Category Archives: Books

Charlie Sharp

Charlie Fox series by Zoe Sharp

ZoeSharp

Psychically damaged by a horrendous episode when she was in the British army, an incident that led to estrangement from her parents, Charlie Fox is a biker chick whose conscience restrains her from using her potentially deadly hand-to-hand combat skills.
The first book starts with an endorsement from Lee Child.
Zoe has written of her fondness for Dick Francis and it shows in the first person action and good pacing.
The first few books are set in England and Europe, the later books move to America. At first Charlie is thrown into difficult situations, her army background helps her out. Later she becomes a bodyguard and is involved in a long term relationship.

If you like thrillers, you should enjoy the 10 novels.

The Books:

  1. Killer Instinct
  2. Riot Act
  3. Hard Knocks
  4. First Drop
  5. Road Kill
  6. Second Shot
  7. Third Strike
  8. Fourth Day
  9. Fifth Victim
  10. Die Easy

 

Quantum Night

Quantum Night
by Robert J Sawyer (2016)

Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from twenty years previously—a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

There are a lot of things wrong with this book. The first thing the author does is throw out the notion of free will and put everyone in categories.

It’s just the opposite  of Zootopia !

It you want to hear all the problems with the book, listen the Luke Burrage’s TWO HOUR rant about the book in issue  #302 of his Science Fiction Book Review Podcast.

Sky Birds

All the Birds in the Sky
by Charlie Jane Anders

Anders, Charlie Jane_All the Birds in the Sky

This is the Sword and Laser Pick for March 2016.

From the editor-in-chief of io9.com.

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

It starts off OK, the story implies an interesting combination of magic and science to come. Once the two main characters become adults and live in the same city things come apart. All the magical realism and science in the first part of the story evaporates. By halfway through it all descends into some kind of boring romance. All the interesting stuff is gone. Hopefully the story will pick up and become interesting. But after a few chapters of the characters love life I lost interest and gave up.

(1/5)

 

Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles
by
Marissa Meyer

Lunar

#1 Cinder
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

#2 Scarlet
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

#3 Cress
Having risked everything to warn Cinder of Queen Levana’s evil plan, Cress has a slight problem. She’s been imprisoned on a satellite since childhood and has only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress a great hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

#4 Winter
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

A science fiction re-telling of the Cinderella story. The first three books are fun and full of adventure. Unfortunately the final book is over 200,000 words and just too long with too many characters and plot lines. Recommended, but be ready for a slog through the final book.

 

 

Flashman

 

Flashman

Flash for Freedom (1971)
Flashman at the Charge (1973)
Flashman in the Great Game (1975)
Flashman and the Redskins (1982)
Flashman and the Dragon (1985)
Flashman and the Mountain of Light (1990)
Flashman on the March (2005)

The Flashman series illustrates the benefits and drawbacks of first person narration. Flashman is a fiction character, born as the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays he goes on to enter the military and travel the world having unlikely adventures from India to American and Afrrica. He is the unreliable narrator, full of himself, arrogant and unreliable but thanks to luck and others manages to get out of every problem he falls into.
The first few books are great, fast paced adventures that always get you wondering what will happen next. Then, around book four or five the internal monologues take over. Instead of plot advancement, they drag everything down. Explaining everything too much, going on for pages and just being generally boring.

Read the first three books.

Martha

Dan Abnett –  Dr Who: The Story of Martha (2010)

 

Abnett_Martha_

This novel only makes sense after seeing the end of the third season (2007) of the new Doctor Who. It fills in the tale of Martha’s year long wandering around the world telling people about the Doctor and his wonderful stories. The story brings you to the beginning of the episode the Last of the Time Lords.
The book is actually a series of short stories written in a collaboration and strung together to create a complete novel. Because of this, it’s not as good as a book wholly written by Dan Abnett, who is one of my favorite modern writers.

The best thing about the book is that it fills in the big question of what happens to Martha.

Desmond Bagley

Flyaway (1978) & Bahama Crisis (1980)

Bagley

 

As a teenager, I went from Enid Blyton to the thriller writers of the era – Hammond Innes, Wilbur Smith, Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley. Re-reading these books as an adult reveals that I still enjoy the stories. The writing is tight and the plot moves with a good pace. Overall the story is structured to ramp up in intensity to a single final climax. Modern writers try to do lots of action/violence throughout the story. But these books are still good reads, thirty years after initial publication.

http://www.desmondbagley.co.uk/

 

Kaiju

Jeremy Robinson’s Kaiju Series

I came across the first book in this series via the Storybook Bundle.
This is the story of giant monsters (Kaiju) that emerge from Earth’s history and reign havoc across the globe. After the first book, more emerge and the real battle begins. Told in first person from the point of view of John Hudson, these combine horror, adventure and science fiction in an enjoyable and thrilling ride.

