Ghosts: The Book List

“It’s behind you!”

There’s something about a good ghost story that really gets the old heart beating. I think the fact we secretly want ghosts to exist has a great deal to do with this. Whether or not you concur, one thing we can all agree on is that there is, has, and I’m sure will continue to be some great ghost stories out there.

As usual with my lists these are all books that I own, so I apologise if some of your favourites aren’t included. My choices encompass everything from the classics to the more modern interpretation of the theme. I hope you enjoy.

Richard

The Woman In White

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If you’re going to do a job, you might as well do it right. This story is synonymous with the genre, the age of the tale doing nothing to diminish its fear factor. (Enhancing it if anything.)

The Hungry Ghosts

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Both brutal and haunting, this book will leave a lasting impression.

The Small Hand

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I love Susan Hill’s books. She is one of only a few authors renowned for different genres. If you read this short story, you will soon see why.

The Lovely Bones

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If a chilling death can be written up in a beautiful fashion, then this does.

Ghosts By Gaslight

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I almost put this in yesterday’s list as it is a Steampunk compilation. However, the essence of the stories are ghosts, and they are good stories at that.

The Canterville Ghost

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Another classic that interweaves a ghost story with romance. Wilde is always superb and this is no less than any of his other works.

Strangers

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I loved this book as it’s a true chiller. One of those you just suddenly get and think, ‘Geez!’ Plus, I like Japanese stuff.

The Woman In Black

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One of few the books I’ve read that inspired me to immediately start writing something because of it. One day, I’ll finish the many thousands of pages I have already written of ‘A Shadow Over Darkmoor’ and I shall thank Susan Hill when I do. (My favourite on this list.)

The Turn Of The Screw

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If there’s a ghost list, then this has to be on it. Another story that only grows creepier as it ages. I reckon this story is so scary that although there are several movie versions, they will never capture the chilling essence of it. And it’s short, too. No excuses not to read it.

Ligeia

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Poe, the master of the macabre, puts his own flourish on the ghost genre with this tale of a  dead wife. This story used to be very well read but seems to be less so these days. Don’t be put off by the old style narrative, it’s very good.


I hope you all enjoyed this dissection of the spooky side of life, or is it death? If you even read one of these and enjoy it, then my compilation has been well worth my time.

Thanks for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals Trilogy

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The Steampunk Book List

Steampunk often baffles me, not because I don’t like it, I love it, but because people pooh-pooh it without even trying it. I know folks that say they hate it, yet in the next breath extoll the virtues of Dr. Who or The Time Machine or The League of Extraordinary Gentleman or Jules Verne all of which comprise Steampunk at some point or another. The head and the tail of it is this, if you like Victorian, dark literature and I would include the likes of Sherlock Holmes in this, and you also enjoy Fantasy, then Steampunk is a very definite blend of the two. As the years have gone on this has been expanded to include the Dracula type books and other Victorian horror genres. If anything, this has made Steampunk one of the most cult genres in all of literature.

So, in a different way to normal, I am merely going to show the titles and covers of said recommendations and hope they spark your interest, get the old cogs turning, (see what I did there? Cogs, clockwork, steam…oh well!)

As always, I own all these books and would recommend them without hesitation.

Richard

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / Alan Moore

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Morlock Night / K. W. Jeter

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Anna Dracula / Kim Newman

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The Osiris Ritual / George Mann

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Phoenix Rising / Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

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The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack / Mark Hodder

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The Japanese Devil Fish Girl / Robert Rankin

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The Feaster From The Stars / Alan. K. Baker

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The Kingdom Beyond The Waves / Stephen Hunt 

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Clockwork Angel / Cassandra Clare

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I hope you enjoyed this look at Steampunk. Please try one or more and see what you think.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals Trilogy

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Amazon (UK)

All images courtesy Goodreads.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Modern Fiction Book List

The Fiction shelves of a bookshop can carry the widest variety of work from the ancient to the new and everything in between. The benefit of this can be books that are unexpectedly superb because you aren’t entirely sure what to expect. The following are ten books all of which I own that have done just this – surprised due to their exceptional quality. I recommend them all. Enjoy.

