Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Diviners

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City - and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic.  It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets.  The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will - and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he'll discover her darkest secrets: a supernatural power that has only brought he trouble so far.  But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps.  A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds.  A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past.  A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret.
And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I had seen The Diviners being review on many other blogs and had read relatively good things about this supernatural tale set in the 1920's.  Even though I have a self-imposed ordering from the library ban on at the moment in order to get all my reading done by the holidays, I had to make an exception for this intriguing book.
Firstly, this is definitely not a quick read.  My edition was a hardback and at 500+ pages long and my poor arms were aching after about 10mins of reading but I had to persevere.  The Diviners page count is not the only reason it will never be a quick read; Bray's attention to detail - both about the setting and her character backgrounds - is awe worthy and her extensive research translates well into the text without dragging the story to a halt.  While it may put some off, I think the story benefits from Bray's inclusion of many small details, giving the story the air of needing to be savoured and re-read.  Yes, certain things could be cut, but would I have had the same understanding of the characters or enjoyment of the book as a whole? 
My main reason for wanting to read this book so desperately was that it was set in Manhattan in the 1920's.  I've had a streak of reading paranormal books set in either alternative our time or far flung in the future that I found talks of flappers and prohibition refreshing, making me imagine the city in a  completely different way. 
The Diviners has a huge cast of characters, and this is normally the downfall for a lot of books.  Amazingly they each get their allotted page space, even if they are to become victims of Naughty John, and have rich, detailed histories that transform them from stereotypes and into real people. Speaking of which, the Naughty John segments (especially the early ones) were adeptly pulled off, and read like they had come from the pages of an adult crime/thriller novel. 
My only disappointment with The Diviners was that I felt towards the end the last few pages were too occupied with setting up plot threads for the next book.  However, I am intrigued to see where Libba Bray will take her cast next. 
I also have to mention the great website for The Diviners!  Click here for character profiles, etc..

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cool Covers of the Future

Broken Homes didn't make it on to my Top Ten as I spotted the new cover only moments ago over at The Folly.  Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to Peter Gant's latest adventure, even though the last two books haven't lived up to the amazing Rivers of London.  Most of all I'm glad they've kept with the same style of cover - don't you just hate it when they change mid-series? - as they're really very clever and I haven't seen anything similar yet.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For 2013

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where each Tuesday bloggers compile their top ten list on a certain subject.  I've seen quite a few people doing these and thought it was finally time I jumped on the band wagon!  This Tuesday it's Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2013.  Let me tell you it wasn't easy whittling this list down to 10, but here we go:

1.  The Glass Republic - Tom Pollock
I was nicely surprised when The City's Son turned out to be as great as it's cover and hopefully it's sequel will be no different.  I loved the way Pollock twisted aspects of the city and turned them into this fantastical world, and I'm doubly excited as Pen is the lead narrator this go-around.  Find out more here

2.  Scarlett - Marissa Meyer
Another second book for a burgeoning series, this time the second of The Lunar Chronicles.  The first book, Cinder, was a brilliant adaptation of the Sailor Moon/Endymion story (what do you mean it was supposed to mimic Cinderella?!?) and while Cinder's journey does continue in this entry, Meyer is introducing a new protagonist, which will hopefully expand the world and keep the story fresh.  Find out more here

3.  Hell to Pay - Matthew Hughes
While book one was intriguing, I fell in love with the characters in book two.  Chesney and Xaphan are back and it looks like there may be dinosaurs involved!  Find out more here

4.  Fuse - Julianna Baggott
 More from the dystopian world that Partridge and Pressia inhabit.  I thought the first book, Pure, was interesting and imaginative and hoping this will follow suit.  Find out more here

5.  The Life Beyond - Susanne Winnacker
I need more encounters with the creepy Weepers and to know about what's beyond the fence and right now!

 6.  Etiquette & Espionage - Gail Carriger
Gail Carriger is one of my favourite authors and I'm looking forward to new characters and her take on a Young Adult novel.  This is set in the same world as that of the Parasol Protectorate only some years earlier so I'm looking forward to more steampunk-esque antics.
7.  Omens - Kelley Armstrong

I'm going to miss the Otherworld series but I'm ready for a change.  Omens is still paranormal so Armstrong hasn't strayed too far and I'm hoping this will be as equally as enjoyable as any of her other works of fiction.  Find out more here

8.  Ink - Amanda Sun
Beautiful cover and set in Japan, Ink sounds interesting!  Find out more here
9.  iD - Madeline Ashby
No cover for this yet, but I'm very excited for the follow up to vN.  Madeline Ashby is a genius to make a simpleton like me understand a little bit more about robotics.
10.  The Blue Blazes/Cormorant - Chuck Wendig
Technically cheating I know!  However, the third Miriam Black book doesn't have a publication date from Angry Robot yet so while I'd be over the moon if it was released in 2013, I'm equally happy to get my Wendig fix in the form of his new novel that is being released in June.
So that's my Top Ten.  Did I miss anything out? 

