New Books (October)

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Featuring: David Baldacci, RJ Barker, Ronald Brownstein, Kacen Callender, M. A. Carrick, Joe Clifford, Sam Cohen, Robert A. Dahl, Laura Dave, J. S. Dewes, Craig DiLouie, Peter Fehervari, Chris Fraser, David Guymer, David Hair, Matthew McConaughey, Ben McPherson, Kristyn Merbeth, Liz Moore, Marcus J. Moore, Nick Nurse, RV Raman, Corbin Reiff, Rebecca Roanhorse, Doug Smith, Bruce Sterling, Stuart Turton, Matthew Ward, Tyler Whitesides, Evan Winter,

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Music Review: CLAYMAN 20th Anniversary Edition by In Flames (Nuclear Blast)

InFlames-Clayman20thIn Flames revisits their groundbreaking sixth album

I discovered In Flames shortly after they released their seventh album, Reroute to Remain. As I later learned, it marked quite a dramatic evolution of the band’s sound that helped catapult them onto a larger stage. Without sacrificing their intensity and much of their heaviness, the album featured more varied and interesting vocal stylings from Anders Fridén (one of my favourite metal vocalists). Clayman was released two years before Reroute to Remain, and in its singles, one could just about hear the seeds of the aforementioned evolution. Continue reading

Quick Review: VAULTS OF OBSIDIAN (Black Library)

BlackstoneFortress-VaultsOfObsidianA collection of stories set on and around the Blackstone Fortress

For uncountable ages the Blackstone Fortress has kept its watchful silence. It patiently waits, willing those brave enough to gamble everything exploring its halls. Only the most determined of adventurers will return with riches – the unworthy are never seen again. But to many, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Among the denizens of Precipice, ratlings, robots, and rogue traders all pursue their own agendas, pitting themselves against the myriad forces of darkness that have claimed the fortress as their own. Deadliest of all is Obsidius Mallex, who aims to twist another Talisman of Vaul to Chaos’ unholy cause. Unless this traitor is stopped, the galaxy will burn beneath the wrath of the Ruinous Gods.

CONTENTS
Talisman of Vaul by Darius Hinks
Shapes Pent in Hell by Josh Reynolds
Fates and Fortunes by Thomas Parrott
Past in Flames by J C Sterns
Negavolt by Nicholas Wolf
The Three-Edged Blade by Denny Flowers
Motherlode by Nick Kyme
Purity is a Lie by Guy Haley
The Oath in Darkness by David Annandale
Man of Iron by Guy Haley
The Beast Inside by Darius Hinks
The Last of the Longhorns by Nick Kyme

I recently read Darius Hinks’s Blackstone Fortress, which served as a great introduction to this setting. Naturally, I was interested in reading more, and Vaults of Obsidian was available for review. It’s an interesting collections of stories, offering a variety of perspectives on the Blackstone Fortress and its unusual place in the WH40k setting. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Music Review: Linkin Park’s HYBRID THEORY 20th Anniversary Edition

LinkinPark-HybridTheory20thA huge new music set from one of nu-metal’s megastars

Like many people who were in their mid-teens as the 1990s ticked over to 2000s, I love Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park’s debut. Chester Bennington’s immense vocal skills leapt out of the speakers, the music sounded big, brash, and catchy AF. The band had their hooks in my mind from the first listen, and aside from a couple of albums that felt phoned in, I’ve been a fan ever since. I don’t believe there’s a day that’s gone by when I haven’t listen to at least one LP song.

Hybrid Theory was an album that was very much of its time, but still sounds good 20 years later. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the band did a deep dive into their archives, and have assembled a huge set with over 80 tracks, many of them rare or previously unreleased.

But should you buy it? Well… Continue reading

Upcoming: Two New Novellas by K.J. Parker!

Each year, K. J. Parker seems to publish at least one novella with Subterranean Press and Tor.com. In 2021, the trend continues with two intriguing and, for me at least, highly-anticipated new novellas. Here are the details:

ParkerKJ-BigScoreTHE BIG SCORE (Subterranean Press) — March 2021

Welcome to the world of Saloninus, the most unlikely Renaissance Man you will ever encounter. A man of many and diverse talents, he is the hero and narrator of K.J. Parker’s witty, hugely entertaining novella, The Big Score.

