Defiance by HG Chambers

Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

After a wait while the book got written and prepared for publication, all I can say is, what a finale to this series! I enjoyed reading the first two books in this phenomenal, inventive world, and Defiance was really the icing on the cake. Finally pulling the different actors together in a showdown to end all showdowns, Chambers nevertheless packed in quite a few surprises. Expect the unexpected with this and you’ll do just fine.

While the ending wasn’t quite what I’d envisaged… it was better, suitably twisty, perfectly fitting the nature of the series.

For me, I see this series as a fine merger of science fiction and fantasy – which often makes for some very inventive worldbuilding in my experience. From the first book this has been a world that’s excited me with its possibilities, and as the series has gone on I haven’t been disappointed.

Thanks for the fun!

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Hell Divers IV: Wolves by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

From one of my favourite authors… what’s not to like here?! I was really looking forward to this book’s release, and when it arrived I couldn’t wait to dive right in (see what I did there?). And I surely wasn’t disappointed.

Following hot on the heels of the third book, this one joins Xavier Rodriquez and Magnolia in their search for the Metal Islands (and just what are those, one might wonder). But all is not plain sailing by any means. The oceans bring new dangers, not least rogue waves.

In the meantime, up on Deliverance, Captain DaVita must fight through her own demons and doubts to lead her ship, and the Hive to safety. But new revelations about humanity’s past threaten their fragile existence and, as with all plans in this post-apocalyptic future, every decision comes at a price.

Though I didn’t find this quite as gripping as previous books in the series (due to my own reading-related pressures at the time of reading), like the other three books it went down very smoothly, which in itself is a feat that Smith accomplishes with aplomb. The writing drew me immediately into the world of X and the rest, and it was easy to slip in and be taken along for the ride with no distractions.

If you haven’t, go and pick up HD1 because this series is one helluva ride. I cannot wait for HD5, because… goodness me. I have no idea how this’ll pan out.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I had seen the movie Hugo some years back, not realising it was based on a book. When I discovered the book and saw some images of the pictures that form part of the story, I knew it was one I could read together with my daughter.

We thoroughly enjoyed the adventure with Hugo, learning about the train station he lived in, the mechanical man he works to fix, and its relationship with the old man who runs the toy booth. It was also interesting to have this fictitious account of Georges Melies and go away and learn about the real Georges Melies.

Selznick’s art is magnificent, and together with the prose makes this book an absolute pleasure to read. Rarely have I seen such absolutely gorgeous pencil drawings. Worth every penny.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Format: Paperback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I picked the book up (not for the first time, I should add) after watching the movie with our 6yo daughter. She had loved the movie – particularly Marvin, the depressed robot – and asked to have the book read to her.

We loved reading it. It was described as being “like a crazy dream”, and indeed, when the impossibility drive is in action, it certainly is very much like that. Completely wacky and unpredictable, it’s an excellent, entertaining and thought-provoking read. Very much enjoyed in this household.

Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

Format: Paperback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I clearly wasn’t paying attention when I picked up this book to read, as I hadn’t realised it was a GE tale. So I was delighted to discover I was in a corner of the Foundation empire, albeit a very distant, small corner. Nonetheless, this book, while focussed on Earth, retains the vastness of the GE, and so it was perfect for me.

Joseph Schwartz, in the 20th century, picks up his foot and puts it down in GE 827. Disoriented and confused, he finds himself at a farmstead among people who speak a language incomprehensible to him – as his is to them. Soon he finds himself the subject of a scientific experiment, the Synapsifier, purported to make people very, VERY clever.

Meanwhile, Bel Arvardan, an archaeologist from Sirius, arrives on Earth, intent on proving once and for all that it is the planet origin of the human race. He has his suspicions, but proof would be appreciated.

It doesn’t take any kind of degree to realise that, in Joseph Schwartz, Arvardan has the proof he’s searching for, but more problematic is the Society of Ancients, the rulers of Earth and their hide-bound prejudices – not to mention their intent on wiping out the rest of the Galactic Empire with some nasty bug they’ve developed – and other obstacles that stand in the way of Arvardan even knowing of Schwartz’s existence.

I always love a good story from Asimov, and this is no exception. I didn’t see the resolution coming, and to that I doff my proverbial cap to this master of deception and storytelling.