New Books (July-August)

NewBooks-20220903

Featuring: Julia Bartz, Christopher Bollen, Ness Brown, John Brownlow, Ed Brubaker, Wesley Chu, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Frank Dikötter, Sean Doolittle, Erin M. Evans, Isaac Fellman, Denny Flowers, John French, Andrea Hairston, Thilde Kold Holdt, Jacqueline Holland, Vaseem Khan, Taylor Koekkoek, Fonda Lee, Scotto Moore, Annalee Newitz, Malka Older, K.J. Parker, Sean Phillips, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Richard Norton Smith, A. J. Tata, P. J. Tracy, Nghi Vo

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BartzJ-WritingRetreatUSHCJulia Bartz, THE WRITING RETREAT (Atria/Emily Bestler)

Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell — they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female friendships and fame…

I’m not sure if I’d heard of this novel before it was offered to me for review. I do enjoy a good publishing-connected thriller/mystery, though, so I thought I’d give it a shot. The Writing Retreat is due to be published by Atria/Emily Bestler in North America (February 21st) and Magpie in the UK (February 2nd).

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

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BollenC-LostAmericansUSHCChristopher Bollen, THE LOST AMERICANS (Harper)

A young woman finds herself in the crosshairs of powerful and very dangerous enemies when she travels to Cairo to uncover the truth about her brother’s mysterious death…

When the lifeless body of Eric Castle, a weapons technician for a major American defense contractor, is found under his hotel balcony, both his employer and the Egyptian authorities quickly declare his death a suicide. But the dead man’s sister, Cate, doesn’t believe Eric took his own life and is determined to get to the truth. Traveling to Egypt she begins to piece together her brother’s life in Cairo with the help of a handsome, young, gay Egyptian man named Omar, who yearns to escape the brutality of his nation’s harsh, restrictive government.

Unfortunately, Cate’s quest raises more questions — and problems —than she ever imagined, as she takes on not only the arms company’s top brass but the Egyptian military, secret police, and a slew of American expats with their own reasons to keep the dead buried once and for all. Soon she’s in over her head, and it’s not clear if either she or Omar will get out alive. This riveting thriller of set in loud, boisterous Cairo of Americans lost and found showcases Bollen’s depth of characterization and haunting descriptive powers.

The Lost Americans is due to be published by Harper in North America on March 14th, 2023. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK publisher, but his two latest novels have been published by Scribner.)

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

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BrownN-ScourgeBetweenStarsNess Brown, THE SCOURGE BETWEEN STARS (Tor Nightfire)

As acting captain of the starship Calypso, Jacklyn Albright is responsible for keeping the last of humanity alive as they limp back to Earth from their forebears’ failed colony on a distant planet.

Faced with constant threats of starvation and destruction in the treacherous minefield of interstellar space, Jacklyn’s crew has reached their breaking point. As unrest begins to spread throughout the ship’s Wards, a new threat emerges, picking off crew members in grim, bloody fashion.

Jacklyn and her team must hunt down the ship’s unknown intruder if they have any hope of making it back to their solar system alive.

Brown’s new novella is “a tense, claustrophobic sci-fi/horror blend in the vein of Alien and Event Horizon”, which is a rather cool blend. So, I’m looking forward to reading this. The Scourge Between Stars is due to be published by Tor Nightfire in North America and in the UK, on April 4th, 2023.

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

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BrownlowJ-SeventeenUKHCJohn Brownlow, SEVENTEEN (Hodder & Stoughton)

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW MY NAME.
BUT YOU WON’T FORGET MY NUMBER.

Behind the events you know are the killers you don’t.
When diplomacy fails, we’re the ones who gear up.
Officially we don’t exist, but every government in the world uses our services.
We’ve been saving the world, and your ass, for 100 years.

Sixteen people have done this job before me.
I am 17. The most feared assassin in the world.
But to be the best you must beat the best.
My next target is 16, just as one day 18 will hunt me down.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world and it gets lonely at the top.
Nobody gets to stay for long.
But while we’re here, all that matters is that we win.

