Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro

September 17, 2017 - 4:05 pm No Comments

The Usual Sacrifices (Supernatural 15)
Author: Yvonne Navarro
Publisher: Titan Books
Page count: 336pp
Release date: 27th June 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Online: @TitanBooks, #SPNFamily, @YvonneNavarro
TV Bit: Season 10 (Mark of Cain) between ‘The Hunter Games’ and ‘Halt & Catch Fire’

 

Right, for those who haven’t watched TV series Supernatural here’s a brief 30 Sci day update.
Sam and Dean, twenty-something year old brothers, lose their Mom when Sam, the youngest, is 6 months old. A yellow eyed de,on burns her on the ceiling and John Winchester, dad to Sam and Dean, husband to Mary, spends his life as a hunter training the boys to hunt all kinds of supernatural creatures; vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, ghosts; you name it they hunt it. Season 9, Dean hook on the Mark of Cain; basically to save his brother but it causes intense rage and anger. He still has this in S10. So, in this book, Dean is a volcano of emotions about to explode and Navarro manages to weave this thread into the narrative. We can sense Dean’s frustration and attempts to not beat the crap out of people, particularly the Sherriff’s department.
Now for this book itself. It starts with the boys, always the boys, heading off to investigate a new case involving multiple disappearances in Mammoth Cave.
As Lucy the Southern woman they meet points out, as they enter the town with missing people, the Bronwsdale folks aren’t exactly friendly and seem to have forgotten the meaning of ‘southern hospitality’. As the boys pull into a grocery store parking lot to ask a local woman for information she literally runs away yelling “I don’t talk to strangers.”
Just slightly jumpy then.
When they go to the local diner for food, it’s a little like the Slaughtered Lamb in American Werewolf in London; hushed voices and stares, though the diner scene allows for Navarro to show us a familiar characteristic of Dean (his humongous appetite) especially for all things bad for him. The scene is particularly funny. It’s a great opener to get to know the brothers.
It’s here that we get a feel for what might be going on, just like the brothers do.
There have been disappearances – mostly travellers, hitch hikers; strangers.
According to one local, the Mammoth Caves take their due. When two visiting teenage girls related to the new librarian disappear the sheriff and the locals don’t seem to be doing anything to find them.
As Sam puts it; “It’s all pretty and small-town America on the surface, but there’s something really nasty underneath.”
Cinnamon, the local psychic, is a great character. I love when the boys get discombobulated by another person during an investigation- especially when it’s a five foot nothing old woman in a polka dot dress.
The story itself follows the detective/mystery route, but it’s the characters, and the darkness hiding beneath a ‘Pleasantville’ veneer in the town, which makes the book so engaging. As for the dark, this is literally visualised in the caves and caverns that various people, including the boys, explore.
They reflect the darkness hidden by the townspeople and the sheriff, with scenes in the Mammoth Caves pretty creepy and atmospheric.
It’s clear from this book that Titan only commission Supernatural tie-ins from writers who know and love the universe. Sam and Dean are pretty much spot-on and the end scenes with the denouement, as referenced by Navarro, is almost like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine in parts. You’ll figure out why when you read it.
I loved this book.
It’s a great to whet your appetite in the current season break behind S13 returns 12th Oct.
Awesome, as Dean might say.

Larry 2: The Squeequel by Adam Millard

August 26, 2017 - 7:31 pm No Comments

Larry 2: The Squeequel by Adam Millard

Published by Crowded Quarantine Publications on 31st October 2015

268 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

So, at the end of Larry, Amanda and Freddy had killed Larry and thought that was the end. However, Larry’s mom had other plans, brought back from the dead, Larry has one thing on his mind: Revenge and if the body count rises who is he to complain.

Amanda has now got a psychic link with Larry and Freddy is going along with the plan, thinking it will help get Amanda into bed. Realising Larry has come back from the dead and normal methods of killing him won’t work, they get the assistance of Sister Geoff a very unusual nun.

