A.F.E. Smith – Goldenfire

afesmith-goldenfireAyla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father’s legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.

Darkhaven, the first book in this series, was a surprise. Billed as a secondary-world fantasy with a murder mystery, I was all-in by the end of the synopsis and A.F.E. Smith delivered on the promise of the blurb and the cover of the book and I was completely smitten with the world and the characters. As such, Goldenfire had a lot to life up to. And it did, bringing back characters I love, introducing new ones and once again centring on a mystery, this time more on who will do it, than on whodunnit.  Read More …

Guest Post: Gerrard Cowan on History in Fantasy

gerrardcowan-themachineryGerrard Cowan’s The Machinery is one of the books that disappeared down the black hole that was my blogging (and in some ways reading) hiatus. I had just started the book when everything stopped and once I got back to reading I found that in order to give the book its proper due I’d have to start reading it from the top. And I’m absolutely planning to do so, as what I did read really intrigued me. And with the release of the paperback edition of the book today, I have a solid reason to bump it up the reading list again. And to celebrate said release, Gerrard is once more visiting A Fantastical Librarian, this time with a post on how to create a fantastical history convincingly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And keep an eye out for my review of The Machinery at some point in the coming months!  Read More …

Why you should read the Earth Girl Series

JanetEdwards-EarthGirlTwo of the books that ended up not getting reviewed last year due to the hiatus were actually books that I’d read as a deal with Wiebe. If he’d finish Stephanie Saulter’s Regeneration series, then I’d finish the Earth Girl series. Not that I didn’t want to read the books, but they kept being pushed aside in favour of review copies and Wiebe wanted me to read them already. And it has to be said, I tore through them in two days. And since Wiebe has raved at me about the books since forever and I was looking for a way to get through my backlog, I decided to turn my review for Earth Star and Earth Flight into a series appreciation post for the entire series co-written with Wiebe.  Read More …

Review Amnesty: Final Edition

reviewamnestyIt’s time for my final Review Amnesty edition. After last year’s hiatus I had a whole stack of books I’d read, but not reviewed and I found that they were becoming a huge stumbling block into getting the blog started back up again, so I decided to call a review amnesty and just run through them in batches and short pieces giving my thoughts, instead of writing full reviews for them. I ended up with three posts of which this is the last one. So with this post I bid goodbye to the Review Amnesty, though you never know, they might make a comeback at some point in the future.  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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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 …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: Science Fiction & Horror

2015Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. 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 …

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 …