Guest Review: Kieran Shea – Koko Takes a Holiday

Today I have something different for you. It is a guest review by my husband Wiebe. He is a very different reader than I, putting books away if they don’t work for him or if he gets bored by them. He’s a very picky reader. There are a number of books that I get sent, which for reasons I don’t get around to reading and sometimes Wiebe will pick them up—or even fight me to read them as soon as they enter the house. I’ve long teased him that if he’s reading my review copies, he should review them and he’s finally taken me up on that. It’s his first review ever, so be gentle with him. Hopefully, this will be the first of many!

kieranshae-kokotakesaholidayFive hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago, known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic Komodo dragons, the most challenging part of Koko’s day is deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.

Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea is a book I picked up because of its cover. It looked like anime/manga art and reminded me a bit of Cowboy Bebop, with a bit of retro styling in bright colours. The blue hair reminded me of anime in particular. Coincidentally enough, it read a bit as an anime series as well. It has a dense world full of stuff, but set in the background of a fast action shounen story.  Read More …


Rhonda Mason – The Empress Game

rhondamason-theempressgame‘Power, grace, deadliness defined. Always cunning, endlessly victorious…’ 

One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled: that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage. It’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat. Now the tournament, the Empress Game, has been called and the women of the empire will stop at nothing to secure political domination for their homeworlds. Kayla Reunimon, a supreme fighter, is called by a mysterious stranger to battle it out in the arena.  

The battle for political power isn’t contained by the tournament’s ring, however. The empire’s elite gather to forge, strengthen or betray alliances in a dance that will determine the fate of the empire for a generation. With the empire wracked by a rising nanovirus plague and stretched thin by an ill-advised planet-wide occupation of Ordoch in enemy territory, everything rests on the woman who rises to the top.

When The Empress Game proof arrived at my house, the first thing that caught my eye was the stunning cover. I loved the image of the girl looking as if she wouldn’t take any crap from anyone and those piercing blue eyes just pulled me right in. When I flipped the book over and looked at the flap text, I was sold. Deciding who gets to marry the crown prince through ritual combat? That was just a delicious flip of the usual fighting for the princess’ hand. And both the cover and the blurb didn’t mislead. I loved this thrilling adventure, which is perhaps slightly more science fantasy than science fiction, but is an exciting read either way.  Read More …


Author Query – Andy Livingstone

andylivingstone-herobornThese past few months I’ve been reading a lot of the new releases in the HarperVoyager UK’s digital first imprint, that launched in June. And so far, they’ve all been lovely books. I’ve also had the chance to interview several of the authors and host a guest post too. Today I’m adding another to the list. Andy Livingstone is the author of Hero Born, a fantasy novel which seemingly looks at that most fantasy-of-fantasy tropes: the hero with a destiny. I decided to ask Andy how and why he came to write about this trope. You can find his answers to that an more below.

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Recaps and Upfronts – August and September

RecapsSo August was a dismal month blog-wise… The past few months have been hard here at home and they’ve taken their toll a bit, which means that I often had no energy left to concentrate enough to actually write reviews. I have a huge amount of backlogged books to review – as of today there are 15 books on the pile – so I’ve been reading at least.  Read More …


Josh Vogt – Enter the Janitor

joshvogt-enterthejanitorClean-freak college student Dani Hashelheim never imagined she’d discover her latent magical ability in, of all places, a bathroom. But when she ducks into the ladies’ room at the library, she’s put in the crossfire between an elderly janitor and a ravenous muck-monster that emerges from the sink. Dani’s previously unknown power manifests in self-defense, and she floods and burns down the library—at the same time.

Enter Ben, the janitor, who works for the Cleaners, a supernatural sanitation company that keeps reality tidy and safe…and a company Dani now works for as well, whether she wants to or not. This puts a significant crimp in her dream to attend med school and become a doctor. Nor is Ben happy, since it’s his duty to help Dani adapt to the job and learn to control her chaotic talent before it kills them both.

Dani barely has time to try on her new company uniform before she and Ben are hunted down by a cult that wants to cleanse all life from the planet, and believes her power provides the means to do so. While fighting to survive the cult’s increasingly violent recruitment attempts, the pair must battle dust devils, navigate a maze of mystical sewers, face down trash golems—and scrub the occasional toilet.

