An Interview with Tyler Wandschneider

An Interview with Tyler Wandschneider

Welcome to the next instalment of my An Interview With… series here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Today I am speaking with the sci-fi author of Lockheed Elite. I reviewed this fantastic space adventure recently here on the blog. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Tyler Wandschneider!

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Books and Beyond Reviews: Welcome to the blog Tyler. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and answer a few questions. To start, I’m going to throw some left of field ice breaker questions your way so the readers can get an insight into the mind of the author. First up, If you could have an unlimited supply of just one thing for life, what would that be and why?

Tyler Wandschneider: A good one right off the get-go! My mind immediately started picturing things like pizza and cash but then smarts took over and I landed on “time”. I would definitely choose an unlimited supply of time. I’m the kind of person that likes to learn all kinds of things. For example, there was a time where I studied tournament poker for a while. When I started winning a lot, I got bored and picked up something else. This type of need means I must give up time on one thing to pursue another. Now with two young daughters that I absolutely love spending time with along with my wife, I find I need much more time not only to write but to just plain keep myself sane while learning other things. We just bought a house that needs a ton of work so the next couple of years will be home projects I’ve never tried before. I guess instead of an endless supply of time, I could do without the need to sleep. That’s an extra 6 hours a day I could use!

BaBR: Fantastic answer. And really refreshing for it not to be the usual answer of money! Next question. Would you rather be chased by a thousand duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

TW: Haha. Definitely a thousand duck-sized horses. Those are cute. The big-ass duck sounds scary!

BaBR: I love to ask this next one of authors to really get a feel for their influences. Who is your favourite author?

TW: I love all of the words from Patrick Rothfuss. I love the stories and creativity from Brandon Sanderson. I love the flow from Mark Twain. And I love the adventure and tears I get every time I read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I also give a good read to Ender’s Game every couple of years but that’s about it from OSC.

BaBR: If you could go for a drink with any person – alive or dead – who would that be and why?

TW: Any person who perished by freezing while floating in the water after the Titanic sunk. That person must be willing to have several whiskey’s with me and tell me all – leaving out no emotion felt or thought had!

BaBR: Wow, I don’t think I’ve had that answer before. The final ice breaker before we move on to your book. If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

TW: Interesting. This is definitely an age dependent question. I suspect I’d answer differently in each decade. Right now, I guess I’d go with Joker. Joaquin Phoenix did something special with that role that I’ve never seen before. Superhero (or villain) characters these days have a sort of arrogance, subtle or not, in each of the main characters. Phoenix’s portrayal of Joker here had a fierce kind of vulnerability in it that I’d never seen before. I loved it. I’m afraid to watch it a second time for fear of ruining the experience. I still bought the thing though. Definitely a trophy in my case for sure. If I ever met Joaquin I think I’d shake his hand and just tell him all this and thank him for it. I love movies and it’s rare you’re hit with a performance like that.

BaBR: Great shout – I absolutely loved Joker, and the performance was absolutely incredible. Now, let’s discuss Lockheed Elite. What led you to writing a sci-fi novel? Is this a genre you have always wanted to write in?

TW: Yeah it’s interesting. I read sci-fi less than fantasy and general fiction. I get stories in my head and sometimes it sticks like an itch and the only way to resolve it is to get it out. The characters in Lockheed Elite just worked in my head really well and I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I started writing it down.

BaBR: Where did the idea for Lockheed Elite come from?

TW: I’m sure it has inspiration from a multitude of media I’ve consumed. I mean anyone who’s seen Firefly can see that. But ultimately my gut had a desire for a good sci-fi read that was far more character driven than shoot’em up military meathead knocking skulls around. I just simply asked myself if life in space were a reality, what would it look like. Lockheed Elite was that for me. Most work around might just be doing any work available for anyone who can pay. Unless, of course, you wanna be tied to some entity that has strict policy. I saw a crew bent on living free and clear of oppressing rule. Scraping or salvaging seemed ideal for these guys and it gave me a nice avenue for the need for speculative inventions to get the job done.

BaBR: The character of Anders Lockheed feels well thought out and believable. Is he, or anyone else in the book based on anyone you know?

TW: Nope. I needed a captain that everyone respected. Anders fit that bill and felt right. With a large cast of characters, I needed him to be a smart kind of average guy so as to not steal the show from everyone else. They all played a big role and I think that helped make him believable. Most people aren’t extraordinary so making them all ordinary in their own ways, I think, is what made them work.

