Featuring: Matthieu Aikins, Robert Olen Butler, Chang Yu-Ko, Marc Collins, Bernard Cornwell, Charles Finch, Jamie Foxx, Erin Giannini, Howard Michael Gould, Joe Ide, Derek Künsken, Tom McCarthy, Kim Newman, Charles Oakley, Tochi Onyebuchi, Evan Osnos, Alastair Reynolds, Andrzej Sapkowski, Iain Sinclair, Marissa Stapley, Andrea Stewart, Gabrielle Union, Django Wexler, Alex Wong
Matthieu Aikins, THE NAKED DON’T FEAR THE WATER (Harper)
An acclaimed young war reporter chronicles a dangerous journey on the smuggler’s road to Europe, accompanying his friend, an Afghan refugee, in search of a better future.
In 2016, a young Afghan driver and translator named Omar makes the heart-wrenching choice to flee his war-torn country, saying goodbye to Laila, the love of his life, without knowing when they might be reunited again. He is one of millions of refugees who leave their homes that year.
Matthieu Aikins, a journalist living in Kabul, decides to follow his friend. In order to do so, he must leave his own passport and identity behind to go underground on the refugee trail with Omar. Their odyssey across land and sea from Afghanistan to Europe brings them face to face with the people at heart of the migration crisis: smugglers, cops, activists, and the men, women and children fleeing war in search of a better life. As setbacks and dangers mount for the two friends, Matthieu is also drawn into the escape plans of Omar’s entire family, including Maryam, the matriarch who has fought ferociously for her children’s survival.
Harrowing yet hopeful, this exceptional work brings into sharp focus one of the most contentious issues of our times. The Naked Don’t Fear the Water is a tale of love and friendship across borders, and an inquiry into our shared journey in a divided world.
This caught my eye, and I was pre-approved for it. Looking forward to reading it. The Naked Don’t Fear the Water is due to be published by Harper in North America and Fitzcarraldo Editions in the UK, on February 15th, 2022.
Robert Olen Butler, LATE CITY (Atlantic Monthly Press)
A visionary and poignant novel centered around former newspaperman Sam Cunningham as he prepares to die, Late City covers much of the early twentieth century, unfurling as a conversation between the dying man and a surprising God. As the two review Sam’s life, from his childhood in the American South and his time in the French trenches during World War I to his fledgling newspaper career in Chicago in the Roaring Twenties and the decades that follow, snippets of history are brought sharply into focus.
Sam grows up in Louisiana, with a harsh father, who he comes to resent both for his physical abuse and for what Sam eventually perceives as his flawed morality. Eager to escape and prove himself, Sam enlists in the army as a sniper while still underage. The hardness his father instilled in him helps him make it out of World War I alive, but, as he recounts these tales on his deathbed, we come to realize that it also prevents him from contending with the emotional wounds of war. Back in the U.S., Sam moves to Chicago to begin a career as a newspaperman that will bring him close to all the major historical turns of the twentieth century. There he meets his wife and has a son, whose fate counters Sam’s at almost every turn.
As he contemplates his relationships — with his parents, his brothers in arms, his wife, his editor, and most importantly, his son — Sam is amazed at what he still has left to learn about himself after all these years in this heart-rending novel from the Pulitzer Prize winner.
I haven’t read anything by Butler before (although, after learning about this novel I sought out some of his back catalogue), but this sounds really interesting. I also saw a couple of positive reviews which further piqued my interest. Hopefully I’ll get to it soon. Late City is out now, published by Atlantic Monthly Press in North America and No Exit Press in the UK.
Chang Yu-Ko, WHISPER (Honford Star)
Victims all describe hearing a voice before they die gruesomely. Sometimes it’s singing an old Taiwanese song, sometimes it’s in Japanese, and sometimes it’s an anguished call for help from a loved one. Can Wu Shih-Sheng, a degenerate taxi driver in Taipei, hunt down the source of the voice that killed his wife before he becomes the next victim?
Whisper is a plot-driven, Taiwanese horror story. As well as being a chilling read, Chang Yu-Ko cleverly combines Taiwanese folklore, the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, and the long-term mistreatment of the country’s aboriginal people into a story of how the past can still kill.
Horror isn’t really my genre, but I’ve been I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read from Honford Star, so I’m intrigued by this one. I’ll hopefully try it very soon. Whisper is due to be published by Honford Star on October 15th.
