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Take a trip across time and space with the latest Sci-Fi titles; head to another universe with the latest and greatest Fantasy novels and get your heart pumping with a brilliant selection of Horror.
Stunningly gorgeous short stories and wonderful illustrations make for an absolute treasure trove of a book. I have quite simply fallen in love with Foxfire, Wolfskin, it makes my heart sing. Discover 13 short stories about shapeshifting women, the shortest story being three and a half pages long. All are “either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales”. On opening the book, I felt as though I was walking into an age old story, the descriptions are startling, vivid, touchable. I began with Wolfskin, which is sharp and edgy, it hurts, it feels… right. After finishing Wolfskin, I immediately read it again, this time out loud. I fell headlong in once more, and at the extraordinary end, emotional goosebumps skitter-scattered down my arms. All of these stories have a unique strength to them and I disappeared into each one. Just a note on the accompanying illustrations by Helen Nicholson. They are fresh, original, and yet have that same age old feel of the stories. At the very end you will find notes on each tale, the inspiration behind them and where the idea appears in folklore. Foxfire, Wolfskin is full of beautiful stories that take hold, bite, leave their mark and I adored it so much I had to add it as one of my picks of the month!
A stark, fierce, and fascinating start to what promises to be a rewarding trilogy. The Swords of Silence is set in Japan during 1626 as the Shogun slams shut the door to outside influences. If Father Joaquim Martinez and the village he tends, fail to renounce their religion, they face a hideous death. It took a little time for me to settle into the names, the time, the land, however I was soon gripped by the story on offer. The dedication at the beginning states that between 1614 and 1643 the Shogun executed almost 5,000 Christians. Shaun Curry writes with a simplicity that to be quite honest, feels necessary in the bloodshed that follows. He doesn’t revel in the gore, instead quite matter-of-factly describes incidents that somehow feel all the more real. I have to say that I have rather fallen for Master Watanabe and do hope that he makes a reappearance in the trilogy! Exploring a time and place from long ago, The Swords of Silence took me with picture sharp clarity into a compelling story.
Most definitely sitting on the quirky side of life (and Mars), this is an amusing and mind-bending read. The robots who look down on humanity are determined to end the human rebellion that started on Earth. This is Battlestar Suburbia: Volume Two, if you’ve not read the first in the series you might want to start at the beginning. However, I joined here and felt perfectly comfortable with the Dolestars council estates circling earth and Pam the sentient bread-maker. This is an absolutely fascinating premise from Chris McCrudden, the machines aren’t quite as you may have imagined them. There is no Terminator style human robot on offer (unless you count the human who was pinched for use as a cyborg), instead lamps, photocopiers, and a particularly evil smartphone lead the machine charge. In today’s climate, the utter disdain felt by some of the machines for humanity all feels rather relevant. Battle Beyond the Dolestars is different, a little geeky, and lots of fun, oh, just as a note of warning, you may never look at your lamp in the same way again!
A stunningly beautiful, courageous read, one that crosses through time to 1612, when witchcraft allegations went hand in hand with fear, power and corruption. This is a work of fiction based on real people, local residents, Pendle witches and all. Let me tell you about the cover of this book, which really is very gorgeous indeed. The green leaves sooth, with fiery bursts of orange-red and gold, I then noticed the fox, the ring, pendant, feather… and last of all, the noose, which of course once I had seen, reached out and became all I could see. I tell you this, because the cover reminds me of how I felt about the book, mysterious, yet almost gentle, I let the words take me, I felt myself floating, and then bites of uncertainty and disquiet started gnaw at my awareness. The persecution of the women hammered home while an otherworldly existence lodged itself in my thoughts, and remains there. Deceptively powerful, moving and provocative, Stacey Hall writes with an eloquent pen. Opening a window into a vivid feast of a read, as a debut novel The Familiars stands out from the crowd.
It is time to celebrate a new and truly fabulous Stephen King novel. Children with special gifts such as telepathy and telekinesis are being abducted from across the USA, then they are tested, exploited, and kept prisoner. Is there any hope left for the kids incarcerated in the Institute? I opened the first page, settled in, and just read… isn’t it wonderful when you can do that? When you so implicitly trust the author, trust that they are going to take you on amazing journey? Stephen King has written the most readable and electrifying tale here, I didn’t doubt for one second that any of this wasn’t true, wasn’t possible, wasn’t happening right now. I just inhaled the words, fully immersed myself in the story, and squirmed on the edge of my seat as the ending hurtled towards me. The Institute knocked my socks off, it is a thrilling, chilling ride, and sits not only as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, but one of our LoveReading Star Books too.
