Tag Archives | book review

Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens, Jonathan Pinnock (BFS Review)

Fresh from Salt Publishing’s new genre imprint, Proxima, this is a tentacle-heavy Austen homage for fans of Blackadder-style innuendo and puns that would make the Pope groan. The truth is out there, though it is not yet universally acknowledged.

The cast of Pride and Prejudice are carrying on much as we left them, though Jane and Charlie Bingley are having financial problems (something to do with an African Princess’s bank account and an ill-advised partnership with Mr Bradford) and Charlotte’s taken up with the nefarious Mr Byron. Don’t Bonaparte that cheroot, Lord B.

Click here for the rest of the review

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Advent Thanksgiving: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

daughter of smoke and bone laini taylor coverMy Advent Thanksgiving series is a series of posts about stuff I liked in 2011. Music, books, tv, games, handsome gentlemen – you get the idea.

This one’s  a no-brainer. If you haven’t already seen my gushing review of this for the BFS, click here to read it.

When I started doing book reviews it was because I thought it would be cool – I’d just joined the British Fantasy Society, and when they tweeted that they needed more reviewers it seemed an ideal way to get involved. Plus, hey, free books!  I was right, it is cool, and perhaps book reviewing should get it’s own Advent Door as it’s definitely made 2011 fun. I’ve discovered new writers and read great books I might not have found out about otherwise, often before they were published. It’s connected me to other reviewers with similar tastes, and now I review for Slacker Heroes too.  It’s hard to believe that this time last year I didn’t have a blog and hadn’t ever reviewed a book (except out loud, ranting, raving or recommending to my friends).

But when I offered to get involved with reviews there was another factor, apart from coolness and book-greed. Hope. I knew that Laini Taylor and Stacia Kane (two of my favourite writers) both had new books out soon. I didn’t expect it to work out, but I crossed my fingers and squinted my eyes up and hoped I might get to read one of them early. I was willing to risk reading bad books by other people if it meant I was in with a chance of getting one of theirs. I didn’t think I actually would, but you gotta hope, right?

daughter of smoke and bone laini taylor fan art

But I did! Hope works, people! The reviews person at the BFS had approximately 90 seconds grace between sending out the ‘Would anyone like to review ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone‘ and getting a shrieking, capitalised response from me, begging for the review copy. Which I got. W00t!

I then panicked that the book might not be as good as I hoped, that my high expectations would sour it, and I left the book on my table for a while. I worried. Then finally I began, and loved it. Phew. I still want more Dreamdark books, and I miss Magpie and her band of crows. But Karou and the warring angels were a sumptuous substitute for the sequel to Silksinger (ooh, so many Esses) and now I have two Laini Taylor series to recommend. Marvellous.

(Just need someone from Harper Collins to send me an ARC of Sacrificial Magic now… #cheeky).

Here’s a great trailer for the book, and another link to my review.

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Rulebreaker reviewed at Slacker Heroes

Rule Breaker Cathy Pegau coverOh, I have been remiss and not linked to my review of this yet, though it was such a fun novel to read And – and! – the lovely lady who wrote it, Cathy Pegau, agreed to step into my virtual parlour and answer some questions for me.

After working my way through a knot of books that were hardgoing and/or disappointing, Rulebreaker turned up in my ‘To Read’ pile at just the right time to give me a breather & remind me that reading should be a good time. Here’s the Slacker Heroes review:

I’m excited today because, as well as a book review, I’ve invited the author to answer some questions for us. Rulebreaker is a sci fi romance by Cathy Pegau, out now from Carina Press, and our Q&A session is at the end of this review.

Rulebreaker’s  heroine, Liv, is a low-level criminal with a history of smash ’n grab jobs. She’s been a con since she was a kid, and has yet to find either an honest alternative or the job big enough for her to retire.

The novel opens with Liv on the floor with a gun at her head, held hostage during a bank job. She is particularly peeved about this because she was there to rob the place herself. It’s a nice twist, and gives us Liv’s droll, down on her luck point of view from the start.

The first person, ‘just-wants-an-easy-life-but-keeps-getting-into-trouble’ point of view reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, and the light but fast-paced tone made this a quick and enjoyable read.

The story’s set on Nevarro, a mining planet that’s seen better days. Like most of the drones who work for the mining company, Liv dreams of a bigger things, a better life, legitimate or not. When her handsome ex husband tells her about the job big enough to give her what she wants, she’s tempted despite how things ended between them. One last job, right? Right. We all know how that’s going to go.

As in all good crime capers, Liv gets involved despite the obvious danger. Before long she’s embroiled in corporate espionage, living with her ex and chillingly aware that the people she’s working for are seriously nasty criminals. They’ve hired her to get close to her sexy new boss, and do whatever it takes to get the information she needs. Did I mention that Liv’s long-lost mother (also a con) picks the worst time to reappear and move into her flat, or that her sexy new boss is a woman?

