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Nimbus, the third and final book in my Psi-Tech trilogy is out now from DAW. I can't believe I waited ten whole days to post it here. I've been busy doing the kind of things that you do when a new book comes out - writing guest blog posts, doing interviews for web sites and generally trying to publicise it without being obnoxious and yelling BUY MY BOOK! (Even though that's what I mean.)

In actual fact what I should be doing is yelling BUY MY TRILOGY! because Empire of Dust, Crossways and Nimbus, are three sections of a continuous story.

But, hey, this isn't a hard sell. Buy it and read it if you like space opera, psionics, little guys fighting big corporations, space battles, personal conflicts, mysterious aliens and a touch or romance. If that's not your thing, then steer clear.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who read either Crossways or Nimbus as a first introduction to the Psi-Tech universe. I'm too close to it all to judge whether they can be read as standalones. I hope they can. I think any reader would quickly pick up what was going on.

Not read any of them yet?

Well...

In a galaxy where the megacorporations are more powerful that any individual government, and ambitious executives play fast and loose with ethics in order to secure resources from the colonies, where can good people turn for help? The megacorps control the jump-gates, using implant-enhanced telepaths, psi-techs. They have these psi-techs trapped with unbreakable contracts, lacking for nothing—except freedom.

But there are some free psi-techs who have escaped the megacorps. Reska (Ben) Benjamin and Cara Carlinni lead the Free Company, based on the rogue space-station, Crossways; and there are rumours of Sanctuary, a place that takes in runaway psi-techs and allows them to disappear quietly.

The megacorps have struck at Crossways once—and failed—so what are they planning now? Crossways can't stand alone, and neither can the independent colonies, though maybe together they have a chance.

But something alien and very, very dangerous is stirring in the depths of foldspace. Something bigger than the petty squabbles between megacorps and independents. Until now, humans have had a free hand in the Galaxy, settling colony after colony, but that might have to change now that the Nimbus is coming.

So there you have it. If you do read it, then I always appreciate honest reviews on Goodreads or your own blogs or websites, facebook or twitter. If anyone out there would like to host a blog post or an interview for me, you can contact me via my writing website.

Here's what I wrote over on my other blog at https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/happy-book-day-to-me-2/
 

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The original Blade Runner is so iconic that Blade Runner 2049 was marked on my calendar months ago, not least because Harrison Ford was reprising his role as Deckard. Ryan Gosling, plays Officer K, working for LAPD as a blade runner, and this time obviously a replicant himself. Replicants now are new models, designed to have no desire for independence and no tendency to rebellion.

Yeah, right! Slaves never want their freedom, do they?

The film's pacing is measured. There's a long build up and K lives a solitary lifestyle, accompanied only by Joi (Ana de Armas) a holographic AI with an independent personality.

When K 'retires' an old style replicant way outside of the dismal city, he discovers a long buried secret that eventually leads him to the maker of his implanted memories, and to an aged Rick Deckard, missing for thirty years.

Yes, Ford only appears in the latter section of the film, and to be fair, that's where all the interest lies. That's not to say Gosling isn't perfectly good as K. but Ford is a genuine scene stealer, a camera magnet, and finding him is all we've been waiting for. All I can say is, it was worth the wait.

We got a bittersweet ending. Is there enough of a loose end for a third movie? Maybe.


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I've been looking forward to the second Kingsman outing, not least because Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth) is back despite having 'died' in the first movie. Well, you can't keep a good Kingsman down. (That's not a spoiler, he's on the poster.) This time Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (the ultra-reliable Mark Strong, not playing a villain) end up in the USA with an organisation called Statesman when the Kingman organisation in the UK is effectively destroyed. The two organisations go after drug queen, Poppy, in the depth of the jungle, while she holds the world to ransome.

Harry's return to duty is well played.

There's plenty of action and violence, though much of the action is OTT and hardly credible, which makes it more comic-book and less credible, but still fun to watch (if you can call putting a man through a mincing machine fun).

I guess we'll have to wait until Kingsman 3 to find out whether a favourite character is really gone, this time.

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Judi Dench is always worth watching and she's obviously the go-to actor when there's a Queen Victoria role on offer. In this case it's the story of Victoria's later years, after the death of Albert, and after the death of John Brown (also filmed with Judi Dench as 'Mrs Brown'). Abdul became Victoria's friend an teacher - her munchi - much to the horror of the rest of the Queen's household, her advisors, politicians and - especially, Bertie, her son and heir. Based on a true story, the munchi was with the queen for the last 17 or 18 years of her life. Abdul Karim came from India as a servant and became her friend, opening her eyes to India. Abdul, played by Ali Fazal, winningly handsome, is a much more engaging proposition than images of the real Abdul. Eddie Izard does a good turn as the blustering Bertie. Judi Dench, is, of course, outstanding. I swear I could watch that woman read the telephone directory!
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I read this immediately I’d finished Going Grey. It continues the story of private military contractors, Rob Rennie and Mike Brayne, and Mike’s adopted son, Ian Dunlap, a genetically engineered teen sought by the biotech company that thinks they own his genes. Though the Braynes won the first round, they’re waiting for the company to make another move against Ian.

When Rob’s son and ex, back in England, are threatened by an unseen stalker, Rob goes into overdrive. Both Rob and Mike have families to protect and Ian’s unique chameleon skills could prove useful, but neither man wants to put him at the sharp end if things get dangerous. Ian proves difficult to keep down, however. He’s learned a lot from his two mentors, the main thing being that if you have friends, you make sure you have their back.

 You can class this as a near-future thriller, or military SF, but the characters are the heart of the story. Another hugely enjoyable book from Karen Traviss. I was disappointed to note that the third book, Sacrificial Red, won’t be out until 2018.

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This is a near future techno-thriller featuring illegal science, military contractors, family values and ethics.

When Ian Dunlop’s gran dies, suddenly and unexpectedly, the teen is faced with a problem. Ian is either going nuts or he has a talent that will make him the target of huge corporations, and he doesn’t know enough about the world or himself to make a plan. Luckily the first people to find him are a pair of private military contractors, Mike Brayne and Rob Rennie, with resources, connections in high places, and a conscience.

