The cover says it all, ‘Continuing from Stealing Light’ (well it does on the final cover copy), so I’m going to have be careful what I say. About the first book I said,

I have a feeling that Gibson is going to be a quick rising star in sci-fi. He has the level of knowledge and skill to construct a story, he can twists these ideas around a cast of well conceptualised and constructed characters – human and non-human. And anyone who makes me want to find out what happens next is always going to get my vote.

I know what you’re thinking, does he manage it?

We start from almost exactly where the last book finished and Gibson notches up the pressure on Dakota and Corso straight away and in the process we get to meet a new race, the Bandati, who I can only think of as humanoid flies.

As the ending of Stealing Light opens up the possibilities and expands the Universe it’s good to see that Gibson has plan in mind and the two warring factions that make up two Bandati Hives have a vital role in how Nova War plays out. He keeps up the tension by keeping Dakota and Corso apart and in some ways opposing each other when they each end up working with the opposite Hives.

What I did find amazing was the Emissaries, the race that are equal to the Shoal in terms of advancement though they challenging them for control of the Universe.

And it’s this control that the Nova War hinges on and Dakota’s abilities that are central to how events could unfold. But for all this big picture stuff humanity again shows that it is only interested in guarding its own small pieces of power. Though that comes later and in a surprising way.

In fact the whole book is packed with surprises. Take the Trader and the measures which he will take in order to follow the Dreamers, what he does for self-preservation and how far his influence extends is almost religious devotion.

I did have a slight niggle with humanities involvement and their connection to events but this is a continuation of the ideas that came from Stealing Light and that was something that didn’t fit right for me then either. That though could be to do with my own thoughts about what they would or wouldn’t do rather than any real problems with the events themselves.

Dakota has the biggest journey of all, and it’s fascinating how she changes and how Gibson is able to keep it in realms that are understandable and also daring in scope.

If you haven’t read Stealing Light and enjoy science fiction your missing out big time. And Nova War only cements the fact that Gibson has a devious imagination, a sense of bigger picture and a more twists than a corkscrew.

I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do to Dakota next and what he’s going to make her suffer next.

That’s the tagline on twitter – #danwho and it’s not because they’ve never heard of Dan Brown. I think the problem is that there can’t be any person that knows a little about books that hasn’t heard of him.

It is what it is.

Well I for one am very excited by it not matter what my fellows on Twitter think.

For me DAN IS THE MAN! And that’s all I’m saying!


Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
Published by Orbit and Out Now

I’m committed to The Dresden Files series and that presents a problem. I can no longer look at them in an unbiased way. I have feelings for Harry, Murphy and Bob. That means I’m going to forgive Jim Butcher a lot. But that also means that he has to work harder with each book to keep me coming back. If nothing moves and the series starts to repeat itself then the relationship is going to fizzle out.

Luckily, the fire is still burning for Harry, though it’s mostly in the form of hellfire. After the events of Dead Beat (that I reviewed in April) which involved a bunch of people trying to kill Harry and all the pressure was external Harry is back in detective mode.

At a Horror convention there is an attack in a men’s room The trouble is that the man being accused is the boyfriend of Michael’s daughter and rather than calling her family the daughter calls Harry for help. Harry though isn’t just their to bail them out but to help find who actually did it. The situation gets worse when some of the movie monsters at the convention come to life. And on top of that the Council give him a mission to find the truth in rumours of black magic and that can only lead to death.

Not only is Harry back in gumshoe mode but this time he’s back to being the hero saving the damsel in distress. And that is really where Harry shines. He needs to be saving someone apart from himself. His focus this time might be to stop any more killings but Butcher never misses an opportunity to complicate Harry’s life further and Harry discovers more issues the deeper he goes.

It’s hard not to spoil some of the surprises but we get to see a completely different side to Michael’s wife and Michael’s daughter. We get to see more of Summer and Winter and I have a feeling that Butcher is setting up some pretty fiery events in future books.

But this isn’t a set-up book. There is a real journey here. We get to see Harry confront personal fears, he builds stronger relationships with those around him by testing them to their limits in some cases.

I’m happy to see Butcher shifting focus and exploring some of the things that are closer to Harry. Even though it’s backed it does feel like a bit of a breather from the deadly events of Dead Beat and what sounds like is going to be a challenge of the next one, White Night, if the title is anything to by.

Butcher keeps Harry on his toes again as well as keeping the everything moving and revealing more details of the bigger picture that Harry is part of. He also manages to give a sense of other things to come. Which is clever because by the end we know that Harry is going to have at least one other majority important task that he won’t be able to fail, as well as knowing that Harry’s life is never easy.

A tweet from Stephen Fry appears to have sent a book about the afterlife from the murky depths of the book sales lists to the dazzling heights of number two. The online retailer Amazon yesterday reported a 6,000% rise in sales for Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. It went from number 3,629 to number two and the only discernible reason is this tweet from Fry: “You will not read a more dazzling book this year than David Eagleman’s Sum. If you read it and aren’t enchanted I will eat 40 hats.” The tweet was retweeted by Fry followers – hence the dramatic rise.

link: Tweet smell of success for book backed by Stephen Fry | Media | The Guardian

By anyone’s terms Mr Stephen Fry is a popular figure in British culture but he’s also a twitter star. And if you’ve been following him for any length of time you’ve have noticed something I can only call The Fry Effect – usually it involves the following events: Mr Fry wants to mention a weblink, he then checks to see if they can cope with the increase in traffic, they say they can, he posts the link and then the website crashes as numerous amounts of his followers all check out his recommendation as well as ReTweeting his post for others to do the same.

