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Friday, January 27, 2023

No Heart for a Thief by James Lloyd Dulin (Reviewed by Lena)


Buy No Heart for a Thief here

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: James is a nerd with a head full of stories and limited time to put them on the page.

He grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, spending an excessive amount of time at a local community theater where he developed his affinity for storytelling. This affinity grew into a deep admiration for language and spoken word poetry while studying mathematics and education at the University of Michigan. A few hundred mediocre poems and lackluster performances later, he decided his dream of writing a novel might not be as ridiculous as he once thought. He firmly believes that art—even silly books about magic, or maybe especially silly books about magic—has the ability to tell stories that sink beneath the surface.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: We are the stories we tell ourselves...even the lies.
The Thief, a great spirit, and her descendants have abused their ability to steal magic for centuries. When Kaylo starts to hear the song of other people’s magic, he must learn to hide from his people as well as the invaders. A gift or a curse, Kaylo may be able to save his people from the Gousht Empire that claimed their land with this stolen magic.

Eighteen years later, Kaylo still prays to the spirits, but not out of loyalty or love. He knows better than to rely on those selfish bastards for anything. While hiding in the forest from his foolish acts of rebellion, he encounters a girl, Tayen, being pursued by two soldiers of the empire. Against his better judgment, he risks facing the consequences of his past to intervene.

When Tayen attempts to run off seeking vengeance for her family, he offers to train her to wield her magic and a blade. If he can’t convince her to relinquish her need for vengeance and stave off the demons of his past, he’s going to get them both killed.

FORMAT/INFO: No Heart For a Thief was published on January 24th, 2023 by G&D Publishing and has a print length of 460 pages. It is the author's debut epic dark fantasy and the first book in the Malitu trilogy.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: At the beginning of the story we find Kaylo, a hermit living in the forest, saving Tayen's life from a horrible fate. She's been running for her life since finding her family murdered at their home. After Kaylo saves her, he offers her a place to stay. She's reluctant but she's lost her entire family and soldiers are after her (and her magic).

In this world there are people who can listen to something called The Song, and through its rhythm they can do many things according to who of the Seven Spirits, they have a connection with. These people are called Dancers. Not all people have a connection, those who do not are called Spirit Bound. 

Kaylo can connect with two spirits, not one, like most dancers. One of the spirits is the Seed, which gives him the ability to manipulate everything that grows in the earth. The other spirit is the Thief, which is the one that made him pretty famous as Ennea's Thief, The Hero of Anilace. His belief in the spirits has become very bitter and grudging due to the many tragedies the spirits did nothing to prevent.

"'Listen, little shade, at the end of the day, the spirits will do what they're going to do. No prayer is going to change that. And right now, they seem content with letting us all kill each other over land and their so-called gifts.'"

Tayen can manipulate the shadows due to her connection with the spirit called Shadow. She's not very good at it but she's still a child, still learning. The people who Kaylo saves her from are soldiers of the Empire that were going to stripped her of her connection with the Shadow using a very special crystal. They believe their God showed them where to find the crystals to subdued the dancers (those who can listen to the Song), after they landed on the shores. Now the soldiers just steal the dancer's connection with the spirits using the crystals and the person striped of the connection, they send to the mines, to extract the same crystals used on them.

There are so many themes interwoven in the story, which in my humble opinion, I think are really well done. Discrimination, occupation, war, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and survivor's guilt are a few of these.

Even though I was having a really hard time stopping myself from screaming at what the children did, Tayen in the present timeline and Kaylo in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed both of their characters. Tayen is so focused on revenge that I had problems connecting with her at times, no matter how justified her bloodthirstiness may be. She was almost blinded by it. Kaylo, in the present is very hard to reach but not hard to understand. I found him fascinating. He has spent so much time isolated from the world, and having to face it in the form of this child, who in so many ways is kin, one that shakes his world completely. He just wants to live in peace but the war isn't done with him quite yet. Both of them and the secondary characters are very realistic and sometimes I had a hard time not to empathize with everyone, even with the antagonists. You can see all sides of the conflict and at least in my case, can't help but grieve for it.

