Friday, 7 December 2018

The Sky Woman by J D Moyer

Welcome to Day 4 of the Blog Tour for J D Moyer's 'The Sky Woman' (Flame Tree Press).

Set on and above a future Earth that has been ravaged by various factors (population decline, volcanic eruption etc) this has a cast of both primitive (ish( and scientific people. The main lead is Car-En, an anthropologist from the Ringstation circling the Earth. She is on her first field assignment and is watching a viking-like village (especially a handsome hunter). When the sister of Esper (he's the hunky hunter) is abducted by someone who shouldn't be there she decides to take an active role instead of the passive observing role she should, cuts off all contact and sets off to follow and hopefully rescue the sister. This may have dire consequences for her career but I'm thinking you've guessed that already.

To be honest, on finishing this book I still don't know whether I enjoyed it or not. It wasn't a bad story although it did feel a bit 'flabby' in places. The mix of Sci-Fi and fantasyesque settings and characters felt a bit of a mish mash in places but the ideas weren't as bad as I thought they would be.

I guess the best I can say is that I'm sure many will Enjoy it but this story just wasn't for me which is a shame.


Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and for providing a copy of the book. And please, if you get the opportunity to have a look at the blogs from the other reviewers on the tour please do

Monday, 3 December 2018

Kosmos by Adrian Laing

 Welcome to Day 2 of the blog tour for Adrian Laing's novel Kosmos (Flame Tree Press)

I really liked the premise of this one;

An old man is found sleeping on Hampstead Heath by two dog patrolers. They try to wake him by prodding him with his staff. In the ensuing kerfuffle one of them is injured and later dies. The old man is arrested and sent for trial. Right from the off the old man insists he is Merlin, awoken from a long sleep. His defence at court is 'rookie' barrister George Winsome and this is as much his story as it is Merlin's.

The actual trial takes up a lot of the book and, if I'm being honest gets a little wearing after a while. The trial is farcical, and also slightly ridiculous but it all leads nicely into the final third of the novel where Merlin's identity becomes clear, as does the 'life path' for George and his partner Heather.

As a big fan of Arthurian legend I was really looking forward to this and, although I found the trial section a bit trying at times (but judge for yourself, don't take my word for it) the final pay off was worth the perseverance.
 Thank you, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and supplying me with a copy of the book. Of you get the chance please take a look at the other review blogs on this tour.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Tales of Ramion

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Frank Hinks' Tales of Ramion series of children's books. I have two books from the series, Story 1 - The Land of Lost Hair and Story 17 - The Dream Thief.

Both stories involve three brothers, Alexander, Benjamin and Julius and their protector, the Dream Lord cat Snuggle. In The Land of Lost Hair the evil witch Griselda tries to enchant the boys so she can eat them but things go awry and all she achieves is making the family lose their hair. Snuggle takes them to the titular land, pursued by Griselda and various giant items of hairdressing paraphernalia.

Will they get their hair back?
Will the boys become tea for the evil Griselda?

In The Dream Thief the boys' mother's dream of being an artist is stolen by The Dream Thief and they, along with Snuggle and their mother (as a six year old child - trust me, it all makes sense) head to the Land of Dreams to try and get it back.

These are, I must say, lovely books to own. As well as captivating stories they are beautifully illustrated by the author. The stories can seem a bit surreal at times but are just the kind of thing children (of all ages) will love and the illustrations are equally so. A welcome addition to any library, in my opinion.
Please, if you get the opportunity, check out the other posts and bloggers on the tour

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The Lingering by S J I Holliday

Well, this was a surprise. I jumped on the chance to review The Lingering as soon as I read the blurb. I was expecting a good read but not as good as it turned out.

The premise is a fairly standard one - a young couple move to a new location to start a 'new life' but all may not be as it seems...

The new location in this case is a commune on the site of an old psychiatric hospital. In it's own way the hospital almost becomes a character in the story itself, looming large over everything. 

As 'unexpected and unexplained incidents' affect the lives of the residents the history of the site unravels itself and we are kept guessing as to who is responsible.

So, the first thing that drew me in to The Lingering was, obviously I guess, the story. It had a feel of the creepy kind of tale I enjoy. The idea of 'new location, new start' has been done many times before so it takes a confident author to take it on and do something interesting with it and, thankfully Holliday pulls it off here. 

Also, a quick mention of the cover art (I am a big fan of good cover art). The art here is both exceptionally good and also confusing, which sets the tone for the story. It draws you into the picture but leaves you feeling something is 'off'. And inside, just before you start, are two roughly pencil drawn floor plans of Rosalind House and grounds. Again, slightly creepy in a way I couldn't quite put my finger on. BUT!! Creepy is good when it comes down to story. This is a story that will leave you unsettled at times with hints of Hitchcock and (for me) James Herbert.

 Please, if you get the chance, have a look at the other review blogs on this tour.
Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and to Orenda Books for supplying the book itself

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*