New Books (May 2017)

Featuring: Jeff Abbott, Curtis Armstrong, R.J. Barker, J. Patrick Black, Eric Brown, Sebastien de Castell, Anne Corlett, Greg Cox, Nate Crowley, Joel Dicker, Chris Dows, Jennifer Egan, Anthony Franze, Garbage & Jason Cohen, Max Gladstone, Daniel Godfrey, Dave Hutchinson, Eddie Izzard, Benedict Jacka, Cassandra Khaw, Richard Lange, Yoon Ha Lee, Graham McNeill, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Malka Older, Benjamin Percy, Josh Reynolds, Salman Rushdie, John Sandford, Tade Thompson, Wendy N. Wagner

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Upcoming in 2017… Hodder Books

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be putting up this week(end), featuring upcoming books I’m really interested in reading. I wanted to try to keep things focused on the first few months of 2017, but some publishers have released information pretty far in advance, so I’ll include later novels, too. The books featured are also not the only novels from the publisher that I’m interested in, so these are not definitive lists. Just ones that have grabbed my attention most at the time of writing.

upcoming2017-hodder

First up, let’s take a look at just a few coming up from Hodder…

Featuring: Jaroslav Kalfař, Sarah Lotz, Nnedi Okorafor, Benjamin Percy

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Quick Review: THRILL ME by Benjamin Percy (Graywolf Press)

percyb-thrillmeAn excellent writing memoir and book of advice

Anyone familiar with the meteoric rise of Benjamin Percy’s career will surely have noticed a certain shift: After writing two short-story collections and a literary novel, he delivered the werewolf thriller Red Moon and the postapocalyptic epic The Dead Lands. Now, in his first book of nonfiction, Benjamin Percy challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kinds of books that make many first love fiction: science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror, from J. R. R. Tolkien to Anne Rice, Ursula K. Le Guin to Stephen King. Percy’s own academic experience banished many of these writers in the name of what is “literary” and what is “genre.” Then he discovered Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and others who employ techniques of genre fiction while remaining literary writers. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue. An urgent and entertaining missive on craft, Thrill Me brims with Percy’s distinctive blend of anecdotes, advice, and close reading, all in the service of one dictum: Thrill the reader.

Benjamin Percy is one of my favourite “new” authors. I only discovered his work upon the publication of Red Moon, which gripped me from very early on. Since reading that novel, I’ve read everything of his that I could get my hands on — The Dead Lands, his two-part story for Detective Comics, his ongoing run on Green Arrow, and now Thrill Me. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book, but I came away entertained and inspired. Continue reading

New Books (October)

bunker-19-crop

Featuring: Ben Aaronovitch, Ray Bradbury, Ron Chernow, Douglas Coupland, Charles Cumming, David Dalglish, William C. Dietz, Gavin Extence, Tana French, Jilly Gagnon, John Grisham, Laurell K. Hamilton, Liz Harmer, Oliver Harris, Michael Harvey, Annie Hauxwell, Tracy & Laura Hickman, James Islington, Paulette Jiles, Reed Karaim, Joseph Knox, Mur Lafferty, Mike MacDonald, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Elan Mastai, Will McIntosh, Nnedi Okorafor, J.D. Oswald, Benjamin Percy, Plutarch, Daniel Pyne, Scott Reardon, Noah Richler, Adam Roberts, James Rollins, John Sandford, George Saunders, Laurence Scott, Marcus Sedgwick, A.J. Smith, Gerard Stembridge, Gav Thorpe, Ian Tregillis, K.B. Wagers, Brent Weeks, Ronald Wright, Roger Zelazny

Above Image: Cover Crop of Bunker #19 (Oni Press)

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Upcoming: DETECTIVE COMICS #934 (& Some DC Comics Rebirth Thoughts)

DetectiveComics-934-ArtSo, DC Comics is re-branding again. After five years, the New 52 has been brought to an end (judging from the leaked images from the DC Rebirth #1 issue, through an entirely-expected timey-wimey bit of trickery), and the entire DC line-up is, you guessed it, being renumbered again. All but two series are turning back to #1s. The two exceptions? Action Comics and Detective Comics — both of which are turning back the clock even further, and… picking up their numbering pre-New 52. I don’t really understand why, because the continuity of the New 52 is supposedly staying (aside from the aforementioned timey-wimey muddling). The Action Comics storyline sounds interesting (see here), but not as interesting as Detective Comics. Here are the details and synopsis for the first issue, #934:

Writer: James Tynion IV | Pencils: Eddy Barrows | Inks: Eber Ferreira

“RISE OF THE BATMEN” Chapter One

An unknown predator begins outdoing Batman, taking down dangerous threats with military precision. It’s up to the Dark Knight and series costar Batwoman to rally and train the young heroes of Gotham City to end this mysterious threat!

