Friday, August 15, 2014

New Books (August #1)


Featuring: David Annandale, Anne Blankman, Christopher Fowler, Felix Gilman, Emmi Itäranta, Philip Kerr, M.A. Lawson, Peter Liney, Caitlin Moran, Haruki Murakami, Lauren Owen, Greg Rucka, Brian Ruckley, Adelle Waldman, Will Wiles, Tad Williams

Annandale-HH30-DamnationOfPythosDavid Annandale, The Damnation of Pythos (Black Library)

In the aftermath of the Dropsite Massacre at Isstvan V, a battered and bloodied force of Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders regroups on a seemingly insignificant death world. Fending off attacks from all manner of monstrous creatures, the fractious allies find hope in the form of human refugees fleeing from the growing war, and cast adrift upon the tides of the warp. But even as the Space Marines carve out a sanctuary for them in the jungles of Pythos, a darkness gathers that threatens to consume them all…

This is the 30th book in the Horus Heresy series. Kind of cool that it’s lasted this long. Annandale is one of Black Library’s best new(ish) writers, and I’ve enjoyed all of his work. Lately, he has just been getting better and better, too, so I have very high hopes for this novel. I’ll be reading the 29th book in the series – Graham McNeill’s Spirit of Vengeance – first, even though this is set earlier in the chronology. (My series OCD is at play…) Hopefully I’ll get to this beginning of September.

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale; Guest Post on David’s Favourite Novel


BlankmanA-PrisonerOfNightAndFogUSAnne Blankman, Prisoner of Night and Fog (Harper Collins)

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth – even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

A harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed… and to trust her own heart instead.

I spotted this while still in the UK, and have been keeping my eye open for it ever since. I found it in the Toronto Public Library, so will hopefully read it ASAP. Like the premise, and have heard nothing by good things about it. Hitler seems to be quite the popular protagonist or subject, recently – see also Timur Vermes’s Look Who’s Back and Lavie Tidhar’s upcoming A Man Lies Dreaming.


Christopher Fowler, Nyctophobia (Solaris)


Isolated and beautiful, Hyperion House is a house of eerie symmetry; uniquely designed to ensure that one half remains always in the light and one half always in the dark.

When new owner Callie Shaw begins to uncover the house’s strange history she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the shrouded servant’s quarters at the back of the house, increasingly convinced that someone is living a half-life among the darkness there…

This sounds like it has the potential to be deliciously spooky.


GilmanF-RevolutionsUKPBFelix Gilman, The Revolutions (Corsair)

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw – a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction – is at work in British Museum Reading Room. The storm wreaks unprecedented damage throughout London. Its aftermath of the storm Arthur’s prime literary market closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiancé Jo takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. Meanwhile, Arthur deciphers an encoded newspaper ad seeking able young men. It seems to be a clerking job doing accounting work, but the mysterious head man Mr. Gacewell offers Arthur a starting position at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, and the men spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad… but the salary is compelling.

Things are beginning to look up when the wages of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come due: a war breaks out between competing magical societies, and Arthur interrupts Jo in the middle of an elaborate occult exploration. This rash move turns out to be dire, as Jo’s consciousness is stranded at the outer limits of the occultists’ psychic day trip. Which, Arthur is chagrinned…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a negative review of a Felix Gilman novel. This has been on my radar for some time, so I have very high hopes. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.


ItärantaE-MemoryOfWaterEmmi Itäranta, Memory of Water (Voyager)

In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria’s father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander… and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.

Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.

I’ve seen a lot of positive buzz about this book, and so I’m quite looking forward to trying it. Sounds really interesting.


praying-hands copyPhilip Kerr, Research (Quercus)

If you want to write a murder mystery, you have to do some research… In a luxury flat in Monaco, John Houston’s supermodel wife lies in bed, a bullet in her skull. Houston is the world’s most successful novelist, the playboy head of a literary empire that produces far more books than he could ever actually write. Now the man who has invented hundreds of best-selling killings is wanted for a real murder and on the run from the police, his life transformed into something out of one of his books. And in London, the ghostwriter who is really behind those books has some questions for him too…

Sounds like a great thriller. I’ve never read anything by Kerr, but he’s another of the established thriller/crime/fiction writers that is often recommended to me.

Review copy from NetGalley.


LawsonMA-KH1-RosaritoBeachUSM.A. Lawson, Rosarita Beach (Blue Rider Press)

Bold, brash, and beautiful, Kay Hamilton is not your average DEA agent — she’s as infuriating as she is irresistible. Having recently moved to San Diego after a case in Miami brought her more notoriety than medals, Kay once again finds herself embroiled in an international bust.

