Featuring: David Baldacci, RJ Barker, Ronald Brownstein, Kacen Callender, M. A. Carrick, Joe Clifford, Sam Cohen, Robert A. Dahl, Laura Dave, J. S. Dewes, Craig DiLouie, Peter Fehervari, Chris Fraser, David Guymer, David Hair, Matthew McConaughey, Ben McPherson, Kristyn Merbeth, Liz Moore, Marcus J. Moore, Nick Nurse, RV Raman, Corbin Reiff, Rebecca Roanhorse, Doug Smith, Bruce Sterling, Stuart Turton, Matthew Ward, Tyler Whitesides, Evan Winter,
David Baldacci, DAYLIGHT (Grand Central Publishing)
FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s search for her sister Mercy clashes with military investigator John Puller’s high-stakes case, leading them both deep into a global conspiracy — from which neither of them will escape unscathed.
For many long years, Atlee Pine was tormented by uncertainty after her twin sister, Mercy, was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Now, just as Atlee is pressured to end her investigation into Mercy’s disappearance, she finally gets her most promising breakthrough yet: the identity of her sister’s kidnapper, Ito Vincenzo.
With time running out, Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum race to Vincenzo’s last known location in Trenton, New Jersey — and unknowingly stumble straight into John Puller’s case, blowing his arrest during a drug ring investigation involving a military installation.
Stunningly, Pine and Puller’s joint investigation uncovers a connection between Vincenzo’s family and a breathtaking scheme that strikes at the very heart of global democracy. Peeling back the layers of deceit, lies and cover-ups, Atlee finally discovers the truth about what happened to Mercy. And that truth will shock Pine to her very core.
I’ve inexplicably managed to let Baldacci’s Attlee Pine series fall by the wayside. When I received this book for review, I’d actually been contemplating starting it that day. I saw this as a sign, and started reading the first book that evening — Long Road to Mercy. I haven’t read all of the John Puller novels, but I hope it won’t matter too much. Daylight is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (November 17th) and Macmillan in the UK (November 12th).
RJ Barker, CALL OF THE BONE SHIPS (Orbit)
Dragons have returned to the Hundred Isles. But their return heralds only war and destruction.
When a horde of dying slaves are discovered in the bowels of a ship, Shipwife Meas and the crew of the Tide Child find themselves drawn into a vicious plot that will leave them questioning their loyalities and fighting for their lives.
The second novel in Barker’s acclaimed second fantasy series, sequel to The Bone Ships. I really enjoyed the author’s debut series, the Wounded Kingdom, but I have been woefully slow about getting to this new one. Now that I have the second novel, as well, I think I really have very little excuse to try to get caught up. Call of the Bone Ships is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 24th, 2020.
Ronald Brownstein, ROCK ME ON THE WATER (Harper)
The kaleidoscopic story of one monumental year that marked the city of Los Angeles’ creative peak, a glittering moment when popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become.
Los Angeles in 1974 exerted more influence over popular culture than any other city in America. Los Angeles that year, in fact, dominated popular culture more than it ever had before, or would again. Working in film, recording, and television studios around Sunset Boulevard, living in Brentwood and Beverly Hills or amid the flickering lights of the Hollywood Hills, a cluster of transformative talents produced an explosion in popular culture which reflected the demographic, social, and cultural realities of a changing America. At a time when Richard Nixon won two presidential elections with a message of backlash against the social changes unleashed by the sixties, popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become. The early 1970s in Los Angeles was the time and the place where conservatives definitively lost the battle to control popular culture.
Rock Me on the Water traces the confluence of movies, music, television, and politics in Los Angeles month by month through that transformative, magical year. Ronald Brownstein reveals how 1974 represented a confrontation between a massive younger generation intent on change, and a political order rooted in the status quo. Today, we are again witnessing a generational cultural divide. Brownstein shows how the voices resistant to change may win the political battle for a time, but they cannot hold back the future.
Thought this sounded interesting: a confluence of many of my interests (politics, movies, music, and Los Angeles). Rock Me on the Water is due to be published by Harper in North America and in the UK, on March 23rd, 2021.
