Upcoming: DEFENDER by G.X. Todd (Headline)

ToddGX-1-DefenderUKThis is one I’m really looking forward to: G.X. Todd‘s upcoming debut, Defender, has been described as including “nods back to Stephen King’s The Stand“, and also influenced by Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. That’s a pretty impressive SFFH pedigree to which it’s being tied. The first in the four-part Voices series, in which “your inner voice might kill you”. Defender is due to be published in the UK by Headline in January 2017. Here’s the synopsis:

The primal battle between Good and Evil plays out in a new arena…

‘On the cusp of sleep, have we not all heard a voice call out our name?’

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

For more news about Todd’s writing and novels, be sure to check out the author’s website, and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.

Review: JONATHAN UNLEASHED by Meg Rosoff (Bloomsbury/Viking)

RosoffM-JonathanUnleashedUKA sometimes endearing NYC novel…

Jonathan Trefoil’s boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him – only richer and more organised with a different sense of humour. 

On the plus side, his two flatmates are determined to fix his life – or possibly to destroy it altogether. It’s difficult to be certain as they only speak dog.

Poor Jonathan. He doesn’t remember life being this confusing back in the good old days before everyone expected him to act like a person. But one thing he knows for sure: if he can make it in New York City, he can make it anywhere.

Will he get out of advertising, meet the girl of his dreams and figure out the gender of his secret crush?

Given how it’s going so far, probably not.

I had high hopes for this novel. It was getting a lot of positive buzz and reviews, and so when it popped up on sale on Amazon, I decided to give it a try. Despite some amusing and very well-written passages, the novel ultimately did not live up to the hype. Continue reading

Upcoming: CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber (Hodder)

GarberS-CaravalCaraval, Stephanie Garber’s debut novel is due to be published by Hodder in the UK. The animated cover was unveiled earlier today, and I thought the synopsis sounded quite interesting. (Also, that cover-GIF is pretty mesmerizing if you spend a little time watching it…) Here’s what it’s about:

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

Looking forward to this. Caraval is due out January 31st, 2017. For new and updates, be sure to check out Garber’s website, and follow her on Twitter.

Review: THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor LaValle (Tor.com)

LaValleV-BalladOfBlackTomUSA nice twist on Lovecraftian horror

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

I’m rather late to the party on this one, but I was certainly intrigued after I first read the synopsis. The Ballad of Black Tom is a really interesting, well-written twist on Lovecraftian horror. I really enjoyed this, and I think it will appeal to a wide swathe of SFFH fandom. Thankfully, you also don’t need to have read any Lovecraft to enjoy it. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES LOVEGROVE

LovegroveJ-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! Let’s start with an introduction, for new readers: Who is James Lovegrove?

James Lovegrove is, right now, someone struggling to get stuff done during the dog days of the school summer holidays. I’m a writer who likes peace and quiet when working, and my two boys, aged 13 and 10, are very solicitous about that but they’re also just kids and want their dad to play with them whenever possible. It’s tricky, this work/life balance thing. I’m also, incidentally, the author of 50-odd books, a similar number of short stories, and quite a hefty amount of book-related journalism.

Your latest novel, Age of Heroes, will be published by Solaris. How would you introduce the novel and series to a potential reader?

The string of books which has come to be known as the Pantheon series centres around the gods of various ancient religions and their relationship with the mortals who worship them. The novels are largely military SF and each is a standalone tale that can be read independently of the others. The tone differs from one to the next but the core theme is the same: what responsibilities do our deities have towards us, and we towards them, and where do the two dovetail? Age of Heroes continues the trend but this time I’m delving into a slightly lower stratum – demigods. My main characters are the heroes of Ancient Greek myth such as Theseus, Perseus and Heracles. I’ve envisaged them as ageless immortals who continue to walk among us in the twenty-first century, three and a half millennia after their heyday, the proverbial Age of Heroes. Some of them have adapted better to modern life than others, and some are striving to remain heroic in an era that is desperately cynical about such things as self-sacrifice and virtue.  And then they start dying… Continue reading

Quick Review: LEARNING TO FLY: LEARNING TO FLY (Orion)

WallM-FooFightersA quick biography of Nirvana Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters…

The definitive, no-holds-barred biography of one of the biggest-selling rock bands in the world, the Foo Fighters.

Everyone from Sir Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page to Queens of the Stone Age now relishes the chance to share a stage with Dave Grohl and his legendary Foo Fighters. The question is: why? Musical depth? Not really. Major success? Well, yes. Despite no longer shifting albums in the same quantity as they did twenty years ago, this band can still fill stadiums the world over (when Dave’s not breaking his leg, of course).

Long before Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in 1994, Dave Grohl was planning for a life after Nirvana. The unflinching bright sunlight to Cobain’s permanent midnight darkness, Grohl had come from a similar broken home to his erstwhile band leader, but came out of the experience differently – brimming with positivity and a shrewd grasp of opportunities in the music industry.

Did Grohl merely take the sonic blueprint of Nirvana and embellish it with a more life-affirming pop sheen? Of course he did. Every band in America that sold over a million records in the post-grunge 90s did the same. The difference was that Grohl had real credibility. And he knew it.

With exclusive testimony from true insiders (including Krist Novoselic, Grohl’s bass-playing partner in Nirvana, ex-girlfirends, record company executives, tour photographers and confidantes), this book is an exploration of the real story behind Grohl and the Foo Fighters — the only serious literary biography of the group and its leader, one of the most famous and critically bulletproof rock figures of the 21st century.

I waited a long time to pick up this book. I sadly cannot say that it was worth the wait. This is, at best, a mediocre re-hash of information you’ll find elsewhere from more-informed and better writers. Yes, it covers everything important in Dave Grohl’s musical career. But it’s not particularly enlightening, nor is it gripping. It is not definitive. It is by no means “literary”, either — the interpretation and analysis is simplistic and not particularly deep. At least, not that provided by Wall. He does interview some people who know what they’re talking about. Continue reading

Upcoming: M.R. Carey Returning to the World of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS!

CareyMR-GirlWithAllTheGiftsM.R. Carey’s next novel will be The Boy on the Bridge — a prequel of sorts to the story in his best-selling and critically-acclaimed The Girl With All the Gifts (which was also a CR favourite in 2013).

Here’s what the author has to say about the new novel:

“Returning to the world of The Girl With All the Gifts felt like coming home in a weird way. And every time I visit I find something I didn’t know was there. The Boy on the Bridge is very much its own thing, not a continuation of Melanie’s story but a new journey with a new cast of characters. But it answers a lot of questions that The Girl With All the Gifts implicitly asked.”

Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts is published by Orbit Books in the UK and US. His latest novel, Fellside, is also published by Orbit Books in both the UK and US. I highly recommend them both. Carey is also the writer of the original, superb Lucifer comic series, which spun out of Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking Sandman series.

You can watch a video of Mike discussing the new book on his Facebook page, here.

Also on CR: Review of The Girl With All the Gifts