cup shelves runneth over recently. Had a bit of an uptick in new review copies and also books bought (I have an impulse problem…). I think among this bonanza is something that should appeal to pretty much any fiction fan, so take a look!
Featuring: Lauren Acampora, Andrea Bartz, Michael Blumlein, Steph Cha (x2), Tom Chatfield, Martin Clark, Kate Davies, Lindsey Davis, Jeffery Deaver, Sebastien de Castell, Jennifer duBois, Greg Egan, Peter Fehervari, Jackson Ford, John French, Claudia Gray, Rachel Howzell Hall, Will Harris, Saad Z. Hossain, Keren Landsman, Mark Lawrence, Brian McClellan, Denise Mina, Michael Moreci, Peter Newman, Claire North, Megan O’Keefe, Suzanne Palmer, H.G. Parry, Gareth L. Powell, Tom Rosenstiel, Richard Russo, Anthony Ryan, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Tade Thompson, Jessica Yellin
Lauren Acampora, THE PAPER WASP (riverrun)
An electrifying debut novel of two women’s friendship, a haunting obsession and twisted ambition, set against the feverish backdrop of contemporary Hollywood.
Abby Graven is a dreamer. She dreams her way through her small, lonely life – hiding back at her parents, working at the grocery store. At night, she collects tabloid clippings that taunt her with Elise – her best friend, now Hollywood’s hot new starlet.
When a school reunion throws Elise in her path, Abby seizes her chance. With feverish certainty, she boards a one-way flight to LA to become Elise’s assistant and enters her gauzy realm of film sets and glamorous actors.
But behind Elise’s glossy magazine veneer, she is drowning in Hollywood’s vicious social cycle. Ever the devoted friend, Abby conceals her own burning desire for greatness.
For she is smarter than Elise. More talented. A true artist. And as she edges closer to her own ambitions, Abby can see only one way to make her dream come true.
Propelled by seductive, unstoppable force, The Paper Wasp slashes through the dark side of Hollywood and the treacherous intimacies of female friendship, pursuing a heroine of blazing artistic vision and blinding drive.
I hadn’t heard of Acampora or her work before spotting the cover for this on Twitter. I did some research, though, and I added it to my most-anticipated list for the year. The Paper Wasp is due to be published by riverrun in the UK (June 13th) and Grove Press in North America (June 11th). I’ve also picked up the author’s short story collection, The Wonder Garden.
Andrea Bartz, THE LOST NIGHT (Crown)
What really happened the night Edie died? Years later, her best friend Lindsay will learn how unprepared she is for the truth.
In 2009, Edie had New York’s social world in her thrall. Mercurial and beguiling, she was the shining star of a group of recent graduates living in a Brooklyn loft and treating New York like their playground. When Edie’s body was found near a suicide note at the end of a long, drunken night, no one could believe it. Grief, shock, and resentment scattered the group and brought the era to an abrupt end.
A decade later, Lindsay has come a long way from the drug-addled world of Calhoun Lofts. She has devoted best friends, a cozy apartment, and a thriving career as a magazine’s head fact-checker. But when a chance reunion leads Lindsay to discover an unsettling video from that hazy night, she starts to wonder if Edie was actually murdered — and, worse, if she herself was involved. As she rifles through those months in 2009 — combing through case files, old technology, and her fractured memories — Lindsay is forced to confront the demons of her own violent history to bring the truth to light.
Thought this sounded like an interesting mystery. The novel has recently been optioned to be made into a limited TV series, to be produced by Mila Kunis. The Lost Night is out now, published by Crown in North America and in the UK.
Michael Blumlein, LONGER (Tor.com)
Gunjita and Cav are in orbit.
R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third.
After Gunjita has juved for the second and final time and Cav has not, questions of life, death, morality, and test their relationship. Up among the stars, the research possibilities are infinite and first contact is possible, but their marriage may not survive the challenge.
I haven’t read anything by Blumlein in the past, but this sounds really interesting. (It’s also generating some positive pre-release buzz.) Longer is due to be published on May 23rd by Tor.com, in North America and in the UK.
Steph Cha, FOLLOW HER HOME (Minotaur Books)
Introducing Juniper Song, an amateur sleuth taking on the darkness in the veins of L.A. with razor-sharp wit and a breaking heart.
