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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Video Interview & Discussion with Aparna Verma & Gourav Mohanty (by Mihir Wanchoo)


Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Sons Of Darkness
Read Fantasy Hive's review of The Boy With Fire

Today I'm thrilled to present a discussion with two upcoming authors who have written fantasy that's based on Indian mythology. As an Indian/Subcontinental/desi fantasy reader, this was exactly what I've been searching for (since I started reading fantasy over 20 years ago).

 So many thanks to Gourav & Aparna for indulging my questions and talking about:
- their desi  backgrounds, 
- their love for dark/GD fantasy,
- why their debut books focus on dark fantasy,
- Booktok, Instagram and book publicity,
- Bollywood influences & more...


Cover reveal: The Red Scholar's Wake by Aliette de Bodard


'So romantic I may simply perish' Tasha Suri, award-winning author of THE JASMINE THRONE

'LESBIAN SPACE PIRATES. Enough said.' Katee Robert, NYT bestselling author of NEON GODS


Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates' enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself. 

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si's help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si's technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it. 

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together...

An exciting space opera and a beautiful romance, from an exceptional SF author.

COVER ARTIST: Alyssa Winans

MORE INFO: The book comes out via Gollancz on November 24th in hardcover and ebook format 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen - Review


Official Author Website
Order The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy HERE
Read Shazzie's review of The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Megan Bannen is a former public librarian whose YA debut The Bird and the Blade was an Indies Introduce Summer/Fall 2018 pick, a Summer 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List pick, and a Kirkus Best YA Historical Fiction of 2018 pick. While most of her professional career has been spent behind the reference desk, she has also sold luggage, written grants, collected a few graduate degrees from various Kansas universities, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and their two sons.

FORMAT/INFO: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy was published on August 23rd, 2022 by Orbit Books. It is 416 pages long, split over 41 chapters and an epilogue. It is told in third person from Hart and Mercy's POVs. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook format.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Hart Ralston is a marshal, an individual who travels the wilds of Tanria putting down the undead and ensuring the bodies are taken to a local undertaker for proper burial. Unfortunately for Hart, the undertaker he has to deal with most frequently is Mercy Birdsall. Hart and Mercy have hated each other since the day they met, and loathe the times they have to work together. But both Hart & Mercy are each lonely in their own way and desperately need a person to share their emotions with. So when Hart sends an anonymous unaddressed letter to “a friend” and gets back a response, he finds himself drawn into a relationship with an equally anonymous pen pal. But what he doesn’t know is that the pen pal is Mercy, and she is equally oblivious to her friend’s identity. As undead attacks rise and secrets pile up, what will Mercy and Hart do when they finally realize the truth?

It’s strange to call The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy a comfort read when it is my first time reading it, but that’s exactly how reading this standalone felt. That is largely due to the fact that a part of the narrative was inspired by the anonymous pen pals trope from You've Got Mail and The Shop Around the Corner, two movies I adore with all of my heart. If you have a fondness for those movies, you’ll find many of your favorite story beats here, including a certain scene at a cafe. It doesn’t adapt the entire storyline, but large enough sections are the same that it felt like slipping on a favorite cozy sweater.

But while parts of the story are very familiar, they are woven together with a wholly original story. The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy takes place in a fantasy world that feels like a mashup of American Wild West, 1950s aesthetic, and weird fantasy. There’s demigods, water horses, and cars designed to be equally at home in land and water alongside marshals riding on horseback with rapiers and crossbows. One of my few complaints about the story is that I wish some of the world-building had been painted in a little more; there’s enough explanation that you can get through the story without too much issue, but occasionally I found myself wondering about the geography of the world or clarification about what an autoduck (the cars in this world) looked like. These are minor nitpicks though, and didn’t majorly hamper my enjoyment.

Now if you saw the word undead and had any fears this was going to be a zombie gorefest book, let me rest your fears now. The zombies (called drudges) are mostly described as simply a shambling body, with very little detail about any state of decay. Your own imagination can supply as much or as little details as you would like. There are a couple instances of attacks, but again, the action is described like any other monster attack. I think I can honestly say that if stories of zombies make you at all squeamish, you won’t have any problems reading this story.

Lastly, the romance in this book is pitch perfect. Although I didn’t fully buy into why the two initially clashed, watching Hart & Mercy each discover someone who actually listened to their hopes and dreams and fears and who made them feel a little less lonely was a delight. Both Hart & Mercy grow into better people as a result of getting to know each other, and I really loved that aspect of the relationship. There was a little objectification from both parties in the initial chapters (descriptions of staring at ample bosoms etc.) that isn’t my cup of tea, but it was brief enough that it didn’t become grating. And if you were wondering, yes there is some spice, largely contained to one scene.

