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Review: Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

Review: Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

About the Book

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past…and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this. WOW, talk about fabulous. Spaceships and detectives. A Sherlock Holmes style mystery. The “Dr Watson” character is a spaceship – which is an amazingly original idea and as a sci fi fan I simply loved it. Poor The Shadow’s Child. Traumatised from war, she just wants to make enough money to pay her rent. She meets the strange and cold, Long Chau, who offers her money for a trip into deep space to collect a body for her experiments. Instead they find a mystery that must be solved in order to save a life.

I am a massive fan of crime mysteries and sci fi. I love the way deep space is portrayed here. So mysterious and creeptastic. I really wanted to see this on a big screen. It is a new spin on space travel that I desperately want to see more of. The AI mindship The Shadow’s Child’s avatar to communicate is a unique character and story telling idea. And I want to read more of Long Chau’s deductions.

This is only a novella but I savored every word and boy I wanted more. I brought the limited edition hardcopy and it is simply beautiful. I do hope author Aliette de Bodard writes more adventures for Long Chau and The Shadow’s Child.

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Review: Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Council of the Hunters

Review: Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Council of the Hunters by D.C. McGannon and C. Michael  McGannon

About the Book

A new school year brings fresh beginnings. At least that’s what the Monster Hunters of Hunter’s Grove are hoping for. After facing down dark magic and vengeful gods in the portal village of Drakauragh, Charlie Sullivan and his band of unlikely friends look forward to a quiet, fun-and most importantly normal-first year of High School. More than hope is needed however, as sinister activity is haunting the shadows of their once sleepy little town again. With news of Chen’s disappearance, and an unseen force that threatens to break the protective wards surrounding Hunter’s Key, tensions quickly rise once more for Charlie Sullivan and his friends. The five teenagers’ credibility is called into question by an elder hunter, forcing them to defend their reputations in a dangerous game where they can trust very few. Now, the reticent Council of the Hunters will convene to decide their fate as Monster Hunters. A shocking betrayal, disquieting new figures in their own society, a corrupted nemesis, and a cloud of deception hovering over their elders all weigh heavy on the team. The Monster Hunters of Hunter’s Grove could be shut down before they have a chance to stand against the demonic shadow that threatens their bonds of friendship, loyalty, and the safety of those close to them. Something, or someone, is tearing at the veil between our world and the Otherworld, promising to unleash Hell and prepare the way for what hunters throughout the centuries have feared would one day happen…the rise of the Ancients.

My thoughts

Book three kicks off in a new school year but jumps straight into the mystery where the Monster Hunters will be tested like never before. There are more monsters, magic, and secrets galore. Charlie is still learning to be a leader and dealing with the emotions that come with being attracted to one of his team. Something is trying to get the Hunters and their friends fighting amongst themselves. Trust becomes an issue when the Hunters Council appear and announce they hold the future of the Monster Hunters in their hands. The authors D.C. McGannon and C. Michael McGannon continue this fun and imaginative world full of magic and monsters. I wouldn’t mind some magic powers myself. The secondary characters are full of life and stories of their own. Loving Fish and Dink, Chen and Priest, and of course Drang! I’m hooked into this world and can’t wait to read on. What a terrific series for young and old a like (I have a feeling my Poppa would have loved to read this series to me when I was little!)

Author Interview 2: Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape authors of A Forsaken Friend

Hi all, grab a glass of wine and sit back while I chat once again with the fabulous duo Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape authors of A Falling Friend and newly released A Forsaken Friend

  

Ahhh, this fabulous cafe! I cannot wait to sit down to chat with Sue and Susan. Wine, laughter, chocolate cake (which I plan to order) and great gossip! what a way to spend an afternoon.

 

Sue and Susan thank you again for your time today.

Wow, so book two, A Forsaken Friend, picks up pretty much where book one, A Falling Friend, left off.

Tell me how did you go about plotting out book two?

Susan: By the time we finished A Falling Friend, we were writing another book – a murder mystery. We’d completed about twenty chapters when we stalled and couldn’t agree where to go with it. In the meantime, we’d both been thinking about the cliff hanger that we’d left Teri and Lee on at the end of A Falling Friend. I think it was Sue who said, ‘Shall we write a follow up?’ and the minute she said it, I felt so relieved – and couldn’t wait to get back to those two crazy girls.