Juniper Song knows secrets — how to keep them and how to search them out. As a girl, noir fiction was her favorite escape, and Philip Marlowe has always been her literary idol. So when her friend Luke asks her to investigate a possible affair between his father and a young employee, Juniper (or “Song” as her friends call her) finds an opportunity to play detective. Driving through L.A.’s side streets, following leads, tailing suspects-it all appeals to Song’s romantic ideal of the noir hero. But when she’s knocked out while investigating a mysterious car and finds a body in her own trunk, Song lurches back to the real L.A., becoming embroiled in a crime that goes far beyond role play. What’s more, this isn’t the first time Song has stuck her nose in other people’s business. As she fights to discover the truth about her friend’s family, Song reveals one of her own deeply hidden secrets, something dark and damaging, urging her to see the current mystery through, to rectify the mistakes of her past life.
A dazzling debut from fresh new talent Steph Cha, featuring a strong, modern, sharply observant heroine with an unforgettable voice, Follow Her Home takes readers through dangerous twists and turns, beyond the glittering high-rises and freeways of L.A. on a case that will stay with them long after the final page.
A little while ago, I stumbled across information about Steph Cha’s upcoming novel, Your House Will Pay (see below). I hadn’t heard of the author’s work before, so I decided to go on a book-hunting expedition and find something else by the author. Turns out, it wasn’t as easy as I’d expected in Toronto (Kobo, ultimately, was the only place to get her novels easily). Follow Her Home is the first novel in Cha’s Juniper Song series (all three of which are out now, published by Minotaur Books), and I’m really looking forward to checking out this LA crime series (always on the look-out for new LA-based novels).
Steph Cha, YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY (Ecco)
A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in LA, following two families — one Korean-American, one African-American — grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime
In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. Protests and vigils are being staged all over the city. It’s in this dangerous tinderbox that two families must finally confront their pasts.
Grace Park lives a sheltered existence: living at home with her Korean-immigrant parents, working at the family pharmacy, and trying her best to understand why her sister Miriam hasn’t spoken to their mother in years. The chasm in her family is growing wider by the day and Grace is desperate for reconciliation, and frustrated by the feeling that her sister and parents are shielding her from the true cause of the falling out.
Shawn Matthews is dealing with a fractured family of his own. His sister, Ava, was murdered as a teenager back in 1991, and this new shooting is bringing up painful memories. Plus, his cousin Ray is just released from prison and needs to reconnect with their family after so many years away. While Shawn is trying his best to keep his demons at bay, he’s not sure Ray can do the same.
When another shocking crime hits LA, the Parks and the Matthewses collide in ways they never could have expected. After decades of loss, violence, and injustice, tensions come to a head and force a reckoning that could clear the air or lead to more violence.
Shortly after buying Follow Her Home, I was lucky to receive a DRC of Cha’s upcoming novel! Really looking forward to reading this one. I’ll be reading it very soon, but will try to hold off on the review until closer to release (in October, via Ecco).
Tom Chatfield, THE GOMORRAH GAMBIT (Mulholland)
With dark technology hollowing out global privacy, an elite hacker enters the belly of the beast in this compelling international conspiracy thriller.
Azi Bello is an amiable outsider with a genius for hacking. Having spent the better part of his life holed up in a shed in his backyard, Azi has become increasingly enmeshed in the dark side of the internet. With the divide between online and offline worlds vanishing, so too is the line between those transforming civilization through technology and those trying to bring it to its knees. Dark networks rule. Someone with the right connections can access to anything imaginable, and power is theirs for the taking-although even they can’t know what kind of bargain they’ve struck. Tipped off by a secretive young woman named Munira, Azi sets out to unravel the mysterious online marketplace known as Gomorrah, sacrificing his carefully constructed privacy in the process. Munira’s life is spiraling out of control: her cousins recruited to work for a terrorist state that’s hunting them both, her destiny in Azi’s hands. Her desperation drags Azi into the field where, working together, the two uncover an unimaginable conspiracy. As pressure mounts, Azi has no choice but to take on the ultimate infiltration. In an age when identities can be switched at will and nobody is who they seem, how far will he go to end the nightmare?
This debut thriller has been pitched as “Perfect for fans of I Am Pilgrim“, which certainly piqued my interest. Looking forward to reading it soon. The Gomorrah Gambit is due to be published by Mulholland in North America (July 23rd) and Hodder in the UK (July 11th).
Martin Clark, THE SUBSTITUTION ORDER (Knopf)
A wickedly clever, tenderhearted, and intricately plotted novel about a hard-luck lawyer’s refusal to concede defeat, even as fate, the court system, and a gang of untouchable con artists conspire against him.