The premise caught my attention a while ago, so I pre-ordered it. Hopefully going to read it very soon. Seventeen is published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK (out now) and Hanover Square Press in North America (November 1st).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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BrubakerPhillips-R5-FollowMeDownEd Brubaker & Sean Phillips, RECKLESS: FOLLOW ME DOWN (Image)

In the wake of the 1989 earthquake, Ethan takes a trip to San Francisco to search for a missing woman. But almost immediately, he finds himself going down a path of darkness and murder in a case unlike anything he’s faced before.

This is the fifth Reckless graphic novel. I read it as soon as I was able–which was the same day that I received it. Each of the previous four books has been excellent, and they have only cemented Brubaker & Phillips’s place as one of the best comics teams. I’ve enjoyed everything they’ve made together (starting with their run on Captain America), and I look forward to reading many more books of theirs in the future (crossing fingers!). Follow Me Down is due to be published by Image Comics in North America and in the UK, on October 12th.

Follow the Author (Brubaker): Goodreads
Follow the Artist (Phillips): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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ChuW-WAS1-ArtOfProphecyUSHCWesley Chu, THE ART OF PROPHECY (Del Rey)

So many stories begin the same way: With a prophecy. A chosen one. And the inevitable quest to slay a villain, save the kingdom, and fulfill a grand destiny.

But this is not that kind of story.

It does begin with a prophecy: A child will rise to defeat the Eternal Khan, a cruel immortal god-king, and save the kingdom.

And that prophecy did anoint a hero, Jian, raised since birth in luxury and splendor, and celebrated before he has won a single battle.

But that’s when the story hits its first twist: The prophecy is wrong.

What follows is a story more wondrous than any prophecy could foresee, and with many unexpected heroes: Taishi, an older woman who is the greatest grandmaster of magical martial arts in the kingdom but who thought her adventuring days were all behind her; Sali, a straitlaced warrior who learns the rules may no longer apply when the leader to whom she pledged her life is gone; and Qisami, a chaotic assassin who takes a little too much pleasure in the kill.

And Jian himself, who has to find a way to become what he no longer believes he can be — a hero after all.

This is the first novel in a new series, The War Arts Saga. It feels like a long time since Chu’s name popped up on CR. Not sure why… I’ll hopefully read and review this very soon. The Art of Prophecy is out now, published by Del Rey in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Wesley Chu (2013)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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DembskiBowdenA-HHSoT6-EchoesOfEternityAaron Dembski-Bowden, ECHOES OF ETERNITY (Black Library)

With the walls of the Imperial Palace in ruins and the end in sight, Sanguinius prepares one final stand. The loyalists are desperate, and the Warmaster’s hordes are certain of their coming victory.

The walls have fallen. The defenders are broken. The Inner Palace lies in ruins.

The Warmaster’s horde advances through the fire and ash of Terra’s dying breaths, forcing the loyalists back to the Delphic Battlement – the very walls of the Sanctum Imperialis. Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters and Herald of Horus, has achieved immortality through annihilation – now he leads the armies of the damned in a wrathful tide, destroying all before them as the warp begins its poisonous corruption of Terra’s very soil.

For the Emperor’s beleaguered forces, the end has come. The Khan lies on the edge of death. Rogal Dorn is encircled, fighting his own war at Bhab Bastion. Guilliman will not reach Terra in time. Without his brothers, Sanguinius – the Angel of the Ninth Legion – waits on the final battlements, hoping to rally a desperate band of defenders and refugees for one last stand.

The highly-anticipated seventh novel in the Horus Heresy: Siege of Terra series. I think many people expected it out early next year (I certainly did), so it was a nice surprise when it went up for pre-order a week ago. Very much looking forward to reading it. Crossing fingers this is another ADB home run. Echoes of Eternity is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The First Heretic, Betrayer, The Master of Mankind, Talon of Horus, Black Legion, Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, and Void Stalker

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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DikotterF-ChinaAfterMaoUKHCFrank Dikötter, CHINA AFTER MAO (Bloomsbury)

A myth­-shattering history of China from the death of Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping.

Through decades of direct experience of the People’s Republic combined with extraordinary access to hundreds of hitherto unseen documents in communist party archives, the author of The People’s Trilogy offers a riveting account of China’s rise from the disaster of the Cultural Revolution. He takes us inside the country’s unprecedented four-decade economic transformation — from rural villages to industrial metropoles and elite party conclaves — that vaulted the nation from 126th ­largest economy in the world to second ­largest.

