These Burning Stars

Thom Tenery

Cover artist

When the master said, “Six,” something changed in the room.

.…The children, despite their obvious fatigue, snapped to attention like rabbits scenting a predator. They didn’t rush at Six as they had rushed at one another.

….And Six? The one who commanded this sudden tension, this careful advance? It stood a moment, taking them all in at once, stare like a razor’s edge. And then, it flew.

 

The thief Jun Ironway has gotten wind of the score of a lifetime. Esek Nightfoot and Chono (two clerics of the Kindom) are charged with the misson of assuring that Jun Ironway does not get her hands on the coin that can change the Kindom completely…. and then there is Six.

These are the characters around which everything turns, in this incredible Space Opera debut novel by Bethany Jacobs.

Politics, brutality, secrets, fast action and love are the ingredients thrown into the pot. And then everything speeds up, gets more complicated leaving you spellbound with this fantastic First Novel of a Space Opera.

If you like Space Opera it doesn’t get any better. It never lets up, it never lets you down and the twists in the ending ……WOW!

That this is the author’s first novel and not her tenth is unbelievable. It is the first book in The Kindom Trilogy – and the second “On Vicious Worlds” will be published 15 October 2024, so luckily we all don’t have to wait long.

In the acknowledgments the author thanks her parents for this: A seven-year old asked you if she could be a writer someday, and you said yes. “You may not have realized that I was serious, but you changed my life with that answer.”

And after having read this book, your life will also have been changed.

So far this is the best First Novel of 2023 I’ve read – it’ll blow you away!

That Self-Same Metal – Brittany N. Williams

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Fernanda Suarez

Cover artist

Joan rolled her eyes at him and squared herself up with Nick. “Come on, then.”

“Ah, please be gentle with me, Joan.” Nick stood tall, bringing his sword up in a salute.

Her heart raced as her gaze instantly caught on the thick fan of lashes surrounding his deep-brown eyes.

She needed to focus.

Joan and James are sixteen year old twins. They live in 1605 in London – a London filled with Fae. They are working for the King’s Men – William Shakespeare’s acting company. Joan is maintaining the stage blades using her magical ability to control metal and James is an apprentice actor in the company.

The twins can see the Fae, which the normal people without magical abilities can not. But as the new King fails to uphold the pact between the Fae and the humans violence erupts. Suddenly there is danger everywhere, and the twins are hard pressed to save the lives of family and friends.

This First Novel is wonderfully alive and fully succeeds in bringing the atmosphere of 1605 London to its pages. The characters (including William Shakespeare) are alive and the language is beautiful.

Lucky for us this is the first book in “The Forge & Fracture Saga” and the second will be published on April 23, 2024 – so you don’t have to wait long to learn more about this historical setting and wonderful characters.

The second book in Brittany N. Williams’s stunning YA historical fantasy trilogy:

Book 2

If the second book is just half as good as the first you’ll still be in for a treat.

Light From Uncommon Stars – Ryka Aoki

Katrina had always loved music, especially the violin. Long Ago, she had even taken lessons.

But she was queer, and living in a small town east of Oakland.

The afternoon that he found her makeup, Katrina’s father had punched her so hard that the entire side of her face turned black and blue. As word got around, her family, her church, the people at school hurled insults, shame.

You should act like a boy.

You should repent.

You should apologize.

You should die.

Despite this ominous quote this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read.

It is both science fiction and fantasy. It’s what music can do to people and for people. It is about meeting new persons – people, aliens, transgender people and people of color – and thinking of everyone as persons. It is about the power of music to change misconceptions, hatred, jealousy, envy and negative feelings in general to acceptance and thus making the world a better place to live. And all this is written in the most beautiful and insightful language. IT SINGS!!

Shizuka Satomi is a famous violinist turned teacher. She has sold her soul to the devil. Getting it back she must deliver the souls of seven violin prodigies to the devil. She has delivered six, when she finds Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway and hear her wild talent. Will she be number seven?

