Fantasy

Midnight in Everwood

Midnight in Everwood

Author: M.A. Kuzniar Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Deliciously rich and dark, this reimagining of The Story of a Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas is loaded with recognisable elements yet is as delightfully individual as can be. Set in Nottingham in 1906 ballerina Marietta’s family have proclaimed that she should stop dancing and take her place in society, when she meets neighbour Dr Drosselmeier she is thrown into a new world full of magic. This is the debut adult novel by M. A. Kuzniar, she draws enchantment and menace together and allows them to walk hand in hand. The beauty and strength of friendship sits centre stage while a relationship slowly blossoms. This most definitely isn’t a sugary sweet confection, a hint of the nightmare echoes through the pages. The traditional dark elements of folklore and fairytale scuttle and scurry with a fabulously modern edge. The characters crackle with energy, the setting sparkles with light and shade, and the ending, oh, that ending! Potently sharp and beautifully magical, Midnight in Everwood dances in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Robinson Book of the Month.

Star Books
Once Upon A Broken Heart

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Iron Widow

Iron Widow

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/09/2021

* Instant New York Times No.1 Bestseller * Science fiction and East Asian myth combine in this dazzling retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. I have no faith in love. Love cannot save me. I choose vengeance. The boys of Huaxia dream of the celebrity status that comes with piloting Chrysalises - giant transforming robots that battle the aliens beyond the Great Wall. Their female co-pilots are expected to serve as concubines and sacrifice their lives. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, her plan is to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But on miraculously emerging from the cockpit unscathed after her first battle, she is declared an Iron Widow - the most feared pilot of all. Now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she sets her sights on bigger things. The time has come to stop more girls from being sacrificed.

The Cat Who Saved Books

The Cat Who Saved Books

Author: Sosuke Natsukawa Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/09/2021

An absolute little treasure! After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro finds himself on an adventure with Tiger the talking cat, to help books that desperately need saving. This incredibly quirky and beautiful novel highlights the importance of books, friendship, and self-belief. The simplicity of the story highlights the warmth, the love, and the true power of books. It also encouraged me to explore my own relationship with books. Sosuke Natsukawa painted images straight into my thoughts, simple, clear, vividly bright, they still sit in my minds eye. A shout out to the translation by Louise Heal Kawai, as I felt as though I was reading the original Japanese version. If you, like me, think of books as being more than words on paper, if you talk to them and pat them, are moved by them and have thoughts altered by them, then I recommend The Cat Who Saved Books with my heart and soul. Chosen as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, it really would make the perfect gift, either for you, or another book-lover in your life.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Defy the Night

Defy the Night

Author: Brigid Kemmerer Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/09/2021

Reeling with romance, rebellion and a feverish sense of doing the right thing, Brigid Kemmerer’s Defy the Night melds magic with political struggles to create a fast-paced, fantasy epic fronted by an indomitable young female apothecary.   Tessa Cade and handsome, enigmatic Weston are the Robin Hoods of their corrupt kingdom, a realm that’s brutally governed by King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick; a realm in which only the richest can afford a cure for the disease that’s blighting their subjects. As a result, Tessa and Weston rob food and medicine from the rich to distribute to the poor, but Tessa is quick to realise that the only long-term way to end this unfair situation is to kill the king. Cue a high-stakes voyage to the kingdom’s dark core and a whole lot of soul-searching, plus plenty of heady romance. With whip-smart world-building and a cast of vibrant characters, this is a novel fans of Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare will devour.

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire

Author: Jay Kristoff Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/09/2021

From the Sunday Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Nevernight Chronicle, comes this masterful new series. It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness. Gabriel de Leon, half man, half monster and last remaining silversaint - a sworn brother of the holy Silver Order dedicated to defending the realm from the creatures of the night - is all that stands between the world and its end. Now imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity's last remaining hope: The Holy Grail.

The Dying Squad

The Dying Squad

Author: Adam Simcox Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Vividly bold and full of attitude, in fact it's gutsy as heck, this provocative supernatural crime novel takes a fabulous premise and nails its colours to the mast. While on a drugs operation Detective Joe Lazarus is suddenly faced with his own dead body and a new partner from the other side. I have to confess that while reading I completely forgot to make any notes for my review as I just sank in and was consumed. The live side smacked me in the face with its gritty reality, while the dead side just blew me away. I could see, feel, taste and smell purgatory, it menaced into existence as a fully formed entity in my minds eye. Adam Simcox writes with the most imaginative, smirky, thought-provoking pen. I really had no idea where this reading journey was going to take me, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn that this is the first in a series, I will be camping outside my local bookshop when the next book is due. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, The Dying Squad is a fabulously unique novel that feels as real and yet outrageously inventive as can be. A standing ovation from me to Adam Simcox, absolutely blimmin loved it!