Richard.

Memoirs of a Geisha / Arthur Golden

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If you enjoyed the movie you’ll love the book and vice-versa.

Sister / Rosamund Lupton

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Rosamund Lupton is an author who has fast built up a following. There’s no surprise why after reading this.

The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern

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The cover says it all, enchanting. One of my personal favourite books.

Dark Matter / Michelle Paver

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This could have gone in a ghost or horror category, but it’s so well based in reality that I felt it best here. You’ll never see sunlight slipping away the same again.

Across The Nightingale Floor / Lian Hearn

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The Orient, assassins, tradition, what more could you want? Most of all, a beautifully crafted tale.

The Virgin Suicides / Jeffrey Eugenides

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This book put a spell on me just as had the Sofia Coppola movie. Not to everyone’s taste, but well worth the read.

I’m Not Scared / Niccolo Ammaniti

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I felt this. ‘Nuff said. Distinctly Mediterranean and a great read.

The Vengeance of Rome / Michael Moorcock

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This is the fourth book in the Pyatt Quartet. The only series of books that I’ve ever read, reached the last page, and thought ‘Jesus!’ he had me all the way.

The Dream Life of Sukhanov / Olga Grushin

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‘Dream Life’ explains this better in two words than I could in a page. Very Russian. Very surreal. Always superb.

Milan Kundera / Unbearable Lightness of Being

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Of love and lovers. A fantastic book and a great way to finish off this list.


I hope you enjoyed the choices and get chance to read at least one of these fine works of literature.

All images courtesy Goodreads.com

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals Trilogy

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Classic Inspiration (Book List)

This is a very personal book list. The problem is that as soon as you say classic everybody will have their own thoughts. There are many things that contribute to such a classification like age, impact and so on. I have tried to keep a degree of elapsed time to my choices, but they are predominantly here because I love them all.

I hope you like my picks and the reasons why.

Richard

Paradise Lost / John Milton

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It seemed right to start a classics list with this. Milton’s retelling of the Devil’s casting from heaven and his infiltration of Adam and Eve is astonishing. Poetry, writing and content combine in a way almost no other book does. It also double-dared me to use ‘thus spake’ in my own prose although I don’t think I’ll ever get away with it.

H. G. Wells / The Time Machine

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How could Wells see so much, so long ago? Most people admire this book for the time travel element, but for me, it was the original ending that got me, which has not been used in films. An ocean at the end of time with strange creatures that might once have been us. Wow!

Dandelion Wine / Ray Bradbury

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I loved this book. If ever a story can be described as ‘gentle’ it is this. Childhood at its best.

The Hound of the Baskervilles / Arthur Conan Doyle

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I almost included The Lost World, which I also love, but chose this. The thing I love about this story more than most of its era and Doyle’s other work is its dark edge. This book will never date and will always hold its appeal.

Rebecca / Daphne Du Maurier

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This book taught me as a writer that place can be just as important as person. Manderley will be forever etched on the reader’s subconscious after reading this, and I will always aspire to do the same with work of my own.

The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Who is he? The question we as the reader will ask. Brilliant.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s / Truman Capote

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Capote is another of those writers who can take any subject and mesmerise his readers. I almost listed In Cold Blood which couldn’t be more different, but felt this story holds a more universal appeal. I have a leather-bound copy of this and treasure it. PS It’s only short, so there’s no excuse to not read it.

And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie

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The preeminent whodunnit. If you say you knew, you either fibbed or should be a judge. To say Christie used only her imagination with her crime books, (no training at all) only goes to make this even more remarkable.

Alice In Wonderland / Lewis Carroll

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A book that brought fantasy to the masses. I don’t think there are many more books of its ilk that have influenced future works more than it has. Another superb read for any age.

A Christmas Carol / Charles Dickens

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Timeless. It doesn’t matter who you are, what age, race, gender, this book will resonate. So simple an idea as to be perfect. I just had to include it. (Sorry Great Expectations, you got usurped).