BaBR: Did you have a complete plan for Lockheed Elite, or was it a fly by the seat of your pants creation?

TW: I discovery wrote this book! I really enjoyed doing it that way. I just wrote until the end. Read it. Asked myself, what’s missing? What does this story need? Are twists working? Then I added Severn and Marko on the second pass. And then I read and edited over and over. I rewrote the beginning several times. I have to admit though that I wish I had rewrote the ending several times. It would go generally the same way, but I think I could have executed it much better.

BaBR: The crew in Lockheed Elite feel well bonded, and as if they have plenty more missions and mishaps in their future – are there plans for further books to continue the story of Anders Lockheed and his crew?

TW: Oh yes!! The second one is well planned out and mostly first drafted. I’m having trouble finding the time to write with work and two kids now. I wrote Lockheed when it was just Maryna and I and the more kids we have the harder it is to find the time. I suspect that I’ll have more time coming up here in the near future, what with working from home now!

BaBR: Once again, thanks for taking the time to put so much thought into your answers and chatting with me!

 

The Hitman and the Thief by Richard Dee

The Hitman and the Thief by Richard Dee

Assassination can be a messy business, especially if you’re having a bad day.

Dan Jones is the ultimate problem solver, the hitman for crime boss Fliss Bauer.

Fliss has a rival, Dan is told to arrange her demise. It’s just another job; until a random event means that it all goes horribly wrong.

To save his skin, Dan is forced to try again, only this time he has to work with a partner. He doesn’t want to but it’s the only chance he’s going to get; if he wants to put things right.

Can the hitman and the thief get the job done this time, more importantly, can they keep each other alive?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

I’ve known Richard Dee now for some time now having reviewed all of his current Andorra Pett cozy-crime sci-fi novels. I’ve yet to try his steampunk novels but they are firmly on my radar. We spoke recently about an upcoming space-based novel, something very different from the Andorra Pett series, and so I came to read an early draft of The Hitman and the Thief.
THM^0TTProfessional “problem solver” and hitman Dan Jones is tasked with the biggest job he could imagine – carrying out a hit for crime boss Fliss Bauer. A hit on one her biggest rivals. It also represented a chance to prove he still had what it took to occupy such a critical role in the Bauer industry. Dan planned the hit as meticulously as ever. He knew all his options – his entries and exits, where to stash a gun, how to get around the premises. But a chance encounter with a small time thief threw a spanner in the works, leading to the ultimate failure of the mission.

In a last ditch opportunity, Dan must now work with this thief, a person he has no desire to work with, in a bit to finally take down their mark. Can the two work together and make a success of the job? And more importantly is his new partner trustworthy? I found this to be a really great read. I found myself rooting for Dan all the way through. He seemed a genuine character, trying to do the best job he can. Dee has crafted a narrative littered with plot twists making for a page turning story with a dark mystery at its core.

While it had its light moments, this was a decidedly different direction when compared with his cozy space mystery series. The sci-fi elements were well done without overriding the narrative thread. The Hitman and the Thief made for a page turning read, that I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to pick up where I left off. Not too often do I have the chance to read a book that I am actively looking for the next spare moment to dip back into. This is definitely a book to keep an eye out for, when it is due to release later this year.

My rating:
goodread

Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift

Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift

Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. She falls in with the eclectic expat community as a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge.

Here she meets Gabriela, a bartender who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris.

Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns, as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Paris Adrift is an interesting story following the excitement Hallie experiences in her break from university while she stays in Paris. She finds herself working at well-known bar, Millies, right next to the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Here she meets an interesting mix of bar staff from all over the world as she enjoys all Clichy, and Paris has to offer. A series of strange happenings pose the idea that there may be more to the bar and its staff than meets the eye.
Paris AdriftA meeting with a bizarre woman enlightens her to the prospect of time travel through something called an anomaly, something only Hallie will be able to travel through. Focussing on a given date or time will send her forward or back throughout the turbulent history of the French city. In her travels, she sees many things, meets a host of characters and alters the path of the city forever.

The time travel plays an integral role in the narrative, something clearly set out in the opening stages of the book. This all ties together the need for Hallie to find her anomaly and travel through it. Unfortunately I found this element of the narrative a bit disjointed. It seemed so important yet little to no reference to it is made as the book goes on. And worse still, at the conclusion there is no return to the original purpose to clarify fully whether things had been a success.

