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Starred Reviews: A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva

A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva“…this excellent addition features a bit of romance, a lot of action, plenty of snappy repartee, and social commentary on the fate of newspaper journalism and the corrupting role of money in the political process. Quality all the way.”

Bruce DeSilva’s A Scourge of Vipers got starred reviews in Library Journal and in Publishers Weekly!

Here’s the full Library Journal review, from the January 1 issue:

starred-review-gif Rhode Island Governor Fiona McNerney proposes the legalization of sports betting to reduce the state’s budget deficit. The mob opposes the idea because it would eat into its bookmaking business, and sports oversight groups claim it would open up games to dishonesty. After Atlantic City mobsters show up in Providence with bags of cash, presumably to influence legislators, veteran newspaper reporter Liam Mulligan investigates. When a state legislator and several other people turn up dead, Mulligan soon becomes a prime suspect in several murders. VERDICT DeSilva’s Edgar and Macavity Award-winning books (most recently Providence Rag) is a consistently well-written hard-boiled series. Unfortunately, few of the regular characters have roles here. Still, this excellent addition features a bit of romance, a lot of action, plenty of snappy repartee, and social commentary on the fate of newspaper journalism and the corrupting role of money in the political process. Quality all the way.

Here’s the full Publishers Weekly review, from the February 2 issue:

starred-review-gif-1 Edgar-winner DeSilva’s excellent fourth Liam Mulligan novel (after 2014’s Providence Rag) finds the Providence, R.I., investigative journalist on hard times professionally. His newspaper, The Dispatch, has been reduced to a shell of its former self, publishing fluff rather than substance and largely staffed by wet-behind-the-ears newcomers. His jerk of an editor, Charles Twisdale, is more concerned with the bottom line and advertising revenue than reporting the news, leaving Mulligan feeling like a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. But if that’s to be his fate, the reporter is determined to go down swinging, pursuing the truth behind a series of murders that appear linked to the governor, colorfully known as “Attila the Nun,” who hopes to solve the state’s public-pension crisis by legalizing sports gambling. The lean prose and clever plotting will remind hard-boiled fans of Loren Estleman’s Amos Walker novels.

A Scourge of Vipers will be published on April 7.

Pre-order A Scourge of Vipers today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | iBooks | IndieBound | Powell’s

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Starred Review: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear“Bear (Steles of the Sky; Blood and Iron) pumps fresh energy in the steampunk genre with a light touch on the gadgetry and a vivid sense of place. Karen has a voice that is folksy but true, and the entire cast of heroic women doing the best they can in an age that was not kind to their gender is a delight. Ably assisted by a U.S. ­Marshal and his Comanche posseman, Karen and the ladies kick ass.”

Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the December 15 issue:

starred-review-gif The Gold Rush town of Rapid City is just about what you would expect in a frontier community catering to the mining trade: rough, violent, and full of prostitutes. Karen is a “soiled dove” working at Madame ­Damnable’s establishment, where she and her sisters in trade serve a more respectable crowd than the poor girls who work the cribs at the waterfront. When one of those young women escapes and runs to Madame’s for help, she brings the wrath of the crib owner, Peter Bantle, on the house. Bantle, in addition to being a vicious bully, seems to have a device that can control people’s minds. ­VERDICT Bear (Steles of the Sky; Blood and Iron) pumps fresh energy in the steampunk genre with a light touch on the gadgetry and a vivid sense of place. Karen has a voice that is folksy but true, and the entire cast of heroic women doing the best they can in an age that was not kind to their gender is a delight. Ably assisted by a U.S. ­Marshal and his Comanche posseman, Karen and the ladies kick ass.

Karen Memory will be published on February 3.

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Starred Review: The Just City by Jo Walton

The Just City by Jo Walton“As skilled in execution as it is fascinating in premise, Walton’s new work (after 2013’s My Real Children) doesn’t require a degree in classics, although readers might well be inspired to read Plato after seeing the rocky destruction of his dream. Although rich with philosophical discussions, what keeps this novel from becoming too chilly or analytical are its sympathetic female characters.”

Jo Walton’s The Just City got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the November 15 issue:

starred-review-gif A host of men and women who prayed to the goddess Athena are transported to the island of Kallisti (better known as Atlantis) to create a society based on the writings of Plato, specifically his concept of the Just City from The Republic. Intrigued by the experiment, Apollo, Athena’s brother, agrees to participate, allowing himself to be reborn as a mortal to grow up in Athena’s city. The older residents who prayed to be there serve as masters, mentors to the 10,000-plus children whom they steal out of time to populate the city, hoping those exposed early enough to Plato’s ideal society will grow up to become philosopher kings. The reality is more complicated, as utopian ideals rarely play out as expected on actual human beings. VERDICT As skilled in execution as it is fascinating in premise, Walton’s new work (after 2013’s My Real Children) doesn’t require a degree in classics, although readers might well be inspired to read Plato after seeing the rocky destruction of his dream. Although rich with philosophical discussions, what keeps this novel from becoming too chilly or analytical are its sympathetic female character.

The Just City will be published on January 13.

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Starred Review: Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan“The third entry in the ‘Jane Ryland & Jake Brogan’ series packs a powerful punch, and offers a clever mix of mystery, corruption, and romance. Mystery enthusiasts will want to drop everything and binge-read until the mind-boggling conclusion.”

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Truth Be Told got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the September 1 issue:

starred-review-gif Boston’s Register news reporter Jane Ryland is covering a human interest foreclosure story when she stumbles onto several murders committed in recently foreclosed homes. Investigating further, Jane becomes entangled in one dangerous situation after another. In the meantime, the reporter’s clandestine love interest, Boston police detective Jake Brogan, is actively pursuing answers to a 20-year-old unsolved murder. The cold case turns personal as Jake consults case files written by his deceased grandfather, a former police commissioner, to determine if the individual confessing to the crime is truly the killer. As Jane and Jake each gets closer to the truth, they find their lives and their romantic connection precariously hanging in the balance. Danger and intrigue surround them both as they desperately seek closure. VERDICT The third entry in the “Jane Ryland & Jake Brogan” series (The Other Woman; The Wrong Girl) packs a powerful punch, and offers a clever mix of mystery, corruption, and romance. Mystery enthusiasts will want to drop everything and binge-read until the mind-boggling conclusion.

Truth Be Told will be published on October 7.

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Starred Review: Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory“International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) William L. Crawford Fantasy Award winner Gregory (Pandemonium; Raising Stony Mayhall) takes on the pharmaceutical industry, drug dealers, religion, and the intricacies of how our brains work. The way the author combines the energy of a thriller with the ideas of sf is reminiscent of William Gibson’s best one-step-into-the-future novels…”

Daryl Gregory’s Afterparty got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the April 15 issue:

Image Placeholder of - 8 In the near future, designer drugs can be produced by anyone with a chemjet printer. As the lead developer of a drug called Numinous, Lyda Rose knows the dangers of these new pharmaceuticals firsthand. Numinous was supposed to cure schizophrenia but instead caused uncontrollable visions taking the form of a very real, very personal manifestation of God. The hallucinations meant the drug was too dangerous to develop and also put Lyda in a mental hospital. When a girl on the ward with Lyda shows every sign of having taken Numinous, Lyda and her paranoid and usefully dangerous lover Olivia break out of the hospital to find and stop the other creators of the drugs. The tension grows as they get closer to the secret of who is producing Numinous, with the stakes made more real because of the amazing characters of Lyda and Olivia. VERDICT International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) William L. Crawford Fantasy Award winner Gregory (Pandemonium; Raising Stony Mayhall) takes on the pharmaceutical industry, drug dealers, religion, and the intricacies of how our brains work. The way the author combines the energy of a thriller with the ideas of sf is reminiscent of William Gibson’s best one-step-into-the-future novels like Pattern Recognition.

Afterparty will be published on April 22.

Starred Review: Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson

Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson“This full-length debut marks Davidson as an author to watch.”

Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the March 15th issue:

Place holder  of - 67 In a society that has decayed from a centuries-past technological heyday, philosopher-assassin Kata is being used as a tool. She answers to Boris Autec, a minor officiate of House Technis, one of the three houses that control the city-state of Caeli-Amur. When he sends her undercover to the secret hideout of the city’s revolutionary labor protesters, Kata meets Maximilian, a seditionist with a thirst for the knowledge of lost technologies. Tensions bubble as the Houses and the seditionists head to a confrontation.

VERDICT The publisher describes this novel as an example of the New Weird, and it does echo the imaginative scope of some of the best authors of that school, such as Jeff VanderMeer. Davidson (The Library of Forgotten Books) is an award-winning writer with a huge amount of talent, excelling at description and complex characters. Although the mix of high and low tech could be smoother, every aspect of his worldbuilding is exciting. This full-length debut marks Davidson as an author to watch.

Unwrapped Sky will be published on April 15th.

