Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cover Reveal: Steel Frame

Just look at this stunning cover for Steel Frame the debut novel from South African writer Andrew Skinner with cover art by Gemma Sheldrake. If that helmet is done in foil I'm absolutely sold*. Heck I was sold at "giant-robot battles". Slated for release this August from Solaris, this looks like it's going to be a blast!

* I have been informed that there is indeed foil involved and that the back cover looks awesome too!


STEEL FRAME by Andrew Skinner
ISBN: 9781781087053
Release date: 22 August 2019

Epic tale of giant-robot battles, built around a personal story of redemption and healing.
FLY HARD

Rook is a jockey, a soldier trained and modified to fly ‘shells,’ huge robots that fight for the outer regions of settled space. When her shell is destroyed and her squad killed, Rook is imprisoned, left stranded, scarred and broken. Hollow and helpless without her steel frame, she’s ready to call it quits.

When her cohort of prisoners are sold into indenture to NorCol, a vast frontier corporation, Rook’s given another shell – a near-decrepit Juno, as broken as she is and decades older – and sent to a rusting bucket of a ship on the end of known space to patrol something called “the Eye,” a strange, unnerving permanent storm in space.

But they’re not alone.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Reading Rush 2019

This past week I took part in my first ever Reading Rush (previously Booktubeathon). For those not familiar with Reading Rush it's an annual readathon which lasts 7 days and has some fun challenges you can try to do.

Since I would be working the entire week I opted to read a book which would be able to meet the requirements for the most number of challenges. The book I picked was The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin which fulfilled 4 of the challenges. I made the mistake of using "curled up in bed" as my reading spot which resulted in me falling asleep after hectic days at work with barely anything read.

After The Left Hand of Darkness I picked up Dodger by Terry Pratchett. This was a much faster read and by Saturday I moved on to Stephen King's novella, 1922. I watched the Netflix adaptation of 1922 and was absolutely blown away with it. It's one of the best movie adaptations of King's work I've seen in a long time and captures the tone and psychological horror of the story perfectly.


In the end I managed to read a total of 792 pages, finished 2 books and 1 novella and completed 6 of the challenges. Not bad, but not great either.

It was fun, but I realised that a full-time job and readathons don't quite mix...

Did you participate in Reading Rush? How did you fare?

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Review: The Shadows of the Apt Series


Fantasy novels can start to feel the same after a while - medieval setting, sword fights, magic, war and political intrigue.. Been there done that. So when something different comes along you have to sit up and take notice. Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series manages to bring a unique edge to the genre and deserves far more acclaim than it receives. Imagine the party dynamics of The Wheel of Time, mix in the political intrigue of A Song of Ice and Fire and add that to a world peopled with kinden, a blend of human and insect which imbues them with special traits and abilities, and you have the makings of something truly special.

The world Tchaikovsky has created draws you in from the start and once it has sunk its claws into you it keeps getting more intricate and compelling with each turn of the page. Fantasy fans know that the quality and scope of a fantasy series is directly proportional to the amount of maps it has. The Shadows of the Apt starts out with a single map and by the end the world has expanded so far beyond the boundaries that it requires not two, not three, but four pages of maps with whole regions still left uncharted.

'By believing yourself a hero all your actions become heroic, no matter what they are.' (War Master's Gate, p 489)

The series starts out focused on a small band of friends as they struggle to fight against agents of an encroaching war. With each book the scope and cast of characters expands revealing new facets to a world of  dazzling brilliance and intricacy. Even tangential characters become pivotal as the story unfolds. The series truly has it all: brilliantly dynamic sword duels where you can feel the blood and sweat splatter off of the combatants, large battlefield confrontations with war machines and clashing armies, aerial dogfights and magical battles of the mind. It sets the machinery of Empire against personal freedoms, loyalty against betrayal, progress against tradition, and the powers of artifice against arcane arts. A poignant reminder of the toll of war, the cost of freedom and the inevitable march of progress for good and bad.

'Like all your Apt things... it makes your lives easier and more comfortable, and at the same time it robs you of something of worth that you do not know enough to miss.' (Seal of the Worm, p 444)

The Shadows of the Apt series takes you on a fantastical journey filled with a compelling cast of characters that burrow into your heart and will have you frantically devouring book after book hoping for their continued survival and ultimate redemption. The last book, Seal of the Worm brings the series to an aptly satisfying close. I'm still basking in the afterglow of an amazing story brilliantly told.

Shadows of the Apt deserves to be listed right alongside the great fantasy series of our time. It has better fight scenes than the The Wheel of Time, political intrigue to rival A Song of Ice and Fire, no boring filler to slog through and best of all the series is complete. Plus it has way more insects than any of those!

If the thought of committing to a ten book series seems too daunting you can just read the first four novels, Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling, Blood of the Mantis and Salute the Dark as they act as a self-contained story arc with a satisfying ending.

The Verdict:
If you are looking for a fantasy series with something different then the Shadows of the Apt is just the thing. Tchaikovsky manages to add a unique spin to familiar fantasy tropes with a world that blurs the lines of what we've come to expect from fantasy. It has a little bit of everything, the sheer scope of everything at play is just mind-blowing. A worthy addition to the ranks of the great fantasy series of our time. Up there with The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire. This deserves to be read!

The Rating: 9/10 (Excellent)

Star Trek: Picard Trailer

The newest trailer for the Picard series on Amazon Prime is a thing of sublime beauty. Can't we just skip to 2020 already?


And Seven of Nine is back too. Sold!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

New Arrivals: Huge Book Haul Edition

The problem with Winter is that it gets dark way too early. By the time I get back from work it's already dark outside making my already gloomy apartment even less suitable for taking photos of all the bookish goodness. I've been meaning to post some pictures of the latest book arrivals, but kept on postponing it in hopes of having better lighting for better photos. That was two months ago, so I guess it's time to bite the bullet and just post what I have.

Purchases

I seem to have caught the comic book bug badly. I'm slowly amassing quite a collection of collected editions. First up I picked up Superman Rebirth Book 4 which ends the Tomasi and Gleason run on Superman. I also got the Batman by Grant Morrison Volume Two which I need for some more backstory on Damian. Once Volume 3 is out I can finally read the Batman and Robin Omnibus and then I can move onto the Supersons omnibus where this whole mad adventure got started.


I've been dying to read Die ever since I read the synopsis of the first issue. Think Jumanji mixed with DnD. It feels like an age, but the first trade is finally out and I can't wait to dive in. I did pick up some novels in the form of Gareth L. Powell's Fleet of Knives and Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Hyena and the Hawk. Both of these are part of series I want to get into.


For Review

The folks at Jonathan Ball Publishers have been extremely kind and have overloaded me with review copies. I'm not quite sure where to start.


New Suns edited by Nisi Shawl, The Redemption of Time by Baoshu, Hateful Things by Terry Goodkind, 


While not my usual fare, The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger and This Life: Why Mortality makes us Free sounds extremely interesting. And then there's the absolutely beautiful The Mysterious Mansion by Daria Song. An activity book that will keep you busy for hours.


Then there's some gothic horror in the from of Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver, fantasy in Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard and science fiction in Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky.


Last, but certainly not least Pan Macmillan South Africa sent me a copy of my most anticipated read of the year Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Ruin. This will most definitely be my next read, I can't wait to go on this adventure!


As an aside: Is it purely a coincidence that a treasure trove of Tchaikovsky's work has arrived or has fate noticed that I'm almost done with his Shadows of the Apt series and in need of more? I'm definitely not complaining...


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