That said, the time travelling elements were really well written. The locales at different times in history felt really well written, filled with life and energy. The characters in these parts of the story are fantastic and vibrant. It’s these parts of the book that for me rescued it.

My rating:
okaybook

An Interview with Richard Dee

An Interview with Richard Dee

It’s been a long time since I last shared a new edition of my An Interview With… series where I interview authors so we can all get to know the person behind the pages. Today I am bringing it back, hoping to make it a slightly more regular feature than it has been. I’m going to keep them pretty simple – there will be ten questions, the first five will be weird and wonderful ice breakers. The next five will be delving into the work of the author.

With the formalities out of the way, let’s get into this edition of An Interview With…! Today’s author is someone I have worked with now for quite some time, when he first requested a review of his cozy sci-fi mystery Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of reading the two follow up books – Andorra Pett on Mars and Andorra Pett and her Sister. I am looking forward to the fourth book that he is working on. I am currently reading one of his most recent sci-fi novels, The Hitman and the Thief due out later this year. Aside from writing he has also become a brilliant supporter of myself as I work on my own first novel. Without further ado, it’s time to welcome Mister Richard Dee!

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Books and Beyond Reviews: Thanks for joining me here on Books and Beyond Reviews for an interview, Richard! Here’s your first ice breaker. If you were a wrestler what would be your entrance theme song?

Richard Dee: After 62 years, including the 1960s and 70s; I would need to walk a long way to get all the significant songs in. If I had to choose one, and I’ve agonised over the choice for ages, it would have to be Go your own Way, from the album Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac.

BaBR: What is your favourite magical or mythological animal?

RD: That would be the Dragon, there are so many variations in the way they are represented, in a way we have made them as complex as we are. I had to introduce my own species in my Steampunk novels, calling them Drogans. They are very different from the ones you see in Game of Thrones.

BaBR: Which fictional family would you most like to be a member of?

RD: A few of my acquaintances would suggest the Addams family!!! I would prefer to be part of a family of explorers, like the Swiss Family Robinson or even the family inspired by that book, the Robinsons of Lost in Space. Failing that the Famous Five or the Pevensie’s (of Narnia) would do at a pinch.

BaBR: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you choose to be and why?

RD: A black Labrador. Having owned, rescued and puppy walked them for Guide dogs, I feel like I know their personalities. They are eternally happy, just how we should all be.

BaBR: One last ice breaker before we move on to your books. If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

RD: The first Star Wars film, which I saw in New York in 1977. For one very simple reason. It showed us a sci-fi future that wasn’t perfect. Up to then, the future had been shown as a better now, where everything was clean and shiny. Star Wars changed all that. The technology was old, used, encrusted with dirt. Sometimes it didn’t work. It was a more relatable future, similar to the present with some new inventions. It changed the way I thought about Science Fiction.

BaBR: With novels written in both the sci-fi and steampunk genres, do you have a personal favourite?

RD: My favourite is whatever I’m writing at the time. Coming from a background in world-wide trade, I have a soft spot for my interplanetary trader Dave Travise and his life. Having worked for an Insurance company, I love writing about corporate misdeeds and conspiracies. And the Victorian era fascinates me so much, with its spirit of innovation and infinite possibilities. Put them (and other inspirations) altogether and I’m happy to create a story in whatever setting. What you have to remember is that, as we move out into the galaxy, we will take all our emotional baggage with us. The same tales will play out, only the setting will be different.

BaBR: Having had a rather varied career path yourself, has this in any way informed the characters in your Andorra Pett series where the leads assume a variety of roles themselves?

RD: I think it must have, although I never realised it at the time, I must have been storing up all the experiences in my mind, ready to adapt them and send them out into a new setting. Being on a ship in the 1970s was like going into space in a way, you were cut off from the world for weeks at a time and visited strange places. Plus, being isolated in a small group, you had to learn to be a jack of all trades. In the same way, the people of the future, colonising a new world, will have to be the same sort of people.

BaBR: Are any of your characters based upon yourself or people close to you?

RD: Andorra Pett is based on my wife and three daughters. Which parts of her relate to which person is up to them to work out. And others are taken from my career at sea, which introduced me to such a wide range of personalities.

BaBR: Do you have clear plots in mind when you start your books or do you start with a base idea and build from there?

RD: I have an idea, it might be prompted from an overheard remark in a coffee shop, or a fact that I’ve discovered on the internet. After that, I just start typing, watching a film in my head of what happens next. I let the characters control the action and just type what I see. In that way, I never know what will happen next. I get to the end at the same time as the reader will, so I share their emotions all the way through the book.

