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Book news: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

2 Nov

I loved Genevieve Cogman’s debut, The Invisible Library and have been eagerly awaiting news of the second book in the series so imagine my excitement when I saw that the cover had been released! The red and silver is just so striking – I can’t wait to see it in the flesh. The Masked City is released on December 3rd by Pan Macmillan and is right at the top of my Christmas wish list (hint hint, husband!)]

maksed city

 

Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

Find out more about Genevieve Cogman and her writing at: http://www.grcogman.com/

 

New books – February 2015 Hot Picks

3 Feb

Hello and welcome to February! I’ve had quite a slow start to my reading year – we’re moving house soon and there’s been lots going on at work so my reading and blogging had to take a bit of a back seat but I’m hoping to pick up the pace again this month! With that in mind, here are the books that I’m hoping to read this month – what’s on your list for February?

ivy laneIvy Lane by Cathy Bramley (12th February, Corgi)

I read this book when it was published as a four-part serial last year. I loved it so much that I can’t wait to get my hands on a paperback of the complete story to add to my favourites shelf. I’ll publish a full review near publication date but I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you’re looking for a lovely story filled with romance and great characters. Look out for the first part of Cathy’s new serialisation Appleby Farm on 5th February too!

From spring to summer, autumn to winter, a lot can happen in a single year . . .

Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she seeks out peace and quiet in a new town, taking on a plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution.

But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly in to their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organizing bake sales and planning seasonal parties.

As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?

The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn (12th February, Abacus)the may bride

I really enjoyed this historical novel, written in the first person from the point of view of the young Jane Seymour. Tudor history fans will love the new perspective on Jane’s life.

When Edward Seymour brings Katherine Filliol home to Wolf Hall, his sister Jane is captivated by his new bride. Over the course of a long, hot country summer, the two become close friends and allies, while Edward is busy advancing his career at court.

Two years later, the family is torn apart by a dreadful allegation made by Edward against his wife. The repercussions for all the Seymours are incalculable, not least for Katherine herself. When Jane is sent away, to serve Katharine of Aragon, she is forced to witness another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences. Changed forever by what happened to Katherine Filliol, Jane comes to understand that in a world where power is held entirely by men, there is a way in which she can still hold true to herself.

hurricane sistersThe Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank (12th February, Simon and Schuster)

I’m reading this book now and can’t believe I haven’t read a book by Dorothea Benton Frank before – great setting and lots of sassy characters!

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long – for three generations of one family, drama is headed in their direction too. At eighty, determined matriarch Maisie Pringle is a force to be reckoned with. She will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, dreams of a future that keeps them all at odds. This storm season, Maisie, Liz, and Ashley will deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. Can they establish a new order for the future of the family? This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (12th February, Orion)red queen

I’ve heard lots of good things about this debut fantasy and am looking forward to finding out more.

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .

vintage weddingA Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde (12th February, Century)

A new Katie Fforde book is always a treat and this one sounds like a fab spring read.

In a small Cotswold country town, Beth, Lindy and Rachel are looking for new beginnings.

So they set up in business, organising stylish and perfectly affordable vintage weddings.

Soon they are busy arranging other people’s Big Days.

What none of them know is that their own romances lie waiting, just around the corner …

finn fancyFinn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson (13th February, Titan Books)

Randy Henderson’s debut has been likened to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline which I absolutely loved. Randy won the 2014 Writers of the Future Award so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Found guilty of a terrible crime he didn’t commit in 1986, 15-year-old necromancer Finn Gramaraye was exiled to the Other Realm for 25 years. But now he s back in the mortal world and is disappointed to discover that he s middle-aged, DeLoreans can’t fly, and he s been framed for using dark magic, again. All Finn wants is to pick up the pieces of his life and patch things up with his family: his mad scientist father, the ghost of his mother, a sister who is allergic to magic, a younger brother who thinks he s a werewolf and an older brother who is most unhappy to see him. But with just three days to clear his name before he is sent back into exile forever, Finn will need all the help he can get to figure out who wants him gone, and why.

fire sermonThe Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (26th February, Harper Voyager). 

I recently attended a launch event for this brilliant book and heard Francesca talk about her inspiration for it. Set to be a big hit!

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. The complete set. They would have been disbelieving – nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.

Nobody.

Born as twins. Raised as enemies.