Sue:  The problem with writing character driven novels is that you can never be 100 per cent sure where your characters will take you. The little beggars have a habit of surprising us…However, we always start with a rough outline of where the story should begin and where it should end and some of the key points along the way. But once you get into a character’s head, they do sometimes take you in unexpected directions and we’ve learned to trust our instincts here. For instance, in A Forsaken Friend one of the characters became seriously ill – which we hadn’t planned. But we had a chat about it – and decided that this development allowed us to explore different aspects of both Teri and Lee and so we’d leave it in. It’s important to listen to your characters but we do remind them regularly that we’re in charge.

Yeah, that character… well, you got tears out of me that’s for sure. Um, hold up, a murder mystery? Oooo well I want to hear more about that some day soon.! So, did you learn anything from writing book one that changed how you wrote book two?

Susan: Most definitely. As a former journalist, I wrote for newspapers and television. There’s a method to the language of news, which is mostly fact, fact, fact. But writing fiction is a whole new area where you need to think in more detail about description and atmosphere, showing rather than telling. I find that I have certain words which I use over and over again, such as ‘looked’ and ‘turned’ and it can become irritating for the reader if they see the same words repeated. Luckily we have a good editor who goes through our manuscripts with a red pen (or the digital equivalent). I’ve also learned to relax more when I’m writing. I tell myself to enjoy the process – and hopefully, that helps humour come through in the story.

Sue: I’m the same: news story writing is about telling the reader what you know and what you’ve found out whilst fiction is about showing. It’s the difference between writing: ‘Sue looked at Susan’ and ‘Sue glared at Susan.’ The second one shows you Sue’s mood, the first one doesn’t. (Not that I ever glare at Susan!) I’ve also learned that I’m a bit of a tinkerer – I’m forever amending, improving, re-writing. I suspect Susan sends a lot of glares across the miles. And I’m also hopeless with timelines…

Oh my gosh, yes I understand a little about show and tell (I’m still working hard on that! eeep. Oh and yes, deadlines! So book two – did you now have to work to a deadline? How did that go?

Susan: A Falling Friend took us nearly eight years to write as Sue and I were both working full time, we had family commitments, and various problems to cope with. My friends eventually stopped asking, ‘Is this book ever going to be finished?’ We wrote A Forsaken Friend in eight months because we’d both given up full time work, family pressures had eased – and we were so enthusiastic about writing more about the exploits of Teri and Lee.

Sue: Funnily enough we only finished A Falling Friend when we set ourselves a deadline. We agreed January 2014 that we MUST get it finished by the start of the next academic year in mid-September. Then we spent another year seeking a publishing deal.

Have you changed how you go about writing now?

Susan: Not particularly. I still make notes when I’m away from the office and see something that sparks an idea, and I plot chapters in my head while I’m out walking or swimming. I try to block off several days in my diary when I can just sit and write. It’s not always easy as real life gets in the way and we’re so busy at the moment publicising and marketing A Forsaken Friend. But we’ve started the third book in the Friends trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, and it’s bubbling nicely.

Sue: Same here: doing something physical really helps to clear the head.

A third book? YAY! I am so glad to hear that. I know a little about your fabulous publisher, has it been hard working with an overseas publisher?

Susan: Not at all. There are times when I’d love to have a face-to-face meeting with Kate (Foster, editorial director at Lakewater Press), but we do the next best thing, which is stay in regular contact through email and Facebook. There’s a time difference between us in the UK and Australia, but Kate never seems to sleep! Kate came over to London a while back and we met up for lunch, which was fab, and Sue visited her when she went to Aus on holiday last year.

Sue: It was weird when we met Kate in London – we recognised her straight away because we’d seen pictures of her and we sat down and started chatting like old friends. It was nice to have confirmation that the warmth and friendliness we’d felt online was there in real life too. Signing up with Lakewater Press was the best thing we ever did.

I also know a little about your fabulous editors… What’s a story you can share with us about them?

Susan: What can I say? Rebecca (Carpenter) has an eye for detail and spots when something is out of synch. She’s incredibly tactful too and never says, ‘Susan! If you use that word one more time, I’m going to scream!’

Sue: Being an editor must be one of the hardest jobs in the world: there’s the nitty gritty of proofreading and copy editing and then there’s telling writers that one of their precious characters isn’t working and has to be cut from the text – which happened with A Forsaken Friend. We were sad, we liked this particular character very much, but both agreed to trust Kate’s judgement. And she was right – it’s a better book because of it.

What I love about both books is that each story is told from a close POV… but I never know if what they are “seeing” and therefore telling us, is the truth? So tell me, does the truth lie somewhere in the middle?

