Review: NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland (Ballantine / Doubleday / Bantam)

ClevelandK-NeedToKnowUSA fast-paced, gripping spy thriller

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a dangerous secret that will threaten her job, her family — and her life. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her — her job, her husband, even her four children — is threatened.‎

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

This novel received a lot of pre-publication buzz. Russian sleeper cells infiltrating the CIA; movie rights sold to Universal Pictures, with Charlize Theron attached; and lots of praise from other thriller and mystery authors. All of this during a political environment characterized (in part) by Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. So, with expectations high, I’m glad to report that Need to Know exceeded my hopes. A gripping novel that I devoured in two sittings. Continue reading

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Some Quick Audiobook Reviews…

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A quick round-up of six recent audiobook listens. Mostly, very good.

Featuring: Carrie Fisher, Frederick Forsyth, Anna Kendrick, Trevor Noah, Graham Norton, Nikki Sixx

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Review(ish): SERIOUSLY FUNNY — THE ENDLESSLY QUOTABLE TERRY PRATCHETT (Doubleday)

PratchettT-SeriouslyFunnyUKAn indispensable, but by no means exhaustive collection

‘I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.’

The most quotable writer of our time, Terry Pratchett’s unique brand of wit made him both a bestseller and an enduring, endearing source of modern wisdom. This collection is filled with his funniest and most memorable words about life, the universe and snoring.

How does one review a short book of quotations? I’m not going to include my favourites from the book, as that might defeat some of the purpose of other people picking it up. To be sure, the book is both funny and profound; clever and witty. It made me miss Pratchett (even though I never met him, but feel like I was getting to know him through interviews and 20+ years of reading his fiction). It certainly made me laugh. It made me wonder why there weren’t more quotations from Death. It made me want to read all of the Discworld novels again. It reminded me of how much I love his novels.

This is a must-have for all fans of Terry Pratchett. It may also inspire newbies to check out some of his work. (Start with Guards! Guards! — I’ve bought it for five different people, all of whom became avid Pratchett fans.)

Highly recommended. Seriously Funny is out now, published in the UK by Doubleday.

Feel free to share some of your favourite Pratchett quotations in the comments, if you like.

New Books (February)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Jo Baker, Mishell Baker, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Pierce Brown, Christopher Charles, Jessica Chiarella, Dan Cluchey, Max Allan Collins, John Connolly, Don DeLillo, S.B. Divya, Rachel Dunne, Mark Andrew Ferguson, Hadley Freeman, S.L. Grey, Lauren Groff, A.J. Hartley, Noah Hawley, Katie Heaney, Patrick Hemstreet, Mitchell Hogan, Lee Kelly, Shane Kuhn, Joe R. Lansdale, John Lansdale, Tim Lebbon, David Levien, Brian McClellan, Claire North, Willow Palecek, K.J. Parker, Bryony Pearce, Victor Pelevin, Molly Prentiss, Andy Remic, William Shatner, Mickey Spillane, Jo Spurrier, Allen Steele, Stuart Stevens, Alex Stewart, Jack Sutherland, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Marc Turner, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Teddy Wayne

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New Books (Jan)

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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

New Year, New Books… (Dec/Jan)

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Featuring: Megan Abbott, Kate Atkinson, John Ayliff, Elizabeth Brundage, M.R. Carey, Mike Carey, Linda Carey, Louise Carey, John Connolly, A.M. Dellamonica, Tim Federle, Patrick Gale, Addison Gunn, Antonia Hayes, Jeff Mariotte, K.S. Merbeth, Maggie Mitchell, Sarah Pinborough, Jennifer Ridyard, Marsheila Rockwell, James Rollins, Lilith Saintcrow, Emily Schultz, Peter Tieryas

BBTSheldonReadingBatman

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Excerpt: THE WATCHMEN OF ETERNITY by Paul Witcover

WitcoverP-2-WatchmanOfEternityUKHere is an excerpt from Paul Witcover‘s anticipated sequel to The Emperor of All Things, The Watchmen of Eternity. Published this week by Bantam/Transworld Books in the UK, here’s the synopsis:

In the seventh year of its war against France, England faces threats from abroad and at home, from above – and below. Buoyed by a series of military victories on land and at sea, French forces are gathering for their final push across the Channel. In Scotland, Jacobites loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie plot to restore the Stuart dynasty to the throne. Beneath the bustling streets of London, a subterranean race prepares to rise. And in the realm known as the Otherwhere – home to dragons, demons and gods – civil war has erupted, causing a great and powerful weapon to be cast into the world. That weapon is a clock – a watch, to be precise, of a size to fit comfortably in a man’s hand…a watch with a taste for blood – a mechanism that contains the doom of all that lives.

Daniel Quare, of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, was sent by his masters to find that deadly time- piece. But he was not alone in his pursuit: both the mysterious thief Grimalkin and the ruthless French spy and assassin Thomas Aylesford were on its trail. But with the help of Lord Wichcote – an aristocrat of many talents and more disguises – Quare succeeded in seizing the watch. But not for long: Aylesford took it from him – and with it, Quare’s hand. And now the French spy is on his way back to his masters, Lord Wichcote lies gravely wounded and Daniel Quare has vanished . . . which would seem to mean that all hope for the world is lost…

Also on CR: Interview with Paul Witcover

And now, on with the excerpt! Continue reading