New Books (January-February)

NewBooks-20210216

Featuring: Mary Adkins, Jonathan Ames, David Annandale, David W. Brown, Michael Carroll, Becky Chambers, Andy Clark, Dan Frey, Betina González, Andrew J. Graff, Marlowe Granados, John Gwynne, Paul Herron, T.L. Huchu, Gregg Hurwitz, Elizabeth Knox, Oliver K. Langmead, Peter Mendelsund, Annalee Newitz, Gareth L. Powell, Tim Seeley, Laurel Sills, Jen Silverman, Matt Smith, Tasha Suri, Aidan Truhen

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AdkinsM-PalmBeachUSMary Adkins, PALM BEACH (Harper)

Living in a tiny Queens apartment, Rebecca and her husband Mickey typify struggling, 30-something New Yorkers — he’s an actor, and she’s a freelance journalist. But after the arrival of their baby son, the couple decides to pack up and head for sunny, comfortable Palm Beach, where Mickey’s been offered a sweet deal managing the household of a multimillionaire Democratic donor.

Once there, he quickly doubles his salary by going to work for a billionaire: venture capitalist Cecil Stone. Rebecca, a writer whose beat is economic inequality, is initially horrified: she pillories men like Stone, a ruthless businessman famous for crushing local newspapers. So no one is more surprised than her when she accepts a job working for Cecil’s wife as a ghostwriter, thinking of the excellent pay and the rare, inside look at this famous Forbes-list family. What she doesn’t expect is that she’ll grow close to the Stones, or become a regular at their high-powered dinners. And when a medical crisis hits, it’s the Stones who come to their rescue, using their power, influence, and wealth to avert catastrophe.

As she and Mickey are both pulled deeper into this topsy-turvy household, they become increasingly dependent on their problematic benefactors. Then when she discovers a shocking secret about the Stones, Rebecca will have to decide: how many compromises can one couple make?

Thought this looked interesting. Palm Beach is due to be published by Harper in North America, on August 3rd, 2021. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any UK listing. However, the author’s previous novel Privilege was published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, so… maybe?)

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

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AmesJ-AManNamedDollUSJonathan Ames, A MAN NAMED DOLL (Mulholland)

A deliciously noir novel about an idiosyncratic private detective Happy Doll and his quest to help a dying friend who is running out of time in sun-blinded Los Angeles

Happy Doll is a charming, if occasionally inexpert, private detective living just one sheer cliff drop beneath the Hollywood sign with his beloved half-Chihuahua half-Terrier, George. A veteran of both the Navy and LAPD, Doll supplements his meager income as a P.I. by working through the night at a local Thai spa that offers its clients a number of special services. Armed with his sixteen-inch steel telescopic baton, biting dry humor, and just a bit of a hero complex, the ex-cop sets out to protect the women who work there from clients who have trouble understanding the word “no.”

Doll gets by just fine following his two basic rules: bark loudly and act first. But when things get out-of-hand with one particularly violent patron, even he finds himself wildly out of his depth, and then things take an even more dangerous twist when an old friend from his days as a cop shows up at his door with a bullet in his gut.

A MAN NAMED DOLL is more than just a fascinating introduction to one truly singular character, it is a highly addictive and completely unpredictable joyride through the sensuous and violent streets of LA.

Thought this sounded like an interesting start to a new LA-based crime series. Will read very soon. A Man Named Doll is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America (April 20th) and Pushkin Vertigo in the UK (April 29th).

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

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AnnandaleD-WH-DeavonOfWoundsDavid Annandale, DEACON OF WOUNDS (Black Library)

The planet of Theotokos is dying of thirst. For years, Arch-Deacon Ambrose has done everything in his power to help the people. Charismatic, virtuous, pious, he is as beloved as the corrupt Cardinal Lorenz, who hoards the water reserves beneath the Ecclesiarchal Palace, is feared. When Lorenz dies, Ambrose’s moment has arrived. As good as his intentions are, he is also proud. He will be the saviour Theotokos needs, and bring the relief of water to the suffering. But there is something worse than drought to come. Lorenz’s death unleashes a terrible plague, soon to be known as the Grey Tears.

