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 …

Barbara Barnett – The Apothecary’s Curse

barabrabarnett-theapothecaryscurseIn Victorian London, the fates of physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune entwine when Simon gives his wife an elixir created by Gaelan from an ancient manuscript. Meant to cure her cancer, it kills her. Suicidal, Simon swallows the remainder—only to find he cannot die.

Five years later, hearing rumors of a Bedlam inmate with regenerative powers like his own, Simon is shocked to discover it’s Gaelan. The two men conceal their immortality, but the only hope of reversing their condition rests with Gaelan’s missing manuscript.

When modern-day pharmaceutical company Transdiff Genomics unearths diaries describing the torture of Bedlam inmates, the company’s scientists suspect a link between Gaelan and an unnamed inmate. Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe are powerfully drawn to each other, and her family connection to his manuscript leads to a stunning revelation. Will it bring ruin or redemption?

The Apothecary’s Curse is Barbara Barnett’s debut novel. When I read the synopsis for it, I was immediately intrigued, as it reminded me a little of Deb Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches, because of the mixture of alchemy and the past and current timelines. Once read, The Apothecary’s Curse turned out to be quite different, but an equally fabulous read. I loved the book; its characters and its theme captured my heart and of course I couldn’t resist the fact that one of the mysteries at its heart is an ancient manuscript.  Read More …

Author Query – Barbara Barnett

barabrabarnett-theapothecaryscurseI’m really excited about today’s interview. I read Barbara Barnett’s The Apothecary’s Curse last month and I loved it. (Look for a review of the book tomorrow!) So I was happy to be able to ask Barbara some questions about her debut novel. I got to ask her about alchemy, research and her love of everything Holmes. I hope you enjoy Barbara’s answers and check out The Apothecary’s Curse.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Barbara Barnett? 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you and your readers!!  Read More …

Stephanie Burgis – Masks and Shadows

stephanieburgis-masksandshadowsThe year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

I’ve been aware of Stephanie Burgis’ writing for years through the rave reviews I’ve read of her middle grade books, yet I’ve never actually read them. It did make me pay extra attention whenever her name popped up as the author of a story featured on the short fiction podcasts I listen to. And from what I’d heard I really liked Burgis’ writing. Reading the synopsis for her first fantasy novel for adults made me perk up immediately as it blends a lot of my favourite things: fantasy, history, mystery and conspiracy. And Masks and Shadows delivers on all of those things with the added bonus of a pinch of supernatural and a dash of romance thrown in.  Read More …

Author Query – Rajan Khanna

rajankhanna-risingtideLast year I read and really enjoyed Rajan Khanna’s debut novel Falling Sky. A post-apocalyptic adventure with some amazing characters, which is coincidentally also one of the very, very few novels featuring zombie-like monsters that I can actually read without getting nightmares. Having very much enjoyed the book and having gotten attached to his protagonists Ben and Miranda, I’m really looking forward to getting back to their story and to see what happens next. But what with my current reviewing break, that might be a bit. But I still wanted to feature Rajan and his second book Rising Tide. So today I present an Author Query with Rajan. If you haven’t yet checked out his writing, whether in in short or long form, be sure to do so, because he’s a wonderful writer.  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: Science Fiction & Horror

2015Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Brenda Cooper – Edge of Dark

brendacooper-edgeofdarkWhat if a society banished its worst nightmare beyond the far edge of the solar system, destined to sip only dregs of light and struggle for the barest living? And yet, that life thrived. It grew and learned and became more powerful than humans. What if an entire solar system full of humans vastly underestimated the threat posed by the beings it banished?

Ranger Charlie Windar never wants to leave the restored planet Lym, even though, at night, he looks up at the brilliant lights of space stations. But then he meets a particular tourist, Nona Hall, who has come for a private tour.

When Nona appears, unexpected news comes with her. Outlaws from the Edge are returning to the inner system. Between them, Nona and Charlie might have the resources to get to the Edge and gain information to save their people.

The brilliant intelligences of the Edge have waited in the cold, hard black for a long time. They are ready to reoccupy their birthplace at almost any cost to its human inhabitants.

I first encountered Brenda Cooper’s writing in the Valdemar anthologies, where her stories were some of my favourites. When Pyr announced her Ruby’s Song books in 2011 I was really interested in reading them, but as they were SF a bit intimidated to read them, because I was a fantasy girl, right? Fast forward four years and I’ve established for myself that yes, I actually do enjoy reading science fiction, so when the offer for a review copy of Edge of Dark arrived, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. And I’m glad I did, because Cooper tells an interesting story set in a rich universe.  Read More …

Rajan Khanna – Falling Sky

rajankhanna-fallingskyBen Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he’s ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back. 

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters—whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.

I was excited to learn about Falling Sky, Rajan Khanna’s debut novel. I’ve really enjoyed Khanna’s short fiction in the past and he’s also one of my favourite narrators over at the Escape Artists podcasts. In addition, Falling Sky just seemed like a really cool story. It was. On the relatively short side – my ARC clocked in at 261 pages – the story still managed to cover plenty of ground, yet never felt rushed.   Read More …

Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Science Fiction & Horror

2015Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Fall) 2014: Science Fiction and Horror

2014Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2014. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …