Featuring: David Baldacci, Kyle Buchanan, Alex Finlay, Jackson Ford, Guy Haley, Bob Kroll, Scott Meslow, Premee Mohamed, Winnie M Li, Alex Segura, Rachel Swirsky, Alex Segura, Adrian Tchaikovsky, John Teschner, R. R. Virdi, Marianne Wiggins, Rio Youers
David Baldacci, DREAM TOWN (Grand Central)
Private investigator and World War II veteran Aloysius Archer heads to Los Angeles, the city where dreams are made and shattered, and is ensnared in a lethal case…
It’s the eve of 1953, and Aloysius Archer is in Los Angeles to ring in the New Year with an old friend, aspiring actress Liberty Callahan, when their evening is interrupted by an acquaintance of Callahan’s: Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter in dire straits.
After a series of increasingly chilling events — mysterious phone calls, the same blue car loitering outside her house, and a bloody knife left in her sink — Eleanor fears that her life is in danger, and she wants to hire Archer to look into the matter. Archer suspects that Eleanor knows more than she’s saying, but before he can officially take on her case, a dead body turns up inside of Eleanor’s home… and Eleanor herself disappears.
Missing client or not, Archer is dead set on finding both the murderer and Eleanor. With the help of Callahan and his partner Willie Dash, he launches an investigation that will take him from mob-ridden Las Vegas to the glamorous world of Hollywood to the darkest corners of Los Angeles — a city in which beautiful faces are attached to cutthroat schemers, where the cops can be more corrupt than the criminals… and where the powerful people responsible for his client’s disappearance will kill without a moment’s hesitation if they catch Archer on their trail.
This is the third novel in Baldacci’s Aloysius Archer series of historical mysteries. I remain incredibly and increasingly behind on reading Baldacci’s novels, but I do hope to get caught up ASAP. Dream Town is due to be published in North America by Grand Central Publishing (April 19th) and Macmillan in the UK (April 14th).
Kyle Buchanan, BLOOD, SWEAT AND CHROME (William Morrow)
A full-speed-ahead oral history of the nearly two-decade making of the cultural phenomenon Mad Max: Fury Road — with more than 130 new interviews with key members of the cast and crew, including Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, and director George Miller…
It won six Oscars and has been hailed as the greatest action film ever, but it is a miracle Mad Max: Fury Road ever made it to the screen… or that anybody survived the production. The story of this modern classic spanned nearly two decades of wild obstacles as visionary director George Miller tried to mount one of the most difficult shoots in Hollywood history.
Production stalled several times, stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron clashed repeatedly in the brutal Namib Desert, and Miller’s crew engineered death-defying action scenes that were among the most dangerous ever committed to film. Even accomplished Hollywood figures are flummoxed by the accomplishment: As the director Steven Soderbergh has said, “I don’t understand how they’re not still shooting that film, and I don’t understand how hundreds of people aren’t dead.”
Kyle Buchanan takes readers through every step of that moviemaking experience in vivid detail, from Fury Road’s unexpected origins through its outlandish casting process to the big-studio battles that nearly mutilated a masterpiece. But he takes the deepest dive in reporting the astonishing facts behind a shoot so unconventional that the film’s fantasy world began to bleed into the real lives of its cast and crew. As they fought and endured in a wasteland of their own, the only way forward was to have faith in their director’s mad vision. But how could Miller persevere when almost everything seemed to be stacked against him?
With hundreds of exclusive interviews and details about the making of Fury Road, readers will be left with one undeniable conclusion: There has never been a movie so drenched in sweat, so forged by fire, and so epic in scope.
Like many people, I really enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road. So, when I heard this book was on the way, I knew I had to read it. Hopefully get to it very soon. Blood, Sweat & Chrome is out now, published by William Morrow in North America and in the UK.
Alex Finlay, THE NIGHT SHIFT (Minotaur/Head of Zeus)
“The night was expected to bring tragedy.” So begins one of the most highly-anticipated thrillers in recent years.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in New Jersey, four teenagers working late at the store are attacked. Only one inexplicably survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.
Fifteen years later, more teenage employees are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.
In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who’s convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller who must delve into the secrets of both nights — stirring up memories of teen love and lies — to uncover the truth about murders on the night shift.
