Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2018 Day 2 - Some new releases to look out for

Three preview copies landed on the doormat of The BlogCave just before Christmas. Each looks to be a promising read so here's some details

So, first up is Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds (25/1/18 Gollancz) This is a stand alone story set in the world of The Prefect. With the technological implants connecting every citizen becoming murder weapons the hunt is on for a silent, hidden cover.

I enjoy Sci-Fi and I enjoy Crime Fiction so I guess I'm doubly looking forward to this.

Next up, (8/2/18 Gollancz) is The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton.

From the press release:

'In the opulent world of OrlĂ©ans, the            people are born grey and Damned,                and only a Belle's powers can make                them beautiful. Camellia Beauregard              wants to be the favourite Belle - the                one chosen by the Queen to tend to the          royal family.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters          arrive at court, it becomes clear that              being the favourite is not everything              she always dreamed it would be.                      Behind the gilded palace walls live                  dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns          that her powers may be far greater -              and far darker - than she ever                          imagined'

This may be slightly out of my comfort zone but there's something intriguing about The Belles. I think I'm going to enjoy this.

Finally, for today, One Way by S J Morden (Ebook, Export and Audio April 2018, Paperback August 2018). A base needs to be built on Mars, ready for the arrival of NASA astronauts. It has to be manually constructed and it's decided 8 prisoners from Earth, 8 people who won't be missed, are offered a one way trip to the red planet. On arrival though, someone starts bumping off them off.

A whodunit set on Mars? I'm in 😉

 So, there you go, three upcoming titles to whet your appetite. Happy reading

Monday, 1 January 2018

Here's To 2018 and The Art of War

Hello, and welcome to 2018. A new year with lots of new books to look forward to. I'm aiming to be a lot more active on the blog this year - I'm planning on doing a post or two every week, possibly more if I have more to say.

I'm starting with a quick post about a collection which i am reading a preview copy of. What I have read of it so far is of very good quality (but more on that when I've finished it.)

What I wanted to cover here though is reasons for wanting this collection on your shelves.

Reason 1: The quality of the authors (people like Mark Lawrence, John Gwynne, Anna Stephens and Nicholas Eames to name but a few)

Reason 2: This book is to support Doctors Without Borders which, I feel, is a very good cause indeed.

I'll post more on here when I have it.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Guest Post by Worldmaker trilogy author Lucy Hounsom

Tomorrow sees the release of Firestorm, the 3rd and final volume of Lucy Hounsom's (rather excellent) Worldmaker series. 
As part of the promotional blog tour Lucy is stopping by The BlogCave today to tell us about the playlist she had while writing the series.
So, without further ado, "heeeeere's Lucy"

Worldmaker Playlist
I don’t tend to listen to music while I’m writing. Songs with lyrics are too distracting, while soundtracks remind me too much of the film or series they’re from. But since beginning Starborn, I’ve amassed a playlist for the trilogy: tracks that pick up on elements of character, others I’ve found inspiring, and some that just seem to fit the atmosphere of Acre. You know when you stumble across a track that seems to sum up whatever you’re writing or reading at a particular moment in time? Yep, that’s how this playlist chiefly came about.

Loreena McKennitt gets the top spot since at least three of her songs appear on my playlist: All Soul’s Night, The Mystic’s Dream and Night Ride Across the Caucasus. As you can probably tell from the titles, McKennitt’s songs sit half in the realm of fantasy already. In its three-part verse structure, for me All Soul’s Night resonated with Kyndra’s three trials in Starborn and actively inspired the scene where she inherits her power. Night Ride is a long track with an epic-sounding middle eight; I listened to it a lot during the dream-plan stage of Heartland. (Dream-plan is my name for the ephemeral stuff that goes on in my head before I make the real notes). The Mystic’s Dream I’ve long associated with Solinaris, as there’s an ethereal, ghostly echo about it that reminds me of bygone days of glory. The time travel thread in Firestorm, while a huge pain to write, gave Kyndra the opportunity to visit Solinaris, something I’ve wanted to do since starting Starborn.

Knight Moves, Suzanne Vega
My colleague introduced me to Vega and as soon as I heard this song, it made me think of BrĂ©genne and the fragility she hides beneath a stone-faced façade. Vega’s album has that ‘honest’ feel of music that’s not been overproduced.

The Alchemist, Bruce Dickinson
So many of the lyrics in this song resonate with the character of Medavle, my haunted immortal Yadin. Medavle has had a dark life, driven by heartbreak and rage; I think Dickinson’s raw-sounding vocals really capture some of his hatred, his contempt and his unflagging pursuit of revenge on the man who murdered his people.

Running Wild, Roxy Music
I’ve long associated this track with Nediah and Kait and their shared history. It’s warm and nostalgic, seeming to encompass both the days they ran wild as young lovers and the new days after they’re reunited as much-changed adults.  

Hunter, Dido
This is definitely a song for Kait and her struggle to regain both her independence and her purpose in life, which she feels she’s lost.

Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
I love my angsty-relationship tracks and this was one of the first I found that worked for Nediah and his feelings about his mentor, Brégenne.

Let Her Go, Passenger
Angsty-relationship track number two! This is the mushiest song on my playlist. BrĂ©genne and Nediah form my trilogy’s core romance and they don’t see each other for a whole book. This song was great for when I needed to get into that mind-set of what it meant to separate them and how their relationship would develop if they could no longer rely on each other.  

