bookfrivolity

Book Frivolity.....

Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!

Currently reading

Stone of Farewell
Tad Williams
The Guns of Empire (The Shadow Campaigns)
Django Wexler
Tallwood
Jeremy Kool, Steve Gerlach & Amanda Kool

Overview of Tremontaine created by Ellen Kushner

Tremontaine: Arrivals: (Episode 1) - Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant Tremontaine: The North Side of the Sun: (Episode 2) - Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryan Tremontaine: Heavenly Bodies: (Episode 3) - Joel Derfner, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant Tremontaine: A Wake in Riverside: (Episode 4) - Malinda Lo, Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant Tremontaine: A Fair Hand (episode 6) - Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Patty Bryant Tremontaine: The Swan Ball: (Episode 7) - Joel Derfner, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Patty Bryant, Racheline Maltese, Alaya Dawn Johnson Tremontaine: A City Without Chocolate: (Episode 8) - Malinda Lo, Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, Alaya Dawn Johnson Tremontaine: The Dagger and the Sword (episode 5) - Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Patty Bryant

One day the steroids will definitely kick in, I have faith! Until then, you can check out my overview here on SoundCloud, or listen to it on the player at the bottom of the post!

 

Grab it at: Serial Box | Amazon

 

 

 

Welcome to Tremontaine, the prequel to Ellen Kushner’s beloved Riverside series that began with Swordspoint! A Duchess whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; her husband’s dangerous affair with a handsome scholar; a foreigner in a playground of swordplay and secrets; and a mathematical genius on the brink of revolution—when long-buried lies threaten to come to light, betrayal and treachery know no bounds with stakes this high. Mind your manners and enjoy the chocolate in a dance of sparkling wit and political intrigue.

 

WRITTEN BY: Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, Paul Witcover (guest author)
AUDIO NARRATED BY: Nick Sullivan, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, Katherine Kellgren
AUDIO PRODUCED BY: Amanda Rose Smith

 

 

Book Review: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson
Still having some brain to hand co-ordination issues, so I'm still audio reviewing on SoundCloud for the moment! Thanks guys. K
 
You can check it out here, or listen through the player on this post!
 
Buy it at: Amazon | Book Depository
 
Thanks to Hachette Australia for supplying a review copy.
 

 

Book Review: Soulless by Jacinta Maree

Soulless: The Immortal Gene #1 - Jacinta Maree
 
Buy it at:
 
Welcome to Soulless.
We are the generation that laughs at death.

 

Just testing out SoundCloud as a different way of doing things! I hope this works! K.
 

 

 

Male/Female Spec-Fic Author Representation in an Australian Bookshop

 

Another audio/video mash post, due to my brain no longer being the ultimate controller of my hands! Anyway, after seeing a series of posts by Mary Robinette Kowal about the disparity between Male and Female representation on Spec-Fic shelves in US Airport bookstores, I decided to do a bit of a look in my own local bookstore. Turns out, it's not just the US Airports that aren't giving fair representation! Also, why changes in gender representation in bookstores are disconcerting for Australian Fantasy readers that grew up reading in the 80's and 90's...

 

EDIT: You can now check out Mary Robinette Kowal's survey results at her blog here.

Looking forward to Fantasy in 2016!

 

I have been wanting to do this post for a while, but I have been having trouble typing due to lack of brain/hand communication.. so I  audio/video mashed this instead! Plus, it's actually good practice for me to do this sort of thing, as I have aphasia.. I can type the words I think quite well, but my brain and mouth don't connect as well as they should! Gives me a chance to work those synapses into a frenzy! 

 

Please excuse the audio though! This is the first time I've ever tried this sort of thing! I am now learning to use audacity, so next time, if I need to, it will be a much better production!

 

Thanks guys!

K

Good luck for 2016 everybody! K. 

