Review Amnesty: YA Edition

reviewamnestyMy second post in my Review Amnesty series is all about YA. What is a review amnesty you might wonder? Well, it is a phrase I coined for the books that stacked up in a review back log when I had my blogging hiatus last year. They became a stumbling block to getting back into the swing of things, so I decided to give myself an out and call a review amnesty, meaning I’d only review the books with the most basic of reviews, so I could share my thoughts without having to reread the books, some of which I’d read over six months ago. So, two down, one to come!  Read More …

Author Query – Lou Morgan

redeyeIn the run up to Halloween, Stripes Publishing is celebrating the conclusion of their first year of the Red Eye series with a blog tour. I’ve read and enjoyed all of the Red Eye books this year and I was really stoked to get the chance to interview the wonderful Lou Morgan. I adored Lou’s first series Blood and Feathers from Solaris and her Red Eye title Sleepless was my favourite of the run. And in addition to being a fabulous writer, she’s also just a really good egg, so it is always great to have her visit A Fantastical Librarian. If you haven’t checked out Sleepless or the other Red Eye titles I highly recommend you do so. In the meantime, enjoy this interview!  Read More …

C.J. Daugherty & Carina Rozenfeld – The Secret Fire

daughertyrozenfeld-thesecretfireFrench teen Sacha Winters can’t die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?

The Secret Fire came as a bit of a surprise to me. When I was offered a review copy I hadn’t really registered that the book would be out and while I’d heard of C.J. Daugherty before, her writing partner Carina Rozenfeld was unknown to me. Yet when looking at the synopsis and reading about how the book came about, I was intrigued enough to say yes and I’m glad I did. The Secret Fire was an engrossing adventure, which I tore through only taking a break to sleep.  Read More …

Author Query – Tom Becker

tombecker-darkroomThis morning I posted my review for Tom Becker’s latest novel Dark Room. While I had a big problem with one element of the book, overall I had a great time reading this creepy murder mystery. I was really pleased to be able to ask Tom some questions about the book, its setting and its take on social media. I hope you enjoy Tom’s answer as much as I did.


Let’s start with the basics. Who is Tom Becker?

Tom Becker is the pen name of Tom Beckerlegge, who is the same person except with a slightly sillier surname. I grew up in a Lancashire market town and now live in London, which makes me sound more like Dick Whittington than I actually am. I used to be young but now there is grey in my hair and I don’t recognize the songs I hear on the radio. I’ve been writing children’s books since 2007 – Dark Room is my first YA book, but hopefully not my last.  Read More …

Tom Becker – Dark Room

tombecker-darkroomWhen Darla and her feckless dad, Hopper, move to Saffron Hills, Darla hopes it’ll be a new start for the both of them. But she stands no chance of fitting in with the image-obsessed in-crowd at her new school. Then one of her classmates is brutally killed when taking a photo of herself. A murder Darla herself predicted in a bloody vision. When more teens die in a similar fashion it appears that a serial killer is on the loose – the ‘Selfie Slayer’. Darla alone is convinced that the murderer might not be flesh and blood…  

Stripes Publishing took on YA horror this year with their new series Red Eye, which has resulted in four very entertaining books so far this year. Tom Becker’s Dark Room is the fifth, and last for this year, and it adds to the series with a great murder mystery, which I enjoyed very much, though I did have a big problem with its villain. As a warning, I won’t be able to discuss what made the antagonist so problematic for me without giving away their identity. So I will warn you now there will be a massive spoiler and before I head into my discussion of the murderer, I will give another spoiler warning. So if you don’t want to know, you’ll know when to stop reading.  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 …

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 …