Friday, January 31, 2014

“Breach Zone” by Myke Cole (Headline/Ace Books)

ColeM-SO3-BreachZoneUKThe explosive conclusion to Myke Cole’s first trilogy

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers — summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

In this, the final part of Cole’s first trilogy, we have an excellent conclusion. Not only do we see the events of the last three books come together, but the story digs deeper and offers more than either of its predecessors. The author has really pulled out all the stops for this one, and written a really fantastic novel.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Now Available in the US: “The Complete Malazan Book of the Fallen” by Steven Erikson

I have never read anything by Steven Erikson. At least, nothing novel-length (I may have read a short story of his at some point…). His Malazan Book of the Fallen series is a fan-favourite. When I first started blogging, it was also enjoying a prolonged re-read on Many bloggers and friends I have made in the SFF community love the series. And yet I’ve never tried it… Part of the reason is the prospect of devoting such an immense amount of time to reading the whole thing (10 novels, plus four written by Ian C. Esslemont).


For those others of you who haven’t read the epic series, and if you live in the US, Tor Books has just released an eBook collection of the whole thing. Included in the collection are: Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Reaper’s Gale, Toll the Hounds, Dust of Dreams, and The Crippled God. Here’s the synopsis for Gardens of the Moon:

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

“The Strain” by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Harper/William Morrow)

DelToroHogan-1-TheStrainThe start of the vampire apocalypse… It’s very well-written, but…

At New York’s JFK Airport an arriving Boeing 777 taxis along a runway and suddenly stops dead. All the blinds have been drawn, all communications channels have mysteriously gone quiet. Dr Ephraim Goodweather – head of a rapid-response team investigating biological threats – boards the darkened plane… and what he finds makes his blood run cold.

Meanwhile, in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, aged Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian knows that the war he has been dreading his entire life is finally here.

Before the next sundown Eph and Setrakian must undertake the ultimate fight for survival. A terrifying contagion has come to the unsuspecting city – hungry, merciless, lethal… vampiric?

It took me so long to get around to reading this. And it’s taken me a few months to get around to writing the review. I’m not sure why, but there we go. The first in del Toro and Hogan’s trilogy, it chronicles the events that spark the outbreak of a vampiric plague in New York, threatening the country beyond, and the toppling of the status quo. It’s an interesting novel, but one that I struggled with a fair bit, given its pacing. Conceived as a trilogy, this novel is basically the set-up and that’s about it. We learn a little of the background – minor moments from the vampire’s history, and the former-concentration camp inmate who discovered that it was feeding on inmates; and then, decades later, tracking it across to the New World.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Interview with SIMON BECKETT


Simon Beckett’s Stone Bruises is one of my most-anticipated thriller novels of 2014. I was very happy, therefore, to get the chance to interview the author. Read on, fair reader, for Beckett’s thoughts on writing, his latest novel, and more.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Upcoming: “The Fell Sword” by Miles Cameron. And Who is Miles Cameron, really…?


I’ve always found the practice of using pen names rather interesting. The various reasons people resort to using names other than their own, on creative works they have slaved for months or even years over are myriad. It’s particularly interesting to learn when some of your favourite authors have been secretly writing under different names for ages. Today, Gollancz has unveiled the true identity of “Miles Cameron”, the author of The Red Knight and the upcoming The Fell Sword (January 30th): it is none other than Canadian author Christian Cameron, bestselling author of historical fiction, such as the Tyrant , Long War, and Chivalry series. Rather cheekily, Christian has been claiming that “Miles” was his fantasy loving cousin… The scamp.

Cameron-RK2-TheFellSwordUKHere’s some information on The Fell Sword, Cameron’s next novel…

Loyalty costs money.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is free

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand – and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But The Red Knight has a plan.

The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time – especially when intends to be victorious on them all?


Join the Greatcoats! (Competition #1)


Due to popular demand, the eBook of Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade has been bought forward by his published Jo Fletcher Books to February 10th! The printed edition will be published at the beginning of March. To celebrate, JFB are offering up to 100 eReview copies of the novel via NetGalley!

To enter this competition is really simple. All you have to do is tweet @JoFletcherBooks your Greatcoat name, which is worked out thus:

1. Write down the name of your first school.

2. Writing down the MAIDEN name of your Grandmother on your Mother’s side.

3. Combining the two. Simples.

The winners of this completion will be announced on the 6th of February, and will receive eReview copies via Net Galley.

