The Time Hunters – A Review

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The Time Hunters, book 1 

by Carl Ashmore

Becky is a typical thirteen year old girl. She likes Facebook, gossiping and plenty of sleep. So when she and her brother, Joe, are invited to stay with their ‘loony’ Uncle Percy at his stately home, she thinks it’ll be the worst summer ever. What she doesn’t realise is that Bowen Hall is also home to a baby Triceratops, two Sabre-tooth tigers and the mythic hero, Will Scarlet… 

‘The Time Hunters’ is a thrilling adventure that takes Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy and Will on a quest through time to find the legendary Golden Fleece. 

The Clock is ticking…. 

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Becky and Joe are sent off to spend the summer with their Uncle Percy, whom they’ve never met. Neither is very excited about it, but it turns out to be the most exciting thing that could have happened to them – and something that could change their lives forever.

This is actually a tricky book for me to review. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy it. I did. Rather, it’s because I’m not the target audience. This is clearly written for younger readers. I wish I could have given it to a young teen and asked them what they thought. For me, I thought it was pretty over the top, a little too much going on in here and not enough character development. But it wasn’t written for me.

The book has plenty that would have appealed to my kids when they were younger – the idea of time travel, the fun look at classic myths and the twists the writer includes, and hey, dinosaurs. What kids wouldn’t enjoy that? I liked that the writer looked at time travel from a kid’s eye. Most adult time travel books have them going back to see famous historical events like Washington crossing the Delaware or the Battle of Hastings. But kids would absolutely be more interested in dinosaurs, in events they have personal knowledge of, or things that affected their family. I felt that was very real.

That said, I hope that as the series progresses we see some character development. Becky and Joe are pretty typical siblings – they don’t get along great most of the time. Joe is very much treated like he’s too young to understand what’s going on while Becky gets the full explanation. I’m not sure that’s completely fair. There’s only two years separating the kids. I’d like to see their relationship develop and the kids mature. With the big reveal near the end of the book, there’s certainly room for some growth.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it for parents with kids about 9 – 13. As it is, I don’t think I’ll be reading more, but it was a fun read.

 

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Too Like Lightning – review

Too Like Lightning by Ada Palmer

I read this one because it won the Hugo award and it sounded intriguing. What a mistake!

Extremely ambitious, I’ll admit that. But the ending introduced a whole next level of violence and sexual dysfunction that left me completely disgusted. When I learned Mycroft’s story, about how he had been tortured and taught to torture, it made want to vomit. And this is the person the writer wants to be the protector of a friendless child? What the hell did I just read? I do not understand how this book is recommended for the awards. What is the matter with people.
It ends with a child facing either being murdered or being championed by those who have been taught to torture others for political reasons and to find sexual release in doing so. Not recommended for anyone!

Mini reviews #2

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but kind of in a slump. I’ve had a hard time finding something that would keep my interest. But I wanted to share my thoughts, so here’s my list of what I’ve read lately in order of least enjoyed to most enjoyed.

Buried or A Buried Tale (both titles listed on Goodreads, so I don’t know which is right) by C J Carmichael. This is the first in a series about a small town attacked by a serial killer. A writer gets a tip about some old cases that were never solved. I found it kind of boring at the beginning and as I got into it, I didn’t like any of the characters. The MC was a jerk and everyone had secrets that make it hard to trust them. The book was free on Kindle but I just didn’t want to finish it.


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What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. This one sounded more interesting, sort of a YA noir thing about a teenager post WWII, a coming of age story. But it’s hard to remember ever being so naive. Again, I didn’t like the MC who can’t wait to smoke real cigarettes and be glamorous! It was obvious the big reveal was going to be around parental infidelity and maybe murder and I just wasn’t interested in sticking with it. Another disappointment. It won some award, but I really don’t see why. Other books have told similar stories and done it better. Great cover though.


Chimera Catalyst by Susan Kuchinskas, Finder #1  This one was given to be for an honest review by the author, and it sounded pretty different. It’s set in the near future with climate change and gene splicing creating some strange consequences for most. The MC is a private detective asked to find a missing woman. Turns out the missing woman is a ‘chimera’ – mix of human and animal genes designed to be a rich man’s plaything. I liked the deeper issues this brought up, the questions of morality of how these technologies will change society, but while I was interested in the outcome of the story, I found it hard to follow the complicated storyline and sort out who was whom. I think this one needed a little more editing.


