Archive for January, 2017

Shards of Hope: Psy-Changeling 14

January 25, 2017 - 9:13 pm No Comments

Shards of Hope
Psy-Changeling Book 14
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 483pp
Release date: 4th June 2015
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

I’ve been reading Singh’s Psy-Changeling series now for quite a few years, and have been engaged with it from the start, but if you’re picking this up for the first time, as a starting point, you will manage, but this brief pointer will help.
It’s the future; 2080s, and there are three races on earth; changelings (or humans who shift into various types of animals such as wolf, tiger, panther).
Psy (pretty much short for psychic, this race also has sub-strands (E – Empaths) for example and Tks, who have telekinetic power. And humans.
Back in the good old 1970s, some of the Psy were prone to madness and there were Psy serial killers. To control the insanity the Psy-Net was established- creating Silence. A cold existence in which Psy are punished for having or demonstrating any kind of emotions. They can be reconditioned for such a crime.
So, that’s the stage set for the adventures to come over the first twelve to thirteen books. But Silence was never foolproof and by book 13 it has fallen, and Psy are trying to cope living with emotion. This would be impossible if not for the mating bonds already created between Psy, Changelings and humans, which started with Lucas of the DarkRiver pack and Psy Sacha Duncan in book one.
In book fourteen, society is somewhat unstable following the fall of Silence, but the Ruling Coalition are attempting to work with the Psy-force The Arrows, to police the world.
No one really knows why Aden became leader of the Arrows who bit by bit escaped the cruel control of former councillor Ming Le Bon, after all, he only registers mid-range on the Psy-plane, and is a medic, despite being a formidable physical opponent. But best friend Vasic, recently mated to Ivy, knows the truth about him. He has indescribable powers not yet seen, though the Arrows truly follow him, because of his loyalty to them. He will fight for every single one of them. The same way he fought for the broken, beat child, Zaira, he met twenty years ago, as a boy.
When Aden and Zaira wake up in a room, both battered and bloody unable to use their Psy powers to call for help, they know they have to escape. So they fight their way out in true Arrow style and find themselves near to death, collapsed in a hostile environment; on the land of a changeling leopard pack ran by Remi. And they must convince Remi to help them survive and return home, because their abduction is just the beginning of a plot to overthrow the Arrows.
Amidst the action, and the sub-plots, is the budding, yet fractured romance between Aden and Zaira, which is the heart of the book. Like many romance heroines, Zaira is damaged, having been tortured by her parents as a child before becoming an Arrow, but where the heroine falls back, Zaira steps forward and fights, but it is this anger, this rage, which she is afraid of. This burning fire is a barrier between her and Aden, so it will take some perseverance to battle through.
The romance, as always with Nalini Singh is believable and passionate, growing in the right way.
But in this book, a whole new world opens up to the reader.
The conspiracy behind the abductions is explored, other races are introduced, new ventures, new relationships, new plot-strands, new futures. And it’s bloody exciting!
Fast-paced, full of action, erotically charged love scenes and humour, this book takes the rule book and throws it out.
It ends on a brand new high, and a new story arc, which I’m sure will continue to grow.
I particularly want to see how Beatrice Gault develops, how the children of all races grow, how romance blossoms between the various factions and I want to sea more if the BlackSea pack.
There is so much more to enjoy here, but in this instance, for the nature of nostalgia (netting old characters again) and the exciting future it foretells, and the sensitive handling of child abuse Shards of Hope scores 5/5.

The Keeper of Dragons: The Prince Returns by JA Culican

January 22, 2017 - 9:29 pm No Comments

The Keeper of Dragons: The Prince Returns by JA Culican

Published 21st June 2016

284 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Colt was your average Joe, liked to keep himself to himself, but just before his 18th birthday, his parents tell him something that would change his life for ever. Not only was he adopted but his real parents were coming to take him away. Meeting his biological parents were scary enough but to find out that they are both dragons and King and Queen of Ochana, and that he was as a dragon as well was nothing like he imagined.  However, when he landed in Ochana he was in for a bigger shock, he was the keeper of dragons and they needed him to save their race.

