Featuring: Joe Abercrombie, Taylor Anderson, RJ Barker, Karen Cleveland, Ben Coes, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Amal El-Mohtar, Shamini Flint, Alexander Freed, Max Gladstone, Steven Goldstein, Thomas Harris, Scott Johnston, Joanna Kavenna, Mark Lawrence, Fonda Lee, Sarah Lotz, Dale Lucas, Ed McDonald, Emily Nussbaum, Dana Schwartz, L.C. Shaw, Sherri Smith, Anna Smith Spark, Charles Soule
Joe Abercrombie, A LITTLE HATRED (Orbit)
The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.
On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointments.
Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.
The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…
Abercrombie returns! The first novel in a new trilogy, the Age of Madness, A Little Hatred has to be one of the most anticipated novels of the year. I’m really looking forward to reading it, although I’m not sure if it’s necessary to have read all of the author’s novels set in the First Law world in order to read this one… (I’ve read four of them, so I’m sure I’ll be ok.) A Little Hatred is due to be published on September 17th, by Orbit in North America and Gollancz in the UK.
Taylor Anderson, PASS OF FIRE (Ace)
After being transported to a strange alternate Earth, Matt Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker have learned desperate times call for desperate measures, in the return to the New York Times bestselling Destroyermen series.
Time is running out for the Grand Human and Lemurian Alliance. The longer they take to prepare for their confrontations with the reptilian Grik, the Holy Dominion, and the League of Tripoli, the stronger their enemies become. Ready or not, they have to move–or the price in blood will break them.
Matt Reddy and his battered old destroyer USS Walker lead the greatest army the humans and their Lemurian allies have ever assembled up the Zambezi toward the ancient Grik capital city. Standing against them is the largest, most dangerous force of Grik yet gathered.
On the far side of the world, General Shinya and his Army of the Sisters are finally prepared for their long-expected assault on the mysterious El Paso del Fuego. Not only is the dreaded Dominion ready and waiting for them; they’ve formed closer, more sinister ties with the fascist League of Tripoli.
Everything is on the line in both complex, grueling campaigns, and the Grand Alliance is stretched to its breaking point. Victory is the only option, whatever the cost, because there can be no second chances.
This is the fourteenth novel in Anderson’s Destroyermen series. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve noticed the series before this arrived in the mail. Does sound like it could be interesting, but I’ll need to start with book one, I think… Pass of Fire is out now, published by Ace Books in North America and in the UK.
RJ Barker, THE BONE SHIPS (Orbit)
A crew of condemned criminals embark on a suicide mission to hunt the first sea dragon seen in centuries in the first book of this adventure fantasy trilogy.
Violent raids plague the divided isles of the Scattered Archipelago. Fleets constantly battle for dominance and glory, and no commander stands higher among them than “Lucky” Meas Gilbryn.
But betrayed and condemned to command a ship of criminals, Meas is forced on suicide mission to hunt the first living sea-dragon in generations. Everyone wants it, but Meas Gilbryn has her own ideas about the great beast. In the Scattered Archipelago, a dragon’s life, like all lives, is bound in blood, death and treachery.
The first book in the new series from the author of the excellent Wounded Kingdom trilogy! Really looking forward to reading this one. The Bone Ships is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in late-September 2019.
Karen Cleveland, KEEP YOU CLOSE (Doubleday Canada)
An FBI official’s sense of right and wrong is blurred when her own son is accused of the unimaginable…
Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. She has her hands full heading the FBI’s Internal Investigations division, policing wrongdoers within the Bureau. But, as a single mother, the most important thing in her life is her teenage son Zachary, who’s anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters. So when she discovers a gun concealed in Zach’s room, her world reels. And then an FBI agent on the domestic terrorism squad shows up at her door and utters three devastating words: “It’s about Zachary…”
Has she been wrong about her near-perfect son? Is Zach embroiled in something criminal — something deadly? And, if so, what is her greater duty: To protect him? Or to protect her country?
I really enjoyed Cleveland’s debut novel, Need to Know, and I’ve been looking forward to reading the author’s next book ever since. Keep You Close is out now, published by Doubleday in Canada, Ballantine in the US, and Bantam Press in the UK.
