Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Bits #3 - The Demon's Watch by Conrad Mason

Now, ages ago (a few months, in other words) the lovely Cat Clarke and Non from Catnip warned me about this young upstart called Conrad Mason who has "written a book you will utterly love Liz".

It's called: The Demon's Watch <-- I can hear the capital letters and the dramatic tum tum music, can't you?

Needless to say, I was intrigued. Then, the proof arrived and it looked fabulous and I put it on my bookshelf to get to nearer release date (March, btw). Today, whilst wasting my time on Twitter, I saw David Fickling Books tweet a trailer to The Demon's Watch. And it looks fantastic - also, the music is great.

This is the write-up:

'We're the Demon's Watch, son. Protectors of Port Fayt. Scourge of all sea scum. Don't tell me you've never heard of us?'

Half-goblin boy Joseph Grubb lives in Fayt, a bustling trading port where elves, trolls, fairies and humans live side by side. Fed up of working at the Legless Mermaid tavern, Grubb dreams of escape - until a whirlwind encounter with a smuggler plunges him into Fayt's criminal underworld. There he meets the Demon's Watch and learns of their mission to save the port from a mysterious and deadly threat. Can Grubb and his new allies uncover the dark plot in time, or will they end up as fish food in Harry's Shark Pit?

And this is the cover:

And this is Conrad's home on the web and do follow him on Twitter as @conradwrites.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Set in New Zealand, Ellie's main concerns at her boarding school are hanging out with her best friend Kevin, her crush on the mysterious Mark, and her paper deadline. That is, until a mysterious older woman seems to set her sights on Kevin, who is Maori, and has more than just romantic plans for him. In an effort to save him, Ellie is thrown into the world of Maori lore, and eventually finds herself in an all-out war with mist dwelling Maori fairy people called the patupaiarehe who need human lives to gain immortality.

I feel sorry for those who follow me on Twitter.  I read Guardian of the Dead a few weeks ago and did not stop gushing about it.  It is one of the best novels - adult or teen or kids - that I've read where the author effortlessly blends mythology and contemporary setting.

Ellie is an average girl, bigger than average maybe, but rock solid in her friendship with her best mate Kevin and very grounded in her own world.  She genuinely comes across as a girl you'd like if you met her at a bbq or shindig. I loved how utterly normal she was, how she screwed up (getting drunk in boarding school and hiding the beer tins in a drawer under her bed and forgetting about them) and how utterly fierce she is when it turns out someone a bit unpleasant is putting the moves on her friend Kevin.

I'm hesitant to even try to give a comprehensive outlay of the plot because it is so layered and without me going into an in depth explanation of bits of Maori lore, it won't make sense to anyone.  Let me try and put it this way instead:  buy. this. book.

Buy this book if you are a fan of old school legends, mythology and fables.  Buy this book if you have an interest in learning about new cultures, about unfamiliar mythologies and if you have that something in your soul that wants a bit more when it comes to reading.  Buy this book if you are a romantic at heart and if you want the sweetest, saddest love story in the world ever.  Buy this book if you like strong female characters who are fierce and kind and generous and who are a bit clueless now and again.

All in all, if I were to give Guardian of the Dead stars out of five, it would get a ten. Obviously, Guardian of the Dead works for me because it was as if Karen Healey sat down and wrote the book for me specifically.  It really has everything in it that I enjoy reading and I've subsequently found other authors and reference books for my shelves - and that is what good fiction does: it leads you to explore.

I must apologise if this isn't much of a review - it doesn't make much sense, I know, but there are some great reviews by other bloggers on Amazon - Sarah, Dwayne and Leanna probably say it better than I do.  They are more eloquent.  I just love Guardian of the Dead and I want everyone else to love it too.

Find Karen Healey's website here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu


Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

From the synopsis this looks like a simple retelling of The Snow Queen in a modern setting and it is that but - oh, it's so much more. Hazel feels that she just doesn't fit in. Her adopted parents have broken up and she has to go from a private school where there are no formal desks and teachers use their first names to a classroom where every desk is organised in perfect alignment to the one next to it. Hazel's bored and can't concentrate which makes her stand out even more. The only bright part of her day is Jack, her neighbour and friend for what seems like forever but now they're eleven things are changing. Classmates ask if they're going out and sometimes Jack likes to spend time with the same boys who call her Crazy Hazy.

Then Jack gets something in his eye and the next day he disappears. There are rational explanations but Hazel just knows that something else has happened to him. The book is divided into two parts - before Jack's accident and afterwards. The before is filled with Hazel's existence. How she feels now, how she's adapting to life without her dad and her new school. To say that some of this is heartbreaking would be an understatement and the author uses such perfect language that it takes you back to that confusing time; when life was filled with the problems of fitting in and best friends, the pain of the inevitability of change. It's not all bleak - there are wonderful moments between Jack and Hazel. The text is littered with references to Gaiman and J.K. Rowing, comic book heroes and favourite foods. It was both familiar but like any good fairy story - scary and not at all reassuring.

Part two takes place in the forest and follows Hazel as she searches for Jack and the Snow Queen. Again, there are many recognisable references but more fairy story related. Hazel may have only entered a local forest but she's transported to a world of magic. There's nothing comforting in her journey but as she searches she discovers more about herself, about self-acceptance and about dealing with change. Anne Ursu is such a wonderful writer and I was terrified for Hazel frequently as she travelled along. Breadcrumbs is a middle grade book but I think it can be enjoyed by teens and adults too. It's the kind of book I wished I'd read when I was eleven. Beautifully done and timeless.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell

When the ancient warship Wolf of Fenris emerges from the warp, Imperial forces find that it has been overrun by the dreaded Red Corsairs. However, this is no mere raiding party – Huron Blackheart and his entire renegade fleet soon follow, intent on conquering the Gildar Rift and tightening their grip on the sector. Lance batteries and torpedo salvos burn fiery contrails through the void, and only Captain Arrun of the Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter can halt the renegades’ advance. The fate of the Rift will not be decided in the heavens but on the surface of Gildar Secundus below.