Kevin Moore, once a high-flying Virginia attorney, hits rock bottom after an inexplicably tumultuous summer leaves him disbarred and separated from his wife. Short on cash and looking for work, he lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at SUBstitution, the world’s saddest sandwich shop. His closest confidants: a rambunctious rescue puppy and the twenty-year-old computer whiz manning the restaurant counter beside him. He’s determined to set his life right again, but the troubles keep coming. And when a bizarre, mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening “invitation” to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison.
A remarkable tour of the law’s tricks and hidden trapdoors, The Substitution Order is both wise and ingenious, a wildly entertaining novel that will keep you guessing — and rooting for its tenacious hero — until the very last page.
I haven’t read any of Clark’s previous novels (all of which sound really interesting), but after the cover caught my eye the synopsis made me put this on my must-read list. I decided to also pick up The Jezebel Remedy. The Substitution Order is due to be published in North America by Knopf, on July 9th, 2019.
Kate Davies, IN AT THE DEEP END (Borough Press)
Until recently, Julia hadn’t had sex in three years.
– a one-night stand is accusing her of breaking his penis;
– a sexually confident lesbian is making eyes at her over confrontational modern art;
– and she’s wondering whether trimming her pubes makes her a bad feminist.
Julia’s about to learn that she’s been looking for love – and satisfaction – in all the wrong places…
Frank, filthy and very, very funny, In at the Deep End is a brilliant debut from a major new talent.
I’ve seen some pre-publication buzz that made this book sound both interesting and very funny, so thought I’d give it a try. In at the Deep End is published by Borough Press in the UK (out now) and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America (due out in June).
Lindsey Davis, A CAPITOL DEATH (Hodder)
A tragic accident… or was it?
Emperor Domitian has been awarded (or rather, has demanded) yet another Triumph to celebrate two so-called victories. Preparations are going smoothly until one of the men overseeing arrangements for the celebration accidentally falls to his death from a cliff on the symbolic Capitoline Hill.
But Flavia Albia suspects there’s more to the incident than meets the eye, as there are plenty of people who would have been delighted to be rid of the overseer. He was an abusive swine who couldn’t organise a booze-up in a winery and was caught up in a number of scams, including one surrounding the supply of imperial purple dye and a family of shellfish-boilers.
As Flavia finds herself drawn into a theatrical world of carnival floats, musicians, incense and sacrificial beasts, can she see to the heart of the matter and catch those responsible for the unpopular man’s untimely death?
This is the seventh novel in Davis’s popular Flavia Albia series. I’ve fallen way behind on Davis’s books, but I would like to catch up again at some point. A Capitol Death is out now, published by Hodder in the UK, and Minotaur in North America.
Jeffery Deaver, THE NEVER GAME (Harper Collins)
A student kidnapped from the park.
Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.
An investigator running out of time.
Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.
A killer playing a deadly game.
Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…
The first novel in a new series — following the e-short, Captivated (which I also have and will read first) — I’m really looking forward to giving it a try. I feel like Deaver is one of those authors I really should have read more of, but for some reason I haven’t. Weird. The Never Game is published by Harper Collins in the UK (May 16th) and G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America (May 14th).
Sebastien de Castell, QUEENSLAYER (Orbit)
A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero…
Kellen Argos is an outlaw spellslinger with a bad reputation, a long list of enemies, and zero luck. When he accidently smears blood on the Daroman flag, he’s dragged before the queen to be executed for his act of treason.
Face-to-face with the young monarch, Kellen is offered a chance to save himself. If he can defeat the queen at a game of cards, he’ll walk free… if not, his life is forfeit. But what begins as a game reveals a conspiracy against the queen’s life. And now, Kellen is not only playing for his own freedom, but also for the future of an empire.
The fifth book in de Castell’s acclaimed Spellslinger fantasy series, Queenslayer is due to be published by Orbit Books (North America) and Hot Key Books (UK). For some inexplicable reason, I haven’t managed to get around to reading this series — I very much enjoyed the author’s Greatcoats books, however, and am eager to get caught up.