When I read the synopsis for JR Vogt’s Enter the Janitor I was immediately intrigued, because who could resist the phrase “supernatural sanitation company”? Furthermore, the grumpy. old mentor figure paired with a newbie overcoming all odds, is one of my favourite tropes, in whatever media form you can imagine. Vogt’s interpretation of the eternal battle between order and chaos also seemed as if it would be really funny, though I did wonder whether its premise of magical cleaners wouldn’t become shticky or repetitive. So I went into the reading hopeful, but wary. Yet Vogt completely sold me on the story, because it was entertaining, charming, and had far more emotional resonance than I’d expected.  Read More …


Guest Post: Ria Bridges on the mixed victory of the 2015 Hugos

hugo_rocketLast weekend saw the culmination of months and months of tension and thousands and thousands of words on the Hugos vs Sad Puppies that dominated conversations in the field this past year. But with the defeat of the slates, the Hugos problems are far from over as discussion is once again rampant and people already seem to be gearing up for a repeat next year. When I saw my friend Ria, of Bibliotropic fame, bemoan the fact that they were on a blog hiatus because they had thoughts and opinions on events, I offered to host their post on A Fantastical Librarian. Here are their thoughts.  Read More …


Stephanie Saulter – Regeneration

stephaniesaulter-regenerationThe gillungs – genetically modified, waterbreathing humans – are thriving. They’ve pioneered new aquatic industries, and their high-efficiency quantum battery technology coupled to tidal turbines in the Thames estuary looks set to revolutionise the energy industry. But as demand grows, so does fear of what their newfound power might mean.

Then a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their London headquarters, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. Was it an accident born of overconfidence, or was it sabotage?

DS Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, and Gabriel sees parallels in the propaganda war he’s trying to manage: politicians and big business have stakes in this game too. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is out of prison. With powerful new followers and nothing to lose, she’s out to reclaim everything they took from her.

Stephanie Saulter’s ®evolution series has been one of my favourite series published in the past two years. I was blown away by her debut Gemsigns and thought the follow-up Binary was even more fabulous. So my expectations for the final book in the series Regeneration were sky high. I was wondering how Saulter would end her series and whether she’d stick the landing and bring it home in style. I shouldn’t have worried, because spoiler for the rest of the review: I loved it. As this is the concluding book of a trilogy, there will be spoilers for the previous two books, so consider yourself warned on that front.  Read More …


Author Query – Craig Cormick

craigcormick-thefloatingcitiesLast year I very much enjoyed Craig Cormick’s The Shadow Master and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Floating City. The book was released last month and has received some lovely reviews. Craig was kind enough to agree to an interview to celebrate the release of his latest novel. Enjoy this Author Query and be sure to check out The Floating City.


Let’s start with the basics. Who is Craig Cormick? 

My website says that I have been writing since I could make up stories and have worked in journalism, communications, teaching and science communication. Also that I like to write across many different genres and styles, from fiction to non-fiction and literary fiction to speculative fiction. – So if I read it online then it must be the truth, right?

I could also tell you that I’m a twin, I have travelled to all seven continents for work – including to Antarctica, but the thing I most love doing in the world is reading books to my six-year-old son and remembering how more real than real stories were when we were young.  Read More …


Guest Post: Gerrard Cowan on Worldbuilding and maps

gerrardcowan-themachineryThis week HarperVoyager UK is celebrating the launch of their digital-first line by organising a #VirtualVoyager blog tour. I’ve already read two of the books in this line, Darkhaven and Among Wolves, and enjoyed both of them tremendously and I’m currently reading Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf, which is quite funny. So when I was approached about being part of the tour I gladly said yes and was very pleased to host Gerrard Cowan with a post about maps, because who doesn’t love a good map?  Read More …


Guest Post: Susan Murray on Historic Influences

susanmurray-waterborneexileSusan Murray’s Waterborne Exile, the second in her Waterborne series was published earlier this week and to celebrate she’s returning to A Fantastical Librarian with another guest post. I asked Susan about the historical influences on her world and she revealed her roots in historical re-enactment and describes how she imbibed history through osmosis.


My first thought on seeing this topic was there aren’t any specific influences as such: I haven’t studied a a single historic era and plundered it for plot developments. The Peninsular Kingdoms are not based on anywhere in particular and events aren’t drawn from the Wars of the Roses, or the Hundred Years War or the Civil War. But I realise I’m overlooking a lifetime’s interest in history simply because I’ve been surrounded by it all along. The historical influences are in reality too many to count.  Read More …