Jeff Salyards – Veil of the Deserters

jeffsalyards-veilofthedesertersBraylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual. The Syldoonian Emperor, Cynead, has solidified his power in unprecedented ways, and Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder’s effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be complicated and dangerous. Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and Soffjian are at the heart of his plans. The distance between “favored shadow agent of the emperor” and “exiled traitor” is unsurprisingly small. But it is filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian.

Two years ago I was very impressed with Jeff Salyards’ debut Scourge of the Betrayer. I enjoyed this tale of a young, naive scribe hired by a ruthless band of soldiers as  their company’s chroniclers enormously and I was looking forward to reading the second book in the series Veil of the Deserters. Unfortunately, due to the folding and subsequent sale of his publishers, Night Shade Books, to Skyhorse Publishing the publication of the book was delayed and we had to wait until a few months ago to be able to return to Arki’s story. But it certainly was a joyful reunion.  Continue reading »

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Christine Hurley Deriso – Thirty Sunsets

christinehurleyderiso-thirtysunsetsTo Forrest Shephard, getting away to the family’s beach house with her parents and her brother, Brian, is the best part of every summer. Until this year, when her mother invites Brian’s obnoxious girlfriend, Olivia, to join them. Suddenly, Forrest’s relaxing vacation becomes a mission to verify the reality of Olivia’s rumored eating disorder. But the truth behind Olivia’s finicky eating isn’t at all what Forrest expected. And over the next thirty days, Forrest’s world is turned upside down as her family’s darkest secrets begin to come to light.

When I saw Thirty Sunsets in the Flux catalogue and later on NetGalley, it sounded like it might be an interesting novel. But from the synopsis I’d expected a far different book than I got. That isn’t to say that this is a bad thing, but it was surprising. Note that this review will have spoilers as you can’t really talk meaningfully about this book without giving them. If you want to remain unspoiled for this book, best not continue on, because here be SPOILERS!   Continue reading »

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Gail Z. Martin – Deadly Curiosities

gailzmartin-deadlycuriosityCassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

I first encountered Gail Z. Martin’s Deadly Curiosities world in her short story Buttons in Jonathan Oliver’s Magic anthology. I was immediately charmed by the premise and the characters and the consequent announcement of Solaris’ acquisition of a full Deadly Curiosities novel was a pleasant surprise. This meant that starting Deadly Curiosities came with certain expectations about its setting, its characters, and its subject matter. And Martin certainly delivered on those expectations with a very entertaining tale of supernatural shenanigans, ancients ghosts returning, and the fight of Cassidy and Teag’s life.  Continue reading »

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Mark Charan Newton – Drakenfeld

markcharannewton-drakenfeldThe monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.

Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.

Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

When a fantasy novel is announced as a murder mystery set in a secondary world inspired by Ancient Rome *BOOM* I’m done and sold on reading said novel, especially if it’s written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Super sold on the book, I bought a signed copy at WFC and then, inexplicably, crickets. The book got waylaid by review copies and while I kept eyeing it, reading kept being put on the back-burner. The paperback release gave me the perfect excuse to finally read it. And I’m glad I did. I knew I enjoyed Mark Charan Newton’s writing, having read Nights of Villjamur and his short story in The Lowest Heaven, but Drakenfeld has made me kick myself for not reading City of Ruins, which is on my shelf, and his other Legends of the Red Sun books before. A situation which I’ll have to remedy sooner rather than later.  Continue reading »

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Meanwhile… on SF Signal: Mind Meld

towerOnce again, I was invited to be part of a Mind Meld over at SF Signal by Andrea a.k.a. the Little Red Reviewer. The meld went live yesterday and I’m in great company. Having just completed my Anticipated Books series with my Anticipated Reads post, the topic fit quite well as instead of looking forward it asked me to look back at the past six months. Andrea’s question was:

Q:  What were your favorite science fiction and fantasy titles that were published during the first half of this year?

Here’s are the first two of my seven picks:  Continue reading »

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The Skyscraper Throne Reread Week 22

Welcome back for another stop in the Jo Fletcher Skyscraper Throne Reread. In week 22 we’ve come about halfway in The Glass Republic and I’ll be recapping chapters 29-32. As in the previous posts I hosted there will be spoilers galore. If you haven’t read these books before and want to remain unspoiled, best beware, as Milady says: SPOILERS!!!

cerseispoilers

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Author Query – Gail Z. Martin

gailzmartin-deadlycuriosityGail Z. Martin was an author whose works have been on my radar for years, but I’d never actually read any of her work until I read and reviewed Jonathan Oliver’s anthology Magic two years ago. Her story Buttons in that anthology charmed me beyond measure and I even speculated about the chances of Martin writing a novel set in this universe. Thus I was rather pleased when Solaris announced they’d be publishing Deadly Curiosities, the first novel set in the world of Buttons. I’ll be reviewing the novel later in the week, but today Gail Z. Martin drops by the blog for an Author Query.  Continue reading »

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Elizabeth Moon – Speed of Dark

elizabethmoon-speedofdarkLou is different to ‘normal’ people. He interacts with the world in a way they do not understand. He might not see the things they see, however, but he also sees many things they do not. Lou is autistic.

One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou’s work. But now they want Lou to change – to become ‘normal’ like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark.

SPEED OF DARK is a powerful near-future thriller, the theme of which is both universal and intensely personal. It is dedicated to the author’s own autistic son, and to other parents of autistic children, ‘in the hope that they also find that delight in difference’.

Speed of Dark was May’s Hodderscape Review Project title. It wasn’t my first Elizabeth Moon as I’ve read and enjoyed her Serrano Legacy books. However, while Speed of Dark is ostensibly SF, it is so in a very different way from her Serrano Legacy series which is far more space opera and military SF. Speed of Dark takes the question ‘What if medicine has advanced so far that we could cure almost anything, including extending life and repairing spinal cord injuries? What if this could also cure autism?’ as its central concept  It takes this question and looks at the many ethical and moral complications connected to it and does so in a compelling and sensitive manner.  Continue reading »

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Recaps and Upfronts – June and July

RecapsWe’re officially half way through the year. Half way! Which also means that today is my birthday and that in three weeks I’ll be celebrating A Fantastical Librarian’s 4th birthday. But before we get to July, let’s look back at June. Last month was super busy on the blog with loads of interviews and guest posts and my anticipated books series.I read some amazing books and caught up on the Hodderscape Review Project. I’m currently only one book behind in reading, though I still need to review Speed of Dark, which I’ve read but not reviewed yet. My Gender Parity resolution is still on track, with 38 books by women, 35 by men, and 5 titles either by multiple authors or unknown or non-binary defined authors. So I’m pleased about that.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Mark Charan Newton

markcharannewton-drakenfeldThis week sees the paperback release of Mark Charan Newton’s Drakenfeld, which I am just in the middle of reading and enjoying very much. It also creates the perfect opportunity to catch up on Lucan Drakenfeld’s first adventure in preparation for his second outing in Retribution later this year. In honour of Drakenfeld’s paperback release I got to ask Mark Charan Newton some questions, which I’m sharing with you today. Keep an eye out for my review of Drakenfeld later in the week!   Continue reading »

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