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. Image by Book Frivolity (parking meter from the Fallout wiki)
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. Image by Book Frivolity (parking meter from the Fallout wiki)
A Corner of White: The Colours of Madeleine 1 - Jaclyn Moriarty

Sunday Afternoon Reads: I had just a tiny bit too much fun doing this SAR image for A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (book one from The Colours of Madeliene series)...

 

This version is actually toned down from all the sparkle-larkles I had in the original! Didn't want to blind anybody..

 

In any case, this is one amazing Oz YA fantasy so far! I'm not sure exactly how to explain it... It has this 'The Magicians' by Lev Grossman kind of twist that's blowing me away; it's incredibly quirky, yet amazingly philosophical!  There's all this unexpected depth hidden amongst all the humour, that has me hooked on every weirdly structured chapter. I haven't read a YA like this in a very long time.. I'm extremely  excited to have all three books in the series here, so I may be mainlining them straight until I'm done!!

 

Back'o'Book:

 

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

 

I have yet to see kisses... I wonder who is kissing whom?!? 

 

The first two in the series A Corner of White, and The Cracks in the Kingdom are out now, and A Tangle of Gold is out in March 2016.. (psst. stay tuned! I am doing a Q&A with Ms. Moriarty in late March!)

A Really Quick Kristymas Eve Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

 

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...

Well, it's certainly a fairly cliched and trope-ish YA dystopian; however, I still read it in one sitting, it was still quite exciting in most parts, and it worked better than many in the genre I've recently read.

So, it might not have been the most original, but it was certainly the most convincing, the most intelligently written, and the only one of the many that have come out post-hunger-games that I'm going to read the sequel to.

Aveyard is also extremely good in her ability to work descriptions, and her actual writing skills surprised me with their acuity (not sure why surprised.. I think it's been a long road of pretty uninspiring writing in this field recently?)

In the end, it worked very well as a quick, entertaining read, that doesn't need hours of in-depth analysis post-ending (which is not necessarily a bad thing!). 

 

Verdict:

 

In all honesty, I was so entertained during one particular section, I did a bit of this:

 

 

And walked into a door jamb! 

 

Oneiros - Markus Heitz

Booktopia | Book Depository
Amazon | Amazon Aus | Amazon UK

 

Sunday Afternoon Reads: No fancy image today due to cruddy health.. But! I was lucky to chose a book that has the most wonderful dedication, that's actually pretty relevant today!

 

It's from Oneiros by Markus Heitz, a celebrated German fantasy writer that I've been wanting to read for quite some time. This actually looks to be more on the thriller side of fantasy (maybe closer to horror?), so it'll be a nice change of pace!

 

Back'o'book:

In Leipzig an undertaker named Konstantin Korff harbours a cruel secret.

In Minsk an unscrupulous scientist performs questionable experiments.

And in Paris a plane that is about to take off crashes into an airport terminal with deadly consequences for its passengers.

An investigation into the accident begins immediately, but the results are puzzling: all occupants were dead before the plane hit the building. What the police do not know is that there was one survivor. But even as they blunder into the investigation, Konstantin Korff and the mysterious scientist are already on his trail, all three bound together by the same curse. A curse that makes them a danger to everyone around them.

Curses! A curse! Me wonders what it might be, and from what!?

It's out right now through Quercus books (means I think I got it from.. Hachette Australia!)

 

Have an awesome week guys! K.

Book Frivolity's Top 10 Favourite Fantasy Bookies of 2015!

 

2015  has been a cracker of a year in Fantasy land. I don't think I've ever seen so many stand out books released in one year! It's certainly made me a very happy camper, that's for sure! Subsequently, it's made it surprisingly hard to put this list together, as 10 spots just didn't seem to be enough to showcase the brilliant year of releases! Alas, one must be practical, and if I didn't limit myself, I'd probably find a reason to list everything I've consumed!

