Tag Archives: thriller

Review of The Operator – Book 2 of the Peri Reed Chronicles by Kim Harrison

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Last month, I read and reviewed the first book, The Drafter, in this fascinating series where a black ops agent can shift small amounts of time to avoid being killed/captured or to overpower and take out their opponent. There is only a small window where the drafter recalls both timelines, before the brain promptly forgets the previous one. And any lingering memory of another timeline has to be expunged by a handler – the drafter’s anchor – as recollection of two opposing timelines rapidly leads to shock, mental breakdown and catatonic coma before death. As you can see, this scenario leads to some really interesting questions, which Harrison explores effectively in the first book. Can she sustain the action and wider ramifications in this sequel?

Peri Reed’s job eats her mind, but for a special task agent in hiding, forgetting the past can be a blessing. Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and the agency who turned her into the very thing she fought against, Peri abandoned the wealth and privilege of Opti for anonymity riddled with memory gaps and self-doubt. But when a highly addictive drug promises to end her dependency on those who’d use her as a tool for their own success, she must choose to remain broken and vulnerable, or return to the above-the-law power and prestige she once left: strong but without will—for whoever holds her next fix, will hold her loyalty.

The short answer is yes. I really like the fact that despite Peri is aware she has done terrible things to some people who didn’t deserve their fate at her hands – after she has walked away from that lifestyle, she still yearns for the excitement, power and money. To the extent that she essentially stalks her more monied customers in the coffee shop she now runs. And it is into this humdrum life, she is presented with a new development. A drug has been developed by her former boss, Bill, now disgraced and on the run from the CIA. And this drug means that she can cope with the aftermath of timeshifts to the extent that her memory doesn’t need to be wiped.

However, Bill has ensured said drug is lethally addictive. Will Peri return to the life she feels she is best suited to? The life she still yearns for? I really enjoyed the fact that she really struggles with the lure of the excitement, adrenaline-rush and money she used to earn. Meanwhile, events keep moving forward and it won’t come as an almighty shock that other people around her are in the process of making the decision on her behalf. Once again, this fast-paced thriller not only offerings us an action-packed adventure, but some more thought-provoking situations for us to ponder.

Harrison’s characterisation is excellent – it’s what motivated me to track down this series, after thoroughly enjoying The Turn, the superb prequel to her popular post-apocalyptic fantasy series, The Hollows. Peri is a complex, spiky character who loves fast cars and expensive clothes. She can be selfish, demanding, materialistic and overly violent. She can also be loyal, generous with a highly developed sense of what is right. The near-future world has some nice touches and the supporting cast also work well. Another cracking read that delivered from a writer who is clearly at the top of her game.
9/10

Sunday Post – 2nd April 2017

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

It’s been a rather roller-coaster week. Last Sunday was Mothering Sunday and we were invited to my daughter’s for a lovely meal, where the pic was taken of all us mothers. We had a wonderful time – plenty of delicious food and lots of laughter and good company.

Meanwhile, Himself and I are getting used to life without his snoring. He is coping brilliantly with his sleep mask – me… less so. I find it difficult to cope with the quiet and keep waking up in a panic, all set to thump him, when I hear the machine whistling and realise he is breathing, after all. So right now, I am very tired.

My Creative Writing classes finished this week – I can’t quite believe the Spring Term is now over. I’ve now completed the editing phase of my major rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest and have started releasing it to my trusty team of beta-readers, who are aiming to have their readthrough completed by the end of the Easter break, bless them.

This week I have read:

A Crown of Wishes – Book 2 of The Star-Touched Queen series by Roshani Chokshi

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. However – he is a very cunning prince of a sworn enemy kingdom…
Another wonderful magical story in the best classic tradition – rich, lush and beautifully crafted. A real treat and an ideal Easter read if you are looking for something suitably rich to read while nibbling on your favourite chocs.