Space Marines are cool. So are pirates.

So imagine the possibilities offered by the idea of Space Marine Pirates, particularly when they're a band of chaos worshipping superhumans led by an even larger, wholly psychopathic specimen who's crazier than a bag of possessed possums. And these are exactly what young Ms Cawkwell gets to play with in this, her debut novel.

TGR opens with the calm before the storm, introducing us to the 'Rift, which is a treacherous stretch of space surrounding a planetary system rather than a valley. It's a system thriving (as much as anything in that bleak future thrives) under the protection of the Silver Skulls chapter of the Space Marines. Their fleet is at the forefront of that defence, a fleet led by Captain Daerys Arrun, a veteran who already has enough on his plate without the puzzle posed by the arrival of the battle- damaged ship The Wolf of Fenris. Impossible to ignore, the Silver Skulls mount an expedition into its cold and apparently lifeless interior, but it's soon revealed as the opening gambit for an invasion by Huron Blackheart and his Red Corsairs. Battle is joined, and the cold vacuum of space is lit by lasers, torpedoes and exploding ships in a very nicely described bit of deadly stellar ballet. Blackheart might be batshit crazy, but that hasn't yet suffocated his strategic genius, and Captain Arrun and the 4th company are soon reminded that it's not over until the fat Marine sings.

Space Marines aren't that easy to write. I've tried it. They don't have days off. They don't do emotions all that well, unless it's rage. If they're not at war, they're training for war. Making them accessible and interesting while staying true to what they are is no mean feat, so it was a relief to find that Sarah has managed to do just that, while also managing to bring the little known Silver Skulls to life and make them her own. Captain Arrun and his supporting cast are each given their chance to shine, and the sub-plot with the tragic heroism of Volker was unexpected twist and a very cool concept. Blackheart and his ghoulish apothecary come across equally convincingly, and the interaction between them sparks nicely and I welcomed the fact that they're there for a reason other than generic carnage.

The action's pretty good throughout, although a minor whinge is that I would have liked a bit more Marine vs Marine action in the ground battles- this is a Battles novel and while exploding cultists are always welcome, it would have been nice to have some squad on squad tactical action to get stuck into. Still, there's a cool bike scene, and these are Corsairs- they're not there for a drag out fight. Not yet. There's enough left unanswered to act as a hook for a follow on, but not so much that you're left scratching your head as to what just happened.

The fact that it was a debut novel never crossed my mind when I was reading TGR. It's a good, solid addition to the 40K shelves, suitably grim and dark without being depressing, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what crawls out of Sarah's head next.

You can visit Sarah's blog here, and read an extract from The Gildar Rift here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Random Bits #2 - 2012

So today has been a crazy day with news in the publishing world. But this one especially has made me grin like a mad person.

International best-selling author Audrey Niffenegger is to pen her first ever story for a commercial trade anthology, after signing to Solaris’ forthcoming short story collection, Magic.

Solaris are proud to announce that Niffenegger, whose novel The Time Traveller's Wife has sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide, is to produce a story for the themed anthology of the occult and arcane, due for release in November 2012 in North America and the UK, in both paperback and ebook.

The story marks Audrey’s first ever appearance in any commercial trade anthology and is the third themed collection from Solaris editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver. The previous critically-acclaimed anthologies include The End of the Line, which featured stories set on the Underground, and House of Fear, which rebooted the haunted house for the 21st Century. The titles garnered ecstatic reviews, with The Times describing End of the Line’s stories as “exceptionally good”.

“I'm delighted to be involved in this project,” said Audrey Niffenegger. “My story is called The Wrong Fairie and is about Charles Altamont Doyle. He was a Victorian artist who was institutionalized for alcoholism. He was also the father of Arthur Conan Doyle, and he believed in fairies.”

Niffenegger became a publishing sensation thanks to The Time Traveller’s Wife, published in 2003 and made into a Hollywood movie in 2009, and her subsequent novel was the subject of intense bidding by publishing houses.

“It's really very exciting to be working with Audrey, whose novels The Time Traveller's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry show an author with a great talent for subverting genre norms and delivering the unexpected,” said Jonathan Oliver. “Audrey's story is sure to make a great addition to Magic.”

The line-up for Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane is set to include other high profile authors, including Richard and Judy Book Club-choice Alison Littlewood, NYT Bestseller Dan Abnett, and celebrated authors such as Christopher Fowler, Storm Constantine, Robert Shearman, Paul Meloy, Sophia McDougall, Will Hill, Gemma Files, along with new writers such as Sarah Lotz, Lou Morgan and Thana Niveau and more.

Random Bits #1 - 2012

We've had some bits and pieces come in from various publishers over the past few days so I'm starting a new Random Bits series for 2012 where we'll showcase videos and press releases.


First up, from Egmont we have a video for one of their new book releases this year "Codename Verity" and it looks very interesting indeed!


From Orbit: An Ian M Banks title is on the list for World Book Night books to hand out and request if you are a giver or registering as a giver. 

Last year there was a big bruhaha about so few genre (none) books on the list, that this year the organisors have listened and we are proud that they have chosen Ian M Banks / Tolkien / Neil Gaiman / Terry Pratchett and a handful of others, but also, more importantly from my point of view, some ace kids' titles!


Some exciting news from Faber and Faber about a new project they are setting up:


Faber and Faber has launched THE SPARK www.facebook.com/thesparkpage, a place for 13 - 16 year olds who have an interest in creativity and reading.

