Category Archives: epic science fiction

Kindle Unlimited Sci Fi/Fantasy Event – Book Funnel Promotion #Brainfluffbookblog

Standard

This Book Funnel promotion is featuring science fiction and fantasy books available to read in Kindle Unlimited, alongside my own two books, Running Out of Space and Mantivore Dreams. So given it’s Sci Fi Month 2019, I thought I’d feature a selection of the science fiction offerings that have caught my eye. Click on the header to find out more…

The Approach – Book 1 of the Courage Colony series by Holly Ice
When nanites consumed our solar system, they killed every human they infected. Only one ship escaped. They named it Courage. Errai Avila is the biological child of her parents, and shunned for it. She’s an unwelcome anomaly on a generation ship approaching its final destination. All she wants is to escape notice, but when Captain Rima Jabir calls for volunteers to explore their new home, Errai must make a choice. Will she continue to hide in the food hall kitchen, or will she cast off anonymity to finally gain respect?

 

Project Charon: Re-entry by Morton Blake
Forcefully retired from a top-secret military project. Can she save humanity from itself?
On the backwater world of Cayelle, Tina Freeman runs a shop with her son Rex: fifteen years old, half-human, half-android with a massive chip on his shoulder about having been born without arms or legs. The shop makes a modest profit, but when a creditor turns up wanting his money back, everything goes pear-shaped.
She needs money, and needs it fast. Another creditor is impossible to find. That leaves her one option: to return to the world she fled fifteen years ago and Kelso Space Station, where her spaceship has languished for over fifteen years, and finally sells the thing.

 

Discovery by Paul Rix
Mars! Mankind’s next step in space exploration and colonization. Landing is the easy
part. Survival? Well that’s another matter.
Mission specialist Georgia Pyke came to Mars with grand ideas to establish a legacy. Instead, she must face her personal demons and rely on Captain Winter to survive from one day to the next. Has she condemned herself to a lingering death on Mars? As if inhospitable Mars isn’t a sufficient adversary for the astronauts, one of their own has been holding a grudge for six years. How far is that person prepared to go to exact their revenge?

 

Ziegfeld Zagger, Quantum Detective & the Dirty Rotten, Sarcastic Multiverse by Greg Montego
Man plans, the Multiverse laughs!
“Not only is this case stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine.” –Ziegfeld Zaggar
“Anyone who thinks they understand quantum theory, should think again, preferably without thinking.” — Ziegfeld Zaggar
No other detective is quite like Dr. Ziegfeld Zaggar, Quantum Detective — and that’s probably for the best. Zaggar and his reluctant, obsessively linear-thinking sidekick, Jack Robbins, investigate the murder of high-tech industrialist, Roger Mason, a death they realize may lead to far more inconvenient consequences– the accelerated entropy of the Multiverse that will end in…. well the end of everything.
Along the way, they’ll hook up with the ravishing (how could she not be?) agent from the CIA’s Quantum Division, Irene Adler (who else did you expect?)), interrogate a variety of unusual suspects (to say the least!), track down the elusive Mr. Anansi at the even more elusive Magic Theater — where Zaggar is a persona non grata, due to past infractions — and navigate through strange and perilous parallel universes, where it seems like something of immense power is obstructing their progress. For the Multiverse is a dirty rotten, sarcastic trickster, and that has made someone a little bit crazy — and very, very angry.

 

Terminus Cycle – Book 1 of the Andlios series by Dave Walsh
They were humanity’s last hope…
…but would they survive the abyss?

Now, after two generations lived and died aboard the ship, their new home planet looms on the horizon. Jonah just needs to let the mystery of an object in space and the tale of a lost cosmonaut lie and everything will go according to plan. But that meant ignoring the truth: the dark secrets of their mission. Sometimes risking everything for the truth is the only way forward, especially for someone like Jonah. Especially with the lives of 50,000 people hanging in the balance.

