Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Reviews Of Hunter No More

I've had some great reviews in the last few months which as they have been appearing on a few different blogs, I decided to post for posterity.

My thanks to all the reviewers who took the time out to read my book and post these reviews:

Hunter No More is a fascinating piece of science-fiction, a novel combining several concepts and crafting them into an engaging story that, although scifi, does sound realistic. The story alternates between the POV of several different characters, giving an all-around experience of what’s happening and the consequences for everyone. In that sense, the book reminded me of Game of Thrones. Different characters tell different parts of the story and in the end you get a well-rounded tale.

The main focus of the story is the battle between humans and artificial intelligence. The story is believable and the characters are engaging. The action is flawless. It starts on the first page and is still going strong by the end. At the same time, the author manages to provide food for thought for the reader, about machine intelligence and what would happen if one day they decide to rule the world. The book features a lot of intrigue and mystery, and so many twists and turns you simply can’t stop reading until you’ve reached the end.

I’d recommend this one to all science-fiction fans and thriller fans.

Starting out with a breathless action scene, Tinnams drags the reader by the throat into a world where things are not as straightforward as they initially appear. The panic of the night flight amid rioting is truly heart pounding, and the relief once all are safely on board the escape boat is a welcome breather, even though something is clearly amiss between the two male leads, Roger and Keith.

This is an accomplished piece of writing, and the concepts explored are fascinating and well realised: AIs that wear ‘biotech’ (synthetic human bodies that house their consciousness when they need a physical form other than their space ship), a war between machine minds with human beings as unwitting casualties, and how a random event can put a spanner (or a hammer – read it, you’ll understand) in the works – or perhaps be fortuitous, depending on whose point of view you take.

My small quibble with the book was the – to me – slightly uneven structure. There are 5 viewpoint characters, opening with what seems to be a typical teenager, Samantha, which lured me into thinking this would be a standard YA novel revolving around the teen character. Chapter 2 is from her father, Keith’s viewpoint, and then the story alternates between the two for several chapters before the 3rd person, Josella, is introduced. Fine so far, but then when the action really ramps up (and it does, believe me – the sequences on the Amberjack are mind-blowingly good), Sam is left behind on the planet, and almost half the book takes place without her. This made it feel almost like reading two separate books, and I expected to at least have Sam’s viewpoint again at the very end, to ‘showcase’ the story, but that doesn’t happen, and I felt a tiny bit cheated, not seeing her response to the tragedy in the final showdown.

Having said that, I would still highly recommend this book, for the concepts, the depth of characterisation and the action – well worth the read.

I received this book to review for a blog tour – my opinions were in no way influenced by this.

I had been itching for a good Sci-Fi book to read so when I saw that was going on tour I jumped at the opportunity to read it. Hunter No More is exactly what you want in a Sci Fi read complete with a mechanical species threatening the human race, emotional distress, fast paced action and a heart breaking and rather beautiful conclusion. I was riveted from the beginning to end. At 140 pages it is a fast, light and yet satisfying read.
Hunter No More

While I enjoyed this book and the story enough to give it four stars I really wish it was longer but that’s just selfish of me because I liked the story alot and felt like the action and drama could have gone on awhile longer. I loved the story itself and was really interested in the civil war going on with the humans and the hunters themselves were fascinating to me and their way of thinking about and dealing with humankind. I do like how Josella, at the start of the story seems to be a minor, sort of sidekick type character but ends up being a pretty central focus of the story. I think that was great. I feel like all of the characters, except maybe Anna and Skylar each were equally important (at least perspective wise) to the story. I love books that are written from multiple perspectives, I always like to see the differences in the story as it occurs character to character. This book was no exception to that, I really enjoyed the delivery. One thing I loved about this story is that it never stops with the action and I love my Sci Fi reads to just be full of gut punch action where you can feel the adrenaline pumping almost like you are experiencing it for yourself. Hunter No More was like that for me.
The ending to this book was rather stunning…surprising to me and sad. In a good way. I rather enjoyed reading this book and I think that Sci Fi fans in need of a light read would enjoy it too! I really dig the cover as well!!

