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Sunday Post – 25th 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.

I’ve been back in the thick of it as term time has resumed at Northbrook. We had a department meeting this week, which was the most exciting in years with a new head who is very focused on expanding the role of Adult Learning in the college and in the community. I am now thinking about next year’s courses.

On Wednesday evening we had a great meeting with our Writers’ Group and are discussing the possibility of going on a week-long writers’ retreat in Devon at the start of October. During Thursday, my staunch writing buddy Mhairi came over and we discussed our projects, when she stopped me taking Miranda’s Tempest off on a new shiny direction that was luring me away from my former narrative arc. That’s what writing friends are for, people!

On Friday, Himself and I collected Frances from school so we were able to catch an early train to London on Saturday, as Grimbold Publishing were part of a featured event laid on by Forbidden Planet. I’ve never been to this store before – and found I’d arrived in heaven. In addition to being able to catch up with wonderful folks like Kate Coe and Jo Hall – there were all these books… shelves and shelves and shelves allll devoted to science fiction and fantasy! Frances was equally thrilled at the range of manga comics, so after a lovely afternoon chatting about books, browsing among books and buying books, we came home again… Though the trip home on the train was a tad quiet as we’d all buried our noses into our favourite reading matter.

Writing-wise, it hasn’t been a great week, but let’s hope I can do better in due course. Though it has been a very good reading week, given that I had some time after my meeting on Tuesday and a train journey to and from London to fill…

This week I have read:

The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher G. Nuttall
A year after the Commonwealth won the war with the Theocracy, the interstellar cruise liner Supreme is on its maiden voyage, carrying a host of aristocrats thrilled to be sharing in a wondrous adventure among the stars. The passengers include the owner and his daughters, Angela and Nancy. Growing up with all the luxuries in the world, neither sister has ever known true struggle, but that all changes when Supreme comes under attack…
This is a really enjoyable adventure set on a passenger liner – think Titanic in space. I loved the slow build so we get to know the characters and care about them, before it all hits the fan. There are plenty of twists, though I did see a couple of them coming. All in all, an excellent read for fans of quality space opera.

 

Into the Fire – Book 2 of Vatta’s Peace by Elizabeth Moon
When Admiral Kylara Vatta and a ship full of strangers were marooned on an inhospitable arctic island, they uncovered secrets that someone on Ky’s planet was ready to kill to keep hidden. Now, the existence of the mysterious arctic base has been revealed, but the organisation behind it still lurks in the shadows, doing all it can to silence her.
I loved Cold Welcome, the first book in this series, so I was delighted when I realised this offering was now available. It picks up immediately after the first book, when everyone has returned home and should be relaxing with their loved ones after such a terrible ordeal – only that isn’t happening. Once more Moon is cranking up the tension in this, well told futuristic thriller.

 

The Magic Chair Murder: a 1920s English Mystery – Book 1 of the Black and Dods series by Diane Janes
1929.
The night before she’s due to make a speech to the Robert Barnaby Society on the subject of the famous writer’s ‘magic chair’, committee member Linda Dexter disappears. When her body is discovered two days later, fellow members Frances Black and Tom Dod determine to find out the truth about her death.
This cosy murder is consciously set in the 1920’s tradition with a slow buildup and plenty of prospective suspects. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical details of Fran Black’s life, which takes a hard look at the lot of a woman living on her own at a time when they had only just got the vote. This one held me right to the end and I am definitely going to be looking out for more books, in this entertaining series.

 

The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon: Using Speech Recognition Software to Dictate Your Book and Supercharge Your Writing Workflow by Scott Baker
As writers, we all know what an incredible tool dictation software can be. It enables us to write faster and avoid the dangers of RSI and a sedentary lifestyle. But many of us give up on dictating when we find we can’t get the accuracy we need to be truly productive.

