Stephanie Saulter – Regeneration

stephaniesaulter-regenerationThe gillungs – genetically modified, waterbreathing humans – are thriving. They’ve pioneered new aquatic industries, and their high-efficiency quantum battery technology coupled to tidal turbines in the Thames estuary looks set to revolutionise the energy industry. But as demand grows, so does fear of what their newfound power might mean.

Then a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their London headquarters, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. Was it an accident born of overconfidence, or was it sabotage?

DS Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, and Gabriel sees parallels in the propaganda war he’s trying to manage: politicians and big business have stakes in this game too. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is out of prison. With powerful new followers and nothing to lose, she’s out to reclaim everything they took from her.

Stephanie Saulter’s ®evolution series has been one of my favourite series published in the past two years. I was blown away by her debut Gemsigns and thought the follow-up Binary was even more fabulous. So my expectations for the final book in the series Regeneration were sky high. I was wondering how Saulter would end her series and whether she’d stick the landing and bring it home in style. I shouldn’t have worried, because spoiler for the rest of the review: I loved it. As this is the concluding book of a trilogy, there will be spoilers for the previous two books, so consider yourself warned on that front.  Read More …

Author Query – Craig Cormick

craigcormick-thefloatingcitiesLast year I very much enjoyed Craig Cormick’s The Shadow Master and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Floating City. The book was released last month and has received some lovely reviews. Craig was kind enough to agree to an interview to celebrate the release of his latest novel. Enjoy this Author Query and be sure to check out The Floating City.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Craig Cormick? 

My website www.craigcormick.com says that I have been writing since I could make up stories and have worked in journalism, communications, teaching and science communication. Also that I like to write across many different genres and styles, from fiction to non-fiction and literary fiction to speculative fiction. – So if I read it online then it must be the truth, right?

I could also tell you that I’m a twin, I have travelled to all seven continents for work – including to Antarctica, but the thing I most love doing in the world is reading books to my six-year-old son and remembering how more real than real stories were when we were young.  Read More …

Guest Post: Gerrard Cowan on Worldbuilding and maps

gerrardcowan-themachineryThis week HarperVoyager UK is celebrating the launch of their digital-first line by organising a #VirtualVoyager blog tour. I’ve already read two of the books in this line, Darkhaven and Among Wolves, and enjoyed both of them tremendously and I’m currently reading Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf, which is quite funny. So when I was approached about being part of the tour I gladly said yes and was very pleased to host Gerrard Cowan with a post about maps, because who doesn’t love a good map?  Read More …

Guest Post: Susan Murray on Historic Influences

susanmurray-waterborneexileSusan Murray’s Waterborne Exile, the second in her Waterborne series was published earlier this week and to celebrate she’s returning to A Fantastical Librarian with another guest post. I asked Susan about the historical influences on her world and she revealed her roots in historical re-enactment and describes how she imbibed history through osmosis.

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My first thought on seeing this topic was there aren’t any specific influences as such: I haven’t studied a a single historic era and plundered it for plot developments. The Peninsular Kingdoms are not based on anywhere in particular and events aren’t drawn from the Wars of the Roses, or the Hundred Years War or the Civil War. But I realise I’m overlooking a lifetime’s interest in history simply because I’ve been surrounded by it all along. The historical influences are in reality too many to count.  Read More …

Kate Elliott – Court of Fives

kateelliott-courtoffivesJessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best athletes. Adversaries are masked, so Jes can compete in secret, but victors must reveal their identities. If she wins, she could destroy her family’s precarious social standing.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy turns heads. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

It is no secret that I love Kate Elliott’s writing. I think her Crown of Stars series is criminally underrated and more people should be reading Kate Elliott, period. 2015 is a busy book year for Elliott, as her collection The Very Best of Kate Elliott was released in February and in November her newest adult fantasy book, Black Wolves will be published by Orbit as well. But August sees Elliott stepping out into a new arena, the wonderful world of YA, as she’s publishing her first YA novel, Court of Fives in a fortnight. That makes this fangirl very happy obviously, because I get to read three new Elliott stories this year. Court of Fives is my second Elliott read this year, and it was even more fantastic than I expected, which is a pretty high bar to jump.  Read More …

Gordon Snider – The Hypnotist [Blog Tour]

gordonsnider-thehypnotistIn 1906, San Francisco has reached the peak of its golden age. Fortunes have created a society that attracts European opera singers and cordon bleu chefs. It is a world defined by elegant balls, oysters, and champagne. But there are darker sides to the city as well. The Mission district south of Market Street houses tenements where shanties huddle together and rats plague the streets. And nearby sits Chinatown, an endless warren of dark alleys that offers gambling, prostitution, and opium, all controlled by vicious gangs, called tongs.