Also on CR: Review of Need to Know
Ben Coes, THE RUSSIAN (St. Martin’s Press)
As the brutal Russian mafia becomes the most powerful and deadly criminal enterprise in the U.S., it’s up to covert operative Rob Tacoma to fight back…
Ruthless, clever, and unbelievably violent, the Russian mafia has rapidly taken over the criminal underworld in the U.S. and law enforcement has been unable to stem the tide. When a powerful Russian mob family declares war by publicly executing two high-profile American politicians, the message is unmistakable – opposition will be met with overwhelming deadly force. With no other viable options, the President creates a clandestine assassinations team to find and eliminate the unreachable men running this deadly criminal operation.
The CIA recruits two Tier 1 operators – former Navy SEALs Billy Cosgrove and Rob Tacoma. But before they can even get started, the Russians act – murdering Cosgrove in his own home. Now Tacoma is on his own against an organization with endless resources and no boundaries. Step one requires the near impossible – find and kill the hidden mob boss behind Cosgrove’s death. To do this, he’ll have to take on an army in a battle where there are no rules and no limits.
This is the first novel in a new series by bestseller Coes. I haven’t actually read anything else by him, but this book has been generating some good pre-publication buzz, so I’m looking forward to checking it out. The Russian is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press on July 30th, 2019.
Aaron Dembski-Bowden, SPEAR OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)
The Emperor’s Spears are a Chapter on the edge of destruction, last watchmen over the Elara’s Veil nebula. Now, the decisions of one man, Amadeus Kaias Incarius of the Mentor Legion, will determine the Chapter’s fate…
The scattered worlds of the Elara’s Veil nebula were once protected by the oath of unity sworn by three mighty Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The Star Scorpions were undone by flaws in their genetic coding. The Celestial Lions were ravaged by the Inquisition for sins they did not commit. Now, after hundreds of years, only the Emperor’s Spears still keep their vigil. They are barbarian watchmen against the Outer Dark; bloodied but unbroken in their long duty.
Amadeus Kaias Incarius, a brother of the Mentor Legion, is commanded to cross the Great Rift and assess the Spears’ war-readiness, only to be drawn into the chaotic plight of a depleted crusade on the Imperium’s benighted frontier. The decisions he makes, far from the God-Emperor’s light, will decide the fate of the war-torn Chapter.
Spear of the Emperor is the first novel to feature the author’s new Space Marine chapter, the Emperor’s Spears. Previously available in a limited edition, it is now available in eBook and ‘regular’ Hardcover. Dembski-Bowden is one of my favourite SF authors, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating this novel ever since information about it was first released. Spear of the Emperor is out now, published by Black Library.
Lauren Duca, HOW TO START A REVOLUTION (Simon & Schuster)
Teen Vogue award-winning columnist Lauren Duca shares a smart and funny guide for challenging the status quo in a much-needed reminder that young people are the ones who will change the world.
A columnist at Teen Vogue, Lauren Duca has become a fresh and authoritative voice on the experience of millennials in today’s society. In these pages she explores the post-Trump political awakening and lays the groundwork for a re-democratizing moment as it might be built out of the untapped potential of young people.
Duca investigates and explains the issues at the root of our ailing political system and reimagines what an equitable democracy would look like. It begins with young people getting involved. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress; David and Lauren Hogg, two survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting who went on to become advocates for gun control; Amanda Litman, who founded the nonprofit organization Run For Something, to assist progressive young people in down ballot elections; and many more.
Called “the millennial feminist warrior queen of social media” by Ariel Levy and “a national newsmaker” by The New York Times, Dan Rather agrees “we need fresh, intelligent, and creative voices — like Lauren’s — now as much — perhaps more — than ever before.” Here, Duca combines extensive research and first-person reporting to track her generation’s shift from political alienation to political participation. Throughout, she also draws on her own story as a young woman catapulted to the front lines of the political conversation (all while figuring out how to deal with her Trump-supporting parents).
I’ve been rather looking forward to this since it was announced. I’ll hopefully read it very soon. How to Start a Revolution is due to be be published in September 2019 by Simon & Schuster (North America) and Virago (UK).
Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR (Jo Fletcher Books)
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters — and fall in love…
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?
This novel has been getting a lot of pre-publication buzz, and so I was very happy when it arrived in the mail. I read it pretty much right away, and quite enjoyed the novella. This is How You Lose the Time War is due to be published by Jo Fletcher Books (UK) and Saga Press (North America) in July 2019.
Shamini Flint, THE BEIJING CONSPIRACY (Severn House)
“I need your support. There is no one else I can trust. Please help her. Please help our daughter.”
