Sunday, September 13, 2015

Partial Eclipse of the Sun

Time for something a little bit different. Today those of us living in South Africa had the opportunity to see a partial eclipse of the sun (around 30-40% depending on location). The conditions were less than ideal with high-level cloud and lots of wind, but I managed to capture a few photos. So for those of you interested in astronomy here are some eclipse pictures.

If I've lost my sight after taking these, you'll all know why...*

* To clarify: All necessary precautions were taken. Images were captured through a telescope fitted with a solar filter.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Five years of blogging!

Today* marks the 5th anniversary of Worlds in Ink. Normally I would let the occasion pass without any fanfare**, but five years of blogging is quite an achievement. In blog-years it means the blog is practically a geriatric! That deserves at least a bit of celebration.

I’ve never been a very prolific blogger, but by some miracle I’ve been able to keep at it for much longer than I’ve ever thought possible. I must confess that I have a torturous relationship with writing. I love reading. No doubt about that, but when it comes to writing I tend to overthink everything. Every word has to be carefully chosen. A simple 400 word review can take me hours to write and quite often it’s just never as good as it was in my mind. I can’t tell you how many reviews never make it past my own expectations as a result.

Over the past five years Worlds in Ink has grown beyond my wildest expectations. I’ll never be nominated for a Hugo, but I’m still pretty proud of what I’ve managed to achieve. The highlight of my blogging career has to be interviewing two of my favourite authors. I adore the Neal Asher's science fiction novels  and in 2011 I got to interview him after the launch of his Owner Trilogy. He's not just an amazing science fiction author, but also a great person who loves interacting with his fans. Late last year I had the chance to interview the author that, arguably, started me on the road that led to my love of fantasy, Raymond E. Feist himself! How can I ever be top that?

There were some unexpected highlights too – having my blurb featured in the Earth Unaware promo video literally sent chills down my spine when I first saw it. I had no idea it would be included and innocently stumbled upon the video late one night. I think that gave me a high that lasted for the better part of a week.

The blog wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for the awesome publicists and publishers who took a chance on a fledgling blog and who still spoil me with the most amazing book releases. A huge thank you to the folks at Pan Macmillan SA, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Umuzi, Penguin Random House, Tor UK, Tor, Forge, Hodder, Gollancz, Solaris and Tachyon Press. Words aren’t adequate to express my gratitude. Thank you for the squee of delight each and every bookish parcel provides to my life. I wish I could review titles much quicker than I’m currently able to. I promise I’ll try harder.

Thank you to the great community of fellow bloggers I’ve discovered over the years. You guys (and gals!) are so much better at this than I am. Thank you for giving me something to strive for and thanks for all the silly Twitter banter.

And lastly thank you to each and every visitor to the blog. Thanks for dropping by and sharing in my thoughts. Without you I might as well be screaming into the void. It’s good to know that someone out there cares.

I’m not sure what the future holds for the blog. Work commitments keep me extremely busy, so my blog output might be even more sporadic than usual, but it’s good to know that I have this amazing community of book lovers to return to. May Worlds in Ink remain my constant beacon in the darkness, my gateway to other worlds filled with wonders beyond measure. A place I can call my own and share with all of you.

* Via the temporal magic know as a scheduled post.
** Quite possibly because I tend to forget birthdays and anniversaries on a regular basis. Including, but not limited to, those of my own blog.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Under Ground

Title: Under Ground
Author: S.L. Grey
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781447266488
Publisher: Macmillan
Published: 2015
Genre: Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

The Sanctum is a luxurious, self-sustaining survival condominium situated underground in rural Maine. It's a plush bolt-hole for the rich and paranoid - a place where they can wait out the apocalypse in style. When a devastating super-flu virus hits the States, several families race to reach it. All have their own motivations for entering The Sanctum. All are hiding secrets.

But when the door locks and a death occurs, they realize the greatest threat to their survival may not be above ground - it may already be inside . . .

What could be more terrifying than a deadly pandemic? For the inhabitants of The Sanctum, a luxurious underground condominium it’s the realisation that they are trapped with a murderer on the prowl.

Under Ground is superb psychological thriller written by the writing duo of Louis Greenberg and Sarah Lotz and centers around a disparate group of characters as they take refuge inside The Sanctum. It soon becomes apparent that The Sanctum is hardly the haven the brochures promised. Their doomsday hideaway turns into a living nightmare when a body is discovered. Not only does it mean that there’s a killer on the loose, but the residents are trapped inside the bunker with no way out.

As the situation spirals out of control everyone becomes a suspect. The claustrophobic environment, constant fear and uncertainty take their toll on the characters. When the veneer of civilization falls apart desperation can lead people to do terrible things. There are no monsters here, only men, but as we all know mankind is the most ruthless monster of them all.

The large cast of characters are captivating, a microcosm of our society crammed into the confines of The Sanctum, each offering their own secrets and motivations to discover. While some characters ran the danger of becoming stereotypes (the religious zealot hillbillies, the Asian gamer) they were still engaging and perhaps, on a deeper level, a very deliberate commentary on our current society. The first person narrative helps to get the reader into the mind of each character and with very little exposition allows the world and events to unfold in a seamless way.

Being a murder mystery, S.L. Grey manages to deftly weave an ocean’s worth of red herrings into the narrative. Just when you think you’ve finally figured out who the killer is something happens to disabuse you of that notion. It’s only at the very end, when the identity of the murderer is finally revealed, that you discover it’s the very last person you’d ever suspect.

Where Under Ground truly shines is in the unexpected open-ended finale. I was completely blown away by the ending. While some people might not find it very satisfying I loved the fact that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. A second life indeed!

The Verdict:
Under Ground is a fast-paced psychological thriller that will keep you trapped in its claustrophobic grip from the very first page of the spine-chilling prologue until the stunning, open-ended finale. If you are looking for a murder mystery with a post-apocalyptic twist, then look no further. Highly recommended!

The Rating: 7/10 (Very Good)

Thanks to Eileen from Pan Macmillan S.A. for providing the review copy.

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