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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NEWS: Kelly Gay's The Cold Light Of Day, Grimm Mistresses, and The Labyrinth Of Flame Kickstarter

Official Author Website
Read my review of The Better Part of Darkness 
Read my review of The Darkest Edge of Dawn 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Hour Of Dust and Ashes 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Shadows Before The Sun 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Kelly Gay 

I’m a big fan of Kelly Gay and her dark Charlie Madigan urban fantasy series. The series combined the gritty underbelly of Atlanta with inter-dimensional fantasy, and viola the readers were given an urban fantasy series that bucked most of the urban fantasy tropes and explored new avenues.

The series was published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster and after four books being published, the series was dropped by the publisher for reasons that weren’t quite sure but were most likely financial ones. The fourth book Shadows Before The Sun was published nearly three years ago and since then we have been waiting to hear about the next book in the series.

The author recently revealed via her newsletter that the next book is titled “The Cold Light Of Day” and will be released in the summer. The book will be self-published by the author and will be released in e-book and trade paperback format. The author revealed a bit about the story in an email and here’s what it’s going to be about:

The tale begins where SHADOWS BEFORE THE SUN left off, with Pen, the Druid King, pressuring Charlie to find out who killed certain characters in the preceding title, and the mysterious Leander returning to make Charlie and Hank an offer they can’t refuse. And, of course, along the way Charlie and Hank’s relationship intensifies, Emma’s powers grow, and Rex gets into deep, deep trouble.

Obviously there will be a bit more to the story and I can’t wait for the official blurb reveal. Here’s looking to more of Charlie, Rex, Hank, Pen & the others…

Order Grim Mistresses HERE
Read Beauty In Ruins' review of Grim Mistresses

Yesterday was also the release day of Grimm Mistresses by Ragnarok Publications. Check out the amazing cover by Brittany Smith and also here’s the blurb:

 "Remember the Grimm Brothers? Those dark fairy tales that made you leave the light on long before Disney went and sanitized them? Well, we do! Now the MISTRESSES GRIMM take back the night, five female authors who will leave you shuddering deliciously. Get ready to leave the lights on again with four pieces of short fiction bringing the Grimm Brother’s tales into the present. Be advised: these aren’t your children’s fairy tales!"

Here are the five amazing ladies who are lending their talents to this amazing collection and given below is the table of contents:

"The Night Air" by Stacey Turner
"Little Dead Red" by Mercedes M. Yardley 
"Nectar" by Allison M. Dickson
"Hazing Cinderella" by C.W. LaSart
"The Leopard's Pelt" by S.R. Cambridge 

 So get yourself a copy of this dark, enticing collection, I'll be reviewing it in the upcoming weeks as well.

Official Author Website 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Whitefire Crossing 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Tainted City 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's multi-author interview with Courtney Schafer 

We are mightily indebted to Courtney for giving us the golden opportunity to host the cover & blurb reveal of The Labyrinth Of Flame last year. The cover art (seen above) was provided by series regular David Palumbo & the cover design is done by Martha Wade.

Here’s what The Labyrinth Of Flame is going to be about:

"Dev's never been a man afraid of a challenge. Not only has he kept his vow to his dead mentor, rescuing a child in the face of impossible odds, but he's freed his mage friend Kiran from both the sadistic master who seeks to enslave him and the foreign Council that wants to kill him."

"But Kiran's master Ruslan is planning a brutal revenge, one that will raze an entire country to blood and ashes. Kiran is the key to stopping Ruslan; yet Kiran is dying by inches, victim of the Alathian Council's attempt to chain him. Worse yet, Dev and Kiran have drawn the attention of demons from the darkest of ancient legends. Demons whose power Dev knows is all too real, and that he has every reason to fear." 

"A fear that grows, as he and Kiran struggle to outmaneuver Ruslan and uncover the secrets locked in Kiran's forgotten childhood. For the demons are playing their own deadly game - and the price of survival may be too terrible to bear."

