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Topics - Jeni

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Upcoming Conventions & Book Releases / Grim Gathering, London, UK
« on: July 26, 2014, 04:44:15 PM »
Cant believe no-one has added this to the calendar!

Venue : Waterstones book store, High St Kensington

Nearest tube = High St Kensington (district and circle lines). Turn left out of the station and its about 3 mins walk.

Time : 6.30pm

Thought I'd start this thread as we are rapidly approaching the middle of the month....I'll add a thread for week 2 at the weekend if no-one beats me to it  :)

So. What does everyone think so far?

Writers' Corner / Gravity Poems
« on: August 18, 2013, 12:31:10 AM »
There have been a few people giving this a go on my twitter feed today, so I thought I'd have a bash....

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
« on: May 26, 2013, 02:42:49 AM »

Doomsday Book – Connie Willis

For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman travelling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.

Five years in the writing by one of science fiction's most honoured authors, Doomsday Book is a storytelling triumph. Connie Willis draws upon her understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

After much badgering from my brother, I have finally read Stephen R Donaldson's Gap into Conflict: The Real Story.

It was very short. More of a novella than a full length book - although that went in it's favour as the short length meant that I actually finished it. I'm not sure I could have read it all if it had been longer.

Having read a few of Donaldson's Covenant novels in the past, I wasn't expecting to like the main character - but I had hoped there would either be at least one character that I liked, or that I would be able to get involved in the story and the world around the characters enough to keep me interested and make me care* (that worked for me with the Covenant novels). But I didn't even get that from this book.

Has anyone read the whole series?
What made you read on after this point?
I can't see myself ever picking up the second book, as my guess is that Morn has escaped the frying pan only to end up in the fire. And if this isn't even a fraction of what she ends up surviving then not even morbid curiosity will encourage me to read on.

*I found this story quite disturbing - my brain said 'enough' and prevented me getting too involved after only a few chapters I think. 

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Shelf Swag!
« on: May 18, 2013, 01:15:05 AM »
So, having failed to find this book in any bookstore, I resorted to purchasing it via t'interwebs... I felt so sorry for the delivery guy when it arrived - its massive!  :D

(I took the pic with the book next to my kindle so you can see what I mean)

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Obsidian and Blood (Aliette de Bodard)
« on: January 22, 2013, 12:32:35 AM »
Whilst browsing Amazon a book caught my attention. Or, more specifically, the cover of a book caught my eye.
Yes, yes it did.
Wanna see it?

This is not by any means an unusual occurance for me (and probably most of you too), but it encouraged me to take a closer look at the blurb and I am now quite in two minds as to whether or not I'll enjoy it.


Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan - the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, high priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.

The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons - and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God's power. The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming...
The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war - not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods. When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, ACATL, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate.

Historical Fantasy has never been high on my list of favourite fantasy genres, and I have only read a few books from this genre as a result. In fact, I can only think of three books off the top of my head:
* Alchemist of Souls (Anne Lyle) - Elizabethan England - loved it
* The Better Angels of Our Nature (S. C. Gylanders) - American Civil War - really liked it
* The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Mark Hodder) - Victorian England - not a fan

These books are centred around Aztec culture and mythology, but are essentially a collection of mystery novels, apparently. I do like a good mystery.

This collection is going to be very different to anything I've read before, I think, and this is where my doubts about whether or not I'll like it spring from because I've got nothing to compare it to.

Has anyone read it? I'd really like to know what you think of it, good or bad. Thanks.

Upcoming Conventions & Book Releases / Herald of the Storm Release Date
« on: January 20, 2013, 03:10:10 AM »
Herald of the Storm by Richard Ford is scheduled for release on 25th April 2013. The hardcover and ebook versions should be available on this date in the UK.

Welcome to Steelhaven...

Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States.

But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.

Upcoming Conventions & Book Releases / BristolCon
« on: January 19, 2013, 01:56:08 PM »
Annual one-day SFF event in Bristol, UK.

Next one is on 26th October 2013  :)

This is where the discussion continues......

PS If you have read further please remember we currently have no spoiler tag facility!!

Now you've read it, what do you think?