 

Mrs Pargeter’s Public Relations – A Mrs Pargeter Mystery by Simon Brett

It is her characteristic generosity rather than her love of animals that finds Mrs Pargeter supporting her friend, Jasmine Angold, at a charity reception for PhiliPussies, whose worthy aim is to rehabilitate stray cats from the Greek island of Atmos into caring English homes. But the evening is to have unexpected consequences. At the event, Mrs P is taken aback to meet a woman who claims to be the sister of her late husband, the much-missed Mr Pargeter. This surprising encounter leads to unwelcome digging into past secrets, the discovery of a body in Epping Forest, an eventful trip to Greece – and unexpected danger for Mrs Pargeter. In the course of her investigations, she learns the true nature of charity and the dubious skills by which Public Relations can make evil look good.
This is another book that was released during this week and I thoroughly enjoyed this welcome change in pace and genre. An enjoyable and charming mystery that is an ideal holiday read – and the fact that I crashed in mid-series didn’t matter a bit.

 

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author. Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.
I love Tricia Sullivan’s writing – she is an awesome talent who takes the genre in amazing directions and when I saw this one on the shelves, I was delighted. It is a real treat in a year of marvellous books.

 

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 26th March 2017

Review of My Parents Are Out of Control by Pete Johnson

Teaser Tuesday featuring Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

NEW RELEASE SPECIAL Review of From Ice to Ashes by Rhett C. Bruno

NEW RELEASE SPECIAL Review of A Crown of Wishes – Book 2 of The Star-Touched Queen series by Roshani Chokshi

Friday Face-off – Without gambling, I would not exist… featuring The Player of Games – Book 2 of the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks

NEW RELEASE SPECIAL Review of Mrs Pargeter’s Public Relations – A Mrs Pargeter Mystery by Simon Brett

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

Tough Travelling: Beginnings https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/04/01/tough-traveling-beginnings/ This the restart of what looks like an excellent meme that will be running for the month and I enjoyed Wendy’s choice of books.

Alternate Writing Resources https://richardankers.com/2017/03/27/alternate-writing-resources/ It’s always intriguing to see what resources other writers use – and Richard has a useful clutch here – some I know, and others I don’t, but will be hunting down.

Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge – 1st Quarter check in http://booksbonesbuffy.com/2017/03/31/women-of-genre-fiction-reading-challenge-1st-quarter-check-in/ This is very similar to the Discovery Challenge I run throughout the year and it is interesting to see how fellow book-blogger, Tammy, is getting on.

Lessons Learned in Writers’ Music from the Rolling Stones: Don’t Misunderstand Your Villain https://jeanleesworld.com/2017/03/30/lesson-learned-in-writers-music-from-the-rolling-stones-dont-misunderstand-your-villain/ Jean always has interesting things to say – and this is another well written, enjoyable article.

Five Fascinating Facts about Vampire Fiction https://interestingliterature.com/2017/03/31/five-fascinating-facts-about-vampire-fiction/ Yet another excellent, informative post from this superb site.

 

Thank you for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Friday Faceoff – Nomad is an Island…

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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 we have to find a book featuring a wanderer I have chosen the amazing The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, as I reckon that poor old Harry, wandering through Time has to be the ultimate wanderer.

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This is the definitive cover of the book and was the original, published in April 2014 by Orbit. I really like this one – it’s unusual and eye-catching and gives a sense of the temporal confusion that circles this memorable book.

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This is the hardback version published by Redhook, also in April 2014 is nice enough. The effect of the stippling around the title is attractive, but personally I don’t think it compares with the striking image of the previous cover.

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This is the paperback version, published by Redhook in October 2014 – and what a difference a splash of colour makes… This offering looks far less distinctive than the first cover.

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This rather disturbing Italian cover was released in May 2015 by NN Editore. It certainly captures something of the book, but I find it difficult to look at for long. However, that might be because my poor overtaxed eyes blur too often…

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This German offering, also released in 2015 by Bastei Lübbe is far more effective. I really like this one – it exactly reflects the premise of the book in an eye-catching and appealing form. I think it’s beautiful – the clock face detail with the different silhouettes sing off the cover. This runs the original cover a VERY close second as favourite…

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I also like this Estonion cover, produced in 2015 by Varrak. The spiralling clockface grabs attention and gives a sense of the book’s temporal theme, though I’m not as attracted to it as a couple of the others. What about you – which is your favourite?