Then Shizuka meets an alien retired starship captain, who runs a donut shop, but has a secret agenda. Shizuka also has to contend with a demon, who wants the seventh soul now and keeps pressing her. And lots more.

All this is written in a spellbinding way, that will make you nearly unable to put the book down.

When I got nearer to the ending I started reading slower – I did not want the book to end.

Alas, it did end – but beautifully. Just like the whole book. I had a lump in my throat, a happy feeling of hope for everything and everyone, and I felt very lucky to have read this wonderful book.

To give you an idea, what a lot of writers thought about this book, press the button below to read some of the blurbs that you’ll find on the cover.


I am not the only one, who loved this book. Here are some blurbs from the cover:

“I wanted to give every one of her characters hugs…..Fantastic, beautiful, and deeply, profoundly moving.”
Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings

“A story that sparkles with magic and music and joy; this book just sings.”
Everina Maxwell, author of Winter’s Orbit

“Delightful and heartbreaking. An unexpected mash-up of science fiction and fantasy that will make you love music, crave donuts, and wish to read it all again.”
John Scalzi, New York Times bestseling author.

“A transformative marvel. I. Loved. This. Book.”
T. J. Klune, New York Times bestselling author of The House in the Cerulean Sea

“Wilder, more beautiful, and sweeter than I could have ever imagined.”
Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

See Blurbs

The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow

This one smelled unlike any book I’d ever held. Cinnamon and coal smoke, catacombs and loam. Damp seaside evenings and sweat-slick noontimes beneath palm fronds. It smelled as if it had been in the mail for longer than any one parcel could be, circling the world for years and accumulating layers of smells like a tramp wearing too many clothes.

It smelled like adventure itself had been harvested in the wild, distilled to a fine wine, and splashed across each page.

But I’m stumbling ahead of myself. Stories are supposed to be told in order, with beginnings and middles and ends. I’m no scholar, but I know that much.

WOW! This book will leave you with your mouth hanging open, your eyes drinking in the beauty and your heart making you realize that you still have one.

From the beginning – where we meet seven year old January Scaller – until the very end you will be in another world – several other worlds actually.

January is the ward of the wealthy collector Mr. Locke. Her father is collecting art and artifacts all over the world for Mr. Locke, so January is mostly alone. Then she discovers a door – not just a normal door, but a Door. You’ve heard that before? Trust me – not like this.

Her story is about stories. Why they are important and essential to progress. Without stories the world will stagnate and wither.

This book will suck you in and never let go. The language, the stories, the unfolding of the plot, the strangeness and the love will stay with you a long time after you’ve finished the book. And when you put it down, you will have dreaming eyes and a silly smile on you face.

ALIX E. HARROW has written short fiction that has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards and won the HUGO award 2019 for best short story with A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies. THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY is her first novel.

The blurb on the front of the book by author Amal El-Mohtar says it all in just two words – “Unbearably beautiful”.

A Chorus of Dragons – Jenn Lyons

Lars Grant-West

Cover artist

When they brought me up to the auction block, I looked out over the crowd and thought:

I would kill you all if I had a knife. And if I wasn’t naked, I amended.
And shackled. I had never felt so helpless, and-

That’s the opening lines of THE RUIN OF KINGS – the first book in the epic fantasy series A CHORUS OF DRAGONS by JENN LYONS.

Judging by book one and two this series will be a landmark in epic fantasy. JENN LYONS is creating a fantastic world filled with fascinating characters.

The series will be published in five books – one new book every nine months!

THE MEMORY OF SOULS (book 3) will be out August 25, 2020. Here’s a preview of the cover:

Lars Grant-West

Cover artist

JENN LYONS is curently writing book 4 – THE HOUSE OF ALWAYS

You will find my reviews of the published books here:

  1. The Ruin of Kings
  2. The Name of All Things

The Name of all Things – Jenn Lyons

Lars Grant-West


Cover artist

This is the second book in the series A CHORUS OF DRAGONS.

