A.F.E. Smith – Darkhaven

Cover_image_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithAyla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

Sometimes I’m just drawn to a book by the cover. My inner fourteen-year old saw the cover for A.F.E. Smith’s Darkhaven and squeed. When the blurb for the book sounded great as well, it wasn’t difficult to choose to review this book. Secondary-world fantasy with a murder mystery? Sign me up. Happily, Darkhaven delivered on its promise in full. Smith’s debut novel reveals a great mystery set in a fabulous world.  Read More …

Author Query – A.F.E. Smith

Cover_image_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithNext week sees the publication of A.F.E. Smith’s Darkhaven, her debut fantasy novel out in digital format first  from HarperVoyager. I really enjoyed Myrren and Ayla’s story and the world A.F.E. Smith created. Today I get to share an interview with the author of Darkhaven in which she shares some details about her road to publication, about Mirrorvale, and proves my long-held suspicion that all authors can be bribed with chocolate! Check back tomorrow for a review of the book.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is A.F.E. Smith?

Basics? That seems like a pretty profound question to me! :-)

A.F.E. Smith lives and breathes fantasy fiction. She spends more time in imaginary worlds than in the real one. Sometimes she has interesting chats with her characters.  Read More …

Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes

sabaatahir-anemberintheashesWhat if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

Sabaa Tahir’s debut An Ember in the Ashes was one of the books that really caught my eye when I first saw it announced last year. Its Imperial Rome-inspired, militaristic secondary world setting sounded intriguing and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a nice ‘revolution against the despots’-narrative? So I was really stoked to receive an ARC for the book, especially as it was also a very pretty book as well. And yes, that is exactly as shallow as it sounds. And while I truly enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes and I definitely want to know what happens in the next book, I also had some big problems with the narrative.  Read More …

Nancy K. Wallace – Among Wolves

nancykwallace-amongwolvesYoung Devin Roché is about to graduate as an Archivist from the prestigious Llisé’s University, and there is just one more task he wants to complete – to preserve a complete history of Llisé.

The history of Llisé and its fifteen provinces are a peaceful affair, filled with harmony, resolution and a rich oral tradition of storytelling. Nothing untoward ever happens in this peaceful land. Or does it?

Trainee archivist Devin Roché has just taken his finals at the prestigious Académie. As the sixth son of the ruler of Llisé, his future is his own, and so he embarks on an adventure to memorise stories chronicling the history of each province.

As Devin begins his journey with only his best friend Gaspard and their guardian Marcus, he hears rumors of entire communities suddenly disappearing without a trace and of Master Bards being assassinated in the night.

As the three companions get closer to unearthing the truth behind these mysteries, they can’t help but wonder whether it is their pursuit that has led to them.

But if that is the case, what do Llisé and Devin’s father have to hide?

Among Wolves is Nancy K. Wallace’s first book written for adults and it is part of HarperVoyager’s new digital-first line of books. When offered the book for review, what intrigued me most and what captured my attention first, was the description of the protagonist’s profession as an archivist. I have a soft spot for books featuring librarians, booksellers, and archivists, so Devin immediately found himself on my good side. That was what initially drew me to the book, but what really made me love the book – setting the political intrigue and the characters aside for a moment – was the belief in the power of knowledge, history and stories that formed the core of the narrative.  Read More …

Author Query – Nancy K Wallace

nancykwallace-amongwolvesIn a new strategy, HarperVoyager has a number of books, acquired through an open submissions period a while back, that they will be publishing digitally first and in paperback second. Nancy K Wallace’s first novel for adults, Among Wolves, is one of these and was released in digital format HarperVoyager last month with the paperback to be released come November. The blurb for Among Wolves, which features an journeyman archivist, captured my attention and I couldn’t wait to read the book. Upon learning that Nancy K. Wallace is a Youth Services Librarian in her day job, I knew I had to have her over for an Author Query. Nancy graciously agreed and the following is the result. Please check back tomorrow for a review of Among Wolves.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Nancy K. Wallace?

