New Books (September-October)

NewBooks-20211016

Featuring: Tariq Ashkanani, David Baldacci, James Breakwell, Aaron Philip Clark, Hillary Clinton, C.S.E. Cooney, Mark de Jager, Dave Grohl, Noah Hawley, Gish Jen, John le Carré, Grace D. Li, Emily St. John Mandel, Nick Offerman, K.J. Parker, Louise Penny, Jenny Pentland, Scottie Pippen, Katherine Ryan, Gaie Sebold, Chris Wraight

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AshkananiT-WelcomeToCooperTariq Ashkanani, WELCOME TO COOPER (Thomas & Mercer)

In this explosive thriller of bad choices and dark crimes, Detective Levine knew his transfer was a punishment — but he had no idea just how bad it would get.

Cooper, Nebraska, is forgettable and forgotten, a town you’d only stumble into if you’d taken a seriously wrong turn. Like Detective Thomas Levine’s career has. But when a young woman is found lying in the snow, choked to death, her eyes gouged out, the disgraced detective is Cooper’s only hope for restoring peace and justice.

For Levine, still grieving and guilt-ridden over the death of his girlfriend, his so-called “transfer” from the big city to this grubby backwater has always felt like a punishment. And when his irascible new partner shoots their prime suspect using Levine’s gun, all hope of redemption is shattered. With the case in chaos, and both blackmail and a violent drug cartel to contend with, he finds himself in a world of trouble.

It gets worse. The real killer is still out there, and he’s got plans for Detective Levine. And Cooper may just be the perfect place to get away with murder.

I think I first heard about this novel through Tweets from either Abir Mukherjee or Vaseem Khan (possible both?). Sounds great, and hope to read it ASAP. Welcome to Cooper is out now, published by Thomas & Mercer in North America and in the UK.

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

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BaldacciD-AP4-MercyUSHCDavid Baldacci, MERCY (Grand Central)

FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s harrowing search for her long-lost sister Mercy reaches a boiling point…

For her entire life, FBI agent Atlee Pine has been searching for her twin sister, Mercy, who was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Mercy’s disappearance left behind a damaged family that later shattered beyond repair when Atlee’s parents inexplicably abandoned her.

Now, after a perilous investigation that nearly proved fatal, Atlee has finally discovered not only the reason behind her parents’ abandonment and Mercy’s kidnapping, but also the most promising breakthrough yet: proof that Mercy survived her abduction and then escaped her captors many years ago.

Though Atlee is tantalizingly close to her family at last, the final leg of her long road to Mercy will be the most treacherous yet. Mercy left at least one dead body behind before fleeing her captors years before. Atlee has no idea if her sister is still alive, and if so, how she has been surviving all this time. When the truth is finally revealed, Atlee Pine will face the greatest danger yet, and it may well cost her everything.

I have fallen so far behind on Baldacci’s novels. It’s a shame, because he’s one of my favourite thriller authors. I’ll have to make up for lost time and read all of the Atlee Pine novels — might make for a good binge-read over the winter months. Mercy is the fourth novel in the series, and is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (November 16th) and Pan Macmillan in the UK (November 25th).

Also on CR: Reviews of Stone Cold, The Whole Truth, Divine Justice, First Family, True Blue, Deliver Us From Evil, Hell’s Corner, Bullseye, The Innocent, The Hit, The Target, The Guilty, End Game, and Memory Man

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

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BreakwellJ-ChosenTwelveJames Breakwell, THE CHOSEN TWELVE (Solaris)

There are 22 candidates. There are 12 seats.

The last interstellar colony ship is down to its final batch of humans after the robots in charge unhelpfully deleted the rest. But rebooting a species and training them for the arduous task of colonisation isn’t easy – especially when the planet below is filled with monsters, the humans are more interested in asking questions than learning, and the robots are all programmed to kill each other.

But the fate of humanity rests on creating a new civilization on the planet below, and there are twelve seats on the lander. Will manipulation or loyalty save the day?