Kacen Callender, KING OF THE RISING (Orbit)
A revolution has swept through the islands of Hans Lollik and former slave Loren Jannik has been chosen to lead the survivors in a bid to free the islands forever.
But the rebels are running out of food, weapons and options. And as the Fjern inch closer to reclaiming Hans Lollik with every battle, Loren is faced with a choice that could shift the course of the revolution in their favor — or doom it to failure.
The final part in a “Caribbean-inspired fantasy” duology about “colonialism, resilience and defiance”. I’ve not been very good at keeping up to date on Orbit releases (there are so many that are must reads!), and unfortunately Callender’s debut, Queen of the Conquered, is one I still have on my TBR mountain. Hopefully I’ll get to it soon. King of the Rising is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on December 1st, 2020.
M. A. Carrick, THE MASK OF MIRRORS (Orbit)
A darkly magical fantasy adventure in which a con artist returns to the city that betrayed her, determined to have her revenge — only to find that her fate might be to save it.
This is your past, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither…
Arenza Lenskaya is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadezra, she fled that world to save her sister.
This is your present, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither
Renata Viraudax is a con artist recently arrived in Nadezra. She has one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune.
This is your future, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither…
As corrupt nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the city of dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart. And if she cannot sort the truth from the lies, it will mean the destruction of all her worlds.
Joe Clifford, THE LAKEHOUSE (Polis)
After being cleared of his wife’s murder, Todd Norman returns to her small Connecticut hometown in order to finish building their dream house by the lake. He is eager to restart his life and cast aside any remaining suspicious… but all of that is dashed when a young woman’s body washes up on the beach next door.
When Tracy Somerset, divorced mother from the small town of Covenant, CT, meets a handsome stranger in a midnight Wal-Mart, she has no idea she is speaking with Todd Norman, the former Wall Street financier dubbed “The Banker Butcher” by the New York tabloids. The following morning, on the beach by Norman’s back-under-construction lakehouse, another young woman’s body is discovered. Sheriff Duane Sobczak’s investigation leads him to town psychiatrist Dr. Meshulum Bakshir, whose position at a troubled girls’ group home a decade ago yields disturbing ties to several local, prominent players, including a radical preacher, a disgraced politician, a down-and-out PI — and Sobczak’s own daughter.
Unfolding over the course of New England’s distinct four seasons, The Lakehouse is a domestic psychological thriller about the wayward and marginalized, the lies we tell those closest to us, and the price of forbidden love in an insular community where it seems everyone has a story to tell — and a past they prefer stay buried.
Sam Cohen, SARAHLAND (Grand Central)
In SARAHLAND, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us, both demanding and thrillingly providing for its cast of Sarahs new origin stories, new ways to love the planet and those inhabiting it, and new possibilities for life itself. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure-and a new set of problems-by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, Cohen explodes this search for self, insisting that we have more to resist and repair than our own personal narratives. Readers witness as the ever-evolving “Sarah” gets recast: as a bible-era trans woman, an aging lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, “Sarah” will continue.
In each Sarah’s refusal to adhere to a single narrative, she potentially builds a better home for us all, a place to live that demands no fixity of self, no plague of consumerism, no bodily compromise, a place called SARAHLAND.
Thought this collection sounded interesting, and I was pre-approved on NetGalley. Hope to read it soon. Sarahland is due to be published in North America by Grand Central Publishing, on March 9th, 2021.
Robert A. Dahl, ON DEMOCRACY (Yale University Press)
In this accessible and authoritative work of political science and political philosophy, one of the most prominent political theorists of our time provides a primer on democracy: what it is, why it is valuable, how it works, and what challenges it confronts in the future.
Written by the preeminent democratic theorist of our time, this book explains the nature, value, and mechanics of democracy. In a new introduction to this Veritas edition, Ian Shapiro considers how Dahl would respond to the ongoing challenges democracy faces in the modern world.