BaBR: As a first time author, I have found the support and advice from other authors has been invaluable in the process of writing my first book. If you could only give an aspiring author one single piece of advice, what would that be?

RD: I have been helped so much, by so many people that I’ll never meet. I try to pay it forward as much as I can. Another author once told me, the best thing to do is just WRITE, as much as you can, as often as you can. It’s the only way to develop your style. Not only that, you can’t edit a blank page. Connected to that, make sure that you get a good editor. You can save money everywhere else, by doing your own covers etc. but you only get one chance to make a first impression. Have your work properly edited, a typo on page one is not the way to go. I guess that’s two things, never mind.

BaBR: Thanks so much for taking some time to share your thoughts with us, Richard. Now’s your chance to promote your current book and any links readers can use to connect with you and your work.

RD: My latest release is a Steampunk adventure, set in a place which is not unlike Victorian England. There’s a mad scientist bent on world domination and a motley band set against him. Featuring the latest devices powered by steam and clockwork, The Sensaurum and the Lexis is, according to one advance reader, “definitely a page-turner where the mundane world as we know it, has been turned quite solidly on its head and presented from a delicious new viewpoint.”

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Blurb

Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage?

Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.

Norlandia is a country under threat, as never before. The old heroes are but a memory, while evil forces gather, seeking power.  They are armed with the latest devices that perverted science has devised. Control of Norlandia and everyone in it is their ultimate aim.

Who will stand in their way?

Under the command of the mysterious Mortimer Langdon, all that stands between civilisation and anarchy are Jackson and the rest of The Orphan Detectives.

You can find The novel at mybook.to/The_Sensaurum

 

My links

If you’d like to know more about my writing, my website is richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the My Novels and Short Stories tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story. Why not join my newsletter and get a free short story, unavailable anywhere else.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi

My Amazon author page is here.  

My Goodreads page is here.

 

The Blame Game by Terri Reynolds

The Blame Game by Terri Reynolds

Best friends they may be, but Molly and Kate are very different individuals. Molly, a spoilt child and then an indulged wife, not only gets whatever she wants, she takes things that don’t belong to her, including other women’s husbands. Kate, fiercely loyal, has, until now, always defended and protected her friend, at the same time offering refuge to Molly’s traumatised son. Against her better judgement, Kate is forced to revisit the deaths of two men; men who had affairs with Molly. Considered tragic and accidental at the time, fresh scrutiny and new revelations trigger a disturbing chain of events that have sickening consequences.

Molly either can’t or won’t mend her ways, and Kate, caught up in her own personal tragedy, is forced to draw a line in the sand. Their friendship is at breaking point; Molly has gone too far this time. All is not as it seems.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

The Blame Game is a rollercoaster of a read, and something I was really able to sink my teeth into. Filled with menace, treachery, lies, deceit and a heaped serving of threat. It was a pacy book with so many twists and turns it had me gripped from cover to cover. The story plays out against a backdrop of adultery, broken marriages, death, grief and obsession. Molly is vilified in the small town in which she lives, having had two affairs, one with a married man. The apparent suicide of the married father of one only compounds her problems. The other man died in a car accident.image1As her marriage broke down, things worsened with verbal and physical violence in front of their young son, Seth. As the years rolled by, Seth became a troubled individual suffering from the trauma of what he has seen and heard over the years. He becomes estranged from both of his parents. Molly, having filed for divorce from her husband James, suffers torment and game playing from him, making the process as painful as possible. The widow of the man she was seeing has turned large parts of the community against her.

Things spiralled as Molly suffers more and more at the hands of the scorned widow and her estranged husband. Though no matter what happens some habits are harder to kick. Her friends, few in number though they may be, seek answers to what is going on and reflecting on the seemingly tragic deaths of her two lovers. Can there be a killer involved? Is Molly responsible? Or the estranged husband? The scorned widow? The traumatised child? Or were these events really just a series of tragic events.

Terri Reynolds presents a cast of credible suspects throughout the book. Any one of them could be the culprit, and I found as the story progressed that I was continually see-sawing from one to the other, never totally sure as to who was the true culprit. Not until, quite literally, the last line of the book. The narrative was fast paced, moving from one element to the next keeping me guessing, and wanting to unravel the next part that might help me uncover the truth. The Blame Game is an impressive read from start to finish.