During 2012 THE SPARK, hosted on Facebook, will invite young people to take part in some exciting projects around acting, film-making, writing and music, each linked to and inspired by a Faber Young Adult title. Whilst students aren’t obliged to read the books to take part, we hope that they will not only be inspired to produce some creative work, but will also be encouraged to engage with the related books, and develop a greater interest in reading generally. Our aim is that THE SPARK will become a vibrant community where young people who love reading and creating can meet, talk and share. We have been extremely impressed by the entries for our recent project, run in association with the GUARDIAN, to find a talented young artist to create a new, iconic cover image for William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES and we hope that we can discover a similar level of creativity in each of the new projects to be launched this year.

Launch Project

ACTING – THE GLIMPSE by Claire Merle publishing June 2012

Launching in January 2012, we’re looking to find a young actor to play one of the characters in Claire Merle’s debut YA novel, THE GLIMPSE, in a series of web films. Entrants are invited to film themselves performing one of two audition scripts available at www.facebook.com/theglimpse and all entries will be showcased on THE GLIMPSE You Tube Channel.

The competition is open to anyone aged 13-18 years old (see terms and conditions) and the winner will be announced in March 2012

Coming soon…

Over the next few months we’ll be launching further projects for musicians/composers, film-makers and writers.

Music – THE CREWEL by Gennifer Albin publishing October 2012

We’re calling on musicans, band-members and singer-songwriters to produce an original music track inspired by Gennifer Albin’s novel CREWEL, to feature in the official book trailer. Launches February 2012.

From Hodder & Stoughton a batch of titles to indulge in for some fun Valentines reading in Feb!


Pan Macmillan launches first phase of new website

Pan Macmillan has launched today its new website – www.panmacmillan.com – designed for consumers, trade and the media.

The new site at www.panmacmillan.com delivers a web infrastructure on which to build and develop a growing range of direct-to-consumer platforms to support Pan Macmillan’s established and evolving brands, including picador.com and mykindabook.com.

The website was designed by design agency Root, selected after a four-way pitch for their original and striking design. MMT Digital was selected after a five-way pitch for the technical build.

A content-rich Home Page enables visitors to find out about new titles, featured authors and books, with carousel Showcase, Brand New and Featured bars which spin and highlight particular themes and subjects guiding readers to relevant books and authors.

 A stand-alone Children's Home Page takes visitors directly on a journey through Macmillan’s wide range of bestselling children’s titles.

News and Events pages with regular updates about author readings and events, and a host of other Pan Macmillan-related activity, take visitors straight through to comment and trailers.

A range of subject pages such as 'Crime & Thrillers', ‘Women's Fiction’ and ‘Science Fiction’, drive visitors to other content and titles around the site. A new “Books You Might Like” feature encourages readers to explore new authors.

The site is e-commerce enabled but also features links to a range of retailers.

Sara Lloyd, Digital Director, Pan Macmillan said today:

‘We’re delighted to launch this important first phase of the new panmacmillan.com. We’ve created a hub for our authors, readers and trade customers. We wanted to demonstrate our passion for our authors and titles, and create an environment where readers can find the best information and conversation about our books and authors. The site will act as a place for readers and writers to come together to talk about books when we introduce additional social features into the next phase, and it also delivers us a modular toolkit for quickly developing a dedicated web presence for any campaign or author.’

For trade and media, there is a comprehensive “one stop shop” section, offering sophisticated online resources for sales customers, media and rights’ buyers.

In this section customers and media can view book pages for forthcoming titles and high resolution book jackets, download book catalogues, order forms,  translation and rights’ guides, check rights’ availability for specific titles and, if registered for a bookseller account, access advance information sheets.


That's all for now! I'm not sure if this is a feature that appeals to everyone, but it's something for us to showcase some of the PR we receive through from various publishers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Heart of Stone by M.L. Welsh


After a wonderful summer sailing, Verity Gallant just wants life to stay the same for ever. But as she should know by now, not everything in life turns out as we would like. The land is shifting beneath the ancient harbour town of Wellow, causing mysterious caves to appear in cliff faces, terrifying rock falls and dangerous landslides. And the earth isn't the only thing crumbling...Verity is thrilled that Jeb has returned, but their feelings for each other threaten her friendship with Henry and Martha. Once again Verity and her friends are embroiled in a tale of evil, intrigue and lost love, as a powerful force works its way towards Wellow, hell-bent on putting an end to all happiness. "The Heart of Stone" is the key, and the race is on to find it..

I love Wellow - in fact M.L. Welsh's books about Verity and her friends make me wish I was a different person - the sort that lives by the coast and has their own boat, who's confident in the water and knows Things About The Sea. I adored Mistress of the Storm and did worry if I would enjoy Heart of Stone quite as much. Well, so much for that fear - book two is even more awesome than the first. Verity is that little bit older and her confidence has grown so that she's happy to stand up for herself and the school bullies don't upset her anymore. A cliff fall and some minor accidents make it clear that Verity's peaceful summer is definitely over. Once back at school she, Henry and Martha find that there's a new science teacher - the rather pathetic figure of Brother Povl who is obsessed with the Gallant family and takes a rather creepy interest in Verity and her grandfather. It becomes obvious that the land abnormalities are more than just the result of a hot summer and everyone's future happiness is at stake.

The Mistress of the Storm wasn't the only powerful being who had an interest in Wellow. What I found fascinating about this book is that that the presence isn't a physical being in the same sense as the first book but I found it even more scary. Just because Verity and her friends can't see what is causing the disruption and unhappiness doesn't mean that there is a lack of menace - far from it. At one point I really wasn't sure who I could trust, and like Verity I wasn't sure where help would come from. The ending was breathtaking - again, I was flipping through the pages desperate to see what would happen at the end. I enjoyed hearing more about the Original Stories and these add a real lyrical edge to the book.

