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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - July 13, 2014



Melanie's Week in Review - July 13, 2014



Dear Authors

I am writing to apologize for not reading your books sooner. I have no excuse for missing the release other than my overly jam packed TBR. I have been making a concerted effort to pay more attention to my unread books and came across your novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For what I really thought read on.

I promise to try really hard not to miss the release of your future novels but if I do please forgive me.

Your humble reading servant

Melanie



Melanie's Week in Review - July 13, 2014
I started my week by finishing Seven Kinds of Hell which is the first in the Fangborn series by Dana Cameron. Qwill reviewed this same book back in March 2013. I was quite lucky that I was able to receive a copy from NetGalley even after all this time.

I enjoyed this novel but I think I have over indulged in urban fantasy where the heroine has a hard, deprived/abusive upbringing. This story's heroine, Zoe Miller has had just that upbringing. A transient lifestyle, always on the run, struggling to make friendships but when she does something evil jeopardises it all. She was believable and it was easy to empathize with her and her situation. I also had a hard time imagining what some of the characters looked like, especially the snakelike vampires. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read so much urban fantasy recently. I will still continue with this series but give it a couple of months before I tuck into Pack of Strays.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 13, 2014A few months ago I requested book 3 of the Everness series by Ian McDonald from NetGalley. I realised after I requested it that I should really do the series justice and read book 2 so I bought Be My Enemy a couple of weeks ago. I really liked Planesrunner (book 1) and thought it was one of the few series aimed at younger readers that was accessible to adults. Book 2 starts immediately after the events of book 1 with Everett and the crew of the Everness alone in a frozen, alternate version of Earth trying to find his Dad. We are also introduced to Everett M who is an alternate Everett that has been by turned into a cyborg boy by the evil Charlotte Villiers in order to locate the real Everett and steal back the Infundibulum. Multiple alternative universes, 2 Everetts, some seriously evil baddies - this book has it all.  The action is almost non-stop and there is further development of Everett (the original) but more so of Sen, his teenage shipmate. This is great for any age.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 13, 2014
I rounded out my week with Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell. How have I missed this book?  I LOVED IT! Qwill also wrote a review of this book back in 2012. What have I been doing for the last 2 years to have missed out reading it? Powell has everything  - great characters, a fantastic plot and an interesting world. I could wax lyrical a bit longer about Ack-Ack and friends but I can't think of anything new to say that Qwill hasn't already (and in a much more eloquent fashion).

That was it for me. I am hoping to update you next week on everything I have read but I am off to Edinburgh with my sister and brother-in-law and may not get my WIR written. In case you don't hear from me Happy Reading for the next fortnight.

Cover Revealed - Macaque Attack by Gareth L. Powell


I was poking around on the Internet and saw that Gareth L. Powell had redesigned his website. I popped over to take a look. It's very, very nice. I also spotted the cover for the 3rd Ack-Ack Macaque novel, Macaque Attack, and it is as fabulous as the first two. The cover is by Jake Murray.  I am an unabashed fan of this outstanding series.


Cover Revealed - Macaque Attack by Gareth L. Powell
In his third novel-length adventure, Ack-Ack Macaque finds himself at the head of a dimension-hopping monkey army, facing an invading horde of implacable killer androids and a final reckoning with his creator, the infamous Dr Nguyun.

Meanwhile, former journalist Victoria Valois fights to save the electronic ghost of her dead husband and reclaim her stolen soul from the sands of Mars.



Macaque Attack will be published by Solaris Books at the end of 2014 in the US and Canada and in January 2015 in the UK.

Review - Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell - December 22, 2012


Ack-Ack Macaque
Author:  Gareth L. Powell
Series:  Ack-Ack Macaque
Publisher: Solaris, US - December 18, 2012 (eBook)
US - December 25, 2012 (print)
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Price: $7.99 (print)
Genre:  Science Fiction/Alternate History
ISBN:  9781781080603 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by Solaris

Review - Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell - December 22, 2012
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque.’ The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.

A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins circle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. In Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon...