Mike and Rob, though coming from opposite sides of the Atlantic, and opposite branches of the magic money tree, are buddies in the way that has been forged by military comradeship. Ms Traviss has always been able to get under the skin of the common (and uncommon) soldier. Though the pacing of Going Grey is measured, it never loses interest, and I leaped straight from this to the sequel, Black Run.
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My second steampunky airship novel in under a month and my brain is still comparing the two. Set in postapocalyptic (snowy) Southern California, after a repulsed alien invasion, Buckell and his ragtag crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must rescue their kidnapped leader/clan chief, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the City of the Founders. Beset by human enemies, alien beasties and geography itself, Buckell and his crew must brave poisoned wastelands, forgewalkers and steampipers. 

The Pneumatic Zeppelin is a complex machine, fourteen stories high, yet Robyn Bennis’ The Guns Above had more technical detail. (I’m not saying that’s necessarily an advantage.) There’s still a lot (and I mean a LOT) of lush description in here, which makes it a great intro to the series, but the plot is a single strand rescue mission, albeit with twists and turns. There’s a lot of potential in this world, though the description of the ship’s bells and whistles slows the pace a bit, especially in the beginning. It’s setting-driven, so the characters didn’t grab me as much as I hoped they might. (Romulus Buckle, Balthazar Crankshaft, Katzenjammer Smelt are a bitt OTT as far as names go, aren’t they? Very Cartoony) However I think this is a series that will grow if the author can invest as much in his characters as he can in his tech.
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I read this as an e-book with its original title, The Hangman's Daughter.

I tried, oh how I tried to read this book. It seemed to tick all my boxes when I read the blurb, but I kept having to take a 'rest' from it. I stopped after the first chapter, then thought I'd been a little hasty and forced myself to read on, but now I'm 28% into it and not enjoying spending time with sociopathic Miska. (I'm not generally against sociopathic characters in principle, but Miska was maybe too cold and self-serving.)

I keep feeling that something is about to unfold, but if it hasn't unfolded yet then ... sorry, I'm done. The writing flows smoothly and the worldbuilding is good, but I'm reminded that not all books are for all people and this one is simply not for me. Don't let me put you off reading it. There are loads of four and five star reviews on Goodreads, so it's obviously well liked by others. It would be unfair of me to give it a star rating.
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Valerian movie posterOh dear. Where to start with this one? Luc Besson directed one of my all-time favourites, Fifth Element, so I had every hope this would be good. Visually it's imaginative (though I'm glad we saw it in 2-D)

But...

You knew there's be a but, didn't you?

This whole thing was so badly miscast that it was ridiculous. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) who is 31 in real life, looked like he'd just stepped out of a high school movie. I'd be generous if I said he looked anywhere close to eighteen. Cara Delevingne, model turned actress, looked about the same age. They were a pretty pair, but totally unbelievable as the leads, and the chemistry between them was nonexistent. Clive Owen as the villain, was dialling it in. I hope they paid him well because it won't look good on his resumee.

I kept wondering whether it would have been better with Bruce Willis in the lead role. (Yeah I get that it's adapted from a comic, so BW doesn't fit the bill, but surely they could have found someone with a bit more gravitas.)

That's a couple of hours of my life that I wish I could get back. Give this one a miss. Save up your cinemoney for The Dark Tower or Kingsmen 2.

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Spider Man HomecomingHaving been integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and into The Avengers in the recent Captain America Civil War, Peter Parker has to return to school like any ordinary kid. Unlike ordinary kids he has his spidey powers and though this is not a return to (yet another) origin story it is a coming of age story where Peter learns to use his powers responsibly (by making a few colossal mistakes, of course). He's too eager, too cocky and - well - a pretty typical teen, really.

Mentored by Tony Stark/Iron Man Parker comes face to face with Vulture, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), whose salvage company has been sidelined and business ruined when the government decides that independent contractors can't be trusted to clean up the alien tech after the Battle of New York. Toomes keeps the tech and turns it into super weapons, selling them to foreign buyers illegally.

I wasn't sure the world needed yet another Spiderman reboot, but I'm absolutely convinced by this one. Parker carries the film well. Robert Downey Jnr. puts in a solidly charismatic performance as Iron Man, but perhaps the most interesting aspect in Michael Keaton's semi-sympathetic portrayal of the Vulture. You can see how a good citizen turns bad, but Adrian Toomes is a villain, but he isn't all bad. It's a nuanced performance that adds another dimension.

I enjoyed this movie immensely.

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When I edit a DW post and re-save it, why does it add the word 'Save' to the text. You can see an example of this at the end of my Wonder Woman blogpost, here. https://jacey.dreamwidth.org/573134.html
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Wonder Woman MovieGal Gadot is Wonder Woman. She wears the part naturally and fulfils the promise of her appearance in Batman v Superman. This is the origin story. Diana of Themyscira, princess of the Amazons, reared on a paradise island inhabited by a society of warrior women is unaware of the rest of the world until the First World War, in the shape of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) come crashing (literally) on to the island. It's 1918. Diana is determined that she should leave the island to end the conflict. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the "Godkiller" sword, the Lasso of Hestia, and armor before leaving Themyscira with Trevor to find and destroy Ares (whom she believes to be masquerading as German General Ludendorff).

Full marks also to Lucy Davis who plays Steve Trevor's secretary, Etta Candy, a woman in a man's world, competent and capable

I've never seen Christ Pine in anything I didn't like and his supporting role in this move hits the mark perfectly. There's good chemistry between the two leads, but Trevor never steals Gadot's thunder.

This is a movie of firsts (first superhero featurting a female lead, first Marvel superhero movie directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). Diana is a badass without surrending her femininity. Sure the movie isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to the next.

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What's not to like about the 'Pirates' movie franchise. Yeah, okay, the first was the best. It's hard to match that reveal as Johnny Depp sails into the harbour on a sinking boat, but they've all got charm. And this one has the ending that we've been waiting for since Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were separated by fate.

Henry Turner, son of Elizabeth and will is searching for the Trident of Neptune in the belief that it will end his father's curse. To find the trident he needs to find Jack Sparrow (looking no older now than he did in the first movie). But someone else is also looking for Jack, Salazar was tricked into sailing into the Devil's Triangle by a (much younger) Jack Sparrow and is now undead. Understandably, he harbours a grudge.

Several twists and a romantic sub-plot later it all works out all right in the end - but you didn't need me to tell you that.