Alex Finlay’s first three novels were published under the pen name “Anthony Franze”. I read his first, which I very much enjoyed, and look forward to reading all of his others (which I’ve bought). I started this on the day I received it, and zipped through — a fast-paced, engaging thriller, with some decent twists at the end. The Night Shift is out now, published by Minotaur Books in North America and Head of Zeus in the UK.
Jackson Ford, A SH*TLOAD OF CRAZY POWERS (Orbit)
Teagan Frost has enough sh*t to deal with, between her job as a telekinetic government operative and a certain pair of siblings who have returned from the dead to wreak havoc with their powers. But little does she know, things are about to get even more crazy…
Teagan might have survived the flash-flood of the century, but now she’s trapped in a hotel by a bunch of gun-toting maniacs. And to make matters worse, her powers have mysteriously disappeared. Faced with certain death at every turn, Teagan will need to use every resource she has to stop a plot that could destroy Los Angeles — maybe even the entire world.
The fourth novel in Ford’s acclaimed Teagan Frost series. Looking forward to getting caught up on them all! (So many books, so little time! But this is definitely a series that’s very high on my must-read list.) A Sh*tload of Crazy Powers is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on May 10th.
Also on CR: Interview with Jackson Ford (2020)
Guy Haley, ASTORATH: ANGEL OF MERCY (Black Library)
Following the Devastation of Baal and the arrival of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman’s Indomitus Crusade, Commander Dante of the Blood Angels has been appointed Lord Regent of all Imperium Nihilus. Working with the successor chapters of the Blood Angels, Dante commands that the area around the Red Scar be scouted in preparation for reconquest.
The Red Wings’ sweep has led them to the foetid world of Dulcis, dangerously near to the Cicatrix Maledictum itself. Decimated by the tyranids during the war for Baal and only lightly reinforced by Primaris Space Marines, the Red Wings Chapter are in no position to deal with the events that unfold there. Strange psychic phenomenon and a deadly xenos enemy threaten the great hope of all the Chapters of the Blood – that the flaw in Sanguinius’ geneseed has at last been tamed.
Drawn by the Black Rage to Dulcis, Astorath the Grim, Lord High Chaplain and Redeemer of the Lost, comes to aid the Red Wings. But what he discovers there will shake the Chapters of the Blood to their very core.
Haley has been slowly writing books about the Blood Angels, since 2017’s Dante. As a result, he has become something of the chronicler for the sons of Sanguinius in the “current” WH40k timeline. Each book has added to readers’ understanding of the complexities of this beloved Chapter, and provided plenty of action and adventure, without sacrificing characterization and story. I read this one pretty much as soon as I got it, and quite enjoyed it. I don’t think it did quite as much as the author’s previous Blood Angels books, but it was still enjoyable and offered something a little bit different to the normal WH40k fiction. Astorath is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Bob Kroll, THE PUNISHING JOURNEY OF ARTHUR DELANEY (ECW Press)
A 19th-century tale of a father’s greatest regret and path to redemption
Devastated at his wife’s death and stricken at raising two girls and a boy on his own, Arthur Delaney places his children in a Halifax orphanage and runs off to join the Union Army in the American Civil War. The trauma of battle and three years in a disease-ridden prisoner-of-war prison changes his perspective on life and family.
After the war, Delaney odd-jobs his way up the American east coast and catches a schooner to Halifax. There he discovers the orphanage has relocated to a farm in rural Nova Scotia. His children are not there. They and others had been sold and resold as farm workers and house servants through the Maritime provinces, as well as Quebec and Ontario. Their whereabouts is unknown. Arthur Delaney sets out on a punishing 20-year journey across Canada to find them.
This is a heartbreaking, beautifully told story of a father’s attempt to reconnect with his children.
Didn’t know anything about this novel before the publisher reached out. Sounded interesting, so looking forward to giving it a try. The Punishing Journey of Arthur Delaney is due to be published by ECW Press in Canada and in the UK, on June 7th.
Brian McClellan, IN THE SHADOW OF LIGHTNING (Tor)
Demir Grappo is an outcast — he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.
Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.
The start of a new series from the author of the excellent Powder Mage series. I like the idea of magic running out, and I’ve enjoyed McClellan’s previous books, so I have high hopes for this new series. In the Shadow of Lightning is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on June 21st.
Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan (2013); Guest Post on “My Favourite Novel” and “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy”; Excerpt from The Autumn Republic; Reviews of Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic
Scott Meslow, FROM HOLLYWOOD WITH LOVE (Dey Street Books)
An in-depth celebration of the romantic comedy’s modern golden era and its role in our culture, tracking the genre from its heyday in the ’80s and the ’90s, its unfortunate decline in the 2000s, and its explosive reemergence in the age of streaming, featuring exclusive interviews with the directors, writers, and stars of the iconic films that defined the genre.
No Hollywood genre has been more misunderstood — or more unfairly under-appreciated — than the romantic comedy. Funny, charming, and reliably crowd-pleasing, rom-coms were the essential backbone of the Hollywood landscape, launching the careers of many of Hollywood’s most talented actors and filmmakers, such as Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey, and providing many of the yet limited creative opportunities women had in Hollywood. But despite — or perhaps because of — all that, the rom-com has routinely been overlooked by the Academy Awards or snobbishly dismissed by critics. In From Hollywood with Love, culture writer and GQ contributor Scott Meslow seeks to right this wrong, celebrating and analyzing rom-coms with the appreciative, insightful critical lens they’ve always deserved.
Beginning with the golden era of the romantic comedy — spanning from the late ’80s to the mid-’00s with the breakthrough of films such as When Harry Met Sally — to the rise of streaming and the long-overdue push for diversity setting the course for films such as the groundbreaking, franchise-spawning Crazy Rich Asians, Meslow examines the evolution of the genre through its many iterations, from its establishment of new tropes, the Austen and Shakespeare rewrites, the many love triangles, and even the occasional brave decision to do away with the happily ever after.
Featuring original black-and-white sketches of iconic movie scenes and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers behind our most beloved rom-coms, From Hollywood with Love constructs oral histories of our most celebrated romantic comedies, for an informed and entertaining look at Hollywood’s beloved yet most under-appreciated genre.
I’ve been a long-time fan of rom-coms (who isn’t, if they’re being totally honest?), as well as an enthusiast of Hollywood books. So, this seemed like a perfect fit for me. Hope to read it very soon. From Hollywood with Love is out now, published by Dey Street Books in North America and in the UK.
Premee Mohamed, THE VOID ASCENDANT (Solaris)
Survival has consequences
Seven years ago, the last survivor of Earth crashed through uncountable dimensions to a strange new world. Nick Prasad found shelter, and a living, as a prophet for the ruling family — servants of the Ancient Ones who destroyed his home.
Now, he’s been offered a chance to rid the multiverse of the Ancient Ones, past and present and forever, although he’ll have to betray his new masters to do it.
The first step is jailbreaking a god — and that’s the easy part…
This is the third novel in Mohamed’s acclaimed Beneath the Rising series. Somehow, I’ve managed to let this series pass me by. I hope to rectify this oversight post haste! The Void Ascendant is due to be published by Solaris in North America and in the UK, on April 26th.
Winnie M Li, COMPLICIT (Atria Books)
After a long-buried, harrowing incident, a woman whose promising film career was derailed has an opportunity for revenge in this visceral and timely thriller about power, privilege, and justice.
A Hollywood has-been, Sarah Lai’s dreams of success behind the camera have been put to the wayside. Now a lecturer at an obscure college, this former producer wants nothing more than to forget those youthful ambitions and push aside any feelings of regret… or guilt.
But when a journalist reaches out to her to discuss her own experience working with the celebrated film producer Hugo North, Sarah can no longer keep silent. This is her last chance to tell her side of the story and maybe even exact belated vengeance.
As Sarah recounts the industry’s dark and sordid secrets, however, she begins to realize that she has a few sins of her own to confess. Now she must confront her choices and ask herself, just who was complicit?
This novel has been getting some good pre-publication buzz — as long-time readers of CR will know, I am a bit of a sucker for Hollywood-related novels, so it caught my attention. The publisher was kind enough to send me an advance copy. Complicit is due to be published by Atria Book in North America (August 16th) and Orion in the UK (June 23rd).
Alex Segura, SECRET IDENTITY (Flatiron)
It’s 1975 and the comic book industry is struggling, but Carmen Valdez doesn’t care. She’s an assistant at Triumph Comics, which doesn’t have the creative zeal of Marvel nor the buttoned-up efficiency of DC, but it doesn’t matter. Carmen is tantalizingly close to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book.