2016 Discovery Challenge – May Roundup

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After reading Joanne Hall’s thought-provoking post, I decided to read and review at least two women authors unknown to me each month. How have I done in May?

theoutliersThe Outliers – Book 1 of The Outliers trilogy by Kimberley McCreight
It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help.
This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice: she has to ignore her gut instinct and go with him. But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

This twisting thriller cracks along at a fair pace and delivers plenty of surprises along the way. Read the full review here.

 

thelonelinessofdistantbeingsThe Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling
Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re floating through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change. Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. For a while he becomes the Sun for her; and she can’t help but stay in his orbit. Being with him flaunts every rule designed to keep their home in order, but to lose him would be like losing herself. In the end they must decide what is most important: loyalty to the only home they’ve ever known, or to each other?

This a romantic science fiction tale set on a generational ship – with heavy emphasis on the romance bit. Despite the fact that isn’t my go-to genre, the scene setting and shipboard environment is well depicted – read my full review here.

 

Banished – Book 1 of The Blackhart Legacy by Liz de JagerBanished
Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself… Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

This Fae story is well written and engrossing – I really enjoyed the fight scenes, which were vividly depicted and the real nastiness of the foes. I’ll be reviewing this in due course.

 

thenothinggirlThe Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor
Known as “The Nothing Girl” because of her severe stutter and chronically low self-confidence, Jenny Dove is only just prevented from ending it all by the sudden appearance of Thomas, a mystical golden horse only she can see. Under his guidance, Jenny unexpectedly acquires a husband – the charming and chaotic Russell Checkland – and for her, nothing will ever be the same again. With over-protective relatives on one hand and the world’s most erratic spouse on the other, Jenny needs to become Someone. And fast!

This book made my husband laugh and cry and he forcefully recommended it – so I read it… This contemporary/family/crime/mystery/romance is something of a genre mash-up, with a hefty dollop of humour and sadness thrown in. Have a go – you won’t have read anything else quite like it. My review is here.

 

Change of Life – Book 2 of A Menopausal Superhero by Samantha Bryantchangeoflife
With great power comes…great frustration. Several months after the events of Going Through the Change, retired corporate vice president (and occasional lizard-woman) Patricia O’Neill is embroiled in a search for the mad scientist who brought the “change” upon them all. Meanwhile, Flygirl Jessica Roark and gender-bending strongman Linda/Leonel Alvarez have joined a mysterious covert agency known only as The Department. They’re training hard, in hopes of using their newfound powers for the greater good. Patricia thinks they’re being used. Cut off from the other menopausal heroes, she’s alone. And her search has hit a serious dead end. Then Patricia disappears, and all the clues point to a dead man. It’s up to her friends and The Department to find her and bring her home

I expected this to be a parody of the superhero genre, but it follows most of the genre conventions – except the protagonists are women of a certain age… There are some amusing touches and I love Bryant’s original take on what superpowers can endow. See my review here

This month, I more than doubled my original target with five books by women authors I hadn’t previously encountered and of the 66 books I’ve read so far this year, 30 are by authors new to me. Once more, I have to thank the NetGalley arcs for introducing me to many of these writers. While I cannot see myself able to sustain this throughout the year – I’ve too many other things on my plate – I’m delighted I’ve managed to make such a strong start to my 2016 Discovery Challenge.

Review of Fishbowl by Matthew Glass

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This is a book rather difficult to pigeonhole. It is described by Amazon as contemporary, while one reviewer classified it as a lo-octane thriller, which would appeal to geeks. I think that pretty much nails it, except I think it has a wider appeal than the geeks among us. If you’ve ever seriously wondered where the internet is going to end up, then this book provides some interesting food for thought.

fishbowlGifted Ivy League student Andrei Koss hits upon an idea that promises to revolutionise social networking and move it on by a generation. Enlisting the help of his roommates, Ben Marks and Kevin Embley, he turns their dormitory into an operations base, where flashes of creative brilliance and all-night-coding sessions lead to the creation of Fishbowl. Within eight years they will turn a whim into a multi-billion-dollar empire; their creation will reach into every corner of the planet. But its immense power has many uses and everyone wants a piece of it…

And if that sounds like a certain film about a certain famous social-networking site, you’re right. There are some striking similarities to The Social Network. However, this book then continues and gains momentum just where the film finishes, with some chilling and fascinating conclusions.

