Archive for fantasy

Kameron Hurley – The Mirror Empire

kameronhurley-themirrorempireOn the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Much can be said about the author of The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley. She’s a two-time Hugo Winner for her non-fiction essays, she’s sometimes the angry woman on the internet, and her views on the business of writing and on the SFF community are fascinating. However, most importantly she’s the acclaimed author of The God’s War trilogy. I’ve not yet read this series, because in first instance the bugpunk label put me off as creepy crawlies give me the heebie-jeebies, but it is now on my to read pile awaiting its turn. But I’ve heard nothing but praise for Hurley’s writing, so when Angry Robot announced they’d acquired Hurley’s new series, an epic fantasy series no less, I was determined I wouldn’t miss out on this one. And it’s a good thing I didn’t, because The Mirror Empire is one of the most exciting fantasy books I’ve read this year and looks fair to make it into my top ten for 2014.  Continue reading »

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Fred Venturini – The Heart Does Not Grow Back [Blog Tour]

fredventurini-theheartdoesnotgrowbackDale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.

When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.

I rarely read from the literary fiction shelves of the book store, not because I absolutely dislike it – though having to analyse oodles of the stuff for classes at university did put me off somewhat – but because there’s only so much you can read and my heart lies elsewhere. Yet when I was approached about being part for the blog tour for Fred Venturini’s The Heart Does Not Grow Back, the synopsis and the superhero angle hooked me right and proper—I’d say that whoever wrote that flap text did a very good job. Yet while Dale’s superpower is the motor of the narrative, the stuff that powers said motor is human emotion. Venturini’s debut novel, which was previously published as The Samaritan by Blank Slate Press and was a Kitchies finalist, is a strong effort and an interesting contemplation of the human condition.   Continue reading »

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Ripley Patton – Ghost Heart [Blog Tour]

ripleypatton-ghostheartIn the aftermath of a brutal tragedy, Jason and Passion are on the run. Marcus is lost beyond reach, and The Hold is in shambles. If that weren’t enough, Olivia Black has been taken by the CAMFers to be used as Dr. Fineman’s personal lab rat in his merciless quest to uncover the mysteries of Psyche Sans Soma once and for all. But only if he can break her.

They are scattered.
They are devastated.
They are ruined.

Their only hope is Olivia’s stubborn determination to thwart her captors and unlock the secrets of her ghost hand before Dr. Fineman can. Will she finally find the strength within herself to embrace the full power of her PSS?

And will it even matter if Marcus has already betrayed her?

Ghost Heart is the third book the in the PSS Chronicles and not – as I expected – the last, but only the next instalment in the series. In fact it is not an ending at all. Rather it is very much a beginning, of the next phase in the battle against the CAMFers and the Hold and of a new life for our protagonists. Discussing a third book in any series without giving spoilers is hard, but in the case of Ghost Heart it is almost impossible, so out of necessity, this review will contain minor spoilers and will be less extensive than usual.   Continue reading »

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Author Query – Edward Cox

edwardcox-therelicguildLast year Gollancz announced Edward Cox’s The Relic Guild to be published this autumn. Intrigued by the premise, I followed the author’s Twitter account and ever since Ed has been a steady presence in my time line. He was also one of the first people I ran into last year in Brighton on which occasion I got one of his patented Ed-Hugs. Fast-forward eleven months and The Relic Guild has been released and I’m really looking forward to picking up a copy when I go to London next week and to get the chance to finally read it. Meanwhile I thought I’d ask Ed some questions on the occasion of the publication of his book and the following Author Query is the result.   Continue reading »

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Author Query – Eliza Crewe [Blog Tour]

elizacrewecrushedblogtourWhen Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry closed last June, many of their authors were unfortunately left in limbo mid-series. One of them was Eliza Crewe, whose book Crushed, the second book in the Soul-Eater series, was due to be published in August. Luckily, the rights were reverted back to Eliza and she decided to self-publish the first two books, Cracked and Crushed, and presumably will finish the series that way. While I still need to read both of the books – they’re on my teetering TBR-pile – I wanted to ask Eliza some questions, both about the books and about the process of self-publishing. Today I’m one of the stops on Eliza’s Crushed blog tour and she’s here to answer my questions.

***   Continue reading »

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David Moore (ed.) – Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets

davidthomasmoore(ed)-twohundredandtwentyonebakerstreetsThe world’s most famous detective, as you’ve never seen him before! This is a collection of original short stories finding Holmes and Watson in times and places you would never have expected!

A dozen established and up-and-coming authors invite you to view Doyle’s greatest creation through a decidedly cracked lens.