Everything that Colt had gone through, I was really surprised how quickly he accepted it all, and although he kept doubting himself, he did take his role serious. The involvement of his best friend, helped with his confidence and I hope to learn more about her life in future books.

If you love dragons, your imagination can go wild with this story. The way Ochana was described, I could picture the place especially the scenes in the market. The detail description of each dragon fraction helped explain the country’s history. With the addition of other fantasy creatures made this an enjoyable read. With the action building throughout the story, it was a quick read as I wanted to know if they survived. Although not finishing on a cliff-hanger, it did leave it open for further books

The Treemakers: Book 1 in The Treemakers Trilogy by Christina L Rozelle

January 21, 2017 - 12:25 pm No Comments

The Treemakers: Book 1 in The Treemakers Trilogy by Christina L Rozelle

Published by A Spark in the Dark Press on 3rd December 2014

288 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

The Earth is dying, trees are in high demand and a factory in Greenleigh are contracted to make them. The treemakers are mainly orphaned children, orphaned as the adults do not live past 30 years. Worked to the bone, fed slop and overseen by 4 evil Superiors, the children have no life at all. Trying to look after them is Joy or to the kids Momma Joy, a 16-year-old girl who lost her parents a couple of years before.  Sneaking out at night, Joy and her best friend Jax explore the unused areas to try and find items to make the children’s lives easier. On a regular nightly visit, they come across an open lift, and this discovery changes their lives for ever. From that moment, they knew that they had to get the children out. With help from Smudge, a girl with many secrets, Joy takes all the children on a dangerous adventure.

I took to Joy straightaway as I found her to be a caring selfless person. She was still a child herself but she knew that as the one of the eldest, she had to look after the younger children. Working hard all day she still took time to tell them bedtime stories and to look after the wellbeing. Never forgetting who her parents were, their words would get her through the toughest times.

Some of the scenes in the factory were distressing as these children had a horrendous life. When the children when in isolation, although not mentioned you could only imagine what evil depraved actions the Superiors were inflicting on them. I found Emmanuel Superior a very sick minded individual.

Whilst reading this book I was on an emotional rollercoaster, feeling sorry for the children and then willing them to escape. The action in the story intensified the further on I read. Not wanting to put this down it was a quick read. This is a great story for older teenager and adults alike as it does have some upsetting themes, but this is a dystopian world, and survival is the most important thing.  With some questions left unanswered at the end I am off to read book 2. A great exciting read

The Enchanted Kingdoms: Haunting Fairytales Book 1 by RL Weeks

January 18, 2017 - 10:50 pm No Comments

The Enchanted Kingdoms: Haunting Fairytales Book 1 by RL Weeks

Published 26th July 2016

Pages 299

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

What would happen if Bella met Snow White and Ariel, this is one answer you will not find watching any Disney film.

There are a few main characters in this book. Edward an egotistical prince, who does not care who he hurts to get what he wants. Stilts a magician who is a bit of a conman. Bella a feisty lone parent of James who is not afraid of adventure.  Snow a young princess who lost her mom at an early age and was brought up by her Granddad, Ariel is a mermaid who didn’t fit in with her family and just wanted to be human and like all fairy tales there is a wicked witch called Lori.