And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light. When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead. 'Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in.' Margaret Atwood.
The Lost Girls is a dark and twisty supernatural thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. Edinburgh student Rose MacLeod has been losing time for as long as she can remember. Days and weeks disappear, leaving terrifying gaps in her memory. Now she is seeing horrifying visions - waking nightmares of violence and death. Around the world young women like her are being killed, and Rose has a ringside seat. Mal Fergusson was raised to hunt demons across Scotland. With his father dead and his brother in a coma, he no longer believes in the grand battle between good and evil. Instead, he scrapes a living as an investigator and hit man for the supernatural Mafia of Edinburgh. Tensions are rising in Scotland's capital, and Mal must capture Rose to keep his demonic boss sweet - but is he really willing to harm an innocent to do so?
An all-female high-seas YA fantasy adventure of survival and revenge, with a diverse cast and filmic feel, perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo.
This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In 'The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate', a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary 'Exhalation', an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people but for all of reality. And in 'The Lifecycle of Software Objects', a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over 20 years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: 'Omphalos' and 'Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom'. In Exhalation, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth - what is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human? - and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning and compassion.
One Step Beyond is based on a time period and sub-culture that I am unfamiliar with (80's Skinhead culture - although no date is specifically mentioned). The book uses the tried and tested body swap plot, this book explores social discord and conflict that feels all too common at the moment. I found the concept of Mal and Ashraf's swap allows the other person to “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes” really intrigued me. I found this book a simple but enjoyable read and I thought that it had good attention to detail. I took an instant disliking to Mal, as we’re supposed to, but having the synopsis in mind, I wanted to persevere and see him change. As the book progressed my frustrations changed direction and I found Ash quite reedy. These are a sign to me of good character construction. I think I preferred Phil and Kate out of all of the characters and occasionally had to pay a bit more attention to make sure I had the right characters in mind -Arf, Ash, Travis and Trevor are quite similar names used in the book and I had to double-check I had read the name right once or twice. Overall, I enjoyed the book and finished it in one day, and I would recommend it to others.
This is a story of searching for the truth, brings up more questions and answers and leaves the reader doing the same. It is a complex novel - I read whilst on holiday. It is the story of Tres who is reborn as a boy called Aaron- he has a gift by the way of recalling people who lived before. It was an unusual book which needs time to read not for the skimmer. The writing is well written and it is so worth reading to the end to discover. A book of friendship. This is written by an author I am not familiar with and will seek him out now. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
A well-crafted story, beautiful language, a mystery and a wild cat with a sense of humour. What's not to like about this book? It grabs the reader's attention from the start and holds on to it throughout the story. I also love the information about Wild Cat conservation which appears before the story starts: hopefully this will encourage readers of all ages to take an interest in the conservation of this beautiful animal. I normally clear my downloads after reviewing a book, but I will be keeping this one to reread and I can't wait to read about Catastrophe's next adventure Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading Ambassador
Part hard SF thriller, part interstellar adventure, part noirromance, CENTURY RAIN is the new bestseller from Al ReynoldsComparison: Philip K Dick, Kim Stanley Robinson. Similar this month: None.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. THE BEAUTY OF MURDER, the debut novel by Hastings-based performer Alexandra Benedict, was a memorable cross-time Oxford-set crime thriller with strong supernatural overtones and her follow-up contemporary thriller is equally evocative and colourful and confirms her voice as quite unique: florid, wide-screened, and masterful in the way she builds up wonderful, truly original characters and the most unsettling of protagonists. A once-blind researcher who despite a successful operation insists on still not seeing is the target of a sinister serial killer and troubled London cop Jonathan Dark, who has the power to see ghosts, is caught in the web of murder and intrigue that surrounds them like an evil fog. Add revengeful ghosts helping and hindering the living, loving evocations of London's river and dark side, conspiracies by the handful and characters quite unlike those encountered in your average modern British crime novel and you have a potent cocktail that will linger in your mind and nightmares for ages.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. This first in a planned ‘LA Trilogy’, this is a romp and a half. Set anachronistically in the 1960s in the California city of angels, it features a Raymond Chandler avatar of a robot who always has the right quip on the tip of his tongue as he navigates the muddy waters of some untold conspiracy. Ray is the perfect detective –tireless, logical and efficient- but he’s also the last robot on the planet and finds that no one actually likes him very much. Add Ada, his office gal and supercomputer and you have the classic detective noir setting for a crazy plot which begins, naturally, with a Cleopatra lookalike knocking at his door, asking him to find a missing person and offering to pay in gold, the only currency Ray accepts. The investigation will take him into the heart of an alternate version of Hollywood which is much more fun than the real one. Laughs and fights and chases. What more could you ask for? ~ Maxim Jakubowski
The night watchman of an upmarket London block is drawn to an apartment that’s seemingly been empty for over 50 years but in which he hears curious noises. In parallel a young American woman inherits a property in the same building. Chaos is soon unleashed and efforts to avert it are literally breathless. An impeccable slice of modern horror with a traditional sense of dread and unerring ‘keep the light on’ suspense. A new British horror star is forcefully born!
