Wednesday, November 30, 2011



Howard Andrew Jones has served as managing editor of the highly respected Black Gate fantasy magazine since 2004. In January, his first full-length novel, The Desert of Souls, was released to much acclaim. I decided to ask him some questions, and he was kind enough to respond with his thoughts on writing, fantasy, and more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New 52 Catch-Up: Superman (DC Comics)


Writer: George Perez | Artist: Jesus Merino

I wanted to try out another Superman-title, to see if it stacked up to any of the other New 52 titles that I’ve enjoyed so much, and how it compared to the Grant Morrison-penned Action Comics (which had a wobbly start, got better, but I’m left still not quite hooked). Superman was a good title, too, and with only a couple of wobbles, and I think shows a lot of promise.

Monday, November 28, 2011

“The Red Duke” by CL Werner (Black Library)

Werner-TheRedDukeA resurrected vampire seeks revenge against enemies long-since dead

Once a valorous and honourable knight of the realm, the Red Duke was betrayed and struck down in battle but rose again before death could truly claim him. As a bloodthirsty vampire lord he undertook a long campaign of butchery and terror before being defeated once more, and entombed for all time so that he could never again menace the Old World. But centuries later the witch Jacquetta resurrects this ancient evil, and the Red Duke stalks the night again – a new reign of terror plagues the lands of Bretonnia!

CL Werner is Black Library’s best horror writer. He has a gift for writing the macabre that is near peerless, and in The Red Duke, he offers us a dark tale of revenge, obsession, madness and blood. This is sure to please lovers of Warhammer fiction as well as dark, horror-infused fantasy.

Cyber (Shadow) Monday Giveaway: CONTROL POINT by Myke Cole

A super-special giveaway from the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas season

So, it’s that time of year again: people are finally get over their tryptophan poisoning, and are getting ready for celebrating the giving of presents. (That doesn’t sound quite right, but it’ll do for now…)

In honour of this festive time, and thanks to a snafu at the Penguin post department, I present Civilian-Reader’s Cyber Shadow Monday giveaway: TWO advance reader copies of Myke Cole’s new guns-‘n’-sorcery novel, Control Point.


Want to know more? Keep reading…

Sunday, November 27, 2011

December’s Top Picks

For some reason, I can’t come up with many novels coming out in December that I’m especially excited about. Or, apparently, actually aware of… So, in the month of Christmas I’ll take the opportunity to get caught up on some novels I’ve got stored up on my Kindle (Kevin Hearne, NK Jemisin, Chris Wooding, Richard Morgan, Howard Jones – to name but a handful), and also get ahead on some reviews for January and February.

There are, however, still three December novels that I’m excited about reading:


I had also anticipated James Rollins’s The Devil Colony, as it is published in the UK in December, but I’ve already managed to read and review it, thanks to the July US publication.

Here are the details for the three novels I’ve yet to read and review:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Post: “Influences & Inspirations” by Anthony Hays

Anthony Hays Glastonbury Abbey

In the latest in our continuing series of guest posts on Influences & Inspirations, Anthony Hays tells us a little bit about what influenced his decision to write a series based on Arthur. The first novel, The Killing Way, is out now through Corvus.

Comics Round Up (Nov.23)


Another good week for DC’s New 52, plus Diablo, and Wolverine kicks some ass…

The final week of the third month of New 52 releases. For the most part, they’ve all been pretty good or even great. They do all have a ‘middle’ feel about them, though this can be expected as we start getting into the wider plots and larger stories. This week’s titles are on the darker side of the DCU, which as long-time readers will know is where most of my favourite titles come from: All-Star Western, I Vampire and Justice League Dark; but we also have Batman: The Dark Knight (which is pretty, uh, dark as well) and also Aquaman.

As well as the New 52s, I’ve also picked up the first issue of a five-month run of Diablo, a title based on the computer game franchise and world of the same name (yet more media to get my anticipation for the game ratcheted up even further); and the second issue of Marvel’s Wolverine & The X-Men. There’s a pause in New 52 releases next week, so I’ll have to come up with another comic-related review – a catch-up on some heretofore unread titles in the reboot, most likely (I already have a few on my desk, waiting to be read and reviewed).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Comics Round Up (Nov.16)


A Batman-themed DC New 52 review round-up

Here we have my slightly delayed reviews for last week’s New 52 titles (I was away, and didn’t take the comics with me). This week, the titles are all Batman-related: Batman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Nightwing and Red Hood & The Outlaws.

