Friday, May 30, 2014

Upcoming: “Kinslayer” by David Guymer (Black Library)

Guymer-G&F-KinslayerFans have been clamouring for this novel ever since they turned the final page of Nathan Long’s Zombieslayer. Finally, David Guymer brings the story of Gotrek and Felix back to the chronology begun in William King’s Trollslayer! For some reason, I’ve been unable to keep on top of the non-chronological Gotrek & Felix novels (though I do have all three of them, and really need to get myself caught up). I would like to catch up before this is released, in September 2014, but I don’t think I can make any promises.

Nevertheless, Kinslayer, the sixteenth novel in the series, is likely to be one of Black Library’s most anticipated novels of the year. And, indeed, I count myself among those who are eagerly awaiting it. I have been a fan of the series ever since King’s short stories appeared in Warhammer Armies: The Empire and various other venues. (Inferno! magazine! Anyone else read/remember that?)

Kinslayer is also getting a hardcover release, apparently, which will mark it as the first in the series to do so. Here’s the synopsis:

Once heroes and companions on the greatest of adventures, Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaeger have long since gone their separate ways. Felix, married and working for the family business in Altdorf, embarks on a journey north to Kislev when he hears that an old comrade has been captured by the forces of Chaos. Reunited with Gotrek, and other old friends, Felix begins to suspect that he has embarked upon his final adventure. And in the cold north, Gotrek’s doom awaits him…

This cover also has that tantalising (for fans, anyway) tagline: “Book 1 of the Doom of Gotrek Gurnisson”. What does this mean, I wonder? Are they drawing the series to a close in the relatively-near future? Or, will this be a Marvel-esque tease that fails to deliver utterly on what it promises/portents? (See, for example, the various “deaths” of multiple Spider-Men, death of innumerable characters, the brain/consciousness switcheroos, etc…).

Upcoming: “The Doom of Dragonback” by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

Thorpe-ToL-DoomOfDragonbackThe Doom of Dragonback is the latest book in Black Library’s popular Time of Legends series. It’s never been entirely clear to me if they follow a particular chronology, like the Horus Heresy series, but I do know that I am a) really interested in a number of the titles in the series, and b) horrendously behind… (Something that is now true for oh-so-very-many series.) Gav Thorpe’s elves novels and Mike Lee’s undead novels, in particular, are high on my to-buy-and-read list.

War with the elves has ended in bloody stalemate, great quakes have broken the peaks, and the enemies of the dwarfs are rising in vast numbers. Far removed from this grief, however, are the dwarfs of Ekrund, great underground city of the Dragonback Mountains, convinced that no foe will ever breach their walls. Amongst them, the Angbok clan continues to mine their gold, until war threatens Dragonback and decisions must be made that could change their way of life forever. Whether by exile or extinction, a great doom is coming…

I found this artwork and synopsis on Simon & Schuster Canada’s website (they handle Black Library’s distribution there). The Doom of Dragonback is due for release in September 2014 (probably sooner from Black Library itself and Games Workshop stores).

Music Interlude: Within Temptation’s “And We Run”

One of my favourite bands, Within Temptation last week released their new single and accompanying music video, “And We Run”. It features, rather interestingly (and perhaps unexpectedly) Xzibit. And it’s actually pretty good. The song is from their latest album, Hydra.


“Lost For Words” by Edward St. Aubyn (Picador)

StAubynE-LostForWordsAn enjoyable, cutting short novel about literary awards and ‘literary people’

The judges on the panel of the Elysian Prize for Literature must get through hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year. Meanwhile, a host of writers are desperate for Elysian attention: the brilliant writer and serial heartbreaker Katherine Burns; the lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black; and Bunjee, convinced that his magnum opus, The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm. Things go terribly wrong when Katherine’s publisher accidentally submits a cookery book in place of her novel; one of the judges finds himself in the middle of a scandal; and Bunjee, aghast to learn his book isn’t on the short list, seeks revenge.

Lost For Words is the first novel of St. Aubyn’s that I’ve read. And it was, thankfully, very good. It’s rather short, too, which actually gives it a little more punch. If you have any interest in the publishing industry, industry awards, and the people connected to either/both of these, then you should really give this a try. A fun, short, and cutting satire of the publishing industry.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Upcoming: KILL BAXTER by Charlie Human (Century)


In July, Century (a division of Random House UK) will be publishing KILL BAXTER, the follow up to Charlie Human’s mind-bending debut, Apocalypse Now Now. I thoroughly enjoyed that novel (despite the slightly weak ending) – the main character, Baxter, was delightfully twisted; the plot rather bonkers, with a great Cape Town setting populated by some of the most colourful, interesting and weird Urban Fantasy creations I’ve come across. I have pretty high hopes for Kill Baxter, and can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy. The cover is once again done by the ever-excellent Joey Hi-Fi who is also working on a separate South African cover (as he did for Apocalypse Now Now). Can’t wait to see that piece, too!

