Jan 192011

Exiled to Hallholme after he led a rebellion against the Constellation Empire, General Tiber Adolphus was expected to die from the planet’s barely habitable environment.  Much to Diadem Michella Duchanet’s annoyance, he refused to give in and instead managed to establish a small community that quickly expanded as convicts, malcontents,  and people with nowhere else to go were dumped and left to the mercies of Hellhole.  Struck by a meteor centuries earlier that wiped out all indiginous life, it’s a mostly barren wasteland with unpredictable and often deadly weather patterns.

Back in the Crown Jewel planets, the Lords and Ladies of the Parliamentary government enjoyed the fruits of the Deep Zone labours, requiring tributes from their already taxed economies, forcing them to give up valuable assets that would help their own colonists.  Determined not to let another rebellion take hold, the Diadem keeps her government on their toes, encouraging them to plot against each other if it suited her interest or simply have her spies and military personnel step in if it didn’t.  Diadem Michella Duchanet was the ruler of the Constellation and she would not have anyone get in her way.

For someone who read a lot of science-fiction when I was younger,  I don’t seem to be able to get into it much these days.  It has been a while since I found anything that held my interest, that wasn’t also linked to the romance genre.

Hellhole has completely changed that for me and I am very happy it did so.  It’s an engaging story of hazardous frontier worlds and brave pioneers yet also of intrigue, plotting and maneuvering among the nobles of  the vast Constellation Empire.   The despot ruler, Diadem Michella Duchanet, is a real piece of work, as are some of the myriad nobles that rule the individual worlds of the Crown Jewels planets.

When the book starts, General Tiber Adolphus is at the final battle of his victorious five year rebellion against the Diadem and her armies, and right from that first chapter I was drawn in.  And it didn’t really let up from there.

It’s a book that has so many different facets and layers; it isn’t just a book about a rebellion against an unfit ruler, nor just about the people who were imprisoned or volunteered as colonists on the Deep Zone worlds.  It’s not even just about the possibility of alien life.  It’s about everything that makes up a wondrous vision into a possible distant future.

The protagonists were really well written and I came to care about some of them very quickly.  I also didn’t just dislike the antagonists, I hated them.

Hellhole itself was described with vivid imagery and I could see it in my mind’s eye.  The other Deep Zone worlds too, but to a lesser extent.

The pace was excellent, going from almost a normal pace of life after the first few chapters to an almost frenzied state as different threads were coming together.  I even growled as I turned the last page and realised I would have to wait to find out what happens until the next book.  It caught me out, even though I should have realised that with everything that still needed to happen, it wouldn’t fit into the number of pages left.

The plot was so intricate and layered, I have no idea how the authors kept it straight, but it wasn’t confusing.  I knew where I was and what was happening, it just ramped up the tension as each layer was added.

There are a few shocks and surprises but I won’t spoil them here.  Suffice to say some of them were very sad but there is also joy to balance it out.

If you like great science fiction on an epic scale, you have to read Hellhole.. really!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Nov 182009

St. Martin’s Press have released the following information about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 3rd book in the League series,

New from St. Martin’s Press is #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 3-book series, ‘The League’!  With over 19 million books in print, Sherrilyn Kenyon is renowned the world over as “the reigning queen of the paranormal genre that she pioneered long before the world had heard of Twilight.”  The third book from ‘The League’ series, ‘Born of Ice’, will be available December 1st, 2009.

As with the previous book, Born of Fire, they’ve published a movie-like trailer, which you can watch below or check it out here on YouTube.

There’s more info and the chance to read an excerpt on Sherrilyn’s main website, or this link should take you straight to it.

The excerpt has really whetted my appetite and this little nugget made me laugh out loud :

Oh. My. God.

The one who’d spoken had to be a good six foot four in height. Built in perfect proportions, he was lean and ripped. Broad shoulders tapered down to narrow hips and what had to be the fi nest butt she’d ever seen in her life—she could bounce a credit off that.

Or break a tooth biting it…

Piatkus are the UK publishers, and they’re releasing it on the 3rd December over here.

I really can’t wait to get my hands on it!  Check out the preview of the second book Born of Fire and don’t forget to read my review of the one that started it all, Born of Night.  And if you want to know why you should read Sherrilyn Kenyon… this is why.

Oct 282009

bornoffireSt. Martin’s Press (US) are gearing up to release the second book in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The League series – titled Born of Fire.  I recently read, loved and reviewed the first book (Born of Night) and I really am very excited about the prospect of another chance to visit that world and meet a whole collection of new characters.

To support the release, St. Martin’s Press is offering people a chance to win a copy of the book (although it’s limited to US residents only), but if that includes you, then you can check out the competition here.