When ex-Delta Force operator Jack Ford receives a letter containing news of a daughter he never knew he had, he feels compelled to return to China, a country he hasn’t visited since 1989 when, as a young American spy, he fell in love with a beautiful student activist and found himself caught up in the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But why has Xia got in touch now, after a thirty-year silence? On arrival in Beijing, Jack finds himself accidentally in possession of an explosive piece of information both the Chinese and American governments are desperate to get their hands on. Alone in a strange city, suspected of being a traitor by his own side, not knowing whom to trust, Jack is faced with an impossible dilemma: should he save his new-found daughter or prevent a new world war from breaking out?
Alexander Freed, ALPHABET SQUADRON (Century)
On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic STAR WARS adventure.
The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The imperial army is in disarray. In the aftermath, Yrica Quell is just one of thousands of defectors from her former cause living in a deserters’ shantytown — until she is selected to join Alphabet Squadron.
Cobbled together from an eclectic assortment of pilots and starfighters, the five members of Alphabet are tasked by New Republic General Hera Syndulla herself. Like Yrica, each is a talented pilot struggling to find their place in a changing galaxy. Their mission: to track down and destroy the mysterious Shadow Wing, a lethal force of TIE fighters exacting bloody, reckless vengeance in the twilight of their reign.
The newly formed unit embodies the heart and soul of the Rebellion: ragtag, resourceful, scrappy, and emboldened by their most audacious victory in decades. But going from underdog rebels to celebrated heroes isn’t as easy as it seems, and their inner demons threaten them as much as their enemies among the stars. The wayward warriors of Alphabet Squad will have to learn to fly together if they want to protect the new era of peace they’ve fought so hard to achieve.
This sounds pretty good. It’s been a long while since I last a Star Wars novel, but this might find its way to the top of the TBR. This novel is part of a “Marvel Crossover Event” (as you can see on the cover), and is the counterpart to Marvel’s TIE Fighter miniseries, which follows the exploits of Shadow Wing as they scheme to thwart the New Republic. Alphabet Squadron is out now, published by Century (UK) and Del Rey (North America).
Thomas Harris, CARI MORA (Grand Central Publishing)
Twenty-five million dollars in cartel gold lies hidden beneath a mansion on the Miami Beach waterfront. Ruthless men have tracked it for years. Leading the pack is Hans-Peter Schneider. Driven by unspeakable appetites, he makes a living fleshing out the violent fantasies of other, richer men.
Cari Mora, caretaker of the house, has escaped from the violence in her native country. She stays in Miami on a wobbly Temporary Protected Status, subject to the iron whim of ICE. She works at many jobs to survive. Beautiful, marked by war, Cari catches the eye of Hans-Peter as he closes in on the treasure. But Cari Mora has surprising skills, and her will to survive has been tested before.
Monsters lurk in the crevices between male desire and female survival. No other writer in the last century has conjured those monsters with more terrifying brilliance than Thomas Harris. Cari Mora, his sixth novel, is the long-awaited return of an American master.
The sixth novel by the creator of Hannibal Lecter. I’m quite surprised that it’s only his sixth novel, but I guess the incredible success of his other novels allowed him the space to relax a bit. I’ve heard mixed things about this latest book, but I’m interested to give it a try. Cari Mora is out now, published by Grand Central in North America and William Heinemann in the UK.
Scott Johnston, CAMPUSLAND (St. Martin’s Press)
Joyous, fast and funny, Scott Johnston’s Campusland is a satiric howl at today’s elite educational institutions — from safe spaces to tribal infighting to the sheer sanctimony. A wickedly delightful novel that may remind you of Tom Wolfe and David Lodge.
Her room sucks. Her closet isn’t big enough for two weeks’-worth of outfits, much less her new Rag & Bone for fall. And there’s nothing worth posting. Cruel. To Lulu Harris — It Girl-in-the-Making — her first year at the ultra-competitive Ivy-like Devon University is a dreary impediment. If she’s fabulous and no one sees it, what’s the point?
To Eph Russell, who looks and sounds like an avatar of privilege (shh! — he’s anything but) Devon is heaven. All day to think and read and linger over a Welsh rarebit at The Faculty Club, not to mention teach English 240 where he gets to discuss all his 19th Century favorites, like Mark Twain. If Eph could just get tenure, he could stay forever, but there are landmines everywhere.