 

Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts – Book 1 of the Divine Warriors series by Kristen S. Walker
When the gods came calling, she was the only one who answered. In a utopian floating city, Riwenne dreams of serving the gods as a priestess. Then she gets a message from the sea goddess urging her to become a warrior. Mechanical beasts are attacking innocent people on the streets at night. Armed with the power of the goddess, Riwenne must learn to fight. But if she wants to save the city, she will need to decide who is a friend and who is an enemy-and the wrong choice could have deadly consequences.

Friday Faceoff – When all else fails: explosions… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffcoverswithexplosions #SciFiMonth2019

Standard

 

This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is EXPLOSIONS. I’ve selected Cibola Burn – Book 4 of The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey – see my review of Leviathan’s Wake. I’ve also linked this week’s meme with @SciFiMonth2019, given this epic space opera series is such a success.

 

This edition was produced by Orbit June 2014. I love the big, blockbuster feel of this cover, which really suits the feel of this large-scale epic space opera series. This is the default cover from which many of the others are derived – and with good reason, given the drama it engenders. I also like a punchy orange title font and the large blocky design, giving a slightly retro feel to the book design. This is my favourite – it looks good both full-sized and in thumbnail.

 

Published in November 2018 by MAG, this Polish edition has opted for a completely different feel. Gone is the large space station, the flaming debris from a disintegrating ship – we don’t even have a distant nebula or starscape to relieve the ink-black background. There is just a drifting astronaut with a bunch of cables… In thumbnail, you cannot make out what is going on – and given this was only released last year, that is a fundamental error. The feeble font is all but eaten up by that black background and certainly doesn’t prevail once the cover is shrunk. I think this is bleak and boring.

 

This Serbian edition, published by Laguna in June 2016, is more like it! I love the way the central artwork is highlighted with that dramatic red backdrop, so those tentacles waving in the air take centre stage. The lightning streaking through that awesome title font is also a lovely touch, as it the nifty little shuttle perched on the rocky outcrop off to the left. Overall, I really like the eye-catching drama of this offering – a huge improvement on that previous dreary effort. It is so nearly my favourite…

 

This Italian edition has gone back to the original cover for inspiration, enlarging that exploding piece of space debris and making the title a bit funkier. I think this gives the cover extra visual drama, as that blazing explosion really stands out, but it is at the expense of the monumental scale of the original cover, which I think works better. Though it’s SUCH a close-run thing… ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably vote for this one, instead.

 

This Russian edition, published in June 2018 by Эксмо: fanzon is also another cover which offers an epic overview of a dramatic space battle. The colours are more muted, but I love the artwork and I think the scene is beautiful. The detail of the dreadnaught in the centre of the cover is fabulous. However, while I absolutely love it as a piece of artwork, I don’t think it ticks enough boxes as a cover. In thumbnail, once again, it’s too dark. And the title and author fonts fail to sufficiently stand out. Which is your favourite?

 

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook The Consuming Fire – Book 2 of The Interdependency series by John Scalzi #Brainfluffbookreview #TheConsumingFirebookreview

Standard

I am linking this post up for Sci-Fi Month, hence the fabulous banner designed by Imyril. I was thrilled that I’d been immediately approved to receive a review copy of this one, given I’d really enjoyed the first book, The Collapsing Empire, and getting hold of sequels on Netgalley has proved to be increasingly difficult. When it arrived, I realised I only had the first six chapters… I’m not quite sure what to do with those, given I cannot possibly post an honest review of a book based on the opening chapters. So I decided to get hold of the rest of the book so I could at least read the rest of the story…

The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power.

This is an interesting series for a variety of reasons. Dystopian sci fi where corporate greed is rampant and unchecked is a familiar trope in epic science fiction – but the Interdependency was stitched together to try and smooth out the destructive cycles of boom and bust that afflict a capitalist system. Now the Flow, a sort of super-highway of extra-dimensionality that allows far-flung star systems to trade with each other, is beginning to fail, the scrabble for power is intensifying. The corporate wheeler-dealers are magnificently cynical and greedy and everyone has plenty of snark, with the exception of Grayland II, who seems genuinely sweet.