My rating:
goodread

Red Sun Over Panama by H. Paul Doucette

Red Sun Over Panama by H. Paul Doucette

Just prior to WWII, Japan has made its first move to cripple America’s ability to challenge them in the Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal. Washington has grave concerns about the safety and security of the Canal and orders the Counterintelligence Police Corps to ensure the Canal remains open and free from sabotage. This has fallen to one agent: Paul Jarvis. He is dispatched to the Canal to work in cooperation with the FBI and the Office of Naval Intelligence. They soon uncover a plot to blow up the Pacific locks. The clock is ticking. In the distance the Red Sun rises above the horizon.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Red Sun Over Panama takes place ahead of the American intervention in World War Two. With tensions growing in the Pacific Ocean and Japan engaging in a policy of saber rattling, protecting the Panama Canal became of vital importance. Paul Jarvis of the CPC is tasked with solving a series of murders of military personnel and how the Japanese contingent in Panama City are connected.
22978375As his investigation unravels he must call upon colleagues in the ONI and FBI to unravel far more sinister plots with the fate of the US military at stake. What started out as a murder case develops into a race against time to uncover a Japanese plot to destroy the locks of the Canal and enact an even greater attack.

Once again, Doucette has put a lot of research in to create a story that feels historically accurate, and draws you in. It flows from beginning to end without ever feeling like it drags or is laboured. The characters feel real, relatable. The events in the book feel entirely believable, irrespective of whether they actually are. It at no point feels like it is another characteristic retelling of the history of the war designed to make it appear that the Americans won the war. If anything, it serves to show that they were far removed from events until Japan pushed into the Pacific region. Red Sun Over Panama gives a well written possible view of events preceding Pearl Harbor. A great read for fans of historic fiction.

 

My rating:
goodread

Lockheed Elite by Tyler Wandschneider

Lockheed Elite by Tyler Wandschneider

Working to pay off a blackmailer who has learned that a certain genius mechanic isn’t as dead as he was made out to be, Anders Lockheed takes his team on their biggest salvage op yet.

Unfortunately, Anders has hired an undercover military operative bent on using them as bait to draw out a mastermind who has been attacking the public with deadly mechs. 

While on the scav op, things go from bad to worse as the crew of Elite One recover an abandoned woman aboard the claim. Now Anders must decide quickly—stay and fight or cut cables and run.

Either way, it’s too late. Someone has other plans for them. The trap has been set, they’ve rescued the woman and taken the bait, and before long Anders and what’s left of his dwindling crew must navigate with caution through the grips of the military and an especially vile outlaw.

But Anders doesn’t captain just another team flying the black. With a genius mechanic who uses his ragtag high-tech machine shop to aid them in getting in and out of trouble, they’ve earned a reputation as the best of the best. With Anders’s careful planning, this motley crew must band together and flip the military to use them on a monster heist and dig themselves out from the heat pressing in from both sides of the law.

Fly with them. They are clever, they are fierce, they are Lockheed Elite.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Science Fiction is a genre I love, but don’t read often enough. Too often sci-fi is over the top, or filled with cliches. From the description of the book I thought it sounded like a good, fun read. It ticked all of the boxes in terms of what I look for in a sci-fi read. And from the very first page to the very last, Lockheed Elite delivered. 35561062._SY475_Anders Lockheed is the best scavenger crew captain around, and his crew is renowned for being the best. He seldom involved himself in anything illegal, and when he did it was never anything massively criminal, more of a grey area. He commands respect wherever he goes. He gives respect back wherever it is warranted. 

His latest job offers him and his crew an opportunity for an incredible score to make a huge cash windfall. The chance to scav a decommissioned Galactic Command vessel. There would be a whole swarm of other scav crews looking to snatch a piece of the pie, but for Anders Lockheed and the crew of the Elite One this was a simple enough job. But nothing goes right for the crew from that point onwards.

Lockheed Elite offers a well-constructed sci-fi adventure. It has comedic moments that lighten the story without detracting from it. The locations are brilliantly described. The characters are well put together, relatable. This was a great read that I couldn’t put down, so much so that I found myself wanting another book to carry on the stories of Anders and his crew. This has ended up being one of the best books I’ve had the chance to read in a long time.

My rating:
goodread

Face Your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson

Face Your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson

Jennifer’s young life has never been better. She has it all: family, friends and fun. That is until her terminally ill cousin comes to live with them setting in motion a horrific turn of events unlike anyone in the town of Cleveland has ever seen.