I hope you have enjoyed the very wide selection here. As I said at the start, the definition of classic is a personal one. I think these all are and they are all very dear to me. Always will be, too.

Thanks for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.

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The Crime and Detection Book List

As I’ve said before, I go through periods where I can’t get enough of one genre or another. For a time, crime and detection stories were my genres of choice. My passage through theses genres went something like this: Fantasy-Steampunk-Victorian Literature-Victorian Detection-Detection-Murder-Scandinavian Crime. I know that’s a funny old way of doing things but that’s how my mind works.

Anyhow, the result of said ramblings through murder were not just to make me the world’s greatest detective, but to have a much more varied outlook on the books I read. The most pertinent example would be the Scandinavian authors and my absolute love of the barren way they often write. Again, so different to anyone else and utterly enthralling. So, that’s where I’ll start. As always, I own every one of these books and my opinions are my own.

Unseen/ Mari Jungstedt

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I loved the way Mari created an unmistakably Scandinavian ambience to this series, you could feel the chill, the cold sea, everything. Brilliant.

Italian Shoes / Henning Mankell

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I took a bit of a liberty placing this book in this category but not too much. It’s a hard one to describe, but my lasting memory was of the anthill that slowly grew in the protagonist’s shack. You don’t see that every day.

The Death of a Red Heroine

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In the same way the above authors evoked Scandinavia, Qui Xiaolong does the same with modern day China. This book oozes The Orient from the food upwards. A great read.

Blood On The Mink / Robert Silverberg

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Allegedly, Silverberg couldn’t even remember writing this. I was greatly cheered to read that salient detail as I’m always doing the same.

Die A Little / Megan Abbott

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If ever a book could be described as Film Noir, then this it. I enjoyed Die A Little an awful lot and read several more of Abbott’s stories because of it.

The Bone Garden / Tess Gerritsen

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This is a time hopping story that was constructed in a very easy to read manner. I enjoyed this a lot. The other good thing about Tess’s books was that when I resigned from work to write full time, you could always buy them on three for one. (Every penny counts.)

A Death in Tuscany / Michele Giuttari

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It was set in Tuscany. I love Tuscany. ‘Nuff said.

Sexton Blake, Detective / Various

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Born of the Penny Dreadfuls, Sexton Blake was a varied read that I felt encapsulated the period perfectly. A nice alternative to Sherlock Holmes and Denis Nayland Smith, (as you know, I hate reading the same as everyone else).

The Affair of the Mutilated Mink / James Anderson

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If you like your British murders to be old school with a touch of whimsy in their detection, read these.

The Eiger Sanction / Trevanian

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Not only has this book got Switzerland as its main setting, the Eiger (my favourite mountain) and a movie version of it starring Clint Eastwood, but it’s a great read, too. What more could you want to round off a list.


I hope you enjoyed the choices. If you want another list doing just shout out in the comments.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.

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The Urban Fantasy Book List

I was asked by the lovely Gigi if I would put together a list of recommended Urban Fantasy, so I have. I must confess, I found this list harder than most because the boundaries between Urban Fantasy and its offshoots are often tenuous. Therefore, I may have stretched this in places to accommodate a couple of class acts, but in essence it stays true to Fantasy set in or based from a real world environment.

The collection of stories seen here contain everything from vampires to goddesses to superheroes. I have given a little spiel of my own to each. I own every book here, and my opinions are my own.

I hope you enjoy my choices.

Richard

The Graveyard Book / Neil Gaiman

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You can never go far wrong with Neil Gaiman. I love this book because it is the classic children’s story that appeals even more to adults. A boy brought up by ghosts, so simple as to be brilliant.

King Rat / China Miéville

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When our hero is taught to eat trash (like a rat would) I bet you can’t help but cringe.

Watchmen

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This is actually a graphic novel and also now a movie. This is a story concerning superheroes and their impact on the world rather than a superhero story per se. The difference is subtle and superb, and one I learned to use myself in The Eternals a story concerning vampires but not about them.

Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr

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Aimed at the teen market, I bought this because I’d got the follow up for ten pence in a book sale (LOL, cheapskate). For younger readers looking at this list, particularly girls, I think they would enjoy these stories of visible-to-some faeries very much.

There Are Doors / Gene Wolfe

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I took a bit of a liberty including this one, but it’s my list, so there, (blows raspberry). A man pursues a goddess through different realities. This is mind-bending, poetic and always fabulous.

Guilty Pleasures / Laurel K. Hamilton

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This book launched the kick-ass heroine Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Original enough to be different, I can recommend this in written or graphic novel form.

Kafka on the Shore / Haruki Murakami

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As always, Murakami’s books are hard to fit into genres. I have included this here because of the very definite fantasy elements the further the story develops. Never try to understand him too much, just enjoy Murakami’s surreal narratives.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children / Ransom Riggs

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This book is soon to be released as a movie by Tim Burton, starring Eva Green. I think that says more about its style than I ever could as it’s a marriage made in heaven. The addition of old photographs in this book makes it really rather unique.

Side Jobs / Jim Butcher

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A collection of narratives concerning a detective who hunts down supernatural naughty folk.

The Book Of Lost Things / John Connolly

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Again,  I stretched the genre a bit to accommodate this wonderful story. I won’t say too much, but anyone who’s a child at heart will love it.


I hope you enjoy the choices and find something new to wet your appetite. There’s a good selection here, so no excuses. Feel free to ask for any other kind of list and if I can do it, I will.

As always, thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.

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The Lesser-Known Lists (Fantasy/SciFi)

I thought I’d do my bit to help some of the books out there that might have got missed in the scramble for mass sales. I am very lucky to have an extensive book collection, (never too many) and decided to try and help those that haven’t.

Choosing a book can be a very personal choice. For me, I always pay careful attention to the cover, the first paragraph and the blurb. If any of these things are not to my liking, I’ll move on. This is how easy it is to miss little gems that don’t contain all three elements.

The following top ten list comprises of Fantasy, both dark and light, Science Fiction, or a blending of the two. I own each of these books and can thoroughly recommend them particularly, as is my intention with these posts, that you might not of heard of them and are even less likely to have read them. They are in no particular order.

I have included the blurb, cover shots and a few thoughts to give you a taster of each. I truly hope something takes your fancy.

All images courtesy of Goodreads.com. Please feel free to find ME on there via this link and follow.

The Portrait of Mrs Charbuque

This is a delight for the senses. A period piece with a distinct twist.

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A mysterious and richly evocative novel, The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque tells the story of portraitist Piero Piambo, who is offered a commission unlike any other. The client is Mrs. Charbuque, a wealthy and elusive woman who asks Piambo to paint her portrait, though with one bizarre twist: he may question her at length on any topic, but he may not, under any circumstances, see her. So begins an astonishing journey into Mrs. Charbuque’s world and the world of 1893 New York society in this hypnotically compelling literary thriller.

The Lord Of The Sands Of Time

It’s not right until the end of this that you suddenly think WOW!

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Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras—during the Second World War and ancient Japan, and even back to the dawn of the species itself—to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by war and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?

The Boy With The Cuckoo Clock Heart

This is brilliant because it appeals to the young, yet an adult will see the dark undertones in a way they will not.

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Edinburgh, 1874. Born with a frozen heart, Jack is near death when his mother abandons him to the care of Dr. Madeleine—witch doctor, midwife, protector of orphans—who saves Jack by placing a cuckoo clock in his chest. And it is in her orphanage that Jack grows up among tear-filled flasks, eggs containing memories, and a man with a musical spine.

As Jack gets older, Dr. Madeleine warns him that his heart is too fragile for strong emotions: he must never, ever fall in love. And, of course, this is exactly what he does: on his tenth birthday and with head-over-heels abandon. The object of his ardor is Miss Acacia—a bespectacled young street performer with a soul-stirring voice. But now Jack’s life is doubly at risk—his heart is in danger and so is his safety after he injures the school bully in a fight for the affections of the beautiful singer.

