Featuring: David Annandale, Kyle Beachy, Chris Bosh, Peter V. Brett, Bill Clinton, Megan Collins, Denny Flowers, Emma Goldberg, Lee Goldberg, Walter Goodwater, Genevieve Gornichec, John Green, Daryl Gregory, Darius Hinks, Ada Hoffman, Cassandra Khaw, Brian Klingborg, Tom Lin, Kimberly McCreight, Haruki Murakami, Megan O’Keefe, James Patterson, Cat Rambo, Ben Rhodes, Zin E. Rocklyn, Anthony Ryan, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Clint Smith, Caitlin Starling, Michael J. Sullivan, Lisa Taddeo, Kathy Wang
David Annandale, A DYNASTY OF MONSTERS (Black Library)
War makes for strange alliances – and so it is for the free city of the Colonnade, which must turn to the Mother of Nightmares and her dynasty of monsters to defend themselves against the hordes of Chaos…
The Colonnade, a free city held aloft by gargantuan pillars and crowned with a spire of diamonds, is the jewel of Ghur, obsessed with purity in a realm of bestial savagery. But now, it faces annihilation at the hands of an unstoppable beastherd. In a desperate gamble, Councillor Atella Reigehren requests the aid of a being anathema to the Colonnade. She seeks Lauka Vai, the Mother of Nightmares, and her dynasty of monsters, the Avengorii. The crucible of war has thrown these factions together, but can they put their differences aside to face this common foe, or will the clash of purity and monstrosity be their undoing?
This is the first novel to feature a new type of vampire set in the Age of Sigmar. Quite looking forward to reading it. A Dynasty of Monsters 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 Neferata: Mortarch of Blood, Roboute Guilliman, The Spear of Ultramar, The Damnation of Pythos, and Ruinstorm
Kyle Beachy, THE MOST FUN THING (Grand Central)
A memoir in essays of Kyle Beachy’s decade-long quest to uncover the hidden meaning of skateboarding — a search that reveals fresh insights on marriage, love, loss, and American invention.
In January 2012, creative writing professor and novelist Kyle Beachy published one of his first essays on skate culture, an exploration of how Nike’s corporate strategy successfully gutted the once-mighty independent skate shoe market. It would not be his last. For a decade and counting, Beachy has been skate culture’s freshest, most illuminating, at times most controversial voice, writing candidly about the increasingly popular and fast-changing pastime Beachy first picked up as a young boy and has continued to practice well into adulthood.
What is skateboarding? What does it mean to continue skateboarding after forty, four decades after the kickflip was invented? How does one live authentically as an adult while staying true a lifelong passion cemented in childhood? How does having a hobby like skateboarding, which breaks bones, abrades skin, and takes as much as it gives, shape one’s understanding of contemporary American life? Of growing old and getting married?
In the tradition of William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days, Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, and Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, THE MOST FUN THING offers a deep exploration of an often overlooked, underappreciated pastime whose seeming simplicity conceals universal truths. It is a rich account of Beachy’s quest to pin down the meaning of the activity that became his life’s greatest obsession and his struggle to find a place for it in an increasingly complicated life as an adult, a professor, and a husband.
For as long as I can remember, skateboarding and rock/metal/punk music have been connected. It’s something I was always interested in, but never got around to learning. Spotted this memoir, and I thought it might be interesting to try. The Most Fun Thing is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and in the UK, on August 10th, 2021.
Chris Bosh, LETTERS TO A YOUNG ATHLETE (Penguin Press)
A legendary NBA player shares his remarkable story, infused with hard-earned wisdom about the journey to self-mastery from a life at the highest level of professional sports
Chris Bosh, NBA Hall of Famer, eleven-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist, and the league’s Global Ambassador, had his playing days cut short at their prime by a freak medical condition. His extraordinary career ended not at a time of his choosing but “in a doctor’s office in the middle of the afternoon.” Forced to reckon with how to find meaning to carry forward, he found himself looking back over his path, from a teenager in Dallas who balanced basketball with the high school robotics club to the pinnacle of the NBA and beyond.
Reflecting on all he learned from a long list of basketball legends, from LeBron and Kobe to Pat Riley and Coach K, he saw that his important lessons weren’t about basketball so much as the inner game of success — right attitude, right commitment, right flow within a team. Now he shares that journey, giving us a fascinating view from the inside of what greatness feels like and what it takes, formulated as a series of letters to younger people coming up and to all wisdom seekers. A timeless gift for anyone in pursuit of excellence, Letters to a Young Athlete offers a proven path for taming your inner voice and making it your ally, through the challenges of failure and the challenges of success alike.
