New Books (September)


Featuring: Brian D. Anderson, Kevin J. Anderson, Max Barry, Doug Beason, Patricia Cornwell, Ronan Farrow, Anna Fifield, Katie M. Flynn, Jonathan Gill, John Grisham, Guy Haley (x2), John Hodgman, Andrew Grant Jackson, Vicki Jarrett, Elton John, Fred Kaplan, Paul Krueger, Antony Loewenstein, Kyle Mills, Josh Reynolds, Cavan Scott, Danny Tobey, K.S. Villoso, K.B. Wagers


AndersonBD-1-BardsBladeBrian D. Anderson, THE BARD’S BLADE (Tor)

Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she’s a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together.

Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?

This is the start of a new fantasy series, the Sorcerer’s Song. It looks like it could be interesting, so I’m hoping to give it a try soon. The Bard’s Blade is due to be published by Tor Books on January 28th, 2020, in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received from publisher


AndersonBeason-KillZoneUSHCKevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason, KILL ZONE (Forge)

Deep within a mountain in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a Cold War-era nuclear weapons storage facility is being used to covertly receive more than 100,000 tons of nuclear waste stored across the US. Only Department of Energy employee, Adonia, and a few others including a war hero, a senator, and an environmental activist, are allowed access to perform a high-level security review of the facilities. But Hydra Mountain was never meant to securely hold this much hazardous waste, and it has the potential to explode, taking with it all of Albuquerque and spreading radioactivity across the nation.

This disaster situation proves all too possible when a small plane crashes at a nearby military base, setting off Hydra’s lockdown and trapping Adonia and her team in the heart of the hazardous, waste-filled mountain. Now, the only direction for them to go is deeper into the mountain, through the tear gas and into a secretive area no one was ever supposed to know about.

I’m not sure I’d heard of this novel before it arrived in the mail. Could be interesting — up until now, I’ve only read KJA’s Star Wars novels and his Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy. I’m interested in seeing how this novel shapes up, though, so I’ll try to get to it soon. Kill Zone is out now, published by Forge Books in North America (it’s available in the UK on import).

Follow the Author (Anderson): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Beason): Website, Goodreads
Review copy received from publisher


BarryM-ProvidenceUSHCMax Barry, PROVIDENCE (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson are astronauts captaining a new and supposedly indestructible ship in humanity’s war against an alien race. Confined to the ship for years, each of them holding their own secrets, they are about to learn there are threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity — and that the true nature of reality might be the universe’s greatest mystery.

In this near future, our world is at war with another, and humanity is haunted by its one catastrophic loss — a nightmarish engagement that left a handful of survivors drifting home through space, wracked with PTSD. Public support for the war plummeted, and the military-industrial complex set its sights on a new goal: zero-casualty warfare, made possible by gleaming new ships called Providences, powered by AI.

But when the latest-launched Providence suffers a surprising attack and contact with home is severed, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they’re fighting, the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.

It’s a long time since I last read something by Max Barry — his excellent novel, Lexicon, to be exact. When I learned about this new novel, I requested a review copy as soon as I could. I read it pretty much as soon as I got it, and will be posting a review closer to its release date. Providence is due to be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (North America) and Hodder (UK) on March 31st, 2020.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss


CornwellP-CC1-QuantumPatricia Cornwell, QUANTUM (Thomas & Mercer)

The first book in a series featuring a brilliant and unusual new heroine, cutting-edge cybertechnology, and stakes that are astronomically high.

On the eve of a top secret space mission, Captain Calli Chase detects a tripped alarm in the tunnels deep below a NASA research center. A NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator, Calli knows that a looming blizzard and government shutdown could provide the perfect cover for sabotage, with deadly consequences.

As it turns out, the danger is worse than she thought. A spatter of dried blood, a missing security badge, a suspicious suicide — a series of disturbing clues point to Calli’s twin sister, Carme, who’s been MIA for days.

