Books Upcoming: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Teixcalaan #1)

Release Date: 26 March 2019

Tor Books

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.


The first four chapters make up this preview, and introduce both the universe (literally) and Mahit to us. In this world technology exists to have memories and knowledge uploaded and shared, which allows them to be used, for example, by ambassadors to have a full and expansive history passed down by predecessors to the current holder of the position.

Mahit only has one predecessor to learn from, and his knowledge is 15 years out of date, as the prior ambassador didn’t get in contact with his home world for a long time before he vanished, and a new one was requested by the empire. Yskandr, in his memory form, is about the same age as Mahit, and they’re still learning how to get along and work together.

As the blurb alludes to, this is going to be a murder mystery (but set in space), with the political complexities that come with trying to figure out who killed her predecessor without insulting anyone, getting killed herself, or causing offence. There are several cultures described to the reader that make things that could otherwise be simple, perhaps not, and then there’s the whole big thing about the huge empire that isn’t letting anything stand in its way just to ramp up the fun.

I’m already in love with the memory-implant idea from reading Aliette de Bodard’s work and I’m thrilled to be able to read another take on it. I hope to get my hands on the rest of the book because this preview alone isn’t going to let me sleep tonight. Luckily, the rest is out in a few days.


Books Upcoming: Buzz Books 2018: Young Adult Spring/Summer

Buzz Books 2018: Young Adult Spring/Summer

Welcome to Buzz Books 2018: Young Adult Spring/Summer. These substantial pre-publication excerpts reflect a broad spectrum of today’s young adult writing, from fantasy and romance to suspense and humor. You will discover debut writers to put on your radar, while enjoying early samples from some of the biggest authors in the field and even a memoir for younger readers. Readers will be happy to see included Stephanie Garber’s sequel to her New York Times bestselling debut novel Caraval, a previous Buzz Books. Other fantasies are Furyborn by Claire Legrand, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, and Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. Then come back to the present with Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein’s YA debut about a teen science whiz who tries to crack the chemical equation for lasting love or Buzzfeed writer Farrah Penn’s Twelve Steps to Normal, about a father’s recovery from alcoholism. Start reading the bestsellers of tomorrow right now to see why reviewers rave with comments like these: Love Buzz Books! They are so helpful for librarians. This YA sampler is particularly great for any librarian with a sizeable teen population. Some very interesting titles highlighted here, in a wide variety of genres. Then spread the word: your friends and family can download this free edition of Buzz Books at any major ebookstore or at For broader reading, check out Buzz Books 2018: Spring/Summer, also available now, for 40 excerpts from top forthcoming adult fiction and nonfiction titles.


Fawkes by Nadine Brandes: The son of Guy Fawkes attends a school where you’re trained in colour magic, or something. Stone, or something, is slowly taking over his body yet he hopes he’ll be granted the one colour that may help stop the stone taking over. A bit confusing in part, but otherwise well written, and good to have YA from a male perspective.

The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis: A girl and boy begin to be able to communicate despite the 100 years that separate them. Josie is from 1915, and Alec is in 2015, yet they share the same house, and become friends. Middle Grade, and not entirely wonderful so probably won’t be one I track down, sadly.

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne: Earth has fallen into another ice age, so part of the population have escaped to ships that now orbit earth (and have been doing so for 210 years so far), waiting until they can safely return to ground. The ship Stella is on is mostly farming, and it’s certainly going to fail quite soon… so she’s trying to get off, even if her engineering skills are lacking, and no one really needs a teacher. Still, she applies, and she finally gets a response to her job seeking right after she perhaps ruins things with the one boy she cares about. Will totally get this, as it’s being advertised as ‘Jane Eyre in space’.

Unbreakable by Sara Ella: Skipped as I haven’t read the previous two in this series.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber: Skipped as I’ve read the first in this series, but not quite interested enough to continue.

Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein: Jerk guy breaks up with a girl who’s too smart for him – well, no, that’s not entirely fair. He meets someone else who ‘gets him’ and they can chat easier. Maya is devastated, but has a great set of friends and an understanding father, and is just about to go on an excellent trip, so… could have been worse. From the synopsis: ‘Maya is miserable until she discovers that her scientist mother, before she died, was conducting research on manipulating pheromones to enhance human attraction. If Maya can finish her mother’s work, maybe she can get Whit back.’ – except maybe she shouldn’t want him back? She’s in her first year of college, stuff him. At this point in time in my personal life where I’m also trying to get over someone, I don’t really have the emotional space to read about someone doing unhealthy things.

