Upcoming: TRINITY by Louisa Hall (Ecco)

HallL-TrinityUSLater this year, Ecco is due to publish the new novel by Louisa Hall. Hall’s previous novel, Speak, was a very well written, really interesting novel about AI and what it means to be human — it was published by Ecco in North America, and Orbit in the UK. In Trinity, the author takes on the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the nuclear bomb. Here’s the synopsis:

J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist, a champion of liberal causes, and a complex and often contradictory character. He loyally protected his Communist friends, only to later betray them under questioning. He repeatedly lied about love affairs. And he defended the use of the atomic bomb he helped create, before ultimately lobbying against nuclear proliferation.

Through narratives that cross time and space, a set of characters bears witness to the life of Oppenheimer, from a secret service agent who tailed him in San Francisco, to the young lover of a colleague in Los Alamos, to a woman fleeing McCarthyism who knew him on St. John. As these men and women fall into the orbit of a brilliant but mercurial mind at work, all consider his complicated legacy while also uncovering deep and often unsettling truths about their own lives.

In this stunning, elliptical novel, Louisa Hall has crafted a breathtaking and explosive story about the ability of the human mind to believe what it wants, about public and private tragedy, and about power and guilt. Blending science with literature and fiction with biography, Trinity asks searing questions about what it means to truly know someone, and about the secrets we keep from the world and from ourselves.

Trinity is due to be published by Ecco in North America, on October 30th, 2018. I couldn’t find a UK listing for the novel. Hall’s debut, The Carriage House is also available via Scribner (North America) and Penguin (UK).

Also on CR: Review of Speak

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads


Upcoming: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCIn 2014, Anne Rice marked a welcome return to her Vampire Chronicles with Prince Lestat. A long-time fan of the series, I was eager to read more about Lestat, Louis, and the ever-growing cast of colourful characters Rice had created. Then, in 2016, Rice’s Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis dramatically altered our understanding of the undead mythology she had created. This October, the thirteenth novel in the series, Blood Communion will arrive. I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

From his meticulously restored ancestral château, high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat is grappling to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming all of the Undead – from far and wide – into his court, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. One enemy in particular, the infamous Rhoshamandes, is notoriously powerful. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

An enthralling, sweeping adventure, full of drama and suspense, Blood Communion will have readers gripped to the very end. It is not just a compelling tale of a troubled leader, but a novel about the power of ambition, as well as a timely reflection on the struggle of individuals to find and defend their place in the world.

It was recently announced that Bryan Fuller has been tapped to run the new TV adaptation of the series, more on which can be found here. Blood Communion will be published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, and in North America by Knopf.

Also on CR: Reviews of Prince Lestat and Prince Lestat and the Realm of Atlantis

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Colson Whitehead UK Editions

Thanks to the runaway success of Colson Whitehead‘s Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel The Underground Railroad, his previous books The Intuitionist, Colossus of New York and Apex Hides the Hurt are getting new UK editions, published by Fleet.

WhiteheadC-IntuitionistUKLet’s take them in publication order. First up is The Intuitionist, which is out now:

Verticality, architectural and social, is at the heart of Colson Whitehead’s first novel that takes place in an unnamed high-rise city that combines twenty-first-century engineering feats with nineteenth-century pork-barrel politics. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical ideal, and Lila Mae Watson, the city’s first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.When Number Eleven of the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free-fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial “Intuitionist” method of ascertaining elevator safety, both Intuitionists and Empiricists recognize the set-up, but may be willing to let Lila Mae take the fall in an election year.

As Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents, behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae’s quest is mysteriously entwined with existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists may instantly become obsolescent.

WhiteheadC-ColossusOfNewYorkUKNext up we have The Colossus of New York, which was published yesterday. Here’s the synopsis:

Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in — or spent time — in the greatest of American cities.

A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New York captures the city’s inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.

Whitehead’s style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.

The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.

WhiteheadC-ApexHidesTheHurtUKAnd finally, due out at the beginning of next month, the novel Apex Hides the Hurt:

A brisk, comic tour de force about identity, history, and the adhesive bandage industry.

