Thursday, February 27, 2014

“Brotherhood of the Storm” by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

Wraight-HH-BrotherhoodOfTheStormA White Scars Horus Heresy Novella

As word of Horus’s treachery spreads to fully half of the Legiones Astartes, Terra looks to the remaining loyalist Space Marines to defend the Imperium. One group, however, remains curiously silent in spite of apparent efforts from both sides to contact them – the noble Vth Legion, Jaghatai Khan’s fearsome White Scars. In the ork-held territory of Chondax, a bitter war has been raging since the Triumph at Ullanor, and only now do the sons of Chogoris return their gaze to the heavens...

Originally published as a limited edition, Black Library has finally released Brotherhood of the Storm for a wider audience, in both hardcover and eBook. It’s well timed, as the characters within feature prominently in the latest full-length Horus Heresy novel, Scars. And, happily, this does not disappoint – Wraight has really upped his game with his Heresy fiction. While this novella was not quite as good as Scars, it was still a cracking story, filled with a good balance of furious action and away-from-the-battlefront context and character development.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ORIGINAL SIN, and the Winter Soldier is Crazy… (Marvel)


Ok, so Marvel are doing yet another mini-cross-over-event-thing (it’s due). As usual, they have released some teaser images to whet Marvel maniacs’ appetites for what is to come. Here they are…


Now, that’s only seven. And why did I pick out the Winter Soldier? Well, check out his variant cover… Look at that manic grin/grimace! This is really the only reason I’m posting this article:


This May, Marvel kicks off the eight-part ORIGINAL SIN, which will be helmed by critically acclaimed creative team of Jason Aaron (words/story) and Mike Deodato (art).

“Libriomancer” by Jim C. Hines (Del Rey UK/DAW Books)

Hines-LibriomancerUKAn action-packed, bibliocentric adventure

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of a secret society founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. As such, he is gifted with the magical ability to reach into books and draw forth objects.

But when Gutenberg vanishes without a trace, Isaac finds himself pitted against everything from vampires to a sinister, nameless foe who is bent on revealing magic to the world at large… and at any cost.

This novel is an urban fantasy with a difference, and one that should really appeal to a broad swathe of SFF bibliophiles. Indeed, it has a little something for everyone. It’s fast-paced, amusing, cleverly devised, and above all enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: Tanya Huff’s “Confederation” #1-3 (Titan Books)

Reviewed by H.


A cracking first three novels in Huff’s military science-fiction series

In the distant future, humans and several alien races have been granted membership in the Confederation — at a price. They must serve and protect the far more civilized species who have long since turned away from war. When her transport ship is shot down, a routine diplomatic mission across the galaxy becomes anything but, and Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr must fight to keep her platoon alive.

These three novels – Valour’s Choice, The Better Part of Valour, and The Heart of Valourare the first in Huff’s Confederation series, which have finally made their way to UK shores thanks to an extensive new deal with Titan Books (who are also publishing Huff’s Enchantment Emporium novels, The Silvered, and, perhaps, more in the future?). The series is already at five books in the US (published by DAW), with a sixth, Peacemaker (TBC) in the works. These novels are a lot of fun.

An Interview with ANNA KASHINA

AnnaKashina-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Anna Kashina?

I am a biomedical scientist and a writer, not necessarily in that order. My day job is being a professor at a major US university. Writing is reserved for the rest of my time. More recently, I am also a mother of two, which taps seriously into all the other occupations.

Your novel, Blades of the Old Empire, is due to be published in February by Angry Robot Books. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader? Is it part of a series?

I hope readers would see it as an adventure fantasy in the best traditions of the genre, which also includes some elements of romance. It does not push the boundaries or create new concepts, it is intended as a fun, fast-paced read. It is book one of the Majat Code series, with book two, Guild of Assassins, coming out this August. I do have plans for other books in the series and hope to see them forthcoming later on.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guest Post: “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Tell Story” by Jonathan Wood

JonathanWood2When videogames first appeared, they really were games. There were victory conditions to meet, puzzles to solve, opponents to outwit. You could win. But then somewhere along the way, story snuck in, and videogames changed. You were no longer simply trying to win, instead you were struggling to get to the end, to complete the narrative.