From the start, this book had me laughing and it took me longer to finish it, only because I was laughing so much, I had to share these scenes with my daughter. Sister Geoff was my favourite character by far, her take no prisoners attitude and her lifestyle was so not the norm. Her one liners usually at the expense of anyone that got in her way were comedy gold. The residents of Haddon were described in such detail, you can visualize each character. As it is a slasher book except the gory death scenes and as this is the sequel the scenes are in abundance, it is amazing how many ways you can die from an axe. The ending has left me intrigued and I can’t wait to read Larry 3D.

My warning from the 1st book still stands, this is a book you cannot read in public and with the amount of laughing I did, I would have had some right funny looks from others.

Xelee: Vengeance by Stephen Baxter

August 25, 2017 - 3:34 pm No Comments

Xeelee: Vengeance
Author: Stephen Baxter
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count/Size: 346pp/Trade paperback
Release date: 15th June 2017
Reviewer: Chris Stocks

Check out Xeelee: Vengeance by Stephen Baxter http://amzn.to/2wb1PQl
Note: This is the first of a duology from Stephen Baxter, the conclusion of his Xeelee Sequence of short stories and novels. Having not read any of the previous books, I have reviewed this book as a standalone novel.

It is 3646. Michael Poole, a wormhole-engineer and a young scion of the powerful Poole dynasty, is near Io, field-testing one gate of a new wormhole transit system, when suddenly a number of alien objects come through.

At first the intentions of the aliens appear unclear, but as they slowly make their way into the inner Solar System, their actions become more overtly hostile as they start attacking humanity’s many colonies and outposts before preparing a devastating attack on Earth itself.

Apparently, a million years in the future, at the centre of the galaxy, there is a statue of Michael Poole, commemorating his part in a million year war with the Xeelee. In a literary cross between The Terminator and Independence Day, the Xeelee have used the wormhole to travel back in time to attempt to kill Michael Poole, wipe out pesky humanity and erase the war from history.

Despite initial misgivings, Michael is forced to become involved in the unfolding events. He pursues the Xeelee across the solar system, accompanied by the outspoken, anarchic and impulsive pilot, Nicola Emry. On Earth, he is aided (and occasionally thwarted) by his father and head of the family business, Harry, who seems more interested in manipulating the crisis for short term political and business advantage than stopping the aliens. He is also offered advice by Muriel, his long-dead mother, who has been re-created as a virtual simulation, and Gea, a centuries-old AI.

The action sweeps through the solar system as Michael returns to Earth, pursues the Xeelee to Venus and then to the interior of the Sun(!), before battle is joined, first on Mars and then Earth at the novel’s climax . There Michael must decide whether to risk everything in a desperate gamble to save Earth from total destruction…

This is a fast-paced and exciting read, full of high-concept SF; wormhole technology, high-tech propulsion systems and super-weapons extrapolated from cutting-edge physics. There are also some interesting asides, such as the discovery of dark matter life-forms deep inside the Sun and the amusing idea of a virtual Barsoom, created in the Martian desert by gamers, being used to divert a Xeelee attack.

Personally I would have preferred a little more character development and more details about the 37th century society – though perhaps this can be found elsewhere in the Xeelee Sequence. In any case, it is perhaps a little churlish to make such minor complaints about what is otherwise an excellent read.

In the novel’s coda, Michael and Nicola prepare to leave Earth in order to follow the Xeelee to the galactic core, presumably the starting-point of the concluding novel. I look forward to reading it – though I may use the time before it is published to catch up on earlier Xeelee books.

The Vanishing Throne (Falconer 2) Elizabeth May

August 4, 2017 - 6:36 pm No Comments

The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer Trilogy: Book 2)
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 362pp
Release date: 18th Nov 2015
(The third book The Fallen Lingdom was released 15th June 2017) Grab it now!