Into these disparate worlds steps Marta Baldwin, a young woman who has shunned her own social background to help the poor. She is confronted by a hypnotist, a man who hypnotizes young women from the tenements and delivers them to the tongs in Chinatown to work in their brothels. Marta escapes his hypnotic trance, but when her assistant, Missy, disappears, Marta realizes she has been taken by the evil man who confronted her. She seeks the help of Byron Wagner, one of San Francisco’s most prominent citizens. Marta finds herself drawn to Byron but knows his high social standing prevents any possibility of a relationship between them.

Marta is caught up in a whirlwind of opulent balls, opium dens and brothels, and police raids in Chinatown. She cannot deny her feelings for Byron, but she must save Missy and protect her new friends from harm. For lurking in the background is the hypnotist. He has become obsessed with Marta and will use all his guile to ensnare her. When he threatens those she loves, Marta is determined to stop him, even at her own peril. Will her boldness entrap her? If so, how can she hope to escape the man’s hypnotic embrace? Then the earth trembles, and Marta’s world will never be the same.

The Hypnotist by Gordon Snider is my first foray into early twentieth century San Francisco and during the Great Earthquake to boot. Well, in a straight historical fiction sense at least, as I adore Mercedes Lackey’s The Fire Rose, which is set at the same time, but has a whole different explanation for the earthquake! But the synopsis for Snider’s novel sounded intriguing and the strong bonds of friendship between women that seemed at its core were a strong draw as well. Snider certainly delivers on the latter, but The Hypnotist wasn’t always an easy or pleasant read for me, mostly due to its prose.  Read More …

James P Smythe – Way Down Dark

jamespsmythe-waydowndarkImagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one. 

This is a hell where no one can hide.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive. 

This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. 

This is Australia.

James P. Smythe is award-winning SF author, whose previous works came highly recommended by many of my SFF blogging friends. And while I always meant to read his books, I never got around to it, as I so often don’t these days. But with his first YA novel I decided I had to get in on the action and see whether I’d love his writing as much as so many of my friends do. After reading Way Down Dark the answer is a resounding yes. Chan’s tale is brilliant and the setting of the Australia was breathtaking. There is a huge twist in the second half of the book. It is hard to talk too much about the plot without giving spoilers so I will focus on the characters and the setting.  Read More …

Anticipated Reads (Summer-Autumn) 2015

2015In the past week and a half I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Summer/Autumn 2015 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Claire McGowan’s The Silent Dead, Edward Cox’s second book The Cathedral of Known Things, Stephanie Saulter’s Regeneration, Rebecca Levene’s The Hunter’s Kind, and the final book in Snorri Kristjansson’s Valhalla series Path of Gods.

So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA October-December

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the last one. 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!  Read More …

David Hair – The Pyre

davidhair-thepyreMandore, Rajasthan, 769 AD: Ravindra-Raj, the evil sorcerer-king, devises a deadly secret ritual, where he and his seven queens will burn on his pyre, and he will rise again with the powers of Ravana, demon-king of the epic Ramayana. But things go wrong when one queen, the beautiful, spirited Darya, escapes with the help of Aram Dhoop, the court poet.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 2010: At the site of ancient Mandore, teenagers Vikram, Amanjit, Deepika and Rasita meet and realize that the deathless king and his ghostly brides are hunting them down. As vicious forces from the past come alive, they need to unlock truths that have been hidden for centuries, and fight an ancient battle . . . one more time.

I missed out on reading David Hair’s previous series The Moontide Quartet and I was determined to get in on his next series. The Return of Ravana sounded amazing; the mix of mythical retelling and modern-day setting really appealed to me. The Return of Ravana isn’t actually a new series, the series was previously published by Penguin India. Jo Fletcher Books is rereleasing it with new covers, new titles and in the case of The Pyre a slightly tweaked text. The Pyre is the first book in the quartet and I was stoked to get the chance to read it. And after all the good things I’d heart about Hair’s writing, The Pyre definitely didn’t disappoint.  Read More …