Apr 242014
 

Fortune's Pawn: Book 1 of Paradox: 1/3 Deviana Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. One of those is going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

Not when she just got a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble. And with a reputation for bad luck that makes one year as security detail on this ship equal to five years everywhere else – Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year might be more than even Devi can handle.

I love space operas, I love science fiction with a twist of romance, I love first person stories where things are grey as the narrator figures things out and makes mistakes and misunderstands.

I love Fortune’s Pawn.

So much so in fact, that it reminded me why I got into reviewing in the first place, because people NEED to know about this book because it is just that good!

I put off reading it because I never seemed to be in the right mood and now I’m kicking myself because this has shot up as one of my favourite sci-fi books of all time – on par with James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series.

Devi is a heroine I can utterly get behind.  She’s an amazing soldier because she’s trained hard to be.  She’s not pretending to be a man and she’s not a helpless female who is supposed to be a tough mercenary.  She’s prepared to go down fighting and doesn’t quit, even though she knows her death may well be approaching.  She is just the ultimate badass and I love her.  Later on we see Devi’s softer side, and rather than detracting from the power of her character, it instead makes her more human and reinforces her strength.

The core crew were brilliant as well, often making me laugh, sometimes wanting to make me smack them – Caldswell in particular! Rupert was a wonderfully enigmatic character and loved the way he was with Devi – as the book progressed, that did NOT go the way I expected and that made me want to cry!  Then there is the mystery of Ren.  Argh!  Just a wonderful mix of alien/human crew on board the Glorious Fool.

I loved the way Rachel Bach wove the story around the characters and just when I thought I had things figured out, it changed and I had to look at a situation in a new light.

The action was extremely well done.  Fast paced, descriptive and emotive.  My heart was in my mouth several times and I even got a bit tearful at certain scenes.

I have the second book waiting here and I can’t wait to dive into it as the end of Fortune’s Pawn demands it! It proves that you can’t know everything from all sides.

Just a phenomenal book and one I highly recommend!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Rachel Bach
  • Series: Paradox (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Jan 072013
 

This is by no means a comprehensive list of releases this year, just ones we are particularly looking forwards to.  I’m sure there are others we’ve forgotten and new authors that we will discover along the way.  As you can see, between Tracey and I, we have a pretty eclectic taste in books ;)

January

A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time: 14/14 A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time Book #14)
Don’t Want to Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell
Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dark Legacy #2)
Ice Forged by Gail Z Martin (Ascendant Kindoms Saga #1)
Angel’s Flight by Nalini Singh (A Guild Hunter Collection)
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah Maclean (The Rules of Scoundrels #2)
The Zombie Whisperer by Jessie Petersen (Living with the Dead #4)
Ever After by Kim Harrison (The Hollows #11)
Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops #2)

February

A French Affair by Katie Fforde
The Daylight War by Peter V Brett (The Demon Cycle #3)
Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #36)
Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian (Midnight Breed #11)
The Queen is Dead  by Kate Locke (Immortal Empire #2)
Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas
Devil’s Due by Rachel Caine (Red Letter Days #2)
Hellhole Awakening by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert (Hellhole #2)
Forged in Flame by Michael R Hicks (In Her Name: The First Empress #2)
Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #5)
Cloak & Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #5.5, unconfirmed release date)
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #3)
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis (The Milkweed Triptych #2)

March

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb (The Rain Wild Chronicles #4)
And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens (Cynster Sisters #4)
Lover at Last: Number 11 in series (Black Dagger Brotherhood) Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau Vampires #18)
Poppet by Mo Hayder (Jack Caffery #6)
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #7)
Shadow of Freedom by David Weber (Honor Harrington #18)
Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh (A Psy/Changeling Collection)
Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #11)
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #12)
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (A Novel of the Others)

April

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rising #3)
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick #4)
Whisky Beach by Nora Roberts
Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis (Milkweed Triptych #3)
Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #2)

