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Machine Wars

machine-warsBy: Michael Pryor

Bram was late home from music practice, these things happen but this time something is very wrong when he gets home. This is a moment he has been training for. For some reason a paranoid, super intelligence is out to get him. His mum always said she hoped this would never happen but she made sure he was prepared if it did. Thing is Bram really wasn’t expecting it to be today. The plan calls for Bram to scatter and hide. It sounds so simple but with so much technology around that the intelligence is able to tap into to use to hunt for him, that is no easy task. Bram isn’t alone in this, somehow his best friend gets dragged into his disaster. Also there is one piece of technology left that is on his side, a Roboduck called Bob. This unlikely group have to survive, if they can do that they will be instrumental in saving the world.

A fun roller coaster of a read. The pace of it does not stop. Bram is a bit of a loner, all his moving about has made it difficult for him to make friends. Stella gets through his defences by being herself. She refuses to let herself be boxed into one group, instead she goes out of her way to be friends with everyone. This is beneficial in this situation because she has learnt some neat little bits of information along the way. Bob is such a wonderful addition to the story. He is part comic relief, part necessary associate and a reminder of another robot with self esteem issues from another series of books.

The world Pryor has created seems not too distant from our own in many ways, just with an abundance of technology that we don’t live with.I enjoy the way Pryor has blended together the familiar and the not so familiar to create a place that is very easy to visualise. you can almost hear the machines, (though it’s entirely possible that that is my over active imagination). I also like the way the characters work together, how Stella is an equal partner in their survival. The story touches on some interesting ethical issues around the topic of artificial intelligence, but the ethics don’t bog it down.

Another wonderful read from one of my favourite authors. For ages 10+

Recommended.

Publisher: Random House Australia Children’s Books

Published: 01 April 2014

Format: Paperback 288 pages

Categories: Artificial Intelligence, Action

ISBN 13: 9780857982766

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page.

 

Being a Book-a-holic

So here’s the thing, I don’t think I’ve really done a post like this before but I figure now is as good a time as any.

It should be quite obvious to anyone that I am a book-a-holic. It’s not a secret, not even a little bit of one. I unashamedly love reading, books and well all things booky, though sometimes films from books make me a little crazy, in a bad way.

Books though are no different from any other fandom. Those of us who love some authors can have fan girl or fan boy moments. One of my first was when I worked my first Matthew Reilly book signing; I asked when I could get my book signed and was told just add my book to the pile for the store – my response ‘no you don’t understand I will be meeting him,’ and that’s how I ended up working my first signing.

It was AWESOME!

Since then I have worked a few. I have also been fortunate enough to network with some of my fave authors and as such have met some.

Marianne de Pierres is truly lovely and such a generous lady with her time for fans and bloggers.

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This year I met Raymond E Feist – whose book Magician I read when I was 11 or 12 and loved it so much I read bits of it by torchlight when I was supposed to be asleep.

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I also got to meet Michael Pryor, who is a wonderful and fascinating conversationalist. I loved every minute of my time with him, just talking writing, processes and what ever else took our fancy.

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I have also met Jay Kristoff, who writes the Lotus War books. I even stayed in the same hotel as Jay this weekend just gone, how spun out was I? A bit.

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The thing is though for me these things are as cool as meeting the movie and tv show stars I get to meet at SupaNova and similar cons.

Fandom is an awesome thing and authors love to meet their fans and get positive feedback. You know I’ve gotten to witness some wonderful moments of fandom over the years and I don’t think fanboys and girls should ever be ashamed to put their hand up to acknowledge their fandom. Sadly I have seen some terrible things said in the name of fandom. There is never any time you should think a writer owes you, don’t ever tell them how to do their job. They don’t report to you.

(If you noticed that there are a couple of book covers instead of pics of me with the author it’s because sometimes it really isn’t appropriate to ask.)

And for heavens sake if there was something you thought wasn’t great, you don’t need to lambast them for it. They make their writers choices, you make readers ones. I will say though, I love meeting writers and don’t begrudge the fact that they like to do things other than writing. This topic is a whole other thing really so I’ll leave it there. I prefer to focus on the positive.

I love the places authors can take me to. I love to sink into their worlds and I love to meet them. Sure my ‘I love your work’, is unlikely to stand out amongst the others but each one counts. I think there is a Authors Appreciation Day, and if there isn’t there should be.

Also, next year I will be going to an event just to meet one of my other all time favourite authors- the incredible Tamora Pierce, and man will I ever be a fan girl. I’ll be the one with a bag of books for her to sign and if she only signs one well that will be fine because I will have gotten to say ‘wow I love your stuff and recommend it to as many people as I can’.

So if you haven’t already read anything written by these authors I’ve mentioned, do yourself a favour and do so.

The Subterranean Stratagem – Book Trailer

This is the second book in The Extraordinaires series.

Oh oh oh, you know I love Michael Pryor Books, now I just need pay day to rock around so I can get this one, that and for it to be out. It has an April release date.