Susan: I think the truth is whatever the two main characters believe it is. Teri sees life her way and Lee sees life another way. I only hope our readers like the way we present the two women – I’m sure some would agree that everyone sees the same situation from a slightly different perspective.

Sue: That’s a lesson both of us learned as journalists – no two people ever see the same event in quite the same way.

There are some new characters introduced and older ones reappear… Any favorites and why?

Susan: We thought it would be fun to take both women out of their comfort zones – and in A Forsaken Friend, Teri and Lee spend some time on a smallholding in Suffolk, which belongs to Teri’s brother Charlie and his partner, Denis. I wanted to have a bit of fun with the Denis character, but also to introduce one of their friends, Andrew, who has a way with garden greenery – as Teri finds out!

Sue: Lee’s little niece Fee, a feisty toddler who takes a bit of a shine to Teri, with some unexpected repercussions…

Bahahah garden greenery indeed! Though I did love to imagine Fancy Teri dressed in Wellingtons! (Gumboots as we call them in Aus). Lets focus on Teri for a moment…Teri goes through a lot, once again,  What were you hoping we, as readers, would learn from her?

Susan: I love writing from Teri’s POV. It allows me to comment and react to situations in a way I probably wouldn’t do in ‘real life’. She has strong views about people and life – not always nice or kind – and it’s liberating for a writer to be able to offload petty prejudices and harsh judgements. I want readers to be irritated and infuriated by her, but I also hope some will agree with her. Overall, I hope people see that she behaves this way, not just because of her past, but because she CAN. Some people manage to get away with things in life that the rest of us wouldn’t dare to try – and Teri is one of those – and I love her for it.

OH my gosh! yes… I certainly found myself gritting my teeth while reading her bits! Will she ever learn from her own mistakes? (she is so willful and oblivious. Half the time I just want to strangle her and the other half I was thinking she was getting what she deserves.)

Susan: I hope she doesn’t learn from her mistakes – at least, not until we’ve completed the trilogy!

Haha! And now Lee…

Lee made me cry at the end (seriously! ladies… OMG) and it seems her journey is only going to get more crazy, (What a cliff hanger) What did you want Lee’s experiences to teach us?

Sue: I’m an English Literature graduate (Susan too) and one of the things I learned at university was that people in all cultures tell stories to help them make sense of the world. And, because I’m reaching an age where the generation above me is becoming old and frail, I was interested to explore what this might mean in terms of dealing with grief and loss and coming to terms with one’s own mortality.

You certainly did that. I can’t think about those scenes without tearing up a little. Can you give me a hint about book three? (pretty please)

Susan: There will be more of the same, but with some added shocks. Oh, and some startling surprises.

Sue: In other words, another bumpy ride!

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! oh I can’t wait. Thanks so much for your time ladies! A wonderful read.

Woo! my head is spinning and I push myself up from the table. Perhaps I’ve had too much wine? Nah… I stumble off down the road to hail a cab…

 

About A Forsaken Friend

No-one said friendship was easy. 

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help. 

But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire… 

It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined. 

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea. 

The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heart-warming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.

 

About the Authors

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists who between them have extensive experience of working in national and regional papers and magazines, and public relations.

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism to undergraduate and postgraduate students – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity.

The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, have already written two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction; and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and exploring the cycle paths near her Yorkshire home. Susan is married and spends her spare time walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales and on the east coast, and playing the ukulele.

They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.wordpress.com

You can find them on Twitter at…

https://twitter.com/SueF_Writer – Sue’s Twitter

https://twitter.com/wordfocus – Susan’s Twitter

  

If you would like to read my review of A Falling Friend go HERE to read it.

If you would like to read my review of A Forsaken Friend go HERE to read it.

Release Date: The Butterfly Stone

Very excited to announce the release date for The Butterfly Stone, my debut novel

17 April

https://www.wyvernspeak.com/

Not long now

A picture perfect day (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

I looked out over the remains of the party. Dirty dishes, trash, scrunched paper and ragged balloon rubber surrounded me. A happy feeling filled my chest and belly. What a great afternoon, surrounded by my friends and family celebrating a wonderful day. No fights, no arguments, no glances caught from the corner of the eye and no one stayed home to avoid anyone else.

I snorted and leapt from my chair as the cat landed on my lap. Shadows had crept across the yard, and the sky was dimly overcast. Goosepimples spread up my arms.

Nothing but a crazy dream.

