Hallie Rubenhold – Mistress of My Fate

hallierubenhold-mistressofmyfateEngland, 1789. Under a cloud of scandal, Henrietta Lightfoot flees her home at Melmouth Park. She has little money and no worthwhile talents, for what use is a neat stitch and a pretty voice outside the drawing room? Without family support, her only hope of survival lies with the dashing but elusive Lord Allenham…

In a desperate quest to find him, Henrietta embarks on a journey through London’s debauched and glittering underworld. With the aid of new-found skills at the card table and on the stage, will Henrietta be able to turn her life around to become mistress of her fate?

Sometimes a book is pushed on you by the universe, whether you planned to read it or not. When I was approached about reviewing Hallie Rubenhold’s The French Lesson, I learned that this was the second book in a series, but that it stood alone very well. Thus I agreed and decided that I’d just jump in at book two and skip the first book, Mistress of My Fate, since I didn’t have that one. Somewhere, someone or something had other ideas, because no sooner had I said yes than I got an email from an online retailer offering Mistress of My Fate as part of a sale. I got the message: the universe wanted me to read this book. And with good reason, because apparently it knew I would love the book.  Read More …

Author Query – Kate Forsyth

Rebirth-of-RapunzelI first read Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens in 2013 and I fell in love with the story, its characters and Kate’s writing. Reading her next novel The Wild Girl only strengthened that love. Her previous book, The Beast’s Garden has only been published in Australia (get on that, UK publishers!) and as such I haven’t yet managed to get my hands on a copy, because it’s really expensive to order books from Australia. But I plan on getting my hands on it somehow in the future. All of this goes to say that I was really interested in reading Kate’s non-fiction collection, The Rebirth of Rapunzel, which I reviewed yesterday, and which left me with some questions to ask Kate. Luckily, she’d already agreed to be interviewed and you can find the results below. Can I just say I can’t wait for Beauty in Thorns? It sounds amazing! If you haven’t read Kate’s work before and you love fairytale retellings or historical fiction, I highly recommend checking out her writing.  Read More …

Kate Forsyth – The Rebirth of Rapunzel

Rebirth-of-RapunzelA unique collection presenting Kate Forsyth’s extensive academic research into the ‘Rapunzel’ fairy tale, alongside several other pieces related to fairy tales and folklore.

This book is not your usual reference work, but a complex and engaging exploration of the subject matter, written with Forsyth’s distinctive flair.

I’ve read and loved Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl, though I still need to get onto reading her last novel The Beast’s Garden, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. When The Rebirth of Rapunzel arrived in my inbox I was really excited, since it was the non-fiction component to Forsyth’s MFA of which Bitter Greens was the fiction part. I love learning about the development of stories throughout the ages and The Rebirth of Rapunzel delivered exactly that for the story of the maiden in the tower.  Read More …

Author Query – Matthew Jobin

skelethMatthew Jobin’s Nethergrim books, The Nethergrim and The Skeleth sound like fun. Additionally, they’ve also been translated into Dutch, so hopefully I’ll be able to share them with Emma sooner rather than later, as I won’t have to teach her English before reading them to her! That aside, I really did like the sound of the books and wanted to know more about them and their author. Matthew kindly answered my question and you can find the resulting interview below. Check out the Nethergrim books and for my Dutch readers, you can go meet Matthew at the Grijze Jager Dag in Alphen on the 15th!  Read More …

David Sanger – All Their Minds in Tandem

davidsanger-alltheirmindsintandemThe setting is October 1879. The stage is New Georgetown, West Virginia.

A mysterious figure by the name of ‘The Maker’ has entered this small community and, almost immediately upon doing so, started entering the minds of the townsfolk.

Townsfolk who are as curious as The Maker himself. Like Dr Umbründ, the pint-sized physician with a prodigious capacity for sin; like the three sisters in the house on the hill – one stern, one wild, one mysterious; like the tavern’s semi-mythical siren, ‘The Bird’, who plays spellbinding music from behind a black velvet curtain, and whom no patron has ever laid eyes on; like Odell, a youth with dreams and ambitions that his craven disposition will forever prevent him from seizing; and who has spent the entirety of his erstwhile existence under the crushing heel of Clay, New Georgetown’s lead cad and chief alpha male.