This book changes all of that. With almost two decades of using Dragon software under his belt and a wealth of insider knowledge from within the dictation industry, Scott Baker will reveal how to supercharge your writing and achieve sky-high recognition accuracy from the moment you start using the software.
This book is certainly well written and very clear. While there are a number of excellent tips which should help me improve my mastery of Dragon, I’m not sure that I will ever get to a stage where my accuracy will rival my typing – after all I was a fully-trained touch-typist who earned a crust as secretary in a former life. But as my hands and wrists are getting increasingly unhappy at cranking out 400,000+ words a year (NOT all novels or stories, I hasten to add) I need to do something before it turns into a full-blown repetitive strain injury.

 

Into the Thinnest of Air – Book 5 of the Ishmael Jones Mystery series by Simon R. Green
Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are attending the re-opening of Tyrone’s Castle, an ancient Cornish inn originally built by smugglers. Over dinner that night, the guests entertain one another with ghost stories inspired by local legends and superstitions. But it would appear that the curse of Tyrone’s Castle has struck for real when one of their number disappears into thin air. And then another . . .
This is another entertaining adventure in this paranormal murder mystery series. There is certainly plenty of tension as guests disappear one by one in the creepy castle that is cut off from the outside world. I was hooked into wanting to know what happens next and will be writing a review in due course.

 

Escaping Firgo by Jason Whittle
When a bank worker takes a wrong turn in life and on the road, he finds himself trapped in a remote village hiding from the police. Before he can find his freedom, he has to find himself, and it’s not just about escaping, it’s about settling up. Because everybody settles up in the end.
This is a delightfully quirky read – and at only 52 pages, moves along at a decent clip. I thoroughly enjoyed following our protagonist’s adventures, as he endeavours to escape from Firgo and will be reviewing this one.

 

 

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 18th February 2018

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

Teaser Tuesday featuring Into the Fire – Book 2 of the Vatta’s Peace series by Elizabeth Moon

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring The Magic Chair Murder: a 1920s English Mystery – A Black and Dod Mystery:1 by Diane James

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Fire and Bone – Book 1of the Otherborn series by Rachel A. Marks

Friday Face-off – Halfway up the stairs isn’t up and isn’t down… featuring Murder Must Advertise – Book 10 of the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers

Review of Killbox – Book 4 of the Sirantha Jax series by Anne Aguirre

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

It Comes Down to Reading https://jenniefitzkee.com/2018/02/22/it-comes-down-to-reading/ Just in case anyone has gone away thinking that learning an appreciation for books and reading is now an outdated irrelevancy superseded by newer technology…

Let’s Discuss – Predictability in Fiction and Film https://www.spajonas.com/2018/02/23/lets-discuss-predictability-fiction-film/ Accomplished indie author S.J. Pajonas raises this topic and has some interesting things to say regarding this topic. Do you like knowing what is coming up?

Blackwing: LITFIC edition https://edmcdonaldwriting.com/2018/02/19/blackwing-litfic-edition/ Genre author Ed McDonald pokes gentle fun at some of the snobbery that still pervades certain corners of the writing world…

Bar jokes for English Majors https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/2018/02/20/bar-jokes-for-english-majors/ I loved these – though there were one or two that had me blinking and wondering what the joke was…

Do Not https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/do-not/ I love this poem by talented writer Viv Tuffnell – it contains a strong message for anyone who is feeling pressured and manipulated.

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

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Here is my interview with Sarah Jane Higbee

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A delightful surprise – Fiona McVie just contacted me to say that her interview with me is now posted on her blog…

authorsinterviews

Name: Sarah Jane Higbee

Where are you from:

I was born in Ringwood, on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire in southern England. I’m now lucky enough to live right on the south coast at Littlehampton just a five-minute drive away from the beach.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I published my first novel, Running Out of Space, Book 1 of the Sunblinded trilogy – a new adult, space opera adventure on 11th October and I’m planning to release the sequel, Dying for Space in December.

