Books on Film: RED SPARROW by Jason Matthews

In March of next year, Jennifer Lawrence will star in Red Sparrow, the movie based on Jason Matthew‘s first Dominika Egorova series. The movie is directed by Francis Lawrence (no relation to the star, but also worked with her on Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay I II), and the screenplay is by Justin Haythe. Joel Edgerton and Mary-Louise Parker also star.

Here’s the book’s synopsis:

State intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and, inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s most valuable mole in Moscow. Seeking revenge against her soulless masters, Dominika begins a fateful double life, recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington; hunt down a Russian illegal buried deep in the US military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Putin’s intelligence service. Dominika and Nathaniel’s impossible love affair and twisted spy game come to a deadly conclusion in the shocking climax of this electrifying, up-to-the minute spy thriller.

Red Sparrow is published by Scribner (North America) and Simon & Schuster (UK). At the time of writing, it is also on sale for Kindle in the US and UK. The second novel in the series, The Palace of Treason (US/UK), is also available. The third novel, The Kremlin’s Candidate, is due out in February 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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Quick Review: THE SURVIVOR by Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills (Atria/Simon & Schuster)

Flynn&Mills-MR12-SurvivorUSThe 14th Mitch Rapp novel, Flynn’s last

When Joe “Rick” Rickman, a former golden boy of the CIA, steals a massive amount of the Agency’s most classified documents in an elaborately masterminded betrayal of his country, CIA director Irene Kennedy has no choice but to send her most dangerous weapon after him: elite covert operative Mitch Rapp.

Rapp quickly dispatches the traitor, but Rickman proves to be a deadly threat to America even from beyond the grave. Eliminating Rickman didn’t solve all of the CIA’s problems — in fact, mysterious tip-offs are appearing all over the world, linking to the potentially devastating data that Rickman managed to store somewhere only he knew.

It’s a deadly race to the finish as both the Pakistanis and the Americans search desperately for Rickman’s accomplices, and for the confidential documents they are slowly leaking to the world. To save his country from being held hostage to a country set on becoming the world’s newest nuclear superpower, Mitch Rapp must outrun, outthink, and outgun his deadliest enemies yet.

Vince Flynn passed away after beginning this novel. His estate and publisher asked Kyle Mills, another fantastic thriller author, to step in and finish the book. I’ve read all of Flynn’s novels, and I’m happy to report that Mills has done a great job of continuing the series. Continue reading

Interview with GAIE SEBOLD

SeboldG-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! Let’s start with an introduction, for new readers: Who is Gaie Sebold?

I’m a fantasy writer and (very) occasional poet, with a partner (writer David Gullen) a small cat, and a large garden. I run writing workshops – I’m currently running a series of them for my local women’s centre. I occasionally disconcert the neighbours by plotting aloud to myself while weeding.

Your next novel, Sparrow Falling, will be published by Solaris. It’s the second novel in your latest series: How would you introduce the series to a potential reader?

It follows the adventures of a street child and professional con-artist Eveline Sparrow, in a fantasy Victorian era where the Fey and many other mythical beings exist. Eveline gets caught up in events where the politics of our world overlap dangerously with those of the Fey while discovering the truth about her past and trying to protect herself and those she cares about in the present. Continue reading

Excerpt: NOMAD by James Swallow (Zaffre)

SwallowJ-NomadJames Swallow‘s latest novel, Nomad, was recently published in the UK by Zaffre. To celebrate it’s release, the publisher has allowed me to share with CR readers the first chapter. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

Marc Dane is an MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when a brutal attack on his team leaves Marc as the only survivor — and with the shocking knowledge that there are traitors inside MI6 — he’s forced into the front line.

However the evidence seems to point towards Marc as the perpetrator of the attack. Accused of betraying his country, he must race against time to clear his name.

With nowhere to turn to for help and no one left to trust, Marc is forced to rely on the elusive Rubicon group and their operative Lucy Keyes. Ex US Army, Lucy also knows what it’s like to be an outsider, and she’s got the skills that Marc is sorely lacking.

A terrorist attack is coming, one bigger and more deadly than has ever been seen before. With the eyes of the security establishment elsewhere, only Lucy and Marc can stop the attack before it’s too late.

Read on for the excerpt… Continue reading

Upcoming: EUROPE IN WINTER by Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)

HutchinsonD-3-EuropeInWinterDave Hutchinson‘s third Europe novel is out this November! Due to be published by Solaris, Europe in Winter follows the critically-acclaimed, award-nominated Europe in Autumn and Europe at Midnight. Here’s the skinny:

A fractured Europe. A parallel world. A global threat.

Union has come. The Community is now the largest nation in Europe; trains run there from as far afield as London and Prague. It is an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

So what is the reason for a huge terrorist outrage? Why do the Community and Europe meet in secret, exchanging hostages? And who are Les Coureurs des Bois?

Along with a motley crew of strays and mafiosi and sleeper agents, Rudi sets out to answer these questions – only to discover that the truth lies both closer to home and farther away than anyone could possibly imagine.

Really looking forward to this. I need to do a binge-catch-up first, though — something I think I’ll try to do in April. I’ve heard only great things about the series.

For more on Hutchinson’s novels and writing, check out the author’s website, and follow him on Goodreads and Twitter.