 


Oh yeah…and did she mention her best friend’s sister has a massive crush on her?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Face Your Demons offered up a short horror story that really piqued my interest. As an avid reader of Stephen King, my love of the horror genre is huge. Face Your Demons follows 12 year old Jennifer and her best friend Ron, his twin sister Angie and Jennifer’s younger brother Tom. Jennifer is sure something is off about the back room of her house where her cousin passed away. She had seen things in there through the window that couldn’t be explained.
NinaHobsonTaintedBloodFYDebookcoverA mysterious man comes into their lives, clearly otherworldly and demonic, tormenting and terrifying the children. A spate of grisly child murders in town add to the horrors experienced by such young protagonists.

Sadly the story did not take off for me. More than once, Angie’s crush on Jennifer is referenced but in no way serves the story. In one case it rears its head in the immediate aftermath of a life changing, grisly terror which felt off. It left me feeling that the emotions of the children were fleeting and inconsequential. The ending felt unresolved for me – nothing was answered by the end really, certainly not in a satisfying manner. And to cap it off for me, the use of a demonic language seemed unnecessary – each word or phrase having to be translated in brackets before being slipped in amongst English speech as if it were the most normal prose. 

Perhaps it is just my perception, tainted by expectations. I have grown accustomed to my horror novels being layered with descriptive narrative, atmosphere and imagery, that such a short novel felt almost rushed and distinctly lacking. It may well appeal to certain readers, but did little to sate my love of horror.

My rating:
notforme

All The Dead Stars by A.K. Alliss

All The Dead Stars by A.K. Alliss

In the occupied province of De’Zhun, Ae-Tor, once a member of the sorcerous Tapestry, has betrayed his brethren to save his own life. Seeking redemption, he sets forth on a dangerous mission to recover an alien weapon which could overthrow the invaders.

The thief, Mischa the Sullen, is in trouble. Having stolen a mysterious artifact, she finds herself trapped within a ruin of alien origin. Imprisoned by the forces within, she seeks escape and freedom.

Echo, a genetically engineered assassin, awakens from an 800 year long hibernation aboard the crashed starship, Mistress of Infinity. Stranded far from home, she must learn the rules that govern the strange land she has found herself in if she hopes to survive.

P’Sult is a Republic spy with a tragic past. Learning of a potential threat to his government, he begins an investigation which may lead to his demise.

All The Dead Stars is an epic Grimdark Fantasy /Sci-fi that combines conspiracy and gritty adventure.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

It’s time for the first book review of 2020. All The Dead Stars is a fantasy with sci-fi elements. It comes from cyberpunk author A.K. Alliss, writer of the futuristic Ouroboros Cycle series of books. This marks his first forray into fantasy. We follow a cast of diverse characters including Ae-Tor and P’Sult, thief Mischa, the curious Echo and an equally intriguing supporting cast.
49413398._SY475_With the nefarious Perditionist Republic pushing to expand their borders across the land our four protagonists embark on their own journeys. Ae-Tor seeks to save his own skin after double crossing so many people for his own gain. Mischa seeks her freedom having stolen an artifact of unknown origins that binds itself to her. Echo, having spent 800 years dormant in a futuristic space craft, her only directive to be an assassin, struggles to come to terms with her knew life as she seeks to understand how this strange, dangerous new world works. P’Sult is fleeing his past tragedies, knowing the journey he takes could be his last.

The lead characters are well constructed, while the settings are vibrant. While all four are on very different journeys, I enjoyed the way they intersect, everyone heading to the same location each for very different reasons. While there’s definitely a sci-fi feel to things, All The Dead Stars makes for a great first dip into fantasy. This first book sets things up nicely for the series to come.

My rating:
goodread

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

 In ‘A Maigret Christmas’, the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Coming into December this seemed a fantastic, short read to enter the festive season. When two women from the apartment building across the road knock upon the legendary Inspector’s door, his Christmas Day will be anything but festive and jolly.35074088What starts out as a mystery of an unexplained figure dressed as Father Christmas in a girl’s room in the depths of night searching for something beneath the floorboards. This puzzling event caught the Inspector’s attention from the outset.

Barely leaving his apartment, Inspector Maigret sets an investigation in motion. He dispatches officers to unravel the loose threads of this curious case that ends in murder, mystery and intrigue.

While most versions of this book appear to be a collection with other Maigret stories, the version I read was just the one story. Short though it was, I loved it. It moved along well, and I loved the way the strands of the mystery unravelled to an intriguing conclusion. I would definitely read further Maigret stories.

My rating:
goodread