Quick Review: AND NOW SHE’S GONE by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge)

HallRH-AndNowShesGoneUSA novice PI tries to unravel the mystery of a missing woman

Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family.

Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, Rachel Howzell Hall’s And Now She’s Gone explores the nature of secrets — and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.

This is the first novel by Hall that I’ve read (which is a little strange, seeing as I have all of her previous novels…). Set in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, this is an engaging mystery about a woman’s disappearance and the novice PI tasked with finding her. Stitching together two parallel-yet-unconnected storylines, I quite enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: RING SHOUT by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-RingShoutA dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror

IN AMERICA, DEMONS WEAR WHITE HOODS.

In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.

Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.

Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?

The KKK are monsters. But what if, in addition to the human kind of monsters, they were also actual otherworldly demons? P. Djèlí Clark examines just such a situation, in this engaging and twisted novella. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE OLD GUARD (Netflix)

As far as I can tell, this movie has not been getting a lot of attention. I can’t remember when I first learned of it, but I think it was when I spotted some stills quite some times ago, on Twitter. Aside from a few other people sharing the trailer and stating similar surprise at its low-visibility, Netflix’s upcoming movie The Old Guard seems to be skimming along with minimal attention. This is quite surprising. Continue reading

Quick Review: FANGS by Sarah Andersen (Andrews McMeel)

AndersenS-FangsA delightful modern love story between a vampire and a werewolf

Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.

This book doesn’t need a very long review. It is a brilliant, delightful story of a vampire and werewolf who fall in love. It’s a quick enjoyable read. Continue reading

Interview with DEVIN MADSON

MadsonD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Devin Madson?

Devin Madson is an Australian fantasy author who doesn’t usually talk about herself in the third person, but here we are. I started in self-publishing in 2013, and was picked up by Orbit in 2019 in what has been a strange six to seven years of my career. I live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by alternately cute and deadly Australian animals, I’ve abandoned three university degrees, killed dozens of house plants, and rewatch the same handful of movies over and over again.

Your first novel with Orbit Books, We Ride the Storm, is due to be published tomorrow. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It is part of a four-book series, which will be released on a six-month schedule! We Ride the Storm is the story of an empire built by war being brought down by war, crushed beneath its history of division and inherited hurts. We follow a snarky assassin with a voice in her head she can’t escape, an honourable warrior trying to hold on to his tenets while being forced to fight in a foreign war, and an ambitious princess who wants to rule the empire in her own right whatever the cost. There’s lot of intrigue, tense battles, trippy necromancy, respectful head severing and tea. Continue reading

Interview with K.A. DOORE

DooreKA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is K.A. Doore?

Three gators in a plaid twirly dress. With pockets, of course.

Aside from that – and a ton of moisturizer – I’m a mom, a runner, a reader, a weightlifter, an eLearning designer, a random facts generator, a coffee aficionado, an occasionally comforting voice from the Void, an erstwhile Classicist, a spider wrangler, and – yes, of course – a writer.

I also yell about queer books on Twitter. A lot. God, I love queer books.

The third novel in your Chronicles of Ghadid series, The Unconquered City is due to be published by Tor Books in June. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? And what can fans of the series expect from the new novel?

The Chronicles of Ghadid are three books of non-stop queer assassins saving the day. It begins with quiet and bookish Amastan trying to solve a hometown murder and ends with an invasion of a country and the end of the world (as we know it). Continue reading

New Books (May-June)

NewBooks-20200605

Featuring: Lauren Beukes, M.R. Carey, Michael Connelly, Lee Goldberg, Rachel Howzell Hall, Amanda Harlowe, Jennifer Hofmann, Claire Holroyde, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Melissa Korn, Joe R. Lansdale, Owen Laukkanen, Michael Laurence, Jennifer Levitz, Cassidy Lucas, Chuck Palahniuk, Daniel Polansky, Natasha Pulley, Elizabeth Shackelford, Curtis Sittenfeld, Lavie Tidhar, Robert Webb, Django Wexler

Continue reading

Quick Review: ACADEMIC EXERCISES by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-AcademicExercisesA superb collection of short fiction by one of the masters of the form

Academic Exercises is the first collection of shorter work by master novelist K. J. Parker, and it is a stunner. Weighing in at over 500 pages, this generous volume gathers together thirteen highly distinctive stories, essays, and novellas, including the recent World Fantasy Award-winner, “Let Maps to Others”. The result is a significant publishing event, a book that belongs on the shelf of every serious reader of imaginative fiction.