In case you’re interested, my Greatcoat name is “Kensington Gollarsch” – a debonair, rakish and mischievous swordsman…

deCastellS-GC1-TraitorsBladeI’ve already read the novel, and I thought it was excellent – a real swashbuckling blast of a read, blending the tone and fun of Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers with a more modern fantasy sensibility added to the mix. Great characters, great pacing and prose. Traitor’s Blade deserves to be a hit, and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series. Here’s the synopsis:

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

An Interview with TAYLOR STEVENS


Taylor Stevens is the author of the new thriller THE INFORMATIONIST. It has an interesting premise and a pretty unique-seeming protagonist. Naturally, I wanted to learn more after the book arrived in the mail, and so Stevens’s UK publicist (Arrow) kindly set up this interview…

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Taylor Stevens?

I’ve been asked many, many questions but this is the first I’ve been presented with this one, so let’s see: Officially, Taylor Stevens is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, whose books have received critical acclaim, are published in over twenty languages, and whose first title, The Informationist, has been optioned for film by James Cameron's production company. Unofficially, Taylor Stevens is a harried, fulltime working mom, who juggles after-school activities and all the crazy that goes into running a household, with making up stories to pay the bills.

Monday, January 27, 2014

“Legion of the Damned” Digital Anthology (Black Library)


A collection of short stories all focused on that enigmatic Space Marines legion, the Legion of the Damned, from some of Black Library’s best up-and-comers and a couple of not-quite-old-hands. The Legion are a peculiar addition to the WH40k lore. I remember when they first made models for them (they were a custom job by one of their professional modellers, if I remember correctly). Since then, there’s no doubt that they’ve fleshed out the background and the story of who and what the Legion is. Sadly, I haven’t been keeping up-to-date with more than the fiction set in Games Workshop’s science fiction and fantasy systems for well over a decade. As a result, these six stories contained some interesting new detail. I still don’t have a full picture of how the Legion ‘works’, but by no means does this bother me. These authors have done a great job of writing tales that tap into the horror and menace of the Legion of the Damned, and their mysterious appearances on the battlefields of the 41st millennium. I’ll deal with each of the stories individually, below…

Cemetery Girl, Vol.1 – “The Pretenders” by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden (Jo Fletcher Books)

Harris&Golden-CemeteryGirl1-PretendersAn excellent first part in an original graphic novel trilogy by two New York Times bestselling authors

Writers: Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden | Art: Don Kramer | Colours: Daniele Rudoni | Letters: Jacob Bascle

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill — names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead — and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave — and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself — or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help...

This is Charlaine Harris’s first original graphic novel project. Teaming up with fellow New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden, they have come up with something pretty interesting, too. The Pretenders is the first part of a trilogy, and as a result does not present a tidy ending. In fact, rather the opposite: by the end of the book, Calexa has helped solve one crime, it’s true, but along the way readers will be confronted by a number of intriguing questions and mysterious goings-on – be they Calexa’s memories or her new-found powers.

The artwork throughout is pretty good – it’s nothing particularly unique, but it is clean and clear; and overall the compositions enrich the story and realise it in a vivid, eye-catching manner. The story itself moves at a good clip: despite the relative slimness of the book, the story doesn’t feel rushed, but not does it feel drawn out. In fact much of the story focuses on Calexa getting used to, and making her life in the cemetery (now you know where the series title comes from), and I actually liked this. The Urban Fantasy equivalent of the Origin Story, perhaps? The synopsis states that she avoids people, which is for the most part true, however, despite her sneaking about, there are a couple of people who learn of her existence and extend a helping hand (albeit clandestinely). For me, it was this part of the story – one of unexpected kindness and help – that stood out. No doubt, with parts two and three, the supernatural shenanigans and Calexa’s past will be unveiled. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out the true about what brought our protagonist to the cemetery in the first place, but in the meantime, The Pretenders is a great introduction to this setting.

