The Rings of Mars Review

Summary

For most people, colonising Mars is the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance for adventure. But for Jane Parker, it’s a chance to escape her old life. As the Earth grows more inhospitable, humanity’s best hope for survival is to start again on Mars.

Jane was lucky enough to be chosen from millions of applicants to join the first ship of colonisers; but before the crew of the Sleipnir can begin taming the red waste, they have to survive the voyage there. 

Author: Rachel Foucar
Format Reviewed: eBook (review copy provided by author)
Print Length: 344 pages
Publisher: RhetAskew Publishing (2021)

Blighted by the effects of climate change, humanity looks to the stars.

The Rings of Mars, a ‘spy-fi’ thriller, sees mankind begin a mass migration to Mars in an endeavour to preserve the future of the species. 

However, not everyone supports the evacuation. The journey aboard the shuttle Sleipnir sees cracks begin to emerge amongst the crew, revealing the fragility of social cohesion in a high pressure environment.

It’s a great concept, though the novel isn’t without its issues. Pacing is a problem, characters feel undeveloped, and frequent grammatical errors threaten to undermine the reading experience.

And yet in spite of this, Rachel Foucar’s debut novel is an undeniably exciting journey with some very good sci-fi elements.

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The Living Sword Review Pemry Janes

Summary

Eurik was found adrift by the san and raised by them. Though he had read much about the outside world, he’d never considered leaving home. Not until his teacher revealed what he had inherited from his parents: a living sword, a sentient blade of rare power . . . and with it, the names of his father and mother.

Reluctant to go, yet curious, Eurik sets out to discover who they were, and what happened to them. But is he ready for all the attention his heritage will earn him? Can he survive in a world he has only read about?

Author: Pemry Janes
Format Reviewed: eBook (review copy provided by author)
Print Length: 120 pages
Publisher: Self-published (2013)

The Living Sword is a curious book.

On the one hand, it has a well-realised world with a good supporting cast. Plus it’s intriguing enough to pique one’s interest in future entries in the series.

On the other hand, the quality of writing is inconsistent.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Audiobook Review

Summary

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skillfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party.

Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party.

Author: George Orwell (Read by Peter Capaldi)
Format Reviewed: Audiobook
Print Length: 12hrs 22min
Publisher: Penguin Audio (2021)

Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of those timeless novels and a testament to the power of language.

Such is its influence, adaptations have spanned film, television, radio, the theatre, and even ballet! Not to mention the numerous pop culture nods to the novel.

Penguin’s latest edition is an audiobook, narrated by the incredibly charismatic Peter Capaldi – the second ‘doctor’ of Dr Who fame to be involved in a production, following Christopher Ecclestone’s 2013 dramatisation.

Capaldi’s a perfect fit for the role. His austere narration captures the solemnity of Orwell’s dystopian classic. It’s bleak, atmospheric, and terrifying – mirroring the novel itself.

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Summary

You could have been someone, you could have been a contender, yet instead you ended up here, a dishwasher at the Flamingo Hotel. From the death of your mother, to homelessness, to insanity, and back again, to an encounter with an American serial killer, a lover affair with a performance artist, to the loss of your foreskin, to living in a shed, and certain bum operations, you have only ever wanted one thing. To find someone worse off than yourself.

Author: Drew Gummerson
Format Reviewed: Paperback
Print Length: 221 pages
Publisher: Bearded Badger Publishing (2020)

Leave any assumptions about Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel firmly in the foyer.

No, really.

Bearded Badger Publishing’s debut publication is hilarious, tragic, and downright bizarre – all at the same time.

And for the most part, it works. I can’t remember the last time I laughed, cocked an eyebrow, and experienced such solemnity within a single page or two.

Author Drew Gummerson has created a truly unique piece of literature, though not without its issues.

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Leonard and Hungry Paul Review

Summary

Leonard and Hungry Paul is the story of two quiet friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

Author: Rónán Hession
Format Reviewed: Paperback
Print Length: 245 pages
Publisher: Bluemoose Books (2019)

Ronan Hession’s debut novel is a delight.

A tale of two seemingly unremarkable people, the novel’s introverted protagonists spin entirely on their own axis to the rest of society.

And yet, despite this, both Leonard and Hungry Paul – the latter’s hungriness remains to be established – are really quite relatable.

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Inside Story Review

Summary

His most intimate and epic work to date, Inside Story is the portrait of Martin Amis’ extraordinary life, as a man and a writer. This novel had its birth in a death – that of the author’s closest friend, Christopher Hitchens.

We also encounter the vibrant characters who have helped define Martin Amis, from his father Kingsley, to his hero Saul Bellow, from Philip Larkin to Iris Murdoch and Elizabeth Jane Howard, and to the person who captivated his twenties, the alluringly amoral Phoebe Phelps.

Author: Martin Amis
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition (ARC kindly provided by the publisher*)
Print Length: 576 pages
Publisher: Vintage (2020)

Inside Story, Martin Amis’s latest autobiographical novel**, is brilliant at times.

It’s well written and a sombre ennui pervades his entries on late father-figure Saul Bellow and now-departed best friend Christopher Hitchens.

Other times, the novel** falters with frustratingly smug and self-indulgent meanderings.

Such is the nature of autofiction, I suppose.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Summary

Reality is a story we tell ourselves. Change the story and you change reality.

In Absurdia charts the seeker’s journey. Intellectually and artistically provocative, it tries to capture ephemera, knowing life is a pastiche with fragile connections.

Author: Glenn Whalan
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition (ARC kindly provided by the author*)
Print Length: 222 pages
Publisher: Karenza Press (2020)

In Absurdia is a curious novel. It’s also rather rather on-brand for this blog.

But how did I feel about it?

It’s a dizzying, disorientating piece of absurdist fiction that’s harder to pin down than an otter coated in vaseline. After finishing it, I needed a lie down. Conveniently, it was bed time.

At times it’s touching, sometimes hilarious, and other times, it’s really quite bizarre. I’m not entirely sure what just happened. And yet, I enjoyed the time I spent with Glenn Whalan’s debut novel.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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