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Movie poster - The MummyTom Cruise in a remake of The Mummy should have been good, but somewhere along the road it lost the sense of humour that made the first Brendan Fraser Mummy movie so good. Don't get me wrong, this is a perfectly acceptable action flick, with some good special effects (the kind we take for granted these days) but it's not memorable.

Does anyone else think that Mr Cruise has a picture in the attic?

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I know I managed it last time, but today I simply can't  post an image to my Dreamwidth blog, so I'm piling up movie-of-the-week posts and booklog posts. I paste the URL into the Insert/edit image panel, but all I get is the broken picture image.

If DW was based originally on LiveJournal, why on earth can't it simplify the way it handles images? LJ's image uploading was a doddle. I can't believe that DW will only take images from the web, so I can't post them from my computer (unless I set up the whole email posting thing, which also seems to have drawbacks in terms of formatting, i.e. pics at the end of the blogpost, not integrated). I don't do Instagram, so if I have an image on my hard drive am I supposed to post it to a website before I can upload it to DW? What a palaver!

Your input welcome. Thanks.

Catching Up

Aug. 2nd, 2017 06:48 pm
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Apologies in advance for bombarding you with upcoming movie logs and book logs. I have at least five movies to catch up with and seven or eight books. I've been so busy putting Nimbus to bed that I haven't caught up with my logs. Please bear with me. There will be a flurry and then it will be back to the usual steady rate.
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News: 2017

1st August
Looking forward to Worldcon in Helsinki. I have one panel on Sunday afternoon 13th August: 15:00 - 16:00, 216 (Messukeskus) History as World Building. Using knowledge and research of real-life history as world-building fantasy and science fiction. Thomas Årnfelt, Jacey Bedford, Heather Rose Jones (M), Jo Walton, Angus Watson

27th July
New blog post:
Bladdered or Shitfaced? The gentle art of word choice and the bogglement of page-proofing.
11th July
New blog post Corwen Silverwolf Speaks
26th June
New blog post History Lends Perspective
13th June
New blog post Life, Death and the Writer’s Pen

28th May
New blog post Some Random Thoughts on Revisions and Edits

16th May
New blog post on Due Process
2nd May
New blog post on Worldbuilding for a Series
20th April
New blog post on Committing Trilogy

19th April
Two pairs of Rowankind books (Winterwood and Silverwolf) will be up for auction at Con or Bust on 24th April to raise funds to send fans of colour to conventions.

4th April
New blog post on Cover reveal NIMBUS
22nd March
New blog post on Stories Far and Near
21st February
New blog post on Agent Update
17th February
New Blog post available now on Keeping your Nose to the Grindstone.
10th February
I'm sad to say goodbye to my literary agent, Amy Boggs, but delighted to announce that my new literary agent is Donald Maass of DMLA
.
4th February
I am interviewed for File 770. With a book giveaway. Thanks to Mike Glyer for hosting and Carl Slaughter for writing.

28th January
My guest post for the Qwilley on half-and-half worldbuilding is now up.

27th January
My guest post on Beginning at the Beginning is now up at Unbound Worlds.
24th January
My blog post on Ten Quick Tips for Writers is available now
16th January
My guest post is up on the I Smell Sheep blog. Corwen speaks out.
14th January
My guest blog on alt.history versus historical fantasy on Arched Doorway.
9th January
My post on the publication of Silverwolf is up today on my blog

Silverwolf3rd January

BOOK DAY!

Silverwolf is out today!

3rd January
Great to see Silverwolf mentioned in new releases at Tor.com
3rd January
What Has Milford Ever Done for Me? My guest blog post is up on the Milford blog today.
3rd January
Nice review of Silverwolf from JoJo the Bookaholic:
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The coach carrying Alice Ingram and her niece, Beth, along the Great North Road is attacked and the ladies are rescued by a pair of dashing highwaymen and deposited in a wayside inn where Beth meets and falls for Ed, the landlord and Alice has her sprained ankle attended by a somewhat austere doctor. This is a story of double identity, of Alice’s flight from a brutish husband and Beth’s attempts to avoid marrying one. It’s also a double romance, for neither the innkeeper not the doctor are quite what they seem. Though parts of this book were enjoyable there were bits that my brain kept stumbling over as being impractical. The chaps seemed very adept about climbing into bedroom windows as if there was a staircase outside, and I wasn’t sure how Alice intended to flee from her husband merely by changing her name, when her place of refuge was her SISTER. For goodness sake, wouldn’t that be the first place hubby looked? The husband is mentioned a few times but apart from the highwaymen in the opening, all the danger and action is in the last ten percent of the book, which felt slightly out of balance.Save
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A Regency romance with a bit of a twist. Jason Jonquil is a younger brother of a titled household, making his own way in the world as a barrister and trying to uphold his station in life as a gentleman, but when Mariposa Thornton walks into his life with a task which is somewhat beneath his dignity, he finds himself doing all he can to help the infuriating woman. She's been ousted from her home in Spain by the Iberian Peninsular wars and is desperately trying to find what's left of her family whom she believes may have fled to their English relatives.There are a few twists and turns, largely caused by Mariposa not being entirely forthcoming about her real quest or the man she believes means to harm her family. It took me a while to warm to Mariposa and Jason as a characters. In the end it's all resolved without bloodshed. I was somewhat disappointed that a character whom we never meet, but hear much of, doesn't have his story resolved at the end. It may be resolved in one of her other Jonquil Brothers books, but I had this as a review copy from Netgalley and the blurb didn't mention that it was number four in a series. To its credit it stood up on its own, except for resolving this particular character. Now that I know it's a series, I guess the next brother will be resolved in another book.
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Locked away in an underground bunker (a massive cave) for a year-long experiment to find the secret of star-travel, Kir, a young scientist with a super-computer in her brain tries to figure out what’s really going on.

Is it me? I read a lot of science fiction, but there were times when I simply didn't follow this. Not sure it makes me like it if it makes me feel stupid. And I REALLY wanted to like it. The blurb for the book explained things far more clearly than the text did. Sadly the jargon, somewhat hazy explanations and the heroine Kir who seemed strangely incurious and unemotional even when her emotions should have been screaming at her, put me off this.

Update

May. 29th, 2017 06:14 pm
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Sorry if I've been out of the loop, I've been writing, but at last I'm getting to the end of Nimbus. I just have to do a final read-through now before sending it off to my editor. As soon as it goes I'll be working on the next one, of course.

It's a wet and misty bank holiday Monday, so I've just had a massive catch-up day posting my book logs and movie-of-the-week posts. Though to be honest it's been a bit of a thin few weeks for movies - or at least for the movies that we want to see. My cinebuddy, H and I try to go on a Tuesday or a Wednesday afternoon, taking advantage of the Meerkat Movie two-for-one offer. We make a beeline for science fiction and fantasy. We really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy 2, though both of us drew the line at Alien Covenant, since Promethius was so bad. Luckily we have Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and Wonder Woman coming up.

It's been a busy few weeks at Bedford Towers with several musician friends passing through - often with barely any time to change bedding between visits. Our washer and dryer have been working overtime and I've been trying to remember who's allergic to what when planning meals. One is dairy, eggs and gluten intolerant, another is onions, and one of them is allergic to 'pretty much everything except fish and a few vegetables, but luckily is happy to cook suitable meals separately.

First Tania Opland and Mike Freeman from Washington State via Ireland. Then it was the Northwrite weekend with four writers staying for our critique day on the Sunday.

As the last writer left on Monday Morning, Dan McKinnon (Canada) arrived from the airport. Cloudstreet

Dan left and James Keelaghan and Hugh McMillan arrived, also from Canada,

The day that they left Cloudstreet (right), John, Nicole and Emma, arrived from Australia, so it's been pretty full-on, but we have a few weeks now before Cloudstreet swing back again as they arrive to do three gigs in Yorkshire at the end of the month.

Then we have a few days before Dan returns, this time with his wife, Nancy, who's joining him for the last part of the tour,

I have some of the best houseguests.






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As movies go this one wasn't as bad as some of the reviews I've seen. The real problem was that it tried to present itself as a King Arthur movie while abandoning all elements of the legend apart from the sword in the stone and the names Uther, Vortigern and - oh yes - Arthur. Merlin got a brief mention but all of the magic came from his apprentice, a witch (unnamed). If the movie had simply presented itself as a second world fantasy it might have been better received.

Charlie Hunnam made a passable hero and Jude Law a slimy villain, but the 'castle' stretched credibility somewhat, though Londinium did look to be growing out of the remnants of Roman occupation. Maybe having a kung-fu master called George was a little out of place, but - hey - there was so much out of place that picking one thing would be mean.

So... Vortigern betrays Uther and Arthur - as a small boy - escapes downriver in a boat. He's rescued and brought up by whores in a brothel, gradually going from being protected to being protector and ruling the criminal element of the docklands, until he gets whisked off along with a load of other young ment the right age to try his hand with the sword in the stone. Vortigern quite rightly wants to discover who his rival might be and put an end to him.

Yes, of course, in trying to avoid the prophecy of the true born king, Vortigern puts everything into place for it to be fulfilled.

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Anyone can save the Galaxy once... so second time around Star Lord has some additional help from old foes who become new allies - Nebula, Yondu and Mantis. Add to that a delightful Baby Groot. (How can an animated twig be so appealing?) Of course the original team - Peter's family -  is still on board, Rocky, Gamora and Drax.

The opening sequesnce is merely a warm-up for the main tale as our hereoes battle the Abilisk - something that looks like a space octopus -  to protect some super-shiny batteries for their current employers, the Sovereigns (Nice cameo from Ben Browder in gold paint.) Of course they manage to upset the Sovereigns and after a space battle end up crash-landing on a planet where Peter Quill/Star Lord meets his father (Kurt Russell as Ego - the clue is in the name) and discovers he's half a god - unfortunately not the all-powerful half. In the process he learns more about the true meaning of family.

This is fun all the way with hijinx and mayhem plus some smart one liners. I found it just as enjoyable as the original. Highly recommended.

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Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a newly appointed script writer working on wartime propaganda films in the middle of London in the Blitz. The Ministry of Information wants a film that the public will relate to, so when Catrin finds a tale of two sisters who took part in the Dunkirk evacuation they jump on it as a possible storyline. Working with fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and over-the-hill actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) they gradually pull it all together, though not everything goes their way. Catrin faces many challenges, personal and professional but succeeds. The overall tome of the movie is sweet.
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Peter Grant #4.5 Graphic Novel

I'm not generally very good at reading graphic novels (I don't always identify the drawn characters from one frame to the next) but this is an exception. The artwork (Lee Sullivan and Luis Guerrero) is sumptuous and every frame is clear. I got the hardback edition which combines the five 'chapters' issued separately, and I'm so glad I did. It's even a signed limited edition - number 84/1000 - from Forbidden Planet.

The story, by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel, is a case for Peter Grant. A haunted car (or maybe cars). It's short and sweet, but a welcome return to the London of Peter Grant and the weirdos at the Folly, with a host of favourite characters, Nightingale, Molly and Toby, of course, but also Guleed and Stephanopoulos.
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A novella set in the period between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree which sees Peter Grant and Jaget Kumar of the British Transport Police (one of the regularly recurring characters in the series) trying to sort out a ghost on the underground. As a novella, there’s not as much time for the ongoing story ark, so this doesn’t delve into the defection of Lesley May, but it does bring in Peter’s teenage proto-wizard cousin and a nascent river god who has been adopted by a well-meaning childless couple. An excellent stopgap while we’re waiting for the next full length book. It’s got all the trademark elements of the series and Peter’s wry and funny ‘voice’.

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Lieutenant Josette Dupre is a female auxiliary in Garnia’s air corps fighting both in the never-ending war against the Vins, and against the position of women as second class citizens. Chauvinism is rife. The female auxiliaries are banned from combat, but when her Captain is killed in battle, Josette’s bravery and resourcefulness earn her command of her own ship. Garnia’s first female captain is regarded as an affront as far as the general is concerned, so he sends a spy, his foppish nephew Bernat, to observe and send back reports that will effectively construct a character assassination in order to get Josette demoted and posted to the fever swamps. Bernat is a hedonist, a flirt and a gambler with as much military savvy as a teacup (He can shoot straight, but he doesn't know how to load a rifle because they have servants for that kind of thing.). In addition to everything else, Josette’s new ship is a new and untested design. While she’s still conducting air trials, she’s swept into combat. The one thing that Josette is good at is military strategy, but being female, she still doesn’t get any credit for taking down an enemy airship and scouting to discover that the Vins are about to attack on a second front.