For me, the visuals were provided from the film ‘Pacific Rim’ (2013)

Project_nemesis_poster_by_kaijusamurai-d5w90j4

(From Wikipedia)
Kaijū (from Japanese “strange beast”) is a film genre that features monsters, usually attacking a major Japanese city or engaging other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu (special effects-based) entertainment.

Related terms include kaijū eiga (monster movie), a film featuring giant monsters or a single monster; kaijin (referring to roughly humanoid monsters); and daikaiju (giant kaiju), specifically meaning the larger variety of monsters.

Godzilla is an example of a daikaiju; others include Gamera, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla and Daimajin. The term ultra-kaiju is longhand for kaiju in the Ultra Series.

Toho has produced a variety of Kaiju films over the years (many that featured Godzilla and Mothra) but other Japanese studios contributed to expanding the genre in Japan by producing Kaiju films and shows of their own, studios including Daiei Film Co., Ltd., Kadokawa Pictures, Tsuburaya Productions, Shochiku, and Nikkatsu studios.

  1. Project Nemesis (Kaiju #1)

Jon Hudson, lead investigator for the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center-P, thinks his job is a joke. While other Fusion Centers focus on thwarting terrorist activity, Hudson’s division is tasked with handling paranormal threats to national security, of which there have been zero during his years at the DHS. When yet another Sasquatch sighting leads to a research facility disguised as an abandoned Nike missile site in the back woods of Maine, Hudson’s job becomes deadly serious.

Hudson and the local Sherriff, Ashley Collins, suddenly find themselves on the run from a ruthless ex-Special Forces security team, but the human threat is short-lived as something very much not-human destroys the facility and heads for civilization, leaving only a single clue behind–a name scrawled in blood: Nemesis. Working with his team at Fusion Center-P, Sherriff Collins and a surly helicopter pilot named Woodstock, Hudson pursues the creature known as Nemesis, attempts to uncover the corporate secrets behind its creation and accidental release and tries to comprehend why several clues lead to a murdered little girl named Maigo.
But as the body-count explodes, along with the monster’s size, it quickly becomes clear that nothing short of a full military response can slow Nemesis’s progress. Coordinating with every branch of the U.S. military, Hudson simultaneously searches for clues about Nemesis’s origins and motivations, and leads the counterattack that will hopefully stop the monster before it reaches Boston and its one million residents.

2. Project Maigo (Kaiju #2)

Jon Hudson, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center – Paranormal division, is haunted by Nemesis, a three-hundred-foot tall monster. Hudson has helped prepare the United States against future attacks. But no one is prepared for what rises from the depths.

3. Project 731 (Kaiju #3)

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In the wake of a Kaiju assault that leaves cities in ruins, Jon Hudson, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center – Paranormal, is preparing his team for an uncertain future. While hiding Lilly, a chimera cat-girl rescued from Island 731 a black ops organization within DARPA, Hudson attempts to raise an orphaned girl. But the two strange girls can’t be protected from what comes next.

4. Raising the Past (Origins #2)

At the end of the previous book, the author mentions that this is the origins storyfor the next episode, so I read this next.
A mammoth, flash frozen in solid ice 10,000 years ago is brought to the surface by a team of scientists.
An act of sabotage frees the giant from its icy tomb and reveals the secret held inside. The body of an ancient woman, cloaked in furs, slides out of the mammoth’s belly. But it is not the woman that holds the team’s attention…it is the object she is clutching…a device created by an advanced civilization. THE HUNT IS ON. . . The device is accidentally activated, summoning forces who seek its destruction. It is the key to mankind’s salvation and freedom from the men behind the curtain, pulling the strings and leading humanity towards destruction.

5. Project Hyperion (Kaiju #4)

Back to the main story arc.
Jon Hudson has become more than just the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center–Paranormal. He is now a husband and a father, surrounded by a team who have become a family. So when a series of strange new threats rise from the depths and fall from the sky, the stakes are higher than ever.