Jennifer duBois, THE SPECTATORS (Random House)
A shocking crime triggers a media firestorm for a controversial talk show host…
Talk show host Matthew Miller has made his fame by shining a spotlight on the most unlikely and bizarre secrets of society, exposing them on live television in front of millions of gawking viewers. However, the man behind The Mattie M Show remains a mystery — both to his enormous audience and to those who work alongside him every day. But when the high school students responsible for a mass shooting are found to be devoted fans, Mattie is thrust into the glare of public scrutiny, seen as the wry, detached herald of a culture going downhill and going way too far. Soon, the secrets of Mattie’s past as a brilliant young politician in a crime-ridden New York City begin to push their way to the surface.
In her most daring and multidimensional novel yet, Jennifer duBois vividly portrays the heyday of gay liberation in the seventies and the grip of the AIDS crisis in the eighties, alongside a backstage view of nineties television in an age of moral panic. DuBois explores an enigmatic man’s downfall through the perspectives of two spectators — Cel, Mattie’s skeptical publicist, and Semi, the disillusioned lover from his past.
With wit, heart, and crackling intelligence, The Spectators examines the human capacity for reinvention — and forces us to ask ourselves what we choose to look at, and why.
I’ve been looking forward to this since I spotted it in one of the publisher’s catalogues a while back. Sounds interesting and relevant. The Spectators is out now, published by Random House in North America and in the UK.
Greg Egan, PERIHELION SUMMER (Tor.com)
A story of people struggling to adapt to a suddenly alien environment, and the friendships and alliances they forge as they try to find their way in a world where the old maps have lost their meaning.
Taraxippus is coming: a black hole one tenth the mass of the sun is about to enter the solar system.
Matt and his friends are taking no chances. They board a mobile aquaculture rig, the Mandjet, self-sustaining in food, power and fresh water, and decide to sit out the encounter off-shore. As Taraxippus draws nearer, new observations throw the original predictions for its trajectory into doubt, and by the time it leaves the solar system, the conditions of life across the globe will be changed forever.
I’ve been really looking forward to this one ever since it was announced. And how stunning is that cover? I read this pretty soon after I got the review copy, and really enjoyed it. (Review coming soon.) Perihelion Summer is out now, published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK.
Peter Fehervari, REQUIEM INFERNAL (Black Library)
The Adepta Sororitas of the Last Candle have stood vigil over their sanctuary world for centuries, striving to decipher their founder’s tormented visions. Outsiders are unwelcome… yet still they come.
Decimated by an encounter with a lethal xenos entity, the survivors of an elite Astra Militarum company have journeyed to the Candleworld in search of healing, escorted by a woman who is no stranger there – Sister Hospitaller Asenath Hyades, who turned her back on the order decades ago.
As the seekers near the sect’s bastion, malign forces begin to stir among the planet’s storm-wracked spires, but the most insidious shadows lie in their own souls.
I haven’t read anything of Fehervari’s long fiction, yet (I may have read a short story by him?). A couple of other BL fans sing his praises, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this ASAP. Requiem Infernal is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Jackson Ford, THE GIRL WHO COULD MOVE SH*T WITH HER MIND (Orbit)
Full of imagination, wit, and random sh*t flying through the air, this insane adventure from an irreverent new voice will blow your tiny mind.
For Teagan Frost, sh*t just got real.
Teagan Frost is having a hard time keeping it together. Sure, she’s got telekinetic powers — a skill that the government is all too happy to make use of, sending her on secret break-in missions that no ordinary human could carry out. But all she really wants to do is kick back, have a beer, and pretend she’s normal for once.
But then a body turns up at the site of her last job — murdered in a way that only someone like Teagan could have pulled off. She’s got 24 hours to clear her name – and it’s not just her life at stake. If she can’t unravel the conspiracy in time, her hometown of Los Angeles will be in the crosshairs of an underground battle that’s on the brink of exploding…
This sounds like it could be quite fun, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (Although, the bleeped-swearwords on book covers is not as edgy as publishers seem to think. As a gimmick, it’s also tired after one or two books have it, and now there are a fair few. Yes, I’m a grump.) “Jackson Ford” is a pseudonym for an established author, apparently, but I haven’t been able to track down who it is. The Girl Who Could Move Shit With Her Mind is due to be published in mid-June by Orbit in North America and in the UK.
The sequel, Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air looks like it’ll be out in March 2020, too.
John French, SIEGE OF TERRA: THE SOLAR WAR (Black Library)
After seven years of bitter war, the end has come at last for the conflict known infamously as the Horus Heresy. Terra now lies within the Warmaster’s sights, the Throneworld and the seat of his father’s rule.
