Category Archives: space travel

Review of KINDLE Ebook Drifters’ Alliance – Book 1 of the Drifters’ Alliance series by Elle Casey #Brainfluffbookreview DriftersAlliancebookreview

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I was looking for more space opera goodness, when I noticed this offering on my Kindle, courtesy of Himself, so I opened it up and dived in…

One hand of cards and it’s all over but the crying… Cass Kennedy finally gets what she’s been dreaming of for the past ten years: a drifter ship to call her own. All the sim time and battle training is going to pay off in spades as she sets her course for the future. She’ll be living on her own terms, not those of her father. But drifting through deep space with a crew of nutty strangers on the DS Anarchy carries a lot more surprises than she bargained for. Nobody told her that her ship is falling apart, that dead chickens are something you really want to hang on to, and that the OSG has big plans for the universe that don’t necessarily jibe with her plans for herself.

This book plunges straight into a card game with the highest stakes – a nineteen-year-old girl betting her virginity against a ship. I’m not giving too much away when I reveal that she wins. And thus starts this space opera adventure, full of action and excitement as Cass gets to grips with her unusual crew, the quirks of an elderly ship not in the best condition and a very angry ex-captain, intent on retrieving his ship.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Cass makes an engaging protagonist and whilst my eyebrows were initially raised at the idea of a nineteen-year-old having the sheer life experience and street smarts to be able to walk into such a post – Casey ensures we realise that her background uniquely qualifies her. The first person narrative bounces along as Cass’s energetic, can-do personality drives the story forward – and that certainly chimes with her age. All too often, young protagonists are far too cagey and world-weary, more reflecting the experiences of their older, warier authors than the youngsters who they are supposed to portray. Not so in this case. While she has had a harsh, abusive childhood, Cass has the sheer bravado that comes with simply being young and hungry.

There is also a very scary major antagonist in the background, the more so as he doesn’t make an appearance in this book… but one of his underlings does. In amongst all the action and mayhem, there is also a generous dollop of humour. This isn’t a clench-jawed thriller – more of a rollicking adventure, full of incident and quirky characters. Which is not to say there aren’t some moments of high drama – the scene where they are attempting to extract ice to top up their water tanks under the noses of the overbearing intergalactic force, who have just slapped a tax on all water sources, crackles with tension.

All in all, this is a strong start to what promises to be an exciting, entertaining space opera series and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the next book, Drifters’ Alliance – Book 2.
8/10

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Review of INDIE EBOOK The Backworlds by M. Pax #Brainfluffbookreview #TheBackworldsbookreview

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The Backworlds is one of the 52 books on offer during the Instafeebie LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi giveaway, which I had the pleasure of reading a while ago. This is my review. Running Out of Space is also part of this giveaway, if you haven’t already got hold of a copy and would like to give it a try.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

The initial couple of chapters pack a real punch – Craze’s hurt and amazement at his father’s double-cross is believable and immediately had me rooting for him. Pax shows her experience in the slick handling of her protagonist – too much fury and resistance would have unduly slowed the pace, while a mere defeated shrug would have still had the reader convinced that his father was a complete ratbag, but would not necessarily have engendered quite as much sympathy for the main character.

After his unpleasant ejection from his village, the story follows a familiar pattern – an inexperienced youngster having to make his way in an innately hostile and uncaring world. This time around, the worlds are hostile with knobs on. In the aftermath of an interplanetary war, no one is particularly welcoming – except for the two aviarmen he encounters on his first journey offworld… And immediately the three of them spin off into an adventure, while trying to find a foothold somewhere to make their fortunes.

The writing is pacy, direct and very readable. Pax knows how to write an interesting, detailed character, provide an entertaining and believable backdrop, while keeping the action coming. I was swept along with the action and particularly enjoyed the colourful dialogue.
9/10

Instafreebie Giveaway – LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi

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This giveaway is running until 21st August and is featuring women writing science fiction and yes – Running Out of Space is in there, along with 51 other books! I’m delighted to be part of any group that raises the profile of indie women authors writing my favourite genre and maybe you might like to check it out – here.

Review of Crossways – Book 2 of the Psi-Tech series by Jacey Bedford #Brainfluffbookreview #Crosswaysbookreview

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When visiting Forbidden Planet earlier in the year, I was delighted to find this offering on the shelves and given it isn’t available as an ebook in this country, I scooped it up with glee and have taken far too long to get around it, given how much I enjoyed the first book, Empire of Dust – see my review here.

