Monday, July 28, 2014

Excerpt: OUR LADY OF THE STREETS by Tom Pollock (Jo Fletcher Books)

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I. THE FEVER STREETS

Chapter One

A girl hurried barefoot through the streets of what had once been East London.

She stumbled, clumsy in her haste, and caught herself with the iron railing she carried in her right hand. Her skin was covered in scales of tiny terracotta rooftops. A fringe of rubberised cable fell across her forehead from under the hood of her sweatshirt. The hair-fi ne streets that crisscrossed her back were flooded with oily sweat. As she ran, her shadow loomed and shambled in front of her, stretched by the dawn.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Upcoming: GLEAM by Tom Fletcher (Jo Fletcher Books)

FletcherT-G1-GleamUKNow this sounds pretty interesting. Don’t know much about the novel or the author, but it caught my eye earlier today (when I received a press release about it…). I do know it’s the first in a new trilogy. Here’s the synopsis:

The gargantuan Factory of Gleam is an ancient, hulking edifice of stone, metal and glass ruled over by chaste alchemists and astronomer priests.

As millennia have passed, the population has decreased, and now only the central district is fully inhabited and operational; the outskirts have been left for the wilderness to reclaim. This decaying, lawless zone is the Discard; the home of Wild Alan.

Clever, arrogant, and perpetually angry, Wild Alan is both loved and loathed by the Discard’s misfits. He’s convinced that the Gleam authorities were behind the disaster that killed his parents and his ambition is to prove it. But he’s about to uncover more than he bargained for.

Tom Fletcher’s Gleam is due to be published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK, on September 4th, 2014. Fletcher is also the author of The Thing on the Shore, The Leaping, and The Ravenglass Eye. The author is also on Twitter.

Poster Unveiled for THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

I was rather unimpressed by the first two movies in this trilogy (which should never have been a trilogy to begin with). Nevertheless, one thing they are is visually stunning. Peter Jackson sure knows how to shoot beautiful movies. The poster for the third and final instalment does not disappoint. Check it out:

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Smaug does not look like a happy bunny… (Found via IGN.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Interview with EDWARD COX

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Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Edward Cox?

EdwardCox-AuthorPicI am a woefully undereducated village idiot, with gladness for blood and nothing but sunshine in my head. Every day I try – really hard – to be a cool and moody writer, but every day I fail. I have eternal faith in the human race, which some might say comes from naivety, but I do not care; I refuse to give up on us. Outside of my obsession for writing, I simply don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m always the last to understand what’s going on. I am also a husband and a father to two ladies who I love beyond measure.

However… If I ever do discover the secret to cool and moody, I will change my name to Thundermaster Volcanofists, and all shall fear me. 

I thought we’d start with your fiction: Your debut novel, The Relic Guild, will be published by Gollancz in September 2014. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader?

A balls out fantasy adventure! Or, to be more professional, I like to think of The Relic Guild as a story about people doing the right thing even when they’ve been given every reason not to. Also, I’ve been trying to refine a pitch for the book, and this is what I’m currently down to:

At the centre of a gigantic labyrinth, in a sprawling city trapped behind walls one hundred feet high, young Clara is about to become the unwitting participant in the machinations of higher magic. It falls to her to reunite the last of a secret band of magickers called the Relic Guild. Together they must find a way to save one million humans from an age old menace that is about to return.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Upcoming Re-Issues: KATHY MALLORY Series by Carol O’Connell (Headline)

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I received a press release this morning that really piqued my interest. Over the course of this year (and maybe some of early 2015), Headline will be re-jacketing and re-issuing Carol O’Connell’s Kathy Mallory crime series. I have never read any of the series, I’m sad to say. However, one of the things I love is finding established series on which to binge. I’ve found two ‘new’ series that I was going to start working my way through (Matthew Dunn’s Spycatcher and Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series), but this one has to be added to the list, too. And may even be the first I try. I’m really looking forward to these re-issues.