Horus’ desire is nothing less than the death of the Emperor of Mankind and the utter subjugation of the Imperium. He has become the ascendant vessel of Chaos, and amassed a terrible army with which to enact his will and vengeance.
But the way to the Throne will be hard as the primarch Rogal Dorn, the Praetorian and protector of Terra, marshals the defences. First and foremost, Horus must challenge the might of the Sol System itself and the many fleets and bulwarks arrayed there. To gain even a foothold on Terran soil, he must first contend the Solar War.
Thus the first stage of the greatest conflict in the history of all mankind begins.
With the Horus Heresy series-proper now over, Black Library and its stable of authors move their attention to the final act: the Siege of Terra. Really looking forward to diving into this (albeit, after I finish a couple of leftover Heresy novels). The Solar War is due to be published in June by Black Library. (It was also available as a Special Edition, but it sold out in just a few hours.)
Claudia Gray, MASTER & APPRENTICE (Century)
An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future.
A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi’s most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn; and now Qui-Gon has a Padawan of his own. But while Qui-Gon has faced all manner of threats and danger as a Jedi, nothing has ever scared him like the thought of failing his apprentice.
Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council ― knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master.
When Jedi Rael Aveross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the Royal Court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind. As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested ― just as a threat surfaces which will demand that Master and Apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever.
A new novel set during the prequel trilogy era. It’s a long time, now, since I last read a Star Wars novel. I’d like to find time to read some more, but I’ve been struggling to muster the enthusiasm. We’ll see. Master & Apprentice is published by Century in the UK and Del Rey in North America.
Rachel Howzell Hall, THEY ALL FALL DOWN (Forge)
A stand-alone novel brings seven sinners to a private island for a reckoning that will leave you breathless.
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.
Delighted by a surprise invitation, Miriam Macy sails off to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico with six other strangers. Surrounded by miles of open water in the gloriously green Sea of Cortez, Miriam is soon shocked to discover that she and the rest of her companions have been brought to the remote island under false pretenses — and all seven strangers harbor a secret.
Danger lurks in the lush forest and in the halls and bedrooms of the lonely mansion. Sporadic cell-phone coverage and miles of ocean keeps the group trapped in paradise. And strange accidents stir suspicions, as one by one…
They all fall down
I am familiar with Hall’s thrillers, having recently picked up all four of the author’s Elouise Norton thrillers. They All Fall Down is a stand-alone thriller, and one I’m very much looking forward to reading. They All Fall Down is out now, published by Forge Books in North America and in the UK.
Will Harris, MIXED-RACE SUPERMAN (Melville House)
An edgy and insightful look at Barrack Obama, Keanu Reeves, and the mixed-race experience in our divided world.
At once personally revealing and politically astute, author Will Harris reflects on the lives of twovery different supermen: Barack Obama and Keanu Reeves. In an era where a man endorsed bythe Klu Klux Klan can sit in the White House, Harris argues that the mixed -race of both Obamaand Reeves gave them a cultural shapelessness that was a form of resistance. Reeves, as Neo inThe Matrix, portrayed the chosen one on the silver screen, while Obama, for a brief moment, wasa real-life superhero on the world stage.
Drawing on his own personal experience and examining the way that these two men have been embedded in our collective consciousness, Harris asks what they can teach us about raceand heroism.
Saad Z. Hossain, THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY (Tor.com)
When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.
Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.
I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the novella was announced and I first read the synopsis. I’ll be reading this very soon. The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on August 13th, 2019. (I’ll be reading it pretty soon, but I’ll hold off on posting a review until closer to its release date.)
Keren Landsman, THE HEART OF THE CIRCLE (Angry Robot)
Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?
[Check back on Monday for an interview with the author!]
Mark Lawrence, ONE WORD KILL (47 North)
In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.
Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange — yet curiously familiar — man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help — now.
He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.
The first in a new sci-fi trilogy from one of the best fantasy writers working today. Really looking forward to reading this “Ready Player One meets Stranger Things” series. One Word Kill is out now, published by 47 North, in all territories (at least in English).
Review copy received from publisher
Mark Lawrence, HOLY SISTER (Voyager)
THEY CAME AGAINST HER AS A CHILD. NOW THEY FACE THE WOMAN.
The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.
Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.
Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.
The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.
A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.
The highly-anticipated third novel in Lawrence’s critically-acclaimed Book of the Ancestor fantasy series. Now that I have all three books, I really should get my act together and read them! Holy Sister is published in the UK by Voyager, and in North America by Ace Books.
