Archive for review

Dawn McNiff – Worry Magic

dawnmcniff-worrymagicCourtney is a worrier – she’s worried about EVERYTHING, from her parents arguing to her gran being in hospital.

Then, when her mum and dad start arguing AGAIN, Courtney begins to feel a bit funny… a bit woozy … a bit like a dream is coming on … and then afterwards, everything has been magicked better!

But what is causing the magic?

And is it really magic at all?

The title for Dawn McNiff’s latest offering immediately caught my attention as I’m very much a worrier by nature and I’ve had to learn to curb the tendency to be able to function. So the idea that worrying might have a magical application was intriguing. But while Courtney’s worry magic is never discounted outright, at least not all elements of it are explained, Worry Magic is very much a contemporary middle grade novel, not a fantasy.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in children's books, contemporary, review | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Defying Doomsday’s Tsana Dolichva on Why the Apocalypse?

City overlooking desolate desert landscape with cracked earthLast week I posted about the Defying Doomsday Pozible campaign and why I think you should back it. I also contacted the editors of Defying Doomsday, Holly Kench and Tsana Dolichva, to ask whether they’d write me a guest post on why they chose to have stories about the apocalypse specifically and not say space opera or epic fantasy. Tsana kindly provided me with following post. I hope you enjoy it and check out the Pozible campaignContinue reading »

By Published Posted in guest post, science fiction | 1 Comment

Natalie Whipple – Fish Out of Water

nataliewhipple-fishoutofwater‘People like to think fish don’t have feelings – it’s easier that way – but as I watch the last guppy squirm in his bag, his eyes seem to plead with me. I get the sense that it knows just as well as I do that bad things are on the horizon.’

Mika Arlington has her perfect summer all planned out, but the arrival of both her estranged grandmother and too-cool Dylan are going to make some very big waves in her life.

Told with Natalie Whipple’s signature whip-smart wit and warmth, this is a story about prejudice, growing up and the true meaning of sticking by your family.

Natalie Whipple’s Fish Out of Water rather caught me by surprise. I’d been interested in the book based on the publisher’s marketing copy, so I requested a review copy and I’d expected to be at least entertained by the book. What I hadn’t expected, was that the book drew me in to the extent that I actually stayed up until half three to finish it. (Thank you Wiebe for pulling morning duty and let me catch up on sleep the next day—well, later that day.) Mika’s summer was completely engrossing and I just had to know how it would end.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in contemporary, review, YA | Leave a comment

Author Query – Gary Meehan

48195_TrueFire_cvr.inddGary Meehan is the author of the True Fire trilogy, the second book of which, True Dark, was published at the start of the month. I hadn’t heard of the series before I was contacted by the publisher, but the elements of the books – witches, power struggles, and a teenage mum – sounded fascinating. I’ll be reviewing both books after my May Historical Month, but for now I was happy to have the chance to ask Gary some questions about the books. I was especially interested in the teenage mum aspect of the story.

***

Let’s start with the basics. How would you introduce people to the world of Megan and her friends?

Werlavia’s a medieval land (mostly) united in a single Realm under a single religion known as the Faith. This is a fantasy world with no fantasy. There’s no magic, no supernatural creatures, no paranormal forces, and their gods are a matter of belief not reality.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, interview, YA | Leave a comment

Ken Liu – The Grace of Kings

kenliu-thegraceofkingsWily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Ken Liu is mostly known for his prolific output as a short story writer. He’s also an author that rarely disappoints; I’ve liked, if not loved, all of his stories I’ve read. When Saga Press announced they’d snapped up his long-awaited novel it immediately went on my must-read list. The Grace of Kings is an epic Silk Road fantasy with added -punk elements; it combines traditional Chinese story elements with a Pacific Ocean islands locale and some clever technological inventions that feel organic to the setting. In other words, once again Liu didn’t disappoint.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, review | 2 Comments

Christopher Fowler – Bryant & May: The Burning Man

christopherfowler-theburningmanLondon is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.
But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him. 