A historian at the pinnacle of his field, Dikötter challenges much of what we think we know about how this happened. Casting aside the image of a society marching unwaveringly toward growth, in lockstep to the beat of the party drum, he recounts instead a fascinating tale of contradictions, illusions, and palace intrigue, of disasters narrowly averted, shadow banking, anti-corruption purges, and extreme state wealth existing alongside everyday poverty. He examines China’s navigation of the 2008 financial crash, its increasing hostility towards perceived Western interference, and its development into a thoroughly entrenched dictatorship with a sprawling security apparatus and the most sophisticated surveillance system in the world.

As this magisterial book makes clear, the communist party’s goal was never to join the democratic world, but to resist it — and ultimately defeat it.

The latest book on Chinese history from the best-selling author of the Peoples Trilogy, How to Be a Dictator, and more. Really looking forward to reading this. China After Mao is due to be published by Bloomsbury Books in North America and in the UK, on September 29th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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DoolittleS-DeviceFreeWeekendUSHCSean Doolittle, DEVICE FREE WEEKEND (Grand Central)

Seven friends, one eccentric billionaire, an all-expenses paid reunion on a private island with one catch: no phones, tablets or laptops allowed. It’ll be a weekend to remember–for those who make it out alive.

Ryan Cloverhill, founder and CEO of the world’s most popular social media platform, invites his six best friends from college to his home on his private island near Puget Sound. For Stephen, Emma, Perry, Will, Beau, and Lainie, day one is just what the doctor ordered: amazing food, many drinks, lots of laughter, and a sunset cruise around the island aboard their host’s custom Van Dutch 55.

Day Two, however, takes a bewildering turn when the six hungover guests wake up to find that their host has disappeared, along with all connection to the mainland. A touchscreen tablet of unknown make awaits them, blatantly defying the rules of the weekend with its on-screen challenge: Unlock Me! The passcode to the tablet is hidden somewhere in the group’s shared history. But what seems at first like just another silly game turns deadly serious when the group discovers what unlocking the tablet really means. Is it the key to their futures, a Pandora’s box none of them will ever be able to close, or both?

Only one thing is clear: their old friend Ryan has something unthinkable planned. Now it’s up to the six of them to stop him. And when this weekend is over, the world will never be the same.

Thought this sounded interesting — and also a little familiar. Earlier in the year, I read the first volume in the The Nice House on the Lake comic series, which has a little bit of a similar premise (although, a bit more SF I think). Nevertheless, looking forward to giving this a try. Device Free Weekend is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and in the UK, on February 28th, 2023.

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

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DuncanH-OutInLAUSHamish Duncan, OUT IN L.A.: THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS 1983 (Chicago Review Press)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers were going to be a one-time act for a friend’s album release party. Forty years later the funk rock band is arguably one of the best-known and the longest running in the United States. Everything that happened in 1983 set the course for the rest of the band’s career. The scrappy band quickly rose to scene-wide fame, playing all over Los Angeles and gaining fans and media attention wherever they performed. Before the year was out, they had played approximately thirty shows, put together an early, beloved repertoire, recorded a blistering demo that secured them a recording contract with EMI/Enigma, and lost two of their founding members to a rival band.

Out in L.A. is an attempt at finding out exactly what happened during that first year and exploring what it is that makes the Red Hot Chili Peppers so compelling and fresh, even as they continue on their musical journey today.

I’ve been a long-time fan of RHCP, but haven’t read much about them, so this caught my attention. Looking forward to reading it. (If you want something a bit longer, perhaps also try Anthony Kiedis’s Scar Tissue or Flea’s Acid for the Children.) Out in L.A. is due to be published by Chicago Review Press in North America and in the UK, on January 17th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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EvansEM-EmpireOfExilesErin M. Evans, EMPIRE OF EXILES (Orbit)

Magic, mystery, and revolution collide in this fantasy epic where an unlikely team of mages, scribes, and archivists must band together to unearth a conspiracy that might topple their empire.

Twenty-seven years ago, a Duke with a grudge led a ruthless coup against the empire of Semilla, killing thousands. He failed. The Duke was executed, a terrifyingly powerful sorcerer was imprisoned, and an unwilling princess disappeared. 

