New Books (August)

NewBooks-20200906

Featuring: Joe Abercrombie, Luke Arnold, Hari Conner, Alan Davies, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, Guy Haley, Clive Hamilton, Kristin Hannah, Essa Hansen, James Hibberd, Darius Hinks, Iris Johansen, Laura Lam, John Lanchester, Jessica J. Lee, Katie Lowe, Elizabeth May, Elizabeth McCracken, Claire North, Mareike Ohlberg, Kim Stanley Robinson, Simon Stephenson, Christina Sweeney-Baird, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Vendela Vida, K.S. Villoso, Dawnie Walton, Aliya Whiteley (x2)

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AbercrombieJ-AoM2-TroubleWithPeaceUSJoe Abercrombie, THE TROUBLE WITH PEACE (Orbit)

Peace is just another kind of battlefield…

Savine dan Glokta, once Adua’s most powerful investor, finds her judgement, fortune and reputation in tatters. But she still has all her ambitions, and no scruple will be permitted to stand in her way.

For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized, and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye… before it kills her.

Unrest worms into every layer of society. The Breakers still lurk in the shadows, plotting to free the common man from his shackles, while noblemen bicker for their own advantage. Orso struggles to find a safe path through the maze of knives that is politics, only for his enemies, and his debts, to multiply.

The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace lasts forever.

I’ve allowed my collection of unread Abercrombie novels to grow a little bit more than I would have liked, now. I have four that are waiting to be read — I think I’ll make it one of my reading goals for the rest of 2020 to get caught up (I’m hoping to do the same for Brian McClellan’s recent trilogy). The Trouble with Peace is due to be published on September 15th, by Orbit Books in North America and Gollancz in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Blade Itself, The Blade Itself (reviewed by Teresa Frohock) Before They Are HangedThe Last Argument of KingsBest Served Cold, and Half a King

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

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ArnoldL-FP2-DeadManInADitchLuke Arnold, DEAD MAN IN A DITCH (Orbit)

A former soldier turned PI solves crime in a world that’s lost its magic…

The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need?

Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure.

Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.

Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley.

What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back.

Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world.

But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.

Welcome back to the streets of Sunder City…

This is the follow-up to The Last Smile in Sunder City. Dead Man in a Ditch is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on September 22nd.

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Review copy received from publisher

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ConnerH-IntoTheDungeonUSHari Conner, INTO THE DUNGEON (Andrews McMeel)

You have heard tales of a place… a passage hidden away in the ruins of a forgotten castle, full of terrible dangers, and, for those who dare to face them, endless reward… Provisions are gathered, blades sharpened, and, trying to shake the feeling of dread, you set out to find your way… Into the Dungeon.

Into the Dungeon is a 100+ page choose-your-own-path game-in-a-book, where all you need to play is a pencil. The reader gets to decide which way to go and how to explore, with hundreds of different paths through the story. On some paths you’ll find untold riches, ancient artifacts, strange creatures or secret passages, on others, you’ll barely make it out alive (or die horribly.)

It is a long time since I last read a “choose-your-own” adventure book. Many decades, I believe. I spotted this on Edelweiss just as I finished a book, with a wide-open day with nothing to do. So, I decided to dive right in. It’s a bit difficult to do these when you only have a PDF version… But, it was fun. Into the Dungeon is due to be published by Andrews McMeel in North America (September 29th) and in the UK (October 29th).

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

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DaviesA-JustIgnoreHimUKHCAlan Davies, JUST IGNORE HIM (Little, Brown)

The story of a life built on sand. In the rain.

In this compelling memoir, comedian and actor Alan Davies recalls his boyhood with vivid insight and devastating humour. Shifting between his 1970s upbringing and his life today, Davies moves poignantly from innocence to experience to the clarity of hindsight, always with a keen sense of the absurd.

