New Books (February-March)

NewBooks-20190310

Featuring: Katherine Addison, Jason Allen, Graham Edwards, David Gordon, Nancy Griffin, Rachel Harrison, Peter Holmes, Cameron Johnston, Richard Kadrey, Vylar Kaftan, David Koepp, Steven Kotler, Melissa Scrivner Love, Kim Masters, Una McCormack, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Robert Pobi, Taylor Jenkins Reid, David Ricciardi, Nathan Ripley, J. Michael Straczynski, Søren Sveistrup, Adrian Tchaikovsky (x2), Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Evan Winter

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AddisonK-TheGoblinEmperorUKKatherine Addison, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR (Solaris)

A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics.

Maia, the youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favour with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the spectre of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor.

Addison’s critically-acclaimed, award-nominated fantasy novel finally gets a UK release! I’ll hopefully read this soon. The Goblin Emperor is published by Solaris Books in the UK, and Tor Books in North America.

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

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AllenJ-EastEndUSJason Allen, THE EAST END (Park Row Books)

A tragic accident threatens to unravel two families in this gripping novel of suspense and culture clash set in the Hamptons.

Corey Halpern, a local high schooler with a troubled home life, is desperate to leave the Hamptons and start anew somewhere else. His last summer before college, he settles for the escapism he finds in sneaking into neighboring mansions.

One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks in to the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate, where he and his mother, Gina, work. Under the cover of darkness, Leo Sheffield — a billionaire CEO, patriarch and the owner of the vast lakeside manor — arrives unexpectedly with a companion. After a shocking poolside accident, everything depends on Leo burying the truth before his family and friends arrive for the holiday weekend. Unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened, as did other eyes in the shadows.

Secrecy, obsession and desperation dictate each character’s path in this spectacular debut. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina and Leo approach a common breaking point. With an ending as explosive as the Memorial Day fireworks on the island, The East End welcomes a bright new voice in fiction.

Thought this sounded interesting. Looking forward to reading it. The East End is due to be published by Park Row Books on May 7th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.

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

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EdwardsG-StringCityGraham Edwards, STRING CITY (Solaris)

THE UNIVERSE IS MADE OF STRING. WHEN THE KNOTS TIGHTEN, THE COSMOS QUAKES.

It’s a tough job being a gumshoe in an interdimensional city full of gods, living concepts and weirder things. Good thing I’m a stringwalker, able to jump between realities.

It started when I was hired to investigate an explosion at a casino. A simple heist, I thought, but it turned into a race to stop the apocalypse. So I rolled the dice, and now I’m up against the ancient Greek Titans, an interdimensional spider god and a mysterious creature known as the Fool. I’m going to need more than just luck to solve this one.

If I fail, all things — in all realities — could be destroyed.

Just another day in String City.

This novel has been generating a fair bit of buzz, so I’m looking forward to reading it as soon as I can. String City is out now, published by Solaris Books in the UK and North America.

Also on CR: Guest Post “Interview with the Gumshoe”

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

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GordonD-B2-HardStuffUSDavid Gordon, THE HARD STUFF (Mysterious Press)

Ex-black-ops-specialist-turned-strip-club-bouncer Joe Brody has a new qualification to add to his resume: an alliance of New York City’s mob bosses has deemed him its “sheriff.” In the straight world, when you “see something” you “say something” to the law. In the bent world, they call Joe.

Still reeling from a particularly difficult operation, and having plummeted back into the drug and alcohol addiction that got him kicked out of the military as a result, Joe has just managed to detox at the clinic of a Chinese herbalist when the mob bosses phone: they need Joe to help them swindle a group of opioid dealers (of all things). But these are no typical drug-ferrying gangsters. Little Maria, the head of the Dominican mob, has discovered that her new heroin suppliers belong to an al Qaeda splinter group, and that they’re planning to use their drug funds to back their terrorist agenda. With Joe in command, the mob coalition must pull off an intricate heist that will begin in Manhattan’s diamond district. At stake is not only their business, but the state of the world.

For readers who like a liberal dose of humor mixed with gritty crime, The Hard Stuff is a brilliant, action-packed thriller from a fresh virtuoso of the crime caper genre.