I really wanted to like this book. The blurb made it sound amazing, but it was a bit too much of a one-note for me I wanted more from the characterization, or maybe more change in the characters over the course of the book. Neither Josette nor Bernat are particularly likeable Josette is angry most of the time and admits she’s not good at getting people (especially her crew) to like her. Bernat suggests that she gets more out of them by being relentlessly scary, which is not innately appealing. Other reviewers said they thought the book was funny as well as violent. I must need a sense of humour transplant because it didn’t strike me as funny at all. Josette was very much the angry young woman while Bernat was the clueless fop. And though there were moments when it seemed that both might be inching towards a change of attitude, those moments were few and far between. Bernat found his spine towards the end, but I didn’t feel that Josette had changed much throughout the story. The war between Garnia and the Vins seems to have no real cause and is masterminded by incompetents if the general is anything to go by, (He’s very two dimensional.)

Kudos to the author for working out exactly how a steampunky airship works, from where the struts go, and the properties of luftgas, to how the whole shebang reacts when a canon is fired from her hurricane deck, or how the riggers need to move to keep the vessel balanced. It’s a great authorial feat, but I’m not sure we, as readers, need to know all the nitty gritty several times over. This book seemed to be little more than battle after battle. I would have liked to know a little more about what made Josette and Bernat tick.
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Kellen is a fifteen year old mage in training, but despite his father being one of the greatest wizards of the age, and his younger sister already having more potential than is good for her, his own magic seems to be fading fast. If he can’t pass the three mage trials he’s going to end up in the servant classes, something he dreads. Apart from his own future, his failure will also threaten his father’s standing as he hustles for the leadership of the clan. But Kellen is not entirely without resources. He’s intelligent, observant and asks the right questions. He wins his first mage duel, the first trial, by cunning and psychology rather than magic, but it all goes sour when his own sister accuses him of cheating and nearly kills him. He’s saved by Ferius Fairfax, a mysterious Argosi traveller who lives by her wits and a deck of cards. Difficult and unpredictable, Ferius nudges Kellen in the direction of doing the right thing, which loses him friends, but gains him a somewhat fierce talking squirrel-cat. There are a lot of twists in this. Characters are not always what they seem to be. Kellen is let down by the people he trusts the most, and finds help where he least expects it. This is an excellent introduction to this magical world. I haven’t read any Sebastien de Castell before, but I’ll certainly be looking out for the rest of this series.

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Gideon, Duke of Rothwell should probably have stayed at home instead of going adventuring in Canada. (Which I’m not altogether sure was simply ‘Canada’ during the Regency, as Upper Canada and Lower Canada were ‘the Canadas’ – what is now Ontario and Quebec. The provinces weren’t merged until 1840.) Anyhow, that’s not the point of the story… Gideon returns to find that he’s inherited a dukedom impoverished by his father’s strange behaviour and his father’s grasping mistress. He’s not in a position to marry until he’s set his finances in order, so meeting and falling for his best friend’s sister, Lady Louisa Vivers, is somewhat unfortunate, or at least the timing is. Louisa, however, is a force of nature. She hadn’t intended to marry during her first season in London, but she decides that Gideon is the one for her. There are, of course, speedbumps along the road to true love, mostly Caused by misunderstandings. (Sigh.) Why don’t people just talk to each other?

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Here are the second and third books in the Shattered Sea triligy

Joe Abercrombie: Half the World – Shattered Sea #2

Following on from Half a King, Half the World concentrates on two new characters, Thorn Bathu, a fighter from the word go, but deeply disadvantaged by her gender, and Brand, a young warrior who wants to do right, and who hates senseless killing.  From the training ground straight into a dangerous journey with Yarvi (from Half a King). Now Father Yarvi, a deep cunning man and the King’s (or the Queen’s) minister. Joe Abercrombie has a knack of writing deeply flawed characters that we like despite what they are and what they do. Thorn pretty much hates everyone, and those she doesn’t hate, she doesn’t trust, but while Yarvi hones her as a weapon, Brand offers her his humanity. There’s a love story which would be resolved more quickly if only the two protagonists would damn-well TALK to each other, but I can forgive that for all the other many good things about this book: characterization, worldbuilding and twisty plot. Though this is the second book in the trilogy, you could actually read it without having read Half a King.

 

38) 29/05/17

Joe Abercrombie: Half a War – Shattered Sea #3

War is coming. In this third book in the Shattered Sea trilogy we have yet another set of main viewpoint characters, Princess Skara of Throvenland, the last of her royal house, who has to use deep cunning herself to keep up with Father Yarvi. Only half a war is fought with weapons, the other half with words. There’s also Raith, a warrior who thinks of nothing but blood, but learns that there’s more to life than killing. We also see some of this story from the point of view of Koll, who was an inquisitive boy in Half the World but three years on is a young man torn between his apprenticeship to Father Yarvi and his attraction to Brand’s sister This conclusion to the Shattered Sea brings together the main characters from all three books in a final desperate fight against Grandmother Wexen and the High King. Is it simply a fight against tyranny or is there more to it? As you might expect from Abercrombie, there are some clever twists, but though it’s a YA book it’s dark (and the characters are dark), with some gut-wrenching moments, and the ending is satisfying but with typical Abercrombie bleakness.
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Jodi Taylor - And the rest is HistoryI adore Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary. This is the eighth and she’s not running out of places to take the story. Still quirky, this is darker than the rest because Clive Ronan is back and he’s even more determined to inflict pain and suffering on Max, her family and all the staff at St Mary’s. There’s some gut-wrenching stuff in this as well as Jodi Taylor’s usual wit. It’s a laugh-and-cry rollercoaster and not everyone makes it to the last page. The history side of it is, as usual, fascinating, from the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

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Book cover: Bound by Benedict JackaAlex Verus is in trouble - again. Or perhaps that should be Alex Verus is still in trouble, because this is a continuation of the trouble he was in last time, under a death warrant from the Mage Council. He's only managed to sidestep it because his old boss and longtime enemy Richard Drakh has once again got him in his power and this time Anne is involved as well. Alex feelings for Anne are... complicated (even more so because he won't acknowledge them). 

Apart from the fact that Richard has threatened to kill all of his friends if he doesn't return to work for him, Alex is somewhat surprised when his old enemy turns out to be almost reasonable, seconding him to the Dark Mage Morden, who is the only Dark Mage on the Light Council. Morden - after being a deadly enemy in several previous books - also turns out to be a decent boss, and Alex is drawn closer to the political centre of magic in Britain. But he still has a foot in both camps and the light mages are convinced that Richard and Morden are planning something big, so Alex is conscripted to report back. Finally, with some bargaining power, Alex gets the Council's death sentence lifted. It's interesting to note that the Light Council has actually done more to hurt Alex and his friends than the Dark mages have, and they remain unpredictable and vindictive, while the Dark Mages have some obscure objective that Alex can only guess at.

This story is spread over a longer period that previous Alex Verus books, but the pacing is still smart and the twists many and various. At last Alex is starting to be proactive and (prompted by Arachne) starting to plan long-term. There's a twist in the ending that makes me eager to see what happens is Alex Verus #9.

I galloped through this in less than a day. Highly recommended.
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Lonbourn book coverThis is supposedly the story of Pride and Prejudice from the servants point of view, except it isn’t, really. Yes it’s set in the Bennett household and the story of Pride and Prejudice is happening in the background, but it’s not Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The story doesn’t spin round pivotal scenes in Pride and Prejudice and, in fact, continues beyond Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage. I was expecting something like Tom Stoppard meets Jane Austen and in that I was disappointed. There’s not much here in the way of wit and humour. What there is is a completely separate story that just happens to be running parallel to the romantic adventures of the Bennet girls. Mrs Hill, the cook/housekeeper is keeping everything together while Mr. Hill quietly drinks the sherry and gets on with his somewhat unexpected lifestyle. The story really belongs to Sarah the elder of two maids (though still in her teens) and to James Smith the enigmatic new footman in the Bennet household who should be more than he seems, but somehow isn’t. This is a realistic look at life below stairs. The main characters are the people who have to scrub that white muslin dress clean after Miss Elizabeth has trailed it through the mud. There are fires to light, floors to scrub, chamber pots to empty and monthly rags to wash. We are spared no detail of the minutiae of daily life in the early 1800s. Unlike P&P the Napoleonic Wars feature in a long (maybe too long) middle section detailing James’ backstory, revealing the hardships of the ordinary soldier for whom life is never fair.

I had this as an audiobook, and though beautifully read by Emma Fielding, the story is slow. The language is literary with some nice turns of phrase. It could have been set in any household in the time period as the happenings in Pride and Prejudice are only peripherally mentioned. Darcy hardly gets a look-in and Elizabeth comes over as flat and uninteresting. Wickham gets some page time as he letches after Polly, the pre-pubescent maid, but otherwise only Mr Bennet is an ‘actor’ in this story. All the ladies do is create work for the servants.

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Nimbus by Jacey Bedford - book coverSaveDAW sent me the cover for the next book. Nimbus, due out in October. The cover artist is Stephan Martiniere, who did the covers for both Empire of Dust and Crossways.

This is the last of the Psi-Tech trilogy featuring Cara Carlinni and Reska 'Ben' Benjamin as they continue to fight the corrupt megacorporations. However, something is stirring in the depths of foldspace which might bring a dramatic change to spacefaring humankind.
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jacey: (Default)
Dreamwidth has migrated my LiveJournal entries while I've been away having fun at Eastercon. From now on I'll be using Dreamwidth as my main fun-and-friends journal, and also posting my booklogs and movie of the week entries here.

I have a separate journal about my own writing, the craft of writing, and publishing industry-related items over on Wordpress at https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/I don't seem to be able to quite figure out how to crosspost that to either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal, so I'm afraid you'll have to check out my Wordpress journal for all that. I would, of course, be delighted if you would follow my Wordpress journal by clicking the 'follow by email' link in the top right corner of my page.

Also, if writing floats your boat, you might like to follow the Milford SF Writers' Blog at https://milfordsfwriters.wordpress.com/ and follow that by email, too. Every two weeks (alternate Tuesdays) there's an entry by a published science fiction author on some aspect of writing

Testing

Apr. 11th, 2017 12:10 am
jacey: (Default)
While Dreamwidth migrates my stuff from LJ, this is just a test post so see if I'm firing on all cylinders.
I'm 'jacey' here rather than 'birdsedge'. The name change seemed to make sense at the time I set the account up. I'll try to figure out how to crosspost to LJ for a while longer.

Dreamwidth

Apr. 10th, 2017 03:39 pm
jacey: (blue eyes)
It seems as though nearly all my friends are migrating to Dreamwidth, so it looks like I'll have to do it as well because, after all, that's why I keep up with LJ. I do already have a DW account. I'm 'jacey' over there (not birdsedge). Please link to my DW account if you haven't already. I'm not 100% comfortable with DW, so I'll probably run both that account and this in tandem for a while at least.

As I type DW is migrating 154 weeks of LJ posts - yes, that's correct, it's 3 years since I last called in there and migrated posts over
jacey: (blue eyes)
Mira's Last DanceThis picks up immediately after the last Penric Novella, Penric’s Mission, and should be read after it. Not without cost to himself, Penric has succeeded in rescuing and healing the betrayed General Arisaydia and they are now fleeing across the last hundred miles of hostile Cedonia towards Orbas with Arisaydia’s widowed sister Nikys. And Penric is falling in love. Penric is complicated. He’s inhabited by a demon, Desdemona, who carries the echoes of her previous ten human riders and at any moment they can pop up in Pen’s head offering help, advice, or sometimes unhelpful suggestions. When the trio takes refuge in a whorehouse, Mira, one of the aforementioned previous riders, a courtesan comes to the forefront with some rather alarming knowledge. No spoilers because it’s funny and sweet, and Penric certainly has to step out of his comfort zone to get them all to safety.

Anything by Lois McMaster Bujold is buy on sight. She’s one of my all-time favourite writers (perhaps at the very top of the list, in fact). If you haven’t read any of the Penric stories yet, I heartily recommend them. I would suggest reading all four in order, but to enjoy Mira’s Last Dance, you need only read Penric’s Mission to catch up with the story.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Brother's RuinVictorian England with magic. Charlotte (Charlie) is a powerful but untrained mage who is trying to avoid being noticed by the Royal Society, because then her life will never be her own again. She’ll have to abandon her family (parents and brother), her sweet fiancé, George, her (secret) career as a book illustrator, and devote her life to magic. Her brother, Ben, however, is happy to be swept up by the Royal Society when they mistakenly believe him to be talented. It’s all about the money, you see. Families are compensated for the loss of their talented children (and punished for not giving them up), and Charlie’s dad has borrowed more than he can pay back from an unscrupulous moneylender who is in some kind of partnership with an even more unscrupulous mage.