May

Once Upon A Tower By Eloisa James (Happy Ever After #5)
Forever by Jacquelyn Frank (World of Nightwalkers #2)
Fall of Night by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #14)
Abaddon's Gate (Expanse) Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey (Expanse #3)
Leopard’s Prey by Christine Feehan (Leopard People #6)
Eternal Demon by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #5)
The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #3)
Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist (Riftwar Cycle)

June

The Sum of all Kisses by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith #3)
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London #4)
Darkness Unmasked by Keri Arthur (Dark Angels #5)
The City by Stella Gemmell

July

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens (Cynster Sisters #5)
My Notorious Gentleman: Number 6 in series (Inferno Club) My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #6)
Rise of the Gryphon by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love (Belador #4)
Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #3)
Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #5)

August

Omens by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #1)
Terminated by Rachel Caine (Revivalist #3)
Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter #18)
Posession by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #8)

September

Kitty Rocks the House (Kitty Norville) Chosen by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #4)
Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #37)

October

The Arrangement by Mary Balogh (Survivor’s Club #2)
Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance (Cassie Palmer #6)
Bound by Night by Larissa Ione
Cold Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #3)

November

Daylighters by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #15)
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Eternal Sin by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #6)

December

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #6)

Phew!  It’s going to be a busy and entertaining year :-D

Jun 222012
 

Existence - Limited Edition 3D Cover My initial reaction when I finished Existence was OMG THAT WAS AWESOME!! but I don’t think that is quite objective enough so I will try and break it down a bit!

There are books that give you a warm happy glow at the end, ones that make you cry but understand how and why it had to happen that way.  Some make you angry because you don’t understand or feel that the author made a bad decision.  Existence has so many layers and is on such a completely different level that I’m struggling for words right now.  Satisfied, elated, saddened, optimistic, thoughtful?  There’s a start!

I’ve been glued to the book for the past two days and for some of that time I kept repeating to my husband, ‘I’m gripped and absorbed but still not sure what is actually going on’.  It’s not because it’s confusing but because of the clever way it’s written and the fact that the reader and the characters learn about what’s going on at the same pace.  It definitely feels like a shared journey.

The premise is very simple; is our existence guaranteed? Do we take it for granted and will we bring about our own destruction in some way?  In our endless search to know we aren’t alone in the universe, that we aren’t just a grand fluke, what would we do if we found proof?  And what would be do if that proof confirmed our greatest fears – that all technological civilisations die.

Do we accept that?  Do we go quietly into the night? Do we fight, try to change the inevitable?

Actually the premise isn’t very simple at all is it?

This book has gotten so thoroughly into my head that even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about what I’d read.

At first I found the seemingly disparate cast a little confusing but as the book progressed, it made increasingly more sense.  They aren’t people that are connected by family or associations in a traditional story sense, but by circumstances and a drive to solve the same problem. Each of the major cast were clearly defined and compelling in their own way.  However, David uses the characters as a vehicle for exploring the book’s premise, which doesn’t detract from my enjoyment or liking of them, but does make different reading to more traditional character driven stories.

I found the technology fascinating.  Existence is set in the near future, and I really enjoyed seeing David Brin’s vision of future technology.  Existence is a good blend between hard and soft science fiction, the science feels real but the book’s core philosophy is around the social and psychological impact of that science.

The story is interspersed with excerpts from fictional contemporary articles and books, which add flavour and help build the story. They provided a fascinating insight into the sociology of the time and probably has relevance today! Another nice touch I loved were references to real authors and books from our time, viewed by the characters in the book as historical pieces, and a few of those made me chuckle.

I’ve not read anything by David Brin since The Postman when I was in my late teens and I loved that book a lot.  I want to go and read his back-list now because his ‘voice’ is such a powerful one and he has a very clean, clear way of writing that even a pulp fiction junkie like me can understand.

Thought provoking but mind-blowing sci-fi at its very best.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Brin
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 082012
 

Born Of Shadows: Number 4 in series (League) In the previous books, I didn’t like Caillen that much, he came across as bratty, annoying and a bit of an arse.  In fact the only member of the Dagan family I liked was Shahara and perhaps only because of her story with Syn in Born of Fire.  The other sisters I just wanted to kick out of an airlock as a waste of space.

