Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

solar bones

Solar Bones

Mike McCormacksolar-bones-cropped-cover

Tramp Press

 

The book opens abstractly with a lyrical passage, set out like a poem, describing the location in which the main character lives.  The book opens with a wide camera shot of rural landscape and rural community, doing its thing on an afternoon.  The camera is sent spiralling through this setting, settling for a moment to observe, to focus, before spinning out into a wider focus and moving on to observe another aspect of this world; spinning, spiralling, contracting and expanding until it seemingly comes to rest in a kitchen with our main protagonist, seemingly narrowing it’s focus on his life.  In fact, the camera keeps contracting and expanding its focus; an observation on his own life, leading to an observation concerning the life of his family, before widening focus to explore the world.  Or, on the other hand, beginning with a wide focus lens, our character comments on a thing that has happened in the world before turning the lens back on his own life, his inner thoughts and the life of his family.  The camera continually narrowing and widening its focus, showing connections between the experiences of the humanist individual subject and the wider society.  This means that the book gives the reader a clear picture of both the internal and external world of the 1990s/2000s. This book presents the connection between the inner psychological lives and external social worlds, showing the web of interconnections that connect us to each other and the wider world.  I highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in award lists, Book review, books, Uncategorized

It was OK

Dark side war by Zachery Brownthe-darkside-war-9781481430357_lg

 

So, I promised you a review of this book and here it is.   First, a caveat, I read this book as part of my awards read.   The good thing about this reading method is that you occasionally find books that really surprise you, surpassing your expectations.  The down side is, that you are just as likely to come across books that simply weren’t written for you.  Books that are written in a writing style/voice that leaves you cold or a genre that you just don’t get on with.   This book falls into the latter camp.   If you like what I call ‘mainstream genre” fiction you will like this book.  But, I prefer books that have a more experimental structure and/or lyrical language style.   So, this book is not for me.

Synopsis

 

“Aliens have conquered Earth, but they haven’t conquered humanity—yet. A young army conscript battles for survival in this action-packed futuristic thriller that will appeal to fans of Halo and Inglorious Bastards.

People used to wonder if we were alone in the universe. Well, we’re not. Not by a long shot. Aliens come in all shapes and sizes, and even the good guys are likely to haunt your nightmares. And oh, you’ll have nightmares, even after you leave the service. If you leave the service.

Devin is a reluctant conscript to an alien-run army: when the Accordance conquered Earth, they said it was to prepare against the incoming alien Conglomeration forces. But as Devin travels to the dark side of the moon for boot camp and better acquaints himself with his so-called allies, his loyalties are increasingly tested. Because the enemy of the enemy is not always a friend. Sometimes…” http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Darkside-War/Zachary-Brown/The-Icarus-Corps/9781481430357

 

Sample Quotes

“I stood at attention. My boots dug into the sad, scraggly patch of open field that was all that remained of what had once been called Central Park, and I remembered standing in the middle of a baseball field here, once. A long time ago.”  Page  1.

 

This book had a diverse range of characters.   The characters represented different ethnic groups.  There were interesting girl/women characters.  The characters had different levels of power/privilege.   They came from different political perspectives and had very different views on how to deal with their alien conquerors.

 

To me, this novel felt disjointed.   It felt like it was divided into 3 distinct sections; each of which opened questions that weren’t satisfactory answered.    The first section, a rebellion narrative, was an interesting look at how earthlings would deal with an alien invasion, asking how many would rebel and who would acquiesce; for what reasons? It would have been interesting to explore these sections further.  But, then we and Devin are whizzed into space and intro the second section of the novel which is set in a kind of boot camp; where earthlings are tested, trained and killed by their alien overlords.  This could have been an interesting look at conquest and how people can fight for their overlords.  It could have been an interesting look at the differing earthlings and how they survive this environment and the social conditions that they found there.  To a limited extent it was. But, that was short.  Since, then we were catapulted into section three and into a tradition alien shoot out; which, I found really boring.

