Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Harlot by Tracie Podger

October 14, 2017 - 9:29 am No Comments

Harlot by Tracie Podger
Published 31st March 2017
286 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

After the death of her grandma, 14-year-old Charlotte was thrown into a world of depravity. For 4 years she was forced to have sex with her cousin’s friends and clients. Living in a dilapidated trailer, all she wanted to do was escape. But when she finds a client murdered, she knows that this is her chance to escape. Having no idea where she will end up, she packs her meagre items and runs. Picked up by Beau who seems to be her knight in shining armour, Charlotte is at her lowest, wet, cold and lost. When he drops her off in his home town, she finds help where she least expects it.
To be honest, when I started to read this book, I thought here we go it’s a damaged girl meet a damaged boy and have a relationship. I WAS WRONG. This story tackles difficult subjects human trafficking, drugs and abuse. Charlotte appears to be a strong character, used to fending for herself, however when she meets Rose, Kieran and Cecelia she shows her vulnerability. All she wants is to be cared for. With everything she has gone through you would expect her to be bitter and selfish, but she will fight for what she believes in and has a heart of gold to the people she cares for. Beau is tall dark and brooding. He came across of having everyone problems on his shoulder and he was the only one who could sort it out. As the story progresses, you find out why is like that and the reasons behind the job he does. Charlotte and Beau’s relationship is hard to explain, one moment they hate each other but then they act like bosom buddies. Some of the scenes are graphic and heart breaking, but they are necessary to the story. Each character has their own story to tell and as we learn more about them, they form a story that got me hooked from page 1. The author had a way of leading you down the wrong path and the people you think are good turn out to me some of the most despicable people you will meet. This is a standalone book so even like me, who had not read anything else by this author you will be able to enjoy the story. A story full of suspense

Roboteer by Alex Lamb

October 14, 2017 - 7:09 am No Comments

ROBOTEER by Alex Lamb. Gollancz, London. £8.99 paperback. 426 pages. ISBN: 978-1-473-20609-0
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

There is a sub-set of science fiction which is Military SF and written by such exponents as David Weber and David Drake. I was once told that SF was Mills & Boon for boys (I converted that person by giving her Marge Piercy to read) and to a certain extent, that is what this kind of SF is. It is for readers who have a fascination for hardware and like to read about blowing things up.
Alex Lamb’s debut novel, Roboteer, is a well thought out, military space opera. In this very far future, Earth has succumbed to pollution and the mass of humanity lives mostly on the product of prote farms. The planet is united under the auspices of the Prophet of the Truist religion. Other faiths are tolerated but can never rise to ultimate status. As far as enlightenment is concerned, the clock has been turned back millennia. Girls are not educated and the mass humanity, the Followers are illiterate. Yet they are scooped up and sent to fight for their planet. The enemy are the Galateans. Initially human colonists, they have embraced genetic modification to compensate for lack of personnel and help terraform the colony worlds. By the decree of Earth’s spiritual leader this modification is an abomination in God’s eyes. Also there are no aliens. The reason for the war between the two factions is to wipe out the abominations and to acquire what is believed to be fertile worlds to feed Earth’s population. His Honesty the Prophet is mistaken on several counts.
The story is told from three points of view enabling the situation to be seen from both sides. Will is the Roboteer of the title. He is modified to be able to remotely control various aspects of the war ship including torpedoes and drones. He has a bit more initiative than the average roboteer but when he disobeys an order and saves his ship from destruction he is transferred to the Ariel. This has a six man crew and they are given a spy mission to try and find out where the new technology the Earthers have suddenly acquired comes from. Ira is the captain of the Ariel. The third view point character is the Earther scientist Gustav. The new suntap device is his project. He didn’t invent it. He acquired it from an alien artefact known as the Relic.
Ira is able to follow Gustav’s ship to the Relic but when they are discovered, the aliens hack Will’s mods and download information into him. Aliens do indeed exist and they are giving humanity a choice. It is up to Will to prove that humanity is not a disease that has to be wiped out.
The pace of this novel is relentless and the characters have to endure betrayal, despair and torture before a resolution is reached. For most readers, it will not matter that they are dumped into the middle of the action without any explanation as to how the situation has arisen. For Will and Ira, politics are for others, while Gustav finds politics thwarting him as he tries to do the best for his planet. These three are perhaps nobler examples of humanity and not enough space is given to the mistaken, politically ambitious or nasty characters that always exist in any society. These readers will not mind that the space ships can move between star systems at a tremendous rate or be able to visualise the technology. If they are fans of military SF, they will enjoy this.