The empire moved on. 

Now, when Quill, an apprentice scribe, arrives in the capital city, he believes he’s on a simple errand for another pompous noble: fetch ancient artifacts from the magical Imperial Archives. He’s always found his apprenticeship to a lawman to be dull work. But these aren’t just any artifacts — these are the instruments of revolution, the banners under which the Duke lead his coup. 

Just as the artifacts are unearthed, the city is shaken by a brutal murder that seems to have been caused by a weapon not seen since the days of rebellion. With Quill being the main witness to the murder, and no one in power believing his story, he must join the Archivists — a young mage, a seasoned archivist, and a disillusioned detective — to solve the truth of the attack. And what they uncover will be the key to saving the empire – or destroying it again.

Evans has written quite a few Dungeons & Dragons novels, which is where many fantasy fans may knew her from. This new novel is a new, possibly stand-alone fantasy novel in a whole new world. The synopsis caught my attention (as did the cover, which reminded me of Joe Abercrombie’s first UK covers), and I hope to read this soon. Empire of Exiles is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 8th.

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

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FellmanI-TwoDoctorsGorskiIsaac Fellman, THE TWO DOCTORS GÓRSKI (Tor.com)

Annae, a brilliant graduate student in psychiatric magic and survivor of academic abuse, can’t stop reading people’s minds. This is how she protects herself, by using her abilities to know exactly how her colleagues view her. This is how she escapes the torturous experience of her own existence.

When Annae moves to England to rebuild her life and finish her studies under the seminal magician Marec Górski — infamous for bringing to life a homunculus made from his unwanted better self — she sees, inside his head, a man who is both a destructive force to everyone around him, and her mirror image. For Annae to survive, she’ll need to break free of a lifetime of conditioning to embody her own self and forge her own path.

This sounds a little odd. But also potentially very interesting and weird. So, looking forward to giving this a try soon. The Two Doctors Górski is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 29th.

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

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FlowersD-WH40k-OutgunnedDenny Flowers, OUTGUNNED (Black Library)

Flight Commander Lucille Von Shard is an ace pilot in the Aeronautica Imperialis, with a bit of a chip on her shoulder. Follow her as she faces off against the aerial forces of the orks.

The Aeronautica Imperialis are the masters of the skies in the 41st millennium, waging wars of breakneck aerial combat where only skill stands between victory and death. Flight Commander Lucille von Shard is an ace, a living exemplar of what it means to fly in the name of the Emperor… or so Propagandist Kile Simlex is told.

Braving the foetid waters of Bacchus and its rampaging greenskin hordes, Simlex is tasked with producing a cinema-pict portraying Shard as an Imperial hero. Shortly after his arrival planetside, however, he discovers the war effort is in shambles – the Imperium’s overstretched forces are in full retreat, the local planetary governor is desperately downplaying the conflict at every turn, and Shard is an arrogant misanthrope who only avoids sanction due to her consummate skills.

But these skills may prove the only hope of survival, for something vast and terrible lurks within the clouds. The Green Storm approaches.

This novel seemed to come out of nowhere — BL tend to announce their novels rather far in advance, but after spotting it listed in my library’s catalogue, it was put up for pre-order last week to little fanfare. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of Flowers’s work so far, and the premise for Outgunned sounded interesting and like a new approach to the WH40k universe. (I also picked up The Trial of Lucille Von Shard, but I can’t tell if that’s a prequel or set after the novel…) Really looking forward to reading it. Outgunned is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Instagram

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FrenchJ-AoS_CE1-HollowKingJohn French, THE HOLLOW KING (Black Library)

Cado Ezechiar is a wanderer who has outlived the memory of the age that made him. A Soulblight vampire who accepted the curse as his people and kingdom fell to Chaos, he now roams the Realm of Death and beyond seeking retribution and salvation for the ones he failed.

Aided by the bound spirits of those he lost, Cado follows a path of revenge, hunting the servants of Chaos to slake his need for blood while seeking the Sorcerer of Change who destroyed his kingdom. When his hunt leads him to the free city of Aventhis, Cado becomes caught up in the machinations of greater powers – beings who see the city and its people as dust in the eyes of ambitious gods. Torn between his code of honour and his desire for vengeance, Cado must navigate a web of war and deceit, or lose everything.