This is the follow-up to The Bouncer, which is rapidly climbing my TBR mountain. The Hard Stuff is published by Mysterious Press in July 2019.

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

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Griffin&Masters-Hit&RunNancy Griffin & Kim Masters, HIT AND RUN (Simon & Schuster)

Hit and Run tells the improbable and often hilarious story of how two Hollywood film packagers went on a campaign to reinvent themselves as studio executives — at Sony’s expense. Veteran reporters Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters chronicle the rise of Jon Peters, a former hairdresser, seventh-grade dropout, and juvenile delinquent, and his soulless soul mate, Peter Guber — and all the sex, drugs, and fistfights along the way. It is the story of the ultimate Hollywood con job and the standard by which every subsequent business blunder has been measured. Hit and Run delivers rock-solid business reporting liberally laced with inside gossip and outrageous scandal — plus a new afterword bringing us up to date on the latest fallout from the Guber-Peters legacy.

Kim Masters writes for The Hollywood Reporter and is the host of one of my favourite podcasts, The Business. She was also recently interviewed on The Producer’s Guide (another favourite), which led me to this book. I’m always on the look-out for new (or old) books on Hollywood, and I’m really looking forward to reading this one. (I wonder if it might serve as a prequel-of-sorts to Ben Fritz’s recent The Big Picture?) Hit and Run, published in 1997, is published by Simon & Schuster in North America.

Follow the Author (Griffin): Goodreads
Follow the Author (Masters): Goodreads, Twitter

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HarrisonR-SR1-HonourboundRachel Harrison, HONOURBOUND (Black Library)

Uncompromising and fierce, Commissar Severina Raine has always served the Imperium with the utmost distinction. Attached to the Eleventh Antari Rifles, she instills order and courage in the face of utter horror. The Chaos cult, the Sighted, have swept throughout the Bale Stars and a shadow has fallen across its benighted worlds. A great campaign led by the vaunted hero Lord-General Militant Alar Serek is underway to free the system from tyranny and enslavement but the price of victory must be paid in blood. But what secrets do the Sighted harbour, secrets that might cast a light onto Raine’s own troubled past? Only by embracing her duty and staying true to her belief in the Imperium and the commissar’s creed can she hope to survive this crucible, but even then will that be enough?

The first novel starring Commissar Severina — I’ve enjoyed all of the short stories by Harrison so far, so I’m really looking forward to diving into this full-length book. Honourbound is out now, published by Black Library.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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HolmesP-ComedySexGodUSPeter Holmes, COMEDY SEX GOD (Harper Wave)

Part autobiography, part philosophical inquiry, part sacred quest — The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck for the spiritual seeker — a hilarious, profound, and enlightening romp around the fertile mind of stand-out stand-up comedian, host of the hugely successful podcast You Made it Weird, and star of HBO’s Crashing, Pete Holmes

Growing up as evangelical Christian outside Boston, Pete Holmes was taught that drugs, alcohol, and pre-marital sex were serious transgressions. Faithful to the tenets of his faith, Pete did not swear, did not drink, did not smoke, and did not fornicate. He did devote himself to one woman, married her, and moved to the country to start a simple life and build a family. Then the wife he pledged himself to cheated on him very publicly. Thanks for nothing, God.

When his attempt at a picture-perfect life failed, Pete was forced to re-examine his beliefs. But neither atheism, Christianity, nor copious bottles of Yellow Tail led to enlightenment. Longing for a model of faith that served him and his newfound uncertainties about the universe — you know, the little things — the scorned believer embarked on a soul-seeking journey that has become the foundation of his work today. Comedy Sex God is his funny, thoughtful, straight-from-the-heart mediation on life, creativity, love, God, and the things that matter to him — and to us all.

Pete ponders the most valuable spiritual truths he’s picked up in his post-religion life and shares a few personal stories — of professional success, failure, and the pain in his balls. Comedy Sex God is celebration of losing something to find something else — a void that became a door to spiritual exploration — a glorious journey into the mind-blowing unknown that never would have begun if your wife hadn’t cheated with a guy named Rocco.

