New Books (November-December)

NewBooks-20221231

The final New Books posts for titles received in 2022. It’s been a pretty great year for reading: plenty of great new books, as well as plenty of great advance review copies. I’ve already made quite a dent in my 2023 reading, which is a nice change — I’m still too prone to “saving for later” when it comes to books, even ones I am most anticipating or eager to read. No idea why I keep doing this. I guess one of my resolutions is to read what I want, when I want. There’s no reason why I have to stick to any kind of schedule.

So, a fond farewell to 2022, and here’s to a great 2023 of reading!

Featuring: Nicole Arend, M. R. Carey, Christopher Farnsworth, Rebecca Fraimow, K. J. Parker, Deena Mohamed, Kirthana Ramisetti, Scott J, Shapiro, Caitlin Shetterly, Richard Swan, Daniel Torday, Chris Wraight

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ArendN-Vamps1-FreshBloodUSNicole Arend, VAMPS: FRESH BLOOD (Atria)

Nestled in the Swiss Alps, VAMPS is the ultimate academy for the children of the most wealthy and powerful vampire families. Unfortunately for Dillon, he’s an outsider—to be more specific, he’s a dhampir: a vampire that is half human.

If he wants to survive more than a single term, he’s going to need to embrace his fangs. But blood never lies and soon, it becomes clear there is something special and deadly in Dillon’s veins. But as his power grows, so does the target on his back…

Before this was offered to me for review, I think I’d spotted the cover floating around on social media, but hadn’t really taken a look at the synopsis. Given the rise in popularity of “dark academia” as a sub-genre, and the perennial popularity of vampires, I suppose it was inevitable that a book about “an elite vampire academy” would arrive on shelves. Vamps: Fresh Blood is due to be published by Atria Books in North America on January 3rd, 2023; it is out now in the UK, published by Simon & Schuster.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received from publisher

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CareyMR-P1-InfinityGateM. R. Carey, INFINITY GATE (Orbit)

INFINITY IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

The Pandominion: a political and trading alliance of a million worlds – except that they’re really just the one world, Earth, in many different realities. And when an AI threat arises that could destroy everything the Pandominion has built, they’ll eradicate it by whatever means necessary, no matter the cost to human life.

Scientist Hadiz Tambuwal is looking for a solution to her own Earth’s environmental collapse when she stumbles across the secret of inter-dimensional travel. It could save everyone on her dying planet, but now she’s walked into the middle of a war on a scale she never dreamed of.

And she needs to choose a side before it kills her.

The first novel in a new science fiction trilogy from the best-selling author of The Girl With All the Gifts (one of my favourite novels of the last decade or so). Looking forward to reading this soon, and especially interesting in seeing Carey’s approach to SF. Infinity Gate is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on March 28th, 2023.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Writing Strong Women”; Review of The Girl With All the Gifts

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

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FarnsworthC-ReunionChristopher Farnsworth, REUNION

A girl detective. A boy genius. A warrior princess. A young magician. Four young people with extraordinary gifts.

For years, they solved mysteries, caught crooks, and slayed monsters. They were secret heroes, keeping an idyllic small town in the middle of America safe from the things that lurked in the dark.

Then, the year of their high school graduation, the darkness came for them.

During what the media called “New Year’s Evil,” a demonic force rose to turn their hometown into a literal Hell on Earth.

They gathered to stop it. They fought. And they won.

The rest of the world never discovered the truth behind the disaster. For 20 years, the four tried living like normal people.

Now their past is coming back to haunt them.

The darkness is gathering once more. They’re summoned back to their hometown to face it, along with everything else they left behind.

Last time, they saved the world. This time, they’ll have to do something much harder.

They’ll have to save each other.

I’ve been a fan of Farnsworth’s writing for quite some time, now, so I’m always interested in reading anything new he writes. Great premise for this latest novel. Hope to get to it very soon. Reunion is out now in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Farnsworth (2011); Excerpt from Flashmob/Hunt You Down; Reviews of Blood Oath, The President’s Vampire, Killfile, Flashmob/Hunt You Down

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

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FraimowR-IronChildrenRebecca Fraimow, THE IRON CHILDREN (Solaris)

Asher has been training her entire life to become a Sor-Commander. One day, she’ll give her soul to the gilded, mechanical body of the Sor and become a commander to a battalion of Dedicates. These soldiers, encased in exoskeletons, with extra arms, and telepathic subordination to the Sor-Commanders, are the only thing that’s kept the much larger Levastani army of conquest at bay for decades.