Former Raptor, member of the Championship Heat team (along with LeBron Jame and Dwyane Wade), and newly-inducted into the Hall of Fame. I read this pretty soon after I got it, and I quite enjoyed it. As the title suggests, it’s presented as a series of letters to aspiring athletes (with advice for anyone who wants to excel at whatever it is they are passionate about). There wasn’t as much “memoir” in this than I’d hoped — Bosh is so often treated like an after-thought or bit-player in other NBA narratives that look at the LeBron-in-Miami years, so I’d hoped for a bit more about his life and career. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable and quick read, and recommended. Letters to a Young Athlete is out now, published by Penguin Press in North America and in the UK.
Peter V. Brett, THE DESERT PRINCE (Voyager)
Fifteen years have passed since the end of the war with demons, creatures of darkness who have hunted the night and plagued humanity for time out of mind. The heroes of mankind’s hour of need have become legend, and those that remain struggle to escape their shadows.
Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in this new, peaceful world. Demons have all but been destroyed, but dangers still lurk for the children of heroes.
Olive, Princess of Hollow, has her entire life planned out by her mother, Duchess Leesha Paper.
A steady march on a checklist to prepare her for succession. The more her mother writes the script, the more Olive rails against playing the parts her mother assigns.
Darin faces challenges of a different kind. Though free to choose his own path, the weight of legacy hangs heavy round his shoulders. It isn’t easy being the son of the man people say saved the world. Everyone expects greatness from Darin, but the only thing he’s ever been great at is hiding.
But when Olive and Darin step across the wards one night, they learn the demons are not all gone, and those that remain hunger for revenge. Events are set in motion that only Prophecy can foresee as Olive and Darin seek to find their own places in the world in time to save it again.
The first novel in a new series set in the same world as Brett’s best-selling, acclaimed Demon Cycle series, focusing on the next generation. Looking forward to seeing how the story progresses. The Desert Prince is due to be published by Voyager in the UK and Del Rey in North America, on August 3rd, 2021.
Bill Clinton & James Patterson, THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER (Little, Brown)
Matthew Keating, a one-time Navy SEAL — and a past president — has always defended his family as staunchly as he has his country. Now those defenses are under attack.
A madman abducts Keating’s teenage daughter, Melanie — turning every parent’s deepest fear into a matter of national security. As the world watches in real time, Keating embarks on a one-man special-ops mission that tests his strengths: as a leader, a warrior, and a father.
This is the second collaboration between Clinton and Patterson, following the entertaining The President is Missing. Who knows how realistic the details really are, or even which of the details are those that “only a president would know”, but I enjoyed the first book and am really looking forward to reading this second collaboration (the protagonist is a different president, this time). The President’s Daughter is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Century in the UK.
Megan Collins, THE FAMILY PLOT (Atria Books)
When a family obsessed with true crime gathers to bury their patriarch, horrifying secrets are exposed upon the discovery of another body in his grave…
At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse remains haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has been unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.
After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house where the family soon makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body — Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.
Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, while the rest of the Lighthouses react to the revelation in unsettling ways. Her brother, Charlie, pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister, Tate, forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic facade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.
Thought this sounded interesting, and the publisher reached out about giving it a try. Hope to read it soon. The Family Plot is due to be published by Atria Books in North America and in the UK, on August 17th, 2021.
Denny Flowers, FIRE MADE FLESH (Black Library)
Dark secrets lurk in the Fallen Dome of Periculus, and Tempes Sol of the Guild of Light seeks them out to cement his place in the underhive – if he, and Hive Primus itself, can survive what he unleashes.
The Fallen Dome of Periculus, once a hub of sanctioned commerce and illicit dealings, is lost no more… and the prizes it holds are sought by noble, Guilder, and hive scum alike.
For Tempes Sol of the Guild of Light, Periculus is an opportunity to not only prove his superiority over his superstitious peers but also to see the end of Lord Silas Pureburn, Keeper of the God-Emperor’s Eternal Flame, bringer of fire and faith to the rioting masses, and his most hated rival.