Desperate to halt the countdown to disaster and to clear her sister’s name, Captain Chase digs deep into her vast cyber security knowledge and her painful past, probing for answers to her twin’s erratic conduct. As time is running out, she realizes that failure means catastrophe — not just for the space program but for the safety of the whole nation.

Strangely, I’ve never read a book by Cornwell. I’m not really sure why, because they always looked interesting. Probably was something to do with having to jump into a long-established series in the middle. Anyway, Quantum is the first in a new series, and one that definitely sounds very interesting. I’ll be reading this very soon. Quantum is out now, published by Thomas & Mercer.

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Review copy received from publisher


FarrowR-CatchAndKillUSHCRonan Farrow, CATCH AND KILL (Little, Brown)

In a dramatic account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost.

In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.

All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance they could not explain — until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood to Washington and beyond. 

This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it’s the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.

Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook our culture.

One of the most buzzed-about non-fiction books of the season. I really enjoyed Farrow’s previous book, about his time at the State Department (War on Peace); and his articles about Weinstein, etc., have been excellent. I’ll be reading this very soon. Catch and Kill is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America, and Fleet in the UK.

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FifieldA-GreatSuccessorUSHCAnna Fifield, THE GREAT SUCCESSOR (Public Affairs)

The behind-the-scenes story of the rise and reign of the world’s strangest and most elusive tyrant, Kim Jong Un, by the journalist with the best connections and insights into the bizarrely dangerous world of North Korea.

Since his birth in 1984, Kim Jong Un has been swaddled in myth and propaganda, from the plainly silly — he could supposedly drive a car at the age of three — to the grimly bloody stories of family members who perished at his command.

Anna Fifield reconstructs Kim’s past and present with exclusive access to sources near him and brings her unique understanding to explain the dynastic mission of the Kim family in North Korea. The archaic notion of despotic family rule matches the almost medieval hardship the country has suffered under the Kims. Few people thought that a young, untested, unhealthy, Swiss-educated basketball fanatic could hold together a country that should have fallen apart years ago. But Kim Jong Un has not just survived, he has thrived, abetted by the approval of Donald Trump and diplomacy’s weirdest bromance.

Skeptical yet insightful, Fifield creates a captivating portrait of the oddest and most secretive political regime in the world — one that is isolated yet internationally relevant, bankrupt yet in possession of nuclear weapons — and its ruler, the self-proclaimed Beloved and Respected Leader, Kim Jong Un.

Really looking forward to reading this one. Hopefully very soon. The Great Successor is out now, published by Public Affairs (North America) and John Murray (UK).

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FlynnKM-CompanionsUSHCKatie M. Flynn, THE COMPANIONS (Gallery/Scout Press)

In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people — a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.

Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.

Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view — some human, some companion — that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.

This novel caught my eye just a few days before it became available for review. It sounds really interesting (“Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go“), and I’ll be reading it very soon. The Companions is due to be published by Gallery/Scout Press on March 3rd, 2020.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


GillJ-HollywoodDoubleAgentUSHCJonathan Gill, HOLLYWOOD DOUBLE AGENT (Abrams)

The Cold War and the Golden Age of Hollywood meet in this story of the remarkable career of Boris Morros, film producer and Russian double agent

Boris Morros was a major figure in the 1930s and ’40s. The head of music at Paramount, nominated for Academy Awards, he then went on to produce his own films with Laurel and Hardy, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, and others. But as J. Edgar Hoover would discover, these successes were a cover for one of the most incredible espionage tales in the history of the Cold War — Boris Morros also worked for Russian intelligence.

Morros’s assignments took him to the White House, the Vatican, and deep behind the iron curtain. The high-level intel he provided the KGB included military secrets and compromising information on prominent Americans: his friends. But in 1947, Morros flipped. At the height of the McCarthy era, he played a leading role in a deadly tale. Jonathan Gill’s Hollywood Double Agent is an extraordinary story about Russian spies at the heart of American culture and politics, and one man caught in the middle of the Cold War.