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen: Sarah is orphaned when her mother is shot at a checkpoint, leaving her daughter to scramble through brambles and a broken gate, and run and hide for her life. This takes up the majority of the snippet we get to see in this sampler, however the synopsis goes on to say (and what we can also figure from the title), that Sarah becomes a spy. She must infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. I’ve requested the full ARC of this one, and wait with crossed fingers!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand: Part of this I really liked. Part seemed well written… and then it jumped into a confusing jumble.

We see a Queen (who we learn had to kill her King), give birth to a child in the witness of a man and his son, who have part angel blood, which grants them powers. The father and son are hiding from someone who’s getting closer to finding them, which is why (once the baby is born) the father throws himself from the tower. The Queen shoves the newborn into the boy’s arms, and tells him to use his magic to travel to a certain somewhere… and from there I didn’t really get what was going on.

Although I’m highly sceptical about angel stories (yet to read a good one yet), that part was actually decent. When it jumps into the future it gets quite a bit different, and despite liking the teacher in it that’s as far as I got. I might pick this one up, and I might not…

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn: So far I’m yet to enjoy anything James Patterson does or steps near to. However… this wasn’t terrible. A girl is returning home now that her father is out of an alcoholics rehabilitation program, and though she prefers her hometown to where she was sent to stay with an aunt, she’s understandably apprehensive about returning to her friends and her now ex-boyfriend who she had to suddenly leave months beforehand. It was a short excerpt, but I’ll be picking this one up later.

Frat Girl by Kiley Roache: Cassie is down to the final two people vying for a scholarship into her dream university – all she has to do is pitch a killer research project. She’s up against a tech-head, a mini-me to the millionaire offering the scholarship, so she knows her chances are slim… so, she pitches something crazy. Delta Tau Chi is on probation with one year to clean up their act before they’re closed for good. Their crimes are misogynistic behaviour, so feminist Cassie reckons her project can be to sort that out one way or another.

I’ll be picking this one up, too. I like Cassie and her tattoo’d best friend (though I’m getting rather tired of every female YA lead having a gay male best friend, too. Make them the main character for once!)

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber: Haven’t read the first in this series, and going off other reviews it seems like there’s little point to try.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young: Warrior women – hell yeah, I’m so here for this! Eelyn is seventeen, and has worked hard to be a warrior on the front line when her clan take on the Riki. They fight with sword and axe, have partly shorn heads with the rest braided, and fight even when (for instance) their ribs are still healing.

I don’t quite believe such a calm conversation can happen in the middle of a battle, but eh. I’ve already preordered this one, so let’s see where it goes.

Books Upcoming: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

catchakillerTo Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Release Date: 7 February, 2017

Tor Books

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.


The first 80 pages was released on NetGalley as a ‘read now’ preview, and as I trust the publisher and it’s already rating well on Goodreads, I was all in. So far, I haven’t regretted it – this book has kept me hooked. Written in the first person we immediately get a feel for Erin and the type of girl she is, always known by the public because of what happened to her before as a toddler, and, unfortunately, now, after the death of her favourite teacher. We meet her two friends, Spam and Lysa, and together the three give a slight Veronica Mars vibe as they try to solve small high school style crimes, such as cheating partners. And, on the side, Erin is trying to track down her mother’s killer who was never caught.

Journey Michaels is a better YA-crush than most, in that he’s a bit unpredictable, knows he is popular, and isn’t the broody type. He listens to Erin’s side of things and acts quite like you’d expect a young suspect to, especially when we find out his own history. I found that the author caught the voices of teens really quite well, but was perhaps a little heavy on the teacher quirks (though I’d prefer that over getting the teachers wrong in a different way), and I’d expect that this is cleared up a little later in the book, which means I’ll certainly be looking out for this book when it comes out in February – I need to know so much more about everything!

Books Upcoming: False Hearts by Laura Lam

FalseHeartsNewFalse Hearts by Laura Lam

Release Date: 14 June 2016

Tor/Macmillan Publications

Raised in the closed cult of Mana’s Hearth and denied access to modern technology, conjoined sisters Taema and Tila FalseHeartsdream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they share begins to fail, the twins escape to San Francisco, where they are surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursue lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.

Ten years later, Tila returns one night to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder–the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Tila is suspected of involvement with the Ratel, a powerful crime syndicate that deals in the flow of Zeal, a drug that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life. But during her investigation Taema discovers disturbing links between the twins’ past and their present. Once unable to keep anything from each other, the sisters now discover the true cost of secrets.


I obtained a 130-page preview (the first third!) of this novel via NetGalley – full disclosure, I’ve also beta-read this book (as well as the second in the series and adore them both, as well as Laura herself, so this review is entirely from a friend perspective.)

