Battle Planet: Champion of Earth

by Andrew Gates

It’s been a while since I did a self-pub Saturday! Today, I’m bringing you an interview with one of my favorite self pub authors, Andrew Gates. You might remember him from such books as ‘Iris’ and ‘Hive’ – his incredibly epic Color of Water and Sky series. As that series ended, new ones begin: this young author has big plans for new books, and his latest Scifi novel, Battle Planet, is intended to release on the 23rd.


Battle Planet: The Champion of Earth by [Gates, Andrew]

Berlin in 1988. Rock music, revolution, gladiators in space.

Janice Milani was an ordinary American abroad in Berlin during the final days of the Cold War… until she was taken in the night by an alien captor. Now Janice, along with four other captives, suddenly find themselves on an alien world where sentient creatures from across the universe are made to fight in the Battle Arena for sport. Desperate to escape the arena and get back to Earth, the only way Janice can get home is to be crowned as champion of the games. And to do that, she will have to fight like she has never fought before.

An Interview with Andrew Gates

Let’s start at the very beginning. How on earth did you come up with the concept for Battle Planet?

Ha! That’s probably the best question. The biggest influence I had is a Marvel comics event series called Secret Wars, which came out back in the 80s. The premise is that superheroes and villains are kidnapped from earth and forced to fight each other by a being named the Beyonder. I think that premise in itself is just so cool. And with the recent success of the movie Thor: Ragnarok, I figured the timing for a story like this was good because there is clearly an interest in an outer space gladiator story. In fact, the villain in Battle Planet, Queen Jakani, was inspired by the villain from Thor: Ragnarok, Hela.

What prompted you to make it start in the 80’s, in Berlin? How is Janice’s character different from a woman from 30 years in her future – 2018?

It’s kind of a strange thing of mine, but I have never been a fan of stories set in the present day. The reason for this is that I find if you were to read a story any other time after the book comes out, it gets dated pretty quickly. And it’s not just books. To be honest it even bugs me when I watch a movie and it says “present day” in the movie because I know that if I watch this movie 10 years from now, it’s immediately dating itself. So instead I like to set things in period because you can read period stories at any time and it’s supposed to be dated. Doing this also allows the writer to take full advantage of everything that time period has to offer – that could be anything from grand geopolitical elements to something as trivial as music or fashion. This wasn’t so much of an issue for me when I was writing The Color of Water and Sky because that story is set in the future, but if you read my short story collection, Kangblabla!, I have five stories in that collection. Three of them are in the future, one of them is in the 90s and one of them is in the 70s. Nothing is set in the present day.

Tell us a bit about the Battle Arena. What kind of creatures find themselves there? And who watches the games, as a spectator? Take us there briefly?

Every type of creature finds themselves in the Battle Arena. Part of the fun in writing this is coming up with crazy ideas for creatures that might be in the arena. This was where I was really able to push the full limits of my creativity. There are creatures who can split apart and put themselves back together, creatures who can turn invisible, who have two heads or multiple limbs, creatures that are more tree-like than they are animal-like, creatures that are huge or tiny. And obviously, some creatures are more familiar to things we know on Earth than others.

The humans who are taken to the Battle Arena were taken there at complete random, which was something I thought was important because I wanted to get a unique cross section of humankind on this planet. The idea is that five random people are picked with no preference towards any single trait whatsoever. So obviously if that were to happen, you would get a totally random mix of genders, ages, races, nationalities, physical abilities, education and so forth. For example, of the five people taken in Battle Planet, two are Asian, one is European, one is North American and one is South American. There are three females, two males. The ages range from young kids to elderly.

That is also where the Cold War aspect of the story comes into play, because in this time-period, you have all these people from super polarizing political climates forced into a situation with one another where they need to work together and get along. These national identities and national experiences are what drives a lot of the characters and their trust or distrust for one another.

As for the spectators, they’re just there to have a good time and watch the games. They aren’t sickos or sadists necessarily who love to watch pain and torture in the gladiator games. For the spectators, watching people fight to the death is totally normal in the same way that ancient Romans would watch gladiator matches thousands of years ago. The competitors in the arena don’t view the spectators so nonchalantly though.

