Upcoming: LETHAL WHITE by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland/Sphere)

GalbraithR-CS4-LethalWhiteI was one of the readers who was drawn to Robert Galbraith‘s Cormoran Strike series after it was revealed that “Robert Galbraith” is actually J.K. Rowling. Before that, I don’t think I’d seen anything about The Cuckoo’s Calling anywhere. As a fan of Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I decided to give Galbraith’s novels a try. Luckily, I really liked the first one, and very quickly read the follow-up The Silkworm and then the third, Career of Evil. The novels are slow-burn mysteries, and the main characters are great. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the fourth book, Lethal White, ever since it was announced that it was on the way. Here’s the synopsis:

“I seen a kid killed… He strangled it, up by the horse.”

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott — once his assistant, now a partner in the agency — set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been — Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, Lethal Whiteis both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

Lethal White is due to be published on September 18th, 2018, by Mulholland Books in North America and Sphere in the UK. The series has also been adapted into a BBC TV series, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet (it’s unclear where/how it’s available in Canada…).

Also on CR: Review of The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Silkworm and Career of Evil

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Books (August-September)

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Featuring: Paul Cornell, Patrick DeWitt, John French, John Grisham, Garth Risk Hallberg, Lauren Holmes, Chrissie Hynde, Michael Livingston, Jonathan Maberry, Joel McIver, Patrick Ness, Nnedi Okorafor, K.J. Parker, Daniel Polansky, Alter S. Reiss, Geoff Renoff, Anthony Reynolds, Jeffrey Rotter, F. Wesley Schneider, Angela Slatter, A.J. Smith, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Michael R. Underwood, Matt Wallace, Chuck Wendig, Kai Ashante Wilson, Tom Wood, Sunil Yapa

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Upcoming from Little, Brown UK

Here’s a selection of upcoming titles from Little, Brown UK that have caught my eye. (It’s a bit more of a mix than usual.)

ArmstrongK-C3-DeceptionsUKKelley Armstrong, DECEPTIONS (August 18th, Sphere)

TRUST NO ONE

Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow? 

RISK EVERYTHING

Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side. 

FACE THE TRUTH

Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Book three in Armstrong’s Cainsville series — following Omens and Visions. All published in the US by Dutton.

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AryanS-BattlemageStephen Aryan, BATTLEMAGE (September 24th, Orbit)

An action-packed and magic-fuelled fantasy novel from a British debut author, Stephen Aryan’s Battlemage features mages fighting an empire-spanning war for a homeland that fears and despises them

‘I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,’ Balfruss growled. ‘It’s dangerous to meddle with things you don’t understand.’

BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.

VARGUS is a common soldier – while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.

TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.

Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent.

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AycliffeJ-TheLostJonathan Aycliffe, THE LOST (October 1st, Constable)

When a man is lost, who but his ghosts will find him?

British born Michael Feraru, scion of a long line of Romanian aristocrats, leaves his country of birth and his love, to reclaim his heritage — a Draculian castle deep in the heart of Transylvania. He plans to turn his inheritance into an orphanage in the new post-Ceausescu, post-communist country. There he enlists the help of a young local lawyer, Liliana Popescu, to search for the missing Feraru millions, and battle through the complex maze of old bureaucracy in the scam-rich, newly-born state.

Feraru describes his journey into the heart of the Romanian countryside, wasted by years of neglect and caught in a time-warp, as though the twentieth century had never reached it. When he eventually arrives at his inheritance, he finds the castle of the Ferarus, in a sunless valley in the Carpathian Mountains, is home to much more than memories…

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ButcherJ-CS1-AeronautsWindlassUKJim Butcher, THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS (September 29th, Orbit)

A new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion-to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.

Published by Orbit in both the UK and US. This is the first in a new series, The Cinder Spires.

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ByrneM-GirlInTheRoadUKPBMonica Byrne, THE GIRL ON THE ROAD (September 3rd, PB, Blackfriars)

In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, a young woman sets out from her home in India on a desperate, profound journey of escape and discovery.

A young woman called Meena wakes up one morning covered in blood. There are mysterious snakebites across her chest. She knows she’s in danger but something has happened to her memory. All she can do is run — but why? And from whom?

As Meena plots her escape she hears of the Trail – an extraordinary, forbidden bridge that spans the Arabian sea, connecting India to Africa like a silver ribbon. Its purpose is to harness the power of the ocean — Blue Energy — but it also offers a subculture of travellers a chance for sanctuary and adventure.

