Upcoming: IF THEN by Jill Lepore (Liveright)

LeporeJ-IfThenA new Jill Lepore book is always something to celebrate! And this latest looks quite different from the author’s previous histories. In the past, Lepore has covered topics such as the storytelling tradition in America (The Story of America), The Secret History of Wonder Woman, and has also tackled the Herculean task of writing a single-volume history of the United States (These Truths). If Then is a history of a data company established during the Cold War and how its influence can still be felt today. Here’s the synopsis:

A brilliant, revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century, from the author of the acclaimed international bestseller These Truths.

The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, mined data, targeted voters, accelerated news, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge — decades before Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Cambridge Analytica. Silicon Valley likes to imagine that it has no past, but the scientists of Simulmatics are the long-dead grandfathers of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Borrowing from psychological warfare, they used computers to predict and direct human behavior, deploying their “People Machine” from New York, Cambridge, and Saigon for clients that included John Kennedy’s presidential campaign, the New York Times, Young & Rubicam, and, during the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense.

Jill Lepore, distinguished Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, unearthed from archives the almost unbelievable story of this long-vanished corporation, and of the women hidden behind it. In the 1950s and 1960s, Lepore argues, Simulmatics invented the future by building the machine in which the world now finds itself trapped and tormented, algorithm by algorithm.

I’m really looking forward to reading this. I would also highly recommend The Story of America and The Secret History of Wonder Woman. If you are looking for a single-volume history of the United States, then These Truths is certainly one to consider (I’ve typically found that genre rather unwieldy, but Lepore’s book is excellent).

If Then is due to be published by Liveright in North America and in the UK, on September 15th, 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming: MEMOIRS AND MISINFORMATION by Jim Carrey & Dana Vachon (Knopf)

CarreyVachon-Memoirs&MisinformationUSIt was announced today that Knopf was pushing back the release date for Memoirs and Misinformation, a new novel by Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon, until September 2020 (maybe October). This was surprising news, as I’d totally missed the fact that Carrey had co-authored a novel. I decided to look up the synopsis, and I think it sounds pretty interesting:

“None of this is real and all of it is true.” –Jim Carrey

Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he’s an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege–but he’s also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even . . . getting fat? He’s tried diets, gurus, and cuddling with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the sage advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector Nicolas Cage, isn’t enough to pull Carrey out of his slump.

But then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And with the help of auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself–finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up!

But the universe has other plans.

Memoirs and Misinformation is a fearless semi-autobiographical novel, a deconstruction of persona. In it, Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon have fashioned a story about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, our “one big soul,” Canada, and a cataclysmic ending of the world–apocalypses within and without.

I’ve been a fan of Carrey’s movies for decades — ever since the double-whammy of Ace Ventura and The Mask — and I’ve enjoyed his slower output of late. The short documentary about his artwork, available on YouTube, is also excellent. I’m really looking forward to reading this novel.

Memoirs and Misinformation is due to be published by Knopf in North America and in the UK, on September 14th, 2020 (but may be later).

Follow the Author (Carrey): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Vachon): Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: CONSENSUAL HEX by Amanda Harlowe (Grand Central / Atlantic)

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Consensual Hex has been pitched as “The Craft for the #MeToo era,” which is a pretty intriguing premise. (Very much a fan of The Craft, which I may have seen in the cinema.) Amanda Harlowe‘s debut is a campus novel with a difference, perhaps in the same sub-genre are Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series, but with a dash of The Power?

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to reading this. Here’s the synopsis:

When Lee, a first year at Smith, is raped under eerie circumstances during orientation week by an Amherst frat boy, she’s quickly disillusioned by her lack of recourse. As her trauma boils within her, Lee is selected for an exclusive seminar on Gender, Power, and Witchcraft, where she meets Luna (an alluring Brooklyn hipster), Gabi (who has a laundry list of phobias), and Charlotte (a waifish, chill international student). Granted a charter for a coven and suddenly in possession of real magic, the four girls are tasked by their aloof Professor with covertly retrieving a grimoire that an Amherst fraternity has gotten their hands on. But when the witches realize the frat brothers are using magic to commit and cover up sexual assault all over Northampton, their exploits escalate into vigilante justice. As Lee’s thirst for revenge on her rapist grows, things spiral out of control, pitting witch against witch as they must wrestle with how far one is willing to go to heal.

CONSENSUAL HEX is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of a young woman coming of age, uncovering the ways in which love and obsession and looking to fit in can go hand in hand. Lee, an outstanding, magical anti-heroine, refuses to be pigeonholed as a model victim or a horrific example. Instead, her caustic voice demands our attention, clawing out from every page, equally vicious and vulnerable as she lures us, then dares us, to transgress. Dark, biting, and archly camp, CONSENSUAL HEX announces Harlowe as a significant talent.