Brian McClellan, UNCANNY COLLATERAL
Alek Fitz is a reaper, a collection agent who works for the supernatural elements of the world, tracking down debtors and solving problems for clients as diverse as the Lords of Hell, vampires, Haitian loa, and goblins. He’s even worked for the Tooth Fairy on occasion. Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, Alek is the best in the game. As a literal slave to his job, he doesn’t have a choice.
When Death comes looking for someone to track down a thief, Alek is flung into a mess of vengeful undead, supernatural bureaucracy, and a fledgling imp war. As the consequences of failure become dire, he has few leads, and the clock is ticking. Only with the help of his friend Maggie — an ancient djinn with a complex past — can he hope to recover the stolen property, save the world, and just maybe wring a favor out of the Great Constant himself.
It’s a hell of a job, but somebody’s got to do it…
From the author of the incredible Powder Mage epic fantasy series, this is a new novella that he has released himself. It’s the first in a proposed series (Valkyrie Collections), so hopefully we’ll see more in the future. You can buy Uncanny Collateral directly from the author or from the various online retailers — I’m not sure about whether or not it’ll be available in brick-and-mortar bookstores. (I bought it from Amazon before realizing it was possible to buy direct).
Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan (2013); Guest Posts on “My Favourite Novel”, “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy”; Excerpt from The Autumn Republic; Reviews of Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign and War Cry
Denise Mina, CONVICTION (Mulholland)
A true-crime podcast sets a housewife’s present life on a collision course with her secret past.
The day Anna McDonald’s quiet, respectable life explodes starts off like all the days before: Packing up the kids for school, making breakfast, listening to yet another true crime podcast. Then her husband comes downstairs with an announcement, and Anna is suddenly, shockingly alone.
Reeling, desperate for disctraction, Anna returns to the podcast. Other people’s problems are much better than one’s own — a sunken yacht, a murdered family, a hint of international conspiracy. But this case actually is Anna’s problem. She knows one of the victims from an earlier life, a life she’s taken great pains to leave behind. And she is convinced that she knows what really happened.
Then an unexpected visitor arrives on her front stoop, a meddling neighbor intervenes, and life as Anna knows it is well and truly over. The devils of her past are awakened — and in hot pursuit. Convinced she has no other options, she goes on the run, and in pursuit of the truth, with a washed-up musician at her side and the podcast as her guide.
My partner is addicted to true-crime podcasts. I’m only starting to venture into that amazing, vast ecosystem, but the synopsis for this novel really caught my attention (I also caught some early buzz for the novel, which bumped it up my Must Read list/pile). Looking forward to reading it. Conviction is due to be published in North America by Mulholland (June 18th) and Harvill Secker in the UK (May 16th).
Michael Moreci, WE ARE MAYHEM (St. Martin’s Press)
Though the ragtag group of misfits known as the Black Star Renegades won a decisive battle by destroying Ga Halle’s War Hammer, the war is far from over. In response to losing the crown jewel of its fleet, the evil Praxis empire has vengefully reinforced its tyranny across the galaxy — but its rule won’t be had so easily. Led by hotshot pilot Kira Sen, a growing rebel force stands in the way of Praxis’s might. Not only do they possess the will to fight for galactic freedom, they also possess the ultimate ace in the hole: The mythical Rokura, the most powerful weapon ever known.
Too bad Cade Sura hasn’t figured out to use it.
As Kira wages an increasingly bloody war against Praxis, Cade is left with only once choice: With Ga Halle scouring every star system for the coveted weapon, Cade embarks on a dangerous mission into uncharted space to discover the Rokura’s origins. Only then can he learn how it can be wielded. Because if he doesn’t, all hope for the galaxy might be lost.
This is the second novel in Moreci’s acclaimed Black Star Renegades series, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. We Are Mayhem is out now, published by St. Martin’s Press in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Interview with Michael Moreci (2018)
Peter Newman, THE DEATHLESS (Voyager)
Creatures lurk in the endless forests of the Wild, plucking victims from those who scratch a living by the sides of the great Godroads, paths of crystal which provide refuge from the infernal tide.
Humanity’s protectors reign within crystal castles held aloft on magical currents – seven timeless royal families, born and reborn into flawless bodies. As immortal as the precious stones from which they take their names, they fight to hold the Wild at bay. For generations a fragile balance has held.