Star Books
She Who Became the Sun

She Who Became the Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan Format: Audiobook Release Date: 22/07/2021

She Who Became the Sun reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor. In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing. In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother's identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream? This is a glorious tale of love, loss, betrayal and triumph by a powerful new voice.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Piper's Dance

The Piper's Dance

Author: Maxim Jakubowski Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/07/2021

A fascinating take on an age old story that led me on a compelling and unique dance. Two of the children spirited away by the Pied Piper of Hamelin escape his clutches centuries later and find themselves attempting to survive in a world they no longer recognise. Maxim Jakubowski has previously written novels that span various genres, here The Piper’s Dance spins between legend and myth, fantasy and relationship (and contains moments of erotism), with Maxim himself describing it as: “hardboiled fantasy”. What awaits is an absorbing, delicious feast of a read. From the first sentence I was hooked, I truly loved where this tale took me, it’s a journey of discovery and I found myself exploring alongside Tristan and Katerina. The brilliant vivid characters feel entirely real, I didn’t stop to question, I just believed. Innocence, experience and knowledge join together in a heady mix that sent my thoughts in new directions. A different, potent and exhilarating read, I’ve chosen The Piper’s Dance to feature as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. Pre-order the signed hardback or the paperback of Piper's Dance from telos.co.uk and get a 20% discount using the code: lovereading

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Taking Flight

Taking Flight

Author: JT Torres Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

A gorgeously simple yet heartbreakingly complex debut that strays into magic realism and explores the meaning of family. Tito and his grandmother probe the magic of family bonds, as they grow older, their struggle to keep loved ones close takes its toll. Fairlight Moderns are little gems of books, small and compact, beautiful inside and out, each story packs a punch. J T Torres writes with a compassionate and thoughtful yet penetrating and provocative pen. A chain reaction of emotions ran through me as I joined Tito and his Nana and echoes of Cuba slid into Florida and Alaska. It feels as though the magic of Taking Flight will release a totally different experience to each person who steps between the pages. While readers always take a part of themselves into a book, here that piece of me stayed within it. With a devastating delicacy, Taking Flight delves into the intricate complexities of family, migration, and mental health and has been chosen as one of our Debuts of the Month.

Debut Books of the Month
Build Your House Around My Body

Build Your House Around My Body

Author: Violet Kupersmith Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Though complex, subtle, and rich in history and myth, Violet Kupersmith's Build Your House Around My Body makes an instantly potent impression. Her writing is at once measured and vivid, infused with the elemental power of Vietnamese folklore, and with the histories, fates and desires of its protagonists. Following the lives of two fearless women who both went missing (though decades apart - one in 1986, the other in 2011), and who both seek revenge, Build Your House Around My Body is hauntingly poetic, playful, and a puzzle, of sorts. A multi-layered Russian doll of a story with magic realist elements - ghosts, time travel, snake monsters. Indeed, the whole novel might be described as a coiled serpent that spirals and springs when you least expect it. Despite their very different backgrounds, the women are bound by the past, and by ancestors and ghosts. It’s a mystery, a mythic epic, a slippery history that defies classification, and I loved it.

Star Books
The Tenets in the Tattoos

The Tenets in the Tattoos

Author: Becky James Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/07/2021

‘The Tenets in the Tattoos’ by Becky James is the first in an ambitious YA Fantasy series. In a world where everyone has a soulmate, another person who compliments and completes them, though not necessarily in a romantic sense. Thorrn has lived for a lot longer than most without finding his. When he does, he must not only learn to accept her but then work together with a collection of unlikely allies to save the kingdom. With secrets, revelations and plot twists along the way, ‘The Tenets in the Tattoos’ is certainly an action-packed adventure. I enjoyed this book, I liked the characters and found the unfamiliar descriptions of familiar things and places (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers) laugh out loud funny. The storyline is ambitious in its scope and really is one for fans of fantasy and science fiction, with multiple tropes all utilised to great effect as Thorrn and Evyn’s path unfolds. I liked Thorrn as a character, he’s arrogant enough in the beginning to not be particularly likeable, but not too arrogant that his work to earn forgiveness for his behaviour rings false. Each character is multi-dimensional and have their own skills that are utilised in the more tense parts of the plot. I think this is a strong new fantasy title and would be interested in reading the rest of the series.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love