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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The Manual of Detection – a Review

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

Found at the library

In this tightly plotted yet mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams

I’m not really sure how to describe this one. It starts when lowly clerk Charles Unwin finds himself unexpectedly promoted to detective but given no cases. Instead he decides to solve a disappearance, but he has no clues.

I’m the one hand he just sort of bubbles through the investigation, but on the other events unravel in such unpredictable ways that I never knew where this story was going. I couldn’t even figure out what it was about for a really long time. I am sure though that whatever it was I just read, it was truly original and I’m glad I read it.

You can find a better synopsis, but I would avoid them. If this description appeals, just give it 50 pages and then decide if you like it. I’ll be interested to see what this author does next.

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!

Reread: The Eyre Affair

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I have no idea how to describe this book. It’s really weird. It’s definitely not for everyone. There are those who just love it and those who don’t get it at all. I think if you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you would probably like this one, but not because they are anything alike. They’re just both really weird.

Synopsis:

Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! But that’s just a prelude . . .

Things get much stranger after that. Only LiteraTec SpecOp Thursday Next has the training and the knowledge to track down Acheron Hades and save literature. She’s got some strange hidden skills and a unique family pedigree that can help with this. In the meantime, her return to her home town has caused her to cross paths with her former fiance, her some what half daft brother, a group of John Miltons, and a werewolf-hunting operative who calls himself Spike. This is NOTHING like anything you’ve ever read before.

I love these books. I read the whole series, at one point, then put them up. Now I find that the writer has released new books, so I’m going back to start at the beginning and I can’t wait! I think the next book, Lost in a Good Book, is my favorite in the series.

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.

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.

What are you reading?

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I had a yucky cold! Which means I got lots of reading and gaming done, but not much else. I did go to Winger’s for burgers with my husband, and that was fun. But otherwise it was a slow weekend.

Now for what I’m reading!

The old opened book is christian Psalter

I guess I got on the Net Galley’s good list at last, because I got everything I asked for! I’m happy and stressed, because now I have even more to catch up on. Plus I got an ARC from Library Thing too. Add all my indy review requests, and I really don’t need to go to the library for a month.

Currently reading:

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This is one of the ones I got from Net Galley. I was SUPER excited at that, because I loved The Martian, book and movie. I’ve already finished it and a review is coming soon. My son, who discovered this author before I did, is really jealous. Let me just describe it briefly as a space version of Ocean’s 11.

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This one is my audio book from Overdrive I’ve been listening to while I sew. It’s about the scientists who discovered aspects of evolution before Charles Darwin. It’s interesting, but not so much that it’s keeping my attention. I find my mind wandering and realize that I missed everything for several minutes.

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This book is a different story. The plot and the characters are so well done that I keep wanting to drive somewhere just so I can listen. This one is on audio book in my car on CD and it’s so good. It’s got magic and wizards and hints of evil plots to steal the throne. I think something bad is about to happen and I can’t wait!

I’m also reading a CERTAIN BOOK that I can’t name because it’s SECRET! It’s about to be revealed on Friday and then you’ll have plenty of time to tell your friends to follow my blog and have a chance to win a SIGNED COPY. But it’s really exciting, with an orphan MC, an oppressive government, and a fairy tale twist.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading? Comment below and let me know.