The first novel starring Cado Ezechiar (who has starred in three short stories, too). I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything John French has written for BL, so I have high hopes for this character — I’ll start with the short stories, and read everything chronologically, but I hope to get to this very soon. The Hollow King is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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HairstonA-WillDoMagicForSmallChangeAndrea Hairston, WILL DO MAGIC FOR SMALL CHANGE (Tor.com)

A tale of alien science and earthbound magic and the secrets families keep from each other.

Cinnamon Jones dreams of stepping on stage and acting her heart out like her famous grandparents, Redwood and Wildfire. But she’s always been theatrically challenged. That won’t necessarily stop her! But her family life is a tangle of mysteries and secrets, and nobody is telling her the whole truth.

Before her brother died, he gave Cinnamon The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer — a tale of a Dahomean warrior woman and an alien from another dimension who perform at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. They are a story of magic or alien science, but the connection to Cinnamon’s past is unmistakable.

When an act of violence wounds her family, Cinnamon and her theatre squad determine to solve the mysteries and bring her worlds crashing together.

Thought this looked like it might be quite interesting. Will Do Magic For Small Change is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on October 11th.

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

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HoldtTK-HG3-SlaughteredGodsThilde Kold Holdt, SLAUGHTERED GODS (Rebellion)

All Shall Perish

The great wolf howls for Ragnarok to begin. The half-giant Einer leads an army of the dead to clash with the golden shields of Asgard. The nornir tie and retie their threads, as Loki’s and Odin’s schemes unfold… and unravel. For not even cunning gods and giants see every part of the web.

As the survivors of the burned village of Ash-hill converge on the final battle on Ida’s Plain, only two are truly free to choose their paths and prevent the annihilation of the nine worlds: a storyteller who holds all destinies in his hands, and a shieldmaiden with no destiny at all.

The third novel in the author’s Hanged God trilogy. I really need to get caught up at some point… Slaughtered Gods is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on October 27th.

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

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HollandJ-GodOfEndingsUSHCJacqueline Holland, THE GOD OF ENDINGS (Flatiron)

By turns suspenseful and enchanting, this breathtaking first novel weaves a story of love, family, history, and myth as seen through the eyes of one immortal woman.

Collette LeSange is a lonely artist who heads an elite fine arts school for children in upstate New York. Her youthful beauty masks the dark truth of her life: she has endured centuries of turmoil and heartache in the wake of her grandfather’s long-ago decision to make her immortal like himself. Now in 1984, Collette finds her life upended by the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, the return of a stalking presence from her past, and her own mysteriously growing hunger.

Combining brilliant prose with breathtaking suspense, Jacqueline Holland’s The God of Endings serves as a larger exploration of the human condition in all its complexity, asking us the most fundamental question: is life in this world a gift or a curse?

This debut sounds really interesting — something a bit different to what I am usually drawn to, but the synopsis grabbed my attention. I’ll be reading this hopefully very soon (but I’ll hold off on posting the review until closer to its release date). The God of Endings is due to be published by Flatiron Books in North America on March 7th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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KhanV-MH3-LostManOfBombayUKHCVaseem Khan, THE LOST MAN OF BOMBAY (Hodder)

Bombay, 1950

When the body of a white man is found frozen in the Himalayan foothills near Dehra Dun, he is christened the Ice Man by the national media. Who is he? How long has he been there? Why was he killed?

As Inspector Persis Wadia and Metropolitan Police criminalist Archie Blackfinch investigate the case in Bombay, they uncover a trail left behind by the enigmatic Ice Man – a trail leading directly into the dark heart of conspiracy.

Meanwhile, two new murders grip the city. Is there a serial killer on the loose, targeting Europeans?

Rich in atmosphere, the thrilling third chapter in the CWA Historical Dagger-winning Malabar House series pits Persis against a mystery from beyond the grave, unfolding against the backdrop of a turbulent post-colonial India, a nation struggling to redefine itself in the shadow of the Raj.