Here you go. None that I really loved, but all new authors to me and maybe to you too. I’m currently rereading The Alloy of Law and that’s a good one and a new book by Peter Lovesey that has me guessing at where he’s going. Maybe those will pull me out of my slump.

January Recap

It’s been a crazy month for reading 📚! I’ve really been glued to a book all the time and my page count really shows it. Brandon Sanderson is in the lead with the highest page count. Most books by one author would go to Lindsay Buroker with 5. Genre would probably be fantasy or science fiction, although I’ve read some really good thrillers this month.

Cold cases – On The Shelf Too Long

1.A Man of Means by PG Wodehouse*
2. The Raphael Affair by Iain Pears *
3. The Boy on the Bridge by M. R Carey * – Net Galley
4. Quiet Meg by Sherry Lynn Ferguson

Repeat offenders – Rereads

1. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, on audio *
2. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson *
3. The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling *
4. Solstice Day Gifts by Lindsay Buroker *
5. The Thief by Clive Cuddler and Justin Scott

SERIALS – books in a series

1. The Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson*
2. Forged in Blood I by Lindsay Buroker*
3. Forged in Blood II by Lindsay Buroker*
4. Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker*
5. Honor’s Flight by Lindsay Buroker*
6. Sign Off by Patricia McLinn
7. The Naming by Alison Croggon

ISOLATED OCCURRENCE – stand alone book titles

1. The Shape-Changer’s Wife by Sharon Shinn *
2. Magpie Murders by Antony Horowitz
3. The Accident by Linwood Barclay
4. They’re Watching by Greg Hurwitz

MINOR INFRACTION – YA and Children’s books

1. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by EL Konigsburg *
2. Missing – Armstrong by Kelley Armstrong
3. Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
4. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS – non-fiction

1. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell – audio – Also counting for BingoDog
2. Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar – audio

My least favorite book was probably The Naming. Just too much exposition, too predictable. My favorite would be one of the Brandon Sanderson books, but I can’t decide which one. Altogether a really good month!

Fateful Impact: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed remain my own.35556066

Title: Fateful Impact (Crimson Nightmare #1)

Author: Samantha Hoffman

Setting: Future space around Earth

Genre: YA science fiction

Plot Summary:

Cressida has lived on the Olympus Station her entire life, having been born in space just like the last several generations before her. When her class is allowed to take a field trip to a neighboring military station, everyone is excited at the chance to see someplace new. Everyone except for Cress. While her classmates are eager to get a glimpse of life at the most prestigious military academy on this side of the universe, she’s more worried about what lies below. 

When several convicts organize a prison break from the maximum security prison lurking in the bowels of the station, Cress and several of her classmates are taken hostage during the escape. With the convicts in charge of their shuttle, they crash land on an uncharted planet far away from home and even further from any hope of rescue. 

The students band together in an attempt to survive as long as possible, but it won’t be easy. Aside from the convicts who are willing to do anything to survive, they will have to fight starvation, the elements, and the many surprises the planet has to offer. With their lives falling apart, Cress begins to understand that things were never truly as they seemed back home. While lost, she finds a sense of purpose, and it drives her to survive at all costs. 

My review:

It’s not often that we get YA in space. YA fantasy is extremely popular, as is dystopia or contemporary fiction. When I heard this one was set in space, I admit to being curious. Then add in a penal colony, starships, and a crash landing on an alien planet, and that checked all kinds of boxes for me.

As for the characters, I admit I didn’t love Cress at first. She seemed very stuck on herself, but by the time they got to the planet I began seeing another side of her. She begins to take charge from the time they’re kidnapped. I like seeing her strength. Her friendship with Pandora and the other girls was well written. I’m not sure I bought the love interest though. It seemed awfully sudden, just sort of thrown in there at random.

The story is gripping. I raced through it. I’m not sure it all made sense, but it was so much fun that I wasn’t feeling especially picky. It was a killer ending – quite the cliffhanger! So if you pick it up, be prepared. Recommended.

4 Days Till Giveaway!

Don’t forget, you have 3 days left to enter for the chance to win a *SIGNED COPY* of Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster! I’m also going to include a LSB bookmark and a postcard from me, Speedy Reader, of a Utah landmark. The entries are pretty low at this point. To remind you, you need to like this post, comment about a page you read, and follow my blog. This giveaway IS international, so it’s open to everyone this time around.

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Win Me!

Here’s what other folks are saying about this book!

“Sevvy’s story is thrilling to get lost in. By the end, readers will be clamoring for more. Incredibly immersive and tightly plotted.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Fast paced and fun. I couldn’t stop turning the pages.” -Dan Wells, New York Times bestselling author of the Partials Sequence

I tried to get an author interview in time for the giveaway, but Caitlin is really busy so I don’t think that will happen. But keep posted! You never know!

