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!

Books Upcoming: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

ShadowsofSelfShadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: October, 2015

Tor Books

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

~

The first seven chapters (about 100 pages) were released on NetGalley as a ‘read now’ preview, the fifth book in the Mistborn series (but second in the Wax and Wayne section of the series). It’s as good as the first (The Alloy of Law) with wit and humour and the excellent relationship between Lord Waxillium “Wax” Ladrian and Wayne, his sidekick, equally talented with powers yet from the rougher side of life and still a complete kleptomaniac. Often in a hilarious way.

Marasi and Steris still remain endlessly interesting and it’s a shame we don’t see more of them – though Marasi has a much larger part in this book so far with chapters told from her perspective. It’s Steris I want to know more about, though it’s likely as soon as we see more of her, she won’t seem as interesting as her oddities are explained.

So far this book looks to be excellent, good plot and pace that make it impossible to stop reading – unless you want to savour it so it lasts longer. The good thing is, with this book out in October we’ll then soon have the one following, Bands of Mourning due out in January 2016, and then The Lost Metal possibly out October 2017. How Sanderson brings out so many books, no one knows.

Books Upcoming: The End of All Things by John Scalzi

TheEndofAllThingsThe End of All Things by John Scalzi

Release Date: August, 2015

Tor Books

Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement…for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time–a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other–and against their own kind –for their own unknown reasons.

In this collapsing universe, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union diplomats he works with race against the clock to discover who is behind attacks on the Union and on alien races, to seek peace with a suspicious, angry Earth, and keep humanity’s union intact…or else risk oblivion, and extinction–and the end of all things.

~

The first five chapters (about 106 pages) were released on NetGalley as a ‘read now’ preview, the sixth book in the Old Man’s War series (which I haven’t started reading yet…oops!) which seems to be the last book in the series. It’s broken up into segments which is quite a different style to most novels around – the first part being almost a memoir of a ship, ending and then the next section utterly different, and so on.

Overall this is a bit too hard to jump into if you haven’t read the previous novels, but it is good enough to get you wanting to read the previous books so the preview does its bit.