 

Here's the thing about Top 10 books lists though; they are extremely subjective! This one is certainly no different. It's also my 'favourites' rather than the 'best of', because I haven't read every book from 2015! I'm quite sure if I had, this list might look quite different (or not? I don't know, I haven't read the ones I haven't read!).

 

What I can do, is say "I really loved these ones in particular!", and hopefully you might find something in there that you might also enjoy!

 

Let's get this show on the road! And, in no particular order:

 

 

Ruin - John Gwynne Ruin by John Gwynne 

 Book Three of The Faithful and The Fallen

Tor/ Pan Macmillan

 

Check out My Review!

 

The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures. At his back stands the scheming Calidus and a warband of the Kadoshim, dread demons of the Otherworld. They plan to bring Asroth and his host of the Fallen into the world of flesh, but to do so they need the seven treasures. Nathair has been deceived but now he knows the truth. He has choices to make, choices that will determine the fate of the Banished Lands.

Elsewhere the flame of resistance is growing - Queen Edana finds allies in the swamps of Ardan. Maquin is loose in Tenebral, hunted by Lykos and his corsairs. Here he will witness the birth of a rebellion in Nathair's own realm.

Corban has been swept along by the tide of war. He has suffered, lost loved ones, sought only safety from the darkness. But he will run no more. He has seen the face of evil and he has set his will to fight it. The question is, how?

 

I am a gigantic fan of The Faithful and The Fallen series; it's a massive epic adventure, that has a huge cast of characters, all gorgeously written. So well written, they make me all squidgy emotional! A true character driven fantasy! It feels quite old school familiar, but it still likes to take the tropes and kick them around a bit. It's not as predictable as a lot of this type of fantasy has become, and it explores much more of the grey areas that surround the characters and plot.

 

If you're a classic adventure fan, but would like to notch up the quality of the characters and story line, this is your series! I cannot wait for Wrath, which I believe will be out next year!(?)

 

 

Beyond Redemption - Michael R. FletcherBeyond Redemption - Michael R. Fletcher 

Book One of The Series That Will Hopefully Happen Damnit!

Harper Voyager

 

Check out my Very Short Review!

 

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn't an axiom, it's a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

 

So, you thought you knew Grimdark? Wrong! This is the new high lord of the grim! It'll give you gravel rash, as you are pulled along the long, hard road, with some of the least likable characters in fantasy history! Not recommended for those that expect any type of 'happy'; cause there is just none to be found! My dark side loved it. A lot. Definitely recommended for those that love their fantasy gritty, twisted and truly grim.

 

Now, we need to wait to see if Harper Voyager grants us the second novel (You can do it HV! We have faith in you! Do it...)

 

Guns of the Dawn - Adrian TchaikovskyGuns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Standalone

Tor/ Pan Macmillan

 

Check out my Review!

 

Emily Marshwic has watched the war take her brother-in-law and now her young brother. Then comes the call for more soldiers, to a land already drained of husbands, fathers and sons. Every household must give up one woman to the army and Emily has no choice but to join the ranks of young women marching to the front.

In the midst of warfare, with just enough training to hold a musket, Emily comes face to face with the reality: the senseless slaughter; the weary cynicism of the Survivor's Club; the swamp's own natives hiding from the conflict.

As the war worsens, and Emily begins to have doubts about the justice of Lascanne's cause, she finds herself in a position where her choices will make or destroy both her own future and that of her nation.

 

A  fantastic flintlock fantasy, that truly took me by surprise! I've always been a fan of Tchaikovsky, but this was a a standout standalone. It's Elizabeth Bennett in the trenches, but it's also a brilliant exploration of how war affects the human spirit. Highly recommended for fans of historical fantasy, and those that love a truly in-depth single person narrative.

 

 

Empire Ascendant: Worldbreaker Saga #2 (The Worldbreaker Saga) - Kameron Hurley Empire Ascendant by Kameron Hurley 

Book Two of the Worldbreaker Saga.

Angry Robot Books

 

Check out my Review!

 

Every two thousand years, parallel dimensions collide on the world called Raisa, bringing a tide of death and destruction to all worlds but one. Multiple worlds battle their dopplegangers for dominance, and those who survive must contend with friends and enemies newly imbued with violent powers.

Now the pacifist country of Dhai's only hope for survival lies in the hands of an illegitimate ruler and a scullery maid with a powerful – but unpredictable –magic. As their dopplegangers spread across the world like a disease, a former ally takes up her Empress’s sword again to unseat her, and two enslaved scholars begin a treacherous journey home with a long-lost secret that they hope is the key to the other worlds' undoing.

But when the enemy shares your own face, who can be trusted?

 

Ah geez, Kameron Hurley. What can I say? I just love her ability to create totally unique worlds and characters, that subvert every fantasy trope -  and still create a story that sucks you in and won't let go! I have true respect for Kameron Hurley. Her writing and plotting skills just get better with every book, and have pushed her into 'mega awesome writer' status! Definitely one of the most original writers out there, and Empire Ascendant showcases her amazing talent!

 

  

The Traitor - Seth Dickinson The Traitor by Seth Dickinson

Book One of a series.

Tor/ Pan Macmillan

 

Check out my Review!

 

Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They'll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She'll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she'll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery - and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.

But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.

 

 

I chose 'The Traitor' at Grimdark Mag, as my favourite Grimdark of the year. I need everyone to read it and tell me what you think! It's one of those books you want to discuss with everybody, but you can't really say anything about it, without becoming one big spoilerific dick! It's just one of those books with so many twists, turns and rug pulls, it keeps shocking your socks off, all the way through. Seth Dickinson is the true master of the blindsight, and I think the second in the series will only solidify that standing!

 

 

Alice - Christina Henry Alice by Christina Henry

Book One of a series.

ACE

 

Check out my Review!

 

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

 

 

Well, it had me at Alice. And then it had me with the everything else about it!  It was actually nominated for Goodreads Horror of the year (Congrats!!), though I think it's really more of a dark fantasy. Just my humble opinion! This is a really unique take on the Alice in Wonderland story, and Christina Henry just blows all the previous Alice spin offs out of the water! All my senses imploded, I was constantly amazed at how crazy Henry's imagination must be, and to see all my favourite characters transformed into these gangster mad men, was incredibly fun! I believe this is going to be a series *crosses fingers*, and I can only hope that I'll get to revisit this Alice's world again soon!

 

 

The Library at Mount Char - Scott Hawkins The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Standalone

Crown

 

Check out my Review!  

 

Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.

Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.

 

 

 

Look, I absolutely love bat shit crazy fantasy books; especially when they are done with a writing skill, that is good enough to make it work convincingly. The Library at Mount Char was the battiest book of the year, and was written so well, I had no trouble believing in it. Bloody brilliant! I think the synopsis probably says much more about it, than I can contribute! I swear to the gods, if I had Scott Hawkins imagination, I'd probably be five steps away from madness. All I can say is, I'll never eat BBQ again.. 

 

 

Last Song Before Night - Ilana C. Myer Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer 

Standalone

Tor/ Pan Macmillan

 

Check out my Review! 

 

Long ago, poets were Seers with access to powerful magic. Following a cataclysmic battle, the enchantments of Eivar were lost–now a song is only words and music, and no more. But when a dark power threatens the land, poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a task much greater: to restore the lost enchantments to the world. And the road to the Otherworld, where the enchantments reside, will imperil their lives and test the deepest desires of their hearts.

 

Oh wow, this book had my empathy organs all in a smush, It will probably haunt me for the rest of my life, it's just.. wonderful. I actually have trouble talking about it in a short amount of space, because it needs to be looked at in depth, and with real thought, and feeling. It's probably easier just to point you to the review, and let you decide for yourself!

I eagerly await Ilana C. Myers next creation!

