Category: book review (Page 1 of 4)

Superstitions, Steampunk and Speculative Fiction Reviews

I’m back in the swing of this writing thing after a brilliant holiday and so what’s next for me?

Origins of Common Superstitions monthly series
I’m writing a monthly series for the fabulous Folklore Thursday exploring the origins of common superstitions.
So far, I’ve written about;
· Bad Luck comes in Threes: Matches, Murderers or Mathematics
· The Origins of ‘Touch Wood’: Tree Spirits, The True Cross, or Tag?

And there’s another eight more to come….

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Recent reads – Vigil by Angela Slatter

Vigil by Angela Slatter is an urban fantasy set in Brisbane, Australia.

Brisbane has a number of nicknames, I generally call it Brisvegas but this book uses Brisneyland. Whatever you call it, Brisbane has a cliched reputation for warm weather, theme parks and palm trees. But Vigil shows Brisbane in a completely different light.

Verity Fassbinder is a woman who strides between two worlds. The world of the Normals, us everyday types and the Weyrd, the paranormal underworld sitting just below the surface of everyday Brisbane. Verity is the product of a Normal mother and Weyrd father, she inherited some powers, extraordinary strength, but the rest of Verity is very Normal.

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Recent Reads – She Walks in Shadows

Today, an anthology of short stories inspired by HP Lovecraft all written by women. The collection is called She walks in Shadows  edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R Stiles, published by Innsmouth Free Press in 2015.

HP Lovecraft is a founding father of the horror genre but he’s well known for his lack of female characters and his dubious perception of anyone who wasn’t of English descent.

For those unfamiliar with HP Lovecraft, his work is filled with dark, gory, lush imagery  and his stories often focus on scientists uncovering the paranormal in the course of their experiments and the revelations drive them mad. Or family legends of inherited guilt. In his writings, he built a rich pantheon of mythology including the all powerful cosmic entity Cthulu. Lovecraft never experienced fame during his lifetime but has inspired many writers since.

This collection, by all female writers, takes the Lovecraft universe and focuses on, or reimagines, the role of women in his world. The writers are from all across the world, each bringing their own unique spin on Lovecraft.

Usually I find short story anthologies are a bit hit and miss, but when I went back to write this review and looked through all the stories I liked, I was surprised how many I really enjoyed.

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Recent reads – The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

In the past few months, I’ve fallen in love with Shirley Jackson and her creepy weird normality. Today it’s The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, a classic haunted house story, first published in 1959.

Stephen King described The Haunting of Hill House as one of the most important horror books of the 20th century and inspired The Shining. It has also been the basis for two films. And today, a new ‘reimagining’ via Netflix was announced.

 Dr Montague, a paranormal academic researcher, rents a haunted house for a summer to undertake a research project. Hill House has a frightening reputation and history of hauntings after a series of tragic events in the house. The local townspeople won’t come anywhere near the place, and any one who rents the house barely stays a week. Determined to document the phenomenon, Dr Montague seeks out a few research assistants to join him at the house for the summer.

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Recent reads – Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This week, it’s fairytales with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, first published by Del Ray in 2015.

Agnieska lives in a village deep in the Wood, where an ageless hermit Wizard called the Dragon lives in a white tower nearby. The Wood is no ordinary forest, twisted and enchanted it takes people, including the Queen who disappeared in the Wood twenty years earlier and over the years, the Wood has gobbled up entire villages.

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Recent reads – Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Today I’m talking about Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, a collection of personal essays by science fiction author Kameron Hurley, published by Tor in 2016.

Hurley is an award winning author and her personal essays covers feminism, geek and internet culture, the perils of being a writer, health and rebellion. Hurley critiques and challenges in a raw and honest way, drawing on her own personal experiences and life story.

Coincidence is a funny thing. I picked up this book right after finishing The Female Man by Joanna Russ (a feminist sci-fi novel I reviewed a few weeks ago). Hurley credits Joanna Russ with lighting her feminist fire. In fact, the book is dedicated to a “Joanna’.

The book is divided up into sections starting off with a section about writing and  the rollercoaster ride of a writers life. As a writer myself, I found this section heart-warming and depressing at the same time. My favourite essay was the first, named Persistence and the Long Con of Being a Successful Writer. The title says it all.

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Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction review – podcast archive

Like you I love to read.

If you’d like to hear me talk about the books I love, check out my reviews on Art District radio. My show – Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction Review – is all about speculative fiction, where I bang on about science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, dystopia, horror, paranormal etc.

You can listen to the back catalogue of reviews as podcasts.

Happy listening and happy reading.

Recent reads – The Female Man by Joanna Russ

The Female Man by Joanna Russ, first published in 1975 by Bantam Books.

 One of the main reasons why I like speculative fiction is how the genre allows the exploration of different ideas about science or culture or in the case today’s book, gender, by using made-up worlds.

While people might think it’s not about reality with all the aliens, spaceships, dragons and demons, but the truth is speculative fiction is a different way of examining our world by using these allegories.

This is definitely the case with The Female Man. This is a book has been hailed as a landmark feminist science fiction novel.

www.urbanhonking.com

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Recent reads: Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Today it’s one of my all time favourite books, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, first published in 1992 by Simon and Schuster. Alternative history with vampires!

In the world of Anno Dracula, Van Helsing lost and Dracula triumphed, killing Jonathan Harker and taking Mina Harker into his harem of vampire brides.

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Recent reads: Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee

Today I’m talking horror (or sometimes known as dark fantasy) with The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee, published in 2016. (I have previously interviewed Beverley here on the blog.)

Beth and her husband Stu have moved to a new house in the idyllic English countryside to raise their baby, Gabriel. But one night, during a snowstorm, everything goes horribly wrong for the family and in the picture perfect setting, something ancient and evil emerges and changes all their lives and not for the better.

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