My 2015 Hugo Nominations Ballot

hugo_rocketLast Tuesday the nomination window for the Hugo Awards closed. I kind of freaked out the week before, because I thought nominations would be open until the end of the month. But after a moment of PANIC, I got my act together and got my nominations figured out. Last year I posted my nomination ballot as well, not just to share what I nominated but also so I could do a comparison once the nominations were announced to see whether any of my nominations made it through. I also tried to predict what I thought would win, though I forgot to come back and do a post on what I got right. But those were fun posts, so I thought I’d do them again this year. There are several categories where I haven’t nominated anyone or anything, because I either hadn’t read or seen anything in said category or because I just don’t know enough about it to judge. So without further ado here are my nominations for 2015.  Continue reading »

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Simon Cheshire – Flesh and Blood [Blog Tour]

simoncheshire-fleshandbloodSam Hunter’s neighbours are pillars of the community, the most influential people in town. But they’re liars too.

The Greenhills are hiding something and Sam’s determined to find out what it is. As his investigation unfolds, he realizes the lies reach further than he ever imagined – is there anyone he can trust?

Uncovering the horror is one thing …escaping is another.

After very much enjoying the first two instalments of Stripes’ Red Eye series, I was really looking forward to reading the third one, Simon Cheshire’s Flesh and Blood. It was a fun story, well fun in a gory, scary kind of way, but one I enjoyed a lot. Set in what seems to be a small, typical suburban community under the smoke of London, Flesh and Blood tells the tale of seventeen-year-old Sam, who discovers that instead of moving to suburban paradise, his family has moved straight into the cul-de-sac from hell.  Continue reading »

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Karen Maitland – The Raven’s Head

karenmaitland-theravensheadVincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head.

Any attempt to sell the head fails … until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain – unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest. Once more Vincent’s life is in danger because Sylvain and his neighbours, the menacing White Canons, consider him a predestined sacrifice in their shocking experiment.

Chilling and with compelling hints of the supernatural, The Raven’s Head is a triumph for Karen Maitland, Queen of the Dark Ages.

The Raven’s Head is Karen Maitland’s latest historical novel, one that I’d been very much looking forward to reading. I have enjoyed Maitland’s writing on The History Girls blog and have wanted to read her work since reading reviews for Company of Liars. Earlier this week I read her previous novel The Vanishing Witch, which I really enjoyed, and I was interested to see how much of the unique style of that book was particular to that story and how much was part of Maitland’s authorial voice. Based on the sample I’ve read so far (n=2) Maitland definitely has a distinctive and consistent writing style, one that really suits my reading tastes.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Karen Maitland

karenmaitland-theravensheadOne of my favourite non-SFF blogs is The History Girls. And one of my favourite History Girls is Karen Maitland. I’ve been wanting to read her ever since I saw reviews for Company of Liars, but as is so often the case never got around to it. Today marks not one, but two book birthdays for Karen however, with the paperback release of last year’s The Vanishing Witch and the release of her latest novel, The Raven’s Head. I was fortunate enough to receive review copies for both of them. I reviewed The Vanishing Witch yesterday and check back for my review for The Raven’s Head tomorrow. But today I get to bring you an Author Query with Karen in which she has some fascinating answers to offer to my questions.  Continue reading »

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Karen Maitland – The Vanishing Witch

karenmaitland-thevanishingwitchTake one wealthy merchant. Add one charming widow. And one dying wife.

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust?

The dour wool merchant?

His impulsive son?

The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes?

Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

I’ve wanted to read Karen Maitland’s work for years, ever since I read reviews for Company of Liars, but as often happens in a reviewer’s life, I never got to it. This made me doubly excited when this ARC for The Vanishing Witch appeared in my mailbox, but it was a big book – 688 pages in my proof copy – and it languished on my To Be Read pile. Now with the paperback for The Vanishing Witch out tomorrow, not to mention Maitland’s latest The Raven’s Head, this seemed a good time to read it. It was a wonderful read, super atmospheric and very much what I expected Maitland’s writing to be based of what I’ve read of her non-fiction articles on The History GirlsContinue reading »

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Guest Post: Ferrett Steinmetz on Parents in Fantasy

m4s0n501

ferrettsteinmetz-flexMarch sees the reboot of Angry Robot Books publication schedule and one of its re-inaugural titles is Ferrett Steinmetz’s Flex. Billed as Breaking Bad meets The Dresden Files, it sounds like it will be a great, entertaining read and I hope to be able to dive into it soon. In the meantime, Ferrett was kind enough to write me the following blog post wherein he discusses the lack of active parents in fantasy and explains why even if Flex will make me cry, I should still read it.

***

So my book Flex features all sorts of (literally) psychotic magic systems: as it turns out, if you’re obsessed enough with something, your devotion will wear a hole through the laws of physics. So there’s all kinds of crazy magic flying back and forth: bureaucromancy. Videogamemancy. Musclemancy. Origamimancy.   Continue reading »

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Sarah Pinborough – The Death House

sarahpinborough-thedeathhouseToby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

Sarah Pinborough is not only one of the more prolific British SFF writers, she’s also a very varied writer who switches between sub-genres with remarkable ease. Fantasy, racy fairytale retellings, science fiction, YA, she writes it all. When I heard about The Death House I was immediately intrigued. A dystopian YA story set at a boarding school from which no student ever graduates, it sounded but creepy and fascinating. Because why are they there and what is this disease that condemns them to be inmates of The Death House? Pinborough gives us some of the answers, but mostly she delivers an exquisite exploration of life and love in the face of death.  Continue reading »

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In the News: London Book & Screen Week

lbswbannerSo I usually don’t post much about the press releases for events I get in my inbox, unless it is for an event here in the Netherlands, which so far has happened I think three times, all at The American Book Centre, but sometimes something hits my inbox and it makes me so sad that we still haven’t invented that teleporter yet. Exhibit A is the press release I received about London Book and Screen Week, which runs from 13-19 April and coincides with the London Book Fair. There are some awesome events on and several interesting workshops and exhibitions and I wish I could go.  Continue reading »

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Daniel Polansky – Those Above

danielpolansky-thoseaboveThey enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.

Those Above had to have been one of my most anticipated reads for not just the first six months of 2015, but for the entire year. Daniel Polansky’s previous trilogy, Low Town, was just amazingly good and its ending just floored me, and I mean flat-out, ugly-crying floored me. So to see where he would go next was very exciting. It also made it hard for Polansky to live up to my expectations, because the bar was set high. But he delivered the goods and he did so in style. Those Above was amazing.  Continue reading »

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Blogger Query – Over The Effing Rainbow

BloggerQueryIt’s baaacckk! Yes, I’m kicking off a new round of Blogger Queries and here to help me do so is Lisa McCurrach from Over The Effing Rainbow. I’ve known Lisa on Twitter for a while now and she’s always very entertaining on there. She also has remarkably similar book taste to me *cough* Emma Newman, Sebastien de Castell, Liz de Jager *cough* so she was the perfect guest to help me restart these Blogger Queries. I really enjoyed Lisa’s answers and I hope you do too!  Continue reading »

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