CONCLUSION: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a lovely whimsical romance that takes a familiar trope and gives it an original fantasy spin. I simply couldn’t put the book down and really enjoyed my time with the story. Best of all, it's a standalone, so no series commitments here! If you need a break from more serious fantasy reads and want to find a book that’s going to give you a Happily Ever After, pick up The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy today.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna (reviewed by Shazzie)


Official Author Website
Order The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches over HERE
Friday, August 26, 2022

The First Binding by R.R. Virdi (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order The First Binding over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's first review of The First Binding
Thursday, August 25, 2022

Book review: January Fifteen by Rachel Swirsky

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Curse Of The Mistwraith by Janny Wurts (reviewed by Matthew Higgins)


Order Curse Of The Mistwraith over HERE
Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Dragon's Promise by Elizabeth Lim - Review

Official Author's Website
Read Caitlin's Review of SIX CRIMSON CRANES

Monday, August 22, 2022

Book Review: Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Dan Koboldt is a geneticist. His popular blog series "Science in Sci Fi, Fact in Fantasy", has led to two writing how-to guides from Writer's Digest books: Putting the Science in Fiction and Putting the Fact in Fantasy. He is also the author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy , and creator of the sci-fi adventure serial The Triangle.

Publisher: Angry Robot (August 23, 2022) Page count: 400 pp Formats: ebook, paperback Cover art: 

Interview with Dan Koboldt, the author of upcoming Heist Fantasy Silver Queendom

AUTHOR INFO: Dan Koboldt is the author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy (Harper Voyager) and the Build-A-Dragon Sequence (Baen), the editor of Putting the Science in Fiction and Putting the Fact in Fantasy (Writer’s Digest), and the creator of the sci-fi adventure serial The Triangle (Realm). As a genetics researcher, he has co-authored more than 100 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. Dan is also an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife and children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating the flowers in his backyard.
Sunday, August 21, 2022

All The Seas Of The World by Guy Gavriel Kay (reviewed by V)


Official Author Website
Order All The Seas Of The World over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Ysabel
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Under Heaven
Thursday, August 18, 2022

Interview with Sunyi Dean (Interviewed by Shazzie)

Official Author Website
Order The Book Eaters over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Book Eaters
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Book review: Cobalt Blue by Matthew Reilly


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Matthew Reilly is the internationally bestselling author of the scarecrow series, the jack west series, and numerous standalone novels. his books are published in over 20 languages with worldwide sales of over 8 million copies. he directed the Netflix film interceptor, which he co-wrote with Stuart Beattie.

Publisher: Macmillan Australia (August 2, 2022) Pages:216 Formats: paperback, ebook, hardback, audiobook
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The First Binding by R.R. Virdi (reviewed by Caitlin G. & Shazzie)


Official Author Website
Order The First Binding over HERE
Monday, August 15, 2022

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings (Reviewed by Daniel P. Haeusser)


Official Author Website

Official Author Twitter

Order The Women Could Fly HERE


Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen (reviewed by Shazzie)


Pre-order The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy over HERE
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Excerpt: House of Cards—Spells, Salt and Steel series# 8 by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin


Mark Wojcik and his friends are back—and in more trouble than ever!
Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Book review: A Short Stay in Hell by Simon Peck

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Steven L. Peck is an evolutionary biologist, poet, and novelist. His literary work is influential in Mormon literature circles. He is a professor of biology at Brigham Young University. He grew up in Moab, Utah and lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Publisher: Strange Violin Editions (March 20, 2012) Page Count: 108 Formats: ebook, paperback, audiobook

Sunday, August 7, 2022

SPFBO 8: The Fifth Winnowing (Mihir's Batch)


 This year is the 8th edition of this wonderful competition and also our 8th time participating in it. It’s my pleasure to be able to review our last mini-lot. The books in my lot have been a wide variety across the fantasy spectrum.  I also had the unique distinction of having the biggest book (in terms of page count for this SPFBO edition) in my lot of six titles.
Thursday, August 4, 2022

Book review: Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ten Thousand Stitches by Olivia Atwater - Review

Official Author Website
Buy Ten Thousand Stitches HERE
Read Caitlin's Review of Half a Soul

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

New Release Q&A with Phil Williams, the author of the Dyer Street Punk Witches

About Phil WIlliams: Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic Estalia series. He also writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English, two of which are regular best-sellers on Kindle. As a long-term teacher and tutor of advanced English, he runs the popular website “English Lessons Brighton”.
Monday, August 1, 2022

The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne (Reviewed by Shazzie & Caitlin G.)

Order The Book Of Gothel over HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Mary McMyne's debut novel, THE BOOK OF GOTHEL, is forthcoming from Orbit/Redhook and Orbit UK in July 2022. She is also the author of the Elgin Award-winning fairytale poetry chapbook, WOLF SKIN. Originally from south Louisiana, she has a MFA in fiction from NYU. She lives with her family in the foothills of the Appalachian part of Georgia.



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