AND THE DAMNED…
House Sapphire, one of the ancient Deathless families, is riven by suspicion and grief. Their hunting expeditions against the Wild are failing and entire villages have begun to disappear.
Then, when assassins strike, House Sapphire shatters.
NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
For some reason, I’ve not read anything by Peter Newman. This novel, however, really caught my attention. Looking forward to reading it. The Deathless is out now in paperback, published by Voyager in the UK. Luckily, I was also able to get a DRC of the second novel in the series, The Ruthless…
Peter Newman, THE RUTHLESS (Voyager)
Return to a world of crystal armour, savage wilderness, and corrupt dynasties…
For years, Vasin Sapphire has been waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Now, as other Deathless families come under constant assault from the monsters that roam the Wild, that time has come.
In the floating castle of Rochant Sapphire, loyal subjects await the ceremony to return their ruler to his rightful place. But the child raised to give up his body to Lord Rochant is no ordinary servant. Strange and savage, he will stop at nothing to escape his gilded prison.
AND THE RETURNED…
Far below, another child yearns to see the human world. Raised by a creature of the Wild, he knows their secrets better than any other. As he enters into the struggle between the Deathless houses, he may be the key to protecting their power or destroying it completely.
THE WILD HAS BEGUN TO RISE
The Ruthless is due to be published in the UK by Voyager, on June 13th, 2019.
Also on CR: Interview with Peter Newman (2015)
Claire North, THE GAMESHOUSE (Orbit)
A mesmerizing tale of a gambling house whose deadly games of chance and skill control the fate of empires.
Everyone has heard of the Gameshouse. But few know all its secrets…
It is the place where fortunes can be made and lost through chess, backgammon – every game under the sun.
But those whom fortune favors may be invited to compete in the higher league… a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on the scale of a continent.
Among those worthy of competing in the higher league, three unusually talented contestants play for the highest stakes of all…
The collected edition of what was originally released as three novellas: The Serpent, The Thief and The Master. Absolutely loved them when I first read them, and every time I think about the story, and how the three wove together into a larger narrative, I become even more impressed with what North did with the worldbuilding, characters, and plot. The Gameshouse is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on May 28th, 2019. I hope to do a re-read very soon.
Megan O’Keefe, VELOCITY WEAPON (Orbit)
Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.
However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.
Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.
This is the highly-anticipated first novel in O’Keefe’s new Protectorate space opera series. Sounds fantastic. I’ll be reading it very soon. Velocity Weapon is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on June 11th, 2019.
Suzanne Palmer, FINDER (DAW)
An action-packed sci-fi caper starring Fergus Ferguson, interstellar repo man and professional finder
Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.
His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He’ll slip in, decode the ship’s compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.
Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a backwater deep space colony called Cernee. But Fergus’ arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger’s enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly — and inconveniently — invested in the lives of the locals.
It doesn’t help that a dangerous alien species Fergus thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following him around.
Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he’s called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.
I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I saw it announced. Premise sounds fun, and I do love me some good space opera. Finder is out now, published by DAW Books in North America.
H.G. Parry, THE UNLIKELY ESCAPE OF URIAH HEEP (Redhook)
The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world…
For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.
Hadn’t heard anything about this before it arrived from the publisher. Sounds really interesting, though. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is due to be published in late-July, by Redhook in North America and in the UK.
Gareth L. Powell, RAGGED ALICE (Tor.com)
A detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people’s souls.
Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at first to be a simple hit-and-run, but which soon escalates into something far deadlier and unexpectedly personal — something that will take all of her peculiar talents to solve.
Tom Rosenstiel, OPPO (Ecco)
The story of a senator who is offered the vice presidential slot by both parties’ presidential nominees and then gets ominous threats
It’s presidential primary season in Washington, DC, and both parties are on edge. At campaign rallies for all the candidates around the country, there are disturbing incidents of violence and protest and shocking acts of civil disobedience. Rena and Brooks are happy to sit it out.
Against this backdrop, Wendy Upton, the highly respected centrist senator, must make a choice: she’s been offered the VP slot by both parties’ leading candidates. When she receives an anonymous, unnerving threat that could destroy her promising career, she hires Peter Rena to investigate her past and figure out which side is threatening her and what they are threatening her with.
As Rena digs through the senator’s seemingly squeaky-clean past, he must walk the tightrope between two parties at war with each other and with themselves, an electorate that is as restive as it has ever been, and a political culture that is as much driven by money as it is by ideology.