Told from the POV of a few different characters, Hunter No More is an engaging scifi story about AI vs. humanity. The book is breathtaking, fast-paced, and provides excellent writing. The author crafts an engaging scifi world and characters the reader feels an immediate connection to. An awesome read to finish this year of reading.

Samantha Marriott's  family is lucky to escape a growing political discontent in their hometown. Things would be great at their new temporary home if it weren't for the fact that aliens have decided to complete their missions of destruction and all the adults have huge secrets. Samantha and all those around her quickly decide what it is that is important to them and must fight for the death.

A very smoothly written science fiction. This smoothness made the story entrancing and so believable (another that was read in one-sitting...again, one-sitting as defined by a mother of a running Toddler and a constantly jumping Preschooler). The only time that I found myself pausing for believability was when humor was at just too awkward a time (that happened a bit near the end of the story).

I like all of my characters to be very well-developed and this story had a puzzling way. The action was laid out by several different narrators. For this particular story, skipping around from one mind to the other actually worked (and one might even say it was appropriate for the subject matter covered). On some level, each entity (person, machine or alien) is struggling to understand the true meaning of humanity.
(I would recommend Roger Zelazny's "The Last Defender of Camelot" for readers who wish to further think about humanity and whether humanity can be learned via will power...G.D. Tinnams can take this observation as a big compliment to his writing style.)

This is one of the best scifi books I've ever read. The worldbuilding is phenomenal, the story is breathtaking, and the author does an amazing job with character development. I liked Sam's personality - she was an easy character to relate to. Overall, it's hard to say just how good this book is, but take it from me, it's pretty great.

In Hunter No More, Samantha Marriot and her parents have to flee their home after a violent revolution. They hope they can be safe on "The Rainbow Islands", but unfortunately their perils have only just begun. Once they arrive on the island, Sam discovers a secret her father has been keeping, and that secret changes everything. Meanwhile, the Machine Mind Hierarchy of Earth wants to get rid of the planet's remaining human population, and humanity's only hope is a damaged Hunter unit.

We meet a bunch of characters along the way: Keith, Kristof, Jostella, and many more, but the most memorable character is  Sam. She's strong, independent, intelligent, rational, and easy to relate to. Her struggles seem quite real, and her reactions to things are realistic as well.

The book is fast-paced and offers, besides an impressive cast of characters, an intruing story and solid writing.

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Four Doctors (Doctor Who 2005 - 2014)

A long-term fan of Doctor Who since childhood, (Peter Davison was my Doctor) I was genuinely both surprised and pleased when it was announced it was returning in 2005. At the time I didn't know what to make of the casting choice. Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor? I knew Eccleston best from 'Shallow Grave' in which he turned from an innocent bespectacled nerd into an outright remorseless murdering psychopath. How could he be 'The Doctor'? Also, on the night the first episode 'Rose' was broadcast, the early moments of tension were ruined by an open mike from Graham Norton on some other show. (Norton is a longstanding Irish presenter who does very well in Britain but is no Terry Wogan.) My conclusion: The BBC had messed up and it was going to be cancelled. How wrong I was...

Just days after the first episode achieved record ratings the BBC announced 'Doctor Who' was renewed for another two seasons and Eccleston was leaving at the end of the first series. The end of the first series? Why? Whatever the reasons for his departure, announcing it after just one episode meant I really couldn’t invest in him as ‘The Doctor’, not when I knew he was going so soon. Only Paul McGann had spent less time in the role and that was not by choice. At any rate I still watched it over the next twelve weeks and was pleasantly surprised by the scope of the new series. The death of the Doctor’s planet Gallifrey by his own hand, alien invasions, new monsters – it all reminded me of what Doctor Who should be like before low budgets strangled its last few classic seasons. As for Eccleston himself, he was arrogant, he gurned, he displayed anger and pain in equal measure – all new to the portrayal of The Doctor whose inner emotional state had always been unreadable. Eccleston was attempting to play The Doctor like a real person, I say attempting, because there was still the gurning, some acting choices which were obviously a performance. In his short tenure he never really made me believe he was The Doctor, but if had been around longer, I think he would have succeeded. He didn’t give himself that chance.