Using their network of eccentric contacts, elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May hunt down a murderer who adopts incendiary methods of execution. But they soon find their investigation taking an apocalyptic turn as the case comes to involve the history of mob rule, corruption, rebellion, punishment and the legend of Guy Fawkes. 

At the same time, several members of the PCU team reach dramatic turning points in their lives – but the most personal tragedy is yet to come, for as the race to bring down a cunning killer reaches its climax, Arthur Bryant faces his own devastating day of reckoning.

‘I always said we’d go out with a hell of a bang,’ warns Bryant.

Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May had crossed my radar a number of times in the past, but as is so often the case with long running series, I was hesitant to start in the middle. 2015 is a year of reading dangerously (well, sort of…), so when I got the chance I jumped at reading and reviewing The Burning Man, which is the twelfth book in the series. Fortunately, the book stands on its own very well and I’m glad I took a chance, because it was just so much fun.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in crime, review | Leave a comment

Author Query – Christopher Fowler

christopherfowler-theburningmanChristopher Fowler is a well-known name in British SFF and horror and well-known for his crime series featuring Detectives Bryant and May, paragons of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. It’s a series that has been on my radar for a while and one I’ve never yet gotten too. A long-running series –its twelfth instalment has just been published –it is also a series I’ll probably not catch up on quickly, so I’ve just jumped into it with The Burning Man. Check back this afternoon to see how that worked out in my review. For now I have an interesting Author Query with Christopher Fowler, in which he tells us about London’s shadowy nature and the weird and wonderful facts hiding around its every corner.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in crime, interview | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Susan Murray on Court Politics in Highkell

susanmurray-thewaterbornebladeThis May sees the somewhat delayed publication of Susan Murray’s fantasy debut The Waterborne Blade. I’ve been looking forward to the book and I’m hoping to crack my ARC open sooner rather than later *gives teetering review pile a stern look* When I got to ask Susan for a guest post, I put the following question to her:

As Alwenna is called Queen, but her husband’s rank is left unspecified, I was wondering whether you could tell us a bit more about how Highkell’s court is structured and whether Alwenna is indeed a ruling queen in her own right.

Susan sent me the following as an answer. The Waterborne Blade is out from Angry Robot on 7 May world-wide. Do check it out!  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, guest post | 1 Comment

In the News: Defying Doomsday on Pozible

City overlooking desolate desert landscape with cracked earthIn the past couple of years Kickstarter and its various competitors have turned into a great way to get interesting anthologies to market. There are lots of great projects out there and increasingly I’ll receive emails asking me to broadcast new campaigns to my readers here on the blog and elsewhere. I usually let those go, because it feels odd to promote projects I won’t personally be backing. But last week I backed the Defying Doomsday project, because it looked very interesting, it’s got a story by the awesome Corinne Duyvis, and the representation of disabled or chronically ill characters is dear to my heart. This meant that when I received an email about the project from its creators, I was stoked to share it here on the blog. What exactly is the Defying Doomsday project? Have a quote:  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in article, fantasy, horror, science fiction | Leave a comment

Margi Preus – Enchantment Lake

preus_enchantment coverWhat’s wild in the northwoods turns out to be mostly human, when seventeen-year-old Francie is drawn into the strange mysteries threatening her great aunts’ Minnesota Up North world.

On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as seventeen-year-old Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake?

Margi Preus’ latest novel Enchantment Lake is a departure from her previously published books as it is a YA mystery novel and not historical fiction. I’d read and loved her Shadow on the Mountain, a WWII novel set in Norway, so I was interested to see her take on the mystery narrative. And I wasn’t disappointed; Enchantment Lake is a fun, adventurous romp of a story, which very much evoked the atmosphere of classic YA detective novels such as  The Famous Five and Nancy Drew, but updated to our own time.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in crime, mystery, review, YA | 1 Comment
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