Recommended for all fans of Harris’s and Golden’s previous prose-fiction, but also Urban Fantasy as a whole and comics that dabble in similar territories (for example, the Buffy graphic novels, which Golden has also worked on).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

“Mitosis” by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson-MitosisA good short story stop-gap between Steelheart and Firefight

Sanderson self-published this short story, set in the same world as his first super-hero novel, Steelheart. I rather enjoyed the novel (which was the first of the author’s that I’ve read), and when I stumbled across this I was very happy to be able to dive back into the world he’s created. I’m not going to include an official synopsis, as that will give away the ending of Steelheart.

Nevertheless, what you need to know (for both the novel and Mitosis) is that in this reality, super-heroes exist – something happened that bestowed upon a small percentage of the global population special powers. Unlike in the super-hero comic books of Marvel, DC, et al, the power has very much gone to most of these powered individuals’ heads, and they started using them for their own ends. In Chicago, Steelheart reigned supreme with a coterie of other powereds. Steelheart the novel was the story of a fight against this tyranny, spear-headed by an insurgent group known as the Reckoners and their new ‘recruit’, who is a bit of a geek, and has been cataloguing the powered dictators and criminals as a means to learn of their weaknesses.

Mitosis deals with a single powered individual: Mitosis. The story moves quickly, and there is a rather nifty homage (perhaps) to Agent Smith from second and third The Matrix movies. That is all I shall say on the specific plot of this story.

If you are familiar with Sanderson’s writing – be it The Way of Kings or his Mistborn series – then you are sure to know what to expect: brisk, engaging and professional storytelling. The man can certainly write, and I intend to get more of his novels read by the end of this year. [Famous last words, perhaps, but I managed to read three of the four authors I promised to last year…]

Short, but well-worth reading to hold you over until the release of Firefight.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Upcoming: “Vengeful Spirit” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeill-HH-VengefulSpiritI’ve already posted the full artwork for Graham McNeill’s next Horus Heresy novel, Vengeful Spirit. Now, however, I’ve managed to dig up a synopsis, which gives me another opportunity to feature it – I’m sure everyone who reads CR is fully aware of how much I enjoy the HH series of novels and short stories. So, without further ado…

On the planet of Molech, the Titan Legions go to war against the armies of Horus.

Once the favoured son of the Emperor of Mankind, the name of Horus has become a curse to the loyal defenders of the Imperium, and a rallying call to the traitor forces tearing across the galaxy. While their allies wage war on a thousand different fronts, the XVIth Legion descend upon the Knight World of Molech – home to House Devine and their feudal levies, and a principal seat of Imperial military power. Just what could have drawn Horus to attack such a strongly defended planet, and what might he be willing to sacrifice to fulfill his own dark destiny?

I’m still not 100% sure when this is going to be released – Amazon UK has September 2014 listed as publication, but Black Library often releases things a little earlier through their own store/website. So maybe a couple months earlier? Needless to say, whenever it’s available, I can’t wait to read it.

The Horus Heresy: Horus Rising, False Gods, Galaxy in Flames, Flight of the Eisenstein, Fulgrim, Descent of Angels, Legion, Battle for the Abyss, Mechanicum, Tales of Heresy, Fallen Angels, A Thousand Sons, Nemesis, The First Heretic, Prospero Burns, Age of Darkness, The Outcast Dead, Deliverance Lost, Know No Fear, The Primarchs, Fear to Tread, Shadows of Treachery, Angel Exterminatus, Betrayer, Mark of Calth, Promethean Sun, Scorched Earth, Vulkan Lives, Scars (episodes I-III, IV-IX, X-X11), The Unremembered Empire

Upcoming: “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” by Joël Dicker (Maclehose Press)

DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffairUKI’ve been seeing a lot of buzz surrounding Joël Dicker’s latest novel, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Last year, I started reading more (literary) fiction, and I’ve become as keen on finding new novels in all genres, and not just SFF, to feature on here. I’ve become particularly interested in American literary fiction – author such as Michael Chabon, Donna Tartt, Richard Russo, and Claire Messud to name but four (all but one of whom have featured on the blog already). It was therefore interesting to me that Dicker’s novel has created such a storm (it has sold over two million copies on the continent) and that it has even been hailed as having “all the elements of the Great American novel” (La Croix), despite Dicker actually being Swiss. Now that Maclehose Press has unveiled the UK artwork for the novel, I thought it a good time to post a quick something about it.

The novel is translated by Sam Taylor, who also translated HHhH. Here’s the synopsis…

Who killed Nola Kellergan?

