New York, 1891. A prostitute is found brutally murdered. The victim bears the same hallmarks as a notorious recent killing spree in England.
Could it be that killer has crossed the Atlantic to fresh killing grounds? Or is this simply a copycat murder? Fear spreads through a city already rife with cut-throat gangs, corruption and vice.
Aristocratic English pathologist, Finley Jameson, is teamed up with Joseph Argenti, a streetwise New York cop, to solve the case. But as the body-count rises and the killer taunts his pursuers in open letters, Jameson & Argenti find themselves fighting not just to prevent yet more victims, but also to save the city’s very soul.
Jack the Ripper’s identity is a mystery for the ages. As the first modern serial killer and certainly the first whose acts have been so well documented, he has been the inspiration for countless stories, many of them creating their own solution for the riddle of who he was. Letters From a Murderer is the latest novel in this vein and it has to be said, the story John Matthews paints is riveting. It’s clear that Matthews knows his Ripper history and he weaves in some very detailed facts into his fiction, making his story that much more plausible. Continue reading
By 9 December, 2013
Posted in crime, historical fiction, review
To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.
While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.
Rosie Best’s Skulk was one of my Anticipated Reads of the second half of 2013 and while it took me long enough to actually read it, that label was completely justified. What drew me to the book were its London setting and the fact that its main supernatural element was shapeshifting. This sounded like it would be quite interesting and I was interested to see how Best would approach the shapeshifting, would she take the were-creature approach or go for something more innate such as the Japanese Kitsune. Skulk promptly delivered on my expectations and more; the book was an awesome read with indeed a fantastic shapeshifter mythology seemingly untied to any existing tradition. Continue reading
By 6 December, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
At WFC I had the pleasure to meet Jonathan Howard. I was really stoked to speak to him about guest posts and the writing of them, especially as I’d already contacted Strange Chemistry for a guest post in honour of the publication of Katya’s War, the second book in the Russalka Chronicles. Jonathan wrote me the following fascinating post about how he went about creating his water world of Russalka. I’m really pleased to share it with you today and it’s made me look forward to reading Katya’s War even more than I already did! Continue reading
By 5 December, 2013
Posted in guest post, science fiction, YA
It’s time to meet your new roomie.
When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.
As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.
I downloaded Roomies from Netgalley on a whim. It was a Read Now offer and it sounded fun and I thought “Why not?” And I’m so glad I did because I had an absolute blast with it. The book had a light and easy tone, even while dealing with some pretty fundamental questions everyone goes through when transitioning from secondary school to beyond. It tackles several big issues: interracial dating, losing your virginity, under-age drinking – in perhaps a slightly too casual manner – and letting go and growing up. It generally did so in quite a graceful manner and I was sorry to finish the story. Continue reading
By 4 December, 2013
Posted in contemporary, review, YA
She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.
12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England – only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair – does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?
This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.
My predilection for historical fiction about royals is well-documented, so when I was approached about reviewing Colin Falconer’s Isabella: Braveheart of France I was easily convinced, especially as I had just watched the episode of the BBC4 series She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens about Isabella. And while Falconer’s novel covers all the pertinent information of Isabella’s life and gives us some inkling of what may have driven her to take over the English throne, I had a hard time connecting or staying connected to the main players in the novel, largely due to the stylistic choices made by the author. Continue reading
By 3 December, 2013
Posted in historical fiction, review
Telepath Den Harper did the dirty work for the authoritarian Expansion, reading the minds of criminals, spies and undesirables. Unable to take the strain, he stole a starship and headed into the unknown, a sector of lawless space known as Satan’s Reach. For five years he worked as a trader among the stars – then discovered that the Expansion had set a bounty hunter on his trail.
But what does the Expansion want with a lowly telepath like Harper? Is there validity in the rumours that human space is being invaded by aliens from another realm? Harper finds out the answer to both these questions when he rescues an orphan girl from certain death – and comes face to face with the dreaded aliens known as the Weird.
Satan’s Reach is the second volume in the Weird Space series, a fast-paced action-adventure that pits humanity against the unimaginable Terror from Beyond.
Satan’s Reach is the second book set in the shared world of the Weird Space, a property developed by Eric Brown for Abaddon Books. Being rather unfamiliar with shared worlds, especially in book form, I was curious to see what it would be like to move away from that first story told in The Devil’s Nebula and start all over with new characters in a new place. Would we see more of the protagonists in the first book? Would what happened there impact the story much? The answers to both questions would be yes and no. We do see Carew and crew and the events from The Devil’s Nebula certainly impact Den Harper’s story in Satan’s Reach, but we don’t meet up with Carew until almost at the end of the book and the influence on Harper’s story is indirect at best. But knowing the events from the first book makes for a richer reading experience, plus it is fun to spot things we know the background for. Continue reading
By 2 December, 2013
Posted in review, science fiction
November started out with a bang as Wiebe and I travelled to Brighton for WFC. I was supposed to take lots of pictures, but I took hardly any. I didn’t even take a picture of myself with any authors. I guess I always forget in the heat of the moment, but I had a wonderful time thanks to all the people I met. Other than that November was a month of recuperation, trying to get rested from the move and WFC. I didn’t get to read and review all I’d wanted to, but then again, my schedule might have been a little ambitious with a review scheduled almost daily so I could catch up my review copies. That didn’t happen but I did make a decent dent in Mount To Be Read this month. November also started on a high as I got shortlisted for the Angry Robot Team Robot Blogger Award, which was a lovely surprise and which I commemorated by doing a Round Up post of all my Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A reviews. Continue reading
By 1 December, 2013
Posted in article
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the States and the lovely team at Angry Robot and their various imprints surprised us with their Team Robot Blogger Award. I was really flattered to have been shortlisted and while the ultimate win went to the wonderful Kristin at My Bookish Ways and to Josh from Just A Guy That Likes To Read, it really is true what they always say in these situations, it was an honour to be nominated. One of my fellow nominees, Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm created a post with covers of all the Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A titles she’s reviewed on her blog, in honour of her shortlisting and to say thanks. I thought this was a really cool idea, so with Ellie’s blessing I nicked it and today I bring you my own cover post of all the AR titles I’ve reviewed to date here on the blog. Hopefully there will be many more to come. Continue reading
By 30 November, 2013
Posted in article, crime, fantasy, science fiction, YA
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
The ability to see or hear the dead and helping them move on, is of course not a new concept, just look at Ghost Whisperer or Tru Calling, which I still feel was cancelled before its time. However, the concept of ‘help a murder victim catch their killer or die’ was a version I hadn’t heard before. And while the story is a little more complicated than that concept makes it seem, it does sum up the reason that tension builds the further we get into the novel, as Taylor literally races against time to solve Justin’s murder before the Darkness get her. It makes The Weight of Souls an exciting read and one I enjoyed quite a lot. Continue reading
By 29 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Today I’m happy to be part of Strange Chemistry’s book blast in honour of the cover reveal for Rachel Neumeier’s new paranormal YA Black Dog. Having heard a lot of praise for her previous books, much of it from the Book Smugglers, I’m really looking forward to getting the chance to get acquainted with her writing once the book is released in February. Continue reading
By 28 November, 2013
Posted in article, fantasy, YA