David Tennant took over, and at first he seems like an exuberant happy chap, the complete opposite of his predecessor. After his companion Rose departs this soon changes, as if she was buoying him up. His exuberance becomes an act and there are moments of dark stillness, a ruthlessness and power that comes from making decisions that willfully sacrifice the lives of others. David Tennant had four years to build this performance, and what comes across is a man battling his demons and guilt and hiding behind a fraying veneer of jokey cheerfulness. He comes across as doomed, and knowing that he is doomed, relishing what time he has and fighting as hard as he can. He saves people if he can, but there is also a string of broken promises and of corpses in his wake. He may save a world, but he loses people. This is all well and good, and there are a lot of interesting stories, some complex, some that require better plotting. This era more than any other is about spectacle, about making things bigger. There is an epic quality that was lacking in Doctor Who before. Tennant gives a great performance, and sometimes his Doctor is not even likeable, but true. There are times though when I think his performance becomes repetitive, a snort here, a movement there, as if he is locked into the same nuances and can’t get out of them. In my opinion he left at the right time, because there didn’t seem to be anything else left for him to do.

Then came Matt Smith, an almost complete unknown, and with nothing to compare him to, he became the Doctor almost instantly. Wilder and madder than Tennant, with traces of Patrick Troughton, there were no moments of dark stillness. This was a Doctor who had forgiven himself for the destruction of his people and was getting on with straightforward adventuring. I say straightforward, the storylines under a new producer were becoming ever more complex and in need of repeated viewing. Shortcuts in storytelling were used on a weekly basis to speed up storytelling and it was not to everyone’s taste. In retrospect I enjoyed it, but I can’t say I enjoyed it so much at the time. It was a jarring change from the previous era, and viewing figures did go down, but the show, well it was different. Better? No, different, and Matt Smith, I liked him more quickly than any other Doctor because there was a sense that he was always having so much mischievous fun. With the 50th Anniversary stories resurrecting Gallifrey and clearing the Doctor of ever destroying it, the series and the central character changed again.

Now we have Peter Capaldi, an actor in his fifties who I remember more from the film ‘Local Hero’ than anything else. He is unashamedly ‘Scottish’ in that some viewers find him hard to understand. Personally I can understand him just fine. He is angry and arrogant but in a gentler way than Eccleston. Eccleston did this with an imposing physicality which Capaldi does not bring. Capaldi is more the crotchety Grandfather, having adventures not because he enjoys them but because he must. He is a driven man, driven to understand what is going on at all times. It is this need to understand that overcomes everything else. He cares little for those around him, or for the collateral damage. The universe is vast, he is ancient, and while he tries to save those around him, it is only as an afterthought. He should do it, but he doesn’t do it because he wants to. Only time will tell how Capaldi develops this further.

As for the stories this season, they have been darker, but also have embraced what the TARDIS can do. The Doctor can flit from place to place, time to time, at a moment’s notice. Where in previous stories he would arrive at a location and then return to the TARDIS at the end, in the most recent stories, The TARDIS is always present - The Doctor’s home and fortress. Things are progressing nicely.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

WHO AM I? A Comment About Characterisation

First of all, and what many people have noted, I tend to give my characters ‘normal’ names such as Roger, Keith, Anna, Sam, Alicia. This was a conscious choice because when I’ve read books in the past I find it hard to get my head around weird alien names and lose track of who is who. I didn’t want my readers to have the same problem so I’d just rather keep it simple and direct. Even so a few slightly different names did creep in, like Kristof and Skylar. Again not alien names, but just a little unusual. I probably couldn’t walk down the street and meet a Kristof or Skylar, but I could probably bump into a Keith.

Names notwithstanding, once a character has a name, what do you do with them? Well in any story you have a protagonist, a character whose experiences the story is built around. Sometimes but not all the time you have an antagonist in direct opposition to the protagonist. Their conflict creates the story. Actually it’s not quite that simple, but that is a starting point. In my novels I tend to have more than one protagonist, allowing multiple points of view and multiple antagonists as well. It mixes things up more, and sometimes a protagonist can change roles and so can the antagonist. Their roles are not set, but are dictated by how each character progresses in the story.

It’s never as cut and dried as good versus evil. Good people sometimes do bad things and bad people do good things. Characters are not consistent, and may make a good decision one day and a bad the next, even when confronted with the same circumstances. Why? Is this bad writing? No, in real life people are equally inconsistent, I’m inconsistent. We live, we change, we make mistakes and sometimes we don’t. Characters follow suit.

I also believe that characters shouldn’t necessarily get on, even if they are on the same side, they have different interpretations of what that side is. For instance, the characters Keith and Roger in ‘Hunter No More’ actively despise each other. Keith sees Roger as small minded, Roger sees Keith as alien and arrogant. But that doesn’t mean they can’t work together, it doesn’t mean they can’t love the same people. But they are at odds, and that conflict helps to define who they are and make them more interesting as people. If they liked each other, and did everything without argument, that would make them the same person. Superficially the description would be different, but the characters would be duplicates of each other. People are all unique and different and no-one is exactly the same. In life we are all the stars of own shows, for the characters it’s no different. Even a minor character doesn’t know they are a minor character. In their own life they are the protagonist and they have to be written that way.

So we have names, conflict, descriptions. Someone is tall, someone is fat, someone is a man, someone is a woman. Gender stereotypes: the man should be strong, the woman should be weak. That is rubbish, a woman can be stronger than a man, both physically and mentally. A woman shows more emotion than a man? Maybe in feature films, but in a story we are interested in the inner voice. A man and woman can be equally afraid, equally grief-stricken, equally brave, and equally hysterical. Characters react and feel, man or woman, it shouldn’t matter. I’m not saying they should be written the same, but a writer should avoid being influenced by preconceptions about gender as much as possible. Why, as much as possible? Because we are all influenced by our upbringing, and every independent thought is tinged by that. I have no doubt that some stereotypes creep into my writing, but the trick is to avoid those stereotypes as much as you possibly can.

Finally it’s all about the layers; layers of behaviour, layers of reaction, layers of internal and external argument, layers of action. After injecting a character with enough layers, plot no longer dictates their actions, rather their actions dictate the plot. Keith isn’t going to say to Kristof, let’s blow up this place and go home. It’s not in his character. So plot hinges on how a character would act, and you can’t just throw in plot twists which don’t fit with a character’s actions. You have to write the character’s actions based on their developed traits and let the story play out as honestly as possible. That’s when it gets interesting for a writer, really interesting, because as you’re writing you don’t know exactly what is going to happen next.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Emon and the Emperor - Review

A book that is genuinely hard to put down until finished and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The world building is done with the barest hints and the characters are built in a slow but steady flow of action and detail. Emon himself, is a decent guy, not bright but with his heart in the right place, and as such the other characters gravitate towards him, love him and are even jealous of him. He also doesn't help himself that much, his stupidity on a par with his bravery.

His relationships with Titan and Emara are the driving force of the story as much as the electric and water super powers are. They are a strange love triangle, each dependent on the other, each giving something to the others that they lack. It is Emara's story which is just as compelling, if not more so, than Emon's and the flashes I see of her past as an 'imperfect' only leave me hungry for more.

The world of the Empire itself is only hinted at in the broadest possible terms, but this is because the reader is limited to Emon's own first person world view. There are no stats about landmasses or conditions, just a place that has to marched through and experienced. While it is hinted the Empire is another world, no detail is given as to how Emon is transported there again and again. It could exist somewhere in space, or another time or another dimension. There is no way of knowing and I like the mystery of it.

The narrative is constantly moving for the most part, putting our protagonists in danger as they discover more about the Empire they are in conflict with. The twists did catch me by surprise and the mineral that affects the people of the empire in various ways proved an original driving plot device.

A good and original book, it deserves to be read.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review - The City Beyond The Sands - By Michael K. Rose

On an Earth that is not Earth people and societies from our history have been kidnapped and thrown together for reasons unknown. It could be natural, it could be by design, the only thing Will Kelly knows for sure is that he wants to find a way home to 2014 and the son he left behind.

In this action packed novel there is friendship, sword fights, horses, camels, sea chases, ape men, neanderthals, bat creatures, a mysterious city, desert, mongols, savage tribesman and more.

As the author states it is written in the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howard, although the style is much more modern and reader friendly. In a way it reminds me of the black and white chapter plays I used to see during the holidays, with excitement and peril at every turn. It is full of ideas and a constant movement through a detailed patchwork world where the protagonists constantly encounter new people, cultures and strange creatures.

The story is written as a series of short sharp chapters that keep you reading and in a way it is the story itself is the main character of the book, fleshing out a world that is surprising, exotic and, above all, deadly. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, and I for one, am very interested in finding out what happens next...

Friday, 8 August 2014

Firebolt - Adrienne Woods - Spotlight

For the love of blueberries, Elena Watkins was destined for greatness, even though she didnt know it. Before entering Paegeia Elena was not special, she wasnt even average until the night her father was killed by a creature she thought only existed in fairy tales a dragon. With her fathers death leaving her orphaned, Elena is whisked away to her true birthplace, Paegeia. Arriving at Dragonia Academy, the premier school for young Dragonians; a school she was never meant to attend because her father was a dragon. Unbeknownst to Elena danger is lurking behind the enchanted vines concealing the once thriving capital of Paegeia Etan. Goran, the darkest sorcerer in the realm, has lain dormant for over a century behind the crumbling city. There, in the shadowy ruins he plots his revenge to destroy the only weapon that can kill him the King of Lion Sword. When the sword is stolen without a trace Elena doesnt think twice about seeking it; knowing deep down that it is her destiny to save her new home.

My Comments: The author has created an imaginative and well thought out land where humans and dragons co-exist, hidden from the modern world by a magic wall that only dragons can cross. The story is told in the first person from a teenage girl's perspective and realistically charts her loss, lack of initial confidence, and growing courage and ability in the face of adversity. There are also many other characters, and the story centres around developing friendships, love, jealously and one character who is fighting against his own evil nature to be good. The themes are developed just enough to leave the reader wanting more, exactly what the first book of a series should do, and I believe the sequel is coming out very soon.

Adrienne Woods was born and raised in South Africa, where she still resides on the East side of Johannesburg with her husband and two little girls. She's been writing for the past four years and in her free time she likes to review books of new and upcoming authors.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Blog Tour - Hunter No More

The Hunter Class Spacecraft designated 'The Amberjack' disappeared during a routine mission to Seek, Locate and Destroy the enemy Machine Mind contingent known as ‘The Ochre’. Conclusion: It was either destroyed by the Ochre or went rogue for reasons unknown. If sighted, approach with extreme caution.

The 'Hunter No More' blog tour kicks off today with an interview and rafflecopter giveaway on Michael Long's Michaelscifan website. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Michael for hosting.

Further stops in the blog tour are listed below and are also available on the GMTA blog tour website.