You should absolutely read the first book, THE RUIN OF KINGS, before you read this one.

If you read this review without having read the preceding book, there will be spoilers – so don’t read the review until you have read the preceding book.

To help you avoid spoilers, you will only see the review, if you press the button below.


Kihrin lowered his pack to the hay-strewn ground. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but there’s been a mistake. No one here’s expecting me.”

The old woman looked surprised. “You ain’t named Kihrin, then?”

The young man, who definitely was named Kihrin, managed not to pull out any weapons. Barely. “Who gave you that name?”

“Your woman said you’d be along”

This is the beginning of THE NAME OF ALL THINGS.

Though Kihrin still plays a large role in this book, the role of Janel Theranon is just as large and important. Kihrin is not really sure, what her role is – but he has met her before and is quite smitten.

Janet believes that Relos Var possesses one of the most powerful artifacts in the world – the Cornerstone called the Name of All Tings.

Soon the plot thickens – a lot of threads spread out, some visible others hidden. In the fashion of epic fantasy everything gets more complicated.

…..and then of course we have dragons to mess up things.

But JENN LYONS keeps it all together and this book makes her whole universe bigger and still more fascinating without losing clarity, while still adding more characters and problems to solve. I love this series.

SPOILERS!

Down among the Dead – K. B. Wagers

Stephan Martiniere

Cover artist

DOWN AMONG THE DEAD is the second book in the THE FARIAN WAR.

The series started in THE INDRANAN WAR (three books) and right after the end of book three continued in THERE BEFORE THE CHAOS – the first book in THE FARIAN WAR.

You should absolutely start with BEHIND THE THRONE – the first book in THE INDRANAN WAR.

This review is for DOWN AMONG THE DEAD.

If you read this review without having read the preceding books, there will be spoilers – so don’t read the review until you have read the preceding books.

To help you avoid spoilers, you will only see the review, if you press the button below.

——————————–

A liar. A thief and smuggler. A killer through and through.

I’d thought that was all I was, but I was dragged home by those who’d convinced themselves I was an empress worthy of the throne, and somewhere along the way I started to believe it myself.

I am a killer. I am also an empress.

I am the Star of Indrana and there is no one who can stand in my way.

Hail Bristol and the remainder of her crew has been captured by Aiz Cevalla and Mia of the Shen. Hail is devastated by the loss of most of her crew and friends when the embassy exploded.

She is having nightmares and has lost most of her will to continue living after the devastating loss. She cannot contact the outside world and has no idea if anyone knows she is still alive.

Of course things are not completely what they seem, but Hail spends six months as a prisoner before things change.

Who are their real enemies – The Shen or the Farians, the gods of the Farians or maybe not any of these, but someone else? The plot thickens and we shall have to wait till book three until we get any answers.

K. B. Wagers is still doing a fantastic job with these books. This is some of the best Space Opera around, and I finished this book in record time.

SPOILERS!

Finder – Suzanne Palmer

Kekai Kotaki

Cover artist

“A repo man!” she interrupted.

“More a professional finder,” he said. “But essentially, yes.”

She appeared at the edge of his light, grinning, holding out a bright gloved hand. “I’m Mattie Vahn. Mother Vahn to most folk.”

“Fergus Ferguson,” he said, shaking it. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Mr. Ferguson,” she said, and he liked the old-fashioned tone she said it with. “I suggest you finish sealing up. I’m going to short the airlock.”

“You’re what?”

“I’m getting out of this trap,” she said. “You coming?”

Fergus Ferguson calls himself a finder, but he has been called a lot of names: Thief, con artist, repo man.

He’s coming to the deep space colony, Cernee, to find the spaceship Venetia’s Sword and repossess it from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power hungry criminal.

What he thought was a relatively easy job quickly turns hard and nasty. He has barely arrived, when he finds himself very lucky to survive a coldblooded murder of a fellow passenger in a cable car to Central Station in the middle of Cernee.