Koss is a classic geeky genius, socially awkward and only truly happy when up close and personal with a computer screen, or other people who are equally at home in cyberland. I found it poignantly ironic that the ideal driving him forward to succeed with Fishbowl is his obsession with Deep Connectedness – a concept that will link people to others who truly line up with their own personalities and interests, no matter where they live. However, running a popular social network takes processing power and chunks of time, which isn’t free. So Koss and his two companions find themselves needing serious funding to keep Fishbowl going, which means finding some way to earn money with it. And the A-word is introduced to the Grotto, to the horror of the diehard fans of Fishbowl, who regard themselves as the intellectual heart and soul of the Fishbowl community.

Events impact upon Fishbowl, not least when they manage to attract the attention of Homeland Security and the FBI, but there is an inexorable push for Koss and the company keeping Fishbowl going to continue to extend the commercial side of the business. I found the descriptions of the growth of Fishbowl and the problems encountered along the way utterly engrossing. Glass manages to write knowledgeably about the technical and commercial obstacles littering the path of such a venture and make it interesting and comprehensible to someone whose knowledge of computers and the business world would fit comfortably on the back jacket of a pocket-sized paperback. It’s a nifty trick to pull off.

And he continues to impress with the various twists in the story. I saw some of them coming – after all there are only so many options open to a scenario featuring a social network site set in the present or very near future. But the final twist was an enormous surprise and has ensured that this book left a lasting impression with me. If you are interested in where technology is going, or any kind of science fiction fan, then give this book a go. It’s worth it.
8/10

Review of Queen of Nowhere – Book 5 of the Hidden Empire series by Jaine Fenn

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This is the fifth book in this excellent series – read my review of Principles of Angels here. So would it continue to be as gripping as the previous offerings? queenofnowhere

The Sidhe look like us. They live amongst us. They have fearsome mental abilities and considerable physical resources at their disposal. And their biggest advantage? No one believes they exist. Almost no one. Bez is fighting a secret war against them. Always one step ahead, never lingering in one place, she’s determined to bring them down. But she can’t expose the Hidden Empire alone and when her only ally fails her she must accept help from an unexpected quarter. Just one misstep, one incorrect assumption, and her Sidhe trap – her life’s work – could end in disaster. Worse, if Bez fails then humanity will be lost to the manipulative and deadly Sidhe…

As is apparent from the back cover blurb, this book veers away from the regular protagonists we have been following to date. Instead, solitary data-hacker genius Bez takes centre stage. I really enjoyed her spiky, paranoid personality as she tries to stay one step ahead from the authorities while fighting the Hidden Empire. Fenn pitches us right into the middle of the action from the beginning of the book, with the tension pinging off the page. Bez is not remotely cosy or particularly approachable and to make me care so much for her so quickly is a harder trick to pull off than Fenn makes it look.

That said, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the Hidden Empire series, then don’t be afraid to jump aboard. While there is a considerable backstory, and you would clearly benefit from reading the other four excellent books, Fenn’s writing is too slick and accomplished to leave her readers flailing around in confusion.

I also enjoyed the fact that despite the epic nature of the story, which spans a number of worlds light years apart, Fenn manages to mostly keep the focus trained on a small handful of characters, thus raising the stakes for the reader. And the stakes are high, because like a growing number of speculative fiction authors, Fenn isn’t afraid to kill off major characters. I stayed up reading far later than I’d intended to discover what happened next. And yes, there are some big surprises along the way – and not all of them are happy ones. Did I see the finale coming? No. And I’m really looking forward to seeing where this interesting series is going to go next – because, being Fenn, this could go anywhere. 8/10

Review for Personal – Book 19 of the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child

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If you have never read a Jack Reacher book before, and your taste runs to taut, well constructed thrillers, then give this one a go. And – no – you really don’t have to read the first eighteen to enjoy this one…

personalJack Reader walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him. The trail takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris – and then to London. He must track down a killer with a treacherous vendetta. The stakes have never been higher… because this time it’s personal.

