One final New Books post for 2019. It’s been quite a year! So many memorable books — new and old — and clearly many more exciting titles on the horizon.
Feel free to leave a comment with your favourites from the year, and/or your most-anticipated for 2020.
Featuring: Kathleen Barber, Michael Booth, M.R. Carey, Nino Cipri, Myke Cole, Eoin Colfer, William Dalrymple, E.J. Dionne, David Downing, Kester Grant, Andy Greene, S.A. Hunt, Howard Andrew Jones, Ezra Klein, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, J.T. Nicholas, Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Ivy Pochoda, David James Poissant, Robert R. Reich, James Rollins, Jon Skovron, Maggie Stiefvater, Matthew Ward, Marian Womack
Kathleen Barber, FOLLOW ME (Gallery)
Everyone wants new followers… until they follow you home.
Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.
But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years — from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits — and nothing is private.
Barber’s previous novel, Are You Sleeping, was recently adapted for television by Reese Witherspoon’s company (into ApplyTV’s Truth Be Told). I haven’t had the chance to read that novel, but it’s been on my radar for a while. This new one sounds just as interesting, so I’m hoping to read it very soon. Follow Me is due to be published by Gallery on February 25th, 2020.
Michael Booth, THREE TIGERS, ONE MOUNTAIN (St. Martin’s Press)
A lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, and they have a long history of turmoil and tension with each other. In his latest entertaining and thought provoking narrative travelogue, Michael Booth sets out to discover how deep, really, is the enmity between these three “tiger” nations, and what prevents them from making peace. Currently China’s economic power continues to grow, Japan is becoming more militaristic, and Korea struggles to reconcile its westernized south with the dictatorial Communist north. Booth, long fascinated with the region, travels by car, ferry, train, and foot, experiencing the people and culture of these nations up close. No matter where he goes, the burden of history, and the memory of past atrocities, continues to overshadow present relationships. Ultimately, Booth seeks a way forward for these closely intertwined, neighboring nations.
An enlightening, entertaining and sometimes sobering journey through China, Japan, and Korea, Three Tigers, One Mountain is an intimate and in-depth look at some of the world’s most powerful and important countries.
This sounds like an interesting history — the premise reminds me of one of my undergraduate courses (a shared history of the three countries), so looking forward to refreshing and building on knowledge. Three Tigers, One Mountain is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America (April 4th, 2020) and Jonathan Cape in the UK (January 16th).
M.R. Carey, THE BOOK OF KOLI (Orbit)
The unforgettable story of a young boy struggling to find his place in a world where nature itself has turned against humanity.
Everything that lives hates us…
Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable landscape. A place where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.
Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He believes the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture too far beyond the walls.
The highly-anticipated first novel in Carey’s new Rampart Trilogy! Very much looking forward to reading this, which I will do very soon. The Book of Koli is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on April 14th, 2020.
Nino Cipri, FINNA (Tor.com)
A rambunctious, touching story that blends all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with the everyday awfulness of low-wage work. It explores queer relationships and queer feelings, capitalism and accountability, labor and love, all with a bouncing sense of humor and a commitment to the strange.
When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store — but not that one — slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.
To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.
Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley
Myke Cole, SIXTEENTH WATCH (Angry Robot)
A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.
Cole’s new sci-fi novel, or “the Coast Guard… in space!” Sounds very good, looking forward to reading it. Sixteenth Watch is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in North America and in the UK, on March 10th, 2020.
Eoin Colfer, HIGHFIRE (Jo Fletcher Books)
A hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who’s been hiding out from the world – and potential torch-carrying mobs – in a Louisiana bayou… until his peaceful world’s turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.
Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him…
An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.
Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp…
For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.
I’ve been looking forward to this ever since its synopsis was announced. Colfer’s first novel for adults, I’ll be reading this very soon. Highfire is due to be published on January 28th, 2020, in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books, and Harper Perennial in North America.
William Dalrymple, THE ANARCY (Bloomsbury)
The story of how the East India Company took over large swaths of Asia, and the devastating results of the corporation running a country.
In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.