Pete Holmes has been doing the rounds on a few of the entertainment podcasts I listen to. I haven’t seen any of his shows, but he seems to be a nice enough fellow. Thought this book sounded intriguing. Hope to read it soon. Comedy Sex God is due to be published by Harper Wave on May 14th, in North America and will be available in the UK.

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

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JohnstonC-AoT2-GodOfBrokenThingsCameron Johnston, GOD OF BROKEN THINGS (Angry Robot Books)

Tyrant magus Edrin Walker destroyed the monster sent by the Skallgrim, but not before it laid waste to Setharis, and infested their magical elite with mind-controlling parasites. Edrin’s own Gift to seize the minds of others was cracked by the strain of battle, and he barely survives the interrogation of a captured magus.

There’s no time for recovery though: a Skallgrim army is marching on the mountain passes of the Clanhold. Edrin and a coterie of villains race to stop them, but the mountains are filled with gods, daemons, magic, and his hideous past. Walker must stop at nothing to win, even if that means losing his mind. Or worse…

The second novel in Johnston’s Age of Tyranny series, following The Traitor GodGod of Broken Things is published by Angry Robot Books in June 2019.

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

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KadreyR-GrandDarkUSRichard Kadrey, THE GRAND DARK (Voyager)

The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism — drugs and sex and endless parties — distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.

Unlike others who live strictly for fun, Largo is an addict with ambitions. A bike messenger who grew up in the slums, he knows the city’s streets and its secrets intimately. His life seems set. He has a beautiful girlfriend, drugs, a chance at a promotion — and maybe, an opportunity for complete transformation: a contact among the elite who will set him on the course to lift himself up out of the streets.

But dreams can be a dangerous thing in a city whose mood is turning dark and inward. Others have a vision of life very different from Largo’s, and they will use any methods to secure control. And in behind it all, beyond the frivolity and chaos, the threat of new war always looms.

A new stand-alone from the author of the excellent Sandman Slim series! Really looking forward to reading this one. The Grand Dark is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK in June 2019.

Also on CR: Reviews of Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha From Hell, Devil in the Dollhouse, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues

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

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KaftanV-HerSilhouetteDrawnInWaterVylar Kaftan, HER SILHOUETTE, DRAWN IN WATER (Tor.com)

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her — until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

This sounds pretty interesting. (And a stunning cover, too.) Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 21st, 2019.

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

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KoeppD-ColdStorageUSDavid Koepp, COLD STORAGE (Ecco)

A wild and terrifying adventure about three strangers who must work together to contain a highly contagious, deadly organism

When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction. He contained it and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository.

Now, after decades of festering in a forgotten sub-basement, the specimen has found its way out and is on a lethal feeding frenzy.  Only Diaz knows how to stop it.

He races across the country to help two unwitting security guards — one an ex-con, the other a single mother.  Over one harrowing night, the unlikely trio must figure out how to quarantine this horror again.  All they have is luck, fearlessness, and a mordant sense of humor.  Will that be enough to save all of humanity?

Pitched as for fans of Andy Weir (The Martian) and Noah Hawley (Before the Fall), this is the first novel by the screenwriter of Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and more. Looking forward to reading this. Cold Storage is due to be published by Ecco (North America) and HQ (UK) in September 2019.

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

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KotlerS-LastTangoInCyberspaceUSSteven Kotler, LAST TANGO IN CYBERSPACE (St. Martin’s Press)

Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn is the first of his kind — an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen.

It’s a useful skill for a certain kind of company.

Arctic Pharmaceuticals is that kind of company. But when a routine em-tracking job leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder, Lion finds himself neck-deep in a world of eco-assassins, soul hackers and consciousness terrorists. But what the man really needs is a nap.

A unique blend of cutting-edge technology and traditional cyberpunk, Last Tango in Cyberspace explores hot topics like psychology, neuroscience, technology, as well as ecological and animal rights issues. The world created in Last Tango is based very closely on our world about five years from now, and all technology in the book either exists in labs or is rumored to exist. With its electrifying sentences, subtle humor, and an intriguing main character, readers are sure to find something that resonates with them in this groundbreaking cyberpunk science fiction thriller.