One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

The Dandelion Years by Erica James (26th February, Orion)dandelion years

I’ve not read any of Erica James’s novels before but I love discovering new authors and this story promises three of my favourite topics; books, history and romance!

Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling pink cottage on the edge of the Suffolk village of Melbury Green, its enchanting garden provided a fairy-tale playground of seclusion, a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.

Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to the broken, battered books that find their way to her, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a notebook carefully concealed in an old Bible – and realising someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love…

summer at beach streetSummer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (26th February, Sphere)

I’m really looking forward to another seaside-set read from Jenny. This book sounds delicious!

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn’t be happier. Because Polly is in love: she’s in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she’s in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she’s in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there’s something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that’s floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend’s fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he’d left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (26th February, Tor) rithmatist

As you may have gathered, I’m aiming to read a lot more fantasy this year and this crossover novel from Brandon Sanderson sounds right up my street!

Joel is fascinated by the magic of Rithmatics, but few have the gift and he is not one of them. Undaunted, he persuades Professor Fitch to teach him magical theory. Joel can’t infuse his protective lines and circles with power, or bring his chalk-drawn creatures to life, but he’s quick to master the underlying geometric principles. His unique skills will soon face an extraordinary test when top Rithmatist students are kidnapped from his Academy.

Since he’s not a magic user, Joel appears to be safe – but he’s desperate to investigate and prove himself. Then people start dying. However, can Joel really stop a killer alone? As even more students disappear, he realizes he’ll need the help of Rithmatist apprentice Melody. Together, they must race to find clues before the killer notices them – and takes them out too.

darker shade magicA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (27th February, Titan)

There’s been quite a buzz about this book on Twitter already and one of my favourite authors, Deborah Harkness described it as ‘wonderful’ which makes me very excited to read it!!

Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

 

New books – January 2015 Hot Picks

4 Jan

Happy New Year! And welcome to a fabulous new reading year. There are lots of excellent new books out to start the year so if you’re holding on to your Christmas book tokens then here’s my ten hot picks for this month to tempt you …

lucy-diamond-untitled-1-978144725778301The Year Of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond (1st January, Pan Macmillan)

I love Lucy’s books so this is the perfect way to start the year!

Because love is always worth the risk…

It’s New Year’s Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There’s music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It’s going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum’s house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who’s keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma’s dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home – all the things they’ve taken for granted are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin (1st January, Black Swan)rabbit hayes

I’m reading this one now and it’s brilliant, heartbreaking and funny. It’s also just been picked as one of the Richard and Judy Book Club Spring Reads!

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end …

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

Miss PrimThe Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera (6th January, Abacus)

I read this book over Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it! Look out for my full review later this week.

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jan
e Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbours, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.

Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn’t suspect that she might find love – nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky, would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery and fireside debate. The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy and the search for happiness.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (15th January, Tor)the-invisible-library-book-one-978144725623601

A fantastic debut filled with books, magic and action packed adventure – highly recommended!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently.

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

SummertimeSummertime by Vanessa Lafaye (15th January, Orion)

If historical fiction is your thing then you’ll definitely want to add Vanessa Lafaye’s debut to your reading list!

Florida, 1935. Heron Key is a small town where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp. Everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, the Kincaid family’s maid and nanny, feels that she has wasted her life pining for Henry, whom she has not seen since he went to fight on the battlefields of France in WWI. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans on a government works project, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past.

When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death in the early hours, suspicion falls on Henry. Old grievances and prejudices threaten to derail the investigation. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. The residents think they’re ready, and so do the soldiers. They are wrong. Nothing in their experience could prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way…

Mobile Library by David Whitehouse (15th January, Picador)mobile library

I love books about books so this one is a must read for me!

Twelve-year-old Bobby Nusku is an archivist of his mother. He catalogues traces of her life and waits for her to return home.

Bobby thinks that he’s been left to face the world alone until he meets lonely single mother Val and her daughter Rosa. They spend a magical summer together, discovering the books in the mobile library where Val works as a cleaner. But as the summer draws to a close, Bobby finds himself in trouble and Val is in danger of losing her job. There’s only one thing to do — and so they take to the road in the mobile library…

Quirky, dark, magical and full of heart, Mobile Library is both a tragicomic road trip and a celebration of the adventures that books can take us on. It’s a love-letter to unlikely families and the stories that shaped us.

now that vive found youNow That I’ve Found You by Ciara Geraghty (15th January, Hodder)

I’m a big fan of Ciara’s books and this new one is no exception! Look out for my stop on her blog tour later this month.

