New Books (November-December)

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Another bumper crop of interesting titles — many of which are due out in May 2022, which is shaping up to be a very good-looking book month! Any of these catch your attention, or already on your most-anticipated lists?

Featuring: Daniel Abraham, Samit Basu, Brian Baumgartner, Holly Black, Mike Brooks, Louise Candlish, Dave Eggers, John M. Ford, Max Gladstone, Garrett M. Graff, David Guterson, Saad Z. Hossain, Liska Jacobs, Catherine McKenzie, Leila Mottley, Chris Pavone, Christopher Rowe, John Scalzi, Peng Shepherd, Tara Sim, Matthew Specktor, Nghi Vo, Don Winslow, Olivia Yallop

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AbrahamD-K1-AgeOfAshDaniel Abraham, AGE OF ASH (Orbit)

Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.

This is Alys’s.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why. But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

This is the first novel in a new fantasy series from Abraham — the author of the superb The Long Price and The Dagger & the Coin fantasy series, and co-author of the Expanse series. This is described as an “epic fantasy trilogy that unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year, where every story matters, and the fate of the city is woven from them all” — I am very much intrigued. I’ll be reading this very soon. Age of Ash is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on February 15th, 2022.

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

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BasuS-CityInsideSamit Basu, THE CITY INSIDE (Tor.com)

“They’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities — who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture-power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family who fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors’ lives. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not — cannot — take the same shape for these two very different people.

It’s been quite a while since I last read something by Basu (2010’s Turbulence). The City Inside is due to be published by Tor.com on June 7th, 2022. (I couldn’t find a listing for the UK, but I assume Tor.com will be publishing there, too.)

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

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BaumgartnerB-WelcomeToDunderMifflinUSHCBrian Baumgartner & Ben Silverman, WELCOME TO DUNDER MIFFLIN (Custom House)

Join the entire Dunder Mifflin gang on a journey back to Scranton: here’s the hilarious and improbable inside story behind the beloved series.

Based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with the cast and creators and illustrated with 100 behind-the-scenes photographs, here, at last, is the untold inside story of The Office, featuring a foreword by Greg Daniels, who adapted the series for the U.S. and was its guiding creative force, and narrated by star Brian Baumgartner (aka “Kevin Malone”) and executive producer Ben Silverman..

In Welcome to Dunder Mifflin, the entire Office gang reunite after nearly a decade to share their favorite untold stories, spill secrets, and reveal how a little show that barely survived its first season became the most watched series in the universe. This ultimate fan companion pulls back the curtain as never before on all the absurdity, genius, love, passion, and dumb luck that went into creating America’s beloved The Office.

Featuring the memories of Steve Carell, John Krasinkski, Jenna Fischer, Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, Rainn Wilson, Angela Kinsey, Craig Robinson, Brian Baumgartner, Phyllis Smith, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, Oscar Nunez, Amy Ryan, Ellie Kemper, Creed Bratton, Paul Lieberstein, Ben Silverman, Mike Schur, and many more.

We finished a re-watch of The Office this past week, and it made me really want to read this. I’ve already one oral history of the series (), and there’s yet another on the way (Jenna Fisher & ??’s Office Ladies). Baumgartner (who plays Kevin in the show) was able to interview his cast-mates and others (some for this podcast), which means he should have plenty of new material — something that was missing from the other oral history I’ve read. Looking forward to working my way through this between other reads over the next couple weeks. Welcome to Dunder Mifflin is out now, published by Custom House in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Podcast, Goodreads, Twitter

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BlackH-BookOfNightUSHCHolly Black, BOOK OF NIGHT (Tor Books)

Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make. She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie.

Now, she’s trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but going straight isn’t easy. Bartending at a dive, she’s still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that her shadowless and possibly soulless boyfriend has been keeping secrets from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends back into a maelstrom of murder and lies. Determined to survive, she’s up against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, gloamists, and the people she loves best in the world — all trying to steal a secret that will allow them control of the shadow world and more.