From sibling dynamics, to his voiceless, misunderstood progression through school, sexuality and humiliating ‘accidents’, Davies inhabits his younger mind with spectacular accuracy, sharply evoking an era when Green Shield Stamps, Bob-a-Job week and Whizzer & Chips loomed large, a bus fare was 2p – and children had little power in the face of adult motivation. Here, there are often exquisitely tender recollections of the mother he lost at six years old, of a bereaved family struggling to find its way, and the kicks and confusion of adolescence.

Through even the joyous and innocent memories, the pain of Davies’s lifelong grief and profound betrayal is unfiltered, searing and beautifully articulated. Just Ignore Him is not only an autobiography, it is a testament to a survivor’s resilience and courage.

I pre-ordered this using an Audible credit. I’ve been a fan of Davies’s work for a long time — I think I first saw him in Jonathan Creek, and he’s always fun on QI. I recently picked up another of his memoirs, as well: Teenage Revolution. Looking forward to reading/listening to both of these. Just Ignore Him is out now in the UK, published by Little, Brown.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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FlynnLE-GirlsAreAllSoNiceHereUSLaurie Elizabeth Flynn, THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE (Simon & Schuster)

Two former best friends return to their college reunion to find that they’re being circled by someone who wants revenge for what they did ten years before — and will stop at nothing to get it — in this shocking psychological thriller about ambition, toxic friendship, and deadly desire.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past — and the people she thought she’d left there — aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused — the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

A blend of suspense and campus novel. Count me in. The Girls Are All So Nice Here is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America (March) and HQ in the UK (April).

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

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HaleyG-DoW1-AvengingSonGuy Haley, DAWN OF FIRE: AVENGING SON (Black Library)

As the Indomitus Crusade spreads out across the galaxy, one battlefleet must face a dread Slaughter Host of Chaos. Their success or failure may define the very future of the crusade – and the Imperium.

A great darkness has befallen the galaxy, and the armies of Chaos are rampant. To survive, humanity must retaliate and take back what they have lost. By the will of the reborn primarch, Roboute Guilliman, is the Indomitus Crusade launched – a military undertaking that eclipses all others in known history. From the Throneworld of Terra does the Avenging Son hurl his fleets, their mission the very salvation of mankind.

As vessels in their thousands burn through the cold void, the attention of Fleetmistress VanLeskus turns to the Machorta Sound – a region under attack by a dreaded Slaughter Host of the Dark Gods. The success of the Indomitus Crusade will be determined by this conflict, and the desperate mission of Battlegroup Saint Aster, led by Space Marine Lieutenant Messinius. Even then it is but a prelude to the forthcoming bloodshed.

The first novel in the new, larger WH40k narrative. Haley was also in charge of the previous shift in the overall story, Dark Imperium — two novels (to date) that I thought were excellent, and did interesting and engaging things with Guilliman’s return and the ongoing struggles in the Imperium. In case you missed it, the author was interviewed about the series here. Avenging Son is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK, as well as elsewhere in translation.

Also on CR: Interview with Guy Haley (2015); Reviews of Pharos, Wolfsbane, Perturabo, Corax, Konrad Curze, The Lost and the Damned, Dante, The Devastation of Baal, and Plague War.

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HamiltonOhlberg-HiddenHandClive Hamilton & Mareike Ohlberg, HIDDEN HAND (Oneworld)

The Chinese Communist Party is determined to reshape the world in its image. The party is not interested in democracy. It sees only a bitter ideological struggle with the West, dividing the world into those who can be won over, and enemies. Many political and business elites have already been lured to their corner; others are weighing up a devil’s bargain.

Through its enormous economic power and covert influence operations, China is now weakening global institutions, aggressively targeting individual corporations, and threatening freedom of expression from the arts to academia. At the same time, Western security services are increasingly worried about incursions into our communications infrastructure.

In a landmark study combining meticulous research with unique insights, Hidden Hand exposes the Chinese Communist Party’s global program of subversion, and the threat it poses to democracy. We have already missed too many warning signs — now it is time to wake up.

