Autumn books!

I love autumn. The chill in the air, the colours, the smells, the darker nights. To me, autumn is hot, comforting drinks and nice, comforting books.


This autumn, my reading list is particularly self-indulgent. I almost wish for poor weather to justify the hours I plan to spend on the sofa with a stack of books. While it is not looking like 2016 will be particularly nice and chilly (given recent heat records), we can always hope for a few thunderstorms. Given my penchant for horror, that would suit me just fine.

Fellside img_2261by M.R.Carey has been on my radar for some time, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to wait until Halloween to dig into that particular book. A twist on the classic ghost story set in a prison at the edge of the Yorkshire moors should fit the season nicely. I have been told that Fellside is a book susceptible to spoilers, like Carey’s earlier The Girl With All The Gifts, so I’m staying clear of reviews, although ratings suggest I’m in for a treat. Actually, just looking at the cover makes me excited. amityvillecover

I’m planning on tackling an old classic: The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson, as it is one of those stories I’ve watched but never actually read. I have been told that the book is creepier than the film(s), so I’ve got my hopes up.

I’m also looking forward to a steampunk fix. Island of Birds, the sequel to Austin Hackney’s Beyond the Starline, has recently been released, and I may also pick up a book in the Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest, probably Clementine or Dreadnought. If anyone has any thoughts on which I should go for after Boneshaker, let me know in the comments.

aftermathYet another sequel, Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, is also on my list, which should get me in the mood for the upcoming Star Wars Rogue One film in December (not that I need to get more in the mood for Star Wars). I truly enjoyed the first Aftermath novel, although I am aware that the response to it was not uniformly positive. All I can say is that Mister Bones is right up there with BB-8 on the list of favourite droids, but for very different reasons.

I also plan to settle down with two non-fiction books: 1812: Napolerabidon’s Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski, which was recommended to me more than a year ago by a friend, and Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy, simply because the subject matter is fascinating. The monster du jour, zombies, do not make an appearance in Rabid, if reviews are to be believed, but I expect to get a fair few parallels with werewolf myths in addition to the history and biology of one of the nastiest viruses out there. The scientist in me is quite excited about Rabid.

In short, it’s looking like it will be a pretty good autumn. What are you planning on reading? Let me know in the comments.

2016 in books – a selection

I’m thrilled about by my reading list for 2016. Something old, something new, all of it exciting. These are the novels I particularly can’t wait to read.

2016 releases

The Bands of Mourning / Shadows of Self (Brandon Sanderson). Fantasy western set in the vast cosmere. I’ll be reading both back to back after the Bands of Mourning is released later this month. Having enjoyed the first book, Alloy of Law, immensely, it’s terrific to be having two new ones on my list.  

Fellside (M. R. Carey). Creepy, atmospheric Yorkshire-based story from the author of The Girl With All The Gifts?  Yes, please. April release.

Edit: I’ve just learnt that one of my writer friends on Twitter, Austin Hackney, is releasing the first book, Beyond the Starline, of his steampunk trilogy, Dark Sea. Will definitely be picking that one up too. the Starline


Pre-2016 releases

Find Me (Laura van den Berg). Dystopian novel that has been compared to Never Let Me Go and A Handmaid’s Tale.

The Emperor of All Maladies (Siddharta Mukherjee) – winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. A personal, historical and medical account of cancer.

Star Wars: Aftermath (Chuck Wendig). This one has received mixed reviews, but after seeing the film (twice), it’s definitely high up there on my list.

The City and The City (China Miéville). It’s been on my list forever, and I don’t know why I have not read it yet. Has received accolade upon accolade, and I’m sure I’ll be beating myself up for not reading it sooner.

1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow (Adam Zamoyski). Recommended by a friend, whose opinion I highly value. Excited to delve into a part of history about which I know embarrassingly little.

The Haunting of Hill House / We Have Always Lived In the Castle (Shirley Jackson). Classic horror that I’ve somehow not read yet. I’m utterly thrilled to have them in store.



Book Review: Boneshaker

Steampunk zombies!!

If that isn’t enough to get you sold on Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, then I can add that it is a fast-paced reimagination of Seattle as a bowl of poisonous gas with hidden tunnels and clusters of badass survivors, villains and heroes alike. There be guns, there be airships, and there be the rumblings of the civil war in the east.

The premise of the story is as follows:

Civil war rages in the east but Washington has its own trouble and it is called Seattle. Sixteen years ago, Seattle was ravaged by the Boneshaker, a destructive vast mining machine made by Dr Leviticus Blue. It released the Blight, a noxious gas turning people into mindless creatures, ‘rotters’, hungry for flesh. The city was evacuated and a great wall erected to stop the Blight, but some survivors have dug their nails in, clawing out spaces for themselves between the Blight and the rotters, and not all of the survivors are friendly.

Briar Wilkes lives in the settlement outside the wall with her son Zeke. Daughter of the infamous prison guard Maynard Wilkes who died letting prisoners escape during the evacuation and widow of the reviled Dr Blue, she has few resources to call upon when Zeke sneaks into the city looking for evidence of his father’s innocence. Few resources but an old gas mask, a gun and grit.

When reading, I couldn’t help but think that it would be a fantastic, mad romp of a film, buckle aplenty and swash galore. Apparently, there was talk of a film about 5 years ago, but so far there’s been little news. If the steampunk Oliver Twist fares well, then perhaps Boneshaker would be next in line. And it would richly deserve to be so. The imagination in this book threatens to spill over, like the Blight slowly edging the top of the Seattle wall, but in a nice way.

It is an absolute pleasure to read, with good characters (including a female protagonist older, wiser and grittier than your average starlet) and a solid plot that kept me from putting the book down (and sometimes from breathing for several paragraphs at a time, because Zombies!). It is, however, in the world-building that Boneshaker truly shines. It’s rich, vast and detailed, like a huge machine packed with wonderfully intricate cogs and wheels, shifting and moving all around you. Also: steampunk zombies!

(Boneshaker is the first book set in the Clockwork Century Universe)