, Funny Man delivers a great man’s unforgettable life story and an anatomy of the American dream of success.

I’ve long been a fan of Brooks’s movies, so of course this was of interest. Funny Man is due to be published by Harper Collins on March 19th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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McGuireS-MiddlegameSeanan McGuire, MIDDLEGAME (Tor.com)

A world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities…

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

A new stand-alone novel from one of the hardest-working authors on the planet. I think it sounds really interesting, so I’ll be reading it very soon. Middlegame is due out in May 2019 (so I’ll hold off on the review), published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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MooreS-YourFavoriteBandCannotSaveYouScotto Moore, YOUR FAVORITE BAND CANNOT SAVE YOU (Tor.com)

A story of music, obsession, violence, and madness by Scotto Moore

I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life.

Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band’s fans.

A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band’s lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret.

This caught my eye quite early on: as a music obsessive and sometime music blogger, I was drawn to the main character. And I like weird supernatural goings-on. I read this novella very soon after receiving it from the publisher. It did not disappoint! (I’ll have a review up soon.) Your Favourite Band Cannot Save You is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 5th, 2019.

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Review copy received from publisher

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MurakamiH-KillingCommendatoreUSHaruki Murakami, KILLING COMMENDATORE (Doubleday)

A thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada.

When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors.

A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art — as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby — Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

I still have never read anything by Murakami. I have no idea how this has happened, given that I’ve bought a few of his books over the years. I just keep forgetting to read them. This one, though, sounds really interesting, so I might dive into it pretty soon. Maybe in December, over the New Year. Killing Commendatore is published by Doubleday in North America and Harvill Secker in the UK.

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NeuvelS-TestSylvain Neuvel, THE TEST (Tor.com)

Britain, the not-too-distant future.

Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.

He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.

How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

Interesting premise. Good author. Looking forward to trying this pretty soon! The Test is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 12th, 2019.

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Review copy received from publisher

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PattersonJ-AC26-TargetAlexCrossUSJames Patterson, TARGET: ALEX CROSS (Little, Brown)

A killer elite — six assassins — are on the loose. So is Alex Cross.

A leader has fallen, and Alex Cross joins the procession of mourners from Capitol Hill to the White House. Then a sniper’s bullet strikes a target in the heart of DC.

Alex Cross’s wife, Bree Stone, newly elevated chief of DC detectives must solve the case or lose her position. The Secret Service and the FBI deploy as well in the race to find the shooter.

Alex is tasked by the new President to lead an investigation unprecedented in scale and scope.

But is the sniper’s strike only the beginning of a larger attack on the nation?

This is the 26th novel in Patterson’s insanely popular Alex Cross series. I’ve read almost all of them, and they have pretty much all be entertaining reads. I’ll read this very soon. Target: Alex Cross is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Century in the UK.

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PhilippsB-ThisWillOnlyHurtALittleBusy Philipps, THIS WILL ONLY HURT A LITTLE (Touchstone)

There’s no stopping Busy Philipps. From the time she was two and “aced out in her nudes” to explore the neighborhood (as her mom famously described her toddler jailbreak), Busy has always been headstrong, defiant, and determined not to miss out on all the fun. These qualities led her to leave Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of nineteen to pursue her passion for acting in Hollywood. But much like her painful and painfully funny teenage years, chasing her dreams wasn’t always easy and sometimes hurt more than a little.

In this stunningly candid memoir, Busy opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating personal and professional betrayals from those she loved best, and struggling with postpartum anxiety and the challenges of motherhood.

But Busy also brings to the page her sly sense of humor and the unshakeable sense that disappointment shouldn’t stand in her way — even when she’s knocked down both figuratively and literally (from a knee injury at her seventh-grade dance to a violent encounter on the set of Freaks and Geeks). The rough patches in her life are tempered by times of hilarity and joy: leveraging a flawless impression of Cher from Clueless into her first paid acting gig, helping reinvent a genre with cult classic Freaks and Geeks, becoming fast friends with Dawson’s Creek castmate Michelle Williams, staging her own surprise wedding, conquering natural childbirth with the help of a Mad Men–themed hallucination, and more.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram and now to the page, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it??”

I haven’t seen as much of Philipps’s work as I had originally thought. I’ve seen her in Freaks & Geeks (superb), and some of Cougar Town, as well as many of her guest-spots. This Will Only Hurt a Little is out now, published by Touchstone in North America and Sphere in the UK.