Marcus Goldman, the toast of the New York literary scene, is at his wit’s end after being struck by writer’s block. Desperate not to lose his new found fame and in search of inspiration he decides to spend a few weeks in New Hampshire at the home of Harry Quebert, world famous author and his mentor from university.

During his stay, Marcus discovers that in 1975, aged 34, Harry had an affair with 15 year old Nola Kellergan. The summer of their affair, Nola disappeared after she was seen running through the woods, covered in blood. No one has seen Nola since and no one knows what happened.

Then the unthinkable happens, 33 years after her disappearance, the body of Nola Kellergan is found in Harry’s garden. Determined to prove Harry’s innocence, Marcus gets embroiled in the murder case of the century, while everywhere in America people are asking: Who Killed Nola Kellergan?

Not just a book about an unsolved murder case, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair explores the price of fame and the seduction of success, the ferocity of the publishing industry and the power of the media, love in all its forms and what it means to be a truly great writer.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is published in the UK by Maclehose Press, in May 2014.

Upcoming in the UK: “Black Jewels Trilogy” by Anne Bishop (Jo Fletcher Books)

Anne Bishop’s award-winning BLACK JEWELS trilogy is coming to the UK! The first trilogy in the series will be published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books: Daughter of the Blood (March 6th 2014), Heir to the Shadows (May 1st), and Queen of the Darkness (July 3rd). JFB are publishing the first trilogy in Bishop’s Urban Fantasy series, but in the US the series has already grown to nine books, published by Roc Books. (If they’re as successful in the UK as across the pond, I’m sure the others will soon follow!) Below are the synopses for the three novels, and also the covers for the first two (third hasn’t been unveiled just yet).


The Darkness has had a Prince for a long, long time. Now the Queen is coming.

For years the realm of Terreille has been falling into corruption, as the powerful Queens who rule it have turned to cruelty.

But there is hope – a prophetic vision has revealed the coming of a Queen more powerful than any other. And once the foundations of her power – father, brother, lover – are in place, she will emerge from the darkness, bringing freedom.

For she is the living myth, dreams made flesh; not just any witch, but Witch.


Witch – the Queen who would bring freedom to the realms – has come, but now she is lost in darkness, and has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

While her adopted father, Saeten, waits for her to return to the living world, the third side of the triangle needed to complete the prophecy – the lover, Daemon – walks in the Twisted Kingdom on the edge of madness.

As insidious whispers and dark schemes ferment treachery and betrayal, Jaenelle must make a choice: to protect those she loves, she must be more than an heir, she must become a Queen.


Jaenelle Angelline now reigns as Queen-protector of the Shadow Realm. No longer will the corrupt Blood slaughter her people and defile her lands. But where one chapter ends, a final, unseen battle remains to be written, and Jaenelle must unleash the terrible power that is Witch to destroy her enemies once and for all.

Even so, she cannot stand alone. Somewhere, long lost in madness, is Daemon, her promised Consort. Only his unyielding love can complete her Court and secure her reign. Yet, even together, their strength may not be enough to hold back the most malevolent of forces.

This third synopsis was taken from the US edition, as JFB haven’t yet released information, outside of the publication date, for their edition. I don’t imagine it’ll be that different – it is, after all, the same book (there may just be a few tweaks).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Upcoming: “No Hero”, “Yesterday’s Hero” and “Anti Hero” by Jonathan Wood (Titan)

Wait, the first two of those books have already been published, right…? Well, yes. Now, though, they are going to be published by a better publisher with better distribution and better artwork. This series made a bit of a splash when No Hero first appeared in 2011. Since then, Wood’s original publisher (Night Shade Books) has experienced a number of… troubles. But fans of the series – existing and prospective – have nothing to fear, for Titan Books has recently acquired publishing rights for the Arthur Wallace series! Here are the details of the three books (thus far):

WoodJ-1-NoHero2NO HERO

“What would Kurt Russell do?”

Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He’s a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals. But then, secretive government agency MI37 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO!

Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?

No Hero is due to be published in March 2014.

WoodJ-2-YesterdaysHero2YESTERDAY’S HERO

Another day. Another zombie T-Rex to put down. All part of the routine for Arthur Wallace and MI37 — the British government department devoted to defending Britain from threats magical, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and generally odd.