Through Glass, Stone Sour
This is probably Heartland’s core song and it’s really one for Char. He has to deal with assassins hunting him, his own waking power and Kyndra, who repels and attracts him in equal measure.

C’Hoant Dimein, CĂ©cile Corbel. I believe this song is sung in Breton, so lyrics don’t exactly play a part. It’s hard to put my finger on why I’ve included it here except that I once saw it used in a YouTube fan video of Ronja Rövardotter (Ronia the Robber’s Daughter), a 1984 Swedish fantasy film, which for me evokes innocence and adventure with just a hint of first love. Heartland and Firestorm are both darker than Starborn and perhaps this song reminds me that true comradeship can be fostered in adversity.

Ha, my mum hates this song, thinks it’s boring and bleak, but I like it because of its darkness. All the stuff about the sun losing its light reminds me of Hagdon, my tortured soldier.  He really is one of my favourite characters and it’s always a joy to write his scenes.

There you have it: short but – bittersweet now that the trilogy is done and the fellowship broken. Even so, these songs will always play a part in the story and I know I’ll think of it whenever I hear them. 

A full review of the series will be up on here soon.

Monday, 4 December 2017

The Night Market by Jonathan Moore

It starts with a particularly nasty murder! When Detective Ross Carver and his partner (Jenner) go to investigate they are not long on the scene before 6 FBI agents turn up in Hazmat gear and take over. Carver and Jenner are quickly removed, sent to a mobile decontamination unit and...

Ross wakes up in his apartment 3 days later to find his neighbour, Mia, sat by his bed, reading aloud, and that he has no memory of what has happened since before the murder scene.

Trust me, this book is a weird one. Set in the near future there are enough Sci-Fi elements to almost qualify it for that genre but what it is in its heart of hearts is Future Crime Noir. From the very beginning Carver doesn't know what is happening and the reader is very much in the same boat. Things get a bit clearer around the 60% mark but I was still left guessing right up to the very end.

Moore paints near future San Francisco with a very black brush, very seedy and derelict but also makes it interesting. I found myself at several stages of the story just begging someone to film this, it needs to get the big screen treatment, it really does.

I did nearly put this book down early on, mainly because I was constantly thinking WTH am I reading, but thankfully the story got it's claws into me and before long I was reading into the early hours.

4/5 stars

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Stay Happy by James Josiah - A Review

 This, even several weeks after finishing it, has not been an easy book to review. Mostly because whatever I say carries the risk of spoilers and although I will try my best you may want to read the book first... and you will want to read this book!

It starts with the birth of Ryan AndErsen's daughter and goes through the challenges of coping through Ryan's eyes. The first part of the book is quite humorous in places and goes along at a pleasant pace but you get the idea there is a 'game changing moment's coming and it approaches with the inevitability of a slow motion car crash. You can see what is coming but, much as you may want to, you cannot look away.

 From that moment the story changes a lot as Ryan tries to cope with the aftermath.

Stay Happy is a well written tale that will drag you through the emotional wringer, a story with all the 'feels'.

I will certainly be looking out for more from James Josiah


Thursday, 26 October 2017

In The Post Today

Interesting postal delivery to The BlogCave today

Now, that's a very nice envelope, not anything I was expecting, so I eagerly opened it up and found...

           What a pleasant surprise then to see it contained the author's preferred text version of one of my favourite novels of all time - Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. And it is gorgeous. Chris Riddell has done the illustrations. I am a big fan of CR's artwork anyway, so, added bonus.

And,to top it all, even the press release is a lovely thing to look at
 So, thank you very much to Katie at Headline,  and to Headline Books. You've made this Blogger very happy indeed.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Starborn by Lucy Hounsom - A Review

Right, first things first, this is likely to only be a short review. I finished Starborn yesterday afternoon and am already a good way into the sequel, Heartland. Also yesterday, I was offered a Netgalley 'treat' review copy of the final volume, Firestorm. (Needless to say I fair snapped the publisher's hand off). For this reason I plan on doing a short review for each book and a more in depth look at the series as a whole after.

So, Starborn... as the first in a new series by a debut author it certainly ticks all the right boxes

Young person living in the middle of nowhere ✔

Mysterious strangers in town as a pivotal day approaches ✔

Lead character leaves home with strangers ✔

Adventure and discovery of Destiny ensues ✔

Yes, as a storyline it feels like nothing new at first, but be patient...

Where a story or series like this can stand or fall is on things like characterisation, world building and the magic system and on these 3 points Lucy Hounsom stands tall.

The Characters - this was a strange one for me. All came across as realistic, believable etc but none stood out. By which I mean, all were equally (ish) effective. I was interested in all but none really above others.

The World - I do like a good map, which this book has, to follow the journey but I also like to be able to 'see' the places visited in my reading mind and not every author can quite pull it off. Lucy Hounsom does - really well.

The Magic - I like my magic to be a bit different to usual, or a new twist at least and I thought LH pulled this off quite well with her Solar and Lunar magic.

So, yeah, I really enjoyed this and, as I say, am already well into book 2.

For this debut I am giving 4/5 stars. I would have gone higher but I expect Heartland and Firestorm will be even better so I have to give myself room to mark up.