8/20 - BEACH BOUND BOOKS (Guest Post)

8/20 - COFFEE, ART & BOOKS (Guest Post)

8/21 - MS. NOSE IN A BOOK (Review)

8/23 - MYTHICAL BOOKS (Guest Post)

8/23 - CBY BOOK CLUB (Guest Post)

9/17 - SIGNAL + (Guest Post)

9/17 - READ AROUND SUE (Guest Post)

9/17 - DEBORAH JAY (Guest Post)


9/20 - WILLOW'S AUTHOR LOVE (Guest Post)

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Coffee Shop In An Alternate Universe

This little story was written as a half hour challenge during a meeting of my writer's group. The brief was simple enough, 'coffee shop in an alternate universe'. Below is what I scrambled to write in that half hour. It was a fun experience that I hope you will enjoy reading.

Coffee Shop in an Alternate Universe

It was the sun on his eyes that brought James out of a dream that was already escaping his grasp. Something about a forest of green sun dappled leaves and overpowering fragrance. He awoke with a sneeze.
Recovering himself, he felt warm hard concrete against his back. Turning his head he made out the edge of double yellow lines. He was lying the road. What? He rolled to his feet, dodging over to the pavement in order to avoid whatever cars or traffic that was coming his way. It took him only a moment to realise that there was none. All the cars he could see - the range rovers, the aston martin, the fiesta – all were still, inert, but not parked, just stopped, a queue of traffic with no drivers and no humming engines.
This was London, he knew it was London, but it was so quiet, so dead. He looked up at the buildings rising overhead, shielding his eyes from the sun. Buildings that literally scraped the sky and that should have been full of commerce and activity. He saw no movement and somehow knew they were just as empty as the street he stood upon. He was alone.
Turning around he saw his favourite Starbucks waiting for him. The same Starbucks he spent every lunchtime with a coffee and a book listening to jazz. Brushing down his dishevelled suit, he walked over to it and pushed through the door. The cold breeze of the air conditioning greeted him and then something else, someone else.
“Hello James.”
It was Tracey, his normal server, dressed in her starbucks uniform, she appeared to be waiting for him.
“Tracey?” he mumbled.
“The usual?” she asked.
He strode up to the counter. “The usual?” He rapidly gestured outside, “What’s happened?”
She followed his gaze, her expression more tired than usual. He normally saw her with a smile on her face, always a smile, a beautiful plastic smile for all her customers.
“This is where I come to be by myself,” Tracey explained. “You followed me here.”
James blinked and opened his mouth. “I didn’t follow you. I always come here.”
She sighed. “Not here, here,” she gestured with a sweep of her hand. “Here. A sidestep away. I’m on my break.”
“Break?” He found it hard to understand the ramifications.
“Now that you are here,” she pulled out a cup. “The usual?”
James shook his head and rubbed a chin that was no longer as clean shaven as he would have liked. “This doesn’t make sense.”
“Just sit down,” Tracey said. “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Slowly he felt his limbs respond and took a window seat looking out onto a beautiful summer’s day in the centre of the city of London. Beautiful, but so empty. He loosened his tie and Tracey delivered his Moche.
“You’re the first to follow me here, James, the first ever. How did you do it?”
He heard jazz and blinked rapidly as she mouthed more words he couldn’t hear.
“Did you just turn that on?” he asked.
She replied again with words he couldn’t hear. The jazz was getting louder. It was playing a horn solo he had heard so many times before.
“Don’t go back yet!” She cut in abruptly.
“What is this?” He asked, scrambling from his seat and knocking his coffee cup flying with a stray hand. The cup flew through the air and then fell in vivid slow motion, the brown liquid spilling upward. Then it smashed, the whole episode over in an instant.
“Calm down, James,” Tracey said. “Only a few people can do what we can do. Just a very few. I never thought I would meet another.”
“Do what?” he asked. “What?” Suddenly it was very hot.
“Travel between,” she whispered. “Distant and close at the same time.”
“This doesn’t make any sense,” he mumbled.
Tracey laughed. “I’m not alone anymore.” She stared at him, studying his grey suit and his even greyer hair. “Oh...” Then she was gone.
He blinked, she was gone and he was alone in an empty Starbucks, in what appeared to be an empty London. An empty world? He stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow. He had to go outside and find out.