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Saturday, April 29, 2023

SPFBO 8 Has a Winner - Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater


Official Author Website

Order Small Miracles over HERE
Friday, April 28, 2023

The Book That Wouldn't Burn by Mark Lawrence (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 Book Review: The Book That Wouldn't Burn by Mark Lawrence




Buy The Book That Wouldn't Burn here - U.S | U.K | International

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say 'this isn't rocket science … oh wait, it actually is'.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.
Thursday, April 27, 2023

Graphic novel series: Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman

Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman review



Book links: Publisher

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Allison (born 1976) is a comic writer and artist. He has been producing comics since 1998 and his work has won multiple Eisner Awards.

Publisher: Boom Studios No. of issues: 54 (+3 webcomics and 2 specials) collected in 14 volumes

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Blood of Crows by Alex C. Pierce (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

 Book Review: The Blood of Crows by Alex C. Pierce 



OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Alex C. Pierce is the father of 2 wonderful children (+ 1 dog and 4 cats), Husband to another wonderful person, Writer, and Salary Man among millions.

Growing up, Alex wanted to be either a Writer or a World Renowned Thief. Deciding between a career of morally grey choices, complex planning, difficult execution, lies, and misdirection, or potentially going to jail? Alex naturally gravitated toward writing.

His debut book The Blood of Crows, a Fantasy Thriller with heists, murder, and magic eating monsters, came out May 26th, 2022, and he'd really love it if you bought a copy. He has numerous other stories (including sequels) in varying stages of being outlined, spanning genres from Science Fiction, to Urban Fantasy, to Fantasy Thriller.

He lives in Canada and is a life-long reader and writer, and lover of all things magical.


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Cover Reveal & Q&A: Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler

 



Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When Andy was ten, he wrote his first book. Attack of the Dinosaurs was seventeen pages long, variously single - and double spaced, with rough cut cardboard backing and a masking tape and white yarn binding.
Monday, April 24, 2023

Review: In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

 


Official Author Website
Order In the Lives of Puppets HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: TJ KLUNE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The House in the Cerulean Sea, The Extraordinaries, and more. Being queer himself, Klune believes it's important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive queer representation in stories.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Interview with Maiya Ibrahim, author of Spice Road




 


Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of  Spice Road here
Thursday, April 20, 2023

Book review: Bringing Home The Rain by Bob McGough



Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Born and raised in southern Alabama, Robert (Bob) has been writing as long as he can remember, though only began to take it seriously in the fall of 2012. That year he completed his first NaNoWriMo writing a collection of short stories. This gave him the impetus to actually attempt to pursue a career as a writer. Since then he has written a number of short pieces in a variety of genres: horror, southern gothic, steampunk, and fantasy.

A graduate of Troy University, holding a Bachelors in Anthropology and a Masters in Post Secondary Education (Music Industry), he currently pays the bills by working at a warehouse, and occasional small writing gigs for bands and businesses. 

He is a firm believer that puns are the highest form of humor.

Publisher: Broken Oak Publishing (August 22, 2021)  Page count: 290

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

COVER REVEAL: The Corin Hayes Omnibus by G. R. Matthews & narrated by John Schindele

 


Looking for a thrilling science-fiction adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat? Look no further than the Corin Hayes Omnibus by G R Matthews!

Infinity Gate by M. R. Carey (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 infinity-gate-mr-carey


Buy Infinity Gate here - U.S. | U.K.

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: M. R. Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts has sold over a million copies and became a major motion picture, based on his own BAFTA Award-nominated screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on Lucifer, Hellblazer and X-Men. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times bestseller list. He also has several previous novels including the Felix Castor series (written as Mike Carey), two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: INFINITY IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

The Pandominion: a political and trading alliance of a million worlds – except that they’re really just the one world, Earth, in many different realities. And when an AI threat arises that could destroy everything the Pandominion has built, they’ll eradicate it by whatever means necessary, no matter the cost to human life.

Scientist Hadiz Tambuwal is looking for a solution to her own Earth’s environmental collapse when she stumbles across the secret of inter-dimensional travel. It could save everyone on her dying planet, but now she’s walked into the middle of a war on a scale she never dreamed of.