Except a zombie T-Rex is only the first of the problems about to trample, slavering and roaring, through Arthur’s life. Before he can say, “but didn’t I save the world yesterday?” a new co-director at MI37 is threatening his job, middle-aged Russian cyborg wizards are threatening his life, and his co-workers’ are threatening his sanity.

As Arthur struggles to unravel a plot to re-enact the Chernobyl disaster in England’s capital, he must not only battle foreign wizards but also struggle to keep the trust of his team. Events spiral out of control, friendships fray, and loyalties are tested to their breaking point.

Yesterday’s Hero is due to be published in September 2014.


What do you do when your best friend becomes a supervillain?

Agent Arthur Wallace is used to dealing with danger that is extraterrestrial, supernatural, or generally odd. But when a drone-strike interrupts his best friend’s funeral, it becomes clear that his next assignment is going to be stranger than usual. When it turns out that the drone was hijacked by a rogue, digital version of that friend… well then nothing is clear to Arthur any more.

Now the man Arthur counted on most is set on destroying humanity in a grand scheme to save the natural world. And the CIA is set on destroying that man. And Arthur can’t work out who the hero is any more. But he has to work out the all the answers fast, because now he’s staring into the bloody maw of the zombpocalypse itself.

Anti Hero, which has not been available before (to my knowledge), is due to hit shelves in March 2015. I’ll be sure to share the artwork as soon as I spot it.

Also on CR: Interview with Jonathan Wood, Guest Post on Living With Consequences

An Interview with DAVE HUTCHINSON

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Dave Hutchinson?

Dave Hutchinson is a 53-year-old journalist and writer, born in Sheffield and living in London. He likes cats and hates mushrooms. He is obsessed with Twitter to a disturbing degree.

HutchinsonD-EuropeInAutumnYour latest novel, Europe In Autumn, is published by Solaris. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader?

Europe In Autumn is, for want of a better term, a near-future espionage thriller. It’s set in a Europe where the EU has begun to fracture for various reasons, and new nations are springing up all over the place. Rudi, the central character, is a chef who becomes involved with a group of couriers and people smugglers, and finds himself mixed up in what may be a very large conspiracy. It wasn’t originally planned as part of a series, but while I was writing it I had an idea for a companion novel, and since I finished it I’ve started to see a possible sequel. We’ll see how things go.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Guest Post: “And the World Turned Gray: Gritty vs. Classic Heroes” by Kameron Hurley

KameronHurley-AuthorPicKameron Hurley is an award-winning writer and freelance copywriter who grew up in Washington State. She is the author of the book God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture, and her short fiction has appeared in magazines such Lightspeed, EscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven and Year’s Best SF.

Also on CR: Review of God’s War


Peake-GormenghastI’ll sometimes hear folks musing about where the “gritty” hero came from. And though you’ll get a lot of knee-jerk responses of the “Well, it’s a reaction to traditional goody-goody heroes,” I’d argue, in fact, that gritty, unlikeable heroes have been around a lot longer than you’d think. Gormenghast wasn’t exactly full of heroes. It was full of idiots and backstabbers. We just didn’t celebrate them. They were funny.

Oh, sure, what littered the shelves as I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s were indeed mostly traditional sorts, I suppose. But there were notable exceptions – Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger, Mary Gentle’s Ash, and let’s face it, you know, Conan wasn’t a sweetheart fun dude.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recent Acquisitions (January)


I’ve been very slow about reading and reviewing. Partly, this is because I was busy over the Christmas and New Year period, but also because I kept coming across novels that I ended up not being able to finish. Nevertheless, books have been dribbling in over the weeks, and I wanted to shine a light on the ones that have arrived, in advance of any reviews. I shall resist my usual urge to write “I’ll be reading this soon”, as I always seem to break this promise to myself…

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Loki is Everywhere…

Loki seems to be popping up in ever-more places. This is no doubt thanks, in part, to the huge success of Marvel’s Avengers and two Thor movies, and the popularity of Tom Hiddleston’s excellent portrayal of the Norse trickster god. (And Hiddleston did a fantastic job.)


