Tag Archives: ebook

Red Sister

Fantasy novel about assassin nuns

This was a set book for the feminist fantasy book club I am in, and broke the trend a little by being written by a man. I have to say, it wasn’t a particularly enticing cover, and it was subject to significant ridicule before we even had the meeting. I mean, it really is so bad, I’m tempted to start a new category on my blog for ugly book covers. Needless to say, my expectations were not high when I bought it for my Kobo.

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Contender for the worst book cover ever? 

“Red Sister” by Mark Lawrence is a fantasy (and kind of science fiction) novel about a girl called Nona who is taken from her home, placed on a cart with other children and taken to a city to be sold. The children are inspected for physical signs for their potential to have the traits of each of the original tribes: hunska, marjal, quantal and gerant. Her dark eyes, dark hair and incredible reflexes suggest hunska blood, and Nona is sold to a fight hall. However, after a violent incident, Nona is sentenced to death and is rescued at the last minute by Abbess Glass of the convent Sweet Mercy. Nona is enrolled to become a novice and train to become an assassin. Far behind her peers in her literacy and social skills, and with her past threatening to catch up with her, Nona must learn to walk the path before it is too late.

 

This is a fast-paced, immersive read that mixes elements of fantasy, science fiction and your classic, young adult magic school. I really enjoyed the world-building in this book, and the concept of a world completely frozen except for a thin strip along the equator kept warm by a mysterious red moon. The idea of a planet long ago settled by humans who have made it their own and who have special abilities is one that I have read in Anne McCaffrey, C J Cherryh and even Patrick Ness‘ books – and it is a premise that I simply never get tired of. Lawrence is a strong writer who is able to explain some of his complicated magical concepts, and allude to technology that, while the characters don’t understand, the reader recognises, in a clear way. I also liked how much uncomplicated queer content there was in this book, and Lawrence’s handling of relationships.

I think the thing I struggled with was the plot itself. The timeline was a little all over the place, sometimes doubling back, sometimes skipping ahead years at a time. While the theme of “Nona is under threat” was constant, the nature and source of that threat was in constant flux. I felt like the trial at Sweet Mercy was confusing and a little pointless, with Abbess Glass as opaque, unpredictable and infuriating as Dumbledore. The book also seemed divided in two with the demons from Nona’s past forgotten, and a new threat to the mysterious shipheart introduced very late in the story. I think all the elements were there, but they just felt like they needed a little reshuffling or something. Honestly, I just wanted to know more about the original tribes and the red moon, and less about who was trying to attack Nona at any given second for no discernible reason.

This was a very easy book to read, and there were plenty of things I liked about it, but I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll read the second book in the series.

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, eBooks, Fantasy, Science Fiction

More Hubs That Provoke

I received a copy of this eBook courtesy of the author, and I was very interested to see what it was about. Roy T. James is recently retired from a long and diverse career with the Indian Navy and has been writing at length about his thoughts and philosophies about the world and where it’s heading.

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More Hubs that Provoke” by Roy T. James is a short collection of essays about various topics that have piqued the author’s interest. This book ranges in topic from the modern role of politicians to predictions about the evolution (or demise) of humanity. James has a particular interest in the organisation of society, and a lot of his chapters explore the changing roles of caste, democracy and gender.

This book is clearly intended to be provocative, yet I was surprised by how many of James’ ideas I agreed with. I particularly enjoyed his suggestion that with a more educated public, political leaders are becoming less distinguishable from the general populace and therefore more redundant and easily replaceable with computer programs. James is an articulate writer with clearly reasoned arguments and this is a succinct and snappy book. The only one of his statements that I found myself violently in disagreement with was right at the beginning where he suggests that writing is an unnatural form of communication for people with insufficient social skills. Given he wrote this book, that may have been irony.

A quick, interesting and eloquent read with some novel ideas.

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Filed under Book Reviews, eBooks, Non Fiction

Haze

Some of you might already know that in addition to this blog, Tinted Edges also has a Facebook page and a Tumblr page. Not too long ago I got a PM via the Tinted Edges Tumblr page asking me to review an e-book. Of course I said yes.