Back when I was in college, I watched my friend play Final Fantasy VII. There was a group of us. We’d make an evening of it, gather round as my friend loaded the disc, pour some drinks, and watch what happened next to Cloud, Yuna, Barrett, and the rest of the gang.

Final Fantasy was the first videogame story that really grabbed me. It was epic, operatic, sprawling through twists and turns, through a mythology that was utterly alien to me. The next two games in the franchise were stutter steps for me, but Final Fantasy X held me in its grip once more, as I hastily fumbled through sections of gameplay to get to the next installment of the story.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Importance of a Super-Hero Diaspora…

That’s a rather grand title. Rather than some deep analysis of why super-heroes should be based and from all over the world, this was just inspired by the fact that a). three super-heroes (at least) have re-located, and b). New York and Gotham have become ridiculously over-populated by super-heroes in Marvel’s and DC’s lines.


Animated Cover for Stephen King’s MR. MERCEDES (Hodder)

I know it hasn’t been very long since I shared the news that Hodder would be publishing two books by Stephen King this year. But, today they unveiled the UK cover for one of the novels – Mr. Mercedes – and to top it off, there is an (slightly) animated version! Which I thought was rather cool. So here it is, in all it’s moody glory…


Mr. Mercedes is due to be published by Hodder on June 3rd 2014 in Hardcover and eBook. Here’s the synopsis:

It is a riveting cat-and-mouse suspense thriller about a retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies who race against time to stop a lone killer intent on blowing up thousands.

Retired homicide detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular: in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of desperate unemployed people were lined up for a spot at a job fair in a distressed Midwestern city. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. Eight people were killed, fifteen wounded. The killer escaped.

Months later, on the other side of the city, Bill Hodges gets a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening. Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he is indeed preparing to kill again.

Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, must apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands. Mr Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Princeless Vol.1 – “Save Yourself” (Action Lab)

Princeless-Vol.1Writer: Jeremy Whitley | Art: M. Goodwin

Princeless is the story of Princess Adrienne, one princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued. Join Adrienne, her guardian dragon, Sparky, and their plucky friend Bedelia as they begin their own quest in this one of a kind, action packed, all-ages adventure!

Collects: Princeless Vol.1 #1-4

This was a very pleasant surprise. It’s a progressive, all-ages comic book that should have massive appeal across age groups. The story is witty, well-written, and the artwork is filled with amusing and eye-catching details. I really enjoyed this, and think a lot of others will, too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Short Story Reviews: “Forsworn” and “The Face in the Window” by Brian McClellan

A pair of short stories set in the world of McClellan’s Powder Mage fantasy series. McClellan continues to impress and these two stories (which follow previous short stories The Girl of Hrusch Avenue and Hope’s End) do a wonderful job of adding more to the world he’s creating. And heightening my anticipation for The Crimson Campaign


Erika ja Leora is a powder mage in northern Kez, a place where that particular sorcery is punishable by death. She is only protected by her family name and her position as heir to a duchy.

When she decides to help a young commoner — a powder mage marked for death, fugitive from the law — she puts her life and family reputation at risk and sets off to deliver her new ward to the safety of Adro while playing cat and mouse with the king’s own mage hunters and their captain, Duke Nikslaus.

Occurs 35 years before the events in Promise of Blood.

This is a great novella. This time, we’re in Kez, and we learn about their strict censure of powder mages – lowborn mages are executed, but highborn mages can forswear their gifts and live (branded). It is set a long while before the novel, as is mentioned above, and it’s only at the end that McClellan connects it with Tamas and his revolution. I really liked the way he wrote all of the characters. The story is very well-paced, and the fight scenes are expertly done. The author continues to impress, the more of his work I read.

Very highly recommended.



Taking place two years before the events in Promise of Blood, “The Face in the Window” relates the story of Taniel’s trip to Fatrasta and his first meeting with a mysterious girl named Ka-poel.

Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue #140.

