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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Last Exit by Michael Kaufman review

Crooked Lane Books (January 12, 2021); 

Official Author Website

Order The Last Exit 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Q&A with Phil Williams, the author of Kept From Cages and Ordshaw series


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Kept from Cages by Phil WIlliams review


Order Kept From Cages over HERE

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

SPFBO Finalist: Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw review


Official Author Website

Order Last Memoria over HERE(USA) or HERE(UK)

Read FBC's interview with Rachel

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

SPFBO: Interview with Rachel Emma Shaw (by Lukasz Przywoski)


AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Emma Shaw is a London based author. She started writing as an escape from her PhD in neuroscience and has never stopped. She lives in a house slowly being consumed by plants and loves being outdoors. She will frequently attempt to write her books in local parks, only to inevitably end up falling asleep in the sun. If you want her to hurry up and write more books then wish for rain. Her best work is done when it's stormy outside.

Exclusive Cover Reveal & Chapter Excerpt: Oh, That Shotgun Sky (A Novella of The Songs of Sefate) by Sarah Chorn (by Mihir Wanchoo)

 


As a reader and a fan, I can certainly say it’s an extraordinary amount of pleasure to be able to interact with authors and to hear them talk about their craft, their books and what plans they have for the future. During one such recent chat with Sarah Chorn, I happened to mention how much I had enjoyed her prose and worldbuilding skills in Of Honey And Wildfires

Monday, January 11, 2021

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)



Official Author Website

Pre-order Blood Heir over HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona Gordon Andrew Gordon. Together, Andrew and Ilona are the co-authors of the New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels urban fantasy series and several other series. They live in Texas with their children.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley review


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Mihir's Top Reads of 2020 (by Mihir Wanchoo)

2020 was a year that almost all of us would like to put behind us for good. A global pandemic and working from home while trying to manage young-uns, made more me than a tad morose. I only managed to read to about 60-odd books (still need to update my GR account about many of them). This isn’t counting the re-reads as I found myself jumping back a lot to my comfort reads when certain events occurred. Overall I wasn’t able to read as many debuts as I have done in the past years. Hence I’m listing only the top 5 this year. So here we go:


1) Kings Of Heaven by Richard Nell – Richard Nell has rapidly made strides with each book of his debut trilogy and with this trilogy, he did something spectacular. He wrote a book that’s smaller than its predecessors in word count but easily had more epic story and magic. It was an ending that David Gemmell would be proud of. This easily made it the best book I’ve read in the entire year.


2) Black Tie Required by Craig Schaefer – Craig Schaefer’s reinvention of his spinoff series has been nothing short of incredible. When the books were being published by 47North, they were dark & thrilling but after Craig got the rights back. The series has become a marvelous amalgamation of thriller, fantasy & spycraft. Black Tie Required is also one of the best thriller stories that I’ve read in my life and easily takes the silver medal.


3) Paternus: War Of Gods by Dyrk Ashton – This last year was one for some great indie trilogies. We got to see what Dyrk Ashton had planned for his immortals and man what a climax it was. Stupendous in a single world, War Of Gods does have it all epic magical battles, one of one fights between immortals and an ending that outdoes everything that has come before. Dyrk Ashton proves himself to be the Tolkien for the 21st century with his debut trilogy.


4) The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan – The Shadow Saint takes all the amazing magical stuff introduced in The Gutter Prayer and takes it to another level altogether. I loved Gareth’s imagination in his debut and this book further solidifies his reputation as an imaginative storyteller. I can’t wait to read the future entries of the Black Iron Legacy which will be must reads whenever they release.



5) The Fires Of Vengeance by Evan Winter – This was another sequel that really really expanded on the world and characters while never comprising on the prose and action sequences. Evan Winter’s epic fantasy series gives us a taste of tropes which we have loved but packaged in a new non-European world and with Dragons because you know fantasy is always that much more exciting with dragons.  Evan Winter’s the Burning Quartet promises to be a future epic fantasy classic.



6) The Stone Knife by Anna Stephens – The Stone Knife is the start of a new epic fantasy saga that is styled on a world that’s drawn from Mesoamerican culture and topography. Combined with Anna Stephens’ vivid characterization, this dark fantasy epic was one hell of a read and promised a saga that I can’t wait to read more about.


7) We Ride The Storm by Devin Madson – Devin Madson’s traditional publishing debut was first self-published and we at FBC count ourselves lucky that we were able to recognize its magnificence early on in SPFBO. Combining a Spartan approach in prose and a quick-paced plot, We Ride The Storm is one hell of a ride and should be on everybody’s radar (if it isn't already).


