Monday, 12 November 2018

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

All Spensa wants is to be a pilot like her dad was and take the fight to the alien Krell. The problem is that her dad was killed when he seemingly deserted his squad mid battle and no-one is going to let that act of cowardice be forgotten.

But just when it seems all Spensa's dreams are shattered the Krell massively increase their attack numbers and the people of Desolation will need every available body that can get to try and survive. It looks like Spensa is going to flight school after all.

Skyward is a rather hard book to place for readership. In a way, with it's young protagonist the easy thing would be to call it YA but that would probably mean a lot of older readers may miss out (although, in my opinion, YA is a misleading label as there are a hell of a lot of cracking books in that genre that I enjoy - and at 50+ years old I'm a long way from being YA). The story itself is as good as I expected from Sanderson, he does characters really well and Spensa is just that - a really well drawn heroine, flaws and all.

Where this book comes into it's own though is when the pilots take to the air. These scenes are both epic and breathtaking with the pages whizzing by.

The animosity from many towards Spensa is strongly felt but there's also a sense of kinship and acceptance from some which balances things nicely.

Hopefully Sanderson will have more of this story to tell and when he does I'll be at the front of the queue to grab a copy and see what the future holds.

Many thanks to Stevie Finnegan and Gollancz for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and please, if you get the time, have a look at the reviews from these other lovely bloggers who have taken part

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Cover Reveal for New Suns anthology from Tor

So, the question I was asked on Twitter this week was "would you like to share the cover reveal and 'boost' for New Suns, an anthology being published by Tor?

I read the blurb and 'Table of Contents' and, without further ado, post both here for you now.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange.
Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.
Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

Foreword, LeVar Burton

The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, Tobias Buckell

Deer Dancer, Kathleen Alcalá

The Virtue of Unfaithful
Translations, Minsoo Kang

Come Home to Atropos, Steven Barnes

The Fine Print, Chinelo Onwualu

unkind of mercy, Alex Jennings

Burn the Ships, Alberto Yáñez

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea, Jaymee Goh

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire, E. Lily Yu

Blood and Bells, Karin Lowachee

Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Shadow We Cast Through Time, Indrapramit Das

The Robots of Eden, Anil Menon

Dumb House, Andrea Hairston

One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto

Harvest, Rebecca Roanhorse

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger

Afterword, Nisi Shawl

To say I'm excited by this collection would be an understatement.

 Also, isn't the cover art itself something else! Yoshi Yoshitani has done a really good job of making some eye-catching art here

Friday, 26 October 2018

Bay City Monsters by Duncan Reyneke - A Review

Sometime last week I got a tweet asking 'How do I get a review from you?' I responded and asked for details of the book and thankfully it appealed to me.

That author was Duncan Reyneke and the book was Bay City Monsters, so crazy as all hell, end of the world is coming type horror/spec fic novel with a strong vein of humour.

As the book starts we find our hero, Paul trapped in a hotel room with the body of his dead girlfriend beside him on the bed, an animated dead guy (not a zombie) breaking down the door and a magical portal/black hole outside the window. The majority of the story tells of how we got to this point. It starts off crazy and just gets crazier.

The two big plus points for me were the dialogue and banter between Paul and his hunter of supernatural creatures girlfriend/not girlfriend Cheri, and the setting - Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Right from the moment Paul and Cheri first meet, when she is escaping through a hospital window they are rigging off each other, banter and insults slung around willy-nilly and a lot of it is quality stuff. Often it is used to try to cover their fear and here, again, it works really well.

As for the setting, I don't see many books set in South Africa so this is a refreshing change. The downside to it, I guess, is that I didn't get all the local terms and references but y'know what? When the story is this good I think I can cope with that.

If I had to compare BCM with another book I'd have to say Wong's 'John Dies At The End' but with one big difference - Bay City Monsters is actually a good read and a whole heap of fun

Highly Recommended 4/5*

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Clovenhoof's Diary (September) by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Good news my friends - Jeremy Clovenhoof (aka Satan) is back, and doing what he does best - causing mayhem.

This time around his story is in the form of a diary, which I'm guessing will be published monthly but don't quite me on that. Anyway, this book covers the month of September and the October volume will be available soon.

Right, down to business.