WHAT NOW: Batman and Batwoman begin training Spoiler, Red Robin and Cassandra Cain, but is the villainous Clayface ready for redemption?

This sounds pretty interesting, so I think I’ll be checking this series out, when it’s released on June 8th. What I’ve read of Tynion’s New 52 work, he’s a good writer. The New 52 iteration of Detective Comics was pretty shaky to begin with, but was brilliantly rescued by Gregg Hurwitz (penning three of my favourite Batman stories), and then sadly petered out a bit again afterwards — with the exception of Benjamin Percy’s two-parter, which was excellent. Continue reading

New Books (February #2)

BooksReceived-20150228

Featuring: Nick Aires, Jesse Armstrong, David Baldacci, Adam Christopher, Sebastien de Castell, David Downing, Mark Andrew Ferguson, Matthew Glass, Daryl Gregory, Austin Grossman, Randy Henderson, Antonia Honeywell, Kameron Hurley, Ben Kane, Dennis Lehane, Evie Manieri, D.J. Molles, Benjamin Percy, Tamora Pierce, Christopher Reich, Loren Rhoads, Anthony Ryan, V.E. Schwab, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Simon K. Unsworth, Jen Williams, Jonathan Wood Continue reading

Review: THE DEAD LANDS by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central/Hodder)

PercyB-TheDeadLandsUSAn interesting, excellent dystopian novel

A post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.

Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon.

Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.

Red Moon was one of my favourite reads of 2013 – an epic commentary on politics, society and race of the post-9/11 America, it was gripping and superbly written. The Dead Lands is a great follow-up: a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis & Clark expedition, it is a story of hope, oppression, and fear. Anything written by Benjamin Percy really is a must-read. Continue reading

The Strand’s 2015 Reading Resolutions…

Strand-2015ReadingResolutionsMyke Cole tweeted a picture of a sign outside of New York’s magnificent Strand Bookstore (right), and it got me thinking: which books would I choose to meet these resolutions? Ordinarily, I find making resolutions of any kind a pointless task, as I will not stick to them (and likely not even try). But, the Strand’s list was interesting and so I thought I’d come up with some books that I could pick to follow them, should I wish to follow them. Which I still probably won’t. Here they are, in case the photo’s not clear enough:

  • Read a book that intimidates you
  • Read a book that is ~100 years old
  • Read a short story collection
  • Read a book before seeing the movie
  • Read a book you’ve lied about reading

The first is interesting. I’m rarely intimidated by a book, but I think I’d pick a massive novel and/or non-fiction title: so, maybe Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and/or Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker. I’ve started the latter, actually, and while it is excellent, its exhaustiveness is also a little exhausting in almost equal measures. Another novel could be James Clavell’s The Noble House: sequel to Tai-Pan which is one of the best books ever written (and easily one of my favourites, as well as the novel that got me reading properly). Not intimidating in terms of a single book, but maybe one of the epic Big Book fantasy series? Malazan Book of the Fallen, Stormlight Archive or Wheel of Time, perhaps? I’m interested in trying the first two, but to be honest not as interested as I am in reading many, many other series…

A book that is over 100 years old? Hm. I had thought of picking something by Virginia Woolf, but her most famous novels were all published less than 100 years ago — except, that is, for her debut, The Voyage Out (1915). I’d never heard of the novel, before looking up Woolf’s publication dates. It sounds kind of interesting, though:

The young Rachel Vinrance leaves England on her father’s ship, the Euphrosyne, on a voyage to South America. Despite being accompanied by her father and her aunt and uncle, Helen and Ridley Ambrose, the passage leads to Rachel’s awakening, both as a woman and as an individual. As the ship is wracked by storms, she finds herself romantically entangled with Richard Dalloway, an encounter that leaves her troubled and confused.

Upon arrival in Santa Marina, Rachel strikes off alone to contemplate her identity, and finds finds herself with the aspiring novelist Terence Hewet. As the emerging romance between the two is complicated by their disagreements about gender and art, another storm, and tragedy, appear on the horizon.

