Wednesday 26 September 2018

The Lost Fleet: Corsair - Jack Campbell

The century-long war between two space empires, the alliance and the Syndics, has ended, but Captain Michael Geary, nephew of the legendary Alliance Commander John "Black Jack" Geary, believed MIA, is still a prisoner.

Together with former enemy, Destina Aragon, desperate to escape the reach of a tyrannical government, can he help her rebellion succeed, live up to the legend coloring his family name - or will he die trying?

Grievances must be put aside as a daring intergalactic jail-break becomes a battle for survival against the odds, in this gripping new comic series written by New York Times best-selling author Jack Campbell, based on his novel series.

People always seem to be surprised when I say I read military SF, I suppose at first glance they don't think it's the sort of thing that would appeal to me but it does. Ever since picking up my first military SF book (by accident, I hasten to add...) at the library I've read quite a few titles, including quite a few of the Lost Fleet titles by the legendary Jack Campbell a.k.a John Hemdy. After reading Lost Fleet: Corsair I definitely need to go back and catch up with the ones I haven't read as I'm pretty sure I've missed out on a lot.

Having said that, you don't need to have read any of the previous books (although you might want to just so you're acquainted with the Lost Fleet universe) to dive into the new Corsair comics. Lost Fleet: Corsair is a bindup of the original five issues and is strangely addictive. I whizzed through my copy one night, quite late, when I knew I should turn the light off and go to sleep but couldn't.

If you're a fan of the Lost Fleet novels there's only one question to be answered: is Black Jack alive? Well, read Corsair and you might get an answer. Really though, Corsair is Michael's story. Still held captive by the Syndics he's made an offer he can't refuse, even if it comes from someone he believes is his enemy. You know what they say though, sometimes an enemy can do more for you than friends and/or colleagues. Desperate to escape and find out what has happened to the fleet Michael agrees to team up with Destina Aragon (love that name!). Aided by a Syndic ship full of Alliance P.O.W.'s they make their escape and head for Destina's homeworld. Along the way, there are some superb space battles and more obstacles than one would wish for but that is what makes Corsair a page-turner.

The graphic novel is full of fantastically defined dialogue, accompanied by great illustrations. It's everything you want in a Lost Fleet novel but in graphic form. There's no over-sentimentality, everything has a point, and if you're not a fan at the end of 129 pages of Corsair, then go back and read it again! As for me, I'm off to start re-reading the Lost Fleet series and then diving into the rest of the series that I've missed. By my reckoning, that means I've got about ten books to read for the first time.

If you'd like to win my copy of Lost Fleet: Corsair, head on over to my Instagram account and like/comment on my photo. Open to those resident in the UK only due to postage, sorry to everyone else but postage is astronomical at the moment!

The Lost Fleet: Corsair - Jack Campbell | Andre Siregar | Sebastian Cheng
ISBN - 9781785852992
Publisher - Titan Comics
Release date - March 20th, 2018

Huge thanks to Imogen and Titan Comics for my copy of The Lost Fleet: Corsair, and don't forget to enter the giveaway over on Instagram!

Check out the rest of the tour stops and click here to follow Titan Comics on Twitter!

Friday 21 September 2018

Daddy Hairdo - Francis Martin & Claire Powell

A hilarious story for anyone who has ever had to tangle with a head full of hair!

When Amy is born she doesn’t have much hair. Not for long! Soon her hair is the stuff of fairy tales - so long she could throw it down a tower to let up a handsome prince. Only, hair this long is also really inconvenient, especially on windy days. So Amy’s dad comes up with some innovative solutions, and soon EVERYONE wants one of Daddy's Hairdos!

I'm a huge fan of picture books, for both children and adults alike, so when the opportunity came up to review Daddy Hairdo I jumped at it! With stunning illustrations by Claire Powell, illustrator of Have You Seen My Giraffe? this is Francis Martin's picture book debut.

Before I got a chance to read it the twins grabbed it and devoured it, so I had to wait my turn but it was worth the wait. Full of whimsical but stunning illustrations between them Claire & Francis have come up with a picture book that is a delight to read. 

Amy might not have had much hair to start with but soon she is out-Rapunzeling Rapunzel and it's up to Daddy to come up with some inventive hairstyles to allow Amy to carry on! Some of the wonderful masterpieces though, mean that Amy can't do the things she wants to. The Triple Beehive, for example, means she can't visit the sweet shop and my personal favorite, the Castle In The Clouds, means playing hide-and-seek isn't very much fun. This all leads to Amy's own favorite Daddy hairdo, which you'll need to read the book to discover...

The twins loved Daddy Hairdo, especially F, as he loves to play with hair and everyone always assumes that this is very much a 'girl' thing to do. I can assure you it's not, and over the years F has come up with some inspiring hairdos of his own. This is quite possibly one of the best, sadly without a name, but involves bobbles, clips, and a blanket!

Daddy Hairdo - Francis Martin & Claire Powell
ISBN - 9781471147876
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release date - September 6th, 2018

Francis Martin can be found here on Twitter, whilst Claire is on Twitter here, and her website can be found here.

Huge thanks to Olivia, and S&S for inviting me to take part in this fantastic blog tour! Do check out some of the other stops for the inspiration behind the story and other reviews.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Incendiaries - R.O. Kwon

Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn't tell anyone she blames herself for her mother's recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe. 

Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group - a secretive extremist cult - founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal. He has an enigmatic past that involves North Korea and Phoebe's Korean American family. Meanwhile, Will struggles to confront the fundamentalism he's tried to escape, and the obsession consuming the one he loves. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she could have been responsible for this violent act.

The Incendiaries is a fractured love story and a brilliant examination of the minds of extremist terrorists, and of what can happen to people who lose what they love most. who lose what they love most.