Thought this sounded interesting, so requested a review copy. Hopefully read it very soon. Hollywood Double Agent is due to be published in April 2020 by Abrams.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss


GrishamJ-GuardiansUSHCJohn Grisham, THE GUARDIANS (Knopf)

In the small Florida town of Seabrook, a young lawyer named Keith Russo was shot dead at his desk as he worked late one night. The killer left no clues. There were no witnesses, no one with a motive. But the police soon came to suspect Quincy Miller, a young black man who was once a client of Russo’s. 

Quincy was tried, convicted, and sent to prison for life. For twenty-two years he languished in prison, maintaining his innocence.  But no one was listening.  He had no lawyer, no advocate on the outside. In desperation, he writes a letter to Guardian Ministries, a small nonprofit run by Cullen Post, a lawyer who is also an Episcopal minister.

Guardian accepts only a few innocence cases at a time.  Cullen Post travels the country fighting wrongful convictions and taking on clients forgotten by the system. With Quincy Miller, though, he gets far more than he bargained for. Powerful, ruthless people murdered Keith Russo, and they do not want Quincy Miller exonerated.

They killed one lawyer twenty-two years ago, and they will kill another without a second thought.

It’s been quite some time since I last read a novel of Grisham’s. The Rooster Bar was a little disappointing, and then I just got distracted by many other books. I thought this new one sounded interesting, though, so hope to get to it soon. The Guardian is out now, published by Knopf in North America and Hodder in the UK.

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HaleyG-BelisariusCawl-GreatWorkGuy Haley, BELISARIUS CAWL: THE GREAT WORK (Black Library)

Belisarius Cawl, Archmagos Dominus of the Adeptus Mechanicus is the most brilliant mind alive. For 10,000 years he has furthered the cause of mankind, working under the aegis of the Emperor and Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman to prevent the inexorable march of the alien and the traitor. Many call him heretic, but all must recognise the magnitude of his achievements, for who else but he was entrusted to create a new generation of Space Marines? Who else but the great Belisarius Cawl could even accomplish such a task?

Now, in the wake of the Great Rift and the Indomitus Crusade, his ambitions bring him to the long-dead world of Sotha, once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, now a barren wasteland devoured by the vile Tyranids. Accompanied by Tetrarch Felix and his elite warriors, it is here that Cawl believes the lynchpin of his mysterious Great Work lies. But uncovering it is a near impossible task, one in which the Archmagos must overcome an ancient evil that threatens to extinguish the last hope of humanity.

While I find the Mechanicus an interesting faction in the WH40k universe, I’ve often struggled with novel-length fiction when they (or the Titanicus, for that matter) are central to the story. I’ve usually found them to be more interesting supporting characters, than the protagonists. That being said, Belisarius Cawl is a really interesting character — and perhaps one of the most interesting new characters to be introducted to the WH40k and Horus Heresy settings. Haley seems to be taking point on a lot of the post-Great Rift fiction (see, for example, his Dark Imperium novels), and so I’m quite looking forward to reading The Great Work. It’s out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.


HaleyG-HHSoT2-LostAndTheDamnedGuy Haley, THE LOST AND THE DAMNED (Black Library)

With the solar defences overcome through the devastating strength of the Traitor armada and the power of the warp, Horus launches his assault on the Throneworld in earnest. After withstanding a ferocious barrage of ordnance, an immense ground war commences outside the Palace with every inch gained paid for in the lives of billions. The front lines are beyond horrific and the very air is reduced to poison and blood. Bodies are thrown into the meat grinder but the outer redoubts cannot possibly hold for long, even with the loyal primarchs to reinforce them. For Horus has his own generals to call upon… Between the plague weapons of Mortarion and the fury of Angron, the defenders face a losing battle.