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 charges they’ll face if they’re caught. So they better not get caught…

That’s as much of the rather chatty blurb I’m willing to share, as it gives away far too many plotpoints relating to the first book for my liking and if you are going to get the best out of Crossways, I recommend that you first get hold of Empire of Dust.

This is another action-packed offering featuring Ben and Cara, who have gone up against two of the major corporations running humanity, both in space and on the colonies scattered through space. Faster-than-lightspeed travel is possible by travelling through the Void by using jumpships. There are a couple of major snags to this technology, though. The first is that you need highly trained jumpship pilots, who can mentally visualise their destination and using their neural energy, pull the ship through the Void without being distracted by the monsters swimming through voidspace conjured up by their imagination. And the other problem is that jumpships need platinum to work, always a rare commodity.

I really like the fact that Ben and Cara are thoroughly ensnared by these two issues – the first novel focuses on what happens when a large deposit of platinum is discovered in a very inconvenient place and the crimes some people are prepared to commit to get their hands on it. In this book, while the antagonist is clearly ambitious and greedy, there is an ongoing problem – what will happen to farflung colonies and the rule of law if jumpships run critically short of this vital fuel?

The other issue is what happens in the Void – this was touched upon in Empire of Dust, but Bedford further examines just how lethal travelling by jumpship can be. There is a steady stream of ships that never make it out of the Void, including the one carrying Ben’s own parents when he was a child. His own experiences within the Void are increasingly causing him to question what he was told in his training – that those monsters he sees swimming through the hull of his ship while in the Void are products of his imagination and that he is to ignore them at all costs. Because if he makes the mistake of trying to interact with them, there is a likelihood he will be distracted, and given it is his mental focus that pulls the jumpship free of the Void, that could spell disaster for everyone on board.

These issues are unpacked in amongst a foot-to-floor action-packed adventure, where Ben and Cara are struggling to stay alive, while a number of the most powerful organisations in the galaxy want them dead. I am delighted to report that I have also got the third book in this trilogy, Nimbus, and I will be tucking into it very soon. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, well written space opera and highly recommended for fans of the genre.
9/10

Friday Faceoff – Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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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 meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week to feature on any of our covers is a starry sky. I’ve selected The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett – see my review here.

 

This edition was produced by Berkley in June 2017 and is my favourite. I think the starscape is absolutely beautiful and also suits the mood and content of the story. It also works really well as a thumbnail. If I had a quibble, it would be that I wish the title and author font had been given a bit more love and attention as they are rather boring.

 

Published in June 2017 by Pan Macmillan, this cover is eye-catching and reasonably attractive, though I don’t like it as much as the previous effort. However I do like the bright orange lettering, which works well against the backdrop. My main misgiving is that the book deals with the aftermath of a lethal virus and this cover looks a bit too cosy for the content.

 

This Italian edition, published by Leggereditore in June 2017, suffers from the same issue as the previous cover – it almost looks as though it could be a cover for a children’s book. And while this isn’t the gory type of post-apocalyptic story, the themes are only suitable for adults.

 

This edition, produced by Pan in March 2018 is an interesting example of what a difference an alternative colour scheme can make to the same design. I far prefer this version as I think both the orange lettering and the sky stands out more effectively. I also like the fact the woman is moving, rather than standing still.

 

This cover was published in November 2017 by Thorndike Press Large Print and is my least favourite. I’ve no quarrel with starscapes – in fact I’m a real sucker for them, but this is a particularly charmless effort with hardly any stars. It looks as though someone has knocked together this cover after browsing Shutterstock for all of ten minutes. Which one of these is your favourite?

#Sunday Post – 29th July, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog

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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 the first full week of the school holidays – and we travelled back to Brighton to pick up Frances on Tuesday from her last day at school. She was thrilled with the prospect of the summer break and to celebrate we stopped off at the local Haskins for a round of hand-made pizzas, which were very yummy. On Wednesday, Frances joined in my Pilates and Fitstep lessons during the morning in the sweltering village hall and in the afternoon, we met up with my sister and had a long, leisurely lunch – it was too hot to do anything else. On Thursday, we needed to shop for a few bits and pieces, when I discovered the delights of iced coffee and Frances sampled a hot chocolate scone, thinking she was getting a cookie…

On Friday, my writing buddy Mhairi came over for the day and we spent some of the time formatting Running Out of Space in preparation for a paperback version – the rest of the time, we were busy closing down and unplugging the computers and router when several thunderstorms swept through. During the evening, we went beach to see if we could see the lunar eclipse but though we waited, hoping the cloud cover would thin, it didn’t. However, we were treated to an amazing display of blood-red lightning, presumably reflecting from the colour of the moon. It was supposed to be my friend’s birthday party on Saturday evening, but poor Sally was crippled with a bad back, so I helped her ring around the guests to postpone it until she feels better, while Frances walked to the beach with Tim. Today we are travelling to visit my mother and father who haven’t seen Frances since last year.