Here’s the synopsis…

And he thought the hard part was over…

The world has been massively unappreciative of sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko. His bloodline may be a combination of ancient Boer mystic and giant shape-shifting crow, and he may have won an inter-dimensional battle and saved the world, but does anyone care? No.

Instead he’s packed off to Hexpoort, a magical training school that’s part reformatory, part military school, and just like Hogwarts (except with sex, drugs, and better internet access). The problem is that Baxter sucks at magic. He’s also desperately attempting to control his new ability to dreamwalk, all the while being singled out by the school's resident bully, who just so happens to be the Chosen One.

But when the school comes under attack, Baxter needs to forget all that and step into action. The only way is joining forces with his favourite recovering alcoholic of a supernatural bounty hunter, Ronin, to try and save the world from the apocalypse. Again.

Sounds pretty cool, no? This time, I hope Human manages to really stick the landing, and makes Kill Baxter awesome all the way through. The novel is due to be published on July 17, 2014 in the UK (not sure about the US or South Africa).

Mini-Review: “Valour’s Trial” by Tanya Huff (Titan Books)


Reviewed by H.

Huff’s Military Sci-Fi series returns for a strong fourth installment!

Unexpectedly pulled from battle, Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr of the Confederation Marines finds herself in an underground POW camp that shouldn’t exist, where her fellow marine prisoners have lost all will to escape. Now, Torin must fight her way not only out of the prison, but also past the growing compulsion to lie down and give up – not realizing that her escape could alter the entire course of the war.

Four books in, and Tanya Huff is still keeping this series interesting and engaging. Much of what I liked in the first three books can also be said for this one. The characters are pretty much all engaging and well-developed. Torin Kerr remains a fantastic heroine. The action sequences are fantastic. And the setting is well-realised. So, I’ll keep this short, to avoid repeating myself too much. Needless to say, though, this is another great addition to the series.

Trailer: “This is Where I Leave You”

A bit of a departure from the usual trailer fare that I share on CR, but I think this looks like it could be fun. A stellar cast, too – Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Dax Shepherd, the alcoholic congressman from season one of House of Cards, and other good actors! I’ve never read any of Jonathan Tropper’s novels, but I did recently pick up a couple of them on sale. So, hopefully I’ll get around to reading them relatively soon. Here’s the trailer…

Tropper-ThisIsWhereILeaveYouAnd the novel’s synopsis…

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family – including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister – have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind – whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Interview with CRAIG CORMICK

CormickC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Craig Cormick?

To misquote Miley Cyrus, “I’m just a guy.” Well, my kids think I’m just a guy, but they don’t know that I actually live a secret life creating wild new worlds, and sword-fighting evil villains and saving them from catastrophic harm.

Otherwise, I’m an author and science communicator. I’ve published over 20 books and over 100 short stories and about 20 academic journal papers and I love playing with genres, mixing fiction and non-fiction, playing with history and creating new things out of it.

I have several different lives and I know some people have Googled me and then asked, “Hey do you know this other Craig Cormick guy who has been to Antarctica/writes about biotechnology/is a social scientist/won this prize/etc.?” They are all me.

Your novel, The Shadow Master, is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in July 2014. How would you introduce the novel to a prospective reader? Is it part of a series?

I’d tell them that it’s a kick-arse tale of alternative history, love and conflict, madness and magic.

Yes, it is going to be part of a series, and I’m just completing book two right now.

For a bit more info on the book, imagine a city something like Florence. A walled city, to protect it from the plague that is ravaging the countryside. Then imagine two warring houses, the Medicis and the Lorraines. Both are battling for control of the city. And next imagine each House has in its employ a learned man – Galileo and Leonardo, who are versed in the arcane arts of science, that can control time and space and the very laws of nature. So science works like magic in this world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quick Reviews: “Bullseye”, “The Innocent”, and “The Hit” by David Baldacci (Macmillan)


Two novels and a short story introducing a new hero from one of the modern masters of thriller fiction…

I really enjoyed all three of these stories. I also read them quite a while ago, in preparation for the release of The Target. I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to posting reviews of them sooner, but I wanted to mention them here. Because they’re excellent. I’ll keep things short, though…

Coffin Hill, Vol.1 – “Forest of the Night” (Vertigo)

CoffinHill-Vol.01An excellent start to a new series

Following a night of sex, drugs and witchcraft in the woods, Eve Coffin wakes up naked, covered in blood and unable to remember how she got there. One friend is missing, one is in a mental ward-and one knows that Eve is responsible.

Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed ten years ago in the woods was never contained. It continues to seep through the town, cursing the soul of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow, spilling secrets and enacting its revenge.

Set against the haunted backdrop of New England, COFFIN HILL explores what people will do for power and retribution.

Collects: Coffin Hill #1-7

In Coffin Hill, novelist Caitlin Kittredge (Black London series) has written an engaging, eerie, and above all superb tale of witchcraft, childhood mistakes and family legacies. Inaki Miranda – perhaps best known for work on Fairest – realises the book beautifully. This book doesn’t really need much of a review. If you are a fan of horror, suspense, witches, and weirdness, then this is a great book for you. I really enjoyed this.

An Interview with JAMES A. MOORE

Photographs of my brother, author James A. Moore, taken 16 November 2012 at his home in Marietta, Georgia.Let’s start with an introduction: Who is James A. Moore?

I’ve been a professional writer for a little over 20 years. I started in comic books worked my way over to role playing games and then decided to try my luck with horror fiction. I’ve also written some science fiction and a few fantasy pieces. I’m currently working on a weird western, a fantasy series, a crime novel and a few other projects, including a science fiction apocalyptic piece.

Your next novel, The Blasted Land, is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in July 2014. It is the sequel to Seven Forges. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans of the first expect?

Good question. I’d like to say it’s something different, and maybe that’s true but I imagine almost everyone makes that claim. It’s a sword and sorcery series. But one where I’ve set aside the legends and creatures I’ve read about before to come up with new dangers and, hopefully, a unique setting. I like to think of the series as a clash of cultures and a clash of theologies. Ultimately, however, it’s a story about an aging empire facing a threat that seems absolutely relentless and unstoppable.

I have always believed that every book should be able to stand alone. That said, I love a good cliffhanger. So the story starts off in this case EXACTLY where Seven Forges left off. I fill in the gaps, but I also try to do that without burying the previous readers in older details. It’s a bit of an interesting challenge as I haven’t really worked on a direct series before though I’ve had a few occasions where the characters I’ve written about in the past have shown up in new adventures.

What I’m working in, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to explore it in greater depth, is the differences between the two cultures and the dangers of dealing with a tide of fanatical warriors on a holy quest.

Monday, May 26, 2014

“Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon (Orbit)

MoonE-SpeedOfDark2002A superb, endearing, and moving modern classic

Lou is different to “normal” people. He interacts with the world in a way they do not understand. He might not see the things they see, however, but he also sees many things they do not. Lou is autistic.

One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou’s work. But now they want Lou to change – to become “normal” like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark.

As I’m sure a lot of other reviewers have found, Speed of Dark is not the easiest of novels to review. Reading Speed of Dark was illuminating, engaging, and moving. Lou is a powerful and endearing voice, and to get a glimpse of how his mind works and how he sees the world was fascinating. I don’t know nearly as much about autism as I should, but I felt Moon has written an intelligent and nuanced tale of an autistic man’s experiences in a world that doesn’t know how to accept him as he is, nor properly understand how he sees the world. This is a great novel, and it is absolutely clear to me why it won a Nebula Award.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

(MORE) Books Received…


In what is fast becoming the Book Flood of Summer 2014, even more exciting books have been turning up in the post and as eARCs…

Featuring: Anna Caltabiano, Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston, Richard A. Clarke, James S.A. Corey, Ellen Datlow (ed.), Emma Donohue, Daryl Gregory, Elliott Hall, Doug Hulick, Kameron Hurley, Kendra Leighton, D.J. Molles, Edward St. Aubyns, Liesel Schwarz, Graeme Shimmin, Nalini Singh, James Thornton

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Short Story: “Crimson Dawn” by C.Z. Dunn (Black Library)

Dunn-CrimsonDawnAn interesting eNovella

In the entire galaxy there is nothing more cursed than a traitor.

Excommunicated, hated and hunted, the Crimson Slaughter turned from the Emperor’s Light and have since carved a bloody trail through the Imperium. But before they betrayed their oaths and turned to the worship of the Dark Gods, they were the Crimson Sabres, stalwart and loyal. This is the story of their fall, as Scout Captain Anzo Riegler, a lone voice of reason amidst Chaos, becomes an unwitting pawn in his Chapter’s demise.