It took me a while to realize that Breakwell is “XplodingUnicorn”. More interested in reading this, now. The Chosen Twelve is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on January 18th, 2022.

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

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ClarkAP-TF1-UnderColorOfLawAaron Philip Clark, UNDER COLOR OF LAW (Thomas & Mercer)

The murder of a police recruit pins a black LAPD detective in a deadly web where race, corruption, violence, and cover-ups intersect in this relevant, razor-sharp novel of suspense.

Black rookie cop Trevor “Finn” Finnegan aspires to become a top-ranking officer in the Los Angeles Police Department and fix a broken department. A fast-track promotion to detective in the coveted Robbery-Homicide Division puts him closer to achieving his goal.

Four years later, calls for police accountability rule the headlines. The city is teeming with protests for racial justice. When the body of a murdered black academy recruit is found in the Angeles National Forest, Finn is tasked to investigate.

As pressure mounts to solve the crime and avoid a PR nightmare, Finn scours the underbelly of a volatile city where power, violence, and race intersect. But it’s Finn’s past experience as a beat cop that may hold the key to solving the recruit’s murder. The price? The end of Finn’s career… or his life.

This is the first novel in the Trevor Finnegan series. I’m always on the look-out for more crime fiction set in Los Angeles (not sure why, but it’s a perfect setting for the genre…). Under Color of Law is out now, published by Thomas & Mercer in North America and in the UK.

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

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ClintonPenny-StateOfTerrorUSHCHillary Clinton & Louise Penny, STATE OF TERROR (St. Martin’s Press)

After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.

There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.

As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.

Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.

What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.

As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.

To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.

Of course I was going to be interested in this. Pre-ordered it as soon as I could, and started it on the day of release. At the time of writing, I’m about a third in, and really enjoyed it. State of Terror is out now, published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, and Pan Macmillan in the UK.

Follow the Author (Clinton): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Penny): Website, Goodreads

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CooneyCSE-SD1-SaintDeathsDaughterC.S.E. Cooney, SAINT DEATH’S DAUGHTER (Solaris)

Life gets complicated when Death gets involved.

To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be… rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life.

To make matters worse, family debt looms – a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans…

This sounds like it could be a rather interesting new fantasy series. Saint Death’s Daughter is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on April 12th, 2022.

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

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deJagerM-CoS2-FireskyMark de Jager, FIRESKY (Solaris)

Relentless. Unstoppable. Dragon.

With his memory returning, Stratus finally knows who — and what — he is. He is a dragon, brought low by the hand of a dark magician known as the Worm King, separated from his true love, tortured for centuries and now trapped inside the body of a human.

But with the memories of his old life comes a return of his true magic, and with it, his true form is slowly returning.

And Stratus wants revenge. Bloody and relentless, he will fight his way through hordes of the undead to reach his archenemy, fighting not only for his own justice but for the whole of humanity…

The long-awaited second novel in de Jager’s Chronicles of Stratus series. Looking forward to reading this. Firesky is out now, published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark de Jager (2016)

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

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GrohlD-StorytellerUSHCDave Grohl, THE STORYTELLER (Dey Street/Simon & Schuster UK)

So, I’ve written a book.

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (“It’s a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!”) I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child. 

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement. 

Ever since Nevermind, and also the Foo Fighters (although, I was a little late to them for some reason — Learn to Fly was my first of their albums), I’ve been a fan of Dave Grohl’s work. I’ve also been impressed by his documentaries — the superb Sound City, for example, and also the Sonic Highway making-of docu-series (which I actually enjoy much more than the album). Anyway, I pre-ordered The Storyteller pretty much as soon as I could (in eBook and audio), and started it as soon as I got it. TL;DR version of my review: It’s excellent. The Storyteller is out now, published by Dey Street Books in North America, and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Instagram

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HawleyN-AnthemUSHCNoah Hawley, ANTHEM (Grand Central)

An epic literary thriller set where America is right now, in which a band of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest to save one innocent life — and might end up saving us all.