Marc Collins, GRIM REPAST (Black Library)
Quillon Drask is a haunted man, wrestling with the daemons of his past. With a reputation that draws only the strangest cases, he is intimately familiar with the malevolent underbelly of Varangantua. Yet nothing that has gone before could have prepared the probator for the horrors which now blight the southern district of Polaris.
Faced with a savage crime with grisly implications, Drask is thrust into a hidden game of corrupt conspiracy, warring families and blasphemous revelations. Only by mastering the bitter lessons of his career and his own tortured insight can Drask hope to bring the perpetrators to justice, and curb the monstrous hunger which stalks the city.
Bernard Cornwell, SHARPE’S ASSASSIN (Harper Fiction)
If any man can do the impossible it’s Richard Sharpe…
Lieutenant-Colonel Sharpe is a man with a reputation. Born in the gutter, raised a foundling, he joined the army twenty-one years ago, and it’s been his home ever since. He’s a loose cannon, but his unconventional methods make him a valuable weapon.
So when, the dust still settling after the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington needs a favour, he turns to Sharpe. For Wellington knows that the end of one war is only the beginning of another. Napoleon’s army may be defeated, but another enemy lies waiting in the shadows – a secretive group of fanatical revolutionaries hell-bent on revenge.
Sharpe is dispatched to a new battleground: the maze of Paris streets where lines blur between friend and foe. And in search of a spy, he will have to defeat a lethal assassin determined to kill his target or die trying…
Sharpe returns! I’ve read all of Cornwell’s Sharpe novels — it was probably the first series I binge-read. In fact, I was so enamoured of the series, that I ordered a boxset to Japan, where I happened to be living at the time. Really looking forward to getting back to the character. Sharpe’s Assassin is out now, published by Harper in the UK.
Charles Finch, WHAT JUST HAPPENED (Knopf)
With unwavering humanity and light-footed humor, this intimate account of the interminable year of 2020 offers commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic, protests for racial justice, the U.S. presidential election, and more, all with a miraculous dose of groundedness in head-spinning times. From the award-winning book critic and best-selling author.
In March 2020, at the request of the Los Angeles Times, Charles Finch became a reluctant diarist: As California sheltered in place, he began to write daily notes about the odd ambient changes in his own life and in the lives around him. The result is What Just Happened.
In a warm, candid, welcoming voice, and in the tradition of Woolf and Orwell, Finch brings us into his own world: taking long evening walks near his home in L.A., listening to music, and keeping virtual connections with friends across the country as they each experience the crisis. And drawing on his remarkable acuity as a cultural critic, he chronicles one endless year with delightful commentary on current events, and the things that distract him from current events: Murakami’s novels, reality television, the Beatles.
What Just Happened is a work of empathy and insight, at once of-the-moment and timeless — a gift from one of our culture’s most original thinkers.
I was pre-approved for this on NetGalley, and I thought it sounded interesting. I’ve not really felt much need to read books about, or set during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this one caught my attention. I’ll hopefully read it very soon. What Just Happened is due to be published by Knopf in North America and in the UK, on November 2nd.
Jamie Foxx, ACT LIKE YOU GOT SOME SENSE (Grand Central)
From Academy Award-winning multi-talent Jamie Foxx, a hilariously candid look at the joys and pitfalls of being the father of two daughters.
Jamie Foxx is not only an actor, comedian, and musician, he’s also starring in his most humbling and long-running role yet as father to two independent girls: Corinne and Anelise. While his daughters have very different views on the world, there is one thing they can agree on: Dad gets on their motherf***ing nerves. Though every day with his girls brings hurdles and hilarity, he’s learned a lot along the way.
In ACT LIKE YOU GOT SOME SENSE — a title inspired by his beloved and fierce grandmother — Jamie reveals his rocky parenting journey through priceless stories about the tough love and old-school values he learned growing up in the small town of Terrell, Texas; his early days trying to make it in Hollywood; and life after achieving stardom. You would think being an A-lister would ease his dad-duty struggles, but if anything, it has only made things more complicated. It seems that a teenage girl who just wants to blend in with her friends will not be excited to see her dad’s flashy new convertible at the front of the carpool lane.
Hilarious, poignant, and always brutally honest, ACT LIKE YOU GOT SOME SENSE is Jamie Foxx like we’ve never seen him before, dealing with problems he never imagined he’d have.
