Category Archives: S.J. Higbee

Review of INDIE Ebook Defender – Book 2 of the Hive Mind series by Janet Edwards

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I was delighted when Himself got hold of this sequel to the first book, Telepath, which I really enjoyed as I was looking forward to catching up with Amber and her adventures.

Becoming a telepath was hard. Being a telepath is harder. Eighteen-year-old Amber is the youngest of the five telepaths who protect the hundred million citizens of one of the great hive cities of twenty-sixth century Earth. Her job is hunting down criminals before they commit their crimes, but this time her team arrive too late. Someone is already dead. Someone that Amber knows. Amber is determined to catch the murderer, but she doesn’t realize who she’s up against, or the true danger of opening her mind to the thoughts of others.

The first book is a coming-of-age science fiction story featuring Amber when her telepathic abilities first manifest, so I was keen to see how Edwards would develop the story. I was also interested to discover if I liked Amber as much in this novel as I had in Telepath. Well, there were no worries there as Edwards is very good at writing engaging and positive young protagonists. The pacing is excellent and while I have read the first book, I don’t think anyone who hadn’t would have any difficulty in quickly getting involved in the story. So what about the crime aspect? As this is essentially a science-fiction whodunnit, the plot has to reflect that, with a suitably shocking crime and a tricky villain who is able to pose a real problem for someone who can read his mind.

I was impressed that Edwards managed to provide all these requirements with a fast paced, tight-knit storyline that once it took off, made it difficult for me to put the Kindle down. I also very much enjoyed how Amber is jeopardised by the very process of reading minds. This nicely upped the stakes both for herself and her team, which really mattered because I have grown to like the group of people who support and protect her. As she tries to grapple with this situation without sinking into permanent mental confusion, we also gain some intriguing insights into the rest of the world. I really appreciated being able to meet another telepath and it was reassuring to discover there is a high price to possessing such a talent, which gives the story a harder edge, which I appreciated.

The final denouement was suitably thrilling and once I reached it, there was no way I could stop reading before discovering how it all went down – I was already aware that Edwards is quite capable of killing one of her supporting characters, so I was fully invested in the story and genuinely concerned on behalf of the team. If you enjoy your crime with a futuristic twist, I highly recommend this series and while you can read this book as a stand-alone, I do think it would be a shame to miss out on Telepath goodness.
9/10

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Sunday Post – 18th February, 2018

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

It’s been half term, so Life has been a tad less hectic as I caught up on some outstanding paperwork and finished an editing project in order to clear the decks to continue the rewrite on Miranda’s Tempest.

However I had a call to have the grandchildren a day early, so we went up on Wednesday to collect them. The weather was atrocious on Thursday – torrential rain and high winds, so we stayed indoors. Thank goodness on Friday, it stopped raining and the sun came out. It was absolutely beautiful for Frances to spend the morning drawing with my sister and then in the afternoon, Oscar and I had a round of crazy golf at the newly refurbished course, followed by a trip to the Harbour Lights café for a drink and a packet of crisps as we waited to pick up Frances, who was on a shopping trip with a friend. I had promised him a hot chocolate with soya milk, but sadly, the café only had cow’s milk on offer. He was a star and accepted a cold drink, instead.

Oscar has been enjoying the Winter Olympics – so watched with us. We all agreed the snowboard cross is our favourite event, closely followed by the half-pipe. Oscar is less impressed with curling, though I find the tactical aspect fascinating. We took the children home yesterday evening after a lovely few days with them – they are a delight.

Today I am hoping to make some headway on Miranda before I start back teaching tomorrow.

This week I have read:

Launch to Market: Easy Marketing for Authors by Chris Fox
Launch to Market provides a simple system to plan, track, and execute your book launch. It covers the basics of marketing in an easy to understand way, complete with exercises that will prepare you for your best launch ever. You’ll see real sales numbers from an author who just did exactly what you’re trying to do, with take aways that will show you exactly how I did it. Don’t leave the success of your novel up to chance. Launch your book to market.

Given I started my self publishing career at the end of last year, I thought it was high time I widened my focus from solely being all about the craft of writing to include the dark art of marketing. A really hands-on, nifty book full of practical ideas and tips.