 

 

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai - Bradley P. BeaulieuTwelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Book One of The Song of the Shattered Sands

DAW

 

Check out my Inter-Review with Bradley!

 

Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings—cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens, and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.

Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power...if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.

 

Hands down, Çeda is my favourite fantasy character of the year! I wanted to be her! Even through all her trials, and struggles; I still wanted to have her strength, courage, kick arse abilities - and her vulnerabilities, her love, and compassion. I couldn't get enough of her story, and the way Beaulieu has made this fairly bleak world, so sumptuous, so beautiful... I hate heat, deserts, and SAND (each grain contains a piece of the devil.).. and I am still thinking of taking up residence!

 

Twelve Kings actually presents the first time, I think, I've been fully comfortable with long flashback scenes; Beaulieu weaved them in and out of the present narrative with such expertise, I didn't have a qualm ! I only have good things to say about 12 Kings. Love.

 

 

 

Hidden Huntress: Malediction Trilogy Book Two - Danielle L. Jensen Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Two of the Malediction Trilogy. 

Angry Robot Books

 

Check out my Review! 

 

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

 

 

I always like to keep one spot open for YA, because although I tend to gravitate to adult fantasy, there are still some really fantastic YA fantasy out there. This year, I actually didn't have to 'keep it open', because I would've put Hidden Huntress in my top 10 at any rate! In all of the YA noise out there this year (A good thing, but overwhelming!), nothing stood out quite so brightly as Hidden Huntress. It's a gorgeous trolliicious romance, that restored my faith in original story line, fairy-tale style fantasy.

 

Warrior Witch (the third, and last in the series) looks as though it's going to be just as amazing! Can't wait to see the outcome of this tale!

 

That's 10 right?

 

 

I hope everybody has wonderful holidays, and a fantastic year of reading in 2016!!

 

K.

Beyond Redemption - Michael R. Fletcher

Very quick review of Beyond Redemption. May have lost my sanity, but then, the book is all about that kind of thing.. I shall endeavor to write a 'proper' one soon.. truly.. 

 

I'm only like this on reeally good days, promise!

Book Review: Guns of The Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Guns of the Dawn - Adrian Tchaikovsky

 

Denland and Lascanne have been allies for generations, but now the Denlanders have assassinated their king, overthrown the monarchy and marched on their northern neighbour. At the border, the war rages; Lascanne's brave redcoats against the revolutionaries of Denland.

Emily Marshwic has watched the war take her brother-in-law and now her young brother. Then comes the call for more soldiers, to a land already drained of husbands, fathers and sons. Every household must give up one woman to the army and Emily has no choice but to join the ranks of young women marching to the front.

In the midst of warfare, with just enough training to hold a musket, Emily comes face to face with the reality: the senseless slaughter; the weary cynicism of the Survivor's Club; the swamp's own natives hiding from the conflict.

As the war worsens, and Emily begins to have doubts about the justice of Lascanne's cause, she finds herself in a position where her choices will make or destroy both her own future and that of her nation.

 

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for supplying a review copy. 

 

When a friend asked me to describe Guns of the Dawn, I said "Imagine if Elizabeth Bennett was conscripted, and sent to fight in the trenches..". It's true in a superficial sense; many parallels can be drawn in the first chapters of the book, to something Austin might have created. Yet now, I feel as though I did the book an injustice by being a bit blasé about the premise. As much as I love Jane Austin, I don't know that her work ever resonated with me, in the way Guns of the Dawn did. *hides as Austin fans start gnashing teeth*

 

It really isn't that complex a novel, but there is something in the simplicity of watching one character over 658 pages twist, change, win, lose, love, hope and despair; that is incredibly effective. It may be why I became so enamoured with it. I've read so many novels recently with multiple points of view (pretty much every book this year!), I had quite forgotten what it's like to lose yourself so completely in one character's narrative. Watching as an author shows real mastery over character development, in a really concentrated and immersive way, creates it's own complexity.