The second novel in the Siege of Terra series. Following the excellent The Solar War, I’m really looking forward to reading this. (I’m also a little sad that the series is going to end soon — it’s been over a decade since the Horus Heresy story began.) The Lost and the Damned is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Guy Haley (2015); Reviews of Wolfsbane, Perturabo, Corax, and Konrad Curze

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Review copy of The Lost and the Damned received via NetGalley


HodgmanJ-MedallionStatusUSJohn Hodgman, MEDALLION STATUS (Viking)

After spending most of his twenties pursuing a career as a literary agent, John Hodgman decided to try his own hand at writing. Following an appearance to promote one of his books on The Daily Show, he was invited to return as a contributor. This led to an unexpected and, frankly, implausible career in front of the camera that has lasted to this very day, or at least until 2016.

In these pages, Hodgman explores the strangeness of his career, speaking plainly of fame, especially at the weird, marginal level he enjoyed it. Through these stories you will learn many things that only John Hodgman knows, such as how to prepare for a nude scene with an oboe, or what it feels like to go to a Hollywood party and realize that you are not nearly as famous as the Property Brothers, or, for that matter, those two famous corgis from Instagram. And there are stories about how, when your television gig is canceled, you can console yourself with the fact that all of that travel that made your young son so sad at least left you with a prize: platinum medallion status with your airline.

Both unflinchingly funny and deeply heartfelt, Medallion Status is a thoughtful examination of status, fame, and identity — and about the way we all deal with those moments when we realize we aren’t platinum status anymore and will have to get comfortable in that middle seat again.

Latest book from Hodgman, who I first came across on The Daily Show. Strangely, I haven’t read any of his other books, but I did pick up Vacationland shortly before this was published. Medallion Status is out now, published by Viking in North America and in the UK.

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JacksonAG-1973RockAtTheCrossroadsUSHCAndrew Grant Jackson, 1973: ROCK AT THE CROSSROADS (St. Martin’s Press)

A fascinating account of the music and epic social change of 1973, a defining year for David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Eagles, Elvis Presley, and the former members of The Beatles.

1973 was the year rock hit its peak while splintering — just like the rest of the world. Ziggy Stardust travelled to America in David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane. The Dark Side of the Moon began its epic run on the Billboard charts, inspired by the madness of Pink Floyd’s founder, while all four former Beatles scored top ten albums, two hitting #1.

FM battled AM, and Motown battled Philly on the charts, as the era of protest soul gave way to disco, while DJ Kool Herc gave birth to hip hop in the Bronx. The glam rock of the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper split into glam metal and punk. Hippies and rednecks made peace in Austin thanks to Willie Nelson, while outlaw country, country rock, and Southern rock each pointed toward modern country. The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and the Band played the largest rock concert to date at Watkins Glen.

Led Zep’s Houses of the Holy reflected the rise of funk and reggae. The singer songwriter movement led by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell flourished at the Troubadour and Max’s Kansas City, where Bruce Springsteen and Bob Marley shared bill. Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite was NBC’s top-rated special of the year, while Elton John’s albums dominated the number one spot for two and a half months.

Just as U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew to a close, Roe v. Wade ignited a new phase in the culture war. While the oil crisis imploded the American dream of endless prosperity, and Watergate’s walls closed in on Nixon, the music of 1973 both reflected a shattered world and brought us together.

Spotted this on NetGalley, and thought it sounded really interesting. Will hopefully read it very soon. 1973: Rock at the Crossroads is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America and in the UK, on December 3rd, 2019.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


JarrettV-AlwaysNorthVicki Jarrett, ALWAYS NORTH (Unsung Stories)

We all have to work to live, even if it is an illegal survey for oil in the rapidly melting arctic. Software engineer Isobel needs to eat like everyone, and that’s how she fell into the job that leads her to the most northerly place on our planet.