Saloninus is a man with two distinct professions. In idle moments, he dashes off immortal masterpieces — philosophical treatises, musical compositions, dramas of Shakespearean range and depth — that never manage to turn a profit. His primary profession — that of thief, grifter and itinerant con man — is equally unprofitable, and he spends his life in constant flight from the encroaching forces of the law.

The story opens in the aftermath of Saloninus’s own funeral, an act of self-concealment he has staged many times before. Newly risen from the dead, he encounters an old flame — a sort of archetypal femme fatale — with whom he shares a colorful — and highly illegal — history. She has a plan in mind, one that involves both of Saloninus’s skill sets: criminality and literary genius. If successful, that plan will lead to the elusive “big score” that will set them free forever. Against his better judgment, and fully aware that failure and betrayal may await him, Saloninus agrees to participate. The result is this ingenious — and very funny — tale.

Described as “a comic gem”, the novella “also offers a heartfelt commentary on books, art, and the comforts they provide.” Saloninus is a great character, who also appears in the Blue and Gold (Subterranean Press) and The Devil You Know (Tor.com). The former is also included in the Academic Exercises collection, and the latter in The Father of Lies collection (both published by Subterranean Press).

The Big Score is due to be published by Subterranean Press, in March 2021.

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ParkerKJ-InsideManINSIDE MAN (Tor.com) — June 2021

K. J. Parker returns to the amoral world of Prosper’s Demon with a wry, sardonic novella that flips the eternal, rule-governed battle between men and demons on its head.

An anonymous representative of the Devil, once a high-ranking Duke of Hell and now a committed underachiever, has spent the last forever of an eternity leading a perfectly tedious existence distracting monks from their liturgical devotions. It’s interminable, but he prefers it that way, now that he’s been officially designated by Downstairs as “fragile.” No, he won’t elaborate.

All that changes when he finds himself ensnared, along with a sadistic exorcist, in a labyrinthine plot to subvert the very nature of Good and Evil. In such a circumstance, sympathy for the Devil is practically inevitable.

As the synopsis states, this novella is a sequel to the excellent Prosper’s Demon, which was one of my favourite reads of the year. Really looking forward to where Parker takes the story and setting.

Inside Man is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on June 15th, 2021.

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

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Review: RAPTURE by Nick Nurse & Michael Sokolove (Little, Brown)

NurseN-RaptureNick Nurse’s long journey to the NBA and how his experiences led to the Raptors’ Championship

Nick Nurse distills the wisdom, insight, and experiences that helped him lead the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship in his first year as head coach.

NBA fans had modest  expectations for rookie coach Nick Nurse and his Toronto Raptors. But what those naysayers didn’t realize was that Nurse had spent the past thirty years proving himself at every level of the game, from youth programs and college ball to the NBA D League and Britain’s struggling pro circuit. While few coaches have taken such a circuitous path to pro basketball’s promised land, the journey-which began at Kuemper Catholic high school in Carroll, Iowa-forged a coach who proved to be as unshakable as he is personable.

On the road, he is known to bring his guitar and keyboard for late-night jazz and blues sessions. In the locker room, he’s steadfast and even-keeled regardless of the score. On the court, he pulls out old-school tactics with astounding success. A rookie in name but a veteran in attitude, Nurse is seemingly above the chaos of the game and, with only two seasons on his résumé, has already established himself as one of the NBA’s most admired head coaches.

Now, in this revealing new book — equal parts personal memoir, leadership mani­festo, and philosophical meditation — Nurse tells his own story. Given unprecedented access inside the Raptors’ locker room, readers get an intimate study of not only the team culture he has built, but also of a rookie coach’s unique dynamic with the star players — such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Low­ry, and Pascal Siakam — who helped trail-blaze the 2019 championship run. As much for readers of Ray Dalio as for fans of John Wooden and Pat Summitt, Rapture promis­es to be a necessary read for anyone looking to forge their own path to success.

