blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Stonechild – Kevin Albin*

Where do we go to when we die?

Imagine human consciousness embedded in the molecules of a
statue. So, when the statues of London come to life, it is a spectacle like non other, and they come with a specific message, and an offer we cannot refuse.
As the world reels in this wonder of science and religion, Molly Hargreaves has other plans and she
sets out to prove that things are not as they seem.
Chased, captured and confined, Molly confronts the statues and her own fears. But who can she convince?

The people are welcoming, the Government has succumbed, and the police try to act, but how do you shoot stone and metal?

Be prepared to be run ragged around London on a mystery worthy of the great Sherlock Holmes.

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A word puzzle for the readers of Stonechild and with a prize to be drawn on the 10th December,
which is Human Rights Day. Here’s the link with all the details.

I served 25 years with the police in the UK, eight years of which were with a tactical firearms team. In 2002, I took a career change, and retrained as an International Mountain Leader
working across the globe guiding on mountaineering trips and expeditions.
I have led many trips to the jungles of Borneo, my favourite destination, an enchanting place that has sadly seen much deforestation. My trips were based on education and conservation.
In 2011, I won the Bronze in the Wanderlust Magazine World Guide Awards for my work.
It was whilst working on a corporate training day in London, when I pictured a statue coming to life
to give my clients the answer to the clue they were working on. The rest grew from there.
My hope is that my writing will continue to spread the word on conservation and protection of all
species.
I live in France.

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My thoughts:

This was an interesting idea – London’s statues come to life and appear to be concerned about the environment, but could there be something worse afoot?

I loved Shakespeare quoting his own plays and showing off – an actor as ever, and Florence Nightingale getting a bit high and mighty, then playing down Mary Seacole’s work – as she probably did in life.

But all it takes is one young woman who can see through their claims and with a little help, from Sherlock Holmes (confusingly his reanimation is never fully explained, as he’s rather fictional) and soon Molly is revealing the truth of these historic figures reappearance.

This was a clever, interesting read – I can see Molly going on to solve further mysteries with her brother.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Unconquerable Sun – Kate Elliott*

It has been eight centuries since the beacon system failed, sundering the heavens as it collapsed. Without beacons the void between stars is navigable only by the slow crawl of knnu driven argosies.

Rising from the ashes of the collapse, cultures have fought, system-by-system, for control of the few remaining beacons.

The Republic of Chaonia is one such polity. Surrounded by the Yele League and the vast Phene Empire, they
have had to fight for their existence.After decades of conflict, Queen-Marshal Eirene has brought the Yele to heel, binding them into subservience. Now it is time to deal with the Empire.

Princess Sun, daughter and heir to the queen-marshal, has come of age. In her first command, she has driven a Phene garrison from the beacons of Na Iri.

Growing up in the shadow of her mother has been no easy task. The queen-marshal, having built Chaonia into a magnificent republic against impossible odds, is both revered and feared. While Sun may imagine that her victorious command will bring further opportunity to prove herself, it will in fact place her on the wrong side of court politics. There are those who would like to see Sun removed
as heir, or better yet, dead.

To survive, while the battle between empires ignites all around her, the princess must rely on her wits
and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.

Hold on tight.

This is the space opera you’ve been waiting for.Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. Writing science fiction and fantasy, her particular focus is immersive world building and centering women in epic stories of adventure, amid transformative cultural change.

Kate was born in Iowa, raised in Oregon and now lives in Hawaii,
where she paddles outrigger canoes and spoils her schnauzer.

Website

My thoughts:

Inspired partly by the life of Alexander the Great, this is the first book in what promises to be a cracking, conspiracy filled, space drama trilogy.

Sun is the Alexander figure, with a powerful mother and enemies within the governing Houses that support the marshal-queen, who aim to displace their mixed-heritage princess with an heir they can control.

She and her loyal Companions are thrust into war when the enemy empire carry out a daring planetary raid, Sun sees through the attack and is determined to find out why the Phene would risk such an attack.

From a slow start as the main protagonists are introduced, the action then kicks into high gear with the discovery of several overlapping conspiracies and events which affect both Sun and Persephone, twin sister of one of Sun’s closest Companions.

Fast paced, gripping, well written, funny and with several pop culture references that made me raise an eyebrow “I see what you did there” style.

I really enjoyed this, and am already looking forward to the next one.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Attack Surface – Cory Doctorow*

Returning to the world of Little Brother and Homeland, Attack Surface takes us five minutes into the future, to a world where everything is connected and everyone is vulnerable.