The author announced this rather suddenly on his website and via Twitter, just as I was finishing Forsworn. Naturally, I went straight to Amazon and bought it… It’s a great story, too, one that has a slow build to a sudden, appropriate ending. It was great to read of Taniel’s first meeting with Ka-poel (my favourite character from Promise of Blood, probably). It’s set in the muggy, oppressive, dragon-infested swamps, and Taniel attaches himself to a regiment who end up devastated by their enemies. With Ka-poel’s help, he seeks revenge on the Privileged who murdered his company.

Much shorter than Forsworn, McClellan nevertheless offers a satisfying story. You don’t have to have read Promise of Blood, but you will probably get a bit more out of “The Face in the Window” if you have.


Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood is published in the UK and US by Orbit Books. The next novel in the series, The Crimson Campaign is due to be published in May 2014. I can’t wait!

Mini-Review: “Honour to the Dead” by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

Thorpe-HH-HonourTheDead(eBook)The prose version of an audio-drama

As Calth burns, the Battle Titans of the Fire Masters legion take to the streets of the city of Ithraca, ready to massacre the fleeing civilian population in the name of their new, dark masters. But the remaining loyalist engines of the Legio Praesagius – the True Messengers – still stand ready to defend the Imperium, even in the face of almost certain death. With the nearby Ultramarines forces scattered and lost, the people of Ithraca must fend for themselves as gigantic war machines unleash apocalyptic weaponry across the ravaged skyline...

This is a pretty good short story. It doesn’t really require a particularly long review, however. It was nice to see Titans featured a bit more prominently, and to see first-hand their devastating, over-the-top capabilities.

Near the beginning, there were a few very sudden changes in P.O.V. or scene, without properly-delineated shifts, which threw me a couple times. I quickly dropped back into the narrative, however. I also liked the variety of perspectives, offering not only that of opposing Astartes factions (Ultramarines, for example), but also Titan crews and mere mortals and survivors of the bombed out city.

The only real weakness to the story was Princeps Tyhe (the princeps of a renegade Warhound titan), who speaks like a bad, pulp villain:

“Is it not beautiful, my sweet? ... See the ants spilling from their nests to be crushed. So weak and pathetic. But kill them we must! Our comrades in the Word Bearers require deaths, and deaths we shall give them. Deaths by the dozen! Death by the hundred, by the thousand!”

He even delivers a long, Evil Villain Monologue, one page later. I couldn’t help but cringe a little, whenever he was speaking.

Overall, then, this is certainly not Thorpe’s best work. But, it is nevertheless an enjoyable, quick read for a gap between novels. It doesn’t come close to matching the quality of Deliverance Lost or any of Thorpe’s other Horus Heresy fiction.

Also on CR: Interview with Gav Thorpe (2011)

Horus Heresy Series (Novels & Anthologies): 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, Brotherhood of the Storm, Scars (I-III, IV-IX), The Unremembered Empire, Vengeful Spirit (2014)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

“A Love Like Blood” by Marcus Sedgwick (Mulholland)

Sedgwick-ALoveLikeBloodA gripping, chilling psychological thriller

“I’ve chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.”

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city – and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow...

A Love Like Blood is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man's life can change in a moment; about where the desire for truth – and for revenge – can lead; about love and fear and hatred. And it is also about the question of blood.

This wasn’t what I was expecting. I had expected a good novel, with perhaps a supernatural component. Instead, what I found was an excellent psychological thriller about obsession and the science and mythology of blood. Sedgwick’s first novel for adults is damned good, and a must-read of the year.

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Interview with MATTEO STRUKUL

Italian author Matteo Strukul stops by to talk about his first novel in English, The Ballad of Mila, his broad and varied influences, his inspirational home country, why Chuck Wendig is a “badass wizard”, and much more…

MatteoStrukul-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Matteo Strukul?

First of all, thank you so much Stefan for this opportunity to talk about my work. Well, about myself... I’m a man who loves life and rock ’n’ roll music (The Black Crowes, Rival Sons, Buckcherry and all the old stuff like Led Zep or Skynyrd). I adore American pulp-crime fiction authors (Jim Thompson, James Crumley, Joe R. Lansdale, among others), but at the same time I read so many European authors and literature (Friedrich Schiller, Wolfgang Goethe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emilio Salgari), I love Italian red wine like Raboso or Grinton and I love my land that is Veneto in the Northeast of Italy. I’m so lucky to grow up in this area in towns like Padova, Venezia, Verona – so full of arts and beauty, I must confess that it’s an amazing place and for that reason I love to write about my land in my novels.

