Featuring: Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Barbara Bourland, Douglas Brinkley, Justin Call, Melissa Caruso, James S.A. Corey, David Dalglish, Arwen Elys Dayton, James Ellroy, William R. Forstchen, James Alan Gardner, Danny Goldberg, Christopher Golden, John Gwynne, Bobby Hall, Wayne Holloway, Harris & Nick Katleman, Janna King, Snorri Kristjansson, Stéphane Larue, Elise Levine, David Mack, Wil Medearis, K.J. Parker, Brian Raftery, Astrid Scholte, Cavan Scott, Adam Scovell, Ian St. Martin, Douglas Waller, Joakim Zander, Helen Zia
[UK Links are Amazon Affiliate Links, just FYI]
Raphael Bob-Waksberg, SOMEONE WHO WILL LOVE YOU IN ALL YOUR DAMAGED GLORY (Knopf)
From the creator and executive producer of the beloved and universally acclaimed television series BoJack Horseman, a fabulously off-beat collection of short stories about love — the best and worst thing in the universe
Written with all the scathing dark humor that is a hallmark of BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s stories will make readers laugh, weep, and shiver in uncomfortably delicious recognition. In “A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion,” a young couple planning a wedding is forced to deal with interfering relatives dictating the appropriate number of ritual goat sacrifices. “Missed Connection–m4w” is the tragicomic tale of a pair of lonely commuters eternally failing to make that longed-for contact. The members of a rock band in “Up-and-Comers” discover they suddenly have superpowers–but only when they’re drunk. And in “The Serial Monogamist’s Guide to Important New York City Landmarks,” a woman maps her history of romantic failures based on the places she and her significant others visited together.
Equally at home with the surreal and the painfully relatable (or both at once), Bob-Waksberg delivers a killer combination of humor, romance, whimsy, cultural commentary, and crushing emotional vulnerability. The resulting collection is a punchy, perfect bloody valentine.
I have still not seen BoJack Horseman, despite it sounding rather good. I’ll probably end up reading this collection before I’m able to watch the show, but I’m eager to do both. Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory is due to be published by Knopf on June 11th, 2019.
Barbara Bourland, FAKE LIKE ME (Grand Central)
Cary Logan was the prodigal wild child of the New York art scene, and my idol.
I was a no-name painter from the Florida backwater, crawling my way into their world.
When she died, she left a space that couldn’t be filled. Except, maybe, by
After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months — or ruin her fledgling career. Homeless and desperate, she begs her way into an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan drowned in the lake.
As the young painter works obsessively in Carey’s former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall — hard and fast — for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, it’s as if she’s taking her place. But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?
Bourland’s previous novel, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead caught my attention — like many, however, I still haven’t had a chance to finish it. With this one on the horizon, I think I’ll have to get caught up ASAP. I’m looking forward to reading this. Fake Like Me is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (June) and Riverrun in the UK (July).
Douglas Brinkley, AMERICAN MOONSHOT (Harper)
As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award winning historian and perennial New York Timesbestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”—President John F. Kennedy
On May 25, 1961, JFK made an astonishing announcement: his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In this engrossing, fast-paced epic, Douglas Brinkley returns to the 1960s to recreate one of the most exciting and ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. American Moonshotbrings together the extraordinary political, cultural, and scientific factors that fueled the birth and development of NASA and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, which shot the United States to victory in the space race against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
Drawing on new primary source material and major interviews with many of the surviving figures who were key to America’s success, Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as never before. American Moonshot is a portrait of the brilliant men and women who made this giant leap possible, the technology that enabled us to propel men beyond earth’s orbit to the moon and return them safely, and the geopolitical tensions that spurred Kennedy to commit himself fully to this audacious dream. Brinkley’s ensemble cast of New Frontier characters include rocketeer Wernher von Braun, astronaut John Glenn and space booster Lyndon Johnson.
Aside from what I’ve read in more broad biographies and histories of the time, I don’t really know as much as I would like about the space program. Luckily, this was available for review. Hope to read it very soon. American Moonshot is due to be published by Harper on April 2nd, 2019.
Justin Call, MASTER OF SORROWS (Gollancz)
You have heard the story before — of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.
But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?
What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world… or destroy it?
Among the Academy’s warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.
Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil.
Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is… and the darker truth of what he may become…
I’ve been really looking forward to reading this one ever since I first heard about it. Seems that 2019 will have a few novels featuring fantasy protagonists who weren’t born to be the hero… Which is rather cool. The first in the Silent Gods series, Master of Sorrows is published by Gollancz on February 21st.
