Fantasy Café is now on Patreon! Patreon is a site for funding content creators, and those who support a creator receive rewards based on the tier they selected. Visit the General Questions page on their site to learn more about it.

Since moving Fantasy Café from Blogger to my own domain a few years ago, there have been costs associated with maintaining the site and help with those would be appreciated—especially since I recently switched to a more expensive hosting plan to resolve some server issues. Despite these costs, I’ve always wanted to keep Fantasy Café free of paid advertising and clear of any appearance of the conflicts that paid advertising may bring—not to mention the potentially annoying ads themselves.

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In addition to the hosting costs, my much larger commitment to the site is in the form of the time it takes to run. I love it, and I’d like to do even more with the site than I have been doing over the last few years! My work hours were cut somewhat recently. While that’s not ideal financially, it does give me the opportunity to branch out and try new things with Fantasy Café. I would also like to spend some of those hours when I was previously working my day job to get more into the world of writing. That’s why, in addition to the low cost awards you might find on many Patreon campaigns, I’m offering a somewhat different reward at a $100/month tier. Although my current job at a marketing firm has primarily been focused on website development, I’ve also become a go-to person for proofreading and would like to do more of it. I’m going to experiment with offering to proofread up to 7,500 words a month—which can be a short story, a chapter, or even a series of blog posts. If you are interested in having me work on a larger proofreading project, please contact me (kristen at fantasybookcafe dot com).

Of course, there are also other rewards that do not cost nearly as much like bookmarks, voting on books to review, exclusive monthly content, and more! Below is a complete list of the tiers with the rewards that I’m offering for each:

  • $1 per month – You’ll receive a Fantasy Café bookmark and my thanks for your support.
  • $5 per month – You’ll be able to vote on a poll determining the content of a post for the following month. Most of the time this will be a poll of books, and the one with the most popular votes will be reviewed (in the case of a tie, I will select one of the books with the most votes). My plan is that most of these books will be books not covered on many review sites, such as older books, books by fairly new authors, or books released from smaller presses, with a focus on books by women—although this may not be the case 100% of the time! You’ll also receive the $1 tier reward.
  • $10 per month – You’ll be able to read a monthly post exclusive to patrons. More books are brought to my attention than I can possibly read, and this will be your chance to read about a few of the books I choose not to read and review and why! You’ll also receive the $1 and $5 tier rewards.
  • $20 per month – You’ll receive a small (11-oz.) Fantasy Café mug. You’ll also receive the $1, $5, and $10 tier rewards.
  • $30 per month – You’ll receive a large (15-oz.) Fantasy Café mug. You’ll also receive the $1, $5, and $10 tier rewards.
  • $100 per month – I will proofread 7,500 words once per month. This can be a short story, a book chapter, a series of articles, or anything else that is no more than 7,500 words in length. This includes looking for typos and basic grammatical mistakes and checking spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. It does not include structural edits—the piece should just need the final polish at this point in the process! You’ll also receive the $1, $5, and $10 tier rewards.

Since rewards follow a monthly cycle, you will receive your first reward(s) the month after signing up. In the case of items being shipped, it may take longer to receive them depending on the destination, but I will be mailing rewards toward the beginning of each month.

In addition to the individual rewards, I have also set some goals. If specific milestones are reached, I’ll be adding the following additional monthly features to the site:

  • A book giveaway with North American eligibility
  • At least one Women in SF&F post a month in addition to the annual April event
  • An international book giveaway
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If you enjoy my reviews and the other features on Fantasy Cafe, please consider contributing to help support the site. Thank you!

This Gulf of Time and Stars
by Julie E. Czerneda
464pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: --/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 4/5
 

This Gulf of Time and Stars, Julie Czerneda’s latest novel and the first book in the Reunification trilogy, is set in the same universe as the Stratification and Trade Pact trilogies and continues Sira’s story after the end of the latter. I read it without having read any of the other Clan Chronicles books, and although it certainly wasn’t necessary to do so, I suspect I would have gotten more out of it had I read the other books first. However, I did enjoy reading it even without having read the other trilogies and am now interested in reading both the previous books and the next book in this trilogy!

For a long time, the Clan have been living among Humans, posing as Human themselves. Board Member Cartnell, the Human representative of the Trade Pact, discovered their existence after one of them destroyed the minds of three scientists, including that of the man he loves. Cartnell was horrified by the Trade Pact’s willingness to aid these strong telepaths and their naivety in believing these aliens would be grateful in return, but he has also discovered the Clan’s weakness: there are fewer than a thousand of them, and they’re under threat of extinction due to a reproductive issue. After drawing the conclusion that a war looms in the future, Cartnell calls a secret meeting with one goal in mind—destroy the Clan to save Humanity.