But while on a training journey, Asher and her party are attacked, and her commander is incapacitated, leaving her alone to lead the unit across a bitterly cold, unstable mountain. Worse, one of the Dedicates is not what they seem: a spy for the enemy, with their own reasons to hate their mechanical body and the people who put them in it.

To get off the mountain alive, Asher and her unit will need to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice — and what for.

The first novella announced for Solaris Books’ 2023 Satellites series. Sounds pretty interesting. Hope to get to it soon. The Iron Children is due to be published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on April 23rd, 2023.

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

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MohamedD-ShubeikLubeikDeena Mohamed, SHUBEIK LUBEIK (Pantheon)

Three wishes that are sold at an unassuming kiosk in Cairo link Aziza, Nour, and Shokry, changing their perspectives as well as their lives. Aziza learned early that life can be hard, but when she loses her husband and manages to procure a wish, she finds herself fighting bureau­cracy and inequality for the right to have — and make — that wish. Nour is a privileged college student who secretly struggles with depression and must decide whether or not to use their wish to try to “fix” this depression, and then figure out how to do it. And, finally, Shokry must grapple with his religious convictions as he decides how to help a friend who doesn’t want to use their wish. Deena Mohamed brings to life a cast of characters whose struggles and triumphs are heartbreaking, inspiring, and deeply resonant.

Although their stories are fantastical — featuring talking donkeys, dragons, and cars that can magically avoid traffic — each of these people grapples with the very real challenge of trying to make their most deeply held desires come true.

This is Mohamed’s debut graphic novel, one that “imagines a fantastical alternate Cairo where wishes really do come true.” I thought the premise sounded really interesting, so when the publisher reached out, I thought I’d give it a try. Looking forward to reading it soon. Subeik Lubeik is due to be published by Pantheon in North America (January 10th, 2023) and Granta in the UK (January 12th).

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

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ParkerKJ-UnderMySkinK. J. Parker, UNDER MY SKIN (Subterranean Press)

— anyone who reads the right book has an ally

Here is the right book. Under My Skin, K.J. Parker’s superb new collection, includes almost 700 pages of novelettes and novellas, some appearing here for the first time anywhere, with one completely new novel-length tale, Relics.

These stories are everything readers have come to expect from Parker, populated by con men and kings, magicians who don’t do magic and messiahs who don’t offer redemption, by holy men and holy fools. But be warned, not only is all perhaps not what it seems, all can usually be counted on to not be what it seems. Parker’s unruly and unreliable narrators, who sometimes fool themselves even more than they fool us, stride along muddy paths through lonely hills or across marble floors in grand palaces, always finding trapdoors opening beneath them.

In “The Thought That Counts,” for example, a man who claims to have been magically granted the wisdom of the world finds that he’s not wise enough to recognize a figure from his past who may prove that wisdom isn’t enough in every situation. In My Beautiful Life, a man who starts life as the son of a village prostitute rises as high in his world as anyone can, only to find that tumbling from such a height makes for a long, long fall. And in the epistolary novel Relics, readers are offered not just one unreliable narrator but two, as an archduke and a relic hunter describe their highs and lows to one another in a series of missives that even the writers don’t necessarily fully believe, much less the recipients.

New collection of K. J. Parker short(er) fiction? Guaranteed to grab my attention and interest. I was lucky enough to get a review copy from the publisher, and I’ll be reading this ASAP (perhaps around my other reading). Under My Skin is due to be published by Subterranean Press in March 2023.

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

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

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RamisettiK-AdvikaAndTheHollywoodWivesUSHCKirthana Ramisetti, ADVIKA AND THE HOLLYWOOD WIVES (Grand Central Publishing)

Advika Srinivasan never thought she’d be someone’s fourth wife, let alone the new wife of Julian Zelding, one of Hollywood’s most renowned film producers…

At age 26, Advika Srinivasan considers herself a failed screenwriter. To pay the bills and keep her mind off of the recent death of her twin sister, she’s taken to bartending A-list events, including the 2015 Governors Ball, the official afterparty of the Oscars. There, in a cinematic dream come true, she meets the legendary Julian Zelding—a film producer as handsome as Paul Newman and ten times as powerful—fresh off his fifth best picture win. Despite their 41-year age difference, Advika falls helplessly under his spell, and their evening flirtation ignites into a whirlwind courtship and elopement. Advika is enthralled by Julian’s charm and luxurious lifestyle, but while Julian loves to talk about his famous friends and achievements, he smoothly changes the subject whenever his previous relationships come up. Then, a month into their marriage, Julian’s first wife—the famous actress Evie Lockhart—dies, and a tabloid reports a shocking stipulation in her will. A single film reel and $1,000,000 will be bequeathed to “Julian’s latest child bride” on one condition: Advika must divorce him first.