Vinnie is an ordinary man. Ellen is an ordinary woman.

Ellen is unable to move on after a terrible accident that left her mentally and physically scarred.

Taxi driver Vinnie is struggling to cope with bringing up two children on his own.

Everyone deserves to find that one person who’s meant for them, don’t they?

Fall in love with the story of Vinnie and Ellen. Because ordinary lives can be extraordinary.

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking (15th January, Tor) Frostfire-by-Amanda-Hocking-393x600

I enjoyed Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy so I’m excited to read this new series set in the same world.

Will she give up her dream to follow her heart?

Bryn Aven is determined to gain status amongst the Kanin, the most powerful of the hidden tribes. But as a half-blood, winning respect is a huge challenge. Bryn’s almost-human community distrusts people, and those from other tribes are almost as suspect.

She has just one goal to get ahead: to join the elite guard protecting the Kanin royal family. And Bryn’s vowed that nothing will stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss, Ridley Dresden.

But her plans are put on hold when fallen hero Konstantin starts acting dangerously. Bryn loved him once, but now he’s kidnapping Kanin children – stealing them from hidden placements within human families. She’s sent to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

first frostFirst Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (29th Janury, Hodder)

I’m such a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen’s books and so excited that she’s written a sequel to Garden Spells – if you haven’t read it yet, there’s still plenty of time to read or re-read before First Frost s published at the end of the month!

Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies, but it’s nothing like she thought it would be, and it’s slowly taking over her life. Claire’s wild sister Sydney, still trying to leave her past behind, is about to combust with her desire for another new beginning. And Sydney’s fifteen-year-old daughter Bay has given her heart away to the wrong boy and can’t get it back.

The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith (29th January, The Borough Press)landa and sea

I’m always attracted to books about the sea so couldn’t resist adding this to my list.

August, 1793. On the hot, humid coast of North Carolina nine-year-old Tabitha fills her pockets with fish bones and shells, to bring the ocean back to her room. The act, perhaps, of a child conceived at sea.

At night young Tab sits with her father by the shore to hear stories of her mother Helen, the pull of the ocean born into them both. John longs to sail the sea as he did before the war, but knows he must stay on steady land for his daughter. But when Tab catches yellow fever John turns to what he knows, and steals her onto a boat bound for Bermuda in the hope the sea air will cure, as Tab’s precious life hangs in the balance.

The same coast twenty years earlier, and Helen is given a slave girl for her tenth birthday. Moll’s arrival is intended to teach Helen discipline but soon the girls are confidantes, an unlikely alliance. It’s an enduring friendship until the arrival of John, a pirate turned soldier. And as the town is threatened in the dying embers of the Revolution, Helen must decide between a life of security on the family plantation and a sea adventure with the man she loves.

 

So there you have it – my first hot picks for the year. What’s on your must read list for January?

 

Event news: Free virtual sci-fi festival – 15th & 16th November 2014

9 Nov

bfivoygerPublisher HarperCollins and the British Film Institute have  announced an exciting collaboration – a Virtual Sci-Fi festival on 15th & 16th November.

The festival takes place as part of the BFI’s major three month celebration of Sci-Fi,Days of Fear and Wonder presented together with O2, which takes place at BFI Southbank and venues across the UK until December. http://www.bfi.org.uk/sci-fi-days-fear-wonder

The aim of the BFIVoyager Sci-Fi festival is to explore the link between science fiction literature and film. The festival will offer a program of events on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and other platforms.

The festival program is based around three themes:

Tomorrow’s World – from post-apocalyptic wastelands to megacities to far-flung dystopia

Altered States – the science fiction of ‘inner space’ mad scientists, mutants, man-machines and mind-bending trips

Contact! – time to explore life from all corners of the universe and across multiple dimensions.

The festival will focus on story-telling and the impact of literature on film and television. Anticipate some friendly rivalry between book versus film as well as conversations such as how science fiction may have changed our future, what’s so appealing about a dystopian world and some of science fictions biggest names discussing their opinions on what comes next.

Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins UK, said, ‘I am thrilled that HarperCollins is collaborating with the British Film Institute on the BFIVoyager virtual sci-fi festival. It is very exciting to be working with such a prestigious organisation.

Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI said: “‘Sci-Fi is all about big ideas – it all begins with the writers, and it’s notable that there are many great women writers working in this genre. We’re pleased to work with HarperCollins to bring the worlds of literature and film into perfect collision in November, opening up the very best of this spectacular genre to online audiences everywhere.

The festival is free to ‘attend and attendees will also be sent two free HarperVoyager ebooks at the end of the festival!

Register now at: http://bit.ly/BFIVoyager

Book event: Join in with #BookADay in June

2 Jun

Publisher Borough Press has come up with a fab idea to get everyone talking about books this month with #BOOKADAY. It’s really easy to join in – just tweet your book each day under the headings below.

photo (1)

I’ll be tweeting mine each day but I thought it would also be nice to record my answers here on the blog with a little more on my choices. Do feel free to join in by leaving a comment in the box below.

faraway tree1st  Favourite book from childhood 

The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. My Mum read these and The Wishing Chair stories to me and my brother when we were little and they bring back magical memories for me. I’m looking forward to sharing them with my boys now. My other childhood favorite when I was a little bit older was What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge!

2nd Best bargain photo (24)

I often buy bargain books in charity shops because they have lovely or unusual covers. I found this beautiful version of The Life and Death of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood in a local charity shop for 99p. Bargain indeed!

3rd One with a blue cover

4th Least favourite book by favourite author

5th Doesn’t belong to me

6th The one I always give as a gift

7th Forgot I owned it

8th Have more than one copy

9th Film or tv tie-in

10th Reminds me of someone I love

11th Secondhand bookshop gem

12th I pretend to have read it

13th Makes me laugh

14th An old favourite

15th Favourite fictional father

16th Can’t believe more people haven’t read

17th Future classic

18th Bought on a recommendation

19th Still can’t stop talking about it

20th Favourite cove

21st Summer read

22nd Out of print

23rd Made to read at school

24th Hooked me in to reading

25th Never finished it

26th Should have sold more copies

27th Want to be one of the characters

28th Bought at my fave independent bookshop

29th The one I have reread most often

30th Would save if my house burned down

Book news: Sainsbury’s launches search for the nation’s favourite eBook of 2013

10 Dec

eBooks by Sainsbury’s has launched a nationwide search for the favourite eBook of 2013. The winning title will be chosen by the public from a long list of more than 150 titles on the eBooks by Sainsbury’s website.

Selected to represent the breadth, diversity and quality of British book publishing, the eBooks by Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year 2013 long list includes everything from popular crime and romance to the latest books by leading lights of the literary world.

Public voting is open now on www.sainsburysebooks.co.uk. To get involved visit the eBooks of the Year web page, and create an account in just a few clicks. Choose your favourite title from the list and vote by pressing the ‘recommend’ button on each book’s web page. The public poll will remain open throughout December with the winner announced at the end of the year.

One lucky voter will receive an extra special Christmas present, as all participants will be entered into a prize draw to win a copy of every single title on the eBooks of the Year long list. A whole year’s worth of reading for even the most dedicated bookworm, it will give the winner more than 150 books to enjoy on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader.

Highlights from the long list include some of the year’s biggest hits in literary fiction, from Kate Atkinson to Maggie O’Farrell and Jim Crace, whilst Dawn French, Kate Mosse and Dorothy Koomson are the top names from the popular fiction genre. No list would be complete without the titles that have dominated the headlines over the past twelve months, including J.K. Rowling’s critically acclaimed foray into crime fiction as Robert Galbraith The Cuckoo’s Calling and the long awaited third instalment of everyone’s favourite singleton’s diaries Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy.

Author interview: Tina Connolly

3 Nov

It’s my stop on the Ironskin bog tour today. Earlier I shared an extract from the book and now I’d like to welcome Ironskin’s author Tina Connolly to One More Page to answer my questions about the book. Tina lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Highlights Magazine, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Tina is a frequent reader for Escape Pod and Podcastle, and works as a face painter, meaning a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Ironskin is her first novel. Welcome Tina!

Your debut novel Ironskin is published on 7th November – please could you tell us a little about it?

