Wednesday, June 1, 2022

X-Wing Assembled!

I've always wanted to try my hand at building some model kits. Aside from some Star Wars papercraft this was something I've never ever tried before. Not even as a kid (well at least not that I can remember). As luck would have it I managed to pick up a Revell Star Wars Advent Calendar X-Wing Fighter model kit for a great price in March. It was my birthday month so I decided to spoil myself.


 Little did I know what I was letting me in for. There were so many pieces. So, so many.

And then I made the worst decision in my life. Deciding to do the optional painting. I had to teach myself how to work with acrylic paint and the learning curve was quite steep. Painting all the pieces with an unsteady hand took lots of coats. I think the main fuselage took at least 5 coats. Which took about a week to complete.

Then it came time to assemble everything. Here I struggled quite a bit. The pilot didn't quite fit into the cockpit and getting the chair to fit required some filing. In the end I manged to get it done, but it really shouldn't have been that hard.

The final product looked almost good enough...


 And then came to final touch - weathering. I think I went a bit overboard, but I quite like the result.

Was it frustrating to put together? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes! I'm now the proud owner of a X-Wing starfighter assembled by my very own hands... even if it took me a week.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Review: Giving The Devil His Due

Title: Giving The Devil His Due
Edited by Rebecca Brewer
Pages: 290
ISBN: 9781947041905
Publisher: Running Wild Press
Published: 1 September 2021
Genre: Short stories / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher

What if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from battering her mother ever again? What if a student had a secret weapon to end sexual assault by her predatory professor permanently? What if a housewife had unusual means to get back at her controlling husband and walk away from her marriage alive?

In Giving the Devil His Due, The Pixel Project’s first charity anthology, sixteen acclaimed fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways.

(Cover art by Emir Orucevic)

Stories are powerful things. They shape how we experience and view our world, shining light on monsters real and imagined and giving hope that those monster can be slain. Giving The Devil His Due is a short story anthology filled with unsettling, powerful and thought-provoking stories which deal with abuse in all its varied forms.

Stories included in the anthology:

  • Hell on the Homefront Too • Stephen Graham Jones - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Steering Wheel Club • Kaaron Warren - ⭐⭐⭐
  • Sweet Justice • Kenesha Williams - ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Moon Goddess’s Granddaughter • Lee Murray - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Kindly Sea • Dana Cameron - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Just Us League • Angela Yuriko Smith - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • American Murder • Peter Tieryas - ⭐⭐
  • As We Stand and Pray • Jason Sanford - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Finding Water to Catch Fire • Linda D. Addison - ⭐⭐⭐
  • Escape from Pleasant Point • Leanna Renee Hieber - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Daughter of Echidna • Nicholas Kaufmann - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Devil’s Pocket Change • Hillary Monahan - ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Tawny Bitch • Nisi Shawl - ⭐⭐⭐
  • Happy Birthday Baby • Kelley Armstrong - ⭐⭐⭐
  • Devil’s Hollow • Errick Nunnally - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Little Thing • Christina Henry - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Giving The Devil His Due edited by Rebecca Brewer brings together stories from some of the top names in speculative fiction. The sixteen stories collected here hit hard and will give you a new perspective on the abuse and violence so many women worldwide have to endure on a daily basis.

"Too ashamed to show her the battleground of your body with its legacy of bruises, you went home." (p 43)

I enjoyed all the stories on offer here, but three stories really stood out to me. Hell on the Homefront Too by Stephen Graham Jones: Short, brutal and powerful. The perfect opening to the anthology which sets the scene for all the stories to come.
The Moon Goddess’s Granddaughter by Lee Murray: A slower, more melancholy story about the loss of freedom and the struggle to recapture lost dreams and break the shackles of an abusive relationship. Memorable and touching in the extreme. 
The Little Thing by Christina Henry: Vengeance comes in the most unexpected of forms. A very, very satisfying ending to both the story and the anthology.

In an unjust world justice has many incarnations. Some more wrathful than others...

Giving the Devil His Due shines a powerful spotlight on a topic which is so often ignored and does so in a powerful, impactful way. If you are looking for some great stories while supporting a great cause then look no further. Highly recommended!

100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women programs, campaigns, and resources.

The Rating: 8/10 (Great!)