The relationship between Kaylo and Tayen starts to evolve towards a found family. Kaylo feels like a father to her, even if she doesn't want to admit it, and his hideout from the world, like a home. But as she's set on revenge and wants to leave, he offers to train her and while doing that, he shares part of his life story. He, in sharing his story is trying to convey and teach her so many things but the one that matters most is "Tayen don't leave. We can live in this quiet place. There's no need for revenge. The only thing revenge can bring is more pain and death". 
Their master- disciple relationship is wonderful. How he trains her, and cares for her is so heartwarming. He really cares for her, and because of that he's forced to decisions that cost them both.

The writing was fantastic. Fast paced with pauses of relative calm in between action. Those pauses served to connect, understand, learn more about the characters, the magic system, the lore/religion/culture side of things, etc. all of which is so interesting and compelling that you just want to know more and more. I loved how action packed it was but especially the pace. I think the pace was just perfect for this type of story. 

The descriptions of the land, the dialogue, the interactions between characters. The atmosphere was amazing. I loved when a particular scene, you don't need much to feel you're there. You dread during so many apparently inconsequential scenes. 

The magic system and lore were awesome. Tayen's ability to manipulate shadows is very interesting but not as much as Kaylo's ability to use the Shadow himself, as he's more experienced. I found fascinating how Kaylo described the Song, and how he felt the plants and seeds in the soil and the life in them. I loved how the Seven Spirits were described, with their own peculiarities and providing abilities and at times, they seemed very human-like. 

The different cultures were really interesting and very rich and especially well developed during the whole story.

I really liked how the Empire, even though I thought of it many times as bunch of religious fanatics, truly believed they were doing the right thing through horrible actions. It's always a great to feel that the antagonist is not evil just because.

The characters beliefs were put to the test more than once because morality, religion and necessity didn't always coincide.

After they're found out, they find no save heaven. The Empire has destroyed their way of living, their families, their friends, their homes until there's no other option but running.

"No heart for a thief, no save heaven, only a grave will do."

I absolutely loved this book. And I really wish it was longer because I really wanted to continue this amazing story. I really appreciated the author taking the time to write a very thoughtful and detailed Author's Note.   

CONCLUSION:  No Heart for a Thief is a very strong debut from the author, an absolutely amazing action packed story with fascinating and very complex characters. This wonderful dual timeline story, is one of loss, sacrifice, survival and magic that just makes you question these Spirits and Gods, more with each passing chapter. The pace is absolutely terrific and it will just leave you wanting for more until and beyond the very end. Cannot wait for the next book in the trilogy.

Mini Reviews: The Blue Bar and Magic Tides (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order The Blue Bar HERE
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Blue Bar by Damyanti Biswas was high on my radar as it was a mystery-thriller set in my hometown of Mumbai. This debut book was one that I had heard about from last year and there was an extra layer of interest as the author had lived in Mumbai and knew her way around.

The story opens in dual timelines, on one hand we see Tara a bar dancer in 2002 as she grapples with her life and the strange requests, her bar owner places on her. In the second timeline, we meet Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput who’s doing his best to help folks in the moral and legal quagmire of Mumbai. He is also haunted by events of his past and yet he’s still searching. His past however comes crashing into his present when he discovers corpses in a project development area of Mumbai. Soon he and Tara learn that there’s a real-life Ravan running around in Mumbai and they might not see the danger until it’s absolutely too late.

This procedural debut by the author is one that has a brilliant sheen to it, Damyanti Biswas expertly displays the duality of Mumbai and the reality that is espouses. From the sights, smells as well as the traffic, she expertly presents a Mumbai as it is really is. As a person who was born and brought up in Mumbai, I was instantly taken back to my city. I could see/feel the grime, the sweat, the mugginess of Mumbai as the author spotlights the characters as they grapple with questions about life and Dharma.

This thriller is written in such a deft way, that the reader can never be too sure where the story is heading. This unpredictability is wonderful because as a frequent reader of procedural mysteries, I need something to hook myself. This book aces its characterization as we get to see Tara and Arnav amidst their chapters. The author also admirably gives us a terrific side character cast and in this regards, I loved how you could easily visualize this as a TV show.

Lastly the city of Mumbai is a character in itself and for a Mumbaikar, there’s nothing better. The author’s usage of terms, locations and mannerisms is just so wonderfully on-point that it was hard for me to not immerse fully into the story. 
If there’s a drawback, then it’s the story’s pace. It flows a bit staidly and throughout the story never becomes fast paced. So for some thriller readers, this might be a drawback. I wasn’t bothered with it too much wanted to point that out nonetheless.