As Ambrose struggles to save Theotokos from the Grey Tears, the unnatural nature of the plague becomes clearer and clearer, and he is driven to more and more extreme measures. He fears malign forces lurk behind the Grey Tears. The truth is worse than his most awful imaginings.

A new WH40k horror novel from one of Black Library’s leading horror authors. Looking forward to reading what will no doubt be a dark, creepy read. Deacon of Wounds is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale (2012); Guest Post on “My Favourite Novel”; Reviews of The Damnation of Pythos, Ruinstorm, Neferata: Mortarch of Blood

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

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BrownDW-MissionDavid W. Brown, THE MISSION (Custom House)

A genre-defying narrative of the most ambitious science project ever conceived: NASA’s deep space mission to Europa, the Jovian moon where might swim the first known alien life in our solar system

In the spirit of Tom Wolfe and John McPhee, The Mission is an exuberant master class of creative nonfiction that reveals how a motley, determined few expanded the horizon of human achievement.

When scientists discovered the first ocean beyond Earth, they had two big questions: “Is it habitable?” and “How do we get there?” To answer the first, they had to solve the second, and so began a vivacious team’s twenty-year odyssey to mount a mission to Europa, the ocean moon of Jupiter.

Standing in their way: NASA, fanatically consumed with landing robots on Mars; the White House, which never saw a science budget it couldn’t cut; Congress, fixated on going to the moon or Mars — anywhere, really, to give astronauts something to do; rivals in academia, who wanted instead to go to Saturn; and even Jupiter itself, which guards Europa in a pulsing, rippling radi­ation belt — a halo of death whose conditions are like those that follow a detonated thermonuclear bomb.

The Mission is the Homeric, never-before-told story of modern space exploration, and a magnificent portrait of the inner lives of scientists who study the solar system’s mysterious outer planets. David W. Brown chronicles the remarkable saga of how Europa was won, and what it takes to get things done — both down here, and up there.

Saw a lot of buzz about this before it was published, but it took me a while to get around to buying it. Looking forward to reading it ASAP. The Mission is out now, published by Custom House in North America and in the UK.

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JudgeDredd-Year3Michael Carroll, Matt Smith & Laurel Sills, JUDGE DREDD: YEAR THREE (Solaris)

Mega-City One, 2082. In two short years, Judge Joseph Dredd has tackled hardened killers and would-be revolutionaries, he’s taken beat-downs and bounced back, he’s even arrested his own brother.

Ain’t no such thing as a “normal year” in the Big Meg. In his third year on the sked, he’ll become embroiled in the growing anti-robot movement; he’ll head back out to the Cursed Earth; and he’ll fall afoul of the secretive SJS — and not for the last time…

A third collection of novellas covering the Judge “I am the law!” Dredd’s early career. Judge Dredd: Year Three is out now, published by Abaddon Books in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author (Carroll): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Smith): Goodreads
Follow the Author (Sills): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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ChambersB-M&R1-APsalmForTheWildBuiltBecky Chambers, A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT (Tor.com)

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

In a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

This novel has been getting some good pre-publication buzz. It certainly looks interesting, and so I started reading it pretty soon after I got it. I’m glad to say, it’s great — a nice, positive story for these troubled times. (And I’m so glad it’s going to get a sequel!) A Psalm for the Wild-Built is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on July 13th, 2021.

Also on CR: Reviews of To Be Taught, If Fortunate, A Psalm for the Wild-Built

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

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ClarkA-WH40k-DoW2-GateOfBonesAndy Clark, GATE OF BONES (Black Library)

As the Indomitus Crusade begins, great fleets warships leave Terra on a desperate mission to stabilise Imperium Sanctus in the wake of the Great Rift. The returned primarch, Roboute Guilliman, leads a huge force towards the shrine world of Gathalamor, whose stable warp routes will allow the flotilla to spread across the beleaguered southern half of the Imperium.