Like many epic science fiction stories, Scalzi has passages of semi-omniscience where he tells the reader what is going on, rather than depicting the whole situation from the viewpoint of one of his cast of characters. This keeps the pace going and allows the reader to know some of the finer points that Scalzi thinks is important – and he makes this info-dumps enjoyable by the dry tongue-in-cheek tone he adopts. His characters are vivid, with some almost parodies in their desperation for more power, more leverage, more anything-they-can-get. I am intrigued by others, like Kiva, who I haven’t yet worked out is on the side of the angels, or simply out for what she can get. But be warned, she swears up a storm so if extensive use of the f-word offends you, then this is one to avoid.

Epic sci fi isn’t my favourite sub-genre – too much telling me what I should think… too much earnestness from the protagonists… too many powerful, entitled male characters… And I’m loving the fact that Scalzi has upended every single one of those peeves. His politically dynamic and feisty female characters are a pleasant change. His snarky tone and trick of understating the terrible consequences if the Interdependency fractures at the same time the Flow fails gives this book an almost urban fantasy feel. Will I be getting the next book? Oh yes.
9/10

Sunday Post – 28th October, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost

Standard

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Firstly, I want to thank everyone who responded during the week regarding my illness – your good wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery definitely helped. It was also very good news that this was half term week, so I was able to take it a bit easy and thankfully the giddiness and nausea has eased up and I’m trying a sticker system to help rejig my sleeping patterns.

On Tuesday I had a meeting regarding Tim and my in-laws stopped for a stay in the town, giving us the opportunity to spend the day with them on Wednesday. The weather was glorious and so we visited Highdown Gardens and later had lunch together at the local garden centre. It was lovely to catch up with them, before they left on Thursday morning.

Himself has been struggling with deafness as he has a build-up of earwax. For some reason, our local surgery no longer is prepared to remove it, so we are still using the drops and have gone online and ordered a syringe in order to be able to have a go ourselves. In the meantime, he is off work officially sick as he cannot safely do his job, being too deaf to use a phone. Oh for the good old days, when the practice nurse was prepared to perform this task! I’ll be very glad when he can hear again. Because everything is sounding loud in his head, he is now mumbling so I can’t hear him and he is unable to hear me unless I shout.

This weekend I’m off to Bristolcon with my lovely friend, Mhairi. We are catching a train tomorrow at stupid o’clock to get to the conference for around 10 am. We’re staying overnight and then returning home on Sunday. So bear with me if I don’t get around to responding to your comments for a few days.

Last week I read:

Muse of Nightmares – Book 2 of Strange the Dreamer series by Laini Taylor
Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise. She was wrong.
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
I loved this book almost as much as Strange the Dreamer and given the complexity of the world-building and sheer oddness of the setup, I was impressed with the coherence and strength of the ending. This is an outstanding series.

 

The Consuming Fire – Book 2 of the Interdependency by John Scalzi
The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power.
This quirky, enjoyable epic science fiction adventure takes many of the main themes that power this sub-genre and gives them a Scalzi twist, making this a must-read series for me. Politically powerful women, outrageously greedy nobles and an approaching apocalyptic event… what’s not to love?

 

On Silver Wings – Book 1 of the Hayden War Cycle series by Evan Currie
In the future, mankind has colonized other worlds, mined asteroid belts, and sent ships so far into the blackness of space that light from their drives won’t reach Earth for centuries. Through it all, life has been found in almost every system we visited and yet we’ve never encountered another intelligent species.
Until now.
I enjoyed this colony world adventure where embattled humans are facing an alien species with far greater technology. Currie is one of my favourite indie authors and can be relied upon to produce plenty of foot-to-the-floor action and sympathetic characters.

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 21st October 2018

Review of KINDLE Ebook Charmcaster – Book 3 of the Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell

Teaser Tuesday featuring On Silver Wings – Book 1 of the Hayden War Cycle series by Evan Currie

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Murder in the Dark – Book 6 of the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R. Green

Review of PAPERBACK Strange the Dreamer – Book 1 of the Strange the Dreamer series by Laini Taylor

Friday Face-off featuring Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Soulbinder – Book 4 of the Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Best Villains in Science Fiction and Fantasy http://bookwyrmshoard.com/top-ten-tuesday/best-villains-in-fantasy-and-science-fiction/ Do you agree with the line-up? Who would you add to this list?