Apart from the main story the subplots were really engrossing. Verity and Jeb obviously have a connection but where does that leave Henry? Watching the three of them was heartbreaking and I honestly couldn't decide which one would be right for Verity - I despair at how this can ever be worked out. Although I understand that everyone is under great stress through the story I found myself getting really worked up over a comment that Martha almost made to Henry. I don't know if the question that was raised in my mind is going to be answered in the next book but I hope so! Because the three main characters are all growing up then there's going to be conflict and I found it engrossing and very bittersweet. The author has really caught that awkward time of uncertainty and first romances.

M.L. Welsh has a really wonderful website too which I spent some time looking at and getting interesting information on the influences behind the books. I'm obviously hoping for another one soon. I was lucky enough to have a proof but will be buying a finished copy at this is another book for my keeper shelf.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Strange Chemistry - First Two Titles

Earlier this year we had a good old freak out about (now ex) blogger and wild numbers woman Amanda Rutter picking up the rei(g)ns over at Angry Robot to run it's hotly anticipated YA imprint: Strange Chemistry.

Amanda and I chat on twitter often and I know how hard she's been working on finding the titles to launch the list with, so when she announced the titles this morning via an official email to the industry, needless to say (even though I was at another publisher event) I squealed and ran around showing it to everyone who would look.

But now, here I am, at home, ready to share it with you.  Also, there is a rumour about an open submission window coming up for Strange Chemistry and if you are a SCBW BI member, be sure to keep an eye on the upcoming Slush Pile Challenge I'm announcing at the end of Jan.

Angry Robot Announces Strange Chemistry Launch Titles

Strange Chemistry - the YA imprint of award-winning indie genre fiction publisher Angry Robot - has announced two deals that will help launch the list into publishing super-stardom.

In a post on Strange Chemistry’s website – http://strangechemistrybooks.com – imprint editor Amanda Rutter has revealed that Strange Chemistry’s first two titles will be… 

Shift by Kim Curran

About The Book: When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, e learns he’s not quite so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

About the Author: Kim Curran was born in Dublin and moved to London when she was seven. After studying Philosophy and Literature at Sussex University her plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts never quite paid off. She became an advertising copywriter instead, specialising in writing for video games. She lives in SW London with her husband, if they’re not both off travelling. When she’s not writing she fences and plays guitar, both very badly.

Visit Kim online at http://www.kimcurran.co.uk/

Kim Curran says: “When I saw Angry Robot was launching a YA imprint I literally said I would kill to be published by those guys. So to have signed with Strange Chemistry is everything I could have wished for and then some. To say I’m excited is a massive understatement. I just hope I won’t be expected to actually kill anyone!” 

Amanda Rutter says: “We’ve signed debut novelist Kim Curran for two books in a new YA SF thriller series. The first title – Shift – will be published in September of this year, with the second to follow in 2013. The deal, concluded with Sam Copeland, of Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd, includes world English rights in physical and electronic formats.

“As soon as I read the first page of Shift, I absolutely knew I wanted Kim on board. The novel is fast-paced, exciting and a real page turner. I simply cannot wait to introduce the world of Scott and Aubrey to YA readers!”

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

About the Book: Julie is an apprentice witch – or so she believes. When a dark power comes stalking out of the past to haunt her and her mother, Julie learns that she is far more than just a witch. With the help of her best friend Marcus and a rather unusual Great Dane, Julie has to race against time to ensure she can defeat the bad guy, save her mother and avoid being grounded – again!

About the Author: Sean Cummings lives in Saskatoon, Canada. He’s a comic book geek, superhero junkie, zombie fan and a total nerd. His interests include science fiction, the borg, cats with extra toes, east Indian cuisine and quality sci-fi movies/television. Sean has been writing since 1978 (as a means of liberating his “inner nerd”) and his published works for adults include Shade Fright, Funeral Pallor and Unseen World, all published by Snowbooks. Poltergeeks is his first book for Young Adults.

Visit Sean online at www.sean-cummings.ca and www.darkcentralstation.com.

Amanda Rutter says: “We have signed Sean for two novels in the Poltergeeks universe, the first to be published in October of this year with the second to follow in the summer of 2013. The deal, concluded with Jenny Savill and Ella Kahn of Andrew Nurnberg Associates International Ltd, includes world English rights in physical and electronic formats.

“Sean has written a wonderful book with a title that made the whole AR office sit up and take notice – who wouldn’t want to read a novel called Poltergeeks?! As you read further, you just become gripped by this sassy and sarcastic apprentice witch who has to face down the darkest of powers. It’s just a tremendous story, and I’m thrilled that Strange Chemistry is bringing it to you.”

Sean Cummings says: "I'm a huge fan of Angry Robot Books and when I heard they were starting a Young Adult imprint I just knew they'd be publishing some of the best in YA fiction. I'm thrilled that Poltergeeks has found a home with Strange Chemistry and I look forward to working with Amanda. (Did I mention that Angry Robot has fantastic cover art, too?)"


More information can be found at strangechemistrybooks.com and angryrobotbooks.com.

Angry Robot is a genre publisher that brings readers the best in new SF, F and WTF?! Strange Chemistry is Angry Robot’s YA imprint. All titles are released as paperbacks and in all major eBook formats. Distribution is through Random House (North America) and GBS (UK). Angry Robot is part of the Osprey Group.

For more information, review copies, interview and feature requests contact our Marketing Manager, Darren Turpin at darren.turpin@angryrobotbooks.com or by phone on +44 (0) 7584 355911 [UK Office Hours]

The Ice Princess - Camilla Lackberg

The writer Erica Falck has returned to her home town on the death of her parents, but discovers the community in turmoil. A close childhood friend, Alex, has been found dead. Her wrists have been slashed, and her body is frozen solid in a bath that has turned to ice. Erica decides to write a memoir about the charismatic but withdrawn Alex, more as a means of overcoming her own writer’s block than solving the mystery of Alex's death. But Erica finds that her interest in Alex is becoming almost obsessive. She begins to work with local detective Patrik Hedstrom, and the duo soon find that some unpleasant secrets are buried beneath the comfortable surface of the town.