But grave tidings reach the Imperial Regent’s ears. Warnings from an ancient race and eerie silence from the army tasked with holding the crucial world until his arrival, lead Guilliman to send a vital mission to Gathalamor; at its head, Shield-Captain Achallor of the Adeptus Custodes.

Achallor discovers a world on the brink, a beaten Imperial force and sinister agents of Abaddon the Despoiler who have unearthed an ancient evil, a weapon that when harnessed not only threatens the primarch, but perhaps the holy Throne of Terra itself…

This is the second novel in the Dawn of Fire meta-series, expanding the “current” state of the WH40k setting.  I’ve been a bit slow about getting around to the first book — Avenging Son — but now that I have the second book, I think I’ll just read them back-to-back ASAP. Looking forward to it — Clark is a great writer, and he writes some great action scenes (his Flesh Tearers stories are among my favourite from Black Library). Gate of Bones is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

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

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FreyD-TheFutureIsYoursUSDan Frey, THE FUTURE IS YOURS (Del Rey)

Two best friends create a computer that can predict the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship — and society — apart.

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly — from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers — allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is… can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love — even from themselves.

Spotted this a while ago in a catalogue, and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. Will hopefully read very soon. (It’s an epistolary novel, too, which is a style/format that I typically really enjoy.) The novel has also been optioned by HBO Max, and is currently in development. The Future is Yours is out now, published by Del Rey in North America — I couldn’t find a UK publisher, but it is available on import.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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GonzalezB-AmericanDeliriumUSBetina González, AMERICAN DELIRIUM (Henry Holt)

In a small Midwestern city, the deer population starts attacking people. So Beryl, a feisty senior and ex-hippie with a troubled past, decides to take matters into her own hands, training a squad of fellow retirees to hunt the animals down and to prove to society they’re capable of more than playing bingo.

At the same time, a group of protesters decides to abandon the “system” and live in the woods, leaving behind the demands of modern life — including their children. Nine-year-old Berenice never thought her mother would join the dropouts, but she’s been gone for several days, leaving only a few clues about her past for Berenice to piece together.

Vik, a taxidermist at the natural history museum and an immigrant from the Caribbean, is beginning to see the connections among the dropouts, the deer, and the discord. He’s not normally the type to speak up, but when he finds a woman living in his closet, he’s forced to get involved. Each of these engrossing characters holds a key to the city’s unraveling — despite living on the margins of society — and just as their lives start to spin out of control, they rescue one another in surprising ways.

This sounds pretty interesting. Haven’t read anything by the author (not surprising, this is their first English-language novel), but looking forward to giving it a try very soon. American Delirium is out now, published by Henry Holt in North America and in the UK.

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

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GraffAJ-RaftOfStarsUSAndrew J. Graff, RAFT OF STARS (Ecco)

When two hardscrabble young boys think they’ve committed a crime, they flee into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Will the adults trying to find and protect them reach them before it’s too late?

It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about.

One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.

Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement.

The adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

This has received a fair bit of pre-publication buzz and publicity push — it kept popping up in emails, catalogues, etc. Then, Richard Russo gave it a glowing blurb. So, I caved, and will give it a look — to be fair, it does sound very good, so this is not exactly a hardship. Looking forward to reading it. Raft of Stars is due to be published by Ecco in North America and HQ in the UK, on March 23rd.

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

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GranadosM-HappyHourUSMarlowe Granados, HAPPY HOUR (Verso)

A stickily hot New York summer is cooly observed in this dazzling debut novel.

