New Books (January-February 2023)


Nicely varied selection, from thrillers to history. In an unusual twist, I’ve already read a few of them, too. Any of these upcoming titles catch your eye?

Featuring: David Baldacci, Sarah Clegg, Gareth Hanrahan, Nash Jenkins, Cassandra Khaw, Hannah Kaner, Ian McDonald, Aimee Ogden, Megan E. O’Keefe, Adrian Tchaikovsky, David Wellington


BaldacciD-SimplyLiesUSHCDavid Baldacci, SIMPLY LIES (Grand Central Publishing)

A twisting new psychological thriller in which two women — one a former detective, the other a dangerous con artist — go head-to-head in an electrifying game of cat and mouse.

Mickey Gibson, single mother and former detective, leads a hectic life similar to that of many moms: juggling the demands of her two small children with the tasks of her job working remotely for ProEye, a global investigation company that hunts down wealthy tax and credit cheats.

When Mickey gets a call from a colleague named Arlene Robinson, she thinks nothing of Arlene’s unusual request for her to go inventory the vacant home of an arms dealer who cheated ProEye’s clients and fled. That is, until she arrives at the mansion to discover a dead body in a secret room — and that nothing is as it seems.

Not only does the arms dealer not exist but the murder victim turns out to be Harry Lancaster, a man with mob ties who used to be in Witness Protection. What’s more, no one named Arlene Robinson works at ProEye.

In the blink of an eye, Gibson has become a prime suspect in a murder investigation — and now her job is also on the line until she proves that she was set up. Before long, Gibson is locked in a battle of wits with a brilliant woman with no name, a hidden past, and unknown motives — whose end game is as mysterious as it is deadly.

A new standalone thriller, from one of my favourite authors. (Although one who I am still woefully behind on — he writes a lot, and because I try to mix things up for myself and for the site, I have allowed a fair number of his books to remain unread. I really hope to rectify this oversight soon.) Simply Lies is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (April 18th) and Macmillan in the UK (April 13th).

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

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


CleggS-WomansLoreUKHCSarah Clegg, WOMAN’S LORE (Apollo)

The history of a demonic tradition that was stolen from women – and then won back again.

Demonic temptresses – from siren-mermaids to Lilith – are well known today, and their mythology focuses around the seductive danger they pose to men. But the root of these figures can be traced back 4,000 years and in their earliest incarnations they were in fact demons worshipped and feared by women: like Lamashtu, the horrific talon-footed, serpentine monster, who strangled infants and murdered pregnant women, or the Gello, the ghost of a girl who had died a virgin and so killed expectant mothers and their babies out of jealousy.

This history of a demonic tradition from ancient Mesopotamia to the present day – from Lamashtu and Gello, to Lamia and Lilith, and mermaids and vampires – shows how these demons were co-opted by a male-centred society, before being recast as symbols of women’s liberation. We also learn what this evolution can tell us about the experience of women and womanhood: the danger of childbirth, changing attitudes towards sexuality and the movement for women’s rights.

Hadn’t heard of this book before I saw it available for review request. Thought it sounded like an interesting topic, and looking forward to giving it a try. Woman’s Lore is due to be published by Apollo in the UK, on March 2nd.

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


HanrahanG-LotF1-SwordDefiantHCGareth Hanrahan, THE SWORD DEFIANT (Orbit)

Set in a world of dark myth and dangerous prophecy, The Sword Defiant launches an epic tale of daring warriors, living weapons, and bloodthirsty vengeance.

The sword cares not who it cuts.

Many years ago, Sir Aelfric and his nine companions saved the world, seizing the Dark Lord’s cursed weapons, along with his dread city of Necrad. That was the easy part.

Now, when Aelfric – keeper of the cursed sword Spellbreaker – learns of a new and terrifying threat, he seeks the nine heroes once again. But they are wandering adventurers no longer. Yesterday’s eager heroes are today’s weary leaders – and some have turned to the darkness, becoming monsters themselves.