Other novels that could work: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), John Hay’s Democracy (1880)…

Reading story collections isn’t really something that I’m new to, but I do read fewer anthologies than I do novels and novellas. I’m rather tempted by Benjamin Percy’s The Language of Elk and Refresh Refresh, though, as I loved Red Moon [review], and am so very excited for The Dead Lands.

Read the book before I see the movie? I’d hoped this would be Joe Hill’s Horns, but Alyssa gave me the movie for Christmas, so I feel we will end up watching it before I can read the novel. I could cheat, and point to Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys, which is being adapted for screen by Aaron Sorkin? But yeah, that’s a real big cheat… Oh, maybe Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay? I’ve seen the first two movies, but never read the trilogy. I do have them already, too, so I don’t really have any excuse.

A book I’ve lied about reading…? I’ve never felt the need to lie about having read a book. If I haven’t read something, I don’t say I have, because that’s a) weird, and b) bound to lead to embarrassment. So I guess I get to skip this one. Or, I could change it to: “Read a book everyone else has read but you haven’t”? So I guess that would be most of the English Literature classics people were taught in class, but because my year was invariably an “experimental” one, we didn’t. There are so very many, so I won’t list them here. This one could double up with the over 100 years old resolution.

Which books would you pick, if you were following the Strand’s resolutions?

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While I’m at it, if you haven’t read Myke’s novels, then you really should: Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone make up his debut trilogy, Shadow Ops. Later this year, Ace Books (US) and Headline (UK) are publishing a stand-alone prequel, Gemini Cell. Military fantasy at its best, well worth checking out.

Also on CR: Reviews of Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone; Interview with Myke Cole (2011); Influence & Inspirations Guest Post

Upcoming: THE DEAD LANDS by Benjamin Percy (Hodder)

PercyB-TheDeadLandsUK

I shared the US cover and synopsis for Benjamin Percy’s upcoming new novel a little while ago. This morning, Hodder unveiled the UK cover. As it is one of my most-anticipated novels of 2015, I had to share it here, too. Here’s the synopsis:

The world we know is gone, destroyed by a virus that wiped out nearly every human on the planet. Some few survivors built walled cities, fortresses to keep themselves safe from those the virus didn’t kill… but did change.

Sanctuary. A citadel in the heart of the former United States of  America. Hundreds of miles in every direction beyond its walls lies nothing but death and devastation. Everyone who lives in the safety Sanctuary provides knows that.

Until the day a stranger appears. He speaks of a green and fertile land far to the west, a land of promise and plenty, safe from the ruin the virus has wreaked. He has come to lead the survivors away from Sanctuary, to the promise of a new life without walls.

But those who follow him will discover that not everything he says is true.

Benjamin Percy‘s The Dead Lands is published in the UK on April 9th 2015, by Hodder Books. It will be published in the US by Grand Central, also in April 2015.

Benjamin Percy Writes Two-Part DETECTIVE COMICS Story (DC Comics)

DetectiveComics-35AI am a huge fan of Benjamin Percy’s novel RED MOON – published in the UK by Hodder and North America by Grand Central. It’s the only book of his that I’ve read, but it will by no means be the last.

I also shared a few days ago information about THE DEAD LANDS, his next novel, which is one of my most anticipated novels. Today, though, I discovered that Percy has also written a two-part story for Detective Comics, one of DC Comics’ various Batman series! This is great news, in my opinion – some of my favourite comic story-arcs have been written by some of my favourite writers (Lauren Beukes’s run on Fairest, Gregg Hurwitz’s run on The Dark Knight, to name but two).

Percy has written the story “Terminus”, which will run over Detective Comics #35-36, to be published October 1st and 8th, respectively. Art for the issues is by John Paul Leon (The Massive, DMZ, American Vampire, Scalped), colours by Dave Stewart (Fray, Lex Luthor, Hellboy), letters by Jared K. Fletcher.

Here’s the synopsis for #35:

In the first chapter of a two-part tale by the guest team of writer Ben Percy and artist John Paul Leon, a civilian appearance at Gotham Airport turns into a horror show for Batman when a plane full of dead passengers arrives on the runway! What happened – and what can Bruce Wayne do about it?

There are also two variant covers, by Cliff Chiang (left) and Becky Cloonan:

DetectiveComics-35Variants

If ever there was an excuse for me to catch up on this series, this was it. I’m very eager to read this. Finally, here’s the artwork that will grace the cover of #36:

DetectiveComics-36-Art

Also on CR: Interview with Benjamin Percy