Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape.
Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends – Sebastian and Daniela – and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. The three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as nonentities,and maybe even find love…
Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns alone for her estranged father’s funeral.
It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, reviving memories from a childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? Is there any magic left?
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise was one of my anticipated reads for the first half of 2015. The concept of the speculative elements in the form of magic fuelled by music was cool and the setting, both temporal and physical, were intriguing. The Eighties was an interesting time in history and though we often mock the stylistic choices of Eighties music stars, it’s undeniable that they also produced some fantastic classics. I was completely unfamiliar with Mexico City and true Mexican culture only having seen the Hollywood representations of both on TV and I doubt these are completely accurate. So I was interested to learn more about both through Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel. And while I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel and much of the story after finishing it I was largely left with a bit of a meh feeling. I wanted to love this novel so much more than I did and it’s hard to pinpoint why I didn’t. I just didn’t connect to it very strongly and I spent just as much time being annoyed with Meche, the main character, as I did rooting for her. Continue reading
By 2 March, 2015
Posted in fantasy, review
In the past week and a half I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Winter/Spring 2015 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Sarah Lotz’s Day Four, Sarah Hilary’s follow up to Someone Else’s Skin, Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire, and Claire McGowan’s third Paula McGuire book The Silent Dead. So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently? Continue reading
By 24 December, 2014
Posted in article, fantasy, historical fiction
Day two of my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. 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! Continue reading
By 15 December, 2014
Posted in article, fantasy
Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. 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!
By 14 December, 2014
Posted in article, fantasy
Following the exceptionally well received Solaris Rising 1, 1.5 (e-only) and 2, series editor Ian Whates brings even more best-selling and cutting-edge SF authors together for the latest extraordinary volume of new original ground-breaking stories.
These stories are guaranteed to surprise,thrill and delight, and continue our mission to demonstrate why science-fiction remains the most exciting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising 1 and 2 we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 3, we’ll be taking SF into the outer reaches of the universe. Aliette de Bodard, Tony Ballantyne and Sean Williams are just three of the exciting names to appear.
Solaris Rising 3 is officially the fourth instalment in the reboot of the New Solaris Book of Science Fiction. This anthology series is one of my favourites. Whates finds a nice balance between easily accessible stories and the somewhat harder to parse, making the Solaris Rising series interesting to both relative new readers of SF and those more veteran readers. It is also the series that first made me realise that I might really like SF and short fiction after all, so I admittedly have a soft spot for it. Continue reading
By 27 November, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction
It’s 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist – and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite – discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russian and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology… This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game.
Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durga Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever.
Jani and the Greater Game is not your usual Eric Brown, at least not at first blush. There are no huge space ships, or alien invasions or travel among the stars, at least not judging from the synopsis on the back of the book. Instead, we’re given a YA steampunk adventure set in an alternative 1910 British Raj. Yet it turns out Jani and the Greater Game actually is classic Eric Brown: the book explores societal change and how his characters react to this, though in this case the change isn’t brought about through alien occupation, but through the rise of Indian Nationalism and the threat of invasion from places unknown. Continue reading
By 26 August, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction, YA
I’ve said before that Eric Brown was the author who convinced me I could read SF and get it. I love his writing and the way his work is about humanity even if it includes aliens, space, and space ships. When his latest novel, Jani and the Greater Game, was announced as a YA steampunk novel, I blinked and I wondered how it would fit with the rest of his body of work. And it hit me that it would likely be about change and how people react to it and that’s what I love about his other books. I decided to ask Eric about this and he replied with the following guest post. Continue reading
By 8 August, 2014
Posted in fantasy, guest post, YA
Germany 1626: A War, a Witch, a Reckoning…
Richard Treadwell is a young man who dreams of glory and honour on the battlefield—and the plunder and riches that would follow. Newly arrived in Hamburg to seek his fortune as a mercenary in the Danish army, he joins the vast war in northern Germany between the Catholic Hapsburg empire and the Protestant princes of the north. But he has also brought with him an old secret—and with it the seeds of his own destruction.
A young gypsy woman foretells that Richard cannot outrun his fate, and then he is swept headlong into the terrible war. The bloodshed he witnesses among the Danes strips him of conscience and hardens his heart, as the opposing armies close for the battle to decide the future of the kingdom—and maybe his own soul. But even as Treadwell steels himself for the final contest against the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor, an unseen enemy stalks him within his own camp…
The hero of Gideon’s Angel returns to tell how his journey into the supernatural began.
Clifford Beal’s Gideon’s Angel impressed me very much last year and when the author told me a prequel was in the works I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Raven’s Banquet is set 26 years before Gideon’s Angel and is told in memoir form by Richard Treadwell in 1635, so nine years after the main events related in the book and running up to the earliest events recounted in Gideon’s Angel. While the narrative as such stands alone quite well, its ending clearly makes it a prequel and the 1635 arc definitely isn’t resolved. To find out what happened the reader will have to seek out the next book. Continue reading
By 15 July, 2014
Posted in fantasy, historical fiction, review
Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.
Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.
I first encountered Gail Z. Martin’s Deadly Curiosities world in her short story Buttons in Jonathan Oliver’s Magic anthology. I was immediately charmed by the premise and the characters and the consequent announcement of Solaris’ acquisition of a full Deadly Curiosities novel was a pleasant surprise. This meant that starting Deadly Curiosities came with certain expectations about its setting, its characters, and its subject matter. And Martin certainly delivered on those expectations with a very entertaining tale of supernatural shenanigans, ancients ghosts returning, and the fight of Cassidy and Teag’s life. Continue reading
By 7 July, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review