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In Review: November Round Up

This has been an exceptionally busy month for me, both on the blog front, and writing in general. Oddly enough, despite all the words written, hardly any of them were for reviews. And of those books I did read in November, one was a re-read for SciFiMonth. I hope to do better in December. Especially as this last month saw an upsurge in interest from Authors and Publishers alike, in my reviewing work for them.

Author and journalist, Laura Fahrenthold, reached out to me, asking if I would be interested in reviewing her upcoming, The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles: A Love Story. To which I said yes. How could I say otherwise? Laura is writing about the tragedy that struck her life, and her family, and recounts how she decided to deal with the loss, on her own terms. She bought an RV, took her kids and their dog, and drove across the United States and Canada in search of healing and understanding.

Author: Laura Fahrenthold
Publisher: Hatherleigh Press
ISBN: 9781578267682
Pub Date: June 6, 2018

I was also contacted by another journalist turned author, Ian Thomas Shaw, who asked if I would be interested in reading his latest novel, Quill of the Dove. In total contrast to Fahrenthold’s novel, Shaw is writing about something just as close to him, on topics he’s covered while in the Middle East. Written as a political thriller, Shaw presents real life events, and the current political intrigue in Palestine and the Lebanon, as seen through the eyes of two journalists, looking for truth.

Author: Ian Thomas Shaw
Publisher: Guernica Editions
ISBN: 9781771833783
Pub Date: April 1, 2019

Add to the fact I’m reviewing Roar of Sky by Beth Cato for the SF magazine, Foundation. I need to get cracking, as I also have Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell still in my pile, for review.

Meanwhile, November was a fun month, and I really enjoyed participating in SciFiMonth. It was a great chance to highlight a lot of my favourite science fiction books and authors. I hope you found something to grab your attention, and interest you, whether from In Space No One Can Hear You, to A Blast From The Past, and my popular Book Suggestions for People Who Don’t Like SF!

And finally, remembering the sad passing of one of comics books greatest heroes: Stan Lee.


Let’s Play Word Games

Those who know me, and those who know me well, know that I love to collect words. All sorts of words. But I also collect puns, sayings, and snippets that I find of value, whether it’s to remind me of who I am and where I fit in, to quotes that make me laugh and smile.

One of the fun things I collect are play on words, as in:

  • AUCTION FEVER — more bid curiosity
  • FINGER PAINTING — handscapes
  • ANTIQUE SHOW — fun at the circas
  • LEADING ARTIST — top drawer

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In Space, No One Can Hear You …

In space no one can hear you, what, scream? Okay, hands up, I was going to be a tad naughty, and add the word but then decided to keep this post clean. Which brings me to today’s topic. Does no one ever go to the bathroom in fantasy and SF novels? I mean, come on, people. Does no one fart, or burp, eat, drink, fornicate or okay, I’ve read a few fantasy books with most if not all of this list. But in SF, it’s like everyone exists in a vacuum—yes, I love me a good pun—that is, we read some great world building, have intense moments with characters hellbent on saving the universe, lasers fizzling through the primordial ether, as sentient spaceships battle the unseen enemy.

We read about diplomatic first contact with Foreigners. Fight off alien invasions, subvert god-like Emperors on desert planets, in far-flung futures. We hop across the galaxy through ancient alien star-gates, to myriad worlds beyond our imagination. We fight off merciless virus outbreaks, and nature gone wild, wield futuristic tech like it was always a part of our bodies but

But when the hell does anyone stop to drink, eat, and do, you know, the other? Okay, so maybe it’s not glamourous to have someone ramping a cold bacon and egg butty into their mouths, while simultaneously pulling on their gas mask, during a viral outbreak, or alien invasion. But, in real life, these things happen.

Specifically, anyone who has ever been in the military will know what I’m talking about. During my tenure in Her Britannic Majesty’s Armed Services, we had weekly, monthly, and yearly drills. Sometime, they even felt as if they were happening daily. But these drills tested you while under simulated combat situations. It was all about seeing how you coped, and evaluating your reactions, especially to stress.

And always, as if it were written somewhere, in stone, on a tablet sent down from God. Food was always delivered the second an air raid siren sounded. Giving you 8 seconds in which to not only dress, get your gas mask on, but eat—believe me when I tell you how many times I’ve tried not to laugh inside my gas mask on seeing a superior office with egg glued on the inside of his or her mask! Oh, to have had an iPhone way back then. But I digress.

I can only bring to mind a couple of novels in which people actually stop to eat, and do ‘normal’ stuff. And while some might find it verging on the boring, for those of us who have lived this kind of life. It adds authenticity to a scene. Authors who take the time to include these kind of seemingly frivolous details, to my mind, add a little more depth in their world-building.