 

The Eye of the North by Sinéad O’Hart
When Emmeline’s scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself heading for a safe house, where allies have pledged to protect her. But along the way, she is kidnapped by the villainous Doctor Siegfried Bauer

I thoroughly enjoyed this steampunk adventure. O’Hart’s rollicking adventure is packed full of vivid, engaging characters and action that had me turning the pages to discover what happens next – even though I am not the target audience.

 

Queen of Chaos – Book 3 of the Sequoyah trilogy by Sabrina Chase
The exciting conclusion to the Sequoyah trilogy.

Webspace pilot Moire Cameron is one of the best–but even she can’t fly her way out of a catastrophic drive failure that triggers a time-dilation bubble. Left suddenly eighty years out of date, she is on the run in a world she no longer knows, caught in the middle of a human-alien war while agents of Toren hunt her for the information only she has–the location of the pristine world of Sequoyah.

How’s that for a short and sweet blurb? That said, as this is the finale to Moire Cameron’s adventures, I have decided to add the blurb to the first book The Long Way Home to give you an idea of what this series is about, because if you are a fan of quality, character-led space opera then these books are well worth reading – and are ridiculously cheap…

 

Fire and Bone – Book 1 of the Otherborn series by Rachel A. Marks
“Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A….”

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future. Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap. Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.

This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, being an unexpectedly gritty read exploring some of the old Celtic myths full of dark blood magic and sacrifice underneath the fluff.

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 11th February 2018

New cover for Dying for Space – Book 2 of the Sunblinded trilogy by S.J. Higbee

Teaser Tuesday featuring Queen of Chaos – Book 2 of the Sequoyah series by Sabrina Chase

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Fire and Bone – Book 1 of the Otherborn series by Rachel A. Marks

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Eye of the North by Sinéad O’Hart

Friday Face-off – Groovy baby… featuring Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Review of Raven’s Children – Book 2 of the Sequoyah series by Sabrina Chase

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

Not one of them was capable of lying… https://readlorigreer.com/2018/02/16/not-one-of-them-was-capable-of-lying/ I read this offering from W.H. Auden – one I didn’t know and since then the words have haunted me…

Chilean Open-Air Art https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/chilean-open-air-art/ These stunning examples are worth checking out…

How I Write Reviews http://booksbonesbuffy.com/2018/02/15/how-i-write-reviews/ This is a fascinating insight into the craft of review writing by one of my favourite reviewers.

10 of the Best Poems about Darkness https://interestingliterature.com/2018/02/14/10-of-the-best-poems-about-darkness/ This article includes two of my all-time favourites – ‘I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark’ and ‘The Darkling Thrush’.

Twas the Night Before Valentine’s… http://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/02/twas-the-night-before-valentines-2/ I loved this anti-Valentine’s poem by social media jedi, Kristen Lamb.

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

Review of Indie Ebook Raven’s Children – Book 2 of the Sequoyah series by Sabrina Chase

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I loved the first book in this series and while I generally like to space out reading a series so I don’t lock onto an author’s writing tics, this time around I couldn’t wait so dived back into this book.

Moire Cameron, former NASA explorer and web pilot, now has a working ship, a loyal crew, an unexpected son, and a valuable Earthlike planet to protect from the clutches of Toren. However, her enemies won’t give up – and then, there’s the children…

I’ve cut short the rather chatty blurb and my advice is not to read it as it gives away far too much of the storyline. Moire is a strong protagonist, though this book doesn’t focus quite so much on her storyline as there is a lot going on around her. I love the fact that Chase drives forward the story, crackling with action and tension. If there is any grizzle, it is perhaps Moire’s character is slightly swamped by everything happening around her as events continue to teeter on the edge of disaster. There are moments when it would have been nice to slow down just a tad to fully appreciate how all the changes carrying on around her are fully impacting upon her. That said, it is a really picky point and is only engendered by my love for the character. As for the relationships around Moire – while she is rebuilding her life in this new world, she hasn’t the luxury of spending much time and energy to lavish on the people who she cares about. Apart from anything else, she is terrified of dragging them into the danger she is in.

