Cassandra Khaw – Bearly a Lady

Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month.

Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks. Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to?

Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague.

What’s a werebear to do?

Cassandra Khaw’s Bearly a Lady is the 3rd publication in the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative. It looked amazing and the blurb —with its Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones meets Teenwolf vibe with bonus Fae — made it sound like it would be just too much fun! And the blurb absolutely delivered. This book reminded me so much of the late nineties/early oughts chick lit I loved and provided me with the same happy feelings at the end of the book that they did. And like many of the books I loved at the time, Bearly a Lady hides some crunch amid the fluff.  Read More …

Author Query – Daryl Gregory

As clear from my review this Monday, I thoroughly enjoyed Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders. I was fortunate enough to already have an interview scheduled before I read the book, but Daryl was kind enough to let me send him some additional questions after I finished it, so this interview will be a bit longer than usual. I also had the pleasure of meeting Daryl in person at WorldCon in Helsinki, as you can see from a picture below. Spoonbenders was published by riverrun on Thursday, go check it out and I hope you enjoy the interview!  Read More …

Daryl Gregory – Spoonbenders

Meet Matthias Telemachus, Teddy Telemachus, Maureen Telemachus, Irene Telemachus, Frankie Telemachus and Buddy Telemachus! They were the Amazing Telemachus Family, who in the mid-1970s achieved widespread fame for their magic and mind reading act. That is, until the magic decided to disappear one night, live on national television.

We encounter this long-forgotten family two decades on, when grandson Matty, born long after the public fall from grace, discovers powers in himself and realises his hugely deflated, heavily indebted family truly are amazing. Spoonbenders is the legacy and legend of a dysfunctional, normal, entirely unique family across three generations of big personalities and socially inept recluses — each cursed with the potential of being something special.

Spoonbenders is Daryl Gregory’s latest novel, but only the second one of his works that I’ve read, the other one being Harrison Squared. I’d really enjoyed Harrison’s story and Gregory’s writing, so I was looking forward to getting stuck into Spoonbenders. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, it was completely different from Harrison’s adventures. Instead of Lovecraftian monsters and teens on a mission, this time it was The Incredibles with psychic instead of super powers fight the mob. It was an absolute blast to read, but also an incredibly moving novel about family and the ties that bind.  Read More …

K.S. Villoso – Jaeth’s Eye

The lives of a mercenary, a seamstress, and a merchant converge. Kefier, who is picking up the pieces of his life after his brother’s accident, finds himself chased down by former associates for his friend’s death. Already once branded a murderer, he crosses paths with his friend’s sister, Sume, whose only desire is to see her family through some troubled times. In the meantime, young, arrogant Ylir takes a special interest in Kefier while he himself is entangled in a battle with a powerful mage, one whose name has been long forgotten in legend. At the crux of their conflict is a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.

Jaeth’s Eye introduces an epic fantasy tale of revenge and lost kingdoms, but also of grief, love, hope, and a promise for tomorrow.

I found the concept of K.S. Villoso’s Jaeth’s Eye quite captivating when I read it: what would an epic fantasy told not from the vantage point of the high and mighty, but from those on the lower ranks of society look like? What would it be like for those who aren’t the ones making the decisions, who can only endure what is thrown at them, trying to live their lives as well as possible? Would this create a narrative of people who feel helpless and lost, without any agency of their own? To me that question of the characters’ sense of agency was the one that felt most important and it was one that reverberated throughout the narrative. Because the answer was it’s both people who feel helpless and lost, but also people who still have agency and make their own choices.  Read More …

Author Query – Christina Henry

I love a good retelling or re-interpretation of a classic story. Especially those that explore elements or characters that the original never really addressed in-depth. When I first saw the blurb for Christina Henry’s latest novel Lost Boy, I was immediately intrigued as the Peter Pan story and its archetype of the eternal boy have always both fascinated me and creeped me out. So I decided to ask Christina what drew her to retell this classic story, among other things. My interview with Christina is part of a blog tour which features a lot of other great bloggers, you can find a list of them at the bottom of the interview. Please do check them out and definitely check out Christina Henry’s Lost BoyRead More …