The town of Winthrop has decided it needs a new name. The resident software millionaire wants to call it New Prospera; the mayor wants to return to the original choice of the founding black settlers; and the town’s aristocracy sees no reason to change the name at all. What they need, they realize, is a nomenclature consultant.

And, it turns out, the consultant needs them. But in a culture overwhelmed by marketing, the name is everything and our hero’s efforts may result in not just a new name for the town but a new and subtler truth about it as well.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE TRAITOR by Jonathan de Shalit (Atria/Emily Bestler)

deShalitJ-TraitorUSAn interesting, if flawed espionage thriller

A sprawling, international high-stakes thriller that pits the intelligence of one man against one of the most successful spies ever to operate against American interests.

When a young Israeli walks into an American embassy and offers to betray his country for money and power, he has no idea that the CIA agent interviewing him is a Russian mole. Years later, that young man has risen in the ranks to become a trusted advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister and throughout his career, he’s been sharing everything he knows with the Kremlin. Now, however, a hint that there may be a traitor in the highest realms of power has slipped out and a top-secret team is put together to hunt for him. The chase leads the team from the streets of Tel Aviv to deep inside the Russian zone and, finally, to the United States, where a most unique spymaster is revealed. The final showdown — between the traitor and the betrayed — can only be resolved by an act of utter treachery that could have far-reaching and devastating consequences.

I had very high hopes for this novel: an agent working for a handler who is himself an agent, and a decades-long career of unwittingly spying for one’s enemies? That’s an attention-grabbing premise, which left me with very high expectations. It took my a couple of tries to get going with the novel, but I’m sad to report that it ultimately didn’t work for me. Continue reading

Interview with MICHAEL MORECI

MoreciM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Michael Moreci?

I am the man behind the curtain, the eye in the sky watching us all.

Kidding, kidding. First and foremost, I’m a dad. I stay at home with my two boys, and they are my life to a very profound degree. After that, I’m a writer. I’ve been writing professionally (or at least close to professionally) for a few years now; I got my start in comics, creating/writing books like Roche Limit, Burning Fields, Hoax Hunters, Curse, and more. I’ve also been lucky enough to write for established characters like Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Conan the Barbarian, The Shadow, to name a few. Now, I’ve written a novel. Writing books has always been my passion; I’ve been writing prose since I was a teenage and followed that all through college and graduate school. Finally, around two years ago, I got my break and, viola, Black Star Renegades was born. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham (Doubleday/Hodder)

GrishamJ-RoosterBarUSGrisham had an issue or two he wanted to talk about

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?

As long-time readers of Civilian Reader will know, Grisham is one of my favourite authors — even though I think he’s quite inconsistent. Some of his novels have been excellent, while others feel either rushed or bloodless. I enjoyed Camino Island, a fun and quickly-paced caper-type novel. In The Rooster Bar he returns to the genre that has made him a global bestseller: a legal thriller. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. Continue reading


RiceA-VC12-PrinceLestat&RealmsOfAtlanticUSPBThe twelfth Vampire Chronicle novel upends, once again, the origin story

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

Lestat de Lioncourt is no longer alone.

A strange, otherworldly spirit has resurfaced, taking possession of his body and soul. All-seeing, all-knowing, its voice whispers in his ear, telling the hypnotic tale of Atlantis, the great sea power of ancient times…

Prince Lestat is seduced by the power of this ancient spirit, but is he right to trust it? Why has Lestat, leader of the vampires, been chosen as its bodily host?

And what of Atlantis, the mysterious heaven on earth? Why must the vampires reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit?

It falls to Lestat to discover the truth.

I do love this series. As I have written (so very many times) on the site, I consider Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books — I always read them together, so I think of them as one. With each novel, Rice has built on the impressive vampire mythos she’s created. In Prince Lestat, the author took a pretty bold step in developing the mythology: in fact, she pretty much upended everything we’ve come to learn so far. I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I realized that, in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, the author was going to do it again… Continue reading