It’s the summer of 2013, and while New York City swelters Isa and Gala scrape and hustle By day they sell clothes in a market stall, pinching pennies for their Bed-Stuy sublet and bodega lunches. By night, they weave from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side among a rotating cast of artists, academics and bad-mannered grifters. Desires aren’t for denying, not this season. But as money gets sparse and circumstances grow precarious, the pair struggle to convert social capital into something more tangible.

In the last bitter blush of capitalism, when the only agency afforded to you is in the image you present to the world, getting that presentation sharp and shining can feel like the most important thing in the world. Happy Hour is a novel about getting by and looking grand in a system that wants you to do neither.

The synopsis caught my eye, and I was pre-approved on Edelweiss, so thought I’d give it a try. Happy Hour is due to be published by Verso on September 7th, in North America and in the UK. The novel is already out in Canada, published by Flying Books.

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

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GwynneJ-B1-ShadowOfTheGodsUSJohn Gwynne, THE SHADOW OF THE GODS (Orbit)

The first in the Bloodsworn trilogy, an epic of wild lands and wilder magic, where not all monsters fight with tooth and claw…and the treasures of the gods come at a price.

This is the age of storm and murder.

After the old gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrio.

Now, power-hungry jarls carve out petty kingdoms, and monsters stalk the shadow-haunted woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power, promising fame and fortune for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

As whispers of war echo over the plains and across the fjords, fate follows the footsteps of three people: a huntress searching for her missing son, a jarl’s daughter who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who has cast off his chains and now fights alongside the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world, as it once more teeters on the edge of chaos.

The first in a new series from Gwynne, the acclaimed author of the acclaimed Faithful and the Fallen and Of Blood and Bones series. The Shadow of the Gods is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on May 4th.

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

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HerronP-BreakoutUSPaul Herron, BREAKOUT (Grand Central Publishing)

A correctional officer and an ex-cop are fleeing a hurricane — but their only hope of survival is a maximum-security prison where they face new untold dangers.

Hurricane Anna: a superstorm made up of two Category 5 hurricanes coming together to wreak unprecedented havoc along the eastern seaboard.

When the superstorm hits, the correctional officers at Ravenhill flee, opening all the cell doors and leaving the inmates to fend for themselves as the floodwaters rise. But Jack Constantine, an ex-cop serving ten years for killing one of his wife’s murderers, isn’t going to just lay down and die. Not when his wife’s two remaining killers are among the prisoners relocated to the Glasshouse to ride out the storm.

Meanwhile, Kiera Sawyer, a Correctional Officer on her first day at work is the only officer left behind when the others flee. Sawyer rescues Jack and offers to team up. If they can make it to the Glasshouse they might just survive the hurricane. But that involves making their way through the prison, fighting off eight hundred blood-crazed inmates as the building fills with water and the wall crumble all around them.

Sounds like an interesting twist on the prison(-break) novel, from Paul Herron (a pseudonym for Paul Crilley, author of Poison City and more). Breakout is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (April 6th) and Headline in the UK (March 4rd).

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

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HuchuTL-EN1-LibraryOfTheDeadUST.L. Huchu, THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD (Tor Books)

A sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

WHEN GHOSTS TALK
SHE WILL LISTEN

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left behind. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will rock her world.

Ropa will dice with death as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And although underground Edinburgh hides a wealth of dark secrets, she also discovers an occult library, a magical mentor and some unexpected allies.

Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

This novel has been getting a lot of early buzz. It certainly sounds interesting — Edinburgh seems like the perfect city for an (urban) fantasy story, and the blurb from Ben Aaronovitch makes it even more of a draw. I’ll be reading this very soon. The first novel in the Edinburgh Nights series, The Library of the Dead is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (June 1st) and in the UK (out now).