This is the third novel in Rosenstiel’s Rena & Brooks series. I enjoyed the first two, and am really looking forward to reading this one. Oppo is due to be published by Ecco in December 2019 — so, I’ll probably review it closer to release (but read it far sooner).
Richard Russo, CHANCES ARE… (Knopf)
A gripping story about the abiding yet complex power of friendship.
One beautiful September day, three sixty-six-year old men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today — Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971. Now, more than forty years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives and that of a significant other are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery.
Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are . . . also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship’s bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.
Russo is one of my favourite authors — of fiction, short fiction and non-fiction essays. This is his latest novel, and I am very much looking forward to reading it. (I’ll probably read it next-but-one, and hold off on a review until closer to its release date.) Chances Are… is due to be published by Knopf in North America, on July 30th, 2019. (Couldn’t find any details for a UK release, but I’m sure there will be one — probably via Allen & Unwin, who have been publishing Russo’s recent books in the UK.)
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Anthony Ryan, THE WOLF’S CALL (Ace)
Peace never lasts.
Vaelin Al Sorna is a living legend, his name known across the Realm. It was his leadership that overthrew empires, his blade that won hard-fought battles – and his sacrifice that defeated an evil more terrifying than anything the world had ever seen. He won titles aplenty, only to cast aside his earned glory for a quiet life in the Realm’s northern reaches.
Yet whispers have come from across the sea – rumours of an army called the Steel Horde, led by a man who believes himself a god. Vaelin has no wish to fight another war, but when he learns that Sherin, the woman he lost long ago, has fallen into the Horde’s grasp, he resolves to confront this powerful new threat.
To this end, Vaelin travels to the realms of the Merchant Kings, a land ruled by honor and intrigue. There, as the drums of war thunder across kingdoms riven by conflict, Vaelin learns a terrible truth: that there are some battles that even he may not be strong enough to win.
This is the first novel in Ryan’s new series, Raven’s Blade (set in the same world as his acclaimed debut series). The Wolf’s Call is due to be published on July 23rd in North America by Ace Books, and in the UK by Orbit.
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Inspiration for Fantasy Authors”
Hank Phillippi Ryan, THE MURDER LIST (Forge)
Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.
Problem is — she’s wrong.
And in this cat and mouse game — the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.
I haven’t read anything by Ryan before, but this one caught my attention. The Murder List is due to be published by Forge in North America, on August 20th.
Tade Thompson, THE SURVIVAL OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE (Tor.com)
Who was Molly Southbourne? What did she leave behind?
A burnt-out basement. A name stained in blood. Bodies that remember murder, one of them left alive. A set of rules that no longer apply.
Molly Southbourne is alive. If she wants to survive, she’ll need to run, hide, and be ready to fight. There are people who remember her, who know what she is and what she’s done. Some want her alive, some want her dead, and all hold a piece to the puzzles in her head. Can Molly escape them, or will she confront the bloody history that made her?
This is the follow-up to Thompson’s brilliant first Molly Southbourne novella, The Murders of Molly Southbourne. The Survival of Molly Southbourne is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Review of The Murders of Molly Southbourne
Jessica Yellin, SAVAGE NEWS (MIRA)
Be noisy. Natalie Savage grew up hearing these words from her beloved father, who admired Walter Cronkite so much he named the family dog after him. Natalie — who spent her twenties missing out on life’s benchmarks — finally sees her efforts pay off when she’s assigned to cover the White House for her network, ATN. The problem? The position is only temporary, a test to see if she has what it takes. She has always relied on her grit, her principles and her news sense to gain success. But now her competition is a twenty-six-year-old spoiled frat boy who got his big television break by eating raw animal parts on a reality show.
Of course, he’s winning.
Natalie, along with her scrappy production team, has to navigate ratings wars, workplace sexual harassment and an international political crisis in order to prove herself. But the closer she gets to achieving her dream job, the more she wonders if it is worth all the compromise.
Timely, funny and smart, this juicy debut is the perfect tonic for readers contending with today’s politics and the #MeToo movement. Natalie Savage will be sure to join the ranks of our favorite fictional heroines as she figures out that having it all doesn’t mean giving up everything she stands for.
Former White House correspondent for a couple of networks in the US, I caught a few interviews with Yellin on various podcasts to which I subscribe. She spoke about her novel, and I thought it sounded really interesting, so decided to pick it up. Savage News is published by MIRA, and is out now in the North America and due out in the UK on October 29th.