That dream is nearly a reality when one of the Triumph writers enlists her help to create a new character, which they call “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph’s first female hero. But her colleague is acting strangely and asking to keep her involvement a secret. And then he’s found dead, with all of their scripts turned into the publisher without her name. Carmen is desperate to piece together what happened to him, to hang on to her piece of the Lynx, which turns out to be a runaway hit. But that’s complicated by a surprise visitor from her home in Miami, a tenacious cop who is piecing everything together too quickly for Carmen, and the tangled web of secrets and resentments among the passionate eccentrics who write comics for a living.
Not sure this needs much of an introduction — I don’t think I’ve seen a novel that has received such extended pre-publication buzz. Comics, mystery: of course I was interested. Secret Identity is out now, published by Flatiron Books in North America.
Rachel Swirsky, JANUARY FIFTEENTH (Tor.com)
January Fifteenth — the day all Americans receive their annual Universal Basic Income payment.
For Hannah, a middle-aged mother, today is the anniversary of the day she took her two children and fled her abusive ex-wife.
For Janelle, a young, broke journalist, today is another mind-numbing day interviewing passersby about the very policy she once opposed.
For Olivia, a wealthy college freshman, today is “Waste Day”, when rich kids across the country compete to see who can most obscenely squander the government’s money.
For Sarah, a pregnant teen, today is the day she’ll journey alongside her sister-wives to pick up the payments that undergird their community — and perhaps embark on a new journey altogether.
In this near-future science fiction novella by Nebula Award-winning author Rachel Swirsky, the fifteenth of January is another day of the status quo, and another chance at making lasting change.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, EYES OF THE VOID (Orbit)
After eighty years of fragile peace, the Architects are back, wreaking havoc as they consume entire planets. In the past, Originator artefacts – vestiges of a long-vanished civilization – could save a world from annihilation. This time, the Architects have discovered a way to circumvent these protective relics. Suddenly, no planet is safe.
Facing impending extinction, the Human Colonies are in turmoil. While some believe a unified front is the only way to stop the Architects, others insist humanity should fight alone. And there are those who would seek to benefit from the fractured politics of war – even as the Architects loom ever closer.
Idris, who has spent decades running from the horrors of his past, finds himself thrust back onto the battlefront. As an Intermediary, he could be one of the few to turn the tide of war. With a handful of allies, he searches for a weapon that could push back the Architects and save the galaxy. But to do so, he must return to the nightmarish unspace, where his mind was broken and remade.
What Idris discovers there will change everything.
This is the highly-anticipated sequel to Shards of Earth. I don’t think a new Tchaikovsky novel needs much of an introduction anymore: he’s still one of the best writing today, and every new book (novel or novella) is a must-read for me. If you haven’t read his work, I very much recommend you give his books a try — there’s a wide range of them, across SFF (sub-)genres, so there’s likely something for everyone. I’ll hopefully be reading this very soon. Eyes of the Void is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (May 3rd) and Tor Books in the UK (April 28th).
John Teschner, PROJECT NAMAHANA (Forge)
Nothing stays hidden forever…
Two men, unified by a string of disappearances and deaths, search for answers — and salvation — in the jungles of Kaua‘i. Together, they must navigate the overlapping and complicated lines between a close-knit community and the hated, but economically-necessary corporate farms — and the decades old secrets that bind them.
Project Namahana takes you from Midwestern, glass-walled, corporate offices over the Pacific and across the island of Kaua‘i; from seemingly idyllic beaches and mountainous inland jungles to the face of Mount Namahana; all the while, exploring the question of how corporate executives could be responsible for evil things without, presumably, being evil themselves.
Thought this sounded interesting, so when the publisher offered it for a review, I thought it’d give it a go. Project Namahana is due to be published by Forge Books in North America, on June 28th.
R. R. Virdi, THE FIRST BINDING (Tor)
All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.
I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.
My name is Ari.
And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.
Thus begins the tale of a storyteller and a singer on the run and hoping to find obscurity in a tavern bar. But the sins of their past aren’t forgotten, and neither are their enemies. Their old lives are catching up swiftly and it could cost them the entire world. No one can escape their pasts and all stories must have an ending.
This is the first novel in Virdi’s new fantasy series, the Tales of Tremaine. It is quite the chonky book… I’m both intrigued and trepidatious about that: there’s nothing better than an epic tale that sucks you in and sweeps you along, leaving you unaware of the number of pages you’ve read or have remaining. But, I’ve also found many fantasy novels that are far longer than they have any need to be. I’ve dipped into The First Binding, already, and I have a feeling this will be of the former, engaging and gripping type. Looking forward to reading the rest. The First Binding is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (August 16th) and Gollancz in the UK (August 18th).