Cover by Jenny Frison

Marvel is capitalising on the character’s popularity by releasing a new comic series with the character at centre-stage: LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD. The series will be written by Al Ewing, with art duties handled by Lee Garbett. Here’s what Marvel has said (thus far) about the series:

“LOKI is back and craftier than ever as the All-Mother’s secret weapon against Asgardia’s strangest threats. With his serpent’s tongue, debonair charm, and taste for the uncanny, there’s no assignment Loki won’t take — including the untimely stabbing of THOR! The surprises only start here for the Prince of Lies, as the most conniving corners of the Marvel Universe are blown open…”


Variant Cover by Frank Cho; Animal Variant by Mike Del Mundo

Meanwhile, Boom Studios has recently announced LOKI: RAGNAROK AND ROLL, their own comic book starring the trickster deity. According to the press release, the series is “a heavy metal twist on Norse mythology” and shows “what happens when you take the classic Norse god Loki and throw him into a rock and roll band in the underground goth clubs of Los Angeles”. This, to me, sounds pretty fun… The series is written by Eric Esquivel and art will be provided by Jerry Gaylord (who has also worked on the rather fun Fanboys vs. Zombies). Here are the two covers for Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1:


Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1 Alexis Ziritt and Jerry Gaylord Variants

Here’s a little more information about the series:

Loki steps out of the shadow cast by his thunderous brother as Norse mythology crosses over with the only thing on Earth as wild and crazy — rock and roll!

What happens when Odin banishes Loki to Earth? He finds a world of outcasts that appreciate his style! While his kin sharpen their weapons, he picks up an electric guitar.

Keeping with the Norse mythology theme, Esquivel also penned Thor: The Unkillable Thunder Christ, which I may now have to hunt down…

And, last but by no means least, we have the highly-anticipated THE GOSPEL OF LOKI novel written by Joanne M. Harris. True, this novel is removed from the Marvel Comics universe, but Gollancz/Orion still couldn’t resist adding the following text to the book’s page on their website:

“For fans of THE AVENGERS, this is the first adult epic fantasy novel from the multi-million-copy bestselling author of CHOCOLAT, Joanne Harris.”

Hmm… A little shameless, methinks. Here is the novel’s synopsis:

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

And here’s that beautiful cover again…


Guest Post: “How Did I Come To Write ‘What Makes This Book So Great?’” by Jo Walton

WaltonJ-WhatMakesThisBookSoGreatJo Walton is a prolific writer and reviewer of speculative fiction and more. One of her newest titles is a collection of essays, adapted from her work for, What Makes This Book So Great? Here, Walton addresses how the book came about.


The answer to the question “How did I come to write this book?” is that I didn’t. I never wrote it. I wrote a series of blog posts for – hundreds and hundreds of them. In all of them I was burbling about books and the way people read. My brief on the blog is to say interesting things about books nobody else has thought about for ages. I read very fast, and I do re-read a lot. I read new things too, but I also enjoy re-reading – and the first thing I ever wrote for was the first essay in the book about why I like to re-read. So I re-read old favourites and shared my enthusiasm about them, and along the way I examined some questions about what happens when you re-read a book and don’t enjoy it any more, and the question of why people love reading series. It was exciting to be able to draw people’s attention to books I love that seem neglected or under-rated, like Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes and Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife. I had a lot of fun writing the posts and starting conversations.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Upcoming in 2014 from Gollancz

I kind of dropped the ball with my Gift Guides at the end of 2013. I would apologise, but that’s the beauty of running your own blog: you don’t answer to anyone. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of novels coming up in the first few months of 2014 that deserve some advance warning/notice, and I intend to share with you cover art and synopses (and anything else that might be of interest) as and when I can. Today, I highlight just a few of the novels coming up from Gollancz, that bastion of SFF quality and excellence.

HarrisJM-GospelOfLokiJoanne M. Harris, The Gospel of Loki

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

I shared this on Tumblr earlier today, but damn I love that cover, and I love the premise. In fact, I love it so much, that I also have another post coming up later this month that includes the cover again. I love Norse Mythology, and I have a feeling that Harris is going to do the source material proud and do something wonderful with it. Easily one of my most highly-anticipated novels of 2014.

Can. Not. Wait. Due to be published in February 2014.


JacobsJH-TheIncorruptiblesJohn Hornor Jacobs, The Incorruptibles

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way upstream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do.

In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together.

For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

Heard about this a little while ago, and I believe Mark Lawrence (Prince of Thorns) mentioned that he really enjoyed it. This is due to be published in June 2014.