I've heard some great things on Twitter and the blogosphere of Camilla Lackberg and thought I'd give The Ice Princess a try, buying myself a copy during my annual December book blowouts.

The story starts with an elderly man finding the frozen body of a young woman in her parents' home and unfurls slowly from there, with the main character Erica, reluctantly taking the an interest in it, as she knew Alex growing up and remembers what a vital and interesting and fun girl her friend had been in the past.

As Erica investigates the story it meanders along here and there which really wasn't what bothered me as I am pretty good with meandering books and liked the characterisation. As we slowly but surely learn more about who Alex was, a complex character, to the different people in her life, you start feeling a bit uncomfortable at some of the revelations. Nothing, we soon learn, is what it appears to be and for a community as small as the town they grew up to keep secrets for this long is quite unpleasant.

Characterisation is good and the settings are well described, along with the cold climate. I think it also helped reading it whilst the weather was turning colder. But sadly I didn't enjoy The Ice Princess all that much. Mostly because the writing felt stilted and jagged. I also had issues with the overly formal dialogue which I can appreciate as part of the scene setting, but it just didn't ring true. And for the life of me, I can't tell if the jagged writing had to do with actual writing (originally in Scandinavian)| or the translation into English. I put the book down several times thinking I need fresh eyes, came back to it and then in the end finished it out of a feeling of duty rather than enjoyment.

Do look around at other reviews though - I enjoyed Karen's review over at Eurocrime - and make up your mind about buying this in. Sadly, it didn't work for me, but it won't stop me from reading more Scandi Crime or more of Camilla Lackberg's books, because that would be silly. The Ice Princess is published by Harper Collins here in the UK and here's a link to the other books Ms. Lackberg has written that's currently available.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Switched by Amanda Hocking


When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

I would have liked to have brought this review to you sooner but my copy disappeared over Christmas only to appear in the exact place I'd left it - weird! As Liz has said, Amanda is in the UK now and signing at Forbidden Planet in London on Saturday so I was keen, once found, to get Switched read in time. The Wendy we meet is a survivor - her mum attacked her with a knife when Wendy was only six, convinced that she wasn't her child. Since then Wendy has bounced from school to school and endured constant new starts in different towns in an attempt to finish. Now living with her aunt and brother she rarely connects with anyone until she meets Finn. He gives her some devastating news that she at first resists but then has to accept. From this point onwards Wendy's life as she knows it dissolves and she's forced to face up to a new reality.

I admired Wendy from the off - she's plucky, stubborn and passionate. Although she's been deeply hurt by her past she still strives for happiness. She's also selfish but as the book progresses she starts to act more and more like a leader and I enjoyed watching her progression. Wendy's journey from everyday America to her new life is very fairytale (in the Grimm sense) and full of horror. At the start of the story I kept thinking of Tithe but as Switched progressed it was clear that Wendy's story was very different.

I particularly loved some of the people she met in her new life. The outright star of the book for me was Tove - the troubled son of the second most important family in Forening. He has insane powers, almost one of the most talented of his community but he also very troubled and alone. Much as I loved Finn I kept hoping that Wendy would see Tove differently - I was willing them together. There were moments when I could see the plot twists ahead of time which had me screaming at Wendy but despite this there's much to enjoy in Switched. Elora is wonderfully regal and distant as are many of the society that Amanda has created. I'm sure that future books will allow us to see more of the kick-ass enemies (the Vittra) and Tove (yes please).

Just as an aside - Amanda Hocking is a fellow self-confessed John Hughes mourner and when Wendy took to the dance floor with Finn to the tune of "If You Leave," by OMD I was punching the sky. Perfect.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Buried Pyramid by Jane Lindskold

Plucky young Jenny Benet, a recently orphaned American girl who was raised on the Wild West frontier and educated at a Boston finishing school, has come to Egypt in company with her uncle Neville Hawthorne, a prominent British archaeologist. They're part of a team investigating the legendary Buried Pyramid, the tomb of the pharaoh Neferankhotep -- who may also have been Moses the Lawgiver.

But they're not the only ones interested in the site. Another party, led by the opulent and treacherous Lady Audrey Cheshire, is shadowing theirs. Someone who signs himself "The Sphinx" has been sending threatening letters -- written entirely in hieroglyphics. In Egypt, an ancient and shadowy organization seems determined to keep the tomb from being discovered.

But mortals may not be all that stands in their way.

If you are a fan of The Mummy, it's sequels or Indiana Jones in all his incarnations, then The Buried Pyramid is for you. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Young Jenny Benet doesn't turn up into the book for some time. The initial story is of a younger Neville Hawthorne accompanying an archaeologist into the desert, on the trail of this mythical locale he thinks he's got the map to. Very much, like the opening of The Mummy, things go badly wrong for them, and Neville and his small group have to flee the site they have found.

We then meet with Neville again he's living in England, having been retired from his life in the army due to illness. And this is where Jenny comes in, as the niece arriving fresh off the ship from America.

I was wholly prepared for a shrinking violet but instead Jenny has her own bit of history and is, admittedly, quite plucky, although I hate the word. She's a thoroughly modern miss, has an insatiable curiosity about Egypt and the world and when Neville reveals he is travelling back to Egypt on business, Jenny gets herself invited along.

The novel isn't particularly fast paced, but the writing is delicious and meaty, filled with great local details and life, and when he action does happen, it's gratifyingly brutal and quick, leaving us time to relish the aftermath. There is plenty of exposition but it's necessary. A really decent background is given for the various characters and I like that both Jenny and Neville are progressive in their thinking and how they treat locals and each other. I know it's a silly thing to mention, but I like that they are champions of the underdogs.

