To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.
While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.
Rosie Best’s Skulk was one of my Anticipated Reads of the second half of 2013 and while it took me long enough to actually read it, that label was completely justified. What drew me to the book were its London setting and the fact that its main supernatural element was shapeshifting. This sounded like it would be quite interesting and I was interested to see how Best would approach the shapeshifting, would she take the were-creature approach or go for something more innate such as the Japanese Kitsune. Skulk promptly delivered on my expectations and more; the book was an awesome read with indeed a fantastic shapeshifter mythology seemingly untied to any existing tradition. Continue reading
By 6 December, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the States and the lovely team at Angry Robot and their various imprints surprised us with their Team Robot Blogger Award. I was really flattered to have been shortlisted and while the ultimate win went to the wonderful Kristin at My Bookish Ways and to Josh from Just A Guy That Likes To Read, it really is true what they always say in these situations, it was an honour to be nominated. One of my fellow nominees, Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm created a post with covers of all the Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A titles she’s reviewed on her blog, in honour of her shortlisting and to say thanks. I thought this was a really cool idea, so with Ellie’s blessing I nicked it and today I bring you my own cover post of all the AR titles I’ve reviewed to date here on the blog. Hopefully there will be many more to come. Continue reading
By 30 November, 2013
Posted in article, crime, fantasy, science fiction, YA
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
The ability to see or hear the dead and helping them move on, is of course not a new concept, just look at Ghost Whisperer or Tru Calling, which I still feel was cancelled before its time. However, the concept of ‘help a murder victim catch their killer or die’ was a version I hadn’t heard before. And while the story is a little more complicated than that concept makes it seem, it does sum up the reason that tension builds the further we get into the novel, as Taylor literally races against time to solve Justin’s murder before the Darkness get her. It makes The Weight of Souls an exciting read and one I enjoyed quite a lot. Continue reading
By 29 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Today I’m happy to be part of Strange Chemistry’s book blast in honour of the cover reveal for Rachel Neumeier’s new paranormal YA Black Dog. Having heard a lot of praise for her previous books, much of it from the Book Smugglers, I’m really looking forward to getting the chance to get acquainted with her writing once the book is released in February. Continue reading
By 28 November, 2013
Posted in article, fantasy, YA
The Book of the Dead addresses the most fascinating of all the undead: the mummy. The mummy can be a figure of imperial dignity or one of shambling terror, at home in pulp adventure, contemporary drama, or apocalyptic horror. The anthology will be published in collaboration with the Egypt Exploration Society, the UK’s oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt, dedicated to the promotion and understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture.
This anthology includes nineteen original stories of revenge, romance, monsters and mayhem, ranging freely across time periods, genres and styles. The stories are illustrated by Garen Ewing, creator of The Adventures of Julius Chancer and introduced by John J. Johnston, Vice Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society.
By 26 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, horror, review, science fiction
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.
When Krakatoa exploded, it shook the world. The volcano rained fire and unleashed floods, but the worst was still to follow. 1883 was a year of darkness and cold, as the global temperature dropped and the skies were wreathed in ash. It was also a year of fiery sunsets and blue moons, where the impossible could – and did – happen…
Ash explores a world where myths come to life and strange creatures wash up in the shallows – a world where survival is only the first of many struggles, and the monsters can take many forms.
The stories of Ash take place in the same shared setting as 1853, A Town Called Pandemonium and the forthcoming The Streets of Pandemonium and The Rite of Spring.
Ash can be read on its own or part of the series. Continue reading
By 23 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, horror, review
Daughter of the Empire began the epic saga of Mara of the Acoma, illustrating her meteoric rise to power in the Machiavellian intrigues of the Tsurani court. Servant of the Empire continued that tale as Mara, Ruling Lady of her house, established herself as a skilful player in the game of the Council.
Now Mara faces not only the brotherhood of assassins, and the cunning spies of the rival ruling houses, but the awesome Assembly of Magicians, who see her as the ultimate threat to their ancient power.
Mistress of the Empire is the concluding volume in the Empire trilogy. It is a wonderfully satisfying ending to a fantastic story and one of the best fantasy series out there. It takes Mara to the height of power, but also the depth of despair and brought me to tears on several occasions. Discussing the book will of necessity provide spoilers for the previous two books, though I will strive to keep them to a minimum. Continue reading
By 21 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review
Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.
However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?
Since the publication of Chris F. Holm’s first Collector novel, Dead Harvest, I’ve been a fan of the series. I absolutely adored books one and two and book three lived up to my expectations and more and had me once again guffawing out loud at Sam’s dry wit. For those familiar with Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the title gives some clue of what to expect from the novel as it’s a word play off of Chandler’s book, but there are some twists Chandler himself wouldn’t have thought of. Like the previous book, The Big Reap retains the gritty, noir flavour in its story-telling, but in some places it’s actually a little darker in tone than anything that went before. Continue reading
By 20 November, 2013
Posted in crime, fantasy, mystery, review, thriller
At the American Academy of Classical Art, popular opinion has it that the school’s handsome and mysterious founder, Raphael Sinclair, is a vampire. It is a rumor Rafe does nothing to dispel.
Scholarship student Tessa Moss has long dreamed of the chance to study at Rafe’s Academy. But she is floundering amidst the ups and downs of a relationship with egotistical art star Lucian Swain.
Then, one of Tessa’s sketches catches Rafe’s attention: a drawing of a young woman in 1930s clothing who is covering the eyes of a child. The suitcase at her feet says Wizotsky. Sofia Wizotsky, the love of Rafe’s life, was lost during the Holocaust. Or was she? Rafe suspects Tessa may be the key to discovering what really happened.
As Rafe finds excuses to interact with Tessa, they quickly discover they cannot deny their growing attraction to one another. It is an attraction forbidden by the Academy Board and disapproved of by anyone familiar with Rafe’s playboy reputation and Tessa’s softhearted innocence. But what if fate has other plans for Tessa and Rafe? What if they break all rules to succumb to a passion that defies history?
Helen Maryles Shankman’s The Color of Light wasn’t what I’d expected it to be and yet it was an intriguing read. When I first read the blurb above, I’d expected there to be quite a large historical component to the book. An expectation that was proven wrong; in fact only about a sixth of the book could be classified as purely historical – if one disregards the supernatural presence of vampires, that is – the rest of it is set in its own contemporary setting of 1992. This leaves us with a supernatural romance set at an art school in New York with a historical gloss to its narrative and honestly, this isn’t the sort of book I’d normally pick up. But I certainly don’t regret reading The Color of Light. Continue reading
By 19 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, romance
Meet Mookie Pearl.
Criminal underworld? He runs in it.
Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.
Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.
But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…
Chuck Wendig is a writing machine and has a steam-roller personality. Not only has he published ten novels in the past two years, he also blogs almost daily on his site Terrible Minds. And if you read his blog and follow him on Twitter you can’t help but be charmed by this, somewhat foul-mouthed, but always entertaining phenomenon that is the bearded one. Me? I’ve been a convert ever since reading Blackbirds, the first in his Miriam Black series, so to say I was looking forward to his first novel in a new urban fantasy series was a given. And in Mookie Pearl he’s created a main character that is just as memorable as Miriam Black. Continue reading
By 9 November, 2013
Posted in crime, fantasy, review