The book falls into the Steampunk genre; for readers who might not have read any Steampunk before, why should they give it a try?

I’m going to answer these two questions together!

The elevator pitch for Ironskin was “Steampunk Jane Eyre with fairies.” Of course, like all elevator pitches, that’s shorthand for a lot of complexity. Pure steampunk tends to be alternate-Victorian, and this is not—but steampunk is a good word for the unusual mixture of technology and magic in the book. I used Jane Eyre as inspiration and as a source for the themes I was working with—but it’s not meant to be a straight retelling, and there are a number of differences. And of course, the fey of the book are not cute little Tinkerbell fairies!

Ironskin takes place five years after a Great War between the humans and the fey. Before the war, there had been trade, and humans came to rely on a clean energy provided by the fey called “bluepacks.” When trade stopped, technology floundered as the humans tried to reinvent all they had lost. So for example, Edward Rochart has an ancient motorcar that still runs but is down to its last bluepack. Most of the other folks in the country have regressed to horses. And in the city, some people are trying the newfangled cars that run on steam or diesel.

So I found the “steampunk” aspect of this book extremely interesting to write—the time period is roughly analogous to post-WW1, but technology is both ahead and behind where it would be in our world. I spent a lot of time thinking about what they have, what they lack, and what they’re working on.

Into this world comes Jane, whose face is scarred with a fey curse. She wears a mask of half-iron to stop the curse (rage) from leaking out and infecting others. Still, she is ironskin now, and ostracized. Jane has come to Edward Rochart’s estate to help his young daughter, for Dorie, too, is fey-touched, but in a most unusual way . . . .

The story reimagines the classic Jane Eyre. What drew you to Jane Eyre as an influence?

Ironskin actually started life as a short story written for a gothic anthology call. At that point it was not consciously riffing on Jane Eyre (though by sending a governess to a spooky house I was certainly subconsciously playing on that!) The story did not end up in the anthology, but someone said how much they liked the Jane Eyre allusions. When I decided to turn the story into a novel, I then began reworking the premise to tie more closely into the Jane Eyre plot, which also allowed me to use and play with a number of the themes and elements in Jane Eyre.

I have always loved Charlotte Bronte’s work (Villette is perhaps my favorite of hers, with Jane Eyre a close second), and it was such a wonderful text to interact with as I worked on the themes of beauty and power and feminism in Ironskin.

If you could rewrite any other classic novel, what would it be?

Good question! I was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland as a kid—and still am—so I’ve always thought that would be an amazing world to play around in. I admit to personally loving retellings (Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Robin McKinley’s Deerskin are a couple of my favorites) so I’m sure I will be tempted to retell something again in the future.

I didn’t major in creative writing in college—I did English Lit instead—but looking back, all the signs are there. There were quite a number of assignments where I turned in retellings and intertextual stories instead of essays—the first chapter to a sequel to Emma, a missing chapter of Wuthering Heights laced with Sherlock Holmes references, a short play of Hamlet talking to his psychiatrist . . . Oh, and that doesn’t even mention the mashup where I sent Dorothy Parker to The House at Pooh Corner! Heh. I even turned in drawings with that one . . .

Who was your favourite character to write in Ironskin and why? 

Oh, I really loved writing Nina. She was such fun because she says such delightfully horrid things. Similarly, Poule. Neither of those women give two cents for what anyone thinks of them, but they both express it in entirely different ways. And then, of course, I got to see them briefly go head to head—forthright Poule and sharp-tongued Nina.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

Well, I actually just had a baby! So I’m currently indulging in some comfort re-reading with all the Anne McCaffrey Pern books. Pretty awesome.

After my brain returns a bit, I have some new books I’m dying to get to: The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney (an alternate Portugal, with magic and sea-folk!), Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue (which has been out for a year and a half now, but it’s been So. Busy. with the toddler and deadlines I haven’t gotten to it), and Rae Dawn Carson’s new book in her fab Girl of Fire and Thorns series.

Next spring I’m looking forward to Merrie Haskell’s The Castle Behind Thorns (her first book, The Princess Curse, was a lovely 12 Dancing Princesses retelling, and the title of The Castle Behind Thorns sounds pretty promising!) and Leah Cypess’s new series that starts with Death Sworn (“Secrets are deadlier than daggers…”)

And finally … what can we expect next from Tina Connolly?