Shaken out of her love fog and still-simmering grief over the loss of her sister—and uneasy about Julian’s sudden, inexplicable urge to start a family—Advika decides to investigate him through the eyes and experiences of his exes. From reading his first wife’s biography, to listening to his second wife’s confessional albums, to watching his third wife’s Real Housewives-esque reality show, Advika starts to realize how little she knows about her husband. Realizing she rushed into the marriage for all the wrong reasons, Advika uses the info gleaned from the lives of her husband’s exes to concoct a plan to extricate herself from Julian once and for all.

This is the second novel by the author of Dava Shastri’s Last Day. It was the intriguing premise that caught my attention — as I’ve now written too many times on CR, I do enjoy discovering and reading new mystery (or mystery-adjacent) novels with a Hollywood element. Advika and the Hollywood Wives is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and in the UK, on April 11th.

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

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ShapiroSJ-FancyBearGoesPhishingUSHCScott J. Shapiro, FANCY BEAR GOES PHISHING (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

An entertaining account of the philosophy and technology of hacking — and why we all need to understand it.

It’s a signal paradox of our times that we live in an information society but do not know how it works. And without understanding how our information is stored, used, and protected, we are vulnerable to having it exploited. In Fancy Bear Goes Phishing, Scott J. Shapiro draws on his popular Yale University class about hacking to expose the secrets of the digital age. With lucidity and wit, he establishes that cybercrime has less to do with defective programming than with the faulty wiring of our psyches and society. And because hacking is a human-interest story, he tells the fascinating tales of perpetrators, including Robert Morris Jr., the graduate student who accidentally crashed the internet in the 1980s, and the Bulgarian “Dark Avenger,” who invented the first mutating computer-virus engine. We also meet a sixteen-year-old from South Boston who took control of Paris Hilton’s cell phone, the Russian intelligence officers who sought to take control of a US election, and others.

In telling their stories, Shapiro exposes the hackers’ tool kits and gives fresh answers to vital questions: Why is the internet so vulnerable? What can we do in response? Combining the philosophical adventure of Gödel, Escher, Bach with dramatic true-crime narrative, the result is a lively and original account of the future of hacking, espionage, and war, and of how to live in an era of cybercrime.

This looked interesting, and I have always been fascinated by books about hackers, technology, and its misuse (see, for example, most books on Facebook). There are a couple of others I’d like to try out, too, but I guess I’ll start with this one. (Geoff White’s The Lazarus Heist is another one high on my to-read list.) Fancy Bear Goes Phishing is due to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in North America, and Allen Lane in the UK, on May 23rd, 2023.

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

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ShetterlyC-PeteAndAliceInMaineUSHCCaitlin Shetterly, PETE AND ALICE IN MAINE (Harper)

Reeling from a painful betrayal in her marriage as the Covid pandemic takes hold in New York City, Alice packs up her family and flees to their vacation home in Maine. She hopes to find sanctuary — from the uncertainties of the exploding pandemic and her faltering marriage.

Putting distance between herself and the stresses and troubles of city life, Alice begins to feel safe and relieved. But the locals are far from friendly. Trapped and forced into quarantine by hostile neighbors, Alice sees the imprisoning structure of her life in this new predicament. Stripped down to the bare essentials of survival and tending to the needs of her two children, she can no longer ignore all the ways in which she feels limited and lost — lost in the big city, lost as a wife, lost as a mother, lost as a daughter and lost as a person.

As the world shifts around her and the balance in her marriage tilts, Alice and her husband, Pete, are left to consider if what keeps their family safe is the same thing as what keeps their family together.

Not going to lie, it was Richard Russo’s blurb that made me interested in reading this. Sounds interesting. I hadn’t intended on reading it so soon (since it’s not out until the middle of next year), but I was stuck for a next read at one point, and just opened it up — next thing I knew, I was about a quarter of the way in. Very good writing. Pete and Alice in Maine is due to be published by Harper in North America, on July 4th, 2023.

Also on CR: Review of Pete and Alice in Maine

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

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SwanR-EotW2-TyrannyOfFaithRichard Swan, THE TYRANNY OF FAITH (Orbit)

Action, intrigue, and magic collide in the second book in an epic fantasy trilogy, where Sir Konrad Vonvalt’s role as an Emperor’s Justice requires him to be a detective, judge, and executioner all in one—but these are dangerous times to be a Justice…

A Justice’s work is never done. 