I think Any Given Sunday was the first of Foxx’s work that I saw. Since then, I’ve been a fan of his various work, and so when it was announced that he’d written a book I added it to my must read list. Looking forward to getting to it very soon. Act Like You Got Some Sense is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and Constable in the UK, on October 19th.
Erin Giannini, SUPERNATURAL: A HISTORY OF TELEVISION’S UNEARTHLY ROAD TRIP (Rowman & Littlefield)
A captivating exploration of the television phenomenon that is Supernatural, with insights into characters, plots, and the show’s impact on pop culture.
When Supernatural first aired on the CW in 2005, it was dismissed by many for being “pretty guys fighting demons.” Yet Supernatural persisted for 15 seasons to become the anchor of the network’s line-up and the longest running genre series in US television history.
In Supernatural: A History of Television’s Unearthly Road Trip, Erin Giannini delves into the phenomenon of this cult series and its devoted fan base. Covering all 15 seasons, including the series finale that aired in 2020, this book examines the show’s predecessors, characters, major storylines, and fan activism. It also revisits creator Eric Kripke’s road to creating the series, draws surprising and revealing connections between the show and other series, and discusses the ways Supernatural responded to social and industry changes throughout its long run.
Supernatural was the little show that could for 15 years, persisting beyond its original network’s lifespan and surviving the departure of its creator and showrunner, in no small part due to its loyal fans. Inspired by shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and going on to influence many shows that followed, Supernatural offers insight into how a series can adapt and grow to become a mainstay of primetime television.
I’ve been watching Supernatural since 2007, when I picked up the DVD boxset of season 1. Really looking forward to reading this. Erin Giannini’s Supernatural is due to be published by Rowman & Littlefield in North America and in the UK, on January 15th, 2022.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Howard Michael Gould, PAY OR PLAY (Severn House)
Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder… and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed LA private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.
Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.
At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.
And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to LA. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.
Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.
This is the third novel in Gould’s Charlie Waldo mystery series. I already have the first two, and with this third perhaps I should plan a series binge-read? Looking forward to giving the novels a try. Pay or Play is due to be published by Severn House in North America (December 7th) and in the UK (November 1st).
Joe Ide, THE GOODBYE COAST (Mulholland)
Raymond Chandler’s iconic detective, Philip Marlowe, gets a dramatic and colorful reinvention at the hands of award-winning novelist Joe Ide
The seductive and relentless figure of Raymond Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe, is vividly re-imagined in present-day Los Angeles. Here is a city of scheming Malibu actresses, ruthless gang members, virulent inequality, and washed-out police. Acclaimed and award-winning novelist Joe Ide imagines a Marlowe very much of our time: he’s a quiet, lonely, and remarkably capable and confident private detective, though he lives beneath the shadow of his father, a once-decorated LAPD homicide detective, famous throughout the city, who’s given in to drink after the death of Marlowe’s mother.
Marlowe, against his better judgement, accepts two missing person cases, the first a daughter of a faded, tyrannical Hollywood starlet, and the second, a British child stolen from his mother by his father. At the center of The Goodbye Coast is Marlowe’s troubled and confounding relationship with his father, a son who despises yet respects his dad, and a dad who’s unable to hide his bitter disappointment with his grown boy.
Steeped in the richly detailed ethnic neighborhoods of modern LA, Ide’s The Goodbye Coast is a bold recreation that is viciously funny, ingeniously plotted, and surprisingly tender.
I’m a big fan of Joe Ide’s work — I loved his IQ series, and have been looking forward to reading The Goodbye Coast ever since I saw it in the publisher’s catalogue. I’ve not actually read any Philip Marlowe novels, though… Maybe I should get at least one read before I read this one? We’ll see. The Goodbye Coast is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and W&N in the UK, on February 1st, 2022.
Derek Künsken, THE QUANTUM WAR (Solaris)
The war rages onward and the Union’s premier fighter pilots, the Homo Eridanus, start encountering deadly resistance from strange pilots on the Congregate side. Among wreckage, they find that new Congregate pilots are, in fact, Homo quantus, with strange wiring and AI connections.
At the same time, the Puppets come to the Union with offers of an alliance for a dangerous price: the rescue of the geneticist Antonio Del Casal who is a captive on Venus, with over a hundred Homo quantus.
Only one person might be able to break through the Congregate defenses at Venus, and he’s a con man.
This is the third novel in Künsken’s acclaimed Quantum Evolution science fiction series. Really looking forward to binge-reading them all. The Quantum War is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on October 12th.
Tom McCarthy, THE MAKING OF INCARNATION (Knopf)
A widescreen odyssey through the medical labs, computer graphics studios, military research centers, and other dark zones where the frontiers of potential — to cure, kill, understand or entertain — are constantly tested and refined.
Bodies in motion. Birds, bees and bobsleighs. What is the force that moves the sun and other stars? Where’s our fucking airplane? What’s inside Box 808, and why does everybody want it?
Deep within the archives of time-and-motion pioneer Lillian Gilbreth lies a secret. Famous for producing solid light-tracks that captured the path of workers’ movements, Gilbreth helped birth the era of mass observation and big data. But did she also, as her broken correspondence with a young Soviet physicist suggests, discover in her final days a “perfect” movement, one that would “change everything”?
An international hunt begins for the one box missing from her records, and we follow contemporary motion-capture consultant Mark Phocan, as well as his collaborators and shadowy antagonists, across geopolitical fault lines and through strata of personal and collective history. Meanwhile, work is under way on the blockbuster movie Incarnation, an epic space tragedy.
As McCarthy peers through the screen, or veil, of technological modernity to reveal the underlying symbolic structures of human experience, The Making of Incarnation weaves a set of stories one inside the other, rings within rings, a perpetual motion machine.
Knopf has a very good track record — I think I’ve liked most of the books I’ve read published by them, so when they opened this title up for auto-approval on NetGalley, I decided to give it a try. I will admit, though, that the synopsis gives me pause: it sounds rather pretentious and over-done. It probably also doesn’t help that after getting it, I spotted a piece in The Times, that begins “Tom McCarthy hates almost all of the novels you will ever read about in these pages”, which had my alarm bells ringing. “The author, born in 1969, thinks that most contemporary fiction is bourgeois, sentimental and too full of people emoting. He wants nothing to do with its ‘middlebrow aesthetics’ or ‘narrow liberal humanism'”. Nevertheless, cautiously looking forward to giving this a try. The Making of Incarnation is due to be published by Knopf in North America (November 2nd) and Jonathan Cape in the UK (out now).
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
Kim Newman, SOMETHING MORE THAN NIGHT (Titan)
Hollywood, the late 1930s. Raymond Chandler writes detective stories for pulp magazines, and drinks more than he should. Boris Karloff plays monsters in the movies. Together, they investigate mysterious matters in a town run by human and inhuman monsters.
Joh Devlin, an investigator for the DA’s office who scores high on insubordination, enlists the pair to work a case that threatens to expose Hollywood’s most horrific secrets. Together they will find out more than they should about the way this town works. And about each other. And, oh yes, monsters aren’t just for the movies.
I’ve been a fan of Newman’s writing for many years, and this sounds right up my alley (I love Hollywood/LA mysteries). Looking forward to reading it very soon. Something More Than Night is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on November 2nd.
Charles Oakley w. Frank Isola, THE LAST ENFORCER (Gallery)
A memoir from Charles Oakley — one of the toughest and most loyal players in NBA history — featuring unfiltered stories about the journey that basketball has taken him on and his relationships with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, James Dolan, Donald Trump, George Floyd, and so many others.
If you ask a New York Knicks fan about Charles Oakley, you better prepare to hear the love and a favorite story or two. But his individual stats weren’t remarkable, and while he helped power the Knicks to ten consecutive playoffs, he never won a championship. So why does he hold such a special place in the minds, hearts, and memories of NBA players and fans?
Because over the course of nineteen years in the league, Oakley was at the center of more unbelievable encounters than Forrest Gump, and nearly as many fights as Mike Tyson. He was the friend you wish you had, and the enemy you wish you’d never made. If any opposing player was crazy enough to start a fight with him, or God forbid one of his teammates, Oakley would end it.
“I can’t remember every rebound I grabbed but I do have a story — the true story — of just about every punch and slap on my resume,” he says.
In The Last Enforcer, Oakley shares one incredible story after the next — all in his signature, unfiltered style — about his life in the paint and beyond, fighting for rebounds and respect. You’ll look back on the era of the 1990s NBA, when tough guys with rugged attitudes, unflinching loyalty, and hard-nosed work ethics were just as important as three-point sharpshooters. You’ll feel like you were on the court, in the room, can’t believe what you just saw, and need to tell everyone you know about it.
