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Tracey Shellito "Tracey" (Lancashire, U K)

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Destroy All Robots
Destroy All Robots
Price: £0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Saturday Morning Pictures Meets e-book., 3 Feb 2013
It isn't often I have that rare pleasure of meeting that diamond in the rough, a new novelist. But out of the blue I was contacted by Mr Grimwood who saw we shared a love of science fiction and asked me to review his first book. Initially I was sceptical; where had he heard my name? Why me? But the moment I started reading I was glad he had found me, because I was instantly hooked.

Destroy All Robots is a work of the near future. The protagonists have the same problems, flaws and virtues we do, but set against the backdrop of a reality TV show about battling robots which have become a part of the new society - a very controversial part.

Aimed at the Young Adult market is skirts deep adult themes and concentrates on those teens might find I their own lives; dealing with disability, prejudice and the imminent death of a loved one, pleasing parents or rebelling (perhaps both at the same time) and the realisation of first love. However it is also a book about obsession and meeting societies expectations in order to make money, even if the things demanded of us are morally bankrupt or downright illegal.

Overall it is a rip roaring, non-stop adventure. Mr Grimwood takes us ion a rollercoaster ride through his imagination coming up with some genuine flashes of innovative brilliance (walking food robots that cook your food inside themselves then plate it up and serve it for you) married to the known, familiar and expected (comedy villains cut from Home Alone cloth).

Make no mistake, it is a violent tale - though much of the nasty stuff is implied and off camera - rather than described in the loving detail of horror and crime novels. More than a few folks meet rather nasty (and occasionally well deserved) ends. Most of the aggression is reserved for the fighting robots and we can perhaps forgive Mr Grimwood his enthusiasm for his cinematic fight fests when they are essentially bloodless.

The spectacle of the cinema is ever present; in the story within a story of the reality TV programme being filmed and the exotic James Bond style setting. Mr Grimwood's day job as a scriptwriter comes to the fore in the lovingly described, well thought out set pieces which would translate very well to the medium of his day job. And of course be well received by his target audience of late teens used to playing video games. In fact to accommodate just that sector of the population, we have broadly drawn characters, a teen romance without the complication of sex or mushiness and short punchy chapters for those whose attention span is apt to wander.

Those chapters also deserve a second mention for their charming Saturday morning serial cliff-hanger endings, which come thick and fast as the story really takes off after something goes very wrong on the set.

While there is much that an experienced reader will find familiar or even occasionally a little derivative, the audience for whom the book is meant do not have the same frame of reference. It's easy for adults to write off the battling robots as a nod to Disney's Black Hole and the battle on a tropical island where everyone turns on one another as borrowing from Battle Royale or Lord of the Flies, but here they've been give a new twist. Even the obligatory teens in peril chase scene seems fresh and new and fits so well into the carefully crafted whole that nods to the obvious influences can be seen as genuine homage rather than plagiarism.

If I have a complaint, it would be the colourlessness of main protagonist Toby compared to the vibrancy and depth with which the other characters are rendered. However, this is intended to be the first book in a series, leaving room for development as well as the vagueness of detail required for the intended readers to be able to imagine themselves in his shoes account for much of this. And since this reviewer has been privileged to a glimpse of the forthcoming story arc, this could well prove necessary. As are the few lose ends not tied up at the termination of episode one.

In closing then, I have to say I enjoyed it immensely and my only qualm for its target audience is the level of violence. If Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez ever get together to make Saturday morning movie serials they would look like this. And they could do worse than employ Mr Grimwood to write the script for it. More please!


Silver Moon: A Women of Wolf's Point Novel
Silver Moon: A Women of Wolf's Point Novel
by Catherine Lundoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Silver Star for Silver Moon, 11 July 2012
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Catherine Lundoff's Silver Moon is perfect light summer reading. A hint of action, a touch of threat, a soupcon of romance, the shock of the new and a learning experience all wrapped up in an urban fantasy for mid lifers.

The menopause is perfectly captured in heroine Becca who goes from ditsy downtrodden divorcee to empowered woman like Kathy Bates after her talks with Jessica Tandy in Fried Green Tomatoes. And like Fried Green Tomatoes, there is just a whisper of lesbianism, subtly underplayed enough not to upset heterosexual readers, able - at a pinch - to be considered just another hormonal change for those not quite so able to swallow Becca straying from what the more straight laced among us consider normal.

In fact the book is a hymn to taboo busting; challenging our conceptions of what normal means, handled with such casual aplomb that you don't realise its crept up on you till its too late.