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

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HurwitzG-OX6-ProdigalSonUSGregg Hurwitz, PRODIGAL SON (Minotaur)

Forced into retirement, Evan Smoak gets an urgent request for help from someone he didn’t even suspect existed…

As a boy, Evan Smoak was pulled out of a foster home and trained in an off-the-books operation known as the Orphan Program. He was a government assassin, perhaps the best, known to a few insiders as Orphan X. He eventually broke with the Program and adopted a new name — The Nowhere Man — and a new mission, helping the most desperate in their times of trouble. But the highest power in the country has made him a tempting offer — in exchange for an unofficial pardon, he must stop his clandestine activities as The Nowhere Man. Now Evan has to do the one thing he’s least equipped to do — live a normal life.

But then he gets a call for help from the one person he never expected. A woman claiming to have given him up for adoption, a woman he never knew — his mother. Her unlikely request: help Andrew Duran — a man whose life has gone off the rails, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, bringing him to the deadly attention of very powerful figures. Now a brutal brother & sister assassination team are after him and with no one to turn to, and no safe place to hide, Evan is Duran’s only option. But when the hidden cabal catches on to what Evan is doing, everything he’s fought for is on the line — including his own life.

This is the sixth novel in Hurwitz’s excellent Orphan X/Nowhere Man series. I’ve fallen rather behind, but I intend to get caught up this year. Prodigal Son is out now, published by Minotaur Books (North America) and Penguin (UK).

Also on CR: Review of The Nowhere Man; Excerpt from The Rains

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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KnoxE-AbsoluteBookUSElizabeth Knox, THE ABSOLUTE BOOK (Viking)

A bewitching epic fantasy about a revenge killing, a mysterious scroll box that has survived centuries of fires, and the book that changed everything

Taryn Cornick believes that the past — her sister’s violent death, and her own ill-conceived revenge — is behind her, and she can get on with her life. She has written a successful book about the things that threaten libraries: insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring… but not all of the attention it brings her is good.

A policeman, Jacob Berger, questions her about a cold case. Then there are questions about a fire in the library at her grandparents’ house and an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter, as well as threatening phone calls and a mysterious illness. Finally a shadowy young man named Shift appears, forcing Taryn and Jacob toward a reckoning felt in more than one world.

The Absolute Book is epic, action-packed fantasy in which hidden treasures are recovered, wicked things resurface, birds can talk, and dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, from contemporary England to Auckland, New Zealand; from a magical fairyland to Purgatory. Above all, it is a declaration of love for stories and the ways in which they shape our worlds and create gods out of mortals.

This caught my attention a long while ago, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it ever since. I’ll be reading this ASAP. The Absolute Books is published in North America by Viking (out now), and Penguin in the UK (March 18th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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LangmeadOK-BirdsofParadiseOliver K. Langmead, BIRDS OF PARADISE (Titan Books)

Many millennia after the fall of Eden, Adam, the first man in creation, still walks the Earth – exhausted by the endless death and destruction, he is a shadow of his former hope and glory. And he is not the only one. The Garden was deconstructed, its pieces scattered across the world and its inhabitants condemned to live out immortal lives, hiding in plain sight from generations of mankind.

But now pieces of the Garden are turning up on the Earth. After centuries of loneliness, Adam, haunted by the golden time at the beginning of Creation, is determined to save the pieces of his long lost home. With the help of Eden’s undying exiles, he must stop Eden becoming the plaything of mankind.

Adam journeys across America and the British Isles with Magpie, Owl, and other animals, gathering the scattered pieces of Paradise. As the country floods once more, Adam must risk it all to rescue his friends and his home – because rebuilding the Garden might be the key to rebuilding his life.

This sounds really interesting. Hope to read it very soon (certainly before its release, anyway). Birds of Paradise is due to be published by Titan Books in North America (March 30th) and in the UK (March 16th).

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

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MendelsundP-DeliveryUSPeter Mendelsund, THE DELIVERY (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Enter the world of the Delivery Boy, who must peddle his way to 5-star customer ratings — and, perhaps, freedom…

Countries go wrong, sometimes, and sometimes the luckier citizens of those countries have a chance to escape and seek refuge in another country — a country that might itself be in the process of going wrong.