Soon, he is in the middle of a war for power between criminal factions and the local authorities. He gets some help from the Vahn family – a family of cloned women. The situation escalates, aliens become involved – and we are off to the races.

FINDER is Suzanne Palmer’s first novel. She won the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novelette “The Secret Life of Bots”, and has won several other awards.

Besides being a very interesting Space Opera, Suzanne Palmer’s world-building is superb, her writing smooth, flowing and easy to read – and her characters really makes you want to know more about them. And this book is also a lot of fun – not to be missed.

Even though the book stands alone just fine, lucky for us it is the first in a series. The next one is due in May 2020, so we don’t have long to wait. I loved everything about this book and the next one is already at the top of my reading list.

Velocity Weapon – Megan E. O’Keefe

Sparth

Cover artist

The door swished shut beside her, revealing a logo she knew all too well: a single planet, fiery wings encircling it.

Icarion

She was on an enemy ship. With one leg.

Naked.

Sergeant Sanda Greeve was fighting in the Battle of Dralee. An Icarion railgun had smashed a coil through her ship, cutting the lower part of her right leg off. Her evac pod had immediately sealed the wound. The next thing she remembers is waking up from coldsleep. She is in her evac pod in the med bay of an enemy ship. Her calls for help are finally answered by the ship AI. The AI (Bero) gently tells her that the Battle of Dralee happened two hundred and thirty years ago – and that there is just one living soul aboard the ship. That soul is Sanda.

That is the beginning of a tremendous space opera. Action, deceit and lots of surprises! I am really looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Weight of the Stars – K. Ancrum

“Hey. Ryann Bird needs a pencil.”

The girl didn’t even turn around. She just sat ramrod straight in her chair and said very quietly. “Ryann can bring her own pencils to school. Just like everyone else.”

It was deafeningly quiet. Mrs. Marsh cleared her throat meaningfully.

Ryann Bird has lost her mother and father in an accident. She now lives in a trailer park with her younger brother James and the baby Charlie. It is tough to hold everything together, but she tries. Then a new girl arrives at school and things change.

This YA book is about sudden hardship in life and how you go on living without losing your humanity and your hopes. Ryann’s mother was a mathematician working for NASA, and Ryann dreams of space. However, she is not good at mathematics and doesn’t see, how she can get the money to go to college. Then she makes friends with the new girl and her life takes on a new aspect.

The late film critic, Roger Ebert once said “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.” That also goes for books. 

Going to space is an important part of this book, so of course it is a science fiction book – and it shows a possible future in space that is not at all glamorous. This is an important take on what exploring space without faster than light travel could mean.

What this book is about, however, is friendship between teenagers of different social classes, ethnicity and sexuality. How it is about it, is a work of wonder and beauty. There are no tired cliches here. No cardboard standard teen punks, but beautifully drawn characters. No easy solutions.

These young teens love each other, and K. Ancrum lets us know that – without getting maudlin or resort to standard romance tropes. This book is a wonder and the author has you cheering, laughing and crying for these fantastic people. 

The Weight of the Stars makes you believe that there is still hope for the earth and the people on it, if these teens are a measure of the future. This book should be a favourite in the award-season to come.

It is really beautiful. Read it.

I was lucky to find this book at all. I read a blurb by Seanan McGuire:

“The Weight of the Stars is one of the most gentle, gracious, and, overall, kind books that I’ve read all year … It’s a YA romance about girls and stars and friendship and mercy and loss and regret and what we owe each other and what we give away to lift each other up.”

As I love nearly everything Seanan McGuire has written I had to read this book. In the September 2019 issue of Locus the book got a great review by Colleen Mondor, where she had another Seanan McGuire blurb for the book:

“This book is starlight on broken concrete, it’s flowers on a broken rooftop, and it’s a masterpiece”

Trust Seanan McGuire (and Colleen Mondor) – read this book.

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