Robert Dahl’s theory of political pluralism was quite important to my PhD. Saw this was available for review, thought I’d give it another look. This new edition of On Democracy is published by Yale University Press in North America on January 26th, 2021. On Democracy is also available in the UK.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
Laura Dave, THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME (Simon & Schuster)
A riveting new suspense novel about how one woman must learn the truth of her husband’s disappearance — no matter the cost.
We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity — and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.
The new novel by the author of Hello, Sunshine looks like an intriguing mystery. Looking forward to reading this very soon, but I’ll hold off on the review until closer to release. The Last Thing He Told Me is due to be published in North America by Simon & Schuster on May 4th, 2021. (Couldn’t find any info about a UK release at the time of writing.)
J.S. Dewes, THE LAST WATCH (Tor Books)
It’s the edge of the universe.
Now it’s collapsing—and taking everyone and everything with it.
The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels — the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military.
At the Divide, Adequin Rake, commanding the Argus, has no resources, no comms — nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted.
They’re humanity’s last chance.
The start of a new sci-fi series, The Divide. Always interested in trying something new, so looking forward to giving this a read. The Last Watch is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on April 20th, 2021.
Craig DiLouie, THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK (Redhook)
David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group’s horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind.
When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night?
The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.
A little bit ashamed to admit that what really caught my attention with this one was the cover. After that caught my eye, I read the synopsis, which was also intriguing. (So I’m not a total monster!) The Children of Red Peak is due to be published by Redhook in North America and in the UK, on November 17th, 2020.
Peter Fehervari, THE REVERIE (Black Library)
Exalting war and art in harmony, the warrior-artisans of the Angels Resplendent have forged a radiant haven amidst a blighted galaxy. But an ancient sin stains their honour – a wound in their world that will never heal. Ignorant souls would call it a forest, but those who watch over it know better.
Nothing natural grows in the Reverie’s snow-swept glades or wanders amongst the unnatural things that do, save for the intruders who trespass on its pain. Some seek revelation or redemption, others dream of winning a place amongst the Resplendent, but all come because they must.
Three travellers are drawn into the conspiracy that wards the wound – a knight haunted by his lost humanity, an aging poet who refuses to go gently into the night, and a scholar who yearns to redeem mankind. All must face their shadows in the Reverie, but only one shall gaze upon its heart, where a deeper darkness beats.
The latest novel form the Warhammer Horror imprint, just in time for Halloween. I haven’t read as much of Fehervari’s work as I’d like (so many books, so little time), but this looks delightfully dark. I’ve also heard great things about the author’s Requiem Infernal, which I’ll also try to read soon. The Reverie is out today, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Chris Fraser, INSIDE CHINA: FROM THE GREAT LEAP BACKWARD TO HUAWEI (Troubador)
This memoir is written from a Chinese speaker’s and insider’s viewpoint stretching over fifty years of working in and around China in both a public and private capacity. The writer saw tensions and chaos on the China Hong Kong Border in the wake of the Great Leap Forward in the People’s Republic and during the murderous Cultural Revolution. Experiences of intelligence gathering and intelligence work related to China are coupled with insights into Chinese culture and politics including a little known coup attempt against the Chinese Government. The writer was present at the ceremonies for the Handover of HK to China in 1997 while working at the new British Consulate General.
Involvement in outbound corporate investment from Hong Kong and China features in the book including Huawei’s initial investment into UK. Practical advice for businesses entering the Chinese market including common pitfalls is highlighted including personal experiences of doing business in the PRC.
A view of current Chinese politics and attitudes is provided at a time of international tensions where China is pushing the envelope around the World.