Friday, February 14, 2014

“Black Moon” by Kenneth Calhoun (Hogarth)

CalhounK-BlackMoonUKAn interesting premise, well-executed, but still slightly flawed

“A black moon had risen, a sphere of sleeplessness that pulled at the tides of blood-and invisible explanation for the madness welling inside.”

The world has stopped sleeping. Restless nights have grown into days of panic, delirium and, eventually, desperation. But few and far between, sleepers can still be found – a gift they quickly learn to hide. For those still with the ability to dream are about to enter a waking nightmare.

Matt Biggs is one of the few sleepers. His wife Carolyn however, no stranger to insomnia, is on the very brink of exhaustion. After six restless days and nights, Biggs wakes to find her gone. He stumbles out of the house in search of her to find a world awash with pandemonium, a rapidly collapsing reality. Sleep, it seems, is now the rarest and most precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it.

I hadn’t heard of this novel before it arrived through the post. As someone who has a soft-spot for post-apocalyptic novels (and the various sub-genres that covers), and also someone who has always suffered from varying degrees of insomnia, Black Moon’s premise jumped out at me. Given its slim length, too, I decided to read it right away. What I found was a novel that is, strangely, both excellent and also wanting.

Upcoming/News: “REVIVAL” and “MR. MERCEDES” by Stephen King (Hodder)

KingStephen-AuthorPicI’m a relative newcomer to Stephen King, but I am certainly a fan of his writing (I’ve read a good amount of his non-fiction already). Last year, I finally read The Shining, and Hodder published its long-awaited sequel, Doctor Sleep. This year, Hodder will be publishing two new novels by King: Mr. Mercedes and Revival.

The latter was just announced on the publisher’s website, so I thought I’d start with that one. Here’s some info:

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties – addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate – Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

Revival is due to be published by Hodder on November 11th, 2014. No artwork has been unveiled, yet (for either of these titles), but I’ll share them when they become available.

The other novel, Mr. Mercedes, will actually be published before Revival (in June 2014). Here’s the synopsis:

Retired homicide detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular: in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of desperate unemployed people were lined up for a spot at a job fair in a distressed Midwestern city. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. Eight people were killed, fifteen wounded. The killer escaped.

Months later, on the other side of the city, Bill Hodges gets a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he is indeed preparing to kill again.

Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, must apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

Mr Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

“Traitor’s Blade” by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)

deCastellS-GC1-TraitorsBladeAn all-round brilliant fantasy debut, and one of the best I’ve read in a decade.

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…

Every so often, a debut novel comes along that knocks your expectations out of the park. Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamorra is one of those novels. Peter V. Brett’s The Painted Man is another. Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade needs to be added to that list. I loved this.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


DeCastell-AuthorPic2013Back in November, I stumbled across some information about Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade on Jo Fletcher Books’ website. Naturally, I was very intrigued. Then, in January, an ARC of the book appeared, and I dove right in. To put it bluntly, I loved it: a perfect blend of action, intrigue, humour, and all-round great storytelling. This novel is going to cause a splash, as well it damn well should. Read on for an interview with de Castell…

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Sebastien de Castell?

I guess you could say that I’m a professional wanderer. I love to take on challenges in new fields and learn everything I can. These days I write fantasy and mystery novels but in the past I’ve been a full-time musician, an interaction designer, teacher, project manager, fight choreographer, actor, and, well, lots of other things. (At least one of which I’m keeping secret until my deathbed!)

Your debut novel, Traitor’s Blade, is due to be published in March by Jo Fletcher Books. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader?