The kickstarter for the book has been live for the past six days and already has been fully funded at four thousand dollars and is currently very close to reaching its first stretch goal. I’m a backer and I’m hoping many of you consider joining in the kickstarter for this tremendous trilogy ending.
Monday, February 16, 2015

Cover Reveal: Shower Of Stones: A Novel of Jeroun by Zachary Jernigan

Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of No Return
Read The Debut Novel: A Series Of Intentions by Zachary Jernigan (guest post)

Zachary Jernigan's No Return was a debut that won me over completely nearly two years ago and now Zachary is releasing the sequel to his complex debut via Nightshade books. Zack was kind enough to allow us to exclusively reveal the cover for Shower Of Stones which has superb art work by Claudia Noble. Also check out the enticing blurb below thanks to the publisher. The book has a tentative release date of July 7th and I can't wait to immerse myself back into the complex world that is Jeroun.

Official Book Blurb  At the moment of his greatest victory, before a crowd of thousands, the warrior Vedas Tezul renounced his faith, calling for revolt against the god Adrash, imploring mankind to unite in this struggle. 

Good intentions count for nothing. In the three months since his sacrilegious pronouncement, the world has not changed for the better. In fact, it is now on the verge of dying. The Needle hangs broken in orbit above Jeroun, each of its massive iron spheres poised to fall and blanket the planet’s surface in dust. Long-held truces between Adrashi and Anadrashi break apart as panic spreads. 

With no allegiance to either side, the disgraced soldier Churls walks into the divided city of Danoor with a simple plan: murder the monster named Fesuy Amendja, and retrieve from captivity the only two individuals that still matter to her — Vedas Tezul, and the constructed man Berun. The simple plan goes awry, as simple plans do, and in the process Churls and her companions are introduced to one of the world’s deepest secrets: a madman, insisting he is the link to an ancient world, offering the most tempting lie of all . . . hope. 

Concluding the visceral, inventive narrative begun in No Return, Shower of Stones pits men against gods and swords against civilization-destroying magic in the fascinatingly harsh world of Jeroun.
Thursday, February 12, 2015

"The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place" by Julie Berry (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Julie Berry's Website Here

 OVERVIEW: There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.

FORMAT: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a middle grade Victorian murder mystery. It has some heavy topics (a girl's intense fascination with death, an overly flirtatious character) that make it one that should be cautious with some of the younger middle grade readers.

It stands at 368 pages and was published by Roaring Brook Press on September 23, 2014.

ANALYSIS: Writing a good middle grade murder mystery is a bit of a challenge. Writers don't want to make the plot too simplistic or they will lose the interest of their readers – both within the target age group and outside of it. Complicate the story/plot and you run the risk of losing the target audience, but creating a book that older readers will enjoy.

It truly is a fine line and Julie Berry knows how to toe that line in her latest novel – The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.  

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a delightful murder mystery set in 19th century England. One evening at St. Etheldreda's – a boarding/finishing school for young girls – the headmistress and her brother suddenly drop dead while enjoying an evening meal. Faced with the possibility of their school closing down and being forced to move – the 7 girls who attend the school leap into action and create a plan that hopes to fool the small town into thinking nothing is wrong.

This novel follows the girls as they try to keep the charade up. While trying to fool the community, the girls work to uncover who may have committed the murder of their headmistress and her not-so-likeable brother.

Overall, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a delightful, fun read. The characters are quirky and there is just enough humor sprinkled throughout the novel that things don't get too serious.

Considering there are seven main characters, there is essentially something for everyone in this book. There are enough characters introduced and well-developed that there is someone almost every reader will relate to in some way. There is the flirtatious, fun character, the studious girl who wishes to be a doctor, and the good-hearted, yet not overly beautiful character.

While the multiple characters help make the story more relatable to some people it may cause problems for others. The entire story jumps back and forth between all of these characters. There isn't one main character, there are seven. Throughout the novel we – the readers – will learn more about the characters' personalities, pasts, and future hopes and dreams.  This can be quite confusing.