My thoughts:

I can't remember the last time that I had so much fun reading a novel. Gareth L. Powell has penned a fantastic Alternate History/Science Fiction novel with memorable characters and a wonderfully inventive plot.

As noted in the book description, the novel is set both during World War II and in the latter half of the 21st Century in a world where Great Britain and France are under the British Monarchy*. I found the unified France and Britain concept in the novel extremely well done. It's really easy to accept the what-if of the world in Ack-Ack Macaque.

There is mystery, murder, intrigue, a runaway Prince, and scientists who think they are doing the right thing for humanity (we know where that leads).  The novel moves at a breathtaking pace from place to place revealing ever more about the characters as well as the cause for the murders.

I can't say enough about the title character, Ack-Ack Macaque. He is simply superb. He's a simian of action, a larger than life hero! I adore him. Victoria, the Prince, and the other main characters were all appealing and interesting.  They have difficult choices to make and you will root for them, as I did, to find the killer, figure out what is going on, and hopefully save the world.

There are some lovely touches in the novel - 1) alliterative names (e.g., Victoria Valois, Mindy Morris, and others) that fondly reminded me of comics and some of my favorite childhood cartoon shows; 2) news reports and blog posts, and 3) illuminating chapter headings.

Ack-Ack Macaque is over-the top and action-packed with an ending that is both exciting and ultimately satisfying. Gareth L. Powell has crafted a crisply written, engrossing and very entertaining novel.



A side note: The book includes extras at the end including the short story, Ack-Ack Macaque, that is the first appearance of the monkey Ack-Ack Macaque. It was published in Interzone and then in The Last Reef, a collection of short stories by Gareth L. Powell. I'm also happy to note that a sequel to Ack-Ack Macaque, Hive Monkey, will be coming in 2014!



*As noted in a recent interview with Mr. Powell, "union" talks between the two nations actually took place in the 1950s, but obviously the union did not occur.

Interview with Gareth L. Powell, author of Ack-Ack Macaque and More - December 11, 2012

Please welcome Gareth L. Powell to The Qwillery. Ack-Ack Macaque will be published in December (on differing dates in the US and UK). It has a monkey (Ack-Ack Macaque) and zeppelins. Need I say more?


Interview with Gareth L. Powell, author of  Ack-Ack Macaque and More - December 11, 2012



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

Gareth:  Thanks for inviting me.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Gareth: I can be a bit of a fidget. I tend to get up and pace around when I’m writing. I also read bits out loud, and have been known to wear a variety of hats while working.


TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers?

Gareth: I have a fondness for Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, JG Ballard, Philip K Dick and Raymond Chandler. But if you asked me who my favourite writers working TODAY were, I’d have to go with William Gibson, Iain Banks, Adam Christopher, John Courtenay Grimwood, Lauren Beukes, and M. John Harrison.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Gareth: I’m a bit of both. When starting work on a novel, I’ll write an outline, which usually comes in at around four or five pages. This tells the general story, and this is what I use as my roadmap. But within that outline, there’s plenty of room for digression, and for the characters to go off in unexpected directions. I usually write with an end in mind, but the journey to get there is one of discovery.


TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Gareth: Finding the time and the energy to do it. I have to be very disciplined.


TQ:  Describe Ack-Ack Macaque in 140 characters or less.

Gareth: A science fiction detective story with a Steampunk sheen and a primate twist, featuring monkeys, ninjas, Zeppelins, mad scientists and evil robots.


TQ:  What inspired you to write Ack-Ack Macaque?

Gareth: The character came first, and I constructed the rest of the world around him. I’d also wanted to write a detective mystery for a while, and somehow the two ideas became tangled in my head.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Ack-Ack Macaque?

Gareth: As the book is set in an alternative Europe, where Britain and France merged in the late 1950s, I did quite a bit of reading up on history and alt history forums. I also read a few articles about primate behaviour, and viewed every image of a Spitfire’s cockpit that I could find.


TQ:  What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research?

Gareth: The fact that in the late 1950s, Britain and France really did talk about a "union", with the Queen becoming the French head of state. France was having economic troubles, and faced a building crisis in Suez. But the British PM, Anthony Eden, turned the idea down. If he had said yes, (as in my novel) then the shape of Europe would be very different, with the balance of political power resting in London and Paris, rather than Paris and Berlin.