The collection opens with the World Fantasy Award-winning “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong,” a story of music and murder set against a complex mentor/pupil relationship, and closes with the superb novella “Blue and Gold,” which features what may be the most beguiling opening lines in recent memory. In between, Parker has assembled a treasure house of narrative pleasures. In “A Rich, Full Week,” an itinerant “wizard” undergoes a transformative encounter with a member of the “restless dead.” “Purple and Black,” the longest story in the book, is an epistolary tale about a man who inherits the most hazardous position imaginable: Emperor. “Amor Vincit Omnia” recounts a confrontation with a mass murderer who may have mastered an impossible form of magic.

Rounding out the volume — and enriching it enormously — are three fascinating and illuminating essays that bear direct relevance to Parker’s unique brand of fiction: “On Sieges,” “Cutting Edge Technology,” and “Rich Men’s Skins.”

Taken singly, each of these thirteen pieces is a lovingly crafted gem. Together, they constitute a major and enduring achievement. Rich, varied, and constantly absorbing, Academic Exercises is, without a doubt, the fantasy collection of the year.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of K. J. Parker’s novellas and short stories. The novellas he’s published with Tor.com and Subterranean Press routinely are among my favourite reads of any given year. Academic Exercises is the author’s first big collection of shorter fiction, and it’s a fantastic one at that. I really enjoyed this, and it further cemented my opinion of Parker as one of the best authors of short fiction. Continue reading

Music Review: FINDING GOD BEFORE GOD FINDS ME by Bad Omens (Sumerian Records)

BadOmens-FindingGodDeluxe

An interesting, eclectic metal album. Pretty cool.

If I hadn’t already known before listening to the album, I could have easily guessed that Finding God Before God Finds Me was released by Sumerian Records. The range of styles and sounds, mixing clean rock and crunchy, scream-y metal seems to be the calling card of many of the label’s artists. Luckily, it’s a mix that I enjoy very much. Some of the bands are better than others, and Bad Omens falls in the former camp — I only came across them relatively recently, but I’ve grown to like them a lot.

Bad Omens is a talented metal band, switching between the metal and rock spectra quite easily and skillfully. They sometimes remind me a bit of Asking Alexandria. Bad Omens is certainly their own band, with their own sound. They’re difficult to pigeon-hole, given the incredible range of their songs. For some, this might make them seem a bit schizophrenic or disjointed, but I think it makes Finding God Before He Finds Me a very interesting listening experience. Continue reading

Interview with JEREMY SZAL

SzalJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jeremy Szal?

Jeremy Szal was born in 1995 and raised by wild dingoes. He spent his childhood exploring bookstores, beaches, and the limits of other people’s patience. He loves watching weird films, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and cold weather.

At least, that’s the impression I want people to have of me. I live in Sydney, Australia with my family and a hyperactive Jack Russell. I was homeschooled when I was a kid, up until the last few years of school, before heading off to university. I’m an outgoing person, but I’m also the sort of guy who’s perfectly content to stay home with a good book or engaging boxset.

Your debut novel, Stormblood, will be published by Gollancz in June. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first book in a trilogy! It’s about the DNA of an extinct alien race that’s used as a drug, making soldiers permanently addicted to adrenaline and sending them off to war. Of course, everything that could go wrong inevitably did go wrong. The protagonist is one of these soliders, returned home from the war to find his squadmates being murdered, and his estranged brother is the prime suspect. Continue reading