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New Suns – Speculative Fiction by POC collection – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new Suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlapping. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

What I Thought

As with any short story collection there will be stories that you love, many that you like and a couple that just don’t quite hit the spot (at the time of initial reading at least). When the former two outweigh the latter you are onto a winner and that was the case here.

Speculative fiction is always as much about the here and now as it is about visions of the future. A number of the stories provide such good political commentary that Trump will want their authors federally investigated! Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire (E. Lily Yu) – a take on the Emperors New Clothes conjured up scary naked visions I didn’t really want but provided brilliant political satire.

The stories were an eclectic mix which is what you hope to get with mixed representation. Here we also had mixed presentation. From an euthanasia tourist holiday infomercial script to fairytales, ghost stories, gang warfare – there is something to suit everyone. I guess I was expecting a little more straight science fiction but enjoyed the variety of fantasy and slightly more contemporary feeling pieces. Even the couple of stories that didn’t quite hit the spot for me were lyrically written and just because the meaning was not immediately apparent to me doesn’t mean they won’t jump out at someone else. As readers we bring so much to what we read and current preoccupations jump out more readily.

My two favourite stories were:

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea (Jaymee Goh). With echoes The Shape of Water this is a f/f love story with feminist themes.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations (Minsoo Kang) is written as an historical paper on a peace treaty orchestrated by two translators who don’t quite translate what is being said by the violent rulers going head to head. I particularly liked the add on commentary about not looking enough at the female perspective and I’d actually really want to read the translators story in real time.

Do you like reading short stories about the macabre and unusual? Then pick up New Suns and step into the unknown.

Check out the rest of the blog tour and see which stories other people highlighted.

I was gifted my copy of New Suns for the purposes of providing an honest review. All opinions are, as ever, my own

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Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings – Blog Tour Book Review

This post is part of the Zenith blog tour. Do check out the other stops.

Synopsis

WHEN THE UNIVERSE NEEDS SAVING

THERE’S ONLY ONE GIRL FOR THE JOB

Most know Androma as a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Maurauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Maurauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation- and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

As the Maurauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

What I thought?

Zenith is book one of The Androma Saga and it has definitely whet my appetite to keep reading.

I am not familiar with either author’s other work in terms of either writing or YouTube so it was nice to come to this fresh with no real preconceptions.

What I did find was a book that seemed to be influenced by a lot of other YA and pop culture I’ve loved. The prison break aspect of Six of Crows, a pinch of Divergent, a Ship of Firefly roguishness, even a Handmaid’s tale feel, and a Potter reminiscent team nickname.

The book starts with a Prologue and then continues with chapters each headed up from a different character’s point of view. The characters we hear from are the main series protagonist Androma (Andi aka The Bloody Baroness), Klaren (a historical character), Dex (the Bounty Hunter from the synopsis and Andi’s ex), Lira (Andi’s crewmate and best friend), Nor (The Queen of a planet that holds a tentative peace with the rest of the galaxy) and Valen (the mission!).

Very spacey chapter headers

Here comes my first issue with the book. I was fine with the amount of POV characters given the scale of the story and would have even liked to hear from the other two crew mates. However the book breaks its own rules. It sets up each chapter clearly with whose point of view it’s meant to be from and for some reason in a couple of Dex’s chapters we get a switch to Andi’s point of view that is entirely unnecessary and does momentarily take you out of the story.

The other issues I had were that there was frequent repetition of concepts and thoughts such as Valen’s thirst for vengeance and Andi’s guilt over an event that occurred in the past. Whilst it is true that the more we returned to these thoughts the more the ideas and action behind them became clearer, and it is true that people do become fixated on issues, I think a few incidences could have been edited out. And there was definitely no need to keep stating the colour of Andi’s hair so frequently. White blond with purple – which to be fair does sounds like a pretty cool look. There was also a few clunky phrases such as ‘downing half a bottle in one sip’.

But, equally there was some great use of phrasing including the particularly disgusting reference to ‘palm juice’ which made me feel quite queasy but that really worked in context.

Above all I loved the Maurauders. The relationship between the all-girl crew of Andi, Lira, Gilly and Breck was what I enjoyed most about the book. Gilly is such a firecracker and so young that I was drawn to her story in particular and would love to hear from her point of view in future books. I also thought the blend of femininity and violence within them worked well and that, although the girls were total badasses, they could also get very excited about pretty dresses. The relationships between all of the characters was what drove the plot and what made the issues I had with the book easy to overcome.

I’ve seen reviews saying that the worldbuilding was sloppy but personally I thought this was another strength and I loved the inclusion of the historical perspective from the distant past as well as Andi’s more recent past and the idea that all the characters are running away from things we know they are going to need to face. The whole world history and individual character experience also pull together in a dramatic conclusion. The Zenith of the title takes a while to materialise but when it does you feel its impact.

This book is a great mash up story – a space opera – with such scope for character development. I had a few issues with the editing but the plot is clever, the characters complex and it’s really a lot of fun. I’d love to see it filmed, it’s very cinematic and would make a great tv series. Now can someone tell me when book two is due out?

Zenith book cover

Thanks to HQ for the finished copy for the purposes of this review. Opinions are as ever my own.

The Inventory: Gravity by Andy Briggs – Blog Tour

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Iron Fist – the first in Andy Briggs’  The Inventory series, about a top secret vault that contains banned gadgets that are too dangerous to be in the world. You can see my interview with author Andy Briggs here.

Book two of the series Gravity is already here and having enjoyed the first book I was eager to read more about Dev and his friend Lot and Mason’s adventures.

gravityGoodreads link

Summary

Eeek! Think that’s a monster? Nope: it’s a person. What terrible weapon could do this…? Errr – well, that used to be top-secret. Problem: it’s not quite so secret anymore. Dev messed up big time the day he let the ruthless Shadow Helix gang into the Inventory. What is the Inventory, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the secret lockup for all the deadly battle tech the world is NOT ready for. Which is why letting it get nicked was a REALLY BAD IDEA. Now the Shadow Helix have Newton’s Arrow: a terrifying weapon that messes with gravity, causing … well, you get the picture from this book’s cover. Dev and his mates HAVE to get it back – even if it means crossing the entire globe. To stop this evil, no trip is too far!

Author

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Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events.

Website: www.andybriggs.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/aBriggswriter

 

What I Thought?

After the big reveal at the end of the first book Andy Briggs catapults Dev and his friends straight into the action with the aim of retrieving the missing tech stolen from the vault. It’s really not long before the three teens are out on their own facing evil foes half way across the world. I enjoyed that this fact was poked fun out of in the book, although it definitely made the adult characters, particularly Charles Parker, less sympathetic.

Dev reminded me of Book 5 Harry in this story and he certainly has some big issues to deal with, which makes him the main focus of this story. The parallel between him and some of the other characters is explored well.

There is more fun technology and science to explore and the plot is certainly action packed. For me, I would have liked a few more quieter moments and perhaps a bit more exploration of Lot and Mason’s characters, although they both get their own kick-ass moments.

This is a really fun series that I’m looking forward to keeping up with and continue to recommend. It is very visual and I’d love to see it as a TV series and/or Graphic Novel.

Blog Tour

My stop is the last on the blog tour but you can check out the other stops for more reviews and features.

gravity-blog-tour

Thanks to Scholastic for the free copy – all opinions are my own.

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