A timely examination of the ways China is leveraging soft power (and other tactics) to expand its global influence in the West. I seem to have been reading a lot of articles on this subject, recently, so looking forward to reading this. Hidden Hand is out now, published by Oneworld Publications in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author (Hamilton): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Ohlberg): Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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HannahK-FourWindsUSKristin Hannah, THE FOUR WINDS (St. Martin’s Press)

An epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras — the Great Depression.

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli — like so many of her neighbors — must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

The latest novel from the author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone (and many others). I spotted this a while ago in a catalogue, and requested it when it popped up on NetGalley. Looking forward to reading it soon. The Four Winds is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, on February 9th, 2021 (at the time of writing, I couldn’t find any details about its UK publication).

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

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HansenE-1-NophekGlossEssa Hansen, NOPHEK GLOSS (Orbit)

When a young man’s planet is destroyed, he sets out on a single-minded quest for revenge across the galaxy in Nophek Gloss, the first book in this epic space opera trilogy debut…

Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans.

He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

This is the first novel in the Graven series, and it’s been getting some pretty good pre-publication buzz. Looking forward to reading it ASAP. Nophek Gloss is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 17th, 2020.

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

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HibberdJ-FireCannotKillADragonUSJames Hibberd, FIRE CANNOT KILL A DRAGON (Dutton)

The official, definitive oral history of the blockbuster show from Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd, published with HBO’s official support.

It was supposed to be impossible. George R.R. Martin was a frustrated television writer who created his bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels to be an unfilmable saga bound only by the limits of his vast imagination. Then a pair of first-time TV writers teamed with HBO to try and adapt Martin’s epic. We’ve all seen the eight seasons of the Emmy-winning fantasy series that came next. But there is one Game of Thrones tale that has yet to be told: the 13-year behind-the-scenes struggle to pull off this extraordinary phenomenon.

In Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, award-winning Entertainment Weekly writer James Hibberd chronicles the untold story of Game of Thrones, from the creative team’s first meetings to staging the series finale and all the on-camera battles and off-camera struggles in between. The book draws from more than 50 revealing new interviews, rare and stunning photos, and unprecedented access to the producers, cast, and crew who took an impossible idea and made it into the biggest show in the world.

I do like a Hollywood/TV oral history — most recently, I’ve read and enjoyed oral histories for The Office and Modern FamilyGame of Thrones is a show that captured an awful lot of attention around the world, had peaks and valleys in quality (oh, some of the valleys…). There was a lot that I loved about it, so I’m looking forward to reading this. Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon is due to be published by Dutton in North America and Bantam Press in the UK, on October 6th.

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

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HinksD-BF3-AscensionDarius Hinks, BLACKSTONE FORTRESS: ASCENSION (Black Library)

Precipice is dying. For weeks, the space port has been battered by hellish geomagnetic storms, the work of sinister goings-on within the nearby Blackstone Fortress — a vast, ineffable creation that looms in the darkness of the void. Fragile alliances between Precipice’s xenos and human inhabitants crumble as the port’s docking points are destroyed, eroding any hope of escape.

Amid this bedlam, opportunistic rogue trader Janus Draik remains coolly unaffected. As an apocalyptic tempest threatens the life of his crew, Draik bitterly ponders a letter he has received from his father, disowning him and stripping him of his rank, titles and inheritance. In a last-ditch attempt to restore his fortune, Draik unites the disparate adventurers of Precipice to delve even deeper into the mysteries of the Blackstone Fortress. Once there, he learns of a threat that could endanger not just his own future, but the Imperium as a whole. Draik must mend the brittle bonds of trust, loyalty and respect between the survivors to destroy this abominable intelligence and avert disaster.

The latest bit of Blackstone Fortress fiction from Hinks (maybe the last?). I haven’t had a chance to read the other books, yet (one novel and one short fiction collection), but I’ve really enjoyed everything by Hinks that I’ve read so far. So, I’ll try to binge the series soon. Ascension is out now, published by Black Library in North America, in the UK, Germany, and France.