PatrickD-BoyWithThePorcelainBladeDen Patrick, The Boy With the Porcelain Blade

A world of betrayals and deceit. A hero alone. A delicate sword. A thrilling new fantasy from an exciting new voice.

An ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.

Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted – but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.

Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.

That’s a really nice cover. Aside from that, it also sounds like a really interesting novel. I’ve met Den, and he was a very nice fellow. His Elf/Orc/Dwarf war manuals were quite fun, and it’ll be interesting to see what his fiction is like. I have high hopes for this. Due to be published in March 2014.


These are three of the novels I most want to have read and on my shelves by the end of the year. There are, of course, more titles coming from Gollancz that I have my eye on, but these are just the ones I chose to highlight today. More to come over the year.

An Interview with JOHN MEANEY


John Meaney is the author of the now-complete Ragnarok science fiction trilogy and more. His latest novel, Resonance, was published in December 2013, and I thought this would be a perfect time to get in touch and ask him about his work, the trilogy, and more…

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is John Meaney?

Just some weird bloke, you know?

A little grey-haired geezer who might surprise you by dropping into box splits at fifty-six years of age. Runs up mountains and lifts big, rusty weights. Pounds the crap out of heavy punch bags. Survived over forty years of martial arts training, despite or because of starting out as a podgy, asthmatic couch potato. Didn’t feel he'd accomplished anything until twenty-five years after starting, when he left the elite shotokan dojo of the late Enoeda sensei (as the least of the students) and realised what he’d been through.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Guest Post: “Influences & Inspirations” by Robert Bailey

Robert Bailey is the author of THE PROFESSOR, a legal thriller to be published by Exhibit A Books late January 2014.

BaileyR-TheProfessor-2014I was born from a family of storytellers and teachers. My mother taught English and reading, and my grandmother, a math teacher, was never without a book to read. My father, though a builder by trade, can still hold a room captive with his stories and jokes, and, as a little boy, I was always on the edge of my chair when he would rasp on about Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and the legends that played football for the Crimson Tide.

As far as writers, John Steinbeck was a major early influence. As a kid, I loved his shorter novels, The Red Pony and The Pearl. As a high school sophomore, we studied The Grapes of Wrath, and Tom Joad remains one of my favorite characters in all of literature. As a southerner and an Alabamian that grew up to be a lawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird holds a special place. I think every lawyer wants to grow up to be Atticus Finch, and the story just had everything. It was thrilling, historical, funny and tragic. Just a remarkable achievement.

Monday, January 06, 2014

“Shovel Ready” by Adam Sternbergh (Headline)

SternberghA-ShovelReadyThe start to an interesting new dystopian series…

“I don’t want to know your reasons. I don’t care. Think of me as a bullet. Just point.”

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, before New York became a burnt-out shell. Now the wealthy spend their days tapped into virtual reality; the rest have to fend for themselves in the streets. Now there’s nothing but garbage.

So he became a hit man. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box-cutter.

When he’s hired to kill the daughter of a high-profile evangelist, Spademan’s life is upended. He will have to navigate two worlds – both the slick fantasy and the wasteland reality – to finish the job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

In the final few months of 2013, there was quite a bit of buzz around the genre sites related to this book. It has received a slew of great blurbs from respected and excellent authors. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I dove into it when I received an ARC (quite a while ago, so I’ve been sitting on this review for some time). I enjoyed the novel, and Sternbergh offers up a rather convincing dystopian future, but one that at the same time felt slightly half-baked. The author has written a tightly-plotted novel that is certainly immediate and gripping. It left me wanting more, but not always in a good way.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Holiday Book Acquisitions… (Non-ARCs, Mostly eBooks)

In a rather unusual move, I’ve been buying rather a lot more books than I normally do. Partly, this is because Amazon (UK) has been having some pretty amazing Daily Deals. There have been great selections from a variety of authors on or near 99p, which I thought too good to pass up. Now, whether or not I’ll have enough time to read them all in a timely manner is, of course, the always-present question when it comes to my insatiable acquiring of reading material. [An insatiability that has been somewhat tempered, of late, but that is a topic for a later post, as it will have an impact on the blog going forward. That and a number of other things.] So, just to flag some interesting books that I think are worth everyone’s attention, here is what I’ve acquired over the Christmas and New Year period…