Guest Post: Julie Czerneda on Saying Goodbye [plus giveaway!]

Cover art by Matthew Stawicki

Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to have Julie Czerneda visit my blog as part of her tours for her latest releases. Today she is back with another one, but one that is a true milestone: the release of the final book in her Clan Chronicles. With To Guard Against The Dark, book three in the Reunification trilogy, she brings to an end a series that she started twenty years ago. I wondered how you say goodbye to characters you’ve lived with for so long. Julie wrote me the following beautiful post. Warning: tissues required! If you want to be in with a chance to win a hardcover of the book check the giveaway details at the end of the post.  Read More …

Alan Gratz – Ban This Book

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read. 

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned-books library out of her locker. As word spreads, Amy Anne’s locker stash quickly grows into a school-wide sensation. Soon, she and her friends find themselves on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what kids can read. 

This past week has been Banned Books Week in US, so it seemed an appropriate time to review Alan Gratz’s latest middle grade novel, Ban This Book. When offered the book for review, I jumped at the chance as the whole banning books phenomenon has always been slightly baffling to me, as it doesn’t really happen in the same way here in the Netherlands. The idea of keeping kids from reading anything that isn’t catastrophically inappropriate is strange to me. In my opinion, no one tells my girls what they can and can’t read, but me and their dad. And of course as a librarian, the issue is near and dear to my heart, so I was curious to see how Gratz would approach the concept.  Read More …

N.K. Jemisin – The Stone Sky

The Moon will soon return.

Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the phenomenal power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every outcast child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

Let me be frank about my opinions of this book up front. The Stone Sky is magnificent and brings N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy to a triumphal close. If you want to TL;DR this review, you can now click away and go and buy this entire series. But for those of you who want to know more about why I feel this way, I will try to be somewhat coherent in discussing what I loved about this book and why I think so highly of it.  Read More …

Stephanie Burgis – Snowspelled

In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules…

Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.

Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.

But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.

To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.

When I was sixteen I fell deeply and utterly in love with the writing of Jane Austen. I started with Pride and Prejudice — this was the year the famous BBC adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth first aired. Naturally, this was a complete coincidence — and made my way steadily through all of her published writing. I must have read Pride and Prejudice a dozen times and watched that series about half a dozen times. And to this day, I have a weak spot for anything resembling that world and her snark. Fast forward 22 years and here we are in the present where I fell in a similar kind of love with Stephanie Burgis’ latest novella Snowspelled, the first in The Harwood SpellbookRead More …

Cassandra Khaw – Bearly a Lady

Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month.

Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks. Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to?

Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague.

What’s a werebear to do?

Cassandra Khaw’s Bearly a Lady is the 3rd publication in the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative. It looked amazing and the blurb —with its Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones meets Teenwolf vibe with bonus Fae — made it sound like it would be just too much fun! And the blurb absolutely delivered. This book reminded me so much of the late nineties/early oughts chick lit I loved and provided me with the same happy feelings at the end of the book that they did. And like many of the books I loved at the time, Bearly a Lady hides some crunch amid the fluff.  Read More …

Author Query – Daryl Gregory

As clear from my review this Monday, I thoroughly enjoyed Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders. I was fortunate enough to already have an interview scheduled before I read the book, but Daryl was kind enough to let me send him some additional questions after I finished it, so this interview will be a bit longer than usual. I also had the pleasure of meeting Daryl in person at WorldCon in Helsinki, as you can see from a picture below. Spoonbenders was published by riverrun on Thursday, go check it out and I hope you enjoy the interview!  Read More …

Daryl Gregory – Spoonbenders

Meet Matthias Telemachus, Teddy Telemachus, Maureen Telemachus, Irene Telemachus, Frankie Telemachus and Buddy Telemachus! They were the Amazing Telemachus Family, who in the mid-1970s achieved widespread fame for their magic and mind reading act. That is, until the magic decided to disappear one night, live on national television.

We encounter this long-forgotten family two decades on, when grandson Matty, born long after the public fall from grace, discovers powers in himself and realises his hugely deflated, heavily indebted family truly are amazing. Spoonbenders is the legacy and legend of a dysfunctional, normal, entirely unique family across three generations of big personalities and socially inept recluses — each cursed with the potential of being something special.

Spoonbenders is Daryl Gregory’s latest novel, but only the second one of his works that I’ve read, the other one being Harrison Squared. I’d really enjoyed Harrison’s story and Gregory’s writing, so I was looking forward to getting stuck into Spoonbenders. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, it was completely different from Harrison’s adventures. Instead of Lovecraftian monsters and teens on a mission, this time it was The Incredibles with psychic instead of super powers fight the mob. It was an absolute blast to read, but also an incredibly moving novel about family and the ties that bind.  Read More …

K.S. Villoso – Jaeth’s Eye

The lives of a mercenary, a seamstress, and a merchant converge. Kefier, who is picking up the pieces of his life after his brother’s accident, finds himself chased down by former associates for his friend’s death. Already once branded a murderer, he crosses paths with his friend’s sister, Sume, whose only desire is to see her family through some troubled times. In the meantime, young, arrogant Ylir takes a special interest in Kefier while he himself is entangled in a battle with a powerful mage, one whose name has been long forgotten in legend. At the crux of their conflict is a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.

Jaeth’s Eye introduces an epic fantasy tale of revenge and lost kingdoms, but also of grief, love, hope, and a promise for tomorrow.

I found the concept of K.S. Villoso’s Jaeth’s Eye quite captivating when I read it: what would an epic fantasy told not from the vantage point of the high and mighty, but from those on the lower ranks of society look like? What would it be like for those who aren’t the ones making the decisions, who can only endure what is thrown at them, trying to live their lives as well as possible? Would this create a narrative of people who feel helpless and lost, without any agency of their own? To me that question of the characters’ sense of agency was the one that felt most important and it was one that reverberated throughout the narrative. Because the answer was it’s both people who feel helpless and lost, but also people who still have agency and make their own choices.  Read More …

Author Query – Chris Carter

Tomorrow is publication day for the paperback edition of Chris Carter’s The Caller, the eighth Robert Hunter novel. I’m always fascinated by how crime and thriller writers go about writing their novels and plotting their narratives. So I was happy to be able to ask Chris some questions on the subject. I hope you’ll like this interview as much as I did and if The Caller sounds like your cup of tea, do check it out!

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Chris Carter?

Just a simple guy who one day decided to write crime fiction books.  That’s all.  Read More …

Author Query – Christina Henry

I love a good retelling or re-interpretation of a classic story. Especially those that explore elements or characters that the original never really addressed in-depth. When I first saw the blurb for Christina Henry’s latest novel Lost Boy, I was immediately intrigued as the Peter Pan story and its archetype of the eternal boy have always both fascinated me and creeped me out. So I decided to ask Christina what drew her to retell this classic story, among other things. My interview with Christina is part of a blog tour which features a lot of other great bloggers, you can find a list of them at the bottom of the interview. Please do check them out and definitely check out Christina Henry’s Lost BoyRead More …