Copperhead, the sequel to Ironskin, just came out a few weeks ago from Tor here in the US, and will be out from Constable & Robinson in the UK in March 2014. And then I just turned in Ironskin #3 to my US editor, so that will be out in both the US & UK next October. Copperhead features Jane’s sister, Helen, and Ironskin #3 is set 18 years later and features a grown-up Dorie (Jane’s young charge from Ironskin.)

After that, I have a completely unrelated young adult novel coming out from Tor Teen in 2015, so I’m looking forward to that! It’s called Seriously Wicked, and it’s about a high school girl who lives with a *seriously wicked* witch. It’s got pixies that look like frogs, a demon who occasionally imitates Elvis . . . it was a lot of fun to write.

Thanks for having me on the blog, Amanda!

Thanks for answering my questions Tina – my ‘wish list’ has just got a whole lot longer and congratulations on the new addition to your family!

Ironskin is released in the UK as an ebook on 7th November by Constable and Robinson.

Find out more about Tina and her writing at: http://tinaconnolly.com/

Read the first chapter of Ironskin by Tina Connolly!

3 Nov

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the Ironskin blog tour with not one but two exciting posts! First up is a sneak peek at the book. Click on the link below to read the first chapter and do leave a comment to let me know what you think when you’ve read it.

 

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask. It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain – The Ironskin.

When a post is advertised for a governess to assist with a fey-cursed child, Jane grabs the opportunity and leaves for a new life at Silver Birch Hall. 

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is a challenge in itself. But Jane’s also battling with burgeoning feelings for the little girl’s father – the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. Deep down Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things are true? As Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life – she discovers just how far she’s prepared to go to become whole again.

Read the first chapter of Ironskin

Stop by again later today when I’ll be interviewing Ironskin’s author, Tina Connolly.

Ironskin is released in ebook formats by Constable and Robinson on 7th November.

You can find out more about Tina Connolly and her writing at: http://tinaconnolly.com/

February 2013 new releases – hot picks

2 Feb

February is another month full of great new releases and I’ve had a hard time narrowing it down but here are the eight at the top of my wish list:

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman (Corvus – 1st February)

Billed as a cross between The Help and Call the Midwife, this debut is already on my bookshelf and will be my first historical read of 2013!

As a midwife working in rural poverty during the Depression, Patience Murphy’s only solace is her gift: the chance to escort mothers through the challenges of childbirth. Just beginning, she takes on the jobs no one else wants: those most in need-and least likely to pay. Patience is willing to do what it takes to fulfil her mentor’s wishes, but starting a midwife practice means gaining trust, and Patience’s secrets won’t allow her to let anyone in.

The Midwife of Hope River beats with authenticity as Patience faces seemingly insurmountable conditions: disease, poverty, and prejudices threaten at every turn. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.

The Case of the Missing Boyfriend by Nick Alexander (Corvus – 1st February)

This sounds like a fun read and something a little different and I’m looking forward to discovering a new author as I’ve heard a lot of good things about Nick Alexander.

CC is nearly forty, and apart from her real name (which she hates with a passion usually reserved for men with beards), everything in her life seems wonderful. She’s got a high-powered job in advertising, a beautiful flat in Primrose Hill and a wild bunch of gay friends to spend the weekends with. And yet she feels like the Titanic – slowly, inexorably, and against all expectation, sinking. The truth is, CC would rather be digging turnips on a remote farm than convincing the masses to buy a life-changing pair of double-zippered jeans – rather be snuggling at home with the Missing Boyfriend than playing star fag-hag in London’s latest coke-spots. But sightings of straight men that don’t have weird fetishes or secret wives are rarer than an original metaphor, and CC fears that pursuing the Good Life alone will just leave her feeling even more isolated. Could her best friend’s pop-psychology be right? Are the horrors of CC’s past preventing her from moving on? And if CC finally does confront her demons, will she find the Missing Boyfriend? Or is it already too late?

The Gilded Fan by Christina Courtenay (Choc Lit – 7th February)

I’m a big fan of Christina’s historical romance novels and can’t wait to read her latest. Another gorgeous cover from Choc Lit too!

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive …

Could it be I’m Falling in Love? by Eleanor Prescott (Quercus – 14th February)

I really enjoyed Eleanor Prescott’s debut and this sounds like another great read for Valentine’s day!

