Spotlight: ‘The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice’ by Sarah Ash

About the book:

The Flood Dragon's Sacrifice

With artwork from Marcelle Natisin

A special spotlight today! I met Sarah Ash at LonCon3 last week (yay!) and she told me she had released her new book ‘The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice’ earlier this year. I really love Sarah’s work, so I’m quite excited about this one. Sarah’s also one of the sweetest authors I’ve ever met and her books were the first I reviewed on this blog, back when it was still in Dutch, so her work is special to me! Be sure to check out her other books as well!

Synopsis:

Two rival clans. Two sacred pearls, the Tide Jewels, that can summon the Tide Dragons to protect the empire. Two young men, Kaito and Naoki, one a Black Crane healer, the other a Red Kite shinobi, are sucked into an ancient, unresolved conflict between the gods of land and sea, when the exiled Red Kites steal the Tide Jewels and re-ignite a bitter clan war. Kaito must find a way to restore the emperor’s jewels – but how can it be done without betraying his own clan or angering the gods?

Interested? Go and buy it over here, here or here!

 

About the author:

Sarah AshSarah Ash read music at New Hall, Cambridge for four years, studying with Robin Holloway and John Rutter for her finals. Her interests in music and drama led her into teaching where she has been lucky to work with many dynamic and talented young people.

Although she had co-written several musicals for young performers, she decided in 1991 to concentrate her creative energies on her other passion: writing. Having been shortlisted in the final ten of the Guardian Children’s Fiction award for a – still unpublished – fantasy The Mabinogion Mice, her breakthrough came in 1992 with the publication in Interzone of the short story ‘Moth Music’.

In the author’s own words…

“My first attempts at writing were comic strips, and plays which I persuaded my schoolfriends to act out (some of them have never forgotten the experience!) At twelve (inspired by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) I began to write fantasy fiction, at one stage burying my earliest efforts in a biscuit tin under an ancient apple tree in our garden in Bath. My first completed fantasy novel was called ‘The Miglas’. It was painstakingly handwritten in many different colours (often after lights out, no wonder my eyesight is so bad!) in several red Silvine exercise books. Others followed and soon I was trying to get them published. But I was born on a Thursday and in my case ‘Thursday’s Child has far to go’ meant it would take me a very long time to find a publisher; no “Fourteen-year old author!” headlines for me, although many encouraging letters of the ‘next time…’ variety.

“At Cambridge I was soon involved in many and various dramatic productions. As a member of David Wiles’s troupe, I had the chance to go out on the road (and into schools, borstals and prisons!). I still couldn’t rid myself of my addiction to the theatre.

“Unlike many other authors, I didn’t gain my life experience in exotic jobs such as trapeze artist, night-club chanteuse or mortician – instead I ventured into the jungle known as teaching! I became a class music specialist and kept up my writing when I could. Having gained one (very supportive) husband and two (very lively) sons, I still wonder how J.K. Rowling managed to write Harry Potter with a small child to look after.

“The major breakthrough came when I bought my first word processor, an Amstrad 9512. For years I’d struggled with my faithful old typewriter; the wpc freed me from having to correct all my typos and the endless frustrating trips to the photocopying shop.

“Until autumn 2012 I ran a primary school library, which was a wonderful experience. I also had great fun organizing the school orchestra for ten years. But now I’ve ‘retired’ to Bath where I hope I can spend a little more time on my writing. Although I miss working with the children!

“My sister is Jessica Rydill, author of the fantasy novels Children of the Shaman and The Glass Mountain and our cousin, Vicki Howie, writes for children. We’re beginning to wonder what the next generation will produce.

“I admit to a passion for anime and manga – my latest ambition would be to see my stories re-worked as anime (I’ve never really grown out of my early love for comics).”

Check out her website if you want to know more about Sarah or her work.

Into The Fire – The Detainee Trilogy #2 – Peter Liney

Into The FireRelease date: July 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Ageing ‘Big Guy’ Clancy thought escape from the Island would be enough, but with the punishment satellites gone hell has been unleashed.

Having escaped the Island – a wasteland that housed those no longer able to contribute to society – ageing ‘Big Guy’ Clancy thought his fight was over. But they have returned to the mainland to find that it is not the haven they anticipated. With the punishment satellites that kept them on the Island – and the city under control – gone, hell has been unleashed. Clancy is about to discover that his work is far from over.

Review:

This review may contain spoilers from the first book, The Detainee, so I would advise to only read this review after you’ve read the first book.