So picking up Caillen’s book I was interested to see if Kenyon could change my mind about him and show me who he really is.  All I can say is… wow did she!  I love that she can create and write a character that goes from one of my least favourite to one of the ones I love the most. Her characterisations are nothing short of amazing and the backgrounds she creates really bring her characters to life, in both heart and mind.

The start of the book caused me a bit of concern as he undergoes a radical life change.  I can’t really say more than that without spoiling but it boggled me a bit at first and I wondered what on earth was happening.  Persevere though because it all takes off from there!  I loved Desideria from first meeting her, she is a strong character with a gentle heart in spite of her kill or be killed amazonian upbringing, plus never being able to live up to her mother’s expectations.  That her mother is the Queen of the Qillaqs doesn’t mean Desideria gets an easy ride, it just means she has to fight harder to prove herself.

When she and Caillen meet, I absolutely loved their interactions and the comments were so well done, whether snarky, sarcastic, loving or honest.  Their banter is some of the best I’ve read in a while and it really cemented their relationship for me.

The plot is quite a twisty one but I actually quite enjoyed this aspect of it, it made a refreshing change from the norm.  Just when I thought I had things figured out, something came along and turned it all on its head.  It was a nice touch the way we got to see the characters try to work out what was happening, even if it turned out to be wrong.

The book was full of emotion; both character’s pasts pulled at my heart and their romance just hit the right spot for me.  Their feelings as they gradually allow themselves to acknowledge them, right through to admitting their love just made me happy.

All in all, due to the twisty plot, I wouldn’t say this is a typical Kenyon story, but I thought it was a brilliant one all the same.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Mar 052012
 

Once I finished Exogene, and then had time to think about it, I spent an hour ranting at my husband about the unjust and detestable treatment of the Germline warriors. I wanted to know how the military or government could treat human beings like machines, even ones that have been genetically engineered. I wanted him to tell me what possible justification there could be for the abuse, the deplorable behaviour, and how they couldn’t see what I could see; that the Germline warriors were real human beings, with real emotions. But this wasn’t on the news. This wasn’t in the tabloids or broadsheets. It’s fiction presented with such brilliant character insight, such incredible realism that I felt truly angry at the injustice it represented.

It’s rare a book that causes such a visceral response in me, but with Exogene, T.C. McCarthy gets it just right. The story is stark, harrowing and grim but brilliant in its execution. He doesn’t waste words or go into lengthy descriptions, but still says everything he needs to with compact, emotional sentences. He gets the pace spot on, both time and huge distances being covered in a few pages, and yet you feel as if you have lived every one of those steps yourself.

The story is told through the eyes of Catherine, a first generation Germline soldier and being in her head was both tragic and fascinating. There are so many elements to her character, experiencing her indoctrination, watching her sisters embrace their faith or go insane, the decisions she makes rather than just following orders, her only understanding of the world is the one that her creator’s have given to her. As she travels and discovers her own truths, my heart ached for her more and more. Every loss, her constant weariness and even her madness resonated with me. McCarthy has written an utterly believable and realistic female character. Her determination to keep going, to overcome each obstacle and to choose her own path make her a character to be remembered.

Like Germline, I read Exogene in a single day, unable to stop until I had turned the very last page. Then I had to think about it for a while, let the experience wash over me and sort out how I actually felt and how much I had been affected. The story is told in a mixture of present tense, flashbacks and hallucinations and while that might sound confusing, it does work well.

There weren’t as many background characters in this book but we get numerous glimpses of Catherine’s ‘sisters’, both first and second generation. Megan was especially interesting and it was a shock how, almost casually, things changed for her.  Margaret was a more tragic figure, different, but just as engaging, I hope we will see her again. As with the first book, the ending of Exogene did surprise me, but for different reasons. The letter at the end caused a huge emotional response in me and I was left a bit speechless.

