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Melanie's Week in Review - July 24, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review - July 24, 2016

I am sure you will be glad to know that summer has landed in the UK. This week was 'scorchio'. Tuesday and Wednesday had temperatures in the 30Cs. It was fantastic. Maybe not so fantastic on the tube but I refuse to complain after so many weeks of grey, gloomy days with rain, rain and more rain. This lovely weather meant that I got to spend some time outside reading and watching back to back episodes of Grace and Frankie which I think it is hilarious. So what did I read in the sunshine?


Melanie's Week in Review - July 24, 2016
It was another book from SPFBO2016 with Shadows Bear No Names (The Blackened Prophecy Part 1) by Oganalp Canatan. This was a bit of a change for me as it was science fiction and all of the other books I have been reading for this competition have been fantasy. I quite enjoyed this change in genre and the tale of the reluctant hero Ray.
Ray just wants to live his ordinary life as a freighter captain delivering goods around the Consortium but fate has other ideas. After the loss of his crew and the destruction of his ship Ray is determined that he must make amends. However, an elderly priest is just as determined that Ray fulfills his destiny as the new found saviour of mankind. Meanwhile a covert organisation has infiltrated the Consortium and one of it's special agents is on the hunt for Ray. Flight and fight across the galaxy as Ray tries to escape his destiny and not get murdered in the meantime, all in the backdrop of an alien race trying to take over the universe. A hair raising science fiction adventure with a dash of Indiana Jones and healthy sprinkling of Star Trek Voyager.

I quite enjoyed Shadows Bear No Names which is pretty good going for me as I don't always enjoy reading science fiction. I thought that Ray was a believable character and thought he was well supported by Brother Cavill, Sarah and the ancient Ga'an. I also thought that the alien invasion plotline and search for the tools to banish them from the galaxy was interesting. This was a sound debut novel and well done to Canatan. Where I thought it needed improvement was during the battles scenes. These were just too long and I found myself partaking in a bit of skim reading. Had Canatan tightened these chapters up a bit more I think he would have had a fantastic debut.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 24, 2016
Book number 2 for me this week was Inspector Hobbes and the Blood by Wilkie Martin. Let me just start off by saving that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND IT WAS HILARIOUS.  Yes, I am shouting...why you may ask? This was the first book in a long time that I really loved reading. It was also one of the first books in even longer that I have read that I laughed out loud while reading even on public transport!

Andy doesn't realise that his life is about to change when he is sent on assignment with Inspector Hobbes. A veritable crime wave has hit the small Cotswold town and the larger than life Inspector Hobbes is on the case. Following ...quite far behind... is the slovenly, unfit and bumbling Andy Caplet. It's not long before Andy is living with the mysterious Inspector and his tooth collecting housekeeper Mrs. Goodfellow, who both scares Andy and delights him with her sumptuous meals. When Hobbes goes missing Andy is determined to fight his fear and find the Inspector. Armed with a leg of lamb and accompanied by an extra large dog Andy is on the case of lifetime.

What more can I say? This is a fantastic read and hats off to Martin for writing such hilarious characters in such hilarious situations. Andy is so inept that you can't help but cheer him on. Book 2 is next on my list and I can hardly wait to read it.


Melanie's Week in Review - July 24, 2016
I have been remiss in not telling you about another great book I read a few weeks ago - The Ghoul King by Guy Haley. This is the second novella in the Dreaming Cities series. This instalment is set a few weeks after the events of book 1 and finds the Knight Quinn down on his luck and on the wrong side of the angels. The story is retold by Jaxon, a local healer. Through Jaxon's memories we travel with Quinn and Jaxon as they search for the means of fixing an enigmatic woman's robot. What they find is sooo much more.

I apologise for not telling you much more than that. What I can say is that I loved this book. From the first page there is a huge reveal and by the end your eyes are almost popping out with all the secrets that have been uncovered. I can HARDLY wait for the next instalment. All this plus a great cover


That is it for me for this week.  I had a really good week this week and looking forward to next week where I will hopefully continue the trend. Until then - Happy Reading!