The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course of the next 47 years, the company’s reach grew until almost all of India south of Delhi was effectively ruled from a boardroom in the city of London.
The Anarchy tells one of history’s most remarkable stories: how the Mughal Empire-which dominated world trade and manufacturing and possessed almost unlimited resources-fell apart and was replaced by a multinational corporation based thousands of miles overseas, and answerable to shareholders, most of whom had never even seen India and no idea about the country whose wealth was providing their dividends. Using previously untapped sources, Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before and provides a portrait of the devastating results from the abuse of corporate power.
Always on the look-out for new books about the East India Company. I started reading this pretty soon after I got it from the library. It’s very good, but also quite dense — early on, it felt like there was an onslaught of names, which kind of buried the narrative a little bit. However, it is filled with interesting observations, discoveries and analysis. Very good, but not the swiftest read. The Anarchy is out now, published by Bloomsbury in North America and in the UK.
E.J. Dionne, Jr., CODE RED (St. Martin’s Press)
Will progressives and moderates feud while America burns? Or will these natural allies take advantage of the greatest opportunity since the New Deal Era to strengthen American democracy, foster social justice, and turn back the threats of the Trump Era?
The United States stands at a crossroads. Broad and principled opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency has drawn millions of previously disengaged citizens to the public square and to the ballot boxes. This inspired and growing activism for social and political change hasn’t been seen since the days of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and the Progressive and Civil Rights movements. But if progressives and moderates are unable — and unwilling — to overcome their differences, they could not only enable Trump to prevail again but also squander an occasion for launching a new era of reform.
In Code Red, award-winning journalist E. J. Dionne, Jr., calls for a shared commitment to decency and a politics focused on freedom, fairness, and the future, encouraging progressives and moderates to explore common ground and expand the unity that brought about Democrat victories in the 2018 elections. He offers a unifying model for furthering progress with a Politics of Remedy, Dignity, and More: one that solves problems, resolve disputes, and moves forward; that sits at the heart of the demands for justice by both long-marginalized and recently-displaced groups; and that posits a positive future for Americans with more covered by health insurance, more with decent wages, more with good schools, more security from gun violence, more action to roll back climate change.
Breaking through the partisan noise and cutting against conventional wisdom to provide a realistic look at political possibilities, Dionne offers a strategy for progressives and moderates to think more clearly and accept the responsibilities that history now imposes on them. Because at this point in our national story, change can’t wait.
I’ve been a fan of Dionne’s work for some time, so any new book by him is something I look forward to. Code Red is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America and in the UK, on February 4th, 2020.
David Downing, DIARY OF A DEAD MAN WALKING (Soho Crime)
In April 1938, a man calling himself Josef Hofmann arrives at a boarding house in Hamm, Germany, and lets a room from the widow who owns it. Fifty years later, Walter Gersdorff, the widow’s son, who was eleven years old in the spring of 1938, discovers the carefully hidden diary the boarder had kept during his stay, even though he never should have written any of its contents down.
What Walter finds is a chronicle of one the most tumultuous years in German history, narrated by a secret agent on a deadly mission. Josef Hofmann was not the returned Argentinian immigrant he’d said he was — he was a communist spy under Moscow’s command trying to reconnect with remaining members of Germany’s suppressed communist party. Hofmann’s bosses believe the common workers are the only way to stop the German war machine from within. Posing as a railroad man, Hofmann sets out on his game of “Russian roulette,” approaching Hamm’s ex-party members one at a time and delicately feeling out their allegiances.
He always knew his mission would most likely end in his death, and he was satisfied to make that sacrifice for the revolution if it could help stop Hitler and his abominable ideology. But as he grows close to the Gersdorffs, accidentally stepping into the role of the father Walter never had, Hofmann begins to wish for another kind of hope in his life.
Thought this sounded really interesting, and it’s been getting some good reviews. Strangely, I still haven’t read anything else by Downing, despite owning all of his books… (They’re often eBook deals.) Diary of a Dead Man Walking is out now, published by Soho Crime in North America and in the UK.