Exogene is a heartbreaking, brutal look at near-future warfare that is so far outside my comfort zone it may as well be another dimension. Thankfully, McCarthy manages to ground the story with realistic characters, and delivers a book which challenges and entertains in equal measure.

I truly cannot wait for the third book in this series, to see where T.C. McCarthy will be taking us next.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: T. C. McCarthy
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jan 312012
 

If you are a fan of great science fiction and haven’t yet read Germline, then go and track down a copy in your favourite format now!  I would say I’ll wait but then you will be engrossed and you won’t read the rest of this post so… read this first, then get cracking ;)

It’s an astonishing read; brutal, gritty and full of the reality of those who are fighting a war, even in a futuristic setting.  I can’t wait for Exogene, the next book in the series which is due out in March! If you need more convincing then read my review and then decide.  Either way, T.C. McCarthy was kind enough to agree to being my next victim author for Irreverent Questions.

On with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A dog who belonged to a good family, with kids. That way I’d sleep, eat, and play all day (when I wasn’t pooping).

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
Yes. I put the kids to bed and then set my alarm for 4 AM so I can get up early enough to have peace and quiet. Ugh.Office

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I built my own office by renovating an empty room in our house; we were using it for storage and I thought it was time to make it more useful. The two pictures; one is how my space looks right now at 5 AM – dark and out of focus. The grey splotch under the desk is one of my dogs, who is in the other picture, and who keeps my feet warm.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I knew I forgot to do something. Crap!

Whose opinion matters most to you?
This is a fantastic question, and I’d line them in this order, from most to least important: 1. Editor, 2. Reader, 3. Agent, 4. Me.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I’m in my boxers as I write this, and the manuscript for my next novel is open in another window – so, no? :)

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Positive reviews, negative reviews, the news, and just about anything you could think of. The mood is always there. But the inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s just important to keep my mind open so I can recognize inspiration when it presents itself.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Either John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
That the genetic soldiers are “male fantasy female supersoldiers.” Uh…no. I don’t fantasize about bald sixteen year olds, and I think this comment says more about its author than it does me. The choice of girl genetics was made to (a) convey a sense of gloom, that future society deteriorates to the point where it replaces women in combat with mass-manufactured girls, and (b) it just seemed really creepy. We get a better look at this society in books II and III. The curious can Google “male fantasy supersoldiers” for more information…

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
Fan mail from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets who convey a simple message: that I got it right.

How do you deal with negative comments?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s an honor to be part of the literary or genre debate. I’d rather get negative comments than no comments. So I ignore them when they’re motivated by something other than honest criticism, absorb them when they have value, and try to be grateful that I have a shot at writing novels.

PennyDo you have pets, and if so, describe them?
See the answer to the third question, above! I have four dogs and three kids, so it gets insane around here.

What is your favourite type of music?
I listen to Irish folk, Russian folk, and a lot of punk, shoegazer, and anti-grunge.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot. All the way, barefoot.

Thanks so much to T.C. McCarthy for taking part, and if you want to know more, visit his Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of T.C. McCarthy


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Jan 262012
 

Remember World Book Night in 2011?  Remember how upset people were when the BBC coverage of genre fiction was completely lacking?  Now’s your chance to help make a difference!

World Book Night 2012 is just around the corner, and there’s some cracking genre literature included, including the excellent Iain M. Banks!

Why not visit the site, sign up to give away copies of the books, get people involved and spread the word!  Here’s the full list of books this year.

  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks
  • Sleepyhead, Mark Billingham
  • Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  • The Take, Martina Cole
  • Harlequin, Bernard Cornwell
  • Someone Like You, Roald Dahl
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • Room, Emma Donoghue
  • Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Misery, Stephen King
  • The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella
  • Small Island, Andrea Levy
  • Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  • The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Damned Utd, David Peace
  • Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
  • Touching The Void, Joe Simpson
  • I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Check out the World Book Night site, get involved, help people discover the joy of reading!