The Three Musketeers meets A Game of Thrones. It’s a swashbuckling mystery set in a country that is being torn apart by corruption and intrigue.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Teaser: Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan’s THE STRAIN (TV)

The teaser trailer for upcoming TV adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain was unveiled by FX during the Super Bowl. Here it is:

I think they lose points for using the same BWAAAH! as Transformers and… well, most movies nowadays. For my thoughts on the novel, check out my review. The Strain is published by Harper, as are its sequels: The Fall and The Night Eternal.

“The Copper Promise” by Jen Williams (Headline)

WilliamsJ-CopperPromiseA fun fantasy adventure

There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…

Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.

For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.

But sometimes there is truth in rumour.

Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.

Lots of people have discussed the rise of grimdark, the loss of fun and adventure in fantasy of late. Personally, I’m rather fond of grimdark. I’m also rather fond of more fun-loving, adventure- and quest-focused fantasies of the ‘classic’ mould. The Copper Promise manages to straddle both of these camps rather skillfully. A lot of people are going to like this.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Recently Received… (January/February)


Think it’s rather obvious, by now, what these posts are about. So, read on for more information about the above-pictured books…

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Upcoming from Hodder Books (UK): “The Forever Watch” and “Lagoon”…

It’s Saturday night, and I’m stuck at home. So, naturally, I’m reading publishers’ catalogues. Currently, I’m reading Hodder Books’ Spring 2014 catalogue, which means I’ve got more information on a number of books that I’m excited to read this year.

PrintFirst up, we have David Ramirez’s THE FOREVER WATCH:

The Truth is only the beginning.

The Noah: a city-sized ship, half-way through an eight hundred year voyage to another planet. In a world where deeds, and even thoughts, cannot be kept secret, a man is murdered; his body so ruined that his identity must be established from DNA evidence. Within hours, all trace of the crime is swept away, hidden as though it never happened. Hana Dempsey, a mid-level bureaucrat genetically modified to use the Noah’s telepathic internet, begins to investigate. Her search for the truth will uncover the impossible: a serial killer who has been operating on board for a lifetime... if not longer.

And behind the killer lies a conspiracy centuries in the making.

The Forever Watch is due to be published on March 20th 2014 in the UK by Hodder, and April 22nd 2014 in the US by Thomas Dunne.

Update: Just been informed by Hodder that The Forever Watch has been pushed back to a May 1st publication.

OkoraforN-LagoonNext, we have Nnedi Okorafor’s LAGOON:

A star falls from the sky. A woman rises from the sea. The world will never be the same.

Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper, famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Each wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before.

But when a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never have imagined. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world, and themselves.

Love that Joey Hi-Fi cover… Lagoon is due to be published by Hodder in the UK and US in April 2014.

For more on Hodder Books’ science fiction, fantasy and horror publishing, be sure to check out the Hodderscape website.

Upcoming: “Extinction Game” by Gary Gibson (Tor)

GibsonG-ExtinctionGameAnother Science Fiction author whose work always sounds really interesting to me, but I have just never got around to reading. Not so long ago, Tor UK unveiled the artwork for Gary Gibson’s latest novel, Extinction Game (published in September). And it sounds pretty interesting, too. Here’s the synopsis…

Beche should be dead. But instead of dying alone, he’s been rescued from a desolated earth where he was the last man alive. He’s then trained for the toughest conditions imaginable and placed with a crack team of specialists.  Each one also a survivor, as each one survived the violent ending of their own versions of earth. And their specialism – to retrieve weapons and data in missions to other dying worlds. But who is the shadowy organization that rescued them?  How do they access other timelines and why do they need these instruments of death?

As Jerry struggles to obey his new masters, he starts distrusting his new companions. A strange bunch, their motivations are less than clear, and accidents start plaguing their missions. Jerry suspects that organisation is lying to them, and team members are spying on him.  As a dangerous situation spirals into fatal, who is an enemy and who can he really trust?

I’m rather looking forward to this, now.

Upcoming: “Tower Lord” by Anthony Ryan (Orbit)

RyanA-RS2-TowerLordAnthony Ryan’s Blood Song was published to much fanfare in the middle of last year. For some reason I didn’t actually get around to reading it. I think this was a combination of everyone else talking/writing about it, and because I can be difficult, this made me want to delay reading it. Also, I think I got it during a protracted SFF reading funk that I was going through at the time.

