Woo Hoo. Just finished the first draft of my new YA novel. Bit of a 'working title' at the moment, but I'm leaning towards something like 'Warrior Stone: Trapped in the Under"

Now I shall tuck it away in a corner and let it ferment. I have another story to edit, a round of crits to write, and I need to focus on getting ready for the launch of 'Aphrodite's Dawn' in December.

No end in site, which is just how I like it :)


"Cyrus Darian & the Technomicron" by Raven Dane

When I do reviews, I always think its important to balance the bad against the good. Even an atrocious book has some good in it somewhere.

Raven Dane sometimes makes an unorthodox use of the comma.

Right, that's the bad point out of the way. This was a rip-roaring adventure in the best tradition of steampunk and I loved it from end to end. There really was nothing I didn't like about the story (apart from the occasional comma). Cyrus is a totally lovable rogue, and his main sidekick, the demonic Belial a wonderfully tortured soul. The other characters fit around him like a glove and the baddies are at once wonderfully simple yet with unexepected depths that are peeled slowly away as from an elegant onion. Even the structure of the book itself is comfortable; its dense enough to feel you are getting a good literary chew out of the pages, but the chapters are sort and snappy and give plenty of places you can put the bookmark without feeling you are breaking off in the middle of things.

All through the read I would get delicate scents of 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', Artemis Fowl, and even slight notes of Sherlock Holmes and (oddly, but from the baddies) Dr Who. Having said that, the style and the tone are very uniquely Raven's.

I very rarely include plot line in my reviews. Its far to tempting to slip something in that might be a spolier. What I will say is that this would appeal greatly to anybody who liked, for example, the 'Mortal Engine' books, as well as any of the tales mentioned above.

I sincerely hope there is to be a sequel. First class read, five stars.


"This is the quickest way down" by Charles Christian - Review

Christian has put together an intriguing collection of stories here. Its a short book, with eleven stories, but its a classic example of quality over quantity.

Particulary worth noting are "Waiting for my Mocha to Cool", "Already Gone" and "Empire State of Mind", but I'm not going to tell you anything about them. Its too easy to accidentally give out spoilers on short stories, but the book is a great collection of ghost stories, supernatural and sci-fi.

What I will say is I love the way Christian writes. Its smooth and elegant without being overly literary. Sometimes it feels as though literary authors can be shoving how clever they are down your throat, but Christian eases you along and makes it very difficult to put the book down.

If there is one slight smudge on the shine, its the last story. "By the Steps of Villefranche Station" is not a bad story, but it doesn't quite have the polish of the others. It feels as though it might have been written some time before the others. 

Not enough to stop me giving this a full five stars, though. Nice work, Mr Christian :)


Review: Mrs Darcy vs the Aliens

Mrs Darcy vs the Aliens, by Jonathan Pinnock (Proxima, 2011)

This book will make people look at you. It will make you make a fool of yourself in public places. Your life-partner will ban you from reading this book at bedtime. You will be glared at on public transport.

This is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is a book that makes you laugh out loud, uncontrollably. Consistently.

Unusually for outright comedic novels, there is actually a storyline rather than just a skeleton on which to hang the jokes. There are aliens, they are trying to take over the world, and Mrs Elizabeth Darcy is at the middle the effort to prevent this happening. That the aliens are shape shifters serves to throw confusion into the bona fides of some of the rest of the cast, and to top it off there are strong hints of temporal anomalies.

The greatest appeal of the book, though, is undoubtedly the humour; at times delicate, at others brutish, Pinnock even makes use of the delayed punchline; dropping an amusing seed, then slapping you with a guffaw when you had almost forgotten it. To me, this was a blend of Douglas Adams and Jasper Fforde.

Thoroughly recommend it if you don't mind standing out in a crowd, or disturbing the bucolic paper rustlers on the 8.15 into work.


FantasyCon Rocks

Oh Wow!
This was the best weekend I can remember in an awfully long time. Better than my last two overseas holidays! I met so many of may facebook friends I've built up over the last year, and they all turned out to be even nicer 'in the flesh' than they are online. Special mentions to Simon Marshall, Raven Dane, Terry Martin (of Murky Depths) and the incredible Sam Stone, Queen of Vampire Fiction, and deserved winner of this year's awards for Best Novel and Best Short Story.
On a personal note, we launched Proxima books and each of us did a short reading from our books - great fun, and the first time we have all met. Also, because I have a short story in the BFS anthology, I got to sit on my first signing. I must of signed twenty of thirty books.
There were some horror stories about hotel rooms, but I have to say ours was fine. Brighton was nice too, with great places to eat.
I could rant on for hours. Probably enough to say I signed up for next year while I was there :) Corby, brace yourselves. FantasyCon is coming to town