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AdventThanksgiving: Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming Latte

Winter Is Coming (from sticksstonesandherringbones tumblr)

My Advent Thanksgiving series is a series of posts about stuff I liked in 2011. Music, books, tv, games, handsome gentlemen – you get the idea.

Ages after everyone else knew about them, 2011 was the year I started GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. My friends had been thrusting them at me for years, but I resisted. I can’t even remember why I demurred at first, but after a while it was a mix of ‘they can’t be that good if everyone else likes them, especially if they liked them before me’, and stubbornness. The same reasons I delayed reading Anne Rice and Jeff Noon and have still not seen The Wire. I would now murder for a new Jeff Noon book  and I know I will love The Wire once I get round to watching it. Later.

Anyway, this year the pull of needing to read A Game of Thrones before the TV series started and everyone else read it meant I finally gave in. Yes, while reluctant to be the last to the party when all my friends had already discovered GRRM,  I was keen to be able to say I’d already read them when the TV series brought everyone else in. I’m a horrible hipster book snob, who knew?

Three books in and you can call me a convert. I’ll definitely be finishing the series, and I’m glad I missed the years of wait for A Dance With Dragons, the delay that provoked this blog post from a certan Mr Gaiman. My loathing of Sean Bean means I might not watch the TV series, unless I just fast forward the bits with him in.

I’ve left the series for a while, though. I read the first three too fast and the gloom started to prey on me. Winter is Still Coming, and things are just getting worse and worse. Every time I start to like a character something terrible happens to them, usually some kind of brutal death. There’s a turn of events in A Storm of Swords that I fear I may never recover from. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. I read that chapter again and again, certain I had to be wrong. Then I cried – half sad, half angry that GRR had done it to me AGAIN. Trick me once, shame on you, trick me twice – your book is going in the freezer where it can’t hurt me any more, a little trick I learned from Joey in Friends.

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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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A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

cover of A Long Long Sleep by Anna SheehanReviewed for the British Fantasy Society, on their site now. I really enjoyed this one. Here’s a sneak peek of the review –

In the future Sleeping Beauty wakes up, leaves her stasis chamber and tries to piece together how she was left alone for 60 years. She is now the sole heiress to a massive interplanetary corporation and has celebrity status. But high school is difficult for the best of us… Click for full review

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The Magician King by Lev Grossman

cover of magician king lev grossman

Reviewed for The British Fantasy Society

Somewhere in these pages was a story I could have loved, with characters I cared about. But both got lost amidst the relentless world-hopping and cumulative misogyny. What a shame.

I really liked The Magicians. Still do. It took the childhood stories that shaped me, added clever, modern writing and created a new classic. In this sequel we’re back with the same characters, now kings and queens of Fillory. But Quentin’s a bit bored, and fancies some adventure…

Before long he’s messed things up and ends up back in the real world. He and Julia get a road trip across the globe while they try to return to Fillory, crossing through Julia’s old haunts to a beautifully described, magical Venice. For a while the book was great…

Read full review

 

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