New Books (Jan)


A post-Christmas and New Year smorgasbord of awesome has come flooding in, these past couple of weeks. On top of that, there have been some I’ve bought myself (I got a lot of wonderful book vouchers and Amazon credit, this year…).

Featuring: Tim Akers, Robert Jackson Bennett, Rob Boffard, Terry Brooks, Lindsey Davis, Liz de Jager, Christopher Farnsworth, Matt Gallagher, Carol Goodman, Thomas Christopher Greene, Louisa Hall, Glen Erik Hamilton, Joanne Harris, Kristopher Jansma, Richard Kadrey, Mike Lawson, Tim Lebbon, Patrick Lee, Jill Lepore, Sean McFate & Bret Witter, China Miéville, Megan Miranda, Simon Morden, Anthony O’Neill, Adam O’Fallon Price, Camille Perri, Heidi Pitlor, Matthew Quirk, Richard Russo, Lawrence M. Schoen, A.F.E. Smith, Christopher Sorrentino, Gav Thorpe, Lavie Tidhar, Glen Weldon, Jonathan Wood Continue reading

Upcoming from Titan Books…

Titan Books has really become a powerhouse SFF publisher in the last few years — they’re publishing some fantastic authors (on both sides of the Atlantic), and seem to just be growing and growing. Here are some titles (in alphabetical order) on the horizon that I think are interesting — I’ve indicated if/when they are US or UK only, otherwise they’re both. There are so many coming, too, that this is not an exhaustive list.

AkersT-1-PaganNightTim Akers, PAGAN NIGHT (January 2016)

Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage between the north and the south. Three heroes — Malcolm and Ian Blakeley and Gwendolyn Adair — must end the bloodshed before chaos is unleashed.

Publisher Page


CartmelA-VD1-VinylDetectiveUKAndrew Cartmel, THE VINYLE DETECTIVE (May 2016)

He is a record collector — a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and some people take this more literally than others.

Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording — on behalf of an extremely wealthy (and rather sinister) shadowy client. 

Given that he’s just about to run out of cat biscuits, this gets our hero’s full attention. So begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all…

Publisher Page


HoughJM-ZeroWorldUKJason M. Hough, ZERO WORLD (August 2015)

Technologically enhanced assassin Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike anything he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew — save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the very fabric of space, emerging into an even more confounding reality: a world that appears to be Earth’s twin.

Published in North America by Del Rey.

Publisher Page


Victor Gischler, GESTAPO MARS (September 2016)


The first in a new series, there’s no synopsis available, yet. More to come. I love the cover, and I’ve enjoyed some Gischeler’s comics work in the past.

Publisher Page


Human-KillBaxterUSCharlie Human, KILL BAXTER (November 2015, US)


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.

Published in the UK by Century/Arrow. (Synopsis above from UK edition.)



Michael Kurland, ALEXANDER BRASS MYSTERIES series (November 2015-February 2016)


A witty and atmospheric 1930s New York mystery series, following the adventures of Morgan DeWitt and his mentor, columnist extraordinaire, Alexander Brass

Nefarious doings among movers and shakers in Depression-era New York City animate a lively chase for a story-and a murderer-for newspaper nightclub columnist Alexander Brass. It all begins when a furtive tipster promises an explosive story and gives Brass an envelope filled with photographs of several powerful people caught in compromising sexual positions. Intrigued, Brass sends a newspaper stringer to follow the mystery man. When the stringer is murdered, Brass and his team resolve to find the killer, running the gauntlet of blackmailing Nazis, accommodating nymphomaniacs and US senators on the way.



LeslieB-DC1-CrackedUKBarbara Leslie, CRACKED (November 2015)

Danielle Cleary is a nice middle-class girl with a bad habit. After her stormy marriage to the love of her life ends, the former personal trainer and amateur fighter jumps down the rabbit hole into a world of crack cocaine — delivered to her door by a polite but slightly deranged dealer – and endless game shows, with her best friend Gene. But when Danny’s twin sister Ginger is murdered, Danny and her rock musician brother fly to California to find their nephews – and the people who killed their sister. Fighting withdrawal, nosy cops and crazy drug dealers, she kicks ass and takes names, embracing her inner vigilante in a quest to avenge her sister and save her family.