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Here’s the release scheduled:

Mallory’s Oracle – 14th August 2014

The Man Who Lied to Women – 14th August 2014

Killing Critics – 11th September 2014

Flight of the Stone Angel – 11th September 2014

Shell Game – 9th October 2014

Crime School – 9th October 2014

Dead Famous – 6th November 2014

Winter House – 6th November 2014

Shark Music – 4th December 2014

The Chalk Girl – Pub. Date TBC

It Happens in the Dark – Pub. Date TBC

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Here’s the synopsis for the first novel, Mallory’s Oracle:

Mallory Book 1: the first NYPD detective Kathy Mallory novel from New York Times bestseller Carol O’Connell, master of knife-edge suspense and intricate plotting.

Detective Kathy Mallory. New York’s darkest. You only underestimate her once.

When NYPD Sergeant Kathy Mallory was an eleven-year-old street kid, she got caught stealing. The detective who found her was Louis Markowitz. He should have arrested her. Instead he adopted her, and raised her as his own, in the best tradition of New York’s finest.

Now Markowitz is dead, and Mallory the first officer on the scene. She knows any criminal who could outsmart her father is no ordinary human. This is a ruthless serial killer, a freak from the night-side of the mind.

And one question troubles her more than any other: why did he go in there alone?

Guest Post: “Writing Dystopians – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” by Melissa Davenport

MelissaDelport-AuthorPicIn recent years, dystopian fiction has taken the world by storm. Series such as The Hunger Games, Divergent and Delirium have exploded onto the book market and paved the way for this speculative genre, which explores social and political structures and is set in a societal structure that is headed for an irreversible oblivion, where justice, freedom and happiness are suppressed.

A speculative genre is commonly found in science-fiction, and the underlying concept is often an analogy for real-world issues. Some people even read these books as a political warning of things to come, should humanity make the wrong choices.

Today’s society is exposed to a particularly violent culture through television, gaming and rising crime. Dystopia’s are characterised by a “high stakes” scenario, with plenty of action and adventure, but they typically have a “hopeful” ending – and above all, people crave the presence of hope in a world where there is little to be had.

Upcoming: ONE NIGHT IN SIXES by Arianne “Tex” Thompson (Solaris)

ThompsonA-OneNightInSixesI’ve seen mentions of this novel on a number of blogs and online venues for what feels like ages. I’m intrigued to read it. It seems to be in the SFF Western sub-genre – one that I’m rather fond of, but also one in which I am woefully under-read. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my attention wasn’t first drawn by that cover, which I think is really cool.

One Night in Sixes is the first novel in Arianne “Tex” Thompson’s Children of the Drought series, and is published this month by Solaris Books. Here’s the synopsis…

The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day. Still, Appaloosa Elim has heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight.

And the daylight is running out. Elim’s so-called “partner” – that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick – has disappeared inside the old adobe walls, hell-bent on making a name for himself among Sixes’ notorious black-market traders. Elim, whose worldly station is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn't dare show up home without him.

If he ever wants to go home again, he’d better find his missing partner fast. But if he’s caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth in his own flesh – and discovering just how far he’ll go to survive the night.

Upcoming: WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE by Jeff Somers (Gallery)

SomersJ-WeAreNotGoodPeopleUSThis seems to be a re-issue of the author’s previous urban fantasy, Trickster.

According to the publisher’s page, this is “Book One in the Ustari Cycle, the first portion of We Are Not Good People was originally published in an altered form as Trickster (Pocket Books)”. Not sure what this means for people (like me) who bought Trickster, or how “altered” this version will be, but here’s the synopsis for this version:

The ethics in a world of blood are gray – and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people.

Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work.

When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her—and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.

We Are Not Good People is due to be published by Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) in October 2014. One thing that’s clear to me is that the publisher is aiming for a new – or at least broader – audience: this cover is less “urban fantasy” and a bit more thriller. I’d love to know what, if any, difference this makes to its sales figures.

Upcoming: AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden (Touchstone)

ElwesC-AsYouWishInconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride

Based on the book by Goldman, the movie-adaptation of The Princess Bride is possibly one of the most beloved movies of the past few decades. Certainly, it has been a favourite of almost everyone I know. Later this year, Touchstone (Simon & Schuster) will publish Cary Elwes’s memoir of the making of the movie. Elwes played Westley in the movie (that dashing fellow on the cover, there).