Also on CR: Interview with Darius Hinks (2011); Reviews of Blood of Sanguinius, Revenant CrusadeGhoulslayer

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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JohansenI-AF1-ChaosUSIris Johansen, CHAOS (Grand Central)

When CIA agent Alisa Flynn flaunts the rules by breaking into a mansion in the middle of the night, she skillfully circumvents alarms and outwits guards only to find herself standing in billionaire Gabe Korgan’s study… busted by Korgan himself. This could cost her her job unless, in a split second, she can turn the tables and try to convince him to join her on the most important mission of her life.

In a ripped-from-the-headlines plot, schoolgirls in Africa have been kidnapped, and Alisa knows that Korgan has the courage, financial means, and high-tech weaponry to help rescue them. With so many innocent lives hanging in the balance, what she doesn’t reveal is that one of those schoolgirls is like a little sister to her. But when the truth gets out, the stakes grow even higher.

Calling in additional assistance from renowned horse whisperer Margaret Douglas, Alisa and Gabe lay their plans, only to see them descend into chaos as the line between right and wrong wavers before them like a mirage. Every path is strewn with pitfalls, each likely to get them — or the hostages — killed. But with the help of a brave team and a horse with the heart of a warrior, they might just get out of this alive.

I’ve never read anything by Johansen. I think it’s because I kept seeing books in the author’s long-established Eve Duncan series — I like to start at the beginning, and it always seemed a bit daunting to get caught up. This novel introduces a new protagonist, which means it looks like a great entry point to the author’s body of work. Looking forward to reading it. Chaos is due to be published on September 1st, by Grand Central Publishing in North America and in the UK.

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

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LanchesterJ-RealityAndOtherStoriesUKJohn Lanchester, REALITY, AND OTHER STORIES (Faber)

Household gizmos with a mind of their own.

Constant cold calls from unknown numbers.

And the creeping suspicion that none of this is real.

Reality, and Other Stories is a gathering of deliciously chilling entertainments – stories to be read as the evenings draw in and the days are haunted by all the ghastly schlock, uncanny technologies and absurd horrors of modern life.

John Lanchester is an author I’ve always wanted to read. For some reason, though, I keep forgetting how many of his books I have on my Kindle. Fragrant Harbour and The Wall are at the top of my list, but I decided to read this first — and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it quite a bit [review]. A collection of modern day ghost stories and contemporary fiction with dashes of the weird. Reality, and Other Stories is due to be published by Faber in the UK (September 29th) and W. W. Norton in North America (March 9th).

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

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LeeJJ-TwoTreesMakeAForestCAPBJessica J. Lee, TWO TREES MAKE A FOREST (Hamish Hamilton)

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.

Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.

The second book from my friend Jessica J. Lee (following 2017’s Turning). I’ll be reading it very soon. Two Trees Make a Forest is out now, published by Hamish Hamilton in Canada, Virago in the UK, and Catapult in the US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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LoweK-PossessionUSKatie Lowe, POSSESSION (St. Martin’s Press)

A psychological thriller about a woman whose husband was murdered ten years ago, and the true crime podcast that digs up all the secrets from back then that she’d tried to keep buried.

@ConvictionPod tweeted: Four hours to go. Episode 1 goes live at 1pm GMT. Get ready for our most twisted season yet.

An officer: “There was something about the crime scene that just wasn’t right. It was like something from a film. I’ve seen a lot of homicides in the years since, but… that’s the one that keeps me up at night.”

The husband’s best man: “They went to incredible lengths to make themselves look like the perfect couple. They had everybody fooled. Or at least, she did. But I always knew something was off. After they charged that kid… something about that just seemed wrong.”

The man who did it: “I swear to god—I wasn’t there. They said the evidence against me was overwhelming, but… it wasn’t. It was all circumstantial. But I was a kid. I didn’t know any better. I thought I’d get a fair trial, and it’d all be okay. But I didn’t. I’ve been in here for ten years, on a life sentence for something I know I didn’t do.”

The wife: “I told you. I don’t remember anything. I don’t know.”

That’s all to come, this season, on Conviction.