“Haze” by Brandon J. Barnard is a dystopian novella set in the UK in the 2070s – a dark place where air outside is poison. Jack Decker is a PA in a London company who is as awkward as he is unsatisfied in his work. He spends his spare time reading and Digital Diving, escaping into perfect virtual worlds. One day he meets a new girl at his work called Haze and all of a sudden his grey world is painted technicolour. Caught up in his new romance, the last thing Jack wants to do is think about his past but it starts to catch up with him anyway.

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This book was quite a surprise. Barnard has a rather lyrical and humorous way of writing and the subject matter was subtle and nuanced. Although there were a few clever technological concepts throughout “Haze”, I think this book would have almost worked just as well in current times. The themes explored by Barnard are extremely topical to today’s society. My only criticism is that “Haze” gets off to a rather slow start and it’s not until about halfway through the book that Barnard starts to really hit his stride.

A strong debut by a self-published author, “Haze” was an unexpected and enjoyable read and I look forward to seeing what Barnard comes up with next.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Science Fiction

Nailbiters

A while ago I signed up to a website called Blog Tour, a website designed to connect authors and bloggers together so authors get extra publicity and bloggers get extra content. I made my account, and then promptly forgot about it, so it was a while until I checked it and I was quite surprised to see I had a message. A writer called M. K. Williams from the USA had contacted me to see if I’d like to review her new self-published ebook “Nailbiters” that you can pick up here. Of course I said yes.

“Nailbiters” is a post-apocalyptic thriller about Dora, a young woman in her 20s who was formerly a personal trainer and is now running for her life from them. The world has been invaded by aliens who seem to be bent on destroying humanity with unbelievable cruelty. Part USA road trip, part suspense-filled sci-fi horror, Dora does whatever it takes to survive as the world she knew crumbles around her. The book is narrated by Dora who constantly questions her own decisions and motives, and who provides commentary about the motives of the people around her and the shifting social values of this new society. One thing she notices is that people everywhere have started compulsively biting their nails. What does this mean, and why hasn’t Dora herself picked up this habit?

Nailbiters

Williams has a raw and honest style of writing, and maintains suspense throughout the book with a twisting plotline and deliberately concealed information. Thrillers are not a genre I read often, but I quite liked the premise of this story and the underlying themes of power, humanity and gender relations. I think the narration was sometimes a little too self-aware, and some of Dora’s commentary and guesses about the reasons why people were doing what they were doing felt like they interrupted the flow of the story.

A quick and tense read, this book is ideal for readers who love thrillers.

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Filed under Book Reviews, eBooks, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction

Eagerness and Desire

I have been following this phenomenal and gritty webcomic called “Judecca” for years now. I also follow updates of the authors on tumblr. While their main project is “Judecca”, every now and then they post up some of their other projects, and that’s how I got reminded of the fantastic little collection called “Eagerness and Desire”.

I had in fact bought the PDF version of “Eagerness and Desire” about a year ago and had promptly forgotten all about it when I saw something posted about it. It jogged something in my memory, I did a quick search in my email inbox and ‘lo and behold: there it was. I had a happy little PDF of it sitting right there, ready to be read.

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“Eagerness & Desire”, by Noora Heikkilä, is a collection of three short comics about love, sex and dating. The first follows the escapades of a very cute and very forward waitress. The second is about three women who summon a demon and have a blast with him. The third is about a couple, life and death.

Eagerness and Desire

I really love Heikkilä’s work. “Eagerness and Desire” is a great example of the feminist, sex-positive and body-positive messages that she embeds in her work. She’s a fantastic artist with a really edgy, messy, watercolour style that has just improved and improved over the years I’ve been following her work.

If you have $5 and you’re willing to throw it at a great artist and a really adorable, entertaining read in PDF format, “Eagerness and Desire” is just a mouse-click away.

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Filed under Book Reviews, eBooks, Graphic Novels, Webcomics