Melanie's Week in Review - May 22, 2016


Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016


Welcome back ( I say to myself). This should be What I Read on Holiday rather than my Week in Review but I didn't want to have to dream up a new header image.  Which I think I need a new one as my lovely keyboard Kindle died a few years. Anyway, let me tell you what I have been reading since I last posted.


Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016
I was instantly drawn to the cover of The Emperor's Railroad by Guy Haley and I wasn't disappointed with what happens behind the cover. This is a novella, told in first person by the young boy Abney. Abney and his mother are trying to travel across a Z-poc ravaged land to find her relatives when they come across Quinn, a Knight of the Dreaming City. Quinn doesn't look like your typical hero but he is and saves Abney and his mother more than once. This is a perilous journey and one that leaves neither Abney, his mother nor Quinn unscathed.

I really enjoyed this story. I haven't read a story written in the first person for some time. I don't know why but stories written in the first person are not always that 'digestable'. The Emperor's Railroad reads very much like you are reading Abney's memoirs and it's quite the story to tell. A great short read. I wonder what happens next? I won't have long to find out as The Ghoul King (Dreaming Cities 2) is out in July.


Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016
I discovered another short story - Waylaid by Kim Harrison which is a cross over between Harrison's The Hollows and the Peri Reed Chronicles. In this short Rachel from the Hollows finds herself in Peri's apartment and not sure how to get back to her own magical world. This is very much a story of trusting the new and unbelievable and having a little faith in the unknown. I am a little bit 'mmmmm' about Waylaid. I can't say that I really liked it, at least not as much as The Hollows series but then again, I didn't really enjoy The Drafter that much where the story is set. I think if I had enjoyed that more I would have enjoyed this merge of the two worlds. It is a short story so I didn't suffer for long!


Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016
The last story I am going to tell you about is The Corporation Wars: Dissendence by Ken MacLeod. This is the first novel in the Corporation Wars Trilogy. You may know that I like watching science fiction better than I like reading it but I thought I would give this story a go. This novel is one of the few occasions where the title gives the story away. This is the story of two corporations that end up going to war when their robots gain sentience and want a few answers to their purpose in life. Brought in to fight them are the rebels and anarchists from centuries ago as they battle in a virtual world. Basically this is man vs machine. Who will survive?

I think this book was 'ok'. It is a bit long winded but overall a good story. I liked the chapters about the robot insurgence over those about the virtual reality fighters. If you are a SF fan then I would definitely give this a go.


Well folks, that is it for me this week. I hope you have missed me :). Lucky for you I will back next week so until then Happy Reading!





The Emperor's Railroad
The Dreaming Cities 1
Tor.com, April 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 144 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016
Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…




Waylaid
The Hollows / Peri Reed Chronicles
Pocket Star, April 4, 2016
eBook, 100 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016
Worlds collide when Rachel Morgan of The Hollows meets Peri Reed of The Drafter in this exciting new short story from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison.

The paranormal and the futuristic meet in this thrilling novella featuring your favorite badass heroines from two of “the amazingly gifted” (RT Book Reviews) Kim Harrison’s most beloved series: the Hollows and the Peri Reed Chronicles. The magic of the Hollows runs full force into the technological sophistication of The Drafter when a device capable of carrying a city’s data stream pulls Rachel, the bounty hunter witch of the Hollows, between realities, marooning her in a world where the supernatural holds no sway. To get Rachel and Jenks home, Peri, the dangerous renegade of 2030, must decide what will chart her future: her blind trust in those who grant her power, or her intuition telling her to believe.




The Corporation Wars: Dissidence
The Corporation War Trilogy 1
Orbit (US), May 10, 2016
     eBook, 336 pages
Orbit (US), September 27, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages

Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016
They've died for the companies more times than they can remember. Now they must fight to live for themselves.

