Monday, 23 January 2017

#musicmonday: Beautiful Exchange | Hillsong



When only love could make a way
You gave your life in a beautiful exchange
When only love could break these chains
You gave your life in a beautiful exchange

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

#bookreview: Galactic Empires by Neil Clarke

Galactic EmpiresGalactic Empires by Neil Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't had the greatest track record of picking good anthologies to read. Most of them garner something like a 3-star rating; a mixed up kind of meh. I'm also rather picky about my science fiction. Too hard and I get bored, too soft and it often gets too romantic for me.

What Neil Clarke has done here is create a collection that hits just the right spot with the right balance. Obviously, everything is galactic - whether it's a human-settled planet, or humans somewhere in space, or even no humans at all, just aliens - and based around empires - some benign, some conquering, others falling apart. Multispecies, multiracial, multigendered; nothing ever exactly fitting in our earthly constraints, every story mindblowing in its own way.

The only drawback of this anthology is that it takes an extremely long time to get through. This is mainly because each story is a novella in its own right but also because you can't just sit down and power through the whole thing. You need time and space in between each achingly beautiful story to just rest and let your emotions finish unfurling (and your brain to stop internally squealing) before you launch yourself headlong into the next adventure.

*Note: I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss.

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Get your copy of Galactic Empires HERE!

Friday, 13 January 2017

#fridayflash: Flame of the North (excerpt)


I was going to skip #fridayflash this week having been so busy finishing up the novella submission, but I thought I'd give you a sneak preview into my upcoming short story, Flame of the North!

It's a continuation to When Winds Blow Cold, so if you haven't already read that one, you can sign up for my mailing list to get a free copy! 

I'm also going to be giving out free ARCs for review, so stay tuned. =D

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Mica, son of the Sun and Snow, was miserable. His father had left for home two weeks after they arrived and Mica had quickly been absorbed into the rhythm of the castle. Morning until late afternoon was spent in the nursery, where various teachers from the city came to teach him everything from art to science, history to swordsmanship.

When they continued to duel outside in the middle of a snow storm, Mica started to count down to the day he could reasonably expect his mother to come and save him from this insanity. He felt as if every shiver he exhibited was greeted with a great sigh from his grandfather and a disapproving shake of the Steward’s head.

The clothes his mother had made him were not warm enough, no matter how many of them he put on at the same time. He wondered at how he had scoffed when he first saw those clothes! But neither could the best and thickest that the Steward found in all the Kingdom warm him.

Give him time, his grandfather said worriedly in his echoing voice that chilled Mica to the bone.

“Give him time,” the maids said, those motherly souls who worried about the thin shivering boy who had earned the Steward’s disapproving glare. “After all, this is his first winter—and him so used to the warmth of the South!”

So they gave him time and winter passed and spring began. The snows cleared, the flowers bloomed, yet the endless cold, even in spring, made him shiver. Half a year passed and still, he could not accustom himself to the frigid North. He missed the Sun and its cheery grin, he pined for the Sea and the waves and his friends from the deep. The Castle was too big for him; too large for an eleven-year-old boy and his dead grandfather, even with all the servants that lived with them.

More and more, the Steward would find him in the Painted Hall, staring at murals that had once come to life. He looked with longing on the deep blue sea, at the creatures he had called his friends. The great whale rising to the surface to breathe; the schools of fish swimming amidst the wreckages; the dolphin pod frolicking in the sun; the sun itself, bright and yellow and full of the promise of warmth. But the painted hall was truly only painted now. None of it came to life for him as it once had for his father.

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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

#bookreview: The Illusory Prophet | @susankayequinn

The Illusory Prophet (Singularity #3)The Illusory Prophet by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TBH, I'm just sitting here going what? Whaaaatttt? over and over again. (But which doesn't give you a coherent overview of the book.)

So, I spent the first half of the book being annoyed at Elijah Brighton because I hate waffly main characters who can't decide who they are and what they want. Like GET ON WITH IT. And I was getting a little upset with Quinn because WHYYYYY are you doing this. I thought you're better than this!

But then Eli finally finds a purpose (I hesitate to say 'his' - it's a purpose, but it might not be exactly what he wants) and starts putting things together, so I'm like yay! Things are happening! This looks good! And then I'm starting to get worried because THERE ARE 6 MINUTES LEFT IN THE BOOK THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING (although I know there's a book 4, but still) and then *BOOM*. ARGH Susan Kaye Quinn WHERE IS BOOK FOUR I NEED BOOK FOUR NAAAAOOOOOO.