With its gentle humour, poking fun at Becca's foibles through her own eyes (...she felt like a bad special effect...) but seriously displaying the annoyance of dealing with `tropical moments' and mood swings that accompany `the change' makes it - if not more palatable - then at least less frightening for those yet to reach that time in their lives. It is however one of my two main gripes that this is set in the forty something age group when no one I know has reached menopause until their menses are coming to an end in their mid fifties to early sixties. (Though I'm guessing selling a book like this with such an age group would be nigh on impossible.) It is however great to see ordinary older women get such a prominent role in urban fantasy. I applaud the notion and hope it continues. Life should not be considered to be over at forty and there is no reason why only twenty to thirty something's should have interesting fictional adventures unless they professional women. (Like Brennan and Scarpetta.)

The tale (without giving too much away) centres round Becca and a series of unusual events that accompany her divorce and shift into middle age in the small rural town of Wolf Point. It is also a story about werewolves which never slips into horror. (Considering the lack of sexual encounters, had the age range been twenty years younger it would have sat comfortably in the young adult category. The low key adventure story bubbles away nicely but never becomes overly violent is p c enough that no parent could complain about its detrimental effects on their offspring.) It stops shy of frothy, is just short of worthy, managing to be an intriguing tale that rattles along at a fine pace for its 205 pages and is over far too quickly.

While it ends abruptly and a little saccharine for my taste (my second gripe, but then I`m no lover of happy endings), I'd still advise fans of Catherine's work to add it to their collection. I would also recommend it as an introduction for her more gritty short stories (the superb A Day At The Inn A Night At The Palace) or her erotica (Crave, Nights Kiss).

This is a nice beginning to what I hope will be a trilogy (I know a sequel is already in the works). And another success story for small independent publishers Lethe Press who are making a career out of finding hidden gems of authors and getting their less mainstream work into print.


From Hell with Love (Secret Histories (Roc))
From Hell with Love (Secret Histories (Roc))
by Simon R. Green
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Wish The Real World Was This Entertaining, 23 Jan 2012
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The Secret Histories rolls on. Fr Fans of Sharman Bond AKA Eddie Drood, this is a treat as we continue to discover more about the family that protects humanity from things that go bump in the night. A cool blend of urban fantasy, science fiction, comedy and drama Greene has knocked out another book that makes we wish I'd written it. There can be no higher praise. A deadly auction, a door to the dungeon dimensions of Lovecraft's monsters and more double dealing, betrayal and scandal within the family than a Victorian bodice ripper! An great b-movie of a book, full of entertaining and knowing asides. Can't wait for the next one.


KISSES FROM HELL
KISSES FROM HELL
by Kristin Cast
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Stories, Shame About the Cover, 23 Jan 2012
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This review is from: KISSES FROM HELL (Paperback)
One of those times when you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover. The tales within are great horror stories with just a touch of romance. One or two things let the collection down a bit, but not in such a major way that a reader should be put off buying the anthology. A great way to get into the work of the writers as introductions to their longer novels without having spent much to find out if you like what they're doing. Urban horror fantasy that should appeal to lovers of Supernatural, Buffy, Hex, et al.


Ghost of a Smile (Ghost Finders Novels)
Ghost of a Smile (Ghost Finders Novels)
by Simon R. Green
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.70

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Hunting Should Always Be This Interesting, 23 Jan 2012
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While the Ghost books have attracted their fair share of criticism from the fans, who seem to see them as derivative or patronising, Greene has created something a bit different in the Karnaki Institute and its three main operatives. So just how would you conduct a relationship with ghost girl? Or find out if your boss was trying to have you killed? This book tries to answer those questions in a challenging and unusual way. The story is a bit thin on the ground this time, being essentially a `chase' tale once we get inside the building, but the closure is intriguing and there must be more to resolve what has happened to the helpful ghost of Kim... To say more would be to give away the plot, but if you liked the first, you'll love this, if you hated the first book Ghost of a Chance, you'll probably be just as unhappy and would be best advised steering clear. A quick read with less depth that Greene's other work, it is still worth collecting for the completionist and a nice addition to a growing body by a great British writer.


The Immorality Engine
The Immorality Engine
by George Mann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Steam Punk Was Never Lovelier, 23 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Immorality Engine (Paperback)
Another blinder from George Mann. Steam punk meets bys own in this the third and possibly final story in his Newberry and Hobbes stories (though I hope not!) has the al but Terminator-esq Queen Victoria scheming to create a successor and Hobbes sister in peril as her visions come to the attention of people in high places. A great read, well written and a worthy continuation to the trilogy. Recommended. More please!