As with any long-running series, the quality can vary from book to book. While I haven’t read them all, I’ve read enough to know that this is my favourite. Reacher’s voice bounces off the page in a laconic, clipped first person viewpoint that ticks all my boxes. I also love the way Child unpacks the story. If you want a masterclass in how to put together a page-turner, complete with a dangerous, maladjusted protagonist most of us would cross the road before looking him in the eyes, then study this book.

There are also some lighter moments – admittedly of the grimmer variety. But then, if you want cute and fluffy, you don’t look for it in a Jack Reacher novel. There are a pleasing array of villains, ranging from the lethally dangerous to the almost comically incompetent – and everything inbetween.

Another really nice touch is that in this story, Reacher is paired with a relatively inexperienced agent. Who is partly there to keep tabs on him, and partly to learn from one of the best – and it happens to be a young, attractive woman. So do they end up in bed together? Hm. I’ll leave you to find out. But I very much enjoyed the tension in their relationship and the struggle Reacher has to trust her further than he can throw her… What was very refreshing in this particular genre, is that Reacher doesn’t spend all his time clocking her firm young flesh. And the dynamic between them is far more interesting than having a fresh, know-nothing young thing falling into the arms of the grizzled vet because he’s… well – grizzled and knows what he’s doing.

And as for the final denouement… Well. I didn’t see that coming! At all. Which then had me flipping back through the pages for the clues – which is when you know that you’ve got a doozy of the final twist. And really elevates this to one of the best in a classy series of excellent thrillers.
10/10

Review of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

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I always find it fascinating how a cluster of books often appear on the bookshelves at the same time dealing with a similar subject. Not the slew of copycat wannabes who turn up trying to replicate a runaway best-seller no one saw coming – I’m talking about when the timing means that several authors were working on similar projects at the same time, often with completely different themes or approaches. I’ve been reading a steady trickle of excellently written books by established writers about this particular theme – that of a particular character living parallel or recurrent lives. And this is the latest addition.

first 15 lives of Harry AugustHarry August is on his deathbed again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always restarts to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a live he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’

This is the story of what Harry does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

That’s the blurb and for my money – that’s one of the best blurbs I’ve read. Ever. Kudos to Orbit for that effort and the clever book cover – does the book measure up?

It’s certainly different to North’s other work. She writes the Young Adult Horatio Lyle series as Catherine Webb and her adult fantasy Midnight Mayor series under the name of Kate Griffin – you can read my review of her first book in the series A Madness of Angels here. This book is more literary in tone, relying less on breathless immediacy and more on measured exposition with a slower narrative pace. And there’s nothing wrong in that – but be aware that if you’re expecting the same full-tilt adventure-packed deal she offers in her other fiction, this is a more nuanced, considered book and while there is plenty of action, it is differently packaged.

As it happens, North is visiting a very familiar science fiction trope – that of the trans-human who has shifted into something different by dint of having lived so long. The big difference is that trans-humans as depicted by the likes of Alastair Reynolds and Greg Bear owe their longevity to scientific development, while Harry August and the handful of other returnees he encounters during his lifetimes, owe their existence to a genetic quirk.  As a kalachakra, after he dies, he goes straight back to the year of his first birth – 1918 – and relives his existence, with the memories of his previous lives impacting on his choices and decisions. For my money, Harry August is the most effectively depicted post-human I have yet encountered. While never forgetting his difference, North has managed to still make him sufficiently sympathetic that I really empathised and cared about him – a feat, as he has become something other than fully human and is certainly not particularly cuddly or even likeable at lot of the time.

What we get is a fascinating exploration of what it is to be human and the effects of determinism – how far can Harry influence or alter the events in his lives – alongside the cracking adventure story that steadily evolves. North crafts this story with consummate skill and subtlety. The denouement is gripping and shocking and if this book isn’t shortlisted for every award going as one of the best science fiction books of the year, then she will have been robbed. Give it a go. It’s a masterpiece.
10/10

Review of Indie EBOOK Below Mercury by Mark Anson

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A really good space opera adventure takes a lot of skill to write. The characters have to be convincing and compelling; the adventure Space tug 090613 300dpihas to be engaging and above all the backdrop has to have a major impact on what is going on. Space adventures where it is all exactly like Earth, except for a few mentions of drifting and concerns about vacuum won’t cut it, but neither will I tolerate pages of techno-babble in omniscient viewpoint. So I approached this freebie I’d loaded on my Kindle on the strength of a cool cover and promising opening without too much anticipation.