Was Janice you favorite character to write in this new book, or are there other characters waiting to steal the crown? Do you have favorites when it comes to the writing process?

I think more interesting than any individual character of Janice was the story as a whole. The shared experience that all five of these folks go through is really the most interesting part for me. And honestly, the character of Janice would be nothing if she weren’t working off of the other characters around her. The interaction between the different characters is really the payoff rather than one individual character standing out.

Though I will say, Janice has an excellent taste in music, which is basically just my taste in music expressed through her.

This is your first novel outside of your epic Color of Water and Sky series. How was the writing experience for you, writing in an entirely new world? When you started, were you still working on HIVE, the conclusion to your series, or had you already finished it?

I was still working on Hive at the same time, yes. Interestingly the idea of doing something new and the excitement around starting a different project led me to write Battle Planet extremely fast. This is easily the fastest story of this length I have ever written and I think it was because I was just so excited to get working on something new and different.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in crafting your books?

I’ve learned that writing a novel isn’t all that hard so long as you are confident in what you are doing. I think that is another part of the reason this story came together so quickly. When I first wrote Iris, that took me a LONG time. Granted, it was a longer book, but the pace at which I wrote was much slower and I would constantly go back and re-edit everything tons of times. I think, for most writers, this is true for their first couple of books. But now that I am more confident, I am writing much faster and not micro-editing everything all the time.

Will Battle Planet be the beginning of a new series, or stand entirely alone?

I am still trying to determine the answer to that question myself, but if I do end up writing a second one, it will likely be a prequel instead of a sequel. I think it would be really cool to do a story set in ancient times. There are definitely a lot of things about the Battle Planet that I intentionally left unanswered so there is certainly potential there if I wanted to do a prequel.

You have so many incredible books coming out this year. I’m really excited to get to read them all. Can you tell us a little more about what’s coming our way? What are you most excited about sharing with us?

April is an awesome month for me and I am doing that intentionally. I have had some projects that were basically ready to go that I have held off on until now because I want April to be a huge month.

One week after Battle Planet’s release, I’ll be releasing part one of a three-part series. The book is called Seas of the Red Star and the series is called Pirates of Vexa Prime. The book originally started as a co-authorship between me and MD Cooper, but a few things changed and now the story is 100% mine. The premise is really interesting. It’s about two starship pilots who are stranded on an ocean world, where 18th Century sailors live. The pilots have to get off world and back to their home without any tech and their only help comes from a society that still hasn’t even figured out combustion engines yet. It’s already up for pre-order here.

One week after that, the sequel to Seas of the Red Star will come out, called The Daltus Conspiracy. It is also up for pre-order here.

I also have a new short story coming out as part of an anthology put together by Keystroke Medium. The story is about a virus that has destroyed most of the human population and only those people in remote places are still alive. That will come out sometime in April or May, but I don’t know the exact date yet.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Mostly my readers are frustrated that the alien character names are so hard to pronounce.

Outside of writing, what does Andrew Gates get up to?

I’ve been super into Halo lately. I love watching movies too. Everything that Marvel is putting out recently has been top notch. I also like running (I’m doing a full marathon the day after this interview gets posted actually). I also write for a local running magazine called Run Washington Magazine. You can find all that stuff here.

Battle Planet: The Champion of Earth is slated to release on April 23rd, though you can preorder your copy now!

Starbound Cover Reveal!

I’ve kept you waiting this long, I won’t test your patience any longer. Without any further ado, allow me to present… Starbound!

Home is where the heart is. Or maybe the pizza.

There’s no better feeling than being back home after a long week exploring the galaxy, though being abandoned by one’s friends and left to fend off a glitching evil robot spoils it. All that’s left is to settle back into life, preparing Marcy’s wedding and job hunting. If only mysterious midnight SWAT teams and crop-circle crafting-sessions weren’t constantly getting in Sally’s way.

When an old foe returns, and Sally is the only person on the planet to recognize it, it’s up to her, her sullen ex, and an overly-excitable FBI agent to save the planet. But first they have to get the president safely out of his favorite sushi bar without starting the war of the worlds.