The deadline is

——————-November 4———————–

And the giveaway is

—————————————November 5————————————-

 

Good luck to you!

SR

Author Interview – Simon Petrie

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You might remember that back in August 2017 I told you about a space mystery than I really enjoyed. Now I have a follow up post about the author, Simon Petrie. I asked him about the story, set on one of Saturn’s moons, about his main character, and about his writing process.

Simon, where did you get the inspiration for this story?

I’ve written quite a lot of SF stories set on Titan; Matters Arising is the tenth and also the longest. I’ve always been interested in the mixture of SF and mystery, and I fancied the idea of making one of my Titan stories a mystery. Matters Arising was the result. It started, I suppose, with the image of a person deliberately breaching their own spacesuit, and then I needed to answer for myself the question of why someone might feel compelled to do such a thing. Once I had that answer, the story almost wrote itself.
I’m not always kind to my characters, and there’s a certain satisfaction to be had in giving a character an imaginative death. The idea of someone dying from a ruptured spacesuit is, I suppose, one of SF’s tropes, but such events in fiction usually dwell on the fatal and grotesque effects of exposure to vacuum. A ‘spacesuit containment failure’ on Titan, with its thick, cold, poisonous atmosphere, would be quite a different kind of horrible death, and I wanted to write that.

Where did you get the title of the story and the name – Guerline Scarfe – for your detective?

The title, Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, suggested itself as the sort of dry, longwinded title that a bureaucrat would use to disguise something unpleasant. In my mind’s eye, it was the title Guerline gave to her report on the incident. And it has at least a double meaning in the context of the story – I’m always a sucker for a double meaning, so once I’d realised that, the title was fixed.
Guerline Scarfe’s name fell together somewhat haphazardly. I collect names – both first names and family names – that seem interesting and somewhat unusual, and try to find intriguing combinations. In this case, I had her surname sorted well before her first name. I actually wrote the first draft with a very different first name for her, but then decided it was too similar to the name of the main character in another Titan story; and since I couldn’t be sure she wouldn’t meet this other character in a new story, I figured I should change her name before it was set in stone.

This story is set in the solar system. If you had a chance, would you travel in space? Would you live in space?

I’d quite like to live in space, in a colony on the Moon or an asteroid or on Titan, but I’m actually not mad keen about travelling through space – even if I passed the physical for spaceflight (which I suspect I wouldn’t), there’s a lot that can go wrong with rocketry and I’m a somewhat anxious traveller. I’m still profoundly envious of those who do get to spend time in space, even if (at the moment) that seems to mean only low Earth orbit.
(And, while still Earthbound, I console myself with the thought that zero-gravity plumbing is not for the faint of heart.)

How long do you think it will be until we send humans off our planet again? What country do you think will do it first?

I’m pretty useless at predictions like this, but I think it’ll be between ten and fifteen years before we see humans on the Moon again. As to who manages it, my three guesses would be India, China, or a corporation like SpaceX.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first book finished?

I’ve been writing fiction seriously for eleven years now, but there had also been spells of writing quite a long way further back than that. Matters Arising isn’t my first book, but it’s the first of my books that’s only one story – I have a couple of SF short story collections out (Rare Unsigned Copy and Difficult Second Album), as well as a novella double (Flight 404 / The Hunt for Red Leicester). All of those are out through Peggy Bright Books, but a lot of my short fiction has appeared in various magazines or websites before that.

What’s been your biggest writing challenge? How did you overcome it or deal with it?

My biggest writing challenge has been finishing a novel, and I haven’t yet overcome that. I’ve written several novellas and lots of short stories, and my written work is getting longer. Matters Arising is my longest story yet, and its follow-up is looking to be longer than that.
Of writing challenges I have met, most of it has been a matter of having confidence in my ability to write, and learning from feedback – whether from my longsuffering editor, Edwina Harvey, or from my colleagues in the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, who provide awesome (constructive) criticism.

What writers do you look to for inspiration?

I suppose for Matters Arising, my main inspirations would be Kim Stanley Robinson, whose ‘Mars’ trilogy pretty much sets the benchmark for solar-system-based SF, and writers like Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven who pioneered the SF/detective subgenre. (I’m really looking forward to Alastair Reynolds’ new SF/detective novel, too, which is due out in a couple of months.) But I’m trying to absorb some of the techniques of Scandinavian crime writers, who I’ve been reading a lot of lately; and other SF writers that have influenced me at one time or another are Douglas Adams (as well as my ‘serious’ stuff, I also write a fair bit of humorous SF, and I think The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a strong influence there), Iain M Banks, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Amy Thompson.

