James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, October 22 — October 28

29 Oct, 2022


The Last Beekeeper

The Last Beekeeper Julie Carrick Dalton (March 2023)

It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind―find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated. 

There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as a way to escape the horrific conditions of state housing. While she feels threatened by their presence at first, the friends soon become her newfound family, offering what she hasn’t felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it’s time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future. 

But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honeybee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn’t understand, but she can’t shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father’s missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha’s fragile security and threaten the lives of her new-found family―or it could save them all. 

Maeve Fly

Maeve Fly by C. J. Leede (June 2023)

A provocative debut that is both a blood-soaked love letter to Los Angeles and a gleeful send-up to iconic horror villains, CJ Leede’s Maeve Fly will thrill fans of Stephen Graham Jones’ My Heart is a Chainsaw and Caroline Kepnes’ You series. 

By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child’s favorite ice princess. 

By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes. 

But when Gideon Green — her best friend’s brother — moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet. 

Untethered, Maeve ditches her discontented act and tries on a new persona. A bolder, bloodier one, inspired by the pages of American Psycho. Step aside Patrick Bateman, it’s Maeve’s turn with the knife. 

Bound to a Single Sun

Bound to a Single Sun by Stephen W. Leigh (October 2022)

Now in e‑only, this new near-future sci-fi novel explores the boundaries of what makes us humanIn the near future, humankind has founded colonies on Mars and the inner planets as well as under the oceans, populating them via by direct genetic manipulation, changing us to suit the environment. The haves are those who are ecomods” (genetically modified) or surgenmods” (surgically modified); the have-nots are the typics” — those who haven’t undergone modification. The typics are forced to live in walled-off, filthy, and run-down areas, held away from the wealthier surgenmods, while the ecomods have formed communities based around their own archetypes — insular societies all, each with their own particular customs. 

There’s a greater wall, as well. Someone or something has put a sphere of exclusion around the inner solar system, an unseen barrier that allows no living being to pass beyond AU 3.0. For all humankind knows, this SunWall has existed for only the last half century, when the first manned expeditions attempted to reach Jupiter, or perhaps it existed for aeons, long before humans ever dreamed of flight. 

Sofia is an ecomod, but not from a standard race’ that anyone recognizes. She claims to have pierced the SunWall and lived. Against increasingly stubborn resistance, Sofia and the group of misfits who gather around her attempt to uncover the secret of the SunWall and release humankind from its imprisonment. 

The House Guest

The House Guest by Hank Phillippi Ryan (February 2023)

The House Guest is another diabolical cat-and-mouse thriller from USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan―but which character is the cat, and which character is the mouse? 

After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her―leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend. 

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems. 

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve. 


Cy_borg by Christian Sahlén (November 2022)

Nano-infested doomsday RPG about cybernetic misfits and punks raging against a relentless corporate hell. 

The stafford house campaign cover

The Stafford House Campaign by Greg Stafford (October 2022)

Be transported in time to the earliest days of tabletop roleplaying games with The Stafford House Campaign, a collection of Greg Stafford’s RuneQuest Campaign Essays from 1978 – 1981.

Includes Greg’s Dragons Past’, Son of Sartar’ and The Pharaoh’s Gazette’ series of articles from The Wild Hunt, and his GM’s notes as featured in Wyrms Footnotes.