Overall The Blue Bar is a fantastic thriller that differentiates itself from being a stereotypical one. Damyanti Biswas has crafted a story that is by turns haunting and by turns heart warming. In this way, this story is all about the duality of mankind, city life & the search for happiness. Check it out if you wish for something different than just a generic thriller.

Official Author Website

Order Magic Tides over HERE


OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Magic Tides is the start of The Wilmington Years of the Kate Daniels Saga. But for us Kate Daniels fans, this new beginning is just pure ecstasy as we are once again reunited with our beloved couple. They have settled in Wilmington, around the coast of Georgia. This book is also set a couple of years prior to the events of Blood Heir, which makes things even more intriguing.

The story begins with Kate and Curran who are building their new home (castle) when Conrad reveals something about an abduction and Kate being Kate is off to what she needs to do. This time around though her actions involve Conrad and Curran as they also get to face some music. There’s not much more I can without spoiling the plot but for readers who have read the previous books, you have a solid sense of what to expect. For new readers, welcome to the crazy world of Lennart-Daniels household, you are in for a fun ride.

This is technically a novel albeit a very short one (about 43,400+ words). The story is a bit different from what has come before. For one, we get POVs from not only Kate but Curran and Conrad as well. This was an interesting move on the author’s parts and again it pays off spectacularly. We get extra POVs and get to see so much more of the events than normally we would have. The action in this novel is again jam-packed and I was genuinely surprised as to how the authors fit in that massive climax. There are small snippets of the wider world that are very intriguing for the future stories to come.

Lastly every Kate Daniels has exposed a different mythological aspect and herein we get a brand new mythology to read about. I won’t reveal which one it is but here’s a small hint, it was focused upon in the second KD book in a minor way. The dialogue is snappy as you would expect and we get to meet some new secondary characters. All in all this was a story that I savored as an appetizer for the future main courses to come.

The authors have mentioned that they will be writing more Wilmington Years books before venturing back to Julie’s series as well as we will get some Hugh books as well. It is looking great for all Kate Daniels fans and as the new year starts, this is the best way to start for a bookworm like me.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

SPFBO 8 Finalist Review: Fire of the Forebears (Heritor's Helm #1) by L.A. Buck


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: A goat farmer, engineering graduate, first-degree black belt, and medical student, the one thing Lauren Buck always knew she wanted to be was an author. The first stories she ever wrote, as a grade schooler, were about super heroes. But, raised on a steady diet of Lewis, Tolkien, and Sanderson, it was only a matter of time before she set her sights on epic fantasy. L.A. Buck passed in 2022.

Publisher: Redhearth (February 22, 2022) Page Count: 534 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Ruination by Anthony Reynolds (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)


Official Author Website

Order Ruination here - U.S. | U.K.

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Anthony Reynolds was a Games Developer and manager at Games Workshop in the UK. Since then he's written freelance for a number of companies, including Black Library Publishing, Mantic Games, THQ, Bandai-Namco, Behaviour Interactive, and River Horse Games. He currently lives in California.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Great Hearts IV: Apotheosis by David Oliver

Official Author Website
Preorder The Great Hearts IV: Apotheosis over  HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Great Hearts
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Great Hearts II: A Game Of Gods
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Great Hearts III: Shadowstrike 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Draconis (Draconis Descendent saga #1)
Monday, January 23, 2023

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso - Review


Official Author Page
Buy The Obsidian Tower HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Melissa Caruso writes books of murder, magic, and mayhem. Her published fantasy novels include the Swords & Fire trilogy (THE TETHERED MAGE, THE DEFIANT HEIR, THE UNBOUND EMPIRE) and the Rooks & Ruin trilogy (THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, THE QUICKSILVER COURT, THE IVORY TOMB), all from Orbit Books. Her debut novel was shortlisted for the Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2017, and her books have received starred reviews and made countless Best Of lists. Melissa is a tea drinker, larper, and mom, and lives in Massachusetts with her video game designer husband, two superlative daughters, and assorted pets.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner (Reviewed by Shazzie)


Official Author Website

Order Godkiller here

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Hannah has her heart in Scotland and her roots in the north of England.
Hannah’s trade has always been story telling. From creating and unravelling mysteries in Northumberland with her mates, to annoying the hell out of her supervisors at the University of Cambridge by insisting on comparing Terry Pratchett to Charles Dickens, and studying narrative theory in video games.
They grudgingly (or joyfully?) gave her a 1st Class degree in English.
​She puts the desire to communicate and challenge into her work in the technology sector, specialising in creating digital tools for hard to reach communities.
Hannah loves the histories and mythologies shared through our cultural histories, the stories we tell ourselves about being human. She also likes stabby swords and angry women.
Thursday, January 19, 2023

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (Reviewed by Shazzie)


Buy the book here - U.S. | U.K.