Kester Grant, THE COURT OF MIRACLES (Voyager)
A young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh — Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice — protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
This seems to have been announced and released for review in one quick blitz. The “Les Mis meets The Jungle Book” is an interesting pitch. I’m intrigued, certainly. The Court of Miracles is due to be published by Voyager in the UK and Knopf in North America, in June 2020.
Andy Greene, THE OFFICE (Dutton)
The untold stories behind The Office, one of the most iconic television shows of the twenty-first century, told by its creators, writers, and actors
When did you last hang out with Jim, Pam, Dwight, Michael, and the rest of Dunder Mifflin? It might have been back in 2013, when the series finale aired… or it might have been last night, when you watched three episodes in a row. But either way, fifteen years after the show first aired, it’s more popular than ever, and fans have only one problem–what to watch, or read, next.
Fortunately, Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene has that answer. In his brand-new oral history, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Greene will take readers behind the scenes of their favorite moments and characters. Greene gives us the true inside story behind the entire show, from its origins on the BBC through its impressive nine-season run in America, with in-depth research and exclusive interviews. Fans will get the inside scoop on key episodes from “The Dundies” to “Threat Level Midnight” and “Goodbye, Michael,” including behind-the-scenes details like the battle to keep it on the air when NBC wanted to pull the plug after just six episodes and the failed attempt to bring in James Gandolfini as the new boss after Steve Carell left, spotlighting the incredible, genre-redefining show created by the family-like team, who together took a quirky British import with dicey prospects and turned it into a primetime giant with true historical and cultural significance.
Hilarious, heartwarming, and revelatory, The Office gives fans and pop culture buffs a front-row seat to the phenomenal sequence of events that launched The Office into wild popularity, changing the face of television and how we all see our office lives for decades to come.
I was a latecomer to the magnificence of The Office. I’m not the biggest fan of Ricky Gervais, and the couple of episodes I’d seen of the original show hadn’t clicked for me. Nevertheless, we started watching The Office, and I very quickly fell in love with it. I think I’ve watched the whole thing through about four times, now. So, when this book was announced I knew I had to read it, and I was lucky enough to get a DRC of it. I started reading it very soon after I received it (I’m about halfway through, and it’s very enjoyable — a treasure trove of tidbits and anecdotes for any Officianado). The Office is due to be published by Dutton on March 24th, 2020, in North America and in the UK.
If you want to go even deeper into the story behind the series, I’d recommend the new podcast from Jenna Fischer and Angela Martin, Office Ladies.
Rachel Harrison, MARK OF FAITH (Black Library)
With the birth of the Cicatrix Maledictum the Imperium of Mankind suffers as never before. Conflict and corruption is rife on every front and precious little hope remains, save for those who hold to their faith when faced with destruction…
Denied a martyr’s death during the battle for Ophelia VII, Sister Evangeline of the Order of Our Martyred Lady is blessed with a new and grave duty; to embark on a pilgrimage beyond the Great Rift to recover a precious and powerful artefact – the Shield of Saint Katherine. Accompanied by the enigmatic Inquisitor Ravara, who seeks her own closure in the veiled regions beyond the Rift, Evangeline must find a way to bear the weight of this unasked-for destiny if she and her Sisters are to succeed in restoring a fragment of light to this new dark Imperium.
There’s been a recent upswell of love for the Adepta Sororitas among Black Library fans, which is great news because they are a fascinating faction (fascist space nuns, basically). Danie Ware has written a number of short stories and two novellas that are very highly recommended. Now, Rachel Harrison writes the first new full-length novel featuring the Adepta Sororitas in quite some time (I think the last ones were by James Swallow). I’m really looking forward to this, having enjoyed Harrison’s short fiction. Mark of Faith is out now, published by Black Library.