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RollinsJ-SF-CrucibleUSJames Rollins, CRUCIBLE (William Morrow)

In the race to save one of their own, Sigma Force must wrestle with the deepest spiritual mysteries of mankind…

Arriving home on Christmas Eve, Commander Gray Pierce discovers his house ransacked, his pregnant lover missing, and his best friend’s wife, Kat, unconscious on the kitchen floor. With no shred of evidence to follow, his one hope to find the woman he loves and his unborn child is Kat, the only witness to what happened. But the injured woman is in a semi-comatose state and cannot speak — until a brilliant neurologist offers a radical approach to “unlock” her mind long enough to ask a few questions.

What Pierce learns from Kat sets Sigma Force on a frantic quest for answers that are connected to mysteries reaching back to the Spanish Inquisition and to one of the most reviled and blood-soaked books in human history — a Medieval text known as the Malleus Maleficarum, the Hammer of Witches. What they uncover hidden deep in the past will reveal a frightening truth in the present and a future on the brink of annihilation, and force them to confront the ultimate question: What does it mean to have a soul?

This is the fourteenth novel in the Sigma Force series. I still have a few of the previous novels to catch up on, but I’m eager to do so ASAP. Much fun, adventure- and action-filled novels. Crucible is due to be published by William Morrow in North America (2019), and will be available in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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RussellC-DevilAspectUKCraig Russell, THE DEVIL ASPECT (Constable)

Six confined psychopaths. A killer on the loose

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics — the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ — are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.

Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?

Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

Thought this sounded interesting. Looking forward to giving it a try. The Devil Aspect is due to be published in March 2019 by Constable in the UK and Doubleday.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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ScalziJ-2-ConsumingFireUSJohn Scalzi, THE CONSUMING FIRE (Tor)

The Interdependency — humanity’s interstellar empire — is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded.

Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth — or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power.

While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are prepare for a civil war. A war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will between spaceships and battlefields.

The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire.

The follow-up to The Collapsing Empire. Really looking forward to reading this series (I’m slow, I know). The Collapsing Fire is out now, published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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StraussB-TenCaesarsUSBarry Strauss, TEN CAESARS (Simon & Schuster)

The story of three and a half centuries of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of the most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine.

Barry Strauss’s Ten Caesars is the story of the Roman Empire from rise to reinvention, from Augustus, who founded the empire, to Constantine, who made it Christian and moved the capital east to Constantinople.

During these centuries Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. The empire reached from modern-day Britain to Iraq, and gradually emperors came not from the old families of the first century but from men born in the provinces, some of whom had never even seen Rome. By the fourth century, the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus.

In the imperial era Roman women — mothers, wives, mistresses — had substantial influence over the emperors, and Strauss also profiles the most important among them, from Livia, Augustus’s wife, to Helena, Constantine’s mother. But even women in the imperial family faced limits and the emperors often forced them to marry or divorce for purely political reasons.

Rome’s legacy remains today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who shaped it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian and Constantine. Over the ages, they learned to maintain the family business — the government of an empire — by adapting when necessary and always persevering no matter the cost. Ten Caesars is essential history as well as fascinating biography.

Haven’t read any of Strauss’s other books, but I’ve always been fascinated by the Roman Caesars (I think it began when I saw I, Claudius at probably-too-young-an-age). This book looks very interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Ten Caesars is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK, in March 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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StrossC-LF09-LabyrinthIndexUKCharles Stross, THE LABYRINTH INDEX (Orbit)

Britain is under New Management. The disbanding of the Laundry — the British espionage agency that deals with supernatural threats, has culminated in the unthinkable — an elder god in residence in 10 Downing Street.

But in true ‘the enemy of my enemy’ fashion, Mhari Murphy finds herself working with His Excellency Nylarlathotep on foreign policy — there are worse things, it seems, than an elder god in power, and they lie in deepest, darkest America.

A thousand-mile-wide storm system has blanketed the midwest, and the president is nowhere to be found – Mhari must lead a task force of disgraced Laundry personnel into the storm front to discover the truth. But working for an elder god is never easy, and as the stakes rise, Mhari will soon question exactly where her loyalties really lie.