Letting Go of Perfectionism the DIY MFA Way https://diymfa.com/community/letting-go-perfectionism#disqus_thread Fantasy writer Sara Letourneau provides excellent advice for those whose writing slides to a halt over this issue

The Best Children’s Books to Read With KIDS https://paulspicks.blog/2018/09/23/best-childrens-books-to-read-with-kids/ This is a nifty list if you are lucky enough to be able to share your love of books with any smaller people…

Pride and Prejudice and Other Classics I Didn’t Read http://melfka.com/archives/2931 This thoughtful article addresses the dreary literary snobbery that can pervade our otherwise delightful community…

Sunday Post #268 https://gregsbookhaven.blogspot.com/2018/10/sunday-post-268.html?spref=tw Greg generally finishes his weekly roundup – which is always entertaining in itself – with a selection of fabulous images and this week he has surpassed himself… I love those cloud maidens!

Have a great week and thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday – 19th September, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #Can’tWaitWednesday

Standard

40276268 – vintage old pocket watch and book

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s Can’t-Wait offering – The Consuming Fire – Book 2 of The Interdependency series by John Scalzi

#epic science fiction #political thriller #space travel

The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken.

Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power.

While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are preparing for a civil war, a war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will take place between spaceships and battlefields. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, but then so are her enemies. Nothing about this power struggle will be simple or easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its widening gyre.

I have read the preview chapters, provided by Netgalley and mostly enjoyed them, after loving the first book. Scalzi uses omniscient pov in this book, which gives it a slightly old fashioned feel, harking back to those epic adventures written in the last century. He manages to pull it off successfully, which isn’t all that easy to do. That said, there is a rather indigestible info-dump in the first chapter. Fortunately, it doesn’t last all that long, because Scalzi’s more usual, bouncy, irreverent voice punches through and whisks us up into this unfolding catastrophe. I’m really looking forward to getting hold of the whole book…

Review of Library book Breach of Containment – Book 3 of the Central Corps series by Elizabeth Bonesteel #Brainfluffbookreview #BreachofContainmentbookreview

Standard

I’ve read and enjoyed the previous two books in this engrossing, action-packed space opera adventure and very much looked forward to getting hold of this third book.

Hostilities between factions are threatening to explode into a shooting war on the moon of Yakutsk, and the two major galactic military powers, Central Corps and PSI, have sent ships to defuse the situation. But when a strange artefact is discovered, events are set in motion that threaten the entire colonized galaxy – including former Central Corps Commander Elena Shaw.

You can pick this one up and get involved in the adventure without reading the previous two books, but in order to get the very best out of it, I recommend that you go looking for The Cold Between and Remnants of Trust. Not only do these previous books give you a great insight into the world, Bonesteel tends to write her characters with layers and you will miss out on a fair amount if you aren’t aware of some key moments in their backstory.

It was with great pleasure and anticipation that I found myself back in this riven world, where the colonies, Earth, their appointed peacekeepers – the Corp and the shadowy PSI are all at odds with each other. And that doesn’t factor in some of the worrying moves made by a major terraforming mega corporation. So there is a complicated political standoff where tensions are running high. I love the way that Bonesteel juxtaposes these large major concerns with the issues in the lives of her major characters. As ever, the stage is set for a major adventure to kick off – and this time the domed human settlement of Yakutsk is the hub where the action initially begins. However, it isn’t where it ends…

The plot rackets along at a fair lick, which each character in this multi-viewpoint story giving their slice of the adventure. As ever, my main attention is snagged by the two main protagonists, Elena and Greg, who have been at the heart of the story since the first book. But I also really enjoyed learning more about Admiral Herrod, who was one of the main antagonists in the previous book. I always appreciate a writer who gives me a villain who isn’t your typical evil character, but someone trying to do the best they can while making morally wrong decisions along the way – which is the case for most of the ‘bad’ people I’ve encountered in my own lifetime.