Also on CR: Interview with Justin Call (2019)
Melissa Caruso, THE UNBOUND EMPIRE (Orbit)
Political scion Amalia and her bound fire warlock Zaira must save the Empire from a ruthless, magical enemy…
While winter snows keep the Witch Lord Ruven’s invading armies at bay, Lady Amalia Cornaro and the fire warlock Zaira attempt to change the fate of mages in the Raverran Empire forever, earning the enmity of those in power who will do anything to keep all magic under tight imperial control. But in the season of the Serene City’s great masquerade, Ruven executes a devastating surprise strike at the heart of the Empire – and at everything Amalia holds most dear.
To stand a chance of defeating Ruven, Amalia and Zaira must face their worst nightmares, expose their deepest secrets, and unleash Zaira’s most devastating fire.
James S.A. Corey, TIAMAT’S WRATH (Orbit)
Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper.
In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.
At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess.
And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule — and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose — seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough…
The eighth novel in Corey’s best-selling, critically-acclaimed sci-fi series (the basis for the Expanse TV series, too). I really need to catch up on these novels (and the series, now that it’s on Amazon Prime)! Tiamat’s Wrath is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in late-March 2019.
Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Abraham (2012)
David Dalglish, SOULKEEPER (Orbit)
When ancient magic suddenly returns to his land, a warrior priest must answer the call and protect his world from monsters that were once only legend…
Devin Eveson is a Soulkeeper, traveling through remote villages as a preacher and healer. But when a mysterious black water washes over the world, the veil is torn, flooding the land with ancient magic and forgotten races: fire that dances as if alive, corpses that walk, and creatures that can manipulate time itself. And not all the creatures that have re-awakened remember humanity fondly.
As the land grows more dangerous and more chaotic, Soulkeepers are turning up dead, their bodies transformed into macabre works of art. Devin must set aside his words of peace and accept his new role: slayer of monsters and protector of the human race.
The first in a new series (The Keepers) by a prolific fantasy author. It sounds pretty interesting, too. Soulkeeper is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in mid-March 2019.
Also on CR: Interview with David Dalglish (2017)
Arwen Elys Dayton, STRONGER, FASTER, AND MORE BEAUTIFUL (Voyager)
Are you ready for the future?
Black Mirror with a touch of Westworld re-wiring, STRONGER, FASTER, AND MORE BEAUTIFUL is a novel in six interconnected parts about what it means to be human and where those boundaries lie.
Set in our world, spanning the near to distant future, the author, Arwen Elys Dayton, explores the possible consequences of advanced medical breakthroughs and how they may shape and reshape humanity. From organ donation to plastic surgery to full bodily reconstruction, these stories take you by your (for now, organic) hand and lead you into a future where the line between person and machine becomes increasingly blurred.
Deeply thoughtful, poignant, horrifying, and action-packed, this novel strikes new ground while also seeming so strangely likely.
Just try to disconnect.
James Ellroy, THIS STORM (Knopf)
It is January, 1942. Torrential rainstorms hit L.A. A body is unearthed in Griffith Park. The cops rate it a routine dead-man job. They’re grievously wrong. It’s a summons to misalliance and all the spoils of a brand-new war.
Elmer Jackson is a corrupt Vice cop. He’s a flesh peddler and a bagman for the L.A. Chief of Police. Hideo Ashida is a crime-lab whiz, caught up in the maelstrom of the Japanese internment. Dudley Smith is an LAPD hardnose working Army Intelligence. He’s gone rogue and gone all-the-way Fascist. Joan Conville was born rogue. She’s a defrocked Navy lieutenant and a war profiteer to her core.
They’ve signed on for the dead-man job. They’ve got a hot date with History. They will fight their inner wars within The War with unstoppable fury.
This is the second novel in Ellroy’s Second L.A. Quartet (following Perfidia, which I haven’t yet read, but bought after receiving this new novel). It also features a character who has appeared in the first Quartet. I have no idea if it’s necessary to have read the other novels in order to enjoy this one. I think I’ll try to get Perfidia read first, at least, before diving into this one. Here’s how the author describes the novel, on his website:
“It’s the second volume of my Second L.A. Quartet. The first volume, Perfidia, was a mash-your-soul massive novel of L.A. in the month of December, 1941—the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This Storm picks up my noxious narrative of wartime L.A. on New Year’s Eve—’41 into ’42. Baaaaaaaaad juju is jumping in my smog-smacked fatherland—and YOU will have a fractiously fragged front-row seat!!!!! This Storm is chock-full of my trippingly trenchant crime shit, political shit, racial shit, cop shit, sex shit, and passionate men and women in love shit!!! It’s gonna bite the boogaloos of worldwide readers, en masse!!!!! And, that’s just half of the staggering story!!!!!”