As part of a weathered crew of sailors, scientists and corporate officers she sails into the ice where their advanced software Proteus will map everything there is to know. A great icebreaker leads their way into the brutal environment, and the days grow longer, time ever more detached, as they pass through the endless white expanse of the ice. 

But they are not alone. They have attracted the attention of seals, gulls and a hungry, dedicated polar bear. The journey to plunder one of the few remaining resources the planet has to offer must endure the ravages of the ice, the bear and time itself.

This is what we find when we travel – Always North – a profound meditation on our consumption of the world, and the perception of time. For fans of Adam Robert’s The Thing Itself, only at the farthest reaches of the world can we see the truths closest to our minds.

I’ve seen this novel pop up a couple of times on my Twitter feed, with early reviews and reactions being overwhelmingly positive. Then, the publisher got in touch with me an offered it for review. I readily agreed, and will hopefully get to this very soon. Always North is due to be published by Unsung Stories on October 21st, 2019.

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Review copy received from publisher


JohnE-MeUSHCElton John, ME (Henry Holt)

In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, from his rollercoaster lifestyle as shown in the film Rocketman, to becoming a living legend.

Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three he was performing his first gig in America, facing an astonished audience in his bright yellow dungarees, a star-spangled T-shirt, and boots with wings. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again.

His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation to conquering Broadway with Aida, The Lion King, and Billy Elliot the Musical. All the while Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade.

In Me, Elton also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father. In a voice that is warm, humble, and open, this is Elton on his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes. This is a story that will stay with you by a living legend.

One of the most talked-about books of the year. I enjoyed Rocketman, the movie biopic, but it did leave me thinking there was quite a bit more to his story. I’m really looking forward to reading this memoir (which is getting some great reviews from those who were lucky enough to get ARCs). Me is out now, published by Henry Holt in North America and Macmillan in the UK.

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KaplanF-BombUSHCFred Kaplan, THE BOMB (Simon & Schuster)

The definitive history of American policy on nuclear war — and Presidents’ actions in nuclear crises — from Truman to Trump.

Fred Kaplan, hailed by The New York Times as “a rare combination of defense intellectual and pugnacious reporter,” takes us into the White House Situation Room, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s “Tank” in the Pentagon, and the vast chambers of Strategic Command to bring us the untold stories — based on exclusive interviews and previously classified documents — of how America’s presidents and generals have thought about, threatened, broached, and just barely avoided nuclear war from the dawn of the atomic age until today.

Kaplan’s historical research and deep reporting will stand as the permanent record of politics. Discussing theories that have dominated nightmare scenarios from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Kaplan presents the unthinkable in terms of mass destruction and demonstrates how the nuclear war reality will not go away, regardless of the dire consequences.

A new history of US nuclear policy. An area of interest of mine, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read by Kaplan in the past. The Bomb is due to be published in January 2020, by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss


KruegerP-SteelCrowSagaPaul Krueger, STEEL CROW SAGA (Del Rey)

Four destinies collide in a unique fantasy world of war and wonders, where empire is won with enchanted steel, and magical animal companions fight alongside their masters in battle.

A soldier with a curse
Tala lost her family to the empress’s army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress’s crimes don’t haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic… and against her own flesh and blood. 

A prince with a debt
Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption — or his downfall. 

A detective with a grudge
Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery — but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She’s a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world’s most wanted prince.

A thief with a broken heart
Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime — and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward — she can’t say no, and she soon finds she doesn’t want to leave the princess behind.

This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives — and begin to change the world.

I’ve been seeing a lot of good reviews for this novel pop up, so I decided to give it a try. It does sound intriguing. Steel Crow Saga is out now, published by Del Rey in North America and Gollancz in the UK.

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LoewensteinA-PillsPowderAndSmokeUSHCAntony Loewenstein, PILLS, POWDER, AND SMOKE (Scribe)

The war on drugs has been official American policy since the 1970s, with the UK, Europe, and much of the world following suit. It is at best a failed policy, according to bestselling author Antony Loewenstein. Its direct results have included mass incarceration in the US, extreme violence in different parts of the world, the backing of dictatorships, and surging drug addiction globally. And now the Trump administration is unleashing diplomatic and military forces against any softening of the conflict.

