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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.
Kesia Lupo's We Are Bound By Stars is a fine follow-up to We Are Blood and Thunder, a richly-realised fantasy epic in which intrigue, trickery and powerful gifts from the gods throng through a cast of colourfully compelling characters. If you’re a fan of female-fronted fantasy, of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J. Maas, this series is sure to be your chalice of char. Beatrice is one of three female mask-makers in the kingdom of the Wishes, a cluster of volcanic islands ruled by a Contessa. As a result of a secret pact the Contessa made with Mythris, patron god of the Wishes, the chosen triplet mask-makers are taught to create masks with powers that aid “the Contessa in discovering and destroying her enemies”, as long as the chain of inheritance remains intact. As a middle sister, Beatrice makes Grotesques, masks that “draw power from expression”, creations with the power to manipulate emotions, but she’s desperate to flee this life of bondage. Then there’s Livio, born into a powerful family, destined to be the first male leader in aeons, but his magic is overwhelmingly wild. When his path collides with Beatrice’s, it falls to them to prevent devastating insurgency, as menacing masked assassins close in on their heels. Can they cut the strings of a controlling puppet master? Can they change the course of destiny? As their tales twist along a troubled path, the sense of time running out, of high-stakes decisions, of human emotions are grippingly evoked within a tangled web of magical trickery.
Oh my word, this hits hard, and with so much power it almost took my breath away. Set in the future it focuses on an antibiotic crisis, no one over the age of 70 is allowed treatment and they are sent to hospitals called ‘The Waiting Rooms’. Although written before the current Covid 19 crisis, there is so much here you can connect to as a reader it feels as though this book was meant for these specific times. The first chapter is provocative, it shocked me and yet introduces the main character and book perfectly. As Kate searches for her birth mother, different time frames and countries sent my thoughts and feelings spinning. This is one of those books that doesn’t sit comfortably in one genre as it crosses from dystopian right through to family drama. It is perhaps best described as a speculative thriller, and boy did it make me reflect. I have been left thirsting for more information, for more knowledge and Eve Smith’s final words when she talks about the inspiration behind the novel are chilling indeed. The Waiting Rooms is a gutsy, thoughtful, fascinating read, and we have chosen it to feature as a LoveReading Debut of the Month.
The Albatross: Contact is the first in a new Sci-Fi series. I loved that this book handles the very real topic of the cost of war on those in the military while presenting it in the guise of an action-packed, alien fighting plot line. In this Sci-Fi plot, when the aliens land, their aim isn’t apocalypse and destruction, but to ask for help in their war against the Forsaken (a very good name for a terrifying enemy race). This book has three different character perspectives which helps to round out the book well. We learn more about Will, his military past and his perception of the alien technology he finds himself surrounded by. We also meet Sarah, another human volunteer and Arthur, who is the leader of the Lumenarian convoy to earth. These different narratives and their interactions offer engaging and comparative insight into alien and human life. I also like the camaraderie built between Arthur and Will, their respective traumas helping them understand each other while also creating a common ground. The book ties together well but leaves plenty of scope for more stories to come. Honestly, as I was reading I was gripped. I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the story only taking useless notes like “I’m a little bit hooked” and, towards the end, “aaahhhhh”. I loved the tension created by the change in perspective, as recent events are recapped from a different set of eyes, all the while continuously moving towards an incredibly climactic final section. I really enjoyed this book and I think it would be a brilliant read for anyone who likes action and/or Sci-Fi epics. I can’t wait to read more. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Is there such a word as bookstruck? Because that is what I'm feeling right now, The Court of Miracles is a debut, the start of a trilogy, and a stonkingly good read. I believe both (older) young adults and adults will fall for this and I suggest just throwing yourself in and letting go. Find yourself in a reimagined Paris years after the French Revolution has failed with some of the cast of Les Miserables… this is what might have been. As well as cast members (with notable exceptions), there are little references to Les Mis to discover along the way which made me smile but please don’t think of this as being a historical tale as you are opening up a whole new world. I think The Court of Miracles would work without already knowing Eponine, Cosette, Gavroche and friends, as some develop in a completely unexpected way and there are a whole host of new characters to meet. Eponine (Nina) the Black Cat narrates, and after her father sells her beloved sister, she becomes a thief in the criminal underworld of the Court of Miracles. She soon finds herself another sister Cosette (Ettie), but in order to protect, she must betray. Opening up the trilogy in the best possible way The Court of Miracles is an adventurous story stuffed full of revenge, courage, and love. While it felt like a wondrous tale in its own right, there is obviously still much to come. I adored it and this oh so readable novel sits as a Debut of the Month, LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month.