This week I have read:

White Silence – Book 1 of the Elizabeth Cage series by Jodi Taylor
Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see. But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her.
What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control.
This paranormal thriller has plenty of the energy and twists I’ve come to expect from Taylor’s writing in her very successful The Chronicles of St Mary’s series, though Elizabeth definitely isn’t the adrenaline-junkie that Max is… A highly entertaining roller-coaster read.

 

Like a Boss – Book 2 of thendswept series by Adam Rukunas
After buying her favourite rum distillery and settling down, she thought she’d heard the last of her arch nemesis, Evanrute Saarien. But Saarien, fresh out of prison for his misdeeds in Windswept, has just fabricated a new religion, positioning himself as its holy leader. He’s telling his congregation to go on strike, to fight the system. And unfortunately, they’re listening to him.
This sequel to the successful Windswept isn’t perhaps as sharp or well realised as the first book, but I was happy to go along with the adventure, given I’m very fond of Padma and love the world.

 

The Tea Master and the Detective – The Xuya Universe novella by Aliette de Bodard
Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.
This is space-based whodunit nods to the Sherlock Holmes series, while adding important ingredients that can only exist in the far future. An intriguing, entertaining read.

 

The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed. For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.
I loved this one. The writing is lyrical, the worldbuilding exceptional and the story full of unexpected twists. And that cover – ooo… Many thanks to my lovely mother for sending this one to me.

 

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 22nd July 2018

Review of Removed – Book 1 of the Nogiku series by S.J. Pajonas

Teaser Tuesday featuring Like a Boss – Book 2 of the Windswept series by Adam Rakunas

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Immortal Creators by Jill Bowers

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Redemption’s Blade : After the War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Friday Face-off – Here we are trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why… featuring The Affinity Bridge – Book 1 of the Newbury and Hobbes series by George Mann

Review of The Tethered Mage – Book 1 of the Swords and Fire series by Melissa Caruso

 

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

Follow the Vikings https://inesemjphotography.com/2018/07/28/follow-the-vikings/ This talented photographer has perfectly captured the flavour of this amazing Follow the Vikings Roadshow when it came to Waterford in Ireland

Untitled https://photolicioux.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/untitled-146/ I loved this one…

Jupiter’s New Moons https://earthianhivemind.net/2018/07/25/jupiters-new-moons/ I love the fact that we are constantly discovering new facts about our solar system – and this is one of those exciting facts.

Then and Now at RWA National Conferences http://writerunboxed.com/2018/07/25/all-the-things-at-rwa-national-in-denver/ Barbara O’Neal has written with affection and verve about her experiences with the Romance Writers’ Association. I loved this article…

10 of the best poems by English Romantic Poets https://interestingliterature.com/2018/07/25/10-of-the-best-poems-by-english-romantic-poets/ I may not wholly agree with all these choices – but that’s okay. There are a number here I love…

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

My Top Ten Favourite Reads of 2018 So Far… #Brainfluffbookblog

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Now that we are more than halfway through 2018, what are my standout reads? So far this year, I’ve read 73 books and in no particular order, my top 10 favourites of the year so far are:-

The Stone Sky – Book 3 of The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
This whole series blew me away. The extraordinary viewpoint and the worldbuilding that takes a science fiction premise and pushes it right to the edge. It has an epic fantasy feel with a strong family dynamic and remarkable characters – and perhaps most important, concluded this series with sufficient drama and conviction.

 

 

The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher G. Nuttall
This space opera adventure, set on an intergalactic cruise-ship liner, was an unusual and riveting setting for this alien encounter. I liked the fact that the protagonists came from both the crew and passengers and enjoyed the growing tension as things slid away into a major emergency.

 

 

Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis
I loved this one. A half-trained apprentice with loads of ability and no finesse finds himself having to stand against formidable antagonists. The chippy narrator and gritty take on this well-trodden path made this a memorably enjoyable read.

