roses and rotImogen is a writer who dreams of some day becoming a famous author. To that end she has applied to the exclusive Melete, a New Hampshire artist retreat where she–and other aspiring artists of various talents–would have access to famous artists as mentors. Also accepted is Imogen’s younger sister Marin, whose talent in ballet has people predicting a successful professional career.

The sisters had a difficult upbringing. With a father out of the picture early on, their mother raised them with a tyrannical fist. For her own sanity, Imogen signed up for boarding school and left home–including her sister to deal with their crazy mother alone. When they arrive at Melete together, the sister’s relationship seems normal on the outside, but like Melete, not everything is as it appears.

For the first couple of chapters I didn’t like ROSES AND ROT, Kat Howard’s debut novel. The setting is trendy and pretentious (‘it’s all about the art!’). The sisters’ baggage felt overwrought. The foreshadowing seemed cliché. I was sure I knew where the story was heading.

But I forged onward and was rewarded with a story I didn’t expect.

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Picture 1 I was in the mood for a straightforward, uncomplicated fantasy story and voila! There on my to-read shelf was THE THORN OF DENTONHILL. I was prepared for tropes and predictability and was even determined to be O.K. with magic system/plot inconsistencies because, really, I rarely notice those details if the characters are engaging and the pacing and story is good . . . but there is simply no margin for error when the writing is poor. Too bad, because this was potentially as good as early Harry Potter and might have satisfied Rowlings fans in search of something similar and good. Except it’s not. Read the rest of this entry »

Giveaway: An Affinity for Steel

Posted: July 22, 2016 by Vanessa in Giveaways


Update 7/22/2016: Benjamin T. from Colorado Springs is our winner. Congrats and your book will be on its way shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Sam Sykes’ AN AFFINITY FOR STEEL is in reprint with a new publisher, and to help get the word out we’re giving away a copy. If you haven’t read his stuff, it’s worth the time! To enter this giveaway:

1. Email us at

2. Include the following on the subject line: AFFINITY FOR STEEL GIVEAWAY

3. In the body of the email include your name and mailing address. This giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses (because this monolith of a book is actually three books in one, so it’ll be a beast to ship).

Giveaway rules can be found here. Entries will be accepted until midnight of July 21st and the winner will be posted on the 22nd. Good luck!

And don’t forget to check out Dan’s review here.


FEARLESS by Elliott James has been out for nearly a year, which means it’s been sitting on my “to read” shelf for that long, and I’ve been avoiding it because the cover is dumb. Go ahead, take a look at the cover again, and maybe at CHARMING and DARING, too (the first two books), and see if you don’t assume it’s another lameo Urban Fantasy series to take up shelf space.

I was so wrong. I love it when a book surprises me, and FEARLESS is the kind of book where I will eagerly go buy the first two so I can get more of this series. Should you have read the first books before reading this one? Probably, but I doubt that lack made me enjoy this book any less.

John Charming comes from a long line of monster hunters. Of course, not all monsters are bad, but when you have abilities that make you able to squash mortals without any effort, you tend to not care for the weaker of the species. That’s where the Knights Templar comes in, and the Pax Arcana, which gives hunters the authority to fight the bad guys. But John is different than any other knight: he’s also a werewolf.

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An Affinity for Steel

Posted: July 14, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love
Tags: , ,

affinitysteelIt’s not very often that I get to write one of these kind of reviews. I had couple of them a few years ago when (oddly enough) Orbit picked up another favorite author of mine and did a new printing in omnibus fashion of an earlier series of his. In these instances, it never even crosses my mind to skip over reviewing such a book. It gives me a chance not only to go back and remember my reading experience with them (actually, I remember saying something recently about wanting to do that for this series…), but mostly to introduce new readers to an awesome author. And also doing our best to help the current publisher of our favorite authors might be wrapped up in there somewhere too as well. So, lots of reasons to write such a review. Pick any of them. Pick all of them. Just know that I’m happy to be able to do my part.
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Time Salvager

Posted: July 12, 2016 by spikethesurfdog in Books We Like
Tags: , ,

time salvagerI’m sure you couldn’t tell from the title of the book, but TIME SALVAGER by Wesley Chu, is a time travel book. Crazy right? I’ve read some time travel books in my time. Connie Willis has gotten about a million Hugos for her takes on time travel (TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, DOOMSDAY BOOK, BLACKOUT [EBR review], ALLCLEAR [EBR review]).  Michael Critchton took us back into the dark ages in TIMELINE. There are books that go back to dinosaurs (BONES OF THE EARTH by Michael Swanwick) and just about anywhere you can think of. In most of those books the story revolves around going back to some time period and either a) getting stuck back in time and needing to get back, or b) accomplishing some goal in the past to fix the present.

Chu does none of those things.  Read the rest of this entry »

AngelsofCalibanCoverA long, long time ago in a galaxy…here…I read ANGELS OF DARKNESS by Gav Thorpe. I’d been reading Warhammer 40,000 tie-in fiction for a short while but this was my first exposure to the Dark Angels. It was more thoughtful and considerate than I was accustomed to for a 40k novel. Don’t get me wrong, ANGELS OF DARKNESS stills packs the heavy hitting action the war-game is known for, but it also delves deeply into the history of one of 40k’s most mysterious factions. It’s been a long time since I read that book but it remains one of my all time favorites set in the grim darkness of the future. ANGELS OF CALIBAN takes place 10,000 years before ANGELS OF DARKNESS, during the Horus Heresy, and fills in more of the details of the I legion’s shameful past. It is also the third novel in the Imperium Secundus subplot of the larger Horus Heresy series, following Dan Abnett’s THE UNREMEMBERED EMPIRE and Guy Haley’s PHAROS.

If you’ve read my PHAROS review you’re aware that I’m a big fan of the Imperium Secundus subplot and ANGELS OF CALIBAN is (probably) the end of that specific era of the Horus Heresy. Unfortunately I feel as though the concept wasn’t explored nearly as fully as it deserved but it’s still a satisfying diversion from the main conflict of the galactic-spanning civil war and ANGELS OF CALIBAN is a powerful (likely) finale to the arc. Read the rest of this entry »