Tag Archives: #Strangecreatures

De Pierres, Marianne; Peacemaker 1 (2014)

The Peacemaker series begins with Peacemaker. Peacemaker also has a first installment of the webcomic edition on De Pierres website. De Pierres has called her Peacemaker stories cowpunk, meaning they are Australian Westerns (yes there is such a thing) with possible aliens/paranormal creatures, technologically enhanced humans and animals and an environmentally challenged country. Australia has gone from having its current 500 national parks to only one, Birrumen Park. There was still an outback while Virgin’s father was alive. He started a park lobby because he saw the direction real estate developers were dragging the country in. Now, Birrumen lies, as the last of its sort, in the heart of a supercity and is surrounded by a road, The Park Esplanada. Noise, people and buildings drench the outside of the park.

Peacemaker is told by Virgin. She is our main character.  She was pretty much raised in the park by her father. He taught her to not trust anyone, least of all those closest to her, and he passed on his love for the park to her. Virgin is passionate about keeping the Park out of the hands of real estate developers. As long as the tourists keep coming, the Park still has a chance.

… the company scientists deemed it too environmentally fragile to handle the impact of permanent residents. Tourists did enough damage.

And we had to have tourists.

The Park saved Australia’s tourism industry and tourists save the Park. My daughter just did her BA dissertation on eco-tourism. Many places depend on tourists to stay alive, but tourists bring their own set of problems that aren’t compatible with keeping a place “untouched”. Inhabitants make concessions like the Wild West theme of Birrumen. The future we see in Peacemaker is a likely one. Humans don’t have the intelligence to control our population growth or ecological foot-prints.

Benny, Virgin’s horse, and the Park both ground Virgin when the chaos of outside becomes too much. Both are filled with technology. Benny has been augmented with recording equipment, and endurance and cognitive enhancers. All of his augmentations send information back to Totes, the park tech, and then on to the company storage and processing centre. Birrumen has all sorts of measuring equipment to make sure the park is left as undisturbed as possible. An electromagnetic field above the park keeps unwanted people out and the view in.

No human is supposed to be in the park after dark. One evening Virgin forgets her phone inside and has to go back in.

Even though I’d been ranger here for a few years, I was suddenly a little nervous. The sand and rock and palms that I knew so well during the day had taken on an eerie quality.

The company didn’t like us “on board” (their expression for being in the park) after dark – something to do with insurance. I always pushed that directive to the limit because I like to see the sunset. …

As I bent to fumble with the pump, I felt my phone underfoot. Then another sound attracted my attention – muffled voices from the other side of the semicircle of palms that skirted the Interchange area.

Voices? Impossible! I was the last person out of the south-east sector every day. Park scanners and satellite imaging confirmed it, as well as my own visual sweep.

I picked up my phone and crept towards the sound, my boots silent on the sand. There were two of them, arguing, but I couldn’t get a handle on the thread. …

A strangled cry got me running toward them, hauling my pistol free from my holster. …

But the pair had fallen down onto the sand.

I flicked my phone light on and shone it at them. Only one person was there. Blood trickled from a small, deep wound on his neck.

Impossible! There were two! …

Weirdness arrives in the form of a crow. Virgin is attacked and wounded but manages to escape. On top of that, Virgin is late in picking up her new partner, Marshall Nate Sixpence. Then her imaginary friend from her childhood reappears, a large wedge-tailed eagle called Aquila. Virgin thinks she is going insane because she is the only one who sees her. Except she isn’t. Nate can also see imaginary friends. Hmmm. Maybe they aren’t as imaginary as Virgin thinks. Nathan calls them disincarnates.

Her life is turned on its head. She goes from routine to chaos, from safety to one life-threatening situation after the other. Some constants remain. What is going on? Virgin’s investigative journalist friend, Caro, helps Virgin many times. Her boss, Bull Hunt, Superintendent of Park Ecology, remains on her side even when the police go after her. He used to be friends with her father and has continued to take care of her.

In some ways Virgin is a loner. She certainly thinks of herself as one, but tends to gather friends because of the way she treats people. Blunt but tries to protect the weak. Some of those friends are interesting cases. Totes, the park tech, is one such. Even though he bugs her apartment, Virgin keeps him on because she believes he is on her side. Chef Dabrowski feeds her and is as much of a surrogate parent as she will let him. She is the kind of person who does not want to be a burden to the people loves, yet does her best to help the very same people. Her personality appeals to my Asperger.

This is my favorite De Pierres series thus far. Her writing is compelling and the story asks interesting questions, is fun, full of action, full of interesting characters and has a great female lead. Plus it’s in Australian English. So, a definite yes from me.