The scene is set for an engaging adventure with some deliciously saucy scenes. Pegau writes well and delivers humour and a believable plot along with the sexual tension. I’ll definitely look out for more of her books in the future, and especially recommend this for Stephanie Plum fans who like a little sci-fi (and a bit of girl-on-girl).

Now for the Q&A section

Thanks for your time, Cathy! How long have you been writing SF/F?

I’ve always loved the SF/F genres as a reader, so it was a natural progression when I started writing years ago. And I do mean YEARS. I wrote my first novel (sword and sorcery fantasy, not pubbed, still in the virtual desk drawer, would love to revise and see it out there) about 12 years ago. There have been sequels and other genres in that time as I learned more about the craft and about myself as a writer. The futuristic/SF setting has been a favorite for a while, but the addition of romance is a relatively recent thing for me.

What comes first for you, characters or story?

That’s sort of a chicken or the egg question, isn’t it? It changes for each story. I’ve had plot ideas that generated characters as well as characters I knew I’d love that I built the plot around. Not that it’s ever so simple : )

For Rulebreaker it was a little bit of both. I was contemplating a story about a thief falling for the person she was supposed to steal from, so the plot and character went hand in hand pretty much from the beginning. Liv was fleshed out as the plot continued to develop, before I even started the actual writing. When it came time to “cast” the love interest, however, the fact it was another woman added all kinds of conflict and characterization dimensions. So while Liv more or less came along with the story, Zia grew from it.

What’s coming next – when can we read more of your stuff?

Nothing official at the moment. I have a couple of more books in the same world with secondary characters taking the leads. I’ll let you know when something happens with them.
Please recommend another writer from Carina, for us to read while we wait for your next novel/

Wow, so many to consider! For science fiction (with or without romance) I like Ella Drake, Robert Appleton, Lilly Cain, KC Burn, Lisa Paitz Spindler, Diane Dooley, among others. There are also great romantic suspense authors like Natalie Damschroder and Maureen A. Miller. I love a good romantic suspense story.

Thanks again, Cathy, for answering my questions. You can get to know Cathy better from her Twitter, website or blog.

 

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Roil by Trent Jamieson

roil cover rb

New review now up at Slacker Heroes.

Margaret nodded, and David considered her resolute expression, and the way she packed away her weaponry with an efficiency at once beautiful and terrifying. Rather like the Roil.

“We’ll make them pay. We’ll wipe the blasted earth of them. I’ll not see another city fall,” Margaret said, as though she was capable of such things, as though she might singlehandedly save the world.

The Roil is a turbulent mass of darkness, death and monsters that is steadily filling the sky, destroying civilisation and heating up the world til it’s the right temperature for full scale invasion. You know when you look up and the clouds have swarmed over that blue sky you were enjoying? You shiver, and curse the fact that you left your jacket at home. Imagine something like that, but where the clouds are full of things called Quarg Hounds or Wit Moths, and they’re going to block out the sun, kill you horribly and then swarm out of your eyes. You won’t need your jacket any more, honey.

Jamieson’s novel takes us across the land that the Roil is overtaking, following a group of people with nothing in common but the desire to survive and/or destroy the Roil. Can a drug addict, a plucky young woman and a mysterious Old Man stop the encroaching destruction?

There’s a lot to like here, though in places I wanted more. The world building is intricate, imaginative and impressive and I am sure that what we see here represents an iceberg mass that, right now, only Trent Jamieson knows about. I love the variety of people who populate this country, and the thought that’s gone into the towns they hail from. There are the cavalier Drifters who live in the sky and despise the land lubbers, the merciless Verger assassins who kill for the state, and the scary Cuttlefolk, who seem to be man, bird and insect. I was reminded more than once of China Mieville and the original detail of his Bas Lag metropolis. That’s a compliment.

But on a smaller level, scene by scene, the book would benefit from more detail. I’d like to know about the rooms these people are in, the routes they take there, what’s inside their heads. There are missed opportunities to tell us more about this world and these characters. They travels for miles and visit cities they’ve never seen before, and barely react. The writing is so sparse sometimes that it’s more like an outline or a script than fleshed out fiction, which is a shame as I’m sure there’s more to tell. Too much is held back from the reader, which may be a tactic to build tension but can verge on confusion instead.

The nasty stuff is deliciously horrid, with gore and viciousness that Jamieson should be proud of. The concept of the Roil, and the way I can so easily visualise it, makes it a magnificent monster and one I don’t expect to be easily beaten. I liked that; it’s good to read something where I can’t tell if the good guys will win or not. A lot of people will enjoy the original world building here, and might not mind the scarcity of detail which made me balk. I hope so – let me know what you think.

 

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