“Everywhere I look, I see the repulsive sight of hundreds, thousands of revolting little children”,

Posted On 25 February 2015

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Yesterday for Top Ten Tuesday I picked my top ten favourite females of fiction - today I thought I’d match that with 10 super baddies!

  1. Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones, GRR Martin- speaks for itself really! Nasty, two faced, incestuous – you name it!
  2. The White Witch, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis- well, I don’t suppose all witches are bad but the White Witch can be a bit impulsive with that old turning people into stone thing – plus she has a vicious pack of wolves and she’s trying to keep Narnia frozen in eternal winter.
  3. Cruella DeVi, 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith – come on, she wants to kill ALL the puppies to make a coat.  And her name is Cruel Devil!
  4. Kamala, Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman – This is an unusual one, Kamala is very ambitious, can’t blame her there – but her magic does have dire consequences for whatever poor soul she is using to obtain that magical spark!
  5. Queen Kate from the Rebel Angel Series by Gillian Philip – she would separate the veil between mundanes and the fae – and it probably wouldn’t go well for us everyday regular people.
  6. The Witch of the Waste from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – turned poor Sophie into an old woman – because she was jealous of her magic!
  7. Chella from The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence – evil to the core, a Necormancer who basically works for the Dead King!
  8. Catarina, Miserere  by Teresa Frohock – intends to leaves the hordes straight out of hell – nasty, mean and horrible to be sure!
  9. Ash Orchard from The Damned by Andrew Pyper – the evil twin sister from hell! (Literally!)
  10. Bellatrix Lestrange – don’t make me tell you who she is! (okay, a clue below)

‘I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king’

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This week over at the Broke and the Bookish the Topic for Top Ten Tuesday is:

Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

This was more difficult that I imagined mainly because I found myself with quite a lot to choose from so narrowing it down was difficult.

  1. Lady Trent from Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons.  I love this series and Lady Trent is an excellent character who refuses to be restrained by the demands that polite society of age would place upon her.
  2. Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs series of books about werewolves and shapeshifters (well and plenty of other characters from the supernatural world).  I really like Mercy she’s a gutsy character and certainly not a damsel in distress – but she’s not stupid and not afraid to ask for help when she needs to.
  3. Miriam Black from Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig.  I just really like Miriam.  She comes across as a hard assed, foul mouthed so and so but underneath it all she is softer than she likes to imagine.  I think that being able to predict a person’s death simply by touching them has given her a harder exterior than most and pushed her to a fairly solitary life but she always tries to do the right thing.  Even if it doesn’t sometimes feel like that.
  4. Suzume from M L Brennan’s Generation V.  I love this character.  Suzume is a Kitsune which means she’s actually a fox that can turn into a human.  She’s got such a great sense of humour, she can stick up for herself and she stands by her friends.
  5. Eowyn from Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring – who with the help of a hobbit helped to bring down one of the worst enemies of the final battle ‘I am no man’!
  6. Atlanta Burns from the book of the same name by Chuck Wendig.  Another fantastic character with a dark and sad past, scarred by past events who is still not too scared to stick up for those in need.
  7. Shara from Robert Bennett’s City of Stairs.  Such a wonderful character.  Intelligent and witty and able to calmly analyse a situation even under threat.  A book loving woman who’s motto could be ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.
  8. Wydrin from Jen William’s Copper Promise.  She’s a sell sword come rum swigging pirate.  Sassy, smart, clever with her twin swords – she’d give Jean Tannen and his sisters a run for his money!
  9. Lisbeth from Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Lisbeth is another young lady with a sad past.  Analytical and calm she isn’t afraid of her own company and her knowledge of computers and hacking help her to tackle her enemies.
  10. Spring from Angus Watson’s Age of Iron – a young character, mysterious and enigmatic.  I can’t tell you much about her because it would definitely contain spoilers for the book.

That’s my top ten – like I say, I had a good few more but have contained myself!

Canary by Duane Swierczynski

Posted On 23 February 2015

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Just finished reading Canary by Duane Swierczynski.  This book whilst a step away from my love of SFF was fast paced and intriguing.

Set in Philadelphia the story revolves around a Hons Student (Sarie) who is unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and draw police attention.  Attention that sees her becoming a confidential informant to Ben Wildey – a narcotics cop.

To cut a long story short, Sarie, not wanting to hand over to the police the young man she was accompanying on the night of her bust, is going to go to all sorts of lengths to get the police off her case by doing a bit of undercover detective work and handing them somebody else.  Of course, in spite of Sarie’s smarts she isn’t a criminal and has no real idea of the danger she’s walking into.