I’m a fan of Dunn’s fiction. His short stories – particularly those focused on the Flesh Tearers chapter – have been great, visceral science fiction stories. Crimson Dawn is another good story, but it doesn’t have quite the punch of some of his previous work. Partly, this is due to the different type of story he’s trying to tell – the main character is a scout captain, so it’s unlikely that his tale will be one of out-and-out “bolter-porn”. Instead, this is a somewhat slower-paced story of the insidious nature of Chaos and the subtle corrupting force it can exert even on those who believe themselves to be pure of heart and mission. I think the story could have benefited from being a bit longer – this would have allowed for a slower reveal and a greater tension. It might also have allowed for more exploration of the Crimson Sabres, too. As an excommunicated chapter, and one that considers itself still loyal to the Golden Throne, it would have been nice to see a bit more exploration of what this meant. True, this is a novella, so there’s only so much soul-searching it can offer before it buries the story. There are hints at the end that this could be the first in a number of short stories detailing the Sabers’ fall. I would certainly welcome more.

There are some interesting elements to the story, but ultimately it didn’t impress as much as Dunn’s work has in the past. In much the same way as his Dark Vengeance novella didn’t really fire my imagination. This is better than that story, though, and I would still recommend it to fans of Warhammer 40,000. I just think he’s done better.

Mini-Review: “The Seventh Miss Hatfield” by Anna Caltabiano (Gollancz)

Caltabiano-SeventhMissHatfieldUKA Most Anticipated of 2014, sadly fails to live up to expectations…

Rebecca, a 15-year-old American, isn’t entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn't talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Rebecca wasn’t entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.

For Miss Hatfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Rebecca is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.

But before the process goes too far, Rebecca must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world. In order to retrieve the painting, Rebecca must infiltrate a wealthy household, learn more about the head of the family, and find an opportunity to escape. Before her journey is through, she will also have – rather reluctantly – fallen in love. But how can she stay with the boy she cares for, when she must return to her own time before her time-travelling has a fatal effect on her body? And would she rather stay and die in love, or leave and live alone?

And who is the mysterious stranger who shadows her from place to place? A hunter for the secret of immortality – or someone who has already found it?

There is nothing more disappointing than high expectations that are so utterly dashed. There is much to recommend in the synopsis for this novel: immortality, time travel, a bit of romance, and what does appear like a pretty interesting and original premise. Sadly, however, it just failed to engage me at all. I really struggled to get through this.

Music Saturday: HEARTIST and ASKING ALEXANDRIA (a bit of a rambling piece…)

As I’ve mentioned in the past on here, one of my other passions is music (in fact, this is a passion that has dominated far more of my life than books and reading). I used to spend hours each day investigating new bands, albums, songs – subscribing to multiple magazines (even importing them from the US). I even ran a little fanzine, “MWRI” – a Terry Pratchett reference, “Music With Rocks In” (even then, I was a SFF fan). Recently, however, I’ve been listening to less new music.

Partly, this grew from an impression that things were starting to stagnate a little in the rock and metal communities. “Heavier and Louder” were the order of the decade, it seemed. I like plenty of groove and melody, though, so when ever some of my favourite bands started to conform to the “bludgeon thy listener unto death” gospel of rock, I lost ever-more interest, narrowing the number of bands I followed religiously. True, this is just a personal impression resulting from exposure to what felt like endless hardcore clones. Nevertheless, I felt slightly disillusioned with the scene I had called home since I bought Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark as a kid (I should thank Chris Green, a school friend, for lending me his discman and these two albums when I was ill – eternal gratitude). Although, I think Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA was the first album I loved (not as “hard” rock, but still part of the same larger community, I’ve always thought).


Over the past couple of years, though, melody and groove seem to be making a massive come-back, as bands and fans remember that it’s rock and roll, and that there’s nothing wrong with writing hooks. One of my favourite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, have been releasing consistently excellent (and progressively better) albums each year. Trivium rediscovered their love of classic, Metallica-esque metal, and released a stunning album. And so on. Recently, I finally discovered to new (for me) bands that write in the bounds of my tastes: HEARTIST and ASKING ALEXANDRIA.

Friday, May 23, 2014

“Field of Prey” by John Sandford (Putnam US / Simon & Schuster UK)

Sandford-24-FieldOfPreyUS24 books in, series still firing on all cylinders…

The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.

He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was… something smelled bad – like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day…

It really is quite impressive, the fact that this is the 24th book featuring Lucas Davenport (also known as the Prey Series) and it is so very good. Add to that the fact that Sandford is also writing the Virgil Flowers spin-off series as well (each gets a new book each year, for the past seven or eight years), and you start to realise just how talented and disciplined Sandford is as an author. I have read all of the Prey novels, and each one has been at the very least great and gripping. Field of Prey is no exception, but this time you can also add harrowing and intense. A great addition to the series.