But Periculus did not fall by chance. Dark secrets lurk in its shadows – forbidden archeotech, twisted creatures that feast on flesh, and an insidious rage afflicts all who dwell inside its confines. As madness and violence erupt within the fallen dome, the legacy of Periculus threatens not only to consume the underhive, but ultimately Hive Primus itself.
I’ve really enjoyed Flowers’s Necromunda fiction to date (short stories and a novella, prior to this), so I’m really looking forward to reading his first full-length novel. A shame it doesn’t also feature Caleb Cursebound, and I hope that character will make another appearance in print soon. Fire Made Flesh is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Review of Low Lives
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Emma Goldberg, LIFE ON THE LINE (Harper)
The gripping account of six young doctors enlisted to fight COVID-19, an engrossing, eye-opening book in the tradition of both Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial and Scott Turow’s One L.
In March 2020, soon-to-graduate medical students in New York City were nervously awaiting “match day” when they would learn where they would begin their residencies. Only a week later, these young physicians learned that they would be sent to the front lines of the desperate battle to save lives as the coronavirus plunged the city into crisis.
Taking the Hippocratic Oath via Zoom, these new doctors were sent into iconic New York hospitals including Bellevue and Montefiore, the epicenters of the epicenter. In this powerful book, New York Times journalist Emma Goldberg offers an up-close portrait of six bright yet inexperienced health professionals, each of whom defies a stereotype about who gets to don a doctor’s white coat. Goldberg illuminates how the pandemic redefines what it means for them to undergo this trial by fire as caregivers, colleagues, classmates, friends, romantic partners and concerned family members.
Woven together from in-depth interviews with the doctors, their notes, and Goldberg’s own extensive reporting, this page-turning narrative is an unforgettable depiction of a crisis unfolding in real time and a timeless and unique chronicle of the rite of passage of young doctors.
I thought I wouldn’t want to read many books about the ongoing pandemic — do I want to relive what we’ve been going through over and over in print? Turns out, in some instances, yes: I read and thoroughly enjoyed Michael Lewis’s The Premonition, and when I spotted Goldberg’s new book mentioned on Twitter, I thought it would offer an interesting insight into how the pandemic affected not just doctors, but newly-minted ones. I’ll be reading this very soon. Life on the Line is out now, published by Harper in North America.
Lee Goldberg, GATED PREY (Thomas & Mercer)
A simple sting operation takes a violent and unexpected turn for Detective Eve Ronin…
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective Eve Ronin and her soon-to-retire partner, Duncan Pavone, are running a 24-7 sting in a guard-gated enclave of palatial homes in Calabasas. Their luxury McMansion is a honey trap, set to lure in the violent home invaders terrorizing the community. The trap works, leaving three intruders dead, a body count that nearly includes Eve and Duncan.
Eve’s bosses are eager to declare the case closed, but there are too many unanswered questions for her to let go. Was the trap actually for her, bloody payback for Eve’s very public takedown of a clique of corrupt deputies? Or is there an even deadlier secret lurking behind those opulent gates? Eve’s refusal to back down and her relentless quest for the truth make her both the hunter… and the prey.
This is the third novel in Goldberg’s Eve Ronin crime series. I enjoyed the first book, and will read the second and this third ASAP. Gated Prey is due to be published by Thomas & Mercer in North America and in the UK, on October 26th, 2021.
Walter Goodwater, THE LIAR OF RED VALLEY (Solaris)
Don’t trust the Liar.
Don’t go in the River.
Do not cross the King.
In Red Valley, California, you follow the rules if you want to stay alive. But even that isn’t enough to protect Sadie now that she’s unexpectedly become the Liar: the keeper and maker of Red Valley’s many secrets.
In a town like this, friendships are hard-won and bad blood lasts generations, and when not everyone in town is exactly human, it isn’t a safe place to make enemies.
And though the Liar has power ― power to remake the world, with just a little blood ― what Sadie really needs is answers: Why is the town’s sheriff after her? What does the King want from her? And what is the real purpose of the Liar of Red Valley?
I’ve seen a lot of pre-publication buzz about this novel (very early, too, given that it’s not out until the final quarter of the year). It certainly sounds pretty interesting, and I’m looking forward to giving it a try. Goodwater is also the author of the Cold War Magic duology, which also looks pretty interesting. The Liar of Red Valley is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America (September 28th) and in the UK (September 30th).