I have loved Laura’s writing since I came across Pantomime (then released by Angry Robot, soon to be re-released by Tor with new covers next year), and have followed her work since then, including the novellas she brought out herself (very lovely fables) and her short stories in FableCroft’s Cranky Ladies of History, and Whates’s Solaris Rising 3.

This is however, her first foray into the thriller side of things – before, her work has been mostly fantasy whereas this is much more science fiction and crime. This still has Lam’s magical way of creating fantastic and unique characters who feel a bit fantasy – lovely and lovingly crafted with hidden depths you only get glimpses of and makes you need another book, or at least short stories on the side. I’m obsessed with the character Officer Oloyu with his golden tattoo, so fingers crossed we get more one day.

This novel is being pitched as ‘Orphan Black meets Inception’, which should be exciting for many. I’d say it’s slightly more Orphan Black than anything else, and has just as many thrilling and heart stopping moments. As this is character-driven you come to care far too much for the characters and they do not have an easy time of things. It’s a rough and cruel world in the future, the tech is amazing, and Lam manages to give us characters that we may not necessarily like at all times, or even identify with (well, that’s more in the second book that one), but you still desperately hope they just get a good life in the end or a break for a while.

The plot is fast and neat, the future is descriptive and both unnerving and exciting (I mean, it would be fine for people who aren’t getting in trouble, right? RIGHT?), and the writing in this is truly movie-tastic. You could see this on the screen so easily.

If you want to know more, Laura’s posted a few images over on Goodreads to give a feel for the book, or if you trust my word from how I rate other things, know that friend’s aside, I’d be obsessed with this book anyway. And, spoilers – book two is even more amazing.

Books Upcoming: The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon

thelyrethiefThe Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon

Release Date: 8 March 2016

Tor/Macmillan Publications

Ten years have passed since the events of the Demon Child books that left the god Xaphista dead, the nation Karien without a religion or king and the matriarchal country of Medalon ruled by men. But it is in the kingdoms of the south that things really heat up. When Princess Rakaia of Fardohnya discovers she is not of royal birth, she agrees to marry a much older Hythrun noble in a chance to escape her ‘father’s wrath. Rakaia takes nothing but her jewels and her base-born half-sister, Charisee, who has been her slave, handmaiden and best friend since she was six years old. And who can pass as Rakaia’s double.

These two sisters embark on a Shakespearian tale of switched identities, complicated love triangles…and meddlesome gods. Rakaia is rescued on the road by none other than the Demon Child, R’shiel, still searching for a way to force Death to release her near immortal Brak. Charisee tries to act like the princess she was never meant to be and manages to draw the attention of the God of Liars who applauds her deception and only wants tohelp.

Then there is the little matter of the God of Music’s magical totem that has been stolen…and how this theft may undo the universe.

Powerful magics, byzantine politics, sweeping adventure, and a couple of juicy love stories thrown in for good measure, The Lyre Thief is classic Fallon that is sure to appeal to her fans.


I obtained a 130-page preview (the first third!) of this novel via NetGalley – a book I’ve been greatly looking forward to. I’ve been a massive fan of Jennifer Fallon in the past. We used to live in the same region of Australia, and met once for lunch – she very kindly put up with how nervous I was. I got into speculative fiction quite late, starting with Trudi Canavan and Jennifer Fallon thanks to a high school friend. I devoured all of her books, and followed them faithfully since… so to hear that there was to be a new series continuing much loved characters, well, I was ecstatic.

Since I first got into her books I’ve devoured many, many other epic fantasy series, reading my way through some classics and the majority of what’s out currently – mostly thanks to judging the Aurealis Awards for multiple years. This however left me a little worried that perhaps I wouldn’t like her books anymore – what if I’ve moved on?

Thankfully, all my fears weren’t required. This has everything we’ve been waiting for and more, and I’m so glad one of my favourite authors is back and we have more books to look forward to! And if you haven’t read her books before, you’re in luck as I wouldn’t recommend starting here at all, which means you have even more epic books to enjoy. I would certainly recommend starting with the Demon Child series and the Hythrun Chronicles instead, before coming to The Lyre Thief. This way you’ll truly understand the characters and feel the depth and weight of the events. That said, there’s no harm in starting with this book, then going back to the rest, then re-reading this one to see if any of your thoughts change!

This book (and all of her others) are character driven, though Fallon is also well known her her focus on world building and somehow making politics interesting. If you’re looking for gritty action these possibly aren’t your thing (I’m character-driven all the way), but hey, give it a go anyway and see what you think. This is so rich and expansive it’s sure to be widely enjoyed. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book, c’mon, pre-order, arrive already!