Tag Archives: Featured

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter


The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Through the discovery of a plan for a “box” device the human race gains the ability to “step” between multiple versions of Earth. The journey causes most people to become sick and disoriented, but that doesn’t stop millions of people from leaving the original Earth, the “Datum”, and colonising the landmasses of neighbouring alternates of the Long Earth.

A few people discover that they are “natural” steppers, such as the novel’s protagonist Joshua, and can travel further out away from the Datum than anyone else. At least as far as they know. Humans seemed to have evolved primarily on the Datum, but there are other inhabitants of the Long Earth that are of great interest to science, and the “Black corporation”. An expedition is mounted with Joshua joining with a companion Lobsang – an artificial intelligence, who claims to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan man. Together they travel to over 2 million Earths to discover how long the Long Earth could possibly be. And to discover it’s secrets.

An engrossing and clever book. The characters are likeable, and engaging. The mystery is endless, and unfathomable. Brilliantly mixing the serious tone of the plot with the levity of humour and character. And it ends on a cliffhanger! So I’m immediately going to have to start the next.

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Dollhouse (Dark Carousel Book 1) by Anya Allyn


Dollhouse (Dark Carousel #1)Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cassie has moved from the US to Australia. She goes out with her new friends for a hike, when Aisha goes missing. Aisha’s boyfriend Ethan is initially treated as a suspect, and when he runs away to the forest trying to find her, Cassie and their other friend Lacey insist on coming with him. Several other girls have gone missing in the past few years in this same forest; and Cassie, Ethan, and Lacey stumble into the same trap.

A curious underground carousel, behind which is some kind of twisted dimension, a “Dollhouse” where life-sized dolls and strange inhabitants treat those who fall into their grasp as their own playthings.

Written in the same type of language as a YA novel, this book contains a bit of a mystery, and some “mild peril”. There was little back-story to many of the characters, beyond their current states of mind, so it was not necessarily easy to get to know the protagonists. The threat posed to the inhabitants of the dollhouse did not feel particularly visceral, until that is, towards the ultimate conclusion of the book. No spoilers here.

This was an entertaining diversion for a few days at least.

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EM-Con Worcester – Event Report


On Sunday 8th April 2018 the city of Worcester played host to EM-Con which took place at the University of Worcester Arena.  I’d never been to a convention by this particular company before, and I’m glad to report that it was a very enjoyable day, and well organised.

I also took my Uncle (Chris) with me this time, which was his first ever convention.  He definitely seemed to enjoy himself!

Right at the beginning, I managed to get myself accosted by some of the JUDGES from 2000AD!  There are photos and a video (via Chris)!

The celebrity guests were from a good variety of shows and movies, in particular (for me) some of the cast of Red Dwarf, Robert Llewellyn, Norman Lovett, Danny John-Jules, Chloe Annett, and Mark Dexter ; and from Stargate Atlantis, Rainbow Sun Francks.  Slowly I’m completing my collections!  Other guests included John Rhys Davies (Lord of the Rings/Indiana Jones), Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who/Legends of Tomorrow), John Challis (Only Fools and Horses), Colin Baker (Doctor Who), and several more.  There were also a selection of artists.

It was a relatively small and intimate venue, which made you feel much more relaxed than some of the larger events, and you had more time to chat to the guests and browse the merchandise stalls.

Chris, as a Red Dwarf fan, got his Holly T-shirt (which he was wearing) signed by Norman Lovett!  Great fun.  We also sat in for the Red Dwarf Q&A session in the afternoon.  Many laughs were had by all.

A small selection of my photos are below, for the rest see my Full Flickr Album:

EM Con Worcester
Worcester Cathedral. Opposite my hotel.
EM Con Worcester
You couldn’t miss the entrance to EM-Con!
EM Con Worcester
Colin Baker
EM Con Worcester
Norman Lovett
EM Con Worcester
Fantastic Cosplays!
EM Con Worcester
Obligatory Stormtrooper.
EM Con Worcester
Red Dwarf Q&A. Norman Lovett & Danny John-Jules
EM Con Worcester
Red Dwarf Q&A. Mark Dexter & Robert Llewellyn.

For information on upcoming EM Con Events visit: em-con.co.uk

The Last Wish (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski


The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)The Last Wish (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun and fantastical world. I picked up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox a few years ago, and was immediately drawn to the complex characters, the huge open-world map, and the wide ranging story lines. When I then discovered that it was based on a series of books, I just had to get my hands on them!

The Last Wish is the first in the series. It feels very much like a set of video game main and side quests in narrative form. The main character is Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, someone who has been trained in the art of tracking and hunting monsters, and has had physical mutations given to him to enhance his physical and magical abilities. Whilst recuperating from an injury he recalls his previous exploits in conversation with his nurse/priestess and his long time friend and troubadour Dandelion.

We also learn how he met the woman who is destined to be his future love, despite trials and tribulations (from what I gather from the video game story line); Yennefer of Vengerberg – a sorceress.

The best part about Geralt is that he’s a very discerning protagonist. Despite often being asked to just “kill a demon” or “hunt a vampire”, he will instead get to the bottom of the curse creating the situation or the motivation behind the “demon” and it’s antics; therefore making the story so much more interesting. The only thing that stopped me from giving this a 5-star rating, is the fact that as a compilation of shorter quests you only touch on the backstories of certain characters, whereas a single story novel would give more room to develop all the people. Which I’m sure, is what takes place in later novels in the series. I’ll get on to those soon!

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Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath


Whiskey Sour (Jack Daniels Mystery, #1)Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A decent crime novel, my only criticism is a standing one of most crime fiction: Why is violence towards women ALWAYS sexual violence? Men *just* get killed (with exceptions, of course), women get killed, raped, and tortured in hideously graphic ways – pretty much every time. This does, I suppose, reflect reality up to a point, particularly in reinforcing the fact that rape is a crime of anger and NOT attraction. So it works both ways.

Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is a police Lieutenant in Chicago. A string of (sexually) brutal murders of women by the self-proclaimed “Gingerbread man” are the focus of Jack’s and her partner Herb’s investigation. The FBI in this novel are portrayed as incompetent, coming up with off-the-wall criminal profile details, which (if you read my review of Mindhunter by John E Douglas, and the book itself) shouldn’t be how a profile is generated; but it serves the purpose of this story. Jack and Herb follow the evidence, as an investigator should. Jack, being a “woman” ends up becoming the focus of the Gingerbread man’s rage, and is therefore taken off her own investigation (officially). Which does lead to the men in the story essentially being awarded all the credit, despite Jack being both lead investigator and target. She saves her own life more than once!

The details of the crimes are quite jarring as described, and the pace of the novel is quite fast, keeping the reader moving forwards at a steady rate. Jack is a competent investigator, and deserves more credit for the work she put in! Hopefully, when I read further novels in this series, she gets the accolades that should be coming her way.

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