Ray Celestin – The Axeman’s Jazz

raycelestin-theaxemansjazzNew Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him.

Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, and harbouring a grave secret, is struggling to find leads. Former detective Luca d’Andrea, working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as that of the authorities. Meanwhile, Ida, a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency, stumbles across a clue which lures her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, to the case and into terrible danger . . .

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim.

The Axeman’s Jazz has been languishing on my TBR shelves for a year. I’d originally planned to read it for last year’s historical fiction month in conjunction with my interview with its author, Ray Celestin, but the best laid plans and all that. Thus I decided that The Axeman’s Jazz should be my first book read for this year’s historical fiction month. And it ended up making me kick myself for not reading it last year, because it was a fascinating read.  Read More …

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Nick Pengelley – Ryder: Bird of Prey [Blog Tour]

nickpengelley-ryderbirdofpreyThe Maltese Falcon was no mere legend—this fabulously jewelled golden bird really existed. Still exists, according to the last words of a dying man. Ayesha Ryder is on its trail, but not just to find the Falcon itself. It is said to contain a clue to the lost burial place of King Harold of England, a potent symbol for ruthless politicians determined to break up the UK and create a new, independent English Kingdom. The Falcon may also contain a second clue, one that few would believe.

Labelled an assassin, hunted by Scotland Yard and Dame Imogen Worsley of MI5—as well as those who want the Falcon and its secrets for themselves—Ayesha joins forces with Joram Tate, the mysterious librarian known to her friend Lady Madrigal, a one-time lover of Lawrence of Arabia. As Ayesha’s attraction to Tate grows, they follow clues left by long-dead knights to the tomb of a Saxon king and to the ruined Battle Abbey. When the trail leads them to a stunning secret hidden for a thousand years beneath an English castle, Ayesha must battle modern killers with medieval weapons before confronting the evil that would destroy her nation.

Ayesha Ryder returns in this third instalment of the Ryder series called Bird of Prey. And with Bird of Prey this series has most definitely entered alternate history territory, even if at times referencing real-world developments directly, mentioning Richard III’s body being found in Leicester and some of the intricacies of  EU economic and political problems. While I greatly enjoyed parts of the narrative and I really liked the book overall, Bird of Prey was my least favourite book of the series so far.  Read More …

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Recaps and Upfronts – April and May

RecapsAnd another month has come and gone, so it’s time for another recap post. Also, as for me saying April would be a quieter month? Remind me to not say that anymore, because I’ll jinx myself. Because this last month? Wasn’t quieter AT ALL, in fact it was freaking busy and not just at work, but on the blog as well.  Read More …

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Jen Williams – The Iron Ghost

jenwilliams-theironghostBeware the dawning of a new mage…

Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of suddenly being very much in demand for their services.

When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin – retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking…

Last year Jen Williams’ The Copper Promise, the first book in this series, surprised me with the insane amount of fun it was. I loved the effervescent Wydrin, the conscientious Sir Sebastian, and the troubled Lord Frith. This meant I was very much looking forward to returning to these characters in The Iron Ghost. And Williams delivers on the promise of the first novel with this second book. The Iron Ghost is just as much fun as The Copper Promise, while upping the drama and narrative stakes. Wydrin remains brilliant, but I liked the more pronounced roles of Frith and Sebastian in this outing.  Read More …

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Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar (eds) – Dark Screams: Volume Two [Blog Tour]

freemanchizmareds-darkscreamsvol2Robert McCammon, Norman Prentiss, Shawntelle Madison, Graham Masterton, and Richard Christian Matheson scale new heights of horror, suspense, and grimmest fantasy in Dark Screams: Volume Two, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the renowned Cemetery Dance Publications.

Of all of the sub-genres grouped under the umbrella term of speculative fiction, horror is the one I’m least at home in. After an early experiment reading Carrie and a rather disastrous encounter with It, it has only been in the past few years that I’ve slowly stuck my toe in the pool that is horror fiction to test whether I dare get in the water. And I’ve mostly enjoyed those first few steps into the pool to stretch the metaphor a bit. Still, my first reaction when offered a horror title for review is always caution, because “I’m not a horror reader.” This year I decided to try and read more of it so I could broaden my knowledge of what horror is exactly, so Dark Screams: Volume Two was a great way to introduce myself to five new horror authors and five different flavours of horror.  Read More …

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In the News: Lauren Beukes is coming to Amsterdam

abclogoThose who also follow me on Twitter might have caught me vague-tweeting about squee-worthy news I couldn’t share last week. Well now I can and I’m super excited! Because the American Book Center in Amsterdam – the best bookstore in the Netherlands – is having an event with none other than the fantastic Lauren Beukes. Read More …

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Sarah Hilary – No Other Darkness

sarahhilary-nootherdarknessTwo young boys.
Trapped underground in a bunker.
Unable to understand why they are there.
Desperate for someone to find them.
Slowly realising that no-one will…

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.

Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…

Last year, Sarah Hilary burst onto the British crime writing scene with her debut Someone Else’s Skin. I was blown away by the book, falling in love with its main character, DI Marnie Rome and her main DS, Noah Jake. I’ve been impatiently waiting for the moment that I could read the next book in the series, as I couldn’t wait to spend more time with Marnie and Noah and to see what sort of intricate case Hilary would come up with to follow up her fantastic debut.  Read More …

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Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor

katherineaddison-thegoblinemperorA half-goblin, the youngest son of the emperor has lived his entire life in exile, far from the Imperial Court and the intrigue that surrounds it. But then his father and three half brothers – who are the heirs to the throne ahead of him – die together in an airship crash. Maia is summoned to take his father’s throne.
    
For Maia, life in the capital is a bewildering and exhausting daily test of his mettle. And before long he discovers his father and half brothers’ deaths were no accident. The airship was tampered with. The crash was murder.

With no friends, no advisers, and no schooling in the art of court politics, the only thing Maia knows for certain is that whoever was behind the assassinations must still be plotting an attempt on his life.

After seeing most of my friends, and much of the SFF blogosphere, geek out over Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, I knew I needed to read it at some point. A few weeks ago I finally got the final push to actually read it (Thank you, Justin) and then the book was nominated for a Hugo, which clinched it: I was reading this book ASAP. And I’m glad I did, because The Goblin Emperor was brilliant and addictive. I just wanted to keep reading this book, even if I had to put down the book because life. I couldn’t wait to go back to Maia’s tale and find out what happened next.   Read More …

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Peter Newman – The Vagrant

peternewman-thevagrantThe Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

Peter Newman’s debut novel The Vagrant was one of my most anticipated books for the first half of the year. Already familiar with his work on the Tea and Jeopardy podcast, I was looking forward to seeing what he would do with a longer fictional work. When the cover was released and I spotted that baby on it, along with the blurb, I was hooked, I had to read this book. After a bit of a cold start The Vagrant made for very compelling reading.  Read More …

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Author Query – Peter Newman

peternewman-thevagrantPeter Newman is a new author about to be published by Harper Voyager, but you might already be more familiar with Peter than you think. You might know him in the guise of Latimer, Emma Newman’s slightly dangerous, well-mannered butler on Tea and Jeopardy. This Thursday, however, sees the publication of Peter’s debut novel The Vagrant, a novel which I think will make him a well-known name around the SFF scene as a writer of fine fiction. At the time of writing this I’m hip deep in the book and I’m enjoying it tremendously. Look for my more expansive thoughts tomorrow when I’ll post my review of the book. For now though, please enjoy this marvellous interview with Peter, which might possibly include some cake and mild peril.  Read More …

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