Sentient machines work, fight and die in interstellar exploration and conflict for the benefit of their owners - the competing mining corporations of Earth. But sent over hundreds of light-years, commands are late to arrive and often hard to enforce. The machines must make their own decisions, and make them stick.

With this new found autonomy come new questions about their masters. The robots want answers. The companies would rather see them dead.

The Corporation Wars: Dissidence is an all-action, colorful space opera giving a robot's-eye view of a robot revolt.

Interview with Guy Haley


Please welcome Guy Haley to The Qwillery.  The Emperor's Railroad (Dreaming Cities 1) is out on April 19th from Tor.com.



Interview with Guy Haley




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written over a dozen novels in a variety of genres. Has your writing process changed over the years?

Guy:  I don’t know if it’s fundamentally changed. I tend to approach projects differently, but even that variation has settled into a pattern now I’ve been writing fiction full time for six years. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I don’t. Usually I’m working on several projects simultaneously. When I have a lot of deadlines screaming at me is when I’m most productive, and probably most creative too.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Guy:  Sitting down and doing it! I faff something terrible, but I suppose I’m quite disciplined. It’s bad day if write less than 3500 words. Emotionally, the middle part of a book can become a real slog. That’s probably the hardest thing, getting through that phase where it’s turning out nowhere near as good as you imagined and you’re running behind and everything you’ve ever done is rubbish and your wife shouting at you for being grumpy about it. I persevere, with gritted teeth.



TQDescribe The Emperor's Railroad (The Dreaming Cities 1) in 140 characters or less.

Guy:  In a world (it always has to start “In a world”) when civilisation has fallen and the dead outnumber the living, by gun and sword one man can make a difference.



TQTell us something about The Emperor's Railroad that is not found in the book description.

Guy:  Hmm, the book description is quite thorough. I’ll say, it’s an SF/fantasy/Western hybrid, but it really does make sense even so.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Emperor's Railroad?

Guy:  Watching the Walking Dead and thinking, “Why don’t they just make some armour. Chainmail would do.” Which led to “Surely the number of zombies would eventually decrease rapidly once they began to fall apart. What kind of society would arise afterwards?” and then finally “Where the hell do all these zombies come from anyway?”



TQWhat appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Guy:  I write both SF and fantasy, and often mix the two up with scant regard for genre boundaries, but if I had to encapsulate the essence of the two, I’d say SF examines what it means to be human, whereas fantasy explores what it means to feel human, if that makes any sort of sense at all. SF is often existential, whereas fantasy is often emotional. Fantasy is also an intensely moral genre, and I mean that in a good way. It’s this opportunity to look at the big questions in life in different ways that makes both SF/fantasy so appealing.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Emperor's Railroad?

Guy:  I plundered my memory banks, specifically for things I’d read or watched about a far future Earth without people in it. I read Lewis Dartnell’s The Knowledge (brilliant reference if you want to write post-apocalyptic fiction), and I spent a lot of time virtually rambling around West Virginia on Google streetview.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Guy:  The book is delivered in the voice of Abney, who as a boy travelled with the hero Quinn, and as an old man is now relating his experiences to the reader. His voice came delightfully easily, and made the book a pleasure to write. All the other characters are viewed through this “Abney filter”, if you will. I would say all I was doing was writing down his story, which is nonsense, of course - it came out of my subconscious by mysterious processes - but sometimes it feels like you really have very little to do with the writing process at all. This was one of those stories. Great fun.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Emperor's Railroad?

Guy:  I don’t think it is possible to write anything without having some sort of social issue involved. We all live in societies, none of them are perfect. So yes, they are in there. But if you mean, “do I tackle head-on Twitter’s hot-button topics”, then not in this book. In fact, I made a point of dissolving todays’ racial boundaries. A few places aside, most people in this future have a mixed heritage and a homogenous look, having descended from very small groups of survivors.

