Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra (Zodiac Starforce #1-4) by Kevin Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau (Illustrator)

zodiac starforce Cover

They’re an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures… as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters – not your typical after school activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself, and the world, from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!

From Kevin Panetta (Bravest Warriors) and Paulina Ganucheau (TMNT: New Animated Adventures, Bravest Warriors), this super-fun and heartfelt story of growing up and friendship, with plenty of magical-girl fighting action, delivers the most exciting new ensemble cast in comics.

Collects Zodiac Starforce #1-#4

My review of Zodiac Staforce: Power of Astra

Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of AstraZodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kevin Panetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The artwork in this is absolutely stunning. The drawings, the characters, the outfits – everything is perfect! And the colours! Bright and bold and an almost dreamy mix of pinks and purples, yet it’s still vibrant.

This would probably be a four-star rating just because it’s so lovely to look at! Luckily the story and the dialogue lives up to the artwork. It seems very influenced by Sailor Moon. There are extras in the back and one of them is a one-page story with the characters in uniforms that look very much like the Sailor Soldiers. But it’s much more modern, and a lot louder and faster paced than Sailor Moon.

I started reading thinking that this was the first volume, but there must have been one before this that explained the characters and where they got their powers. It keeps referring events that happened two years ago, where they fought a big bad and I think one of the characters lost her mother? So I did kinda feel like I was missing something, but it didn’t impact on understanding the story in this volume.

The characters are well developed and easy to tell apart. They all have their own personality and their own style. My favourite is Kim! I’m also really liking Lily.

My only complaint is that I wish it were longer. I hope there’s more coming soon.

Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra
Zodiac Starforce
Kevin Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau (Illustrator)
Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Books
March 9th 2016
Graphic Novel
136

A Blackbird in Twilight (Blackbird #4) by Freda Warrington

A Blackbird in Twilight Blurb

The great Serpent M’gulfn is dead, all save one of its demon-servants destroyed. Now is the time when the power of sorcery might be harnessed for good or for evil.

Journeying disguised to Gorethria comes Melkavesh, daughter of Silvren and Ashurek, eager to use that latent power for good. It seems she is too late, for a ruthless usurper, Duke Xaedrek, has already seized control. Aided by a demon with malign intentions of its own, he intends to restore the evil Gorethrian Empire.

To save the Earth of Three Planes, Melkavesh must defeat Xaedrek – even though their conflict may claim innocent victims and bring other lands to ruin. And can she withstand the temptation to reclaim her birthright – the dark throne renounced by Ashurek – or resist the all-too-seductive charm of Xaedrek himself?

My Reviews of Other Books in the Series

A Blackbird in Silver (Blackbird #1)

A Blackbird in Darkness (Blackbird #2)

A Blackbird in Amber (Blackbird #3)

My Review of A Blackbird in Twilight

A Blackbird in TwilightA Blackbird in Twilight by Freda Warrington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a ride! This has taken my emotions up and down so much it’s taken me three days to be able to start writing a review.

A Blackbird in Twilight is the fourth book in Blackbird series, and the concluding part of the story started in A Blackbird in Amber.

Mellorn / Melkavesh has raised an army to repel the Gorethrian army. But her sorcery has been no help to her, and the Gorethrian Emperor Xaedrek is using the power of the last remaining demon to strengthen his soldiers and power his war machines.

But they all fail to see that the biggest threat to Earth is the demon, who has dark plans of their own.

There is some serious character growth in this book! The characters are all imperfect shades of grey.

Mellorn wants to stop the Empire enslaving the whole continent, but she also has her own ego. She sees herself as a saviour, as a leader and an Empress, and she can’t see her own faults.

Kharaan thinks of herself as a coward, but over the two books, she has evolved into a strong and resilient woman. She acts as Mellorn’s conscience, putting the brakes on the sorceress’ ego.

Xaedrek is doing some very bad things and has allowed himself to be controlled by the demon. But his motivation is his love of Gorethria, and he is sensible and logical and capable of caring. We see all sides of him and he comes across as a real person, not a cardboard cutout villainous Emperor.

The first Blackbird book I enjoyed, but you could see Freda Warrington’s inexperience as a writer, and I found it a little bit naive. Her writing was good from the first book but also improved massively over the series. This fourth book is multilayered and deeply thought out. It’s well written and atmospheric and full of difficult decisions for her characters. There are no right answers here, no obvious rights and wrongs

I can never guess where the story is going to go next, what the characters will do, how they will deal with their problems. And yet, when it happens, when things are resolved, it’s hard to see how it could have happened any other way.

Don’t read Freda Warrington if you don’t want a bittersweet ending. I feel heartbroken and yet happy at the same time. And she is so very good at making her villains so human you understand their actions, and even sympathise with them.

This is the most enjoyable fantasy series I’ve read in a long time, and this book has easily earned its five stars.

A Blackbird in Twilight
Blackbird
Freda Warrington
Fantasy
1988
Paperback
387

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1) by Liu Cixin

The Three-Body Problem cover

The Three-Body Problem Blurb

1967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China’s Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang’s investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable and unpredictable interaction of its three suns.