That’s… quite the description. My interest is well and truly piqued. (I might ordinarily use an exclamation point there, but Ellroy used up all available exclamations in his paragraph…) This Storm is due to be published in North America by Knopf (June 4th) and in the UK by William Heinemann (May 30th).
William R. Forstchen, 48 HOURS (Forge)
A nail-biting and prescient thriller about a solar storm with the power to destroy the world’s electrical infrastructure
In 48 hours, the Earth will be hit by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun, a “Carrington Event” that has the power to shut down and possibly destroy the world’s electrical infrastructure. To try and prevent permanent damage, everything goes dark prior to the hit: global communications are shut down; hospital emergency generators are disconnected; the entire internet, media broadcasting, and cell phone systems are turned off.
Will the world’s population successfully defend itself in the wake of the CME, or will mass panic lead to the breakdown of society as we know it?
I haven’t read anything by Forstchen, yet, but this sounds like it could be quite entertaining. 48 Hours is out now, published by Forge Books.
Ronan Frost, WHITE PEAK (St. Martin’s Press)
Greg Rask, a dying tech billionaire, has invested millions chasing miracle cures. None of them are worth a damn, but he refuses to give up. Now, he’s gathering a team willing to go to the ends of the earth chasing life.
Each of Rask’s crew has beaten incredible odds to rise from the ashes of their old lives to where they are now. Together, their next task is to retrieve a painting that is believed to hide a map which, if genuine, marks it as a treasure of the Ahnenerbe, the occult wing of the SS, who had devoted dozens of expeditions in search of the three cintamani stones for their combined properties, and the lost city where they were rumored to lay hidden: Shambhala. But a mystical brotherhood sworn to protect the secrets of the ancients — the same secrets that allow its members to defy death — will stop at nothing to ensure that Rask’s crew fail.
In an adrenalin-pumping quest through some of the most savage terrains known to man, the crew will be pushed to the limits of endurance and beyond.
I was pleasantly surprised to have my request to review this novel approved. It has been pitched as perfect for fans of James Rollins and Matthew Reilly — both authors whose novels I find thoroughly entertaining and satisfying. White Peak is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America and in the UK, in May 2019.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
James Alan Gardner, THEY PROMISED ME THE GUN WASN’T LOADED (Tor)
Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven’t even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up in the hunt for a Mad Genius’s misplaced super-weapon.
But when Jools falls in with a modern-day Robin Hood and his band of super-powered Merry Men, she finds it hard to sort out the Good Guys from the Bad Guys — and to figure out which side she truly belongs on.
Especially since nobody knows exactly what the Gun does…
Also on CR: Interview with James Alan Gardner (2017)
Danny Goldberg, SERVING THE SERVANT (Ecco)
On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death comes a new perspective on one of the most compelling icons of our time — and the only book written by someone who knew him
In early 1991, top music manager Danny Goldberg agreed to take on Nirvana, a critically acclaimed new band from the underground music scene in Seattle. He had no idea that the band’s leader, Kurt Cobain, would become a pop-culture icon with a legacy arguably at the level of that of John Lennon, Michael Jackson, or Elvis Presley. Danny worked with Kurt from 1990 to 1994, the most impactful period of Kurt’s life. This key time saw the stratospheric success of Nevermind, which turned Nirvana into the most successful rock band in the world and made punk and grunge household terms; Kurt’s meeting and marriage to the brilliant but mercurial Courtney Love and their relationship that became a lightning rod for critics; the birth of their daughter, Frances Bean; and, finally, Kurt’s public struggles with addiction, which ended in a devastating suicide that would alter the course of rock history. Throughout, Danny stood by Kurt’s side as manager, and close friend.
Drawing on Goldberg’s own memories of Kurt, files that previously have not been made public, and interviews with, among others, Kurt’s close family, friends, and former bandmates, Serving the Servants sheds an entirely new light on these critical years. Casting aside the common obsession with the angst and depression that seemingly drove Kurt, Serving the Servants is an exploration of his brilliance in every aspect of rock and roll, his compassion, his ambition, and the legacy he wrought — one that has lasted decades longer than his career did. Danny Goldberg explores what it is about Kurt Cobain that still resonates today, even with a generation who wasn’t alive until after Kurt’s death. In the process, he provides a portrait of an icon unlike any that has come before.