Anyway, with the second novel in the series now announced (not to mention that it’s due to be published rather soon), I really will have to get caught up in time for Tower Lord. Here’s the synopsis [caution – spoilers for book one]…


Vaelin Al Sorna is tired of war. He’s fought countless battles in service to the Realm and Faith. His reward was the loss of his love, the death of his friends and a betrayal by his king. After five years in an Alpiran dungeon, he just wants to go home.

Reva intends to welcome Vaelin back with a knife between the ribs. He destroyed her family and ruined her life. Nothing will stop her from exacting bloody vengeance – not even the threat of invasion from the greatest enemy the Realm has ever faced.

Yet as the fires of war spread, foes become friends and truths turn to lies. To save the Realm, Reva must embrace a future she does not want – and Vaelin must revisit a past he’d rather leave buried.

TOWER LORD will be published on July 3rd 2014 in hardback, trade format and eBook, in both the UK and US. Anthony Ryan can also be found online at his website and on Twitter.

On a somewhat related note – I’m actually way behind on reading Orbit titles. I love Orbit’s roster of authors, and have been reading them voraciously ever since I got my mitts on Brent Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy, back in 2008 – a series that I absolutely loved. I must get caught up! Expect more to feature in the coming months.

Squirrel, Trapped Indoors, Seeks Alternative Food Hiding Place… Including a St. Bernard…

I found this via, but had to share it…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a patient, indulgent dog before. It’s almost like a cartoon…

Friday, February 07, 2014

Upcoming: “The Man With the Golden Mind” by Tom Vater (Exhibit A)

Vater-TheManWithTheGoldenMindLast year, Exhibit A published Tom Vater’s debut thriller, The Cambodian Book of the Dead. Sadly, it ended up being one of the thrillers that went onto my eReader and I promptly got distracted by other things, and it has thus-far gone unread. Now that this second novel in the series, The Man With the Golden Mind (April 2014), is to be released, I’m going to have to get my act together and get caught up!

“In trouble again… and a long way from home…”

Julia Rendel asks Maier to investigate the twenty-five year old murder of her father, an East German cultural attaché who was killed near a fabled CIA airbase in central Laos in 1976. But before the detective can set off, his client is kidnapped right out of his arms.

Maier follows Julia’s trail to the Laotian capital Vientiane, where he learns different parties, including his missing client are searching for a legendary CIA file crammed with Cold War secrets. But the real prize is the file’s author, a man codenamed Weltmeister, a former US and Vietnamese spy and assassin no one has seen for a quarter century.

To learn more about Tom’s novels and writing, be sure to visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Upcoming: “The Oversight” by Charlie Fletcher (Orbit)

FletcherC-Oversight2014I spotted this yesterday morning, but I have a feeling I have read about this upcoming novel before… I can’t for the life of me remember where, though. Anyway, it sounds pretty interesting, and I rather like the cover. Here’s the synopsis…

“The end always comes faster than you think.”

Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side.

Once the Oversight, the secret society that policed the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their numbers can be counted on a single hand. When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight’s London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled – but the girl is a trap.

As the borders between this world and the next begin to break down, murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow.

This dark Dickensian fantasy from Charlie Fletcher (the Stoneheart trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.

The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher is due to be published by Orbit UK and US, in May 2014. You can read a sample of the novel over on

Upcoming: “Black Moon” by Kenneth Calhoun (Hogarth)

CalhounK-BlackMoonUKThis is a really intriguing-looking novel. A copy of the novel arrived in the mail yesterday (complete with an eye-mask…). Here is the synopsis for Kenneth Calhoun’s dystopian future novel, Black Moon

Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows. Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world. Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.

He ventures out into a world ransacked by mass confusion and desperation, where he meets others struggling against the tide of sleeplessness. Chase and his buddy Jordan are devising a scheme to live off their drug-store lootings; Lila is a high school student wandering the streets in an owl mask, no longer safe with her insomniac parents; Felicia abandons the sanctuary of a sleep research center to try to protect her family and perhaps reunite with Chase, an ex-boyfriend. All around, sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it. However, Biggs persists in his quest for Carolyn, finding a resolve and inner strength that he never knew he had.