Like many people, I was hooked on The Last Dance, so any new book that might shed a bit more light on that period of NBA history (from any angle) is of great interest to me. I requested this as soon as I saw it, and was lucky enough to get approved. I read it pretty soon after getting it, and zipped through it; you can read my review here. The Last Enforcer is due to be published by Gallery Books in North America and in the UK, on February 1st, 2022.
Tochi Onyebuchi, GOLIATH (Tor.com)
In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.
A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives — a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiralling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping — into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.
The new novel by the author of the excellent Riot Baby. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced, I think. Hopefully get to it very soon. Goliath is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on January 25th, 2022.
Evan Osnos, WILDLAND: THE MAKING OF AMERICA’S FURY (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
After a decade abroad, the National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Evan Osnos returns to three places he has lived in the United States — Greenwich, CT; Clarksburg, WV; and Chicago, IL — to illuminate the origins of America’s political fury.
Evan Osnos moved to Washington, D.C., in 2013 after a decade away from the United States, first reporting from the Middle East before becoming the Beijing bureau chief at the Chicago Tribune and then the China correspondent for The New Yorker. While abroad, he often found himself making a case for America, urging the citizens of Egypt, Iraq, or China to trust that even though America had made grave mistakes throughout its history, it aspired to some foundational moral commitments: the rule of law, the power of truth, the right of equal opportunity for all. But when he returned to the United States, he found each of these principles under assault.
In search of an explanation for the crisis that reached an unsettling crescendo in 2020 — a year of pandemic, civil unrest, and political turmoil — he focused on three places he knew firsthand: Greenwich, Connecticut; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Chicago, Illinois. Reported over the course of six years, Wildland follows ordinary individuals as they navigate the varied landscapes of twenty-first-century America. Through their powerful, often poignant stories, Osnos traces the sources of America’s political dissolution. He finds answers in the rightward shift of the financial elite in Greenwich, in the collapse of social infrastructure and possibility in Clarksburg, and in the compounded effects of segregation and violence in Chicago. The truth about the state of the nation may be found not in the slogans of political leaders but in the intricate details of individual lives, and in the hidden connections between them. As Wildland weaves in and out of these personal stories, events in Washington occasionally intrude, like flames licking up on the horizon.
A dramatic, prescient examination of seismic changes in American politics and culture, Wildland is the story of a crucible, a period bounded by two shocks to America’s psyche, two assaults on the country’s sense of itself: the attacks of September 11 in 2001 and the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Following the lives of everyday Americans in three cities and across two decades, Osnos illuminates the country in a startling light, revealing how we lost the moral confidence to see ourselves as larger than the sum of our parts.
I’ve been a fan of Osnos’s writing for quite some time — I followed his work when he was in China, and continued to do so since he returned to the US. I pre-ordered this (in eBook and audio) as soon as I could. Wildland is out now, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in North America and Bloomsbury in the UK.
Alastair Reynolds, INHIBITOR PHASE (Orbit)
For thirty years a tiny band of humans has been sheltering in the caverns of an airless, crater-pocked world called Michaelmas. Beyond their solar system lie the ruins of human interstellar civilization, stalked by a ruthless, infinitely patient cybernetic entity determined to root out the last few bands of survivors. One man has guided the people of Michaelmas through the hardest of times, and given them hope against the wolves: Miguel de Ruyter.
When a lone human ship blunders into their system, and threatens to lead the wolves to Michaelmas, de Ruyter embarks on a desperate, near-suicide mission to prevent catastrophe. But an encounter with a refugee from the ship — the enigmatic woman who calls herself only Glass — leads to de Ruyter’s world being turned upside down.
This is a new novel set in Reynolds’s Revelation Space universe. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the series, but haven’t ever read any of the author’s novels. Hopefully I’ll rectify this oversight soon. Inhibitor Phase is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America, on October 12th; and is out now in the UK, published by Gollancz.
Andrzej Sapkowski, WARRIORS OF GOD (Orbit)
Reynevan — scoundrel, magician, possibly a fool — travels into the depths of war as he attempts to navigate the religious fervors of the fifteenth century.
When the Hussite leaders entrust Reynevan with a dangerous secret mission, he is forced to come out of hiding in Bohmeia and depart for Silesia. At the same time, he strives to avenge the death of his brother and discover the whereabouts of his beloved. Once again pursued by multiple enemies, he must contend with danger on every front.