 

And Emily is such fantastic character. I'm not sure where Tchaikovsky plucked all of her traits from, that enable her reactions to the situation to seem so bloody relatable; but he did a wonderful job. Emily is so strong, yet so full of doubt and fear. Fiery, yet still vulnerable. Kick arse, yet as inept as anyone would be with her limited experience. Full of wonder, yet so hardened. She was, well... Human.

 

So, I was enjoying it immensely.. Then a few lines of a letter written by Emily from the front lines:



I am picked apart.
Each day, some new scrap of me is pecked out. I am losing the things that make me human.

 

Right there. In those few lines, my guts lurched, my eyes began to sting, and all doubts fled; Guns of The Dawn became my favourite novel of 2015. Sometimes it doesn't take much more than a perfect description of despair, to push a great book into the extraordinary book category (not sure what that says about me!).

 

 

The secondary characters, both heroes and villains, are quite interesting as well. They are in most part, overstated in their behaviours and mannerisms - sometimes bordering on caricatures, or mega tropes (coining that!). However, it actually works in the books favour. The juxtaposition between those over the top secondary characters, and Emily, gives a really satisfying balance.

 

It amplifies how unnatural this state of living (and dying), is in Emily's eyes, how foreign this senselessness is. How utterly crazy you need to become, just to survive. It also gives the reader something to hold on to, so Emily's narrative doesn't become so despondent, that they feel alienated from it. I'd say it's why the book didn't slide into Grimdark territory, even though it's quite a grim book.


There are glorious battles. Much trekking through swamps that make your skin itch. Gun fire that will deafen you even though it's just words on paper. Tchaikovsky's veteran status (10 novels in Shadows of The Apt now, plus shorts and sci-fi), shows in his creation of these scenes; they are tight, atmospheric, and contain the perfect amount of tension.

 

And still, it's all secondary to the effect of war on the human spirit. That moment when the recognition sets in, that there are no winners; just dead humans.

 

The world building is simple, it feels as though it takes it's roots from the Napoleonic war at the beginning. It gradually builds on that setting, to become a world unique to this book; wizards that wield fire being the most 'fantasy' based element, and a tribe of wonderful, neutral natives called Idegenes, really hammer in the fact that it's a fantasy world.

 

It's not an architectural masterpiece, but I don't know that I really gave two damns that the world wasn't grandly designed. In the end, you can make your world building as expansive as you like, but if your characters don't shine, your book might as well be a documentary on the terrain of a distant star. Interesting, but not really engaging. I will certainly take this simple building, with fully realised characters that one can truly empathise with, any day.

 

The ending was righteous, yet left me slightly uncomfortable. I'm a greedy reader, I really want to know everything, about everything. So when this ends rather abruptly, I felt quite lost! I railed a bit about "how mean" Tchaikovsky was for not giving me the full run down on Emily's future. The problem is, it's still a pretty perfect ending for a standalone, so I can't really complain. Damnit!

 

If Adrian Tchaikovsky ever wants to secretly tell me what he thinks happens, I'll still take it though!


Verdict:

 

I guess that's about as much as I can say, without starting to read it to you! I'd buy everybody copies, but I ain't Oprah..

Beyond Redemption by Michael R Fletcher. Image by Book Frivolity. (dopplegangers from Lineage II)
Beyond Redemption by Michael R Fletcher. Image by Book Frivolity. (dopplegangers from Lineage II)
Beyond Redemption - Michael R. Fletcher

Book Depository | Booktopia
Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Aus


Sunday Afternoon Reads: This week, a rather grim fantasy: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher. As I was previously of the mind probers ilk, I am finding Beyond Redemption extremely interesting.. It explores some psychological phenomena, and concepts, in a throughly unique, and intriguing way. It has my previous self, all in a squee..

 

Back'o'book:

A darkly imaginative writer in the tradition of Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, and Neil Gaiman conjures a gritty mind-bending fantasy, set in a world where delusion becomes reality . . . and the fulfillment of humanity's desires may well prove to be its undoing.