Read about Holmes and Watson through time and space, as they tackle a witch-trial in seventeenth century Scotland, bandy words with Andy Warhol in 1970s New York, travel the Wild Frontier in the Old West, solve future crimes in a world of robots and even cross paths with a young Elvis Presley… 

Sherlock Holmes. He’s the ubiquitous detective; the first of his kind and a continual inspiration for modern creators.  While I’ve read many of the short stories, both for pleasure and for classes, my favourite incarnations are the more recent ones — Robert Downey Junior in the recent Guy Ritchie films and Johnny Lee Miller in the TV show Elementary. They are more gritty, less refined versions of this Victorian detective, unlike the more gentlemanly versions of Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett. A collection of stories centred on reinterpretations of this iconic character and his companions will always be defined by the area of tension between retaining the classic Holmesian characteristics enough to keep it recognisably a Holmes tale and by giving it a unique spin and an author’s own flair and flavour. In my opinion, Moore and his contributors have reached a wonderful balance between these elements in the stories contained in Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, though perhaps a true Sherlock Holmes aficionado, who is more invested in the character, might disagree.   Continue reading »

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Guy Adams – The Rain-Soaked Bride

guyadams-therainsoakedbrideHow do you stop an assassin that can’t be killed? 

When several members of the diplomatic service die in seemingly innocent, yet strangely similar circumstances, it seems a unique form of murder is being used. 

Toby Greene is part of Section 37, known as The Clown Service, a mostly forgotten branch of British Intelligence tasked with fighting exactly this kind of threat. 

However, the Rain-Soaked Bride is no ordinary assassin. Relentless, inexorable and part of a larger game, merely stopping this impossible killer may not be enough to save the day…

The first book in this series, The Clown Service, took me by surprise earlier this summer. While the concept and its bright cover intrigued me sufficiently to pick it up, I hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I did. I was utterly charmed by Toby, his supervisor August Shining, Shining’s sister April and their neighbour Tamar. The Rain-Soaked Bride was already on my TBR-pile and I started it as soon as I could, because I couldn’t wait to get back to Toby and friends.   Continue reading »

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William Ritter – Jackaby

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williamritter-jackabyNewly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane—deny.

Billed as Sherlock meets Dr Who and provided with a gorgeous cover, Jackaby first caught my eye when I saw it on one of the Book Smugglers Radar posts. And despite having watched neither show, only being aware of them through my twitter timeline, I was intrigued. With good reason as it turns out, because William Ritter’s debut is a delightful read.  Continue reading »

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Quick ‘n Dirty: Mark Charan Newton – The Messenger

Quick ‘n Dirty is a term used for that first quick search you perform when starting a new research project. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive and all encompassing; it’s just an exploratory search to see what is out there and to collect more search terms before starting a true literature review. I thought it would be a good description for reviews of shorter works, such as short stories or novellas or for less comprehensive reviews of longer works. They may not be as in-depth as I usually try to write my reviews, but hopefully they’ll be a good introduction and indication whether you’d like the stories or books reviewed.

markcharannewton-themessengerAs an Officer of the Sun Chamber, Lucan Drakenfeld must uphold the two-hundred-year-old laws of the Vispasian Royal Union, whatever the cost. While stationed in the ancient city of Venyn, a metropolis notorious for its lawless nature, Drakenfeld receives a series of mysterious letters, written in blood, that warn of an imminent assassination attempt on the life of the city’s young Prince Bassim. Supported by his fiery colleague Leana, Drakenfeld’s investigation leads him down the city’s corridors of power. But nothing is as it seems. Who is behind the conspiracy that threatens the young prince, and will the duo be able to unearth the perpetrator before the prince’s time is up?

The Messenger is a short story set in the world of Mark Charan Newton’s Drakenfeld series. Set before the events related in the first book in the series, the eponymous Drakenfeld, it serves as a great introduction to Vispasia and Lucan Drakenfeld for those unfamiliar with the series. For those who have read the previous book The Messenger is a nice appetiser before the publication of the second book Retribution in October.  Continue reading »

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Scott K. Andrews – TimeBomb

scottkandrews-timebombNew York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.

Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory room.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.

Thrust into the centre of an adventure that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.

When I first learned of TimeBomb, I thought it sounded really interesting, which meant I was stoked to have won an ARC via Twitter. Described as a YA trilogy featuring time travel and Roundheads and Cavaliers, it sounded like it should be a tremendous amount of fun and that is exactly what it was. TimeBomb was a page turner of a story, with a cool premise and fabulous characters.   Continue reading »

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