Seven Wonders

Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling metropolis of San Ventura - a city utterly gripped by fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, the Cowl.
  When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down the Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team, the Seven Wonders, aren't anything like as grateful as he had assumed they would be...

 Adam Christopher's homage to the super hero genre could never be accused of being dull.  Seven Wonders is jammed packed with action sequences and various characters that you'd normally find in various graphic novels - some have gloriously funny names - and all of the core players have their chance to shine and their potential explored.
  My scatter brain benefited from the overall structure of short chapters that proceeded rather long ones and I also felt that the jumps in narration allowed more freedom to explore how certain characters viewed themselves and then how others viewed them which further emphasised the central theme that power corrupts, even if you don't intend for that to happen...Seven Wonders is exactly as advertised, yet it never keeps in the direction you think it's going to head in.  I thought I had it all figured out and then half way in everything changed!  A fantastic stand-alone novel (but in true superhero fashion, the ending leaves plenty open for a sequel) that would be a great Christmas gift!    

Monday, 26 November 2012

Cool Covers of the Future

Found the cover for The Life Beyond over at Goodreads.  I really loved the cover of it's predecessor, The Other Life, and am glad that they've kept the same motif going but have inverted some of the colours to give it it's own identity.

The Other Life

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation...and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

When Sherry's dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua - an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

The Other Life is packed full of teen speculative fiction cliches, including my pet hate of a burgeoning romance between the two leads which normally causes me to scream, "why can they never just be friends?" and then throw the book across the room for good measure!  However; against all odds, I found Susanne Winnacker's debut novel to be a great read.

Susanne Winnacker knows how to spin a good yarn, and The Other Life's success lies in it's pacing.  She explains a lot, and yet there's always something going on, propelling Sherry deeper into the rabbit hole, and I found myself literally unable to put this book down.  I think what I loved most were the Weepers; people who had been infected with a strain of rabies that had killed the other half of the population.  They are a clever way of not using your average zombie in this post-outbreak wasteland and I liked that they all looked different apart from their human-like weeping eyes.  Very unsettling!

I also have to mention, as I always do, that the cover work is beautifully creepy (look at that moth a bit closer) and extends to inside the book as well, with the barbed wire trailing across the chapter headers.  The last couple chapters take the story in a different direction, and I hope that will be explored in the second book of the series, due out spring next year.  So, if you can, get you hands on a copy if only to stare at that lovely cover!

Wicked Appetite/Wicked Business

Best known for her Stephanie Plum books,  Janet Evanovich's foray into paranormal fiction with the Wicked Series is everything that I felt Darynda Jones's Charley Davidson books should have been: fluff with a supernatural twist and plenty of fast paced mayhem that is not dragged down by the details.  While both books were not without their flaws, or laugh out loud funny, they were a pleasant way to pass the time and either Wicked Appetite or it's sequel Wicked Business could easily be read entirely on a lazy Sunday.

For more info click here for Wicked Appetite and here for more on Wicked Business.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Twenty-nine-year-old Owen Gray always believed the miraculous device in his brain had been implanted for purely medical reasons, as a way of controlling the debilitating seizures he suffered in his youth.  But when the Supreme Court rules that 'amplified' humans like Owen are not protected by the same basic laws as pure humans, his world instantly fractures.  As society begins to unravel and a new class war is ignited by fear, Owen's father, a doctor who originally implanted the 'amp', confides something that will send him on a harrowing journey - and he is now in grave danger.
  All roads lead to a dusty community in rural Oklahoma, where Owen must find the one man who can explain what is really in his head.  There he also meets Lyle Crosby, a dangerous and unpredictable leader of the fast-growing 'amp' movement, someone whose stunning physical abilities and ruthless ideas show Owen how to harness his own startling gifts - but threaten to draw him into a world from which there may be no moral return.

The blurb for Amped sounds so good doesn't it? I haven't read Daniel H. Wilson's other novel Robopocalypse, but have been tempted many times to purchase it.  However; after reading Amped that compulsion has completely died.
The first few pages start off great, and I was devouring the story at a fast pace, but after Owen ends up on the lamb my interest in this book soon disintegrated and I couldn't for ages figure out why.  It's not that Amped isn't based on a great idea, or that any of the technical jargon went overboard - I do think that Wilson's primary strength is incorporating his vast knowledge of robotics into the text - however; the whole thing is just soulless.