This is the third novel in Khan’s excellent Malabar House series (highly recommend the first two, if you get the chance). I’ll be reading this pretty soon. The Lost Man of Bombay is out now, published by Hodder in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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KoekkoekT-ThrillvilleUSAUSTaylor Koekkoek, THRILLVILLE, USA (Simon & Schuster)

A raw and remarkable debut story collection concerning substance abuse, societal alienation, and doomed romance…

An amusement park employee overdoses after eating the gel of a fentanyl patch. Two homeless men discover the body of a drowned woman. A sister encounters a dangerous stranger while driving her brother to rehab. Ex-lovers seek to rekindle their relationship with the aid of an earthquake.

In the nine masterful stories that comprise Thrillville, USA, debut author Taylor Koekkoek depicts Americans living on the margins of society, seeking escape from isolation and underemployment in drugs, booze, and self-destructive relationships. While the action is set largely in the rural Pacific Northwest, the characters’ malaise and disaffectedness is endemic of the country as a whole. The title takes its name from the aforementioned amusement park, but Thrillville is as much a state of mind as an actual place — a sardonic commentary on contemporary America consumed by opioid addiction, social media obsession, wealth inequality and political polarization.

Yet as haunting as these stories are, they are not hopeless. Gorgeously written, they share a transcendental quality — an acknowledgment of and appreciation for the beauty in all things, even the most profane and grotesque.

Didn’t know anything about this collection before I spotted it up on Edelweiss. Thought it sounded interesting, so decided to take a punt on it. Thrillville, USA is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK, on March 21st, 2023.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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LeeF-UntetheredSkyFonda Lee, UNTETHERED SKY (Tor.com)

An epic fantasy fable about the pursuit of obsession at all costs.

Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.

Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated rukhers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.

I’ve enjoyed previous books/stories I’ve read by Lee, so when I spotted this available for review I jumped at the chance. Hopefully read it soon, but I’ll hold off on posting a review until a bit closer to release. Untethered Sky is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on April 11th, 2023.

Also on CR: Interview with Fonda Lee (2019)

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

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MooreS-WildMassiveScotto Moore, WILD MASSIVE (Tor.com)

Welcome to the Building, an infinitely tall skyscraper in the center of the multiverse, where any floor could contain a sprawling desert oasis, a cyanide rain forest, or an entire world.

Carissa loves her elevator. Up and Down she goes, content with the sometimes chewy food her reality fabricator spits out, as long as it means she doesn’t have to speak to another living person.

But when a mysterious shapeshifter from an ambiguous world lands on top of her elevator, intent on stopping a plot to annihilate hundreds of floors, Carissa finds herself stepping out of her comfort zone. She is forced to flee into the Wild Massive network of theme parks in the Building, where technology, sorcery, and elaborate media tie-ins combine to form impossible ride experiences, where every guest is a VIP, the roller coasters are frequently safe, and if you don’t have a valid day pass, the automated defense lasers will escort you from being alive.

Wild Massive: The #1 destination for interdimensional war.
Rate us on VacationAdvisor™!

Moore’s novels always sound like they’ll be action-packed reads. Hoping to get to this soon. Wild Massive is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 7th, 2023.

Also on CR: Interviews with Scotto Moore — 2018 and 2022

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

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NewitzA-TerraformersUSHCAnnalee Newitz, THE TERRAFORMERS (Tor)

Destry’s life is dedicated to terraforming Sask-E. As part of the Environmental Rescue Team, she cares for the planet and its burgeoning eco-systems as her parents and their parents did before her.

But the bright, clean future they’re building comes under threat when Destry discovers a city full of people that shouldn’t exist, hidden inside a massive volcano.

As she uncovers more about their past, Destry begins to question the mission she’s devoted her life to, and must make a choice that will reverberate through Sask-E’s future for generations to come.

I am sad to say that I still haven’t read any of Newitz’s longer books–even though I appear to have acquired many of them… Cool premise, so I hope to read this soon. The Terraformers is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on January 31st, 2023.

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

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OlderM-MimickingOfKnownSuccessesMalka Older, THE MIMICKING OF KNOWN SUCCESSES (Tor.com)

On a remote, gas-wreathed outpost of a human colony on Jupiter, a man goes missing. The enigmatic Investigator Mossa follows his trail to Valdegeld, home to the colony’s erudite university — and Mossa’s former girlfriend, a scholar of Earth’s pre-collapse ecosystems.