At the end of The Detainee, Clancy and his companions managed to escape the island and were making their way to the mainland, full of hope. No time has passed at the beginning of Into The Fire and we see all of the people from the island reaching the shore and experiencing the mainland for the first time again. We all know by now that Clancy, though he doesn’t think so, is a pretty clever dude. He notices right away that something isn’t right and that there’s more going on than meets the eye. Pretty soon it’s clear that they’ve gone out of the frying pan and into the fire (I see what you did there!). With the satellites down, there is no easy policing system on the mainland anymore either. The City has erupted in chaos, there’s looting everywhere, violence around every corner and a palpable fear. It also seems like the Media Giant, Infinity, has taken over control of the city. They come eerily close to Big Brother from 1984. Clancy, Lena, Jimmy, Delilah and the kids have to find a place to hide again if they want to survive. The people working for Infinity have no mercy and are not afraid to kill off everyone that comes along their path.

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Loncon3: post-con blues

Loncon3. Where to begin? I’ve been back two days now and I’m pretty sure I left my head and heart somewhere in London. I’ll try and give you all a report of my highlights during this amazing con, while feeling very sad that it all went by so fast.

First I have to say that traveling to the UK is like going home. I’ve been to London more times than I can count now and I’ve always loved it so much. Every time that Eurostar gets out of the tunnel there’s this immense feeling of “Finally, I’m back!”. I had to get up really early to get the train and we arrived at the convention a bit before noon. There was a massive queue to get through registration, so that took us another hour and a half (could even have been more, I lost track of time somewhere around the hour mark). We missed the opening ceremony due to this, but used the rest of the day to browse and get a feel of where everything was located. We met up with Sorcha, who we met at the World Fantasy Convention last year in Brighton and went to the talk with George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis, which was good fun. Seeing George R.R. Martin for the first time is exciting and I fangirled for a bit there (actually I did that every time I saw him during the weekend, but oh well). We also won 3 limited edition G.R.R.M. quote posters from the lovely people at the Harper Voyager UK stand in the dealer’s room.

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Loncon3: Convention Excitement

Hi everyone!

It’s been quiet here for a while, because I’ve been busy with some really exciting stuff. It feels like my surgery earlier this year gave me my life back. I feel healthier, happier and stronger and I’ve been filling my days with all kinds of activities. This also means that I have less time to read and blog, but I’m still here and I’m still going to post reviews and SFF related stuff now and again.

Most of you might know that tomorrow the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, named Loncon3, kicks off in London. I’m attending and I’m super excited about this long weekend of geeky excitement. This will be my second convention, after WFC last year in Brighton and I’m hoping it’ll be just as fun and interesting as then. I’m also doing my first cosplay at the convention, so that’s a bit scary too. But most of all I’m looking forward to getting back in touch with the people I met last year and to meeting new people who share the same interests as I do.

There are some big names coming and some of my favourite authors will be there, so expect me going all fangirl now and then. I’ll be updating my twitter during the convention and I’m planning on writing a few posts about the convention when I get back to make sure you can all relive the 4 days with me again.

I’m currently packing my bags, which is all kinds of frustrating because I want to pack all the things, but obviously I can’t. I’ve settled on 5 books to get signed and just one DW t-shirt (though I wanted to bring more). I’m also packing my sports gear because I read in the programme that there would be quidditch and since I’m missing a training with my team here in Belgium this weekend, it seemed perfect to catch up on at Loncon.

Everything is now ready for a perfect 4 days of SFF fun. If you’re also attending, tweet or comment or come and say hi when you see me wandering around the convention!

5 female authors’ books I grew up with

In summer I always get a bit nostalgic and what is more fun than to be nostalgic about books? The discussion about how female authors should get more time in the spotlight and how the world of Fantasy and Science Fiction is dominated by males seems to have died down a bit, but beneath the surface it’s still there. I’ve always been pretty quiet when arguments like these flare up again, because I fell in love with Fantasy books written mostly by female authors when I was a teenager. Of all the series I’ve read in my teenage years, the female authors are pretty dominant. So I always felt a bit out of touch when people were discussing this subject. I think it’s because most of those books are Young Adult books and they tend to be written more by female than male authors (correct me if I’m wrong). But thinking about that I revisited a few series that I read and re-read numerous times when I was younger.

I’ve been reading books since before I had to learn it in school. I had all the Roald Dahl books and soon started in Marc De Bel’s books after that. From there I was led into the more psychological and heavy subject books of Dirk Bracke, but eventually I found my way into the Young Adult Fantasy world. (Ok, I skipped a lot of other books I read, but I don’t think Paddington Bear is a meaningful contribution to this post). I have no idea if they’re well known or not, but I wanted to introduce them to you. So here we go!