Also on CR: Interview with W.L. Goodwater (2018)
John Green, THE ANTHROPOCENE REVIEWED (Dutton/Ebury)
The Anthropocene is the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, bestselling author John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale — from the QWERTY keyboard and sunsets to Canada geese and Penguins of Madagascar.
Funny, complex, and rich with detail, the reviews chart the contradictions of contemporary humanity. As a species, we are both far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough, a paradox that came into sharp focus as we faced a global pandemic that both separated us and bound us together.
John Green’s gift for storytelling shines throughout this masterful collection. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a open-hearted exploration of the paths we forge and an unironic celebration of falling in love with the world.
Just thought this sounded interesting, so bought the audiobook edition. I haven’t read any of Green’s other books, but I have at least a couple on my Kindle. (So many books, so little time, etc…). The Anthropocene Reviewed is out now, published by Dutton in North America and Ebury in the UK.
Daryl Gregory, REVELATOR (Knopf)
In 1933, nine-year-old Stella is left in the care of her grandmother, Motty, in the backwoods of Tennessee. These remote hills of the Smoky Mountains are home to dangerous secrets, and soon after she arrives, Stella wanders into a dark cavern where she encounters the family’s personal god, an entity known as the Ghostdaddy.
Years later, after a tragic incident that caused her to flee, Stella — now a professional bootlegger — returns for Motty’s funeral, and to check on the mysterious ten-year-old girl named Sunny that Motty adopted. Sunny appears innocent enough, but she is more powerful than Stella could imagine — and she’s a direct link to Stella’s buried past and her family’s destructive faith.
Haunting and wholly engrossing, summoning mesmerizing voices and giving shape to the dark, Revelator is a southern gothic tale for the ages.
I haven’t read as much of Gregory’s work as I would like, but everything I have read of his has been great — for example, his most recent novella, The Album of Dr. Moreau, which I highly recommend to all. So, very happy to have the opportunity to read his latest novel in advance of release. Revelator is due to be published by Knopf in North America and in the UK, on August 31st, 2021.
Darius Hinks, GITSLAYER (Black Library)
When the Bad Moon rises, Gotrek Gurnisson descends into the heart of Skragrott the Loonking’s twisted, fungal empire in pursuit of vengeance.
Hell-bent on ridding himself of the Fyreslayer rune buried in his chest, Gotrek Gurnisson, the greatest Slayer to ever live, travels deep into the strange, alchemical realm of Chamon. Using their mysterious aether-science, the Kharadron Overlords of Barak-Urbaz offer an end to Gotrek’s quest. But, as the Bad Moon rises and murderous Gloomspite Gitz threaten to destroy the sky-port, Gotrek pits himself against the most ancient enemy of his people – the greenskins. While his aelven travelling companion, Maleneth Witchblade, struggles to keep him alive, Gotrek throws himself headlong into a bloody battle for survival that will take him into the dank, fungal heart of Skragrott’s Asylum.
This is Hinks’s second full-length Gotrek novel set in the Age of Sigmar. I rather enjoyed Ghoulslayer, which saw the displaced hero continue to struggle with his new reality and, perhaps, start to get to grips with it. Really looking forward to reading this novel. Gitslayer is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Ada Hoffman, THE FALLEN (Angry Robot)
The laws of physics acting on the planet of Jai have been forever upended; its surface completely altered, and its inhabitants permanently changed, causing chaos. Fearing heresy, the artificially intelligent Gods that once ruled the galaxy became the planet’s jailers.
Tiv Hunt, who once trusted these Gods completely, spends her days helping the last remaining survivors of Jai. Everyone is fighting for their freedom and they call out for drastic action from their saviour, Tiv’s girlfriend Yasira. But Yasira has become deeply ill, debilitated by her Outside exposure, and is barely able to breathe, let alone lead a revolution.
Hunted by the Gods and Akavi, the disgraced angel, Yasira and Tiv must delve further than ever before into the maddening mysteries of their fractured planet in order to save — or perhaps even destroy — their fading world.
This is the sequel to The Outside, which I haven’t had the chance to read just yet. It does sound rather interesting, though. The Fallen is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in North America and in the UK, on July 13th.
Cassandra Khaw, Genevieve Gornichec & Caitlin Starling, WALK AMONG US (Voyager)
The subtle horror and infernal politics of the World of Darkness are shown in a new light in Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us, an audio-first collection of three novellas that show the terror, hunger, and power of the Kindred as you’ve never seen them before.