8) Race The Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – I must confess this book originally wasn’t on my radar but thanks to my blogmate Caitlin & her effusive praise, I was drawn in. Telling a standalone story is something of a novelty in the epic fantasy and Sarah Beth Durst does it with aplomb. Writing a story about bonds between a mother & her daughter, a master & an apprentice, a racer & her beast, she manages to combine all these old tropes in a fresh way that made me love this story a lot.


9) From Cold Ashes Risen by Rob J. Hayes – From Cold Ashes Risen was a fascinating end to an experimental trilogy by one of my favourite authors. It focused on an anxiety ridden, self-loathing protagonist who was the exact opposite of Kvothe. This book brought things full circle and made realize what an intricately planned ride it was.


10) Of Honey And Wildfires by Sarah Chorn – Of Honey And Wildfire is Sarah Chorn’s sophomore effort and a completely different story than her debut. It still has her gorgeous prose, three dimensional characters and a story that combines aspects of a western with financial colonialism. It is a dark story but an important one and highlighted what a terrific storyteller Sarah is.

There were three other titles that almost made the list, hence I have to give them a shoutout:
 

Top 5 Debuts:



1) The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin – This was genuinely one of the best debuts I’ve read in the last couple of years. It combined dystopian SF elements with martial arts and a very light touch of fantasy. With echoes of Ender’s Game and Red Rising mixed in with regular  martial art tropes, this debut by Alexander Darwin was easily the top choice amidst all the debuts I read.


2) The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – The Bone Shard Daughter was a book that narrowly missed out of top spot. It had some of the creepiest and most detailed magic system which I have had the pleasure to read in recent years. Andrea Stewart’s prose skills as well as the plot shine amidst a bit of uneven pacing and made the sequels a must read for me.


3) The Sin In The Steel by Ryan Van Loan – The Sin In The Steel is a wonderful mix of gender-flipped Sherlockian tropes, high fantasy & loads of action sequences. This debut was so much fun in a year filled with darkness that I was genuinely sad when it ended. However I can’t wait to read the sequel and to see where Buc and Eld end up in a world filled with dead (& resurrected) gods, pirates & shapeshifting mages.


4) The Boy Who Walked Too Far by Dom Watson – I must confess this is another title which I was privileged to read earlier thanks to SPFBO. However this past year, Dom Watson was able to re-release it with a smashing new cover as well a much more streamlined plot thanks to a cracking edit. The first volume of the Xindii chronicles showcases a world and story unlike any other out there. Remember the name as this is another future classic.


5) The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood – The Unspoken Name came with a lot of hype and it did justify most (if not all) of it. This debut gave us magical races, a magical academy settings and an epic fantasy plot. However the amalgamation of these elements wasn’t entirely smooth (eg. the uneven pace & anti-climatic ending) but I’m still excited for the sequel and I hope the author can improve upon some of the book’s minor deficiencies. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Daughter of Flood and Fury by Levi Jacobs Cover Reveal and Q&A



Today, we have the immense pleasure of hosting the cover reveal for Levi Jacobs’s  Daughter of the Flood, the first book of Tidecaller Chronicles
Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Cover Reveal: Songs Of Insurrection (new edition) by J. C. Kang

 

Songs Of Insurrection has undergone a third facelift for the release of its new edition, which includes a new chapter and several additions to take into account the events of Complete Tales of the Floating Word.

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (reviewed by Caitlin Grieve)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Caitlin's review of The Gilded Wolves
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Vishakanya's Choice

OFFICIAL AUTHOR WEBSITE: Roshani Chokshi
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

2020 Review/2021 Preview - Caitlin Grieve

 


When it came to books in 2020, there were treasures to be found in every one of my reading niches. From standalones to series finales, YA to adult, there were a LOT of good books in 2020. Below are my absolute favorites, in no particular order.  

 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 Review / 2021 Preview - Łukasz Przywóski



2020 was a strange one. All doom & gloom, wherever you look. Good books, sport, and work helped me to cope with these interesting times. I read a lot of books this year. A lot.

Without further ado, here are my ten favorite reads of 2019. Not all were published in recent years. I see no reason to limit myself this way. What makes them best for me? Well, it's easy. Not all of these books got a stellar rating from me, but these are the books I found most memorable and impactful at the end of the year. In other words, I just can't get them out of my head.


Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley - Pretty Little Dead Girls is in turns sad and funny, heart-breaking and heart-warming. Above all, though, it's beautiful. 

I absolutely loved it.