Black Moon will be published in March 2014 by Hogarth (an imprint of Random House) in both the UK and US.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

“The Gospel of Loki” by Joanne M. Harris (Gollancz)

HarrisJM-GospelOfLokiAn excellent, modern take on the beloved Trickster

“Loki, that’s me.

“Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

“So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

“Now it’s my turn to take the stage.”

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.

I’ve mentioned before how Loki seems to be everywhere, these days. From comic books to blockbusters, the Trickster is just growing in popularity. Now we have The Gospel Of Loki, Joanne Harris’s first fantasy novel for adults. Unsurprisingly, given Harris’s well-established gifts as a writer, this is a well-written, engaging novel. It’s quirky, amusing throughout, with an undercurrent of darkness and menace. This is a lot of fun.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Upcoming: “A City Stained Red” by Sam Sykes (Gollancz)

Sykes-04-ACityStainedRedI’m a fan of Sam Sykes’s novels. I thought both Tome of the Undergates and Black Halo were wonderfully subversive, dark and twisted takes on the fantasy genre. Sykes’s sense of humour is great, and runs throughout the novels without undermining the sense of adventure and action of the story. I’ve been woefully, shamefully slow about getting around to Skybound Sea, too. Nevertheless, the author’s story and characters continue apace! This April, Gollancz will be publishing the first in a new trilogy starring the loveable, dysfunctional heroes we have come to know and love(ish). A City Stained Red is the first in The Scion’s Gate trilogy.

Here is the synopsis…

The Scion’s Gate is a trilogy that tells the story of the struggle between the adventurer, Lenk, and his companions and the demons trying to break free from hell in order to resume their own agendas.

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.

And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

Also, I really like the new approach to the artwork – before, the character-based pieces were a little weird. Eye-catching, sure, but not the best. This new cover is a little more vague, but I prefer it to the original style.

Also on CR: Interview with Sam Sykes, Post-Trilogy Catch-Up

Full disclosure: I have read an early draft of this novel. It was very good – tighter, funnier and all-round better written and constructed than the first two novels. Given that I thought they were very strong, too… Well, I’m very excited to read the final version.

An Interview with SUSIE MOLONEY

MoloneySusie-AuthorPic(Richard-Wagner-2010)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Susie Moloney?

I’m a writer of horror fiction, and I live in Canada and the US, spending half my time in New York City with my playwright husband, Vern Thiessen. I’m a mom to two sons and a blind dog, and I love them all equally, no favourites.

I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, although when I first started writing, I used to illustrate them as well, and color the pictures. Somewhere there’s a pretty epic illustrated story about a black water beetle (“Blackie’s Story”) who isn’t black, but green. No black crayon.

To date, I’ve written four novels, Bastion Falls, A Dry Spell, The Dwelling and The Thirteen. My claim to fame is that A Dry Spell received the largest advance ever, in Canada. That may have changed by now, but it was a big deal back in the day. I’ve been on the cover of two national magazines. The week my cover on Chatelaine came out, was the week that Princess Diana died. True story: I walked into an airport bookstore to pick up something to read on the plane, and there was my cover, right next to the People Magazine Princess Diana cover. I turned around and ran out. It was too overwhelming, my face right next to hers. I read the in-flight magazine that trip.

Things Withered, Stories is my very first collection. I’m no longer a collection virgin.


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Upcoming: “The Finisher” by David Baldacci (Macmillan)

BaldacciD-FinisherUKI’m a big fan of David Baldacci’s thrillers – be they his stand-alone novels, the King And Maxwell series, or (my favourite) the Camel Club novels, I have enjoyed every novel of his that I’ve read. It should be no wonder, therefore, that ever since I read Absolute Power (yes, the novel that was adapted into a movie starring Clint Eastwood), I have pre-ordered each of his novels as soon as I spot them on Amazon/Waterstone’s/Barnes & Noble. True, I’ve been lax in the past couple of years about keeping on top of things (I have yet to read either of his Will Robie novels, for example), but he remains one of my favourite thriller authors. He’s certainly, one of my favourite authors of the genre who is still producing novels at a prodigious rate (Vince Flynn has sadly passed away, and Kyle Mills seems to be writing less and less…). James Patterson doesn’t count, because he is to thrillers what Brandon Sanderson is to Fantasy.