If there’s one thing Aelfric knows, it’s slaying monsters. Even if they used to be his friends.

The first in a new epic fantasy novel from the author of the Black Iron Legacy. I somehow managed to not finish that first series (through no fault of the novel that I did read), but this one also sounds great, so I hope to dip in as soon as I can. The Sword Defiant is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on May 2nd.

Also on CR: Interview with Gareth Hanrahan (); Review of The Gutter Prayer

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


JenkinsN-FosterDadeExploresTheCosmosUSHCNash Jenkins, FOSTER DADE EXPLORES THE COSMOS (Overlook Press)

When Foster Dade arrives at Kennedy, an elite boarding school in New Jersey, the year is 2008. Barack Obama begins his first term as president; Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit bump from the newly debuted iPhone; teenagers share confidences and rumors over BlackBerry Messenger and iChat; and the internet as we know it is slowly emerging from its cocoon. So, too, is Foster emerging — a transfer student and anxious young man, Foster is stumbling through adolescence in the wake of his parents’ scandalous divorce. But Foster soon finds himself in the company of Annabeth Whittaker and Jack Albright, the twin centers of Kennedy’s social gravity, who take him under their wing to navigate the cliques and politics of the carelessly entitled.

Eighteen months later, Foster will be expelled, following a tragic scandal that leaves Kennedy and its students irreparably changed. When our nameless narrator inherits Foster’s old dorm room, he begins an epic yearslong investigation into what exactly happened. Through interviews with former classmates, Foster’s blog posts, playlists, and text archives, and the narrator’s own obsessive imagination, a story unfurls — Foster’s, yes, but also one that asks us who owns our personal narratives, and how we shape ourselves to be the heroes or villains of our own stories.

Foster Dade Explores the Cosmos is about privilege and power, the pitfalls of masculinity and its expectations, and, most distinctly, how we create the mythologies that give meaning to our lives. With his debut novel, Nash Jenkins brilliantly captures the emotional intensities of adolescence in the dizzying early years of the twenty-first century.

Hadn’t heard of this before I was offered a review copy. Sounded interesting (“Prep meets The Secret History“), so thought I’d give it a try. Foster Dad Explores the Cosmos is due to be published by Overlook Press in North America, on May 16th.

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


KanerH-1-GodkillerUKHCHannah Kaner, GODKILLER (Voyager)

You are not welcome here, godkiller

Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.

Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour.

Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it.

This has been getting a good deal of buzz, both pre- and post-publication. I decided to give it a try, and I liked what I read. There’s some very good and interesting world-building, well-drawn characters, and it moves at a pretty good clip. It didn’t work for me as much as I’d hoped, though, but that could have been a result of my mood (very busy at the moment, so a bit distracted). It did leave me interested in reading whatever Kaner writes next. Godkiller is out now, published in the UK by Harper Voyager.

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


KhawC-SaltGrowsHeavyUSHCCassandra Khaw, THE SALT GROWS HEAVY (Tor Nightfire)

After murdering her husband and burning his kingdom to cinders, a mermaid joins a strange doctor on a journey through the eerie taiga. Deep in the woods, the pair stumble upon a village, full of seemingly ageless children and the three surgeons who oversee them — called only “the saints.”

After discovering the villagers’ taste for a sinister blood sport, the mermaid and her companion must embrace the darkest parts of their true nature, if they hope to survive.

The latest horror masterpiece from Khaw! Always look forward to a new books from Khaw, whether full-length novel or (like this one) a novella, and I’m looking forward to diving in. The Salt Grows Heavy is due to be published by Tor Nightfire in North America and Titan Books in the UK, on May 2nd.

Also on CR: Interview with Cassandra Khaw (2016); Guest Post on “Everything is Exhausting…”

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


McDonald-HopelandUSHCIan McDonald, HOPELAND (Tor Books)

A time-traveling, futuristic saga of a family trying to outlast and remake a universe with a power unlike any we’ve seen before.