[Reviews of the first and second issues here and here, and Catwoman here.]

There was also the latest issue of Justice League, but as I’ll be reading all three issues at the same time, I’m saving it for a separate post (which will also include a review of all three Superman issues – the latest of which came out November 23rd – and also Swamp Thing and Teen Titans).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interview & Giveaway: Michael Dempsey


Night Shade Books have been publishing a slew of talented new authors this year, and it’s been great to discover ever-more novelists to follow: NSB’s authors often operate in the more esoteric reaches of the SF/F genre, and they have brought the reading public many great and original voices. Michael Dempsey, the author of Necropolis, is one of these newcomers, and given the intriguing plot of his novel (resurrected dead getting younger), I thought it would be a great time to ask him a few questions about his work, writing, and more.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Capsule Review: “Ghost Story” by Jim Butcher (Orbit)

Butcher-GhostStoryReviewed by Emma Newrick

Harry Dresden finds himself in his most difficult situation yet, near-helpless to protect those he loves

The previous novel in Butcher’s cult Urban Fantasy series, Changes, saw Harry finally land himself in a situation that taxed even his well-practised ability to outwit, escape or incinerate the ever-growing forces of darkness that beset Chicago’s only wizard PI. Fans were left with a cliffhanger ending that suggested Butcher could be drawing the series to a rather final conclusion.

A turning point in the series, Ghost Story will please fans of the Dresden Files, who have come to love the characters and especially Harry, who is forced into self-reflection.

[BE WARNED: Major Spoilers for the previous book follow immediately after the break!]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Post: “What is Brave New World?” by Matt Forbeck

MattForbeckThis week, I bring you a guest article by Matt Forbeck.

Matt is the author of countless games and many novels and stories. His Magic: The Gathering comic launches from IDW in December, and his 16th novel, Carpathia [a CR Most Anticipated of 2012], hits stores in March. He also has a mad plan called 12 for ’12, in which he plans to write a dozen novels in 2012. His first Kickstarter drive for his Brave New World Roleplaying Game novels hit its first funding level, so he starts writing the first book in January.

So, without further ado, What is Brave New World…?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

US vs. UK Covers

Comparing Covers from across the Pond

Early next year, M.L.N Hanover’s Urban Fantasy series, The Black Sun’s Daughter gets a UK release & new artwork through Orbit Books. “M.L.N Hanover” is one of Dan Abraham’s nom de plumes (alongside James S.A. Corey and his own name, of course). The series will be released over the course of four months, as has become customary for Orbit, and should provide fans of both Abraham and Urban Fantasy with an exciting new series and heroine to follow.

Here’s the UK artwork:


Hm. Very bright and eye-catching colours, which I’m not sure match the Urban Fantasy aesthetic, to be honest. I admit, I haven’t read the novels (I do have book one already, though, from the US), but this puts me in mind of Charlie’s Angels – the woman on the front is reminiscent of Minka Kelly, as well as Rachel Weisz and Nina Dobrev, all at the same time! Is it me, or is there a bit of CSI: Miami about the covers, too? Does Jayné pause dramatically to take off her sunglasses, I wonder…?

For this one, I think it has got to be advantage USA, where the series has an altogether more atmospheric style:


I particularly like the smoky-textures to the artwork (in the first one especially), and the third cover just looks bad-ass. There’s some now-cliche UF tramp-stampage, but I don’t see why that wouldn’t have worked in the UK (see Patricia Briggs’s new covers).

What do you think?

Here’s the synopsis for the first novel, Unclean Spirits:

Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn’t quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it’s all hers — and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.

Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric’s heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means — magical or mundane — so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.

Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions — Aubrey, Eric’s devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities — Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she’ll have to learn the new rules fast — or break them completely….

New 52 Catch-Up: “Batman & Robin”, “Batgirl” & “Batwing”

Three more of DC’s new Batman-related reboots


These three titles I decided to check out very much on a whim. I’d read the synopsis for Batman & Robin, and thought it sounded pretty interesting – Batman’s concern for this incarnation of Robin (his son) could bring a new and interesting aspect to the dynamic and his own actions that we don’t see in the other Batman titles. Batgirl… well, I knew nothing about the character, but the author of the series has a superb reputation (deserved, as it turns out), and someone at Forbidden Planet said it was a fun title. So onto the pile it went. Batwing was simply the last of the Batman-related New 52 titles that I hadn’t picked up (bar one – see the end of this post), so being the OCD fellow that I am, I decided to try that out as well. Thankfully, I felt that all three of these titles have something to offer, so they will possibly make frequent appearances on this site.