So it’s great to see that same Fry Effect being applied to the book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman by Canongate. And it looks like he’s caused a more than healthy increase in sales.

Incidentally, I mentioned the same book ages ago and Simon A reviewed it around the same time on BookGeeks.co.uk and gave it a great review. Not that Mr Fry would recommend a dub or anything ;)

Every year for the last of couple of years I’m been sorely tempted to take a Man Booker challenge and read the shortlist. And every year I someone can’t either fit it in or gather the energy needed tackle six weighty books over such short period. And this year you’ll be surprised to hear is no different  I just can’t commit to it. But I am going to read Wolf Hall when I can get the ebook for paperback prices and I have a feeling that The Little Stranger is going to be a Halloween read. Fawers has been getting some good comments to me as well.


Anyway, here is this years shortlist:


A S Byatt The Children’s Book (Random House, Chatto and Windus)


J M Coetzee Summertime (Random House, Harvill Secker)


Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze (Random House, Jonathan Cape)


Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall (HarperCollins, Fourth Estate)


Simon Mawer The Glass Room (Little, Brown)


Sarah Waters The Little Stranger (Little, Brown, Virago)


Anybody placing any bets?

It’s all James’s fault for dragging me into to this. He mentioned me in his post ‘I’m a coward, apparently…’


Which is his response to the following response in an interview:

HM: Reading your reviews I come across a very peculiar ranking system of 100 points that always aroused questions. What’s the deal behind it and what components build these 100 points?

PS: I think writing a review, and not giving it some sort of numerical score is a cop out; it’s cowardice—pure and simple—since many online reviewers don’t want to upset publishers or authors. So they write reviews that are open to interpretation, using nebulous terms like good, overemphasizing the positive aspects of the book, trying very hard not to have an opinion. It’s okay, you’re entitled to have an opinion, you’re entitled to take a stand and let people know what you think.


PS is Paul Stotts of Blood of the Muse 


It definitely touched a nerve for James. I think the bit that grates is that those of use that can’t score something are doing it because we don’t want to upset a publicist? He’s kidding right?  I used to give things scores but when you start thinking about 0.5 differences out of 10 and then 0.25s it becomes pretty meaningless.  So I abandoned it. It didn’t work for me.


It might be a good shorthand and in general when you are reading a paper or magazine with changing reviewers it might be handy for getting an idea of how they reacted to something. But then when you know a reviewer the game changes a bit. For me my example is Sarah Crown of the guardian. If I see her name against  a review I’m immediately going to take notice of it no question.


And the reason that I follow certain blogs is that, well, I like their opinions. I don’t need to see a score at the end to convince me that I made a mistake all along because I see that the latest love-triangle vampire/werewolf/pixie book scored 10/10 and I really should read it anyway. It ain’t going to happen. Ever!


If I like the idea of something there is always Google, or your favourite search engine, to see some other opinions. But sometimes one review is enough. And some books that my fellow critics have raved about I have just hated, and vice versa.


Anyway, in case you are wondering if I, or my fellows do it to please publishers the best I can do is offer you this quote in response I got when I  said I didn’t like something and emailed them, ‘we can’t like everything we read, right? That would be weird!


And that’s it. If I like something I’m going to persuade you to read it. I’m going to say nice things about it. I’m not going to linger on what’s bad about it. Though I hope I mention them. The negatives weren’t bad enough to stop me reading and if they did stand out and spoil it I’m going to say so.


But we want you to like it if we do. But even average books can be worth reading. Would you read a book that got 5/10? Over a fun read with not a lot new but I really want to read the next one. They probably equate to the same thing.


Anyone want bloggers to score more?

London, 7th September, 2009 — The Crime Writers’ Association, in partnership with Specsavers, Cactus TV and ITV3, is pleased to announce the shortlists for the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009, celebrating the crème de la crème of Crime and Thriller fiction, and including the three remaining CWA Daggers. This follows hard on the news of the groundbreaking TV deal that will see the awards ceremony televised as the culmination of a six-week season of ITV3 crime and drama programming.

The books shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger are When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson, In the Dark by Mark Billingham, Hit and Run by Lawrence Block, A Whispered Name by William Broderick, The Coroner by MR Hall and Dark Times In The City by Gene Kerrigan. More information on the CWA Gold Dagger here.

The books shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger are The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, The Last Child by John Hart, Calumet City by Charlie Newton, Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva, The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer, and The Interrogator by Andrew Williams. More information on the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger here.

The books shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger are Sweetsmoke by David Fuller, Bad Catholics by James Green, No Way To Say Goodbye by Rod Madocks, Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg, Echoes from The Dead by Johan Theorin and The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell. More information on the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger here.

I’ve borrowed it from the CWA’s site but The Rap Sheet does it better on their blog.

Ok, I panicked for a second there. I have read something on the list – Echoes from the Dead. And I liked the first in Kate Atkinson’s detective series. I’ve got a Mark Billingham and the first Gillian Flynn, which I only bought because of the Stephen King quote on the cover.

Anyone read any of the others?

I mentioned twitter in my last post and here are some of the things that you get to find by hanging out there. One is the very lovely and mega savvy editor of Tor UK. She’s been teasing us with cover designs for earlier Neal Asher books and Farlander, which I posted about a while back






But we also have the exciting cover and title and possible blurb to Mark Charan Newton’s sequel to Nights of Villjamur:



Mark’s blurb for City of Ruin can be found on his blog.