Something is happening to teenagers across America, spreading through memes only they can parse.

At the Float Anxiety Abatement Center, in a suburb of Chicago, Simon Oliver is trying to recover from his sister’s tragic passing. He breaks out to join a woman named Louise and a man called The Prophet on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Who lies at the end of the road? A man known as The Wizard, whose past encounter with Louise sparked her own collapse. Their quest becomes a rescue mission when they join up with a man whose sister is being held captive by the Wizard, impregnated and imprisoned in a tower.  

Noah Hawley’s new novel is an adventure that finds unquenchable lights in dark corners.  Unforgettably vivid characters and a plot as fast and bright as pop cinema blend in a Vonnegutian story that is as timeless as a Grimm’s fairy tale.  It is a leap into the idiosyncratic pulse of the American heart, written with the bravado, literary power, and feverish foresight that have made Hawley one of our most essential writers.

I’ve been a fan of Hawley’s fiction since his 2017 novel, Before the Fall, and I’ve eagerly sought out everything else he’s written. (Many of you may also know his work as the showrunner of FargoLegion, and others.) Really looking forward to reading this new novel, ASAP. Anthem is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing (North America) and Hodder & Stoughton (UK), on January 18th, 2022.

Also on CR: Review of Before the Fall

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

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JenG-ThankYouMrNixonUSHCGish Jen, THANK YOU, MR. NIXON (Knopf)

In her first collection of stories since the acclaimed Who’s Irish?, the beloved author of The Resisters refracts the fifty years since the opening of China through the lives of ordinary people.

Beginning with a cheery, kindly letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Gish Jen embarks on an eleven-story journey through U.S.-Chinese relations, capturing not only the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change, but the all-too-human encounters that ensue as East meets West.

Opal Chen reunites with her sisters in China after a hiatus of almost forty years; American Arnie Hsu clashes with his Chinese girlfriend, Lulu Koo, who wonders why Americans “like to walk around in the woods with the mosquitoes”; Tina and Johnson Koo take wholly surprising measures to reestablish contact when their “number one daughter,” Bobby, stops answering her phone in New York; and Betty Koo, brought up on “no politics, just make money,” finds she must square her mother’s philosophy with the repression in Hong Kong.

With their profound compassion, equally profound humor, and unexpected connections, these masterly stories reflect history’s shifting shadow over our boldest decisions and most intimate moments. Gradually accruing the power of a novel as it proceeds, Thank You, Mr. Nixon furnishes yet more proof of Jen’s enduring place among the most eminent of American storytellers.

As someone who has studied US-China relations for a very long time, now (so very long, it feels like), the synopsis for Gish Jen’s novel really caught my attention. I’ve not read anything by the author before, but I’m really looking forward to reading this. Thank You, Mr. Nixon is due to be published by Knopf in North America, on January 25th, 2022.

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

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leCarreJ-SilverviewUSHCJohn le Carré, SILVERVIEW (Penguin)

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the city for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.

When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea…

Silverview is the mesmerizing story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In his inimitable voice John le Carré, the greatest chronicler of our age, seeks to answer the question of what we truly owe to the people we love.

The posthumously-released final novel from John le Carré. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since it was announced. It’s quite a short novel, so I’ll slot it in between longer reads over the next couple of weeks. Silverview is out now, published by Viking in the US, Canada, and in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of The Pigeon Tunnel (audio)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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LiGD-PortraitOfAThiefUSHCGrace D. Li, PORTRAIT OF A THIEF (Tiny Reparations Books)

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.

Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son that has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a shadowy Chinese corporation reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A conman: Irene Chen, Will’s sister and a public policy major at Duke, who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering student who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars–and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

This has been described as “Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief“, and I’m a sucker for a good heist novel. Hope to read it very soon. Portrait of a Thief is due to be published by Tiny Reparations Books in North America (April 5th) and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK (April 14th)

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

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MandelESJ-SeaOfTranquilityUSHCEmily St. John Mandel, SEA OF TRANQUILITY (Knopf)

A novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.

The latest novel from the author of Station Eleven (which I very much enjoyed) and The Glass Hotel (which I found less compelling). Really looking forward to reading this — I likely will soon, but will hold off on the review (maybe). Sea of Tranquility is due to be published by Knopf in the US (April 19th), Harper Collins in Canada (April 19th), and Picador in the UK (April 28th).

Also on CR: Reviews of The Last Night in Montreal and Station Eleven

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

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OffermanN-WhereTheDearAndTheAntelopePlayUSHCNick Offerman, WHERE THE DEAR AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY (Dutton)

A humorous and rousing set of literal and figurative sojourns as well as a mission statement about comprehending, protecting, and truly experiencing the outdoors, fueled by three journeys undertaken by actor, humorist, and New York Times best-selling author Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman has always felt a particular affection for the Land of the Free — not just for the people and their purported ideals but to the actual land itself: the bedrock, the topsoil, and everything in between that generates the health of your local watershed. In his new book, Nick takes a humorous, inspiring, and elucidating trip to America’s trails, farms, and frontier to examine the people who inhabit the land, what that has meant to them and us, and to the land itself, both historically and currently.  

In 2018, Wendell Berry posed a question to Nick, a query that planted the seed of this book, sending Nick on two memorable journeys with pals — a hiking trip to Glacier National Park with his friends Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders, as well as an extended visit to his friend James Rebanks, the author of The Shepherd’s Life and English Pastoral. He followed that up with an excursion that could only have come about in 2020 – Nick and his wife, Megan Mullally, bought an Airstream trailer to drive across (several of) the United States. These three quests inspired some “deep-ish” thinking from Nick, about the history and philosophy of our relationship with nature in our national parks, in our farming, and in our backyards; what we mean when we talk about conservation; and the importance of outdoor recreation, all subjects very close to Nick’s heart. 

With witty, heartwarming stories and a keen insight into the human problems we all confront, this is both a ramble through and celebration of the land we all love.

I’ve been a proper fan of Offerman’s ever since I started watching Parks & Recreation. (Although, I do remember him having a very good, small performance in an episode of The West Wing, and I’ve since noticed other instances when I’ve seen him in other projects — Ron Swanson, however, is when I really started to notice and love his work.) I’ve since listened to the audiobook editions of each of his books, and when I learned this one was on the way, it was an automatic pre-order. Where the Dear and the Antelope Play is out now, published by Dutton in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of Paddle Your Own Canoe (audio)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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ParkerKJ-3-APracticalGuideToConqueringTheWorldK.J. Parker, A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO CONQUERING THE WORLD (Orbit)

This is the true story of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, the intended and unintended consequences of his life, the bad stuff he did on purpose, and the good stuff that happened in spite of him.

It is, in other words, the tale of a war to end all wars, and the man responsible.

This is the third novel in Parker’s The Siege series, albeit one that can be read as a stand-alone. I’m a big fan of Parker’s shorter fiction (short stories and, especially, his novellas). I haven’t managed to get around to these novels, yet, but I really want to get caught up ASAP. Perhaps another plan for the upcoming, dark-and-gloomy winter months? A Practical Guide to Conquering the World is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on January 11th, 2022.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, My Beautiful Life, Prosper’s Demon, Academic Exercises, The Big Score

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

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PentlandJ-ThisWillBeFunnyLaterUSJenny Pentland, THIS WILL BE FUNNY LATER (Harper)

A funny, biting, and entertaining memoir of coming of age in the shadow of celebrity and finding your own way in the face of absolute chaos that is both a moving portrait of a complicated family and an exploration of the cost of fame.