Wow (Black Library Artwork)


Black Library has recently unveiled a number of great pieces of artwork up on their blog, but there were three in particular that I thought were especially stunning, so had to share them here. They are all for novels I am really eager to read, too, so I know I’ll get at least one more opportunity to share them in the future. [Click on the images below to enbiggen.]

Unfortunately, I don’t have proper synopses to offer alongside the artwork, but I’m sure they’ll appear relatively soon up on Black Library’s website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Interview with GAV THORPE


“Deliverance Lost” – by Neil Roberts

Gav Thorpe is one of those authors I’ve been aware of for longer than I originally realised – I even read his first published short story (see below). He worked on White Dwarf magazine when I used to read it, and I’m very familiar with his work for Black Library. He’s had a pretty busy couple of years of late – with fiction releases through Black Library and Angry Robot – so I thought it would be a good time to get in touch and ask him a few questions about his writing, upcoming projects, and more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

“Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest (Tor)

Priest-BoneshakerIntroducing the Clockwork Century

At the start of the Civil War, a Russian mining company commissions a great machine to pave the way from Seattle to Alaska and speed up the gold rush that is beating a path to the frozen north. Inventor Leviticus Blue creates the machine, but on its first test run it malfunctions, decimating Seattle’s banking district and uncovering a vein of Blight Gas that turns everyone who breathes it into the living dead.

Sixteen years later Briar, Blue’s widow, lives in the poor neighbourhood outside the wall that’s been built around the uninhabitable city. Life is tough with a ruined reputation, but she and her teenage son Ezekiel are surviving until Zeke impetuously decides that he must reclaim his father s name from the clutches of history.

Boneshaker is a novel I had been dancing around for quite some time. I’d heard and read plenty of praise aimed at the novel – not to mention seen the glowing blurbs from Scott Westerfeld, Warren Ellis, and Mike Mignola printed on the cover. While in Los Angeles, I read the first handful of chapters when in a bookstore’s cafe. What I read intrigued me, so I bought a copy of the book. My thoughts are mixed, which makes it a tough review to write. The novel has obvious strengths, but it also has some weaknesses.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Week’s Comics Round-Up (Nov.9th)

The latest DC New 52 & Marvel releases


This is a great week for the DC New 52 comics. Four of my favourite series enter their third issues: Demon Knights, Grifter, Resurrection Man and Suicide Squad. The latter, if you read my previous round-up of these series, was actually on probation after a bit of a weird second issue, while the other three were very eagerly awaited. Another series I decided to catch up on was Deathstroke, which I didn’t pick up last month because… well, I’m not entirely sure why, now.

(An aside: Considering how much I’ve been enjoying an ever-growing number of these titles, it’s becoming difficult to say which are actually my ‘favourites’, as often issues wax and wane depending on their overall story’s progression…).


Finally, as promised in last week’s round-up, I tracked down the two new X-Men titles: Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & The X-Men, which each track a different half of the now-split X-Men team. I also got hold of the Regenesis one-shot, which is meant to fill in the gaps for newcomers to the series and events therein.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Quick Chat with JOSH FIALKOV

When I was in Los Angeles, I attended a signing at Meltdown. One of the authors signing at the event was Josh Fialkov, the author of the DC New 52 title I, Vampire. A dark, atmospheric and brutal take on vampires in the DC universe, this series hooked me from the very beginning. So, I looked up Fialkov’s other work (Last of the Greats and Echoes), and decided I wanted to find out a little bit more. Luckily, he had some time to answer my questions, so without further ado…

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

“Theft of Swords” by Michael J. Sullivan (Orbit)



The first Riyria Revelations Omnibus, collecting The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha


Royce Melborn is a superb thief, his partner, Hadrian Blackwater is a skilled mercenary. Together they make a profitable living as agents-for-hire to wealthy nobles until someone sets them up to take the blame for the murder of the king.

Captured and sentenced to death the two are saved by an unlikely woman with a simple demand that will change the lives of the thieves, the course of a kingdom, and the foundation of an empire.