This sounds pretty interesting. Last Tango in Cyberspace is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press on May 14th, 2019.

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

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lovems-lv2-americanheroinusMelissa Scrivner Love, AMERICAN HEROIN (Crown)

It took sacrifice, pain, and more than a few dead bodies, but Lola has clawed her way to the top of her South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Her gang has grown beyond a few trusted soldiers into a full-fledged empire, and the influx of cash has opened up a world that she has never known–one where her daughter can attend a good school, where her mother can live in safety, and where Lola can finally dream of a better life. But with great opportunity comes great risk, and as Lola ascends the hierarchy of the city’s underworld she attracts the attention of a dangerous new cartel who sees her as their greatest obstacle to dominance. Soon Lola finds herself sucked into a deadly all-out drug war that threatens to destroy everything she’s built.

But even as Lola readies to go to war, she learns that the greatest threat may not be a rival drug lord but a danger far closer to home: her own brother.

The anticipated sequel to Lola, which I very much enjoyed (and was rather late to reading). I’ll be reading this very soon. American Heroin is out now, published by Crown (North America) and Oneworld (UK).

Also on CR: Review of Lola

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McCormackU-UndefeatedUna McCormack, THE UNDEFEATED (Tor.com)

A thrilling space opera adventure featuring a no holds barred heroine on the front lines of an intergalactic war…

She was a warrior of words.

As a journalist she exposed corruption across the Interstellar Commonwealth, shifting public opinion and destroying careers in the process.

Long-since retired, she travels back to the planet of her childhood, partly through a sense of nostalgia, partly to avoid running from humanity’s newest — and self-created — enemy, the jenjer.

Because the enemy is coming, and nothing can stand in its way.

This sounds really interesting. I’ll be reading it very soon. The Undefeated is due to be published by Tor.com on May 14th, in North America and in the UK.

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

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OkungbowaSD-DavidMogoGodhunterSuyi Davies Okungbowa, DAVID MOGO, GODHUNTER (Solaris)

Nigerian God-Punk — a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos — feral godling-child hybrids — to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.

This debut novel is due to be published by Solaris Books in July 2019, in the UK and North America. It’s sounds really cool, too, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

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

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PobiR-LP1-CityOfWindowsUSRobert Pobi, CITY OF WINDOWS (Minotaur Books)

During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them — former FBI agent Lucas Page.

Page, a university professor and bestselling author, left the FBI years ago after a tragic event robbed him of a leg, an arm, an eye, and the willingness to continue. But he has an amazing ability to read a crime scene, figure out angles and trajectories in his head, and he might be the only one to be able to find the sniper’s nest. With a new wife and family, Lucas Page has no interest in helping the FBI — except for the fact that the victim was his former partner.

Agreeing to help for his partner’s sake, Page finds himself hunting a killer with an unknown agenda and amazing sniper skills in the worst of conditions. And his partner’s murder is only the first in a series of meticulously planned murders carried out with all-but-impossible sniper shots. The only thing connecting the deaths is that the victims are all with law enforcement — that is until Page’s own family becomes a target.

To identify and hunt down this ruthless, seemingly unstoppable killer, Page must discover what hidden past connects the victims before he himself loses all that is dear to him.

This is the first in a new series, pitched as being perfect for fans of Jeffrey Deaver and David Baldacci. Which falls rather nicely within my wheelhouse, so I’ll be reading this very soon. City of Windows is due to be published by Minotaur Books (North America) and Mulholland Books (UK), on August 6th.

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

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ReidTJ-DaisyJones&TheSixUSTaylor Jenkins Reid, DAISY JONES AND THE SIX (Ballantine Books)

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity… until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. Always been a fan of music, memoirs and fiction, so this is something of a mash-up. I’ll be reading this very soon. Daisy Jones and the Six is out now, published by Ballantine Books in North America and Hutchinson in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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RicciardiD-JK2-RogueStrikeUSDavid Ricciardi, ROGUE STRIKE (Berkley Publishing)

Jake Keller finds himself in a familiar position — on the run for his life and desperate to find the shadowy figures behind a global conspiracy.