Reviews:


Winner Aurealis Award– Best Science Fiction Novel, 2014


Peacemaker can be found at:

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Hernandez, Jessica: Capering on Glass Bridges (Hawk of Stone I)

Capering on Glass Bridges, 2015
On Fiaru Island, in the Kingdom of Greylandia, on the world Acu lives the Stone family. We first meet them at the Pairing ceremony of the youngest daughter. Meeting your canonipom and bonding with it is the most important day in the lives of Greylandians. As far as the people we meet know, Kaia Stone (16) is the only person who never did so. The Stones are humans. Canonipoms are not.

A canonipom is about a foot tall and humanoid in appearance, the same gender as its human and similar in nature and looks. Being a companion seems to be its sole purpose. Once a Pairing is complete, the two have a bond that allows telepathic communication.

Soon after the family returned from the bonding, a flird appeared with a message from the Speaker Council on Zavonia. A flird is a type of shape-changer. One form functions as a flying messenger capable of conversation and memorization. Its other form is flower-like. Travel for a flird must be instantaneous because the time it took to go back and forth between Zavonia and Fiaru was, at most, a couple of hours.

The Council invited the Stones to appear before them. Speakers are human magicians whose words, or Utterances, manifest. As with most magicians, talent and work ethics differ between Speakers. To get to the secretive island, the Stone family had travel overnight by ship. The Council of Speakers asked Kaia to go on a mission to the cursed Kingdom of Mar.

Ten years ago, Marians slaughtered the Tivmicians and, thereby, into conflict with one of the Speakers’ utterances:

“Should a group ever seek the extermination of another group, … let Acu’s skies cry blood on that day. Let the plagued realm know only misery, and let it offer escape to none.”

And so the Marians were cursed forever. Or so it seemed. Recently, the Utdrendans (one of the first three races) told the Speakers there was a chance the curse could be lifted. To do so, Kaia Stone of Greyland and Sir Pelliab Blackwell of Darlbent must go to Mar and report the Utdrendan message to King Richard of Mar and discover a cure. Kaia and Pelliab would not have to travel alone. The Council promised to send along two Speakers and five of King Robert’s (brother to Richard) sons. Mr. Stone refused outright to let his 16 year old daughter traipse off into unknown territory. Kaia felt this quest would, finally, give her life meaning and felt devastated by her father’s refusal. However, just as she was about to enter the return vessel, one of the Councillors pushed a flird bulb up her sleeve. If she chooses to go, it will have to be without her family knowing and that worries her.

Capering on Glass Bridges is a hero’s quest story, and that means we know what Kaia will decide. She is our main character and it would be strange if she stayed home. So. We get to meet five princes of King Robert’s 1000 children (busy man), two speakers and a kingsman along with the various people who are part of the adventure. Kaia and Pelliab’s challenge lies in getting to the Kingdom of Mar, then getting to King Richard, then finding out what they and the kingdom need to do to lift the curse. A solution is not found in book one of the duology.

Capering on Glass Bridges is Hernandez debut. It has a good story-line. Genre betas and/or editor would have improved it. Terminology is important and there were inconsistencies. However, there very few spelling/grammar problems, and the plot and creatures fit the “hero’s quest” genre.


Reviews:


The author gave me a reviewer’s copy of Capering on Glass Bridges.


Capering on Glass Bridges is available at Smashwords

Ward, Matthew: Queen of Eventide (Eventide I) (2015)

Queen of Eventide by Matthew Ward

Queen of Eventide kept me up until I had finished it. It was weird, fun and tense (sometimes all at once). Now that playtime is over, it is time for my review.

Maddie twisted around, wiping blood out of her eyes. She saw only mist, glowing and swirling in the moonlight, but this did nothing to stem her rising panic.

Maddie has reason to panic. She is being chased by several parties and does not know who is for her or who is against her. Keeping knowledge from me, the reader, is a great tool for an author. Mr. Ward wields it well although I do catch on to some things before he reveals them to me.

Nottingham supposedly flourishes with ghosts. Certain signs and portents must be present for some of them to show. In Queen of Eventide, some of these ghosts come from a place called Eventide, and they are of a particularly creepy/frightening nature. All of a sudden a person might find themselves being chased by a huntsman and his wolves. Maddie finds herself being chased several times and for reasons she does not understand. Each time William seems to appear to save her. Or is he really there to save her? Allegiances are an iffy matter in Queen of Eventide.