The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but the war for the Empire’s future has just begun. Concerned by rumors that the Magistratum’s authority is waning, Sir Konrad Vonvalt returns to Sova to find the capital city gripped by intrigue and whispers of rebellion. In the Senate, patricians speak openly against the Emperor, while fanatics preach holy vengeance on the streets.

Yet facing down these threats to the throne will have to wait, for the Emperor’s grandson has been kidnapped – and Vonvalt is charged with rescuing the missing prince. His quest will lead him – and his allies Helena, Bressinger and Sir Radomir – to the southern frontier, where they will once again face the puritanical fury of Bartholomew Claver and his templar knights – and a dark power far more terrifying than they could have imagined.

This is easily one of my most-anticipated novels of 2023. Swan’s debut, The Justice of Kings is one of the best fantasy debuts I’ve read — up there with Peter V. Brett’s The Warded/Painted Man and Mike Shackle’s We Are the Dead. So, when this became available for review, I jumped at the chance. I’ll be reading this very soon. The Tyranny of Faith is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on August 8th, 2023.

Also on CR: Interview with Richard Swan (2021); Review of The Justice of Kings

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

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TordayD-12thCommandmentUSHCDaniel Torday, THE 12TH COMMANDMENT (St. Martin’s Press)

Swirling with secrets and their consequences, exploring how revelation and redemption might be accessed through sin, and driven through twists and turns toward a startling conclusion, The 12th Commandment is a brilliant novel by award-winning author Daniel Torday.

The Dönme sect—a group of Jewish-Islamic adherents with ancient roots — lives in an isolated community on rural land outside of smalltown Mt. Izmir, Ohio. Self-sustaining, deeply-religious, and heavily-armed, they have followed their self-proclaimed prophet, Natan of Flatbush, from Brooklyn to this new land.

But the brutal murder of Natan’s teenage son throws their tight community into turmoil.

When Zeke Leger, a thirty-year-old writer at a national magazine, arrives from New York for the funeral of a friend, he becomes intrigued by the case, and begins to report on the murder. His college girlfriend Johanna Franklin prosecuted the case, and believes it is closed. Before he knows it, Zeke becomes entangled in the conflict between the Dönme, suspicious local citizens, Johanna, and the law—with dangerous implications for his body and his soul.

This is the latest novel from the author of the highly-recommended Boomer1 (2019) and The Last Flight of Poxl West (2016). Thought the premise sounded really interesting, and looking forward to reading it as soon as possible. The 12th Commandment is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, on January 17th, 2023.

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

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WraightC-HHP17-SanguiniusChris Wraight, SANGUINIUS: THE GREAT ANGEL (Black Library)

“I have always been the master of wretches, and have learned from that. I am a wretch myself, a non-standard. To purify and to transform – that has been our gift.”

Sanguinius, the very image of an angel, has chosen to obscure the origins of his Legion, and prevents outsiders from setting foot on his home world. A remembrancer attempts to discover why.

Sanguinius is the Great Angel, most beloved of all the primarchs, his mighty exploits celebrated throughout the entire Imperium as the Crusade expands into the void. And yet the origins of his Legion are shrouded in mystery and rumour, his unique physical form is an enigma, and his perilous home world remains off-limits to all but his own secretive people.

When a discredited remembrancer arrives with the expeditionary fleets to chronicle the primarch’s deeds, he has to work hard to uncover the truth behind the legends. As he accompanies the IX Legion to war against the enemies of the Emperor, the curious scholar comes to learn much more than he expected – not just about the subjects of his study, but also the nature of the Imperium itself.

The latest (and penultimate?) novel in the Primarchs series. I read this pretty soon after getting it, and I very much enjoyed it. The Primarchs series has been a bit hit-and-miss, but Wraight’s latest contribution is easily among the best of the lot (along with Alpharius and Angron, in my opinion). The perspective character is excellent, and I very much enjoyed the tone that he brought to the story. Overall, definitely recommended for all fans of the Horus Heresy series and also the Blood Angels in general. This also pairs rather nicely with the latest Siege of Terra novel, Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Echoes of Eternity (which also features the Blood Angels and their Primarch rather prominently). Sanguinius is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Chris Wraight (2011); Reviews of Brotherhood of the StormThe Path of Heaven, Valdor, Warhawk, The Emperor’s Legion

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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