Consensual Hex is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (October 6th) and Atlantic Books in the UK (October 8th).

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE LIGHTS OF PRAGUE by Nicole Jarvis (Titan)

JarvisN-LightsOfPragueI only spotted The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis today on Titan’s website. Sure, the cover was what grabbed my attention, but the synopsis sounds very promising, too. An urban fantasy set in “gaslight-era” Prague, I’m rather looking forward to giving this a try. here’s the synopsis:

In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavica, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischer — a widow with secrets of her own.

When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady — a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle — he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp captured in a mysterious container. Now, as it’s bearer, Domek wields its power, but the wisp, known for leading travellers to their deaths, will not be so easily controlled.

After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavica that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.

The Lights of Prague is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on July 21st, 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Grand Central/Del Rey UK)

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I somehow missed this until last week. This summer, Guillermo del Toro (director of The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth and many others) teams up again with Chuck Hogan (writer of The Town) for The Hollow Ones, an intriguing-sounding thriller. Here’s the synopsis:

A horrific crime that defies ordinary explanation.
A rookie FBI agent in dangerous, uncharted territory.
An extraordinary hero for the ages.

Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself-it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named John Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, and who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity’s best and only defense against unspeakable evil.

From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. THE HOLLOW ONES is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

The authors previous collaborated on the The Strain trilogy, which has received both TV and comic adaptations. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. The Hollow Ones is due to be published by Grand Central in North America (June 23rd) and Del Rey in the UK (July 16th).

Follow the Author (del Toro): Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Hogan): Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: TROUBLE THE SAINTS by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Tor)

JohnsonAD-TroubleTheSaintsUSThe cover and synopsis for Alaya Dawn Johnson‘s upcoming new novel, Trouble the Saints were met with quite a bit of excitement and anticipation. That cover is certainly gorgeous and is bound to grab attention. I was reminded of it when it appeared on NetGalley earlier today. A cover isn’t everything, of course, and so if you do happen to pick it up, spot the great blurb from N.K. Jemisin, and read the back cover copy, I think your interest will be cemented (mine certainly was):

Amid the whir of city life, a young woman from Harlem is drawn into the glittering underworld of Manhattan, where she’s hired to use her knives to strike fear among its most dangerous denizens.

Ten years later, Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything — not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams.

Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side — and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late — is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

Trouble the Saints is a dazzling, daring novel — a magical love story, a compelling exposure of racial fault lines — and an altogether brilliant and deeply American saga.

Described as “The dangerous magic of The Night Circus meets the powerful historical exploration of The Underground Railroad” the “unsettling” novel is “set against the darkly glamorous backdrop of New York City, where an assassin falls in love and tries to fight her fate at the dawn of World War II.” I think this sounds fantastic, and I can’t wait to read it.

Trouble the Saints is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on June 2nd, 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: CREATURES OF CHARM AND HUNGER by Molly Tanzer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

TanzerM-CreaturesOfCharmAndHungerI stumbled across this novel on NetGalley, and it caught my attention. I’ve been aware of Molly Tanzer‘s fiction for a while, and it’s always interesting. The synopsis for Creatures of Charm and Hunger is very intriguing:

Two young witches, once inseparable, are set at odds by secrets and wildly dangerous magic.

In the waning days of World War II, with Allied victory all but certain, desperate Nazi diabolists search for a demonic superweapon to turn the tide. A secluded castle somewhere in the south of Germany serves as a laboratory for experiments conducted upon human prisoners, experiments as vile as they are deadly.

Across the English Channel, tucked into the sleepy Cumbrian countryside, lies the Library, the repository of occult knowledge for the Société des Éclairées, an international organization of diabolists. There, best friends Jane Blackwood and Miriam Cantor, tutored by the Société’s Librarian — and Jane’s mother — Nancy, prepare to undergo the Test that will determine their future as diabolists.

When Miriam learns her missing parents are suspected of betraying the Société to the Nazis, she embarks on a quest to clear their names, a quest involving dangerous diabolic practices that will demand more of her than she can imagine. Meanwhile Jane, struggling with dark obsessions of her own, embraces a forbidden use of the Art that could put everyone she loves in danger.

As their friendship buckles under the stress of too many secrets, Jane and Miriam will come face to face with unexpected truths that change everything they know about the war, the world, and most of all themselves. After all, some choices cannot be unmade — and a sacrifice made with the most noble intention might end up creating a monster.

The novel is the third in the Diabolist Library series, following Creatures of Want and Ruin and Creatures of Will and Temper.

I’m really looking forward to reading this. Creatures of Charm and Hunger is due to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 21st, 2020, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter