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Review: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh (Orbit Books)

The blurb:

In the future, love is complicated and death is not necessarily the end. Love Minus Eighty follows several interconnected people in a disquieting vision of romantic life in the century to come.

There’s Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sacrifices all to visit her in a cryogenic dating facility, seeking forgiveness but instead falling in love.

Veronika, a shy dating coach, finds herself coaching the very woman who is stealing the man she loves.

And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in a heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the years pass.

In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.

***

This novel is, without a doubt, unique.

When I began reading it I tried not to have any preconceptions of what to expect – from the blurb I knew that I would be reading a love story set in a high-tech world; I wasn’t expecting aliens or spaceships or epic weapons, and neither should you. Rather, expect something new. For instance, the tale’s opening scene: a woman, woken from some sort of coma – except she hasn’t been in a coma. She’s dead, has been for years, and she’s been drafted (without her consent or knowledge) into what is basically a dating service.

What a premise, right? Yep, I was hooked from the beginning, too.

You see, what this story does is explore love, relationships, and friendships against a backdrop of immortality and social media – death has been eradicated, though the price is beyond exorbitant; you can live a life of influence, with all the notoriety and success that comes with such a life, but the price you pay for it is your privacy.

Each character’s tale explores aspects of this world: Rob’s path takes him into the meat and tech of the world, revealing just how insane such a world can be, yet at the same time offering a glimpse of the happiness everyone is searching for; Veronika finds herself in that quintessential Catch-22 situation: able to give advice but utterly unable to follow advice. And Mira’s situation is perfect at exploring just how we are forced do to things that aren’t in our character if it means we have just a chance at finding what we’ve been searching for.

And the tech in this tale is at once dazzling and terrifying – I really hope that Will hasn’t had an accurate vision of the future, but unfortunately I can’t help thinking that advances in technology coupled with social media are taking the world in exactly this direction.

We already live in a world where being connected (whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook or InstaGram) grants you a certain social status – if you’re connected then you know what’s happening in the world from instant to instant, leading you to believe that you’re informed and can have a knowledgeable opinion, but the cost, as explored in this tale, is that you know more about the world and less about your loved ones, and even yourself.

Love Minus Eighty” is an excellent read, at once an exploration and a vision of just how we, as emotional beings, continue to try and live alongside technology that can either increase the distances between us or bring us closer together. Highly recommended!

10 / 10

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To order your copies of “Love Minus Eighty“, click the following links: Exclusive Books, Book Depository, Amazon US, Amazon UK. And check out Will’s website for more info on him and his work.
Be EPIC!
 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Lo’Life Book 1 – Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay (Titan Books)

The Blurb:

”The tragedy of suicide is not death. It is what dies within us whilst we live.”

Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.

The Tormenta.

If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.

They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions.

Like the long-legged beauty that seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rockstar, whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.

We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent lifespan of those who harm themselves.

To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next…and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.

To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends to crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign, and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides.

Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.

I don’t read much in Urban Fantasy, to be honest.

I think it’s because there is such a massive emphasis placed on certain things that always seem prevalent in the genre, which, unfortunately, bring it closer to Paranormal Romance. There are plenty of authors I’ve yet to read, and the ones that I have delved into (Kate Griffin, Seanan McGuire and Chuck Wendig, to name a few) have impressed me.

Urban Fantasy has to, in my opinion, succeed at the following:

1) it must be set, largely, in an urban environment. The genre isn’t Country Fantasy. 2) There must be sufficient secondary world-building to make the reader miss the urban environment, and vice versa. 3) The magic has to be interesting and different – Kate Griffin and Chuck Wendig succeed massively at this. Among, of course the other necessities, such as good character growth, and interesting plot, etc.

When I first set to reading ‘Romeo Spikes’ I struggled to get into the book – not because it was badly written (it isn’t), or because it wasn’t interesting (it is), but because it was different. It’s one of the ways that I know I’ll enjoy a book – the difficulty of the read added to the certainty that I want to read the book.

‘Romeo Spikes’ doesn’t have fairies, or fae. There’s no Celtic-feel to it, and neither does it have a Norse flavour. Joanne manages to create a world that is at once surprising as it is interesting, bringing in a Biblical-mythology layer that makes her world fresh and captivating, which allows the characters to react and change as they should in a world they don’t know much about. The exploration of the world, as a reader, was one of the highlights of the book, for sure.

Character-wise, Joanne does jump around a bit, and most of the time it works – the reader will experience different perspectives (on both sides of the novel’s central conflict), and in particular, Bianco and Lola’s character-arcs are really well-written, engaging and attention-holding, with plenty of little clues along the way that will tug and push the reader along as they wonder just where these two stand. The Tormenta are interesting creations, but that’s all I’ll say – read the book and discover them for yourself. :-)

One aspect of the novel that tripped me up was the time-change in some of the chapters – there is very little or no warning, and I found myself having to re-read the chapter’s beginning to get my bearings again, because the plot had suddenly jumped into the past. This interrupted the novel’s otherwise great flow. But that’s my only real problem with the book. :-)

The world-building is great, and I’m sure many other readers will be left thinking about “real” or Historical events and the cool spin Joanne put on them. The characters are all interesting and well-fleshed out, and the book’s climax is a real surprise! And what “magic” there is in the book doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. Joanne’s style has a great flow and her descriptions are crisp, colourful, atmospheric and suitably brutal (at times).

If you’re looking for Urban Fantasy that doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the Genre (which no book should do, but you know what I’m getting at) and also builds an interesting new world, then Romeo Spikes should definitely be added to your shelf. I’m looking forward to the next book! :-)

8 / 10

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To order copies of the book, check out the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. You can also read an excerpt from the novel here, and for more info on Joanne, check out her page on Simon and Schuster here. Don’t forget to browse Titan’s website – plenty more good reading to be had!

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: Ashes of a Black Forest – Book Three of The Iron Elves by Chris Evans

Morning! Werner’s next review for you! :-)

***

This is the most mixed I’ve been after reading a series.

I enjoyed all three books but the whole way through the third book I felt that maybe Chris Evans decided to write a fourth book as surely this can’t be the last one. I was mistaken, though, and it was the end.

It just felt way too fast at the end. The entire series focuses on the Marked and the confrontation with the Shadow Monarch, but the finale spans about 30 pages only. There are also characters (Rallie) that are more then they seem, and the truth about them is only hinted at but not confirmed, which left me disappointed. Maybe if the caravan wasn’t attached and she had access to Khaman Rhal’s library, it might have turned out different (maybe things don’t always go as planed as in real life changing the outcome?) There are also the stars that play a major role in the story but we never really learn about them; again, there are hints but no confirmation. It made the world in which the tale plays off feel a bit 2D.

That being said, there is a lot to admire about the series. The magic was interesting and really made me respect trees. :) The weaving of natural energy and the natural order of things play a very important role here and how things can go very wrong if it’s out of balance. The oath the iron elves take and the effect it has on them is one of the main points in the story; how it can change ordinary soldiers into more. How power can corrupt and how we as people are not always equipped to deal with that.

The action is almost none stop when it gets underway and keeps you reading just that one chapter more to see if the characters take a breather. They rarely do.

Then there are the characters themselves, most of them memorable. Yimt the dwarf was my favorite, as I’m sure he would be with most fans of the series. He sticks with you and is comic relief without trying to be. Alwyn, the young innocent who Yimt takes under his wing, who had the biggest transformation and who I also found the most tragic. Then Konowa, the major himself, who is the main character in the story and just wants to redeem himself and the tainted elves like him. He is stubborn throughout the series and even though there is growth he stays true to himself even at the end. Lastly the crazy Viceroys – all three of them :)

Book 1 had a bit of a slow pace for me but what and ending. Book 2 was a lot darker and showed Evan’s growth as an Author. Book 3 continues with the growth. I just wanted a little more.

6/10

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If you decide to pick up the series, then all I can add is if you read it from Konowa’s perspective, you know it’s about his quest for redemption and that is your only focus then I’m sure the series will feel complete. A soldiers life is nothing if not unpredictable.

To order the book, or the entire trilogy, check out these links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. For more information on the author, check out his official website here.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: The Pilgrims (Book 1 of The Pendulum Trilogy) by Will Elliott

Morning! Werner’s latest review for you! :-)

***

I’m not a big fan of Portal Fantasy, so when I was given “The Pilgrims” to read the only reason I read it was because it was published by Jo Fletcher Books (I still have to read a book form them I didn’t like).

The story focuses on Eric Albright and his friend, Stuart Casey, who both see a red door in the midst of graffiti – and when people come out of it they know the door opens to another world. Styling themselves protectors, they guard the door for over a week and nothing happens. Just when they doubt their sanity, Eric on his way to a job interview, hears someone calling for help. He realizes that it’s coming from the other side of the door, leaves a note in the dirt for Steward, and enters this new world. Later that same day Stuart finds the message and enters a few hour after Eric.

Will is a born storyteller, as the whole book flows. It moves naturally. I enjoyed ever second of the book and really didn’t want to put it down. I liked the pace of the story and you really feel like someone is playing chess with the characters, as they fail to be moved, sometimes, or make choices that are out of character. Some of the things that bothered me about Portal Fantasy are here, too, but Will uses these things as ‘comic’ relief (I am Batman).

He also focuses on the new world a lot more – other portal stories focus on our world a lot and I don’t like it, because I live here and want to know about the other places. This story has dragons and Gods and naked women with white angel wings – what more could a guy ask for? :) The concept of the dragon scales, especially, I found intriguing. Reminds me of tribes eating the heart of enemies for courage or the brain for wisdom.

The world is beautifully realized and scary as hell, and so strange sometimes, just what we want. The plot evolves beyond what you think and at the end you know that the next one will blow you away. I won’t say this made me a fan of Portal Fantasy, but it definitely made me a fan of Will Elliott.

7/10

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To order your copies of “The Pilgrims“, check out the novel’s page at Jo Fletcher Books, or click the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Ecko Burning (The Ecko Trilogy Book 2) by Danie Ware

Hey everyone, I’m back with a review of the sequel to ‘Ecko Rising’ – Danie Ware’s debut and the first book in the trilogy. Yep, I’m talking about ‘Ecko Burning‘. :-)

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After reading book 1, Ecko Rising, I knew that an important and inventive new storyteller had hit the vast-and-always-busy Spec-Fic scene – Ecko Rising would put Danie and her creation, Ecko, to the test -

- which both passed without a hint of effort, it seems. :-)

‘Ecko Burning’ picks up after and slots neatly beside the ending of the first book, and quickly shifts into high gear, sowing plot-seeds that not only expand upon the events of the first book but also serve to add more background and ‘flesh’ to the characters introduced in the first book.

The principle character, Ecko, continues to be the star of the tale, and it is in this book that we get a much deeper sense of the conflicts raging within him as well as his reactions to what is happening around him. Danie makes an interesting and dangerous choice here – to leave Ecko effectively rudderless and confused, reacting to what’s happening around him, not having a clear idea of just what is happening around him. Why is it dangerous? Well, readers of SF and Fantasy will agree that, most times, the main characters have an idea of what’s going on, what their goals are, who it is they’re fighting or struggling against.

Taking a risk like can lead to a mess of a book as the characters struggle to find their place and purpose again, but it’s not what happens in this novel – Danie allows Ecko to explore, to confront, to hate, and more, which allows him to eventually make a choice that comes across as natural and unforced; and the choice leaves Ecko utterly changed, so he grows as a character, too. Ecko’s supporting cast are also put through the wringer, and there’s a great split-focus on them all. so the reader get’s that all-important look at their motivations and fears, even more so than in the first book.

Plot-wise, I was damned impressed – after the conflicts that the cast had to face in Ecko Burning I was really curious as to what would happen, and I’m happy to say that not only did the action and tension escalate, but more was revealed about the world and its cultures, adding yet more layers to the considerable world-building that Danie revealed in Book 1.

I have no-idea where Danie will take the story in the third book, and I’m happy to say that I trust her to do many awesome, memorable things with this tale. In two books Danie has proved herself a writer and storyteller of considerable talent, able to create unique characters that inhabit wonderful world-building, and I’m definitely looking forward to the finale and the surprises that Danie is sure to spring on us. :-)

9 / 10

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To order your copies of ‘Ecko Burning’, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And check out Danie’s website here.

Many thanks to Titan Books for supplying me with an ARC – you guys rock!

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (Book 2: The First Law)

Hey everyone, Werner here.

When I read The Blade Itself, I was completely blown away. It was a success on every level – the story-line, the pace, but most of all the characters. It had everything that I look for in fantasy. So I was a little hesitant when it became time for book two. I had it so built up in my head and, hearing what other people had said, I wondered if the book would reach expectations. It did, boy did it…

The story picks up where it left off with the Union fighting a war on two fronts and a quieter war within. In Dagoska, the cripple questioner Sand dan Glokta is sent as the new Superior after the previous one disappears. His objective? Find out what happened, and keep Dagoska out of Gurkish hands. Glokta is only too happy to do this as years ago the Gurkish Empire tortured him and he has no intention of repeating the experience.

Win or lose, it doesn’t mater, all he knows is they will never take him alive again. In Angland the Union faces Bethod, the new ‘crowned’ king of the north. Marshal Burr is given the command and with his aide, Collem West, they need to stop the northmen. This is harder as it sounds – the dandy Ladisla, who is also the crown price of the Union, wants glory and, if given his way, West might not make it home. They meet some northmen who are not under the sway of Bethod, northmen who know the area and Bethod better than the Union. Northmen who once fought with Logen Ninefingers the most feared and hated man in the north.

And where is the Bloody nine? He is traversing the Old Empire with Bayaz, the first of the Magi, looking for something…

I enjoyed ever second of this book. It keeps the pace and complexity we have come to expect from Joe, and the characters, all of them, are some of the best drawn I have had the pleasure to read in quite some time.

But the most important thing to me was that they grow and change with the story, which they do. They are people that can make mistakes and some make big ones, and then they redeem themselves in the most unexpected ways. The story and characters are gritty and unapologetic, dark and beautiful at the same time, just like life.

If you are looking for something that’s just that little different, just that little more, then this might be for you.

8/10

Before They Are hanged

To order your copies of Before They Are Hanged, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And don’t forget to check out Joe’s website here.

P.S. I was asked a question the other day: If I could choose five people to have dinner with, alive or dead, who would it be? Well, if I could have chosen fictional people then Glokta, Logen and West would have made the cut. Though with Glokta there we probably would only have soup.

Werner

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (Book 1: The First Law)

With over 38-thousand ratings on Goodreads alone, The Blade Itself needs no introduction. It’s a book that Fantasy readers world wide have read and, in the majority of cases, really enjoyed, and it’s also one of those seminal titles that I’ve been wanting to read since I started this blog in 2008.

Finally, I got it done! :-) And damn Joe Abercrombie to the Olympus-mount of Fantasy writers – because it’s a damned good read.

As I said, most of you will know this book, and the characters, so this review will just focus on my thoughts of the experience of reading the book and meeting the unforgettable characters that populate it.

First, you’ve got Logan Ninefingers – feared, a terror of the North, fighting and then tumbling off a cliff. Definitely not the barbarian that readers probably thought they would encounter. He’s stubborn, intelligent, naive, and a peerless combatant. But he has some crazy-cool secrets, too, and the whole package makes him one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in any form of fiction.

And then comes Glokta – poor, poor Glokta, or should that be brilliant, scheming Glokta? ;-) He’s the most memorable character of the novel, in my opinion, because he was the hero, the one who achieved victory and was celebrated, and the one who lost it all…

Jezal was the character I most enjoyed – he’s an utter chauvinist and whiner, but his about-turns in the novel were excellently handled, showing the reader not only his strange sense of honour but testing his limits and opinions.

These were the stars of the book, but the world Joe created for this trilogy (and which he continues to explore in the stand-alones he has since published) is a star all its own – the various cultures are expertly described, neither too much nor too vaguely, and I got a real sense of the landscapes and vistas Joe explored. It doesn’t surprise me at all the Joe has managed to explore the world so successfully – even those aspects of it just hinted at, when compared with what he shows us, were memorable.

The action in the book is hard and brutal, gory in most instances but always hard, and I stopped counting how many times I winced when blows fell. But the actions suits the characters, too – Glokta can’t wield a sword, for example; Jezal is more of a fencer, and Logan is strong and brutal with almost anything.

Plot-wise, the novel ticks along at a good clip; Joe manages to keep the pace up, even in some of the more political-passages and chapters, and the climax was both satisfying and promising, so I’m eager to Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings.

More focused on the characters, but with a great balance between world-building, plot and pacing, The Blade Itself is unique, memorable, and damned enjoyable – different enough to all the myriad ‘sub-genres’ of Fantasy available these days to stand out. I now know what the fuss is about, and I heartily agree. :-)

9 / 10

The Blade Itself UK

To order your copies of The Blade Itself, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. There is also a boxed-set of the trilogy available: US, UK, South Africa.

Do go and check out Joe’s website – plenty of info on all his work to date, an entertaining blog, and regular updates on the graphic novel-adaptation of The Blade Itself.

On Friday Werner’s review of Before They Are Hanged will go live, so until then,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Double Review: The Terminal Move and Project Hydra (Fox and Raven Publishing)

Double-Review time again! And since this’ll be the last review-post for 2013, let’s get to it, shall we? :-)

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The Terminal Move by Dilman Dila

Back when this tale was announced, Dilman was interviewed and after reading that interview I was very interested to read what he had written; while AfroSF had proved that the continent of Africa has great SF-storytellers, it also went a long way to showing how these storytellers flavoured their tales with cultural and mythological aspects unique to Africa – and I expected the same thing from Dilman.

The tale follows a tribe during their long search for a new home; they lost a conflict with a rival tribe and had to give up their home, which forced them into a long journey, taxing not only their bodies but also testing the tribe’s resolve. Eventually, they find an idyllic place, but this is when their troubles really begin, setting up not only a conflict that could ultimately destroy the tribe but also drive deep wedges between its people.

The tale is told in a style that most readers will find strange, or at the very least, different, to what they’ve encountered before.It has the flavour of a fable, or a story passed down through the generations with practically no alterations made to its rhythms and structure, so it isn’t told in a style that readers may consider ‘modern’, but I didn’t have any problems with it. In fact, if this tale had been written in any other style it would probably have come across as contrived, and the tale would have suffered for it.

As such, the characters’ foundation-roles as archetypes rings a bit stronger than anything else I’ve read, which made it difficult for me to connect with them on a level needed to create that sense of empathy which all storytellers strive to achieve with their characters. This kind of characterization suited the tone and timbre of the tale, though, so I guess it worked. :-)

In terms of world-building the reader is shown glimpses of the tribe’s culture and beliefs – there’s enough to keep it interesting, though a particular type of creature in the tale might strike the reader as being out of place, or at the very least something that that Dilman used to try and bridge the gap between the cultures he grew up investigating and those of readers on continents other than Africa.

‘The Terminal Move’ is definitely the most different tale that Fox and Raven has brought us so far – it is utterly unique and deserving of the spot it has claimed in Fox and Raven’s first anthology, but there is a chance that it may be a little too different to appeal to a wider readership. I’ll be reading Dilman’s work further, though, precisely because it’s so different. :-)

7 / 10

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To order you Kindle-copies of ‘The Terminal Move’, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK, and check out ‘Son of Suns’, the story’s awesome accompanying soundtrack, over on SoundCloud.

Project Hydra by Anton Sim

‘Project Hydra’ is definitely one of the most original and disturbing tales I’ve read in a long time.

In this tale, the reader is introduced to a group of co-workers who have to deal with a new and mysterious project initiated by their superiors – the ‘project’ of the title. How each individual worker deals with the questions raised by this new workplace phenomenon, and how they react when it is revealed, is what this tale is all about – and it’s an awesome play on the term, ‘Hydra’.

Everything works wonderfully (and exceedingly creepily) in this tale – the characters are well-rounded and unique, each with their own mannerisms and character-arcs; the prose is flowing and uncluttered; the descriptions short yet vivid. The tension and horror of the tale builds steadily as its premise unfolds, and I’m sure plenty of readers will be keeping an eye on those office memos, just in case… ;-)

It’s a memorable and chilling tale, and I’m definitely looking forward to more from Anton Sim.

9 / 10

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To order your Kindle-copies of ‘Project Hydra’, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and head over to Fox and Raven’s SoundCloud stream to give the awesome soundtrack, Cutthroat, a listen. :-)

And remember to check out Fox and Raven Publishing – big things coming in 2014! :-)

That’s it for me for reviews for 2013, folks. Wishing you all an immensely epic festive season / holiday / whatever-you-call-it, and I hope you all get some truly awesome books as presents! :-)

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 

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Review: A Fury of Aces Book 1 – Burnt Ice by Steve Wheeler

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. :-)

As many of you probably know, I read widely – mostly Fantasy, but I love a good SF tale, too; so when Steve Wheeler arranged copies of his novels for me (all the way from New Zealand, I might add!), I was looking forward to some great SF action – and I’m happy to report that Steve’s ‘BURNT ICE’ didn’t disappoint me.

The first novel in Steve’s ‘A FURY OF ACES’ series, the tale centres on a crew of soldier-engineers who are sent to investigate a planet – an act which quickly leads to battles in the sea, air, underwater, and in space, as well as forcing the squad to begin questioning their leaders and masters.

The first thing that impressed me about the novel was its scope – just reading the blurb put me in mind of the kind of Space Opera that Peter F Hamilton writes, and though I knew not to expect something similar, I was damned surprised but just how detailed the universe that Steve created is.

Earth has been left behind (a major catastrophe struck the planet, forcing humanity to leave behind the homeworld), and now inhabit what is called the Sphere of Humanity – a region of space encompassing hundreds (if not thousands) of planets linked by wormhole-travel. The Sphere is governed by the Administration, but they have their own control-struggle going on with the Games Board, a faction that runs every conflict and war for entertainment value and ratings. It’s unlike anything I’ve encountered in SF before, and Steve does an awesome job exploring the factions and their policies, motives and technology.

A word of warning, though – Steve doesn’t spoonfeed the reader. You may find yourself a bit lost in the beginning, as there are many names and acronyms you’ll read that you won’t immediately understand, but if you’re patient you’ll experience how everything builds into a coherent and understandable picture, and you’ll see just how many threads and ideas Steve packed into this novel.

Character-wise, there are plenty of stand-outs, with a slight leaning toward one character, Marko, but Steve gives everyone their time in the spotlight. Each member of the crew has specific abilities that not only set them apart but also bring them together in innovative ways, especially when they need to do something or build something. There’s a real sense of camaraderie among the crew, though there are the odd disagreements.

One aspect of the novel that readers might find strange is how Steve writes dialogue – it’s not something I’m used to, but in this case it worked well for me, and also went a long way to showing how each character thinks and experiences a situation.

The world-building of this novel is pretty damned cool, and I’m sure book one hasn’t yet scratched the surface of the universe Steve has built – you find out how wormholes are created, what goes into the making of weapons and armour, how long it takes to travel into orbit and then back down again, just how to deal with not being able to use wormholes to travel vast interstellar distances… I’m no expert, but it seems clear to me that Steve put a hell of a lot of thought into this book, looking at things from many angles to make sure he had covered all his bases and knew what he was talking about. Granted, this is SF and Space Opera, so we’re dealing with technologies that don’t exist (yet), but you get my meaning. :-)

The battles in the book (and there are plenty) are not only excellent but interesting, too, as Marko’s crew are drawn into conflicts that test their knowledge as well as their abilities to react and work as a team. And the relationships between the crew grow and change throughout the book – there aren’t any static characters here, another aspect of the novel that keeps things interesting.

Taken all together, I really enjoyed this book – it’s the kind of Space Opera (layered with Military SF) that is fun, engaging, interesting and intelligent, with great characters, excellent world-building and cool action. All SF-readers should be reading this – I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it!

9 / 10

Burnt Ice

To order your copies of ‘BURNT ICE’ click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And do check out Steve’s Facebook Page, ‘A Fury of Aces’ – plenty extra info there and many truly excellent models that Steve has built, showcasing specific ships and hardware from the series. In fact, check out this post I did for a taster of what you can expect. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Review: Oasis by Joan De La Haye (Fox Spirit)

Ever since I read Joan’s ‘SHADOWS’ (reviewed here) I knew that Joan was a writer that I would continue to enjoy – and with her novella, OASIS, I wasn’t disappointed.

OASIS falls into the Zombie-Apocalypse sub-genre of Horror, yet it’s also an exploration of character- and family bonds in the face of horror and unrelenting danger.

The world of OASIS is a blasted wasteland – the planet has been ravaged by powerful and deadly solar flares, which decimated the world’s population and also changed humanity at the cellular level. The tale begins with a family that finally emerges from the relative safety of their bunker, having practically no choice but to brave this terrible new world – and when they finally do emerge, they are thrown into a situation that tests them on every level.

OASIS is a short tale -you can read it in one sitting- but Joan managed to illustrate the relationship this family has, gives us insight to how they managed to survive and keep their sanity, and how the isolation of the bunker and not knowing what was happening in the world affected them. When they emerge from the bunker and join up with a group of soldiers, they begin to realize that the world has changed utterly – the desolate, water-bereft landscape brutal and memorable, the effects of the solar flares hammered into the reader.

When the true danger that this group must face finally emerges, Joan does a great job of ramping up the tension, but also manages to interject some humour into the tale, nicely breaking the often grisly descriptions of wounds and violence. I also enjoyed the characters and how they reacted in the situations they faced – there isn’t ‘one’ hero upon which the plot turns, no easy way to fix what’s happened to the planet, no easy way to survive; but OASIS is in no way a bleak tale.

OASIS is sharp, brutal, spiced with humor, and a great addition to the ever-growing sub-genre of Zombie Apocalypse tales. It stands on its own and yet again showcases Joan’s great talents with words and storytelling. If you’re looking for a quick read that’ll give you thrills, terror and zombies, or if you’re a fan of Joan’s expansive and creepy imagination ;-) then this book is for you. :-)

8 / 10

oasis-cover-600x800

To order your copies of OASIS, click here for Amazon US (paperback, Kindle-edition) and here for Amazon UK (paperback, Kindle-edition).

Check out Joan’s website here, and check out her publisher’s website here: Fox Spirit.

Until next week,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Fox Spirit, Reviews

 

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