Cornelia Funke – Inkworld

inkheart trilogy

First up is a series that I know is well known, because they made a movie based on the first book, Inkheart. I only read the first 2 books in this series, but instantly fell in love with the story. You see, this book tells a tale about books and the magic contained in books and their characters. I can remember I found all these amazing quotes about books in there and wrote them all down in a notebook. I felt so much emotions reading those quotes, because they rang true with how I felt about reading and books. Not only that, but this is just a great story full of magic, adventure and suspense. I must have re-read the first book several times and only found out this was a trilogy much, much later. I have to find the time to read that third and last book someday.

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Binary – (R)evolution #2 – Stephanie Saulter

untitledRelease date: April 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

When confiscated genestock is stolen out of secure government quarantine, DI Sharon Varsi finds herself on the biggest case of her career… chasing down a clever thief, a mysterious hacker, and the threat of new, black market gemtech.

Zavcka Klist, ruthless industrial enforcer, has reinvented herself. Now the head of Bel’Natur, she wants gem celebrity Aryel Morningstar’s blessing for the company’s revival of infotech – the science that spawned the Syndrome, nearly destroyed mankind, and led to the creation of the gems. With illness in her own family that only a gemtech can cure, Aryel’s in no position to refuse.

As the infotech programme inches towards a breakthrough, Sharon’s investigations lead ever closer to the dark heart of Bel’Natur, the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s past… and what Zavcka Klist is really after.

Review:

If you loved Gemsigns, you’ll be blown away by Binary. What an absolutely amazing book this is!

The story starts 5 years after the events in Gemsigns and the Gems have slowly been accepted into society by now. Not that everything’s peachy, there is still a lot of caution and opposition from fundamentalists, but the Gem society is on its way to full acceptance. Mikal has been elected in the City council and there is even a big festival where Gems can show their technology and their way of living, ‘The Festival of the Future’. It’s promising to be quite the event.
In the meantime the Gemtech companies have almost all gone under, but Bel’Natur and Zavcka Klist are still going strong. The company has drastically changed direction, firing most of its staff and rehiring people sympathetic to Gems to start a new era in Infotech. Zavcka has a lot of plans and wants to use Herran’s binary thinking to produce a new kind of product. Aryel is reluctant to let him go to Bel’Natur, but the choice is up to him. Meanwhile detective Sharon Varsi receives prove that genestock, genetic material from the gemtech age, has been stolen from the Archive. Is it true and why was it stolen?

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Cover Artist: Raymond Swanland

Biography:

Portrait03Ever since I can remember, I was one of those kids with some tool to draw with in my hands. Mythical creatures, robots and, of course, dinosaurs were strewn, in one form or another, all over my room… and marched across my walls. I never really thought I would be exploring that same world of symbolism and imagination as I grew into an adult. But as fate would have it, I’ve had the tremendous fortune to turn my passion into a living through creating artwork for novels, video games, and feature films.

I’ve traveled to many places in the world, but there will always be a part of me that’s connected to my home state of California. California is a world hub for everything artistic and spiritual as well as everything extreme and ridiculous. Growing up in and living throughout the naturally and culturally diverse Golden State has certainly ingrained in me many valuable lessons. When it comes to my career as an artist, a couple of the most important lessons were to understand that everyone is entitled to their own ideas and that imagination is a commodity. Whether it was my proximity to Hollywood or my love for epic fantasies, it was quite clear from a young age that my trajectory would take me to some facet of the entertainment industry.

Like a lightning bolt, unusual fortune struck just as I started my professional life when I was introduced to a fledgling video game company called Oddworld Inhabitants. After that, nothing would be the same. Working with and learning from such talented and disciplined artists made me realize the real potential of art in what I came to see as its highest form – Art as storytelling.

Over the next eight years, I worked on all four video games under the Oddworld name in any artistic capacity I could weasel my way into. From conceptual design to cinematic art direction to marketing development, trial by fire in the commercial world was my art school. My work outside of Oddworld flourished as well with many illustrations for fantasy and science fiction book covers, comic books, magazines, tattoos, snowboards, cds, or anything to feed my love of expression. I also continued to learn about the potential of art and storytelling from the teachings of visionaries such as Joseph Campbell and Alex Grey. All the while, the evolution of my artistic direction became clear. If I wanted to change the world, I had to reach an ever larger number of people. I needed my art to cross borders and social classes. I simply needed to tell stories… through film.