Yeah.
So that's my entirely incoherent review of The Illusory Prophet.
Minus one star because. Waffle.

Also, if you haven't read Augment yet, now would be a good time, because Miriam and the Makers appear in this one.

---

Emotions aside, besides being very entertaining, the Singularity series does study rather deep questions for a science fiction novel. The question of the soul appeared very strongly in the first book of the series (The Legacy Human) and seemed to be skimmed over rather quickly in the second book (The Duality Bridge) but is back in full force here again.

It's actually a very thoughtful book because of the waffling, if you get what I mean. 'Cause if things are just happening boom-boom-boom, you wouldn't have time to think, right? And Eli does it a lot. He questions his purpose. He questions his humanity. He soul-searches. He asks unanswerable questions (and he also does ridiculously stupid things, but that's beside the point).

It would seem that Quinn is quite against organised religion - this isn't the first time she's made religious groups in the book seem extremely cultish and bad - but she's also building Eli into something of a religion of his own. I'm not sure if I'm entirely okay with the symbolism she uses (saviours, prophets, resurrection, miracles, three days) but I guess there's nothing to complain about (and I usually don't really care that much but it seemed a bit in-your-face.)

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*Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, 6 January 2017

#fridayflash: Yì Bin and the dragon













Today's flash is a snippet from my current WIP, which I may or may not finish in time to submit to TOR. *eyes word count; glares at calendar*

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A long time ago, when your great-grandfather, Yì Bin, was a young man seeking fame and fortune, he set off to seek a dragon. His grandfather, our venerable ancestor, had been a Dragon Master before him, and Bin was adamant that he would be one too. So he packed his bag, bid his family goodbye and left on his quest.

According to the practice of the time, Bin first travelled North to the great capital to pay respects to the King. The King gave him his blessing, pointing him to the West, where rumours of dragons had arisen. Bin travelled for more than a month before he saw his first dragon. It was a small creature—hardly bigger than a horse.

"Are you the dragon who has been terrorising the villages?" Bin asked as he pulled out his sword.

The dragon laughed. "Do I look that terrifying to you?" it paused to say before lunging at the young man. 

But Bin was strong and fast so he side-stepped the attack without a scratch. He sheathed his sword, clasped his hands before him and bowed to the dragon, saying "Then my battle is not with you."

With that, Bin continued down the road, the dragon by his side. 

"Why do you come with me, Master Dragon?" Bin asked. 

"It amuses me. It has been a long time since I have conversed with a human," the dragon replied.

"What do you wish to converse about? I am not learned in skills of poetry and verse, as our esteemed officials and royal court are," Bin confessed. 

"Oh, anything you wish," the dragon said, then changed his mind. "Tell me about your home," it ordered.

By the time Bin finished describing the lush green fields, deep blue skies, rolling hills and bubbling creeks of his ancestral home, the deal was made. Loong would accompany him on his quest in return for being invited to visit the Yì home. 

And that is the story of how Yì Bin made his first dragon friend.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

#bookreview: Awakening | @susankayequinn

A short review of a short story this time because I'm in the middle of writing something! (Was supposed to review something else, but it's too long to read at the moment.)

Awakening (Stories of Singularity #5)Awakening by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a little while to get into this - not entirely sure why. It's a short read; I'd count it more in the short-story length but it's described as a novella so I guess it falls somewhere in-between. Maybe I read really fast because it ends too soon.

Awakening starts off a little slowly, easing you into the cloister where Sister Amara, the main protagonist, resides. It's reflective, contemplative, almost peaceful. The pace picks up in Chapter 2, somewhere about the 25% mark, and as you go deeper into the story, things take a strange turn, filling you with a grim, righteous anger.

Remember though that this isn't a simple Catholic cloister as it seems on the surface. This is the Singularity and as much as Sister Amara knows that the ascenders need her to awaken, she doesn't exactly know what they're looking for or why.

Note: I received a digital review copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Get Awakening for 99cents here!

Monday, 2 January 2017

#musicmonday: You Are Loved | Stars Go Dim



- you don't have to prove yourself -

I thought this was a good reminder to start the year with. 
2017 isn't about proving yourself. It's about getting things done.