Rose Point — M. C. A. Hogarth

I dived straight into this after Earthrise and just like Earthrise, i really enjoyed it.

This time we go off around the galaxy with our intrepid crew starting with a strange planet that breeds horses where Hirianthial is kidnapped (again) and because of complications from that we then have to go to the world of the Eldritch where we begin to find out what they’re all about and why they’re so secretive.   Yes folks, lots of secrets, Queens, castles, nefarious plots and everything needed to spice it all up.   It seems the Queen has big plans for Reese, but are Reese and the crew ready for the world of the Eldritch and is the world of the Eldritch ready for Reese and the crew?

All good stuff.   These are big long books that really give value for money and, without pause, i’m diving straight into Laisrathera.

M. C. A. Hogarth’s Page

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Earthrise — M. C. A. Hogarth

Super duper stuff.

If you enjoyed Firefly then this should be quite up your alley.   However, unlike Firefly we don’t just have humans, we are set in a far distant future where humans have made genetically modified people mixed with cats and other creatures.   So now we have cat people who can’t stop wanting to have sex with any humanoid that comes within sight, griffins, centaurs, advanced mind reading Elven types and other things besides — all on spaceships and stuff.

And there’s pirates and slavers and some nice police/military types that actually help normal people (it’s a strange future when the police/military types are actually helping the good guys).

A very good start to this tetralogy and i’m now off into the second book, Rose Point, for more fun adventures with our bizarre and wonderfully strange mix of crew mates.

M. C. A. Hogarth’s Page

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March of the Lemmings — Stewart Lee

It came up for £1.19 on an Amazon deal, or something like that, so i gave it a go.

As a stand up comedian i think Stewart Lee is really good and very enjoyable to watch: if you’re a person of lower intelligence then you will probably disagree with that statement, that’s fine, really, we can’t all be part of the liberal intelligentsia.

But as a newspaper columnist, he pretty much sucks donkey balls.   So why did i buy this book when, after all is said and done, it’s just lots of his newspaper columns regurgitated with foot notes?   Because i don’t read newspapers and had no idea that he sucked so badly at writing columns for them.   But i do now.

To be fair though, it’s hard to ridicule and take the urine out of a bunch of narcissistic psychopaths and sociopaths — the career politicos of our age — when they themselves revel in being caricatures of their own urine, faecal and menstrual stains and happily parade their utter incompetence across all public realms for all to see: which bizarrely does actually encourage middle england to eagerly clamour and queue to vote for more.   Why even attempt this satire and/or parody or whatever it is?   Because the newspaper offered him money to make the attempt because David Mitchell wasn’t up for it and he’d have been a fool to not take said money: he’s got a mortgage to pay after all.

So i got 11% into this and mostly got utterly fed up going back and forth to the footnotes that explain the minutiae of every column that no one really cares about other than broadsheet newspaper readers just in case these things become part of a clue in the cryptic crossword the next day.

So if you are one of those broadsheet readers then this might amuse you, or not, i don’t really care.   After 11% i’m done with it as i have many other more interesting looking books clamouring for my reading hours.   The problem with brexit now is that there’s nothing more to say or read on the matter that hasn’t already been said or read — all we’ve so far achieved is the creeping erosion of our legal rights and a trade deal with Japan that’s worse than the one we had when we were in the EU — all the other trade deals we were promised have not emerged.   The NHS is a complete mess, the economy is in tatters, unemployment is sky rocketing, Boris is determined to spend 100 billion to create 20,000 jobs building a new toy train set for the rich and wealthy while the old, decrepit, poor-people’s trainset’s franchises are all handing their franchises back to the government and are merrily washing their hands of the whole affair: the post brexit future is exactly what every remainer said it would be — but oh, thank heavens for corona virus, at least the leave camp have something else to blame for the mess we’re all in.

Stewart’s Page

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold — Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Somewhere in Tokyo there’s a tiny basement cafe with no windows, three clocks telling different times, that sells Mocha coffee and has a special seat with a ghost that sits in it reading a book while drinking said coffee.   Once a day the ghost needs to go to the toilet and while she’s away from the seat anyone who sits in it can be served a coffee and travel back in time: but there are rules.

Rule 1: nothing you do in the past will ever change the present.
Rule 2: you cannot leave the seat.
Rule 3: you can only meet people who were in the cafe at the time.
Rule 4: you only get to use the seat once, no second chances.
Rule 5: you must finish the coffee before it gets cold.

If you don’t drink the coffee before it gets cold you become a ghost.   It doesn’t say whether you replace the existing ghost or if that’s how the existing ghost came to be, just best not let the coffee get cold.

The book is divided into 4 chapters, each with it’s own time travel escapade.   The character list is quite small as it only involves the staff and customers of the cafe — which is a very small cafe — this gives us a much more intimate relationship with each of them and their problems.

As the book builds so does the emotional level of each journey, getting deeper and deeper until the very last journey which i found to be quite a damper of ones eyeballs.

