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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea

Koko Takes a Holiday
Author:  Kieran Shea
Series:  Koko 1
Publisher:  Titan Books, July 28, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
     Trade Paperback and eBook, June 10, 2014
List Price:  $7.99 (print MMP); $7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781783298990 (print MMP);  9781781168615 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review: Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea
Five hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic komodo dragons, the most challenging part of Koko’s day is deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.

Trinitytwo's Point of View

Five centuries from now, life as we know it has drastically changed. Wealthy vacationers looking to indulge in fantasies or fetishes can book trips to The Sixty Islands, a trendy tropical hotspot. Based on the size of their wallet, guests can experience a wide range of simulated violence, demolition, and danger, or encounters of a more personal nature.

Former mercenary Koko Martstellar owns and manages a brothel/saloon and enjoys the perks of the job; all the booze, drugs, and boy toys she can handle. That is until some unruly customers get out of line and Koko is forced to take matters into her own hands. Koko isn't worried about repercussions from the local authorities because her ex-mercenary buddy, Portia Delacompte, is now Executive Vice President of Operations on The Sixty Islands and Portia owes her, big time.

But when the SI security detail show up, they come down unexpectedly hard. Koko is surprised to discover that her friend Portia signed the order. It's even more puzzling because Portia is the one that offered her the opportunity of retiring to The Sixty in the first place. A mini war zone erupts in the bar and Koko escapes by the skin of her teeth, heading off planet to the Second Free Zone. She ends up on a mammoth residential barge with an assassin hot on her trail. Koko needs to get to the bottom of Portia's vendetta before she becomes komodo meat, and she's not afraid to destroy anything or anyone in her path.

I chose Koko Takes a Holiday for two reasons: I enjoy reading debuts and this is author Kieran Shea's first novel; and I was drawn to the kickass book cover. One look at that blue-haired badass and I thought 'I want to meet this woman', and as I read her story, I wasn't disappointed.

Shea's version of life in the future seems pretty grim, but Koko is the life of the party. She is a great lead character because what you see is what you get. Surprisingly enough, even though she's a hardened killer, Koko is quite likeable.

Shea's style of writing left little room for any slow spots. It was wham, bam from start to finish. I enjoyed the settings, ranging from the steamy decadence of The Sixty Islands to the more gritty and grim confines of the residential barge Alaungpaya.

Koko Takes a Holiday is a simple story, told with great panache. This book is not for the weak of stomach as it is full of graphic gore, dismemberment, and other assorted atrocities. I love its boldly irreverent, in-your-face style; it's a wild ride that I would recommend to anyone looking for a good time.

The View From Monday - June 9, 2014

Happy Monday. The end of the school year is rapidly approaching for my teens. It's especially crazy this year because my oldest is graduating and is off to college at the beginning of July! So we are running around and trying to get everything sorted. It's a fun as well as nerve-wracking time. I am really looking forward to the summer!

The View From Monday - June 9, 2014

There are 2 debuts this week:

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta;


Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea.

And from formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

Stone Song (Cold Iron 3) by D. L. McDermott


Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood.