Darius Hinks, MEPHISTON: CITY OF LIGHT (Black Library)
Deep in Imperium Nihilus, Blood Angels Chief Librarian Mephiston and his comrades are drawn into battle with a cabal of Thousand Sons sorcerers – with worlds at stake and hidden truths threatening to overwhelm him, this is Mephiston’s darkest hour…
Having fought during the devastation of Baal, Mephiston and a cohort of Blood Angels are drawn by cryptic visions to a war-torn world on the cusp of the Great Rift. Here, the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons seek to unite nine Silver Towers and bring about a ritual that will empower their master, the daemon-primarch Magnus. The ritual must be prevented, lest the entire sub-sector be cast into Chaos. Mephiston faces a challenge like no other, of his strength and his will, confronting a hidden truth that threatens to expose him to his darkest fears.
This is the third novel in Hinks’s Mephiston series. I very much enjoyed the first novel (Blood of Sanguinius), and finished the second novel last week. One of the most interesting characters of the Imperium, I think Hinks has done a great job of bringing him to life on the page. Looking forward to seeing how this trilogy ends. City of Light is out now, published by Black Library.
S.A. Hunt, BURN THE DARK (Tor Books)
First in the Malus Domestica horror action-adventure series about a punk YouTuber on a mission to bring down witches, one vid at a time.
Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don’t know the truth: her series isn’t fiction.
Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Returning home to the rural town of Blackfield, Robin meets friends new and old on her quest for justice. But then, a mysterious threat known as the Red Lord interferes with her plans….
I spotted this a while ago in a Macmillan catalogue, and thought it looked rather interesting. I haven’t read any of the author’s other work, but I’m intrigued by the premise. It’s pitched as “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets Stranger Things“, which sounds like a rather fun mix. Malus Domestica, the first in a series, is due to be published in January/February (eBook/print) by Tor Books in North America and in the UK.
Also, the sequel has a great title: I Come With Knives.
Howard Andrew Jones, UPON THE FLIGHT OF THE QUEEN (St. Martin’s Press)
While the savage Naor clans prepare to march on the heart of the Allied Realms, Rylin infiltrates the highest of the enemy ranks to learn their secrets and free hundreds of doomed prisoners. His ailing mentor Varama leads the ever-dwindling Altenerai corps in a series of desperate strikes to cripple the Naor occupiers, hoping for a relief force that may not come in time to save what’s left of the city and her charges.
Elenai, Kyrkenall, and the kobalin Ortok ride through the storm-wracked Shifting Lands to rekindle an alliance with the ko’aye, the only possible counter to the terrible Naor dragons. Even if they survive the hazardous trek deep through kobalin territory to find the winged lizards, though, the three are unlikely to get a warm reception, for the queen of the five realms refused to aid the ko’aye when their homelands were attacked, and the creatures have long memories.
While the Altenerai fight impossible odds to save the realms, their queen delves further and deeper into the magic of the mysterious hearthstones in a frantic attempt to unlock secrets that might just destroy them all.
Ezra Klein, WHY WE’RE POLARIZED (Simon & Schuster)
Discover how American politics became a toxic system, why we participate in it, and what it means for our future…
After Election Day 2016, both supporters and opponents of the soon-to-be president hailed his victory as a historically unprecedented event. Most Americans could agree that no candidate like Donald Trump had ever been elected President before. But political journalist Ezra Klein makes the case that the 2016 election wasn’t surprising at all. In fact, Trump’s electoral victory followed the exact same template as previous elections, by capturing a nearly identical percentage of voter demographics as previous Republican candidates.
Over the past 50 years in America, our partisan identities have merged with our racial, religious, geographic, ideological, and cultural identities. Those merged identities have attained a weight that is breaking much in our politics and tearing at the bonds that hold this country together.
In this groundbreaking book, Klein shows how and why American politics polarized around identity in the 20th century, and what that polarization did to the way we see the world and each other. And he traces the feedback loops between our polarized political identities and our polarized political institutions that are driving our political system towards crisis.
Neither a polemic nor a lament, Klein offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump’s rise to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the politicization of everyday culture. A revelatory book that will change how you look at politics, and perhaps at yourself.
I’m a fan of Klein’s podcast, so I’ve been interested in reading this book ever since I heard him mention that he was writing it. I’ll read this pretty soon, hopefully. Why We’re Polarized is due to be published by Avid Reader Press, on January 28th, 2020.