In Genevieve Gornichec’s A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES, depression and radicalization go hand-in-hand as a young woman finds companionship in the darkness…
In Cassandra Khaw’s FINE PRINT, an arrogant tech bro learns the importance of reading the fine print in the contract for immortality…
And in Caitlin Starling’s THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, ideals and ethics bump heads with appetite on a blood farm.
Three very different stories from three amazing, distinct voices, but all with one thing in common: the hunger never stops, and for someone to experience power, many others are going to have to feel pain.
Originally published as an audiobook, this is a collection of three stories set in the Vampire: The Masquerade world. I recently read the first new comic series in the World of Darkness setting, and I was very much looking forward to reading this. I dove it quite soon after its release, and I’m happy to say I quite enjoyed the collection. The first story wasn’t the strongest, but all three stories included gave a good impression of the breadth of the setting, and the different ways it can be approached. I’d certainly be interested in reading more V:TM fiction (I hope to read some of the original novels, too, at some point). Walk Among Us is out now, published by Voyager in North America and in the UK.
Tom Lin, THE THOUSAND CRIMES OF MING TSU (Little, Brown)
Orphaned young, Ming Tsu, the son of Chinese immigrants, is raised by the notorious leader of a California crime syndicate, who trains him to be his deadly enforcer. But when Ming falls in love with Ada, the daughter of a powerful railroad magnate, and the two elope, he seizes the opportunity to escape to a different life. Soon after, in a violent raid, the tycoon’s henchmen kidnap Ada and conscript Ming into service for the Central Pacific Railroad.
Battered, heartbroken, and yet defiant, Ming partners with a blind clairvoyant known only as the prophet. Together the two set out to rescue his wife and to exact revenge on the men who destroyed Ming, aided by a troupe of magic-show performers, some with supernatural powers, whom they meet on the journey. Ming blazes his way across the West, settling old scores with a single-minded devotion that culminates in an explosive and unexpected finale.
Written with the violent ardor of Cormac McCarthy and the otherworldly inventiveness of Ted Chiang, The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is at once a thriller, a romance, and a story of one man’s quest for redemption in the face of a distinctly American brutality.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I spotted it in a publisher catalogue. Sounds like a great twist on the Western genre. I’ll be reading this very soon. The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and in the UK.
Kimberly McCreight, FRIENDS LIKE THESE (Harper)
A desperate intervention brings together a group of college friends 10 years after graduation — a reunion marked by lies, betrayal, and murder.
Everyone has those friends. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been, or how badly they’ve occasionally behaved, or how late it is when that call finally comes — you show up. No questions asked.
Honestly, that’s how the five of us ended up here in the Catskills. We did have the best of intentions. Especially after what happened to Alice all those years ago, we can’t bear to think of losing anyone else. In fact, we’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ll go so much farther than we ever thought we would.
In the end, maybe that’s what caught up with us. That, and the fact that we’re such a complicated group — so much history and so many big personalities. Secrets, too, that can slip out at the most inopportune moments. Of course, we love each other despite all of those things. We love each other no matter what.
There’s something so beautiful about that kind of unconditional love. It can turn ugly, though. Or maybe that’s just us. After all, we’ve already been through so much together. And we have so very much to hide.
Thought this sounded interesting. Friends Like These is due to be published by Harper in North America, on September 7th (not sure about UK publication at time of writing).
Haruki Murakami, MURAKAMI T: THE T-SHIRTS I LOVE (Knopf)
The international literary icon opens his eclectic closet: Here are photographs of Murakami’s extensive and personal T-shirt collection, accompanied by essays that reveal a side of the writer rarely seen by the public.
Considered “the world’s most popular cult novelist” (The Guardian), Haruki Murakami has written books that have galvanized millions around the world. Many of his fans know about his 10,000-vinyl-record collection, and his obsession with running, but few have heard about a more intimate, and perhaps more unique, passion: his T-shirt-collecting habit.
In Murakami T, the famously reclusive novelist shows us his T-shirts — including gems from the Springsteen on Broadway show in NYC, to the Beach Boys concert in Honolulu, to the shirt that inspired the beloved short story “Tony Takitani.” Accompanied by short, frank essays that have been translated into English for the first time, these photographs reveal much about Murakami’s multifaceted and wonderfully eccentric persona.