Katie Lowe’s debut, The Furies was a much-buzzed-about book last year. Possession popped up on NetGalley, and the synopsis caught my attention. My partner is a big fan of true crime podcasts, and there’s no denying their explosion in popularity. We recently finished the I’ll Be Gone in the Dark documentary, and this just caught my attention. I’ll be reading it soon, but I’ll hold off on a review for a couple of months. Possession is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America (January 26th) and Harper Collins in the UK (April 21st).

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

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MayLam-1-SevenDevilsUKElizabeth May & Laura Lam, SEVEN DEVILS (Gollancz)

Seven resistance fighters will free the galaxy from the ruthless Empire – or die trying.

When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.

When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.

Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy.

If they can’t, millions may die.

The first in a duology, and one that has been receiving a lot of great pre- and post-publication buzz. (It landed on the Sunday Times bestseller list immediately.) Looking forward to reading this. Seven Devils is out now, published by Gollancz in the UK and DAW Books in North America.

Also on CR: Interview with Laura Lam (2016)

Follow the Author (May): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Lam): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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McCrackenE-SouvenirMuseumUSElizabeth McCracken, THE SOUVENIR MUSEUM (Ecco)

In these stories, the mysterious bonds of family are tested, transformed, fractured, and fortified. A recent widower and his adult son ferry to a craggy Scottish island in search of puffins. An actress who plays a children’s game-show villainess ushers in the New Year with her deadbeat half brother. A mother, pining for her children, feasts on loaves of challah to fill the void. A new couple navigates a tightrope walk toward love. And on a trip to a Texas water park with their son, two fathers each confront a personal fear. 

With sentences that crackle and spark and showcase her trademark wit, McCracken traces how our closely held desires — for intimacy, atonement, comfort — bloom and wither against the indifferent passing of time. Her characters embark on journeys that leave them indelibly changed — and so do her readers. The Souvenir Museum showcases the talents of one of our finest contemporary writers as she tenderly takes the pulse of our collective and individual lives

Rather looking forward to reading this new collection, from the author of the acclaimed Bowlaway. It’s not out for quite some time, though, so I’ll save the review for closer to release. The Souvenir Museum is due to be published in North America by Ecco on April 31st, 2021. (No information re: UK release at the time of this writing.)

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

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NorthC-SweetHarmonyClaire North, SWEET HARMONY (Orbit)

A darkly inventive novella about the dangers of pursuing perfection.

Harmony is tired. Tired of working so hard, tired of the way she looks, tired of being average.

But all that changes when she decides to splash out and upgrade her nanos. And why not? Everyone’s doing it now. With a simple in-app purchase, you can update the tech in your bloodstream to transform yourself – get enhanced brain power, the perfect body or a dazzling smile. Suddenly, everything starts going right for her. She’s finally becoming the person she always wanted to be.

But as Harmony will find out, there’s a limit to how many upgrades a body can take…

Always look forward to new fiction by Claire North (although, I have fallen a bit behind, recently). This novella sounds great, and I’ll read it very soon. Sweet Harmony is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on September 22nd.

Also on CR: Reviews of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Touch, The Gameshouse Trilogy, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope

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

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RobinsonKS-MinistryForTheFutureKim Stanley Robinson, THE MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE (Orbit)

A vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world’s future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us — and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.

It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.

A new novel from Robinson is always something for sci-fi fans to rejoice. This one looks particularly interesting, too. Hope to get to it soon. The Ministry for the Future is due to be published by Orbit Books on October 6th, in North America and in the UK.

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

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StephensonS-SetMyHeartToFiveUSSimon Stephenson, SET MY HEART TO FIVE (Hanover Square Press)

A delightfully entertaining, deceptively poignant debut novel about a human-like bot named Jared, whose emotional awakening leads him on an unforgettable quest for connection, belonging and possibly even true love.

Jared works as a dentist in small town Michigan. His life is totally normal, except for one thing. He is a bot, engineered with human DNA to looks and acts like a real person.