I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I saw that it had been announced. It’s been pitched/described as “a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies in the vein of Ninth House and The Night Circus“, which sounds great. Will read hopefully soon. Book of Night is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and Penguin in the UK, on May 3rd, 2022.

Also on CR: Review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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

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BrooksM-WH40k-DaGobbosRevengeMike Brooks, DA GOBBO’S REVENGE (Black Library)

An origin story unlike any other, Da Gobbo’s Revenge plumbs the very depths of the ork psyche to show you just what happens when you kick the wrong grot one too many times.

Fingwit is a grot.

Food, riches, prestige, some form of personal safety – all of these are alien concepts to him, stuck firmly as he is at the bottom of the high, kunnin’, and brutally violent heap that constitutes ork society, where to be a grot is to suffer endless torment.

However, when the Mek whom Fingwit unwillingly serves leads him and his fellow grots in a boarding action of an Imperial vessel as part of a vast void war, Fingwit is presented with an opportunity to become not just a hero but a legend… Da Red Gobbo.

New novella, starring one of the diminutive heroes of the grimdark future. I’ve already read it, and I quite enjoyed it. I tend not to have the highest tolerance for a lot of ork-speak, so I was a little apprehensive about this book — however, Brooks manages to pull it off expertly, and it’s a fun, mad action tale. (If you’re after more green skin goodness from Brooks, give Brutal Kunnin’ a try.) Da Red Gobbo is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Mike Brooks (2015)

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

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CandlishL-HeightsUSHCLouise Candlish, THE HEIGHTS (Atria)

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there — a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.

But that can’t be because he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

I spotted this a while ago, and thought it sounded interesting. The publisher reached out and offered it for review, so I jumped at the chance. The Heights is due to be published by Atria Books in North America, on March 1st; it is out now in the UK, published by Simon & Schuster.

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

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EggersD-EveryUSHCDave Eggers, THE EVERY (Vintage)

When the world’s largest search engine/social media company, the Circle, merges with the planet’s dominant ecommerce site, it creates the richest and most dangerous — and, oddly enough, most beloved — monopoly ever known: the Every.

Delaney Wells is an unlikely new hire at the Every. A former forest ranger and unwavering tech skeptic, she charms her way into an entry-level job with one goal in mind: to take down the company from within. With her compatriot, the not-at-all-ambitious Wes Makazian, they look for the Every’s weaknesses, hoping to free humanity from all-encompassing surveillance and the emoji-driven infantilization of the species. But does anyone want what Delaney is fighting to save? Does humanity truly want to be free?

Studded with unforgettable characters, outrageous outfits, and lacerating set-pieces, this companion to The Circle blends absurdity and terror, satire and suspense, while keeping the reader in apprehensive excitement about the fate of the company — and the human animal.

This is the follow-up to Eggers’s best-selling The Circle, which I rather enjoyed. Sure, it was a bit heavy-handed, but a lot has happened in the social media world since it came out, and I’m intrigued to see what the author’s come up with this time. The Every is out now, published by Vintage in North America and Hamish Hamilton in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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FordJM-AspectsUSHCJohn M. Ford, ASPECTS (Tor Books)

Enter the halls of Parliament with Varic, Coron of the Corvaric Coast.

Visit Strange House with the Archmage Birch.

Explore the mountains of Lady Longlight alongside the Palion Silvern, Sorcerer.

In the years before his unexpected death, John M. Ford wrote a novel of fantasy and magic unlike any other. Politics and abdicated kings, swords and sorcerous machine guns, divination and ancient empires — finally, Aspects is here.

This is Ford’s final novel. I’ve never read any of his work, but I’m really looking forward to reading his — he is praised pretty widely, and by many authors whose work I’ve enjoyed. Looking forward to it (I also have The Scholars of Night, which I hope to get to soon, too.) Aspects is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (April 5th) and Gollancz in the UK (April 7th).

