Interview with JAMES ISLINGTON

islingtonj-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Islington?

I’m 35, Australian, married and with a daughter who’s just turned one. I’ve been writing for about five years now (I originally self-published in 2014 before getting picked up by Orbit)… prior to that, I was running a tech startup, which I really didn’t enjoy at all.

I’m into board games (I own more than 200), video games (I own… too many in my Steam account to admit), TV, movies and the occasional anime. Sometimes books, too!

Your debut novel, The Shadow of What Was Lost, was published recently by Orbit. It looks rather interesting, and I’ve been hearing great things about it (it’s near the top of my ever-tottering TBR mountain). How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s heroic epic fantasy – think more traditional / less grim and gritty than something like A Game of Thrones, but it’s certainly not the elves, dwarves and dragons of The Lord of the Rings, either. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and my go-to introduction is usually that it’ll appeal to fans of The Wheel of Time and/or Brandon Sanderson’s various series. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE BLOOD MIRROR by Brent Weeks (Orbit)

weeksb-l4-bloodmirrorukThe Blood Mirror, the fourth novel in Brent Weeks‘s epic Lightbringer series, was published yesterday. To celebrate its arrival, Orbit has given me this excerpt to share. First, the novel’s synopsis:

Stripped of both magical and political power, the people he once ruled told he’s dead, and now imprisoned in his own magical dungeon, former Emperor Gavin Guile has no prospect of escape. 

But the world faces a calamity greater than the Seven Satrapies has ever seen… and only he can save it.

As the armies of the White King defeat the Chromeria and old gods are born anew, the fate of worlds will come down to one question: who is the Lightbringer?

The Blood Mirror is published in the UK and US by Orbit Books.

And now, the excerpt…

Continue reading

Quick Review: THE TIME TO KILL by Mason Cross (Orion)

CrossM-3-TheTimeToKillUKCarter Blake’s previous employer cleans house…

It’s been five years since Carter Blake parted ways with top-secret government operation Winterlong. They brokered a deal at the time: he’d keep quiet about what they were doing, and in return he’d be left alone.

But news that one of Blake’s old allies, a man who agreed the same deal, is dead means only one thing — something has changed and Winterlong is coming for him.

Emma Faraday, newly appointed head of the secret unit, is determined to tie up loose ends. And Blake is a very loose end. He’s been evading them for years, but finally they’ve picked up his trace. Blake may be the best there is at tracking down people who don’t want to be found, but Winterlong taught him everything he knows. If there’s anyone who can find him — and kill him — it’s them.

It’s time for Carter Blake to up his game.

After two superb novels featuring Carter Blake, Cross has him clashing with the organization that helped train him to become the near-perfect, deadly operative he has become. Another fantastic novel, it shows us some key moments of Blake’s past, and also his determination and strategic genius. Continue reading

Review: DON’T I KNOW YOU? by Marni Jackson (Flatiron Books)

don’t i know you? comp18.epsA peculiar, interesting novel about self and celebrity

What if some of the artists we feel as if we know — Meryl Streep, Neil Young, Bill Murray — turned up in the course of our daily lives? 

This is what happens to Rose McEwan, an ordinary woman who keeps having strange encounters with famous people. In this engrossing, original novel-in-stories, we follow her life from age 17, when she takes a summer writing course led by a young John Updike, through her first heartbreak (witnessed by Joni Mitchell) on the island of Crete, through her marriage, divorce, and a canoe trip with Taylor Swift, Leonard Cohen and Karl Ove Knausgaard. (Yes, read on.)

With wit and insight, Marni Jackson takes a world obsessed with celebrity and turns it on its head. In Don’t I Know You?, she shows us how fame is just another form of fiction, and how, in the end, the daily dramas of an ordinary woman’s life can be as captivating and poignant as any luminary tell-all.

This is a peculiar novel. Blending a fictional life story with real-life celebrity cameos, the story has a lot to say about how we see famous people, what we expect of them, and also what we expect of and how we see ourselves. Don’t I Know You? isn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Continue reading

Interview with K.B. WAGERS

wagerskb-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is K.B. Wagers?

I have no idea. *laughs* “I am a writer stitched together with ink and dreams” would be the fanciful answer. I’m a native Coloradan, a pretty stubborn Taurus, a lover of coffee and cats (though I prefer if my cats stay out of my coffee), a fan of explosions, and a hopeless optimist.

Your debut novel, Behind the Throne, was recently published by Orbit. It looks interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

I am honestly so awful at this! It’s been awesome to have reviews for the book because my words tend to fail me when I’m asked to talk about my work. Behind the Throne is a story about a woman coming to grips with her past and her family, something that’s challenging enough on its own; but when people are trying to kill you it adds a whole other level of difficulty. When Hail finds out that her sisters have been murdered and she’s the only person left to help her empire, she trades in her gunrunning life for a crown and discovers that life in a palace is even more dangerous than the underside of the galaxy. Continue reading

Mini-Review: THE BURNING LIGHT by Bradley Beaulieu & Rob Ziegler (Tor.com)

BeaulieuZiegler-BurningLightAn interesting post-apocalyptic sci-fi story

Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.

This was a pretty interesting novella. Set in a dilapidated New York City. There were a few moments when the story’s momentum dipped, but it was for the main a pretty well-paced, engaging story. This is an interesting sci-fi/dystopian story. Continue reading

Quick Review: DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch (Crown/Macmillan)

CrouchB-DarkMatterUSA gripping multiverse thriller

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. Hiswife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined — one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

There was so much buzz surrounding this book in the lead-up to its publication. So much, in fact, that I started to get nervous. Having now finished the novel, though, it’s very easy to see why so many people have been recommending it: it’s superb. Crouch, author of the Wayward Pines novels, has penned a fantastic sci-fi mystery. Continue reading