 

 

The Bitter Twins – Book 2 of The Winnowing Flame trilogy by Jen Williams
I’ve been a fan of Williams’ vibrant, energetic prose since I picked up The Copper Promise, but this one is an awesome braiding of both science fiction and fantasy. No mid-book slump here!

 

 

 

The Cold Between – Book 1 of the Central Corps novels by Elizabeth Bonesteel
This space opera focuses on the characters with ferocious intensity and we get a ringside seat as layered, plausible people grapple with their own lives in amongst the stars. Needless to say, there is also politics, greed and the need for revenge and love blended to make this one unputdownable once I’d started.

 

 

The Green Man’s Heir by Juliet McKenna
This is one of the reading highlights of the year so far. Set in England and steeped in the myths and folklore of this ancient land, the story follows the fortunes of a half-dryad man trying to trace his lineage. Needless to say, he is pitchforked into the middle of something dangerous and old…

 

 

 

Head On – Book 2 of the Lock In series by John Scalzi
I loved the first book in this futuristic crime series, Lock In, where victims of a terrible illness leaving them completely paralysed are able to upload their consciousness into robotic bodies. Our protagonist is now working for the police, investigating the murder of a sporting star, who plays a savage version of American football. Mayhem and action all the way…

 

 

 

Before Mars – Book 3 of the Planetfall series by Emma Newman
I’ve loved every one of these stories – and this one charting the fortunes of a woman newly arrived on a Martian outpost is another riveting read. It’s rare that motherhood is examined with any depth in science fiction stories – yet the protagonist has left a baby behind and is grappling with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. There is a terrible twist that those who have read the previous two books are waiting for…

 

Child I by Steve Tasane
You won’t have read anything quite like this one. The cover alone tells you it is something different – and yet I plunged into it, thinking it was set on a near-future, post-apocalyptic Earth. I was devastated to learn it is set right now and based on the testimonies of children alive today…

 

 

 

All Systems Red – Book 1 of the Murderbot Diaries novella series by Martha Wells
Hard enough to write a well-paced novella – writing convincingly as a security robot assigned to keep scientific teams out of harm is far more difficult. Yet Wells triumphantly pulls it off. A marvellous read – I just wish I could afford to read the rest of the series…

 

 

There were other near misses it hurts to omit – Isha Crowe’s quirky Gwithyas: Door to the Void, L.E. Modesitt’s Outcasts of Order and Children of the Shaman by Jessica Rydill to name but three. What about you – what are your favourite reads of the year, so far?

Dying for Space giveaway ENDS TODAY

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Just a reminder that if you haven’t yet claimed a free copy of Dying For Space, the second book in the Sunblinded trilogy, today is the last opportunity to do so. One click on the cover in the sidebar is all it takes…

GIVEAWAY – Dying for Space is FREE for 5 days only!

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To celebrate the launch of Breathing Space on Sunday 8th July, Dying for Space is free from today until Tuesday 10th July. This will give you a chance to catch up on Lizzy’s adventures before she is plunged into yet more mayhem in the final instalment of the Sunblinded trilogy.

Teaser Tuesday – 3rd July, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #TeaserTuesday

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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:

Running Out of Space – Book 1 of the Sunblinded trilogy by S.J. Higbee

31% The air around him crackled. I held my breath, waiting for things to happen. They always did around him. He crammed more into a minute than anyone else I’ve ever met. And when he’d pass by, I’d gasp. Partly in disappointment, partly in relief. Except he didn’t. Pass by, I mean.
“Ah, here you are, little Lizzy.”
“Good day to you, General,” I stuttered.
“Shipboard life, does it agree with you?”
“Yes, thank you, General.” Expecting him to continue, I edged back a fraction.
His gaze welded Lnard to the spot, standing alongside me. “Many congratulations on the shining state of your cargoholds.” He gave me a wink, murmuring, “Your Captain does love his spit and polish, doesn’t he?”

BLURB: Lizzy Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…

Lizzy and her friends weren’t looking for trouble – all they’d wanted was to prove that fertile English girls could handle themselves when on shore leave without being accompanied by a sour-faced chaperone and armed guard. Looking back, maybe taking a jaunt off-limits on Space Station Hawking wasn’t the best idea – but no one could have foreseen the outcome. Or that the consequences of that single expedition would change the lives of all four girls, as well as that of the stranger who stepped in to save them.

Now Lizzy has more excitement and danger than she can handle, while confronting lethal shipboard politics, kidnapping, betrayal. And murder.
Um… I know – my own book… Except this is what I’m reading right now on my Kindle as I’m doing a major edit in readiness for the paperback edition.