The book is out on November 3rd in the US, and November 5th in the UK (published by Piatkus, an imprint of Little Brown).  You can pre-order them both now on Amazon (US and UK versions).

There’s a bunch of additional promotional material coming along with the release.  You can check out an excerpt of Born of Fire on Sherrilyn’s official site.  I’ve read it and it’s exciting!  It has all of Sherrilyn’s hallmark writing, starting with a pair of adversaries and telling us their story!

On top of that there’s a promo video on YouTube which I’ve embedded below.  It’s pretty short, but it gives a good indication of the main characters and should immediately highlight the main difference between this series and Sherrilyn’s Dark Hunter series.

The League is not set on Earth and the technology is far more advanced, but judging by the excerpt and having loved Born of Night, it’s still classic Sherrilyn Kenyon.

From the press release:

New from St. Martin’s Press is #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 3-book series, ‘The League’!  With over 19 million books in print, Sherrilyn Kenyon is renowned the world over as “the reigning queen of the paranormal genre that she pioneered long before the world had heard of Twilight.”  The second book from ‘The League’ series, ‘Born of Fire’, will be available November 3rd, 2009.

I’m itching to get my hands on this book after thoroughly enjoying the first one!

Here are the links if you want them all in one place!

Sep 302009

The League and their powerful and ruthless assassins rule the Ichidian Universe.  No one leaves, to retire is to die.

Command Assassin Nykyrian Quiakades is one of the League’s most feared and vicious assassins and is the only man who managed to stay alive for more than a few hours after refusing to fulfill a contract, an act of treason and punishable by death.   So he does the only thing he can,  he vanishes.

A dangerous predator of the highest order, he forms an organisation that would become a shield between the league and their contracts on innocents caught in the cross-fire of political gain.  With only 3 people in the entire universe he can remotely stand to be around, hunted by the League and several others who would also see him dead, he accepts a contract to protect a dancer, Kiara Zamir whose father’s political ambitions have made her a target.  As her life becomes more dangerous and attempts on her life more desperate, they have to go against everything they’ve been taught from a young age.  Trust no one or they will destroy you.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Born of Night.  Interesting premise, but a Sherrilyn Kenyon book set in space?  hmm.  She has become one of my favourite authors through her Dark-Hunter series, but would the things that make those books so absorbing, translate into a science-fiction setting.  The answer is yes.  Oh yes.

I started reading it this morning and I couldn’t put it down til I’d finished, I was utterly hooked.  I was interested to read from the Author’s note at the start that it had been published before, but a different version, with what I guess has a lot of the violence or sexual content removed or toned down.  I never managed to get hold of a copy and in all honesty am now glad I didn’t.  This book is the one she wanted to release, whole and not hiding away any of life’s darker side and I am so glad she was given the chance.

The setting was good, the universe she created is diverse and interesting but where it stands out (and I know I’ve said this before and I will say it again) are her amazing characters.  Nykyrian is larger than life and oh so hot, even when he is being the dangerous and vicious assassin he was trained to be.  Kiara is just lovable, her naivety endearing and after everything she goes through, still manages keeps that trait but gains more strength in who she is and what she wants.  The secondary characters of Syn, Hauk and Jayne are brilliant too and I know the next book centres on Syn and what happens with him towards the end.  It will make an interesting read but I’m not sure if he will quite match up to Nykyrian.  I will have to wait and see!

All in all, a fantastic read and if you like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter books, you need to read this, and don’t let the fact it’s technically science-fiction put you off.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

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

Jul 172008

Dr. Ethan Urquhart is the Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Centre. On a planet entirely populated by men and forbidden to women, it takes ingenuity to keep the species going. When there is a drastic shortage of viable ovarian tissue cultures, steps have to be taken to order supplies in from off-world. When the delivery turns out to be substituted junk, Ethan has to leave his cloistered planet in search of new tissue cultures. Eli Quinn of the Dendarii Free Mercenaries has a coinciding interest and after saving Ethan’s life, agrees to help him complete his mission, if he will help with hers.

I was surprised at first that this book wasn’t focused on Miles – He is mentioned a few times in passing but that’s it. It was good to meet Eli Quinn again, with her new face and she has developed into a very likeable character along with Ethan Urquhart. I wasn’t sure what to expect given Athos’ nature but since the book is extremely well written, it was handled with tact, normality and was very refreshing. Not your average sci-fi book but enjoyable none-the-less.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 172008

Miles is now a Lieutenant and as Lord Vorkosigan, he is ordered to Eta Ceta along with his cousin Ivan. The Cetagandan Empress has died and they are to be ambassadors for Barrayar in the forthcoming mourning and funeral rites. What should have been a simple diplomatic event, turns into something far more serious as Miles becomes embroiled in a plot that could destroy the very nature of Cetaganda.

While I enjoyed Cetaganda, I did find it a bit confusing. The caste system and hierarchy weren’t clearly explained, you were just kind of dumped in the middle of it and left to sort it out for yourself. It might not have been important to have it clearly explained, as the story is very much centred on Miles but it detracted from the story quite a bit as I tried to figure it out. That aside, seeing a slightly more mature Miles was great and the comic interactions between him and Ivan were very funny. I enjoyed the book, just not as much as the others so far.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 172008

Continuing Miles’ story, he’s now an Ensign in the Barrayaran Military and sent to a remote outpost to stay out of trouble. Trouble has a knack of finding him however, and as a result, he is dispatched on an undercover mission. Already neck deep in, he bumps into his childhood friend who is also Barrayar’s runaway Emperor. Miles must complete his mission, keep Gregor safe until they can return home, and dodge the increasingly unfriendly foes ranged against him. Easy.

I love the character of Miles, he is so witty and very sarcastic. He’s under no illusions about himself and the disadvantages his medical condition gives him, yet he tries his utmost anyway. The pace is good if a little frantic at times but I think this just adds to the charm of the series. The plot has more twists than a twisty thing but you can follow it easily as each turn comes along. This is just a thoroughly enjoyable read!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 112008

At 17, Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is eager to join the Barrayar Military Service but his body lets him down. Courtesy of the assassination attempt on his father when he was in his mother’s womb, it wrecked his bones, leaving them brittle and prone to fracture from little stress. On a visit to his maternal grandmother on Beta Colony, he accidentally forms a mercenary fleet called the Dendarii free mercenaries and uncovers a plot against his father. He must fulfill obligations he made, avoid treason charges back home and save his father from those that would see him fall.

I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the Vorkosigan Saga. Miles is an engaging and funny character who tries his best to see those around him safe, even at huge cost to himself. I would have liked to have seen more of Aral and Cordelia but since the book was focused on their son, it wouldn’t have made much sense. The pace was good, the action exciting and the speed at which Miles’ mind works was often dizzying. I didn’t want to put it down and happily have the next book waiting – The Vor Game.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 042008

Commander Cordelia Naismith of the Betan Astronomical Survey team finds herself stranded on the surface of the latest planet she, and her team, were surveying for colonisation suitability. After an attack forced the majority of her colleagues to leave the planet to save their lives, she was left downside with a horribly injured companion, few supplies and one of the enemy who was apparently as stranded as she was. The Butcher of Komarr, Lord Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar was a victim of Mutiny and betrayal that threatened the core of honour bound Barrayaran society and, as Commander Naismith realised, much more to him than met the eye. After rescue and escape, distrust from her own people, Cordelia throws her lot in with the enigmatic Vorkosigan who is not without troubles of his own. Can they do what must be done, with honour?

Cordelia’s Honor is actually 2 books – Shards of Honor and Barrayar that were published together to make a continuous story of the life of Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan. They run consecutively and to my mind make a great single volume. This is the first book by Lois McMaster Bujold I’ve read, and it definitely won’t be the last. By the end of the first chapter I was hooked, the flow of the story and the characterisations just superb. Sometimes sentence structure was a little complex but that smoothed out towards the middle. It didn’t detract from the story nor put me off continuing eagerly. It actually has so many facets to it, I can’t imagine there not being something in it for everyone. It’s a love story as well as a war story. It’s science fiction along with fantasy and the history side follows old russian society lines. The differences between Betan and Barrayan values is very distinct and Bujold’s writing manages to display both at the same time even in the same conversation. Cordelia is very urbane and can be amusingly sarcastic whereas Aral Vorkosigan is very military and can be almost rigid but also ironic. They bring out the best in each other and it’s great to see how they evolve from their original personalities to who they are by the end of the book. I don’t have the next in the series but I will be getting it as soon as I can!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 032008

… is finally a promise kept ;)

Several years ago, a good friend of mine (Graham!) urged me to read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. I bought the first book and it has since languished on my shelves, looking forlorn. Another friend of mine (Jody!) who is another book nut made me promise to read it, and that was a couple of years ago ;)

After a recent conversation about it with Jody, I finally dug it out and started it, almost certain it would be OK, but not fire me up. How wrong I was! :)

I’m about half way through Cordelia’s Honor and loving it. I hate it when people are so right ;)

Will do a full review when I’m finished :)

Thanks Graham and Jody!