Pleiti has dedicated her research and her career to aiding the larger effort towards a possible return to Earth. When Mossa unexpectedly arrives and requests Pleiti’s assistance in her latest investigation, the two of them embark on a twisting path in which the future of life on Earth is at stake — and, perhaps, their futures, together.

Older’s latest short novel is “a cozy Holmesian murder mystery” on Jupiter. Which certainly sounded interesting. I started reading this pretty soon after I got it, and I thought it was rather good. I found the dialogue between Mossa and Pleiti sometimes a little stilted and strange, but there’s some interesting and well-done world-building and mystery. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of the author’s previous work, or if you’re looking for something a little different. The Mimicking of Known Successes is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on March 7th, 2023.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Travel in Both Directions”

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

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ParkerKJ-PullingTheWingsOffAngelsK.J. Parker, PULLING THE WINGS OFF ANGELS (Tor.com)

Long ago, a wealthy man stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day.

That’s the legend, anyway.

A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum — deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox — with the student at its center — in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny — and the nature of angels.

One of my most-anticipated books of the year (any new novella from Parker is a must-read for me). I started reading it pretty much as soon as I got it, and it didn’t disappoint. Pulling the Wings Off Angels is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 15th.

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

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley

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ReidTJ-CarrieSotoIsBackUSHCTaylor Jenkins Reid, CARRIE SOTO IS BACK (Ballantine)

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season.

Like many people, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Reid’s new novel — pretty much since I finished her previous book (Malibu Rising), but certainly since this one was announced. Carrie Soto is Back is out now, published by Ballantine Books in North America and Hutchinson Heinemann in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of Daisy Jones & the Six and Malibu Rising

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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SmithRN-AnOrdinaryManUSHCRichard Norton Smith, AN ORDINARY MAN (Harper)

For many Americans, President Gerald Ford was the genial accident of history who controversially pardoned his Watergate-tarnished predecessor, presided over the fall of Saigon, and became a punching bag on Saturday Night Live. Yet as Richard Norton Smith reveals in a book full of surprises, Ford was an underrated leader whose tough decisions and personal decency look better with the passage of time.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, Smith recreates Ford’s hardscrabble childhood in Michigan, his early anti-establishment politics and lifelong love affair with the former Betty Bloomer, whose impact on American culture he predicted would outrank his own. As president, Ford guided the nation through its worst Constitutional crisis since the Civil War and broke the back of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression — accomplishing both with little fanfare or credit (at least until 2001 when the JFK Library gave him its prestigious Profile in Courage Award in belated recognition of the Nixon pardon).

Less coda than curtain raiser, Ford’s administration bridged the Republican pragmatism of Eisenhower and Nixon and the more doctrinaire conservatism of Ronald Reagan. His introduction of economic deregulation would transform the American economy, while his embrace of the Helsinki Accords hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I haven’t read as much about Gerald Ford as I have most of the other presidents–in fact, I’ve only read one more book about him than I have for some of the forgotten presidents (e.g., Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and John Tyler — for each of which I’ve only read one biography). So, when I saw this available for review, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s a hefty tome, but one I’m looking forward to reading. An Ordinary Man is due to be published by Harper in North America and in the UK, on April 11th, 2023.

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

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SommerW-TrustThePlanUSHCWilliam Sommer, TRUST THE PLAN (Harper)

A journalist who has followed the rise of QAnon explains what it is, how it has gained a mainstream following among Republican lawmakers and ordinary citizens, the threat it poses to democracy, and how we can reach those who have embraced the conspiracy and are disseminating its lies.

Over the last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic spread worldwide, so too did the pro-Trump cabal known as QAnon. What began as a fringe online conspiracy in the mid 2000s is now embraced by millions of Americans across the country — and the globe — including new members of Congress and the thousands of Trump followers, armed with guns and a variety of makeshift weapons, who attacked the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, searching for lawmakers including the Vice President, shouting “hang Mike Pence.”

Following internet clues from a mysterious figure named “Q” — who has claimed to be a high-level government insider with a Q-level clearance — QAnon adherents, fueled by paranoia and hatred of the left, believe that Donald Trump has been anointed by God to stop evil Democrats who sexually abuse, kill, and eat children; that Trump won the 2020 election that was stolen from him and will soon order mass executions of Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, the Obamas, George Soros, and many others. QAnon believers continue to spout lies and disinformation about politics and the pandemic; their beliefs have ruptured friendships and family bonds and caused untold damage.