Shortlisted for the Best Horror Novel at the British Fantasy Awards 2016. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Post apocalypse worlds are very much in vogue and in danger of engulfing the bookshelves, but Neville's approach is innovative and seriously scary, which comes as no surprise as he is fast establishing himself as one the horror field's rising talents with a bang. In a crumbling post-pandemic world, anarchy reigns and a grieving father goes in search of the four-year old daughter who was snatched from his garden. In a world of terrible floods, marauding gangs and unpredictable hurricanes, what remains of the police doesn't care and the father plunges into a panorama of madness on his frenzied quest. With an assured narrative flow and a background sometimes reminiscent of Stephen King in his talent for mapping desolation, Nevill confirms he is one scary, serious dude to watch out for. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. After years in the galleys of erotica editing and pseudonymous writing, Nevill has now firmly put himself in the driving seat of contemporary horror and is spearheading its revival and scooping the genre's awards. His fith novel is a creepy tale involving seemingly haunted houses, macabre puppets, stuffed animals and eerie dolls. Individually all the elements on display have been seen before in countless Hammer movies but Nevill knits his ingredients together with forensic skill and brings the shadowy world of fear to life with uncanny effect and almost sadistic detachment and glee. Read this one under the covers and with the lights on.
Nevill is a young British author who, following a decade or so in the editorial publishing ranks, is now writing full-time. In the tradition of M.R. James' ghost stories and the tradition of the British weird tale he writes about the contemporary world and the insidious way in which fear and dread can infiltrate it. His breakthrough was last year's APARTMENT 16 and his new novel takes a group of university friends into the Arctic wilderness where they stumble upon an old habitation. Enter the horror.
Darkness lives within ...Cash-strapped, working for agencies and living in shared accommodation, Stephanie Booth feels she can fall no further. So when she takes a new room at the right price, she believes her luck has finally turned. But 82 Edgware Road is not what it appears to be. It's not only the eerie atmosphere of the vast, neglected house, or the disturbing attitude of her new landlord, Knacker McGuire, that makes her uneasy - it's the whispers behind the fireplace, the scratching beneath floors, the footsteps in the dark, and the young women weeping in neighbouring rooms. And when Knacker's cousin Fergal arrives, the danger goes vertical. But this is merely a beginning, a gateway to horrors beyond Stephanie's worst nightmares. And in a house where no one listens to the screams, will she ever get out alive?
It begins like a modern version of John Carpenter's sinister SF horror movie THE THING when two research scientists isolated in an Antarctic station stumble across unholy matters hitherto unknown to man and the ensuing catastrophe sees one fall into the clutches of lasting madness and illumination while the other is badly maimed both in body and soul. Decades later, the latter now a drunk and an abject failure is coopted by a mysterious institute to work for them and contact his former colleague now locked away in an asylum to revisit the theories that led to the polar mayhem, and his nightmare begins all over again. Involving PETA, a curious artificial intelligence, the Fermi paradox positing the existence of extraterrestrial life and the convoluted philosophical works of Kant, this complex novel of ideas fires wildly in all directions, with glances towards, of all people, James Joyce and Thomas de Quincey, in a serious attempt to elucidate the nature of reality. Mind-bending, ambitious but always a swift read, an important work of science fiction that will have you guessing all the way.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. It begins like a modern version of John Carpenter's sinister SF horror movie THE THING when two research scientists isolated in an Antarctic station stumble across unholy matters hitherto unknown to man and the ensuing catastrophe sees one fall into the clutches of lasting madness and illumination while the other is badly maimed both in body and soul. Decades later, the latter now a drunk and an abject failure is coopted by a mysterious institute to work for them and contact his former colleague now locked away in an asylum to revisit the theories that led to the polar mayhem, and his nightmare begins all over again. Involving PETA, a curious artificial intelligence, the Fermi paradox positing the existence of extraterrestrial life and the convoluted philosophical works of Kant, this complex novel of ideas fires wildly in all directions, with glances towards, of all people, James Joyce and Thomas de Quincey, in a serious attempt to elucidate the nature of reality. Mind-bending, ambitious but always a swift read, an important work of science fiction that will have you guessing all the way.