This Urban Fantasy Hero is Not Impressed…

SinghN-ShieldOfWinterUSI received the UK edition of Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter from Gollancz, today. While looking up information and getting cover images for my next “Books Received” post, I found the US cover (right). I thought the fella’s pose just looked so… unimpressed with the situation, that I had to share it here.

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he's done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch – if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical 'treatment' that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption.

But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Shield of Winter will be published in the UK by Gollancz and Berkley in the US, at the beginning of June 2014. Here’s the UK cover…


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

“Bossypants” by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books)

Fey-BossypantsA brilliant, hilarious memoir

Before Liz Lemon, before Weekend Update, before Sarah Palin, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon – from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

I don’t think any book has made me laugh so often and out loud during the opening pages as did Bossypants. In fact, I rarely laugh out loud when I read.

This memoir is self-deprecating, honest, very well-written, and above all hilarious. I’m still not entirely sure how to review memoirs, yet, having not done many of them. In the case of Bossypants, to offer too many examples of Fey’s witty observations and reminiscences would be to kind of spoil the point of reading this in the first place. And there are a lot of very funny moments in this book…

Gail Simone Brings TOMB RAIDER to the UK

I spotted this cover on Dark Horse Comics’ website, while looking for more info on Kim Newman & Maura McHugh’s upcoming Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland series. It caught my eye because a) it’s an eye-catching cover, b) it has Big Ben in it, and c) I was a big fan of the first couple of computer games in the Tomb Raider series, but I’ve not read any comics (or, for that matter, played any of the games for a decade).




Here’s a brief preview of Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland #1, written by Kim Newman & Maura McHugh, and to be published by Dark Horse Comics. Art duties will be handled by Tyler Crook and Dave Stewart.

The eponymous Witchfinder, Sir Edward Grey, was created by Mike Mignola as part of his Hellboy mythology (he first appeared in Hellboy: Wake the Devil). Since then, he has had a couple of mini-series.

Here’s the synopsis for the first issue of this new series…

Edward Grey is sent to Hallam to investigate a mysterious death. Once there, he hears rumors about the mysterious Unland, the wetlands around the town, and the creatures that inhabit it. Grey’s skepticism vanishes when he encounters the monsters of Unland, and he realizes that Hallam is a place of secrets.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quick Thoughts on VENOM by Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn (Marvel)


I’ve been reading through the latest run on Venom, by Rick Remender and Cullen Bunn and, while I haven’t been moved to write a full review, I did want to just flag it up as a series that is well worth reading. The covers above are for the latest two collections that I’ve read. There are six Venom-only books in the series, which a couple of cross-overs (Spider Island and Minimum Carnage).

“The Fry Chronicles” by Stephen Fry (Audible / Penguin)

FryS-FryChroniclesAUDA superb memoir and audiobook, from one of Britain’s greatest comics

Thirteen years ago, Moab Is My Washpot, Stephen Fry’s autobiography of his early years, was published to rave reviews and was a huge best seller. In the years since, Stephen Fry has moved into a completely new stratosphere, both as a public figure, and a private man. Now he is not just a multi-award-winning comedian and actor, but also an author, director, and presenter.

In January 2010 he was awarded the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards. Much loved by the public and his peers, Stephen Fry is one of the most influential cultural forces in the country. This dazzling memoir promises to be a courageously frank, honest and poignant read. It will detail some of the most turbulent and least-well-known years of his life, with writing that will excite you, make you laugh uproariously, move you, inform you, and, above all, surprise you.

I am a big fan of Stephen Fry. Ever since I watched Jeeves & Wooster and Blackadder when I was younger (both get frequent re-watches), and right up to my current bingeing on past and recent episodes of QI, I have enjoyed pretty much everything of his that I’ve seen or read. I am, however, pretty new to audiobooks. After a couple of interesting experiments with memoirs and fiction in audio, I decided to try some comedy memoirs. Picking this as my first was really a no-brainer. And I’m very glad I did – this is a brilliant memoir and audiobook.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Guest Post: “‘Don’t Worry, It’s not My Blood’ – On Tough Guys” by Snorri Kristjansson

KristjanssonS-AuthorPic2At this moment in time, human interaction is very heavily coded. We learn from a tender age what’s good, bad, not allowed and WHY ARE YOU POOPING UNDER THE DINNER TABLE?! (Which is, in retrospect, also ‘bad’.) We can talk for a while about where our behaviour comes from – some say ‘nature’, some say ‘nurture’, some say ‘a very small shed in Hatfield’ – but there can be no doubt that at the moment we are animals with highly complex behavioural patterns that start with ideals at an early age.