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

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GladstoneM-LastExitUSMax Gladstone, LAST EXIT (Tor)

Ten years ago, Zelda led a band of merry adventurers whose knacks let them travel to alternate realities and battle the black rot that threatened to unmake each world. Zelda was the warrior; Ish could locate people anywhere; Ramon always knew what path to take; Sarah could turn catastrophe aside. Keeping them all connected: Sal, Zelda’s lover and the group’s heart.

Until their final, failed mission, when Sal was lost. When they all fell apart.

Ten years on, Ish, Ramon, and Sarah are happy and successful. Zelda is alone, always traveling, destroying rot throughout the US.

When it boils through the crack in the Liberty Bell, the rot gives Zelda proof that Sal is alive, trapped somewhere in the alts.

Zelda’s getting the band back together — plus Sal’s young cousin June, who has a knack none of them have ever seen before.

As relationships rekindle, the friends begin to believe they can find Sal and heal all the worlds. It’s not going to be easy, but they’ve faced worse before.

But things have changed, out there in the alts. And in everyone’s hearts.

This has been described as “American Gods meets The Dark Tower”, which is an intriguing premise. Despite owning quite a number of them, I still haven’t read many of Gladstone’s books. No idea why I keep forgetting to. Hopefully I’ll break that pattern with this one. Last Exit is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (February 22nd) and Titan Books in the UK (May 3rd).

Also on CR: Interview with Max Gladstone & Amal el-Mohtar (2019)

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

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GraffGM-WatergateUSHCGarrett M. Graff, WATERGATE (Avid Reader Press)

The first definitive narrative history of Watergate, exploring the full scope of the scandal through the politicians, investigators, journalists, and informants who made it the most influential political event of our modern era.

In the early hours of June 17, 1972, a security guard named Frank Wills entered six words into the log book of the Watergate office complex that would change the course of history: 1:47 AM Found tape on doors; call police.

The five ​men — Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Baker, James McCord, Eugenio Martinez, and Frank Sturgis — arrested and charged with attempted burglary that night kicked off the biggest scandal in American politics. Over the next two years, that single thwarted break-in would lead to dozens more arrests, an alleged kidnapping, FBI and congressional investigations, a Senate hearing, and bombshell testimonies from the highest levels of political power that ultimately would reveal a cover-up, sink a vice-president and a half-dozen Cabinet officials, lead to the jailing of an FBI director, end a presidency, and alter our views of moral authority and leadership. Watergate defined a decade, and a nation.

And yet, recent revelations like the release of more Nixon tapes and the identity of “Deep Throat” himself, means that the full story has never been told from start to finish.

Now, in Watergate, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Garrett M. Graff explores the full sweep of the scandal that would come to define all others, from the release of The Pentagon Papers in 1971 — the first signs of trouble for the White House — and the 1972 DNC break-in to the denials, trials, hearings, and eventual downfall of the Nixon Administration three years later—the implications of which we still feel today. Watergate, Graff shows, is a much bigger and much weirder story than America remembers. Along the way, he introduces a vibrant cast of characters, including the psychologically tortured President and his doomed inner circle, special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski, the Congressional committees led by Sam Ervin and Peter Rodino, groundbreaking reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and Mark Felt, an Associate Director of the FBI who would conceal his identity for decades behind the name “Deep Throat,” as well a host of others whose involvement has been forgotten — from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to a young impeachment aide named Hillary Rodham.

Grippingly told, meticulously researched, and featuring new details and never-told stories, Watergate is the defining, behind-the-scenes look at the era that upended the course of American politics — and life — as we knew it.

Thought this could be interesting, so requested a review copy. Hopefully get to it very soon. Watergate is due to be published by Avid Reader Press in North America and in the UK, on February 15th, 2022.

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

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GutersonD-FinalCaseUSHCDavid Guterson, THE FINAL CASE (Knopf)

A moving father-son story that is also a taut courtroom drama and a bold examination of privilege, power, and how to live a meaningful life.