Another book about Kurt Cobain. I’ve read quite a few, at this point (not least because every book about Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, apparently, also has to be a book predominantly about Nirvana). Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to reading this one. Serving the Servant is published by Ecco on April 2nd, in North America and in the UK.
Christopher Golden, THE PANDORA ROOM (St. Martin’s Press)
What happens when the original Pandora’s Box is discovered in an ancient subterranean city, stirring international conflict and exposing the archaeological team to curses, whispers, and the terror of a legendary plague…
In one ancient variation on the myth of Pandora’s Box, there were two jars, one for Pandora and one for her sister, Anesidora. One contained all the blessings of the gods, the other all the world’s curses. Now, in a subterranean city in Northern Iraq, archaeologist Sophie Durand has discovered a secret chamber covered in writing that confirms that version of the tale — a chamber which contains a single jar. “Weird shit” expert Ben Walker joins Sophie’s team just as the mystery deepens and grows ugly. Those who believe the myth want to know which jar has been found in the Pandora Room, the one containing blessings, or the one full of curses. Governments rush to lay claim, but jihadi forces aren’t waiting for the dust to settle. Whatever the jar contains, they want it, no matter who they have to kill… or what will emerge when they open it. For Sophie, Walker, and the others, the Pandora Room may soon become their tomb.
This is the latest thriller from Golden, and one that sounds quite interesting. It’s the second novel in the Ben Walker series (which started with Ararat) — I haven’t read the first book, yet, but I will do ASAP. Should appeal to readers and fans of James Rollins, Matthew Reilly and others of that ilk. Looking forward to reading it. The Pandora Room is published by St. Martin’s Press on April 23rd, 2019.
(Ararat is published in the UK by Headline, so there’s a chance that they will also publish the latest book in the series, but I couldn’t confirm at the time of writing.)
Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Golden (2013)
John Gwynne, A TIME OF BLOOD (Orbit)
DEFY THE DARKNESS. DEFEND THE LIGHT.
Drem and his friends are haunted by the horrors they witnessed at the battle at Starstone Lake: the screams of men being warped into beasts and the sight of a demon rising from the dead. But worse than any memory is Fritha, the demons’ deadly high priestess. And she is hunting them.
Concealed in Forn Forest, Riv knows her very existence as a half-breed is a threat to the Ben-Elim. She represents their most dangerous secret-and if the warrior angels find her, they won’t hesitate to silence her.
As the demonic forces multiply, they send a mighty host to overthrow the angel’s stronghold. Like heroes of old, Drem, Riv, and the Bright Star’s warriors must battle to save themselves and save their land. But can the light triumph when the dark is rising?
The second novel in Gwynne’s Of Blood and Bone epic fantasy series, and one I really want to get caught up on. (So many books, so little time…) A Time of Blood is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in mid-April 2019.
Bobby Hall, SUPERMARKET (Simon & Schuster)
Flynn is stuck — depressed, recently dumped, and living at his mom’s house. The supermarket was supposed to change all that. An ordinary job and a steady check. Work isn’t work when it’s saving you from yourself. But things aren’t quite as they seem in these aisles. Arriving to work one day to a crime scene, Flynn’s world begins to crumble as the secrets of his tortured mind are revealed. And Flynn doesn’t want to go looking for answers at the supermarket. Because something there seems to be looking for him. A darkly funny psychological thriller, Supermarket is a gripping exploration into madness and creativity. Who knew you could find sex, drugs, and murder all in aisle nine?
Bobby Hall is also known as “Logic”. Who is apparently a big deal, but before I started seeing buzz for this book, I don’t believe I’d ever heard of him. Sounds like it might be interesting, though, so I’m looking forward to reading it. Supermarket is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK, on March 26th, 2019.
Wayne Holloway, BINDLESTIFF (Influx)
2036. In a ramshackle, backwater United States, Marine Corp vet Frank Dubois journeys from L.A. to Detroit, seeking redemption for a life lived off the rails, in a country derailed from its own manifest destiny.
In present day Hollywood, a wannabe British film director hustles to get his movie ‘Bindlestiff’ off the ground starring ‘Frank’, a black Charlie Chaplin figure cast adrift in post-federal America.
Weaving together prose and screenplay Bindlestiff explores the power and responsibility of storytelling, revealing what lies behind the voices we read and the characters we see on screen.
We open with a simple image of a man mending a hole in his shoe using a cut off piece of rubber and a tube of glue. From there the story explodes into a broiling satire on race, identity, family, friendship, war, peace, sex, drugs but precious little rock and roll.
“If it’s broke, fix it.”
Thought this sounded interesting, and the publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy. Looking forward to giving it a try. Bindlestiff is out now, published by Influx Press.