Guest post: Ben Peek on A Trope of Self Determination

Ben Peek’s The Godless blew me away. I really loved it. I never got to reading the second book in the Children trilogy, Leviathan’s Blood, because time and it is a bloody BIG book. However, once all our books have been unpacked after the house renovation, I intend to rectify that and roll on into the final book of the trilogy, The Eternal Kingdom. In the meantime, Ben was gracious enough to come back to the blog and write a piece about his favourite fantasy tropes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! The Eternal Kingdom is out from Macmillan tomorrow.  Read More …

Sebastien de Castell – Tyrant’s Throne

Falcio Val Bond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King’s dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In neighbouring Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies, and even worse, he is rumoured to have a new ally: Falcio’s old nemesis Trin. With the armies of Avares at her back, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest and Breast go racing north to stop her, but in those cold, treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player has entered the game, and plans to take the throne of Tristia…

Just when you think that Falcio and his Greatcoats have finally achieved their goals, the past comes back to haunt them in the form of not just a former known foe, but new unexpected enemies as well. In the fourth book in The Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne, Sebastien de Castell brings several elements of the previous book full circle. I really enjoyed the way that he pulled back in strands that had seemed resolved; the reappearance of some of them created a gloomy sense of inevitability for Falcio and friends, a despondency they needed to fight to overcome.  Read More …

Sebastien de Castell – Saint’s Blood

How do you kill a Saint?

Falcio, Kest and Brasti are about to find out, because even Tristia’s most powerful Saints are turning up dead and the entire country is convinced it’s a sign that the Gods themselves oppose Aline’s ascension to the throne.

Now the Dukes are using the murders as an excuse to weasel out of their agreement to reinstate the Greatcoats, providing a golden opportunity for the Inquisitors — the Church’s own duelling magistrates — to take up the burden of enforcing justice … their own much harsher form of justice.

If he’s going to stop the Inquisitors, Falcio has to find the Saint-killer.

The only clue is the terrifying iron mask encasing the head of the dying Saint of Mercy — but even if it does lead him to the murderer, Falcio will still have to face him in battle.

And this may be one duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can ever hope to win.

After I finished the second book in The Greatcoats series, Knight’s Shadow, I couldn’t wait to dive into Saint’s Blood, because I needed to know what happened next. This third instalment in the series was just as exciting as the previous two and even more gut-wrenching emotionally. Falcio and friends are back and have to face yet more foes bent on keeping Aline from the throne.  Read More …

Sebastien de Castell – Knight’s Shadow

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats — legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom — have been branded traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to individual missions.

Falcio Val Bond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites — well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Dashini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes, who are determined to hold on to their fractured duchies, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.

That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…

When Sebastien de Castell’s debut novel Traitor’s Blade came out, I fell in love with both the story and the style. It was a joyous book, yet dealing with serious issues. And who could resist the brotherhood between Falcio, Brasti, and Kest? When I finished the first book, my main complaint was that I couldn’t read the second one immediately. I waited a year and when Knight’s Shadow came out, it fell between the cracks of all the other review copies I had to read. And when the next book, Saint’s Blood came out last year, it suffered the same fate, since now I had to read two huge books to catch up. However, this year saw the publication of the final book in the The Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne and I decided it was time to catch up. In the end, I don’t know whether to kick myself for not reading the books sooner or to be grateful to my past self, since I could now just read all of the story in one go. I’m still undecided on that point…  Read More …

Theodore Brun – A Mighty Dawn

Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household, he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.

Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

In the past few years I’ve developed a soft spot for vikings. Whether it’s Snorri Kristjansson’s exuberant adventures in his Valhalla Saga or Giles Kristian’s epic historical God of Vengeance, I’ve fallen for the mixture of kick-ass battles, deep mythology, history, and the hint of the supernatural that are often the ingredients of which the story is composed. When I received a review copy of Theodore Brun’s A Mighty Dawn I was excited as it was billed as a mixture of all my favourite viking elements. It was all it promised, though I was quite frustrated with its treatment of women. Despite this, I really enjoyed the book tremendously and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.  Read More …