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 …

Miranda Emmerson – Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Soho, 1965.

In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre.

When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate. But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth.

Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.

For in order to uncover Iolanthe’s secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own…

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars immediately drew my attention when I first came across it at last year’s Big Book Bonanza. The bright, colourful cover and the mystery posited in the cover copy captured my interest and the short presentation Miranda Emmerson gave about the influences for her story only solidified it. All of this is to say that I went into this book with high expectations—Emmerson met them all and more. Written with a light touch, the book is far more complex and far darker than its bright exterior would have you believe.  Read More …

Stephanie Burgis – Congress of Secrets

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Last April I read Stephanie Burgis’ Masks and Shadows, her first novel for adults and fell absolutely in love with her writing. So I after I finished the book, I was really happy to discover that she had a book set in the same variant of our world coming out in November of last year. Congress of Secrets was everything I hoped it would be and more, taking what I loved about Masks and Shadows and improving on the things that niggled me. Burgis enchanted me once again with Caroline’s tale and I would have loved to have spend even more time in this world.  Read More …

Excerpt: Edward Glover’s A Motif of Seasons

Last month Edward Glover dropped by for an Author Query on the occasion of the publication of his latest novel and the last book in the Herzberg trilogy, A Motif of Seasons. It was an interesting interview and the Herzberg trilogy sounds as if it has a lot to offer historical fiction lovers. Today I get to share an excerpt from the book in question with my readers. I hope you enjoy the prologue of A Motif of Seasons and that you check out the book if you do!

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Review Amnesty: Grab Bag of Awesome

This will be the last Review Amnesty post for 2016. This last post will be a review of just two titles. One historical novel, David Churchill’s The Leopards of Normandy: Duke, and a crime novel, Wolfgang Burger’s Heidelberg Requiem. There’s not really anything that ties them together as there was for previous amnesty posts, but they are both fabulous books that I enjoyed a lot.  Read More …

Review Amnesty: Amazeballs Fantasy Edition

reviewamnestyAnother Monday, another Review Amnesty post. This time I decided to focus on three fantasy novels I read this summer. They are all three of them fantastic, two of them are books first published in 2015, while the first I’ll review is a 2016 debut novel. They are also all super different from each other and reminded me while writing their reviews how incredibly varied and versatile the fantasy genre is, which is one of the things I love about it.  Read More …

Author Query – Edward Glover [Blog Tour]

edwardglover-amotifofseasonsToday’s Author Query has a very distinguished guest. Edward Glover is a decorated diplomat who after ending his service turned his hand to writing historical fiction. This shift and the setting and subject of his novels, a young British gentlewoman and a German officer in the eighteenth century, intrigued me and I was happy to have to opportunity to ask Edward some questions about his writing process, how his career influenced his writing and the origin of his Herzberg trilogy, the final book of which A Motif of Seasons was published this month.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Edward Glover?

A former career diplomat: but I haven’t put my feet up. I sit on several boards and I go to the Foreign Office twice a week. Most enjoyable of all, I have begun a new career as a writer of novels, drawing material from my long experience of the vagaries of human nature and my love of history. The next novel is already on the stocks. Noel Coward once said that working is more fun than fun. I certainly agree with that.  Read More …

Author Query – Ruth Downie + Giveaway

Cover Image Vita BrevisHistorical crime fiction is my jam — well one of them — and while I mostly read books set later in history, I have a soft spot for books with a Roman setting. Ruth Downie’s Medicus series featuring Gaius Ruso is one that I wasn’t familiar with, but given that Vita Brevis is the seventh book in the series, I’ve got some catching up to look forward to. Today, I’m happy to be part of the Vita Brevis blog tour with an interview with Ruth and a giveaway for a copy of the book. I hope you enjoy Ruth’s answers as much as I did and do check out the other stops on the blog tour.   Read More …

Susan Spann – The Ninja’s Daughter [Blog Tour]

susanspann-theninjasdaughterAutumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

The Ninja’s Daughter is the fourth book in the Shinobi Mystery series and it is a reunion with the regular cast and some of my favourite background characters, such as Ana, Gato, Ginjiro, and Suke. I really enjoyed the previous two books I’ve read in this series, Blade of the Samurai and Flask of the Drunken Master, and I was looking forward to discover what would happen next for Hiro and his charge Father Mateo. What I found in The Ninja’s Daughter was both an interesting murder mystery and a great development of the overarching story.  Read More …

Zen Cho – The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo & The Terracotta Bride

zencho-perilouslifeofjadeyeoFor writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr — until she pillories London’s best-known author in a scathing review. Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome, and more intrigued than annoyed. But if Jade succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom — and her best chance for love. 

Zen Cho’s novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo isn’t actually an SFF story. In fact, it is a romance told through diary entries. And it is delightful! Set in 1920s London, our main character is a young  Malaysian woman who went to university in Britain and now is trying to make it as a writer. One of her gigs is writing reviews, so that immediately created a connection obviously, but Jade is wonderful in lots of ways. She’s funny, snarky, independent and prepared to defend her independence fiercely.  Read More …