This adventure held me until the end and in places really pulled at my heartstrings – it will be a long time before I forget the scene where Greg accompanies Captain Bayandi on his final mission… All in all, this was another storming addition to an excellent series. I note, with hope, that the ending leaves the way open for more adventures – so fingers crossed, Bonesteel is even now, planning the next slice in Greg and Elena’s lives. Highly recommended for space opera fans.
9/10

#Teaser Tuesday – 12th June, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog

Standard

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:
Crossways – Book 2 of the Psi-Tech series by Jacey Beford

Page 386: Though there were only a few residents in the lobby and no one seemed to be taking any interest in them, they immediately switched to silent communication.
*Any luck?* Ben asked.
Cara could see from Kitty’s expression that the answer was no.
*There’s already an investigation underway into Ari,* Kitty said. *Barb Rehling is dead.*
Cara was getting an odd feeling from Kitty. She glanced up. *There’s more.*
Kitty nodded and licked her lips. *I still have access to records. I checked on Etta Langham.*
*And?*
*She’s been transferred to sentier-4*
*As an inmate or staff?* Ben asked.
*That’s the big question, isn’t it?* Kitty kept her eyes averted from Cara’s gaze. *What do you think?*

BLURB: Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of other charges they’ll face if they’re caught.

So they’d better not get caught.

These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe, and they’re not saying where that is. They take refuge on crimelord-run Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their state of the art jumpship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. But to do that Ben and Cara have to confront old enemies.

I really enjoyed the first book, Empire of Dust, in what is shaping up to be a really entertaining and action-packed space opera adventure. So far, this one is delivering lots of twists and more enjoyment in rebonding with Ben and Cara.

Review of Library book #The Cold Between – A Central Corps novel by #Elizabeth Bonesteel #Brainfluffbookreview #bookreview

Standard

I picked this one up at the library as I’m still into my space opera reading kick and it looked very promising.

Commander Elena Shaw is in dire need of shore leave and has tagged along with her firm friend Jessica to a bar that was recommended as ideal for visitors wanting a bit of fun, yet off the tourist trail. But when it comes to it – she finds she would rather be back on board and is just considering leaving, when an intriguing man starts to talk to her. A man that snags her interest, to the extent that she is able to ignore the fact that he is wearing the wrong uniform…

Take my advice and don’t read the very chatty blurb, which gives you some of the main plot points designed to draw you into the story – I just hate it when that happens! Instead, I have given just a introduction to the beginning of the first chapter, though, I hasten to add, while there is a significant love interest in this book, that’s not what is powering this vivid, intriguing mystery.

I really loved this one. Elena is an appealing protagonist, who has sufficient history to make her wary of being pulled into situations where she is liable to be hurt again. But this story is as much about Greg, a Central Corp captain who is defined by a tragedy in his past and how in the present he still struggles to put it into context. Of course, if the book was all about somewhat damaged characters staggering from the loves and losses of their past, I wouldn’t be giving this one the time of day – what makes it special, for me anyway, is the fact that it is set in a really intriguing corner of space.

Space opera is all about effective world building that gives a clear idea of the political and socio-economic setup across the galaxy without taking pages of dry information to do so. Bonesteel has this one nailed. Within a short space of time, I had a clear idea of how successful the colonisation attempts were and how effective the various terraforming projects have been – or not. Central Corps is the law enforcement agency that gets wheeled in to deal with events beyond the capability of colonists or the planetary police. As such, they need to be prepared for almost anything. So when something untoward happens to one of the crew, everyone is appalled and very shocked. I liked the fact that it really mattered to all the main characters, despite the fact that death is clearly part of the deal. It meant that the stakes mattered.