One day at a screening of classic movie, Jared feels a strange sensation around his eyes. Everyone knows that bots can’t feel emotions, but as the theater lights come on, Jared could swear he’s crying. Confused, he decides to watch more old movies to figure out what’s happening. The process leads to an emotional awakening that upends his existence. Jared, it turns out, can feel.

Overcome with a full range of emotions, and facing an imminent reset, Jared heads west, determined to forge real connections. He yearns to find his mother, the programmer who created him. He dreams of writing a screenplay that will change the world. Along the way he might even fall in love. But a bot with feelings is a dangerous proposition, and Jared’s new life could come to an end before it truly begins.

Set My Heart to Five is a profound exploration of what makes us human, and a love letter to outsiders everywhere.

I only heard about this novel the day before it was released. The endorsement from Simon Pegg piqued my interest, as did the news that it is going to be adapted by Edgar Wright, who adapted Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I’ll be reading this very soon, hopefully. Set My Heart to Five is out now, published by Hanover Square Press in North America and 4th Estate in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SweeneyBairdC-EndOfMenUKChristina Sweeney-Baird, THE END OF MEN (Borough Press)

Glasgow, 2025. Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a patient with flu-like symptoms. Within three hours he is dead. This is how it begins.

The unknown virus sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed.

The victims are all men.

Dr Maclean raises the alarm. But by the time the authorities listen to her, the virus has spread to every corner of the world. Threatening families. Governments. Countries.

Can they find a cure before it’s too late?

This had a sudden blitz of attention online, when the cover was revealed. I was pre-approved on NetGalley, so thought I’d give it a go (the DRC is a PDF, though, so it might take a while). A slightly similar premise to Lauren Beukes’s Afterland, but with plenty of different elements, too. Hope to read it soon-ish. The End of Men is due to be published by the Borough Press in the UK (April 29th), Doubleday in Canada, and G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US (February 23rd).

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

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TchaikovskyA-DoorsOfEdenUSAdrian Tchaikovsky, THE DOORS OF EDEN (Orbit)

An extraordinary feat of the imagination and a page-turning adventure about parallel universes and the monsters that they hide.

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

New Tchaikovsky! Essential reading, in my opinion. The Doors of Eden is out now, published by Orbit Books in North America (eBook out now, print in October), and Gollancz in the UK. I’ll have it read and reviewed ASAP.

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

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

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VidaV-WeRunTheTidesUSVendela Vida, WE RUN THE TIDES (Ecco)

An achingly beautiful and wickedly funny story of female friendship, betrayal, and a mysterious disappearance, set in the changing landscape of San Francisco

Teenage Eulabee and her alluring best friend, Maria Fabiola, own the streets of Sea Cliff, their foggy, oceanside San Francisco neighborhood. They know the ins and outs of the homes and beaches, Sea Cliff’s hidden corners and eccentric characters — as well as the swanky all-girls’ school they attend. Their lives move along uneventfully, with afternoon walks by the ocean and weekend sleepovers. Then everything changes. Eulabee and Maria Fabiola have a disagreement about what they did or didn’t witness on the way to school one morning, and this creates a schism in their friendship. The rupture is followed by Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance — a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community and threatens to expose unspoken truths.

Suspenseful and poignant, We Run the Tides is Vendela Vida’s masterpiece depiction of an inimitable place on the brink of radical transformation. Pre-tech boom San Francisco finds its mirror in the changing lives of the teenage girls at the center of this story of innocence lost, the pain of too much freedom, and the struggle to find one’s authentic self. Told with a gimlet eye and great warmth, We Run the Tides is both a gripping mystery and a tribute to the wonders of youth, in all its beauty and confusion. 

Spotted this on Edelweiss, and thought it sounded interesting. Looking forward to trying it. I also hunted down some of the author’s other books to try — specifically, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Diver’s Clothes Lie EmptyWe Run the Tides is due to be published by Ecco on February 9th, 2021. (No UK published information available at the time of writing.)