It’s hard maintaining a long-distance relationship when your crush is light years away and thinks you died of old age, but that hasn’t stopped anyone yet. Sally must save the planet, the universe, and herself – though maybe she’ll take a nap first.

 Book five of the Starstruck Saga releases on August 20th, 2019! 

January In Books

I’m back, dear bookworms!

It has been one wild month of January. Exams, trips, last minute stress from administrative messes – I feel like we’re about to start 2020, not February! Luckily I still had a bit of time to read (mainly on buses, trains, and waiting in offices for paperwork) and made it through a nice stack of books. While I haven’t had time to review every single one, I thought I might walk you through some of them and tell you a bit of what I think.

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. 

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

What a beautiful, bittersweet book. 

Exit West explored our rapidly globalizing world through the lens of a blossoming relationship, with a dash of magical realism. It is at its heart a migrant story, a human story, as migration has been essential to our history just as much as falling in love has been. 

What if, almost overnight, the barriers that kept people in place simply disappeared? If suddenly planes didn’t matter and borders couldn’t keep people out – or in? As the doors linking the world slowly go from rumor to reality, the planet becomes instantly smaller, and migration patterns shift forever. 

And in the middle of it, a couple. Two pot-loving students who were just beginning to fall in love when their city was falling to war. Trying to explore what it means to be linked with someone, all while having to escape the only home they’ve ever known. 

How do relationships change as the world changes? Exit West explores, well, everything. We follow the relationship beginning to end as Nadia and Saeed fall in love, cross the planet, and drift apart. It’s a quiet book, as beautiful and slow moving as a sunset. It’s gentle – but powerful. I loved it.


We Were Liars
by E.Lockart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. 

I think if I had read We Were Liars when it first came out, I would have been at the perfect age to enjoy it. Now that I’ve grown a bit, reading the novel didn’t feel really shocking: it was a sweet story with not much of a plot until it got to the twist, which was a bit predictable? I hate to say it, but the clues were pretty evident from the beginning. If I hadn’t ‘solved’ it I would have probably enjoyed the reveal a lot more. But I didn’t care much for the love story, and while the family drama was really entertaining – and painful, cringe-worthy at times – I couldn’t fully enjoy it. That and the style of writing that kept shifting was… weird.


Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful
By Arwen Elys Dayton

For fans of television shows Black Mirror and Westworld, this compelling, mind-bending novel is a twisted look into the future, exploring how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human specimen and what it means to be human at all.

Set in our world, spanning the near to distant futures, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a novel made up of six interconnected stories that ask how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human specimens, and how hard that will push the definition of “human.”

This extraordinary work explores the amazing possibilities of genetic manipulation and life extension, as well as the ethical quandaries that will arise with these advances. The results range from the heavenly to the monstrous. Deeply thoughtful, poignant, horrifying, and action-packed, Arwen Elys Dayton’s Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is groundbreaking in both form and substance.

I literally could not put this book down: I started it at 9 pm and ended up sitting with it until 2 am, just full-on engrossed in each and every story. Even weeks after reading it, it’s still fresh in my mind.

The novel explored what it means to be human, slowly transitioning from stories of healing to stories of extravagance so that the evolution of mankind doesn’t seem abrupt, but almost natural – even when it’s mankind playing with unnatural selection and augmentation. 

I really can’t write a review because I feel like there is no way of telling the story of this book while giving it justice. You just have to read it for yourself.


With a total of 12 books this year so far, I’m right on target to hit my reading goal! I’m really excited to share with you some of the new books coming my way. You’re going to love them.

White Stag

Permafrost, Book 1
by Kara Barbieri

I am so torn about this book. On the one hand, it’s well written: the style is lovely and I slipped into the story well enough. The story about coming to terms with your identity and embracing yourself was powerful. But there was so much that just… bugged me about it. And it was only after I finished the book and took a step back that I realized what it was. 


The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.


Let’s start with the good. As I said, it’s well written. There’s a massive effort in the worldbuilding and the plot itself is really creative. I liked how it all tied together in the end, and it makes for a strong standalone (even if a series is planned, so this is a good sign since the author isn’t leading us on). There was a lot that came together making it a strong fantasy novel. 