Also on CR: Interview with Wayne Holloway (2019)
Harris & Nick Katleman, YOU CAN’T FALL OFF THE FLOOR (Rosetta Books)
From watching his colleague get shot in the testicles by a jealous producer to running Hollywood’s most successful television studio, Harris Katleman had a front row seat in the development of the television industry. Destined to become a classic account of the business side of entertainment, this book shares what really happened in the early careers of Hollywood stars and the development of iconic programs.
Through a number of hilarious accounts, Harris Katleman shares his journey from office boy to talent agent to television producer, and finally to studio head at both MGM and 20th Century Fox. Along the way, we meet industry giants including Rupert Murdoch, Bob Iger, Barry Diller, Marvin Davis, Kirk Kerkorian, Mark Goodson, and Lew Wasserman.
This goes beyond the story of a life in Hollywood. It is the story of crucial developments — how motion picture film libraries were opened for television licensing, how The Simpsons was birthed, and much more. It is also a collection of vital life lessons for anyone aspiring to establish a career in Hollywood.
The names are so famous and the stories so lively that this book reads like it was written about today’s Hollywood.
This sounds like it could be quite interesting. Don’t think I’d heard of Katleman before I saw this book listen on Edelweiss. Looking forward to reading it. You Can’t Fall Off the Floor is due to be published by Rosetta Books on June 25th, 2019.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Janna King, MALIBU BLUFF (Pegasus)
A fresh crew of seasonaires hit the California coast and make Malibu their playground in the sizzling and suspenseful follow-up to last summer’s must-read debut.
Every summer is designed as a dream for six twenty-something seasonaires chosen by Lyndon Wyld, the founder of her namesake clothing line. This summer takes these influential brand ambassadors to the West Coast, led by last season’s Mia, who has been roped back in after her mother’s death by a sweeter deal and the hope to leave her grief behind for the California sun. Mia is thankful that she won’t have to live with another former seasonaire, Presley, who is now handling Lyndon Wyld’s public relations in Los Angeles after making a meal out of being falsely accused of murder. In Malibu, Mia will share a stunning modern manse with Eve, an outspoken activist; Alex, a gorgeous boundary pusher; Chase, a professional surfer; Oliver, a preppy charmer; and Brandon, the son of Lyndon’s business partner, and the young producer of the brand’s new digital channel, which will up the seasonaires’ social media game.
Lyndon has doubled the salary for her flock to loll on Malibu’s beaches, hobnob at Hollywood parties, and live the “planned casual” SoCal lifestyle. Their antics are juicy entertainment for their throngs of fans and followers. But detractors from Mia’s past come back to haunt her. And when the line between what’s real and what’s staged gets blurred, the results could be deadly.
This is the second novel in King’s Seasonaires series. I haven’t had a chance to read the first novel, just yet, but I will do so before diving into this one. Malibu Bluff is published by Pegasus Books on May 7th, 2019.
Snorri Kristjansson, KIN (Jo Fletcher Books)
Everyone loves a family reunion.
970: For the first time since Helga was adopted, her family will be gathered in one place. But her siblings are coming with darkness in their hearts.
Everyone knows their father, the Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson, has a great chest of gold hidden somewhere on his land – and each of his heirs is determined to find it.
Then one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed. Kin has been slain.
All the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save an innocent from the axe, she’s got to solve the mystery – fast…
Lies. Manipulation. Murder. There’s nothing quite like family…
This is the new novel by the author of the Valhalla trilogy. The first in a new historical mystery series, it sounds really interesting (the second novel, Council, is due out in May). The paperback edition of Kin is due to be published in March 2019, by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK.
Stéphane Larue, THE DISHWASHER (Biblioasis)
It’s winter in Montreal, 2002, when a graphic design student’s gambling addiction starts to drag him under. In debt to the metal band that’s commissioned him to draw their album cover and ensnared in lies to his friends and his cousin, he takes the first job that promises a paycheck: dishwasher at La Trattoria, a high-end restaurant, where he finds himself thrust, on his first night, into roiling world of characters. A magnificent, hyperrealist debut, with a soundtrack by Iron Maiden, The Dishwasher plunges us into a world in which — for better or for worse — everyone depends on each other.
Thought this sounded really interesting, so decided to give it a shot. The Dishwasher is due to be published in May 2019 by Biblioasis.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Elise Levine, THIS WICKED TONGUE (Biblioasis)
In the dark and eerie style of Joy Williams and Karen Russell, this character-driven collection from Elise Levine is tough and tender, filled with complicated people longing for independence from the scripts of the past. From a sniping road-tripping couple in the desert to a cantankerous divinity-school candidate on the prairies to a frustrated cop in a cave in the south of France, This Wicked Tongue showcases the gritty and the sublime.