10 Futures – Book Trailer

Yes, yes we all know I am a huge fan of Michael Pryor and so it seems obvious that I would be looking forward to his next offering. Now just to make you all aware of it, here is the new book trailer.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

Now I had this great idea to put in one post a bunch of trailers from a wide variety of my have Aussie authors…but then I struck a problem, there just aren’t that many clips out there.

So instead I will list for you just a few Aussie authors worth checking out, if you haven’t already, and leave it at that.

In no particular order and by all means not a comprehensive list, (the heat here today is over the old hundred mark and my brain is trying to pretend it is somewhere cool).

Michael Pryor

Marianne de Pierres

Jackie French

Anthony Eaton

Marcus Zusak

Michael Gerard Bauer

Wendy Harmer

Cath Crowley

Lili Wilkinson

Margo Lanagan

Lian Tanner

James Roy

Kate Forsyth

Andy Griffiths

Morris Gleitzman

And then of course once I started thinking about Aussie authors I wanted to add, the list kept getting longer and then I could find more clips but not necessarily trailers and so I will leave you with just a few and apologise to anyone I didn’t add by saying it’s only because my brain is sweating.

 

Top Titles 2011

As I’m going to not be posting between now and the new year I thought I would put my top picks of this year down now.

These aren’t the only ones I loved and there is no order to them, they are simply some of the ones released this year as far as I know that stand out in my mind.

Picture Books

The Flying Orchestra – Clare McFadden

The Last Viking – Norman Jorgensen/James Foley

The Jewelfish of Karnak – Graeme Base

Fiction 4-9

Violet Mackeral’s Natural Habitat – Anna Branford

Mystery in Paris – Thea Stilton (As with the rest of the series)

The Amazing Voyage – Geronimo Stilton (really I love the whole series)

Fiction 8 – 12

Eight Keys – Suzanne LaFleur

The Medusa Plot – Gordon Korman

Wonderstruck – Brain Selznick

Young Adult Fiction

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

The Extraordinaires – Michael Pryor

Mastiff – Tamora Pierce

The Extinction Gambit


By: Michael Pryor

Book one of The Extraordinaires series

Kingsley Ward had left home to pursue a career as a stage magician. It doesn’t start well. In fact it couldn’t have started much worse. Instead of amazing the audience with his sleight of hand and death-defying escapology, his first real performance ends in disaster. He loses control of his hidden wolfish nature. In steps Evadne Stephens, juggler, inventor and weaponsmith, who has decided to take an interest in Kingsley. As his hopes and dreams look likely to collapse, Kingsley’s father is abducted and his home ransacked.

Kingsley finds himself swept into a world that had previously been hidden from him, called the Demimonde. Some of the residents of the Demimonde have more than a passing interest in Kingsley though, and he finds himself targeted by two warring factions: the immortal magicians with nefarious plans for mayhem and little interest in Kingsley’s survival; and the last of the Neanderthals who are working on a plan to wipe out the human race once and for all.

Kingsley is not alone as Evadne proves far more resourceful and talented than he could ever have guessed. Also the famous author, Rudyard Kipling, is keen to help, though Kingsley isn’t sure why.

Michael Pryor has a way with first sentences, they just draw me in – Kingsley Ward’s wolfishness was a problem. If it weren’t the howling, it was the occasional desire to bite boorish people, which was rarely acceptable, no matter how boorish the boor.

This world that has been put before us is more familiar than Albion from the Laws of Magic series and yet in some ways more bizarre. The Demimonde is extensive, dark and just as layered as the surface world.

Kingsley’s animal nature holds him apart from many around him. The addition of Kipling gives Kingsley’s character yet another dimension. Underneath it all Kingsley is a nice person who struggles with his own secrets and loves to challenge himself. His magic skills add to his mystery and are a useful tool when he finds himself in certain situations. His willingness to accept Evadne’s capabilities is a trait that Pryor gives several of his male characters and this is a wonderful treat as it allows the female characters to stand on their own and in some cases really shine.

Evadne is in someways very open, she knows herself well, and in other ways she is very guarded. She has depths and strengths that make her interesting. I love the way she is the one who creates the weapons. For me proactive females in a story are a huge plus and Pryor has once again delivered on that front.

As the story weaves together from various points of view, a more fully realised landscape is laid out for us. I love the way the sinister and bizarre are blended seemlessly in through the mundane. As with other of this authors novels, there is more than one story thread going on and as always Pryor handles them deftly in a manner that never comes across as confusing. If you love steampunk, old school performance magic and fascinating characters definitely give this a try. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 1 December 2011

Format: Paperback 376 pages

Categories: Steampunk Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781864718201

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

The Extraordinaires – Book Trailer

Here is the trailer for  The Extinction Gambit – The Extraordinaires, by Michael Pryor, due for release in December.

I totally cannot wait for this book, I love Michael Pryor’s Laws Of Magic Series.