Monday, April 18, 2022

On My Radar: Giving the Devil His Due

April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To raise awareness towards the worldwide struggle to stop violence against women The Pixel Project in collaboration with Running Wild Press have released their first charity anthology - Giving the Devil His Due.  

Giving The Devil His Due will be available on all major bookseller platforms in the United States and its territories, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand from September 1st, 2021 to October 31st, 2023 only. 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women programs, campaigns, and resources.


Giving The Devil His Due edited by Rebecca Brewer

 ISBN: 9781947041899 (Purchase from Amazon / Kobo / Book Depository)

What if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from battering her mother ever again?

What if a student had a secret weapon to end sexual assault by her predatory professor permanently?

What if a housewife had unusual means to get back at her controlling husband and walk away from her marriage alive?

In Giving the Devil His Due, The Pixel Project’s first charity anthology, sixteen acclaimed fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways.

Featuring stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Christina Henry, Peter Tieryas, Kelley Armstrong, Linda D. Addison, Hillary Monahan, and more, Giving the Devil His Due presents sixteen stories that will make you think about the importance of justice for the victims of gender-based violence, how rare this justice is in our own world, and why we need to end violence against women once and for all.

(Cover art by Emir Orucevic)

Stories included:

  • Hell on the Homefront Too • Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Steering Wheel Club • Kaaron Warren
  • Sweet Justice • Kenesha Williams
  • The Moon Goddess’s Granddaughter • Lee Murray
  • The Kindly Sea • Dana Cameron
  • Just Us League • Angela Yuriko Smith
  • American Murder • Peter Tieryas
  • As We Stand and Pray • Jason Sanford
  • Finding Water to Catch Fire • Linda D. Addison
  • Escape from Pleasant Point • Leanna Renee Hieber
  • Daughter of Echidna • Nicholas Kaufmann
  • The Devil’s Pocket Change • Hillary Monahan
  • The Tawny Bitch • Nisi Shawl
  • Happy Birthday Baby • Kelley Armstrong
  • Devil’s Hollow • Errick Nunnally
  • The Little Thing • Christina Henry

Now is the perfect time to get your hands on some fascinating speculative fiction stories and support a great cause too!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Science Fiction Invaders 1st Quarter Leaderboard

Image for the Science Fiction Invaders Leaderboard

The first quarter of the year has come and gone. So many books, so little time.

It's time to announce the Science Fiction Invaders reading challenge leaderboard for the first quarter. Some participants have really blown through the challenges and are nearly done with all the yearly challenges already and on the brink of leveling up.

  • Bflobookgeek - 115,500
  • Carter - 98,000
  • KJ Mulder (Worlds In Ink) - 84,500
  • Angela (LitSciAlliance) - 81,000
  • Jayelsea - 63,000
  • AccipiterF1- 44,000
  • Eveemilie - 37,000
  • Laura S - 12,000
  • Tawallah - 6,000 

I'm really impressed with everyone's scores and astounded that some are almost done already. Never underestimate a book geek when it comes to a reading challenge. Thank you to everyone participating, you have made this reading challenge more fun than I could ever imagine.

If you want to join in on the battle to save the galaxy all the information about the Science Fiction Invaders reading challenge can be found here. It's a yearlong challenge so there's still plenty of time to join us in kicking some alien ass (that's if aliens have asses)!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Double your shelf space - build a carboard shelf riser!

Want to double your shelf space with minimal effort? Then building a shelf riser might be just the thing for you.

Over the weekend I found myself with an overabundance of cardboard boxes (don't ask!) and while procrastinating I decided to try my hand at building some cardboard shelf risers for one of my bookcases.

I found two cardboard boxes used for fruit packaging which turned out to be very sturdy and almost the perfect height (10cm) I needed. Sadly the length is just 20cm shy of the actual width of my shelves, but I can live with that and the extra space should allow room for larger/odd sized books.  

I very carefully cut the box into two halves of about 19cm wide. I then found another box with the same height to use as structural support for the middle of the riser to prevent any sagging.

I repeated the process with the other 2 boxes and in less than an hour I had bookshelf risers for my entire bookcase.

The smaller box just slides underneath the shelf riser and provides more than enough support.

You could glue them together, but I prefer to have them separate in order for easy adjustments to be done.

With matching widths they fit perfectly together and provide a very sturdy structure to support the weight of the books.

