Tag Archives: Book reveiw

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher G. Nuttall

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The cool cover immediately caught my eye and I know Himself has enjoyed the Schooled in Magic series, so I decided to give it a go.

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…

I am not going to continue further with the blurb as it gets a bit chatty – suffice to say events all slide away very rapidly. I really enjoyed this one, but if you are looking for foot-to-the-floor action from the first page, then this one isn’t for you. This is very much a gradual buildup where we get to know several members of the crew, including the captain, as well as the other main character, Angela, who is the owner’s eldest daughter. She is an interesting character as she isn’t particularly likeable, being rather spoiled and self-entitled which is in stark contrast to the two stewards we get to know who are working flatout to get the ship ready for the rich, demanding passengers. That said, I don’t particularly envy Angela either, despite her wealth, as it comes with major strings that she only begins to realise during the voyage.

Despite the slow build, I wasn’t remotely tempted to pull away as I found all the everyday details and worldbuilding around the rhythms of the ship fascinating. I particularly liked the long-suffering captain who is more used to serving with the military and is finding working with the civilian crew pandering to the needs of wealthy passengers a very steep learning curve.

When it all hits the fan and chaos ensues, I felt the long lead-up paid dividends as I was completely invested in a number of characters and genuinely cared about their fate. There were one or two characters who I would have liked to see more of – particularly young Nancy, although I am very much hoping this is going to be the start of a new series. In which case, perhaps she will feature in another book. Once the action kicks off, the nasty surprises just keep on coming as the hapless crew and passengers are assailed on all sides by a truly terrifying force. The climax is every bit as exciting and unexpected as you would want, with an intriguing twist that allows for this book to be the start of a new, enjoyable series.

This one is recommended for space opera fans who enjoy spaceship-centred stories. While I obtained an arc of The Hyperspace Trap from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
9/10

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Review of Turbulence by Samit Basu

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Well this is fun! And different…

Aman Sen is smart, young, ambitious and going nowhere. But then he gets off a plane from London to Delhi and discovers that he has turned into a communications demigod. Indeed, everyone on Aman’s flight now has extraordinary abilities. Aman wants to heal the planet but with each step he takes, he finds helping some means harming others. Will it all end, as eighty years of superhero fiction suggest, in a meaningless, explosive slugfest?

turbulenceBasu’s slick, pacey writing style is a very good fit for this particular take on the superhero trope – and before you roll your eyes and mutter that you’re fed up to the back teeth of all these overcharged beings zooming through the skies in skin-tight cossies, wearing their pants on the outside – give this particular book a go. For starters, being set in India immediately gives the book a different feel. Basu’s sharp descriptions of the backdrop and society bounce off the page, and the priorities and concerns of the characters are based around the fact that this is an Indian book about Indian superheroes.

The storyline rattles along at a fair old lick – Basu doesn’t hang around – and he manages to give us the different experiences of a number of the passengers on the London-Delhi flight and their character progression. This, for me, is what makes this book stand out. Basu sets up plenty of humorous moments – but that doesn’t stop him asking some penetrating questions about the nature of superhumanism and what it does to the recipient. There are some characters who react with predictable consequences – Jai, a committed patriot and professional soldier becomes a megalomaniac. And despite the chirpy feel of the writing, there is a great deal of death and destruction, along with some genuinely poignant moments.

However, there are some interesting consequences – I liked the fact that no one is left significantly unchanged by their ‘gifts’. And some of them manifest in unexpectedly interesting ways. Aman, as one of the main characters, makes some high-minded decisions to take money from the undeserving rich and bestow it onto the poor – which doesn’t work out as well as he’d hoped. While Uzma initially wants to capitalise on her superpower that makes everyone want to please her by becoming a Bollywood actress. However, things don’t quite pan out that way…

In fact, whenever I settled back down with the impression that I knew what would happen next, events proved me wrong. I’ve attempted to read several superhero books recently and haven’t managed to finish a single one on the grounds they were too predictably violent. There is plenty of blood and gore in this one – but nothing about it is predictable. The climax was suitably full of high-octane action with flashes of humour, some surprising deaths and an interesting twist at the end, which means I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel, Resistance.
8/10

Review of The Starter Marriage by Kate Harrison

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Kate Harrison came to talk to West Sussex Writers several years ago – and when dismantling the mountain of books piled beside my bed which was starting to pose a serious danger to my small grandson, I discovered this book near the bottom and decided to give it a go as a break from all the science fiction, fantasy and crime I’ve recently been reading.

startermarriageTess – nicknamed Tip Top Tess by her father when she was a little girl – has been left by Barney, her husband of seventeen years. Now thirty-something and childless, she is just about holding Life together. Depending on what you define ‘holding it together’. She manages to get to the primary school every day where she teaches. But the house that she and Barney shared – the house they spent hours and money decorating – is currently swamped in empty bottles, takeaway cartons.

But Tip Top Tess, achiever and the first amongst her friends to find her soul-mate, cannot come to terms with what has happened. Who can she turn to? Her family, though well-meaning, seem fixated on getting her and Barney back together. Mel, Tess’s best friend, advises her to join a group for the divorced – a ‘boot camp for the broken-hearted’. The book charts the progress of Tess and the rest of the class, run by William. For all its chirpiness, this book examines some major issues. The idea of a starter marriage, for instance. This is when a couple get together, only to discover a few years down the line that they really have very little in common and so, divorce. The notion is that a starter marriage, where no children are involved, is a bit like a starter home. Something temporary that you put up with until the real, permanent version comes along…
I’m not for one minute suggesting that is Harrison’s view. Those of you who recall her visit to West Sussex Writers’ several years ago, will rememberl that she came across as a switched-on, organised person with a strong work ethic. After reading several reviews, I was expecting something a lot fluffier than the sharp-eyed observations Harrison serves up.

If you enjoy Maeve Binchey’s work, I would suggest that Harrison is a younger version. Quite upbeat, but capable of leaving you with some unexpectedly knotty issues along with the apparently happy ending. The one thing that struck me, was the copious quantities of booze the characters all got through. Tess hits the bottle hard when depressed after Barney’s desertion, but also knocks it back in great style when she’s celebrating.

Tess is a strong, well-rounded character whose apparent flaws only serve to make her more believable and I also enjoyed the supporting cast. The story unfolded with plenty of pace and while I’m not sure that Harrison actually manages to produce a blueprint for recovering after the death of a long-term relationship, she certainly has produced a thought-provoking, entertaining book on the subject.
8/10