Now, I am a ‘man’. My generously padded 6-foot frame gives it away, as does the beard and the deep voice. And as a ‘man’, I’ve lived with the ideal of the Tough Guy all my life. He is tall (usually), mysterious (sometimes) and handy in a scrap (always). The Tough Guy might not be best suited to navigating the treacherous waters of, say, office politics or teenage girl drama, but with every roll-back of learned behaviour, with every step backwards to the rule of might, the Tough Guy’s role increases. Basically, when the going gets tough I will happily take my big ol’ manly frame and hide in a very manly fashion behind a proper Tough Guy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Upcoming Event: Launch for Kendra Leighton’s GLIMPSE

If you happen to be in London on June 19th, 2014, then why not go to a book launch? The details are below, but please be sure to RSVP – the venue is pretty small, and so space is limited, and they want to make sure they have enough wine and nibbles for those who’d like to attend.


Glimpse is a new YA urban fantasy novel, published by Much-In-Little (an imprint of Constable & Robinson). Here’s the synopsis…

Liz just wants to be normal. Her life is anything but.

Seven years ago Liz lost her mother and ten years’ worth of memories. When she inherits the infamous Highwayman Inn, she hopes the move will be a fresh start. Then she meets Zachary. Zachary who haunts her by night and in dreams; who makes her question everything she is and wants to be; who seems scarcely real – yet makes her feel so alive.

Inspired by Alfred Noyes’ classic poem “The Highwayman”, Glimpse is a ghost story, a love story, and a story of a girl fighting for her future by confronting her terrible past.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Upcoming: THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell (Sceptre Books)

MitchellD-BoneClocksUKI’ve never read anything by David Mitchell, but this cover caught my eye, for obvious reasons. THE BONE CLOCKS, the latest novel by the author of Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, is due to be published by Sceptre Books (an imprint of Hodder) in September 2014. I think it sounds pretty interesting, too. Here’s the synopsis:

The kaleidoscopic story of an unusual woman’s life, a metaphysical thriller and a profound meditation on mortality and survival.

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for “asylum”. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking…

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its spellbinding and memorable best.

Upcoming: THE MIRROR EMPIRE by Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot Books)

I’m a little late to the party, here, seeing as nearly everyone has shared this cover (ever since it was unveiled on A Dribble of Ink). And, once you look at it, you can see why. The cover for Kameron Hurley’s upcoming fantasy novel THE MIRROR EMPIRE is pretty damned stunning…


The piece is by Richard Anderson, who also did the US cover for Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades. (I must say, though, this one is much better.) The novel is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in September 2014. Here’s the synopsis…

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Kameron Hurley is, of course, the award-winning author of God’s War, Infidel and Rapture. I’ve only read the first one, but it was damned good. The trilogy was published in the US by Night Shade Books, and Del Rey UK published the first book last year, and Infidel last month.

Also on CR: Guest Post by Kameron Hurley; Review of God’s War

Upcoming: THE SHADOW THRONE by Django Wexler (Del Rey UK / Roc Books)

Now that there’s a UK cover, I thought I’d take this opportunity to mention the second novel in Django Wexler’s flintlock fantasy series, The Shadow Campaigns: THE SHADOW THRONE. Interestingly (to me, anyway), this time I think I prefer the US cover over the UK artwork:


UK / US Covers

Here’s the synopsis:

Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin’s bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne.

The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries – and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom.

And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy.

Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself – and her country – out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.

As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence – at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise

The Shadow Throne is due to published in July 2014 by Del Rey UK and Roc Books in the US.

Also on CR: Interview with Django Wexler; Guest Post by Django Wexler; Reviews of The Thousand Names and The Penitent Damned

“The Crimson Campaign” by Brian McClellan (Orbit)

McClellanB-PM2-CrimsonCampaignAn excellent middle book – slightly shaky start, but awesome second half & ending

“The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions.”

Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god.

In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly.

With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir’s advancing army. Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.