Pills, Powder, and Smoke investigates the individuals, officials, activists, victims, DEA agents, and traffickers caught up in this deadly war. Travelling through the UK, the US, Australia, Honduras, the Philippines, and Guinea-Bissau, Loewenstein uncovers the secrets of the drug war, why it’s so hard to end, and who is really profiting from it.

In reporting on the frontlines across the globe — from the killing fields of Central America to major cocaine transit routes in West Africa — Loewenstein reveals how the war on drugs has become the most deadly war in modern times. Designed and inspired by Washington, its agenda has nothing to do with ending drug use or addiction, but is all about controlling markets, territories, and people. Instead, Loewenstein argues, the legalisation and regulation of all drugs would be a much more realistic and humane approach. The evidence presented in this book will persuade many readers that he’s right.

Thought this looked interesting. Pills, Powder, and Smoke is due to be published by Scribe US on November 5th, 2019.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss


MillsK-MR-LethalAgentUSHCKyle Mills, LETHAL AGENT (Atria/Emily Bestler)

A toxic presidential election is underway in an America already badly weakened by internal divisions. While politicians focus entirely on maintaining their own power and privilege, ISIS kidnaps a brilliant French microbiologist and forces him to begin manufacturing anthrax. Slickly produced videos chronicling his progress and threatening an imminent attack are posted to the Internet, intensifying the hysteria gripping the US.

ISIS recruits a Mexican drug cartel to smuggle the bioweapon across the border, but it’s really just a diversion. The terrorist organization needs to keep Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy distracted long enough to weaponize a deadly virus that they stumbled upon in Yemen. If they succeed, they’ll trigger a pandemic that could rewrite the world order.

Rapp embarks on a mission to infiltrate the Mexican cartels and track down the ISIS leader who he failed to kill during their last confrontation. But with Washington’s political elite increasingly lined up against him, he knows he’ll be on his own.

The 18th Mitch Rapp novel — as with any new novel by the author, or in this series, it was one of my most-anticipated of the year. I’ll be reading this very soon. Lethal Agent is out now, published by Atria/Emily Bestler in North America and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Survivor, Order to Kill and Enemy of the State

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ReynoldsJ-WHH-DarkHarvestJosh Reynolds, DARK HARVEST (Black Library)

Harran Blackwood was a Warrior-Priest of ruthless virtue. Now he’s a man with a scorched reputation, prowling the back alleys of Greywater Fastness, content to fight the petty wars of racketeers for survival. But when a desperate message arrives from an old friend, Blackwood is forced to confront a past he thought long buried. Summoned to the isolated village of Wald, Blackwood sets off on a perilous trek to ensure the sins of his former life remain forgotten. He soon discovers that Wald is a hostile, secretive place with sins of its own.

Deep in the murky marshes, where the cruel chants of village folk echo and the stink of death hovers low, Blackwood must channel his bitterness and rage to defy the ancient darkness that now hunts him before he is devoured, body and soul.

A new Warhammer Horror novel from one of Black Library’s best, most prolific authors (not to mention one of the primary architects of the wider Age of Sigmar world fiction). Dark Harvest is due to be published by Black Library, on December 10th, 2019.

Also on CR: Interview with Josh Reynolds (2017); Reviews of Return of Nagash, Lord of the End Times, and Nagash: The Undying King

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Review copy received via NetGalley


ScottC-SW-DookuJediLostCavan Scott, COUNT DOOKU: JEDI LOST (Century)

Darth Tyranus. Count of Serenno. Leader of the Separatists. A red saber, unsheathed in the dark. But who was he before he became the right hand of the Sith? As Dooku courts a new apprentice, the hidden truth of the Sith Lord’s past begins to come to light.