When Raisa Hopeland, determined to win her race to become the next electromancer of London, bumps into Amon Brightbourne — tweed-suited, otherworldly, guided by the Grace — in the middle of a London riot, she sets in motion a series of events which will span decades, continents and a series of events which will change the world.

From rioting London to geothermal Iceland to the climate-struck islands of Polynesia, from birth to life to death, from tranquillity to terror to joy, Raisa’s journey will encompass the world. But one thing will always be true.

Hopeland is family — and family is dangerous.

I haven’t read nearly as many of Ian McDonald’s books as I perhaps should have. He’s lauded far and wide, and I’ve enjoyed the books and short stories of his that I have read. I’ll have to go back and read some of his earlier novels (The Dervish HouseNecropolis, and his India 2047 duology look particularly interesting). In the meantime, however, I’m going to read his latest as soon as I can. Hopeland is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (February 14th) and Gollancz in the UK (February 16th).

Also on CR: Excerpt from King of Morning, Queen of Day

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


OgdenA-EmergentPropertiesAimee Ogden, EMERGENT PROPERTIES (

The touching adventure of an intrepid A.I. reporter hot on the heels of brewing corporate warfare…

A state-of-the-art AI with a talent for asking questions and finding answers, Scorn is nevertheless a parental disappointment. Defying the expectations of zir human mothers, CEOs of the world’s most powerful corporations, Scorn has made a life of zir own as an investigative reporter, crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of the truth, no matter the danger.

In the middle of investigating a story on the moon, Scorn comes back online to discover ze has no memory of the past ten days—and no idea what story ze was even chasing. Letting it go is not an option—not if ze wants to prove zirself. Scorn must retrace zir steps in a harrowing journey to uncover an even more explosive truth than ze could have ever imagined.

Aside from the eye-catching cover, it was Sarah Pinsker’s blurb that made me want to read this: “If you’re missing your Murderbot fix, Emergent Properties is a worthy successor.” As a huge fan of Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries (I know: this doesn’t exactly put me in an elite minority), as well as stories with journalist protagonists, it made me read the synopsis. And that description only made me even more interested in reading the novella. As it happened, I got this as I was in-between reads, and stuck for what to try next. I read it in a couple of sittings, and it’s pretty interesting and well-done. Worth a look if you’re in search of a quick-fix SF story. Emergent Properties is due to be published by in North America and in the UK, on July 25th.

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


OKeefeM-BlightedStarsUSHCMegan E. O’Keefe, THE BLIGHTED STARS (Orbit)

When a spy is stranded on a dead planet with her mortal enemy, she must first figure out how to survive before she can uncover the conspiracy that landed them there.

She’s a revolutionary. Humanity is running out of options. Habitable planets are being destroyed as quickly as they’re found and Naira Sharp thinks she knows the reason why. The all-powerful Mercator family has been controlling the exploration of the universe for decades, and exploiting any materials they find along the way under the guise of helping humanity’s expansion. But Naira knows the truth, and she plans to bring the whole family down from the inside.

He’s the heir to the dynasty. Tarquin Mercator never wanted to run a galaxy-spanning business empire. He just wanted to study rocks and read books. But Tarquin’s father has tasked him with monitoring the settlement of a new planet, and he doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. 

Disguised as Tarquin’s new bodyguard, Naira plans to destroy the settlement ship before they make land. But neither of them expects to end up stranded on a dead planet. To survive and keep her secret, Naira will have to join forces with the man she’s sworn to hate. And together they will uncover a plot that’s bigger than both of them.

The start of a new space opera series—The Devoured Worlds, from the author of the Protectorate trilogy. Premise caught my attention (as did the cover), and I’m looking forward to reading this soon. The Blighted Stars is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on May 23rd.

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


Tchaikovsky-FA3-LordsOfUncreationUSHCAdrian Tchaikovsky, LORDS OF UNCREATION (Orbit)

He’s found a way to end their war, but will humanity survive to see it?

