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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Angela Slatter – Restoration

Walking between the worlds has always been dangerous — but this time V’s facing the loss of all she holds dear.

Verity Fassbinder thought no boss could be worse than her perfectionist ex-boyfriend — until she grudgingly agreed to work for a psychotic fallen angel. But dealing with a career change not entirely of her own choosing is doing nothing to improve V’s fractious temper. The angel is a jealous — and violent — employer, so she’s quit working for the Weyrd Council and sent her family away, for their own safety. Instead of indulging in domestic bliss, she’s got to play BFFs with the angel’s little spy, Joyce the kitsune assassin, who comes with her own murderous problems.

The angel has tasked V with finding two lost treasures. That would be hard even without a vengeful Dusana Nadasy on her heels. And Inspector McIntyre won’t stop calling: the bodies of Normal women who disappeared decades ago are turning up, apparently subjected to Weyrd magics. Angelic demands or not, this isn’t something she can walk away from.

And the angel is getting impatient for results…

Restoration is book three in Angela Slatter’s Verity Fassbinder trilogy and the only thing that made finishing this book bearable, was the fact that Slatter teases more books to come in her author’s note at the beginning of the book. Because Reader, this series might be my favourite urban fantasy series at the moment and Verity Fassbinder my all time favourite urban fantasy heroine. So the thought that this would be goodbye was painful.  Read More …

Angela Slatter – Corpselight

Life in Brisbane is never simple for those who walk between the worlds.

Verity’s all about protecting her city, but right now that’s mostly running surveillance and handling the less exciting cases for the Weyrd Council – after all, it’s hard to chase the bad guys through the streets of Brisbane when you’re really, really pregnant.

An insurance investigation sounds pretty harmless, even if it is for ‘Unusual Happenstance’. That’s not usually a clause Normals use – it covers all-purpose hauntings, angry genii loci, ectoplasmic home invasion, demonic possession, that sort of thing – but Susan Beckett’s claimed three times in three months. Her house keeps getting inundated with mud, but she’s still insisting she doesn’t need or want help . . . until the dry-land drownings begin.

V’s first lead takes her to Chinatown, where she is confronted by kitsune assassins. But when she suddenly goes into labour, it’s clear the fox spirits are not going to be helpful…

I loved Angela Slatter’s first Verity Fassbinder novel Vigil. I adored its heroine, the setting and the world. But for some reason I didn’t get round to reading book two in the series, Corpselight, when it came out last year and I never got around to it. But with the third book, Restoration, having just been released, when I was asked to be part of the blog tour, I decided that it would be the perfect time to catch up. And I’ve been kicking myself ever since, because why did I deprive myself of such a fabulous read for a year?  Read More …