The main point of these stories seems to be that if you could go through time to meet someone but meeting them wouldn’t change a thing in the present what exactly would be the point?   This is where most temporal sci-fi falls flat on its face because we always get to the paradox of you wouldn’t have gone back in time if you changed the reason for going back in the first place: this book doesn’t make those temporal mistakes.

All in all, very enjoyable and emotionally moving.

My only gripe: why’s there a cat on the cover when there isn’t a cat in the book?

Toshikazu’s Page

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Holy Sister — Mark Lawrence

A brilliant ending to a really enjoyable trilogy.

It was a slow start in Red Sister, some might even say “tedious” in those early pages, but for those who stick with it you’ll be rewarded well for your reading efforts as the whole trilogy has been a good, slow crescendo all the way to the end, and it’s an end that doesn’t disappoint at all.

If you like really good fantasy with a little sci-fi thrown in then these books will not to disappoint.   It’s big, a lot of pages, but it’s well worth all the hours.

Best of all, when you get to the end of the Kindle version you’ll find out that it doesn’t end there.   For all us Abeth fans, Mark has just begun a new trilogy with The Girl and the Stars.   I am so looking forward to more from this ice world.

Ten out of ten.

Mark’s Page

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Bound — Mark Lawrence

A novella that fits in between Grey Sister and Holy Sister.

Essentially, it’s just an enjoyable little side escapade for our protagonists as we are all invited to a Sis’, young adults, soiree down in Verity after a series of unexplained poisonings.   And we even get the beginnings of some real romance creeping into our story line for Nona: ooh-er!

Yes folks, more of that great action packed shenanigans that we have come to expect from a Sis soiree: all good fun.

Mark’s Page

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Grey Sister — Mark Lawrence

We begin this book about 2 years after the end of Red Sister.

Except for Clera and Hessa, Nona and company are all back at Sweet Mercy moving up to grey class and enjoying new rivalries and enemies there.   Yes folks, it’s more of the catholic girls school dorm rivalry and pecking order stuff that Red Sister was full of.   However, the petty rivalries and pecking order stuff don’t take up much of our time as this book soon picks up speed as Nona has to run away from Sweet Mercy to escape the Inquisition who have turned up at Sweet Mercy with a nefarious agenda.

I was hoping that this book would be much better than Red Sister and i wasn’t disappointed.   It’s well good and immensely unputdownable.   I don’t really want to say any more because i think i’ll give away too much of the story.   Suffice it to say, if the slow pace of the bulk of Red Sister left you a little disappointed but you enjoyed the faster pace of the ending, then you’ll really enjoy this, so definitely give it a go.

Next up is Bound, which is a novella that one should read before moving onto Holy Sister.

Mark’s Page

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Red Sister — Mark Lawrence

The first book in a trilogy that leaves me reaching straight for the next book, Grey Sister.

Admittedly, it’s mostly about a bunch of young girls training to become warrior nuns, wielding weapons both corporeal and magical, so it might not get the hard core fantasists satisfied.   But the book ends really well and we can hopefully move on now to a more grown up story.

Set on an ice world with a dying sun that uses a large mirror satellite to focus the suns meagre rays onto a thin band of area around the equator where most of the people live.   The world was populated by a diaspora from space and the remains of the ships that brought the various peoples to the planet are enviously fought over by warring factions.   Somewhere amongst the remains lies the ability to take control of the satellite and therefore control of the whole planet.

My only real issue with it was that it was a bit long winded and one does get the feeling that a good editor would have trimmed this down quite substantially.   Still, it was worth enduring for the end bit which turned the speed dial up to 11 after being at 5 for the previous several hundred pages: the contrast was quite something.

Fingers crossed for the next book then.

Mark’s Page

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Great Gerta and the Mermaid — Mari Ness

For all fans of Peter Pan and Neverland.

A fun story about one of Hook’s pirates, Great Gerta.   It’s also nice that we finally get some mermaids taking a more prominent role in a Neverland story.

Definitely deserves a place in the “Peter Pan and Neverland” hall of fame.

Best of all, you can read this for free at Lightspeed magazine, or listen to the podcast like i did.

And why not sign up to Lightspeed Magazine Story Podcast while you’re here, or there, and make sure you never miss another great story?

Mari’s Page

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The Book of Tea — Kakuzo Okakura

In direct contrast to The Wisdom of Tea, in which we are taken on a 25 year journey of a Tea practitioner from their very first lesson, in The Book of Tea we are given the history of Tea itself and its associations through the ages with Eastern religions and philosophy.

As such, this book is wonderful and it makes one realise that there is so much more to Tea than simply throwing some tea leaves in a pot.   There are some great passages in this book where Kakuzo has some wonderful rants about western culture which are a delight to read.   One can really get a vision of just how coarse the Devon Cream Tea in a sea side cafe — not forgetting morning tea in mother’s finest china with a biscuit — is when compared to Japanese Tea in a traditional tea hut, even though the English will proclaim these two tea ceremonies of theirs as the height of culture.

A must read for all who enjoy reading about Japan and its culture, and anyone who enjoys a cup of tea, however you may take it.   Written over 100 years ago and is as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Kakuzo’s Page

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