Idris Telemmier has uncovered a secret that changes everything – the Architects’ greatest weakness. A shadowy Cartel scrambles to turn his discovery into a weapon against these alien destroyers of worlds. But between them and victory stands self-interest. The galaxy’s great powers would rather pursue their own agendas than stand together against this shared terror.

Human and inhuman interests wrestle to control Idris’ discovery, as the galaxy erupts into a mutually destructive and self-defeating war. The other great obstacle to striking against their alien threat is Idris himself. He knows that the Architects, despite their power, are merely tools of a higher intelligence.

Deep within unspace, where time moves differently, and reality isn’t quite what it seems, their masters are the true threat. Masters who are just becoming aware of humanity’s daring – and taking steps to exterminate this annoyance forever.

The third novel in Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture science fiction series. (Damn, how fast does he write?!) Lords of Uncreation is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (May 2nd) and Tor Books in the UK (April 27th).

Also on CR: Reviews of Shards of Earth, Children of Ruin, and One Day All This Will Be Yours

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


WellingtonD-P1-Paradise1David Wellington, PARADISE-1 (Orbit)

Paradise-1 follows two agents from the United Earth Government as they investigate the complete disappearance of humanity’s first deep space colony. 

When Special Agent Petrov and Dr. Lei Zhang are woken up from cryogenic sleep, dragged freezing and dripping wet out of their pods with the ships’s alarms blaring in the background, they know something is very wrong.  Warned by the Captain that they’re under attack, they have no choice but to investigate. 

It doesn’t take much time to learn that they’ve been met by another vessel — a vessel from Paradis-One, Earth’s first deep-space colony, and their final destination. 

Worse still, the vessel is empty. And it carries with it the message that all communications from the 150,000 souls inhabiting the Paradis-One has completely ceased.

Petrov and Zhang must board the empty ship and delve further into deep space to discover the truth of the colony’s disappearanc — but the further they go, the more dangers loom.

This is the first novel in a new science fiction series from Wellington. I don’t remember the last thing of his that I read, but this one sounds pretty intriguing. Looking forward to reading it. Paradise-1 is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (April 4th) and in the UK (April 6th).

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


WilsonPH-IronAndBloodUSHCPeter H. Wilson, IRON AND BLOOD (Belknap Press)

German military history is typically viewed as an inexorable march to the rise of Prussia and the two world wars, the road paved by militarism and the result a specifically German way of war. Peter Wilson challenges this narrative. Looking beyond Prussia to German-speaking Europe across the last five centuries, Wilson finds little unique or preordained in German militarism or warfighting.

Iron and Blood takes as its starting point the consolidation of the Holy Roman Empire, which created new mechanisms for raising troops but also for resolving disputes diplomatically. Both the empire and the Swiss Confederation were largely defensive in orientation, while German participation in foreign wars was most often in partnership with allies. The primary aggressor in Central Europe was not Prussia but the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, yet Austria’s strength owed much to its ability to secure allies. Prussia, meanwhile, invested in militarization but maintained a part-time army well into the nineteenth century. Alongside Switzerland, which relied on traditional militia, both states exemplify the longstanding civilian element within German military power.

Only after Prussia’s unexpected victory over France in 1871 did Germans and outsiders come to believe in a German gift for warfare ― a special capacity for high-speed, high-intensity combat that could overcome numerical disadvantage. It took two world wars to expose the fallacy of German military genius. Yet even today, Wilson argues, Germany’s strategic position is misunderstood. The country now seen as a bastion of peace spends heavily on defense in comparison to its peers and is deeply invested in less kinetic contemporary forms of coercive power.

This is a beast of a book: a 750-page history of German warfare, but place in the context of German political, social and cultural history. I was drawn to this because I’m helping out with a Modern Germany course at a local university, and I thought this would be a good way to prepare. (Every year, I like to find a new book on the subjects that I work on, and this fit the bill nicely.) Iron And Blood is due to be published by Belknap Press in North America on February 14th; it is out now in the UK, published by Allen Lane.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley

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