While in office, Trump praised QAnon believers as “people who love our country,” invited them to the White House, and retweeted their crazed messages on a near-daily basis. Though he is gone, the threat of widespread violence from his acolytes — “the Storm is coming” — remains high. What can we do about Q’s growing platform? Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer has been reporting on the QAnon conspiracy for years and has been targeted by the group. In this timely and essential book, he explains the genesis of QAnon, his experience covering its members online and in the real world, Q’s lies and how they are spread, how Q has overshadowed politics, and what the nation must do to address this growing danger — including how to help friends and family who have fallen under Q’s pernicious sway.

Like many, I was baffled as I watched the rise of QAnon and the crazy thing its followers have done and said in the United States. I’ve only read a few articles about the phenomenon, but when I saw this book on the way, and available for review, I decided to give it a try. Such a strange country, America is turning into… Trust the Plan is due to be published by Harper in North America (February 21st) and Fourth Estate in the UK (February 23rd).

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

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TataAJ-GS2-TotalEmpireUSHCA. J. Tata, TOTAL EMPIRE (St. Martin’s Press)

General Garrett Sinclair undertakes a rogue mission in the Sahara Desert to thwart an international nuclear threat…

When Sergeant Major Sylvester “Sly” Morgan is killed while on a mission, his daughter Zoey tells General Garrett Sinclair that her father’s death wasn’t random. Her father had recorded a high-level meeting between Chinese, American, and French diplomats as they spoke about a plan for a new global government.

The “Chinese-U.S. Partnership”, or CUSP, intends to combine the world’s two largest economies and militaries to usher in a new era of partnership and leadership. But China’s offer has a deadline and penalties for noncompliance. As a safeguard, China has five high tech hypersonic glide vehicles armed with nuclear weapons orbiting the Earth ready to strike. When Zoey disappears in the Eye of Africa, seemingly in pursuit of her father’s killer, Sinclair and Dagger Team are caught off-guard as they scramble to catch up.

Without authorization, Sinclair takes Dagger Team into Dakhla, Morocco as he attempts to save his goddaughter’s life. With too many missions to complete and not enough information, Sinclair and team discover that the Chinese plan is nearly complete. As one nuclear glide vehicle misses Washington, DC but hits Loudoun County, Virginia, Sinclair’s mission in the Sahara is to stop the Chinese from using its ground based laser targeting system before they can more accurately launch the remaining four. Facing insurmountable odds and without support from his government, Sinclair takes his team into the maw of the Saharan death pit, the Eye of Africa.

The second novel in Tata’s Garrett Sinclair series (following 2021’s Chasing the Lion). I haven’t had a chance to read the first book, yet, but I do have it and am looking forward to trying it. Total Empire is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, on March 21st, 2023.

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

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TracyPJ-MN3-DevilYouKnowUSHCP. J. Tracy, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (Minotaur)

Darkness is nothing new to LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, but even she isn’t prepared for the scandalous deception of deadly proportions that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood and its untouchables… and leaves her entangled in its rotten core.

Los Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarefied world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege, and gives her a glimpse of the decay behind the glitter.

Beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide, a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s not clear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’s agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned.

The third novel in Tracy’s Margaret Nolan series. I’ve picked up the first two novels in the series as well, and hope to get caught up very soon. The Devil You Know is due to be published by Minotaur Books in North America and in the UK, on January 17th, 2023.

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

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VoN-SH3-IntoTheRiverlandsNghi Vo, INTO THE RIVERLANDS (Tor.com)

Wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themselves far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be.

Accompanied by Almost Brilliant, a talking bird with an indelible memory, Chih confronts old legends and new dangers alike as they learn that every story — beautiful, ugly, kind, or cruel — bears more than one face.

This is the third novella in Vo’s Singing Hills Cycle — I’ve only read the first, which I really enjoyed (not sure why I never got around to the second…), and am looking forward to catching up. I also read Vo’s Siren Queen, which I really enjoyed. Into the Riverlands is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on October 25th.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Empress of Salt and Fortune and Siren Queen

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

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