The mystery about the notes being sent to them is handled well - we are with them every step of the way as each one is deciphered and we get a pretty firm grounding in hieroglyphs ourselves, without realising it. And history and mythology.

Obviously not all of it is 100% true, but a lot of it is and if you have the slightest bit of interest in Egypt and the pharaohs you will enjoy The Buried Pyramid. What I also love is the fact that the book is chunky in size and standalone. One whole adventure contained in one great looking edition, which I wholeheartedly approve of.

Jane Lindskold is a new to me author and I have to say I'm really happy to have picked up her books at Forbidden Planet. I have two others by her read and I'm so looking forward to it!

Find her blog here and her website here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I've been waiting to read this book since I heard about it last summer. Cyborg Cinder? What's not to love? Apart from the whole cyborg bit I loved the sound of New Beijing - it seemed all Blade Runner-ish and wonderful. I wasn't disappointed, what an amazing retelling of a classic story. I fell in love with Cinder immediately as she waited for her droid Iko to bring her a new foot while disconnecting her old and tiny one. So when Prince Kai turns up at her booth wanting her to mend a droid of his she's got her small foot on the counter and my heart broke for her. Kai can't tell she's a cyborg as she has her work gloves on and her legs are hidden. Cinder doesn't volunteer the information either. There's a spark between them, she treats him like a person and he's charming, funny and polite to her which makes a change for Cinder.

A plague is battering earth and once a person contracts it they're normally dead within a week. People who contract it are instantly swept away by robots and taken to awful hangars where they die. Someone close to Cinder is affected and so her troubles worsen. Her home life is awful, although one sister is lovely. But her step-mother is suitably hateful and is disgusted by Cinder's cyborg identity. Although she's the only one who works Cinder is her step-mother's property so has no money of her own. There's more bad news and Cinder is whisked away from her awful life to one much worse - or is it?

I won't say more about the plot otherwise I'll spoil it but I can say that what I expected to happen didn't which both surprised me and made the story a far more dangerous one than I expected. Like a proper fairy tale Cinder is full of horror and the worst of human behaviour but there's also love too and wonderful people. Apart from Cinder I really felt for Kai who was struggling to do the best for his people but confused as to which path to take. The mythology was intriguing too and I'm massively looking forward to book two - Scarlet. I was happy with the ending but there's still loads I want to know - have to know! However, I was checking out Marissa's blog and saw a wordle she'd done for Scarlet and I was stoked to see Cinder's name figured fairly highly. This book goes on my keeper shelf.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amanda Hocking visits the UK 2012

‘In managing to reach people via the internet first, and then breaking into the traditional book industry that way, she has become her generation’s first literary phenomenon… Her character-driven books have generated an excitement not felt in the industry since Stephenie Meyer or perhaps even J. K. Rowling’ New York Times

‘The most spectacular example of an author striking gold through ebooks’ Observer

‘A Tolkien for our times’ Wall Street Journal

Named as one of the Guardian’s Book Power 100 2011

Amanda Hocking is 26 years old, lives in Minnesota and had not sold a single book before 15th April 2010. She has now sold over one million ebooks. She is a self-publishing phenomenon.

Her bestselling Trylle Trilogy is now to be available in paperback and ebook formats with additional, unseen and exclusive content. Acquired through a fierce international auction, Pan Macmillan will publish Switched, the first in the trilogy in January 2012. Followed by Torn in March and Ascend in April. Amanda Hocking’s previously unpublished and highly anticipated new Watersong series, will also be published by Pan Macmillan from September 2012.

Amanda explained her decision to sign with Macmillan globally to her many fans on her blog, ‘I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.’

Switched introduces the reader to Wendy Everly. She first knew she was different the day her mother tried to kill her, accusing her of having been switched at birth. Although she’s certain she’s not the monster her mother claims she is, there is a secret she keeps from everyone. Her mysterious ability to influence people’s decisions, without knowing how, or why.

When handsome newcomer Finn turns up at her window, her world is turned upside down. He holds the key to her past and is the doorway to a place she never imagined could exist…



On Saturday, 21st January, Amanda Hocking is doing a signing at Forbidden Planet at 1-2pm.  This is her first trip to the UK and I know the FP folks will treat her well. Tor UK have bought Switched, and copies will be able to buy to get them signed.


I read this morning's article in The Guardian and I liked Amanda's gutsy attitude.  Yes, she had done the self-publishing and e-book thing, but I like that she wants to be known for her writing and her storytelling, rather than her breakthrough success and subsequent publishing deal that had everyone talking.  I approve of this mad bad attitude of hers and wish her the best of luck.  We're reviewing Switched soon and look forward to bringing you the review!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hell & Gone by Duane Swierczynski

The second of three high-energy thrillers arriving back-to-back from cult crime fiction sensation Duane Swierczynski.

Left for dead after an epic shootout that blew the lid off a billion-dollar conspiracy, ex-cop Charlie Hardie quickly realizes that when you're dealing with The Accident People, things can get worse. Drugged, bound and transported by strange operatives of unknown origin, Hardie awakens to find himself captive in a secret prison that houses the most dangerous criminals on earth.

And then things get really bad. Because this isn't just any prison. It's a Kafkaesque nightmare that comes springloaded with a brutal catch-22: Hardie's the warden. And any attempt to escape triggers a "death mechanism" that will kill everyone down here--including a group of innocent guards. Faced with an unworkable paradox, and knowing that his wife and son could be next on the Accident People's hit list, Hardie has only one choice: fight his way to the heart of this hell hole and make a deal with the Devil himself.

Buy this book. No, buy this one first, then buy this one.