Tito Olivera, younger brother of drug czar Caesar Olivera, is within her grasp. If she takes down Tito, Kay is positive that Caesar will follow — and when Caesar falls, so does the largest and most vicious drug cartel in Mexico. But when a mysterious stranger shows up on her doorstep, all of Kay’s carefully laid plans are thrown out the window. The Olivera case suddenly becomes far more personal — not to mention dangerous — and Kay must be willing to sacrifice everything to get her man. Rosarito Beach is an explosive, action-packed thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats until the final moments of the epic conclusion.

This is actually a pen-name for one of my favourite thriller authors, Mike Lawson (not sure why he decided to go with a slight pseudonym for this one). It’s a separate series from his best-selling Joe DeMarco series, and I’m looking forward to trying it out. The second book in the series, Viking Bay, is due out in January 2015.


LineyP-D2-IntoTheFirePeter Liney, Into the Fire (Jo Fletcher Books)

Having escaped the Island – a wasteland that housed those no longer able to contribute to society – ageing ‘Big Guy’ Clancy thought his fight was over. But they have returned to the mainland to find that it is not the haven they anticipated.

With the punishment satellites that kept them on the Island – and the city under control – gone, hell has been unleashed. A mysterious organisation has begun to decimate the population; those it doesn’t kill outright are herded into the streets and then set free to run – for the rich and powerful to hunt. Clancy is about to discover that his work is far from over. The fires of hell don’t burn much hotter than this.

The sequel to The Detainee (which I shamefully still haven’t read…), this is a series I really want to get caught up with. Hopefully I’ll manage it soon.

Review copy from Edelweiss.

Also on CR: Interview with Peter Liney; Guest Post by Liney; Excerpt of The Detainee


MoranC-HowToBuildAGirlCaitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl (Harper)

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes — and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde — fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer — like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës — but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?

I’ve read some of Moran’s journalism, but for some reason have never got around to reading any of her books. This novel, though, caught my eye a few months back, and I was very happy to find it on Edelweiss for review. Expect more soon.

Review copy from Edelweiss.


Murakami-ColorlessTsukuruTazakiUSHaruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage (Doubleday)

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine’, and Oumi, ‘blue sea’, while the girls’ names were Shirane, ‘white root’, and Kurono, ‘black field’. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it.

One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want to see him, or talk to him, ever again.

Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.

I have never read anything by Murakami. I’m not sure why. I guess I just never got around to it, and surrounded by review copies I never felt a need to go out and buy it (although, that hasn’t stopped me in other situations…). With this just arrived, though, I think I’ll have to make this my first read. I’ve been told he’s brilliant, so I have high hopes.


NichollsD-UsUKDavid Nicholls, Us (Harper)

I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.”

Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?”

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

It’s been a long time since I last read a novel by Nicholls – I remember reading Starter for Ten and The Understudy back-to-back when I was younger. Since then, I have been well and truly distracted by SFF and thrillers, so Nicholls’s novels always seemed to pass me by. This sounded fun, though, so I’ll hopefully get back into reading his books, and do some catching up as well.

Review copy from Edelweiss.


OwenL-TheQuickUKPBLauren Owen, The Quick (Vintage)

You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick –

But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.

Another book I’ve seen mentioned on most of the blogs I still read, and almost always positively (or, at least, impressed and intrigued). Sounds interesting, so I’ll hopefully get to it soon.


RuckaG-JB2-BravoUSGreg Rucka, Bravo (Mulholland Books)

In the wake of a failed attack on America’s premier theme park which put his own daughter at risk, Special Forces operator Jad Bell is sent after the man who arranged it. But it soon becomes clear that capturing him is just the start: his employer, known only as the Architect, has already set something far worse in motion.

At the centre of it all are two women deep under cover. One is an American spy whose intel is the only hope they have, but who has lived a lie for so long she cannot be trusted. And the other is a woman as beautiful as she is deadly, already living in the States, and poised to execute the Architect’s plans at a moment’s notice.

The stakes are even higher, the clock is ticking, and this time the enemies are hiding in plain sight…

I love Rucka’s comics work, but have never read any of his prose fiction. I also have the first book in this series, Alpha, and I intend to read them both pretty close together, and hopefully in the not-too-distant future.


RuckleyB-TheFreeBrian Ruckley, The Free (Orbit)

A warrior of legend. A warrior to be feared.

The famed Yulan is leader of The Free, the last remaining band of mercenaries in the Hommetic Kingdom. Feared and revered, they were once seen as a threat to the Hommetic Kingdom's power – until they outlasted it in the course of a bloody rebellion.