My favorite character was Charles King. Partly, that has to do with the sense of humor he brings to the story. When Maddie first meets him, he introduces himself as a fortune teller. Maddie tells him she thought fortune tellers were old women and Charles answers:

“Ah, there you have me,” Charles replied. “I am not, in fact, and old woman.” Maddie shot him a long-suffering look, and he pressed hurriedly on. “I do, however, possess a knack for peeking into the future.” He leaned forward, conspiratorially. “I inherited it from my grandmother – who was, you’ll be pleased to know, an old woman.”

Hollows are the strangest and possibly most disturbing creatures of the story. They aren’t creepy because of what they do, but due to what they are. We are talking bizarre. And that is all I can say about them without serious spoilers gotting in the way.

As an Asperger, metaphors can be a challenge. Mr. Ward excels in his use of them. Thankfully most of them are familiar ones. Some of them I use myself. The ones who aren’t add to the humor and fantastical aspect of the story.

Queen of Eventide was well worth the read – as my staying up well into the night is evidence of.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Queen of Eventide is available at Smashwords.com


A copy of the story was given to me by the author


Eventide: [Middle English, from Old English ǣfentīd : ǣfen, evening + tīd, time; see dā- in Indo-European roots.] = aftentid/kveldstid in Norwegian

Sullivan, Samuel and Justin: Darkroot (Rhyme of the Willow II) page 179

“The Blood Demon rushed at him, pure bloodlust in her eyes. Axton held out his scarred hand and envisioned the Green Witch’s vines.

To his astonishment, emerald vines sprouted from his palm, fast as the Darkblades from the skin of a Crow. The vines wrapped around the Blood Demon’s arm, and as Axton stumbled onto his back they flung her overhead. Aniva spun and whirled through the air until she ricocheted off a wall and came toppling behind the fleeing advisors.

Axton cursed while Aniva roused more violent than ever. The Blood Demon caught sight of him and roared, her lips curled back to reveal dozens of sharp yellow teeth.”

Flynn, Sabrina: A Thread In the Tangle – page 1

TIME IS FICKLE, ever changing and flowing, ebbing like the sea.  A vast ocean of moments brushing against the next, rippling beneath waters both turgid and calm.  It slips between our fingers when we wish to hold it, yet moves with sluggish stubbornness when we seek to flee it, riding upon our shoulders like an oppressive yoke.  Time is a burden we cannot escape.  Our lives are swallowed in the cold, dark waters of its unfathomable depths; never to be remembered or recalled, fading like a whisper that never was.  On occasion—a very rare occasion—one moment will brush against the next and a spark will flare to life that refuses to be extinguished.  This is the moment, the spark, and this is how the end begins for a shattered realm—with a small nymphling who was cold.

Sabrina Flynn, A Thread in the Tangle

Ryan, Lea: What the Dead Fear (2011)

Cover art by Lea Ryan
Cover art by Lea Ryan

What the Dead Fear is a lovely novella about acceptance and compassion.

My reasons for choosing a story varies. In the case of What the Dead Fear  it was the title that drew me. I found I had to know what the dead do fear. Well, they fear Gareth. But more than Gareth they fear

for the fates of the living, despite their witness to the hereafter. They fear retribution, but perhaps even more, they fear helplessness and insignificance.

Helplessness is an interesting sensation. Two of the characters (Juniper and Nikki) from the story suffer through acknowledging the need for different strategies. Acceptance is such a difficult choice but usually it is the only way to change. At least it is for me, and Ms. Ryan’s characters all either fight their way through it or remain stuck as they are.

I like the way the story plays out in Limbo and in the land of the living. What the Dead Fear is a ghost story riddled with strange creatures and plenty of action and humor. Definitely recommended.


Review:


What the Dead Fear on Barnes and Noble Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, It’s also available in audio HERE.

Edwards, Nigel: Garrison (2011)

Editing and cover design by Tim C. Taylor Cover images by KireevArt and fotola70
Editing and cover design by Tim C. Taylor
Cover images by KireevArt and fotola70

Garrison is a military fantasy in novella format. It is set in another time and place with pre-industrial technology and strange creatures. Whether these people are human, I do not know. That is just a presumption on my part.

Von was the most interesting person of this story. His exact role within the company wasn’t completely clear to me. While regular soldier seems to have been his official title, his role was more likely as some kind of troubleshooter. New soldiers saw him as a father-figure. Being just another soldier seems to have given him an in that was not open to the officers. The two newbies were highly visible in Garrison, but their role seemed to be as supporting characters to Von.

I liked Von and I enjoyed reading Garrison and Nigel Edwards’ writing.


Reviews:


Garrison on amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | iTunesUS | iTunes UK | Smashwords | Barnes & Noblediesel | Sony | Kobo