Masha Maximow has made some bad choices in life – choices that hurt people. But she’s also made some pretty decent ones. In the log file of life, however, she can’t quite work out
which side of the ledger she currently stands.

Masha works for Xoth Intelligence, an InfoSec company upgrading the Slovstakian Interior Ministry’s ability to spy on its citizens’ telecommunications with state-of-the-art software (at least, as state-of-the-art as Xoth is prepared to offer in its middle-upper pricing tier).

Can you offset a day-job helping repressive regimes spy on their citizens with a nighttime hobby where you help those same citizens evade detection? Masha is about to find out.
Pacy, passionate, and as current as next week, Attack Surface is a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and
blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of many
books: In Real Life, a graphic novel; Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, a book about earning a living in the Internet age; and Homeland, the award winning, best selling sequel to the 2008 YA novel Little Brother. Cory has been on the frontline of international debates on privacy, copyright and freedom of information for over a decade.

My thoughts:

This feels like a very prescient novel, with its protests and dodgy tech companies and complicit governments. It feels very 2020 minus the virus that’s killing people and the fact that governments are no longer pretending to care about people more than money.

Masha has been building spyware and surveillance for tech companies to sell to dangerous and unstable governments, to watch their own citizens and turn righteous anger at injustice into terrorism charges and making people just disappear.

She becomes steadily disillusioned by this and realises she’s on the wrong side of history and what’s right.

I don’t even pretend to understand how some very clever people can do all these things with computers, but I can see that there needs to be more checks and balances in place. Things need to be more transparent and honest, governments should remember they work for the people, not against them.

While this is taken to extremes in the book, some of the scenes of police brutality we’ve all witnessed in the last few years, and especially the last few months, aren’t far off the grim future Masha and her friends are living through and trying to fight against.

Incredibly powerful, insightful, and actually quite funny, this is very much a book that speaks to our times and reminds us all to pay attention.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Dead Moon – Keith Crawford*

Humanity will be extinguished in less than seven days.

Wing Commander Jude Styles is a Starfighter Pilot trying to get pregnant before the world ends. Her wingman, Hamid Ashkami, just wants to block the spam messages he is receiving from someone claiming to be his dead ex-husband.

Instead, they are locked in a media tour, shown off as the heroes that stopped the alien invasion by destroying the massive mothership known as the “Dead Moon”, persuading the masses that all will be fine if they keep calm and carry on.

Trapped telling the same lies, driven over the edge by post-traumatic stress and the constant flow of alcohol, it is only a matter of time before Jude and Hamid break down – and the fragments of the Dead Moon have already begun to fall from the sky.

Dr Keith Crawford is a retired naval officer, disabled veteran and qualified barrister with a PhD in Law and Economics. After years of crazy adventures, from speedboats and aircraft to theatre and lecturing at Sciences Po, my French wife and I decided it was time to properly settle in Paris and have babies. Being the good feminist I try to be, I quit my job to look after the kids, support my wife’s career and write books. Each time I get offered a job my wife says “stop looking at jobs and get back to writing books.” Which shows, with marriage as with everything else, it is better to be lucky than good!

Dead Moon is my second novel. The first, Vile, a science-fantasy about toxic-patriarchy, the evils of aristocracy and swordfights, is available on Amazon.

After years of crazy adventures, from speedboats and aircraft to theatre and lecturing at Sciences Po, my French wife and I decided it was time to properly settle in Paris and have babies. Being the good feminist I try to be, I quit my job to look after the kids, support my wife’s career and write books. Each time I get offered a job my wife says “stop looking at jobs and get back to writing books.” Which shows, with marriage as with everything else, it is better to be lucky than good!

Dead Moon is my second novel. The first, Vile, a science-fantasy about toxic-patriarchy, the evils of aristocracy and swordfights, is available on Amazon.

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My thoughts:

This was completely bonkers, but in the very best way. Hamid and Jude ricochet around the country trying to solve various mysteries, being pursued by different dangerous people and slowly utterly destroying the luxury vehicle they’ve accidentally stolen, all before the world ends on Monday.

Both of them are dealing with the aftermath of the space battle that killed the rest of their squad and left them being hailed as heroes, while feeling anything but.

Their Survivors Guilt and PTSD lead them to do some very questionable things, including head off on their crazy adventure, technically going AWOL from their TV appearances reassuring the public that all is well.

The plot races along with the protagonists as they flee Manchester via Yorkshire, Milton Keynes and London on their way to Bexhill in Kent to find the person sending Hamid messages claiming to be from his dead husband.