I really enjoyed the way the story unfolds and the constant suspense and surprises that Chase manages to deliver. Some of the plot progression I could see coming – but a whole lot more caught me unawares and I enjoyed sinking into the rhythm of the story and going with the flow. The supporting cast around Moire also continue to develop, helping to power the story. The most intriguing plot thread concerns one of the salvage ships they find drifting, damaged and abandoned – and this particular discovery overrides all other concerns. This is cleverly handled by Chase, whose worldbuilding is very effective and is one of her strengths in this engrossing series. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out in the final book in the trilogy.

All in all, this book ended far too quickly and I can guarantee that it won’t be long before I also dive into the final book, Queen of Chaos, to find out how Chase wraps up this story. Recommended for fans of character-led space opera with a strong story.
9/10

Friday Faceoff – Groovy baby…

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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 week the theme is featuring a retro cover, so I’ve gone with Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory.

 

This cover, produced by Knopf in June 2017, is quirky and clearly harking back to another time with the silhouetted profiles of the main protagonists – the Telemachus family. I have mixed feelings about this. I like the clean look and the attractive font used for the title and author name, but I really don’t like the black silhouette pictures as this art form was particularly popular during the Victorian era, which I think is confusing, given we do not go back to Victorian times in this accomplished, memorable novel.

 

This edition was produced by riverrun in June 2017. I prefer this one to the first offering. The clunky TV with the smiling family has a real retro feel, along with that hard blue colour that I recall from my early childhood. The font and author name looks attractive and while I like the strapline along the bottom, I think it’s a shame they saw fit to cram that clutter in the top left of the cover.

 

Published in February 2018 by Eichborn, this German edition is the most effective cover in my opinion. That wonderful orange swirling wallpaper gives a lovely retro feel and I love the photos, particularly that of the mother who died before her time. It is her death that shatters the family. I love the sadness on her face – and that classic hairstyle. A clever, eye-catching cover that relates directly to the content, this is my favourite but which is yours?

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Eye of the North by Sinéad O’Hart

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I wanted to read and review more YA and children’s books this year, so when this one caught my eye due to the interesting premise, I requested it and couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a delight…

When Emmeline’s scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself heading for a safe house, where allies have pledged to protect her. But along the way, things don’t go as planned…

This steampunk adventure is huge fun that hits the ground running and doesn’t let up until the end. Emmeline is brought up a solitary child in a creepy house infested with all sorts of dangerous creatures and is more or less left to get on with it as her scientist parents have to do a lot of travelling. Until a fateful day when everything goes wrong… Do try to avoid reading the blurb which is far too chatty and gives away more of the plot than is necessary. That said, there is plenty of plot in this action-packed story brimful of interesting, likeable characters. Generally I am not a huge fan of stories where yet another set of new characters pop up in each scene, but somehow O’Hart manages to pull it off. Other than Emmeline, whose gritty self-assurance gets her through all sorts of tight spots, my favourite character has to be Thing, the vagabond boy she encounters on the liner. But there are plenty of other enjoyable, strong-minded characters to choose from as steampunk tends to roll along with lots of action and relatively little angst. It was when Thing had a wobble about his grim childhood that I bonded with him and felt that vulnerability gave him more reader-appeal.

There is also a pleasing number of unpleasant villains ranged against Emmeline and the people trying to prevent the impending apocalypse – my favourite is Doctor Siegfried Bauer as he is so magnificently horrible, especially to poor Emmeline. But the North Witch is also a thoroughly nasty character who poses all sorts of problems. Once the action really takes off, we have the two main protagonists, Emmeline and Thing alternating in telling the story, occasionally interspersed by other members of the supporting cast. O’Hart’s strong writing and deft handling of the rising tension makes this a really gripping read that didn’t want to let me go when I should have been up and about instead of finishing the book.

The denouement has to deliver after so much energy and tension has been expended during the rising action and in this case, it does, while all the dangling plotpoints are satisfactorily tidied up. I’m very much hoping that this book does well, because although I cannot see any sign of this being the first in a series, I’d love to read more about Emmeline and her family in another madcap adventure. Recommended for precocious readers from 10/11 years old onwards.
9/10

Can’t-Wait Wednesday – 14th February, 2018

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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 – Fire and Bone – Book 1 of the Otherborn series

#urban fantasy #YA #godpunk

“Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A….”

