The library is closing

At the beginning of this year, I put A Fantastical Librarian on hiatus to see whether I was really ready to let go of it. And now that we are halfway through the year, I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, I’m ready to let go. I’ve been reading more than I was last year and I’ve been having fun choosing my books by whimsy instead of publication date again. And I haven’t missed actually writing a long blog post once.

So… it is truly time to say goodbye to my little corner of the web, to this thing I built. I’ve loved my time as a book blogger; I’ve met so many fantastic people through blogging and had some amazing opportunities as well. Thank you to my fellow bloggers, to the friends I’ve made along the way, to the publishers, publicists, and authors who’ve sent me review copies over the years. And of course thank you to my readers, to those who followed from the start and those who just dropped in occasionally.

While the blog will disappear from the web in about a month — and I’ll be deleting the mailing list and the Facebook page at the same time — I’ll always be a Fantastical Librarian. If you want to keep up with what I’m reading and doing, you can always follow me on Twitter or Instagram or friend me on Goodreads.

Thanks for everthing and see you around the web!

Mieneke

Share

Hiatus

I don’t really know how to start this post. But here goes…

This past Christmas vacation I’ve been doing some a lot of thinking. Last year wasn’t my most productive one on the blog and it was my worst year reading-wise since I started tracking my reading in 2009. I have 28 books I still need to review and every time I look at them I feel awful. And that is also why I’ve slowed so much in my reading, because finishing books would only add to the guilt. To which the logical answer would be “well just write the reviews, dummy.” But to be honest, I don’t want to anymore. Right now, reading and reviewing feels like an obligation, like a job that isn’t fun any longer and I don’t think that is how this thing is supposed to work.  Read More …

Share

Tasha Suri – Empire of Sand

Mehr is a girl trapped between two cultures. Her father comes from the ruling classes of the empire, but her mother’s people were outcasts. Amrithi nomads who worshipped the spirits of the sands.

Caught one night performing these forbidden rites, Mehr is brought to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, who try to force her into their service by way of an arranged marriage…

When I received an advanced review copy for Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand, the flap text on the back immediately caught my attention. Couple that with the fact that the author is a librarian and I was sold—hey, I never said I was a tough sell. But what I found in Empire of Sand was even better than I’d expected based on the cover copy. I’d expected to find an adventure and maybe a romance, which I found, but it also contained a deep exploration of the nature of consent and free choice.  Read More …

Share

Tade Thompson – Rosewater

Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again — but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.

Tade Thompson’s Rosewater is hard to categorise. Is this dystopia? Horror? Post-apocalypse or a slowpocalypse? Or a strange, unique amalgamation of all of them? I’m still having a hard time pinpointing it, yet it doesn’t really matter what to call it; what matters is that it is an interesting and complicated book. Rosewater tells a story that both grabbed me and didn’t let go, but also made me really uncomfortable.  Read More …

Share

Paul Crilley – Poison City

Gideon Tau fights demons. But he is no good Guy.

He has a wand. But don’t you dare call him Harry Potter.

He has a talking dog for a spirit guide. But he’s a mean drunk and he sure as hell ain’t nobody’s best friend.

Paul Crilley’s Poison City was a fast read for me, although I am not a huge fan of the urban-fantasy detective genre. I have read some that I liked such as Paul Cornell’s London Falling, or the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovich, but I don’t actively seek them out. So it is always a surprise when I stumble upon books like this, that for me are out of my preferred reading zone, that I like. This book was part of the goodie bag at last summer’s Nine Worlds and I read the thing in the first day and a half of the con.  Read More …

Share

Rena Rossner – The Sisters of the Winter Wood

In a remote village surrounded by forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka, and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell — despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret about a magical heritage they never knew existed. The sisters realise the old fairy tales are true … and could save them all.