 

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn't an axiom, it's a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

 

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.

 

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one's delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:

 

Who will rule there?

Well, I'm certainly not putting my hand up for the job, thanks.. So far, it's 50 shades of fantastic Grimdark, I expect the world will turn to ash by the end! Gee! It would be fantastic if the publisher were to release the second instalment… I guess, we can always delude ourselves into thinking it happens, and therefore, it shall manifest.. * whistles innocent tune *

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer

Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Thanks to Hachette Children's Books for relenting to my begging, and sending me a copy of the book. 

 

Hi, my name Kristy. And I'm an Alice junkie. I have been since I was a child. Not the Disney version of Alice, but the darker, slightly creepier version that I'd conjured in my mind from reading the Lewis Carroll books when I was just a wee chicken.

 

I like to read the spin offs: the novels written for Alice before, after, and the alternatives - the crazy, kooky, and sometimes; the down right, bat shit crazy.

 

I've seen the movies: the animated, the live action, the 80's anime Fushigi no Kuni no Arisuthe, the BBC mini series in the late 80's. I've chosen to forget the more recent Tim Burton release, because it was abominable..

 

I've played the American McGee game, and killed with playing cards, vorpal blades, and demon dice; all the while trying not to throw up because I can't play first person games without chundering.. I've even cross-stitched the McGee version of Cheshire..

 

I've cringed at the more recent game release, where jumping meant whirly gigging about like a Sufi Dervish of the Mevlevi order.

 

I may still even have a pack of Alice themed tarot cards floating about….

 

My point being, I have done a lot of Alice in my time. I blame my parents for enabling me, but that is for another session entirely.

 

However, I have never I come across a version of Alice in Wonderland that is quite so magnificent as this one.

 

 

For the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Hodder released a full colour version of Alice, illustrated by the celebrated French children's book illustrator Rébecca Dautremer. Along side the full text, Dautremer has given Alice a truly, unique and exquisite perspective. And it is glorious to look at!

 

 

 

I wish I knew all the right artsy words to explain the style, colours, textures, period comparisons.. all the bubble and twit, that art connoisseurs can rabbit on with. But, I don't possess that vocabulary. So, this is all I can do… It is gorgeous. It is wonderful. It's dreamlike, vibrant, sumptuous, diverse and original. It is the bloody bees-knees! Or, the duck's nuts?

 

Alice fans must possess it, stroke it, fondle it, smell it; whatever you love to do with big, wonderful books, that knock your socks off. The photos here do no justice to the true beauty of the publication as a whole. I wanted to share everything, all of the wonderous characters, the marvelous scenes; but I'm afraid somebody from a legal team might start having conniptions over my complete disregard for copyright laws!

 

Hodder and Dautremer did good. Bloody good. And, it is going to need a special shelf; not only because I'm going to treasure it for the rest of my scrappy life, but also because I don't have a shelf that it will actually fit in..

 

 

Check out Rebecca Dautremer's website, or her Facebook page. Her work is fantastic!

 

 

I think it's pretty obvious where Dauterner found her inspiration for Alice!

 

K.

 

NB: These example pictures, taken with shaky, neurologically defective hands, are really ridiculously cruddy compared to the real images. Note it well! Please!?

 

 

Zombie Apocalypse! Acapulcalypse Now (Zombie Apocalypse! Spinoff) - Stephen,  Littlewood,  Alison Jones

Book Depository | Galaxy Bookshop

Amazon | Amazon UK 

 

Sunday Afternoon Reads! I felt like something a little different today, and since I've never read a zombie novel before, 'Acapulcalypse Now!' by Alison Littlewood, seems like it will fit the bill quite nicely!

 

It's a spin off from the well know 'Zombie Apocalypse!' series started by Stephen Jones. I'm not exactly sure what I'm getting myself into, but it does sound like it's going to be a hell of a lot of fun!