So here’s to that bonding scene we will never see between characters, set in the mess hall, where a fight breaks out, food is being thrown along with the punches, but the second the alarm bells start ringing, everyone heads off to do their job like the consummate professional they’re not!

Which brings me to my recommendation of the week, TERMINAL ALLIANCE, a Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse novel, by Jim C. Hines. If you’ve never read any of Jim’s blend of fantasy meets warped SF, then may I humble suggest you start with this one and laugh your

When the Krakau came to Earth, they planned to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species.

This would have worked out better for all involved if they hadn’t arrived after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. You know—your standard apocalypse.

The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn their ships around and go home. After all, it’s hard to establish diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.

Their second impulse was to try to fix us.

You can read the First Chapter for free, here: (PDF | EPUB | MOBI)

Top 5 Tuesday: My Top 5 Winter Reads

Welcome to another Top 5 Tuesday, hosted by the Bionic Bookworm herself, Shanah! This weeks topic for the last Tuesday in November is probably fitting, as we head into the December and the winter months.

Given my book haul from last week, plus any number of books still unread for SciFiMonth, I think I need to get myself sorted, and get reading. While I might be choosing these books as potentials, that doesn’t mean they’re going to get read in a timely fashion. My track record this last month has been deplorable. But then, I was doing way too much in November, so maybe I can sit back and enjoy a good read through out the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Anyway, here are my choices:

SCYTHE by Neal Shusterman

Inspired to get a hold of a copy after reading Christina’s review, over at Recipe and Read. Not only was her enthusiasm infectious, but the premise for this one has me intrigued — that of a population in the far future controlled (and culled) by the SCYTHES. The perfect life, till, it’s your turn to die. I’m looking forward to the world building and seeing what the leading pair of protagonists, Citra and Rowan, get up to!

THE BLOODPRINT by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Another impulse buy inspired by my recent foray into reading THE CITY OF BRASS by S. A. Chakraborty. I went looking for similar themed novels, and this one popped up on my radar. Despite mixed reviews, I’m hopeful this one will deliver another riveting read.

THE SILENT GIRLS by Eric Rickstad

Norrie over at, Reading Under The Blankie, turned me onto Eric Rickstad, after she reviewed a couple of his novels. A copy of The Silent Girls was there, on the bookshelf at my local book store, so this will be my first foray into his writing. And, quite possibly, my first PI novel featuring a retired detective turned PI hunting a vicious killer.

EMBERS OF WAR by Gareth L. Powell

Given this was sent me as an ARC by Titan Books, I’m way behind on reading and reviewing this one. Gareth is not a new author to me, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read of his work, so far. So I have high expectations for EMBERS OF WAR. This is a start of a new series Powell admits to being military space opera. What more could I ask for, a far-flung war, sentient AIs, and lots of ethical and political questions to consider.

THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh

This one is another buy because of a review I read, though, of Cavanagh’s THIRTEEN. Not wanting to start a series with book two. I had this one ordered so I could start the series from the beginning. I love me a good police procedural, and love crime fiction in general. But haven’t come across or read many courtroom style thrillers. So I’m really looking forward to seeing if this is as riveting as the back cover blurb would have us believe.

Okay, over to you, what are your top 5 choices for winter reads?

I’m A Science Fiction Nerd And — This Is My Genre #Tag

How perfect in SciFiMonth that Norrie over at, Reading Under The Blankie, tagged me to talk more about my favourite genre—which just happens to be, science fiction. As if I haven’t stopped all month boring everyone with my book and author recommendations, here’s me talking a little bit more about the genre I love.

This tag was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek.

What is your favourite genre?

Ha! As if readers stopping by my blog don’t already now, but in case you didn’t, it’s science fiction. And the even broader umbrella: speculative fiction.

Who is your favourite author in this genre?

One? Only one? You’re kidding me I’d have to say, as a child, maybe Robert A. Heinlein, but in my teenage years it was probably Anne McCaffrey and C. J. Cherryh I read the most. It’s hard to choose only one.

What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

I’ve said it before, it’s the sheer scope and range of the genre that’s epic: from space opera, to military SF, climate SF, near future, dystopian, far-flung futures, colonization, gadgets and tech, the possibilities are as endless as “what-if”.

What is the book that started your love of this genre?

I think I posted earlier in the month about the books that got me hooked into reading SF. Most of those earlier books were Robert Heinlein’s juveniles: Red Planet, Podkyne of Mars, Have Space Suit Will Travel. All fun adventure stories featuring tweens and young teenagers.

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

You only have to read through most of November’s posts to find me recommending this book or that author. But try: 6 Sci-Fi Book Suggestions For People Who Don’t Like SF.

Why do you read?

That’s like asking me: Why do you breath? It’s an automatic response I have no control over. I have to read, just as I have to breath.


Okay, I’d love to know what your favourite genre is: Vera | Inge | Joe