Charlie Hardie is such a badass, he just refuses to lie down and die. In Fun and Games he ran afoul of the Accident People and is left for dead. But, because of the Accident People being who they are, not all is as it seems. Charlie is spirited away and literally disappears off the face of the earth, completely. No one can find him. Not his FBI buddy, not the private investigator his FBI buddy hires, no one can figure out what's happened to him. It's like the earth swallowed him up.

Charlie eventually wakes up in a place he has no recollection of ever entering. The rules are made clear. He is the new warden of this prison in the middle of nowhere. Escape is not an option. If he does try to escape everyone in the prison dies, including the guards, the prisoners, and probably Charlie's family too.

It is a big concept, huge and frightening and it obviously preys on the minds of Charlie and his prison guards, because of course there is something weird going on.

If Fun & Games entertained me with its audacity and the author's no holds barred action sequences. Hell & Gone scared the living daylights out of me by sheer force of psychological warfare. You don't know who to believe - everything is smoke and mirrors and halfway through the book you just want to lie down and cry because you can't see a way out, for anyone, without everyone dying in an horrific way.

But, of course, I am not Charlie Hardie.

There are so many twisty turns, so many conceits, that I am convinced that Duane Swierczynski is an evil genius. And if he's not one, he should be given that honorary title. As the plot strands come together and you go through several "Bloody Hell" and "ah ha!" moments, and realise how intricately layered the whole concept is, you once again want to lie down and cry because Charlie Hardie is so epically messed over, you can't see how he's going to get himself free.

But then, well, then you read on and you can only shake your head because of course there is a way out, a way free, and it's the most off the wall, insane thing you can imagine. Or rather, can't imagine.

I am a big fan of Duane Swierczynski and cannot wait for the third Charlie Hardie novel. Because I want to know what happens next. If you're looking for a random gift for a dad, or a boyfriend or the girl in your life who loves good thrillers and crimey novels, you can't go wrong buying these two novels. I promise. They are well written, pacey, so well plotted and dripping with action and sweat and blood and zinging with bullets and chase scenes, you will be exhausted by the time you're finished reading them.

Find Duane Swierczynski's website here. Both titles were out in 2011 so you should be able to find them in all good bookshops. They were published by Mulholland Books here in the UK.

Also, I've just found this quote on Mulholland Books' website from none other than Simon Le Bon who runs his own crime novel blog and I love it so much, I had to share it:

US pulpy cover which I love!
“Could not be more perfect . . . the writing is bare and taut; there’s nothing spare in Swierczynski’s prose and it’s got the pounding rhythm of a West coast punk band on crystal meth.”–Simon Le Bon (DuranDuran)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Night School by C. J. Daugherty


Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested.


This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.

But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.

When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.

It wasn't until I'd finished this book and read another blogger's review (sorry, I can't remember who it was!) that I realised that I'm also a bit obsessed by boarding school books. I mean, obviously there's my love for Harry Potter but if I look at my shelves and the other books I've enjoyed (like the Hex Hall books, The Dark Elite ones or even Anna and the French Kiss) it appears that it's become a bit of a passion of mine. I just went to a regular day school and also love my home and space so it wouldn't have been something I'd have wanted to experience. So Night School fed my vicarious enjoyment of these mysterious places where I imagine everyone to have heaps of lovely food and able to sneak around at night.

Allie is damaged. Her brother has run away under mysterious circumstances and she has begun lashing out - getting herself into trouble just so she can feel something again. But she's shipped off to Cimmeria Academy as a last resort by her exhausted parents and removed from all her old friends. Once there she discovers that modern life hasn't touched the school; no t.v, phone or Internet is allowed and I loved this about Night School. By demolishing everything we take for granted I was suddenly transported to another world. No one whips out their phone to see if they can email for help or researches on their laptop. The feelings, language and problems that the students face are all very modern however so Night School still reads like a fresh take on the genre.

Allie is brilliant. Obviously there are all sorts of shenanigans afoot and mysteries to be solved that made me flip the pages non-stop. However, for me the attraction was watching Allie grow and change. She's angry when she arrives, using her clothes, hair and makeup to disguise and protect herself. She's constantly on the offensive, suffers panic attacks and obsessively counts her breath or steps. Gradually though she starts to question what she's been doing to get herself to Cimmeria. Trust is another overriding theme of the book and I enjoyed trying to second guess who was on the level and who was responsible for the ever more dangerous attacks at the school. Allie is constantly having to ask herself if she should trust Jo, Rachel, Carter or Sylvian. I lost count of the times I questioned those characters myself!

I really haven't said a great deal about the plot but I found it absorbing. There are plenty of questions left for the sequel but not enough that I didn't find the ending satisfying. I may have to have a new shelf for boarding school books I love too but that's a whole other blog post.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won’t comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds. The only one who can break his power is Eloise’s aunt Antonia-and Eloise has become his bargaining chip.

Eloise will need the help of her best friends Jo and Devin, along with the other Fae captives of Strahan’s hall. With a whole world of Faeries out to get her, Eloise, her Fae protector Lucas and the mysterious Eldric, must stop Strahan both worlds are thrust into complete chaos…

I completely forget how much fun it is reading an Alyxandra Harvey title. Stolen Away is no exception. She writes so easily and within seconds you know the set-up, who the main characters are and you just love them to bits.

Stolen Away is told from both Eloise and Jo's point of view in alternating chapters - something I did not expect but which I loved. Both girls have strong individual personalities and they are girls you want to be mates with. But they are also both flawed characters and it is a testimony to Ms. Harvey's writing that she so easily and so quickly gets you INTO their lives without much hassle. Some readers may think that things move too fast, that we only scratch the surface before things go pear shaped, but that is part of the appeal because we get to know the girls really well as they go through their travails.