A girl dies one late, rainy night a few feet from the back door of her home. The girl, Abeba, was born in Ethiopia. Her adoptive parents, Delvin and Betsy Harvey — conservative, white fundamentalist Christians — are charged with her murder.

Royal, a Seattle criminal attorney in the last days of his long career, takes Betsy Harvey’s case. An octogenarian without a driver’s license, he leans on his son — the novel’s narrator — as he prepares for trial.

So begins The Final Case, a bracing, astute, and deeply affecting examination of justice and injustice — and familial love. David Guterson’s first courtroom drama since Snow Falling on Cedars, it is his most compelling and heartfelt novel to date.

The synopsis caught my attention, and partly because I realized it’s been a while since I read a legal thriller that wasn’t by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller making anxiety-inducing decisions all over the place)… Looking forward to reading this soon. The Final Case is due to be published by Knopf in North America, on January 11th, 2022.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HossainSZ-K2-KundoWakesUpSaad Z. Hossain, KUNDO WAKES UP (Tor.com)

Hundreds of miles away from the techno-utopia of Kathmandu, the all-powerful, all-seeing AI known as Karma has gone silent, leaving the dying city of Chittagong — along with all its remaining residents — to continue its inexorable fall into the sea.

Kundo, once a famous artist with the Karma points to prove it, goes searching for his missing wife, only to uncover more inexplicable disapperances. And so Kundo and a group of motley companions embark on a tumultuous journey through an overwhelming maze made up of Chittagong’s neighborhoods, the hidden backrooms of video game parlors, and the depths of cyberspace, culminating in the realm of the djinn themselves, in search of love, redemption, and a good meal.

I really enjoyed Hossain’s The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, and I’ve been looking forward to this follow-up, companion novella ever since it was announced. Kundo Wakes Up is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on March 15th, 2022.

Also on CR: Review of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

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

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JacobsL-PinkHotelUSHCLiska Jacobs, THE PINK HOTEL (MCD)

Confined to an opulent Beverly Hills hotel during a raging wildfire, a young couple is caught in the escalating tension between the wealthy guests and the staff, in Liska Jacobs’s blistering, dark social satire, The Pink Hotel.

Newlyweds Keith and Kit Collins can hardly believe their luck when the general manager of the iconic, opulent Pink Hotel invites them to come for a luxurious stay as a bid to hire Keith. Kit loves their small-town life, but Keith has always wanted more, and the glittering, lily-scented lobby makes him feel right at home.

Soon after their arrival, wildfires sweep through the surrounding mountains and Los Angeles becomes a pressure cooker, with riots breaking out across the city amid rolling blackouts. The Pink Hotel closes its doors to “outsiders,” and Keith and Kit find themselves confined with an anxious, disgruntled staff and a growing roster of eccentric, ultra-wealthy, dangerously idle guests who flock to the hotel for sanctuary, company, and entertainment.

The Pink Hotel exposes a tenuous class system within its walls, full of insurmountable expectations and unspoken resentments, which deteriorate as the city burns. In her barbed, provocative new novel, Liska Jacobs explores the corrosive nature of greed and interrogates the notion of true love, while hurtling readers toward certain disaster.

Thought this sounded interesting, and I was lucky enough to get a digital review copy. I’ll be reading this very soon, but I’ll hold off on a review until closer to publication. The Pink Hotel is due to be published by MCD in North America and in the UK, on July 19th, 2022.

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

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LodgeD-CampusTrilogyUKPBDavid Lodge, CAMPUS TRILOGY (Vintage)

The plot lines of The Campus Trilogy, radiating from its hub at the redbrick University of Rummidge, trace the comic adventures of academics who move outside familiar territory.

Beginning in the late 60s Changing Places follows the undistinguished English lecturer Philip Swallow and hotshot American professor Morris Zapp as they exchange jobs, habitats and eventually wives.