In the bustling indifference of an unnamed city, one such citizen finds himself trapped working for a company that makes its money dispatching an army of undocumented refugees to bring the well-off men and women of this confounding metropolis their dinners. Whatever he might have been at home, this citizen is now a Delivery Boy: member of a new and invisible working class, pedaling his power-assist bike through traffic hoping for a decent tip and a five star rating.

He is decidedly a Delivery Boy; sometimes he even feels like a Delivery Baby; certainly he’s not yet a Delivery Man, though he’ll have to “man-up” if he wants to impress N. — the aloof dispatcher who sends him his orders and helps him with his English.

Can our hero avoid the wrath of his Supervisor, get the girl, and escape his indentured servitude? Can someone in his predicament ever get a happy ending? Who gets to decide? And who’s telling this story, anyway?

Harrowing and hilarious, The Delivery is a fable for and about our times: an exploration of the ways language and commerce unites and isolates every one of us, native and immigrant both.

Thought this sounded rather interesting. So, picked it up on a whim. (Somehow, I managed to miss it in the publisher’s catalogues that I know I browsed…) The Delivery is out now, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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NewitzA-FourLostCitiesUSAnnalee Newitz, FOUR LOST CITIES (W.W. Norton)

A quest to explore some of the most spectacular ancient cities in human history — and figure out why people abandoned them.

In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers — slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers — who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.

Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate.

I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. I’ll be reading it very soon. Four Lost Cities is out now, published by W.W. Norton in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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PowellGL-Recollection2021Gareth L. Powell, THE RECOLLECTION (Solaris)

“It is an evil born of war. It is the end of all things.”

Four hundred years ago, Ed and Alice Rico threw themselves through a mysterious portal on the London Underground, hunting for Ed’s lost brother — Alice’s husband — Verne.

Now, starship captain Katherine Abdulov embarks on a desperate race against ruthless rival captain — and her former lover — Victor Luciano, to try and earn back her family’s trust.

Tomorrow, all their lives will be thrown together by disaster, as an ancient evil stirs among the stars, threatening the survival of all life…

This is the 10th anniversary re-issue of Powell’s The Recollection. I somehow managed to miss it the first time around, so hopefully this re-issue will mean it’s put on more people’s radars, too. The Recollection is due to be published by Solaris in North America and in the UK, on April 27th, 2021.

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

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Vampire-Masquerade-WintersTeethTPBTim Seeley, VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE (Vault Comics)

When Cecily Bain, an enforcer for the Twin Cities’ vampiric elite, takes a mysterious new vampire under her wing, she’s dragged into an insidious conspiracy. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the cities, a rebellious found-family of vampire cast-outs investigates a vicious killing.

As the unlives of the Kindred twine together and betrayals are unearthed, will Cecily be able to escape and save what’s left of her family, or will she be yet another pawn sacrificed to maintain the age-old secret: that vampires exist among the living?

Born from the world of the internationally best-selling role playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade’s critically acclaimed comics debut spins a gripping and tragic tale about the Beast within us all.

I’ve been reading Tim Seeley’s comics for some time, with Revival and Hack/Slash being his stand-outs. I’ve been familiar with Vampire: The Masquerade since the Redemption video game (which I loved). I’ve never played the RPG, though, nor read any of the fiction set in the World of Darkness — although I’ve always wanted to. When I learned that Seeley was writing the first comic adaptation in the setting, I knew I had to read it. (There are also new short stories on the way, which I’m also very much looking forward to.) After getting the DRC, I read it right away, and you can find out my review here. The Winter’s Teeth collected edition is due to be published by Vault Comics in North America and in the UK, on March 3rd, 2021.

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

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SilvermanJ-WePlayOurselvesUSJen Silverman, WE PLAY OURSELVES (Random House)

After a humiliating scandal, a young writer flees to the West Coast, where she is drawn into the morally ambiguous orbit of a charismatic filmmaker and the teenage girls who are her next subjects.