Jan 072012
 

This isn’t a definitive list of what is being released this year, just books I am looking forwards to in particular.  I have probably missed some and of course, there will always be authors that are new to me to be discovered.  Let the reading begin… as they get released of course ;)

January

Lothaire by Kresley Cole (Immortals After Dark #12)
Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #1)
Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #2)
Seven Princes by John R. Fultz (Books of the Shaper #1)
Unclean Spirits by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #1)
The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #2)
Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dark Legacy #1)
Heir of Night by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #1)
No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose
Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan (The Riyria Revelations)
Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells (Sabina Kane #4)
Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #1)
Eternal Kiss by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #2)

It’s very hard to choose just one out of all the great books being released this month but my top pick for January is No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose.

February

Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz
Darker Angels by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #2)
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #3)
A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
The Dread by Gail Z. Martin (Fallen Kings Cycle #2)
Eternal Captive by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #3)

The Dread by Gail Z. Martin continues the Fallen Kings Cycle and is my top pick for February.

March

Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop (Ephemera #3)
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #3)
Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde
Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #3)
Damien by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #4)
Vicious Grace by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #3)
Fated by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #1)
Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick #3)
Exogene by T. C. McCarthy (Subterrene War #2)
Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)
A Rising Thunder by David Weber (Honor Harrington)

March is a very tough month to choose a top pick from, with books out by several favourite authors.  I am going to have to go with Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward since I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood and this is Tohr’s story!

April

Noah by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #5)
Killing Rites by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #4)
Vengeance by Ian Irvine (The Tainted Realm #1)
Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #2)
The Love Letter by Fiona Walker
32 Fangs by David Wellington (Laura Caxton #5)

The Love Letter by Fiona Walker is my pick for April, her books never fail to amuse and entertain me.

May

The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #2)
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (Elder Races #1)
Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (League #5)
Frostbite by Richelle Mead,  Emma Vieceli and Leigh Dragoon (Vampire Academy Graphic Novel #2)

By May I will be jumping up and down with excitement with the release of Born Of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon, the next book in her brilliant League series!

June

Darkness Devours by Keri Arthur (Dark Angel #3)
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey (Expanse #2)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Newsflesh Trilogy #3)
Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison (Elder Races #2)
Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione (Lords of Deliverance #3)
Cursed by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #2)
Messenger’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Lost Angels #2)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #2)
A Night like This by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)
Silver-Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells (Sabina Kane #5)

This is not getting any easier!  June has so many books I am really excited about, but if my arm was twisted behind my back to choose (please don’t!) it would have to be Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione.

July

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld #13)

July is a bit of an obvious one!

August

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter #22)
Shadow Blizzard by Alexey Pehov (Chronicles of Siala #3)
Seawitch by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #7)
Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #10)

Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn is my pick for August, I just love this series so much!

November

Death’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Lost Angels #3)

This month speaks for itself ;)

Nov 142011
 

I started reading Germline about 12.30 this afternoon, intending to read for a little and have a nap.  Now it’s just gone 5pm and I may be a little bleary eyed after no sleep but I just finished the book and then had to take a little time to reflect on it before I wrote the review.

Germline is not an easy read, it has all too realistic scenes of death, insanity and desperation in war, the main character is about the most self-indulgent mess of an anti-hero you could find and even though it’s set in the future, the war is ultimately about who has the most strength to claim what dwindling mineral resources are left, something I can envision all too clearly in our reality.

Having said all that, the book was absolutely amazing.  The clarity of writing and scene descriptions were brilliant and I was able to clearly envision what was going on, even if I didn’t want to.  I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next, no matter the outcome and there were more than a few times when I had to take a brief break, just to absorb or pull back from what I’d just read.

I thought the technology T. C. McCarthy created was superb, fit the setting well and it impressed me how easy it was to understand without being led into lengthy jargon on how and why.  From the weaponry, to the armour, even the genetic soldiers all provided everything I needed for a well rounded science fiction novel.

