Archive for review

Guest Post: Rowena Cory Daniells on The Writer’s Temptation to do a ‘Director’s Cut’

rowenacorydaniells-thefalloffairisleI am a little behind on Rowena Cory Daniells’ books. Her last release, 2013’s King Breaker the last book in the King Rolen’s Kin sequence is still waiting to be read and with her latest publication, another 1200+ pages have been added to the Rowena to be read pile. Because her latest book is an omnibus edition of the first trilogy she ever published, The Fall of Fair Isle. So we get three books for the price of one. The re-release of a previous series gives an author the opportunity to make revisions to the text, but is it one they should take advantage of? I mean we all know George Lucas went overboard with Star Wars, but I rather liked the Lord of the Rings Extended editions. I asked Rowena whether she was tempted to tinker with the original texts of the books and whether she was able to resist if she was. Her answer was the following.  Continue reading »

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Kellerman Reread – Time Bomb

Jonathan Kellerman - Time BombYou’re living on borrowed time…

A sniper opens fire on a crowded Californian schoolyard but is killed before any children are harmed. When the sniper’s identity is revealed, a media frenzy erupts. Why would they want to take innocent lives?

Psychologist Alex Delaware is brought in to help the kids cope with the ordeal but is drawn into investigating the motives of the would-be assassin. Alex soon finds himself on a bloody and twisted trail into the world of political extremism from which there may be no way back…

Book five in my Kellerman Reread is also the fifth book in the Alex Delaware series. Time Bomb deals with what looks like a school sniping avant la lettre, but it is anything but. However, the more I read these books written in the Eighties the more I’m shocked by how little some of the issues have changed. Not just in terms of the larger issues such as racism and bigotry regarding sexual orientation, but also in things that I thought were typical of the twenty-first century, things such as privacy concerns due to new technology for example. I  keep coming back to the old adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Continue reading »

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Nichole Christoff – The Kill Shot [Blog Tour]

nicholechristoff-thekillshotJamie Sinclair’s father has never asked her for a favor in her life. The former two-star general turned senator is more in the habit of giving his only child orders. So when he requests Jamie’s expertise as a security specialist, she can’t refuse—even though it means slamming the brakes on her burgeoning relationship with military police officer Adam Barrett. Just like that, Jamie hops aboard a flight to London with a U.S. State Department courier carrying a diplomatic pouch in an iron grip.

Jamie doesn’t have to wait long to put her unique skills to good use. When she and the courier are jumped by goons outside the Heathrow terminal, Jamie fights them off—but the incident puts her on high alert. Someone’s willing to kill for the contents of the bag. Then a would-be assassin opens fire in crowded Covent Garden, and Jamie is stunned to spot a familiar face: Adam Barrett, who saves her life with a single shot and calmly slips away. Jamie’s head—and her heart—tell her that something is very wrong. But she’s come way too far to turn back now.

In the second Jamie Sinclair novel, The Kill Shot, the reader is reunited with Jamie and Barrett, but interestingly, The Kill Shot is not a straight up crime thriller. In fact, to me Nichole Christoff’s sophomore outing read more like a spy novel. I was surprised by this shift in flavour to the narrative, though the general style of the book is very much the same as its predecessor. Jamie remains a kick-ass heroine and I really enjoyed reading about her next adventure.  Continue reading »

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By Published Posted in mystery, review, thriller | 1 Comment

Joshua Winning – Sentinel

joshuawinning-sentinel“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A detective. A killer…”

They are the world’s best-kept secret – an underground society whose eternal cause is to protect the world against the dark creatures and evil forces that inhabit the night.

Now Sentinels are being targeted, murdered and turned as the fury of an ancient evil is unleashed once more. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a train crash, the teenager is drawn into a desperate struggle against malevolent powers.

Sentinel is the first book in Joshua Winning’s YA fantasy trilogy and it was the cover combined with the blurb that persuaded me to accept this one for review. I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed Sentinel, reading it in two sittings. Nicholas makes for a sympathetic character and his story, while certainly filled with familiar tropes – orphan boy, check; grand destiny, check; magical companions, check – is enjoyable and interesting. The book isn’t flawless, but the good definitely outweighed the flaws.  Continue reading »

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Simon Cheshire – Flesh and Blood [Blog Tour]

simoncheshire-fleshandbloodSam Hunter’s neighbours are pillars of the community, the most influential people in town. But they’re liars too.