 

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t write. I was always scribbling long, rambling stories as a child and knew there would be a time when I’d write a book. Once I remarried, I started reading and writing again and after Himself introduced me to his library of science…

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Guest Post by S.J. Higbee: Five Books That Inspired Her Debut Novel “Running Out of Space”

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Sara Letourneau asks me to list the books that had an impact on my ideas for Running Out of Space in this article – which was so much fun to write…

Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour for one of my writer friends, S.J. Higbee! She recently self-published her debut novel RUNNING OUT OF SPACE, the first installment of the Sunblinded Trilogy. I was one of S.J.’s beta-readers for this novel a couple years ago, and I remember being swept away by her futuristic universe of spaceships, interplanetary travel, and a young woman who can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Now she’s here to share five novels that inspired RUNNING OUT OF SPACE – and I think you’ll be surprised at the variety of her picks. 

Also, thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for letting me be part of S.J.’s blog tour, which runs until October 31st. Check out the complete schedule here.

Thank you so much, Sara, for inviting me to give my Top Five List of books that have influenced my writing…

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Blog Tour Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee+Interview

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Blog Tour Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee+Interview

Today Alexandra is hosting the blog tour for Running Out of Space – and interviews me about my writing process

banner Lolas Blog ToursThis is my stop during the blog tour for Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 11 till 31 October. See the tour schedule here: http://www.lolasblogtours.net/blog-tour-running-out-of-space-by-s-j-higbee

For a limited time Running Out of Space will be only $0.99 on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/RunningOutOfSpace

Running Out of Space (The Sunblinded Trilogy#1)

By S.J. Higbee

Genre: Science Fiction

Age category: New adult

Release Date: 11 October, 2017

Blurb: If you already scheduled your post, please swap out the blurb for this one:
Elizabeth 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…

I can’t recall whose idea it was. Just that me and my shipmates were sick of wading through yet another unjust punishment detail. So we decide to take ourselves off on a…

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Running out of Space by S.J. Higbee @sjhigbee #scifi Blog Tour w/ Guest Post + Excerpt @lolasblogtours

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Running out of Space by S.J. Higbee @sjhigbee #scifi Blog Tour w/ Guest Post + Excerpt @lolasblogtours

O. D. Book Reviews

Running Out of Space banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 11 till 31 October. You can check see the tour schedule here.

For a limited time Running Out of Space will be only $0.99 on Amazon

Running Out of SpaceRunning Out of Space (The Sunblinded Trilogy#1)
By S.J. Higbee
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: New adult
Release Date: 11 October, 2017

Blurb:
Elizabeth 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…

I can’t recall whose idea it was. Just that me and my shipmates 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…

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Running Out Of Space by S. J. Higbee Blog Tour and Special Feature!

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Running Out of Space banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 11 till 31 October. You can check see the tour schedule here.

For a limited time Running Out of Space will be only $0.99 on Amazon

Running Out of SpaceRunning Out of Space (The Sunblinded Trilogy#1)
By S.J. Higbee
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: New adult
Release Date: 11 October, 2017

Blurb:
Elizabeth 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…

I can’t recall whose idea it was. Just that me and my shipmates 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…

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Friday Faceoff – If I be waspish, best beware my sting…

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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 insects, so I’ve chosen Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

 

This is the cover produced by Penguin in 1999 for their series ‘Great books of the century’. I rather like it. The shading of the background works really well, with the island of marooned boys and insects and the fringe of yellow sand around the author’s name. The main aspect that jars with me is the complete mismatch in style between the title font and author name.

 

This edition, first produced in 1980 by Perigree, is the outstanding cover – thank you to Sara Letourneau for spotting my dating for this cover wasn’t correct. It shows one of the boys staring out at us with some leaves twined in his hair – probably Jack – as flies swarm on some fruit in the foreground. It is arresting, colourful and oddly disturbing without resorting to some of the odd imagery of some of the other efforts. This is my favourite.

 

Published in 2010 by Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınlarıin, this Turkish cover is also effective. Its simplicity is part of its strength as the boys are depicted in outline as the savage warriors some of them yearn to become. I love the fact that we can see the background through their silhouettes.