CIA agent Jake Keller and his partner, Curt Roach, are in Yemen on an important mission. They’ve been tipped off to a secret meeting of top al Qaeda leaders. The plan is to interrupt the meeting with a few unexpected visitors — a pair of Hellfire missiles from an orbiting drone. But the drone stops responding to their signals and soon disappears over the horizon. When next seen, the drone is attacking innocent pilgrims in Mecca. 

Jake and Curt are staggered. The U.S. government is desperate to disavow this atrocity. Who better to blame than a couple of rogue CIA agents? With all the governments of the Middle East looking for them and no help from their own side, they are in a desperate race to stay ahead of the mob and find out who’s actually behind the crime.

This is the second novel in Ricciardi’s Jake Keller series. I blitzed through the first book — the entertaining Warning Light — and I’m really looking forward to reading this sequel. It’s due to be published by Berkley in June 2019 (it’ll be available in the UK, too).

Also on CR: Interview with David Ricciardi (2018); Review of Warning Light

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

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RipleyN-YourLifeIsMineUSNathan Ripley, YOUR LIFE IS MINE (Atria)

Blanche Potter never expected to face her past again — but she can’t escape it.

Blanche, an up-and-coming filmmaker, has distanced herself in every way she can from her father, the notorious killer and cult leader, Chuck Varner. In 1996, when she was a small child, he went on a shooting spree before turning the gun on himself.

Now, Blanche learns that her mother has been murdered. She returns to her childhood home, where she soon discovers there’s more to the death than police are willing to reveal. The officer who’s handling the case is holding information back, and a journalist who’s nosing around the investigation is taking an unusual interest in Blanche’s family.

Blanche begins to suspect that Chuck Varner’s cult has found a new life, and that her mother’s murder was just the beginning of the cult’s next chapter.

Then another killing occurs.

The new novel by the author of the critically-acclaimed Find You in the Dark. Looking forward to reading this. Your Life Is Mine is due to be published in North America by Atria Books (not sure about the UK, but his first book was published there by Text Publishing).

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

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Various-NewSunsNisi Shawl (ed.), NEW SUNS (Solaris)

Anthology of contemporary stories by emerging and seasoned writers of many races

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange.  Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius. Unexploited brilliance shines forth from every page. 

Includes stories by Kathleen Alcala, Minsoo Kang, Anil Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alex Jennings, Alberto Yanez, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh, Karin Lowachee, E. Lily Yu, Andrea Hairston, Tobias Buckell, Hiromi Goto, Rebecca Roanhorse, Indrapramit Das, Chinelo Onwualu and Darcie Little Badger.

This collection looks really interesting. New Suns is out now, published by Solaris Books in the UK and North America.

Review copy received from the publisher

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StraczynskiJM-BecomingSupermanUSJ. Michael Straczynski, BECOMING SUPERMAN (Voyager)

In this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5, Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.

For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics.  Yet there’s one story he’s never told before: his own.

Joe’s early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults — a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized — Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past.

To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.

Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life.  It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.

Straczynski is one of the most respected names in SF TV and comics, and so his memoir has been generating quite a bit of buzz. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Becoming Superman is published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in July 2019.

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

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Various-BestSFFOfTheYearVol13Jonathan Strahan (ed.), THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR, VOLUME 13 (Solaris)

The finest short science fiction and fantasy, from the master anthologist

Science fiction is a portal that opens doors onto futures too rich and strange to imagine; fantasy takes us through doorways of magic and wonder.

For more than a decade, award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan has pored through tens of thousands of stories to select the best, the most interesting, the most engaging science fiction and fantasy to thrill and delight readers.

Past volumes have included such writers as Yoon Ha Lee, Max Gladstone, Neil Gaiman, N. J. Jemisin, Indrapramit Das, Scott Lynch, Alastair Reynolds, Charlie Jane Anders and Samuel R. Delany.

I believe this is the last anthology in this series (although Strahan is taking his anthologizing to Saga Press in the future). The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 13 is due to be published by Solaris on April 18th.

