Quick Review: I’LL BE THERE FOR YOUR by Kelsey Miller (Hanover Square Press/HQ)

MillerK-IllBeThereForYouUSA “definitive” history of the TV show Friends

I’ll Be There For You is the definitive retrospective of the classic TV phenomenon. From its low-profile debut in 1994, Friends grew over the next decade to be the must-watch prime-time hit of a generation, and a certified classic.

Join Kelsey Miller as she relives the show’s most iconic moments, examines some of its controversies, and shines a light on the many trends it inspired from oversized coffee cups to the much-copied 90s haircut, The Rachel’.

Weaving incisive commentary, revelatory interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving high-profile guest stars, I’ll Be There for You is the most comprehensive take on Friends yet, and the ultimate book for fans everywhere.

I have been a fan of Friends since, I think, the end of season one. It is a comfort watch, and a series I often have on in the background. When I still lived in the UK, it was almost impossible to go a day (an hour?) without being able to find an episode on one of the digital channels. It’s a huge show, and continues to be so even a decade-plus since it ended. I was very interested, therefore, when I heard that someone had written a book about the show, purporting to be the definitive story. I was lucky enough to get a review copy. I found it to be a mixed reading experience. Continue reading

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An Interview with JACK WHYTE

WhyteJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jack Whyte?

Jack Whyte is probably one of Canada’s most prolific and popular authors of historical fiction, and his books have been translated into numerous languages, including all the major languages of Europe. In 2009, in recognition of his sales record in Canada alone, the Globe and Mail published a two-page tribute to him under the title, “One Pen, One Sword, One Million Copies Sold.” He is the progenitor and creator of seventeen historical novels that fall into three subcategories. Ten of them, known collectively as A Dream of Eagles in Canada, The Camulod Chronicles in the USA and Legends of Camelot in the U.K., are set in post-Roman Britain around the turn of the fifth century. All three editions comprise the same ten books — the text is unchanged and unchangeable — but the titles are different in each incarnation, since individual publishing houses, historically, have always had complete rights to govern everything else about the books within their own jurisdictions. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang (Voyager)

KuangRF-2-DragonRepublicIn May 2019, Voyager are due to publish The Dragon Republic, the follow-up to R.F. Kuang‘s critically-acclaimed debut, The Poppy War. I read the first novel a while ago, but I’ve been struggling to write the review: I enjoyed the novel, and the characters were interesting. The clear borrowing from Chinese history was a little distracting, at times, for this reader (I’ve studied and written about East Asia for 20 years), but it was also well-done. The echoes and influence of the Rape of Nanking were harrowing and difficult to read. I’ll try to get something up on the site soon. If you’re interested in reading a fantasy novel that doesn’t pull any punches, does some interesting things with magic and world-building, though, then I think you’ll get a lot out of it. (It took a little while to get going, too, but it was always interesting.)

Anyway. I’m certainly looking forward to reading the sequel. I spotted the cover on Amazon UK yesterday. Here’s the synopsis:

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance…

The Dragon Republic is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in May 2019.

Also on CR: Interview with R.F. Kuang (2018)

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Upcoming: NECESSARY PEOPLE by Anna Pitoniak (Little, Brown)

PitoniakA-NecessaryPeopleUSI very much enjoyed Anna Pitoniak‘s debut novel, The Futures. I read it a long while ago, after receiving an ARC quite a bit before its release. Ever since finishing it, however, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the author’s next novel. In May 2019, Little, Brown are due to publish that follow-up: Necessary People. And it sounds really interesting, too:

One of them has it all. One of them wants it all. Only one of them can win.

Stella Bradley is beautiful, rich, and very good at getting herself into trouble. Violet Trapp is smart, self-aware, and laser-focused on escaping her humble background — especially after Stella gives her a glimpse into a world of glamour and wealth. They are best friends, and from the moment they meet in college, they know their roles: Stella in the spotlight, and Violet behind the scenes.

After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. Until Stella decides to use her connections, beauty and charisma to land a job at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce-and taking all the credit for it.

But Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, they each reveal just how far they’ll go to get what they want — even if it means destroying the other person along the way.

Set against the fast-paced backdrop of TV news, Necessary People is a propulsive work of psychological suspense about ambition and privilege, about the thin line between friendship and rivalry, about the people we need in our lives — and the people we don’t.

Necessary People is due to be published in North America by Little, Brown in May 2019. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK publisher. The Futures is out now in paperback, published by Lee Boudreaux Books in North America and Penguin in the UK.

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Upcoming: THE HAUNTING OF TRAM CAR 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-HauntingOfTramCar015I first heard of P. Djèlí Clark when Tor.com published his novella The Black God’s Drum, which sounds like a fascinating fantasy set in an alt-history New Orleans (I haven’t managed to read it, yet, but it’s rapidly climbing my TBR pile). Recently, Tor.com announced The Haunting of Tram Car 015, a follow-up of sorts to his short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo (which I got recently). Due to be published on February 19th, 2019, I’m really looking forward to this. Here’s the synopsis:

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 will be released on February 19th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.

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Upcoming: EMPRESS OF FOREVER by Max Gladstone (Tor Books)

GladstoneM-1-EmpressForeverUSI don’t think I know anyone who has read Max Gladstone‘s work who hasn’t been horrified or disappointed that I haven’t had the pleasure, yet. I recently bought his critically-acclaimed Craft Sequence series, but have just been so slow about getting to them. (Soon! Stop telling me off!) Next year, he has a new series coming out. The cover for the first novel, Empress of Forever was unveiled recently by Barnes & Noble. Not only that, but so was the synopsis, which sounds fantastic:

A smart, swashbuckling, wildly imaginative adventure; the saga of a rag-tag team of brilliant misfits, dangerous renegades, and enhanced outlaws in a wartorn future.

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she tries to outrun people who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider — until Vivian Liao arrives. Trapped between the Pride — a ravening horde of sentient machines — and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

It has been described as “a feminist Guardians of the Galaxy crossed with Star Wars and spiced with the sensibility and spirit of Iain M. Banks and William Gibson” — which just makes it sound even more interesting! Not sure if it’s the first in a series or a stand-alone, though. Empress of Forever is due to be published by Tor Books in June 2019, in North America and the UK.

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Upcoming:VIGILANCE by Robert Jackson Bennett (Tor.com)

BennettRJ-VigilanceI’ve fallen really far behind on Robert Jackson Bennett‘s work! Shameful, really, given how much I love his novels. Anyway, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Foundryside, he has a new novella on the way from Tor.com! Due to be published on January 29th in North America and in the UK, here’s the synopsis for Vigilance:

A dark science fiction action parable from an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence.

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize.

The TV audience is not the only one that’s watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.

Really looking forward to reading this! While you’re waiting, I would highly recommend his Divine Cities trilogy, too — published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK and Crown in North America.

Also on CR: Interview with Robert Jackson Bennett (2012); Guest Post on City of Stairs and the Super Tropey Fantasy Checklist”; Excerpt from City of Stairs; Review of City of Stairs

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