I placed some white A4 paper sheets on top of the riser to provide some protection for the books. If you are feeling particularly crafty you could paint the riser or cover it with some cloth material. Since the riser won't be visible when you put books on the shelves I decided to save myself the trouble and leave them as is.

The final result looks pretty good even if I say so myself. You can use the shelf riser to have a double row of books on each shelf with all the titles being visible. Depending on the depth and height of your bookcase you might be able to accommodate hardcovers on both, but this works best for paperbacks as the added height of the riser might not leave enough room for shelving hardcovers on the riser.

I'm not very handy, but with very little effort I managed to double my bookshelf space and I'm quite impressed with the result. If you have some extra cardboard boxes and a bit of time I definitely suggest you give this a try. Best of all it was completely free!

Monday, March 21, 2022

A Tiny Birthday Book Haul

For my birthday I decided to spoil myself with a teeny tiny book haul. Totaling just three books, this might be my smallest book haul ever.





Sunday, February 27, 2022

Review: The Deathworld Omnibus by Harry Harrison

Book cover for The Deathworld Omnibus
Title: The Deathworld Omnibus
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: Deathworld #1-3
Pages: 512
ISBN: 9781473228375
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: March 1960
Genre: Science Fiction / Space Opera
Source: Purchased

The planet was called Pyrrus, a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man.

The settlers there were supermen, twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder.

It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man's brief habitation.

This omnibus contains all three novels in the Deathworld.

If you thought the Deathworld trilogy by Harry Harrison is a pulpy space western you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Take away the technology, the spaceships and the alien worlds and you have the makings of a pretty standard western filled with gambling, gunslinging and high-stakes adventure.

Transporting the familiar into a science fiction setting allows Harry Harrison to explore some much deeper issues while offering a fun, adventure filled read at surface level. Delving deeper you discover that Deathworld, Deathworld 2 and Deathworld 3 (you have to love those titles!) provides some serious food for thought. Deathworld deals with ecology and the constant struggle between humanity and the environment, Deathworld 2 delves into morality and ethics and Deathworld 3 takes a hard look at colonialism and subsummation of other cultures.

For something written in the sixties Deathworld holds up very well, and unlike other novels from the same period it’s refreshing to see female characters treated as equal or even superior to their male counterparts. The first book, Deathworld, is by far the most enjoyable tale included in the omnibus, with Deathworld 2 and Deathworld 3 only tangentially related to the first one. If you are looking for a fun adventure with some deeper meaning, then the Deathworld series might be worth looking into, even if it’s just for some analog tech nostalgia.

The Rating: 6.5/10 (Good)

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Opening Lines: The Deathworld Omnibus

Some novels have the ability to draw you in from the start. A single line or paragraph can grab your attention in such a way that the novel just demands to be read. Opening Lines is a feature where I'll share some of the best opening lines that hooked me.

With a gentle sigh the service tube dropped a message capsule into the receiving cup. The attention bell chimed once and was silent. Jason dinAlt stared at the harmless capsule as though it were a ticking bomb.

The Deathworld Omnibus

The Deathworld Omnibus by Harry Harrison

The planet was called Pyrrus, a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man. 

The settlers there were supermen, twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder. It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man's brief habitation. 

This omnibus contains all three novels in the Deathworld trilogy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Science Fiction Invaders Book Tag

Any respectable reading challenge should have a book tag to go along with it. Introducing the Science Fiction Invaders Book Tag. Seven questions to get to know fellow science fiction fans and to bare your sci-fi soul to all. (If this is a total flop. Procrastination made me do it!)

1. Blast off:
Which book got you interested in or hooked you on science fiction?

Despite how problematic the author has become Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card was my gateway into science fiction. It's the one book I can still vividly remember reading as a teen and being blown away by the story. It inspired me to search out more stories like it, and I subsequently read the entire SFF section available in my small town library. Multiple times. 

2. Engage targeting systems:
What type of science fiction do you enjoy the most? Any specific tropes or sub-genre that makes something a must-read?

I've always been a huge fan of space opera. Give me galactic intrigue, huge spaceships and devastatingly powerful weapons and I'm as happy as can be.

3. Prime weapon systems:
What’s your favourite science fiction book series?

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey is amazing, The Culture series by Iain M. Banks (which I still haven't had the heart to finish), Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds and The Polity novels by Neal Asher. I can't pick just one. They are all so good.

4. Disengage safeties:
What would you like to see more of in the genre?

More books focused on space exploration and encountering something alien and new. Something where we push our frontiers ever forward and outward just to see what wonders await. 

5. Weapons free:
What’s your favourite adaptation of a science fiction work?

The Expanse TV show has to be on the top of my list. I haven't watched the later series yet, but once I spotted the plumes from Enceladus in the intro, I knew we were in for something good.

6. Torpedoes away:
Share an unpopular opinion you have, which other sci-fi fans might judge you for.

Dune isn't that great. There, I said it.

7. Victory:
What’s the one sci-fi book you always recommend to someone? Why?

Another tough question. At the moment it has to be Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky has this ability to bring non-human intelligences to vibrant life on the page.

***

I challenge you, yes YOU, to complete the tag in any format you like and to tag two other science fiction lovers in your life to do the same! Share in the fun, and get to know a little bit more about each other.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

2022 Reading and Blogging Goals

A stack of books

2021 has been a YEAR, another trying year with loads of challenges and difficult circumstances to overcome. Thankfully it's over and a new year filled with hope and lots of books beckons.

I kept my goals for last year pretty simple and overall I did pretty well,

Read a total of 45 books: Success! I exceeded this by quite a bit and ended up reading a total of 70 books.

Read at least 20 books I already own: Success! I read 15 books I already owned and 34 of the new books I purchased during the year (which count as owned.)

Buy fewer books & read books within 12 months of buying them: Fail. I purchased a total of 198 books and read only 34 of them.

Start doing quick reviews: Fail. I still haven't managed to do this.

2022 Goals

For 2022 I'm keeping it simple once again.

Read 50 books:
I'm upping the total slightly from my normal 45 books. 50 just seems to be a nice round number.

Read at least 20 books I already own:
Still chipping away at Mount TBR one small chunk at a time.

Host the Science Fiction Invaders reading challenge
I want to successfully launch and host the Science Fiction Invaders reading challenge.This is a fun science fiction themed reading challenge I came up with late one night. Read books. Earn points. Kick invader ass!

I'm hoping this will be a success and that lots of people actually participate, otherwise I'll look rather foolish. I even made a Youtube promo video for it!

And that's basically it. Hopefully this will be a great reading year.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Best Reads of 2021

Best reads of the year. Cover image featuring line of books

Another year has come and gone. 2021 was a very tough year, in so many ways. I'm thankful to see it end. I managed to read 70 books, finishing the last book of the year with just 10 minutes to spare. There were some great reads this year, with just a few that didn't quite work for me.

Here, in no particular order are my best reads of 2021. I could have made a list consisting exclusively of Adrian Tchaikovsky's work, but forced myself to limit it to only two.

Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Cover for Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Survivor Song is not a zombie novel. Not in the traditional sense. Paul Tremblay takes the traditional zombie and transforms it into terrifying reality. A story of a personal horror told exceptionally well. Tremblay manages to turn even a blank page into a devastating blow straight to the heart. A truly heart-wrenching read. This unconventional horror at its best.

Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Cover for Dogs of War

Adrian Tchaikovsky once again shifts the boundaries of possibility of non-human intelligence. Dogs of War is larger in scope and far more nuanced than it first appears. To say it's a mind-bending read would be wholly inadequate. Rex is not just a Good Dog. He is the Best Dog!

Shards of Earth by by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Cover for Shards of Earth

A brand new space opera universe to explore together with the best type of found family. Tchaikovsky has outdone himself once again. I can’t quite decide if I like Shards of Earth more than Children of Time (both, I love both!), but if this is how things start out I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the trilogy. Highly recommended!

Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey

Cover for Leviathan Falls

A bittersweet farewell. Leviathan Falls brings the most epic of space operas to a fitting close. The ending is unexpectedly poignant. It will tear your heart to shreds while still offering a pinprick of hope. This is as satisfying an ending as anyone could have hoped for. It’s been one hell of a ride and worth every moment!

You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

Cover for You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

I didn't think I'd enjoy this as much as I did. All the story elements brought together here shouldn't work so well together, but somehow they do. You Sexy Thing is an immensely fun read. If you are looking for an unusual space opera with surprising emotional depth hidden in it’s cozy exterior then look no further.

* * *

Hopefully 2022 will bring some more amazing reads. Happy reading!