Thought this looked like it might be interesting. It’s quite short, so I decided to squeeze it in between longer books. It’s… interesting. There’s no doubt that Fraser had an interesting life — especially his time working for the British Hong Kong police forces and Special Branch. However, his writing style leaves a lot to be desired: many run-on sentences, nuggets of colour and interesting details delivered in a rather lifeless manner. When he leaves Hong Kong and starts working in business, my interest sadly dropped off. There’s some good stuff in here, so I would recommend to anyone with an interest in the British experience in Hong Kong before the hand-over, and maybe anyone looking for insights into doing business with Chinese companies. It just really needed a better edit and/or a ghostwriter, and some more context to flesh out the story. Inside China is out now, published by Troubador in North America and in the UK.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
David Guymer, LION EL’JONSON: LORD OF THE FIRST (Black Library)
Each primarch is an exemplary being, derived from the Emperor’s own genetic stock to embody a facet of His personality. Their powers are unfathomable, but only one of them is the First. Lion El’Jonson is the paragon of what it is to be a primarch. His Legion, pre-eminent for most of their long history, typify the virtues of temperance, pride, and martial excellency that the Lion embodies. They are the Emperor’s last line and final sanction. They are His Dark Angels.
Now, while the Emperor gathers His mightiest sons for an assault on Ullanor Prime, the Lord of the First instead draws his Legion to the farthest reaches of the known galaxy, seeking to subdue a single rebellious world. Is this but another example of the Lion’s infamous pride, or is there more afoot amidst that graveyard of empires that is the Ghoul Stars, more than the Lion will share even with his own sons?
The latest volume in the Horus Heresy Primarchs series. I’ve enjoyed most of the books in the series, each adding just a little bit more to our understanding of the subject primarch. Lion El’Jonson is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
David Hair, MAP’S EDGE (Jo Fletcher Books)
Follow a renegade sorcerer off the edge of the map…
Dashryn Cowl has run out of places to hide. The erstwhile sorcerer of the Imperial College fled the Bolgravian Empire when his high-flying family fell from grace, but the tyrannical empire is still hunting for him.
So when he gets his hands on a map showing a place outside the known lands rich in istariol, the mineral that fuels sorcery, he sees a way back to power. There’s only one problem: it means masquerading as an Imperial Cartomancer (an instant death sentence) and finding some dupes to help him mine the istariol in secret, no questions asked.
But somehow, amid the dangers of the road (floods and avalanches, beasts, barbarians and monsters), a strange thing begins to happen: Dashryn starts to care about his ragtag followers and their strange odyssey into the ruins of an ancient forgotten civilisation.
But his past won’t let him be: the implacable Imperial Bloodhound Toran Zorne has caught his scent, and Zorne has never yet failed to bring his quarry to ground.
At the edge of the map, there’s no going forward and no going back…
This novel and series has been described as “perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson and Sebastien de Castell”, which certainly catches my attention. Hope to get to this soon. The first novel in the Tethered Citadel series, Map’s Edge is out now, published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK (not sure about North American release, at the time of writing).
Also on CR: Interview with David Hair (2020); Guest Post on “Making of the Prologue” and Excerpt from Hearts of Ice; Guest Post on “Juggling YA and Adult Fantasy Writing”
Matthew McConaughey, GREENLIGHTS (Crown)
I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges — how to get relative with the inevitable — you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”
So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.
Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.
It’s a love letter. To life.
It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights — and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.
While I haven’t read and reviewed many recently, long-time CR readers will know that I do like a good memoir, and especially those by comedians and actors. I’ve been a fan of McConaughey’s since I saw him in A Time to Kill. I actually picked up both the eBook and audiobook editions of this book. (Despite being a fan of his work for decades, I nevertheless still have no idea how to spell his surname — it’s always a copy-and-paste situation…) Greenlights is out now, published by Crown in North America, and Headline in the UK.
Ben McPherson, THE ISLAND (Harper Collins)
A horrifying nightmare…
A summer camp for teens, on a beautiful island. It should have been a haven. But it soon becomes hell on earth when two men start shooting.
A country in shock…
The families gather, desperately hoping their children have survived. Some have their prayers answered. Some must confront their worst nightmare.
A family that will never be the same again…
Cal and Elsa’s daughter Licia was on the island, but no one can find any trace of her. Delving into their daughter’s life, they uncover some shocking secrets. What really happened to Licia that day? Did she survive the shooting, or is she gone forever?
