February Releases

January has flown by in a whirl of post-Christmas exhaustion, accounts, and tax returns [Warning: I’ve adulted and finally done my tax return – with whole days to spare – and I feel I’m not getting nearly enough credit for it, so I may feel the need to mention it again], and suddenly February beckons.

One of my reads in January didn’t make the ‘best read’, but I wanted to give it a special mention. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been mad about the Alien franchise. The original film came out when I was six, so it was a good few years later before I first got to watch it, on home video with my Mam. I loved it. Mam also had a battered paperback of Alan Dean Foster’s novelisation, which added depth and personality to the characters that the film just didn’t have time to establish and embellished the storyline – my favourite being the insertion of a scene following Dallas after he’d been taken by the xenomorph.

Aliens was released in 1986, and later spawned the first in a series of original novels. I was totally hooked. Then came Alien 3, and for some reason known only to themselves, the powers that be decided to kill off – off-screen, no less – Newt and Hicks, and go with the style-over-substance prison planet story. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t put me off the franchise, but it was a let-down.

However, not all was lost. The initial unused screenplay for the film, written by William Gibson, was eventually turned into a graphic novel series, then an audiobook, and has now been adapted as a novel by Pat Cadigan. I finally got round to reading it in January, and I really wish they’d used it for the film. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever read, but it fits better than the prison planet travesty (and may not have let to the perfectly-enjoyable-but-shouldn’t-have-been-made Alien Resurrection).

Anyway, I’ll stop waffling about tax returns [thunderous applause, please] and Aliens, and get back to the February releases.

Did I mention the tax return?

Reading update for January: 26 eBooks; 1 hardback

Best read of the month: Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Worst read of the month: Eat, by Paul Mannering

Dead Silence
S.A. Barnes

Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.


Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.

What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.

Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.

Released 8th February 2022

This Charming Man [The Stranger Times #2]
C.K. McDonnell

Vampires do not exist. Everyone knows this. So it’s particularly annoying when they start popping up around Manchester . . .

Nobody is pleased about it. Not the Founders, the secret organisation for whom vampires were invented as an allegory, nor the Folk, the magical people hidden in plain sight who only want a quiet life. And definitely not the people of Manchester, because there is nothing more irksome than being murdered by an allegory run amok. Somebody needs to sort this out fast before all Hell really breaks loose – step forward the staff of The Stranger Times.

It’s not like they don’t have enough to be dealing with. Assistant Editor Hannah has come back from getting messily divorced to discover that someone is trying to kidnap a member of their staff and while editor Vincent Banecroft would be delighted to see the back of any of his team, he doesn’t like people touching his stuff – it’s the principle of the thing.

Throw in a precarious plumbing situation, gambling debts, an entirely new way of swearing, and a certain detective inspector with what could be kindly referred to as ‘a lot of baggage’ and it all adds up to another hectic week in the life of the newspaper committed to reporting the truth that nobody else will touch.

This Charming Man is the second book in the critically acclaimed The Stranger Times series.

Released 17th February 2022

The Paradox Hotel
Rob Hart

A locked-room murder mystery set at a hotel for time travelers—in which a detective must solve an impossible crime even as her own sanity crumbles—from the author of The Warehouse.

For someone with January Cole’s background, running security at a fancy hotel shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Except the Paradox is no ordinary hotel. Here, the ultra-wealthy guests are costumed for a dozen different time periods, all anxiously waiting to catch their “flights” to the past. And proximity to the timeport makes for an interesting stay. The clocks run backwards on occasion—and, rumor has it, ghosts stroll the halls.

Now, January’s job is about to get a whole lot harder. Because the U.S. government is getting ready to privatize time-travel technology—and a handful of trillionaires have just arrived to put down their bids.

Meanwhile there’s a blizzard rolling in, and the timestream’s acting strange. Which means nobody’s leaving until further notice.

And there’s a murderer on the loose.

Or at least, that’s what January suspects. Except the corpse in question is one that somehow only she can see. And the accidents stalking their prestigious guests…well, the only way a killer could engineer those is by operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once. Which is surely impossible.

There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and forcing her to confront secrets of her own.

Because here at the Paradox Hotel, the past is waiting around every corner.

At once a dazzlingly time-twisting murder mystery and a story about grief, memory, and what it means to—literally—come face to face with our ghosts, The Paradox Hotel is another unforgettable speculative thrill-ride from acclaimed author Rob Hart.

Released 22nd February 2022

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