Full of gripping action replete with twists and mysteries, seasoned with magic and Sapkowski’s ever-present wit, fans of the Witcher will appreciate this rich historical epic set during the Hussite Wars.
This is the second novel in Sapkowski’s Hussite Trilogy. Looking forward to giving it a try. Warriors of God is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (October 19th) and Gollancz in the UK (October 21st).
Iain Sinclair, THE GOLD MACHINE (Oneworld)
A journey through time and space, grappling with the ghosts of empire
In The Gold Machine, Iain Sinclair and his daughter travel through Peru, guided by — and in reaction to — an ill-fated colonial expedition led by his great-grandfather, Arthur Sinclair. The incursions of Catholic bounty hunters and Adventist missionaries are contrasted with today’s ecotourists and short-cut vision seekers. The family history of a displaced Scottish highlander fades into the brutal reality of a major land grab. The historic thirst for gold and the establishment of sprawling coffee plantations leave terrible wounds on virgin territory.
What might once have been portrayed as an intrepid adventure is transformed into a shocking tale of the violated rights of indigenous people, secret dealings between London finance and Peruvian government, and the collusion of the church in colonial expansion. In Sinclair’s haunting prose, no place escapes its past, and nor can we.
It seems quite rare for Peru to be the focus of a book published in the UK and North America. It’s a shame, as it’s a fascinating country. I also have family there, so it holds even more interest to me. I’m really looking forward to reading this, and hope to do so very soon. The author’s daughter also has a podcast about the trip that inspired the book. The Gold Machine is due to be published by Oneworld Publications in North America (October 5th), and is out now in the UK.
Marissa Stapley, LUCKY (Simon & Schuster)
A thrilling roller-coaster ride about a heist gone terribly wrong, with a plucky protagonist who will win readers’ hearts.
What if you had the winning ticket that would change your life forever, but you couldn’t cash it in?
Lucky Armstrong is a tough, talented grifter who has just pulled off a million-dollar heist with her boyfriend, Cary. She’s ready to start a brand-new life, with a new identity — when things go sideways. Lucky finds herself alone for the first time, navigating the world without the help of either her father or her boyfriend, the two figures from whom she’s learned the art of the scam.
When she discovers that a lottery ticket she bought on a whim is worth millions, her elation is tempered by one big problem: cashing in the winning ticket means she’ll be arrested for her crimes. She’ll go to prison, with no chance to redeem her fortune.
As Lucky tries to avoid capture and make a future for herself, she must confront her past by reconciling with her father; finding her mother, who abandoned her when she was just a baby; and coming to terms with the man she thought she loved — whose dark past is catching up with her, too.
This is a novel about truth, personal redemption, and the complexity of being good. It introduces a singularly gifted, multilayered character who must learn what it means to be independent and honest… before her luck runs out.
I do love a good heist novel. The endorsement from Taylor Jenkins Reid also helped pique my interest (“The most fun I’ve had reading a novel in a long time”). I read this pretty soon after getting it, and while I zipped through it in just a couple of sittings, it didn’t leave me feeling particularly satisfied. Also, it’s not actually about a heist, as far as I could tell. Lucky is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America, on December 7th.
Andrea Stewart, THE BONE SHARD EMPEROR (Orbit)
A heroine at the head of a powerful empire confronts a raging battle as she’s forced to do whatever it takes to restore peace.
The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.
Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.
Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace.
But can she trust them?
This is the second novel in Stewart’s well-received Drowning Empire series. I’ve been very slow about getting around to reading the first book (so many books, so little time, too much work!), but I look forward to getting caught up as soon as I can. The Bone Shard Emperor is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 9th.
Gabrielle Union, YOU GOT ANYTHING STRONGER? (Day Street/Harper Audio)
Remember when we hit it off so well that we decided We’re Going to Need More Wine? Well, this time you and I are going to turn to our friend the bartender and ask, You Got Anything Stronger? I promise to continue to make you laugh, but with this round, the stakes get higher as the conversation goes deeper.
So. Where were we?
Right, you and I left off in October 2017, when my first book came out. The weeks before were filled with dreams of loss. Pets dying. My husband leaving me. Babies not being born. My therapist told me it was my soul preparing for my true self to emerge after letting go of my grief. I had finally spoken openly about my fertility journey. I was having second thoughts — in fact, so many thoughts they were organizing to go on strike. But I knew I had to be honest because I didn’t want other women going through IVF to feel as alone as I did. I had suffered in isolation, having so many miscarriages that I could not give an exact number. Strangers shared their own journeys and heartbreak with me. I had led with the truth, and it opened the door to compassion.