In his seventh year at Devon, Red Wheeler is the alpha dog on top of Devon’s progressive hierarchy, the most woke guy on campus. But when his position is challenged, Red is forced to take measures.
Before first term is halfway finished, Lulu bungles her social cache with her clubbable upperclass peers, and is forced to reinvent herself. Shedding her designer clothes, she puts on flannel and a brand-new persona: campus victim. For Lulu to claw her way back to the top, she’ll build a pyre and roast anyone in her way.
Presiding over this ferment is Milton Strauss, Devon’s feckless president, who spends his days managing perpetually aggrieved students, scheming administrators, jealous professors, billionaire donors, and bumptious frat boys. He just can’t say yes fast enough. And what to do with Martika Malik-Adams? Isn’t her giant salary as vice-president of Diversity & Inclusion enough?
All paths converge as privileged, marginalized, and radical students form identity alliances, sacrifice education for outrage, and push varied agendas of political correctness that drags every free thought of higher learning into the lower depths of an entitled underclass.
I enjoy a good campus novel — for example, Richard Russo’s Straight Man, Julia Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement, Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, and Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons. This one sounds like it could be interesting, too. Campusland is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press on August 13th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.
Joanna Kavenna, ZED (Doubleday)
A blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media and tech corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do — before we do.
One corporation has made a perfect world based on a perfect algorithm… now what to do with all these messy people?
Lionel Bigman is dead. Murdered by a robot. Guy Matthias, the philandering founder and CEO of the mega-corporation Beetle, insists it was human error. But was it? Either the predictive algorithms of Beetle’s supposedly omniscient ‘lifechain’ don’t work, or, they’ve been hacked. Both scenarios are impossible to imagine and signal the end of Beetle’s technotopia and life as we know it.
Dazzlingly original and darkly comic, Zed asks profound questions about who we are, what we owe to one another, and what makes us human. It describes our moment — the ugliness and the beauty — perfectly. Kavenna is a prophet who has seen deeply into the present — and thrown back her head and laughed.
Thought this sounded really interesting, and in line with my interests in the changing (social) media landscape. So, I requested it on a whim and was kindly provided the book. Hope to read it very soon. Zed is due to be published in North America by Doubleday, on January 14th, 2020; the novel is already available in the UK, published by Faber & Faber.
Mark Lawrence, LIMITED WISH (47 North)
One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.
It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.
When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out — literally.
Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime — or lifetimes.
This is the second novel in Lawrence’s Impossible Times series, following on from the very good One Word Kill. Limited Wish is out now, published by 47 North, and distributed in print in Canada by Thomas Allen.
Fonda Lee, JADE WAR (Orbit)
The Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.
On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.
Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich — or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.
Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival — and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.
Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.
Sarah Lotz, MISSING PERSON (Mulholland)
Reclusive bookseller Shaun Ryan has always believed that his uncle Teddy died in a car accident twenty years ago. Then he learns the truth: Teddy fled his home in Catholic, deeply conservative County Wicklow, Ireland, for New York and hasn’t been heard from since. None of Shaun’s relatives will reveal why they lied about his uncle’s death or why they want Shaun to leave the whole affair alone.
But Shaun has a burning need to find out the truth. His search is unsuccessful until he’s contacted by Chris Guzman, a woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing-persons cases with unidentified bodies. Chris and her team of cold-case obsessives suspect that Shaun is looking for the “Boy in the Dress,” one victim in a series of gay men murdered by the same killer.
But who are these internet fanatics really, and how do they know so much about a case that has stumped police for decades? Soon armchair sleuths and professional investigators are on a collision course with a sadistic serial killer who’s gotten away with his crimes for far too long – and now they’re in his sights.
It’s been quite a while since I last read one of Lotz’s novels — The Three and Day Four were fantastic — and I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Hopefully I’ll get to it very soon. Missing Person is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America (September 3rd), and Hodder in the UK (September 5th).
Dale Lucas, FIFTH WARD: GOOD COMPANY (Orbit)
The third book in a rollicking fantasy series where the grit of grimdark meets a police procedural, and it’s up to two watchmen to protect the streets of one of fantasy’s most dangerous cities.
Yenara is a sprawling, dirty city. Filled to bursting with heroes questing, mages testing out spells, thieves around every corner, elves judging everyone, dwarves hating everyone, orcs fighting everyone, and humans being typical humans. Enter Rem and Torval: one a human, the other a dwarf, and both working as Watchwardens.