 

The Hotel Baktun is an exclusive vacation complex that is about to open on the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. Owned by a mysterious multi-millionaire businessman, it is shaped like an ancient Mayan pyramid and its halls are lined with rare and expensive artefacts.

 

For Stacy Keenan, the hotel’s new Head of Security, things are already chaotic as the locals continue to put the finishing touches to the festivities while VIPs begin to arrive for the grand opening. When a Russian cruise ship turns along the shore and disgorges its cargo of flesh-eating zombies, the guests and staff soon fragment into various factions as they struggle to withstand the spread of HRV (Human Reanimation Virus).

 

As the armies of the dead conquer all that stand before them, and the human survivors prepare for a final battle against an unstoppable enemy, a horror even more ancient and terrible is revealed when ‘The Death’ comes to Paradise..

 

Civilian Reader has a great excerpt as their website here!

 

Hope everyone is having a delicious weekend...

 

K.

Wheel of Time Fans Gather Round..

The Wheel of Time Companion - Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, Maria Simons

So, you thought you knew everything about The Wheel of Time, that you needed to know huh? Well.. Shall I present to you the Wheel of Time Companion?

 

Since its debut in 1990, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has captivated millions of readers around the world. Over the course of fifteen books and millions of words, Jordan created a rich and detailed world. Yet only a fraction of Jordan's imaginings ended up on the page, with the rest going into his personal files.

 

The Wheel of Time Companion finally reveals a wealth of previously-unreleased information about the world of the Wheel of Time, as well as expanding on many known details.

 

The Companion includes:

* A detailed entry for each named character

* An inclusive dictionary of the Old Tongue

* New maps of the Last Battle

* New portraits of many characters

* Histories and customs of the nations of the world

* The strength level of many channelers

* Descriptions of the flora and fauna unique to the world

* And much more besides!

 

OF course, the first thing I did when receiving this, was flip to my favourite characters to find pictures. I went straight to my true love Loial, but alas, no cigar! Then, to my next love Perrin and Ta-daaa!

 

 

 

Then Min…

 

 

 

And then, I got serious and decided instead of pretending I'd just received a very large children's picture book, I would actually read some of the content…

 

I've been gradually flipping through this over the past few weeks, jumping around characters, countries, cultures etc. that have always intrigued me the most. And, it feels like I've suddenly been let in on some huge secrets. Want to know about the Aes Sedai? Well, this has enough information in it, you could possibly start your own real-life chapter.. (Don't though, I admit the rings are cool, but we all know what happens when people start cult like organisations based on speculative fiction..)

 

If you would like an example of one of the entries, check out this section of the Companion published on the Tor blog about Strength of Power for Men and Women. They have published a few on their blog, and it's a great way to get a sense of whether this Companion is going to tickle your fancy. 

 

This massive framework is why Robert Jordan was so prolific, and really a complete architectural genius. He sometimes gets a flogging these days; I personally don't agree with much of the whinging, as I love the immensity of the series - however, when you see the scope of  world from this companion, the true brilliance is just mind-boggling. You have to admit, Robert Jordan is the late King of Fantasy Architecture, no matter your views on the books themselves. When you read some of the entries, you'll also see he was quite an amusing guy!

 

The Companion is akin to reading an alphabetical bible for another world If I put it in a cave somewhere, will somebody think it's true history in a 1000 years time? with over 800 pages worth of references, portraits and maps! It reminds me why I don't write fantasy books, only write about them!

 

If you are a Wheel of Time fanperson, and you like to dig into the nitty gritty of the world's you visit, you must check this out! If neither of those apply, well at least you'll have a mighty doorstop if you buy it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just as a heads up: If you are buying this as a collectors type item, a gift etc. go for the hardback. My paperback's pages are straining so hard, some have already fallen out at the front and back! I'm not sure if it's just my copy, but just to be safe…