To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.
While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.
Rosie Best’s Skulk was one of my Anticipated Reads of the second half of 2013 and while it took me long enough to actually read it, that label was completely justified. What drew me to the book were its London setting and the fact that its main supernatural element was shapeshifting. This sounded like it would be quite interesting and I was interested to see how Best would approach the shapeshifting, would she take the were-creature approach or go for something more innate such as the Japanese Kitsune. Skulk promptly delivered on my expectations and more; the book was an awesome read with indeed a fantastic shapeshifter mythology seemingly untied to any existing tradition. Continue reading
By 6 December, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
At WFC I had the pleasure to meet Jonathan Howard. I was really stoked to speak to him about guest posts and the writing of them, especially as I’d already contacted Strange Chemistry for a guest post in honour of the publication of Katya’s War, the second book in the Russalka Chronicles. Jonathan wrote me the following fascinating post about how he went about creating his water world of Russalka. I’m really pleased to share it with you today and it’s made me look forward to reading Katya’s War even more than I already did! Continue reading
By 5 December, 2013
Posted in guest post, science fiction, YA
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the States and the lovely team at Angry Robot and their various imprints surprised us with their Team Robot Blogger Award. I was really flattered to have been shortlisted and while the ultimate win went to the wonderful Kristin at My Bookish Ways and to Josh from Just A Guy That Likes To Read, it really is true what they always say in these situations, it was an honour to be nominated. One of my fellow nominees, Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm created a post with covers of all the Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A titles she’s reviewed on her blog, in honour of her shortlisting and to say thanks. I thought this was a really cool idea, so with Ellie’s blessing I nicked it and today I bring you my own cover post of all the AR titles I’ve reviewed to date here on the blog. Hopefully there will be many more to come. Continue reading
By 30 November, 2013
Posted in article, crime, fantasy, science fiction, YA
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
The ability to see or hear the dead and helping them move on, is of course not a new concept, just look at Ghost Whisperer or Tru Calling, which I still feel was cancelled before its time. However, the concept of ‘help a murder victim catch their killer or die’ was a version I hadn’t heard before. And while the story is a little more complicated than that concept makes it seem, it does sum up the reason that tension builds the further we get into the novel, as Taylor literally races against time to solve Justin’s murder before the Darkness get her. It makes The Weight of Souls an exciting read and one I enjoyed quite a lot. Continue reading
By 29 November, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Today I’m happy to be part of Strange Chemistry’s book blast in honour of the cover reveal for Rachel Neumeier’s new paranormal YA Black Dog. Having heard a lot of praise for her previous books, much of it from the Book Smugglers, I’m really looking forward to getting the chance to get acquainted with her writing once the book is released in February. Continue reading
By 28 November, 2013
Posted in article, fantasy, YA
To celebrate the two month book birthday for her lovely YA debut When the Earth Was Flat (and we were in love) Ingrid Jonach and Strange Chemistry are releasing a book trailer. I really liked the book and while I’m normally not easily sold on book trailers, I loved the understated spareness of this one. It focuses on the most important things in the book, without forcing a certain image of the protagonists on the reader.
So without further waffling from me here is the book trailer. Let me know what you think!
By 3 November, 2013
Posted in article, science fiction, YA
Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke around the world.
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, an intriguing Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous relic. The Society needs it, and they don’t care that she knows nothing about her father’s secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz–whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn’t? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it.
After her successful debut with Blackwood last year, Gwenda Bond is back with a new book in a new setting. Having really enjoyed Blackwood, I was very much looking forward to The Woken Gods, with its multitudes of pantheons and a secretive society, whose mission is to keep humanity save from the not-that-benevolent gods using the relics they’ve hunted and gathered over the years. It sounded like it would be a blast. And it was. I was completed sucked in by Kyra and Oz’s tale and I had a great time with this book. Continue reading
By 30 September, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.
I’m not a maths head, I studied English Language and Literature for a reason; me and numbers, we’re not the best of friends. So reading the blurb for When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was a bit of a mixed experience. It sounded really good and sometimes a good love story is just what the doctor ordered, but then I hit that final line and saw “…taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories…” and my heart sank, because numbers, maths, physics… argh! But the first part sounded good enough, that I decided to work through the hard stuff if I had to, only to find out that the hard stuff wasn’t that hard after all and my Humanities-oriented mind could grok the science explained in the book fine. Continue reading
By 25 September, 2013
Posted in review, romance, science fiction, YA
Today I’m bringing you an interview with Ingrid Jonach as part of her Around the World in 80 Days Blog Tour. I’ll be posting my review for the book
tomorrow later this week, as I’m sick and can’t focus on writing it, but spoiler: it really is very, very good. And at the end of the interview you’ll find a very exciting giveaway that Ingrid is doing and which you can enter right from the blog. But enough preambling, let’s get to the interview! Continue reading
By 23 September, 2013
Posted in interview, romance, science fiction, YA
Scott Tyler is not like other teenagers. With a single thought he can alter reality around him. And he can stop anyone else from doing the same.
That’s why he’s so important to ARES, the secret government agency that regulates other kids like him: Shifters.
They’ve sent him on a mission. To track down the enigmatic Frank Anderson. An ex-Shifter who runs a project for unusual kids – as if the ability to change your every decision wasn’t unusual enough. But Anderson and the kids have a dark secret. One that Scott is determined to discover.
As his obsession with discovering the truth takes him further away from anyone he cares about, his grip on reality starts to weaken. Scott realises if he can’t control his choices, they’ll control him.
Last year, Shift was the first title I ever reviewed for Strange Chemistry Books and I mentioned in said review that as it was a launch title for the imprint it had some major expectations to live up to, which it did with verve. I concluded my review by saying that if this is what we could look forward to as a standard for Strange Chemistry books, then we were in for a great ride. A year on, we can conclude that Angry Robot’s YA imprint has more than redeemed that promise, but how would Curran’s second book bear out her promise as a novelist? Rest assured, Curran definitely brings the writing chops, because Control was just as awesome as her debut was!
As this is the second book in the series, there are inevitable spoilers for the first book while discussing this one. If you’d like to remain unspoiled, click away or skip to the final paragraph. Continue reading
By 2 September, 2013
Posted in review, science fiction, YA