I really enjoyed McClellan’s debut novel, Promise of Blood, and also the short stories he has released set in the same world. I was, therefore, extremely happy to get my hands on an ARC of The Crimson Campaign. Perhaps as a result of reading the handful of short stories (all of which were expertly crafted), I found this novel a bit slow going to begin with. However, after the story settled in, I blitzed through it, and read it well into the wee hours of the morning, unable to put it down. McClellan, I believe, is going to have a long, successful career.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Upcoming: COVENANT’S END by Ari Marmell (Pyr)

Marmell-W4-CovenantsEndI’m a big fan of Ari Marmell’s writing. Covenant’s End is the fourth volume in the author’s YA fantasy series, Widdershins Adventures. I’ve only read the first two, but I really enjoyed them both (I haven’t managed to get around to Lost Covenant, yet). Here is the synopsis…

The thief Widdershins and her own “personal god,” Olgun, return to their home city of Davillon after almost a year away. While Shins expects only to face the difficulty of making up with her friends, what she actually finds is far, far worse. Her nemesis, Lisette, has returned, and she is not alone. Lisette has made a dark pact with supernatural powers that have granted her abilities far greater than anything Widdershins and Olgun can match.

Together, Widdershins and Olgun will face enemies on both sides of the law, for Lisette’s schemes have given her power in both Davillon’s government and its underworld. For even a slim chance, Shins must call on both old friends-some of whom haven’t yet forgiven her-and new allies.

Even with their help, Widdershins may be required to make the hardest sacrifice of her life, if she is to rid Davillon-and herself-of Lisette once and for all.

Covenant’s End is due to be published by Pyr Books in February 2015. So, that’s rather a long way away (damnit!), but it’s nice to be able to share the artwork.

Marmell’s latest novel is Hot Lead, Cold Iron – the first in his Mick Oberon urban fantasy series set in 1930s Chicago – published by Titan Books in the US (out now) and UK (out next week).

Also on CR: Interview with Ari Marmell, Guest Post (Triumph Over Tragedy), Reviews of The Thief’s Covenant, False Covenant, The Conqueror’s Shadow


Two Great New BATMAN Pieces by Lee Bermejo…

Long time readers of the blog will know I’m a big fan of Lee Bermejo’s artwork. You can find loads of great examples over on his website. Today, I spotted two more in particular that caught my eye, and thought I’d share them on here.

The first is the brooding artwork for Secret Origins #2, a new series published by DC Comics:


Secondly, we have a black-and-white piece of DC’s “Trinity” – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman:


Books Received…


Featuring: Kristen Britain, Brian Freeman, Christopher Galt, Nick Harkaway, Snorri Kristjansson, Ursula le Guin, Peter May, Karen Miller, Paul Sussman, Chris Willrich, & graphic novels

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

International Giveaway: THE BARROW by Mark Smylie (Pyr)

SmylieM-TheBarrowToday, Pyr Books are offering two copies of Mark Smylie’s THE BARROW, with no geographical limitations at all! The novel has been racking up some impressive reviews since its release. In case you aren’t aware of the novel, however, here’s the synopsis…

Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this stand-alone fantasy novel with series potential. Set in the world of the Eisner-nominated Artesia comic books.

To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.

When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they've struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.

Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin's sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross-section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, brought together by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books, or get them all killed.

I’m going to keep this simple – the first two people to leave a comment saying they’d like a copy of the book, get the books. Simples. I’ll keep checking back, so if you enter, please be sure to send me your details.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Smylie

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Interview with STEPHEN HUNT

HuntStephen-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Stephen Hunt?

Him? He’s me, he is! Professionally, I was usually found knocking around the publishing world (albeit with side-ventures into pharmaceuticals, banking and the computing industry at Apple). I set up one of the first websites for a magazine,, back when nobody apart from scientists knew what the Web was. I worked for the Financial Times as an editor and publisher and ran a swathe of their online operations for a while. Now, I guess I’m just the geek with seven genre novels behind him.

Your next novel, In Dark Service, is due to be published by Gollancz in May 2014. It’s the first in a new series, no? How would you introduce the series to new readers?

The new series is called The Far-Called Sequence. The first novel, In Dark Service, has at its heart the tale of two families – the Carnehans and Landors – stuck in the nub-end of a backward, rural kingdom. Slavers attack the town they live in and carry away all the youngsters to sell. The town mounts a rescue expedition, hampered by the fact that the world, Pellas, is an amazingly large one, and their lost people could be anywhere in it. Those taken have to survive as slaves in a hellish environment. Those in the rescue expedition face their own kind of hell as they struggle to track down their missing loved ones.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Classic Cover: THE WARSLAYER by Rosemary Edghill (Baen)

EdghillR-WarslayerAnother one that caught my eye from Goodreads. Not only is it a bit of a dodgy “classic-style” fantasy cover, but check out this, ah, exuberant style for the synopsis:


Gloria “Glory” McArdle plays Vixen the Slayer in a straight-to-syndication TV show where even the fans say the villain is the better actress. The wizards of Erchanen have been searching all the worlds to find a hero, and Vixen the Slayer is the last name on their list.