Along the way they discuss gender, sexuality and how to get Jude pregnant, they team up with some scientists attempting to get humanity off the planet, engage in several gunfights and drive a tank.

It’s all completely crazy, and trememdously enjoyable and great fun.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a masterful epic science fiction novel from the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of the Inheritance Cycle, Christopher Paolini.

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds
Now she’s awakened a nightmare

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

My thoughts:

This was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G – honestly I was completely drawn into the incredible world building (or universe building as it’s set in space) and plot, which is just so engaging and powerful and fun and so many more superlatives.

I loved the Wallfish and its crew, I want a prequel about Mr Fuzzypants (ship’s cat) and Runcible (ship’s pig) as they spend a lot of the plot in stasis.

The concept of a ship brain was really fascinating and I wanted to know more about how that became a thing, and what happened to Gregorivich.

This book took the author almost a decade to write and I want more, I will even take the notes and dead end plot lines.

I haven’t read any of Christopher Paolini’s previous books, not sure why because dragons, but if they’re anything half as good as TSiaSofS then I probably should get around to it.

This is genuinely a masterpiece and explores some fascinating themes and ideas. Absolutely incredible stuff.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Altered Helix – Stephanie Hansen*

I didn’t want to take the traditional path. First, I wasn’t ready for college. Second, I was going to live with my best friend, Tiff, and work at the Haunted House. Third, did I mention the hot guy Josh that works there too?

The most exciting thing about Austria’s new job, at a local haunted house, was the fact that the toughest looking people screamed the loudest. But when she meets the boy without a home, Josh, Austria’s life takes intriguing and eventful turns. Up until now, Josh has managed to hang with his Street crowd, but they’re in danger, and so is Austria, the girl Josh recently fell for. The group finds themselves joining forces with previously considered enemies who also now find themselves in danger.

Deeply compassionate and full of twists, Altered Helix captures the struggle of polarized people that must work together for the greater

Goodreads

Win a copy here

Stephanie Hansen’s short story, Break Time, and poetry has been featured in Mind’s Eye literary magazine. The Kansas Writers Association published her short story, Existing Forces, appointing her as a noted author. She has held a deep passion for writing since early childhood, but a brush with death caused her to allow it to grow. She’s part of an SCBWI critique group in Lawrence, KS and two local book clubs. She attends many writers’ conferences including the Writing Day Workshops, New York Pitch, Penned Con, New Letters, All Write Now, Show Me Writers Master Class, BEA, and Nebraska Writers Guild conference as well as Book Fairs and Comic-Cons. She is a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

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My thoughts:

This novella is set in a slightly dystopian future where the national government has collapsed and things seem uncertain.

Austria and her friends meet as they all become employees of a local haunted house, prepping for Halloween.

But they also become enbroiled in a far more sinister plot – human trafficking to order. Austria’s DNA holds unusual properties and someone is willing to pay a high price for it.

Lots of twists, some romance and the beginning of what I imagine will be an intense series of thrillers as Austria and her friends seek to put a stop to the people kidnapping innocents and find out what happened to her long missing father.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Fearless – Allen Stroud*

AD 2118. Humanity has colonised the Moon, Mars, Ceres and Europa. Captain Elisa Shann commands Khidr, a search and rescue ship with a crew of twenty-five, tasked to assist the vast commercial freighters that supply the different solar system colonies.

Shann has no legs and has taken to life in zero-g partly as a result. She is a talented tactician who has a tendency to take too much on her own shoulders.

Now, while on a regular six-month patrol through the solar system, Khidr picks up a distress call from the freighter Hercules…

Allen Stroud is a lecturer at Coventry University, where he teaches BA (Hons) Media and Communications. Stroud completed a Ph. D. at the University of Winchester entitled An Investigation and Application of Writing Structures and World Development Techniques in Science Fiction and Fantasy. This thesis covered his work on the computer games, Elite Dangerous (2014) and Chaos Reborn (2016).

For Elite: Dangerous, Stroud wrote six guidebooks that inform the game’s fictional narrative and also served to help other writers with their novelisations set in the game world. He was a founding host of Lave Radio, an Elite: Dangerous fan podcast that started in February 2013 and runs the annual convention Lavecon. His novel set in the Elite: Dangerous game world, called Elite: Lave Revolution was successfully funded on Kickstarter and published in late 2014, with a second edition published in 2015. Stroud then supported Spidermind Games in developing the Elite Dangerous Roleplaying Game.

Stroud worked on Chaos Reborn with Snapshot Games and is working on Phoenix Point, due for release in 2019. Stroud was the 2017 and 2018 chair of Fantasycon, the annual convention of the British Fantasy Society, which hosts the British Fantasy Awards. In June 2019, he became Chair of the British Science Fiction Association, taking over from Donna Bond.

Stroud continues to write academic papers, reviews, articles and fiction in science fiction, fantasy and horror. He lives in a messy house with two cats and his partner, Karen.

My thoughts:

This was a good, enjoyable sci-fi, with lots of action and strong characters. I was behind Shann, the captain, from the start. She’s the central figure that the events revolve around, I also like Johannson, another key figure in the unfolding drama.

There’s battles, strange new tech, conspiracies abound and the crew have to scrabble to stay alive, fighting an unknown enemy without knowing why they’ve come under attack.

I’ve passed my copy onto the two sci-fi fans in my family (my husband and my dad) to read next. I think they will really enjoy it too.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Grubane – Karl Drinkwater*

Read my reviews of Lost Solace and Chasing Solace

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.

His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their
reputation precedes them.

But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the
freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest
choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their
compliance.

Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a
form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions.

Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how
many players are involved in this game?

Buy

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information
Science.He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find
elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, ho

rror, suspense, paranormal, thriller,
sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters,
clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural
environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

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My thoughts:

Set before the events of Lost Solace, this novella introduces the feared and famed Major Grubane, chess player and skilled negotiator, intent on bringing another planet into the UFS, but not by the means his superiors desire.

Preferring negotiations over violence and death, he applies his knowledge of ancient games (in this case his beloved chess) to complex interplanetary conflict.

Narrated by his personal AI bot, Aurikka12, we learn more about the apparently ruthless, utterly loyal Major that pursues Opal and Clarissa through the pages of Lost Solace.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Dead Moon – Keith Crawford

Humanity will be extinguished in less than seven days.

Wing Commander Jude Styles is a Starfighter Pilot trying to get pregnant before the world ends. Her wingman, Hamid Ashkami, just wants to block the spam

messages he is receiving from someone claiming to be his dead ex-husband.

Instead, they are locked in a media tour, shown off as the heroes that stopped the alien invasion by destroying the massive mothership known as the “Dead Moon”, persuading the masses that all will be fine if they keep calm and carry on.

Trapped telling the same lies, driven over the edge by post-traumatic stress and the constant flow of alcohol, it is only a matter of time before Jude and Hamid break down – and the fragments of the Dead Moon have already begun to fall from the sky.

Dr Keith Crawford is a retired naval officer, disabled veteran and qualified barrister with a PhD in Law and Economics. After years of crazy adventures, from speedboats and aircraft to theatre and lecturing at Sciences Po, my French wife and I decided it was time to properly settle in Paris and have babies. Being the good feminist I try to be, I quit my job to look after the kids, support my wife’s career and write books. Each time I get offered a job my wife says “stop looking at jobs and get back to writing books.” Which shows, with marriage as with everything else, it is better to be lucky than good! Dead Moon is my second novel. The first, Vile, a science-fantasy about toxic-patriarchy, the evils of aristocracy and swordfights, is available on Amazon.

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blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Familiar – T.J. Blake

For the living, it’s closure. For the departed, it’s the last chance to expose the truth.

For as long as she can remember, Arabella has communicated with those who exist only in memory.

Being the centre of attention growing up was uncomfortable, and now, as a renowned psychic medium, it is becoming more of a struggle. Arabella’s ability and reputation always made it impossible to hold onto lasting relationships, but with those who no longer walk this earth, that’s not the case.

Arabella returns to where it all began fifteen-years before – on the very same stage. After an evening reconnecting loved ones and exposing untold stories, Arabella can’t help but wonder about the one unclaimed ‘friend’, and their cryptic message.

In an unexpected turn of events, Arabella finds herself the subject of morning headlines and at the centre of Detective Barnes’ investigation.

Can Arabella use her ability to prove her innocence and uncover the truth about the past?

Buy

Living in Surrey, UK, some say that T. J. Blake has many split personalities – by day he’s a content marketing specialist, by night he could be any one of his deceptively complex characters.

His latest persona is Arabella, a psychic medium in “Familiar”.

He has a BA with Honours from Kingston University in Creative Writing with English Language & Communications and is author of the five-star psychological thriller, ‘DECEPTION – A Love of Lies’.