Sadly, we do not get to know Devin very well and I had a tiny crush on him as he is my kinda guy. The story, as I mentioned before, moves really fast and yet we spend enough time to develop crushes on both Lucas and Eldric, the two (separate) love interests. Because not only does Eloise have her own knight in shining armour in the shape of Lucas, but Jo finds Eldric, the "enemy" a very tasty young morsel. I loved that there was no love triangle. I loved that Eloise doubted Jo's taste in boys, as Eldric was suitably dark, mysterious and a bit of an ass. But with a reason of his own and a destiny of his own.

Okay, I admit, this is a rubbish review as it is gushy but I just plain loved Stolen Away. I loved the plot, the characters and the writing. Voice is queen here and I genuinely admire Ms. Harvey for stealing me away from the mundane last few days of 2011 to let me play in Faerie, even if it is a bit dark and dangerous.

It reminded me strongly of Holly Black's Tithe but is far less gritty. But all the traits that made Tithe such a good read is in Stolen Away - great characters, strong world building and a plot that rockets ahead. Highly recommended!

Find Alyxandra Harvey's website here. Stolen Away is published on 5th Jan here in the UK by Bloomsbury Kids.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I loved Anna and the French Kiss and I was excited to get stuck into the next book which was a present from Liz for Christmas (thank you Liz!). I was also a little scared though. Would I love it as much as Anna? Would I bond with the main characters? Lola is no clean cut little girl. She has a twenty two year old boyfriend who plays in a band to whom she lied about her age. Now she has to endure Sunday brunches with said boyfriend and her two dads which she finds excruciating but are a necessity so that they can keep tabs on Max. Despite all of this they seem rock solid at the start of the book and I wasn't sure how anything could come between them (apart from the fact that boyfriend Max continued seeing Lola when he discovered her age and on occasions calls her Lolita - ewwww!).

Lola is a flamboyant character who dresses as though she's going on stage and doesn't let the snide girls at school deter her. But when the neighbours return she's forced to revisit her feelings about them. Calliope is a figure skater who's aiming for the Olympics and Cricket is her twin brother. Bit by bit the story behind Lola's dread of their return comes out and I found my feelings towards all the characters in the book flip-flopping as I read on. At one point I'm behind Max for his determination to make Lola's dads happy but then little by little I start feeling for Cricket and become curious about his past.

Alongside this little triangle is the story of Lola's mum who got pregnant at sixteen and ran away from home. She then had problems with alcohol and drugs and was homeless for a while. She's still unable to handle her life and moves in with Lola (her brother is one of Lola's dads). This makes Lola understandably furious but this subject is treated well; there's no attempt to make her a fairy tale ending but I loved watching this character develop. I was also intrigued by the way that Lola changes too. At first she considers herself as a good daughter as she keeps her grades up and phones home when she's expected too but she's constantly sneaking around behind her dads' backs and easily lies to Max too rather than have an uncomfortable confrontation. By the end of the book I think she's a pretty wonderful girl with a loving extended family.

Anna and Etienne make an appearance and it was great to catch up with them and to see their relationship from another viewpoint. I'm so looking to forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After which will be released in the autumn which is described as the final companion novel to Anna and Lola.

ETA: Stephanie has just announced on her blog that Isla will now be released in 2013. I really felt for her when I read this and I wish her all the best.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Unnaturalist by Tiffany Trent

I am so excited about this steampunky alternate history novel coming from my friend and author Tiffany Trent later this year.  Amazon tells me August and I've had a look on Simon & Schuster's website and it's not even listed yet as it is too far away, but I'm bouncing already.

Look at this incredible cover:

Isn't it just utterly gorgeous?

And here is the bit of blurb about it:
In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals. 
As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.
Doesn't it just make you want to rush out and pre-order it? I know, I have - fortunately for me I had a sneak peak of one of Tiffany's very very early drafts some time ago and let me just say, she may be a friend and all....but she can bloody write good words!

Check out this blog post of hers in which she is giving away copies of stuff to celebrate the announcement of The Unnaturalists. I'd like to point out that the competition is international. Isn't that grand?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Double Dead by Chuck Wendig

Coburn’s been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he’s a vampire and all, it doesn’t much bother him. Or at least it didn’t, not until he awoke from a forced five year slumber to discover that most of human civilisation was now dead - but not dead like, oh no..

I wanted to read DD as soon as I got wind of the concept: a vampire in waking up during the zombie apocalypse and discovering that his food is now an endangered species. Coburn is the vampire in question, and it’s immediately clear that he’s not someone used to being denied.

DD opens with Coburn’s awakening, an unexpected trickle of blood reaching his withered, blood-starved body. It’s a peach of an opening chapter and does a fine job of hooking you and setting the tone for what’s to come.

It’s a fair assumption that most people will be familiar with the parameters of a post zompocalyptic world, particularly in the wake of The Walking Dead, and Wendig doesn’t waste any words setting up the basics, letting him get on with fleshing out Coburn. By turns violent, arrogant and sarcastic, Coburn is nonetheless a witty and likeable character, which is quite an accomplishment. Later on, when pieces of the story of his life before his enforced slumber start to emerge, it rounds off his character quite neatly.

It’s not an easy transition for Coburn, going from a supremely confident and borderline smug predator to having to shepherd his food to somewhere safe and secure, while being inexorably dragged into the messy personal histories and interactions of the living.. and the unpleasant realisation that in order to survive he’s going to have to think about more than his appetite. Particularly when the zombies who’ve mutated after coming into contact with his blood finally close in. It's handled very well, and while Coburn is changed by what's he's experiencing, it's a gradual and believably messy process in keeping with the rest of the story, rather than any kind of sudden, fairy godmother like epiphany.

Fast and bloody good fun, Double Dead delivers everything you’re expecting it to and then some. I finished it in a day, and enjoyed it thoroughly (particularly the cannibal barbecue- brilliant!). It’s a fresh perspective on a favourite theme with lashings of dark humour and a charismatic main character I’d really like to see more of.

You can visit Chuck's website here.