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.

I liked the sound of this one – I don’t know much about Gossip Girl, but I really like what I’ve seen of the Percy Jackson series, since reading snippets of it to my granddaughter. Fire and Bone comes out later this month on 20th February, so I shan’t have too long to wait.

New Cover for Dying for Space – Book 2 of the Sunblinded trilogy

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I have recently been lucky enough to have a shiny new cover for Dying for Space produced by superfriend Mhairi, who agreed with me that the original covers for the series weren’t hitting the spot – and announced that she could make me something more genre-specific. So she did…

It’s great, isn’t it? I love the fact that Mhairi used images of the same girl on both covers in the series. Dying for Space is available at Amazon.com for $2.78 and at Amazon.co.uk for £1.99.

And in case you missed it, this is the cover for Running Out of Space. I think they look really good together. Running Out of Space is available at Amazon.com for $1.37 and at Amazon.co.uk for £0.99.

Sunday Post – 11th February, 2018

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

No… I haven’t been abducted by aliens two weekends in a row. Last weekend, Himself and I attended a conference on marketing indie books at Runneymede, which was marvellous fun and very intense – I haven’t yet had a chance to absorb all the information we received.

It was a busy week as I was teaching both Monday and Tuesday evening, spent Wednesday evening with the wonderful folks at my writing group, where I read a slice of my WIP and on Thursday, after catching up with my writing buddy, Mhairi, during the evening I attended the West Sussex Writers meeting, which this month was featuring a manuscript surgery. It was an excellent evening. I had the pleasure of acting as facilitator to a lovely writer in the process of writing a fantasy adventure for youngsters. When the winner and two runners-up were announced for the Poetry Competition, I was delighted that all three poets are students of mine – and to cap it all, I also won a book in the raffle. On Friday morning I was teaching and then in the afternoon I had a meeting with the very nice chap who looks after my website to discuss the changes I’m hoping to make throughout the year.

Yesterday, I drove to Ringwood to stay over with my parents, who then took me to a lovely restaurant, The Jetty, in Christchurch. Unfortunately, the rain swept in, so the views of the wonderful natural harbour at Christchurch were a tad murky, though the fabulous food more than made up for it. We had a lovely drive through the New Forest this morning in bright sunshine and a wonderful cooked breakfast, before a cosy chat with Mum – the time sped by and I drove home before it got dark. The only thing that spoilt the weekend was that my sister was due to come with me, but was ill so couldn’t make it.

This coming week is half term, so I am hoping to get through loads of work. Have a great week, everyone!

This week I have read:

Going Grey – Book 1 of the Ringer series by Karen Traviss
Who do you think you are? Ian Dunlap doesn’t know. When he looks in the mirror, he’s never sure if he’ll see a stranger. After years of isolation, thinking he’s crazy, he discovers he’s the product of an illegal fringe experiment in biotechnology that enables him to alter his appearance at will. And the only people he can trust to help him find out who and what he is are two former soldiers trying to make their way in the high-stakes world of private security. He’s got a unique and disturbing skill: they can help him to harness it—and maybe even learn to accept it. Set ten years from today, these three unlikely allies search for identity and loyalty in an uncertain world.

This is an entertaining, action-packed military sci fi adventure with some engaging characters and lots going on.

No Time Like the Past – Book 5 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor
St Mary’s has been rebuilt and it’s business as usual for the History department. But first, there’s the little matter of a seventeenth-century ghost that only Mr Markham can see. Not to mention the minor inconvenience of being trapped in the Great Fire of London…and an unfortunately-timed comfort break at Thermopylae leaving the fate of the western world hanging in the balance.

Re-join Max’s madcap journey through time in Jodi Taylor’s fifth inter-dimensional instalment No Time Like the Past.

Jodi Taylor nails it again. I love this wonderfully chaotic series, packed full of action, humour and tragedy. There aren’t many books that have me laughing aloud and sniffling into a hanky within a handful of pages – but this series does it every time.