Convinced the Trail is her salvation, Meena gathers supplies — GPS, a scroll reader, a sealable waterproof pod. And so begins her extraordinary journey — both physical and spiritual – from India to Ethiopia, the home of her birth. But as she runs away from the threat of violence she is also running towards a shocking revelation about her past and her family.

Still haven’t had the chance to read this, unfortunately. New paperback edition.

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ElliottK-CourtsOfFivesKate Elliott, COURT OF FIVES (August 27th, LB Young Readers)

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

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Fink&Cranor-WelcomeToTheNightValeJoseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor, WELCOME TO THE NIGHT VALE (October 20th, Orbit)

From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves… no matter where we live. The Telegraph calls Night Vale a ‘cultural phenomenon’ and Time Out says it’s ‘as hilarious as it is macabre’. For fans of Stephen King, Serial, Twin Peaks and of course the number one iTunes podcast itself.

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked ‘KING CITY’ by a mysterious man in a tan jacket. She can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City before she herself unravels.

Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: ‘KING CITY’. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures . . . if they can ever find it.

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GalbraithR-CS3-CareerOfEvilUKRobert Galbraith, CAREER OF EVIL (October 22nd, Sphere)

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. You will not be able to put this book down.

I loved the first two novels in Galbraith’s series — The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. Very much looking forward to Career of Evil. Oh, if you were somehow unaware of the fact, “Robert Galbraith” is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.

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HarrisonK-D1-DrafterUKKim Harrison, THE DRAFTER (September 1st, Piatkus)

LIVE. DIE. REPEAT. 

Detroit 2030: Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. 

When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. Her memory of the previous three years erased, she joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her fateful final task. With only her intuition to guide her, she’s on a vengeful mission to decide-who must she kill and who, including herself, can she trust?

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KnightJ-D1-Swords&ScoundrelsJulia Knight, SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS (October 8th, Orbit)

The first book in the Duellist’s trilogy — a fast-paced adventure from one of the most exciting new British talents in fantasy

Gold is for fools, and dying is for amateurs… 

Vocho and Kacha are champion duellists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be — until they were thrown out of the Duellist’s Guild. 

Now all that’s left to them is to become reluctant highwaymen. Well — it’s a living, and for Vocho it’s a way to win back some form of notoriety. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast. 

After facing down three armed men and barely besting a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. Vocho is convinced it must be worth a fortune, perhaps enough to buy him and his sister back the lives he lost for them when he inadvertently killed a priest. 

But the contents of the chest will bring them much more than they’ve bargained for — when they soon find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power…

Julia Knight is also known as Francis Knight, the author of the Rojan Dizon trilogy (which is very good). Details of the second book in the Duellists trilogy, Legends and Liars (November 5th), are here. The covers for all three novels in the series can be seen in all their glory here.

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LygaFacinelliDeFranco-AfterTheRedRainUKBarry Lyga, Peter Facinelli & Robert DeFranco, AFTER THE RED RAIN (August 27th, LB Young Readers)

A post-apocalyptic novel with a cinematic twist from New York Times bestseller Barry Lyga, actor Peter Facinelli, and producer Robert DeFranco.

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to mega-cities, and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day, she comes across a beautiful boy struggling to cross the river. A boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet. A boy with an unusual name… Rose.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart by the murder of the Magistrate’s son, and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do they know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.

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ValenteCM-RadianceUKCatherine M. Valente, RADIANT (October 20th, Corsair)

Severin Unck is the headstrong young daughter of a world famous film director. She has inherited her father’s love of the big screen but not his exuberant gothic style of filmmaking. Instead, Severin makes documentaries, artful and passionate and even rather brave – for she is a realist in a fantastic alternate universe, in which Hollywood occupies the moon, Mars is rife with lawless saloons, and the solar system contains all manner of creatures, cults and colonies. 

For Severin’s latest project she leads her crew to the watery planet of Venus to investigate the disappearance of a diving colony there. But something goes wrong during the course of their investigations; and her crew limp home without her.

All that remains of Severin are fragments. Can these snippets of scenes and shots, voices and memories, pages and recordings be collected and pieced together to tell the story of her life – and shed light on the mystery of her vanishing? 

Clever, dreamy, strange and beautifully written – Radiance is a novel about how stories give form to worlds.

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A Few Audiobook Reviews

Here are short reviews for six audiobooks I’ve listened to recently. An interesting, mixed bag, I think. Thanks to Audible UK for the review copies.