As Sira, the most powerful of the Clan, prepares for a surprise baby shower planned by her Human partner Morgan, she has no idea that everything is about to change—or that her search for answers and a safe haven for her people will reveal that there’s more to the Clan’s past than she ever imagined.

This Gulf of Time and Stars is a book of mysteries and secrets, the first in a trilogy written to reveal the truth about who the Clan are. For that reason, it’s difficult to discuss in detail without giving too much away, but suffice to say that it made me curious enough about Sira and Morgan’s previous adventures that I added the first Trade Pact novel, A Thousand Words for Stranger, to my wish list soon after finishing it!

Although I did enjoy it overall, the first few chapters did not work well for me, but the prelude, which focused on the group who wanted to destroy the Clan and their reasons, did capture my interest. Since I hadn’t read the previous novels, the Clan sounded quite terrifying—telepathic aliens who could disguise themselves as Human and had torn apart people’s minds! Then the first chapter introduces Sira, who is learning about the Human custom of baby showers from Morgan and is very much the opposite of terrifying despite being the most powerful of all the Clan. I appreciated that the Clan was not one big monolith of evil, and I also liked this setup as someone who hadn’t read any of the previous books and didn’t know what to expect.

However, I did find parts of the first few chapters confusing since I didn’t always understand terms and references to events from previous books. Later, this was less of a problem as I came to understand more about Sira and the Clan and earlier parts began to connect and make sense. Though it’s possible I would have gotten more out of it had I read the earlier books first, I also don’t regret beginning with this book. The bigger issue I had with the first couple of chapters was that there were several humorous scenes exhibiting just how alien all these aliens were to each other that just didn’t mesh with my own sense of humor. For instance, one of the aliens is upset that Sira and Morgan brought extra guests they did not plan for when he sees that Morgan brought a bunch of balloons to the “baby-rainshower-occasion” (Sira’s name for this unfamiliar Human celebration). After the earliest chapters, there was less of this and more focus on answering questions that I found more compelling.

The world and exploring the Clan’s past were the highlights, but I also enjoyed the sheer readability of the writing style. It’s quite succinct with short chapters and paragraphs, and it flows smoothly, making it effortless to read. There is a tendency for chapters to end on cliffhangers that made me feel like parts were quite deliberately left out to make me want to read on to find out what was happening, but it also did succeed at making me do just that!

There are several different perspectives in This Gulf of Time and Stars, and Sira’s is the only one told in first person. Many of these seem to exist to show events to readers rather than for character development, but the more prominent characters, Sira and Morgan, are likable and interesting and complement each other well. They obviously care for each other very much, and it’s great to read about a fictional couple who work well together. Even though they face obstacles that could potentially be a source of angst, drama, and relationship tension (and would be in many other books!), these two are not divided by such events and support each other. Sira is brave, determined, and uniquely powerful among her people; Morgan, a spaceship captain and trader, is generally optimistic and cheerful, artistic, and an unusually strong telepath for a Human. Though compelling, I didn’t think they were quite as multi-faceted as they could have been since I didn’t feel like I understood them as people beyond a few abilities and traits, although this reaction could also be the result of not having read previous books that established their characters more.

This Gulf of Time and Stars contains much of what I love about science fiction—aliens, telepathy, and space travel—combined with other elements I love in fiction—mysteries, secrets, and revelations. Although I struggled with the earliest chapters and didn’t think the characters were as lifelike as many in other books I’ve read, I did find it quite readable and enjoyable. It left me quite curious about both Sira’s future and her past—and it definitely made me interested in reading more of the Clan Chronicles!

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the author and publisher.

Interested in learning about Julie Czerneda’s process when developing the various types of aliens in the Clan Chronicles and how it’s influenced by her background in biology? Curious about the book she read that first began her fascination with aliens? Check out my interview with her during the This Gulf of Time and Stars blog tour!

Sci-Fi Month 2015

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Last week brought a fantasy book so exciting I may not be able to resist starting it as soon as I finish reading my current Sci-Fi Month book (Cagebird by Karin Lowachee), but first a couple of things:

Ash and Silver by Carol Berg

Ash and Silver (The Sanctuary Duet #2) by Carol Berg

Ash and Silver, the second half of the duology beginning with Dust and Light, will be released on December 1 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook). Excerpts from both books in the Sanctuary Duet are on the author’s website:

  1. Dust and Light
  2. Ash and Silver

Carol Berg is one of my favorite fantasy authors, and this is one of THE 2015 releases I am most excited about since I very much enjoyed Dust and Light.

 

In Dust and Light, national bestselling author Carol Berg returned to the world of the award-winning Flesh and Spirit. Now she continues the saga of a man whose past is veiled in shadows….

Ever since the Order of the Equites Cineré stole his memory, his name, and his heart, thinking about the past makes Greenshank’s head ache. After two years of rigorous training, he is almost ready to embrace the mission of the Order—to use selfless magic to heal the troubles of Navronne. But on his first assignment alone, the past comes racing back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder.