There’s all sorts of family business going on here too.  Sarie’s mother died of cancer about 12 months earlier and her small family unit, (father and brother Marty) are struggling to continue.  Her father is in denial and uses alcohol to escape and Marty is usually fobbed off as too young to understand what’s really going on.

Sarie is a very likable character.  She’s undoubtedly naive but she’s quick to learn and good at research.  Of course being good at research doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an expert in the world of drugs.  Wildey – well you could be forgiven for being disappointed that he’s pushing Sarie so much but at the end of the day she’s a little minow that he’s using to catch something bigger and, again, he’s not a bad guy.  He earns something of a pittance, he lives in a rough neighbourhood and desperately wants to make things better.

Now at the same time as Wildey is pushing Sarie to come clean about who she was with the night she was arrested much bigger things are taking place in the drug world.  It seems that CIs are being disposed of one by one!  This makes it all the more frantic for Sarie to get off this particular hook but whilst she manages, primarily by chance, to come up with a couple of potential leads they’re not going to help her.

The story definitely checks out the dark and seedy elements of the underworld spot lighting drugs and the downward spiral that many find themselves on, murder, torture and dirty cops.  It’s not, however, a totally menacing read and doesn’t come across so bleak that you struggle to read.  The pace is fast and the author does an excellent job of making you care for the characters.  The finale itself is very tense and whilst there are a few raised eyebrow moments that are just a bit too convenient I found the ending very satisfying overall.

In terms of criticism – not sure how convinced I was about Sarie’s feelings for ‘D’ that she would feel the need to protect him to such an extent that not only would she potentially, at best, ruin her own future and, at worst, face a life threatening situation but that being said there was a sort of sweetness to that element given how very innocent she was.  And, how would this young innocent girl manage to pull the wool over the big baddies eyes – well, let’s just say things don’t always go according to her best laid plans.  I won’t spoil it though.

On the whole a fast paced and intriguing world – exactly how realistic it actually is in terms of the real world – well, I have absolutely no idea to be honest, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

I received a copy of this through the publishers courtesy of Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Sunday Summary

My week in books:

I can’t say I’ve had an excessive reading month so far – but there’s still time!!!

Read so far:

  1. Golden Son by Pierce Brown, No.2 in the series and so bloody good. Review of Red Rising here.
  2. The Ship  by Antonia Honeywell – an intriguing idea
  3. Shadow Study by Maria Snyder – I do so enjoy these books and this is no exception.
  4. The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams – this author is just so good – I can’t recommend The Copper Promise and Iron Ghost enough
  5. Canary by Duane Swierczynski – review to follow

E-books received:

  1. The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu – I’ve bought the first two and now I’m going to have a mammoth trilogy readalong by myself!
  2. The Unremembered by Peter Orullian – this looked very intriguing so we’ll see.
  3. Voyage of the Basilisk by M L Brennan – so happy to receive this book that I danced a little jig!
  4. Daughters of Shadow and Blood – by J Matthew Saunders – intrigued by the mention of Dracula!

Books bought:

  1. Red Delicious by Kathleen Tierney – loved the first (Blood Oranges) and so very excited to read this.
  2. The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher – I’ve just really liked the look of this for some time and then I also saw an excellent review from Not Yet Read here.
  3. Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells – the first of these books I received from one of my blogger buddies (thank you Andrea) and very much enjoyed

Also, signed up to participate in the bloggers love-a-thon over at Alexa Loves Books.  As it happens this was a weekend event and I was totally abysmal due to things outside of my control.  But, better late than never!  My idea for a love-a-thon is to give lots of kudos to some of the amazing blogs out there that you should check out – here are a few that you might want to check out:

Wondrous Read, Stainless Steel Droppings, Little Red Reviewer, Dab of Darkness, Over the Effing Rainbow, Coffee, cookies and chilli peppers, Dark Cargo, Tethyan Books, The Bookworm Chronicles Genkinahito, Sleepless Musings of a well groomed, mustached man, Fantasy Review Barn, Tenacious Reader, Bibliosanctum, Not Yet Read, Bayou Quilts, Books Bones Buffy, Nashville Bookworm, Little Lion Lynnets, Woven Magic, Fine Print, Of Dragons and Hearts, SF Signal, Fantasy Faction, Drunken Dragon Reviews, Bookwraiths, Beauty in Ruins, Violin in a Void, Two Dudes in an Attic, Tales of the Marvelous, Lipsyy Lost and Found, The Earthian Hivemind, Bride of the Book God; Postcards from Asia, Marvel at Words, Books Without Any Pictures

Okay, – this list could go on and on and on but I’ve just simply run out of time!!  If I’ve missed you off then a thousand apologies please believe me – it wasn’t intentional!!!  I’ll keep adding onto this…

Also, having a readalong with the amazing Dab of Darkness of Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead.  Due to start March.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Posted On 21 February 2015

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Just finished reading Golden Son by Pierce Brown – which is just so good!!  And, what an ending – a little bit jaw dropping, but enough of that.