BelowMercuryMercury – closest planet to the Sun. In the permanent darkness of Chao Meng-fu crater lie vast fields of ice that that have never seen the Sun, and the ruins of Erebus Mine, abandoned and forgotten after a devastating explosion that claimed the lives of 257 people. After an eight-year legal battle, the relatives of the victims have finally succeeded in forcing the Space Accidents Board to reopen its investigation. Matt Crawford, a mine engineer who escaped the disaster, joins a team sent back to the mine to discover the true cause of the accident. The team is led by Clare Foster, a pilot in the U.S. Astronautics Corps, who has taken on the mission in the hope of rebuilding her career after a near-miss incident. But as they set off for Mercury, they are unaware of a powerful enemy ranged against them…

Mark Anson cle71QOg-KZn7Larly knows his stuff and there is a wealth of detail for those who enjoy such things. But he also can write characters – including a convincing female protagonist, and keeps his cast of main characters small enough that we get to know them well, so that when the action kicks off we care about what will happen to them. And I really enjoyed the initial chapters where he sets up the reasons for the voyage back to Mercury – I felt the legal wrangling over the disaster was completely realistic.

While I’ve read one or two reviews who felt the initial pacing was slow, I was quite happy to relax into Anson’s fluid style as he steadily ramps up the tension. The depiction of the mine at the bottom of the crater and the economic and political background is strong and his descriptions are vivid and compelling. I was reading late into the night to discover what happened to the investigating team once everything began to go wrong.  He is also a talented artist, who produces a series of meticulous drawings and maps to support his detailed, well depicted world – a couple of examples of these drawings are here and show up really well on my basic-model Kindle.

While the story denouement wasn’t totally unexpected, Anson produces enough twists and shocks along the way that kept me hooked to the end. And I am reassured to hear this is the first in a planned series, as I will be making a point of looking out for more from this indie author. Anson is One To Watch in a demanding genre where it is difficult to achieve a truly readable, well written book – particularly without the support of a publishing house and professional editor.
8/10

Review of Sister by Rosamund Lupton

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This author was recommended to me by one of my friends on the West Sussex Writers’ committee – and a week later, I managed to pick up a paperback copy at a secondhand book shop, so it was clearly meant to be.

Nothing can break the bond between sisters…

When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.  The police, Beatrice’s fiancé and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

sisterI picked this book up, idly skimmed down the first page – and was caught. I was already reading a book, with several others queuing up behind in the correct order (not that I’m obsessive, or anything) and I have views on books pushing in and upsetting the carefully arranged variety I have already organised. But this book wasn’t going to wait.

The strong first person viewpoint and constant tension, coupled with the fine writing had me utterly engrossed, so that I gorged on the book in two hefty sittings. Though I did have to break off at one stage to find some tissues because I was weeping… The protagonist is beautifully handled as we follow her desperate search for her sister, which entails finding out a series of very uncomfortable truths about herself. Lupton is adept at braiding the surroundings, weather and cast of well depicted, vivid characters through Beatrice’s consciousness, so that she is one of the strongest and most interesting protagonists I’ve read for a while.

But, of course, if you’ve read the book, I’m sure you’re waiting to hear what I have to say about the ending. Well – wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I actually dropped the book, and lost my place. And no, I’m not saying anything else about it, as I’m allergic to spoilers and the whole structure of the book hinges around this one.

Does it work? Um. Still not sure, actually. But it certainly makes this book an outstanding read that I’m sure I’ll still remember when a lot of other so-called enthralling reads have melted into the mush at the bottom of my cranium’s crevices. Because this really is a gripping book, and if you get a chance to read it, do so. If nothing else, so that you can weigh in with your opinion about the ending – I’d appreciate any feedback on it. I think she pulled it off, but it really is an audacious move…
10/10