Always on the lookout for new authors to try (even if just new to me), and this collection caught my eye. Hopefully read it very soon. This Wicked Tongue is due to be published by Biblioasis in May 2019.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Wil Medearis, RESTORATION HEIGHTS (Hanover Square Press)
A young artist, a missing woman, and the tendrils of wealth and power that link the art scene in Brooklyn to Manhattan’s elite…
Reddick, a young, white artist, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically black Brooklyn neighborhood besieged by gentrification. He makes rent as an art handler, hanging expensive works for Manhattan’s one percent, and spends his free time playing basketball at the local Y rather than putting energy into his stagnating career. He is also the last person to see Hannah before she disappears.
When Hannah’s fiancé, scion to an old-money Upper East Side family, refuses to call the police, Reddick sets out to learn for himself what happened to her. The search gives him a sense of purpose, pulling him through a dramatic cross section of the city he never knew existed. The truth of Hannah’s fate is buried at the heart of a many-layered mystery that, in its unraveling, shakes Reddick’s convictions and lays bare the complicated machinations of money and power that connect the magisterial town houses of the Upper East Side to the unassuming brownstones of Bed-Stuy.
Restoration Heights is both a page-turning mystery and an in-depth study of the psychological fallout and deep racial tensions that result from economic inequality and unrestricted urban development. In lyrical, addictive prose, Wil Medearis asks the question: In a city that prides itself on its diversity and inclusivity, who has the final say over the future? Is it long-standing residents, recent transplants or whoever happens to have the most money? Timely, thought-provoking and sweeping in vision, Restoration Heights is an exhilarating new entry in the canon of great Brooklyn novels.
I spotted this in a catalogue a little while ago, and have been keen to read it ever since. It has also been pitched as for fans of Jonathan Lethem and Richard Price, which further piqued my interest. Restoration Heights is out now, published by Hanover Square Press in North America and in the UK.
K.J. Parker, SIXTEEN WAYS TO DEFEND A WALLED CITY (Orbit)
A siege is approaching, and the City has little time left to prepare. The people have no food and no weapons, and the enemy has sworn to slaughter them all.
Their only chance rests with a colonel of engineers – a despised outsider, a genius, a master of military and political strategy with the wrong color skin. He is the City’s only hope.
But nobody, rich or poor, wants to take orders from a jumped-up Milkface. Saving the City from itself might be more difficult than surviving the coming siege.
The start of a new fantasy series by one of the genre’s masters. Looking forward to reading this. Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City is due to be published by Orbit in North America and in the UK, in April 2019.
Brian Raftery, BEST. MOVIE. YEAR. EVER. (Simon & Schuster)
A celebration and analysis of the movies of 1999 — arguably the most groundbreaking year in American cinematic history.
In 1999, Hollywood as we know it exploded: Fight Club. The Matrix. Office Space. Election. The Blair Witch Project. The Sixth Sense. Being John Malkovich. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. American Beauty. The Virgin Suicides. Boys Don’t Cry. The Best Man. Three Kings. Magnolia. Those are just some of the landmark titles released in a dizzying movie year, one in which a group of daring filmmakers and performers pushed cinema to new limits — and took audiences along for the ride. Freed from the restraints of budget, technology (or even taste), they produced a slew of classics that took on every topic imaginable, from sex to violence to the end of the world. The result was a highly unruly, deeply influential set of films that would not only change filmmaking, but also give us our first glimpse of the coming twenty-first century. It was a watershed moment that also produced The Sopranos; Apple’s Airport; Wi-Fi; and Netflix’s unlimited DVD rentals.
Best. Movie. Year. Ever. is the story of not just how these movies were made, but how they re-made our own vision of the world. It features more than 130 new and exclusive interviews with such directors and actors as Reese Witherspoon, Edward Norton, Steven Soderbergh, Sofia Coppola, David Fincher, Nia Long, Matthew Broderick, Taye Diggs, M. Night Shyamalan, David O. Russell, James Van Der Beek, Kirsten Dunst, the Blair Witch kids, the Office Space dudes, the guy who played Jar-Jar Binks, and dozens more. It’s the definitive account of a culture-conquering movie year none of us saw coming… and that we may never see again.
Always on the look-out for new (and old) books on Hollywood history, biography and commentary/analysis. Spotted this one on Edelweiss, and thought it sounded interesting. The publisher was kind enough to approve my review request. Best. Movie. Year. Ever. is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and the UK, in mid-April 2019.