Growing up, Jenny Pentland’s life was a literal sitcom. Many of the storylines for her mother’s smash hit series, Roseanne, were drawn from Pentland’s early family life in working-class Denver. But that was only the beginning of the drama. Roseanne Barr’s success as a comedian catapulted the family from the Rockies to star-studded Hollywood — with its toxic culture of money, celebrity, and prying tabloids that was destabilizing for a child in grade school. 

By adolescence, Jenny struggled with anxiety and eating issues. Her parents and new stepfather, struggling to help, responded by sending Jenny and her siblings on a grand tour of the self-help movement of the ’80s — from fat camps to brat camps, wilderness survival programs to drug rehab clinics (even though Jenny didn’t take drugs). Becoming an adult, all Jenny wanted was to get married and have kids, despite Roseanne’s admonishments not to limit herself to being just a wife and mother. 

In this scathingly funny and moving memoir, Pentland reveals what it’s like to grow up as the daughter of a television star and how she navigated the turmoil, eventually finding her own path. Now happily married and raising five sons on a farm, Pentland has worked tirelessly to create the stable family she never had, while coming to terms at last with her deep-seated anxiety. 

This Will Be Funny Later is a darkly funny and frank chronicle of transition, from childhood to adulthood and motherhood — one woman’s journey to define herself and create the life she always wanted. 

I’m trying to remember where I first heard of this memoir, but it’s escaping me. I then saw it available for review, and decided to give it a try. This Will Be Funny Later is due to be published by Harper in North America and in the UK, on January 18th, 2022.

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

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PippenS-UnguardedUSHCScottie Pippen w. Michael Arkush, UNGUARDED (Simon & Schuster)

An unflinching memoir from the six-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Hall of Famer — revealing how Scottie Pippen, the youngest of twelve, overcame two family tragedies and universal disregard by college scouts to become an essential component of the greatest basketball dynasty of the last fifty years.

Scottie Pippen has been called one of the greatest NBA players for good reason.

Simply put, without Pippen, there are no championship banners — let alone six — hanging from the United Center rafters. There’s no Last Dance documentary. There’s no “Michael Jordan” as we know him. The 1990s Chicago Bulls teams would not exist as we know them.

So how did the youngest of twelve go from growing up poor in the small town of Hamburg, Arkansas, enduring two family tragedies along the way, to become a revered NBA legend? How did the scrawny teen, overlooked by every major collegiate basketball program, go on to become the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft? And, perhaps most compelling, how did Pippen set aside his ego (and his own limitless professional ceiling) in order for the Bulls to become the most dominant basketball dynasty of the last half century?

In Unguarded, the six-time champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist finally opens up to offer pointed and transparent takes on Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Dennis Rodman, among others. Pippen details how he cringed at being labeled Jordan’s sidekick, and discusses how he could have (and should have) received more respect from the Bulls’ management and the media.

Pippen reveals never-before-told stories about some of the most famous games in league history, including the 1994 playoff game against the New York Knicks when he took himself out with 1.8 seconds to go. He discusses what it was like dealing with Jordan on a day-to-day basis, while serving as the facilitator for the offense and the anchor for the defense.

On the 30th anniversary of the Bulls’ first championship, Pippen is finally giving millions of adoring basketball fans what they crave; a raw, unvarnished look into his life, and role within one of the greatest, most popular teams of all time.

Another new book in what seems to be a growing library of recent NBA titles. I’m certainly enjoying the opportunity to read about these players, and various periods of basketball history. Given the amount of attention Pippen’s team-mate received, it’ll be interesting and welcome to read the story from his perspective. I’ll read this very soon. Unguarded is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in the US and Canada, on November 9th.

Follow the Author (Pippen): Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Arkush): Goodreads
Review copy received from publisher

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RyanK-AudacityUKHCKatherine Ryan, THE AUDACITY (Blink Publishing)

‘I’ve come to accept that being audacious is a gift I can’t escape.’

