Review: The Clockwork Detective

By R.A. McCandless

Publisher: Ellysian Press

Genre: Steampunk/ Fantasy/ Murder Mystery

Released: May 2019

Rating: 3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

Can I say first, what a gorgeous cover this is? It’s what first attracted me to this novel. And then the title and blurb were very intriguing, too:

Aubrey Hartman left the Imperial battlefields with a pocketful of medals, a fearsome reputation, and a clockwork leg. The Imperium diverts her trip home to investigate the murder of a young druid in a strange town. She is ordered to not only find the killer but prevent a full-scale war with the dreaded Fae. Meanwhile, the arrival of a sinister secret policeman threatens to dig up Aubrey’s own secrets – ones that could ruin her career. It soon becomes clear that Aubrey has powerful enemies with plans to stop her before she gets started. Determined to solve the mystery, Aubrey must survive centaurs, thugs, and a monster of pure destruction.

Sounds good, right? Fae in a steampunk world and a murder mystery. I haven’t read anything from R. A. McCandless before, so I don’t know how this compares to his other two novels, which are urban fantasy. All the ingredients are here, but they just didn’t add up to a tasty enough dish for me.

Aubrey is an engaging protagonist with an interesting backstory and solid detective skills. The clockwork leg is a stroke of genius. I think one of the problems is that I wanted more fantasy and science fiction wonder here. What I got felt more of a police procedural than anything else, despite the speculative elements. You could drop Aubrey into real world Victorian London, replace the druids with priests and the Centaurs with East End thugs and the first two thirds of the story would unfold in much the same way.

The final third begins with more supernatural happenings, but then devolves into so many pages of thinking and dialogue that it loses most of its momentum and tension. The ending wraps things up nicely, but again is too slow and extended.

I still think there are things here to enjoy, and I know that some readers have loved this novel, but it just scrapes in at three stars for me.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from #Netgalley, courtesy of Ellysian Press.

Review: Limited Wish

Impossible Times #2

Mark Lawrence

Publisher:   47 North

Edition:   Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Release date:   28 May 2019

Rating:   4 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.

It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.

When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out—literally.

Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime—or lifetimes.

Game on.

My Thoughts:

Limited Wish is another really fun read from Mark Lawrence. Nick and his friends are back, along with two new characters: Helen, and a mysterious girl who keeps appearing and disappearing. I guessed who she was, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment. There are many parallels to the previous book, One Word Kill, which is also fun. Things are similar yet different, in interesting ways.

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Review: Illuminae

(The Illuminae Files #1)

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

RATING: 5 STARS!

Yes, another 5-star read.That’s two months in a row. And I didn’t see this one coming at all.

The blurb begins like this:
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

Personally, that didn’t really grab my interest. It makes the novel sound as if it’s a teenage romance. It’s not, by the way. It’s a clever, sophisticated, science fiction thriller that just happens to have a romance at the heart of it.

But I didn’t know that. In fact, the only reason I picked Illuminae up is because the blurb also says the story is told through:

a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more .

That did sound intriguing. And it is. Incredibly intriguing and unbelievably well done. Space helmets off to Kaufman and Kristoff. There is no linking narration. None at all. Just documents written by different people and transcripts of conversations recorded on the spaceships. Some of the documents contain images and some of the conversations are depicted graphically, too. I don’t want to explain this in more detail because I so enjoyed turning those pages and seeing something totally unexpected and often unexpectedly moving. I don’t want to spoil that experience for anyone. It took a little while to adjust to the story being told this way, but by about page 50 I was completely enthralled.

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Review: One Word Kill

(Impossible Times #1)

Mark Lawrence

Published By: 47 North

Release Date: 1 May 2019

Genre: Science Fiction / Coming of Age

Rating: 4.5 STARS


” In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next.” 

I wasn’t prepared, either, for just how good this was going to be.

Mark Lawrence is an established and well-regarded Fantasy author. He is also a scientist. So it’s surprising that this is his first foray into Science Fiction. And he nails it in every area: the science, the characters, the action, the 80s nostalgia, and the real emotion the characters feel and the reader feels for them.

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What I Read in April

April is autumn here. It’s a time to sit outside in the mellow sunshine with a book and a coffee and enjoy the turning leaves.

I read ten books in April, all fiction: eight novels and two novellas. And I didn’t abandon any of the books I started. It was a very good reading month, with ratings ranging from 3 stars to 5 stars, with an average of 4 stars for the month.

What I read (ranked from lowest to highest rated):

1. LEVERAGE IN DEATH (In Death #47) by JD Robb

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Crime Fiction, Futuristic, 3 stars

This brings me up to date with this series, but this one was a disappointment. In any long series, there will inevitably be highs and lows. It wasn’t a terrible book, but the characters seemed caricatures, each one just a set of their typical quirks and no more. The mystery wasn’t up to par, either, and the perpetrators and their motives just didn’t convince me. Still, a quick read with some fun to be had. Not recommended unless you’re already a fan and/or want to complete the series.

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Review: Walking to Aldebaran

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Publisher: Rebellion

Release date: 28 May 2019

Genre: Science Fiction

I had to think about this one for a while to be sure of what I wanted to say about it. Even to be sure what I think about it. It hit me with quite a punch, so it was effective in provoking a reaction, but did I like it? And more importantly, do I recommend it?

The short answer is yes, although this novella wasn’t at all what I was expecting from Tchaikovsky this time around. Here’s the long answer.

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