June 9, 2014
Stone Song (e) D.L. McDermott PNR - Cold Iron 3

June 10, 2014
Hunger for You (e) A.C. Arthur PNR - Shadow Shifters: Damaged Hearts 3
Earth Awakens Orson Scott Card
Aaron Johnston
SF - First Formic War 3
The Girl With All the Gifts M.R. Carey Dys
Night Lords Aaron Dembski-Bowden F - Warhammer 40,000: Night Lords Omnibus
California Bones Greg van Eekhout UF - California Bones 1
Written in My Own Heart's Blood Diana Gabaldon TT/R - Outlander 8
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: The Novelization Jim Henson F
Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company Homer Hickam SF - Helium 3
Memory of Water (D) Emmi Itäranta Ap
The Leopard K. V. Johansen F - Marakand 1
Doctor Sleep (h2tp) Stephen King H
The Windmere: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
The Suburbanight: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
The Audit: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Night Beach: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Reclamation on the Forest Floor: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
I Heart Dogs: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
The Human Society: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Petty Zoo: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Domestic Happiness: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
TruckDriver: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Wife: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
The Last Living Summer: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
The Neighbourhood, or, To the Devil With You: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Poor David, or, The Possibility of Coincidence in Situations of Multiple Occurre: Short Story (e) Susie Moloney H
Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld (h2tp) Larry Niven
Edward M. Lerner
SF - Known Space
Scarred (e) Caris Roane PNR - Savage Chains 2
Shaman (h2tp) Kim Stanley Robinson SF
Allegiance Susannah Sandlin PNR - Penton Vampire Legacy4
Bellman & Black (h2tp) Diane Setterfield Go
Koko Takes a Holiday (D) Kieran Shea SF
Julia (ri) Peter Straub H
The Walking-stick Forest: A Tor.Com Original (e) Anna Tambour DF
Shield and Crocus Michael R. Underwood F
The Insects of Love: A Tor.Com Original (e) Genevieve Valentine SF/F
Robogenesis: A Novel Daniel H. Wilson SF - Robocalypse 2
Doomed City Jonas Winner Th - Berlin Gothic 2

June 11, 2014
Vintage Visions: Essays on Early Science Fiction Arthur B. Evans SF - Early Classics of Science Fiction
Chapter Six: A Tor.Com Original (e) Stephen Graham Jones Z

June 12, 2014
Headlong Simon Ings SF
Declan (e) Rae Rivers PNR - The Keepers 2

June 14, 2014
Her Klingon Soul: Star Trek Voyager (ri) Michael Jan Friedman SF - Star Trek: Voyager: Day of Honor 3

June 15, 2014
Bliss House Laura Benedict Gh
If England Were Invaded William Le Queux SF/AH

D - Debut
e - eBook
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback

AH - Alternate History
Ap - Apocalyptic
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
Gh - Ghosts
Go - Gothic
H - Horror
PNR - Paranormal Romance
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy
Z - Zombies

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts

There are 7 debuts (that I know about) for June. Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The June debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite June cover for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on June 15th.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at DAC.TheQwillery  @  gmail . com (remove the spaces).

Katherine Harbour

Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel
Thorn Jack Trilogy 1
Harper Voyager, June 24, 2014
Hardcover and eBook,  352 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
A spectacular, modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad of Tam Lin—a beguiling fusion of love, fantasy, and myth vividly imagined and steeped in gothic atmosphere.

Their creed is "Mischief, Malevolence, and Mayhem."

Serafina Sullivan, named for angels and a brave Irish prince, is haunted by dreams of her older sister, Lily Rose, a sprite, ethereal beauty who unexpectedly took her own life. A year has passed since Lily's death, and now eighteen-year-old Finn and her college-professor father have moved back to Fair Hollow, her father's pretty little hometown alongside the Hudson River. Populated with socialites, hippies, and famous dramatic artists, every corner of this quaint, bohemian community holds bright possibilities—and dark enigmas, including the alluring Jack Fata, scion of the town's most powerful family.

Jack's smoldering looks and air of secrecy draw Finn into a dangerous romance . . . and plunge her into an eerie world of shadow and light ruled by the beautiful and fearsome Reiko Fata. Exciting and monstrous, the Fata family and its circle of strange, aristocratic denizens wield irresistible charm and glamorous power— a tempting and terrifying blend of good and evil, magic and mystery, that holds perilous consequences for a curious girl like Finn.

As she becomes more deeply entwined with Jack, Finn discovers that their lives and those of the ones she loves, including her best friends Christie Hart and Sylvie Whitethorn, are in peril. But an unexpected ally may help her protect them: her beloved sister, Lily Rose. Within the pages of the journal that Lily left behind are clues Finn must decipher to unlock the secret of the Fatas.
Yet the wrathful and deadly Reiko has diabolical plans of her own for Finn, as well as powerful allies. To save herself and to free her beloved Jack from the Fatas, Finn must stand up against the head of the family and her clever minions, including the vicious, frightening Caliban—a battle that will reveal shocking secrets about Lily Rose's death and about Finn herself . . .

Evocative and spellbinding, rich with legend, myth, and folklore, filled with heroes and villains, ghosts and selkies, changelings and fairies, witches and demons, Thorn Jack is a modern fairy tale and a story of true love, set in a familiar world, where nothing is as it seems.

Emmi Itäranta

Memory of Water
Harper Voyager, June 10, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook,  272 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
The award-winning speculative debut novel, now in English for the first time!

In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria's father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.

Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.

Susan Klaus

Flight of the Golden Harpy
Tor Books, June 17, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
Kari, a young woman, returns to the jungle planet of Dora after ten years in Earth’s schools determined to unravel the mysteries surrounding the harpies, a feral species with the appearance half-bird, half-human.

The human colonists believe harpies are dangerous animals, which are known to steal women. The creatures are hunted like wild game, their wings considered rare trophies. But Kari distrusts these rumors. When she was attacked by a monster in the jungle as a child, a male harpy with rare golden coloring rescued her.

Constant hunting by men has driven the harpies to the brink of extinction. Is Kari’s savior, the elegant golden harpy, is still alive? If so, how long can he and his flock survive the ravages of mankind?

Susan Klaus's Flight of the Golden Harpy is an imaginative and romantic fantasy novel that questions what it means to be human.

Lauren Owen

The Quick
Random House, June 17, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
For fans of Anne Rice, The Historian, and The Night Circus, an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London

1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

Kieran Shea

Koko Takes a Holiday
Titan Books, June 10, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
Five hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic komodo dragons, the most challenging part of Koko’s day is deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.

Auralee Wallace

Escape Publishing, June 1, 2014
eBook, 249 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
Heroes meets Bridget Jones in this brilliant, hilarious debut novel about a girl who just wants to save the world...

Bremy St James, daughter of billionaire Atticus St James, has been cut off from the family fortune and is struggling to survive in a world that no longer holds its breath every time she buys a new outfit. To make matters worse, her twin sister is keeping secrets, loan sharks are circling, and the man of her dreams — a newspaper reporter — is on assignment to bring down everyone with the last name St James.

Things are certainly looking bleak for the down-and-out socialite until a good deed throws her into the path of the city’s top crime-fighter, Dark Ryder. Suddenly, Bremy has a new goal: apprentice to a superhero, and start her own crime-fighting career.

Ryder has no need for a sidekick, but it turns out the city needs Bremy’s help. Atticus St James is planning the crime of the century, and Bremy may be the only one able to get close enough to her father to stop him.

Now all she needs to do is figure out this superhero thing in less than a month, keep her identity secret from the man who could very well be The One, and save the city from total annihilation.

Well, no one ever said being a superhero would be easy...

James Walley

The Forty First Wink
Ragnarok Publications, June 16, 2014

2014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts
Marty is having a bad morning. Roused from slumber by a gang of polo mallet-wielding monkeys and a mysterious voice in his wardrobe, he must quickly come to terms with the fact that the world outside his door is now the world inside his head. Lying in wait amidst bleak, gloomy streets, deserted theme parks, and circus-themed nightclubs, lurks the oppressive shadow of a myriad of giggling, cackling pursuers, hell bent on throwing a custard pie or two into the works.

Assisted by a string of half-cocked schemes, a troupe of tiny unlikely allies, and (literally) the girl of his dreams, Marty sets out on a heroic quest to wake up and get out of bed.

Early reviews have compared it to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Equal parts epic, funny and dark, The Forty First Wink plummets headlong into the realms of askew reality, adding elements of the macabre, and squeezing in an unlikely love story for good measure. It will take you on a journey where not even the sky is the limit, and literally anything could be around the next corner. The question is, do you have the guts (and the sanity) to find out?

Tracey/Trinitytwo’s Favorites of 2015Review: Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran SheaThe View From Monday - June 9, 20142014 Debut Author Challenge - June 2014 Debuts

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