Now, they must escort a notorious thief through a dangerous forest to the nearby city from where the thief escaped. But the thief’s companions are waiting, and the soldiers Rem and Torval travel with might not be so honorable.
This is the third novel in Lucas’s Fifth Ward series. I haven’t had the chance to read the first two books, yet, but I do have them and they are climbing my TBR mountain at a fairly good clip. Good Company is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on August 27th, 2019.
Also on CR: Interview with Dale Lucas (2017)
Ed McDonald, CROWFALL (Ace)
Blackwing Captain Ryhalt Galharrow finds that all power comes with a price…
A sorcerous cataclysm has hit the Range, the final defensive line between the republic and the immortal Deep Kings.
Tormenting red rains sweep the land, new monstrosities feed on fear in the darkness, and the power of the Nameless, the gods who protect the republic, lies broken. The Blackwing captains who serve them are being picked off one by one, and even immortals have learned what it means to die. Meanwhile, the Deep Kings have only grown stronger, and they are poised to deliver a blow that will finally end the war.
Ryhalt Galharrow stands apart from it all.
He has been deeper into the wasteland known as the Misery than ever before. It has grown within him – changed him – and now the ghosts of his past, formerly confined to the Misery, walk with him everywhere.
They will even follow him – and the few surviving Blackwing captains – on one final mission into the darkness.
This is the third novel in McDonald’s Raven’s Mark fantasy series. The first book — Blackwing — was very promising, but ultimately didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I’ll have to get caught up with Ravencry, the second novel, before getting to this one, but I am eager to do so. Crowfall is due to be published by Ace Books in North America (July 2nd) and Gollancz in the UK (June 27th).
Emily Nussbaum, I LIKE TO WATCH (Random House)
From her creation of the “Approval Matrix” in New York magazine in 2004 to her Pulitzer Prize–winning columns for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum has argued for a new way of looking at TV. In this collection, including two never-before-published essays, Nussbaum writes about her passion for television, beginning with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that set her on a fresh intellectual path. She explores the rise of the female screw-up, how fans warp the shows they love, the messy power of sexual violence on TV, and the year that jokes helped elect a reality-television president. There are three big profiles of television showrunners — Kenya Barris, Jenji Kohan, and Ryan Murphy — as well as examinations of the legacies of Norman Lear and Joan Rivers. The book also includes a major new essay written during the year of #MeToo, wrestling with the question of what to do when the artist you love is a monster.
More than a collection of reviews, the book makes a case for toppling the status anxiety that has long haunted the “idiot box,” even as it transformed. Through it all, Nussbaum recounts her fervent search, over fifteen years, for a new kind of criticism, one that resists the false hierarchy that elevates one kind of culture (violent, dramatic, gritty) over another (joyful, funny, stylized). I Like to Watchtraces her own struggle to punch through stifling notions of “prestige television,” searching for a more expansive, more embracing vision of artistic ambition — one that acknowledges many types of beauty and complexity and opens to more varied voices. It’s a book that celebrates television as television, even as each year warps the definition of just what that might mean.
I’ve been a fan of Nussbaum’s articles and reviews for quite some time, so when I heard this book was on the way, I immediately put it on my Must Buy/Read list. Hopefully get around to reading and reviewing it very soon. I Like To Watch is out now, published by Random House (it is also available in the UK via import).
Dana Schwartz & Jason Adam Katzenstein, THE WHITE MAN’S GUIDE TO WHITE MALE WRITERS OF THE WESTERN CANON (Harper Perennial)
Narrated by a once-in-a-generation voice, that @GuyInYourMFA: a handbook for the wannabe literary elite and those who laugh at them, illustrated by a New Yorker cartoonist.
What does your writing implement of choice say about you as a person? How do you use ‘taraddidle’ in a sentence? Is it possible to make a Gin Ricky that’s also a metaphor for the American Dream? How can you tell your Faulkner from your Franzen if you haven’t actually read either?
Allow me, the guy from your college fiction workshop, to expound on the most important (aka white male) writers of western literature. You’ve probably seen me around, writing furiously in my Moleskine notebook upon keen observation of the masses, or defying the wind by hand-rolling a cigarette outside a local, fair-trade coffeeshop. I’ve actually read Infinite Jest 9 1/2 times. Care to discuss?
