Robert A. Heinlein – The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

robertaheinlein-themoonisaharshmistressIn 2075, Luna is no longer a penal colony, but it’s still a prison for everyone except its rulers …

A strange group of plotters are brewing up a revolution: an engaging jack-of-all-trades, his luscious blonde girlfriend, and a lonely talking computer. Their aim is the overthrow of the hated Authority and real freedom for the freebooting individualists who make up the moon’s population.

Set in a strangely familiar yet utterly alien human civilization of the future, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the most imaginative science fiction novels ever written.

Reading Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and writing this review filled me with trepidation. Hodderscape had impeccable timing with the selection of this title as March’s Review Project Title as there was a discussion (to put it in the kindest terms) over whether one could be a “real SF fan” without having read and enjoyed Heinlein. I’d read Starship Troopers in days long past and thought it was okay. But after this debate and also because I’ve become a more critical and socially-aware reader since that time, I really was a little apprehensive starting The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And with reason, because oh boy, I had issues with this book.  Continue reading »

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Guest Post: E.J. Swift on Post-ecological Politics in The Osiris Project

ejswift-cataveiroE.J. Swift’s debut Osiris had some interesting reviews when it came out, but since it was published by Nightshade Books and at the time didn’t have a UK publisher, I never got around to reading it. However, I did get an e-copy in one of Nightshade’s giveaways at some point and when I received an ARC for Cataveiro, the second book in The Osiris Project, it seemed like the universe was giving me a hint, so I’ll be reading both books in early June. In the meantime, I’m happy to bring you a guest post by E.J. Swift explaining some of the ecological politics in her series The Osiris ProjectContinue reading »

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Scott Tracey – Darkbound

scotttracey-darkboundNo one hates being a witch quite like Malcolm. But if there’s one thing worse than being a witch, it’s being a Moonset witch. There are very few things in his life that he can control, and after a fight with his siblings, he’s losing his grip on what he’s got left.

A creature as old as Hamelin has crept out of the Abyss, and its siren song has infected the teenagers of Carrow Mill compelling them, at first, to simply be swept away in love. But love soon turns dangerous, as passion turns to violence and an army of sociopaths is born.

The Pied Piper isn’t just a story, and he’s got his eyes set on Malcolm, promising a life of freedom from magic and the shackles of the Moonset bond. As Carrow Mill burns, Malcolm must make the hardest choice of his life: family? Or freedom?

In the sequel to last year’s Moonset, Scott Tracey returns the reader to Carrow Mill. However, we don’t return to Justin’s point of view, instead the story is told from Malcolm’s perspective. It’s an interesting shift, especially as it means we get a different look at the members of the Moonset coven, both past and present. While I enjoyed Darkbound quite a lot and it was a good follow-up to Moonset, there were some things that disappointed me and some troubling aspects to some of Tracey’s word choice and ambiguity as to Mal’s sexual orientation.  Continue reading »

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Michael Boatman – Last God Standing

michaelboatman-lastgodstandingWhen God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.

Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.

Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.

How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?

Last God Standing was one of my Anticipated Reads for this spring. As I said in that post “…when I read the blurb I immediately wanted to read the book as it seemed like it would be a really fun read. I love Boatman as an actor, he’s got a great sense of timing, which is key to comedic acting, and it’ll be interesting to see whether this translates to his writing.” Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed with the book. First of all, Last God Standing‘s blurb doesn’t really do it justice; Boatman asks some pretty deep questions in his book and it is far from the comedic fling that it looks like from the blurb. Secondly, I had a hard time connecting to the narrative. I kept getting lost and having to go back a page to figure out exactly what was going on. However, despite these problems, there were things that worked really well in this book.  Continue reading »

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Jonathan Strahan – The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Eight

strahan-bestofsffvol8The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.

This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with this edition. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Roberts, Ellen Klages, and many many more.

Over the last almost four years that I’ve been running A Fantastical Librarian, I’ve come to appreciate the art of short form more and more. But most of my short fiction consumption comes from reading anthologies and listening to podcasts such as Escape Pod, PodCastle, Lightspeed and Clarkesworld; most of the fiction published in magazines completely passes me by. And when the email about a review copy for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year volume 8 arrived, it plugged that gap nicely, especially given the fact that I was in the process of putting together my nominations for this year’s Hugo’s. What I found in this continuation of Jonathan Strahan’s series of ‘Best of the Year’-anthologies with a new publisher, was a fantastic set of stories, some of which didn’t completely work for me, but all of them interesting. Below I’ll call out some of the stories I really liked and talk in more detail about my favourites.  Continue reading »

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Jennifer E. Smith – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

jenniferesmith-thestatisticalprobabilityofloveatfirstsightWho would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn’t forgotten the book. Or if there hadn’t been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn’t fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she’d run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else – the weather over the Atlantic or a fault with the plane?

Hadley isn’t sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it’s the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver…

Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

One of my favourite YA novels last year was Jennifer E. Smith’s This is What Happy Looks Like. It was the perfect read for a blue day, which had me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. So when I saw Smith’s previous YA novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight as a Read Now title on Netgalley I jumped on it. And it was every bit as good and as fun as I expected it to be. It also hit me right in the feels as I connected quite strongly to Hadley’s feelings about her dad, as it reminded me of my own relationship with my dad at her age.  Continue reading »

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My 2014 Hugo Nominations Ballot

hugo_rocketSince the nomination window has now closed for the Hugo Awards, which means I can’t change my mind any more, I thought, like many others before me, I’d post my Hugo Nomination Ballot. Not just to share what I nominated but also so I can do a comparison once the nominations are announced to see whether any of my nominations made it through and later on what my predictions are and after LonCon what I got right. There are several categories where I haven’t nominated anyone or anything, because I either hadn’t read or seen anything in said category or because I just don’t know enough about it to judge. So without further ado here are my nominations.  Continue reading »

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Recaps and Upfronts – March and April

RecapsMarch was crazy. Work was busy and home was even busier with loads of birthdays and other things. However, I did get a lot of reading done and I had some very interesting guest posts on the blog. I also maintained gender parity in my reviews, so I’m still on track with my reading goals. I read some amazing books in several genres and read a fantastic conclusion to a series. So what exactly did get posted to the blog last month?  Continue reading »

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Danielle L. Jensen – Stolen Songbird

danielleljensen-stolensongbirdFor five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

One of the most beloved and well-worn tropes in fantasy is that of the farm boy turned prophesied saviour. In Stolen Songbird Jensen flips that trope and turns it on its head, not just by turning the farm boy into a farm girl, but by making the outcome of the prophesy uncertain in more ways than one. There is also more than a little hint of the Beauty and the Beast at work here, even if Cécile’s troll husband is as handsome as a girl might wish.  Continue reading »

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Guest Post: Danielle L Jensen on Subverting Tropes [Blog Tour]

stolensongbirdtourbannerOne of my most anticipated YA novels this spring was Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird. Having just finished the book this weekend, I can say that anticipation was completely warranted. For a full review, check back tomorrow, but today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by Danielle as part of her blog tour. I asked Danielle whether and how Stolen Songbird subverted the classic trope of the The Prophesied One. The following was her answer.  Continue reading »

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