I stayed up far too late to find out what happens and burned through this one really quickly as I found it unputdownable. As with most mysteries, the good ones anyway, there were plenty of alternatives on offer as to what was happening before we got to the final climactic denouement, which was every bit as exciting and full of action as I could have hoped for. This one is highly recommended for fans of space opera.
9/10

Sunday Post – 3rd December 2017

Standard

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

I’m now ready for the upcoming blog tour for Dying for Space and busy working on the notes for next term’s Creative Writing course entitled, What’s the Time and is it Raining? Setting and why it Matters. I’ve also started my major rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest again as I’m beginning to turn into the witchbitch from Hell due to not writing creatively. The signs are all there – difficulty sleeping because my brain is itching… short-tempered… suddenly finding myself wanting to cry inappropriately – at a dance on Strictly for instance… So I had better start writing something more than blog articles and teaching notes before Himself decides to spend Christmas sorting out the loft.

On Friday, my granddaughter Frances turned thirteen. She has had her hair cut into a bob and donated her thick, curly, waist-length hair to the Little Princess Trust which makes wigs from donated hair for children who have lost their hair with cancer treatment. She looks beautiful, now taller than me and turning into a feisty teen full of opinions, which is brilliant. We went for a meal at The Dragon in Rustington with her parents and my sister to celebrate, then took the grandchildren home with us. Yesterday they helped us decorate the house for Christmas – we haven’t yet quite finished as all our lights seem to have disappeared, as we apparently put them a very safe place last year. Or they have been transported into another dimension by a being that needed lights, but not baubles, a tree, nativity scene and yards and yards of tinsel…
Today is the Wrap Party to celebrate the end of the filming with the cast and technical crew of Tim’s film Hoodwinked 3. Frances and I will be attending and we’re really looking forward to it.

This week I have read:

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross – Book 2 of the Curious Affair series by Lisa Tuttle
“Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft. But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.
I couldn’t put down this well-written, engrossing Victorian mystery with a twist of fantasy and will be hunting down the first book in this series in the new year.

 

Deadly Dance – Book 1 of the D.I. David Vogel series by Hilary Bonner
The discovery of the partially-clothed body of a teenage girl in the heart of Bristol’s red light district indicates a tragic yet familiar scenario. But this marks the start of a baffling murder investigation where nothing is as it first appears. Fourteen-year-old Melanie Cooke told her mother she was visiting a school friend. Who was she really going to meet? Detective Inspector David Vogel is led towards three very different principal protagonists, each of whom grows increasingly chilling. But are they what they seem? And is any one of them capable of murder?
This twisty psychological thriller was a real page-turner and the denouement was a complete surprise – I’ll be remembering this one for a while.

 

Bound – Book 8 of the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka
Alex Verus can see the future. But he never thought he’d see this day. Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he’s agreed to work for his old master once more. Richard Drakh, the sadistic dark mage Alex escaped as an apprentice, has him in his clutches again. And this time, he won’t let go so easily.
Another cracking read about this well-written prescient mage, whose life just doesn’t get any easier…

 

Blue Shift – Book 1 of the Second Species series by Jane O’Reilly
The Earth is cold, dead and divided. The rich hide away from reality while the rest will do anything to survive. Humanity have only one hope: reaching a habitable planet. But getting there means travelling in large numbers through alien-held space, something that’s politically nearly impossible. Yet for some, fighting their way through space is just a way of life . . . Jinnifer Blue is a rich girl on the run. An expert pilot, she apprehends criminals on behalf of the government and keeps her illegal genetic modifications a closely guarded secret. But when a particularly dangerous job goes south, leaving her stranded on a prison ship with one of the most ruthless criminals in the galaxy, Jinn realises that the rich and the powerful are hiding more than she’d ever guessed. Now she must decide if she can trust her co-prisoner – because once they discover what the prison ship is hiding, she definitely can’t trust anyone else . . .
I really enjoyed this entertaining space opera. Jinn is an engaging protagonist with some hard options ahead of her – along with the rest of humanity – and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the sequel as I want to know what happens next.

