Review copies received

Vladimir is unimpressed.

Vladimir is unimpressed.

I think Orbit US might have a hiccup in their records, because that’s the second copy of ANCILLARY SWORD and of WAR DOGS that has come through my door.

Out of Orbit US: ANCILLARY SWORD, by Ann Leckie; WAR DOGS, by Greg Bear; and THE FREE, by Brian Ruckley.

Out of Tor Books: FORTUNE’S BLIGHT, by Evie Manieri.

Review copies received: Rickert, Jackson, Vaughn, Joyce, Erikson, Miller

Yes, my photography is truly terrible. Also, cat.

Yes, my photography is truly terrible. Also, cat.

That’s Mary Rickert’s THE MEMORY GARDEN, Carrie Vaughn’s KITTY IN THE UNDERWORLD, D.B. Jackson’s A PLUNDER OF SOULS, Steven Erikson’s THE WURMS OF BLEARMOUTH, Graham Joyce’s THE GHOST IN THE ELECTRIC BLUE SUIT, and Karen Miller’s THE FALCON THRONE – which Orbit rather inventively sent out with a pinion feather attached; I think it’s a primary flight feather, and it definitely comes from a real bird. It makes me feel vaguely positive feelings towards the book already: I mean, FEATHER.

Yes, I’m easily distracted by shiny things.

Have another picture with a cat in.

Have another picture with a cat in.

And no, neither Visi nor Vlad are impressed with my new idea of staging books around them to take pictures. Visi was so unimpressed he only opened one eye and went immediately back to sleep.

Review copies (including IRREGULARITY edited by Jared Shurin)

'What? You were taking a picture? But I'm sleeping here.'

“What? You were taking a picture? But I’m sleeping here.”

That’s A.M. Dellamonica’s CHILD OF A HIDDEN SEA, Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman’s UNWEPT, Paul Park’s ALL THOSE VANISHED ENGINES, Lilith Saintcrow’s THE RIPPER AFFAIR, and IRREGULARITY, a short fiction collection out of Jurassic London edited by Jared Shurin and published coinciding with two exhibitions relevant to its subject material at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

Also included in picture: Vladimir the cat.

"No, I'm not moving. Go away, monkey, and take your books with you."

“I’m not moving. Go away.”

Review copies since last time

Six here.

Six here

That’s Brian McClellan’s THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN, Trudi Canavan’s THIEF’S MAGIC, Charlie Fletcher’s OVERSIGHT, Adam Christopher’s THE BURNING DARK, Stella Gemmell’s THE CITY, and Elizabeth Moon’s CROWN OF RENEWAL.

And four here.

And four here.

Followed by Kristen Britain’s MIRROR SIGHT, Ursula K. LeGuin’s THE UNREAL AND THE REAL VOLUME ONE, S.M. Wheeler’s SEA CHANGE, and Kameron Hurley’s THE MIRROR EMPIRE.

Review copies arrived: pictorial evidence

Two of which I have to read before the end of tomorrow...

Two of which I have to read before the end of tomorrow…


I need to read the first two before the end of tomorrow. And then review them by the end of Thursday. Wish me luck.

Books in brief: Moyer, Larke, Hodgell, Bourne, Duran

Jaime Lee Moyer, A Barricade in Hell. Tor, 2014. ARC courtesy of publisher.

Read for review for An improvement on the previous novel. Interesting-if-flawed ghost story/murder mystery set in San Francisco during WWI.

Glenda Larke, The Lascar’s Dagger. Orbit, 2014. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Read for inclusion in SWM column. Interesting fantasy clearly influenced by the mercantile 16th and 17th centuries. Pacing sags in the middle, much like Larke’s other books. Will discuss elsewhere.

P.C. Hodgell, The Sea of Time. Baen, 2014. Ebook. ARC courtesy of publisher.

Read for review. The latest P.C. Hodgell novel, which I’ve been gasping for. It is, alas, something of a middle book. But still full of Jame apologetically breaking things.

Joanna Bourne, The Spymaster’s Lady, My Lord and Spymaster, The Forbidden Rose and The Black Hawk. Ebooks, 2008-2013.

Romance novels set during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Heard of via Marie Brennan. I have a serious weakness for spies. There is not enough entertainment with spies in.

Meredith Duran, Wicked Becomes You, Your Wicked Heart, That Scandalous Summer, Bound By Your Touch, Fool Me Twice, Written On Your Skin. Ebooks, 2009-2014.

Historical romance novels. I probably shouldn’t have bought them all, but I was at the point in the scrabbling anxiety cycle where I needed to read something – compulsively – and romance novels were safe. Duran is good at her chosen genre.

Failed to get very far into A.M. Dellamonica’s Child of a Hidden Sea (Tor, 2014, ARC courtesy of the publisher). There’s nothing wrong with this book, but it’s a sort of portal fantasy and the tone and approach hasn’t grabbed me.

Peter Higgins, TRUTH AND FEAR

Reviewed over at

What Higgins does well, he does very well indeed. The prose treads a delicate line between the spare and the ornate, never quite tipping over into the latter – although at the moments when he lets moments of weirdness, bubbles of the bizarre, shines through, it can lean perilously close. There’s something almost Miévillean about Higgins’ combination of magic and the machinery of 20th century industrial totalitarianism: an innovative slipping-through-the-interstices…

Mira Grant, Parasite

This book has been preying on my mind since I finished it. For the most part I agree with Stefan at Far Beyond Reality: it’s a novel that falls apart in the middle, one whose interesting premise is marred by execution that is at best uneven and at worst seriously flawed. The similarities to Grant’s Feed are marked, especially in the way that crucial information is presented to the reader – but unlike Feed this infodumping never really feels smoothly integrated into the rest of the narrative. And the assumptions made about health and healthcare systems, globally, are fundamentally American: I’m not sure I see Parasite‘s miracle tapeworm passing muster on a global scale. Grant’s interest in zombie apocalypses here pushes the bounds of the believable: suspension of disbelief is often challenged.

In ways I cannot quite articulate, it reminds me of John Scalzi’s Redshirts: it’s not the same one-trick punchline, but something in the airport-blockbuster quality of the writing, the breezy confidence overlain over shallow characterisation, the lack of depth even as the prose carries one irresistibly along, annoys me in very similar ways. It will probably appeal to readers of Michael Crichton, and I expect Grant will certainly find a wide audience – but we can safely say that audience doesn’t really include me.