What’s your favorite space movie?

I would’ve been ten or eleven when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has a perplexing storyline but incredibly realistic space scenes; I enjoyed the original Star Wars; I’m a fan of the first two Alien movies; I was quite impressed by Gravity; and I quite liked The Martian (though I think the book is better than the movie). I don’t think I could pick a favourite out of those.

Will there be more in this series? What are you working on right now?

Yes, there’s definitely more in the ‘Guerline Scarfe’ series, and the next one (which is called A Reappraisal of the Circumstances Resulting in Death) should be out around the middle of 2018. Other than that, there are a couple of Titan short stories I’m trying to finish off, a new ‘Gordon Mamon’ (humorous space-elevator mystery) story, and a novella about human colonisation of an interstellar cloud. There’s no shortage of things to write, it’s just a matter of organising myself …

What would you like readers to take from this story?

That human nature doesn’t change in a different environment, although the consequences might be different.

What advice would you give writers?

Know when to break the rules.
Read widely across different genres, and read deeply in the genre you want to write in.
Write what you want to, not what you think publishers want.
Find a writers’ group, and learn to recognise and accept constructive criticism.
Try to learn from rejection, and don’t get discouraged.

How can readers best stay in touch with you?

I’m pretty backward when it comes to social media, so probably the best way is to use the ‘contact’ page on my WordPress site.

Coming This Week!

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Stay tuned for another excited author interview! Science fiction author Simon Petrie will be here answering questions about his book, Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, about his writing, and with a bit of advice for beginners. You may remember that I was pretty excited about this story. You can read my review here, and there’s a link to the story here.

Cover Reveal!

So the book in the giveaway is …..

Last Star Burning

by

Caitlin Sangster

 

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Synopsis:

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance. 

My brief take:

This one was very suspenseful, full of complex characters and a cliffhanger ending! I just kind of discovered this one by accident, but I really hope you all give it a try. I’ll have a more complete review soon.

Just a reminder, to win you need to comment on my post and follow my blog. Last day to enter is November 3 and I’ll be announcing the winner on November 4. International winners are OK on this one. I might tuck some other goodies in the package, it just depends on the budget! Good luck!

Artemis: Book Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, however, remain my own. 

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Title: Artemis

Author: Andy Weir

Think Ocean’s 11 on the moon!

Themes: crime, loyalty, love, trust, SUPER COOL SPACE STUFF

Official synopsis:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

My review:

In the future, humans have figured out that the moon is full of stuff we need, like aluminum and other minerals, and that people will pay good money for that and for tourism. So a little community of craftsman, engineers, sex workers, millionaires, and hospitality workers have set up shop there.

Jazz is an Artemisian. She’s lived there for 20 years, in the only city on the moon. It’s a small city, but still, it’s a permanent colony up there in space. Just don’t say “in space.” She’s also a porter. At least, that’s her official title. In reality, she’s a smuggler. She operates under the noses of the official law there because she doesn’t break the laws badly enough that they elect to take notice. One of her best clients comes to her with a truly big job, a job that will set Jazz up in a solid middle class lifestyle. Unfortunately for Jazz, things don’t go as smoothly as she’s hoped.

I like Jazz as a character. She’s stubborn as hell, and doesn’t always think things through, but she’s scrappy and smart and funny. I liked the other characters too, Svoboda the engineer, Dale her former friends, her conservative dad, the “town sheriff” – Weir does a great job building characters you honestly care about. Jazz has made some major mistakes and is trying to use this big job to fix things. I like the way the writer uses these mistakes to flesh out the characters, so you can really see how Jazz has changed from her youth. She becomes a smarter, more responsible adult. Of course, she’s still a hustler, though, and I like that too.

But it’s the worldbuilding that shines here. It’s a story ON THE MOON! Like, how cool is that? My son was asking me how it compares to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and I have to say that it holds up really well. That book was a five star read for me, just amazing and mindblowing and everything else. Well, this one is just as good. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but it’s definitely one that I’m going to be reading again.

There was some technical stuff in there that I didn’t follow, but I don’t know that it’s because it was badly written. I just have a hard time picturing things in my head sometimes. But that didn’t slow my enjoyment of the book.

Andy Weir is well on his way to being sci-fi writer of the generation.