He is Lucian de Remeni—a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can’t remember how or why.

Fighting to unravel the mysteries of his power, Lucian must trace threads of corruption that reach from the Pureblood Registry into the Order itself, the truth hidden two centuries in the past and beyond the boundaries of the world…

Other Books:

Sci-Fi Month 2015

It’s now officially Sci-Fi Month, a month-long celebration of all things science fiction begun by Rinn from Rinn Reads! This year it is being co-hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. If you’re only hearing about it now and would like to be part of it, it’s not too late—anyone can participate at any time during the month of November! If you want to check out what’s going on this month, there is a schedule of posts by participating blogs and a Twitter account.

This is my third Sci-Fi Month, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it the last couple of years! The first year I discovered a new favorite book as part of my reading for the month (Karin Lowachee’s Warchild). Last year I only managed to fit in a couple of book reviews since I was still adjusting after moving to a new state, but I also had a couple of great guest posts—some book recommendations by Martha Wells and an article on hope and wonder in science fiction by Karina Sumner-Smith.

This year, I may only end up reviewing a couple of science fiction books like last year since I have a couple of fantasy books to review that I’ve read or am nearly finished reading, but here are some plans for Sci-Fi Month:

  • A review of This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda (which I’m also giving away at the moment!)
  • A guest post by Karina Sumner-Smith

I’ll probably write at least one other book review. Since I haven’t yet read Cagebird, I’d like to keep with my Sci-Fi Month tradition of reading the Warchild books, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll end up reading after that if I think I can fit in more Sci-Fi Month posts—there are so many possibilities!

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

The book in the mail last week that I’m most excited about is one that I’m not featuring with a description and cover in this post because I just did the cover reveal a couple of days ago: Winterwood (Rowankind #1) by Jacey Bedford. I am still holding a US-only giveaway of an ARC of this historical fantasy about pirate Rossalinde Tremayne so be sure to check it out if you’d like to enter to win an early copy of this February 2016 release!

There are two other giveaways of November 3 science fiction releases that you can still enter:

The second giveaway link also includes an interview with Julie Czerneda in which she discusses aliens and biology.

Today is the beginning of Sci-Fi Month! I will definitely be reviewing This Gulf of Time and Stars for Sci-Fi Month, and I will probably read and review Cagebird by Karin Lowachee since reviewing Warchild books has become a Sci-Fi Month tradition for me (and these books are incredible, especially Warchild!).

Now, for the latest book arrivals besides Winterwood!

Mystic by Jason Denzel

Mystic (Mystic Trilogy #1) by Jason Denzel

Mystic, a debut novel by Dragonmount.com founder Jason Denzel, will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first three chapters can be read on Tor.com: chapter one, chapter two, chapter three.

A Mystic/The Wheel of Time Companion book tour is taking place during the month of November (book tour event locations).

 

I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst.

Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society.

Such has always been the tradition—until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.

Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You and Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #1 and #2) by Claudia Gray

The second book in the Firebird series, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from the first book, A Thousand Pieces of You, can be read on Tor.com.

The description of the first book in the series is below.

 

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

Other Books:

Today I’m delighted to be revealing the cover of Winterwood by Jacey Bedford! This historical fantasy is the first book in a new series, Rowankind—and it both looks and sounds wonderful (the tagline on the cover mentions many things that are fun to read about). Winterwood will be released on February 2, 2016, but one person reading this will have the chance to read it early: I have one ARC (advance copy) to give away, courtesy of DAW Books!

Winterwood Cover

ABOUT WINTERWOOD:

Set in 1800 in Britain, Mad King George is on the throne with Napoleon Bonaparte knocking on the door. Unregistered magic users are pursued to the death, while in every genteel home resides uncomplaining rowankind bondservants who have become so commonplace that no one can recall where they came from.

Meanwhile, Rossalinde Tremayne is satisfied with her life as a cross-dressing privateer captain on the high seas. But a bitter deathbed visit to her estranged mother changes her life completely when she inherits a magical winterwood box. Now, not only is she confronted with a newly-discovered brother, and an annoyingly handsome wolf shapeshifter, Rossalinde has to decide whether or not to open the box to free rowankind and right an ancient wrong—even if it brings the downfall of Britain.

This brand-new series is perfect for fans of Elizabeth Bear, D.B. Jackson, and Marie Brennan, as well as readers of historical fiction who are looking for an accessible gateway to fantasy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jacey Bedford is an English writer with short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic. Visit her online at jaceybedford.co.uk or on Twitter @JaceyBedford.

Courtesy of DAW Books, I have one ARC (pre-publication copy) of Winterwood to give away to a resident of the US!

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Winterwood Giveaway.” One entry per household and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from the United States are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Thursday, November 12. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed since the giveaway has ended.