Review: Bitten By Kelley Armstrong


Few will escape the sense of deja vu; you’ve read this story numerous times before.


Book CoverBitten
(The Women Of The Otherworld, Book 1)

Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback, 464 Pages
Date: 6th May 2010 (First Published 2001)

ISBN-10: 1841499188
ISBN-13: 978-1841499185

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

When Kelley Armstrong’s debut novel, Bitten, was first published in 2001 the urban fantasy genre was still very much in its infancy, hence the book didn’t need to do much to stand out; Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series was more or less the only high profile competition. As the market was not yet as saturated as it is today the tropes that readers now come to expect of the genre had not been established. One obvious benefit of this circumstance is that readers at the time would more than likely not have viewed the story as lacking in originality. Sixteen years later, however, anyone reading the book for the first won’t be able to escape the feeling they’ve read it all before.

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Review: Ancillary Sword By Ann Leckie


If at first you don’t succeed… abandon your revenge and work for your dissociative disorder afflicted nemesis?


Book CoverAncillary Sword
(Imperial Radch, Book 2)

Ann Leckie

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
Date: 7th October 2014

ISBN-10: 0356502414
ISBN-13: 978-0356502410

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

If you cast your mind back to 2013 you may not recall that Ann Leckie’s début novel, Ancillary Justice, was published with little in the way of fanfare or hype. Yet you’ll have no difficulty remembering that the book quickly garnered great critical acclaim, which translated into significant commercial success. The book went on to win both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel, as well as the Arthur C. Clarke Award. These plaudits, in addition to the other awards and nominations, were well deserved because Ancillary Justice was a breath of fresh air. The space opera genre had for many years been a stale wasteland of tedious novels weighed down by their bloated, cliché-ridden narratives. But Leckie conspired to bring something more original and satisfying to the table than most of her contemporaries were producing.

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Quotable: Stormdancer, “It’s Easy To Lose Yourself…”


A most insightful observation from a steampunk adventure heavily influenced by a love for Japanese anime.


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“It’s easy to lose yourself in the idea of a person and be blinded to their reality.”

Jay Kristoff

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Review: The Curse Of Chalion By Lois McMaster Bujold


A reluctant hero finds himself thrust into the role of saviour, to protect the royal heir to the throne from a sinister curse.


Book CoverThe Curse Of Chalion
(World Of The Five Gods, Book 1)

Lois McMaster Bujold

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
Date: 11th April 2006 (First Published 2000)

ISBN-10: 0061134244
ISBN-13: 978-0061134241

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

Lois McMaster Bujold is an author whose name is perhaps synonymous with science fiction. However, no reader could have any genuine concerns when a writer of her calibre chooses to step somewhat out of her comfort zone to write a high fantasy novel. Bujold is, after all, one of the most acclaimed and decorated genre authors ever, with four Hugo Awards for best novel to her name; equalling Robert Heinlein’s record. That being the case, it should come as no surprise to learn that The Curse Of Chalion is a splendid novel, coming as it does, from a writer with such a pedigree.

There are numerous examples of novels with intriguing premises that fall down, either on account of poor execution, or just plain weak writing. Rest assured, The Curse Of Chalion is not one of those books. Bujold’s capabilities as a writer ensure that not only does the story hold together from beginning to end, her story is also riveting, thanks in no small part to her exceptional prose; which is all the more impressive given that the book is by no means a fast paced, action packed swashbuckler. Though it does, somehow, possess the page turning quality that might be expected of a novel that is those things. Undoubtedly the result of Bujold being one of those rare writers who can make the most mundane of situations insanely engrossing, when printed on a page.

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Review: Hyperion By Dan Simmons


Seven strangers embark on a once in a lifetime mission, each with a strange tale to tell.

Book CoverHyperion
(Hyperion Cantos, Book 1)

Dan Simmons

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback, 496 Pages
Date: 12th May 2011 (First Published 1989)

ISBN-10: 0575099437
ISBN-13: 978-0575099432

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

It’s difficult deciding how best to describe Dan Simmons’ Hugo Award winning novel, Hyperion. Though it is a full-length novel it is structurally more like a collection of short stories loosely connected by an overarching conceit; a narrative choice acknowledged to have been directly inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Also, though Hyperion is a book that is ostensibly science fiction, stripping away the copious amounts of technobabble leaves a story that reads very much like a work of literary fiction. This is perhaps not surprising given the author’s known fondness for classical literature, which is very much in evidence throughout Simmons’ narrative.