This Valentine’s Day, Roxy Squires is waiting for the phone to ring …

Roxy is famous. At least, she used to be. She’s a good-time TV presenter and, OK, so things haven’t been going so well recently, but she knows her big break is just around the corner. What she’s really looking for is someone to propel her back to the big time. 

Enter Woody, one-time pop star and Roxy’s ultimate dream date, now working as her window cleaner. He’s the answer to her prayers – but for some reason, he doesn’t want to be famous any more. 

And it turns out that they’re not the only celebs in the village. Roxy’s living amongst a motley crew of former stars and fame survivors, who meet weekly to discuss their new lives. Is this the reality check Roxy needs? Or maybe it’s a chance to do the unthinkable and fall in love …?

The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay (Hodder – 14th February)

History, archaeology, treasure hunting and exotic locations – what more could you want from a book?!

The one thing to remember about an adventure is that if it turns out the way you expect it to, it has not been an adventure at all . . .

Shanghai, 1925.
Irene, a museum curator (and, unofficially, a treasure hunter) is searching for a set of legendary copper scrolls which describe the forgotten history of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer civilisation. 

Her mentor has sent her to China to enlist the help of Simone, a mercurial Frenchwoman who – along with her notoriously violent husband, ‘the most dangerous man in the Orient’ – has a reputation for both stealing artefacts and starting revolutions. 

Irene and Simone set off through the Cambodian jungle to search for the scrolls, but it soon becomes clear that each is determined to acquire them for her own reasons, and that once they have located them it will be every woman for herself . . .

The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn (Headline – 28th February)

Judith’s debut, The Last Summer was my favourite book of 2013 so I can’t wait for her next novel – the hardback is out this month!

When a mysterious countess arrives late in life to live at a large, deserted house on the edge of a sleepy Hampshire village, the local tongues start wagging. No one is more intrigued than Cecily Chadwick, idling away the long, hot summer of 1911 with nothing much to do. Cecily is fascinated by the exotic elderly lady and, as she gets to know her, is riveted by her tales of expatriate life on the continent, and of whom she once knew. But the countess is troubled: by her memories, her name, and by anonymous threats to reveal a ruinous secret… It is, she has decided, up to her close friend, a successful novelist who has come to stay for the summer, to put the record straight. For aspiring writer Cecily, the novelist’s presence only adds to the intrigue and pull of the house. But it is the countess’s grandson, Jack, his unanswered questions about his grandmother’s past and his desire to know the truth, that draw Cecily further into the tangled web of the countess’s life, and the place known as Temple Hill.

A French Affair by Katie Fforde (Century – 28th February)

I’m  a huge fan of Katie’s books so this is a must read for me and doesn’t this cover make you feel summery?!

Gina and Sally Makepiece have inherited a stall in the French House – an antiques centre nestled in the heart of the English countryside.

Gina is determined to drag the French House and its grumpy owner into the twenty-first century. Bearing all the attributes of a modern-day Mr Rochester, Matthew Ballinger is less than happy with the whirlwind that has arrived on his doorstep.

The last thing either of them want is to fall in love.

But will a trip to France change their minds?

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder – 28th February)

I’ve read all of Maggie’s books and this is sure to be a big hit – one of my ‘most anticipated’ books of 2013.

It’s July 1976.  In London, it hasn’t rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper.  He doesn’t come back.  The search for Robert brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each wih different ideas as to where their father might have gone.  None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.

Also out this month and on my wish list: Fuse by Juliana Baggot, Forgive Me by Lesley Pearce, Mums Like Us by Laura Kemp, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood and The Mummyfesto by Linda Green.

What are you looking forward to reading in February?

Book news: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

24 Jan

I love the title and cover of this book and I’m really intrigued that it’s been described as a Steampunk version of Harry Potter! I have’t read much Steampunk but I think Gail Carriger’s new Young Adult series set in a finishing school could get me hooked.

The novel is set in the Parosol Protectorate world that features in Gail’s adult series of the same name  – a series that I’m also determined to check out soon. Etiquette and Espionage is published by Atom on 5th February and you can read the first chapter at: http://www.atombooks.net/etiquette-espionage/

Find out more about Gail Carriger and her books at: http://gailcarriger.com