My posts last week:

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Shadow Play: A British Police Procedural – Book 20 of the Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Teaser Tuesday featuring No Time Like the Past – Book 5 of The Chronicles of St Marys by Jodi Taylor

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Keeper of the Watch – Book 1 of the Dimension 7 series by Kristen L. Jackson

Friday Face-off – My, what big teeth you have… featuring Spellwright – Book 1 of the Spellwright trilogy by Blake Charlton

Reblog of Review of Running Out of Space (Sunblinded: 1) by S.J. Higbee

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

… what happens when there’s no bullet to bite on…
https://seumasgallacher.com/2018/02/09/what-happens-when-theres-no-bullet-to-bite-on/ This cautionary tale needs a strong stomach – be warned – DON’T click on this link if you have recently eaten.

Conquerors of the Useless – A Winter of Rock Climbing https://roamwildandfree.com/2018/02/08/conquerers-of-the-useless-a-winter-of-rock-climbing/ More stunning pictures that also left me a tad queasy, but for a completely different reason…

Senior Moments https://blogging807.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/senior-moments/ And a drop of humour…

10 of the Best Poems of Farewell https://interestingliterature.com/2018/02/07/10-of-the-best-poems-of-farewell/ Another excellent article from this site.

People are Making Books Out of Jellyfish Now https://kristentwardowski.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/people-are-making-books-out-of-jellyfish-now/ It is a really good post, but one of the reasons I included it was because of that amazing title.

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site.

Review for Running Out Of Space (Sunblinded: 1) by S. J. Higbee

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I was delighted to get this review from Donna – particularly as she didn’t pick up the book feeling especially enthusiastic about it, but then got drawn into Lizzy’s problems, anyway. Thank you Donna, for an honest review:)

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I can’t recall whose idea it was. Just that me and mis amigas were sick of wading through yet another unjust punishment detail. So we decide to take ourselves off on a short jaunt to the lower reaches of Space Station Hawking to prove that fertile Iberian girls can also deal with danger.

The consequences of that single expedition change the lives of all four of us, as well as that of the stranger who steps in to save us down in lawless Basement Level. Now I have more excitement and danger than I can handle, while confronting lethal shipboard politics, kidnapping, betrayal. And murder.

BUY IT FROM AMAZON HERE      ADD IT TO GOODREADS HERE

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When I first started reading this I found it kind of hard to connect and get involved in the story. It was slow going. But, I have to say this may be…

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*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Keeper of the Watch – Book 1 of the Dimension 7 series by Kristen L. Jackson

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This one caught my eye owing to the fabulous cover and the idea of time travelling via a tatty old watch.

Chase Walker is beginning to doubt his own sanity. From the moment he turned eighteen, a strange paranoia has taken over his mind. It all started the moment he discovered his uncle’s old watch… The watch calls to him. Though it beckons, he resists. His body strains toward it, blood pulsing, heart pounding in a mysterious and primitive need to connect with his uncle’s old beat up watch. When sexy and mysterious Alyx saves his life, she promises answers. She talks of dimension travel, and wears a magical watch of her own…

I’ll be honest, I really struggled in the beginning stages of this one. The dialogue is rather clunky, which inhibited the characterisation, while both Chase and Alyx seem far younger than the average eighteen year old. I’ll accept that Alyx might be rather young for her age, but it was Chase’s character that appeared to be all over the place. And just as I was about to seriously consider consigning it to the DNF pile – the action finally kicked off and the book sprang to life.

Jackson’s writing tightened up and as she described the grim transformation in the parallel dimension, with the horrifying event that defines the rest of the narrative, I didn’t want to put this one down. Chase’s shock and gritted determination to fight back gave his personality a strength of purpose and clarity he had previously lacked, while I really enjoyed Alyx’s rather peeved response to his reaction. This sets up an interesting dynamic between them, which hooked me in and had me caring.

While the worldbuilding in the alternative dimension is rather sketchy, with very few details as to how the USA was so quickly conquered, I was prepared to give the author a pass on that one, given the real drama she managed to create. In the meantime, the long-running battle between the Hunters and Keepers goes on and the story is brought to a satisfying ending.

This story is recommended for fans of multi-dimensional travel at the younger end of the YA age range.
7/10