Astrid Scholte, FOUR DEAD QUEENS (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.
Cavan Scott, WARPED GALAXIES: ATTACK OF THE NECRON (Black Library)
Brave champions and the forces of the Imperium battle alien beasts and mechanical tyrants across the gulf of space.
On the hive world of Targian, Zelia Lor helps her mother search for ancient tech, digging up treasures of the past on the wind-blown plains. They are happy. They are safe. All that changes when the Necrons attack. Without warning, a host of robotic ships appear in the skies above Targian and rip the planet apart. Separated from her mother, Zelia must escape the doomed world, her only hope a scrambled transmission promising safety at a mysterious place known only as the Emperor’s Seat. Launched in an escape pod, she crashes on an icy wasteland far, far from home. But Zelia is not alone. She is joined by a rag-tag group of survivors – the street-tough juve Talen, gadget-obsessed Martian boy Mekki and super-intelligent alien-ape, Fleapit.
I wasn’t sure what to think, when Black Library announced that they were going to be releasing fiction for younger readers. I didn’t have the knee-jerk “OMG, they’re going to ruin WH40k!” reaction (I’m not a sociopath): as someone who has been interested in the settings since I was 11 (or thereabouts), it didn’t seem like a terrible idea to have an easier entry-point for younger enthusiasts. I just wondered how they were actually going to pull it off — after all, it is one of the most grimdarkiest of settings, not known for being remotely kid-friendly… Happily, I’ll now be able to see for myself. Attack of the Necron is the first to be available for review, and is due tube published by Black Library on February 19th, 2019. (While you’re at it, check out the Warhammer Adventures website, which is quite fun.)
Adam Scovell, MOTHLIGHT (Influx)
“The idea was lost but the memory was there.”
Phyllis Ewans, a prominent researcher in Lepidoptera and a keen walker, has died of old age. Thomas, a much younger fellow researcher of moths first met Phyllis when he was a child. He became her carer and companion, having rekindled her acquaintance in later life.
Increasingly possessed by thoughts that he somehow actually is Phyllis Ewans, and unable to rid himself of the feeling that she is haunting him, Thomas must discover her secrets through her many possessions and photographs, before he is lost permanently in a labyrinth of memories long past.
Steeped in dusty melancholy and analogue shadows, MOTHLIGHT is an uncanny story of grief, memory and the price of obsession.
This sounds kind of interesting. Mothlight is out now, published by Influx Press.
Also on CR: Interview with Adam Scovell (2019)
Ian St. Martin, ANGRON: SLAVE OF NUCERIA (Black Library)
As the Emperor travels the galaxy at the head of his Great Crusade, few events are as important as rediscovering his scattered sons, the primarchs, and bestowing them as the masters of their Legions. United, a Legion becomes a reflection of its primarch, both in his strengths and his flaws. For the Twelfth Legion, once the War Hounds and now the World Eaters, the line between strength and flaw is almost impossible to separate. Placed in command of a Legion he does not want, in service to a father he cannot forgive, Angron gives an ultimatum to his children, one that will set them down a path that they can never return from. So desperate for his acknowledgement, will the World Eaters follow their father and cast themselves in his broken image or will they resist? And will any of them ever learn who their father was truly meant to be?
The latest instalment in the Horus Heresy: Primarch series. I’ve been enjoying these novels — while not essential for the Horus Heresy series proper, each of the novels has added some extra depth to the stories of each of the Primarchs. Angron: Slave of Nuceria is published by Black Library in May 2019.
Douglas Waller, LINCOLN’S SPIES (Simon & Schuster)
A major addition to the history of the Civil War, Lincoln’s Spies is a riveting account of the secret battles waged by Union agents to save a nation. Filled with espionage, sabotage, and intrigue, it is also a striking portrait of a shrewd president who valued what his operatives uncovered.
Veteran journalist Douglas Waller, who has written ground-breaking intelligence histories, turns his sights on the shadow war of four secret agents for the North — three men and one woman. From the tense days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861 to the surrender at Appomattox four years later, Waller delivers a fast-paced narrative of the heroes — and scoundrels — who informed Lincoln’s generals on the enemy positions for crucial battles and busted up clandestine Rebel networks.
Famed detective Allan Pinkerton mounted a successful covert operation to slip Lincoln through Baltimore before his inauguration to foil an assassination attempt. But he failed as General George McClellan’s spymaster, delivering faulty intelligence reports that overestimated Confederate strength.