My main problem was that Wilson's lead character Owen reads as being completely 2-dimensional and only existing for the purpose of this stand-alone story.  Was this Wilson's intent?  To make 'Amped' characters seem less human because they have been altered?  Well, if that is the case, then I think he succeeded.  It's a shame, as with some tweaking, Amped could have become something completely different, something a lot more thrilling and attention grabbing but unfortunately it's just a generic, bland piece of speculative fiction.    

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire

I can't say too much about Timeless without spoiling the whole series, but 'Shifting times' is a big theme for the last instalment of the Parasol Protectorate.  In Timeless, Carriger has satisfyingly wrapped up her excellently barmy series in style.  What I loved most about Soulless (book one) was that it felt like these people existed previously beyond the book, and I felt exactly the same when I read the last page of Timeless, in that just because I'm not reading about them doesn't mean they cease to exist having adventures.  I can't recommend this series enough and I am looking forward to future Carriger projects, where my inner voice can become posh once again.

I *heart* post!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Heart Shaped Bruise

I've seen this on a couple of blogs, yet I didn't set out to read it, but it was another a case of it catching my eye in the library and me thinking why not?

They say I'm evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who shake their heads on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you don't know. You don't know who I used to be.

Who I could have been.

Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time.

Heart-Shaped Bruise is a compulsive and moving novel about infamy, identity and how far a person might go to seek revenge.

Heart-Shaped Bruise is a YA Crime/Thriller, probably a good introduction for budding crime novel devourers.  The only problem I had, and this may be a tad spoilery, was that I found myself waiting for a twist that never came.  There were too many coincidences for me and I was expecting something a little more complex from the ending.  Still I read it in one sitting.  Tanya Byrne's writing style is definitely compelling, and in Emily she has created a brittle and fascinating character, that perhaps deserved a better story to inhabit.  So, while Heart-Shaped Bruise is not a bad read, and I would recommend it, it is just not what I expected.

Cool Covers of the Future

Spotted this today over at Angry Robot's website  I've got the first book, Empire State, but haven't read it yet.  I picked that up as part of a 'buy one, get on half price' offer purely because of the cover (and okay, the blurb sounded mighty interesting too) and I might have to purchase this to have a matching set of awesomeness.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Cool Covers of the Present

Found this in the library. No surprise that it is from the beautiful Penguin Essentials collection.  Even though I've got a self-imposed book ban from the library on at present, I had to make an exception so this could live in my handbag for a few weeks.

Hollow Earth

Twins Matt and Emily Calder have imaginations so powerful that they can make art come to life.  Their powers are sought by villains intent on accessing the terrors of Hollow Earth - a place where all the devils, demons and monsters ever imagined lie trapped for eternity.  If Hollow Earth is breached, the world will be plunged into chaos.  If Hollow Earth is breached... ...the twins are as good as dead.
I picked this up on a whim.  I'd seen an interview with John and Carole on This Morning promoting Hollow Earth and it sounded interesting enough so I figured if they had it in the library I might as well order it and check it out.
At first Hollow Earth reads like a stereotypically badly written novel for pre-teens, but once it gets past the introductions and leaves London behind, the story turns into an interesting and quirky quick read.  The Barrowman's seem to have found a good balance between explaining and showing, as I never felt that the story was being dragged by exposition.  The characters may not be original, but their heritage is, and as the story develops they progress from angst ridden pre-teens into curious and somewhat responsible protagonists that I wouldn't mind following for a couple more books.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The City's Son

Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.
  When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she find Filius Viae, London's ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most.  An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St Paul's Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love.

Without a doubt, this has to be the best Young Adult book I have ever read.  And probably one of the prettiest covers I have ever laid my eyes on. 
The City's Son has a great, imaginative, story that incorporates all aspects of the city of London and Tom Pollock has created some brilliant, fractured characters to inhabit his London underbelly.  I really liked Pen, Beth's best friend, and her growth throughout the course of the novel, but then I liked all the characters relationships and interactions.  I was also amazed at how every page was firmly rooted in the city, Pollock using London as another character for his intriguing cast of misfits.
  What impressed me the most was that The City's Son reads as an adult novel, and that there were consequences from the actions within the book that can't be erased or corrected by a magical/unbelievable event.  Also the momentum of the plot carried me from being a sceptic into a full fledged fan.

There's an obligatory twist in the tale that I guessed early on, but it doesn't rankle so much as it sets things in motion for the next book, The Glass Republic, which I am eagerly anticipating.  The City's Son is everything I wish Whispers Under Ground would have been, and I would recommend it for any fans of The Rivers of London/Peter Gant series.  

