Cassandra Khaw – Bearly a Lady

Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month.

Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks. Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to?

Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague.

What’s a werebear to do?

Cassandra Khaw’s Bearly a Lady is the 3rd publication in the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative. It looked amazing and the blurb —with its Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones meets Teenwolf vibe with bonus Fae — made it sound like it would be just too much fun! And the blurb absolutely delivered. This book reminded me so much of the late nineties/early oughts chick lit I loved and provided me with the same happy feelings at the end of the book that they did. And like many of the books I loved at the time, Bearly a Lady hides some crunch amid the fluff.  Read More …

A Quartet of Shorts

reviewamnestyMy huge plan to catch myself up on reviews during my vacation has gone hopelessly awry, in fact I think I’m even more behind now than I was when I started. Partially that’s because life, but it was also because I read a number of shorter works when we were travelling and they sort of added up. So I bundled a number of them and I present you with a quartet of shorts!  Read More …

Quick Review: Tansy Rayner Roberts – Kid Dark Against the Machine

tansyraynerroberts-kiddarkagainstthemachineBack when he was called something else, Griff knew everything about superheroes, sidekicks and the mysterious machine responsible for creating them. Now, Griff is just an average guy, minding his own business. A volunteer handyman at the Boys Home—his former home—Griff spends his days clearing out gutters and building clubhouses for the orphans at the Home. Nothing heroic or remarkable about that, right?

But all of that changes when one of the Home kids starts having weird dreams about another Machine—an evil version that churns out supervillains. Griff remembers the call of the Machine, and reluctantly decides to help the kid on his mission.

And then they waltz back into Griff’s life. Those bloody heroes. Including him—The Dark—one of Australia’s mightiest and longest-running superheroes.

What’s a retired secret superhero sidekick to do?

In 2014 I read the YA anthology Kaleidoscope, which I loved. One of my absolute favourite stories in the book was Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Cookie Cutter Superhero. My first reaction on finishing it was to take to Twitter and ask whether Roberts was planning more in this world. She answered in the affirmative, and Kid Dark Against The Machine is her making good on that promise. And it was everything I could have hoped for.  Read More …

Kate Elliott – The Beatriceid

kateelliott-thebeatriceidBefore Andevai, the waking of dreaming dragons, the war for Europa, and the cruel treachery of the Wild Hunt, cousins Catherine and Beatrice Hassi Barahal were novice students at the Academy. Here, Cat and Bee learned of mathematics and politics, history and storytelling. But not all stories are told or remembered in the same way–particularly where the tale of Dido and Aeneas, and the fate of Carthage and Rome are concerned.

To the victors go the spoils–only this time, it is the gilded-tongued Bee and the quick-footed Cat who will collect the winnings.

Set before the start of Cold Magic, The Beatriceid is a brand new, standalone short story written in Iambic Pentameter that reimagines The Aeneid in a feminist, Phoenician light.

It’s no secret that I’m a Kate Elliott fangirl. I loved her Crown of Stars series, and last year I raved about both her short story and non-fiction collection The Very Best of Kate Elliott and her YA novel Court of Fives. And I absolutely loved Black Wolves, though I still need to review it—I just need to get past the JUST READ IT impulse and be able to talk about coherently before I do. Anyway, when I saw the announcement for The Beatriceid, I had an immediate case of want; the cover by Julie Dillon was amazing and the concept of a retelling of the Aeneid in iambic pentameter made me curious. I’m not necessarily a poetry person, but I loved reading the Classics in high school, though admittedly I took Greek not Latin, so I’m more familiar with the Iliad and the Odyssey.  Read More …

Susan Jane Bigelow – Broken

susanjanebigelow-brokenIn a post-war, future world, where first contact has been made with intelligent life and humans are colonizing the stars, the nations of Earth have been united under a central government. Extrahumans, those possessing supernatural abilities such as flight and strength, are required by this government to belong to the Union, where they can be trained, monitored, and weaponized.

Michael Forward is cursed with the ability to see the future – every possible future – when he gazes into another person’s eyes. All he has ever wanted is to escape the grim destiny he sees when he looks in the mirror, but when he is tasked with a mission that will define the course of human history, Michael finds he cannot refuse. Now, he needs the help of a homeless ex-superhero to save a baby who may become the key to humanity’s freedom.

Broken figured she was done with heroics when she lost the ability to fly and escaped the confinement of the Extrahuman Union. But then the world started to fall apart around her, and a desperate teenage prophet with a baby entered her life, offering her the possibility of redemption and a chance to fly once more.

In a time of spreading darkness, when paranoia and oppression reign, can these unlikely allies preserve a small ray of hope for a better, brighter future?

I’ve only gotten into the whole superhero thing in the last five years. Yes, I watched cartoons when I was a kid and of course, I watched all the X-Men films in the cinema, but I never really thought of them as anything other than popcorn fodder. In the past few years, that has somewhat changed. Yes, through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but mostly through books and short stories. There were the Union Dues short stories at Escape Pod, the Secret World Chronicle, Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Cookie Cutter Superhero and Lavie Tidhar’s amazing The Violent Century to name a few. Susan Jane Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union books fit right in that line up, which made me very excited to read the first book in the series, Broken. It did NOT disappoint in the slightest.  Read More …

Author Query – Susan Jane Bigelow + Giveaway

susanjanebigelow-brokenSusan Jane Bigelow’s Broken and the further books in the Extrahuman Union series are being republished by Book Smugglers Publishing, with Broken having been released this Tuesday last. I have already finished the book and it is amazing; more details on that in my review next Monday. I loved the book, so I was really excited to ask Susan some questions about it and the other books in the series. You can check out her answers below. To be in with a chance to win a copy of Broken, check the giveaway at the bottom of this post.  Read More …

Carlie St. George – The Spindle City Mysteries

carliestgeorge-bloodyslippercoverJimmy Prince is a private detective with a tendency to take on hopeless cases and ask too many questions and in Spindle City, asking the wrong questions is a guaranteed one-way ticket to the long and silent ever after. 

In this hardboiled detective series from Carlie St. George, Jimmy and his sidekick Jack navigate the City’s dark streets and bloody secrets in three noir-inspired mysteries: The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper, The Price You Pay Is Red, and The Long and Silent Ever After. 

I love a good noir detective and I have a weakness for fairytale retellings. In other words, Carlie St. George’s The Spindle City Mysteries hit the sweet spot just with their description alone. I was sold on the concept. But concept is one thing, execution another and I’m glad to say St. George didn’t disappoint. While written as three separate novellas and originally released in serial-form on the Book Smugglers, I read the stories in order almost as one long story. The three novellas certainly work as standalone stories, but I think they work even better when read as a whole. There is a really tight series arc that is told over the three stories and while I loved the separate cases Jimmy works during the series, the heart of the narrative was with that central series plot.  Read More …