Book cover: John Saturnall's FeastJohn Sandall the blackamoor’s son is born in 17th century Somerset, with a gift for recognising all the ingredients in a dish by taste or scent. As the country is gripped by religious fervour, he and his mother are driven out as witches. But John’s demon tastebuds make him the perfect cook. Taken in at the local Manor and trained in their kitchens, he must face down old enemies and new challenges as the country slides into Civil War.

UK Cover - The Girl with all the gifts by M R CareyI’m a latecomer to this little gem, but I devoured it in 24 hours, so I clearly enjoyed it (although it didn’t make for easy dreams).

I had been tipped off to the central conceit before I started reading, but knew very little else – which is a great way to approach it, so for those you as yet unspoilt, I’ll try to keep this review spoiler-free.

Book cover: Zoo CityZinzi December is a ‘zoo’: she has an animal familiar. Relegated to the violent slums of Zoo City when she is released from jail, she and her Sloth survive on her talent for sensing the invisible threads that bind us to things we’ve lost – retrieving them for a fee. Her only rules: no lost persons cases, no emotional ties. When a client dies unexpectedly, she gets sucked into a case to find one of South Africa’s biggest pop stars, and everything gets very complicated quickly.

Book cover: Bodies of LightAlly is mad, or so her mother assures her. Mad, weak and sinful. Only physical penance and dedication to a good cause can save her.

Religion, art, psychology, women’s suffrage and Victorian medicine all come under the scope in this excellent historical novel about one girl’s journey to define herself and claim her future.

Book cover: Sedition by Katharine GrantBilled as ‘the bastard child of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Sarah Waters‘, this more or less lives up to that promise in terms of plot: some City businessmen wish to purchase titled husbands for their daughters, and come up with a hare-brained scheme involving piano lessons to show off the girls’ wealth and accomplishments. Unfortunately, their French music master has been incentivised to seduce each girl before they master Herr Bach.

Book cover: The Rook by Daniel O Malley

When Myfanwy Thomas wakes up surrounded by dead bodies in a London park and no memory, she’s ever so grateful for the note in her pocket with instructions. Now she just has to fake she knows what she’s doing as a very senior member of a very secret government agency, save Britain from supernatural threats and figure out who stole her memory… without anyone noticing.

Book Cover: Wild Seed by Octavia ButlerThe second of my reviews for Diversiverse 2014, this SF classic deserves every mention it gets (and a few more that it doesn’t. It should get all the mentions). Anyanwu discovers she isn’t the only immortal in the world – but her potential partner through the ages is ruthlessly pursuing a program of eugenics. Is his companionship worth the cost?