In spite of the numerous classical literary influences that can be found littered all the way through the book, Hyperion should in no way be construed as being inherently derivative. It is unquestionably an original, unique work of fiction; it’s hard to think of another novel quite like it. And leaving aside Simmons’ literary pretensions (or perhaps snobbery) it is obvious that he put a great deal of creative effort into the science fiction aspect of the backdrop for the novel. The detail in which he writes about the technology, history and culture of his futuristic setting is instrumental in conveying just how well constructed and deeply thought out it all is. Which is all the more impressive given that not all of these elements are necessarily vital to the plot, which could work just as well without them.

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Quotable: The Left Hand Of God, “Solitude Is A Wonderful Thing…”


There’s no arguing with the insightfulness or truthfulness of these memorable words.


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“Solitude is a wonderful thing in two ways. First, it allows a man to be with himself, and second, it prevents him being with others.”

Paul Hoffman
The Left Hand Of God

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Quotable: Full Moon Rising, “…Not A Snowflake’s Chance In Hell.”


Kick ass Urban Fantasy heroines are ten a penny. But few are as irrepressible as Riley Jenson.


Book Cover _ Book Cover _ Book Cover _ Book Cover

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If I had a talent I could claim, it would be as a finder of trouble. Which is undoubtedly what I’d find by sticking my nose where it had no right to be. But would I let a thought of trouble stop me? Not a snowflake’s chance in hell.

Keri Arthur
Full Moon Rising

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Review: Blood Song By Anthony Ryan


The self-published phenomenon that went mainstream is a welcome addition to the ranks of essential epic fantasy tales.

Book CoverBlood Song
(Raven’s Shadow Trilogy, Book 1)

Anthony Ryan

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback, 768 Pages
Date: 20th February 2014 (First Published 2010)

ISBN-10: 0356502481
ISBN-13: 978-0356502489

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

In recent years there have been a number of notable examples of self-published books which have garnered considerable critical praise and admirable sales, turning their authors into “overnight” sensations. This success, for some, has led to traditional publishing deals, helping their books to reach a larger prospective audience of readers. Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking are probably the best known beneficiaries of the now more viable self-publishing market. But you can also include the name of British fantasy author, Anthony Ryan, to the growing list.

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Review: Shades Of Milk And Honey By Mary Robinette Kowal


A derivative tale of an unappreciated spinster who unexpectedly finds love with someone who can appreciate her magical talents.


Book CoverShades Of Milk And Honey
(Glamourist Histories, Book 1)

Mary Robinette Kowal

Genre: Alternate History, Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Corsair
Format: Paperback, 272 Pages
Date: 3rd October 2013 (First Published 2010)

ISBN-10: 1472102495
ISBN-13: 978-1472102492

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

Some authors, whether knowingly or unknowingly, wear their influences on their sleeves. It is often possible to read the work of any given writer then accurately deduce who and what has influenced the story. Anybody who reads Mary Robinette Kowal’s novel, Shades Of Milk And Honey, the first book of the Glamourist Histories series, won’t need to guess the who and the what that provided the inspiration for her writing. She unabashedly embraces her fondness for Regency era literature in general, and her love of Jane Austen in particular. In fact, if you strip away the book’s fantasy element, Shades Of Milk And Honey could very well have been authored by Austen herself.

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Review: Gameboard Of The Gods By Richelle Mead


Behind a series of ritualistic murders lies a hidden reality a kick-ass heroine isn’t ready to believe.


Book CoverGameboard Of The Gods
(Age Of X, Book 1)

Richelle Mead

Genre: Science Fiction, Paranormal
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback, 464 Pages
Date: 6th June 2013

ISBN-10: 140591355X
ISBN-13: 978-1405913553

Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository

For almost a decade author Richelle Mead has been one of the most popular voices of the urban fantasy scene; writing a number of successful books in more than one series, for both the young adult audience as wells as adult readers. With the very noticeable shift towards dystopian stories in the mass market publishing sphere, kick-started by the success and popularity of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, it was perhaps inevitable that Mead would follow the trend and throw her hat into the dystopia ring.

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