From Shakespeare’s greatest mystery (how could a working-class man without access to an MFA program be so prolific?) to the true meaning of Kafkaesque (you know you’ve made it when you have an adjective named for you), the pages herewith are at once profound and practical. Use my ingenious Venn diagram to test your knowledge of which Jonathan—Franzen, Lethem, or Safran Foer—hates Twitter and lives in Brooklyn. (Trick question: all 3!) Sneer at chick-lit and drink Mojitos like Hemingway (not like middle-aged divorcées!).
So instead of politely nodding along next time you make an acquaintance at a housewarming party in Brooklyn, you can roll up your sleeves and get to work schooling them in character arcs and the experimental form of your next great American novel. Dazzle your friends with how well you understand post-modernism. You’ll be at a literary event asking a question “that’s really more of a comment” in no time.
I think this is going to be a lot of fun, so I’ll be reading it very soon (possibly next). The White Man’s Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon is due to be published by Harper Perennial on November 5th, in North America and in the UK.
L.C. Shaw, THE NETWORK (Harper)
A shadowy group is manipulating society — and they’ve only just begun.
Late one night, investigative journalist Jack Logan receives a surprise visit from U.S. Senator Malcolm Phillips at his New York apartment. Disheveled and in a panic, the senator swears that he’s about to be murdered and pleads with Jack to protect his wife Taylor, who happens to be the only woman Jack has ever truly loved.
Days later, Phillips is found dead in a hotel room in Micronesia, the apparent victim of an allergy attack. While the nation mourns, Jack and Taylor race to find the one man who knows the truth. As they’re pursued by unknown assailants, their desperate hunt leads them to the Institute, an immense facility shrouded in mystery that has indoctrinated a generation of America’s political and media power players. Led by the enigmatic Damon Crosse, the Institute has its tentacles everywhere — but Taylor unknowingly holds the secret to the one thing that Crosse needs to carry out his plan.
Taking readers on a thrill ride from the back halls of Congress to the high-rise offices of Madison Avenue and a remote Greek island, The Network is a provocative, pulse-pounding novel that dares to ask the question: who’s really in charge?
This is the first novel in a new series starring Jack Logan. The author is also one-half of the writing duo “Liv Constantine”, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You (both of which I would also like to read soon). The Network is due to be published Harper in North America and in the UK, on December 17th, 2019.
Sherri Smith, THE RETREAT (Forge)
A weekend that will change them forever… if they survive.
Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.
Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends — one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship — Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.
Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.
I haven’t read anything by Sherri Smith before, but this one caught my eye, and I’m very much looking forward to giving it a try. The Retreat is due to be published on August 13th in North America by Forge, and in the UK by Titan.
Anna Smith Spark, THE HOUSE OF SACRIFICE (Orbit)
A powerhouse grimdark fantasy of bloodshed, ambition, and fate, The House of Sacrifice is the thunderous conclusion to Anna Smith Spark’s Empires of Dust trilogy, which began with The Court of Broken Knives.
Marith Altrersyr has won. He cut a path of blood and vengeance and needless violence around the world and now he rules. It is time for Marith to put down his sword, to send home his armies, to grow a beard and become fat. It is time to look to his own house, and to produce an heir. The King of Death must now learn to live.
But some things cannot be learnt.
The spoils of war turn to ash in the mouths of the Amrath Army and soon they are on the move again. But Marith, lord of lies, dragon-killer, father-killer, has begun to falter and his mind decays. How long can a warlord rotting from within continue to win?
As the Army marches on to Sorlost, Thalia’s thoughts turn to home and to the future: a life grows inside her and it is a precious thing – but it grows weak.
Why must the sins of the father curse the child?
Also on CR: Interview with Anna Smith Spark (2017)
Charles Soule, ANYONE (Harper Perennial)
Charles Soule brings his signature knowledge — and wariness–of technology to his sophomore novel set in a realistic future about a brilliant female scientist who creates a technology that allows for the transfer of human consciousness between bodies, and the transformations this process wreaks upon the world.
Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch — and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life — and the world — forever…
Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose – sex, drugs, crime… or worse.
Anyone masterfully interweaves the present-day story of the discovery and development of the flash with the gritty tale of one woman’s crusade to put an end to the darkness it has brought to the world twenty-five years after its creation. Like Blade Runner crossed with Get Out, Charles Soule’s thought-provoking work of speculative fiction takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide.
“Blade Runner crossed with Get Out“? Well, that sounds pretty awesome. This sounds really interesting, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. Anyone is due to be published by Harper Perennial, on December 3rd, 2019.