Firstly, this isn’t the kind of series that you can jump in and out of – you need to read Red Rising first and you need to be aware of potential spoilers below.  Basically, you need to know the characters, the allegiances and the friendships – not that they won’t continually shift like sand in front of your very eyes but you do need to have a firm grounding at least before the world starts to move beneath your feet.

Now, Golden Son moves us forward a little.  Darrow, now completely in favour thanks to his exploits in Red Rising, is being given the chance to prove himself in war.  Battling it out amongst the stars.

To be frank, I’m simply not going to go into the plot at all and that may seem like a bit of a cop out but this is such an intriguing book with so many chops and changes that to elaborate would be to spoil.  Basically there is a LOT of action, a LOT of clever ‘big picture’ tactics and a lot of betrayals! Not to mention some heartache.

So, to the characters.  Darrow is as much a maniac as he was in the first book.  He certainly isn’t a stranger to fear but his fear doesn’t rule him and he rushes into the fray completely regardless of his own safety.  Frequently he becomes involved in situations where there seems to be no chance of success or even survival and yet he not only escapes or survives but frequently excels.  What I would also point out about Darrow is he’s very conflicted.  He loved Eo and yet he now loves Mustang for which he feels guilt.  He was born a Red and yet he excels as a Gold, in fact you could be forgiven for thinking that he’s more Gold than most!  He is basically a man who is desperate to stop living a lie and yet revealing the truth could be fatal for him and the cause he works for.  He’s still surrounded by his close pack of friends and he also makes a strange alliance where least expected.  The strange thing with Darrow is that he isn’t a stupid character at all and yet he seems sometimes to be unable to see the plain truth in front of him – in fact I would say that’s probably my only criticism – he doesn’t appear to be able to see when he’s making enemies even though it appears to be perfectly obvious to others.  Maybe his inability to see when he’s making mistakes is what makes him such a great character.  On top of which he constantly questions things and certainly suffers from self doubt and the whole revenge itinerary that he started out with has become greatly muddied by the fact that he’s made friends with his enemies – it seems after all that maybe not all the Golds are bad after all!

There is obviously the inclusion of characters from the first book although the author is quite ruthless at ‘erasing’ characters. Mustang, Roque and the Howlers and on top of that we have some new additions – I particularly liked Ragnar.

As I said I’m not going to go into the plot as it would totally spoil so much of the surprise that awaits.

The setting was a surprise here – where the first book felt almost mediaeval with it’s battles to the death played out in a warfare type world with castles and forests and ponies this book is practically majestic in scope and planted more firmly in the sci-fi world with spaceships, sophisticated armour and weapons, grav boots and defence shields.  Not everything takes place in the stars of course but this was a surprise for me and I confess very well done.

This is an incredibly fast paced and emotional ride that will take you up high before crashing down low at great speed.  It’s very clever, in fact the way the plot twists and turns is really quite fascinating and even when there are snippets that you might predict they’re usually only a small piece of a much bigger puzzle.

And the other thing that I really like about this book is the whole concept behind the perfect civilisation.  All the colours being born into their particular livelihood with no movement between ever being allowed.  Such a strange regimented world with Darrow being the perfect example of how it doesn’t work – he really does excel more as a Gold than most born into such positions.  It takes the whole notion of survival of the fittest to a new level and is a great theme to explore.  Brown writes with a lot of classical ideas often quoting latin and the like and the concept of the colours seems almost to be based on Plato’s idea for a just city – although that never really quite worked out either.  Basically human nature will interfere with the best laid plans.

A very gripping read.  Emotional.  A bit of a roller coaster and with an ending that, whilst predictable to some extents, was jaw dropping in the extreme in others.

I await the final instalment eagerly – particularly as this book didn’t come to a nice satisfactory conclusion!

I received a copy of this book through the publishers via Bookbridgr for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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