This looked like it might be quite interesting. The Island is out now in the UK, published by Harper Collins (paperback in January 2021). The novel is due to be published in North America by William Morrow in February 2021, as Love and Other Lies.
Kristyn Merbeth, MEMORIA (Orbit)
Two planets are on the brink of war…
The Kaiser Family helped the Nova Vita system avoid a catastrophic multi-planet war, one that the Kaisers might have accidentally caused in the first place. In their wake, two planets have been left devastated by ancient alien technology.
Now, the Kaisers try to settle into their new lives as tenuous citizens of the serene water planet, Nibiru, but Scorpia Kaiser can never stay still. So, she takes another shady job. One that gives her a ship where spaceborn like her belong.
But while Scorpia is always moving forward, Corvus can’t seem to leave his life as a soldier behind. Every planet in the system is vying to strip his razed home planet Titan of its remaining resources, and tensions are high. The Kaisers will need to discover the truth behind what happened on Gaia and Titan, or Corvus will be forced again to fight in an unwinnable war — and this time, all of Nova Vita is at stake.
This is the sequel to Fortuna, the first novel in the Nova Vita Protocol sci-fi series. I haven’t had a chance to read the first book, yet (that’s becoming a rather common refrain), but it does sound interesting. Memoria is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Why Not Zombies…?”
Liz Moore, THE WORDS OF EVERY SONG (Cornerstone)
The Words of Every Song takes the form of fourteen linked episodes, each centering on a character involved with the music industry. There’s the arrogantly hip, twenty-six-year-old A&R man; the rising young singer-songwriter; the established, arena-filling rock star on the verge of a midlife crisis; the type-A female executive with the heavy social calendar; and other recognizable figures.
Set in the sleek offices, high-tech recording studios, and grungy downtown clubs of New York, The Words of Every Song offers an authenticity drawn from Liz Moore’s own experience and brings an insider’s touch to its depiction of the music industry and its denizens.
Liz Moore’s latest novel, Long Bright River, was very well received when it was published earlier this year. The Words of Every Song, another of Moore’s novels, also received a UK eBook release this year (paperback out in June 2021). I started reading it very soon after getting the review copy, and I can report that I’m enjoying it so far. Review soon. The Words of Every Song is out now, published by Cornerstone in the UK, and Broadway Books in North America.
Marcus J. Moore, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (Atria)
Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game.
The thirteen-time Grammy Award–winning rapper is just in his early thirties, but he’s already won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, produced and curated the soundtrack of the megahit film Black Panther, and has been named one of Time’s 100 Influential People. But what’s even more striking about the Compton-born lyricist and performer is how he’s established himself as a formidable adversary of oppression and force for change. Through his confessional poetics, his politically charged anthems, and his radical performances, Lamar has become a beacon of light for countless people.
Written by veteran journalist and music critic Marcus J. Moore, this is the first biography of Kendrick Lamar. It’s the definitive account of his coming-of-age as an artist, his resurrection of two languishing genres (bebop and jazz), his profound impact on a racially fraught America, and his emergence as the bona fide King of Rap.
The Butterfly Effect is the extraordinary, triumphant story of a modern lyrical prophet and an American icon who has given hope to those buckling under the weight of systemic oppression, reminding everyone that through it all — “we gon’ be alright.”
I don’t know a great deal about Kendrick Lamar, aside from his music (and even then, not very well). However, it’s impossible to not notice his impact and recognize his style. So, I’ve been looking forward to this since I spotted it in a catalogue. I’ll read it ASAP. The Butterfly Effect is out now, published by Atria Books in North America and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK.
Nick Nurse w. Michael Sokolove, RAPTURE (Little, Brown)
Nick Nurse distills the wisdom, insight, and experiences that helped him lead the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship in his first year as head coach.
NBA fans had modest expectations for rookie coach Nick Nurse and his Toronto Raptors. But what those naysayers didn’t realize was that Nurse had spent the past thirty years proving himself at every level of the game, from youth programs and college ball to the NBA D League and Britain’s struggling pro circuit. While few coaches have taken such a circuitous path to pro basketball’s promised land, the journey-which began at Kuemper Catholic high school in Carroll, Iowa-forged a coach who proved to be as unshakable as he is personable.