Now begins a journey of escape and pursuit, from Edinburgh to Paris to Miss Acacia’s home in Andalusia. Mathias Malzieu’s The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a fantastical, wildly inventive tale of love and heartbreak—by turns poignant and funny—in which Jack finally learns the great joys, and ultimately the greater costs, of owning a fully formed heart.

The Girl with Glass Feet

The title says it all. So very clever and offers so many possibilities.

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Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land. Magical winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts who has only visited the islands once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.

The Snow Child

I thought this book had a sense of innocence that a lot lack.

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Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Soulless

Better known than some here, but liable to be poo-pooed because of the vampire theme. Don’t, it’s great!

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Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Gloriana or The Unfulfill’d Queen

I’m a fan as you know, but this book takes Historical Fantasy to a new level.

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One of Michael Moorcock’s most brilliant and highly decorated novels, here isthe story of a powerful queen whose quest for sexual satisfaction could destroy her kingdom. A fable satirizing Spenser’s The Faerie Queen and reflecting the real life of Elizabeth I, GLORIANA, OR THE UNFULFILL’D QUEEN tells of a woman who ascends to the throne upon the death of her debauched and corrupted father, King Hern. Gloriana’s reign brings the Empire of Albion into a Golden Age, but her oppressive responsibilities choke her, prohibiting any form of sexual satisfaction — no matter what fetish she tries. Her problem is in fact symbolic of the hypocrisy of her entire court. While her life is meant to mirror that of her nation — an image of purity, virtue, enlightenment and prosperity — the truth is that her peaceful empire is kept secure by her wicked chancellor Monfallcon and his corrupt network of spies and murderers, the most sinister of whom is Captain Quire, who is commissioned to seduce Gloriana and thus bring down Albion and the entire empire.

Vampire Hunter D

The classic manga in written form. I loved it and bought loads more. PS. As an aside, if you get chance to google Yoshitaka Amano, his artwork is astonishing.

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12,090 A.D. It is a dark time for the world. Humanity is just crawling out from under three hundred years of domination by the race of vampires known as the Nobility. The war against the vampires has taken its toll; cities lie in ruin, the countryside is fragmented into small villages and fiefdoms that still struggle against nightly raids by the fallen vampires – and the remnants of their genetically manufactured demons and werewolves. Every village wants a Hunter – one of the warriors who have pledged their laser guns and their swords to the eradication of the Nobility. But some Hunters are better than others, and some bring their own kind of danger with them. From creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, one of Japan’s leading horror authors with illustrations by renowned Japanese artist, Yoshitaka Amano, best known for his illustrations in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: The Dream Hunters and the Final Fantasy games.

Time Ships

Again, a bit better known than some here, but to all of you who don’t but love H.G Wells’s Time Machine, this is the official follow up. Works too.

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Written to celebrate the centenary of the publication of H G Wells’s classic story The Time Machine, Stephen Baxter’s stunning sequel is an outstanding work of imaginative fiction.

The Time Traveller has abandoned his charming and helpless Eloi friend Weena to the cannibal appetites of the Morlocks, the devolved race of future humans from whom he was forced to flee. He promptly embarks on a second journey to the year AD 802,701, pledged to rescue Weena. He never arrives! The future was changed by his presence… and will be changed again. Hurled towards infinity, the Traveller must resolve the paradoxes building around him in a dazzling temporal journey of discovery. He must achieve the impossible if Weena is to be saved.

The Wood Wife

Of all the books here, I’ve had this the longest. A delight in its simplicity, I highly recommend it.

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When Maggie Black comes to the desert home of poet Davis Cooper, seeking an answer to the riddle of his death, she begins a journey of self-discovery that will change her forever, coming face to face with the wild spirits that inhabit that strange and magical place.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into my reading history and recommendations. If you take even one book from this list then it’s been worth my time doing it. I shall do some more lists if this goes down well, possibly, crime books next. If there is any category you would be interested in me listing some recommendations from please leave a comment and I promise if I know them, I will.

Richard

Author of The Eternals. Book One available now.

Amazon Author (US)

Amazon Author (UK)

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