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 26th November, 2017

Review of Mother of Eden – Book 2 of the Dark Eden series by Chris Beckett

Teaser Tuesday featuring Bound – Book 8 of the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Fade Out – by Patrick Tilley

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross – Book 2 of the Curious Affair series by Lisa Tuttle

Friday Face-off – The pen is mightier than the sword featuring Assassin’s Apprentice – Book 1 from The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The River Keepers by Michael F. Stewart

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

8 Years Ago Today https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/8-years-ago-today/ Bloggers occasionally write about things that are very personal – and when they are passionate and effective with words, the result can be humbling and awesome…

The Stag and the Dragon II https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/12/02/the-stag-and-the-dragon-ii/ Now we are deep into winter, the magic of a beautifully crafted photographic tour is even more appreciated.

#Bookreview: A Ragbag of Riches by James Chilton https://rathertoofondofbooks.com/2017/12/01/bookreview-a-ragbag-of-riches-by-james-chilton/ With Christmas around the corner, I’m on the lookout for books that would delight the word nerd in your life – and this looks like a real gem…

A Story of Snow https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/a-story-of-snow/ Articles by this talented author are always worth reading – and this one is no exception.

Weekly Writer Wisdom: Ursula K. Le Guin’s National Book Award Acceptance Speech https://saraletourneauwriter.com/2017/11/28/weekly-writer-wisdom-ursula-le-guin/ These wonderful words from one of the most famous authors in the SFF community are worth listening to…

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and may you have a great week.

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Standard

I enjoyed Angelmaker and loved The Gone-Away World, so when I saw this one on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.

Gnomon, which took Harkaway more than three years to complete, is set in a world of ubiquitous surveillance. Pitched as “a mind-bending Borgesian puzzle box of identity, meaning and reality in which the solution steps sideways as you approach it”, it features: a detective who finds herself investigating the very society she believes in, urged on by a suspect who may be an assassin or an ally, hunting through the dreams of a torture victim in search of the key to something she does not yet understand; a banker who is pursued by a shark that swallows Fortune 500 companies; Saint Augustine’s jilted mistress who reshapes the world with miracles; a refugee grandfather turned games designer who must remember how to walk through walls or be burned alive by fascists; and a sociopath who falls backwards through time in order to commit a murder.

I normally read quite quickly – I’ve read 157 books so far this year. But this one took me nearly two weeks to complete. Partly it’s the fact that it is something of a doorstopper at over 700 pages, but the main reason was that early on I took the decision that I wouldn’t speed-read through this one. The prose is too rich, too dense – there are too many allusions and clues scattered throughout and as you may have gathered from the blurb, the structure isn’t all that straightforward, either.

It might have been tempting to have accelerated through it if I hadn’t been enjoying the experience so much. Harkaway is a remarkable writer and this is him at the peak of his capabilities. For all the depth and complexity, I found the book highly readable and engrossing. It would have been a real shame to have thrown away the experience by trying to skim through it. The writing is immersive and each character has their own flavour so that after a while, it only took a couple of lines to realise whose head I was in. Essentially, it is a thriller. But the puzzle is far more of the slow-burn variety, which doesn’t stop there being some jaw-dropping twists near the end.

For all their quirkiness, I was fond of all the characters, though my favourites remained dogged, persistent Inspector Mielikki Neith whose investigation of the untimely death of Diana Hunter in custody triggers the whole chain of events – and fierce, beautiful Athenais, once-mistress to Saint Augustine, before he decided to become so saintly. The characterisation is masterly and as I’m a sucker for character-led stories, it was their vividness and sheer oddness that sucked me in and kept me reading.

I also feel a similar anger that sparks through the book – the apathy of too many of us, the blind belief that if we put in place a whole raft of cameras and electronic surveillance, it will somehow be alright, no matter who ends up at the helm and in charge. This is a remarkable, brave book, deliberately constructed and written on an epic scale. Does it work? Oh yes. I loved it, but my firm advice would be – don’t rush it. If you try reading this one in a hurry, you’ll end up throwing it out of the window – and given its size, it may cause serious injury if it hits someone…

While I obtained the arc of Gnomon from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
10/10