Marianne Wiggins, PROPERTIES OF THIRST (Simon & Schuster)
Rockwell “Rocky” Rhodes has spent years fiercely protecting his California ranch from the LA Water Corporation. It is here where he and his beloved wife Lou raised their twins, Sunny and Stryker, and it is here where Rocky has mourned Lou in the years since her death.
As Sunny and Stryker reach the cusp of adulthood, the country teeters on the brink of war. Stryker decides to join the fight, deploying to Pearl Harbor not long before the bombs strike. Soon, Rocky and his family find themselves facing yet another incomprehensible tragedy.
Rocky is determined to protect his remaining family and the land where they’ve loved and lost so much. But when the government decides to build a Japanese-American internment camp next to the ranch, Rocky realizes that the land faces even bigger threats than the LA watermen he’s battled for years. Complicating matters is the fact that the idealistic Department of the Interior man assigned to build the camp, who only begins to understand the horror of his task after it may be too late, becomes infatuated with Sunny and entangled with the Rhodes family.
Properties of Thirst is a novel that is both universal and intimate. It is the story of a changing American landscape and an examination of one of the darkest periods in this country’s past, told through the stories of the individual loves and losses that weave together to form the fabric of our shared history. Ultimately, it is an unflinching distillation of our nation’s essence — and a celebration of the bonds of love and family that persist against all odds.
Thought this sounded interesting, and I was offered a review copy. Looking forward to giving it a try. Properties of Thirst is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK, on August 2nd.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Rio Youers, NO SECOND CHANCES (William Morrow)
Luke Kingsley’s glory days are behind him. A star on the rise, his life and career imploded after his soul singer wife, Lisa Hayes, disappeared without a trace, silencing a very public and tumultuous marriage. Most people, especially an avenging PI, think Luke got away with murder. The last thing he expects is to be pulled back from the brink by a starstruck stranger.
Wannabe actress Kitty Rae has chased her dreams all the way from Kentucky to Hollywood. Saving a washed-up actor’s life wasn’t one of them, but she believes in Luke — as much as she believes her own career is just one lucky break away. For now, she works for Johan Fly, a charismatic, wealthy, and seriously unbalanced drug dealer to the rich and famous. When Johan discovers that Kitty has been skimming the product, he vows to make her pay.
As Luke steps up to help Kitty, he uncovers a web of violence and corruption, as well as a single, enticing clue about his wife’s disappearance. Barreling across the Mojave Desert, Luke and Kitty set off to find the long-lost Lisa. But Johan, hungry for vengeance, is hot on their trail. There’s no limit to what he will do to find them. And in a world where fortune favors the ruthless, there’s also no limit to what Luke and Kitty will have to do to survive.
This novel has been getting a lot of great pre-publication buzz. I’ve only heard good things about Youers’s novels, but have not actually read anything by him yet. So, this seemed like an excellent place to start. No Second Chances is out now, published by William Morrow in North America.
Various & Jonathan Strahan (ed.), SOMEONE IN TIME (Solaris)
Even time travel can’t unravel love
Time-travel is a way for writers to play with history and imagine different futures – for better, or worse.
When romance is thrown into the mix, time-travel becomes a passionate tool, or heart-breaking weapon. A time agent in the 22nd century puts their whole mission at risk when they fall in love with the wrong person. No matter which part of history a man visits, he cannot not escape his ex. A woman is desperately in love with the time-space continuum, but it doesn’t love her back. As time passes and falls apart, a time-traveller must say goodbye to their soulmate.
With stories from best-selling and award-winning authors such as Seanan McGuire, Alix E. Harrow and Nina Allan, this anthology gives a taste for the rich treasure trove of stories we can imagine with love, loss and reunion across time and space.
Including stories by: Alix E. Harrow, Zen Cho, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, Jeffrey Ford, Nina Allan, Elizabeth Hand, Lavanya Lakshminarayan, Catherynne M. Valente, Sam J. Miller, Rowan Coleman, Margo Lanagan, Sameem Siddiqui, Theodora Goss, Carrie Vaughn, Ellen Klages
I do like some time travel action. Looking forward to reading these stories — many of which are by authors I’ve not read before, so that’s an added bonus. Someone in Time is due to be published by Solaris Book in North America and in the UK, on May 10th.
Review copy received from publisher