The ninth book in Stross’s fan-favourite Laundry Files series. The Labyrinth Index is published by Orbit in the UK, and Tor.com in the US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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SullivanMJ-RC4-DisappearanceOfWintersDaughterMichael J. Sullivan, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WINTER’S DAUGHTER

A daughter vanishes. Two rogues are paid a fortune to find her. It isn’t enough.

When Gabriel Winter’s daughter mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead, the wealthy whiskey baron seeks revenge. Having lived in Colnora during the infamous Year of Fear, he hires the one man he knows can deliver a bloody retribution – the notorious Duster.

Ride with Royce and Hadrian as the cynical ex-assassin and idealistic ex-mercenary travel to a mysterious old-world city filled with nobles claiming descent from the imperial aristocracy. Riyria’s job appears easy: discover what happened to the missing duchess and, if she lives, bring her home . . . if not, punish those responsible. But nothing is simple in the crowded, narrow, mist-filled streets of Rochelle, where more than one ancient legend lurks.

I have fallen way behind on Sullivan’s books. Like many people, I was introduced to his work when Orbit picked up his already-successful Riyria Revelations series. I devoured them in quick, happy succession. His follow-up series, a prequel, came out when I wasn’t at all in a fantasy-reading-mood, and so it fell by the wayside a bit. It’s a shame, because I love the characters, and Sullivan is a very good storyteller. I’m going to have to rectify this dithering soon, and get caught up. In the meantime, The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is the fourth book in the aforementioned prequel series, the Riyria Chronicles. It’s out now in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Michael J. Sullivan (2011); Guest Posts on “Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy” and “History & Riyria”; Reviews of Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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TownsendT-2-FallTracy Townsend, THE FALL (Pyr)

An apothecary clerk and her ex-mercenary allies travel across the world to discover a computing engine that leads to secrets she wasn’t meant to know — secrets that could destroy humanity.

Eight months ago, Rowena Downshire was a half-starved black market courier darting through the shadows of Corma’s underside. Today, she’s a (mostly) respectable clerk in the Alchemist’s infamous apothecary shop, the Stone Scales, and certainly the last girl one would think qualified to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders a second time. Looks can be deceiving.

When Anselm Meteron and the Alchemist receive an invitation to an old acquaintance’s ball — the Greatduke who financed their final, disastrous mercenary mission fourteen years earlier — they’re expecting blackmail, graft, or veiled threats related to the plot to steal the secrets of the Creator’s Grand Experiment. They aren’t expecting a job offer they can’t refuse or a trip halfway across the world to rendezvous with the scholar whose research threw their lives into tumult: the Reverend Doctor Phillip Chalmers.

Escorting Chalmers to the Grand Library of Nippon with her mismatched mercenary family is just a grand adventure to Rowena until she discovers a powerful algebraic engine called the Aggregator. The Aggregator leads Rowena to questions about the Grand Experiment she was never meant to ask and answers she cannot be allowed to possess. With her reunited friends, Rowena must find a way to use the truths hidden in the Grand Library to disarm those who would hunt down the nine subjects of the Creator’s Grand Experiment, threatening to close the book on this world.

This is the second novel in Townsend’s Thieves of Fate series, following The Nine. I somehow managed to completely miss the first novel when it first came out. I’ll try to hunt it down in order to also read this one. The Fall is published in North America and in the UK by Pyr Books, in January 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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TremblayP-GrowingThingsUSPaul Tremblay, GROWING THINGS AND OTHER STORIES (William Morrow)

A masterful anthology featuring nineteen pieces of short fiction, The Growing Things is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination.

In “The Teacher,” a Bram Stoker Award nominee for best short story, a student is forced to watch a disturbing video that will haunt and torment her and her classmates’ lives.

Four men rob a pawn shop at gunpoint only to vanish, one-by-one, as they speed away from the crime scene in “The Getaway.”

In “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks,” a meth addict kidnaps her daughter from her estranged mother as their town is terrorized by a giant monster… or not.

Joining these haunting works are stories linked to Tremblay’s previous novels. The tour de force metafictional novella “Notes from the Dog Walkers” deconstructs horror and publishing, possibly bringing in a character from A Head Full of Ghosts, all while serving as a prequel to Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. “The Thirteenth Temple” follows another character from A Head Full of Ghosts—Merry, who has published a tell-all memoir written years after the events of the novel. And the title story, “Growing Things,” a shivery tale loosely shared between the sisters in A Head Full of Ghosts, is told here in full.