But there were a few things that irked me. For starters, GOBLINS. They’re not goblins. They’re fae or whatever, “unearthly beautiful” and wildly dangerous. They have nothing to do with anything goblin! Where’s the thievery? The enticing food that traps the eater? Not Goblins, and no matter how many times the author insists they are, you can’t just take a mythos and slap another name on them to make it sexy. 

The book is dark, violent, psychological. Which is good. But the rape component is just this character abuse that isn’t necessary for the story. The book would have read the same if she was just tortured without the rape. The disfigurement makes for an interesting character, making her thoroughly more complex, but we didn’t need the extra shock value. It is not handled with the care something so horrible deserves: it’s just there to make us feel worse for her. 

Now for the romance. I really liked Soren and thought he was a really great character, complex and unique. But their relationship is really weak for two people who have fought side by side for the past 100 years! Jenneke sometimes acts like she’s only known him a few weeks, which makes Soren’s “sudden” interest in her really weird. It picked up towards the end, and I was happy to see them together, but for the first few chapters, it was like they barely knew each other at all. 

All in all, I’ll probably read the next book, but I can’t get the image of a three-foot-tall pimply goblin out of my head.

Expected Publication January 8th 2019 by Wednesday Books

Isolation Junction

by Jennifer Gilmour

I knew going into this book that the topic was going to be a difficult one, and I was prepared. Emotional abuse is no joke, affecting thousands of people each day, and I have been lucky enough to have never had to go through the painful life Rose struggles through from page one.


100 reasons to leave, 1,000 reasons to stay

When Rose married the love of her life she was expecting the perfect family life she’d always dreamed of, but before her first child was born her husband, Darren, changed.

Almost overnight Rose’s life is turned upside down and the life she’d envisioned seemed like an impossible dream.

As Darren’s abuse deepens, Rose has 100 reasons to leave but 1,000s why she can’t. Will she ever escape the hellish life she and her children are trapped in?

Can Rose stop her life spiralling further out of control?
Can she find the life she desperately wants for her children?
Stuck at Isolation Junction, which way will Rose turn?


When Rose first meets Darren, he’s the perfect gentleman. Handsome and caring, he makes her feel like a princess. Her parents warn her about the age gap, but she doesn’t care: she’s in love with the perfect man and… he won’t let her go.

Very quickly, their relationship dissolves into one abuse. Darren is manipulative and scary, quickly isolating Rose from her family and friends. If she ever notices, he quickly turns the situation around until she’s the bad guy, or claims nothing happened at all – gaslighting her. Every staple of a toxic relationship can be found, and while it’s painfully evident to us readers, Rose falls deeper and deeper into this trap until she feels there’s no escape.

How does one escape when they haven’t spoken to their family and years? When the man who they married is holding their children basically as hostages? When you’re constantly looking over your shoulder for fear of him finding something new to punish you for?

Isolation Junction packs a powerful punch. As I mentioned above, it ticks off every sign of a toxic/abusive relationship. In one emotional moment in the novel, Rose goes through the list of what makes a relationship abusive. The list says “If you have answered YES to any one of these questions, then it is abusive” – and she realizes she has said yes to every one of them. We feel for Rose, we want her to escape, for her children to be safe. We want her to break free.

It was harder to get involved with the character since the book is written in an odd style, partially between fiction and what feels like an autobiography. Emotions are stright on the page and a little jumbled. We feel on the outside looking in, like there’s a window between us and Rose. Because of this, some emotional or painful moments don’t land as hard as they should. When Rose tries to reclaim her children, now that is a moment where I felt involved; when Darren’s family backs him up, now there, I felt involved. But for the rest of the novel, I was an outsider.

Another thing that was a little odd was how some moments were repeated by the author but told differently. For example, her home business is introduced twice, and now I’m not quite sure what she does. Or when she describes what finally broke the relationship between her and Darren, but we read that scene and it wasn’t exactly that? Some details I don’t mention here because they could be Darren’s gaslighting contorting Rose’s memories, but these re-descriptions pulled me further out of the story.