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Starred Review: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison“Court intrigue and politics are popular fodder for fantasy novels, but rarely have they been done better than in this fantastic new novel…The writing is lovely, with characters who live and breathe. Maia, especially, will tug on the heartstrings of even the most hardened reader…”

Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the March 15th issue:

Image Placeholder of - 51 The assassination of Emperor Varenechibel and three of his sons was shocking to the people of Ethuveraz, but none was more shocked than 18-year-old Maia, the youngest son and almost forgotten heir to the Elfin throne. The half-elf, half-goblin Maia had lived in exile since his birth when his now-dead goblin mother was banished by the emperor soon after becoming pregnant. When he takes the throne, Maia must adjust not only to life at court but to the knowledge that there are many who don’t believe he should rule.

 

VERDICT Court intrigue and politics are popular fodder for fantasy novels, but rarely have they been done better than in this fantastic new novel from Sarah Monette (writing as Addison). The writing is lovely, with characters who live and breathe. Maia, especially, will tug on the heartstrings of even the most hardened reader as he struggles to find kindness and allies in the imperial court.

The Goblin Emperor will be published on April 1st.

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Starred Review: The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

The Burning Dark by AUTHOR“Claustrophobic in mood but with the scope of great space opera, this is sf you will want to read with the light on.”

Adam Christopher’s The Burning Dark got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the March 15th issue:

Image Placeholder of - 48 As his last assignment with the Fleet, Capt. Idaho Cleveland heads to the U-Star Coast City to assist with the space station’s decommissioning. Put in place as a science station around an unusual star known as Shadow, the Coast City also served as a defensive outpost against an implacable and technologically superior enemy known as the Spiders. From Cleveland’s arrival it’s obvious that things are not quite right on the station and the strange purple light from Shadow seems to be making the skeleton crew aggressive and paranoid. Isolated, resented, and bored, Cleveland builds a radio that somehow picks up a signal from across time and space that might be a message—or a warning.

VERDICT This dark and chilling novel from the versatile Christopher (Seven Wonders; Hang Wire) builds tension expertly. Claustrophobic in mood but with the scope of great space opera, this is sf you will want to read with the light on. Although the ending arrives quickly, this is apparently the first book in a new series exploring more of the world of the Fleet and the Spiders.

The Burning Dark will be published on March 25th.

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Starred Review: The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

The Time Traveler's Almanac edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer“Completely satisfying, this collection will appeal on some level to every sf reader…So accept the (il)logic of time travel, and enjoy the ride.”

Ann & Jeff VanderMeer’s The Time Traveler’s Almanac got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the February 15th issue:

Placeholder of  -42 In this amazing tome, the husband-and-wife team who also edited the World Fantasy Award–winning The Weird survey the literary development of the time travel genre from the 1880s to the present. The anthology starts with Charles Yu’s delightful essay “Top Ten Tips for Time Travelers,” which advises readers to forget about the so-called rules of time travel. The book is then divided into four sections: Experiments; Reactionaries and Revolutionaries; Mazes and Traps; and Communiques. Each section wraps up with an educational, nonfiction gem. Authors of the more than 70 stories include Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, and Connie Willis.
Verdict Completely satisfying, this collection will appeal on some level to every sf reader. Although these stories were written over time, from the first time travel story ever published, “The Clock That Went Backward” (1881) by Edward Page Mitchell, to “Thirty Seconds from Now” (2011) by John Chu, they each prove timeless. So accept the (il)logic of time travel, and enjoy the ride.

The Time Traveler’s Almanac will be published on March 18th.

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Starred Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson“Sanderson’s skill at world building is unmatched, and in ‘The Stormlight Archive’ series he has developed an innovative magical system and combined it with rich, complex characters to create a compelling story. His eagerly awaited sequel to The Way of Kings exceeds expectations. This developing epic series is a must-read for all fantasy fans.”

Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance got a starred review in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the March 15th issue:

starred-review Almost everyone in the world of Roshar is oblivious to the pending return of the mythical Voidbringers and the Desolation that will surely follow. In the past the Voidbringers were always opposed by the Knights Radiant, but that was so long ago that even the oldest histories shed little light except that the Knights Radiant somehow betrayed humanity after the last Desolation. Kaladin, a former military slave and now head of the royal bodyguards, must come to trust his emerging abilities as well as the lighteyes leader ¬Dalinar in order truly to become a Windrunner. Likewise, Shallan’s new powers are key to the future. Not only must she master them, but she must come to grips with her haunting past.
VERDICT: Sanderson’s skill at world building is unmatched, and in the “Stormlight Archive” series he has developed an innovative magical system and combined it with rich, complex characters to create a compelling story. His eagerly awaited sequel to The Way of Kings exceeds expectations. This developing epic series is a must-read for all fantasy fans.

Words of Radiance will be published on March 4th.

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