Micheline Aharonian Marcom THE NEW AMERICAN (Simon & Schuster)
The epic journey of a young Guatemalan-American college student, a “dreamer,” who gets deported and decides to make his way back home to California.
Emilio believes he is living the American Dream: his parents, who emigrated from Guatemala to California, sacrifice daily to ensure it. And his life seems relatively normal until he turns sixteen. Like most teenagers, Emilio is determined to get his driver’s license — however, his mother discourages it. When Emilio asks why, his parents reveal a shocking secret: he is undocumented.
Emilio adjusts to his new normal. He attends UC Berkeley. He falls in love. All is going well… until Emilio gets into a car accident and — without a driver’s license or any documentation — the policeman on the scene reports him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].
Emilio is deported to Guatemala. But he is determined to get back to California, the only home he has ever known. It is an epic journey that takes him across thousands of miles through remote towns, lush jungles, and eventually the Sonoran Desert of the US-Mexico border, meeting thieves and corrupt law enforcement but also kind strangers and new friends.
Inspired in part by interviews with Central American refugees, and told in lyrical prose, Micheline A. Marcom weaves a heart-pounding and heartbreaking tale of adventure. The New American is an important and well-timed novel that asks us what we have in common — across cultures, experiences, and borders — and what makes us not only American, but altogether human.
Thought this sounded interesting, and quite different to what I usually read. It’s not out for a while, so I have plenty of time to get to it, but I think I’ll read it sooner rather than later (waiting for the review, though). The New America is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America, in May 2020.
Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss
J.T. Nicholas, RE-COIL (Titan Books)
Carter Langston is murdered whilst salvaging a derelict vessel — a major inconvenience as he’s downloaded into a brand-new body on the space station where he last backed himself up, several weeks’ journey away. But events quickly slip out of control when an assassin breaks into the medbay and tries to finish the job.
Death no longer holds sway over a humanity that has spread itself across the solar system: consciousness can be placed in a new body, or coil, straight after death, giving people the potential for immortality. Yet Carter’s backups — supposedly secure in an inviolable storage system — have been damaged, some of his crew are missing, and everything points back to the derelict ship that should have been a simple salvage mission.
With enemies in hot pursuit, Carter tracks down the last member of his crew – re-coiled after death into a body she cannot stand – to delve deeper into a mystery that threatens not only themselves, but humanity and identity as they have come to know it.
Hadn’t heard of this novel before it arrived, but that’s quite a striking cover. The synopsis looks pretty good, too. Always interested in trying new authors and sci-fi series. Re-Coil is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on March 3rd, 2020.
Garth Nix, ANGEL MAGE (Katherine Tegan Books)
More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.
It’s a seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. Four young people hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, a glory-seeking musketeer; and Dorotea, icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.
The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet but do not suspect their importance. And none of them know just how Liliath plans to use them, as mere pawns in her plan, no matter the cost to everyone else…
I’ve never read anything by Garth Nix, which is something I find very strange. I think I just kept getting distracted by other books. When the Sabriel series came out, I was also mostly interested in reading crime novels and thrillers. For some reason, I never went back to read that best-selling series. I should really address this oversight at some point. Angel Mage is out now, published by Katherine Tegan Books in North America and Gollancz in the UK.
K.J. Parker, PROSPER’S DEMON (Tor.com)
A world with vivid, unbending rules, seething with demons, broken faith, and worse men.
In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.
The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out — he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.
Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.
Any new novella by K.J. Parker is a must-read for me. I read this as soon as I got it, and it is another fantastic story with a great protagonist. Highly recommended, as expected (review here). Prosper’s Demon is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on January 28th, 2020.
James Patterson, CRISS CROSS (Little, Brown)
A killer with all the skills of a master detective has made Alex Cross the subject of his deranged “investigation.”
In a Virginia penitentiary, Alex Cross and his partner, John Sampson, witness the execution of a killer they helped convict. Hours later, they are called to the scene of a copycat crime. A note signed “M” rests on the corpse. “You messed up big time, Dr. Cross.”