Even so, this book does an amazing job of raising awareness. For many people who don’t see the red flags at first, this book could open their eyes. For friends, this is a good way to spot the warning signs of a loved one being in an abusive relationship. It’s also a reminder of how difficult it still is for people to escape these relationships (if Tim wasn’t there, I don’t know how Rose would have done it, no matter how strong she is) and that we need to be there for our friends in their times of need.

Isolation Junction is an honest and raw look at the torment of domestic abuse, and a reminder for everyone that their voice matters.

Sawkill Girls

by Claire Legrand

I picked up this book after seeing it all over bookstagram, not knowing exactly what to expect. The blurb made me think that it would be a story of cookie-cutter girls and ancient magic, but then I got sucked into the book and realized all my assumptions were dead wrong. 


Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.


Each of the girls is incredibly complex: Marion, morning the loss of her father, trying to be a rock for her sister and mother; Zoey, investigating the disappearance of her best friend and dealing with a shaky relationship with her romantic ex but still best friend; and Val, the ever beautiful, popular girl, who we see immediately as being way more than what Zoey thinks of her. 

I was a little let down when the author almost instantly revealed what was taking the girls on Sawkill rock, and thought “wow, there goes that mystery,” but I quickly realized that wasn’t the point of the story. No, figuring out what has been taking the girls isn’t the core of the book: it’s how the Sawkill Girls fight back. And that’s where the true strength of this novel comes from, the women. How Marion, Zoey, and Val, bring friendship, sisterhood, womanhood to the fight. 

I loved how every time I expected the book to go one way, it instead turned the narrative on its head. This book made me angry, in the best way possible. I made me grit my teeth and shout out in anger. When they introduced the ‘secret society’ I thought the author was stepping into trope territory, but no, she was calling them out. Every trope is brought to the light and beaten repeatedly until it promises never to show its ugly head again. Finishing this book – because I had to read it in one go, it was impossible to put down – I felt the same way as I did stepping out of Wonder Woman. I need more books like these, books that make me feel angry, bolstered and empowered. 

The gentler side of the book was also worthy of applause. An unexpected romantic relationship between two of the girls was perfect, hitting every note of what a YA needs. It was sweet, romantic, even sexy, and entirely woven into the plot of the story (so many books just tack f/f relationships on for the extra diversity sticker, without any actual care. This book doesn’t do that.) On top of that, this has to be the BEST representation of Asexuality I have ever read, anywhere. So perfect. 

While I went into this book with mild expectations, it has quickly become one of my favorite reads this year. Bold, unputdownable, and making me crave a re-read right away. Now let’s tear down the monsters of this world. 

November, in Comics

I haven’t done a monthly wrap up for a while. It’s been a hectic few months, what with the masters ramping up and the stress level through the roof. But this past month I’ve turned to one of my favorite novel forms for entertainment: graphic novels, and comics. 

It’s been so absolutely fantastic to read these beauties. Every one of them brought a smile to my face, and I thought, hey – why not tell people about them? Change things up a little bit from my usual type of post?

Without further ado, I give you five great graphic novels/comics that will warm you up as we go into December.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible

On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress Sabrina Spellman finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda. 

I honestly can’t say if I like the book or the show better!

While I don’t feel like we really get into Sabrina’s head in the comics, I loved the dark world the book portrays. Showing us something terrible and hinting at something much worse. It’s a great gritty horror comic which has me dying for more.

I wasn’t quite sure how much I liked the art style. At times, it felt rushed, a little hard to determine. The limited palette was an interesting touch, though, and makes this book really stand out. 

On A Sunbeam

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

This was an adorable graphic where all the characters are queer girls/women + one nonbinary person. A far flung future world full of girls, there were no male characters. I ended up impulse buying it because of the stunning cover, and the artwork inside is magical. 

It’s an amazing story about love and growth, exploring the universe in a quiet, beautiful way. Dream-like. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel after this book. It took me on an adventure, a journey, and I found pieces of myself along the way. It was quiet and beautiful and managed to coax some tears from me, too. Stunning!

Plume: The Omnibus

For Vesper Grey, there is the Before and the After. The Before is devastatingly boring; teacups and girdles, and an overbearing Aunt who makes life hell. The After is Corrick and the uncovered truth about a magical necklace. It is the Wild West, and it is an adventure that could very well change everything.