 

Hour of Need

I received this book from Random House

Hour of Need

By: Michael Pryor

Laws of Magic series bk 6

(Spoiler Alert if you haven’t finished book 5)

Aubrey Fitzwilliam is considered a renegade and traitor in his own land. instead of seeking to right this problem he chooses to track down his enemy Dr Mordecai Tremaine. To do this he ventures deep into the heart of enemy territory and finally has Tremaine in his crosshairs. Things seldom go smoothly for Aubrey though and what he uncovers at Tremaine’s base leaves him wondering and very worried. He has known for a while that his enemy was seeking immortality and that the path to that is a bloody one, but what Tremaine appears to be doing to attain his goal leaves Aubrey’s blood running cold.

A terrifying combination of electrical science and cutting edge but soul shattering magic seems destined to bring the world far closer to destruction than most people realise. Only Aubrey appears to grasp what is going on and how much is at stake.To stop Tremaine may cost Aubrey the very life he fought so long to save. Fortunately Aubrey isn’t alone.

Wow, what a way to end a series.

I feel I should warn you I may gush a little here but this is the final book in this series so I am going to talk about the things I loved about these books.

Aubrey, for all his ability is a very thoughtful and moral character, though he is in no way perfect. He doesn’t always know the answer but he always tries. He stands for what he believes and does what needs to be done without much thought about personal accolades, he just doesn’t want to let his friends or family down.

George is a wonderful counterpoint to Aubrey, in so many ways. He is in no way considered less by Aubrey because he has no magic, like a true friend Aubrey sees George’s strengths and abilities and he values his friend for them.

Caroline is a wonderful character. She is strong, smart and thoroughly enjoyable to read about, though like her friends she is in no way perfect. It is a real pleasure to find stories where the girls are strong of mind, will and ability. Where they are able to go toe to toe with the boys and in a manner that is indicative of equals. Caroline doesn’t need magic to stand side by side with Aubrey she just needs to be herself. In addition I’d like to mention the suffragette movement in these books. It never seemed preachy to me and I think that is a credit to Pryor and the way he developed and wrote Caroline, Lady Rose and Sophie.

Dr Mordecai Tremaine is all about power and self. He is not a character we ever like or even really understand, but as Aubrey tries to do just that, he comes to know more about himself. This really works on two levels; the character development of Aubrey and in giving texture to the story as a whole.

These were the first steampunk novels I bought and I love them. I found myself totally immersed in the world Pryor created; the depth of character and a story wonderfully balanced with action, espionage, humour and humanity. These books are filled with light and shade. The labyrinthine layers to Tremaine’s plotting may have gotten confusing, clunky or even obvious in another’s hand, but Pryor never allows it to get that way. Cleverly and seemingly effortlessly (though I am sure it wasn’t) he weaves complex pieces together producing a fascinating and addictive read. I think I am going to miss these characters.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 2 May 2011

Format: Paperback 437 pages

Categories: Adventure Crime Fantasy Steampunk

ISBN 13: 9781741663105

Purchase from Booktopia using logo on side of the page

Moment of Truth

By: Michael Pryor

Laws of Magic series bk 5

Albion is at war. As much as they had hoped to avoid it, war is upon them and Aubrey and George can’t sit back and do nothing. On the way to signing up they find themselves swept into roles at the Directorate, a joint force comprising of the Magic Department and the Secret Services. Aubrey believes he George and Caroline make the perfect combination for a special unit, though it appears the military hierarchy may have other ideas.

Before long Aubrey’s team find themselves in a far more precarious situation than their superiors believed it to be when they sent them in. Sent to establish a safe base and investigate mysterious magical emanations. Instead they discover something far more horrible than they could have imagined. Aubrey has to decide if they are going to obey their orders and just observe or step in and do all they can to prevent what will be a terrible bloodbath.

Aubrey is back and facing the weighty decision of how best to live up to his family name. He isn’t the sort of person who could or would sit back and allow  others to step up when he is perfectly capable of doing something. He is a moral and forward thinking character who still remains somewhat unbalanced when around Caroline. His abilities make him powerful but he doesn’t revel in this, he takes pride in his abilities, accepting that it means he can he can step up. He is an example of the saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Aubrey is the antithesis of his arch enemy Dr Tremaine. Tremaine is a great bad guy, he is canny, talented, super smart and totally ruthless.

Pryor has created a world that has depth and colour all of it’s own. The three central characters gel so well, they balance and ground each other and the addition of Sophie is an artful touch. It brings new energy to the team, with none of them seeming out of place. With a truly deft hand Pryor untangles layer upon layer of plotting, to bring problem after problem to the fore and creative solutions out of our heroes. (I’m sure Caroline would dislike the addition of the word heroine here). Then he leaves us with a final twist that had my hand desperately reaching for book 6.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 02 August 2010

Format: Paperback 432 pages

Categories: Adventure Crime Science Fiction Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781741663099

Purchase: here or click on Booktopia logo on side of the page

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