A shorter round-up this month, to reflect the smaller number of books reviewed. That said, this partly due to the fact that less time has passed since the last round-up. Since then, however, we have had both Ditmars and Aurealis Awards announced, as well as the Norma K Hemming award. There are worse lists to choose books from.


Fantasy-ish, Mostly

obernewtynMark Webb read the Australian post-apocalyptic classic Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody, these days classified as YA (although how they get away with marketing the last few door-stoppers in the series as YA, I am not sure). He enjoyed it but would have liked more character development for the secondary characters. He noted:

 The setting was fantastic – far future post apocalypse world, but one where a great deal of order has been restored (no roving bands of blood thirsty mutants to be found). “The Great White” is described in almost mythical terms, leaving the reader to wonder how the world got from here to there.

In keeping with the futuristic Australian theme — albeit the much nearer future — I reviewed Mythmaker by Marianne de Pierres, the sequel to Peacemaker, which made a bit of a splash in 2014. It had more fantastical elements than it’s predecessor, with the plot shifting to the mystical elements that appeared towards the end of the first book, and it was a lot more violent than I remember the first book being. Some things to keep in mind.

thief-of-livesStephanie Gunn reviewed Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex as part of her mission to read all of the Twelve Planet collections put out by Twelfth Planet Press. She wrote:

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this collection to anyone – perhaps even as a gateway to speculative fiction to a reader who is steeped mostly in non-speculative literature.  It is a brilliant example of Sussex’s talent, and the collection as a whole continues the extremely high quality of the Twelve Planets series.


Paranormal / Urban Fantasy

almost dead delaneyAmy Brownlee reviewed Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney, a book she couldn’t put down and read in one go. She had this to say about it:

There is a perfect balance between the paranormal, the mystery, and the every day, and Kaz’s writing is so inviting that you want to keep turning the page. Her words draw you in and even closing the book for sleep is unthinkable because you don’t want to leave the story. Your curiosity overrules sleep, and who could sleep anyway when such an enthralling tale is being told!

The most reviewed book this month, with three reviews from Jess @ The Never Ending BookshelfDark Matter Zine, and Amy Brownlee was Yellow by Megan Jacobson. (It was yellow_jacobsonalso the only book this month with more than one review posted.) Jess had this to say about it:

There is really so much to love about this book. The narrative is not only intriguing, but its full of mystery and suspense and the smallest touch of paranormal that somehow works despite the relatively contemporary grounding of reality present in the narrative itself. The paranormal aspect just works even though it sounds like it shouldn’t, in that vain I think it’s similar, but perhaps a more mature version and target of the paranormal elements found in Kaz Delaney’s Dead Actually and Almost Dead books.

Alex Daw reviewed Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, which she enjoyed, despite not normally being a fantasy reader. The regency setting helped, apparently, and Alex thinks this book would make a good TV or movie adaptation. We can only hope.


Big Fat Fantasy (BFF)

lyre-thiefCarolyn reviewed The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon, her first foray into Fallon’s writing. Despite not having read any of the other books set in the same world, she loved it and gushes thusly in her review:

This book has all the best elements that make up great classic fantasy. Wonderful, clever, easy to read prose, interesting, complex characters and great stories, full of love and adventure with twists and turns that keep the plot moving off in different directions and then weaving back together again. The story is told from different points of view so that we get to hear the characters voices and get to know them well. Most of the great characters are women – Rakaia, Charisee, Adrina (Rakaia’s sister), Marla (Adrina’s mother in law) and R’Shiel, the demon child with Rakaia’s father Hablet and brother Alaric, Mica the minstrel and Kiam the assassin playing important supporting male roles that are likely to evolve in future books. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next in the series as I am so looking forward to the next instalment in this enthralling story.

across-the-nightingale-floorNalini at Dark Matter Zine reviewed Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, the first in the Tales of the Otori series. She enjoyed it, writing:

Across the Nightingale Floor is reminiscent of Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice and Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose while incorporating the flavor of some stories translated from Japanese writing. The ending is particularly reminiscent of an authentic Japanese story I read years ago … Hearn’s research, her trip to Japan funded by a grant and the assistance of Japanese experts are evident in her world building and manner of storytelling.

A Keyboard and an Open Mind reviewed Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat and had some mixed feelings about it. She found the writing itself to be good, but had many objections to the content, especially the sexual slavery that it prominent enough to make it to the blurb. In her words:

More than once, I felt conflicted about the fact that I was enjoying the writing, and that I did want to keep reading, despite my objections to the content, even if not a huge amount happens until the last third or so of the book.

Something to keep in mind if you’re considering picking this series up.


Science Fiction

walking-in-winterWalking in Winter by Deborah Biancotti is a new novella that was reviewed by Stephanie Gunn. She had this to say about it:

This would be an ideal gateway for someone who’s a fan of cinematic science fiction, but not quite ready to jump into some of the door-stop length space operas, or for someone who’s read a lot of other speculative genres, but little science fiction.  And if you haven’t read any Biancotti yet (And if you haven’t, you’re truly missing out), this is a good place to start.


Tsana Dolichva is a Ditmar Award-nominated book blogger who has been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction since she first started reading “grown up” books. She blogs her book reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. Along with Holly Kench, she is editing Defying Doomsday, an anthology showing that people with disability and chronic illness also have stories to tell, even when the world is ending (out in a few months). In her spare time she works on her astrophysics career.