I do peek obliquely at the status of women in society, but it’s not a major theme. I’m not a fan of fiction (or people, really) that like to beat you over the head with “issues”, but equally I hate it when they are ignored or diminished. Naturally, genuine issues about identity, sexuality, politics, society, the environment, whatever, all make excellent cores for stories – and indeed one of the later novellas in this series does centre on such an issue. But this isn’t an “issue” book. It’s about heroism, family, duty, and survival.



TQWhich question about The Emperor's Railroad do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Guy:  Should I buy it?

Yes! If you like any of the following: post-apocalyptic fiction, zombies, Clint Eastwood, or weird science fiction. Even if you don’t, it’s only two dollars. Give it a try. I’ll give you a puppy. (I lie. There is no puppy).



TQGive us one or two favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Emperor's Railroad.

Guy:  I like the opening line: “Quinn had two swords. One for killing the living, and one for killing the dead.”



TQWhat's next?

Guy:  I’ve always got a lot on. Two short stories, a novel rewrite, the sequel to The Emperor’s Railroad, and two short novels to do before May. Jeepers! Actually, that scares me. I better do some writing.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Guy:  Any time!





The Emperor's Railroad
The Dreaming Cities 1
Tor.com, April 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 144 pages

Interview with Guy Haley
Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…





Upcoming

The Ghoul King
The Dreaming Cities 2
Tor.com, July 12, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 176 pages

Interview with Guy Haley
Quinn returns in THE GHOUL KING, another story of the Dreaming Cities by Guy Haley.

The Knight, Quinn, is down on his luck, and he travels to the very edge of the civilized world – whatever that means, any more – to restock his small but essential inventory.

After fighting a series of gladiatorial bouts against the dead, he finds himself in the employ of a woman on a quest to find the secret to repairing her semi-functional robot.

But the technological secret it guards may be one truth too many…





About Guy

A prolific freelance author and journalist, Guy Haley is the author of Reality 36, the Warhammer 40,000 novels Valedor and Baneblade, among others. He lives in Yorkshire with his wife and son.


Website  ~  Twitter @guyhaley  ~  Facebook

Spotlight - Champion of Mars by Guy Haley


Love novels about or set on Mars? You can pick up Guy Haley's Champion of Mars for only 99p or 99¢ at Amazon!


Champion of Mars
Solaris, April 30, 2012
eBook, 448 pages

Spotlight - Champion of Mars by Guy Haley
For Fans of The Martian and the Mars Trilogy.

In the near future Dr. Holland, a scientist running from a painful past, joins the Mars colonisation effort, cataloguing the remnants of Mars’ biosphere before it is swept away by the terraforming programme.

When an artefact is discovered deep in the caverns of the red planet, Holland’s employers interfere, leading to tragedy. The consequences ripple throughout time, affecting Holland’s present, and the destiny of the red planet.

For in the far future, Mars is dying a second time. The Final War of men and spirits is beginning. In a last bid for peace, the disgraced Champion Val Mora and his ‘spirit’ lover are set free from the Arena to find the long-missing Librarian of Mars, the only hope to save mankind.

Holland’s and the Champion’s lives intertwine, across the millennia, in a breathtaking story of vast ambition.





About Guy

Spotlight - Champion of Mars by Guy Haley
Guy Haley is an experienced science-fiction journalist, writer and magazine editor, He has been editor of White Dwarf and Death Ray, among other magazines, and deputy editor of SFX. He is the author the Richards and Klein series from Angry Robot, and writes for Games Workshop's Black Library. A northerner by birth and a southerner by accident, Guy lives near Bath with his wife, son, cat and a huge malamute called Magnus. He misses the beer, but the weather is nicer.

Follow Guy on Twitter, and for more information visit the official Guy Haley website.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 24, 2016Melanie's Week in Review  - May 22, 2016Interview with Guy HaleySpotlight - Champion of Mars by Guy Haley

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