Coming Up

 Again, this is what happens if I make eye contact with other shelves when I'm only in the library to return books. I've been trying to limit my library allowance so I can get around to reading the huge stack of books that I bought last year. However, I have no will power and some books are just too darn pretty to be left on a shelf.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

In The Gunslinger, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger.  He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.
  In hi first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

I had heard great things about The Dark Tower series, and I have liked previous books from Stephen King (even if I didn't realise it until 20 chapters in) so I thought, why not?  I had been meaning to order the first book of the series, The Gunslinger, for a while and about four Saturdays back it just happened to be waiting for me on the Science Fiction shelf in the library.

  Now, I don't know if this was because I'd been having a funny week and couldn't concentrate but I could not latch on to this book mentally.  I enjoyed the introduction and foreword by King, I think he has such a clear voice when he is talking about his work, but then when I got to the actual story I had no clue what was going on.  This usually happens with me and new books, so I was expecting to start retaining some information about a third of the way in but this never happened.  I finished the last few pages last night and I don't think I could tell you what happened apart from that Roland had a conversation with the Man in Black.

I'm not giving up on my attempt to read this series, but, I'm not in a rush to order or read the next instalment.  However, if like this one, it magically appears on the library shelf in the new year, then I'm most probably going to check it out and see if it was a first book fluke or if I really do have a problem with rambling fantasies.

The Killing Place/The Silent Girl

A couple of weeks back I was rummaging through the library shelves and stumbled upon the two Rizzoli and Isles books (I've been slowly going in the right order when the library has them rather than ordering them) that I hadn't read yet.  This has been a great series so far, and Gerritsen's books are never a chore to read so I looked forward to a thrilling double feature.
The Killing Place

He Watches.
Something terrible has happened in the snowbound village of Kingdom Come, Wyoming.  Twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned.  The people who lived in them appear to have vanished, seemingly into thin air.
He Waits.
Maura Isles is driving through the area with a group of friends when they find themselves trapped in  snowstorm.   They stumble into the abandoned village to take shelter.  Their nightmare has only just begun.
They Disappear
Days later, Jane Rizzoli flies to Wyoming to search for her missing friend.  A crashed vehicle has been found with four badly burned bodies still inside.  Can one of the corpses be Maura's? 
Jane's hunt for the truth leads her to Kingdom Come.  Where the person who was watching Maura now lies waiting for her...

The Killing Place was superb, and is joint first with Body Double as the best entry in Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series. The dialogue may be a bit shoddy, and very cheesy, but the plot was fantastic. Gerritsen sets it up as horror story and I was genuinely getting a bit creeped out. The Killing Place captivated my attention for a whole train journey, and would probably fare well for a long-haul plane ride as I wanted to find out what was going to happen to Maura. The only fault was that the ending was a bit of a let down, but it was an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

The Silent Girl

Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston’s Chinatown will do both.
  In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair—not human—cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.
  Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.
  Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning—and a swift, avenging blade.

I didn't enjoy The Silent Girl as much.  I found it hard to keep reading, and guessed who the culprit was about half way through, which is unusual for a Gerritsen book where she normally keeps the identity of her killers hidden until the last few pages.  However, this was still an enjoyable read as I liked the cast character development that wasn't related to the case; like Maura testifying against a cop; and Jane trying to navigate her new family unit. 
  Not every entry in a series can be excellent (apart from the Dresden Files...), so I'm hoping that the next book will go back to combining a great murder mystery with personal development for both Rizzoli and Isles.   

Friday, 2 November 2012

Cool Covers of the Future

Just spotted this on the Angry Robot blog for the third book in Matthew Hughes To Hell and Back series. 

How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

My name is Charles Yu.  I'm a time machine repairman.  In one minute, I'm going to murder myself.  Again.
I have one sentence for How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu:
A whole bunch of this went over my head.
That is all.

The Uninvited Guests

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor—and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.

The cook toils over mock turtle soup and a chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste. But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan. As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.

Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.

The Uninvited Guests was a good read to pass the time, and also to just stare at that beautiful cover, but Sadie Jones' supernatural tale just didn't fulfil all the possible potential it had to be an exceptional piece of ghostly fiction. 

The best part about The Uninvited Guests was that there was heaps of atmosphere and all the required ingredients for a great spooky chiller: the fractured family; the large stately home in disrepair; the party where important impressions must be made; and finally the mysterious accident that causes the majority of the family's staff to leave in order to aid those injured and leaving the Torrington family exposed to sinister forces.  However, Jones' story is far too polite and restrained to be anything more than a gentle moral story.  By the end, all I could think of was this was a shoddy remake of J. B. Priestly's An Inspector Calls, the action now supplanted to the country. 
While I agree that the best spooky tales withold full explantions as to the why and how, I didn't find this approach appropriate for the story.  The Uninvited Guests could have been longer, and the superb enviroment and characters that Jones created could withstand stronger supernatural elements.
  A pleasant read, but I won't be rushing to read it again.