This is obviously a set-up book for a series, so not all questions are answered. Charlie is an engaging character, her brother less so, but Charlie, in trying to protect him and help her father, gets herself into a few scrapes which might have disastrous consequences but for one Royal Society mage who seems to know more than he should.

I’m a bit worried about George, the fiancé. It seems to be Charlie’s dream to settle down with him, yet she hasn’t told him about her secret life as an illustrator (under a man’s name, of course because this is Victorian England) and though she seems quite fond of him she’s not burning with passion. Now that young mage chap… he really seems to make her blood race.

This works as an introduction to a new setting, though I’m not entirely sure the moneylender plot makes a lot of sense. Why do the moneylenders need magic to off their debtors who don’t pay up, and what benefit is it to the mage in question to provide such a device. I suspect we shall find out in subsequent books. I certainly hope so, anyway.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Beauty & the beastA live action remake of Disney's animated Beauty and the beast, complete with talking household knick-knacks and singing furniture. Emma Watson apparently turned down LaLa Land and that was a very wise decision. Her singing is excellent and she makes a very fetching Belle. Kevin Kline is very sweet as her dad and Luke Evans takes the mickey out of himself beautifully as the self-absorbed Gaston. Dan Stevens is the Beast/Prince, but to be honest it's hard to tell how much is him and how much is CGI.

Yes, we all know the story, so no recap of that, except to say that the Beast gives Belle a whole library! Wow! Who cares what he looks like? He's a man with a library!

Yes, of course they all live happily ever after, even the kindly teapot (Emma Thompson), the annoying animated candlestick with the cod French accent (Ewan McGregor), and the stuffy old Ormolu clock (Ian McKellen). It's sweet and the singing is qualiity. Now if only I could get rid of this damned earworm.

Recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Kong Skull IslandTom Hiddleston takes the weight of this film making a good action hero. A team of scientists go on an expedition to explore a hitherto uncharted island taking with them Hiddlestone as a jungle tracker, Brie Larson as a world-class photographer and a military flotilla of helicopters with a somewhat unstable commander. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. There are people on the island already - and the inevitable ape the size of a skyscraper who isn't the monster the military types suppose him to be. There's also a pilot who crashed there in World War Two who provides information and a boat (of sorts) when the mission turns into 'get out alive'. It's all a frothy bit of fun with explosions and dismemberments and the sort of thing you expect from a movie called Kong: Skull Island. Leave your critical brain at the door and collect it again on your way out.
jacey: (blue eyes)
LoganPossibly the best Logan outing of them all featuring Old Man Logan after the rest of the X-men are history. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is trying to live as unobtrusively as possible, working as a driver to support a ninety year old Charles Xavier, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who is frail and liable to dangerous psi-fits if he's off his meds. Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is helping out as a babysitter. Logan calms Charles with stories of the boat they'll buy when they have enough money, but of course this is just a pipe dream.

Logan is essentially the gunslinger archetype, trying to hang up his six guns, and, of course, something happens to make him take one last X-shaped chance.  Following a shady breeding programme a bunch of mutant kids have escaped from custody, helped by their nurses who didn't want to see them put down like animals. Dafne Keen plays the child who is like Logan, claws and everything. (She's brilliant, by the way.)

Charles, not as senile as he sometimes appears to be, persuades Logan to help the child and thus begins Logan's (and Xavier's) last journey to take her to safety.

It's a thoughtful film, eschewing the flashy CGI super-hero mode for camera work that's more personal. This is a Logan who is more Logan than Wolverine. More human that super-hero. We all know he's going to suffer for his efforts, but that's OK because in the end Logan is going to do what he has to do, and do it well.

Highly recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
great_wallA couple of European mercenaries, journeying to China to find the secret of (or supplies of) black powder get embroled in a battle on the great wall to keep out creatures that rise every 60 years. Matt Damon plays William who finally finds a cause worth fighting for after many years of being a mercenary. It's a slight plot with lots of monster action and some breathtaking visuals. Despoite what I read in one review it's not 'white man shows the locals how to save themselves'. The locals are doing just fine on their own. Matt Damon is always worth watching so this was a good way to spend a wet Wednesday afternoon on the two-for-one deal.
jacey: (blue eyes)
CorinthianYou always know what you’re going to get with one of Heyer’s Regencies: a tangled plot, misunderstandings, a solid hero and a touch of adventure. With this one, throw in some missing diamonds, and a murder which doesn’t seem to upset too many people.

Sir Richard Wyndham – age 29 and the wealthy Corinthian of the title – needs a wife according to his family, so he’s about to be pressured into marrying a bit of a cold fish, the daughter of a family well bred, but constantly in debt. Since he’s never actually been in love he’s almost ready to give in. Then Pen drops into his arms – literally – and everything changes. Seventeen, young and impulsive, Pen, dressed as a boy,  is running away because her aunt is pressuring her into marrying her cousin to keep Pen’s fortune in the family. Sadly the fortune-hunting cousin looks like a hake, so Pen is running off to marry her childhood sweetheart (whom she hasn’t actually heard from in 5 years).