The Greenhills are hiding something and Sam’s determined to find out what it is. As his investigation unfolds, he realizes the lies reach further than he ever imagined – is there anyone he can trust?

Uncovering the horror is one thing …escaping is another.

After very much enjoying the first two instalments of Stripes’ Red Eye series, I was really looking forward to reading the third one, Simon Cheshire’s Flesh and Blood. It was a fun story, well fun in a gory, scary kind of way, but one I enjoyed a lot. Set in what seems to be a small, typical suburban community under the smoke of London, Flesh and Blood tells the tale of seventeen-year-old Sam, who discovers that instead of moving to suburban paradise, his family has moved straight into the cul-de-sac from hell.  Continue reading »

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Karen Maitland – The Raven’s Head

karenmaitland-theravensheadVincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head.

Any attempt to sell the head fails … until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain – unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest. Once more Vincent’s life is in danger because Sylvain and his neighbours, the menacing White Canons, consider him a predestined sacrifice in their shocking experiment.

Chilling and with compelling hints of the supernatural, The Raven’s Head is a triumph for Karen Maitland, Queen of the Dark Ages.

The Raven’s Head is Karen Maitland’s latest historical novel, one that I’d been very much looking forward to reading. I have enjoyed Maitland’s writing on The History Girls blog and have wanted to read her work since reading reviews for Company of Liars. Earlier this week I read her previous novel The Vanishing Witch, which I really enjoyed, and I was interested to see how much of the unique style of that book was particular to that story and how much was part of Maitland’s authorial voice. Based on the sample I’ve read so far (n=2) Maitland definitely has a distinctive and consistent writing style, one that really suits my reading tastes.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Karen Maitland

karenmaitland-theravensheadOne of my favourite non-SFF blogs is The History Girls. And one of my favourite History Girls is Karen Maitland. I’ve been wanting to read her ever since I saw reviews for Company of Liars, but as is so often the case never got around to it. Today marks not one, but two book birthdays for Karen however, with the paperback release of last year’s The Vanishing Witch and the release of her latest novel, The Raven’s Head. I was fortunate enough to receive review copies for both of them. I reviewed The Vanishing Witch yesterday and check back for my review for The Raven’s Head tomorrow. But today I get to bring you an Author Query with Karen in which she has some fascinating answers to offer to my questions.  Continue reading »

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Karen Maitland – The Vanishing Witch

karenmaitland-thevanishingwitchTake one wealthy merchant. Add one charming widow. And one dying wife.

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust?

The dour wool merchant?

His impulsive son?

The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes?

Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

I’ve wanted to read Karen Maitland’s work for years, ever since I read reviews for Company of Liars, but as often happens in a reviewer’s life, I never got to it. This made me doubly excited when this ARC for The Vanishing Witch appeared in my mailbox, but it was a big book – 688 pages in my proof copy – and it languished on my To Be Read pile. Now with the paperback for The Vanishing Witch out tomorrow, not to mention Maitland’s latest The Raven’s Head, this seemed a good time to read it. It was a wonderful read, super atmospheric and very much what I expected Maitland’s writing to be based of what I’ve read of her non-fiction articles on The History GirlsContinue reading »

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Sarah Pinborough – The Death House

sarahpinborough-thedeathhouseToby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

Sarah Pinborough is not only one of the more prolific British SFF writers, she’s also a very varied writer who switches between sub-genres with remarkable ease. Fantasy, racy fairytale retellings, science fiction, YA, she writes it all. When I heard about The Death House I was immediately intrigued. A dystopian YA story set at a boarding school from which no student ever graduates, it sounded but creepy and fascinating. Because why are they there and what is this disease that condemns them to be inmates of The Death House? Pinborough gives us some of the answers, but mostly she delivers an exquisite exploration of life and love in the face of death.  Continue reading »

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Daniel Polansky – Those Above

danielpolansky-thoseaboveThey enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.

Those Above had to have been one of my most anticipated reads for not just the first six months of 2015, but for the entire year. Daniel Polansky’s previous trilogy, Low Town, was just amazingly good and its ending just floored me, and I mean flat-out, ugly-crying floored me. So to see where he would go next was very exciting. It also made it hard for Polansky to live up to my expectations, because the bar was set high. But he delivered the goods and he did so in style. Those Above was amazing.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, review | 1 Comment
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