Review: THE BOOK OF MIRRORS by E.O. Chirovici (Century)

chirovicieo-bookofmirrorsukAn interesting look at memory

When literary agent Peter Katz receives a partial book submission entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued by its promise and original voice. The author, Richard Flynn, has written a memoir about his time as an English student at Princeton in the late 1980s, documenting his relationship with the protégée of the famous Professor Joseph Wieder. One night just before Christmas 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home. The case was never solved. Now, twenty-five years later, Katz suspects that Richard Flynn is either using his book to confess to the murder, or to finally reveal who committed the violent crime.

But the manuscript ends abruptly — and its author is dying in the hospital with the missing pages nowhere to be found. Hell-bent on getting to the bottom of the story, Katz hires investigative journalist John Keller to research the murder and reconstruct the events for a true crime version of the memoir. Keller tracks down several of the mysterious key players, including retired police detective Roy Freeman, one of the original investigators assigned to the murder case, but he has just been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Inspired by John Keller’s investigation, he decides to try and solve the case once and for all, before he starts losing control of his mind. A trip to the Potosi Correctional Centre in Missouri, several interviews, and some ingenious police work finally lead him to a truth that has been buried for over two decades…or has it?

This novel has received a huge amount of pre-publication attention. Everyone, it seems — from reviewers to international buyers (the ARC proudly announces that the novel has been sold in 38 countries) — has been gushing over the story. It is clear why it’s getting so much attention: it starts off very well-written, and the first part in particular is quite gripping. It is, however, also rather flawed. I read this quickly (over two days), but ultimately it left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied. Continue reading

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Upcoming: THE BOOK OF MIRRORS by E.O. Chirovici (Century/Atria)

ChiroviciEO-BookOfMirrors

I am really looking forward to this novel. Already sold in 38 territories, UK-based Romanian author E.O. Chirovici‘s first novel in English, The Book of Mirrors, sounds great. You can read a short piece about it from the Guardian here. Here’s the synopsis:

When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued. 

The author, Richard Flynn is writing a memoir about his time at Princeton in the late 80s, documenting his relationship with the famous Professor Joseph Wieder. 

One night in 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home and the case was never solved. 

Peter Katz is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened that night twenty-five years ago and is convinced the full manuscript will reveal who committed the violent crime.

But other people’s recollections are dangerous weapons to play with, and this might be one memory that is best kept buried.

Unfortunately, we have quite some time to wait before we’ll be able to get our mitts on the book: The Book of Mirrors is due to be published on January 26th, 2017 in the UK by Century; and in February 2017 in North America, by Atria Books. Well, given that it’s September already, I suppose it’s not that far away. It just feels like it…

New Year, New Books… (Dec/Jan)

HarryPotter-ReadingStirring

Featuring: Megan Abbott, Kate Atkinson, John Ayliff, Elizabeth Brundage, M.R. Carey, Mike Carey, Linda Carey, Louise Carey, John Connolly, A.M. Dellamonica, Tim Federle, Patrick Gale, Addison Gunn, Antonia Hayes, Jeff Mariotte, K.S. Merbeth, Maggie Mitchell, Sarah Pinborough, Jennifer Ridyard, Marsheila Rockwell, James Rollins, Lilith Saintcrow, Emily Schultz, Peter Tieryas

BBTSheldonReadingBatman

Continue reading

New Books (October-November)

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Featuring: Fiona Barton, Robert Jackson Bennett, Lee Bermejo, Mike Brooks, Nick Cole, Steve Coogan, Nate Crowley, David Dalglish, Matthew Dunn, Kate Elliott, Christopher Fowler, Alexander Freed, Teresa Frohock, Christopher Golden, Charlaine Harris, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Mark Hodder, Drew Karpyshyn, Julia Knight, Victor Lavalle, Peter Liney, Peter McLean, Claire North, Megan O’Keefe, Steven Rowley, Jane Smiley, Paul Starkey, Tom Toner, Ian Tregillis

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* Continue reading

Review: DARK DAYS by D. Randall Blythe (Da Capo Press)

BlytheDR-DarkDaysUSBlythe recounts his arrest, time in a Czech prison, and offers plenty of thoughts on life, music and sobriety in the process

Lamb of god vocalist D. Randall Blythe finally tells the whole incredible story of his arrest, incarceration, trial, and acquittal for manslaughter in the Czech Republic over the tragic and accidental death of a concertgoer in this riveting, gripping, biting, bold, and brave memoir.