Was an innocent man just put to death? Alex soon realizes he may have much to answer for, as “M” lures the detective out of the capital to the sites of multiple homicides, all marked with distressingly familiar details — details that conjure up decades-old cases. Details that conjure up Cross family secrets. Details that make clear that M is after a prize so dear that — were the killer to attain it — Alex’s heart would no longer have reason to beat.
The latest (27th) novel in Patterson’s bestselling Alex Cross series. I’ve enjoyed most of them, so of course I was going to read this one. Criss Cross is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Century in the UK.
Ivy Pochoda, THESE WOMEN (Ecco)
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club… These women who won’t stop asking questions… These women who got what they deserved…
In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.
Pochoda’s previous novel, Wonder Valley, was pretty widely acclaimed (I haven’t had a chance to read it, yet, but I have dipped in and liked what I read). This next novel sounds pretty interesting, and I hope to get to it very soon — given that it’s not out for some time, though, I’ll hold off on the review for a little while. These Women is due to be published by Ecco on May 19th, 2020 in North America. (Wonder Valley is published in the UK by Indigo Press, so maybe they’ll be publishing this one as well?)
David James Poissant, LAKE LIFE (Simon & Schuster)
A sweeping, domestic novel about a family that reunites at their North Carolina lake house for one last vacation before the home is sold — and the long-buried secrets that are finally revealed.
The Starling family is scattered across the country. Parents Richard and Lisa live in Ithaca, New York, and work at Cornell University. Their son Michael, a salesperson, lives in Dallas with his elementary school teacher wife, Diane. Michael’s brother, Thad, an aspiring poet, makes his home in New York City with his famous painter boyfriend, Jake. For years they’ve traveled to North Carolina to share a summer vacation at the family lake house.
That tradition is coming to an end, as Richard and Lisa have decided to sell the treasured summer home and retire to Florida. Before they do, the family will spend one last weekend at the lake. But what should to be a joyous farewell takes a nightmarish turn when the family witnesses a tragedy that triggers a series of dramatic revelations among the Starlings — alcoholism, infidelity, pregnancy, and a secret the parents have kept from their sons for over thirty years. As the weekend unfolds, relationships fray, bonds are tested, and the Starlings are forced to reckon with who they are and what they want from this life.
Described as being “in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, and Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth“, I thought this sounded quite interesting. Lake Life is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK, in July 2020.
Robert B. Reich, THE SYSTEM (Knopf)
An urgent analysis of how the “rigged” systems of American politics and power operate, how this status quo came to be, and how average citizens can enact change.
Millions of Americans have lost confidence in our political and economic system. After years of stagnant wages, volatile job markets, and an unwillingness by those in power to deal with profound threats such as climate change, there is a mounting sense that the system is fixed, serving only those select few with enough money to secure a controlling stake. With the characteristic clarity and passion that has made him a central civil voice, Robert B. Reich shows how wealth and power have interacted to install an elite oligarchy, eviscerate the middle class, and undermine democracy. Using Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase as an example, Reich exposes how those at the top propagate myths about meritocracy, national competitiveness, corporate social responsibility, and the “free market” to distract most Americans from their accumulation of extraordinary wealth, and power over the system. Instead of answering the call to civic duty, they have chosen to uphold self-serving policies that line their own pockets and benefit their bottom line. Reich’s objective is not to foster cynicism, but rather to demystify the system so that we might instill fundamental change and demand that democracy works for the majority once again.
Reich publishes a lot of very good, slim volumes about contemporary US politics and economics. Well worth a read. The System is due to be published by Knopf on March 24th, 2020.
James Rollins, THE LAST ODYSSEY (William Morrow)
To save the world and our future, Sigma Force must embark on a dangerous odyssey into an ancient past whose horrors are all too present…
For eons, the city of Troy — whose legendary fall was detailed in Homer’s Iliad — was believed to be myth, until archaeologists in the nineteenth century uncovered its ancient walls buried beneath the sands. If Troy was real, how much of Homer’s twin tales of gods and monsters, curses and miracles — The Iliad and The Odyssey — could also be true and awaiting discovery?