People ‘know’ my on-stage comedy persona or my scripted ballsy characters and wrongly assume that at home, I must stomp around all day in designer dresses eviscerating those who dare to cross my path and denouncing the existence of men in general. But mostly, I’m just sat eating pickles and being nice to some dogs.

Whatever strangers think of me is fine with me. How audacious is that? I can always take a joke, I don’t waste time worrying about things I can’t control, and I have zero anxiety. I embrace the reality that you just can’t please everyone, so you might as well put yourself out there and have a laugh. As my mother always said, ‘Katherine, if we all liked the same thing, we’d all be married to your father’.

I’m often asked how I developed my lurid level of courage and assurance and for tips on how others can match. The Audacity is my chance to share my blueprint for just that. You will learn:

How to Become The Most Popular Girl in School
How to Waste All Your Money on Designer Dogs
How to Attract Toxic Men… AND Keep Them Interested!

And so much more… Plus, secrets! Secrets are my favourite things to be told and I figured I’d better tell a few juicy ones myself. Why not? No matter what I do, there will always be something about me that reads as simply, outrageously audacious. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve seen Ryan as a guest on many of the UK’s panel shows, but have never seen any of her stand-up. Not sure how this happened. Anyway, I decided to use one of my Audible credits on the memoir, and hope to read/listen to it very soon. The Audacity is out now, published by Blink Publishing (UK) and Doubleday (Canada).

Follow the Author: Podcast, Goodreads, Twitter

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SeboldG-BS1-BadGods2022Gaie Sebold, BAD GODS (Solaris)

All Tastes! • All Species! • All Currencies!

You can find anything in Scalentine, the city of portals, but you won’t find a better brothel than the Red Lantern. And its proprietor, Babylon Steel (ex-mercenary, ex-priestess, ex… lots of things), means to keep it that way.

But a prurient cult are protesting in the streets, sex workers are disappearing, and Babylon has bills to pay. When the powerful Diplomatic Section hires her – off the books – to find a missing heiress, she has to take the job.

And then her past starts to catch up with her…

This is the re-issue edition of Sebold’s first Babylon Steel novel (it was also originally called Babylon Steel). I read it when it first came out (back in 2012), and very much enjoyed it. Bad Gods is due to be (re)published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on January 4th, 2022.

Also on CR: Interviews with Gaie Sebold — 2012 and 2016; Review of Babylon Steel

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

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TchaikovskyA-OgresAdrian Tchaikovsky, OGRES (Solaris)

Ogres are bigger than you.
Ogres are stronger than you.
Ogres rule the world.

It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.

Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.

But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.

A new Solaris novella from Tchaikovsky! The author has proven himself to be adept at both longer and short(ish) SFF, and those of his novellas that have been published by Solaris have so far been great (One Day All This Will Be Yours, is especially excellent). Ogres is due to be published by Solaris Books in the UK on March 15th.

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

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WraightC-HHSoT5-WarhawkChris Wraight, WARHAWK (Black Library)

The Inner Walls are breached. Traitor vanguards tear towards the heart of the Palace, sensing victory. Desperate gambits are attempted: an unwilling saint is released into the ruins, as well as an enthusiastic sinner. A black sword rises, forged from spite, ready to create a legend.

But amid the slaughter, Jaghatai Khan, Warhawk of Chogoris, prepares to launch the most audacious strike of the conflict. His goal is nothing less than the liberation of the Lion’s Gate space port. Cut off from any help, he stakes everything on one desperate counter-offensive, launched against an old enemy who has been made far greater than he ever was before.

As the White Scars ride out against the newly crowned lords of life and death, they know that defeat for them dooms not only the Legion, but Terra itself.

The penultimate novel in the Siege of Terra series. It’s been a long road and interesting road, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they bring it all together. Warhawk is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Chris Wraight (2011); Reviews of Brotherhood of the Storm, The Path of Heaven, Valdor

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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