Small World sees Swallow, Zapp, Persse McGarrigle and the beautiful Angelica Pabst jet-set about the international conference scene, combining academic infighting and tourism, esoteric chat and romance.

And finally, the feminist lecturer Robyn Penrose swaps the industrial novel for a hard hat in Nice Work as she shadows the factory boss Victor Wilcox. Sparks fly when their beliefs and lifestyles collide.

So, not a new book, but one I’ve been encouraged to read recently. A bunch of us from the history department have been getting together for drinks and complaining about the world, and this came up as a must-read for anyone who’s ever worked in academia (probably also good for anyone who’s been a postgrad). Looking forward to reading it soon. The Campus Trilogy is out now, published by Penguin in North America and Vintage in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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MathewsL-ShakyTownUSHCLou Mathews, SHAKY TOWN (Tiger Van Books)

In Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has written a timeless novel of working-class Los Angeles. A former mechanic and street racer, he tells his story in cool and panoramic style, weaving together the tragedies and glories of one of L.A.’s eastside neighborhoods. From a teenage girl caught in the middle of a gang war to a priest who has lost his faith and hit bottom, the characters in Shaky Town live on a dangerous faultline but remain unshakable in their connections to one another.

Like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Katherine Ann Porter’s Ship of Fools, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, and Pat Barker’s Union Street, Shaky Town is the story of complicated, conflicted, and disparate characters bound together by place.

I only discovered Lou Mathews at the beginning of December, after spotting a profile of the author in the L. A. Times. This is the only one of his books I could find easily (he only has one other novel, 1999’s L.A. Breakdown), so thought I’d give it a try. Shaky Town is out now, published by Tiger Van Books in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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McKenzieC-PleaseJoinUsUSHCCatherine McKenzie COME JOIN US (Atria Books)

At thirty-nine, Nicole Muller’s life is on the rocks. Her once brilliant law career is falling apart. She and her husband, Dan, are soon to be forced out of the apartment they love. After a warning from her firm’s senior partners, she receives an invitation from an exclusive women’s networking group, Panthera Leo. Membership is anonymous, but every member is a successful professional. It sounds like the perfect solution to help Nicole revive her career. So, despite Dan’s concerns that the group might be a cult, Nicole signs up for their retreat in Colorado.

Once there, she meets the other women who will make up her Pride. A CEO, an actress, a finance whiz, a congresswoman: Nicole can’t believe her luck. The founders of Panthera Leo are equally as impressive. They explain the group’s core philosophy: they’re a girl’s club in a boy’s club world.

Nicole is all in. And when she gets home, she soon sees dividends. Her new network quickly provides her with clients that help her relaunch her career, and a great new apartment too. The favors she has to provide in return seem benign. But then she’s called to the congresswoman’s apartment late at night where she’s pressed into helping her cover up a crime. And suddenly, Dan’s concerns that something more sinister is at play seem all too relevant. Can Nicole extricate herself from the group before it’s too late? Or will joining Panthera Leo be the biggest mistake of her life?

When I first spotted this, the synopsis gave me some similar vibes to Andrea Bartz’s The Herd, which I very much enjoyed. Looking forward to reading this very soon. Please Join Us is due to be published by Atria Books in North America and in the UK, on May 24th.

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

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MottleyL-NightcrawlingUSHCLeila Mottley, NIGHTCRAWLING (Knopf)

A dazzling, unforgettable novel about a young black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system — a debut that announces a blazingly original voice.

Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are barely scraping by in a squalid East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent — which has more than doubled — and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed.

One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. And her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

This debut novel got quite a bit of buzz when the covers were unveiled, and it’s premise caught my attention. Luckily, I was able to get a review copy, which I’ll be reading as soon as I can. Nightcrawling is due to be published by Knopf in North America and Bloomsbury in the UK, on May 24th, 2022.