In the frozen tundra of Greenland, a group of modern-day researchers stumble on a shocking find: a medieval ship buried a half-mile below the ice. The ship’s hold contains a collection of even older artifacts — tools of war — dating back to the Bronze Age. Inside the captain’s cabin is a magnificent treasure that is as priceless as it is miraculous: a clockwork gold map imbedded with an intricate silver astrolabe. The mechanism was crafted by a group of Muslim inventors — the Banū Mūsā brothers — considered by many to be the Da Vincis of the Arab world — brilliant scientists who inspired Leonardo’s own work.
Once activated, the moving map traces the path of Odysseus’s famous ship as it sailed away from Troy. But the route detours as the map opens to reveal a fiery river leading to a hidden realm underneath the Mediterranean Sea. It is the subterranean world of Tartarus, the Greek name for Hell. In mythology, Tartarus was where the wicked were punished and the monstrous Titans of old, imprisoned.
When word of Tartarus spreads — and of the cache of miraculous weapons said to be hidden there — tensions explode in this volatile region where Turks battle Kurds, terrorists wage war, and civilians suffer untold horrors. The phantasmagoric horrors found in Homer’s tales are all too real — and could be unleashed upon the world. Whoever possesses them can use their awesome power to control the future of humanity.
Now, Sigma Force must go where humans fear to tread. To prevent a tyrant from igniting a global war, they must cross the very gates of Hell.
This is the 15th novel in Rollins’s best-selling Sigma Force series — one of my favourite thriller series, I’m really looking forward to reading this. I’ve let the series fall a bit by the wayside, to my shame, but I fully intend to get caught up in the 2020. I may even start my catch up over the Christmas break. The Last Odyssey is due to be published by William Morrow in North America and in the UK, on March 24th, 2020.
Jon Skovron, THE RANGER OF MARZANNA (Orbit)
When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths — one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it — in this thrilling new Russian-inspired epic fantasy from Jon Skovron.
Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.
When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.
But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he’s fighting for the empire.
The first in a new series by Skovron, the author of the Empire of Storms trilogy (which I really need to finish — so many books, so little time…!). In addition to that striking cover, the novel also sounds rather interesting. The Ranger of Marzanna is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on April 21st/23rd, 2020.
Also on CR: Interview with Jon Skovron (2017); Guest Post on “Progressive World-Building: Screw Restoring the Kingdom”; Review of Hope and Red
Maggie Stiefvater, CALL DOWN THE HAWK (Scholastic)
The dreamers walk among us… and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming — they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives — they will sleep forever if their dreamers die. And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality. Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it. Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer… and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed…
I bought this for Alyssa, but I’ve been meaning to read more of Steifvater’s novels, so I’ll also try to read it soon. Call Down the Hawk is out now, published by Scholastic in North America and in the UK.
Various, CURSED (Titan)
An anthology of unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.
Featuring stories from Neil Gaiman, Christina Henry, M.R. Carey, Charlie Jane Anders, Karen Joy Fowler, Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple, Catriona Ward, Jen Williams, James Brogden, Maura McHugh, Christopher Golden, Michael Marshall Smith, Angela Slatter, Lilith Saintcrow, Christopher Fowler, Alison Littlewood, Tim Lebbon and Margo Lanagan.
Review copy received from publisher
Matthew Ward, LEGACY OF ASH (Orbit)
A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.
Ruling families — once protectors of justice and democracy — now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.
Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.
Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.
Josiri Trelan is Viktor’s sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother’s failed rebellion.
And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri’s sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.
As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory — if it comes at all — will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.
Marian Womack, THE GOLDEN KEY (Titan)
After the death of Queen Victoria, England heaves with the uncanny. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.
Helena Walton-Cisneros, known for her ability to find the lost and the displaced, is hired by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.
But the Fens are an age-old land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. The locals speak of devilmen and catatonic children are found on the Broads. Here, Helena finds what she was sent for, as the Fenland always gives up its secrets, in the end…
Another book I hadn’t heard of before it arrived in the mail, but it sounds rather interesting. I’ll hopefully get to it soon. The Golden Key is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on February 18th, 2020.