Theft of Swords is the first of three omnibus editions of Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations. After considerable indie success, Orbit books bought the rights to give the series the full big-publisher treatment. I’d heard of the Riyria Revelations before, as they kept appearing in my Amazon recommendations. I bought the first book for my Kindle, but promptly forgot about it, much to my shame. Now that I’ve read this first pair of novels, I can tell you that Sullivan has a new fan for life.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Bumper Comics Round-Up (DC Comics/Dark Horse)


In this instalment of comic reviews, I catch up on some series that I’ve not been following on a month-to-month basis, as well as a new issue in a series I thought had come to a complete close years ago. All of the titles are new to me, except for one – Star Wars: Crimson Empire III (I read the first two series, what feels like a very long time ago). The three DC New 52 titles I decided to finally try out are Aquaman, Justice League Dark, and Batman: Detective Comics (the first two were just spur-of-the-moment reads, while the first issue of the last has been frustratingly difficult to get hold of).


Saturday, November 05, 2011

It’s not just Big Book Fantasy…

… that suffers epic waits between volumes.

I came across this snippet in the latest issue of TIME magazine, and it made me chuckle enough that I thought I’d share it here (and on my other book blog). So, if you thought George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan were taking their time, take a gander:


“A Game of Thrones” #1 & 2 (Dynamite)


The comic adaptation of the fantasy classic

Novel by: George R.R. Martin | Adapted by: Dan Abraham | Artist: Tommy Patterson

The premiere issue introduces readers to George’s world, adapting the prologue and first three chapters of the novel, and bringing onto the graphic stage such iconic characters as Eddard and Catelyn Stark, Jon Snow, young Bran Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen.

In the second volume of A Game of Thrones, the irresistible plot thickens and the spellbinding magic of a master storyteller deepens.
For Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, a new role now beckons: Hand of the King – a position of power second only to his majesty himself. But is a life at court, in luxurious King’s Landing, any life for a hardened man of action like Stark? Is the king’s invitation an honor he can refuse – or a mandate he cannot ignore, when faced with shocking revelations of treachery on high?

Martin’s fantasy classic adapted for the comic medium by Dan Abraham, one of my favourite authors? Yeah, there was no way I was going to pass this one up. Despite still never having read the novel (but seeing and loving the HBO series), I thought these two issues were really well put together, and offered more for readers still not sure about diving into the novels.

Friday, November 04, 2011

An Interview with BRIAN RUCKLEY


The Edinburgh Dead is a superb modern horror novel, set in Edinburgh in the early 19th Century. Mixing suspense and the supernatural brilliantly, I thought it was reminiscent of Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde in flavour and atmosphere. I highly recommend it to all fans of horror, fantasy, macabre and also thriller fiction.

While reading the novel, I contacted Brian to see if he might be interested in an interview.  Luckily, Brian had some free time, and was kind enough to answer my questions about writing and his novels. Read on to find out more, and discover two of the author’s hidden talents…

“The Emperor’s Knife” by Mazarkis Williams (Jo Fletcher Books/Night Shade Books)


A debut with great potential

There is a cancer at the heart of the Cerani Empire.

A plague is attacking young and old, rich and poor, marking each victim with a fragment of a greater pattern. Anyone showing the marks is put to death.

As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence and rebellion, the pattern is closing in on the palace.

Only three people stand in its way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer and a young girl from the steppes – a girl who once saw a path through a pattern, among the waving grasses.

The Emperor’s Knife is a debut fantasy with both an original and classic feel. It draws on some classic fantasy elements, but puts a new spin on them, making this a refreshingly original politics-infused novel. While not a page-turning action adventure, the novel has a strong grasp on political intrigue and a slow-boiling plot that will draw the reader in and work its way under your skin.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

“The Mice Templar” Vol.2 #0 (Image)

MiceTemplar-Vol2-0A weird-yet-awesome premise

Story & Writer: Michael Avon Oeming & Brian J.L. Glass | Artist: Victor Santos

The Templar have fallen… Long ago, the warrior brotherhood destroyed itself from within through a vicious and bloody civil war. With the collapse of the once noble Order, all night-dwelling creatures of the Shadow Time now live in fear under a brutal rat regime who support the corrupt mouse king Icarus, determined that the valiant Templar of legend will never rise again…

This isn’t really a review, more a spotlight on this title. I just discovered it today, as there is a three-day half-price sale on Mice Templar issues at Comixology. This prequel is free to read online, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.