Readers may struggle with the jumping around between characters, especially younger readers. There are so many characters, plot twists, and different avenues the characters are pursuing that it could be difficult for some people to keep up.

I admit there were some times, especially at the beginning, where I got confused about who was who and what they were doing. It worked out as the book continued, but it was a bit overwhelming at first.

I do want to point out one of the characters is extremely obsessed with death. There is even mention of the fact that she enjoyed spending time with corpses and researching dead people. Multiple times throughout the book she makes references to death, dead bodies and other gruesome things. The average reader might not be bothered by this, but those sensitive to the subject or easily bothered may find this off-putting.

While the book is fun and fast-paced, there was one quirk about the book that I found extremely annoying. Each of the girls in the novel has an adjective before their name. For example, Smooth Kitty, Stout Alice, and Dour Elinor.

I am not sure if this was done to be quirky and fun, to help readers with the characters, or what, but it got old/annoying after a while. About 90% of the time the girls were referred to in the novel, they had their adjectives with them. It also hindered the reading experience, as it made it feel clunky or clumsy. I am sure some people will gloss over this aspect, but it caught my eye every time it happened.

Another aspect of this novel that has to be pointed out is the historical aspect of it. The novel takes place in 19th century England and is fairly accurate. Everything from the timely references to events/authors to the descriptions and the way the characters acted was very true to the time period. I found the time period not only interesting to read about, but fitting. I think it enhanced the novel.

Overall, I found The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place a fun read. The entire mystery part wasn't too complex, but it wasn't so simple that I lost interest in the story. I would be hesitant to hand this novel over to readers on the younger side of the MG/YA spectrum. The topics of death and even the flirtatious nature of the one character make it a book that isn't for every middle grade reader.

Mystery fans will be certain to enjoy the twists and turns of this book. It isn't too heavy/plot intense, but it isn't light, fluffy and simplistic.
Saturday, February 7, 2015

GUESTPOST: "Steampunk in Seattle And Why The Pacific North-West Beckoned" by Elizabeth Bear

Hi! I’m Elizabeth Bear, and I’m salted caramel gelato. Er, I mean, I’m eating salted caramel gelato, and let me tell you, this stuff is a reason I’m glad I live in the future where ice cream flavors like this exist. But I’m not actually here to sell you Häagen-Dazs, fake umlaut and all. I’m here because I’m the author of Karen Memory, a new book that came out this month, and I’ve been invited to Fantasy Book Critic to talk to you about it. (Maybe you’d rather I was selling you Häagen-Dazs? Well, you’re on a book blog, so you’re pretty much stuck now.)

Karen Memory is a steampunk Weird West adventure set in a fictional city in the Pacific Northwest. (I don’t feel too bad about that—I’m a New Englander, and everybody from H. P. Lovecraft to Stephen King to Jane Langton has felt free to shoehorn an extra town or two into the landscape around here. So I think it’s traditional.) 

The book stars the nearly-eponymous Karen Memery. Karen’s a sixteen-year-old bordello girl with an outsize vocabulary, a shaky sense of grammar, and a complete inability to stay out of trouble for more than fifteen minutes at a time. A number of people have asked me why I might want to go and set a steampunk story in the Pacific Northwest.

Well, I’m not the first, by any means. Off the top of my head, there’s Cherie Priest’s delightful Boneshaker, for example. And an interesting thing that’s happened in the past few years is a real groundswell of the Weird Western, a subgenre that used to be pretty much staked out by Stephen King and Joe Lansdale—and also was a lot more horror focused.