Follow the Editor: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SveistrupS-ChestnutManUSSøren Sveistrup, THE CHESTNUT MAN (Harper)

If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man” — a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts — which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery — a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence — or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

This is the first novel by the creator ofthe TV mega-hit crime series, The Killing. Sounds really interesting. Looking forward to trying it. The Chestnut Man is published in North America by Harper in September 2019, and is out now in the UK published by Penguin.

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

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Tchaikovsky-C2-ChildrenOfRuinUKAdrian Tchaikovsky, CHILDREN OF RUIN (Orbit)

Humanity’s battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.

Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.

But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.

And it’s been waiting for them.

Well, if this isn’t one of my most-anticipated novels I don’t know what is. I loved the first book — Children of Time — and to this day can’t for the life of me remember what happened to my review. I’m 95% sure I did write one, but I apparently neither published nor saved it anywhere… Most confusing. Anyway, Children of Time was everything I look for in a science fiction novel, and I absolutely loved it and I was not in the least bit surprised when it won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. After the sequel was announced, I became exceedingly impatient, and I’m so happy I’m going to get to read the novel early. Children of Ruin is due to be published by Orbit (North America) and Tor Books (UK) in mid-May 2019.

Review copy received from publisher

Tchaikovsky-WalkingToAldebaranAdrian Tchaikovsky, WALKING TO ALDEBRAN (Abaddon)

My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.

I got lucky; when a probe sent out to explore the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.

I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.

Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.

Lucky me.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Another highly-anticipated sci-fi novel on the way from Tchaikovsky! I’ll be reading this pretty soon, too. Walking to Aldebaran is due to be published by Abaddon Books on May 28th, in the UK and North America.

Review copy received from publisher

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and GoldGuns of the Dawn, Spiderlight and Ironclads

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Various-HHP-SonsOfTheEmperorVarious, SONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions, warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend.

From the Angel Sanguinius, who took the sole brunt of his Legion’s most brutal acts, to Vulkan, whose humanity made him unique amongst his brothers, and from dour Perturabo, architect, inventor and murderous warlord, to Horus, whose shining light was eclipsed only by the darkness that grew within his soul, this anthology covers eight of the primarchs and their greatest – or darkest – deeds.

Contents:
The Passing of Angels by John French
The Abyssal Edge by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Mercy of the Dragon by Nick Kyme
Shadow of the Past by Gav Thorpe
The Emperor’s Architect by Guy Haley
Prince of Blood by L J Goulding
The Ancient Awaits by Graham McNeill
Misbegotten by Dan Abnett

A collection of Primarchs short stories, originally available only at the Black Library Weekender in 2018. Black Library is also slowly releasing these stories as individual eBooks, in case you want to pick-and-choose which Primarchs/authors you read. Now available in hardcover and eBook from Black Library, I’m looking forward to reading the whole collection.

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VilhjalmssonAD-ShadowsOfTheShortDaysUKAlexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, SHADOWS OF THE SHORT DAYS (Gollancz)

Sæmundur the Mad, addict and sorcerer, has been expelled from the magical university, Svartiskóli, and can no longer study galdur, an esoteric source of magic. Obsessed with proving his peers wrong, he will stop at nothing to gain absolute power and knowledge, especially of that which is long forbidden.

Garún is an outcast: half-human, half-huldufólk, her very existence is a violation of dimensional boundaries, the ultimate taboo. A militant revolutionary and graffiti artist, recklessly dismissive of the status quo, she will do anything to achieve a just society, including spark a revolution. Even if she has to do it alone.

This is a tale of revolution set in a twisted version of Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic and populated by humans, interdimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars.

I spotted this for the first time when Gollancz people started Tweeted pics of the ARC. After a quick hunt on their website, the synopsis grabbed my attention. I’m really looking forward to reading this! Shadows of the Short Days is due to be published by Gollancz on July 11th in the UK.

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

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WinterE-B1-RageOfDragonsEvan Winter, THE RAGE OF DRAGONS (Orbit)

A debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

This has been pitched as “Game of Thrones meets Gladiator“, which is a pretty cool prospect. Looking forward to reading this. The Rage of Dragons is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK in July 2019 (the eBook is out now).

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

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