Blog Tour – Amish Vampires in Space

Juniper Grove Book Solutions are hosting a blog tour of Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz. If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know how much I loved this book. Check out the various reviews, interviews and give-aways at junipergrovebooksolutions.com/amish-vampires-space-kerry-nietz/.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, my video review of the book is embedded below.

Amish Vampires in Space on Sale

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Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey – Book Review

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1)Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book begins as two related but separate stories. One is the tale of the survivors of a destroyed starship scrambling to figure out who attacked them. The other is the tale of a detective searching for a missing girl. These two stories converge at the midpoint.

The world in this book feels realistic. We see humanity spread out across the solar system, yet without the ability to travel amongst the stars.

There is plenty of conflict from within the human race, but as these characters begin to learn more about their situations they realise that they face a greater threat – one that came from beyond the solar system in prehistoric times.

I enjoyed the blend of space opera and noir-detective genres. I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding the great threat. We learn a lot about it, but there is still much we don’t know, which left me hungry at the end for the next book. I look forward to continuing this series.

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Book Review – Eleanor by Jason Gurley

EleanorEleanor by Jason Gurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eleanor is an urban fantasy about a family. It deals with the parent/child relationship, particularly that between mothers and daughters. What happens when tragedy strikes and those roles are reversed? This leads to a powerfully emotional book. Jason Gurley’s strength as a writer is character and emotion.

On the converse side, the weakness of this book is the plot structure. Through much of the book Eleanor does not have strong specific-enough plot goals. She is a person to whom things happen. This is not to say that she doesn’t act – she is certainly proactive about caring for her mother – that is at the heart of the story and her character – but more specific goals to support this overall goal would have driven the story better. I’d have like to see a little more of her trying to understand and figure out what was happening to her. Once the third act hits this becomes a lot stronger, as Eleanor becomes a very proactive character.

There are supernatural elements in this book, but how and why they work is kept mostly a mystery. This actually works fairly well for this story. The characters themselves are kept mostly in the dark (both literally and figuratively as it turns out).

This book will make you fell and it will make you think. It will keep you wondering and then offer a few surprises near the end.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Synchronic 13 Tales of Time Travel (Video Book Review)

In today’s episode of Stories I talk about Synchronic – 13 Tales of Time Travel by various authors. This is an anthology of short stories on the wonderful subject of time travel.

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Book Review – The Settlers by Jason Gurley

The Settlers (Movement Trilogy, #1)The Settlers by Jason Gurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was quite different to what I was expecting. It is essentially a collection of stories examining the lives of various characters living on several space stations, after the surface of Earth becomes too dangerous for long-term survival. These stories tend to have quite a lot of emotional resonance.

The early part of the book focuses on the idea of immortality, and what might happen if you attempt to create a serum to extend human life. The later part of the book looks at the formation of a dystopian society.

The various parts of the book, while essentially stand-alone stories all tie together reasonably well. It does feel like a cohesive book.

The main thing that bugged me about The Settlers was the lack of quotation marks around dialog. I’m not sure if this was a formatting error or something intentional, but it made the text unnecessarily difficult to follow.

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Book Review – Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zhan

Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #1)Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always been intruiged by the Star Wars extended universe, and intended to read it some day. Looks like I started in the right place. Heir To The Empire takes up the premise of continuing the Star Wars sage after the movies. What happened next?

Timothy Zahn picks up the familiar beloved characters and gets under their skin very well. Their voices and actions ring true. We get to see Han’s adjustment to serving the new republic, Leia not only expecting twins but taking the first tentative steps toward exploring her Jedi abilities, and Luke struggling to come to terms with the fact that his mentors are gone forever. If there are to be any more Jedi – it’s all up to him.

Bringing back our heroes is only part of the picture. A new villain was required for this story, following the deaths of The Emperor and Darth Vader. Zahn does a masterful job of creating Grand Admiral Thrawn – certainly a formidable and worthy bad guy. He is very compelling and capable.

The other interesting character that was introduced in this book is Mara Jade. I’m looking forward to seeing the continued development of this arc.

I listened to the audio book, and was very impressed with the narration. Mark Thompson did a fantastic job at the character voices. I really believed I was listening to Luke , Leia and Han. He gave the new characters their own strong unique voices as well. The book features music and sound effects.. Normally these would not be necessary in an audio book, but given it was Star Wars it was not only appropriate but welcome.

It is ironic that I finally get around to starting on these books after they have been demoted from Canon, but Heir to the Empire is still very much worth the read.

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Book Review – 7 Hours: The Last Night of Alton Webber by Robin Parrish

The Last Night of Alton Webber (7 Hours series)The Last Night of Alton Webber by Robin Parrish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this last installment of the 7 Hours series, Robin Parrish pulls a twist worthy of a series finale. We are presented with a protagonist who should not in any way be sympathetic, but through Parrish’s writing he certainly is compelling.

We follow the story of ‘The Seven’, a group who have been friends since childhood, infamous bank robbers turned behind-the-scenes puppeteers. Now they plan the biggest heist of all – holding the mysterious Thomas Constant captive.

As the story twists and turns, we learn more and more about these characters, including their leader – Alton Webber. Finally, this becomes a powerful story of grace and redemption.

A fitting end to the series.

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Book Review – Isles of Myst by Robert McClain

Isles of MystIsles of Myst by Robert McClain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Isles of Myst reads like a science fiction story that has the soul of a fantasy, or maybe it’s an urban fantasy with the soul of a science fiction. Either way, you’ll find a blending of the two here.

This is a dark and gritty tale with flawed but sympathetic characters. It is set in a rich world full of different cultures, though at times I found myself a little overwhelmed with the many different nationalities, trying get my head around them all.

Anyone familiar with the Bible will find much that is familiar, but everything is given a sci-fi/fantasy twist. It is difficult to say more than this without giving spoilers, but suffice it to say that this becomes quite an epic story, building up its own mythology. It will keep you trying to guess and second-guess what is actually going on here.

If you’re looking for something a little different, check out the Isles of Myst.

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Remembering Norman Hetherington – “Mr. Squiggle”

Today marks the 93rd birthday of the late Norman Hetherington who played Mr. Squiggle (voice and puppetry) in the beloved Australian children’s TV show. The show ran from 1959 to 1999 – a total of 40 years.

Hetherington himself was born in 1921 and died in 2010. He was a member of the First Australian Army Entertainment in the second world war. Today Google acknowledges Mr. Hetherington in a google doodle.

Norman Hetherington - Mr

Mr. Squiggle was a non-human being with a pencil for a nose, who lived on the moon and traveled to Earth each episode in a rocket. This probably makes Mr. Squiggle the earliest science fiction that I was exposed to – possibly sparking my life-long love of the genre.

See an example of the show below.

Sources

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Book Review – Every Writer Needs a Tribe by Jeff Goins

Every Writer Needs a TribeEvery Writer Needs a Tribe by Jeff Goins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book follows on nicely from Jeff’s previous writing book ‘You are A Writer’. This one focuses on platform-building. All artists need a committed group around them to help support their work. Jeff raises the interesting point that it is better to have a small committed tribe, rather than thousands of fake followers who are not paying any attention to what you are saying.

Like his previous book, this one gives a healthy serving of motivation and inspiration, while also providing practical tips on the “how”. You will learn about the different types of platform, and how to gain ‘permission’ from those you communicate with.

This is a short and snappy guide that will be of benefit to all writers (and other types of artists as well).

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