Rachel lives with her husband in the English Cotswolds. When she isn't writing, she likes to gather inspiration by seeking out life's little adventures: getting lost in as many countries as possible, collecting skills the way others collect stamps, and generally marvelling at the variety the world has to offer.
Roan wakes at the bottom of a mine shaft, badly bruised but lucky to be alive. He doesn't remember how he got here, but as he'd just witnessed a suspicious death, he's afraid someone is trying to cover their tracks. The only problem is, he can't imagine who would have wanted to kill the young lady Arleigh. The Falconer is a short story set in the Twelve Baronies.
When a stranger tells her she's a mage, Ailith is intrigued but she's also afraid. Magic is heresy, and heresy means death under the Temple Law. Then a local priest asks her to rescue his son, and she starts to wonder if her talents could be a blessing, after all.
Why is the Empress suddenly so interested in the drylands north of the Empire? Eleanor and Daniel don't agree on much, but when they're sent to investigate strange happenings near the border between two foreign states, neither of them is really sure why they're there. Meanwhile at home, the rebels are causing chaos in the streets, whilst the Empress is grows ever more demanding of her citizens.
When her dreams are smashed by an assignment which would leave her trapped in a job far beneath her abilities, Eleanor has nowhere to turn. The Imperial system prides itself on unassailable perfection. In desperation she rejects her assignment and the quality of life she would have been guaranteed - and finds her imagination captured by legends which tell of a secret society of elite assassins.
Tsar Wars: Agents of ISIS, Book 1
on Jan. 21, 2011
I found this an enjoyable and quick read - it's very lighthearted and fun, considering the proportion of the time that the characters are in fear for their lives. I'll definitely look out for others in the series.
on June 04, 2011
First, a warning: this is not a book for the faint of heart. It starts with rape that's described bluntly, though not graphically, and follows through the consequences in Claire's life.
I don't even know how to categorise this book; it's like nothing else I've ever read. It has a classic "chick lit" romance premise (one girl, two boys, a difficulty in choosing) but has nothing else in common with that genre. This may be the darkest book I've ever read, yet there's not a single scene that feels like it's been added gratuitously for 'shock' value. It feels sort of like a thriller - but although there is a dead body in suspicious circumstances, the suspense really comes from somewhere else. Whatever anyone else may do to Claire, it's arguable that what she does to herself is the most terrifying. In a way, it's a story of mental illness, though never quite named as such.
What I can say is that I read this in two sittings, staying up well after midnight because I couldn't put it down. The whole thing was just thoroughly compelling. The writing flows smoothly, in gripping present-tense narrative, and the story progresses quickly. It's not a "light" read, though - I stormed through it quickly, but it continues to challenge me after I've put the book down.
on Sep. 09, 2011
With a setting split between a US courtroom battle and a South African diamond mine, as this book starts out it isn't quite clear how the disparate storylines will come together. A lot of characters are introduced at almost dizzying speed, while conversely there are several passages simply laying out facts, whether about the diamond industry or the legal process. This is an odd combination, but somehow it just works, balancing out as a quick read with a very detailed setting.
One minor niggle is that the chapter headings read like the kind of notes an author might make to describe the contents to himself;
as such, there were spoilers there that I would have preferred not to read. I tried to skip over them towards the end, but that's tricky to accomplish! However it didn't stop me from enjoying the book, and I definitely want to see more from this author.
Omicron (An Aristotle Project Thriller)
on Oct. 02, 2011
This was an enjoyable thriller, whose action criscrossed the globe from its first pages. Reinken's style is very distinctive, including detailed descriptions of locations and more-or-less-relevant facts, along with a fast-changing cast of characters, many of whom are introduced only to be brutally disposed of or - in a manner common enough in real life, but which I've seldom seen in fiction - just in time to play a major role changing the course of the drama. Throughout this, a small number of more central characters pick their way. In 'Omicron' the eponymous character is a sleeper agent, suddenly (and reluctantly) activated to step in when many of his colleagues are compromised and killed.
The Makers of Light: Book Two of The Masters That Be
on Dec. 27, 2011
This is the second book in the "Masters That Be" series, and an excellent continuation. Like many fantasy series, this is more like reading sections of one long book than individual novels. Compared to the first book, this volume has slightly less focus on Linden and Rianor, and more on Dominick and Merley, but in terms of ideas there is a continued examination of science and religion, control and independence. And there's plenty going on, of course, which makes it a very quick and fun read.