When I released We’re Going to Need More Wine, the response was so great people asked when I would do a sequel. The New York Times even ran a headline reading “We’re Going to Need More Gabrielle Union.” Frankly, after being so open and honest in my writing, I wasn’t sure there was more of me I was ready to share. But life happens with all its plot twists. And new stories demand to be told. This time, I need to be more vulnerable — not so much for me, but anyone who feels alone in what they’re going through.
A lot has changed in four years — I became a mom and I’m raising two amazing girls. My husband retired. My career has expanded so that I have the opportunity to lift up other voices that need to be heard. But the world has also shown us that we have a lot we still have to fight for — as women, as black women, as mothers, as aging women, as human beings, as friends. In You Got Anything Stronger?, I show you how this ever-changing life presents challenges, even as it gives me moments of pure joy. I take you on a girl’s night at Chateau Marmont, and I also talk to Isis, my character from Bring It On. For the first time, I truly open up about my surrogacy journey and the birth of Kaavia James Union Wade. And I take on racist institutions and practices in the entertainment industry, asking for equality and real accountability.
You Got Anything Stronger? is me at my most vulnerable. I have recently found true strength in that vulnerability, and I want to share that power with you here, through this book.
I only recently listened to the audiobook of Union’s first memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine, which I thought was fantastic and is one of my favourite audiobook reads/listens of the year. Shortly after finishing that one, I learned that Union had another on the way, and I pre-ordered it. (I’ve already finished listening to the audiobook, and can confirm that it is another very good book — not quite as funny, and a little more serious, but no less of a good read/listen.) You Got Anything Stronger? is out now, published by Dey Street/Harper Audio in North America and in the UK.
Django Wexler, BLOOD OF THE CHOSEN (Orbit)
Two siblings divided by magic and revolution, Gyre must travel across the Splinter Kingdoms to rally the rebels to his side, while his sister Maya uncovers the secrets of a powerful artifact that could change everything.
Gyre finally sees a way to overthrow the all-powerful Twilight Order. But he’ll have to gain the alliance of both the ghouls and the human rebels to the south in order to even stand have a chance. And uniting them won’t be so simple.
His sister Maya is still a soldier of the Order. But after clashing with her brother, she isn’t so certain where her loyalties lie. Chasing the origins of a mysterious artifact to a long-lost library, she just might find the answers she’s looking for.
This is the second novel in Wexler’s Burningblade & Silvereye fantasy series. I’ve heard good things, and I hope to get caught up at some point soon. Blood of the Chosen is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (October 5th) and Head of Zeus in the UK (October 14th).
Alex Wong, COVER STORY (Triumph Books)
A nostalgic romp through modern NBA history as documented by basketball’s most iconic and innovative magazine covers
Every magazine cover is the result of a series of intentional decisions. Cover Story shares the behind-the-scenes stories of these deliberate choices, which led to the most iconic basketball-related magazine covers during a period from 1984 to 2003. Through 100-plus interviews conducted with writers, editors, publishers, photographers, creative directors, and the players themselves, the book explores Michael Jordan’s relationship with Sports Illustrated, Shaquille O’Neal and the hip-hop generation’s impact on newsstands, the birth of SLAM and the inside stories of their most iconic covers, how the 1996 USA women’s basketball team inspired a new era of women’s sports magazines, the competition among publishers to put high school phenom LeBron James on the magazine cover first, and much more.
Offering an immersive look at some of the most impactful moments in a golden era for modern basketball, this engaging read will appeal to basketball fans, pop culture enthusiasts, and those who want to take a deep dive into understanding how the individual components of a classic magazine cover come together.
Features four full-color inserts showcasing a collection of notable magazine covers!
Thought this sounded quite interesting. I read it pretty soon after getting a review copy, and found it to be quite an interesting read, albeit a slightly limited one: this isn’t necessarily the author’s fault, but the fact is that the articles/cover stories mentioned in the book are more interesting than the stories behind the cover images. (With, perhaps, the exception of Dennis Rodman’s — which is probably unsurprising.) If nothing else, the book pointed me in the direction of some stories I wanted to hunt down and read. Cover Story is due to be published by Triumph Books in North America and in the UK, on October 19th.