Fortunately for me, films were not only on my mind. As I had always known, the creators of the Oddworld universe also intended to take the leap towards film, and in 2005, the time was right. As we closed down production on video games for the time being, we started up our development of feature film storylines. Carrying through the themes of spirituality, consumerism and political exploitation, the films continue much of the momentum started with the Oddworld games.

As the planet presses on into a multi-cultural future where the population gets bigger as the world seems to get smaller, storytelling will only become more important as the language spoken by all. Stories are the voice of the world and I hope to learn to use that voice to ignite my own awareness and to help open the minds of others along the way.

-Raymond Swanland February, 2007

Art:

I love Raymond Swanland’s work. Every cover I’ve seen that was from his hand has made me stop and look at it at bit more. You might know his work from Magic: The Gathering or book covers of books like The Leopard (published by Pyr) or The Six-Gun Tarot (published by Tor). Here are some examples:

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Taliesin Ascendant – The Children and The Blood #2 – Megan Joel Peterson

Taliesin AscendantRelease date: July 27th, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 428
Format: E-book
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

The war isn’t over.

And new enemies await.

Life on the run hasn’t been easy, but so far, Ashe has survived. But now Carter has ordered her to leave the Hunters and find her family’s people – an order she can’t refuse, no matter how much she wants to stay.

Following his command will bring her into an unknown world, however – a world filled with new enemies and old prejudices that will demand more of her than she can imagine, at a cost higher than she’ll ever be willing to pay.

Review:

I was a fan of the first book in this series: The Children and the Blood, so when the author asked me to read and review the next two books, I was more than willing to put them on my TBR pile. Taliesin Ascendant is the second book in The Children and The Blood series and I think it’s one of the best self-published/indie series I’ve read so far. It has lots of exciting plot twists and is full of action, the characters are interesting, flawed and easy to relate with. It has all the qualities to become a very good Fantasy series.

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Blood and Iron – The Book of the Black Earth #1 – Jon Sprunk

Blood and IronRelease date: March 11th, 2014
Publisher: Pyr
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 428
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Set in a richly-imagined world, this action-heavy fantasy epic and series opener is like a sword-and-sorcery Spartacus.

It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn’t even begin to understand.

Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn’t last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen’s court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire’s caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

Review:

Jon Sprunk’s previous series, The Shadow Saga, were books I immensely enjoyed and which put Jon Sprunk firmly on my radar. I was extremely excited when I read about his new book, Blood and Iron, coming out, the start of a new series called The Book of the Black Earth. I’d been looking forward to it for quite a while and when I got a review copy in the mail from the lovely people at Pyr, I was ecstatic. After reading it I had to put it aside for a while. I didn’t start writing my review ’till several weeks after I finished the book because I’m torn about this one and I always have difficulty writing reviews about books that pull me both ways.

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Covers: ‘TimeBomb’ by Scott K. Andrews & ‘The Slow Regard of Silent Things’ by Patrick Rothfuss

Two covers have caught my eye today. One is the edition Gollancz is publishing of the novella Patrick Rothfuss wrote about Auri, a character I have loved reading about in his books. I think the UK cover is beautiful, it’s very mystical and it really looks like a sweet tale about the girl we all fell in love with in the books. I’m looking forward to this one and the cover has only made me more eager to get my hands on it.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things will be released on the 28th of October this year in the UK by Gollancz and on the 4th of November in the US by DAW.

The Slow regard of silent things

The University, a renowned bastion of knowledge, attracts the brightest minds to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences like artificing and alchemy. Yet deep below its bustling halls lies a complex and cavernous maze of abandoned rooms and ancient passageways – and in the heart of it all lives Auri. Formerly a student at the University, now Auri spends her days tending the world around her. She has learned that some mysteries are best left settled and safe. No longer fooled by the sharp rationality so treasured by the University, Auri sees beyond the surface of things, into subtle dangers and hidden names. At once joyous and haunting, THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS is a rich, atmospheric and lyrical tale, featuring one of the most beloved characters from Rothfuss’ acclaimed fantasy series.

 

The second cover is for a book published by Hodderscape: TimeBomb by Scott K. Andrews. It’s the first in a YA trilogy and has an interesting cover. The synopsis explains why there is a girl falling on the cover with two cities, one upside down, above and below her and it seems to me there is an exciting tale behind this all. Definitely a book that gets a place on my wishlist!

TimeBomb will be published on the 9th of October this year by Hodderscape.

TimeBomb

New York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.

Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory room.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.

Thrust into the centre of an adventure that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.

 

What do you think of these two new covers?

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