Richard’s excuse for getting involved in Pen’s wild schemes is that he was drunk at the time, but once he sobers up, he keeps up the act of being Pen’s uncle/cousin/tutor (the story keeps changing). Of course, there are misadventures on the road, a meeting with a chap who speaks almost unintelligible thieves cant, the above mentioned missing diamonds and a murder. When Pen finally meets her childhood sweetheart his feelings have changed (and to be honest, so have hers. But it takes a little persuasion for Richard to finally convince Pen that they are right for each other.
jacey: (blue eyes)
PerditionAlmost a spin-off book from the Jax books, taking a minor character, Jael and making him one of the two central characters in this along with the Dred Queen. This is set on a prison ship in space where the inmates are left to their own devices and death takes the weak and the meek very quickly. Jael is a new fish, straight off the transport, and Dred is one of the bosses who have carved out little kingdoms for themselves. No one there is innocent. Mostly the inmate population consists of psychopaths, sociopaths and mass murderers – those considered beyond redemption. Jael and Dred both have secrets, but no one here is interested. A person is what a person is, and Dred is a queen, trying to keep her little empire from being overrun by neighbouring overlords, each worse than the last. Food and kindness are in short supply, but Jael and Dread come to an understanding and with the help of a couple of loyal followers deal with the immediate problems of incursions from neighbours and defeat a tough enemy. This is the sort of book that makes you want to climb in the shower after reading. It’s full of blood, guts and excrement, but there are moments of human emotion, too and it’s certainly a page turner, like all of Ann Aguirre’s Jax books.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Second Time AroundElla Quinn: The Second Time Around
Worthingtons
I read two Ella Quinn’s in the wrong order. (Ella Quinn not to be confused with Julia Quinn), so the beginning of this was more than a little confusing with rather a lot of characters (including 12 children) which made me boggle somewhat. Patience is a widower with four children from a loveless marriage. Richard, Viscount Wolverton lost her many years earlier, entirely due to carelessness on his part. Now he’d like to marry Pae, but her four children are officially the wards of her stepson and she’ll lose them if she marries. Complications abound even though sitting the characters down together and making them talk would solve everything. But, hey, it’s a fast read and even though you know everything will be all right in the end it keeps you guessing as to how. This is a confusingly numbered series, however, which doesn’t seem to include this one – though it obviously is.


Three weeks to Wed27) 23/03/17
Ella Quinn: Three Weeks to Wed
Worthingtons #1
I should have read this one before ‘The Second Time Around’ because it tells the story of how Matt and Grace, each with responsibilities which seem insurmountable, manage to get together despite twelve children, an entirely unsuitable night of passion, two great Danes, a disreputable cousin in need of funds, and an over-eager investigator.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Secret Diaries Miranda CheeverOne of Julia Quinn’s one-off (so far) stories with a familiar Regency setting, but otherwise unrelated to her main series. Miranda Cheever fell in love with Nigel Bevelstoke, Viscount Turner, when she was only ten. Nine years later, Turner is a changed man. He’s a widower who can’t even mourn his faithless wife, but can’t bring himself to contemplate remarriage. Miranda has to change his mind. There’s some good dialogue in here and Quinn’s usual light touch despite such a joyless main (male) character.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Binti23) 14/03/17
Nnedi Okorafor: Binti – Binti #1
This is very short – novella length – telling the story of Binti, a mathematical genius, who is the first of the Himba people (Namibia) to leave home and travel to university on another planet. Her customs are strange to her fellows. She uses otjize paste made from butterfat and ochre paste on her skin and hair – which is traditional because of the lack of water in the hot desert climate. (Despite the fact that water is plentiful on board ship and at university – her otjize is her cultural norm.) On the way to the university, the ship she is on is invaded by the alien Meduse. Binti is the only survivor and must use all her skills to effect a rapprochement between the Meduse and the people of Oomza University who have inadvertently wronged the Meduse through not understanding their culture. Basically it’s a novel about acceptance of other cultures and miscommunication. Binti mediates between the two groups and all is forgiven, which rather makes light of the shipload of people who have been horribly done to death and don't seem to count for anything.

Binti Home24) 16/03/07
Nnedi Okorafor: Binti: Home – Binti #2

When I read Binti, I wasn’t aware that it was the first part of a series of three novellas, and when I read Binti: Home I wasn’t aware that there was still one more novella to come. I’m going to state right at the beginning that I hate cliffhanger endings. Once again this is about acceptance as Binti returns home to Namibia of the future with her Meduse friend, Okwu, the first of his people to come to Earth in peace. Binti is now an oddity. Her family never wanted her to leave, now they aren’t sure about her return. It may be the old story of ‘you can never go back’. Something bothers me about the plotting of this. Binti still suffers from PTSD after the attack in which Okwu and his people killed everyone on the spaceship she was travelling on (except her) but despite this her only friend is Okwu one of the Meduse mass-murderers. Then because she is homesick she travels back to Earth and takes Okwu with her, despite the fact that the neighbouring people in Namibia regard all Meduse as the enemy. Okwu seems to have no status or protection or even a real reason for being there. He’s an odd choice of travelling companion.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Something girlI love Jodi Taylor’s voice. The Frogmorton Farm books began with The Nothing Girl, had a brief short story appearance in Little Donkey and this is the second full length book featuring Jenny who took back her life from her hideous family in the Nothing Girl, married anarchic Russell, and ended up at Frogmorton Farm with Mrs Crisp and a variety of animals that are possibly even more bonkers than Russell. Now Jenny has a baby (Joy) and responsibilities which quickly encompass Russell’s Patagonian Attack Chickens. Thomas the magic horse shows up again to help, and Jenny has to finally deal with the relatives who almost convinced her that she was going mad, while quietly spending her inheritance. I started reading JodiTaylor’s Chronicles of St Marys and although there’s no time-travel mayhem in this, it’s set broadly in the same world and has the same kind of quirky character voices.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Northanger Abbey McDermidI read Austen’s Northanger Abbey for ‘O’ Level many (many) years ago and haven’t read it since, so I came to this with only vague memories of the original book being a satire on gothic novels of the day and the impressionable mind of the young woman who’s hooked on them. Val McDermid brings the story into the present day. It's set, not in Bath, but at the Edinburgh Festival where impressionable (and sheltered) Catherine Morland takes her first tenuous steps in society away from her overprotective, homeschooling parents. She falls for Henry Tilney and is then swept sideways by Bella and obnoxious and overbearing John Thorpe. It’s been called a ‘brilliant reworking’ and ‘very different’ from the original’, but to my dim recollection it follows the original quite closely – given that the settings are 200 years apart. Bella’s modern day slang is appalling. ('Totes amazeballs'  - ugh!) Do people really speak like that? She seems to pounce on every verbal cliché and use them repetitively to the exclusion of all else. There are times when the author uses a shoehorn to keep the story on track, scene by scene, and to my mind is shows and thus feel a little selfconscious at times. Carriages have been replaced by cars, of course, and letters with texts, gossip with social media. I feel this updating is so faithful to the original that it still feels out of place in a 21st century setting. Sadly not for me, though I’m sure Val McDermid’s thrillers are exemplary there was not much in here to thrill.

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