I was blessed with a magical childhood mostly due to my mother’s ingenious and fanciful way of making every day a celebration. My father died when I was eleven and I think that influenced me a great deal.  I don’t think I have ever felt truly safe since then. My parents were both wonderful people, intensely in love with each other and thrilled to have children. I think we were all spoiled but deeply cherished. After I finished college, I taught kindergarten for five years and then returned to work as a children’s librarian after staying home for ten years with our two daughters. My job has grown over the last 26 years. I do over 250 programs a year and moderate 6 Book Discussion groups for 3rd graders up through college age.  I love what I do. It gives me the chance to pass on some of the magic that was so freely given to me as a child.  Read More …

Author Query – David Hair

davidhair-thepyreLast week Jo Fletcher Books published The Pyre, the first book in David Hair’s new series, The Return of Ravana. But new is a relative concept here, as The Return of Ravana is actually a re-issue, the series having been originally published by Penguin India and Penguin New-Zealand. I’m really excited for this Ramayana-inspired series, so I’m very glad to be able to share this interview with David Hair with you, in which he shares some details about what inspired the series, his love of football (the proper, round ball kind), and whether he revised The Pyre at all from its published version. Check back for a review of The Pyre somewhere in the coming weeks.  Read More …

Delia Sherman – The Freedom Maze

deliasherman-thefreedommazeAMERICA, 1960: thirteen-year old Sophie is frustrated. Her mother has sent her to spend summer with Grandmama on their family’s old estate in sweltering southern Louisiana. Bored, lonely and far too hot, Sophie starts exploring. When she discovers an overgrown maze, she makes her way inside. Lost among its pathways she finds a magical creature who promises her the adventure of a lifetime . . .

AMERICA, 1860: Sophie is transported a hundred years into the past to the Oak River plantation in its heyday. Her own ancestors mistake her for a slave girl and set her to work alongside the hundreds of other slaves who tend to the fields, the house, and the white family’s every whim. As the reality of slave life becomes horribly clear, Sophie starts to wonder how long she’ll survive; and how – or if – she will ever get back home.

The Freedom Maze is a very special novel about slavery, survival and the many paths to freedom.

As I had heard and read a lot of praise for Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, I was excited to receive a review copy for the UK edition. And I was in no way disappointed by the story. The Freedom Maze was every bit as magical as I’d expected. This novel packs a lot in a slim package and I hope I can do it justice.  Read More …

Author Query – Danielle L Jensen

danielleljensen-hiddenhuntressDanielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird was one of Angry Robot’s late and lamented Strange Chemistry imprint biggest successes. I very much enjoyed the story and as such was saddened by the fact that we might not get its sequel for the foreseeable future. When Angry Robot announced that they had picked up the entire trilogy and planned to publish Hidden Huntress on schedule, I was stoked. To celebrate Hidden Huntress‘ publication next week today Danielle drops by the blog for an Author Query.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Danielle L Jensen?

I’m a human living in Calgary with my other half and our newly minted progeny. I used to work in finance, but it wasn’t a career that rewarded daydreaming about dragons, so I jumped ship and turned to writing. I haven’t regretted that choice once!  Read More …

Jen Williams – The Iron Ghost

jenwilliams-theironghostBeware the dawning of a new mage…

Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of suddenly being very much in demand for their services.

When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin – retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking…

Last year Jen Williams’ The Copper Promise, the first book in this series, surprised me with the insane amount of fun it was. I loved the effervescent Wydrin, the conscientious Sir Sebastian, and the troubled Lord Frith. This meant I was very much looking forward to returning to these characters in The Iron Ghost. And Williams delivers on the promise of the first novel with this second book. The Iron Ghost is just as much fun as The Copper Promise, while upping the drama and narrative stakes. Wydrin remains brilliant, but I liked the more pronounced roles of Frith and Sebastian in this outing.  Read More …

Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor

katherineaddison-thegoblinemperorA half-goblin, the youngest son of the emperor has lived his entire life in exile, far from the Imperial Court and the intrigue that surrounds it. But then his father and three half brothers – who are the heirs to the throne ahead of him – die together in an airship crash. Maia is summoned to take his father’s throne.
    
For Maia, life in the capital is a bewildering and exhausting daily test of his mettle. And before long he discovers his father and half brothers’ deaths were no accident. The airship was tampered with. The crash was murder.

With no friends, no advisers, and no schooling in the art of court politics, the only thing Maia knows for certain is that whoever was behind the assassinations must still be plotting an attempt on his life.

After seeing most of my friends, and much of the SFF blogosphere, geek out over Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, I knew I needed to read it at some point. A few weeks ago I finally got the final push to actually read it (Thank you, Justin) and then the book was nominated for a Hugo, which clinched it: I was reading this book ASAP. And I’m glad I did, because The Goblin Emperor was brilliant and addictive. I just wanted to keep reading this book, even if I had to put down the book because life. I couldn’t wait to go back to Maia’s tale and find out what happened next.   Read More …