 

Produced in August 2011 by Faber Faber, this cover has also reprised the tribal feel with with far more emphasis. The line drawing of the island apparently swallowing one of boys who is wearing glasses is disturbing and oddly compelling. The font used in both the title and author name is effective and appropriate.

 

This Vietnamese edition distributed by Tsai Fong Books in October 2006 has Piggy featured with a huge fly looming over him and the jungle in the background. The single image of his broken glasses adds to the innate menace. My grizzle is the image of Piggy is too static and awkward, which is a shame because if that figure had looked more dynamic, the cover would immediately spring to life, I think. Which is your favourite?

Teaser Tuesday – 7th February, 2016

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tuesdayTeaser 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:
The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tchaikovksy
31% It had not Stepped, but it flew, wings shimmering from its back. It cursed Yellow Claw andthebearandtheserpent cursed all of them with nonsense sounds as it hovered up near the cave’s ceiling, before the horrified eyes of the priests. The gaping emptiness within it dragged at their souls, jealous for what it could not have.
Loud Thunder did not sleep that night, and he reckoned the rest wouldn’t either.

BLURB: Maniye, child of Wolf and Tiger, has a new soul and a new shape. But as Champion of the Crown of the World, does she represent an opportunity for the North – or a threat? Travelling as a bodyguard to the Southern prince, with her warband of outcasts, she hopes to finally discover her true place in the world, though she is quickly pitchforked in the middle of a crisis that puts her at the eye of a political storm.

Yet all the while, an enemy from the most ancient of times prepares for conquest, and could destroy everything in their path…

This is the sequel to Tchaikovsky’s impressive The Tiger and the Wolf , released last year. If you like epic fantasy and also enjoy shape-shifting protagonists, then  track down the first book in this excellent series. This sequel is shaping up to be every bit as enjoyable and full of incident as it takes our cast of characters onward through this adventure. I shall be reviewing this one in due course.

Creative Writing and Resources for Writers: An Interview with Teacher and Sci-Fi Author S. J. Higbee

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Many thanks to Kristen for her interview and the chance to talk about my Creative Writing courses.

Kristen Twardowski

To add another wonderful addition to my series of interviews with editors, writers, and other book adjacent individuals, I am thrilled to present my conversation with Sarah J. Higbee, author and creative writing teacher extraordinaire. She provides great tips for new writers as well as insight into what makes people return to science fiction again and again.

You can also explore the other interviews in this series, including one with Editorial Director Alison Hennessey and another with author  E. Michael Helms.

Sarah Higbee.jpgBio:
Sarah J. Higbee is a science fiction author and creative writing teacher at Northbrook College in England. In addition to working on her full length novels, Sarah has published a variety of magazine articles, poems and short stories including “How Words Were Invented” from Abandoned Towers and “Picky Eaters” from Every Day Fiction. Her latest story “Miranda’s Tempest” was published in the anthology Eve of…

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Friday Faceoff – A Room Without Books Is Like a Body Without a Soul…

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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 books, so I’ve chosen The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.

 

physicbookofdeliveranceThis is the offering produced by Hyperion Books in May 2009. It’s a beautiful, eye-catching cover, depicting the old fragile book that has been passed down through the family. This is my favourite cover.

 

physicbookofdeliverance1This cover produced by Voice in April 2010 takes several of the main elements from the original design, but has included the figure which I think makes it look rather cluttered and messy.

 

physicbookofdeliverance2This cover, produced by Penguin, also depicts a book with another title – I’m assuming it’s for the US market – but the tone is way off. The book isn’t horror, but it is certainly grittier and more hardhitting than this rather flowery, fanciful design conveys.

 

physicbookofdeliverance3Whereas this German edition, produced by Page & Turner in August 2009, has gone to the other extreme. This cover suggests severed goats heads and frantic virgins tethered to the altar, which isn’t what this book is about, either. If I’d picked it up thinking that’s what I was getting I’d be thoroughly fed up, so it isn’t doing its job.