As someone who buys an awful lot of t-shirts (especially from concerts — in fact, every concert I’ve ever been to), I thought this sounded potentially really interesting. I read this pretty much as soon as I got it, and I loved it. It also inspired me to start working on a project of my own, so that’s also nice. Murakami T is due to be published by Knopf in North America and Harvill Secker in the UK, on November 16th, 2021.
Megan O’Keefe, CATALYST GATE (Orbit)
The universe is under threat and an ancient alien intelligence threatens to bring humanity down unless Major Sanda Greeve and her crew can stop it…
The code has been cracked. The secrets of the Casimir gates have been revealed. But humanity still isn’t safe. The alien intelligence known as Rainier and her clones are still out there, hell-bent on its destruction. And only Sanda can stop them.
With the universe’s most powerful ship under her command and some of the most skilled hackers, fighters, and spies on her team, it will still take everything she has to find the key to taking down an immortal enemy with seemingly limitless bodies, resources, and power.
Cat Rambo, YOU SEXY THING (Tor)
Just when they thought they were out…
TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.
Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.
But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.
Well, the title certainly grabs your attention. As does the pitch for this new space opera: “Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off“. Looking forward to reading this. You Sexy Thing is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on September 7th, 2021.
Ben Rhodes, AFTER THE FALL: BEING AMERICAN IN THE WORLD WE’VE MADE (Random House)
Why is democracy so threatened in America and around the world? And what can we do about it? A former White House aide and close confidant to President Barack Obama — and the New York Times bestselling author of The World as It Is — travels the globe in a deeply personal, beautifully observed quest for answers.
In 2017, as Ben Rhodes was helping Barack Obama begin his next chapter, the legacy they had worked to build for eight years was being taken apart. To understand what was happening in America, Rhodes decided to look outward. Over the next three years, he traveled to dozens of countries, meeting with politicians, activists, and dissidents confronting the same nationalism and authoritarianism that was tearing America apart. Along the way, a Russian opposition leader he spoke with was poisoned, the Hong Kong protesters he came to know saw their movement snuffed out, and America itself reached the precipice of losing democracy before giving itself a second chance.
Part memoir and part reportage, After the Fall is a hugely ambitious and essential work of discovery. In his travels, Rhodes comes to realize how much America’s fingerprints are on a world we helped to shape, through our post–Cold War embrace of unbridled capitalism and our post-9/11 nationalism and militarism; our mania for technology and social media; and the racism that fueled the backlash to America’s first Black president. At the same time, Rhodes learns from the stories of a diverse set of characters — from Barack Obama himself to Cuban rebels to a rising generation of international leaders — that looking squarely at where America has gone wrong makes clear how essential it is to fight for what America is supposed to be, for our own country and the entire world.
I’ve been familiar with Ben Rhodes’s work not only from my own interest in/research into US foreign policy, but also his work for the various Crooked Media podcasts (especially Pod Save the World). I read and loved his first book, The World As It Is, and have been eagerly anticipating this new one ever since it was announced — so, I pre-ordered the eBook and audiobook editions (which is becoming a bit of an expensive habit, when it comes to non-fiction books…). I’ll be reading this very soon. After the Fall is out now, published by Random House in North America and Bloomsbury in the UK.
Zin E. Rocklyn, FLOWERS FOR THE SEA (Tor.com)
We are a people who do not forget.
Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.
Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.
I hadn’t heard of this before I spotted it on NetGalley. The cover caught my eye, and the synopsis sounded interesting, so I’m looking forward to trying this — it’s also been described as “Rosemary’s Baby by way of Octavia E. Butler”. I started it shortly after receiving the DRC and, while I quite enjoyed Rockyn’s writing and knack for evoking atmosphere, etc. Overall, it was pretty good, but not as good as I’d hoped. Good enough that I’ll definitely check out anything else I find by the author. Flowers For the Sea is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on October 19th, 2021.
Anthony Ryan, PARIAH (Orbit)
Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army.
Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?
This is the first book in a new epic fantasy series from Ryan: The Covenant of Steel. Looking forward to giving this a try. Pariah is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on August 24th, 2021.
Hank Phillippi Ryan, HER PERFECT LIFE (Forge)
Everyone knows Lily Atwood — and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all — fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: PerfectLily. To keep it all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.
Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips — but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he — or she — know the truth?
Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world — and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.
How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?
Thought this sounded interesting, and I was pre-approved on NetGalley. Many of Ryan’s recent ones have sounded interesting, but I keep falling behind. Her Perfect Life is due to be published by Forge Books in North America and in the UK, on September 14th, 2021.