The Warmother, imprisoned a thousand years before by Ginnas the Warkiller, has broken free of her ancient chains. If a hero can’t be found somewhere in all the universes to fight for them, the people of Erchanen are toast. But is it Glory they're looking for… or Vixen

It all seemed to be a perfectly straightforward misunderstanding when Belegir was explaining it in Glory's dressing room. The reality – if you could call it that – isn’t just fighting for her life. Faced with a challenge like that, what can a girl do but pick up her magic sword and her stuffed elephant and give her trademark battle cry:

“Hi-yi-yi-yi! Come, Camrado! Evil wakes!”

Published by Baen in 2002.

Dodgy Covers: GOSSAMER AXE by Gael Baudino (Roc)

Baudino-GossamerAxeThis is the first in what may end up being a series of posts in which I highlight book covers that I think are either bad, hilarious, dodgy, or just strange. This one caught my eye on Goodreads, and I particularly liked the referral to a guitar as an “axe” in the title. Here’s the synopsis…

A doorway between worlds opened, releasing Christa, her harp – and her quest. Imprisoned for centuries, she had escaped from the faery Sidh and the musician Orfide, weavers of spells and schemes. But the doorway had shut too quickly, leaving her lover behind in the endless captivity of a timeless world.

Now, in contemporary Denver, Christa discovers the way to her loved one’s freedom – stunning and powerful electric music that can break down the walls of time. So this Celtic maiden turns rocker, her harp transfigures into an electric guitar, and her newly formed band of heavy metal warriors, called Gossamer Axe, becomes her most effective weapon. Equipped to take on Sidh and Orfide, her dangerous odyssey through a rock world of evil drugs and sex begins – with Christa and her all-girl band on the ultimate road tour to faraway realms!

Urban fantasy, portal fantasy and rock ‘n’ roll collide! I haven’t read the book, so please don’t see this as me passing judgment on Baudino’s writing talents. I just thought the cover was worth sharing. Have you read the novel? Or anything else by the author?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Short Story Review: “The Devine Adoratrice” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeill-HH-TheDevineAdoratrice2014A prequel to Vengeful Spirit

Decades before Horus’s civil war sunders the Imperium, Raeven Devine, ruler-in-waiting of the world of Molech, prepares for his Becoming, the rite that will elevate him to the rank of Knight and bond him with the mighty war machine that will be his steed for years to come. But traitors within the Sacristans have other ideas and a shocking act of betrayal sets the stage for one of the bloodiest battles of the Horus Heresy…

This is a really good short story. McNeill has always been one of Black Library’s best authors, especially when it came to the Horus Heresy series. In this short story, he tells of the Becoming ritual of the Knight family on Molech. The two sons of the world’s ruler are given a parade that will lead to their bonding with a massive, lethal war-machine. However, unseen forces on the planet – remnants of the pre-illumination period – have other plans, and attempt to disrupt the ceremony.

What really stood out for me was how well it was written. McNeill, a skilled author, can often succumb to florid prose (especially at the start of his novels and short stories, which is interesting…). Here, however, he is far more focused and disciplined. As a result, the pacing and narrative flow are excellent. The characters feel realistic and well-rounded from very early on.

Certainly, I think this is one of the author’s best short stories, and bodes very well for Vengeful Spirit, his latest Horus Heresy novel. (Which I already have, and will be starting in the next week or so.) Very highly recommended for all fans of the Horus Heresy series.

Short Review: THREE (Image Comics)

cover2_altWe are SPARTA!

Writer: Kieron Gillen | Artists: Ryan Kelly, and Jordie Bellaire

In ancient Sparta, three Helot slaves run for their lives.  Pursuing them are three hundred of their Spartan masters.

Collects: Three #1-5

This is a pretty interesting, short graphic novel. The artwork is fantastic, and the storytelling is extremely well-done. Not only have the writer and artist done their research, but the story just flows. After a massacre at a village, a rather mysterious ‘cripple’ and two companions find themselves hunted by an army of snubbed Spartans. Chased across the country, they must keep their trail as hidden as possible, placing their fates in the hands of the oh-so-fickle (not to mention absent) gods. This is a really good book.

Upcoming: THE BULLET-CATCHER’S DAUGHTER by Rod Duncan (Angry Robot Books)

PrintStumbled across this while looking for information and links for an upcoming interview on the blog. The cover caught my eye and the novel sounds pretty interesting, too. It is the first (of two) novels in the Fall of the Gaslit Empire series. Here’s the synopsis…

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in September 2014, in the UK and US. Be sure to check out the author’s website and Twitter for more on his writing and novels.