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Here’s the movie’s trailer (1987):

Elwes was also superb in Robin Hood Men in Tights, as the only Robin Hood with a genuine British accent…

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Short Story Reviews: David Annandale, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, and John French (Black Library)

Three good, recent short stories from BL’s Warhammer 40,000 range

Annandale-Yarrick4-TheGallowsSaintDavid Annandale, Yarrick: The Gallows Saint

Fresh from his victory against traitors on Mistral, Commissar Yarrick deploys to Abydos to watch a great triumph in honour of the forces who liberated the world from the grip of the alien tau. But when the planet’s governor is assassinated, Yarrick is drawn into a political game with deadly consequences for himself, his Steel Legion troops and Abydos itself. Can he unravel the mystery and reveal the true traitors on the world before it is too late?

Continuing his series detailing the career of Commissar Yarrick, Annandale here offers a short tale set after the conclusion of a conflict. On a world recently ‘saved’ from the influence of the Tau, Yarrick stumbles across a mundane, rather parochial conspiracy. The story moves very fast. This was not necessarily a bad thing, but I think it certainly would have benefited from expansion – as it stands, the story is a bit of a whirlwind, and Yarrick’s investigation is executed pretty much by luck and accident. True, there’s no reason to believe such a case could never happen. I think I was just greedy for a longer, more in-depth tale. Luckily, I have the first full-length Yarrick novel (Imperial Creed) to read, which I will be reading ASAP. (I know, I say that a lot.)

Despite this minor complaint, this is a very good story – Annandale continues to improve as a writer, and writes great stories. Let’s hope there are many more from him.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Carrion Anthem, Eclipse of Hope, Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha, The Dark Hollows of Memory, Stormseer; Interview with David Annandale; Guest Post

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DembskiBowden-Abaddon-ChosenOfChaosAaron Dembski-Bowden, Abaddon: Chosen of Chaos

In the aftermath of battle, a group of Black Legion warlords – traitors to mankind, drawn from across the Legions of Chaos and sworn to the Warmaster – torture a prisoner, a captain of the Space Marines. Defiant to the last, the son of the Emperor is prepared to die, his duty fulfilled. But Abaddon, the Chosen of Chaos, has other plans for this brave warrior…

A very short story, introducing the post-Horus Heresy Abaddon: master of the Black Legion, and Warmaster of the Traitor Astartes, he has taken over from the slain Horus to wage his eternal war on the forces of the Imperium. This story, while very good, doesn’t really do anything, which was slightly frustrating. As an amuse bouche for Abaddon: Talon of Horus, however, it works very well indeed. As long-time readers of the blog will know, I’m a huge fan of Dembski-Bowden’s novels and writing, and Chosen of Chaos shows everything I’ve come to love about the way he writes. Only… not enough of it to be satisfying. I would, therefore, recommend you read this only when you don’t have a long wait until Talon of Horus.

Also on CR: Reviews of Cadian Blood, Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, Void Stalker, Armageddon, The First Heretic, Betrayer, The Emperor’s Gift

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FrenchJ-Ahriman-TheDeadOracleJohn French, Ahriman: The Dead Oracle

Ctesias, an ancient Space Marine and former prisoner of Amon of the Thousand Sons, tells the tale of one of the events that led him to his destiny. After Amon’s demise, Ctesias comes into the service of Ahriman, the exiled First Captain of the broken Legion, and is given power undreamed of – and drawn into a plot involving the otherworldly daemons of the warp, the machinations of Ahriman and the mysterious dead oracle.

This is set after the events of Ahriman: Exile, the first novel in French’s series focusing on the Thousand Sons’ greatest sorcerer. It is not, however, essential to have read Exile in order to follow or enjoy The Dead Oracle – I have yet to read the novel, but I really enjoyed this story. In fact, of these three stories reviewed here, this is by far my favourite. I think French has done a great job with Ahriman, painting him as a rather withdrawn, highly-focused and competent sorcerer, attempting to atone for and remedy what he has wrought on his Legion. The story isn’t from Ahriman’s perspective, however – rather, it is from Ctesias’s P.O.V. Through his eyes, we see how far Ahriman is prepared to go on his path to redemption. We also see just how powerful and learned he is about the way of Chaos. Not to mention how tricksy he can be, fooling even greater daemons of the Warp.

After finishing The Dead Oracle, my interest in reading Exile only grew. It has been moved up my TBR pile.

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