All posts by Mieneke

Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Historical Fiction January-March

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. Like fantasy, there were too many historical fiction books that caught my fancy for one post, so they’ve been split in two. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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Nick Mamatas (ed) – Phantasm Japan

nickmamatas(ed)-phantasmjapanThe secret history of the most famous secret agent in the world. A bunny costume that reveals the truth in our souls. The unsettling notion that Japan itself may be a dream. The tastiest meal you’ll never have, a fedora-wearing neckbeard’s deadly date with a yokai, and the worst work shift anyone—human or not—has ever lived through. Welcome to Phantasm Japan.

When I was contacted about reviewing Phantasm Japan by its editor, Nick Mamatas, I was excited, because the anthology’s premise — bringing stories about Japan and/or by Japanese writers to a broader public — sounded really good and I’m always interested in broadening my cultural scope so to speak. So I’m a little sad to report I was somewhat disappointed by this collection of stories. To be fair, this may be because it turns out I’m not the best reader for these stories that have a specific aesthetic and form, which can feel a little choppy story-wise. But mostly it was because there were several stories that just didn’t work for me.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Crime & Historical Crime Fiction

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. Today it’s time for crime and historical crime fiction books. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Continue reading »

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Nichole Christoff – The Kill List [Blog Tour]

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nicholechristoff-thekilllistAs a top private eye turned security specialist, Jamie Sinclair has worked hard to put her broken marriage behind her. But when her lying, cheating ex-husband, army colonel Tim Thorp, calls with the news that his three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped, he begs Jamie to come find her. For the sake of the child, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Now, despite the past, she’ll do everything in her power to bring little Brooke Thorp home alive.

Soon Jamie is back at Fort Leeds—the army base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens where she grew up, the only child of a two-star general—chasing down leads and forging an uneasy alliance with the stern military police commander and the exacting FBI agent working Brooke’s case. But because Jamie’s father is now a U.S. senator, her recent run-in with a disturbed stalker is all over the news, and when she starts receiving gruesome threats echoing the stalker’s last words, she can’t shake the feeling that her investigation may be about more than a missing girl—and that someone very powerful is hiding something very significant . . . and very sinister.

The Kill List, Nichole Christoff’s debut thriller, is a gritty and entertaining mystery and I had a blast reading it. I loved its lead character Jamie Sinclair and her main co-stars Lieutenant Colonel Adam Barrett and FBI Agent Kevin Jaeger. The chemistry between Jamie and Barrett in particular was wonderful. Yet there was also one big thing that bugged me about the narrative and while it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, I did find myself pondering it while thinking about it after I finished the book. Discussing it here might be considered a spoiler for an aspect of the book – I don’t think it  impacts on the mystery, so much as on character development – but in any case, be aware the next paragraph might be slightly spoilery!  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Fiction & Thrillers

2015Welcome to the fourth post in my Anticipated Books series for the winter and spring of 2015. Today it’s time for my mainstream fiction and thriller picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Continue reading »

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Liu Cixin – The Three Body Problem

cixinliu-thethreebodyproblemWith the scope of Dune and the commercial action of Independence Day, Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Diversity and giving space to voices other than those of the privileged majority have been a huge talking point in SFF in the past year. One way to achieve this is through translating foreign-language titles into English and to introduce these new perspectives to English-speaking readers. Yet this is still a very rare occurrence, as few foreign-language titles are translated and published each year. Off the top of my head the only authors I can think of in speculative fiction are Haruki Murakami, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Pierre Pevel, and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, and of course, Thomas Oldeheuvelt’s Hex series that will be published in English in the autumn of next year. So  it was really exciting to see this novel brought to print in English by Tor. It’s the first Chinese SFF series ever to have been brought over, at least by one of the big Five, as far as I’m aware. This is exciting because China is one of the biggest and fastest-developing countries in the world, where there is some great voices we’ve never heard of and we finally get to discover one of them. Liu Cixin is one of the best-known and most successful SF writers in China, so his being the first to be translated into English isn’t actually that surprising.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Science Fiction & Horror

2015Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Continue reading »

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Genevieve Cogman – The Invisible Library

genevievecogman-theinvisiblelibraryIrene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Pitched as Dr Who with Librarian Spies, I was sold on The Invisible Library before even reading the synopsis. I mean LIBRARIAN SPIES! Hello, how could I not want to read this book? And The Invisible Library certainly delivered. Cogman’s debut is a tremendously fun, rip-roaring adventure with protagonists that are easy to love and a setting that couldn’t have suited my tastes better, as it’s partly set in an amazing library and partly in a wonderful alternate and magical London, a setting for which I have a huge weakness.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Fantasy April-June

2015Day two of my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

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Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith – Stranger

manijabrownsmith-strangerMany generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, “the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. “Las Anclas” now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

Stranger was one of the books I flagged in my anticipated books series six months ago and I did so solely on the basis of the above blurb. It sounded like an engaging post-apocalyptic adventure with a bit of a Weird West vibe, something that I’d enjoyed in several other books earlier in the year. And it was all of that, but it was even more than that. Because this book? This book could be the poster child for the We Need Diverse Books movement. The book features protagonists of colour, sexual orientations all over the spectrum, characters with disabilities, and none of these elements feel shoe-horned in to hit some sort of diversity quota. Instead, the story and its characters feel organic, set in a world that feels true and fully realised.  Continue reading »

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