George Sharpe, an erudite New York lawyer, succeeded Pinkerton as spymaster for the Union’s Army of the Potomac. Recruiting skilled operatives, some of whom dressed in Rebel uniforms, Sharpe ran highly successful intelligence operations that outpaced anything the enemy could field.
Elizabeth Van Lew, a Virginia heiress who hated slavery and disapproved of secession, was one of Sharpe’s most successful agents. She ran a Union spy ring in Richmond out of her mansion, with dozens of agents feeding her military and political secrets she funneled to General Ulysses S. Grant as his army closed in on the Confederate capital. Van Lew became one of the unsung heroes of the war.
Lafayette Baker was a handsome Union officer with a controversial past, whose agents clashed with Pinkerton’s operatives. The unscrupulous Baker assembled a retinue of disreputable spies, thieves, and prostitutes to root out traitors in Washington, D.C. But he failed at his most important mission: uncovering the threat to Lincoln from John Wilkes Booth and his gang.
Behind these secret operatives was a president, one of our greatest, who was an avid consumer of intelligence and a ruthless aficionado of clandestine warfare, willing to take chances to win the war. Lincoln’s Spies, as Waller vividly depicts in his excellent new book, set the template for the dark arts the CIA would practice in the future.
This sounds fascinating. One can often question if we really need another book about President Abraham Lincoln, but I think this is an interesting and (to my knowledge) original angle from which to approach his administration and the American Civil War. I’m looking forward to reading this. Lincoln’s Spies is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in August 2019 in North America and in the UK.
Joakim Zander, THE FRIEND (Harper)
Jacob Seger arrives in Lebanon ready to embrace his future.
He’s landed his first job in the world of international diplomacy, and he’s determined to make a difference. But when Jacob meets the handsome and mysterious Yassim at a glamorous party, he quickly becomes swept up into a passionate, obsessive affair that renders everything else in his life insignificant.
Yassim is unpredictable and elusive. He claims it’s his work as a war photographer that takes him across the border into Syria, but when a Swedish intelligence office confronts Jacob with the claim that Yassim is wanted on terrorism charges, Jacob’s life is turned upside down. He doesn’t know who to believe or who he can trust. He only knows that he needs to flee Beirut — and fast.
At once a moving love story and a gripping adventure, The Friend is an intelligent, urgent thriller that casts light on the dark threats facing the world today.
I’m pretty sure I have all of Zander’s novels, and yet have not managed to actually read one, yet. Not sure why this keeps happening, because his novels all sound interesting. Hopefully I’ll rectify this oversight very soon. The Friend is due to be published by Harper in North America (June 25th) and Head of Zeus in the UK (March 7th).
Helen Zia, THE LAST BOAT TO SHANGHAI (Ballantine)
The dramatic real life stories of four young people caught up in the mass exodus of Shanghai in the wake of China’s 1949 Communist revolution — a heartrending precursor to the struggles faced by emigrants today.
Shanghai has historically been China’s jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city. The bustling metropolis was home to sophisticated intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and a thriving middle class when Mao’s proletarian revolution emerged victorious from the long civil war. Terrified of the horrors the Communists would wreak upon their lives, citizens of Shanghai who could afford to fled in every direction. Seventy years later, members of the last generation to fully recall this massive exodus have revealed their stories to Chinese American journalist Helen Zia, who interviewed hundreds of exiles about their journey through one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. From these moving accounts, Zia weaves together the stories of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.
Benny, who as a teenager became the unwilling heir to his father’s dark wartime legacy, must decide either to escape to Hong Kong or navigate the intricacies of a newly Communist China. The resolute Annuo, forced to flee her home with her father, a defeated Nationalist official, becomes an unwelcome exile in Taiwan. The financially strapped Ho fights deportation from the U.S. in order to continue his studies while his family struggles at home. And Bing, given away by her poor parents, faces the prospect of a new life among strangers in America. The lives of these men and women are marvellously portrayed, revealing the dignity and triumph of personal survival.
Herself the daughter of immigrants from China, Zia is uniquely equipped to explain how crises like the Shanghai transition affect children and their families, students and their futures, and, ultimately, the way we see ourselves and those around us. Last Boat Out of Shanghai brings a poignant personal angle to the experiences of refugees then and, by extension, today.
Early 20th Century Chinese history is a favourite topic of mine, so when I learned of this book I knew I was going to pick it up on release. (I think I learned of it via Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking and City of Devils, but I can’t recall exactly). Really looking forward to reading this. Last Boat Out of Shanghai is out now, published by Ballantine Books (it is also available to order in the UK).