And she needs to choose a side before it kills her.

FORMAT/INFO:  Infinity Gate is the first book in the Pandominium duology. It was published by Orbit Books in the U.S on March 28th, 2023 and in the U.K. on March 30th, 2023 in hardback, ebook and audio formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: If a book has anything to do with the multiverse, I'll want to read it. If it is M. R. Carey writing a book, I will read it. This book ticked so many boxes, and taught me to add a few new ones as well.

Where do I begin? I have a very hard time collecting my thoughts about this one, and I mean this as a compliment. First let me get it out of the way that I did have a hard time settling into this book, and it only worked for me on the second try. But this is also how I've found some of my best reads, and this was no exception. It's a bit of work since there's a lot of ground to cover before everything clicks into place, and I did find that I needed to take a few breaks to let everything I read sink in, and then it truly became enjoyable.

The author presents a world (or existence?) in which there are infinitely many earths that are part of an alliance called the Pandominion, which governs trade and resource flows between them. I applaud the author for the way he simply explains the mathematical concept of infinity. This is done in a particular conversation between two characters in the book, scientist to layman, in a way that impresses upon the latter the vastness of the this alliance. Throughout the book, he very beautifully constructs his multiverse to represent other associated ideas without throwing mathematical jargon at the reader. He tackles the concept of countability with the Pandominion being able to assign identifiers to each of these known worlds. Continuity is also very impressively represented by showcasing how each of them can have very minute differences. The idea is that travel to all of them is possible by changing the size of the step you'd take, and the smaller it is, the less you'll have to acclimate to the Earth you stepped into, and there are just as many of them as there are continuous numbers on a scale between 0 and 1: infinite. Forgive me if I got a bit too math-ey on this one, this book uses many concepts in a way that I never thought I'd see happen. 

The story starts in Nigeria on Earth, where scientist Hadiz Tambuwal is stuck in a research facility. All she wants is to survive in a planet effectively destroyed by multiple factors like war and climate change, and resource contention is so high that there seems to be no hope for the planet, or humanity as a species. She starts experimenting and invents step-travel, or teleportation, and invests in establishing that to solve everybody's resource issues. Small problem, the Pandominion is already aware of what she discovered, and does not like it. 

While this story starts with Hadiz, it quickly escalates into one that involves a large set of characters from different Earths. Some of them are similar, others very different, and they all have such different life experiences. They're of different ages, and are all not even human. The book is told in chunks of consecutive chapters that follow each of them, by an omniscient and mysterious entity, and this works well because the narration is distanced enough that it can be concise, and yet paint a good picture of the lives they led, and everything they go through. Sure, parts of it are heavy on other kinds of science, and I'm not sure how much of it will stand up to scrutiny. I didn't even understand all of it, it was a bit dense in places and might not be for everybody, but I enjoyed how the author dug his heels in, and still managed to cover so much ground in just over four hundred pages. It definitely felt longer, and at times, I did question if this book is really only part of a duology. 

It's a complicated setting, has complicated characters, and comes with complicated conflicts - intrapersonal, interpersonal, known, previously unknown. No matter what the Pandominium thinks they know, do they really know everything? There are so many conflicts on different levels in this book. Each of the characters have deeply personal reasons to want certain things, but it is clear that they don't know who the real enemy is, or what's actually coming for the alliance. I knew they had to interact with each other at some point, I could just never imagine how. Since a lot of the worlds and cultures involved in the story are very technically advanced, there are constant discussion around the subjects of conscience, sentience, and ethics.

The beginning of the book might seem a bit exposition-heavy, but trust me when I say that sticking with it helps. Given the huge cast of characters, I believe the author did his best to condense as much information as possible to make the story seem extra real, and honestly, I'm not sure anyone can do this better. I read the book over a long time myself, and the payoff was worth it. It is clear that a lot of research has gone into writing this, and I respect not just M. R. Carey, but the full team that worked on it, given the sheer audacity of this setting. And given the way the book ended, I am impatient to get my hands on the sequel. 