Is there such a word as bookstruck? Because that is what I'm feeling right now, The Court of Miracles is a debut, the start of a trilogy, and a stonkingly good story. I believe both young adults and adults will fall for this and I suggest just throwing yourself in and letting go. Find yourself in a reimagined Paris years after the French Revolution has failed with some of the cast of Les Miserables… this is what might have been. As well as cast members (with notable exceptions), there are little references to Les Mis to discover along the way which made me smile but please don’t think of this as being a historical tale as you are opening up a whole new world. I think The Court of Miracles would work without already knowing Eponine, Cosette, Gavroche and friends, as some develop in a completely unexpected way and there are a whole host of new characters to meet. Eponine (Nina) the Black Cat narrates, and after her father sells her beloved sister, she becomes a thief in the criminal underworld of the Court of Miracles. She soon finds herself another sister Cosette (Ettie), but in order to protect, she must betray. Opening up the trilogy in the best possible way The Court of Miracles is an adventurous story stuffed full of revenge, courage, and love. While it felt like a wondrous tale in its own right, there is obviously still much to come. I adored it and this oh so readable tale.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
I think that Game of Gnomes: The Necrognomicon is a cheeky, fun, irreverent fantasy adventure. It is a bit sweary in parts and there is dark and adult humour throughout, I did chuckle aloud as I read. Gassy’s life of crime has rewarded him with a quiet dream home in which he can retire. Until he is roped into traveling to the revived criminal convention to compete in the Crimicompetion, the ultimate test of criminal ability by his friend Borty. I liked the fourth wall breaks and the wordplay between the three gnomes as they head to Crimicon and participate in the Crimicompetition to find and steal the Necrognomicon (try saying that six times fast!). This entertaining fantasy adventure sees everything go wrong, it’s like Despicable Me crossed with Deadpool, and would be good for fans of the latter. This book is not for children but did seem to me to be a mischief-making adventure story adapted with adult language. In the early chapters, I found that there could be a slight rebalancing with the erotica jokes (for my personal preference there was maybe one too many). However, I did enjoy the reaction to the garden gnomes as well as the inclusion of other fantasy creatures throughout the story. I think this book is a bit of daft fun, it feels like a children’s adventure rewritten for adults and is lighthearted, harmless and entertaining.
As the tenth Hunger Games plays out, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the life, trials and roots of eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, President of Panem when we reach the story of the original The Hunger Games trilogy. With the formally powerful house of Snow now teetering on poverty and ruin, Coriolanus is set on mentoring the winning tribute to escape “the endless dance with hunger that had defined his life”, go to university and then “embark on some lucrative profession”. But in a devasting blow, he’s assigned the task of mentoring Lucy Gray Baird, the lowliest tribute from District 12, and “everyone knew what happened if you went to the districts. You were written off. Forgotten. In the eyes of the Capitol, you were basically dead.” But with their fates now interlocked and their survival in his hands, Coriolanus vows to do his best to take care of Lucy. What a twisted, conflicted assignment this turns out to be, and all the more engrossing for being apparently doomed. Though more meandering and meditative than the original trilogy, fans will be fascinated to discover the complex causes of President’s Snow’s villainy, and it’s shot-through with core themes - friendship bonds, betrayal, power and oppression – that devoted readers will relish.
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.
Five, successful but seemingly unconnected people around the world die suddenly. Although all are ruled as natural deaths an intelligence analyst and his journalist girlfriend think something else is happening and strive to uncover the truth. Fatal longevity is an interesting concept. The idea that the search for a long life could end with an early demise is an entertaining dichotomy. A crime mystery with a medical almost sci-fi twist set in a range of locations around the world. An interesting plot with a lot of thought behind it and at 277 pages, it’s a relatively quick, entertaining read with an intriguing plot.
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.
If you prefer your worlds dystopian, check out our Dystopian Fiction category too!
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.