On the road, he is known to bring his guitar and keyboard for late-night jazz and blues sessions. In the locker room, he’s steadfast and even-keeled regardless of the score. On the court, he pulls out old-school tactics with astounding success. A rookie in name but a veteran in attitude, Nurse is seemingly above the chaos of the game and, with only two seasons on his résumé, has already established himself as one of the NBA’s most admired head coaches.
Now, in this revealing new book — equal parts personal memoir, leadership manifesto, and philosophical meditation — Nurse tells his own story. Given unprecedented access inside the Raptors’ locker room, readers get an intimate study of not only the team culture he has built, but also of a rookie coach’s unique dynamic with the star players — such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam — who helped trail-blaze the 2019 championship run. As much for readers of Ray Dalio as for fans of John Wooden and Pat Summitt, Rapture promises to be a necessary read for anyone looking to forge their own path to success.
I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced (which was, I think, shortly after the Raptors’ NBA victory last summer). I started reading this a couple of days after it came out, and zipped through it (it’s not very long and it’s written in a briskly-paced style). As an aside: I’m really enjoying the flood of new NBA-related books that either have or are soon to be published. It’s offered me a great alternative to politics/history, film, and music for my non-fiction reading. Rapture is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Review of Rapture
RV Raman, A WILL TO KILL (Polis)
Aging and wheelchair-bound patriarch Bhaskar Fernandez has finally reclaimed his family property after a bitter legal battle, and now wants to reunite his aggrieved relatives. So, he invites them to remote Greybrooke Manor in the misty Nilgiris ― a mansion that has played host to several sudden deaths; a colonial edifice that stands alone in a valley that is said to be haunted by the ghost of an Englishman. But Bhaskar has other, more practical problems to deal with.
He knows that his family is waiting for him to die to regain the family fortune, and to safeguard himself against violence during the house party, he writes two conflicting wills. Which one of them comes into force depends on how he dies.
Into this tinderbox, he brings Harith Athreya, a seasoned investigator. When a landslide occurs, temporarily isolating them all at the mansion, and resulting in a murder, Athreya finds that murder is not the only thing the mist conceals.
The start of a new series, pitched as “For fans of Knives Out, a book that embodies all the things we love about Agatha Christie” — certainly sounds like an intriguing read. A Will to Kill is out now, published by Polis Books in North America and in the UK.
Corbin Reiff, TOTAL FUCKING GODHEAD (Post Hill Press)
Total F*cking Godhead is the complete story of the complex and enigmatic artist, Chris Cornell. It’s the riveting account of a blue collar, high-school dropout emerging from Seattle, Washington to become one of the greatest singer-songwriters and voices of his generation. With input from people who knew and worked with him — together with Cornell’s own words — the book recounts in great detail the rise of his immortal band Soundgarden as they emerged from the 1980s post-punk underground to dominate popular culture in the ’90s alongside other Seattle bands like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Nirvana.
Long-time Seattle resident and rock writer Corbin Reiff examines Cornell’s dynamic solo career as well as his time in Audioslave. He delves into his hard-fought battle with addiction, as well as the supercharged reunion with the band that made him famous before everything ended tragically.
This is the story of an artist who channeled his own inner turmoil into songs that touched the hearts of millions around the world and turned Chris Cornell into one of music’s greatest icons.
Aside from cameos in other books about the various grunge bands who made it huge when the Seattle scene was riding high, I don’t think I’ve read much about Cornell’s life. I spotted this a few days ago, while looking for music biographies/memoirs to try, and thought it would be interesting to try. (Although, I’m confused about how this book landed at its publisher, which seems to specialize in Trump-friendly “conservative” books.) Total F*cking Godhead is out now, published by Post Hill Press in North America and in the UK.
Rebecca Roanhorse, BLACK SUN (Gallery/Saga Press)
A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
The first in a new series from the award-winning author of the Sixth World duology. Black Sun is out now in North America, published by Gallery/Saga Press. (No UK publisher at the time of writing, but the author’s previous series was published by Hodder, so maybe details to come?)