A Hard Day's Knight (Nightside)
A Hard Day's Knight (Nightside)
by Simon R. Green
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.97

5.0 out of 5 stars A Universe Well Worth Spending Time In., 23 Jan 2012
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Even though it is brutal and the hero of the piece is often betrayed or misled by those who employ him, there is an honesty about Taylor and his world that speaks as it finds, isn't bothered about political correctness and gets rid of the bad guys instead of making them the victims, paying them benefits and penalising the real victims for living in their own country and daring to have an opinion that clashes with the status quo. This time out Taylor is the recipient of Excalibur and helps us almost revisit Deathstalker for a while as he wields that ancient blade. Taking over from Walker as the new voice of the authorities will give him a very different role and though Susie has a revelation at the end of the book that means Simon Green next Nightside might be Taylor's last outing as a single man and P I, I hope that won't signal the end of this entertaining and well written series, its characters always a joy to come back to. I highly recommend this book.


Steam-Powered 2
Steam-Powered 2
by Joselle Vanderhooft
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Steam(Powered)Punk, 22 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Steam-Powered 2 (Paperback)
Steam Powered 2 is sheer bloody brilliance. As a writer of lesbian steam punk myself I am only disappointed that I didn't hear the submission call for this and missed the boat. As we speak I am two thirds of the way through this much substantial read and haven't a bad word to say about it. And you can be sure I'll be looking for more work by the authors in question. Which can only be good for their continuing in this business.

The very best short stories are those that we can fit in around our busy lives and when we tune back into reality afterwards it seems a little less dull and easier to live with because we were so completely transported to another world. We've walked a couple of miles in someone else's shoes and suddenly our own problems seem less insurmountable. This wonderful book does that.

I highly recommend it (and its companion volume Steam Powered 1). It doesn't matter that the protagonists are lesbian when the tales are so well told. This is a book that anyone should be able to enjoy if they love science fiction or steam punk. A good tale well told transcends genre and classification and just becomes a damn good read. I urge you to go out and buy it for that very reason.


Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic
Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic
by Joselle Vanderhooft
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars New urban fantasy with a lesbian spin, 22 Dec 2011
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I was privileged to receive a pre-publication copy of Hellebore and Rue. And I have just recently invested in the paperback version of it I liked it that much. What can I say? Drollerie Press and Lethe Press must surely have a hit on their hands. The quality of the writing is sublime, the stories alternately tantalise, amuse, make one think and entertain. Three tales in and I don't want to put it down. Three Cheers for Catherine and Joselle for instigating this volume and choosing their stories and authors so well. I can think of no finer praise than wishing I'd got my finger out and wrote something to join them. I'd be in fine company. Go out and buy this, you'll hate yourself if you miss it.


A Day at the Inn, a Night at the Palace and Other Stories
A Day at the Inn, a Night at the Palace and Other Stories
by Catherine Lundoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Day At The Inn? Yes, Please!, 22 Dec 2011
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If you have any money set aside for stocking fillers this year go and by a copy of Catherine Lundoff's A Day At The Inn A Night At The Palace. This collection of her short non-erotica stories is a feast of delicious prose, delightful heroines and lesbian derring-do. If I have any complaints it is that there are never enough pages when a collection is this good and with the exception of one story that didn't work for me, I don't have enough adjectives to adequately praise the superlative tales to the levels they deserve. No higher praise would be wishing I'd wrote the damn thing myself and almost - but only almost, mind - being jealous of this much talent in one place.

The sole story I am not in love with is The Egyptian Cat which sadly starts off the collection. Edging too far into Abbott & Costello meets Wolfman farce territory the intended humour is a bit heavy handed and never quite hits the mark. The addition of a minor bit of nudity feels tossed in to an otherwise juvenile tale, better suited to teens. This could put off browsing readers who would miss the hidden gems further within.

From the Letter of Marque the pace never lets up. It is here that Catherine's love affaire with history shines through in stories that ring with verisimilitude. You are effortlessly transported from the 15th to 16th century of Will Shakespeare's smarter twin sister, to 17th century female pirates and Opera players to the 1800's in the Regency era, to fights of pure fantasy not out of place in a Dragon Lance anthology.

You are right there in every story; feeling the protagonists pain, the cold, the fleas, the dirt, the hunger, the lust and the longing. You're rooting for the heroines and hoping they'll find a way to overcome their personal demons or the times in which they live to win their fair ladies or be won by them. And you won't even mind that most of these tales have happy endings because they are all so well done that by the end all you want to know is what happens next.

Was the story of how Amelie and her beau went to court in Paris ever written? (M Le Maupin). I find myself hoping so. Did the aliens invade in the wonderful film noire pastiche? (Red Scare). What I find myself hoping for the most is that there will soon be another collection of stories from this fine writer, who must surely soon be as well known for her adventure fiction as her super-sexy erotica. (Speaking of which, if you're looking for a little present for yourself you could do worse than buy Nights Kiss, also by Catherine from Lethe Press...)

Though I was put off by a cover I personally found a bit creepy, I'm glad I overcame my prejudice to purchase this great collection. This book makes you believe in power of a happy ending. But don't just take my word for it, go out and buy it for yourself.


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