But I started writing Karen Memory in 2009, and the thing I notice is that Emma Bull’s fabulous Western fantasy, Territory, came out a few years before then—and that since, there’s been a steady creep of steampunk elements into Westerns. The TV show and later movie The Wild Wild West is no doubt extremely seminal here, but then we find the blossoming of Cherie’s books, and those of Gemma Files starting with A Book of Tongues, R.S. Belcher’s The Six-Gun Tarot, John Horner Jacob’s The Incorruptibles, Catherynne M. Valente’s Six-Gun Snow White, Tim Pratt’s The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made-World… well, if you just want a list, Goodreads has a couple!

And apparently they’re bringing back Westworld now? Robot gunslingers? Well all right.

So, the simple answer is because it’s a fascinating time. Steampunk is often criticized for assuming the trappings of empire without bothering to engage with its colonialism and class issues, but honestly, that doesn’t seem to be the case with most of the Weird West steampunk I’ve read. I know that one of the things that attracted me to the Gold Rush northwest was exactly that—the chance to unfurl a cast of characters that draws some of its interest and conflict from the often whitewashed diversity of the West; the chance to show the perspective of a working-class heroine; the chance to talk about rapacious exploitation. 

And there’s the added attraction of it being a gorgeous landscape with so much scope for adventure! Meanwhile, let’s talk about the Ben & Jerry’s salted caramel blondie stuff. Because it’s totally sick, yo, and I mean that in the best of all possible ways…

GUEST AUTHOR INFORMATION: Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction.

She was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005 and has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction along with a Sturgeon Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel.She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog. Her partner, acclaimed fantasy author Scott Lynch, lives in Wisconsin.
Friday, February 6, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Copy of Steelheart and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy Book Critic is excited to provide you with an Epic Reads prize pack to celebrate the release of Firefight by Brandon Sanderson. Firefight was released January 6, 2015.

The Epic Reads Price Pack includes:

  • A copy of Steelheart
  • A copy of Firefight

A huge thanks to Random House for providing the prizes for the giveaway.

About Firefight:

 Brandon Sanderson is back with a vengeance in FIREFIGHT, the follow up to the #1 New York Times bestselling Steelheart. In the book that Kirkus Reviews is calling a “rare middle volume that keeps the throttle open,” Sanderson takes readers on another a thrill ride and “presents a Marvel Comics-style mix of violently destructive battles, fabulous feats and ongoing inner wrestling over morality and identity.

David Charleston still can’t believe it. Steelheart is dead, and he died by David’s own hand. Even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic, but the invincible has fallen and now Newcago is free. Despite attaining revenge for the murder of his father and living his dream as a team member of the most elite Reckoners cell, David finds he has more questions than ever before, and he won’t find the answers in his home city.

Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as Manhattan, could hold the key. Ruled by the mysterious and ambivalent High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is a place flooded with water and painted in neon, where the inhabitants spend most of their days lounging and nights partying. David can’t seem to understand the complacency of the city and its residents, but what he does understand is that being positioned here, risky as it may be, could lead him to the answers he so desperately seeks. Because there is an emptiness in him, one left behind after killing Steelheart, that was filled unexpectedly by Firefight, who is just plain Megan to him. And David will stop at nothing to find a way to understand Epics and bring her back to him. Hopefully for good this time.

The second book in the Reckoners series and follow up to the highly acclaimed Steelheart, which Publishers Weekly called “an absolute page-turner,” FIREFIGHT is filled with spine-tingling adventure and heart-racing action that promises to satisfy fans both new and old.


photo credit: Isaac Stewart

BRANDON SANDERSON is the author of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy. In 2007, he was chosen to complete Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series following the author’s death.  The concluding book in that series, A Memory of Light, was released on January 8, 2013, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction List., just as his two previous Wheel of Time books had done.  His work has been published in over 25 languages and his books have sold millions of copies worldwide. He lives and writes in Utah. Visit him at or connect with him on Twitter @BrandSanderson.

How To Enter the Giveaway:

  1. This giveaway is open to US addresses only.
  2. Giveaway ends February 13, 2015 at 12:01 a.m. EST.
  3. To enter send an email with your name and address to
  4. Make sure the email has the subject – FIREFIGHT

Good luck!

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