Cracked is a darkly comic roller-coaster ride to redemption.  From the streets of Toronto to the underbelly of Orange County; from private jets to the depths of the Maine wilderness, Danny struggles with bad guys and her own demons to find the killers.

Publisher Page


MarmellA-MO2-HallowPointUK-SmallAri Marmell, HALLOW POINT (August 2015)

Mick Oberon may look like just another 1930s private detective, but beneath the fedora and the overcoat, he’s got pointy ears and he’s packing a wand. The Spear of Lugh is in Chicago. And everyone, everyone wants it, for it is said that he who carries the spear into battle cannot be defeated. Those chasing it include an agent of the infamous Wild Hunt; a mobster who knows far more about these things than he should; and of course both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts—the very last people PI Mick Oberon would want getting hold of the spear…



MorrisM-OH2-SocietyOfBloodUKMark Morris, SOCIETY OF BLOOD (October)

Transported through time to the dank streets of Victorian London, Alex Locke seeks to unravel the mysteries of the Obsidian Heart, the enigmatic object to which his fate is inextricably bound.

When a string of grisly murders takes place across the capital, Alex follows a trail that will lead him through the opium dens of Limehouse into the dark and twisted world of the Society of Blood, and ever closer to unlocking the secret of the Heart.



NewmanK-SecretsOfDrearcliffGrangeSchoolKim Newman, THE SECRETS OF DEARCLIFF GRANGE SCHOOL (October 2015)

A week after Mother found her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is delivered to her new school, Drearcliff Grange in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular boarding school, Amy learns that Drearcliff girls are special, the daughters of criminal masterminds, outlaw scientists and master magicians. Several of the pupils also have special gifts like Amy’s, and when one of the girls in her dormitory is abducted by a mysterious group in black hoods, Amy forms a secret, superpowered society called the Moth Club to rescue their friend. They soon discover that the Hooded Conspiracy runs through the School, and it’s up to the Moth Club to get to the heart of it.

Publisher Page


PinboroughS-DeathHouseUSSarah Pinborough, THE DEATH HOUSE (September 2015, US)

Toby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

Published in the UK by Gollancz.

Publisher Page


SnodgrassM-E3-EdgeOfDawnUKMelinda Snodgrass, EDGE OF DAWN (August 2015, UK)

The final battle approaches for a band of modern paladins, fighting for the light of science and reason, and against an ancient supernatural army poised to destroy the world.

What do you do when the Earth is under assault from monstrous creatures by alternate dimensions and you’re the only person who can wield the weapon that can destroy them? That’s the situation facing Richard Oort, hero of the Edge novels. 

Lonely and overwhelmed after a series of terrifying, catastrophic global and personal events, Richard is still determined to save the world from the horrific Old Ones. He goes undercover in a Christian fundamentalist compound, playing house with an attractive FBI agent. At first, this only serves to increase his loneliness, missing his real family, but against all odds discovers another unique human who can use the paladin’s weapon, one who might be able to join him and lighten the burden of responsibility. There’s only one problem — Mosi is a nine-year-old Navajo girl.

Their enemies are trying to kill both Richard and Mosi — and have already killed Mosi’s family. To keep her safe Richard becomes her guardian, but an error in judgement leads to disaster and betrayal, and now the odd pair will need to summon all their strength to survive the coming battle. From the American southwest to a secret society in Turkey, the paladin and his ward try to stay in front of their enemies, but the world is at stake — and time is running short.

Published in North America by Tor Books.