On June 27, 2012, the long-running, hard-touring, and world-renowned metal band lamb of god landed in Prague for their first concert there in two years. Vocalist D. Randall “Randy” Blythe was looking forward to a few hours off — a rare break from the touring grind — in which to explore the elegant, old city. However, a surreal scenario worthy of Kafka began to play out at the airport as Blythe was detained, arrested for manslaughter, and taken to Pankrác Prison — a notorious 123-year-old institution where the Nazis’ torture units had set up camp during the German occupation of then-Czechoslovakia, and where today hundreds of prisoners are housed, awaiting trial and serving sentences in claustrophobic, sweltering, nightmare-inducing conditions.

Two years prior, a 19-year-old fan died of injuries suffered at a lamb of god show in Prague, allegedly after being pushed off stage by Blythe, who had no vivid recollection of the incident. Stage-crashing and -diving being not uncommon occurrences, as any veteran of hard rock, metal, and punk shows knows, the concert that could have left him imprisoned for years was but a vague blur in Blythe’s memory, just one of the hundreds of shows his band had performed over their decades-long career…

This is a really interesting memoir. It was also not what I was expecting. I’ve been reading a fair few music biographies and memoirs, recently, and this one is a stand-out. It is by turns engaging, insightful, funny, and even heart-wrenching. I am not as familiar with lamb of god’s music as I am most of the other bands/musicians I’ve been reading about, but they have been popular so long, that to be even a little interested in metal, I’ve frequently come into contact with their albums and read stories about them in the many magazines I read. That being said, the events covered in Dark Days happened during a time when I wasn’t really following music news at all, and I only heard of his arrest and, later his release. So, I was eager to give this a read to learn the full story. Continue reading

Upcoming: ARMADA by Ernest Cline (Century)

ClineE-ArmadaUKErnest Cline‘s Ready Player One took the SFF community by storm — it was a perfect blend of nostalgia, fast-paced and gripping storytelling. With heart. And great characters. I loved it, and read it in two sittings (broken only by a short sleep). Many fans have been eagerly awaiting news of Cline’s follow-up, of course. Armada was announced as the title a while ago, but now we have firm publication dates. The novel is due to be published by Century in the UK on July 16th, 2015.

I. Can. Not. Wait.

Here’s the synopsis…

It’s just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He’s daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom — if he can make it that long without getting suspended again.

Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

At first, Zack thinks he’s going crazy.

A minute later, he’s sure of it. Because the UFO he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada — in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. 

But what Zack’s seeing is all too real. And his skills — as well as those of millions of gamers across the world — are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it. 

Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too… familiar? 

Armada is at once a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien-invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before — one whose every page is infused with author Ernest Cline’s trademark pop-culture savvy.

In other recent news, the movie adaptation of Ready Player One is going to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Which is pretty awesome. Armada is published in the US by Crown, on July 14th, 2015.

Hot Damn: Joey Hi-Fi Covers KILL BAXTER by Charlie Human (South Africa Edition)

How awesome is this cover for Charlie Human’s second novel, Kill Baxter?

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It’s by Joey Hi-Fi, who has now done four covers for Charlie’s novels – one for each novel for the UK and South African markets. Here’s the synopsis:

AND HE THOUGHT THE HARD PART WAS OVER.

The world has been massively unappreciative of sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko. His bloodline may be a combination of ancient Boer mystic and giant shape-shifting crow, and he may have won an inter-dimensional battle and saved the world, but does anyone care? No.

Instead he’s packed off to Hexpoort, a magical training school that’s part reformatory, part military school, and just like Hogwarts (except with sex, drugs, and better internet access). The problem is that Baxter sucks at magic. He’s also desperately attempting to control his new ability to dreamwalk, all the while being singled out by the school’s resident bully, who just so happens to be the Chosen One.

But when the school comes under attack, Baxter needs to forget all that and step into action. The only way is joining forces with his favourite recovering alcoholic of a supernatural bounty hunter, Ronin, to try and save the world from the apocalypse. Again.

Here are the other three covers:

Human-Covers

Quite like the way the two Apocalypse Now Now cover have close-ups of Baxter and what’s going on inside his head, while the Kill Baxter covers have pulled back a bit.

Kill Baxter is published this week in the UK by Century, and will be published in South Africa by Umuzi/Random Struik and the US by Titan Books. I’m not actually sure when Apocalypse Now Now and Kill Baxter will be officially released in the US.

For more on Charlie’s novels and writing, be sure to follow him on Twitter. Also, check out my review of Apocalypse Now Now.