I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced (which was, I think, shortly after the Raptors’ NBA victory last summer). I started reading this a couple of days after it came out, and zipped through it. Written in an inviting and engaging style, Rapture is a quick and interesting read. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: HI FIVE by Joe Ide (Mulholland/W&N)

IdeJ-IQ4-HiFiveUSIsaiah Quintabe’s latest case is a matter of perspectives…

One woman. Five personalities. Private investigator IQ is back to piece together a Newport Beach murder with an eyewitness who gives “people person” a whole new meaning.

Christiana is the daughter of the biggest arms dealer on the West Coast, Angus Byrne. She’s also the sole witness and number one suspect in the murder of her boyfriend, found dead in her Newport Beach boutique. Isaiah Quintabe is coerced into taking the case to prove her innocence. If he can’t, Angus will harm the brilliant PI’s new girlfriend, ending her career.

The catch: Christiana has multiple personalities. Among them, a naïve, beautiful shopkeeper, an obnoxious drummer in a rock band, and a wanton seductress.

Isaiah’s dilemma: no one personality saw the entire incident. To find out what really happened the night of the murder, Isaiah must piece together clues from each of the personalities… before the cops close in on him.

In IQ’s latest outing, Long Beach’s favourite private detective finds himself wandering into the world of gun running, murder, and a rather unique suspect. Another good book in the series. Continue reading

Quick Review: WRECKED by Joe Ide (Mulholland/W&N)

IdeJ-IQ3-WreckedUSThe case of a young artist’s missing mother sets IQ on a collision course with his own Moriarty.

Isaiah Quintabe — IQ for short — has never been more successful, or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him so notorious that he can hardly go to the corner store without being recognized. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ’s PI business some real legitimacy: a Facebook page, and IQ’s promise to stop accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleanings in exchange for PI services.

So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it’s not just the case Isaiah’s looking for, but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can’t see coming.

Waiting for Isaiah around every corner is Seb, the Oxford-educated African gangster who was responsible for the death of his brother, Marcus. Only, this time, Isaiah’s not alone. Joined by a new love interest and his familiar band of accomplices, IQ is back — and the adventures are better than ever.

The third novel in Joe Ide’s acclaimed Isaiah Quintabe series. Another well-paced and engaging mystery, as IQ is hired to find an artist’s mother. Unbeknownst to him, however, some very shady, well-funded mercs are also after the mother. IQ is in for a very tough investigation… Continue reading

Interview with DAVID HAIR

HairD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is David Hair?

Hi, I’m a New Zealander who writes fantasy fiction. Sometimes that’s epic fantasy, other times mythic, YA or adventure stories. I’ve written 22 novels to date, some set in imagined worlds, others in ours. Readers might best know The Moontide Quartet and it’s sequels. I enjoy travel, football, wine, staying fit and spending time with family and friends.

Your new series will start with Map’s Edge, due to be published by Jo Fletcher Books in October. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce the novel and series to a potential reader?

Map’s Edge is the first book of The Tethered Citadel It’s a fast-paced adventure story about a journey into the unknown, on a fantasy world where humanity is living in the shadow of an Ice Age brought on by misused sorcery. At its core, it’s about misfits banding together in a “road movie” that gradually introduces themes around culture clash and colonialism. Hopefully it’ll be a fun read while having some emotional and moral heft. Continue reading

Quick Review: GATHERING DARK by Candice Fox (Arrow/Forge)

FoxC-JS1-GatheringDarkUKA disillusioned cop, a recently-released killer, a missing girl, and a whole lot of trouble…

Blair Harbour’s life as Hollywood’s top paediatric surgeon was perfect, until the night she was jailed for a murder she says she didn’t commit.

With ten years of freedom lost, her medical licence cancelled and her son being raised by foster parents, she’s ready to start again from scratch.

But when a former cellmate begs for help finding her missing daughter, Blair must risk it all to save a young life. Her only allies are a thief, a ganglord and the cop who put her away.

To do the right thing, Blair must mix with all the wrong people.

Will it put her new-found freedom on the line?

A good start to a new crime series set in LA. Gathering Dark introduces a new detective, Jessica Sanchez, who finds herself at the confluence of two old cases that are making her life increasingly stressful and potentially deadly. With a cast of interesting characters, a well-paced investigation, and plenty of commentary on America’s justice system, I enjoyed this. Continue reading