Author website

TBRCON 2023 Full Schedule Announcement


The full schedule for TBRCON2023 was announced yesterday and it’s going to be a one amazing week. The entire convention will be streaming LIVE from Sunday Jan. 22 all the way through to the following Sunday Jan. 29 on the FanFiAddict YouTube channel.
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Essex Dogs by Dan Jones (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)


Buy Essex Dogs here

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Dan Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of Powers and Thrones, Crusaders, The Templars, The Plantagenets, Wars of the Roses, and Magna Carta. He wrote and presented the popular Netflix series Secrets of Great British Castles, and has an exclusive deal with Sony Pictures Television to produce and develop historical TV series, including adaptations of his books.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Book review: Edge of Black Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in eighteen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies.
Monday, January 16, 2023

Book review: Briardark by S.A. Harian

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads
Thursday, January 12, 2023

Book review: Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

2022 Review / 2023 Preview - Seanan McGuire


So here is a fun fact (fun for me, anyway; I’m not sure it’s fun for anyone else, including past versions of me, most of whom would really like this iteration of me to take a nap): when you combine deadlines, working from home, and a global pandemic that shuts down the majority of my normal social channels, time loses all meaning. As a consequence, I no longer remember what came out when or, more importantly, what I read when. It’s a mystery! But these are recent reads that rang my chimes, if nothing else.
Wednesday, January 11, 2023

GUEST POST: White-Haired Warriors By Karen Heuler


What do old women want? We know young men have quests and rites of passage and sidekicks and all. They have ballads and movies and sequels and prequels even as they slowly age. But women?

The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai (Reviewed by Shazzie)


Official Author Website
Read Lukasz's review of the book here
Order The Daughters of Izdihar here - U.S | U.K

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

SPFBO Finalist review: Scales & Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis


AUTHOR INFO: Stephanie Burgis grew up in America but now lives in Wales with her husband (fellow writer Patrick Samphire), their two young sons, and their extremely vocal tabby cat. In between those two points, she spent time playing in orchestras, studying music history in Vienna, and editing the website of an opera company in Leeds. 

SPFBO Finalist Interview: Stephanie Burgis

Photo credit S. Samphire

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads
Monday, January 9, 2023

Mihir's Top Reads Of 2022


2022 was a horrid year for me personally but reading wise, it was possibly one of the best ones in the last 5-7 years. I would this was the year of Debuts as there were so many spectacular ones that it was hard for me to narrow my top 10 list. 

 So here we go with my top 10 reads for 2022 and followed by the debuts below:

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen - Review

Official Author Website

Buy Little Thieves HERE

Friday, January 6, 2023

The Sapphire Altar by David Dalglish - Review

Official Author Website
Buy The Sapphire Altar HERE

Fantasy Book Critic Video Interview with Richard Nell & Dyrk Ashton (by Beth Tabler & Mihir Wanchoo)


Today we have a special interview to share. Firstly we have the awesome Beth Tabler joining me for this interview. Beth is the amazing editor and owner of Before We Go blog as well as the chief editor of the equally amazing Grimdark Magazine

 Beth and I get to chat with Dyrk Ashton & Richard Nell about their unique debut trilogies. They also talk about the anxiety of writing their sequel series, the difficulties that self-publishing puts on writers in general as well as dealing with reader expectations. Plus a lot more fun. So please give it a watch and I hope you enjoy this discussion.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

2022 Review/2023 Preview — H. M. Long


2022 Review/2023 Preview — H. M. Long

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2022 Review / 2023 Preview - Łukasz (FBC Crew)

I love Top Ten lists! Not that there's anything wrong with Top Five or Top Twenty lists. It's just that I can highlight many books with ten places without feeling that I omit anything noteworthy.
Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 Review/2023 Preview — Kritika H. Rao

Best of 2022


Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE