Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

Author Joanne Hall and the Bristol Con.

The talented and all round lovely Joanne Hall, author of the fantasy epic, Art of Forgetting: Rider, answers some of my questions regarding the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention being held on the 26th of October 2013 in Bristol.

  Author and Chair of the Bristol Con, Joanne Hall.

For someone like me, who has never been to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention, what can someone expect going to the Bristol Con?

BristolCon is a fairly compact SF/F convention – we usually have around 250 people, so it’s small enough to be friendly. There are really two sorts of conventions; there are the big media conventions like DragonCon or MCM Expo, where the focus is very much on cosplay and events with TV and film celebrities, and then there are smaller, more intimate conventions like Wiscon, where the focus is more on reading and writing and speculative fiction. BristolCon falls into the second camp. There are panel discussions and individual presentations on subjects of geeky and writerly interest (this year, for example, we have “How to poop on a Fantasy Universe and Other Grubby Goings On”  and “How Humans are Biologically Weird”, to name but two) We also have an art room, a dealer room full of creative people, live music, a very hard quiz, kaffeeklatsches (small meetings of no more than ten people with a famous author, over coffee) etc. It’s a chance to spend the day hanging out with like-minded people talking nerdy and having a few pints!

 

In what capacity do you work at the Bristol Con? How many years has it been up and running?

I’m the chair, which means I get to boss the rest of the committee about and make sure everything’s running smoothly, and catch any dropped balls along the way. We’ve been doing it for five years now; the first year we ran for an afternoon and had sixty people, so it’s grown a bit since then.

 

What’s involved in getting the Con ready?

We start organising next years con even before this years has taken place, by approaching the people we’d like to be Guests of Honour next year (I could tell you who they are, but then I’d have to kill you…) Then we spend the next few months encouraging interesting potential panellists to sign up. I should explain that with smaller fan-run conventions everyone except the Guests of Honour pays an entry fee, even the hard-working committee. Then once we have loads of signups, as well as dealers and artists, about three months before the con the committee come together and toss around ideas for panels until we have about twenty-five potential panels. Then Meg, our supreme programme wrangler, sends the panel suggestions out to the people who have expressed an interest in being on panels, and they pick the ones they most want to be on. This ensures that people only end up doing the panels they are really interested in appearing on. Then we take the most popular 14-15 panels and build the programme around them. The programme is almost the last thing we do, only a few weeks before the big day.

There are a million other things to do as well, but BristolCon has a great committee and after five years we’re beginning to get the hang of the small stuff!

 

Who’s involved in this years’ Con? Can you drop us a few names?

Our Guests of Honour this year are Storm Constantine (Chronicles of the Wreaththu), and Philip Reeve (Mortal Engines), and our artist GOH is Mark Buckingham, who draws Fables and has worked on Sandman.

We always try and involve lots of local writers, such as Gareth L Powell, Emma Newman and Lou Morgan, and this year we have Mary Robinette Kowal flying in from Chicago – it was a nice surprise when she signed up!

 

Where in Bristol is the Convention being held?

It’s at the Hilton DoubleTree on Redcliffe Way, next to St Mary Redcliffe which is a beautiful medieval church. It’s only five minutes walk from Temple Meads Station, so it’s easy to get to from London and Birmingham.

 

Do people dress up? Can people expect to see Orcs, Wizards and Sci-fi heros? Or is it a more formal setting?

People haven’t tended to dress up in the past, but if people want to dress up, we’re not going to discourage them! Some of the committee do like to put on their best frocks – it adds to the sense of occasion. And we’ve had a number of people come in steampunk garb in the past. We certainly don’t discourage people from dressing up, but there’s no maskerade or costume competition like some of the bigger cons have.

 

What other events can people expect? Are there readings and book signings?

This year we’re launching “Looking Landwards”, an anthology of agricultural SF, and there will be readings between the panels and signings at lunchtime. Because it’s quite an informal con – there’s no green room or anything like that – most authors are happy to sign things during the day, or over a pint in the bar. It’s a really good chance to meet your favourite authors in an informal setting and find out how lovely they are!

 

Will you be doing a reading? If so, from which book and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I will be doing a five-minute reading after the panel I’m on (The Evolution of Genre), and I’ll be reading something from my heroic fantasy “The Art of Forgetting : Rider” but I’m not sure what yet – it’s hard to find an extract without spoilers!

  follow the link for more info on Joanne and her books.

http://hierath.wordpress.com/

For those interested, or wanting more info, where can they find it? (and any other relevant links!)

The first place to look would be the BristolCon website : www.bristolcon.org We also have a Facebook page, and you can follow @BristolCon on Twitter – we’re all very friendly and if you say hello we’ll say hello back!

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Bandit Book Bloggers – SPACE GAMES by Dean Lombardo

Today’s special from those devilish Bandits, is Dean Lombardo’s brutal and entertaining sci-fi, Space Games!

Space Games

by 

Dean Lombardo

Synopsis

The cameras are on and the gloves are off in this battle of the sexes in space.

Say hello to Robin and Joe—contestants in 2034’s “Space Games,” a high-stakes reality TV show from Hollywood producer Sheldon J. Zimmer set aboard next-generation space station, ISS 2. The winner takes home a multimillion-dollar jackpot and a chance at stardom, while the loser faces the ultimate in public humiliation. Only former NASA astronaut Vince, acting as the station’s commander and the games’ sole referee, can separate sexy spitfire and martial artist, Robin Miller, from her brutal opponent, “Big Joe” O’Donnell, as the pair compete inside the cramped zero-g environs. Watched by millions of people back on Earth, the reality show rapidly degenerates into a deadly spectacle.

Space Games is a compelling story and a biting satire about reality television: those who make and participate in it – and those who watch it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dean Lombardo works as a writer in the information technology industry, turning what is often techno-babble into messaging that can be understood by a general business audience. At age 11, he was psychologically scarred by the movie “Alien” and has been watching, reading and writing frightening science fiction and horror ever since. “Space Games” will be Dean’s second published novel. Dean lives in northern Virginia with his family and the world’s most beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever, Trixie.

LINKS

http://www.deanlombardo.com/   

http://www.amazon.com/Dean-Lombardo/e/B00DLNBEZS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

AN EXCERPT FROM SPACE GAMES—

 In the video, a woman jogged down a palmetto-lined street. As she neared the camera’s lens, the recorder refocused, compensating for her approach, framing her from the waist up. She sprang past, moving off-camera from right to left.

A new perspective: The cameraman had caught up and he was in front of her now, backpedaling. The picture on the monitor shook and became unwatchable until the woman slowed and began to run in place.

“My name is Robin Miller. I’m twenty-six and I’m the softball coach for the University of Cal-Irvine.”

“I knew it,” said Sheldon Zimmer as he and his assistant watched the TV monitor inside Zimmer’s Los Angeles home. “California girl. History of softball. Gotta be one of those . . . you know.”

“Not exactly,” Morty answered. “Listen to what she says.”

The woman on the screen was undoubtedly attractive. Though her halter-top and hair were darkened with sweat, and the sheen of perspiration covered her face and limbs, she had a pureness about her. Maybe it was the way her ponytail bounced behind her as she ran, or the clusters of freckles on her nose and cheeks. Or maybe it was the slender physicality, her overheated panting as she continued to jog in place.

“I want to be on the TV show ‘Space Games’ because I’ve always been . . . I don’t know . . . daring . . . competitive. My girls at UC-Irvine won the College World Series last season and instead of going to Disneyworld, I’m going into space to kick some guy’s ass.”

“That seals it,” said Zimmer, the show’s director and executive producer. “She definitely is one. Hot, though.”

“Uh-huh.” Morty pointed toward the screen. “We’re almost to the part about her parents.”

In the next cut, the woman punched a sparring bag, her gloved fists denting the vinyl surface. She followed by snapping a series of violent roundhouse kicks.

“I like to stay active.” Kick, punch, punch, punch, backfist. “I do triathlon training in the offseason.”

Another roundhouse kick, just a blur.

“Shit,” Zimmer said, pinching his lip.

“I know,” Morty replied. “Very athletic, energetic. That’s one thing to her advantage, especially in space.”

“No—I mean angry. Reminds me of Kat Turner, remember her, Morty? With the right guy we could have a ‘War of the Roses’ in outer space.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, Shel. It’s a reality show, not an old-style black comedy. Tragic endings aren’t what we want, and our two contestants are going to have their hands full already, dealing with all the physical, mental and emotional strains of—”

“I know,” the director said, cutting Morty off. “But without some conflict . . . ”

“Too much conflict isn’t good, either,” Morty said. “Shel, I vote against this candidate. I didn’t even want to show you her tape. She doesn’t fit the profile provided by the NASA consultants. For legal reasons, I’d—”

“Fuck the NASA consultants! What do they know about television?”

Now the young woman was relaxing on a couch. She stretched forward to paint a toenail.

Morty gestured toward the screen. “Here it is. Check out this part.”

“My parents trained together at NASA. My mom’s from California, Dad’s from Des Moines. They met during training, and then fell in love during their joint mission aboard the International Space Station.”

“Why is she telling us this?” Zimmer complained. “Why do I care about this shit?”

The woman flexed her toes, leaning forward to inspect the drying polish. Then she looked up into the camera and smiled. “My mom used to tell me I was conceived up there.” She pointed to the sky. “Aboard the space station . . . the first ISS.”

Zimmer blinked. Then he glanced at Morty. “What’s her name again?”

REVIEWS

REVIEW BY BRIAN BANDELL

New York Journal of Books

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com

Like any good reality show, Space Games leaves us wondering what the contestants would do next and how they could possibly top the last bone-breaking outburst of brutality. The ending goes to a pretty dark place—the worst nightmare for any TV producer, except Zimmer. Reading Space Games is kind of like watching a cage fight. Yeah, it’s violent. Yeah, someone could wind up unconscious or in the hospital. But what a rush!

***

REVIEW BY CRASH FROELICH,

Author of “Never,” Artema Press

Pick up “Space Games” and you will become addicted. “Space Games” is the title of a one-on-one competition, a reality television program set within the confines of a space station in Earth orbit. In it, a man and woman battle for a multi-million dollar prize in a best-of-seven tournament. A series of no-holds-barred matches that not only test the limits of physical prowess, but also the sportsmanship, even the very humanity, of the contestants. An amoral sociopath, twisted by her violent past, versus a misogynist with nothing but contempt for her gender. The chemistry is potent and the bad blood of the combatants is exacerbated, encouraged by the greed of the show’s producer and the impotence of his staff. The effect on the viewing audience is only second to the horror that results from the collapse of civilized barriers in the minds and deeds of the players. You won’t be able to look away. You’ll never be able to think of reality television in the same way.

***

REVIEW BY MARY FAN,

Author of ‘Artificial Absolutes’, Red Adept Publishing.

http://www.maryfan.com

A sleekly modern rendition of pulp sci-fi, Space Games is fast-paced, straightforward read that leaves you wanting to know what happens next. This book is easy to fly through, full of excitement and action. The realistic dialogue, tight writing, and quick action all make for great entertainment. The characters and action in Space Games, which is written almost cinematically, pop from the page. It’s easy to “see” what’s going on and “hear” the characters’ distinctive voices. The pacing is spot-on, creating an exciting reading experience that snowballs into a tense pageturner as an ill-conceived reality show goes to hell. Space Games isn’t for the faint of heart, and Lombardo, who is also known as a horror writer, isn’t afraid to take risks. I think that’s one of the book’s strengths: it fiercely barrels through the events in a merciless, unapologetic fashion.

***

REVIEW BY JAMES LISTON, KANSAS

I’ve often wondered what reality TV would be like in the future. Will everyone eventually get bored of it and quit watching when they run out of ideas? According to this story, that won’t happen. Space Games is a reality show to beat all reality shows. Set in the year 2034 aboard a space station, two contestants choose from a list of events to compete in. It’s the battle-of-the-sexes with very few rules. Joe and Robin fight their way to a multimillion-dollar prize while being watched by millions of viewers on Earth.

I thought this was a great concept for a story and was pleased that it was entertaining, and well written. The characters are well developed and the author goes to great lengths to make it seem real, and allows your imagination to fill in the blanks. Like when Robin sneaks into Joe’s bathroom and closes the door so the cameras can’t see what she does. Great fun! I highly recommend it! View the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiiTsk7mLrI

MY OWN REVIEW

Space Games lives up to the hype.  It is a brutal free for all, a fast paced, violent and yet a satirical look at human nature and the nature of reality television gone too far.  The two main protagonists, feisty Robin and tough Joe, go head to head in an ultimate battle of the sexes show, which quickly descends into chaos.  Morality blurs and hard hitting questions start being asked: how far should one go for television?  For fame/infamy? Money? To prove a point?

The funny thing is, Robin and Joe don’t really ask these questions.  They’re more interested is getting one up on each other.  But as a reader, you do.  The MC’s aren’t the most loveable characters, redeeming qualities are thin on the ground, but that, I think, might be part of the fun of Space Games.  It’s keeps you wondering what God-awful thing they are going to do to each other next…  And the ballsy ending – it is as brutal in its ending as it is in its beginning.  Very well written, entertaining, and asks a few uncomfortable questions about our sometimes voyeuristic natures.  Thoroughly enjoyed it!

 

 

Bandit Book Bloggers – Shadow of the Wraith

This week’s Bandit Book Blogger special is Ross Harrison’s Sci-fi novel, Shadow of the Wraith.

 

Shadow of the Wraith

By

Ross Harrison

 

Synopsis:

It sounds like a simple assignment: track down the mysterious Star Wraith and put an end to its rampage. But when Travis Archer and his team of inept soldiers find themselves the most wanted people in the galaxy – hounded by assassins, terrorists and their own military – they realise the Wraith is just a symptom of a much larger problem . . . Finding war raging between one army intent on destroying an entire species, and another that will destroy the galaxy, Travis must put aside his fears and his past to uncover the truth behind it all. To become the hero he’s always imagined. 

About the Author:

 Ross Harrison

Ross Harrison has been writing since childhood without thought of publication. When the idea was planted by his grandmother to do so, it grew rapidly, and after a bumpy ten years or so, here sits the fruit. Ross lives on the UK/Eire border in Ireland, hoping the rain will help his hair grow back.

 

Links:

http://www.ross-harrison.com

http://www.facebook.com/StarWraith

http://www.twitter.com/AuthoRoss

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ross-Harriso

Excerpt from Shadow of the Wraith:

Moving silently and keeping his eyes peeled, Travis took cover behind the nearest overturned table. With no apparent provocation, one of the pirates opened fire into the second-storey balcony, which ran all the way around the bar. Startled by the sudden shots, the others opened fire too.

Travis could pick out nothing up there in the shadows, and hadn’t even heard anything before the shooting started – had Draak forced too much herb into these men? Were they hallucinating? Perhaps they killed their fellow crewmembers themselves.

Eventually, they ceased firing and stood listening for some time, their eyes wide with fear. All Travis could hear was silence and a dull ringing after the gunfire.

After a while, they began to relax. They lowered their weapons, relieved smiles forming on their lips. Clearly, they thought they’d killed their attackers. Travis watched enough holofilms – in fact, possibly too many – to know this was inevitably the point at which their enemy would strike.

Sure enough, as they turned to their fallen leader, two long black knives flew out of the shadows and plunged into two necks. As the pirates slumped to the floor, Travis crept forward towards the next overturned table to get a better view of the balcony.

Thanks to his curiosity, he neglected to watch his footing, and before he’d gone more than a couple of steps, a shot glass burst under his boot.

Crap!

Synn spun round, roaring in terror and defiance, and opened fire on him. Travis made a dive for the cover of the thick metal bar. The pirate’s shots broke the mirror on the wall, and the bottles, showering him in alcohol and glass, both solid and molten.

To the relief of Travis’ eardrums, Synn had already depleted much of the three-hundred-shot power cell. As soon as he heard the click of the empty weapon, he raised himself just enough to put his arm across the bar top and fire a single bullet into Synn’s forehead. The Izarian fell limply to the ground as blood started to trickle down his face.

It would be unwise to assume the invisible assailants would be friendly towards Travis. ‘The enemy of my enemy’ was a phrase that got many killed.

Unwilling to give them any breathing space, Travis vaulted over the bar like a magnificent, tubby gazelle, reaching to his new utility belt. As his boots hit the floor again, he pulled out a small, jelly-coated sphere and threw it with all his might at the ceiling. The orb thumped against the plastic ceiling tiles, the shock activating the device. The jelly became adhesive, keeping it glued to the ceiling. At the same time, the centre of the sphere came alive, radiating bright light into every shadow in the bar.

Nothing.

In the brief ten seconds of light, Travis scrutinised every inch of the balcony, where a band usually played for patrons. There was no sign of any living creature in the bar. Perhaps the attackers really were invisible.

The device flickered and died, dropping to the floor. Darkness poured eagerly back into the corners and recesses.

The bar was silent, almost calm. Around the balcony, the remnants of the wooden banister smouldered.

What now?

Travis had put himself in the open, certain his clever trick would reveal his rival and give him the advantage. Now, he was simply in the open.

 

Purchase Links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007ZBK6QA

ePub: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210824

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0957592906

Also available from a variety of other retailers.

n/e/B007ZSUY06/

Reviews:

‘Travis Archer is a freelance bounty hunter who accepts an official assignment to hunt down and destroy the Star Wraith, a powerful but apparently unmanned ship with the nasty habit of appearing out of nowhere and destroying ships. Although Travis and his crew are the focus of the story, the narrative cuts to other scenes in a cinematic fashion. The more fascinating of these scenes reveal glimpses of a shadowy villain called Baorshraak, whose goals and motivations remain shrouded in mystery even as he appears to be the one pulling the strings. Harrison writes with a distinct attitude that is very aware of the genre his story takes place in. References are made to the clichés of space opera, which he acknowledges and makes fun of even as he unapologetically takes advantage of them. Many ideas in this book are decidedly familiar–starfleets, space cowboys, humanoid aliens–but they are used well. There is a dry sense of humor that radiates not only from the characters but the narrative itself, as though it isn’t taking itself too seriously. Although this attitude makes for entertaining commentary, there are a few moments where it seems somewhat intrusive–as though it’s the author speaking and not the character. Nevertheless, it’s what adds an extra bit of sparkle to the already dynamic plot, which carries the reader to unexpected corners of this galaxy. Overall, Shadow of the Wraith is a smartly plotted and entertaining space adventure that takes the reader on many twists and turns–the direction the story goes in is quite different from what is expected. But in the end, it’s really the characters’ voices–and Harrison’s–that make it memorable. I ended up enjoying it so much that I suffered from two nights in a row of Star Wraith Insomnia–the inability to sleep due to the fact that I had to keep reading.’ – 5 Stars

 

– Mary Fan, Author of Artificial Absolutes

 ~~~

 ‘I have been thinking about what I was going to write in this review for about a day now, and I am still having trouble. The trouble isn’t with the book; not not at all! The trouble is that everytime I sit down to write the review, it comes out all fangirly (if that’s a word). So, I have given in to this simple fact, and here is my review anyway (fangirl and all). So this is my first real venture into true science fiction/fantasy type books. I have ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘A Million Suns’, and they are set in space, but nothing like this. Which brings me to my first point. When I first got the email from the author asking me to review his book, I was like, ‘sure; as long as it’s not erotica/western, I’m in’. Then I got to thinking to myself, ‘Kari, you have never read a book like this…you are going to be so lost and confused.’ Guess what, I wasn’t! I was worried that with it set on different planets, and in space, and in the future, I was going to be lost and be left behind. This wasn’t the case in the least. In fact, I found myself actually remembering everything and able to keep everything straight in my head…hard to do on most days. I loved this book…from the first darn page, up until the last. I was constantly hooked, wanting to know what happened next, who did what, why, etc. Shadow of the Wraith is an exceptionally well written book, on top of the awesome plot. This has to be another reason I loved it so much. I constantly found myself in awe at how things were worded. Ross Harrison definitely has a very unique writing style. I loved the humor that was put in the book. I am usually a quiet reader, but I found myself laughing at a lot of parts. Characters. Ahhh, I was spoiled in this book. The characters were so…real. I felt like I knew each and every one of them, good or bad. Their personalities were awesome, and definitely well portrayed. I never once felt that a character fell flat…even the androids

jumped off the page! 🙂 My favorite character had to be Travis. He is now officially MY bad ass space cowboy (read the book!! You will understand!). I honestly fell in love with Travis from the very beginning of the book (and to the despair of everyone who had to listen to me go on and on..some people even thinking he was a real person…). I felt that he was well developed (as were all the characters). Who am I kidding, I loved him because he was a bad ass space cowboy!! I also loved Arkuun-Marl (look, I didn’t even have to look up how to spell that). The android was hilarious, and at times I forgot he wasn’t a real person. But don’t say that to his face! I felt like this book had constant action. Something was always going on, which was a very great surprise. Most books now have one climax, and nothing really going on until that one part of the book. I didn’t think that was the case with this book at all. Another thing…agh..I never knew what was going to happen. I was literally unable to predict a single darn thing (which is unusual with the amount of books I have read; even though none have been in this particular genre, still I’ve read a lot). So that was a breath of fresh air for me…truly. I was kept guessing the entire time. And the twists that were thrown my way, well, LOVED them. I feel like the last thing I should say is this….READ IT! This book is absolutly amazing. Okay enough of the fangirl. Just, please, do yourself a favor and pick up this book; you won’t regret it!’ – 5 Stars

– Kari, Bookishly Devoted Blog

 ~~~

 ‘To begin, I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow of the Wraith. It’s like the best elements of every science fiction story you’ve ever heard of, brought together into one epic adventure! The cover features a very classic science fiction shot of a ship with a planet in the background. Only this one features a more ominous tone as a ship ploughs its way through a mess of ships. The story is told from the alternating views of a mass of several different characters and situations. The story begins with the introduction of the very cocky “space cowboy” ex military man known as Travis Archer as he presents the readers to a future where humans have left a ruined Earth and have taken to living among the stars with other humanoid alien species in an uneasy truce, while he tries to carve out a living currently as a bounty hunter. Then we’re brought to the primary situation at hand as the reader is apprised to the new ruling power of humans – the Terran Alliance and the growing trouble that this mysterious ship the “Star Wraith” is posing to ships that have crossed its path, and never live to tell the story. In an attempt to stop the Star Wraith, the military hires on bounty hunters as a cheap means to deal with this ghost ship…and guess who takes the job? In the true fashion of space adventuring – Travis begins by going on a galaxy wide mission of assembling a rag tag crew each with a unique skill to contribute to the team. I have to admit, I love watching these crews come together – and the lengths that Travis goes to get the players he wants was incredible! In addition to Travis as the leader, some other crewmen we stumble upon is the reliable ex military best friend, the sexy but deadly love interest and even a comedic relief android. My only complaint really is that while Harrison tries to put unique features and voices to each character, the less prominent characters tend to blur together which was further exacerbated by switching between first and last names randomly when referring to these characters throughout the story. My favorite character by far was the android Arkuun-Marl, whose constant quest for

equality with humans combined with expert battle skills and the much needed one liners that broke the tension in overly serious moments. After finding the Star Wraith, they soon discover that the ship isn’t what it appears to be at which point they commandeer it in their quest to find the truth, which leads to political intrigue, a secret past and it all lands this misfit crew right in the middle of an age old war. The villains of the story were constantly shifting, and it was difficult to see who could be trusted and what their motives were. It made for a thrilling adventure as we navigated the minefield of assassins, military personnel and androids to get to the so called “leader”. While Harrison presented what seemed like a straight forward plot idea, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t your usual story. Harrison expertly throws curve balls at the reader, and before you know it there’s secrets revealed that completely change the game. I eventually just stopped trying to predict what was going to happen because as soon as I thought I had it figured out, Harrison would drop another bomb that had me reeling. The characters go through some serious paces as they run across the galaxy hunting down the truth. The technology used in the ships, weapons, armour and bases had considerable thought placed into their design and purpose, which made for richly detailed and thrilling action sections. What completely threw me off was the introduction of some fantasy elements (think mythological creatures) that was a refreshing addition to the usual obstacle course of assassins and androids. Harrison even manages to weave a bit of romance into the story, and while a relationship does eventually form, I think his writing shone primarily in the flirting banter. All in all, Shadow of the Wraith was an amazing story with witty humour, action, mystery, crazy technology and galactic politics. However, I do feel that it’s more suited to fans who already have a solid science fiction background to thoroughly enjoy the references to Firefly, and Arkuun-Marl’s Star Trek Scotty references.’ – 4 Stars

– Ann, Tea & Text Blog

 

Other works:

 

Temple of the Sixth (Book 2 of NEXUS)

When omens of the End Times appear across the galaxy, it signals the start of a war between two immortal forces – the Celestians and the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy have learnt and adapted since they last waged war, forcing the Celestians to enlist the aid of mortals to free a kidnapped god.  Thardriik Jhunassi Kortlyn III – Theak – was a private detective. For a day. Then came the incident with the dead puppy and the inevitable end of his crime-fighting career. Despite his flaws, Theak is a clear choice for the Celestians, and he is drawn into the centre of a battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy.

Time is something the Celestians’ heroes do not have as the Hierarchy’s infection spreads across countless worlds, bending every living creature to their will. With the heroes’ every step bringing them closer towards one final battle, there is only one question: can they defeat an ancient and immortal enemy?

~~~

Kira

Kira’s town has so far survived the destruction wrought by the Government on so many others. But for how much longer? In the middle of a blistering desert, her people are out of fuel, out of clean water, and out of options. The Government will destroy them sooner or later, and they won’t survive relocation. Their only chance is to attack first. But Kira

 

Month of Reads… MAY

This is a new idea I’m trying out for my blog, which I’ve called, Month of Reads.  I thought I’d give you short and sweet reviews of books I’ve read over the last month and hopefully, I’ll remember to update it around the same time next month.

WARNING – you may see a lot of  Fantasy, YA and Sci-Fi in the list!

Image   Smuggler’s KissMarie-Louise Jenson.

Genre – YA, historic

Plot: It’s not a crime to steal a heart

Smugglers are cut-throat rascals. At least that’s what Isabelle’s always been told. But when she’s rescued from drowning at sea by the crew of a notorious smuggling ship, her principles are thrown into confusion. Outwitting the king’s men fills her with excitement, especially when she’s with one mysterious smuggler in particular . . .

Review: I found this book quite by accident after buying another book.  After reading this and a couple other of Jenson’s books, I admit to becoming a fan.  Jenson’s easy style translates well and it’s easy to see she’s done a lot of research into her characters, place, time and period detail.  The development of the main protagonist comes about as one would hope reading a historical coming-of-age book – Isabelle is spoiled, hot-headed, but completely likeable, despite her general ignorance.  But her development to being more understanding, braver and less whingey, comes about through strife, misunderstandings as well as hints of romance.  There’s plenty of adventure and like all excellent books, you’re a little sad to part from it.

Rating – An easy 5 out of 5

Image   Grave MercyR.L LaFevers

Genre: Historic, Fantasy, YA

Plot: Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Review: As soon as I read the plot summary, I was like, ‘sounds like my kind of book’ and my gut-feeling was correct!  It is the first book in the His Fair Assassin ­series and since I’ve read this, I have gone on to read its terrific sequel, Dark Triumph.

Although LaFevers’ MC, Ismae is initially a distraught character, she is also very strong.  This is seen in her acceptance of the Order and the will of St Mortain.  However, what I loved about the book is the de-construction of everything is knows as she begins to follow her heart and not just what she is told to accept and do.  Great characters and loads of intrigue.  Only minor hiccup in the beginning was the startling resemblance to the start of Jacqueline Carey’s novel, Cushiel’s Dart, but I soon realised the books are different.  A thoroughly enjoyable read, especially if you like intrigues, twists and turns and hints of romance.

Rating:  A strong 5 out of 5

Image  Fire and ThornsRae Carson (known also as, The Girl of Fire and Thorns)

Genre – Fantasy

Plot: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

Review: This was another book I found by accident.  I liked the look of it and the blurb was intriguing enough.  In fairness, it took me a little time to warm to the MC, Elisa, who was crippled with self-doubt, a voracious appetite and a lazy attitude.  But as the plot thickens and Elisa begins to discover some self-worth, you warm to her.  A lot happens in this book, intrigues, adventure and of course, what book can go wrong with sprinklings of romance?  It’s a well written fare, with a mixture of irritating and endearing characters.  Also a lot of world building – and unique settings, running from desert, to jungle, to a land that felt slightly as though it was set in Death Valley (or maybe that was just how I imagined it!) Parts of the novel were quite sad too.  Overall a good, entertaining read and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Rating:  A solid 4 out of 5

Image    After the Ending Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post Apocalyptic

Plot:  When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them—with the rest of the world—but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams…all that is me. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong…we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.

And more than anything, we have to find each other.

Review:  Yes, the plot is long, however, it had me intrigued and I do admit to being a bit of a sucker when it comes to post-apocalyptic works.  The first few pages weren’t all that bad either, but as I read on, I became more and more disillusioned with this disappointing book.  Part of me feels the best part of the book was written in the plot.  The book doesn’t hold any true horror of what one might imagine if a Virus has decimated most of the world’s population.  It’s written in a passing thought kind of way.  I feel the book is truly a chick-lit novel, thinly disguised beneath the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic tag.  I found the characters vapid and shallow and I’m generally fairly easy to please.  It is written from the POV of two women that go on more about their desire for the man next to them than the horror of their situation, whilst keeping in contact via e-mail.   SO disappointed this unrealistic book didn’t live up to my expectations.

A very sad 1 out of 5 (And I feel bad writing this review…)

Image  The 5th WaveRick Yancy

Genre: Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic, YA

Plot: The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Review:  This is more like it!  This post-apocalyptic book from Yancey is what I imagine a good, clever and twisty ‘end-of-worlder’ to be.  It is written from the POV’s of a few of the characters, but mainly through the resourceful and brave Cassie, who is trying to save her younger brother, and the determined and disillusioned Zombie (Ben).  It’s clever, action packed and full of flawed, but progressive characters.  There’s plenty of twists and chapter cliff hangers and I enjoyed the way the characters became entwined as the book ventures on.  There are some fairly dark questions and at times it’s hard to tell the bad-invading aliens from the humans.  Far more clever, realistic and entertaining than the previous review.

Rating: A very happy 4 out of 5