Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning

neilgaiman-triggerwarningIn this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013-as well as BLACK DOG, a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods.

Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story-a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane-Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year-stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A new Neil Gaiman book or collection is usually greeted by lots of cheers of readers all over the world. When his third short story collection was announced, this was readily apparent all over the internet. And then the title was announced and things got a little less cheery. Gaiman decided to title his collection Trigger Warning: short fiction and disturbances. For various reasons people were unhappy about this. The announcement came at a time when mainstream discussion on trigger warnings and whether to include them on prescribed reading lists at universities and colleges  was turning heated and the discussion was quickly co-opted by the ‘feminism is ruining everything’-crowd. In his introduction to his collection Gaiman explains that he was fascinated by the phenomenon of trigger warnings in an academic environment and his thoughts on the subject led him to decide to slap some trigger warnings on his own fiction before someone else did.  Continue reading »

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Guest Post: David Churchill’s Top Five Historians

davidchurchill-devilLast month I reviewed David Churchill’s first novel The Leopards of Normandy: Devil, which I enjoyed very much. I say first novel instead of debut novel, since it’s a public secret that David Churchill is a pseudonym for thriller writer and journalist David Thomas. I really enjoyed Devil and I’m looking forward to the rest of the books. So I was stoked to be able to be part of the blog tour for the book and host a guest post. Today David reveals his top five historians, who fed his love of history.  Continue reading »

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise

silviamorenogarcia-signaltonoiseMexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape.

Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends – Sebastian and Daniela – and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. The three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as nonentities,and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns alone for her estranged father’s funeral.

It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, reviving memories from a childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? Is there any magic left?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise was one of my anticipated reads for the first half of 2015. The concept of the speculative elements in the form of magic fuelled by music was cool and the setting, both temporal and physical, were intriguing. The Eighties was an interesting time in history and though we often mock the stylistic choices of Eighties music stars, it’s undeniable that they also produced some fantastic classics. I was completely unfamiliar with Mexico City and true Mexican culture only having seen the Hollywood representations of both on TV and I doubt these are completely accurate. So I was interested to learn more about both through Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel. And while I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel and much of the story after finishing it I was largely left with a bit of a meh feeling. I wanted to love this novel so much more than I did and it’s hard to pinpoint why I didn’t. I just didn’t connect to it very strongly and I spent just as much time being annoyed with Meche, the main character, as I did rooting for her.  Continue reading »

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Recaps and Upfronts – February and March

RecapsSo February went by in a haze of coughing and lurgy and it is now finally March, which means it’s only three more weeks until we officially hit spring. Hurray! I’m so over winter. In other cheery news, we’ve booked the hotel and plane tickets, so no going back on it now: We’re going to Nine Worlds in August!! *muppet flail* So excited!  Continue reading »

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Author Query Redux – Carrie Patel

carriepatel-theburiedlifeLast year I reviewed Carrie Patel’s debut novel The Buried Life, which I really enjoyed. I also interviewed her in the run up to the book’s publication. And then life threw a spanner in the works. Angry Robot Books was put up for sale and most of the remaining 2014 titles that were still to be published were pushed back until 2015. This March sees the Angry Robot Reboot and Carrie’s debut is finally available to everyone. From March 3 everyone will be able to purchase this wonderful book. To celebrate this fact, I’ve asked Carrie back for another Author Query to talk about the past year and more. Enjoy and please check out The Buried Life next week!

***  Continue reading »

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Kellerman Reread: Silent Partner

jonathankellerman-silentpartnerAt a party for a controversial Los Angeles sex therapist. Alex encounters a face from his own past—Sharon Ransom, an exquisite, alluring lover who left him abruptly more than a decade earlier. Sharon now hints that she desperately needs help, but Alex evades her. The next day she is dead, an apparent suicide.

Driven by guilt and sadness, Alex plunges into the maze of Sharon’s life—a journey that will take him through the pleasure palaces of California’s ultra-rich, into the dark closets of a family’s disturbing past, and finally into the alleyways of the mind, where childhood terrors still hold sway.