 

Friends Like Us by Rob Shepherd

October 13, 2017 - 9:53 pm No Comments

Friends Like Us by Rob Shepherd
Published by Stanhope Books on 21st November 2015
130 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


When Ryan, Caitlin, Lucas, Kayla, Mia and Oliver, friends since childhood go on holiday in a secluded cottage, what they want is a relaxing break away, what they got was a night of terror.
From the start of the story, you sensed that Oliver was always on the edge of the group. Suffering from depression, you knew that something had happened in his life, but it was not until he spent time with Caitlin that he opens up and tells her about his past, it was after this that he wanted to start living.
When the group was looking for something to pass the time, I was expecting the complimentary Ouija board to make an appearance, so I was surprised when it was a book that caused the problems. When something went wrong with Oliver, you could feel the group’s anguish and whilst I did not agree with their decisions, you had the feeling that they had no choice. The group’s death scenes had a twist and were vivid, it was like watching the action through a camera lens.
This book had the feel of “I know what you do last summer” to it, but the action happened all in one night. Whilst this is a horror story, it is also a story about unrequited love and guilt. This is a quick read, with an emotional charged ending.

 

Songs of Dreaming Gods by William Meikle

October 11, 2017 - 9:10 pm No Comments

Songs of Dreaming Gods by William Meikle
Published by Crossroad Press on 8th September 2017
178 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Called in, whilst on sick leave, Detective John Green is asked to head up the investigation to a gruesome multiple murder. On his team is Janis Lodge and Todd Wiggins and whilst they worry that he is not up to the job, they will always have his back. The house where the murders happened has history, but as the investigation unfolds, they not only find out about the cause of the murders but things that were hidden in themselves.
John Green was a no-nonsense copper; however, he was willing to put himself in danger to save others. Injured in the line of duty, he was on sick leave when he had the call. The further John investigates the more you find out about his past, and you realise what a troubled childhood he had, tormented by demons, but always wanting to do the right thing. Janis Lodge thought the world of John Green and even when there was doubts that he was up for the job, she always had his back. Even when he was recovering from his injuries, she was always there for him.
This story started out like any murder/thriller, but as the story progressed it became more sinister. The house had a life of its own and the flashback scenes were used to explain its history. John’s journey through the house and his confrontation with his childhood demons the Reapers, made me feel that there was no hope for John and that he was fighting a losing battle. Although I did find a bit of humour with John’s dialogue with Death. Some of my favourite scenes involved Janis and the porcelain dolls. Tapping into Janis’s childhood phobia, the dolls stalked her wherever she went. There was a lot of minor details, that all played an important part to the story and it was when items were removed as evidence that the scenes in the Police station became graphic. This story draws you in and you feel the oppression of the house. The repetitive song “He Sleeps in the Depths” really plays with you mind and I had it running through my head for days. The ending tied up the story perfectly.
This book grabbed my interest from the blurb and whilst I recognised the author this is the 1st book that I have read, but will not be the last.

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark

September 29, 2017 - 4:41 pm No Comments

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 29th September 2017
123 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


We first come across Sally caring for the folk of Dunballan, who are in a comatosed state. Following the past events, you get to find out what happened in the little town. David is the last of the McCavendish line, suffers from an ancient curse. Stalked by a beast and suffering dark depressive incidents. With only a creepy voice in the hedgerow to help Sally, can she break the curse and get her David back.
Whilst Sally is researching the beast, you get to learn more about David’s heritage and the aftermath of his ancestor’s dabbling with ancient folklore. Told through Matthew’s journals, the scenes with Matthew meeting had a mystical feel to it and you have a sense that something will go wrong.
Usually when I read any of Jasper Bark’s books, I am reading it with a grimace on my face, but this book was so different. This played more with my mind. The repetitive voice sounded sinister and for me Hettie was more horrific than the beast as it certainly knew how to play Sally. Whilst reading the scenes in the forest I had goosebumps and you could sense that it was leading up to a final showdown. The suspense carried throughout the story, but even I could not predict the outcome. You could feel the desperation in Sally and the need to help David and his dark moods.
I read a shortened version in the Green and Pleasant land anthology, and this new revised version had more depth. It felt more intense and as it is a novella a quick read. Another great story from Jasper Bark