Clint Smith, HOW THE WORD IS PASSED (Little, Brown)
A revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave owning nation
Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks — those that are honest about the past and those that are not — that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.
It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving more than four hundred people. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola, a former plantation-turned-maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.
A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view — whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.
Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.
I first came across Clint Smith’s writing via his writing for The Atlantic, and his latest piece for the June 2021 issue of the magazine is just superb: “The War on Nostalgia”, which is adapted from this book. (I’d also recommend the author’s recent interview on Pod Save America.) How the Word is Passed is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Dialogue Books in the UK. (I pre-ordered the audiobook and eBook editions.) A must-read of the year, in my opinion.
Michael J. Sullivan, NOLYN (Grim Oak Press)
After two hundred years of service, the heir to the empire is suspicious about his reassignment to active duty on the front lines of the Goblin War. His first assignment to rescue an outpost leads to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory. Suspicion turns to dread and then sinks to despair when it’s discovered no such outpost exists. But whoever went to the trouble of making his death look like an accident didn’t know anything about the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron he was assigned to. In the depths of an unforgiving jungle, a legend is about to be born, and the world of Elan will never be the same.
Here begins a new adventure with the first book of the Rise and Fall trilogy. While set in the same world as Riyria and Legends of the First Empire, this is a standalone series, so no prior knowledge of the other books is required to enjoy it to its fullest.
It has been too long since last I read one of Sullivan’s novels set in the world of Riyria. I thoroughly enjoyed his Riyria Revelations series, and would highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in adventure-filled fantasy fiction. This new novel is, as the synopsis notes, set in the same world but is independently intelligible. It’s also the first in a new series, The Rise and Fall. Nolyn is due to be published by Grim Oak Press in North America and in the UK, on August 3rd, 2021.
Lisa Taddeo, ANIMAL (Avid Reader Press)
I am depraved. I hope you like me.
Joan has spent a lifetime enduring the cruelties of men. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she flees New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her make sense of her past. In the sweltering hills above Los Angeles, Joan unravels the horrific event she witnessed as a child — that has haunted her every waking moment — while forging the power to finally strike back.
Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society.
This is Taddeo’s debut novel (following the acclaimed non-fiction work, Three Women), and it’s been getting a lot of pre-publication buzz. Looking forward to reading it very soon. Animal is published by Avid Reader Press in North America (out now) and Bloomsbury in the UK (June 24th).
Kathy Wang, IMPOSTER SYNDROME (Custom House)
In 2006 Julia Lerner is living in Moscow, a recent university graduate in computer science, when she’s recruited by Russia’s largest intelligence agency. By 2018 she’s in Silicon Valley as COO of Tangerine, one of America’s most famous technology companies. In between her executive management (make offers to promising startups, crush them and copy their features if they refuse); self promotion (check out her latest op-ed in the WSJ, on Work/Life Balance 2.0); and work in gender equality (transfer the most annoying females from her team), she funnels intelligence back to the motherland. But now Russia’s asking for more, and Julia’s getting nervous.
Alice Lu is a first generation Chinese American whose parents are delighted she’s working at Tangerine (such a successful company!). Too bad she’s slogging away in the lower echelons, recently dumped, and now sharing her expensive two-bedroom apartment with her cousin Cheri, a perennial “founder’s girlfriend”. One afternoon, while performing a server check, Alice discovers some unusual activity, and now she’s burdened with two powerful but distressing suspicions: Tangerine’s privacy settings aren’t as rigorous as the company claims they are, and the person abusing this loophole might be Julia Lerner herself.
The closer Alice gets to Julia, the more Julia questions her own loyalties. Russia may have placed her in the Valley, but she’s the one who built her career; isn’t she entitled to protect the lifestyle she’s earned? Part page-turning cat-and-mouse chase, part sharp and hilarious satire, Impostor Syndrome is a shrewdly-observed examination of women in tech, Silicon Valley hubris, and the rarely fulfilled but ever-attractive promise of the American Dream.
I first heard of this novel when the publisher Tweeted that it was on pre-order sale. (I was also reminded that I have Family Trust, one of the many books I have on my Kindle, waiting to be read…) Thought it sounded interesting, and decided to give it a try. Imposter Syndrome is out now, published by Custom House in North America.