Dooku’s life began as one of privilege — born within the stony walls of his family’s estate, orbited by the Funeral Moon where the bones of his ancestors lie interred. But soon, his Jedi abilities are recognized, and he is taken from his home to be trained in the ways of the Force by the legendary Master Yoda.

As he hones his power, Dooku rises through the ranks, befriending fellow Jedi Sifo-Dyas and taking a Padawan of his own, the promising Qui-Gon Jinn — and tries to forget the life that he once led. But he finds himself drawn by a strange fascination with the Jedi Master Lene Kostana, and the mission she undertakes for the Order: finding and studying ancient relics of the Sith, in preparation for the eventual return of the deadliest enemies the Jedi have ever faced.

Caught between the world of the Jedi, the ancient responsibilities of his lost home, and the alluring power of the relics, Dooku struggles to stay in the light — even as the darkness begins to fall.

This is the script-book for the Count Dooku audio-drama story. Hadn’t heard much about it before it arrived in the mail. Could be interesting. Jedi Lost is out now, published by Century in the UK and Del Rey in North America.

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


TobeyD-GodGameUSDanny Tobey, THE GOD GAME (St. Martin’s Press)

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life — does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

Spotted this a while ago, and thought it sounded really interesting. Tobey is also the author of The Faculty Club, which I picked up a little while ago as well (it was on sale for Kindle). The God Game is due to be published in North America St. Martin’s Press (January 7th, 2020) and in the UK by Gollancz (January 9th).

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


VillosoKS-1-WolfOfOrenYaroK.S. Villoso, THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO (Orbit)

A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create…

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves, which nearly tore her nation apart. But her arranged marriage with the son of a rival clan should herald peaceful days to come.

However, her husband’s sudden departure before their reign begins puts a quick end to those dreams, and the kingdom is fractured beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, one that will send her across the sea. What’s meant to be an effort at reconciling the past becomes an assassination attempt. Stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with no idea whom she can trust, Talyien will have to embrace her namesake.

A wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.

This is the first book in the Annals/Chronicles of the Bitch Queen (I’ve seen the series identified as both). It looks like it could be quite interesting. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in February 2020.

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


WagersKB-NG1-PaleLightInTheBlackUSHCK.B. Wagers, A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK (Voyager)

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback — until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own — away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option — and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core… a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

This is the first novel in a new series, and one I’ve been really looking forward to. A Pale Light in the Black is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in March 2020.

Also on CR: Interview with K.B. Wagers (2016)

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


Various-WHH-InvocationsVarious, INVOCATIONS (Black Library)

An Imperial Priest extracts a monstrous confession; a widower embarks on a doomed pilgrimage; a witch hunter returns to the place of his nightmares…

Invocations is Black Library’s second Warhammer Horror anthology, featuring more short stories set in the chilling hellscape of the 41st millennium and the arcane gloom of the Mortal Realms. From the whispering corridors of abandoned hospitals to the shrieking dungeons of ghostly castles, this collection of sinister stories further explores the unspeakable evil at large in the Warhammer worlds.

Contains the following stories:

  • Lora Gray, “He Feasts Forever”
  • Ray Cluley, “Flesh and Blood”
  • Richard Strachan, “The Growing Seasons”
  • David Annandale, “The Hunt”
  • Steven Sheil, “The Healer”
  • Nick Kyme, “Stitches”
  • Pete McLean, “Blood Sacrifice”
  • Jake Ozga, “Supplication”
  • David Annandale, “The Summons of Shadows”
  • C L Werner, “A Sending from the Grave”
  • David Annandale, “From the Halls, the Silence”
  • Justin Hill, “The Confession of Convict Kline”

A new Warhammer Horror anthology. Looking forward to reading these creepy tales. Invocations is due to be published by Black Library on December 10th, 2019.

Review copy received via NetGalley

One thought on “New Books (September)

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