2013 Sci-Fi/Horror Book Club / [November/December 2012] VOTING CLOSED
« on: November 07, 2012, 12:54:52 AM »
Time to nominate the next book!  :)

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Audiobooks
« on: October 30, 2012, 08:16:49 AM »
I have never really listened to audiobooks, mainly because I'm not sure if I will like someone else's voice in my head for however many hours it takes to get through one and also, on the other hand, I think it will be really annoying if I have to keep rewinding the story because I get so used to the voice I start to filter it out and stop hearing it.

I thought I would give it a try though as quite a few people here have mentioned they enjoy them, so I've got hold of an audio version of the current sci-fi book club read and will be giving it a go today.  :)

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
« on: August 27, 2012, 04:56:56 PM »

Stormdancer  by  Jay  Kristoff

Shima is a dying land. It farms the extremely versatile Blood Lotus plant which is used to make tea, drugs, fabric and most importantly, the chi (fuel) which the Guild use to power all things industrial and mechanical (including their ‘skin’). Unfortunately, this pernicious plant destroys the land that is used to farm it, and fertile land is becoming increasingly scarce.
The Shogun is narcissistic, highly strung, quite unstable and therefore supremely dangerous. So, when he decides that he needs to possess a mythical creature called an Arashitora (a Griffin, also referred to as a ‘Storm Tiger’ or a ‘Thunder Tiger’), in order to become a living legend - a Stormdancer, he sends his Master Hunter to capture one. To refuse, disobey or fail would mean certain and painful death, so the hunt commences even though no-one actually believes this creature exists.

Yukiko is sixteen years old.  She is the daughter of the renowned Black Fox, the Shogun’s Master Hunter. Unfortunately the eminent, esteemed and revered Black Fox has an addiction problem, which means that Yukiko has been the adult in their relationship for a while. She is strong willed, intelligent and practical, yet still retains an innocence which hints at an emotional journey ahead that will break her heart, crush her soul, destroy her beliefs and transform her into the stuff that legends are made of. 

So, I came across this book whilst checking out the future releases section on Amazon. It was the cover art that caught my attention and enticed me to investigate further. The blurb was intriguing,  the story sounded quite unlike anything I have read before – I mean seriously, steampunk, feudal Japan, mythical creatures, and to top it off the main character has a secret power that could get her killed if it was discovered! I was sold. I wanted this book.

After checking goodreads (the authors explanation of this book is highly entertaining) and then the official Stormdancer webpage (check out the FAQ and the bio) and finally the  author's blog , I stumbled across a competition that was still open. The prize was a copy of the UK version of the book and all I had to do was tweet the publisher (@UKTor) and the author (@misterkristoff) the name of the trilogy that Stormdancer is part one of. Easy peasy! So I entered and then forgot about it because I never win anything. And I won!!!

It nearly killed me to wait until the following weekend to read it. And from start to finish it took me about 8 hours to read. I was not disappointed. This book is outstanding!

Feudal Japan is not something that would have ever occurred to me as a setting for a fantasy novel, but in this one it really works. The steampunk elements were explained very well and made perfect sense within the context of the story - there is a whole level of authority, the Guildsmen, that exist inside a metal ‘skin’, and the preferred method of long distance travel around the island is by airship. But the coolest element in the story has got to be the griffin. Yes, a griffin. Awesome.
I found the story captivating - it grabbed me at an emotional level that I was not expecting and was unprepared for. It made me laugh, brought tears to my eyes and made me afraid for Yukiko – not just because of the situation she was in, but also because of what she was going to have to do. Hope and courage - the struggle to find them and make them useful instead of wallowing in apathy or resigning your fate to a seemingly inevitable outcome was a powerful undercurrent in this novel. At one point a mixture of despair, relief, triumph, hope and fear turned me into a blubbering wreck and I actually had to stop reading to pull myself together before continuing! But continue I did, to a very satisfying conclusion that ends this story well and also hints at what is to come in the next instalment.

I love this story. It wrapped itself around my heart very early on and still hasn’t let go.

Sci-Fi, Horror, YA & Urban Fantasy Books / UF must reads
« on: June 24, 2012, 02:32:54 AM »
So what would you consider to be a 'must read' in this genre?

I picked up a copy of Anno Dracula by Kim Newman this weekend because it came highly recommended by some of the members here (thankyou to: the_hound, Elfy and Funky Scarecrow  :)), but I am not very well read generally in this genre so I'd appreciate a few more recommendations!!!

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