 

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count:100

I’m so excited today all, I’ve been told by my fabulous publisher Wyvern’s Peak Publishing that I can now announce that my debut novel titled: The Butterfly Stone will be released on the 17th April and I wanted to share my good news with all of the fabulous readers and writers of Friday Fictioneers. This is a truly amazing community and I am so thankful to Rochelle and fortunate to have meet and read you all!

https://www.wyvernspeak.com/

 

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Interview… me and The Butterfly Stone

Thank you so much Lauren!!

I did an interview and spoke a bit about The Butterfly Stone. Coming out Spring in Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in Southern 😄

http://laurenlynneauthor.com/2018/03/meet-the-amazing-laurie-bell/

Review: Scales of Empire by Kylie Chan

Review: Scales of Empire by Kylie Chan

About the book:

An exciting new adventure filled with diverse characters, strong heroes and heroines and wild creatures from the bestselling author of White Tiger.


Corporal Jian Choumali is on the mission of a lifetime – security officer on one of Earth’s huge generation ships, fleeing Earth’s failing ecosystem to colonise a distant planet.


The ship encounters a technologically and culturally advanced alien empire, led by a royal family of dragons. The empire’s dragon emissary offers her aid to the people of Earth, bringing greater health, longer life, and faster-than-light travel to nearby stars.


But what price will the people of Earth have to pay for the generous alien assistance?

 

My Thoughts: 

Dragons!!! OMG Dragons….

And spaceships.

Come on, this is brilliant. Dragons and spaceships and love and space exploration, aliens, spaceships (did i mention that?) Oh this was a fun read.

Such a unique a concept. Dragons and Potatoes and Cats and procreation. Such an interesting combination.

You should read this book if you love scifi and dragons. I was hooked from the start. So well written, the world building grabbed me in an instant. Set in a dystopian time not that far in the future, the Earth needs to start colonizing other planets in order to survive as a species.  But now that humans are “ready” alien life comes to them. Jian is a fabulous main character and I enjoyed following her journey from colonist to warrior to mother to savior.

This story really gets to the heart of the matter, survival and what it means to a species. Also, what is the meaning of free will and where does mind control and love fall on the scales. And speaking of scales… what does it mean to accept help. Does acceptance of assistance remove self determination? This book really makes you as a reader think about what it means to be human. Nature vs nurture vs humanity vs greed. I recommend this book to all. 🙂

Here there be monsters (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

 

I didn’t think a sign would keep them away. I was surprised. It did for a while. Longer than I thought.

Not forever though.

“Jenny, co’mere, co’mon.”

“Bobby, you’re spillin’ the booze.” The girl snorted and then hiccupped and moaned. “I’m gonna be sick.”

“Don’, don’ do tha’… Co’mere, I’ll ‘elp.”

I crouched lower. The brush covered my exposed scales, the green blended in. They couldn’t see me. Still, I waited holding my breath. Couldn’t they see the sign?

“Ey… Wazzat?” The boy wavered and nearly fell, pointing as his eyes widened.

Damnit.

With a flick I unsheathed my claws.

 

 

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

Word Count: 100

 

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: A Forsaken Friend by Sue Featherstone & Susan Pape

About the Book

No-one said friendship was easy. 

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.

But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…

It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.  

The FRIENDS trilogy, compared to BRIDGET JONES, continues in this heart-warming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.

 

My Thoughts

Okay, so I cried… and snorted, and laughed. This is a terrific follow up from A Falling Friend (Book One). More of  Teri and Lee and their lives, families and friends. Teri is… Teri. Picking herself up from the bottom, she is on the look out for a new job (and a new man).

Lee, who now has Dan, has her own problems. Family problems.

I love that this book is written from deep inside the point of view of each character. Both sides told with the honestly and dishonesty of a person’s memory and flawed personality traits. The way we remember an event, the way our own mind tells us how something happened is shown so clearly in the opposing yet parallel stories. Deeply enjoyable, deeply satisfying. A Forsaken Friend is a great read.  If you read the first, definitely pick up this one.

 

Read my review of Book One here

Don’t look away (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

 

“He’s still out there, darl.”

“Well quit starin’. He ain’t gonna go away with you starin’.”

“He ain’t gonna go away with me not staring. What’s he doing? Darl, he has a camera pointed at the sky.”

“Star gazin’? Lookin’ for lil green men?” His bellowing laughter filled the living room.

I snarled and stuck my head out from behind the white lacy curtain to glare at him.

“Come away from the damned window,” he said. The floor vibrated. A roar came from outside and the windows rattled. A bright flash. I ran back. “Darl, he’s gone. The camera too.”

 

 

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count : 100

 

 

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

 

 

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