Welcome back to the fourth instalment of my Kellerman Reread. Alex Delaware returns after his last adventure in Over The Edge and life couldn’t be more different. He’s working more and his life is troubled. While Milo and Rick have reconciled, Alex and Robin are working through some big issues and consequently she’s once again largely gone from the narrative in a practical sense. Her absence and the question of whether it’ll be permanent looms over Alex and the narrative, especially due to Alex’s having to deal with this relationship from the past and the way he was with Sharon then and how he is with Robin now.  Continue reading »

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Sue Tingey – Marked

suetingey-markedWith no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.

But Kayla is not all that she appears.

And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.

Lucky, trapped in the daemon world, is determined to find her way home… until she finds herself caught between the charms of the Guardian Jamie, the charismatic Daemon of Death Jinx – and the lure of finding out who she really is.

I love hidden worlds parallel to our own, as witnessed by my love for Emma Newman’s The Split Worlds and Lou Morgan’s Blood and Feathers books. So when I read the synopsis for Sue Tingey’s debut Marked when Jo Fletcher Books announced their acquisition of the story, my interest was immediately piqued. I was very lucky to have the chance to get an extra early look at Marked and I’m really glad for the chance, because Marked is a wonderful story.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Adrian Tchaikovsky

adriantchaikovsky-gunsofthedawnOne author that I’ve heard loads and loads of great things about is Adrian Tchaikovsky. This first series was the massive Shadows of the Apt series, which was comprised of ten books and which was peopled by insect-kinden, people who took on various insect characteristics. Being a wuss when it comes to anything with more than four legs and since the series was already on book four by the time I heard about it, I never got into it. I did however read some of Tchaikovsky’s work as he had a short story in Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets, last year’s speculative Sherlock Holmes anthology from Solaris. I really enjoyed his story The Final Conjuration and it made me curious to read more of his work. Enter Guns of the Dawn. A standalone book unconnected to his previous series and set in a regency-esque secondary world. I was sold and I have the book waiting on my to be read pile to be consumed soon. In the meantime, I present you with the following Author Query.  Continue reading »

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Rebecca Burns – The Settling Earth

rebeccaburns-thesettlingearthMarriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant — The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers’ attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities — these are themes explored in the book. The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

I don’t know that much about New Zealand, other than it’s where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, there was a huge earthquake a few years ago and it’s where the kiwi bird is from. Oh and they have a lot of sheep. So when the author approached me about reviewing her collection of historical short stories set there, I was interested at once. Additionally, while I’ve been reading more SFF short fiction, I’d never yet read any historical short fiction, so I was interested to see whether short fiction in that vein would work for me.  Continue reading »

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David Churchill – The Leopards of Normandy: Devil

davidchurchill-devilThe fate of England hangs in the balance of a fight between brothers

The noble families of Europe are tearing themselves apart in their lust for power and wealth.

Emma, Queen of England, is in agony over the succession to her husband Canute’s throne … while the sons of her brother, the Duke of Normandy, battle in the wake of his death.

Robert, the younger son, has been cheated of Normandy’s mightiest castle and sets out to take it by force. He emerges from a bloody siege victorious and in love with a beautiful — and pregnant — peasant girl.

Robert’s child will be mocked as William the bastard. But we have another name for him

… Conqueror.

The first instalment in the Leopards of Normandy trilogy paints a world seething with rivalry and intrigue, where assassins are never short of work.

The Leopards of Normandy: Devil was one of my most anticipated reads for the first half of the year. William the Conqueror is a fascinating figure in English history. The effects of his taking over England on the English language was huge and one of the more interesting topics we studied in linguistics class—linguistics not being my favourite topic at uni. And while this era of European history is quite interesting due to its eventful nature, it is also one I don’t know that well. Enter Devil and the chance to learn more about both William and this period of history. Devil was very much what I expected it to be, with some surprises and some elements that really bugged me. Despite these, I really enjoyed the story as much as I’d hoped to.  Continue reading »

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