 

As you see from the quote at the beginning of this review, the writing was workaday/mainstream.  Which, while did work as first person narration from a teenage boy and made the work easy to scan, made the text feel boring to a reader who prefers a more lyrical/ experimental form of prose.   To me the professionalism of the writing wasn’t exciting and didn’t feel like the speech of a young boy under stress. Surely, Devin’s speech would have been more fragmented, and less structured.  So, if you like YA type books with fairly diverse characters, set in a dark space landscape, then this book is for you.  But, this book was not for me.

 

Posted in update

The Books left untraveled

 

Well, I’ve been quiet for quite some time.   Blame the heat. Blame a wasp sting that wouldn’t heal up.  Blame Brexit.  Blame my beloved Labour party, currently, breaking my heart on a daily basis.  Blame books that were OK, but nothing to write home about. Blame me for being lazy.  But, now I’m back and have several ideas simmering away in the back ground.  In addition, I have several reviews to write.   But, now the books that I didn’t finish.

 

Firstly, an apology, I was supposed to have posted a review this week.  It was supposed to have been part of the Ravenswood Tours series.  I was supposed to read and review the book “The Best Sunset in Venice” by Julian Padowicz. But, lethargy and idleness, stopped me even thinking about reading it.   In other words, despite all the reminders that I set, I forgot that I had promised to read the book. So, I am going to insert info about it here.

“SYNOPSIS After a prolonged sojourn in Europe, the sixty-something newlyweds, Kip and Amanda return to the coastal village of Venice, Massachusetts.  Kip is accustomed to his bread always landing jam side down, so the retired literature professor is ambivalent about the unexpected success of his new book.  On one hand, he is thrilled more than he dares admit, even to himself.  On the other, he is afraid that it’s all a dream from which he will awake up in bitter disappointment. However, what awaits him on his return are adventures as diverse as being befriended by a thrill-seeking former Green Beret, getting analyzed by a group of partying psychologists, massaged by an outspoken woman colonel in the Israeli Army, and meeting his wife’s very deadly real husband.” (from publisher promo sheet) Find  more at http://ravenswoodpublishing.com/bookpages/bestsunsetinvenice.html or buy  at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-Sunset-Venice-Julian-Padowicz-ebook/dp/B01INFY806/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473444254&sr=8-1&keywords=the+best+sunset+in+venice

 

Now to awards reading.  I have read, or attempted to read, several books from the locus recommended reading list over the last few months.  The first book I read was weighing shadows by Lisa Goldstein;

 

“Ann Decker fixes computers for a living and in the evenings she passes the time sharpening her hacking skills. It’s not a very interesting life, but she gets by — until one day she’s contacted with a job offer for a company called Transformations Incorporated. None of her coworkers have ever heard of it before, and when Ann is finally told what the company does she can hardly believe it: TI has invented technology to travel in time.

Soon Ann is visiting a matriarchy in ancient Crete, and then a woman mathematician at the Library of Alexandria. But Transformations Incorporated remains shrouded in mystery, and when Ann finally catches her breath, there are too many troubling questions still unanswered. Who are Transformations Incorporated, and what will they use this technology to gain? What ill effects might going back in time have on the present day? Is it really as harmless as TI says?

 

When a coworker turns up dead, Ann’s superiors warn her about a covert group called Core out to sabotage the company. Something just isn’t right, but before she has time to investigate, Ann is sent to a castle in the south of France nearly a thousand years in the past. As the armies of the Crusade arrive to lay siege and intrigue grows among the viscount’s family, Ann will discover the startling truth — not just about the company that sent her there, but also about her own past.” Back copy blurb  weighing shadows by Lisa Goldstein

This book was interesting but it really failed to grab my attention.  Ann is exactly my sort of character; Geeky, savvy, flawed and insecure.  The start of the novel began well, setting us up for a really gritty cyber punk gem.  But, as the novel progresses, it turns into a time travel novel, reminiscent of Connie Willis. Since, I am not a fan of Connie Willis or time travel stories, I knew that this was going to be a no go for me.  So, we parted company.

 

Well, I am back. So, that’s a good start.  But, I am afraid that It’s not a very positive post.  After all, I am talking about books which I didn’t finish.  But, in the next few weeks, I will talk about books that I did finish and that I have some feelings about.    The next review will be of a book that I finished but didn’t like very much Darkside War by Zachery Brown