As we enter these characters’ lives, and lightly tread our way through their brains, their bedrooms, their backstories and beyond, we will see what it is they all hope for and hide – and learn just why The Maker has chosen to meet them.

What piqued my interest about David Sanger’s All Their Minds in Tandem was its pitch as pseudo-historical fiction and its billing as set in the post-Civil War era. The first indicates that there might be supernatural elements, which I always enjoy, and the second is an era which I know little about other than that it was turbulent and difficult, and so probably interesting. Combine that with a pretty cover — we all know I’m a sucker for a pretty cover — and I was in. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting the book to deliver when I was going in, except for it to be an interesting read. And Sanger debut certainly was interesting, but while I enjoyed it, I was also left a little frustrated by All Their Minds in TandemRead More …

Author Query – Alan Smale

alansmale-eagleinexileAlan Smale’s Clash of Eagles series combines some of my favourite things: fantasy, historical fiction, and Romans. So one day, one day when I finally get my time turner, I definitely want to read them. Until that time though, I decided to settle for the second best option and that was to ask Alan for an interview. He obliged and had some great answers about the research he has done for the book, whether his work for NASA influences his writing, and promoting science through song. Check out Alan’s latest novel Eagle in Exile from Titan Books, out now.  Read More …

Genevieve Cogman – The Masked City

genevievecogman-themaskedcityIrene is working undercover in an alternative Victorian London. for this librarian spy, it’s business as usual – until her assistant Kai is abducted. Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful enemies, and this act of aggression could trigger a war between his people and their greatest rivals. As they each represent the forces of order and chaos themselves, matters could turn unpleasant.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or she’ll face mayhem – at the very least.

Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, the first book in the series with the same title, couldn’t have been a book better suited to my tastes if the author had asked me what I wanted in my book. Alternate magical London, secret librarian spies, a witty and kickass heroine and a lovely assistant. That book had it all. And as such it was a tough act to follow. The Masked City had a lot to live up to and I certainly had some things I really wanted to see in there, not least more on Kai’s dragon heritage, but also more about Irene parentage. So did the book deliver what I was hoping for? Not exactly, but it delivered so much other awesomeness that it didn’t matter that I still don’t know more about Irene’s parents. The Masked City is a fantastic sequel to The Invisible LibraryRead More …

Corinne Duyvis – On the Edge of Gone

corinneduyvis-ontheedgeofgoneJanuary 29, 2035

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

To start with full disclosure: I know the author personally, which is one of the reasons I was excited to read the book. Also I loved Corinne Duyvis’ debut Otherbound and I couldn’t wait to see her take on apocalyptic SF. So to be honest, I was already primed to like this book. But that aside, even if I hadn’t been, On the Edge of Gone blew me away and gave me insight into things that went far beyond the scope of the story.  Read More …

Sarah Hilary – Tastes Like Fear

sarahhilary-tasteslikefearYou’ll never be out of Harm’s way

The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.

A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.

To the one man who understands her.

Gives her shelter.

Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.

He’s the head of her new family.

He’s Harm.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear…

I love DI Marnie Rome and it is always a treat to read her next adventure. Sarah Hilary’s third entry into the series, Tastes Like Fear, builds on the foundations laid in the first two books and builds the overarching story out while delivering a chilling and fascinating mystery to be unraveled in this book. There is an art to delivering a standalone experience while rewarding return readers that is especially important for crime series, which often run really long and need to be accessible at any point for new readers. Sarah Hilary manages this brilliantly with Tastes Like FearRead More …

Stephanie Burgis – Masks and Shadows

stephanieburgis-masksandshadowsThe year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

I’ve been aware of Stephanie Burgis’ writing for years through the rave reviews I’ve read of her middle grade books, yet I’ve never actually read them. It did make me pay extra attention whenever her name popped up as the author of a story featured on the short fiction podcasts I listen to. And from what I’d heard I really liked Burgis’ writing. Reading the synopsis for her first fantasy novel for adults made me perk up immediately as it blends a lot of my favourite things: fantasy, history, mystery and conspiracy. And Masks and Shadows delivers on all of those things with the added bonus of a pinch of supernatural and a dash of romance thrown in.  Read More …