WongD-FuturisticViolence&FancySuitsUKDavid Wong, FUTURISTIC VIOLENCE AND FANCY SUITS (October 2015, UK)

In a prosperous yet gruesomely violent near-future, superhero vigilantes battle thugs whose heads are full of supervillain fantasies. The peace is kept by a team of smooth, well-dressed negotiators called The Men in Fancy Suits. Meanwhile a young girl is caught in the middle, and thinks the whole thing is ridiculous.

Zoey, a recent college graduate with a worthless degree, makes a reluctant trip into the city after hearing that her estranged con artist father had died in a mysterious yet spectacular way. There she finds that her scumbag dad had actually, in the final years of his life, put his amazing talent for hustling to good use: He was one of the founding members of the Fancy Suits, and died in the course of his duties.

Zoey is quickly entangled in the city’s surreal mob war when she is taken hostage by a particularly crazy villain who imagines himself to be a Dr. Doom-level mastermind. The villain is demanding information about Zoe’s father when she is rescued by The Fancy Suits. She reluctantly joins their cause and help finish what her old man started, tapping into her innate talent for bullshit that she inherited from her hated father. And along the way, she might just have to learn how to trust people again.

Published in North America by Thomas Dunne Books.

Publisher Page


WoodJ-BrokenHeroJonathan Wood, BROKEN HERO (January 2016)

Arthur Wallace and the MI37 team confront their complex personal relationships as well as robots originally created to aid the Nazi’s invasion of Russia, leading to a trip for the team to the Himalayas, which takes them to a Nepalese death cult, then back to London for the final assault – amidst assorted relationship break-ups, hangovers and pregnancy scares…



New Books (February #2)


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

Guest Post: “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Tell Story” by Jonathan Wood

JonathanWood2When videogames first appeared, they really were games. There were victory conditions to meet, puzzles to solve, opponents to outwit. You could win. But then somewhere along the way, story snuck in, and videogames changed. You were no longer simply trying to win, instead you were struggling to get to the end, to complete the narrative.

Back when I was in college, I watched my friend play Final Fantasy VII. There was a group of us. We’d make an evening of it, gather round as my friend loaded the disc, pour some drinks, and watch what happened next to Cloud, Yuna, Barrett, and the rest of the gang.

Final Fantasy was the first videogame story that really grabbed me. It was epic, operatic, sprawling through twists and turns, through a mythology that was utterly alien to me. The next two games in the franchise were stutter steps for me, but Final Fantasy X held me in its grip once more, as I hastily fumbled through sections of gameplay to get to the next installment of the story.


I started trying to write my first novel shortly after finishing Final Fantasy X. I knew I didn’t want to write a traditional, Western fantasy. Elves and dwarfs did little for me. Instead, I remembered the fresh mythology I’d seen in the Final Fantasy games — summoning towering spirits, battling titanic monsters… I remembered that sense of the new. Turning a corner in the game and having my jaw hang at a glowing vista, at an aerial battle, an intimate scene in the glow of a phosphorescent tree… That inspiration drove the novel. It filled page after page with words.

The rather unfortunate end to this story is that the novel stunk. It was a first novel. These things happen. But it wasn’t the last time a videogame has inspired me.

Videogames are not often known for their literary ambition. It’s a situation that’s starting to change, but only slowly. There is often an uneven truce between story and gameplay, one trying to drive the desire for the other. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons a writer can learn.


My personal videogame obsession is the Mass Effect series. There are moments of magnificent storytelling in the game. The pinnacle for me comes in the first game. You must choose which of two shipmates you will save. On the surface it’s a standard life-and-death question, but due to hours of careful characterization, it goes deeper than that. It’s about loyalty, friendship, morality, and love. It’s about the person you want to be playing this game. It is a very personal set of character stakes brought to a towering crescendo.

I write a series. I can’t kill my main character. That’s off the table. But Mass Effect taught me that that doesn’t have to lower the stakes. Rather, I force my protagonist to make these kinds of choices. Who is he going to decide to be? Far worse than dying can be the things we are forced to live with.