I'd heard lots of good things about The Incendiaries so when the request to take part in the blog tour popped up I had to accept. Virago publish some of my favorite books so I'm so glad I did because, although books like The Incendiaries aren't necessarily my typical read I'm very glad I sometimes take a chance.

The Incendiaries may appear to be a short novel but it packs a powerful punch in those pages. It's a tale of jealousy, religion, fanaticism, and love. The story of Will, Phoebe, and a man called John Leal, Kwon explores a man's loss of faith which has led to some life-changing decisions and his dismay as he watches the woman he loves being drawn deeper and deeper into a religious group named Jejah, by a charismatic man who may or may not be telling the complete truth about his past. As Will falls deeper in love with Phoebe, she, in turn, starts abandoning her friends, her studies, and Will.

The Incendiaries focuses on the character of Will, with Phoebe and John appearing as what feels like support characters. We get to know Will extremely well, about his life before Edwards, his mother's illness and get to explore the reasoning behind his loss of faith. Phoebe remains an enigmatic figure, and although we learn about significant events in her childhood, we don't know much about her as an adult and especially why she is so drawn to John Leal and his cult-like group. John himself remains a shadowy figure throughout the story, looming in the background and appearing at times when Will is feeling at his most vulnerable in his relationship with Phoebe. He claims to be a former prisoner of North Korea, goes barefoot all the time (Kwon's quite graphic description of the state of his feet turned my stomach! But I have a bit of a phobia about going barefoot...) and is charismatic to the point that people flock to him, take part in his group's initiation rites and become distraught if they're cast aside by him.

It becomes clear that the void left by his lack of faith and the absence of God in his life, Will is using Phoebe to fill that hole and his love becomes an obsession rather quickly. It was interesting to this happen as Will himself doesn't really realize this until the end but it's clear to Phoebe's friends, especially the colorful Julian who tells Phoebe to stay away from him.

Ultimately, R.O. Kwon has written a compelling and engrossing story that plays on the tropes of an obsessed man, whose memory is unreliable - at his own admission, and the sections featuring Phoebe could be either her actual memories or Will trying to fill in the blanks, trying to make sense of everything that happens, and the group's descent into extreme violence. Her ability to play with perspective is partially what makes this book so readable, and I think the most important thing for me was being able to read it in one go. It allowed me to immerse myself fully in Will's story, to try and understand exactly what was going on with Will. I liked that Phoebe was never fully fleshed out and that we never got to know her side of the story if we see her sections of the book as being Will's memories rather than her own thoughts. Kwon's writing is wonderful, her ability to draw the reader in from the first page is remarkable for a debut author and such a short novel. Some of her descriptions were so powerful that you can feel yourself in the actual presence of these characters, rather than just picturing them, and I think The Incendiaries fully deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it. 

Please be aware though that The Incendiaries contains mentions of rape, possible suicide and quite a bit of violence.

The Incendiaries - R.O. Kwon
ISBN - 9780349011875 
Publisher - Virago
Release date - September 6th, 2018

About The Author

R.O. Kwon’s first novel, The Incendiaries, was published by Riverhead in the U.S. earlier this year and in September by Virago in the U.K. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Vice, BuzzFeed, Time, Noon, Electric Literature, Playboy, San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Omi International, and the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony. Born in South Korea, she’s mostly lived in the United States.

Huge thanks to Grace Vincent and Virago for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for the advance copy I received in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Drone Racer - Andy Briggs

Carson and his friends love racing drones, and they can't believe their luck when they stumble across a discarded one at a junkyard. But this new find is full of surprises. 

When they power the drone up, it starts talking! And it's fast. Really fast. They could win big prizes in the racing leagues. Trouble is, someone wants their incredible drone back, and they'll stop at nothing to get it. 

How can three kids protect their new friend?

I'm a huge fan of Andy Briggs and his MG books. I've previously read his Inventory series which, unsurprisingly, features some pretty amazing technology. It's also no surprise that Andy has turned his writing towards drone racing as it's gaining in popularity, and fast!

Carson and his friends, Trix and Eddie, are known as the Carsonators and are amongst the youngest drone racers in their local league. When their current drone gets smashed up by a fellow competitor it would seem it's all over for them. A trip to the local scrap yard changes all that, when Carson makes an amazing discovery, thanks to a savage dog and a fall into a pile of scrap. What follows is a high adrenaline, blood pumping adventure for the three 12-year-olds as they race their new drone, start winning some races, and make some startling discoveries!

As with all his books, Drone Racer's central theme is about friendship. Carson, Trix (aka Tracy) and Eddie - don't ever call him Edward - are best friends with a shared love of drone racing. Carson is the pilot, Trix is the engineer and Eddie is the tech advisor, look-out and anything else that might need doing type. Together they work as a team to win races, earn some money, discover just who is breaking into competitor's houses, and start to notice that there seems to be an awful lot of security around for a local drone racing league.

Carson is not only drone racing though. He is also dealing with the death of his mother, and his fractured relationship with his father. Like most children, he naively assumes that his father is pulling away because he blames Carson in some way. Naturally, this is not the case, and Andy deals extremely sensitively with the issues of grief and trying to move on after losing a parent.

With some wonderful friendships and furious fast-paced writing, Drone Racer is a great MG adventure with action spanning two continents, a blackmailing but bewildered older sister and some seriously death-defying stunts. It's easy to picture the action that takes place thanks to Andy's screenwriting experience, and I think Drone Racer would make an amazing children's movie or even a television series. It's a page-turner that you'll be hard-pushed to put down unless you're forced to and although it's not completely obvious from the ending whether there are more adventures for the Carsonators to come I would definitely read more adventures in drone racing.

Drone Racer - Andy Briggs

ISBN - 9781407188429
Publisher - Scholastic
Release date - September 6th, 2018

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