A parody was inevitable and so in six chapters all six of the Star War films are chewed up, ridiculed, digested and spat out. All very inventive.Comparison: The others in the series: The Soddit, The McAtrix Derided, The Sellamillion.Similar this month: None.
One of our Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2012. In a world where we have been genetically engineered so that we can photosynthesise sunlight with our hair hunger is a thing of the past, food an indulgence. The poor grow their hair, the rich affect baldness and flaunt their wealth by still eating. But other hungers remain ...The young daughter of an affluent New York family is kidnapped. The ransom demands are refused. A year later a young women arrives at the family home claiming to be their long lost daughter. She has changed so much, she has lived on light, can anyone be sure that she has come home?
Whether you want to join Jonathan Strange on the magic-haunted streets of London or Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch on the wall Fantasy is the genre for you. Authors from Joe Abercrombie to Zen Cho have turned the modern fantasy genre into one of the most exciting and imaginative genres around. They’ve brought magic and wonder, heroes, heroines and people like you and me, together in stories that will delight, scare and mystify you. Whether you want the romance and deceit of court, the shadows of a great city’s alleyways, the clear air of a mountain range, the terrors of a bloody field let fantasy take you to new realities.
There are characters for everyone; Scott Lynch’s charming conmen, Liz William’s artful magicians. Fantasy has worlds for all; Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea, George RR Martin’s brutal Westeros, Ben Aaronovitch’s contemporary London, Naomi Novik’s dragon haunted version of our 19th century. And the genre has a style for each and every reader; whether the playful literary trickery of Angela Carter or the imaginative epic adventures of Peter Brett. Somewhere here there is a story for everyone, so follow us and let your imagination run wild.
Established names like Stephen King and new stars like Lauren Beukes alike have taken horror into the mainstream. And it’s no surprise why – we can’t help ourselves we love a good scare from the safety of our armchairs. But there are any number of authors out there ready and willing to confront you with your darkest fears and, if you’re lucky, take you through them and out into the light again.
There’s always a fresh take on whatever has scared us down through the years. Whether the dark thrills of the demons that haunt the paranormal romances of Cassandra Clare or the hunger of the vengeful ghosts and vampires of Joe Hill. Or the high concept terrors of Sarah Lotz’s work, the insidious chills of Adam Nevill’s urban horrors. Horror can be stealthy like the classic chills of Susan Hills’ ghost stories or screaming in your face like Max Brooks’ terrifying zombies. So step this way and let us put the frighteners on you; scares that are subtle and literary or full-on ‘slap the book shut and turn on all the lights’. Or scares of the best sort – where you don’t know WHAT to expect.
If you’ve ever dreamed about the world our grandchildren will live in, thought about how life could be different, looked at a star and wondered if there’s someone or something there looking at our sun you’ve been wondering about the same things as the great writers of Sci-Fi. Or perhaps you’ve simply wanted to share the excitement and danger of life on an alien world or in the harsh expanses of space? Maybe you’re so busy you wish you had a clone of yourself to do the work while you had the fun of exploring new places and experiences – how would that feel? For both of you?
Sci-Fi is all about these questions and thoughts. And it’s about things we can never experience, perhaps not even thought about yet. It’s about putting you at the centre of wonder and excitement. Whether the wide-screen excitements from the likes of Peter Hamilton and Suzanne Collins, or the noir thrills of cyberpunk by authors such as Pat Cadigan and William Gibson or the intricate speculations of authors like Ian McDonald and Nnedi Okorafor Sci-Fi really does have something for everyone and you’ll find the very best of it here.