Saturday, 30 April 2016

Books Received in April 2016

My thanks, as always, to the publishers who sent me review copies this month.

Dawn of Procyon
 by Mark Healy - A flawed but entertaining book.  You can read my review of it here


A distant planet. A deadly secret.

Seventeen years after it began, the interstellar war has taken its toll: the inhabitants of Earth are desperate to find a way to defeat the Argoni, a merciless and horrifying alien race.

Light years away from the fighting, mechanic Landry Stanton lives a peaceful, mundane life on the desolate planet Procyon A, and that’s just the way he likes it. But when an unauthorized trip to the other side of the planet leaves him shipwrecked and stranded alongside a hostile alien that wants him dead, Landry discovers a terrifying secret: the Argoni threat is greater than anyone back on Earth imagined.

With his oxygen and water running out, and with no way to warn the United Earth Marines, Landry’s lonely fight for survival becomes a battle for humanity itself.

Battlestorm by Susan Krinard - This is the third book in Krinard's Midgard urban fantasy series, which starts with Mist.

Centuries ago, the Norse gods and goddesses fought their Last Battle with the trickster god Loki and his frost giants. All were believed lost, except for a few survivors...including the Valkyrie Mist, forgotten daughter of the goddess Freya.
But the battle isn't over, and Mist--living a mortal life in San Francisco--is at the center of a new war, with the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance. As old enemies and allies reappear around the city, Mist must determine who to trust, while learning to control her own growing power.
It will take all of Mist's courage, determination, and newfound magical abilities to stop Loki before history repeats itself.



Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer - I'm about half way through this book and it's... interesting.  It comes out May 10th and I expect to have my review of it up that day.

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer--a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.
The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world's population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competion is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destablize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life...

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Shout-Out: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

The English language debut of the bestselling Dutch novel, Hex, from Thomas Olde Heuvelt--a Hugo and World Fantasy award nominated talent to watch

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Book Review: Regeneration by Stephanie Saulter

Pros: great characters, excellent world-building, interesting plot

Cons: 

Thames Tidal Power, a co-operative made up mostly of gillungs, is set to start operations when a series of minor accidents occurs. The new company’s quantum-battery technology is poised to upend the energy market, and other powerful players aren’t too happy about that. There’s an election coming soon and the possibility of a new gem positive political party entering the race would split the United People’s Party vote, giving the historically anti-gem Traditional Democratic party a better chance of winning. As political and economic turmoil increases, Zavcka Klist is released from maximum security prison to house arrest. And she’s looking for the ‘daughter’ she lost eight years ago.

This book picks up the story of Gabriel, Gaela, Bal, Aryel, Mikal, Callan, Rhys, etc eight years after the events of Binary.  The focus this time is on Gabriel and Mikal’s families.  Gabriel now works on managing the socialstream commentary around Thames Tidal Power when he isn’t taking university classes.  Along with his parents, he’s very concerned with keeping his adopted sister Eve off the streams in order to keep her safe.

Councillor Mikal Varsi, still an independent candidate, is being courted by both political parties as well as the potential third party.  While the UPP and the new gem party make sense, he’s unsure why the Trads would consider approaching someone very much the opposite of what they stand for.  

Mikal’s wife is now a Detective Superintendent, and keeping a close eye on the investigation into the accidents at the new power station.

It’s cool seeing how everyone’s grown, and also to see how time and change don’t necessarily remove the barriers and hatreds of ignorance, fear, and bigotry.

The story’s quite interesting and flowed nicely.  There were a good number of unexpected twists, and while one aspect of the ending was fairly obvious, there were others that were not.  I was particularly impressed with the last chapter that really rapped up the trilogy well.

While it’s possible to read this book without the others, the author assumes a familiarity with the characters, so backstory is left unexplained.  This makes a few of the relationships harder to grasp if you don’t know them already.  The ending is also somewhat dependant on knowing who Zavcka is and what she’s done in the past.

This is a brilliant series, highly recommended.

Out May 3rd.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Stranger Than Fiction: Octopus Photographer

Someone posted this article on facebook mentioning how Sony gave a New Zealand aquarium a camera in a special underwater housing to show how durable their cameras are as well as how smart octopuses are.  It apparently only took 3 tries for the octopus to figure out how to use it and now it takes photos of visitors.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Shout-Out: The Art and Science of Intergalactic War by Field Marhsal S. Myrston

As a young cadet, Private Myrston led troops against the Victoriana rebellion where he earned a reputation as a fearless soldier and cunning tactician. His meteoric rise to Emperor of the Molagrian Empire was paved with sound battle strategies, a winning smile and clever assassinations of several superior officers. As emperor, he sought out and engaged in countless conflicts with a multitude of sentient lifeforms during his reign. It was during this period that he mastered several forms of invasion, administration and religious manipulation for profit. In this text, Myrston has plagiarized wildly from Molagrian and Nebraxian classic texts infinitely better than this one to provide a concise set of tenants guaranteeing intergalactic success. Learn how to take control of the planet, establish a government that suits your needs and then seek out and annihilate exotic, intelligent lifeforms throughout the galaxy.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Video: Movies with Mikey

My husband found this channel recently and we've been quickly going through their backlist.  The videos, by Mike Neumann, go into a lot of depth, so it's best if you've seen what he's talking about both because of the spoilers and because analysis is always better when you know the media.  He does a lot of older films, making me want to rewatch stuff I haven't seen in years.  I don't always agree with his criticism (personally I enjoyed the Ladyhawke soundtrack, though I know he's not alone in panning it), but on the whole he's got some great insights.

Here's his analysis of Cabin in the Woods to get you started.