CryerJ-SoThatHappenedSO THAT HAPPENED by Jon Cryer (NAL)

If it can happen in show business, it’s happened to Jon Cryer. Now he’s opening up for the first time and sharing his behind-the-scenes stories in a warmly endearing, sharply observed, and frankly funny look at life in Hollywood.

In 1986, Jon Cryer won over America as Molly Ringwald’s loyal and lovable best friend, Duckie, in the cult classic Pretty in Pink in a role that set the tone for his three-decade-long career in Hollywood. He went on to establish himself as one of the most talented comedic actors in the business, ultimately culminating in his current turn as Alan Harper on the massively popular sitcom Two and a Half Men.

With the instincts of a natural storyteller, Cryer charts his extraordinary journey in show business, illuminating his many triumphs and some missteps along the way. Filled with exclusive behind-the-scenes anecdotes, Cryer offers his own endearing perspective on Hollywood, the business at large, and the art of acting.

Cryer has worked with some of the biggest and most provocative names in the business, and here, for the first time, he details his experiences with Charlie Sheen, John Hughes, Robert Altman, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, and Christopher Reeve, among many others. He shares the intimate details of his friendships and relationships, pays tribute to his mentors, and explores the peculiar combination of heart, talent, and wisdom it takes to survive not just the bad times in a notoriously fickle industry but even the good times.

In this revealing, humorous, and introspective memoir, Cryer offers readers a front-row seat as he reminisces about his life and experiences in showbiz over the past thirty years.

This was a very good memoir and audiobook. I did not realize how eventful Cryer’s career has been. I of course knew him from Two and a Half Men (a series I’ve seen a fair bit of, but also one that I felt was all over the map in terms of quality). Many people will be most interested in Cryer’s comments on Charlie Sheen’s warlock/wizard meltdown, and there’s plenty in the book about that — Cryer gives a chronological account, expressing his mixed feelings about his former co-star, his attempts to help and also eventual disappointment. It’s interesting, even-handed, and well-written. The rest of the book is also great — from his recounting of the making of Pretty in Pink, his small roles in Superman 4 and Hot Shots (his first brush with Sheen) — Cryer is witty, candid. He is self-deprecating without it being affected, he peppers the book with quips and cheeky remarks that never feel mean-spirited. Highly recommended, even if you aren’t that familiar with Cryer’s work: So That Happened has plenty of insight and commentary on the movie and TV business, from someone who has tasted success and disappointment.

So That Happened is published in print by New American Library in the US.

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DenchJ-AndFurthermoreUKAND FURTHERMORE by Judi Dench (W&N)

From the moment Judi Dench appeared as a teenager in the York Mystery Plays it was clear that acting would be her career. Trained at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama it was her performance in her twenties as Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s memorable Old Vic production that turned her into a star. In the theatre since she has played every classic role from Titania to Cleopatra.

She first became a household name via television, thanks initially to a sitcom, A FINE ROMANCE, in which she played alongside the actor Michael Williams, whom she married in 1971. She has since made nine series of another sitcom, AS TIME GOES BY (with Geoffrey Palmer), as well as plays and classic serials such as CRANFORD. In the cinema her films have ranged from LADIES IN LAVENDER (opposite Maggie Smith) through NOTES ON A SCANDAL with Cate Blanchett to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, in which she played Queen Elizabeth, a role which gained her a Hollywood Oscar. But it is her role as ‘M’ in seven James Bond films that has gained her worldwide recognition.

This book is, however, much more than a career record. Her marriage to Michael Williams, their daughter, and her impish sense of humour contribute vividly to her account of more than half a century as Britain’s best-loved actress.

This was a bit of a disappointment. It’s not that it’s uninteresting, it just wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped. It’s well-written and performed (by Samantha Bond), but I never really sank into it. It’s a little bland, I suppose. Which I’m sad to say. Dench’s wit still comes through on occasion, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. Perhaps it’s because Dench was not entirely sold on the idea of a memoir in the first place (as she suggests in her foreword). It was nice to learn about Dench’s history in the theatre and so forth, considering she is easily one of Britain’s best actresses. If you’re a fan of Dench’s work, then it’s still worth checking out, but perhaps in printed format, rather than audio? Perhaps also one mainly for theatre lovers and those more knowledgable about the plays in which Dench got her start and excelled at.

And Furthermore is published in print by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the UK.

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HoweS-MarvelComicsUKPBMARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY by Sean Howe (Harper Perennial)

In the early 1960s, a struggling company called Marvel Comics presented a cast of brightly costumed characters distinguished by smart banter and compellingly human flaws: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men. Over the course of half a century, Marvel’s epic universe would become the most elaborate fictional narrative in history and serve as a modern American mythology for millions of readers.

For the first time, Marvel Comics reveals the outsized personalities behind the scenes, including Martin Goodman, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and generations of editors, artists, and writers who struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and — over matters of credit and control — one another. Marvel Comics is a story of fertile imaginations, lifelong friendships, action-packed fistfights, and third-act betrayals — a narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop-cultural entities in America’s history.

Who hasn’t read a Marvel comic? Or seen one of the recent mega-blockbusters based on Marvel IP? This is a great book, and a must-read/-listen for any fan of the books and comics. It’s exhaustive, so there are moments when Howe takes us on long(ish) tangents. There are many names thrown out that non-afficionados/fanboys may not know, and it was sometimes tricky to remember exactly who was who. That’s not a big issue, though, as Howe’s narrative is a fascinating look into the forces that have driven the world’s largest comic publisher from its founding. There have been plenty of scandals, bust-ups, “betrayals”, a sea of ups and downs, and plenty of colourful and interesting people involved. There has also been a massive amount of money… Howe includes the creative origin stories of many of Marvel’s most famous characters, and also a number of smaller, but still fan-beloved characters. (Oh, so very much radiation and so many accidents in science labs…) Stephen Hoye’s narration is very well-suited to the tale, and I was genuinely gripped for most of it. There were times when my attention wandered, as some minutiae were discussed, but I was always drawn back in. Definitely recommended for fans of the books and movies, and also anyone interested in the history of publishing — this offers some interesting insights into a small segment of that industry. It’s also must-read if you are a fan of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is published in print by Harper Perennial.

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KiedisA-ScarTissueUKSCAR TISSUE by Anthony Kiedis (Sphere)

In SCAR TISSUE Anthony Kiedis, charismatic and highly articulate frontman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, recounts his remarkable life story, and the history of the band itself. Raised in the Midwest, he moved to LA aged eleven to live with his father Blackie, purveyor of pills, pot, and cocaine to the Hollywood elite. After a brief child-acting career, Kiedis dropped out of U.C.L.A. and plunged headfirst into the demimonde of the L.A. underground music scene. He formed the band with three schoolfriends – and found his life’s purpose. Crisscrossing the country, the Chili Peppers were musical innovators and influenced a whole generation of musicians.

But there’s a price to pay for both success and excess and in SCAR TISSUE, Kiedis writes candidly of the overdose death of his soul mate and band mate, Hillel Slovak, and his own ongoing struggle with an addiction to drugs.

SCAR TISSUE far transcends the typical rock biography, because Anthony Kiedis is anything but a typical rock star. It is instead a compelling story of dedication and debauchery, of intrigue and integrity, of recklessness and redemption.

I’m not sure if I actually know anyone who doesn’t own a Red Hot Chili Peppers album… For me, Californication was when I took note. It’s one of my favourite albums, and still stands up today. During my many years reading myriad rock and music magazines (Kerrang!, Metal HammerRock Sound, Hit Parader and more), I gleaned some of the Chilis members stories. I was therefore very interested in this memoir — I remember when it came out it received much praise. One thing that becomes clear very quickly: Kiedis has put his body through hell. The sheer amount of drugs he seems to have put into his body is titanic. He’s brutally honest about his exploits, his mistakes, but also his luck and love for his bandmates, friends and family. There is, therefore, a lot of great content in Scar Tissue. However, the litany of drug (ab)use does seem to dominate the story, and it became a little dull to hear about another binge, or another near-overdose, etc. It’s laudable that Kiedis wants to be honest and so candid about his mistakes, but after a while the book became a little repetitive. I think I would have preferred it if that side of Kiedis’s story was pared back, and instead focussed on the story of the band and its music and history. Nevertheless, this is still a good book, and a must-read/-listen for any fan of the band. Rider Strong’s narration is very good, and suited the story.

Scar Tissue is published in print by Sphere in the UK.

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PeggS-NerdDoWellUKNERD DO WELL by Simon Pegg (Cornerstone)

Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having blasted onto the small screens with his now legendary sitcom Spaced, his rise to nation’s favourite son status has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronnic, but mostly just plain great.

From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with Star Wars, his often passionate friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his 12-year-old classmates, this is a joyous tale of a homegrown superstar and a local boy made good.

I was actually a relative latecomer to the work of Simon Pegg. I missed Spaced when it aired, and it took me rather long to get around to Shaun of the Dead. After I started watching his work, however, I became hooked: Hot FuzzedPaul and his roles in the new Mission: Impossible and Star Trek movies have all been great. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I started listening to Nerd Do Well. It’s an abridged version, which was a bit disappointing, but it is nevertheless a tightly-written, exceptionally well-performed and produced memoir. Pegg is on top form, and he speaks candidly and accessibly about his journey to stardom and success — from the early days of his acting at community theatres (where his mother also performed), to his discovery of Star Wars and the road to becoming a Nerd Do Well. This is a funny, interesting book, and if you’re even a little bit of a fan of Pegg’s work, then I highly recommend you check this out. I’ll be buying the book, soon, so I can read the full text.

Nerd Do Well is published in print by Cornerstone in the UK.

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RonsonJ-SoYouveBeenPubliclyShamedUKSO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED by Jon Ronson (Picador)

‘It’s about the terror, isn’t it?’

‘The terror of what?’ I said.

‘The terror of being found out.’

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and the very scary part we all play in it.

A very interesting idea, given the changing nature of internet culture today (“Let’s call out everyone for everythingall the time!“). Ronson is an interesting writer, and one with a knack for finding interesting topics on which to write. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is certainly intriguing, but I think maybe the subject matter doesn’t justify quite as long a book as this one? Ronson’s point is quickly made, and as each example is presented and described, one can’t help but feel that he’s flogging the point a bit. It’s all interesting, and individually the examples and case studies are interesting in their own ways (some certainly more than others). Ultimately, though, I was not gripped throughout, and my interested gradually diminished as I listened. There were moments that brought me back in, of course (otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it), but it was far from the best audiobook I’ve listened to. Which is a pity. Worth checking out if you’re interested in internet culture and society.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is published in print by Picador in the UK, and Riverhead Books in the US.

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Upcoming: BITE by Nick Louth (Sphere)

LouthN-BiteOriginally self-published, Nick Louth‘s BITE will be published in paperback by Sphere in the UK next year (it is available now in eBook).

Tomorrow should be the greatest day of Erica Stroud-Jones’s life. In just 24 hours this brilliant young scientist will present her secret work to a conference in Amsterdam – research that promises to revolutionise the battle against a deadly tropical disease. Millions of lives could be saved; a Nobel Prize beckons.

Arriving to watch her are sceptics and rivals, admirers and enemies. Erica’s own eyes will be on sculptor Max Carver, her American new love to whom she will dedicate her achievement.

Tomorrow never comes.

Erica vanishes during the night. Max, desperate, terrified, sets out to find her, descending into an underworld full of malice and cunning. But even he is shocked by the dark terror he finds in the heart of the woman he loves.

This sounds intriguing. The synopsis doesn’t give much away at all, but that could be a good thing.

New Books (September/October)

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Featuring: Mitch Albom, Gillian Anderson, Kelly Armstrong, Lauren Beukes, Adam Brookes, Christopher Buehlman, Blake Butler, W. Bruce Cameron, Michael Carroll, Al Ewing, Tana French, Peter F. Hamilton, Michael Harvey, Lee Henderson, Steffen Jacobsen, Rajan Khanna, James Luceno, Todd Moss, Claire North, Pierre Pevel, John Sandford, Graeme Simsion, Matthew Smith, Peter Watts, Alec Worley Continue reading

“Created: The Destroyer” by Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir (Sphere)

MurphyW-D01-CreatedTheDestroyerUKLong-running, mega-selling pulp thriller series makes it over to the UK

One legendary hero. One epic series.Sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, ex-cop Remo Williams is rescued from the electric chair at the eleventh hour and recruited by a secret government organisation named CURE. From this moment, he ceases to officially exist.From now on, he will be an assassin, targeting criminals who are beyond the law. Remo’s trainer is a grouchy old Korean named Chiun, whose mastery of the terrifyingly powerful martial art of Sinanju makes him the deadliest man alive.Together Remo and Chiun set forth on their epic, impossible mission to vanquish every enemy of democracy – every bad guy who thinks they can escape justice.This is a new era in man’s fight against the forces of evil.This is the time of the Destroyer.

According to the press release, this series (which clocks in at 50 books!) has sold more than 50 million copies. That’s pretty impressive. First published in 1971, Created: The Destroyer is an interesting first book in an early government assassin thriller series. A literary ancestor of Vince Flynn et al, the novel was interesting and, sadly, disappointing. Continue reading