Not too long ago, Cass was a promising young playwright in New York, hailed as “a fierce new voice” and “queer, feminist, and ready to spill the tea.” But at the height of all this attention, Cass finds herself at the center of a searing public shaming, and flees to Los Angeles to escape — and reinvent herself. There she meets her next-door neighbor Caroline, a magnetic filmmaker on the rise, as well as the pack of teenage girls who hang around her house. They are the subjects of Caroline’s next semidocumentary movie, which follows the girls’ clandestine activity: a Fight Club inspired by the violent classic.

As Cass is drawn into the film’s orbit, she is awed by Caroline’s ambition and confidence. But over time, she becomes troubled by how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teens in the name of art — especially as the consequences become increasingly disturbing. With her past proving hard to shake and her future one she’s no longer sure she wants, Cass is forced to reckon with her own ambitions and confront what she has come to believe about the steep price of success.

The first novel by the author of The Island Dwellers (which I also have, and need to read). Looking forward to reading this ASAP. We Play Ourselves is published by Random House in North America (out now) and Atlantic Books in the UK (June 3rd).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SuriT-BK1-JasmineThroneTasha Suri, THE JASMINE THRONE (Orbit)

Two women — a long-imprisoned princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic — come together to rewrite the fate of an empire.

Exiled by her despotic brother when he claimed their father’s kingdom, Malini spends her days trapped in the Hirana: an ancient, cliffside temple that was once the source of the magical deathless waters, but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

A servant in the regent’s household, Priya makes the treacherous climb to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to play the role of a drudge so long as it keeps anyone from discovering her ties to the temple and the dark secret of her past.

One is a vengeful princess seeking to steal a throne. The other is a powerful priestess seeking to save her family. Their destinies will become irrevocably tangled.

And together, they will set an empire ablaze.

This novel has been the recipient of a lot of pre-publication buzz and excitement. I haven’t read anything by Suri before — the Books of Ambha duology was very well received, though — and this one sounds really interesting. Hope to read it soon. The first novel in the Burning Kingdom series, The Jasmine Throne is due to be published by Orbit in North America and in the UK.

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

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TruhenA-JP2-SevenDemonsUSAidan Truhen, SEVEN DEMONS (Vintage Crime)

Jack Price and his Seven Demons, the most dangerous and feared assassins in the in the world, are taking on the bank heist of the century.

Meet Jack Price and the Seven Demons: There’s Doc, a sexy mad scientist with anger issues; Rex, an explosives expert who doesn’t ask too many questions, Volodya, a Ukrainian assassin who may or may not be a cannibal; Charlie, a tech genius with an anarchist bent; Lucille, whose speciality is razor-edged hugs; Fred, a head on a stick; and of course, Jack himself, former coffee-magnate turned cocaine dealer turned head of the most-feared international crime syndicate.

Cooling their heels after their latest assignment, the Seven Demons are bored out of their minds, and their boss is worried. There’s nothing more volatile than a gang of deadly killers with nothing to do. Luckily, a shadowy Swiss businessman gets in touch with a proposition: the heist of a lifetime, breaking into a bank that makes Fort Knox look like the corner candy store. Jack thinks this will be a nice little diversion for his crew… but that’s before a rosy-cheeked, lederhosen-wearing little psychopath named Evil Hansel stabs him in his femoral artery with an oyster knife. Now this is a grudge match and Jack Price will be damned if he’s not going to come out on top.

This is the sequel to What Doesn’t Kill You (which has the delightfully blunt title, Fuck You Very Much, in Germany). Really looking forward to reading this. It sounds quite mad. Seven Demons is due to be published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard in North America (May 4th). I couldn’t find a listing for a UK edition, but the first book in the series was published by Serpent’s Tail, so maybe they’ll be publishing this one, too?

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

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