The first book in this series ‘The Falconer’ introduced us to a post-Regency world of early polite 19th Century society in Edinburgh, where Lady Alieana Kameron plays the game of ‘lady’ whilst tinkering with inventions.
On meeting pixie Derrick and Fae Kiaran, she discovers she is the ‘Falconer’ – the one who is strong enough to fight the fae – who wish to destroy the human world. There is much more to the first book (death, betrayal, love, passion, magic) but – spoilers darling!
Now, in the second book, having failed to save the world in a very Buffy-like manner – she is half dead and prisoner of Lonnrach – a baobhan sith – a vampire-like fae who holds Alieana in the faerie realm sucking her memories dry to find the information he needs to take a throne. The Vanishing Throne.
Time moves at a different pace in the Sith-bhruth – a week there can be months in the world of humans. But every day in her faerie prison is a day of torture – Lonnrach’s bite leaving physical and emotional scars, as his venom runs through her veins. But it is the guilt that consumes her, as much as the need to escape – she is shown visions of a desolate Edinburgh and knows she failed to save it.
Thankfully help comes in the form of Kiaran’s sister Aithinne.
There’s a nice little nod to The Princess Bride in here as Alieana escapes through the forests and rocks with Aithinne.
Though the imprisonment and escape is tense, emotional and intriguing, it was great to move on into Alieana’s normal world to see her reaction, and to see some old favourite characters.
Derrick the tiny winged pixie is particularly funny, as is Aithinne’s jubilant use of ‘normal’ swear words (implied at and stopped at just the right moment rather than expressed) and her sibling rivalry with Kiaran. Never mind Alieana’s love for Kiaran- a powerful fae she is only just getting to know.
When Derrick is drunk on honey he is very productive and at one point makes new clothes for Alieana- who huffs – to which Derrick replies “so just because the world ends you can’t dress fancy anymore?” Point made! I can almost feel Joss Whedon’s influence here, in reflect of sparkling dialogue at the least.
As for Kiaran, he has taught himself not to feel compassion after centuries in faerie, but seeing Alieana again stirs something deep inside, and when she is hurt at one point by another character his anger is cold. Bound from killing humans he still points out, “It’s incredible what the human body can endure without dying.” He’s your ‘Angel’ to Alieana’s Buffy; sexy, brooding, stalwart, strong – and lethal.
As a team, our heroes are formidable adversaries for Lonnrach, each character having different attributes to bring to the party; carrying on with the Buffy analogy – the ‘Scooby Gang’, each one valuable in their own right, with believable personalities to match.
With the gang and the surviving humans forming a truce with the pixies, we see an extraordinary underground city; glittering quartz domes, bee hive shaped houses, obsidian buildings, and food from everywhere in the world, which the pixies can create from nothing. But the sparkling fae disturb Alieana who still bears the scars of her torture.
However, for the reader, the city is awesome; you can smell, taste and feel this place. Stunning. Yet for Alieana there’s something missing that the real world has. Yet that real world is shattered and can’t be returned to right now. That won’t stop Alieana from trying to save the world that exists now – with a fairy killing gun (a blunderbus of her own design) her own innate powers and her team as back up.
This is a hero I can get on with. And here’s why;
“No – I don’t want balls (now now trader! not that type), or parties, or dresses again. No elevenhours or fourhours or being forced into marriage.
Those things all kept me caged …”
This is an awesome blend of Austen-era bad-assery heroines, magical steampunk, fae legend and urban fantasy.

Supernatural Night Terror: John Passarella

August 4, 2017 - 11:05 am No Comments

Night Terror (Supernatural 9)

Author: John Passarella

publisher: Titan Books

page count: 381pp

Release date: 1st Jan 2011

I’ve read a couple of John’s Supernatural tie-ins and have really enjoyed them. It’s clear he’s a fan of the show and knows his characters – I particularly enjoyed the nightmare scenes. At one point (I’ll just say tummy issues) it’s pretty obvious why he’s a Bram Stoker award winner – the nightmare I’m on about is pure ewwww. With lashings of yuk. It’s a nice plot based on some cool mythology and it rattles along at a good pace. Great fun and seeing Soulless Sam again was really cool. Yes I’m evil, but I loved that version of Sam for humour.