I bought the omnibus on the recommendation of a good friend, not knowing what to expect except his promise I was going to love it. He didn’t let me down: this comic is fun, thrilling, and impossible to put down. I loved every second of it. 

First of all, I have to say I love the artwork. The color palette is beautiful and the gold of Corrick’s eyes really sparkles on the page. It’s such a nice change from these rusty, cowboy comics. 

The story is just superb. Think Indiana Jones meets the Wild West. With MAGIC! I love Vesper’s character, she’s immediately relatable, spunky, and fun. The need for revenge flows through her and drives so many characters in this book, a theme that is explored from every which way. While I would love to see a live action movie, I think the comic is so spot on it can’t get any better than this. 

I don’t even know how to properly review it. I just want to shove it at people and say ‘READ’. Which I guess is how I got here in the first place!

Cthulhu is Hard to Spell: A Lovecraft Anthology

A comic anthology with 35 awesome stories about Lovecraftian gods and monsters, from fans to fans.

If you love Lovecraft, this is our love letter to Lovecraft fans of all kinds, from those that obsess about Cthulhu, to the ones that never want to leave Arkham, to the ones that keep a copy of the Necronomicon under their pillow, and everyone in between. Whether you are a casual fan or a rabid one, we’ve got you covered.

I absolutely love this anthology, chuck full of amazing stories spanning the whole range of genres and emotions! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and all just for the small price of pledging your life to the Dark Lord. Is he not merciful? 

Having written one of these stories, it’s difficult to remain unbiased. I know how much love and work went into each and every story, discovered incredible creators through this collaboration, even made friends. This anthology is a labor of love from everyone involved, and I can feel it in every story I read, which is why I love each and every one.

Shades of Magic #2: The Steel Prince

The Prince of Red London reaches the Blood Coast – and meets its infamous Pirate Queen.

A short review for a short comic, since this story is ongoing and not yet put into volumes. If you’re not following the Shades of Magic comic, hurry up and do, because it’s amazing. It’s got everything we love about V.E. Shwab’s bestselling series, and more, since the artwork is beautiful. In this issue, the story intensified as Maxim learns about the pirate queen and her dangerous bone magic. Cannot wait for the next installment!

The Lost Plot

The Invisible Library, Book 4
By Genevieve Cogman

A few months ago, I finished what I had assumed to be the last book in the Invisible Library… Until they announced not one, but two new books to follow! Naturally, I was over the moon. I could not wait for The Lost Plot to be released, and let me tell you, it did not let me down!


After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae. 

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and Tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war. 

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library’s own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene’s job. And, incidentally, on her life…


Right off the bat, Irene is thrust once again into a no-win situation. Forced to play sides between two competing dragons, she needs to find a compromised Librarian before it’s too late. And that means searching the entirety of a world that seems a lot like the 1920s here on earth: prohibition, gangsters, and flappers… oh, and not to mention dragons!

Unlike the first three books, here the entire focus is on a draconic feud, in an ordered world. That means less fae, more dragons, and of course, all that drama that they bring along! For a race that believes themselves to be so morally superior, they’re such drama queens. We have a pack of wolves and the guns for hire, and Irene caught in the middle. I quite liked this change, as we got to learn a lot more about Kai and his people.

The series improves with every new book, each one better than the last. The Lost Plot has to be my favorite so far of the series! Returning to the world and to Irene was like coming home after a long day: I’m hooked, and I love it. Not to mention I’m getting a bit of a crush on Irene – I mean, what’s not to love about a badass librarian spy who loves books and kicks ass?

If you like the series so far, then, of course, The Lost Plot is a must read. Only this time, it has more action, faster pace, more dragons, and even more librarians! Not to mention the ending will give you all the feels. This is not one to miss!

Expected publication: January 9th 2018 by Ace Books
Thank you, Ace Books for providing me with the ARC copy!



by Mary Fan

Drop everything, and pick up this book. If you love space, aliens, music, and incredible twists that will leave your jaw on the floor, then Starswept is set to become your new favorite novel. Not to mention, the most elaborate and gorgeous interior design you’ve ever seen, making this book a literal work of art. If this isn’t enough to convince you, then stick around, because I have a lot to say!