The majority of books using a fairy tale theme usually concentrate on one story but this book was different, using sections from 11 fairy tales, the author creates an original story. Whilst reading this book I could not get over how easy it was for some of the characters to double cross each other to get what they wanted. Edward and Stilt were fine candidates for this, in fact, the amount of double crossing they did, I was surprised that they remembered who they owed favours to and why they remained friends. My favourite character was Snow as we all know her as the sweet and innocent princess that loved her housework, but in this story, she was a strong young teenager who wanted revenge on the person who murdered her mother. She even had her 7 dwarves, but they were not the dwarves that we know and love. Although Lori was the wicked witch, I could understand why she became that person, and as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

A well written story, full of action that will renew your interest in fairy tales. Book 2 is already out so the adventure can continue

Remembering Vicky Stock

January 18, 2017 - 3:10 pm 3 Comments

Vicky Stock, Membership Secretary of BSFG (Birmingham SF Group) passed away quietly on Wed 11th January 2017. For years, she had fought the battle against cancer, and ‘fought’ is the right word, because Vicky was a fighter. Despite bad days, illness and exhaustion, Vicky took time to support many important fundraisers for Breast Cancer research, gave me advice during a difficult time and my own scare, and volunteered at St Mary’s Hospice. At the same time she worked for the BSFG continuing her role and sharing news and creating events on Facebook and Twitter. Vicky was relentless, but so much more than that; funny, warm, generous, committed, and probably not known by many, a talented writer.

A couple of of years ago I released a book to fundraise for Breast Cancer Campaign, a charity Vicky and I both agreed on. Written in her own words, here is the foreword that Vicky wrote for HER DARK VOICE.

Picture courtesy of Birmingham Mail

Foreword: Vicky Stock
The human body is an amazing thing. It can do the most amazingly brilliant stuff which you never imagined it could achieve. Childbirth, for instance. Or the way our brains work. The way everything interconnects. Our DNA…But what happens if, again rather miraculously, a cell gets an idea in its head that it wants to be immortal: it starts reproducing, again and again and again. Starts to take over the cells and tissue next to it. First we know about it is a lump or change or pain…miraculous, in a somewhat darker way with a much darker outcome. For that immortality will eventually take over our mortal body and kill it…

…Cancer. The darkest time of my short life so far. Plunged at the tender age of 30 into a battle with breast cancer, involving several surgeries removing and reconstructing, chemo- and radio-therapy, 12 months of the wonder-drug Herceptin, anticipating several years of a hormone drug…and then 18 months after diagnosis, plunged into that world all over again when I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer.

Like a lot of other cancer patients I have felt the strong urge to give something back, to get something positive out of this horrendous time, and for me this meant volunteering and fundraising. I started this just after diagnosis and my initial surgeries; and once my treatment finished in 2012 bar the ongoing hormone drugs and reconstructive work, I continued my work with charity fundraising. I have also been trained in delivering breast awareness sessions and have started a support group for younger people going through cancer, linking up with a national charity with the same aims.

There is a lot of need for support and someone to talk to at all stages of the treatment journey but particularly the point at the end of treatment is when quite often people seek out others who have experienced what they have gone through. A willing, empathetic ear to listen, understand at that time when everyone assumes you are ok and back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is. The various charities out there offer this to our starving souls desperate to recover but not knowing quite how. People feel themselves drawn to different charities. Some offer a helpline with professionals/peer support from people who have experienced the same cancer; or ‘buddies’ who will phone or visit to offer practical/emotional support; or online forums where you can vent your frustrations with others in a safe, monitored, anonymous arena.

Other survivors find themselves drawn to charities focusing on the treatments, research, science to try and find that miraculous cure, or stop it happening in the first place. Cancer can often be beaten back, putting the patient ‘in remission’ or as near cured as possible, but over you will always hang the threat of metastases. The word no cancer patient ever wants to hear. This means the initially mapped out careplan hasn’t worked. The speedy referrals, the mastectomy, the months of awful treatment and side effects, even the wonder drugs – it has none of it actually worked. The cancer has spread. Suddenly it is all very different. Now it is a case of how long can they keep you alive. A lot of current research is trying to find a ‘cure’ for this currently incurable spread which once started, can never be permanently halted. At the moment. But who knows in the future what these amazing scientists will discover?

Vicky Stock

 

Please consider Vicky’s words, remember her, and help with the various cancer charities that are out there. Or visit a patient, or spread the word. Knowledge is power.

 

Vicky, you will be greatly missed.

Theresa X