Books Received (April)

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Featuring: Andrew Bannister, Stephanie Burgis, Lee Child, Myke Cole, Sebastien de Castell, A.A. Dhand, N.S. Dolkart, Steven Erikson, Christie Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Jessica Grose, Guy Haley, Peter Hanington, Samantha Hayes, Kaui Hart Hemmings, D.L. Hughley, Kij Johnson, Emma Kavanagh, Laura Lam, Owen Laukkanen, Ken MacLeod, Laurence MacNaughton, Jay McInerney, Barney Norris, Daniel O’Malley, Ann Patchett, Ben Peek, Leif G.W. Perrson, Gae Polisner, Adam Rakunas, Chris Roberson, J. Todd Scott, Helen Sedgwick, J.P. Smythe, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Michael Swanwick, David Swinson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Matt Wallace, Robin Yocum

Above Picture: Crop of Injection #7, by Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (Image)

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New Books (February #1)

BooksReceived-20150214

Featuring: Joe Abercrombie, Mark Alder, Michel Bussi, Michael Christie, John Clarkson, Toby Clements, Myke Cole, Rowena Cory Daniells, William Dietz, Cecilia Ekbäck, Christopher Fowler, John French, Steven Harper, Lee Kelly, Jean Hanff Korelitz, Ursula le Guin, Stephen Marche, Marshall Ryan Maresca, George R.R. Martin, Paul McAuley, Ben Mezrich, Michael Moorcock, Michael Alan Nelson, Peter Orullian, Den Patrick, Justina Robson, Andrzej Sapkowski, Joe Schreiber, Harry Turtledove, Nicolle Wallace 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?

*

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

New Books (November #1)

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A quieter month — I don’t know if that’s just because there’s less coming out, or because I’ve somehow missed a bunch of new releases that never made it on to my radar. Feel free to add suggestions and recommendations in the comments, if you think I’ve missed something I shouldn’t have.

Featuring: Ben Aaronovitch, Stephen Blackmoore, Myke Cole, Francesca Haig, Stephen King, E.C. Myers, Ben Okri, Matthew Reilly Continue reading

“Breach Zone” by Myke Cole (Headline/Ace Books)

ColeM-SO3-BreachZoneUKThe explosive conclusion to Myke Cole’s first trilogy

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers — summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

In this, the final part of Cole’s first trilogy, we have an excellent conclusion. Not only do we see the events of the last three books come together, but the story digs deeper and offers more than either of its predecessors. The author has really pulled out all the stops for this one, and written a really fantastic novel.

The novel is set predominantly in Manhattan, with a few scenes and events taking place in or around the New York area – for example, Bookbinder is on a ship off the coast, testing a new device just as the action kicks off. Harlequin is at the centre, which I liked, as it turns out he is a far more nuanced character than we might have seen in the previous novels (which were through the eyes of people who often were on the wrong side of him). As he takes command of the incursion on Manhattan, we get to see him in action, struggling to keep the hordes from the Source at bay, while also attempting to marshal allies from the Manhattan Selfer underground and also keep the military and law enforcement forces available in line and manning the barricades.

The action is as well-written and realistic as before, with plenty of intense moments that place the reader right alongside the combatants, in the thick of the fighting. I particularly enjoyed seeing the sorcerers let loose, unleashing their myriad powers in devastating and creative ways – the way Cole has developed and devised the various ‘schools’ of magic is fantastic, and he always surprises with the ways in which the powers can be interpreted, and yet still grounded (somewhat) in reality. It was also great to read about the urban conflict taking place in neighbourhoods I have spent many a day walking. I don’t know why everyone seems so keen on destroying New York City in fiction, TV and movies…

What I found most interesting with this novel was how the action was not the best element. In fact, it faded slightly into the background for me. I thought the flashback chapters, detailing Harlequin’s past with Scylla, were absolutely superb, and showed that Cole is not just an excellent military-sci-fi writer. (True, we knew this from Control Point and Fortress Frontier, but in Breach Zone his talent really shines on all fronts.) With this, his third novel, Cole has well and truly arrived. He has written a novel that is just better in every way. The balance between action, character development and world-building was spot-on. As with the previous two novels, I also really liked the use of chapter epigraphs to add further colour and background to the world/reality he has created.

As I mentioned on Twitter when I was reading it, Breach Zone is like a perfect blend of Marvel’s Avengers and the Battle for Helms Deep. Only, better. To draw another comparison to comics, it’s not difficult to see similarities between Scylla and X-Men antagonist Magneto, as she espouses a similar reorientation of society, with the latents on top. Cole’s use of the flashbacks to detail her evolution from high-powered CEO to prisoner of the SOC was deftly done, fleshing out her character and showing us the dangers of government paranoia, overreach and overreaction. She’s a tragic figure, and her relationship with Harlequin just one of the casualties of a frightened government’s policies to control that which it cannot control, nor understand.

If you haven’t read any of these novels, yet, I strongly urge you to do so. I’ve been saying it ever since I read Control Point, but with each novel it becomes clearer: Myke Cole is a fantastic new talent, and if each of his novels improves on the last, it won’t be long before we see him climbing ever-higher on the bestseller list.

Highly recommended.

***

Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole, Guest Post (Influences & Inspirations)

Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops trilogy – Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone – are published by Headline in the UK and Ace Books in the US.

Upcoming: “Breach Zone” by Myke Cole (Headline)

ColeM-SO3-BreachZoneUKFantasy Faction had the exclusive reveal, but it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Myke Cole’s novels – and so, naturally, I decided to share the quite awesome new UK cover for Breach Zone here. The cover was done by Larry Rostant, and prominently features Scylla…

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

I really like this cover – the composition, the colours, the prominence of Scylla… Even the flame-y stuff (although, I presume that’s meant to be some form of manifestation of her entropy-power?). That being said, while I like this cover overall way more than the US art, I’m not sure anything can truly beat the raised-eyebrow on the latter

Cole-SO3-BreachZoneUS

“I do not think so…”

Breach Zone will be published in the UK February 2014 (which is so far away!), and in the US January 2014 (by Ace Books).

Also on CR: Reviews of Control Point & Fortress Frontier, Interview with Myke Cole, Guest Post (“Influences & Inspirations”)

Upcoming: “Breach Zone” by Myke Cole (Ace Books)

Geek Exchange got the exclusive for this cover reveal (this past Wednesday), but given how much I enjoyed the first two novels in the Shadow Ops series, I thought I’d share the cover for the third novel on here, too. So, without any further ado, here is the cover for Myke Cole’s BREACH ZONE

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Personally, I think this is my favourite of the three US covers, now. I also really like the way the fella up front’s eyebrow is raised in an “I don’t think so…” manner. A nice touch. I like the green hue, too. Can’t wait to see what the UK cover looks like.

Breach Zone will be published in the US by Ace Books (Penguin) in late January 2014; and Headline in the UK, in mid-February 2014.

Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole, Guest Post, reviews of Control Point and Fortress Frontier.