In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.


Iris loves playing viola more than anything else in the world. She’s passionate about her music, and desperate to be successful, to find an alien patron so that she can search for her parents. She lives in a remarkable institute for the arts, Papillio, that has been molding her since she was a baby to be a true prodigy. But in the world she inhabits, if she doesn’t have her music, and if she never gets a patron, she is nothing. Music literally is her life.

What astounded me about this novel (among many other things) is how complex the characters and the world building really is. Everything makes complete sense. The aliens, the Adryil, communicate through telepathy: which means they prize conformity, and never developed the arts, since no words ever go unspoken, and don’t need music or performance to share. When they discover earth, they’re blown away by our art, and suddenly having artistic talent makes you valuable in their world. It’s all connected – and even more so when the author pulls the rug out from under your feet about halfway through.

The first half of the novel was a little slow, but so beautifully written I couldn’t put it down. Pretty much at the halfway mark, the novel starts to pick up the pace, and fast. A massive revelation springs up and the reader is left baffled. Once again, it all makes sense. It’s like you (as the reader) knew what was going on, but flipped the way it is, you suddenly see how twisted it really is. Of course, I won’t spoil the reveal. But it’s so worth reading to get there.

I also loved the relationship between Damiul and Iris. I usually find YA couples to be too contrived, but this is not the case here. There’s real friendship, and real love between the two. Not to mention some altogether amazing lines.

Imagine all the stars in the galaxy in one pair of eyes, all the sureness of home in one pair of arms, all the heroics of a thousand epic tales in one noble heart.
This is my love. 

Yeah. Did I mention how gorgeous this book is? It’s a masterpiece.

There’s so much I want to tell you about how good this book is… the true love of music the author conveys through her novel. The diversity of the cast of characters. The complexity of even the most trivial things. I went into this book with no expectations, and came out feeling truly shaken and amazed.

If you love YA, then this book is definitely for you. And even if you don’t, it might be the book that brings you into the genre. It’s sublime.

Massive thank you to the author for sending me a signed copy. I’m going to treasure it forever.

Expected publication: August 29th 2017 by Snowy Wings Publishing

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

by Ruth Emmie Lang
Reviwed by SA

Upon finishing this book, I thought: Wow, this was beautiful! And it’s one I’m going to recommending to many friends, despite the fact that it didn’t entirely click for me. Even so, it was evidently a fantastic novel full of magic.


Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit. As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places. From freak storms to trees that appear to grow over night, Weylyn’s unique abilities are a curiosity at best and at worst, a danger to himself and the woman he loves. But Mary doesn’t care. Since Weylyn saved her from an angry wolf on her eleventh birthday, she’s known that a relationship with him isn’t without its risks, but as anyone who’s met Weylyn will tell you, once he wanders into your life, you’ll wish he’d never leave.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.


It’s taken me a few days to finish writing this review, because I had to let my thoughts simmer about it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, but when I put it down, I didn’t feel an immediate urge to pick it up again. Perhaps the slow magic was what drew me back to it, the simmering style of the author that fills your heart with warmth.

Overall, the plot is simple: it’s the life of a man names Weylan Grey, who apparently can speak to animals, control the weather, make plants grow… fantastic gifts, which all make for a fantastic character. We see his life through the eyes of different people he meets along the way (always two at a specific point in time, with hints clueing you in to what happened while he was away). It’s also a love story, between him and a brilliant woman named Mary.

Despite the fact that there are dangerous hurricanes, wolves, and snowstorms, the novel still has this odd sense of tranquility. It’s calm, slow paced. The story moves along in a gentle, steady way, like a quiet walk through a forest. You can’t help but love Weylan, his comical confusion with the rest of mankind (the running gag of the business cards had me in stitches) and his ease with animals.

I think it’s the love story that messed with me the most. Now I won’t say anything here because of spoilers, but the ending, while it looked cute and romantic, at second glance rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I’m too picky. I should just be happy for them.

\It’s one of those are cases where I preferred how the author told the story over the story itself. Beautiful book, nonetheless. For fans of magical realism, love, and wolves.