The Seekers of Fire: Book One of The Masters That Be
on Dec. 27, 2011
The Seekers of Fire is exactly my kind of novel: a tale of Science and Magic (capitalized throughout the book), religion and politics, which is nevertheless focused on the personal stories of a few characters. Linden and Rianor are trying to study the Science of Magic - a worthy lifetime's ambition, in a world where magic really works, so it's not surprising there are several more books planned. The world feels well-developed and, since the author has a scientific background, I don't doubt that there's a set of logical rules just waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile, the nation's rulers try forcefully to quash any subversive thoughts. I've already downloaded the second in the series and can't wait to see where the story goes next.
Draykon (An Epic Fantasy of Dragons)
on Dec. 30, 2011
This is a sweet fantasy novel with a pleasing mix of fantasy and adventure. For the most part, the book follows two characters: a young and anxious jeweller, Llandry, and a cynical High Summoner, Eva. When Llandry finds an unusual new gem - and Eva buys a piece of the resulting jewellery - they are both sucked into the mystery of where the stone has come from and why someone is prepared to kill for it. I love a good mystery, and I love a well-developed fantasy setting, and this book has both in spades. Definitely one of my favourite books of the year.
The Weavers of Paths: Book Three of The Masters That Be
on Jan. 20, 2012
This is the third in the Masters That Be series, so it's hard to know what to say without spoiling the earlier books. It wouldn't make sense if you started reading in the middle of the series - these books really don't stand alone - so it's probably enough to say that if you enjoyed the earlier books, this one continues in a similar vein. We are gradually given insights into the motivations of more characters, and people are starting to come together in unexpected ways. I can't wait for the next in the series.
on Feb. 06, 2012
This is the second novel in the Draykon series, and continues shortly after the previous book left off. I love the unique set-up of the Draykon worlds, and the plot keeps me turning page after page, but probably my favourite thing about these books is the cast of believable, determined, flawed-yet-lovable characters. In Lokant we meet a number of intriguing new characters, and there are further adventures for old favourites. If you loved Draykon (book 1) half as much as I did, I think you'll find this a worthy successor.
The Rostikov Legacy
on March 24, 2012
Konrad Savast is a man with a very peculiar mission: when someone is murdered, his job is to kill the killer. But first he has to figure out who's resposible, meaning this story is at its heart a murder mystery, albeit set in a fantasy world. The fantasy elements mesh perfectly with the mystery plot: Konrad has two spirit serpents who accompany and assist him, and his work is all at the behest of the Malykt, a cold power who has bound Konrad in his service.
I really liked the interactions between Konrad and his only friend, Irinanda (who doesn't know about his secret identity, and also has secrets and powers of her own). This is the first in the Malykant series, so I'm looking forwards to seeing how future books will develop this relationship. The bad guys were a bit less believable, but such a short format doesn't leave much space for developing all the minor characters, and this didn't really detract from my enjoyment.
The Guardian's Deceit (A Vector Smith Thriller)
on March 30, 2012
I've really enjoyed Patrick Reinken's previous work, so I started reading The Guardian's Deceit with high expectations, and I wasn't disappointed.
From the very first chapter, and the way that he reacts to finding three people shot dead in the side room of his local church, it's clear that Vector is no ordinary maths teacher. In fact, he was sent to Long Prairie by the Secret Service, specifically to guard the young woman who has just been abducted. He heads back to Washington DC to report, but when his superiors try to take him off the case, Vector's sense of duty kicks in and he isn't willing to be so easily dismissed. The resulting tale follows Vector across the country as he hunts for Jessica and the men behind her disappearance. Meanwhile, we also see glimpses of a war halfway around the world and events unfolding in the White House, and as the plot progresses everything starts to come together.
This is a fairly long book, but it keeps up a breakneck pace and I didn't want to put it down. An enjoyable read, and I hope there will be more Vector Smith novels to come.
Voodoo Love Song
on April 30, 2012
Voodoo Love Song starts out as a fun, lighthearted almost-romance between Paul and Huey (not her real name), with hints of mysterious goings-on in the background. By the end, it's an action-packed and suspenseful thriller. This is a very quick read but it's tremendous fun with colourful characters, a lush Caribbean setting, and just a hint of voodoo magic. Just the sort of thing to read on the plane to your own tropical island (although I read it on a rainy evening in England, which also works).
on April 30, 2012
This is the final book of the Draykon trilogy - if you haven't read the earlier books, start with Draykon, which is a fantastic and sweet fantasy adventure. If you loved the first two Draykon books as much as I did, I think you'll find this a perfect ending, which neatly wraps up various plot lines and mysteries from the first two books. It made me laugh, and it made me cry, and I didn't want to put it down until I finished. A perfect end to the trilogy - though I still hope there will be more from these characters in other stories.