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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VillossoKS-CotBQ2-IkessarFalconK.S. Villoso, THE IKESSAR FALCON (Orbit)

The stunning sequel to The Wolf of Oren-yaro where the queen of a divided land struggles to unite her people. Even if they despise her.

The spiral to madness begins with a single push.

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worst as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and impossible horrors that unearth the nation’s true troubles – creatures from the dark, mad dragons, and men with hearts hungry for power.

To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen, and everything she could never be.

The price of failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.

The sequel to The Wolf of Olen-YaroThe Ikessar Falcon is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on September 22nd.

Also on CR: Interview with K.S. Villosso (2020)

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

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WaltonD-FinalRevivalOfOpalNevUSDawnie Walton, THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV (37 Ink)

A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

This looks very interesting. It’s not out for a while, but I think I’m going to read it ASAP. I’ll hold off on the review until closer to its release, though. The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is due to be published by 37 Ink in North America and Quercus in the UK, on April 20th, 2021.

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

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WhiteleyA-GreensmithAliya Whiteley, GREENSMITH (Unsung Stories)

Penelope Greensmith is a bio-librarian, responsible for a vast seed bank made possible by the mysterious Vice she inherited from her father.

She lives a small, dedicated life until the day the enigmatic and charming Horticulturalist arrives in her garden, asking to see her collection. He thinks it could hold the key to stopping a terrible plague sweeping the universe.

Soon Penelope is whisked away on an intergalactic adventure by the Horticulturalist, experiencing the vast and bizarre mysteries that lie among the stars.

But as this gentle woman searches for a way to save the universe, her daughter Lily is still on Earth, trying to track her down, and struggling to survive the terrible events unfolding there…

A new novel by Whiteley is always something to look forward to. Always inventive, and a great author, I’m looking forward to reading this. Greensmith is due to be published by Unsung Stories on October 12th, 2020.

Review copy received from publisher

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WhiteleyA-SkywardInnUKAliya Whiteley, SKYWARD INN (Solaris)

Drink down the brew and dream of a better Earth.

Skyward Inn, within the high walls of the Western Protectorate, is a place of safety, where people come together to tell stories of the time before the war with Qita.

But safety from what? Qita surrendered without complaint when Earth invaded; Innkeepers Jem and Isley, veterans from either side, have regrets but few scars.

Their peace is disturbed when a visitor known to Isley comes to the Inn asking for help, bringing reminders of an unnerving past and triggering an uncertain future.

Did humanity really win the war?

I hadn’t heard about this novel before I received a DRC from the publisher. Sounds really interesting, though. Skyward Inn is due to be published by Solaris in North America and in the UK, in March 2021.

Also on CR: Interview with Aliya Whiteley (2017); Guest Post on “Five Old British Ways of Predicting the Future”

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

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Various-WHC-NoGoodMenVarious, NO GOOD MEN (Black Library)

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is a vast city… an urban sprawl of murder and corruption. A den of vice and illicit deeds where the law is failing and justice is fleeting. Glutted merchant-kings turn the wheels of industry, feeding the engine of war on distant worlds while the lowly dream only of survival. As the gilded prosper, hidden behind their fortress walls, the masses must find a place within the underbelly. But regardless of station, whether criminal or law-keeper, one fact remains true – this city is dirty, and no one escapes it without a little sin.

For in Varangantua, there are no good men.

Contents:
Aberrant by Chris Wraight
Exit Wound by Darius Hinks
The View from Olympus by Gareth Hanrahan
Impurities by Graham McNeill
No Use for Good Men by Guy Haley
Cold Cases by Marc Collins
Against the Grain by Nick Kyme

Black Library’s first collection of short fiction under their new Warhammer Crime label. Really looking forward to reading this and the upcoming novels in the series. No Good Men is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

One thought on “New Books (August)

  1. I’ve read “Avenging Son” by Guy Haley and something that surprised me when I started reading it was that apparently this series is taking place BEFORE his Dark Imperium and Plague War novels. Just something to keep in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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