As the book was written in first person perspective, I think it provided a unique look at what was going on in Oscar Wendell’s head.  Starting as a drug-addicted and failing journalist, he had one last chance of redeeming himself with his employers by securing the chance to write an article from the frontlines of the subterrene war in Kazakhstan.  Seeing the war happen from his civilian perspective gave greater impact to what it was really like, the conditions they endure and the edge of sanity they have to dance to get through another night.  The choices he made throughout were both insane yet believable.

I really wanted to hate him.  At first it felt like there was nothing redeeming about him whatsoever, but McCarthy wrote him so cleverly that as he woke up to the reality around him and grew up without wanting to, he sneaked into my mind and a little into my heart.

There was quite a large cast of supporting characters, and a few of the individuals that Oscar meets had quite a major impact on me.  The sheer amount of emotion that the author managed to convey along with these characters, some of them only for a short time was astounding and a testament to a brilliant and empathic writing style.  I have to mention the Brit and the Kid.  I loved both their characters and the fact you never learned their names.

The ending was actually a real surprise for me, I honestly didn’t expect it and I can only give huge props to T. C. McCarthy for making me believe there could be only one outcome for Oscar.

My only negative is that the title of the book and the consequent definition on the back cover aren’t actually used in the book that I recall, and perhaps it wasn’t needed as you now knew what it meant. Due to the definition though, I was expecting something a little different but I was in no way disappointed with what I got.

The pace of the book was fast and unrelenting, leading to me not being able to put it down unless I had to.  The plot was both original and interesting and actually very hard to describe so all I can say is read Germline.  Then get back to me ;)

A gripping close up of a futuristic war in all it’s gritty, brutal, dark and horrific glory.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: T. C. McCarthy
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Oct 032011
 

I read In Her Name: Empire in literally one sitting.  I couldn’t put it down and was so engaged I didn’t even want to stop for food!

There are almost two parts to this book.  First, an invasion of colonised space by an alien species, and humanity fighting back with enormous losses.  This is followed by a more fantasy-like setting with a gladiatorial feel which fills the rest of the book.  The two styles didn’t lessen the impact of the story at all, and if anything they made it more intriguing.

I loved how Michael Hicks showed us Reza’s life from a very young boy through to a man, and he is my favourite type of hero.  He never tries to be heroic, he just does what he can to survive, but without compromising his ideals.  Reza’s initial survival was enabled by ultimate sacrifice and incredible courage and from then on, I was hooked.  His decisions were wonderfully reasoned and played out, and even after I’d finished the book I kept thinking about it, and what would I have done in his situation.

The Kreelan race provided a puzzle for me, and I think it’s down to Hicks’ clever writing that while you know they are the enemy, you slowly come to realise they are also a deeply connected and spiritual people, with their own strict way of life that is completely alien. Their history and their mystical way of life was brilliantly envisioned and made it really easy to empathise with them, despite their role.

It wasn’t until the end of the book I was reminded that they are in fact, the enemy.  And I cried.

The plot was really well laid out, driving us through a series of events that forge Reza into a survivor, from young boy to man, with amazing strength of character and very likeable.

The character of one of the Kreelan warriors was really well conceived.  Again, it’s down to excellent writing by Michael R. Hicks that I hated the character at first, but as Reza grew and his perceptions changed, so did mine and I ended up loving her (no names, to avoid spoiling it)!

The Kreelan are a warlike people who are bound together by soul and so deeply steeped in honour, tradition and ceremony that it is stagnating their culture.  I thought it was interesting that on the Kreelan planet, there is no evidence of technology nor that the people could be capable of space flight, but it’s a given that they are since they are waging war on humanity. I suspect that will feature more in the next books of this trilogy.

The pace is tricky as it covers a long period of time but I thought Hicks handled the jumps forward well, and I enjoyed the book all the more because I got to see Reza at so many points in his life, and eventually learning who he is now.

The ending didn’t really come as a surprise, you knew the eventual outcome was always a possibility but that didn’t detract at all from its power.  Reza’s honour, belief and loyalty made him stand out amongst heroes and it moved me to tears.

In Her Name: Empire is a book that has heart, emotion, sacrifice, and courage and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Michael R. Hicks
  • Format: Kindle
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)