Also on CR: Interview with Dave Hutchinson

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Catching up on Image Comics Collections

Featuring: Jupiter’s Legacy, Rat Queens, Saga, Southern Bastards, StarlightVelvet

JupitersLegacy-Vol.1JUPITER’S LEGACY, Vol.1

Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: Frank Quitely

The children of the world’s greatest superheroes may never be able to fill their parents’ shoes. When the family becomes embattled by infighting, one branch stages an uprising and another goes into hiding. How long can the world survive when one family’s super-powered problems explode onto the global stage? Just in time for the launch of the prequel series JUPITER’S CIRCLE comes this collected edition from storytelling masters Millar and Quitely.

Collects: Jupiter’s Legacy #1-5

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this — I have had very mixed experiences with Millar’s work in the past. Luckily, Jupiter’s Legacy is a pretty interesting take on super-heroes. Specifically, it’s a great look at the legacy of heroes and their families — what happens when later generations have completely different interpretations of the hero’s responsibility and the solution to the world’s problems? It’s fast-paced, nuanced and action-packed in equal measures. It’s not perfect, and there were some strange or clunky moments, but for the main Millar reigns in his… well, Millar tendencies: there was nothing here that suggested Grant Morrison’s influence was still in evidence. The violence is particularly brutal and graphic, true, but it’s not daft or stupid. Recommended for fans of, among others, Mark Waid’s Irredeemable.

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RatQueens-Vol.2RAT QUEENS, Vol.2 – “The Far Reaching Tentacles Of N’Rygoth”

Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe | Artist: Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Šejić

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

Collects: Rat Queens #6-10

The first Rat Queens book was a very pleasant surprise: it mixed up and twisted a whole host of fantasy tropes, creating something both familiar and refreshingly new. It was also wonderfully irreverent, but not to the point where gags overwhelmed the story. In this second collection, Wiebe and Co. up the ante, as the Queens get to the bottom of what’s actually happening to Palisade. It’s a very fast-paced story, with action and humour aplenty. The creative team do a very good job of not letting the story get completely ridiculous, but it’s certainly a grand, fantastical tale with magic and mayhem — playing with tropes in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, while maintaining the sense of wonder and fun that drew oh-so-many people to fantasy in the first place. Highly recommended for all fans of fantasy, great storytelling and humour comics. Excellent.

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Saga-Vol.4SAGA, Vol.4

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan | Artist: Fiona Staples

Visit new planets, meet new adversaries and explore a very new direction, as Hazel becomes a toddler while her family struggles to stay on their feet.

Collects: Saga #19-24

Saga is one of the few ongoing series that I’m still following — at least, beyond the second collection (I often find that it when a series will either sink or swim). This series has been lauded far and wide, so it’s probably no surprise that I, too, absolutely love it. It’s just the right amount of crazy, just the right amount of faithful to the science fiction genre, but also funny, warm and expertly crafted. In this fourth volume, the strain of running and living in hiding gets too much for our couple of protagonists. Meanwhile, Alana is making it in entertainment, Marko is struggling to remain hidden while raising Hazel. Oh, and bounty hunters and crazy TV-headed royals are still after them. So there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Still a superb series, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A must-read.

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SouthernBastards-Vol.2SOUTHERN BASTARDS, Vol.2 – “Gridiron”

Writer: Jason Aaron | Artist: Jason Latour

The hit new crime series SOUTHERN BASTARDS returns for its second volume, and pulls back the curtain on the dark and seedy history of Craw County and its most famous and feared resident, the high school football coach turned backwoods crime lord Euless Boss.

Collects: Southern Bastards #5-9

If HBO developed Friday Night Lights, this could be the result. A grim look at Southern football culture, blended very nicely with small-town secrets and brutality. A worthy follow-up volume to the first, shifting perspective and focus. This is a really interesting series, and highly recommended.

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StarlightSTARLIGHT

Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: Goran Parlov

Forty years ago, Duke McQueen was the space hero who saved the universe. But then he came back home, got married, had kids, and grew old. Now his children have left and his wife has passed away, leaving him alone with nothing except his memories… until a call comes from a distant world asking him back for his final and greatest adventure.

Collects: Starlight #1-5

Once again, I was surprised by a Millar book — this one is a nostalgic look at golden-era heroes and sci-fi like John Carter of Mars. The nostalgia lies not only in the setting, but the story itself — Duke McQueen is getting old, he’s buried his wife, and is feeling lost and alone. His family don’t believe him about his earlier adventures. Now, though, the planet he saved decades ago has been conquered by a brutal race of… well, sadists. Called back to help, Duke gets to relive his glory days and, hopefully, do some more good. I really enjoyed this — much more than I expected. Highly recommended for long-time fans of super-heroes and classic science fiction fantasy.

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Velvet-Vol.2VELVET, Vol.2 – “The Secret Lives of Dead Men”

Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Steve Epting & Elizabeth Breitweiser

Everything Velvet Templeton ever believed about the worst night of her life has turned out to be a lie, and now she’s coming back to London, taking the hunt back to the hunters, to find the truth or die trying. Don’t miss the second volume in the adventures of comics’ favorite new super-spy!

Collects: Velvet #6-10

Brubaker and Epting worked on my favourite Captain America storylines (Winter Soldier and Red Menace), so I was very much looking forward to Velvet, when it was first announced. The first collection was a great introduction to the characters and the start of Velvet’s investigation into the situation with her husband. In this second book, there’s action and espionage aplenty, while never stinting on the character development and story itself. It’s a fantastic series, frankly. As the book progresses, we learn just a little bit more about Velvet’s goals, not to mention a rather excellent switch-up at the end. Very highly recommended, this is a must for all fans of spy stories and thrillers. Easily one of the best ongoing series at the moment.

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