Justina Robson (ed.), Adrain Tchaikovsky, Juliet E. McKenna, K.T. Davies & Freda Warrington, THE TALES OF CATT & FISHER (Solaris)
Four new tales of Doctors Catt and Fisher…
Scholars, shopkeepers, collectors… aficionados. Obtainers of rare antiquities; relic hunters who can’t resist a lead, even when it takes them into terrible danger. There’s always an opportunity to be found amid the confusion, in the wake of the terrible Kinslayer War. There’s always a deal to be done, a tomb to open, a precious thing to… obtain.
From encounters with the monstrous Vathesk to exploring new worlds; from wielding great power to do great good, to unearthing dark things best left lost. If you need the experts, if you can find your way to their Cherivell shop, maybe you can hire Doctors Catt and Fisher.
A new collection of stories set in the After the War series/world, following on from Tchaikovsky’s Redemption’s Blade and Robson’s Salvation’s Fire novels. (Which I really have to get caught up on — I’ve heard very good things about them.) The Tales of Catt & Fisher is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on December 1st and 3rd, respectively.
Follow the Editor (Robson): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Tchaikovsky): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Editor (McKenna): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Editor (Warrington): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Editor (Davies): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley
Doug Smith, WE THE NORTH (Viking)
Bringing Jurassic Park to your home, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Canada’s most exciting team.
When the Toronto Raptors first took the court back in 1995, the world was a very different place. Michael Jordan was tearing up the NBA. No one had email. And a lot of people wondered whether basketball could survive in Toronto, the holy city of hockey.
Twenty-five years later, the Raptors are the heroes not only of the 416, but of the entire country. That is the incredible story of We the North, told by Doug Smith, the Toronto Starreporter who has been covering the team since the press conference announcing Canada’s new franchise and the team’s beat reporter from that day on.
Comprising twenty-five chapters to mark the team’s twenty-five years, We the North celebrates the biggest moments of the quarter-century — from Vince Carter’s amazing display at the dunk competition to the play-off runs, the major trades, the Raptors’ incredible fans, including Nav Bhatia and Drake, and, of course, the challenges that marked the route to the championship-clinching Game 6 that brought the whole country to a standstill.
We the North: 25 Years of the Toronto Raptors tells the story of Canada’s most exciting team, charting their rise from a sporting oddity in a hockey-mad country to the status they hold today as the reigning NBA champions and national heroes.
I’ve been following Doug Smith’s coverage of the Raptors ever since I moved to Canada. I knew I was going to get this book as soon as it was announced. If you have Netflix, I’d also recommend watching The Carter Effect, the Vince Carter story, which also covers a lot of the Raptor’s history. We the North is out now, published by Viking in North America and in the UK.
Bruce Sterling, ROBOT ARTISTS & BLACK SWANS (Tachyon)
The Godfather of Cyberpunk has emerged in this new collection of Italian-themed fantasy and science fiction stories. Bruce Sterling introduces us to his alter-ego: Bruno Argento, the preeminent writer of fantascienza. As always, Sterling is a speculative innovator, skillfully combining technology with art, mythology, and history.
In the Esoteric City, a Turinese businessman’s act of necromancy is catching up with him. The Black Swan, a rogue hacker, programs his way into alternate versions of Italy. A Parthenonpean assassin awaits his destiny while he nestles in the arms of a two-headed noblewoman. Infuriating artists and scientists alike, the wandering robot-wheelchair confounds all with his uncategorizable creations.
Bruno Argento is the acknowledged master of Italian science fiction. Yet that same popular fantascienza author also exists in America. English-speaking readers are familiar with Bruno Argento as Bruce Sterling, and Italians are acquainted with Bruce Sterling as Bruno Argento. In Robot Artists and Black Swans, we have their visionary short stories, including fiction never before published in English.