Rena Rossner’s debut novel The Sisters of the Winter Wood arrived as a surprise on my doorstep and — based on the description and the absolutely gorgeous cover — I immediately looked forward to reading the book. I’d expected it to be a fairy tale retelling given the description, but instead it was a retelling of Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market.  This was pleasant surprise, since while I always struggled with poetry at university, I loved Rossetti’s poem and the Pre-Raphaelites are some of my favourite artists.  Read More …

Share

Bennett R. Coles – Ghosts of War

Spectres born of combat

The Terran military has defeated the invading fleet, but the war is far from over. As a covert agent embeds himself on Earth, advanced Centauri technology enables him to pry into the military‘s most secure files, accessing secrets that could lead to millions of deaths.

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, Lieutenant Katja Emmes and Sublieutenant Jack Mallory again find themselves at the forefront of the planet’s defences. Yet terrorism isn’t the only threat they face. Given what they’ve experienced, their greatest challenge may be defeating the memories of war.

Spoilers! So proceed with caution.  Read More …

Share

Deborah Harkness – Time’s Convert

Marcus Whitmore was made a vampire in the eighteenth century. Over two hundred years later, he finds himself in love with Phoebe Taylor, a human who decides to become a vampire herself.

But her transition will prove as challenging now as it was for Marcus when he first encountered Matthew de Clermont, his sire.

While Phoebe is secreted away, Marcus relives his own journey from the battlefields of the American Revolutionary War, through the treachery of the French Revolution to a bloody finale in New Orleans. His belief in liberty, equality and brotherhood challenged at every stage by the patriarchy of the de Clermonts.

What will he and Phoebe discover in one another when they are finally reunited at Les Revenants, beneath the watchful gaze of Matthew and his wife, Diana Bishop?

I absolutely loved Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, perhaps at the time for me unexpectedly so, and was super excited when I learned about the new book. While I had really been hoping for a Gallowglass book — I loved Gallowglass to pieces — Marcus’ story was one I was curious about as well, so I was happy enough to dive in. Time’s Convert is a semi-standalone; you don’t need to have read the previous books to enjoy it, but it helps to be familiar with the world of the de Clermonts. I have to admit I was a bit hazy on some of the exact details, but we live in this great internet age and the All Souls fandom has created an awesome wikia that cleared all of them right up.  Read More …

Share

Nicholas Eames – Bloody Rose

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listen to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town , led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants — and adventure she gets as the crew embarks on a quest that will end in one of two ways:  glory or death.

Nicholas Eames’ Bloody Rose is a textbook example of a coming of age fantasy novel. Except where in my youth the tone was much more positive, this keeps in line with current fantasy trends and is grimmer and does not use the standard tropes. The story follows Tam Hashford, a girl who wants to join a band of adventurers and live the life of the famous. Her parents were both adventurers, so you might say it is in her blood. She is very much a fan when joining the company of Bloody Rose and is starstruck as hell. We follow their adventures from her point of view and see her turning from a teenager into a competent adventuring adult.  Read More …

Share

Robert Jackson Bennett – Foundryside

The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, industrialised magical inscriptions that make inanimate objects sentient; they power everything, from walls to wheels to weapons. Scrivings have brought enormous progress and enormous wealth — but only to the four merchant Houses who control them. Everyone else is a servant or slave, or they eke a precarious living in the hellhole called the Commons.

There’s not much in the way of work for an escaped slave like Sancia Grado, but she has an unnatural talent that makes her one of the best thieves in the city. When she’s offered a lucrative job to steal an ancient artefact from a heavily guarded warehouse, Sancia agrees, dreaming of leaving the Commons — but instead, she finds herself the target of a murderous conspiracy. Someone powerful in Tevanne wants the artefact, and Sancia dead — and whoever it is already wields power beyond imagining.

Sancia will need every ally, and every ounce of wits at her disposal, if she is to survive — because if her enemy gets the artefact and unlocks its secrets, thousands will die, and, even worse, it will allow ancient evils back into the world and turn their city into a devastated battleground.

While Foundryside is Robert Jackson Bennett’s eighth novel, I haven’t read much early Bennett. I started with his previous series, The Divine Cities Trilogy, the first two of which I loved. The last one is waiting for me to read it, as I’m loathe to finish the last book in that world. Yet when Foundryside rolled around I couldn’t stop myself from jumping for it, since I know the author can write like no one’s business. And I wasn’t disappointed because the tale told in this first book of the Founders trilogy was utterly captivating.  Read More …

Share