CONCLUSION: For the math-loving reader, this book is an extravaganza.
Don't care about it as much? There's enough here, and a lot more, to impress you and make you hope that pre-orders for the sequel are already available. I am personally glad I took my time to marinate in it, and it has cemented M. R. Carey as one of the most versatile authors I've read.
What he has done in just this book is as immeasurable and overwhelming as the concept of infinity.


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Graphic Novel Review: Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Uzumaki by Junji Ito Review



Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Gifu Prefecture in 1963, he was inspired from a young age by his older sister's drawing and Kazuo Umezu's comics and thus took an interest in drawing horror comics himself. Nevertheless, upon graduation he trained as a dental technician, and until the early 1990s he juggled his dental career with his increasingly successful hobby — even after being selected as the winner of the prestigious Umezu prize for horror manga.

Publisher: VIZ Media (October 15, 2013) Page count: 653

Monday, April 17, 2023

Review: The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart

 

Official Author Website 
Buy The Bone Shard War
Friday, April 14, 2023

Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 

juniper-and-thorn-ava-reid


Buy Juniper and Thorn here

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Ava Reid is the author of critically acclaimed and bestselling adult fantasies Juniper & Thorn and The Wolf and the Woodsman, as well as the forthcoming A Study in Drowning, her young adult debut. After obtaining her degree in political science from Barnard College, she moved to Palo Alto, where she continues to haunt university libraries.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Book review: Come Closer by Sara Gran

 


Book Links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Sara Gran is the author of The Book of The Most Precious Substance. Previous work includes Saturn's Return to New York, Come Closer, Dope, Marigold, and the Claire DeWitt series. She is the founder of small press Dreamland Books and writes for television and film. 

Publisher: Soho Press (May 31, 2011) Page count: 176 Formats: ebook, paperback

EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL Q&A: The Ember Child by Anthony Mitchell (by Mihir Wanchoo)


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Review: Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee

 


Buy Untethered Sky HERE
Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Book review: The Roach by Rhett C. Bruno

The Roach by Rhett C. Bruno review



Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhett C Bruno is the USA Today and Washington Post Bestselling & Nebula Award Nominated Author of 'The Circuit Saga', 'Children of Titan Series', 'Buried Goddess Saga', 'Vicarious', 'The Roach', and 'The Luna Missile Crisis' (Audible Originals)

Publisher: Aethon Books (December 8, 2020) Page count: 306 Formats: ebook, paperback, audiobook

Monday, April 10, 2023

Zoo by A.C. Cross (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

 



Buy Zoo here
Friday, April 7, 2023

Book review: Eliza and The Alchemist by Carlos Lacámara

Eliza and The Alchemist by Carlos Lacámara review



Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carlos Lacámara is a Cuban-born actor and playwright. His plays, Becoming Cuban, Havana Bourgeois, Exiles, Cuba Libre, and Nowhere on the Border, have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Portland. Eliza and the Alchemist is his first novel, and he may or may not be doing research for a sequel.

Carlos lives in Santa Monica, California, with his loving wife, Carol Barbee, and their even more loving dog, Gracie


Thursday, April 6, 2023

SPFBO 8 Finalist Review: Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater

 


Read FBC's interview with Olivia
Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn't what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repair person.

SPFBO Finalist Interview: Olivia Atwater

 

Read FBC's interview with Olivia
Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn't what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repair person.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Cold from the North by D. W. Ross (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

 

the-cold-from-the-north-d-w-ross

Buy Cold from the North here

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO:  D.W. Ross is a Scottish writer of fantasy fiction. A lover of fiction from an early age he spent his time buried in the pages of books given to him by his grandfather. From then his imagination decided to run rampant and for as long as he can remember he crafted stories.

For years he spent time pushing the stories away with no confidence to take the plunge and give in to his creativity. Finally, in 2019 he took a grasp of one of the stories and began to write The Onyxborn Chronicles. Cold From The North was published in 2020 with the follow up The Darkest Dusk released in 2021. The Fury Of Fate, the final installment of The Onyxborn Chronicles, was released on October 26th.