6. Island 731 (Kaiju 0)
Next comes the prequel to the series, where it all began.

Mark Hawkins, former park ranger and expert tracker, is out of his element, working on board the Magellan, a research vessel studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But his work is interrupted when, surrounded by thirty miles of refuse, the ship and its high tech systems are plagued by a series of strange malfunctions and the crew is battered by a raging storm.

When the storm fades and the sun rises, the beaten crew awakens to find themselves anchored in the protective cove of a tropical island… and no one knows how they got there. Even worse, the ship has been sabotaged, two crewman are dead and a third is missing. Hawkins spots signs of the missing man on shore and leads a small team to bring him back. But they quickly discover evidence of a brutal history left behind by the Island’s former occupants.

Destiny Trilogy

Star Trek: Destiny Trilogy by David Mack

Destiny

1. Gods of Night
Half a decade after the Dominion War and more than a year after the rise and fall of Praetor Shinzon, the galaxy’s greatest scourge returns to wreak havoc upon the Federation — and this time its goal is nothing less than total annihilation. Elsewhere, deep in the Gamma Quadrant, an ancient mystery is solved. One of Earth’s first generation of starships, lost for centuries, has been found dead and empty on a desolate planet. But its discovery so far from home has raised disturbing questions, and the answers harken back to a struggle for survival that once tested a captain and her crew to the limits of their humanity.
From that terrifying flashpoint begins an apocalyptic odyssey that will reach across time and space to reveal the past, define the future, and show three captains — Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise, TM William Riker of the U.S.S. Titan, and Ezri Dax of the U.S.S Aventine — that some destinies are inescapable.

2. Mere Mortals
On Earth, Federation President Nanietta Bacco gathers allies and adversaries to form a desperate last line of defense against an impending Borg invasion. In deep space, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Captain Ezri Dax join together to cut off the Collective’s route to the Alpha Quadrant. Half a galaxy away, Captain William Riker and the crew of the Starship Titan have made contact with the reclusive Caeliar — survivors of a stellar cataclysm that, two hundred years ago, drove fissures through the structure of space and time, creating a loop of inevitability and consigning another captain and crew to a purgatory from which they could never escape. Now the supremely advanced Caeliar will brook no further intrusion upon their isolation, or against the sanctity of their Great Work….For the small, finite lives of mere mortals carry little weight in the calculations of gods. But even gods may come to understand that they underestimate humans at their peril.

3. Lost Souls
The soldiers of Armageddon are on the march, laying waste to worlds in their passage. An audacious plan could stop them forever, but it carries risks that one starship captain is unwilling to take. For Captain Jean-Luc Picard, defending the future has never been so important, or so personal — and the wrong choice will cost him everything for which he has struggled and suffered. For Captain William Riker, that choice has already been made. Haunted by the memories of those he was forced to leave behind, he must jeopardize all that he has left in a desperate bid to save the Federation. For Captain Ezri Dax, whose impetuous youth is balance by the wisdom of many lifetimes, the choice is a simple one: there is no going back — only forward to whatever future awaits them.But for those who, millennia ago, had no choice…this is the hour of their final, inescapable destiny.

Review
This is the best series of Star Trek books I have read. It’s a big, sweeping story across time and space that manages to get some real drama and tension. The only downside is the number of characters involved. Sometimes each minor character gets a bit of back-story before being involved in the action.
Otherwise a great read. Recommended.

Christie Crime Collection

Mistress of Mystery Course reading list

The and Crimes of Christie by Charles Osborne

Agatha Christie: the woman and her mysteries by Gillian Gill

Reflecting on Miss Marple by Marion Shaw and Sabine Vanacker.

Witness for the Prosecution and Selected Plays by Agatha Christie

The Hound of death by Agatha Christie

Giants bread by Mary Westmacott

From Agatha Christie to Ruth :British women writers in detective and crime fiction by Susan Rowland

Who Killed Roger Ackroyd ? the mystery behind the Agatha Christie mystery by Pierre Bayard; translated by Carol Cosman

Agatha Christie: first lady of crime edited by H. R. F. Keating

The Edwardian Detective 1901 -1915 by Joseph A. Kestner

Feminism in women’s detective fiction edited by Glenwood Irons

Foul & fair play :reading genre in classic detective fiction by Marty Roth.

Great women mystery writers :classic to contemporary edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein

Come tell me how you live by Agatha Christie

The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Agatha Christie An Autobiography