Laird Hunt – Neverhome

lairdhunt-neverhomeShe calls herself Ash, but that’s not her real name. She is a farmer’s faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. Neverhome tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause.

Laird Hunt’s dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home?

In gorgeous prose, Hunt’s rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts.

Women disguising themselves as men to be able to do things or go places denied them by societal conventions due to their sex is an age-old phenomenon, in life and in literature. From Shakespeare’s Rosalind, Viola, and Imogen, to Tolkien’s Eowyn, Martin’s Arya, and Pierce’s Alanna, we can find many different versions of and motives for the phenomenon. But one of the most common motives seems to have been so that our main character can take up arms, be it as a vocation as Alanna, to save a beloved family member as Mulan does, or to escape from her pursuers unseen as Arya does. Those are all fictional examples, but there are many historical ones too: Joan of Arc and Hannah Snell come too mind, but as Kameron Hurley points out there are many more. In Neverhome Hunt focuses on just such a woman who takes up arms to keep her husband from going to war, because she wants to see places, because she is just more suited to it, and because she believed in the cause.   Continue reading »

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Helen Grant – Demons of Ghent

helengrant-demonsofghentPeople are falling from the rooftops of Ghent. But did they throw themselves off – or did somebody push them?

Veerle has seen enough death to last a lifetime. But death isn’t finished with Veerle just yet.

When people start to die in her new home town, some put it down to a pate of suicides. Some blame the legendary demons of Ghent. Only Veerle suspects that something – somebody – has followed her to wreak his vengeance.

But she watched the hunter die, didn’t she?

I love Helen Grant’s brand of YA mystery. I’ve read all of them so far and enjoyed them all. They’re always tightly plotted and very well-paced, with a psychological and/or paranormal element added in the mix. With the first book in the Forbidden Spaces trilogy, Silent Saturday, Grant moved away from standalone stories and started a trilogy. While the ending of that book was a bit of a cliffhanger and left me wanting Demons of Ghent immediately, I found that Grant’s abilities to pace a story worked just as well in a series setting as it did in a standalone story. Starting Demons of Ghent though was a bit disorienting; it was a continuation of Veerle’s story, but not a direct one and Veerle’s life and situation has completely changed.   Continue reading »

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T.E. Woods – The Unforgivable Fix [Blog Tour]

tewoods-theunforgivablefixDetective Mort Grant of the Seattle PD has finally decided to sell. The home where he and his late wife raised two kids feels too large and too full of old memories. His son is married and raising a family of his own, and despite desperate efforts to find her, Mort has lost touch with his wayward daughter. That is, until the day she walks back into her childhood home and begs for his help.

For the last four years, Allie Grant has been the lover—and confidante, confessor, and counselor—of one of the world’s most powerful and deadly men. But a sudden, rash move has put Allie in the crosshairs of a ruthless Russian crime lord. Mort knows of only one place where Allie will be safe: with The Fixer.

As a hired desperado, The Fixer has killed twenty-three people—and Mort was complicit in her escape from the law. She has built an impregnable house, stocked it with state-of-the-art gear, armed it to the teeth, and locked herself away from the world. But even The Fixer may not be able to get justice for Allie when real evil comes knocking.

The third in T.E. Woods’ Mort Grant series, The Unforgivable Fix returns us to Seattle and Mort and Lydia. We find them recovering from the events related in The Red Hot Fix. There is a general air of moving on and letting go, as Mort finally sells the house he shared with his beloved wife and Lydia is trying to leave The Fixer behind and to forget Oliver, her sort-of-ex-boyfriend. Yet however much we might want to forget our past, the past often doesn’t want to let us go, as Mort finds out when the day he leaves his house his prodigal daughter returns. And when Lydia decides to return to her practice, she learns that with The Fixer gone, it’s far harder to deal with cases that hit too close to home than it was before.  Continue reading »

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In The News: City of Stairs Competition

robertjacksonbennett-thecityofstairsTo celebrate the launch of Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs Jo Fletcher Books is running a competition to win some awesome prizes. From their blog:

To celebrate the launch of City of Stairs we are offering a very special prize.

We have five copies of the book to give away, plus one lucky winner will receive a £100 Red Letter Day experience.*

All you have to do for your chance to win is let us know on our blog, Facebook page or Twitter – with #CityOfStairs – what tangible miraculous object would you create if you were a god of Bulikov? A door which takes you to the past? A knotted cord that brings rain when untied? These are just some of the miracles the gods brought to Bulikov, but what would you add?

Let us know by October 30th for your chance to win.

*Prize will be supplied in a £100 worth of vouchers for Red Letter Days. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Continue reading »

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Recaps and Upfronts – September and October

RecapsAnd that’s September over and done with. As predicted it was manic and while there was plenty of reading there was frighteningly little reviewing on the blog, even less than expected as we got a phone call that Emma had finally been accepted to a different school closer to home and we needed to arrange everything for her to transfer in a week. Needless to say, my first reaction was PANIC! And then I worked the phones like a pro and got it all arranged, but the accompanying stress melted my brain, so I didn’t actually manage to write any reviews for about two weeks.   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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Meanwhile… On SF Signal and a small update

towerBefore I get to linking to me on SF Signal, a quick update on the blog silence. Emma started her new school on Monday and she’s doing great. She seems to be settling in well; when I went to pick her up from out-of-school care yesterday, she got mad because she didn’t want to go home yet as she still wanted to play outside in the playground. At the same time we’re all still tired as all get out, so I haven’t been up to much other than chores and reading. I’m hoping to start posting reviews again tomorrow if all goes well. So normal service should resume momentarily.

Now for the true meat of this post!   Continue reading »

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Guest Post: Kameron Hurley On Making People Care

kameronhurley-themirrorempireKameron Hurley doesn’t really need an introduction anymore. She’s a two time Hugo winner, author of what are currently the only three novels in the subgenre of bug punk, and not just an amazing fiction writer, but a brilliant essayist as well. And she’s currently on the last leg of a five-week long whirlwind tour of the internet to promote her latest novel, the epic fantasy Mirror Empire. I’m currently in the midst of reading Mirror Empire and thus far it is awesome. Ambitious, challenging, and giving us characters to love and characters to love to hate. I’m very honoured to welcome Kameron to the blog today with a guest post all about storytelling.

***    Continue reading »

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Author Query – William Ritter

williamritter-jackabyEarlier this month I reviewed the highly entertaining and very atmospheric Jackaby. I had a great time with the story and its characters and I hope to read more about them in the future. I was also able to put Will to the question and have him as an Author Query guest. He sent over the following answers including some of his own art! I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did. Jackaby is out today, so go check it out!

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is William Ritter?

William Ritter is a husband and a father who teaches High School Language Arts and likes to write stories. His debut novel, JACKABY, is published by Algonquin Young Readers, and will be available Sept 16th.   Continue reading »

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