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

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PavoneC-TwoNightsInLisonUSHCChris Pavone, TWO NIGHTS IN LISBON (MCD)

You think you know a person…

Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone — no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new — much younger — husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

Tautly wound and expertly crafted, Two Nights in Lisbon is a riveting thriller about a woman under pressure, and how far she will go when everything is on the line. With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.

I haven’t read many of Pavone’s novels, but I’ve bought them all. What I have read, I’ve really enjoyed though, so I’m really looking forward to reading this very soon. Two Nights in Lisbon is due to be published by MCD in North America, on May 24th, 2022. (His other novels are published in the UK by Faber, but couldn’t find any info regarding this one.)

Also on CR: Review of The Accident

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

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RoweC-PrisoningHillsChristopher Rowe, THESE PRISONING HILLS (Tor.com)

Deallocate all implications,
Fortran harrows all the nations.

In a long-ago war, the all-powerful A.I. ruler of the Voluntary State of Tennessee — Athena Parthenus, Queen of Reason — invaded and decimated the American Southeast. Possessing the ability to infect and corrupt the surrounding environment with nanotechnology, she transformed flora, fauna, and the very ground itself into bio-mechanical weapons of war.

Marcia, a former captain from Kentucky, experienced first-hand the terrifying, mind-twisting capabilities of Athena’s creatures. Now back in the Commonwealth, her retirement is cut short by the arrival of federal troops in her tiny, isolated town. One of Athena’s most powerful weapons may still be buried nearby. And they need Marcia’s help to find it.

This sounded rather interesting, and that great cover also caught my attention. I read this pretty soon after getting it, and enjoyed it — it’s quite short, and Rowe does a very good job of just throwing the reader into the story and not getting bogged down in too much world-building or scene-setting. I liked it, and would be interested in reading more by the author. These Prisoning Hills is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 31st, 2022.

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

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ScalziJ-KaijuPreservationSocietyUSHCJohn Scalzi, THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY (Tor)

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society whose found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

This new standalone novel sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun. Hopefully reading it soon, but will hold off on the review until a little closer to release date. Maybe. The Kaiju Preservation Society is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (March 15th) and in the UK (March 17th).

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

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Peng Shepherd, THE CARTOGRAPHERS (William Morrow)

ShepherdP-CartographersUSHC

A thriller about a young woman who discovers that a strange map in her deceased father’s belongings holds an incredible, deadly secret — one that will lead her on an extraordinary adventure and to the truth about her family’s dark history.

What is the purpose of a map? 

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field, and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable, and also exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence… because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one — along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps…

This sounds really interesting. Love a good biblio-mystery. Looking forward to reading this ASAP. The Cartographers is due to be published by William Morrow in North America (March 15th) and Orion Books in the UK (March 17th).

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

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SimR-CityOfDuskTara Sim, THE CITY OF DUSK (Orbit)

The first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses — each gifted with a divine power — as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.

The Four Realms — Life, Death, Light, and Darkness — all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs — Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light — will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

The first novel in the new Dark Gods series. Thought it sounded rather interesting (and I’m a sucker for a book with a goth-y cover…) The City of Dusk is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on March 22nd, 2022.

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

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SpecktorM-AlwaysCrashingInTheSameCarUSMatthew Specktor, ALWAYS CRASHING IN THE SAME CAR (Tin House Books)

In 2006, Matthew Specktor moved into a crumbling Los Angeles apartment opposite the one in which F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the last moments of his life. Fitz had been Specktor’s first literary idol, someone whose own passage through Hollywood had, allegedly, broken him. Freshly divorced, professionally flailing, and reeling from his mother’s cancer diagnosis, Specktor was feeling unmoored. But rather than giving in or “cracking up,” he embarked on an obsessive journey to make sense of the mythologies of “success” and “failure” that haunt the artist’s life and the American imagination.