He is currently working on his second project, a four book series tentatively titled The Rebirth of Caledon. A prequel novella launching the tale, characters and motives is due out in January 2023 with the first full novel of the series expected in Q4 2023.

He lives in the West of Scotland with his wife and daughter, spends too much time listening to Two Steps From Hell, longing for the one day of Scottish summer and drinking copious sugar free irn bru.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB:  Driven by the promise of an ancient prophecy which will bring the dark ways of an old god back to power and prominence, an army of invaders swarms Ogulf Harlsbane’s homeland slaughtering all those who oppose them. Along with his people, Ogulf must seek refuge from this savage force.

In his search of sanctuary, he is tasked with finding the one person who can put a stop to the onslaught. Doing so will send him across lands and seas, have him and his closest friend navigate the intricacies of a civil war, and try to win the help of the princess fighting for her throne. If he fails, darkness will prevail and the reign of the Onyxborn will begin.

FORMAT/INFO: Cold From the North  was published by the author in November 13, 2020. It is available in hardback, paperback, and kindle formats and contains 471 pages. It is the first book int he Onyxborn Chronicle series.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: An enjoyable norse tinged throwback to classic fantasy. At times it fell into a few debut author pitfalls, and pacing could've been more consistent, but a good time was always had. The rowsing end showed off DW's clear authorial promise and by trilogies end i am sure he will be a firm fantasy favourite.

As a debut novel, I thought this one was rather spot on! When one considers the fact that Ross started writing in 2019, publishing in 2020, it makes this an all the more impressive start!

This book follows the exploits of Ogulf, his best friend Melcun, and their wizened mentor Maclan. Forced to leave their homeland in the frigid north by an enemy invasion, Ogulf and gang have to fight against the odds to make a dangerous crossing in the vain hope of gaining help from other empires across the way.

I absolutely loved the first 25% or so of this novel, it gave us a wonderful introduction to the homeland of Ogulf, the ways of their people and prophecies, before kicking into hyperdrive with their dash to escape and save their people. It felt rather like an episodic D+D adventure, but in a really good way! Just enough worldbuilding and interconnection between the different plots, and yet it felt it could have easily been the events taking place episode by episode in a live play RPG podcast.

The relationship between our three central characters in Ogulf, Melcun, and Maclan was also a strong highlight. The brotherhood between Ogulf and Melcun felt tight and made up for the somewhat lack of solo character development. Maclan was a character I absolutely loved, I was easily invested in him from the start, and he really was the heart of this story in a lot of ways.

Unfortunately, once the first major set piece is out of the way, the pace does fall to a middling speed. Whilst it did allow for a fleshing out of the magic and history of the world, it did feel rather structured instead of a natural flow of the story.

I would say that this one of the few debut pitfalls that this book did fall into, along with a copious use of similar dialogue tags. I also must admit that writing this review a few months following my listen there is a struggle to recall some of the details, especially regarding where the book left us off, although I do recall being very excited by it at the time! Unfortunately, it just hasn’t left a particularly long-lasting impression on me in a way some others have.

However, what does stick with me is how fun the book felt.

It has a classic feel, but Ross inflects it with enough of his flavour to pull it into his own. Especially being a debut novel written in such a swift time period, it really does commit well to the fantasy tropes, and would certainly leave most avid fantasy readers with a smile on their face and eager to read the sequel.

CONCLUSION: I recommend it as a fun palate cleansing read, with a lot of promise for the future! Having heard great things about how the sequel completely ups the writing game, I look forward to fitting the sequel into my audio TBR accordingly.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Book review: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke review

 


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Hailed by BOOKLIST as “one of the most clever and original talents in contemporary horror,” Kealan Patrick Burke was born and raised in Ireland and emigrated to the United States a few weeks before 9/11. Since then, he has written five novels, among them the popular southern gothic slasher KIN, and over two hundred short stories and novellas, including PEEKERS, SOUR CANDY and THE HOUSE ON ABIGAIL LANE, all of which have been optioned for film.

Publisher: Kealan Patrick Burke (November 13, 2015Page count:84 Formats: ebook, paperback Cover Design: Elderlemon Design

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