With the oppressive monarch overthrown, The Free plan to finally lay down their weapons, hoping for a chance of peace at last – until Yulan is offered one final contract that he is unable to refuse. The target is the very man responsible for the worst atrocity Yulan has ever witnessed, one that has haunted him ever since. And now is his last chance to right that wrong.

But as Yulan and his companions embark on their last journey, a potent mix of vengeance, love and loyalty is building to a storm. It is a storm so violent it is likely to destroy the last of the free companies. And only then will they discover the true price of freedom.

I’m a big fan of Ruckley’s novels. This is the start of a new series (perhaps? It may be a stand-alone), and I’m eager to get around to it.

Review copy from NetGalley.

Also on CR: Interview with Brian Ruckley


WaldmanA-LoveAffairsOfNathanielPUSAdelle Waldman, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. (Picador)

Writer Nate Piven’s star is rising. After several lean and striving years, he has his pick of both magazine assignments and women: Juliet, the hotshot business reporter; Elisa, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, “almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice,” who holds her own in conversation with his friends. When one relationship grows more serious, Nate is forced to consider what it is he really wants.

In Nate’s 21st-century literary world, wit and conversation are not at all dead. Is romance? Novelist Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of a flawed, sometimes infuriating modern man—one who thinks of himself as beyond superficial judgment, yet constantly struggles with his own status anxiety, who is drawn to women, yet has a habit of letting them down in ways that may just make him an emblem of our times.

I read the short-story prequel to this and thought it was pretty good. It left me wanting more – partly because it felt incomplete, but also because I thought the characterisation was interesting.


WilesW-TheWayInnUSWill Wiles, The Way Inn (Harper Perennial)

Neil Double is a “conference surrogate,” hired by his clients to attend industry conferences so that they don’t have to. It’s a life of budget travel, cheap suits, and out-of-town exhibition centers — a kind of paradise for Neil, who has reconstructed his incognito professional life into a toxic and selfish personal philosophy. But his latest job, at a conference of conference organizers, will radically transform him and everything he believes as it unexpectedly draws him into a bizarre and speculative mystery.

In a brand new Way Inn — a global chain of identikit mid-budget motels — in an airport hinterland, he meets a woman he has seen before in strange and unsettling circumstances. She hints at an astonishing truth about this mundane world filled with fake smiles and piped muzak. But before Neil can learn more, she vanishes. Intrigued, he tries to find her — a search that will lead him down the rabbit hole, into an eerily familiar place where he will discover a dark and disturbing secret about the Way Inn. Caught on a metaphysical Mobius strip, Neil discovers that there may be no way out.

I only heard about this novel from Christopher Priest’s positive review of it. (Which was, in turn, only found through a Twitter link.) It sounds interesting, so I requested it on Edelweiss.

Review copy from Edelweiss.


WilliamsT-BD3-SleepingLateOnJudgementDayUKTad Williams, Sleeping Late (Hodder)

Bobby Dollar thinks he’s seen it all – after all, he’s been to Hell and back again. Literally.

But he has another think coming. Sleeping Late on Judgement Day will find Bobby back in his adopted hometown of San Judas, California, trying to stay out of trouble… and failing. His love life is still a mess, there are one too many people who have it out for him, and drowning his sorrows in a nice glass of whisky won’t keep the demons at bay forever.

Bobby’s going to have to pull himself together and make a few tough decisions before time runs out. The problem is, time could run out at any moment. In the final Bobby Dollar novel in Tad Williams’s groundbreaking epic fantasy trilogy, fallen angel Bobby Dollar will finally be force to confront the one problem he can’t talk his way out of: his own.

This is the final volume in Williams’s Bobby Dollar supernatural/urban fantasy series, following The Dirty Streets of Heaven and Happy Hour in Hell. I haven’t read either of the first two volumes, much to my confusion. This sounds right up my alley. Maybe because I’ve been devouring Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, which is in the same sub-genre. Maybe after I finish the latest Slim novel, I’ll get started on Bobby Dollar’s (mis)adventures.



  1. I've been eyeing that The Free book, I've only just recently heard of it and was surprised that it was coming out from Orbit so soon. Usually upcoming Orbit books have a bit more exposure, but nevertheless I am intrigued. On the fence about whether or not I should request a copy from NG myself...


    1. I've only read Ruckley's EDINBURGH DEAD, which I really enjoyed. For some reason, I never got around to his fantasy trilogy (although, I have since purchased it). He's a great writer. Really want to read his run on Rogue Trooper comic, too (published by IDW).