TQAck-Ack Macaque seems to bend genres. What would you say are its genre and sub-genre roots?

Gareth: At heart, it’s science fiction, in so far as I try to explain everything that happens. There’s no outright fantasy, and even the Steampunk bits are there for a good reason. It’s also, as I said, a detective story. So, if you’re asking which books could be named as predecessors, I’d have to choose Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, as it’s another alt history detective story, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.


TQ:  Tell us something about Ack-Ack Macaque that is not in the book description.

Gareth:  One of the main characters carries their dead spouse around in their head.


TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Gareth:  The monkey was definitely the easiest. He almost writes himself, and he’s such fun to write, because he’s so objectionable. The hardest to write were the two main antagonists. With villains, it’s too easy to slip into the “James Bond” mode and make them evil psychopaths. Instead, I try to work hard to give them real motivations and believable personalities. They have to believe that their course of action is the right one.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Ack-Ack Macaque?

Gareth:  It’s very difficult to answer this without giving too much away. And very difficult to pick a favourite scene. There’s a knife fight on top of a flying aircraft carrier; and a very moving scene towards the end of the book, where one of the main characters has to make a very personal life-or-death choice.


TQ:  What's next?

Gareth:  I’m currently working on another two novels, switching between them as the mood takes me. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about either at this stage, so you’re just going to have to stay tuned… In the meantime, please feel free to bombard Solaris Books with pleas for an Ack-Ack Macaque sequel. :)


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Gareth:  My pleasure. Thank you for having me.




About Ack-Ack Macaque

Ack-Ack Macaque
Solaris Books, December 26, 2012 (US)
December 12, 2012 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Gareth L. Powell, author of  Ack-Ack Macaque and More - December 11, 2012
Cover Illustration by Jake Murray
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque.’ The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.

A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins circle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. In Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon...


Ack-Ack Macaque may be found on Facebook and or you may follow the monkey on Twitter!


To see more books be Gareth click here to be taken the "Books" section of his website.




About Gareth

Interview with Gareth L. Powell, author of  Ack-Ack Macaque and More - December 11, 2012
Born and brought up in the West of England, Gareth L. Powell studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan, where he was fortunate to list the poet and novelist Helen Dunmore as one of his tutors. He has since given guest lectures on creative writing at Bath Spa University, and has written for The Irish Times, SFX Magazine, Futurismic, Acoustic Magazine, 2000AD, and the Bristol Review of Books.

Gareth is the author of the novels Ack-Ack Macaque, The Recollection and Silversands, the last two of which were favourably reviewed in The Guardian, and the short story collection The Last Reef, which Morpheus Tales described as “One of the finest collections of SF short stories I have had the privilege of reading”.

Gareth regularly contributes short stories to anthologies and magazines, and in 2007, one of his stories came top of the Interzone annual readers’ poll for best short story of the year. He has also co-written stories with Paul Graham Raven and Aliette de Bodard.

When asked why he writes science fiction, Gareth replies: I guess I’ve always been fascinated by stars and starships. As the Only Ones sang on their 1977 punk masterpiece, Another Girl, Another Planet: “Space travel’s in my blood, and there ain’t nothing I can do about it.

As a teenager, he was once fortunate enough to have coffee with Diana Wynne Jones, and still has the handwritten notes she made on one of his early short stories.

Gareth has been interviewed by numerous magazines, websites, and podcasts, and has appeared on BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme. He is a regular attendee at British genre conventions, and was a guest of honour at BristolCon in 2012.

He lives near Bristol with his wife and two children.

Website : Facebook : Pinterest : Twitter 




Melanie's Week in Review - July 13, 2014A Celebration in Honor of the 3rd Anniversary of Shadowhawk's Shade!Cover Revealed - Macaque Attack by Gareth L. PowellInterview with Ack-Ack Macaque - December 18, 2013Review - Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell - December 22, 2012Interview with Gareth L. Powell, author of  Ack-Ack Macaque and More - December 11, 2012

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