Part memoir, part cultural history, part portrait of place, Always Crashing in the Same Car explores Hollywood through a certain kind of collapse. It’s a vibrant and intimate inspection of failure told through the lives of iconic, if under-sung, artists — Carole Eastman, Eleanor Perry, Warren Zevon, Tuesday Weld, and Hal Ashby, among others — and the author’s own family history. Through this constellation of Hollywood figures, he unearths a fascinating alternate history of the city that raised him and explores the ways in which curtailed ambition, insufficiency, and loss shape all our lives.

At once deeply personal and broadly erudite, it is a story of an art form (the movies), a city (Los Angeles), and one person’s attempt to create meaning out of both. Above all, Specktor creates a moving search for optimism alongside the inevitability of failure and reveals the still-resonant power of art to help us navigate the beautiful ruins that await us all.

I first came across Specktor’s name and work with 2013’s American Dream Machine. It’s a novel I really want to read; but, whenever I’ve picked it up, I’ve not been in the mood for it. This non-fiction work — a blend of memoir and lesser-known Hollywood history — caught and grabbed my attention when I picked it up. It takes an interesting, measured-yet-generous look at a handful of writers whose lives and work took them to Hollywood — long term or just briefly. Some of these names you might be familiar with, but many perhaps not. (I knew of only two.) They all, however, left their mark on Hollywood in the 1970s and 1980s, and worked with many of the biggest stars. (Jack Nicholson, in particular.) I really enjoyed this. Always Crashing in the Same Car is out now, published by Tin House Books in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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VoN-SirenQueenNghi Vo, SIREN QUEEN (Tor.com)

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill — but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes — even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

I’m always on the look-out for new Hollywood fiction, and this one really caught my attention. (I’ve also enjoyed some of Vo’s previous work.) I’ll be reading this very soon. Siren Queen is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 10th, 2022.

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

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WinslowD-1-CityOnFireUSHCDon Winslow, CITY ON FIRE (William Morrow)

Two criminal empires together control all of New England.

Until a beautiful modern-day Helen of Troy comes between the Irish and the Italians, launching a war that will see them kill each other, destroy an alliance, and set a city on fire.

Danny Ryan yearns for a more “legit” life and a place in the sun. But as the bloody conflict stacks body on body and brother turns against brother, Danny has to rise above himself. To save the friends he loves like family and the family he has sworn to protect, he becomes a leader, a ruthless strategist, and a master of a treacherous game in which the winners live and the losers die.

From the gritty streets of Providence to the glittering screens of Hollywood to the golden casinos of Las Vegas, Danny Ryan will forge a dynasty.

This is the first in a new trilogy from the author of the Power of the Dog trilogy, The Force, Broken, and more. Winslow’s a fantastic author, and I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. Can’t wait to read it. City on Fire is due to be published by William Morrow in North America and Harper in the UK, on April 26th.

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

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YallopO-BreakTheInternetOlivia Yallop, BREAK THE INTERNET (Scribe)

Traditional media is over. The internet reigns. And in the attention economy, influencers are royalty. But who are they… and how do you become one?

Break the Internet takes a deep dive into the influencer industry, tracing its evolution from blogging and legacy social media such as Tumblr to today’s world in which YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok dominate. Surveying the new media landscape that the rise of online celebrity has created, it is an insider account of a trend which is set to dominate our future — the economy of influence will be valued at $15bn globally by 2022.

Olivia Yallop enrols in an influencer bootcamp, goes undercover at fan meetups, and shadows online celebrities to understand how digital personas are built, uncovering what it is really like to live a branded life and trade in a “social stock market”. From mumfluencers and activists to governments and investors, everyone wants to build their online influence. But how do you stay authentic in a system designed to commodify identity? Break the Internet examines both the dangers and the transformative potential of digital culture.

Despite the fact that I’m not particularly keen on much of what has become the norm of online behaviour (so much affectation, excessive squeeing, and so forth), I am nevertheless fascinated by it and its history. Looking forward to reading this, and I intend to do so very soon. Break the Internet is due to be published by Scribe in North America (May 3rd) and in the UK (out now).

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

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