Given my interest in Baldacci’s work, therefore, I was very surprised to learn that he’s turned his hand to YA fantasy. His next novel, The Finisher, looks like it’s going to be very different from his usual fare. And I must say, I’m rather looking forward to giving it a try. Here’s the UK synopsis…

Welcome to Wormwood: a place where curiosity is discouraged and no one has ever left. Until one girl, Vega Jane, discovers a map that suggests a mysterious world beyond the walls. A world with possibilities and creatures beyond her imagining. But she will be forced to fight for her freedom. And unravelling the truth may cost Vega her life.

BaldacciD-FinisherUSAnd the slightly longer US synopsis

Why would Quentin Herms flee into the Quag? There was nothing in the Quag except certain death.

Vega Jane has never left the village of Wormwood. But this isn’t unusual – nobody has ever left the village of Wormwood. At least not until Quentin Herms vanishes into the unknown.

Vega knows Quentin didn’t just leave – he was chased. And he’s left behind a very dangerous trail of clues that only she can decode.

The Quag is a dark forest filled with terrifying beasts and bloodthirsty Outliers. But just as deadly are the threats that exist within the walls of Wormwood. It is a place built on lies, where influential people are willing to kill to keep their secrets. Vega is determined to uncover the truth – but the closer she gets, the more she risks her life.

The Finisher is due to be published in the UK (Macmillan), and in the US (Scholastic) in early March 2014. His most recent novel for adults was King And Maxwell.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Another Amazing CAPTAIN AMERICA Piece by Lee Bermejo… (Marvel)

I’ve mentioned on the blog before how much I like Lee Bermejo’s artwork. Indeed, I’ve also shared a previous piece of his depicting Steve Rogers. Today, he unveiled another piece on his blog, which I am shamelessly re-posting on here. This time, it’s more of an action-shot, whereas the previous one I shared was more moody, and an after-the-battle and taking stock moment. He’s an incredibly talented fellow…


“The Circle” by Dave Eggers (Knopf)

EggersD-TheCircleAn interesting, timely and disturbing novel

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America — even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

The Circle is the first novel I’ve read by Eggers. It is also one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. The novel revolves around Mae Holland, a new hire at The Circle – a massive, Google-meets-Facebook-type social media goliath. We follow her story as she navigates the company, its quirks, and also its never-ending evolution. We see her life turned upside down as she strives to rise in the Circle’s ranks, to adopt and embrace its new innovations. Completing the Circle becomes an obsession, and despite clear signs of its negative impact on her life and those of her loved ones, the inexorable pull of the company, the sense of community, and compulsion to be a part of something proves too much for Mae to resist.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

2014: New Year’s (Reading) Resolutions…


Last year, I resolved to read at least the first book in four fantasy series. I managed to read the first of only two of them… Thankfully, these sorts of thing are not binding, but nevertheless, I’ve decided to (belatedly) come up with another four fantasy series I would like to at least try, if not finish, in 2014. I will include the two I failed to read in 2013, and hopefully keep them high on the TBR list. So, here are the 2014 Fantasy Reading Resolutions…

Margaret AtwoodMaddAddam Trilogy

Celia FriedmanThe Coldfire Trilogy

Tom LloydTwilight Reign (from 2013)

Brandon SandersonMistborn (from 2013)


As before, and always, there are no doubt going to be tens of new fantasy, sci-fi, urban fantasy and horror novels series that I will want to read. Even need to read, in my weirdly-wired mind. They will probably get in the way of my fulfilling these reading resolutions (which makes you wonder if these types of posts have any value whatsoever, but there we go). It’s impossible to read all the novels I want to read. But I will do my best to read at least the first in the above series. It certainly helps that I have already bought them. I’ll use the weekend Upcoming posts to highlight stand-alone novels, and also hitherto unmentioned or unrevealed SFF series that catch my attention. In the meantime, though, here is some information about the above-mentioned series…