From global catastrophe to the demons inside our heads, Tremblay illuminates our primal fears and darkest dreams in startlingly original fiction that leaves us unmoored. As he lowers the sky and yanks the ground from beneath our feet, we are compelled to contemplate the darkness inside our own hearts and minds.

I’ve always wanted to read some of Tremblay’s work, but for some reason I keep forgetting to do so. This new collection of short fiction should be a nice place to start. Growing Things and Other Stories is due to be published in North America by William Morrow (July 2019).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Various, BLACK LIBRARY NOVELLA SERIES 1 (Black Library)

BlackLibraryNovellas-01CoversSM

From the jungles of the 41st Millennium, where the Adepta Sororitas of the Order of the Bloody Rose bring fire and fury to the Emperor’s foes, to the darkest reaches of the Mortal Realms, in which a Darkoath Warqueen defends her lands from rival worshippers of the Dark Gods, this collection of ten novellas explores the Warhammer universes in a series of exciting and action-packed stories. The larger-than-life heroes of the Adeptus Custodes, an aelven privateer on a personal mission and even the Slayer himself, Gotrek Gurnisson, will thrill you with their adventures. You’ll also take an excursion in the underhive of Necromunda where an Escher gang fight for survival, witness an Astra Militarum tank crew in battle and visit the Grave of Heroes. And for the first time, you can discover what the Ultramarines and Dark Angels were doing as Horus’ armies fell on the defenders of the Throneworld, in a pair of Horus Heresy novellas that form prequels to the Siege of Terra!

The Bloodied Rose by Danie Ware [WH40k] *
Steel Daemon by Ian St Martin [WH40k]
Auric Gods by Nick Kyme [WH40k] *
Spear of Ultramar by David Annandale [Horus Heresy] *
Dreadwing by David Guymer [Horus Heresy] *
Wanted: Dead by Mike Brooks [Necromunda] *
Warqueen by Darius Hinks [Age of Sigmar]
The Red Hours by Evan Dicken [Age of Sigmar]
The Bone Desert by Robbie MacNiven [Age of Sigmar, Gotrek]
Heart of Winter by Nick Horth [Age of Sigmar]

Black Library has always been great when it came to short fiction. They’ve released a few novella-length titles in the past, but they have now started what I hope will be a long series of novellas. These ten are the first series, and draw from each of their settings. I’ve already read the novellas followed by “*”, above. So far, they have all been very good. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest as soon as I can. The Black Library Novella Series is out now.

Also on CR: Quick reviews of Spear of Ultramar and Dreadwing

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WilsonLeeE-CatalogueOfShipwreckedBooksUSEdward Wilson-Lee, THE CATALOGUE OF SHIPWRECKED BOOKS (Scribner)

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books tells the story of the first and greatest visionary of the print age, a man who saw how the explosive expansion of knowledge and information generated by the advent of the printing press would entirely change the landscape of thought and society. He also happened to be Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son.

At the peak of the Age of Exploration, while his father sailed across the ocean to explore the boundaries of the known world, Hernando Colón sought to surpass Columbus’s achievements by building a library that would encompass the world and include “all books, in all languages and on all subjects.” In service of this vision, he spent his life travelling — first to the New World with his father in 1502, surviving through shipwreck and a bloody mutiny off the coast of Jamaica, and later, throughout Europe, scouring the bookstores of the day at the epicenter of printing. The very model of a Renaissance man, Hernando restlessly and obsessively bought thousands and thousands of books, amassing a collection based on the modern conviction that a truly great library should include the kind of material dismissed as ephemeral trash: ballads, pornography, newsletters, popular images, romances, fables. Using an invented system of hieroglyphs, he meticulously catalogued every item in his library, devising the first ever search engine for his rich profusion of books and images and music. A major setback in 1522 gave way to the creation of Hernando’s Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books and inspired further refinements to his library, including a design for the first modern bookshelves.

In this illuminating and brilliantly researched biography, Edward Wilson-Lee tells an enthralling story of the life and times of the first genius of the print age, a tale with striking lessons for our own modern experiences of information revolution and globalization.

Thought this sounded really interesting. The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books is due to be published in North America by Scribner in March 2019; and is out now in the UK, published by William Collins.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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