For those not in the know Satan has been kicked out of Hell and is now living in Suburban Birmingham. He's filling his time by causing mayhem (although, to be fair, it's not with evil intent, just  general mischief making) often involving his neighbours, Ben and Nerys (whether they want to be involved or not). So, without wanting to drop spoilers this volume mainly revolves around Clovenhoof getting a job as he needs to start earning money and also inventing a replacement for his beloved Lambrini (the stock at his local is destroyed).

As always there are chuckles aplenty and although it is not a lengthy tome it was enjoyable and I am eagerly awaiting the next one as there are unanswered questions.

Another winner from my favourite nutters


Friday, 19 October 2018

Rejoice by Steven Erikson

 to day 2 of the Blog Tour for Steven Erikson's new novel Rejoice.

A novel of First Contact, this tells of an alien AI representative (of 3 alien races) on a mission to save Earth's eco system. Unfortunately the biggest threat to the eco system is mankind so a decision must be made as to whether or not humanity deserves to be saved.

To help with the decision making the AI (named Adam) abducts one person from Earth to be it's spokesperson, Sci-Fi author Samantha August. Right from the off Adam seems to have integrated himself into the planet and has put a stop to such things as violence, destruction of nature etc and it is to be seen how the human race will manage with this or if certain individuals will try and adapt the situation to there own ends (oh, you just know someone will 😉).

Erikson makes a good job of keeping the story flowing by interspersing chapters which are just Samantha and the Adam discussing the rights and wrongs of what is happening or going to happen (admittedly these can be a bit of a slog at times) with chapters that are a series of vignettes showing how the changes are affecting people around the globe.

I only really know Erikson from his Malazan Books of the Fallen fantasy series so when offered the chance to review this move to Sci-Fi I was keen to see how he would handle the change of genre. I'm happy to say he's made a really good job of it. This novel is possibly one that people will be talking about for a long time to come.

Highly Recommended

Thanks very much to Alex Layt and Gollancz for inviting me onto this blog tour and please, if you get a moment, check out the other blogs

Monday, 8 October 2018

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

Welcome to Day 7 of the Blog Tour for John Everson's ' The House by the Cemetery' (Flame Tree Press)

I must say I liked the premise of this. Mike Kostner needs a job (he's a carpenter by trade), his friend needs a house doing up in time for Halloween and the house has a spirit/witch that needs blood, death etc.

Going into this I was hoping for something quite gory and blood soaked and in that respect I wasn't disappointed. I grew up in the age where video was king and horror movies ruled the roost. This reads like it would have been made for those times. The horror/gore when it comes (more on that soon) is the type that can unsettle the reader (in a good way, that is what the genre is  for really). I often found myself slightly nervous about turning the page - kind of like when you watch a movie and want to turn away even though you know you won't. This was what Everson did really well.

Where it fell down for me slightly was the early section of the tale. After the initial set up it seemed to take an age for the story to get going. I just wanted to skip through to the scares (I'm not handy by any sense of the imagination so the DIY and house rebuilding did nothing for me). If it had been a video I would have been hitting the fast forward a lot I guess.

So, in short, a decent haunted house story just in time for Halloween from an author I have not read before but certainly will in the future.

3 1/2 of 5 stars
Many thanks to Anne Cater and Flame Tree Press for providing me with a review copy of this book and for inviting me onto the tour. If you get the time please have a look at the other reviews and blog posts too.
Final word on the publisher themselves. I am fairly new to Flame Tree Press but must say I am really impressed by the quality of both the physical quality of the books and the stories and authors they have on board.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Doll House by Ashley Lister - Blog Tour

 Welcome to Day 2 of the Blog Tour for Ashley Lister's Doll House (Caffeine Nights Publishing)

Well, this one starts as it means to go on. The first chapter features a woman, Tina, taking a break in a house owned by her friend. In the bedroom is a doll, a creepy doll. And when she decides to get rid of it... "Don't kick me mama, please don't kick me"

Yeah, the doll speaks!!

Cut to now and author Ben Haversham stays at his agents house in the village of Sandalwood to try and get over his writer's block. Yup, it's the same house Tina was in. And if you thought the first chapter was creepy, believe me, it really kicks up a gear from here. The house is creepy, the village and it's residents - creepy. You get the idea.

This is what I want from Horror Fiction. I want to be unsettled from the get-go. I want to be wary of turning the page even though I need to know what happens next. And Doll House delivers every time.

If you liked James Herbert then this is for you. A cracking nerve shredder with an ending that is... yeah, you guessed it, creepy as all hell.     

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and supplying me with a copy of the book for review. And please, if you get the chance, try and visit the other spots on the tour