The Witcher is another popular RPG series that puts a strong emphasis on storytelling. The focus is on the character Geralt, a monster-killing badass fueled by magic and drugs. On the surface Geralt is everything you could want a hero to be, competent, slick, and cold as a sharp steel blade. The games are everything I want them to be. And yet, I’ve never completed one.

TheWitcher-GameThe problem is, I don’t like Geralt. As competent as he is, nothing is ever done to make me actually feel for him. I am simply thrown into his skin and told to go forth and kick righteous ass. It feels hollow.

Readers like characters to be competent. But that’s not enough on its own. That’s what The Witcher taught me. To make sure there’s something human in my characters to hold on to. A sense of humor, a love of cats, an inability to bite ones tongue. We like characters for their qualities, but we fall in love with them for their flaws.

Writers are encouraged to read, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that advice. In fact, I think it’s critically important. But I also wouldn’t say that books are the only storytelling medium that writers should pay attention to. I wouldn’t even limit it to books and videogames. Movies, newspapers, conversations around the dinner table. The world is full of stories, and each one contains a lesson. And if we choose to learn them from videogames, we even can do it while stabbing monsters in the face.


Jonathan Wood is the author of NO HERO and YESTERDAY’S HERO, first published by Night Shade Books, but coming later this year from Titan Books (March and September). A third novel in the series, ANTI HERO, is due to be published in March 2015. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Goodreads for news, etc.


Upcoming: “No Hero”, “Yesterday’s Hero” and “Anti Hero” by Jonathan Wood (Titan)

Wait, the first two of those books have already been published, right…? Well, yes. Now, though, they are going to be published by a better publisher with better distribution and better artwork. This series made a bit of a splash when No Hero first appeared in 2011. Since then, Wood’s original publisher (Night Shade Books) has experienced a number of… troubles. But fans of the series – existing and prospective – have nothing to fear, for Titan Books has recently acquired publishing rights for the Arthur Wallace series! Here are the details of the three books (thus far):

WoodJ-1-NoHero2NO HERO

“What would Kurt Russell do?”

Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He’s a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals. But then, secretive government agency MI37 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO!

Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?

No Hero is due to be published in March 2014.

WoodJ-2-YesterdaysHero2YESTERDAY’S HERO

Another day. Another zombie T-Rex to put down. All part of the routine for Arthur Wallace and MI37 — the British government department devoted to defending Britain from threats magical, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and generally odd.

Except a zombie T-Rex is only the first of the problems about to trample, slavering and roaring, through Arthur’s life. Before he can say, “but didn’t I save the world yesterday?” a new co-director at MI37 is threatening his job, middle-aged Russian cyborg wizards are threatening his life, and his co-workers’ are threatening his sanity.

As Arthur struggles to unravel a plot to re-enact the Chernobyl disaster in England’s capital, he must not only battle foreign wizards but also struggle to keep the trust of his team. Events spiral out of control, friendships fray, and loyalties are tested to their breaking point.

Yesterday’s Hero is due to be published in September 2014.


What do you do when your best friend becomes a supervillain?

Agent Arthur Wallace is used to dealing with danger that is extraterrestrial, supernatural, or generally odd. But when a drone-strike interrupts his best friend’s funeral, it becomes clear that his next assignment is going to be stranger than usual. When it turns out that the drone was hijacked by a rogue, digital version of that friend… well then nothing is clear to Arthur any more.

Now the man Arthur counted on most is set on destroying humanity in a grand scheme to save the natural world. And the CIA is set on destroying that man. And Arthur can’t work out who the hero is any more. But he has to work out the all the answers fast, because now he’s staring into the bloody maw of the zombpocalypse itself.

Anti Hero, which has not been available before (to my knowledge), is due to hit shelves in March 2015. I’ll be sure to share the artwork as soon as I spot it.

Also on CR: Interview with Jonathan Wood, Guest Post on Living With Consequences