Sweet Harmony by Claire North - Times being what they are, I should probably pick more optimistic titles. But I have no regrets. Claire North has mastered the novella format. In Sweet Harmony, every word counts, every scene serves a goal, and Harmony's decisions have a cost. North's take on nano-upgrades, a sense of identity, and addiction is terrifying, plausible, and intelligent. An outstanding novella.


The Glass Hotel by Emily St. Jones Mandell - Like “Station Eleven,” "The Glass Hotel" is a puzzle book. Mandel isn't afraid to use flashbacks, flash-forwards, alternating points-of-view, and alternate realities, to tell the story of two siblings moving in and out of each other’s lives.

I'll keep my review short. You'll easily find in-depth studies of this book elsewhere. If you loved Station Eleven, you'll love The Glass Hotel. It's beautifully written, haunting, and unforgettable.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman - Buehlman twists the vampire mythos and makes it feel fresh. His vamps, a tribe of unscrupulous blood-drinking monsters preying on humans, ARE about death. Joey’s voice entertains and is a source of many laughs but don’t trust him. He’s a deceiver waiting to break you.

The ending is vicious. That’s all I have to say.

A terrific read.


The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley - it's lyrical and bizarre. It analyzes the nature of love and the illusions we choose to feel good. In Whiteley's world, people shed their skin (and with it their feelings) every seven years. It was a difficult read. I can't say I love it (heck, I'm not even sure if I like it) but I can't get it out of my head.

For a Breath I Tarry  by Roger Zelazny - a brilliant novelette that aged well (It's almost 60 years old and still packs a punch). It focuses on a computing machine's quest to understand the nature of Man, an extinct species. Nobody gets killed, there's no actual action or an army of robots and yet it makes you think and feel. A thing of beauty.



Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand - I loved everything about it. The mystery, the supernatural, the suspense. It left me confused and hungry for more.

The Scaled Tartan by Raymond St. Elmo - the last book in St. Elmo's excellent Quest of the Five Clans Series. I loved it, it's a perfect conclusion to the insane series playing with subgenres and not being afraid (or ashamed) to be different.


Kings of Heaven by Richard Nell - A spectacular culmination to the Ash and Sand trilogy. As a whole, the series is a masterpiece. If you haven't read it yet, you should ask yourself what the hell is wrong with you.

Black Stone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher - Black Stone Heart is addictive and compulsively readable - it forced me to prolong my lunch as much as I dared because I couldn’t bear to stop reading it. If anything depended on me, I would forbid Fletcher to work on anything but The Obsidian Path series. I need the sequel.

Graphic Novels


I got myself a Comixology account. It's frightening how easy it is to spend money there. It's a bottomless money pit. And yet, I regret nothing. It allowed me to catch up on reading graphic novels. The three standouts are:

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - Amazing. I bought all three collected editions in hardcover and I'm waiting for the new entries in the series.

Something is Killing The Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell'Ederra - Wow. Tynion IV doesn't pull any punches but he knows what he's doing. In Something is Killing the Children, he finds a perfect balance between a morbid, disturbing atmosphere and dramatic writing. Add haunting artwork to the mix, and you get something special. Loved it.

East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta - I want more graphic novels like EAST OF WEST. It stands apart from most of the releases and awes with a futuristic/sci-fi Western feel. From the illustrations to the writing, it delivers BIG TIME. So, if you're looking for a genre-bending, character-driven story about the apocalypse, it's here. And it's great.

TV Series


I don't play games, but I like movies and TV Series. Interestingly, I had little interest in bingeing anything this year. The three shows that bullied me into doing it were:

Queen's Gambit - Say what you will, but it's one of the best Netflix mini-series ever.

Doom Patrol Season 2 - They did it again. Love the series.

Umbrella Academy Season 2 - I wasn't crazy about UA's season 1 so I had little expectations about season 2. What I got was a pleasant surprise. An excellent TV show with great character development and strong acting.

Anticipated in 2021



I have plenty of stuff to read in 2021, but I'll mention three new series/books I'm excited about.

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman - I've read all of Buehlman's published books. I'm beyond excited to check his first fantasy series.

The Empire's Ruin by Brian Staveley - Staveley's The Chronicles of The Unhewn Throne series is in my Top 5 fantasy series ever. I need this book asap.

Bear Head by Adrian Tchaikovsky - Tchaikovsky's Dogs of War is one of my favorite books ever. As soon as I get my hands on Bear Head, its sequel, everything else will have to wait. Basically, I'll read anything Tchaikovsky publishes.

Other than that, I'll read anything published by indie authors I follow: Craig Schaeffer, Raymond St. Elmo, M.D. Presley, Richard Nell, Dom Watson, Michael R. Fletcher, Angela Boord.


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