This looks like a pretty interesting collection — and one of stories by an author I have not got much experience reading. Looking forward to giving it a try. Robot Artists & Black Swans is due to be published by Tachyon Publications in North America and in the UK, in March 2021.
Stuart Turton, THE DEVIL AND THE DARK WATER (Harper Collins)
Samuel Pipps is the greatest detective of his day… but now he’s a prisoner, accused of an unknown crime by one of the world’s most powerful men. Along with his faithful sidekick, Arent Hayes, he’s sailing back to Amsterdam from the East Indies, where he’ll stand trial.
But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. Still shackled in his cell, Pipps sends Hayes to solve a mystery that connects every passenger on board. All hope is pinned on Hayes solving the mystery, but when he goes missing, Pipps is faced with the most dangerous puzzle of his career. All the while, voices whisper to him in the dark. But are those whispers clues? Warnings? Or the devil himself?
The new novel from the author of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (which I haven’t read, yet), and one I was very much looking forward to reading. I started it quite soon after it was released, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Review soon-ish. The Devil and the Dark Water is out now, published by Harper Collins in Canada, Sourcebooks in the US, and Bloomsbury in the UK.
Matthew Ward, LEGACY OF STEEL (Orbit)
A year has passed since an unlikely alliance saved the Tressian Republic from fire and darkness, at great cost. Thousands perished, and Viktor Akadra — the Republic’s champion — has disappeared.
While the ruling council struggles to mend old wounds, other factions sense opportunity. The insidious Parliament of Crows schemes in the shadows, while to the east the Hadari Emperor gathers his armies. As turmoil spreads across the Republic, its ripples are felt in the realms of the divine.
War is coming… and this time the gods themselves will take sides.
The follow up to the well-received Legacy of Ash. It’s a bit of a hefty tome, so I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but maybe the two novels will serve as worthy pandemic-winter reading? Legacy of Steel is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 3rd, 2020.
Also on CR: Interview with Matthew Ward (2020)
Tyler Whitesides, THE SHATTERED REALM OF ARDOR BENN (Orbit)
In a world with dragon-fueled magic, master con artist Ardor Benn must infiltrate a centuries-old secret organization to find a missing royal heir.
Ardor Benn saved civilization from imminent destruction, but his efforts brought war to the kingdom. It is believed that the rightful rulers have all been assassinated. However, a young heir might have survived.
An ancient organization known as The Realm is behind the chaos, working from the shadows. Under the anonymity of masks, information is distributed sparingly.
Ard’s been hired to infiltrate them, but he’s got competition from an old friend. One who’s set to prove she’s better than the self-proclaimed “Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.”
If Ard can’t find the heir then his world may again approach ruin. Stopping the complete and utter collapse of civilization is quickly becoming Ard’s specialty.
From October to December, Orbit is re-issuing the first two novels of Whitesides fantasy heist series. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn was published in 2018, the novels will be graced with much better cover artwork, and readers will be able to get hold of book three (below). Quite looking forward to reading them all. The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 3rd, 2020.
Tyler Whitesides, THE LAST LIES OF ARDOR BENN (Orbit)
Ardor Benn has taken his lies to a new level, infiltrating high society so he can steal a priceless resource. But now that he’s on the inside, he finds himself poring through ancient texts, searching for answers to his deepest questions. He discovers something is coming. Something world-ending.
Now, an old enemy is extorting him for one last job. Steal a live dragon. He doesn’t know how, and he doesn’t know why. But he’s got a feeling that it’s a job he has to take. Only problem is, Ard’s running short on time and shorter on lies. And his personal ambitions are alienating all of his allies.
With no one else to rely on, he’ll have to trust the one person nobody else does: himself.
Evan Winter, THE FIRES OF VENGEANCE (Orbit)
In order to reclaim her throne and save her people, an ousted queen must join forces with a young warrior…
Tau and his Queen, desperate to delay the impending attack on the capital by the indigenous people of Xidda, craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the Queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the ‘true’ Queen of the Omehi.
If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne, and if she can reunite her people then the Omehi have a chance to survive the onslaught.
Also on CR: Interview with Even Winter (2019)