This is the Three-Body Problem and it is the key to everything: the key to the scientists’ deaths, the key to a conspiracy that spans light-years and the key to the extinction-level threat humanity now faces.

My Review of The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved everything about this, but I don’t want to give too much away about the story. It’s unusual and half the fun of the book for me was watching the events unfold and start to make sense as Wang Miao investigates the mystery of why the scientists are committing suicide.

I loved that it’s a proper hard sci-fi book, very science heavy. A lot of it I could follow, some of it I couldn’t but I just enjoyed going along for the ride. There are some very interesting, original ideas with a massive scope and although I was a bit lost at first it all come together into a very entertaining story.

One of my favourite things about the book is how there are female scientists, even back in the 70s, and it’s not an issue, it’s just normal. I don’t know if that’s how things are in China, or if it’s down to how the author wrote it, but it was lovely to read women being able to get on with the science without having to explain it.

The translator has done a brilliant job. There are a few footnotes, especially in the chapters set in the past during the Cultural Revolution. They were helpful and not excessive, and there weren’t as many of them once the story got going.

I’m giving it five stars simply because I enjoyed it so much. It has everything I like in a sci-fi book, and I recommend to anyone who likes writers like Isaac Asimov, who enjoyed The Martian, or who likes thought-provoking sci-fi with massive ideas.

The Three-Body Problem
Remembrance of Earth's Past
Liu Cixin
Sci-Fi
December 3rd 2015
Paperback
442

Zombies at Tiffany’s by Sam Stone

zombies at tiffanys cover

Zombies at Tiffany’s Blurb

Kat Lightfoot thought that getting a job at the famed Tiffany’s store in New York would be the end to her problems. She has money, new friends, and there’s even an inventor working there who develops new weapons from clockwork, and who cuts diamonds with a strange powered light. This is 1862, after all, and such things are the wonder of the age.

But then events take a turn for the worse: men and women wander the streets talking of ‘the darkness’; bodies vanish from morgues across town; and random, bloody attacks on innocent people take place in broad daylight.

Soon Kat and her friends are fighting for their lives against a horde of infected people, with only their wits and ingenuity to help them.

A steampunked story of diamonds, chutzpah, death and horror from the blood-drenched pen of Sam Stone.

My Review of Zombies at Tiffany’s

Zombies at Tiffany'sZombies at Tiffany’s by Sam Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zombies, steampunk and diamonds? I knew when I saw this book at the Sci-Fi weekender that I had to read it!

It’s set at the time of the American civil war where a zombie outbreak starts spreading in New York. Kat Lightfoot, a young woman who has just started working at Tiffany’s, takes refuge from the zombie hordes at work with a mismatched group of her colleagues and customers.

I like that Sam Stone has not followed the usual zombie rules, and has created something different and unexpected here.

The heroine is intelligent and interesting, and I cared about what happened to her.

The mix of steampunk and horror works well and results in a short, exhilarating read that I enjoyed every moment of.

Zombies at Tiffany's
Sam Stone
Steampunk
Telos
2012
Paperback
185

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the birds in the sky

All the Birds in the Sky Blurb

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever growing ailments. Little do they realise that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together—to either save the world or plunge it into a new dark age.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the Apocalypse.

My Review of All the Birds in the Sky

All the Birds in the SkyAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an unusual book! All the Birds in the Sky mixes magic, sci-fi, climate change, other universes and the end of the world.

There’s a bit of Jonas Jonasson style farce in, especially at the start (2-second time machine!). When it jumps to Patricia and Laurence as grown ups the setting reminds me of the world in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, with added hipster style.

It feels to me like a lot of thought has gone into the near future setting and the technology they have. It felt realistic and vibrant and I loved the mix of magic and science.

There’s a strong sense of humour running through it and I really liked the writing style, but some parts were a little confusing. Nothing is explained at the start, I felt a little like I was thrown into the middle of a story. Most of it slowly started to make sense, but some bits felt unfinished. I’m not sure really what the point of Mr Rose was.

I liked Patricia and Laurence, they seem warm, mostly kind, and very human. They are both outcasts but see the world differently, and they have some very funny observations on life. I liked the diversity of the other characters and they all had distinct personalities.

Five-star rating from me because all the good bits far outweigh the few flaws in it. It’s odd and unusual and truly is a wonderful gem of a book. Normally I like finishing books so I can start the next one and I rush through them, but with this one, I wish it were twice as long.

All the Birds in the Sky
Charlie Jane Anders
Sci-Fi
January 26th 2016
432

Kim & Kim Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera

Kim and Kim

Kim & Kim Blurb

Kim & Kim are twenty-something besties out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of interdimensional cowboy law enforcement. In a massive “screw you” to their parents and the authorities, they decide to hijack some high stakes bounty — and end up in way over their heads.

Kim & Kim is a day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Blending the punk exuberance of TANK GIRL with the buddy adventure wackiness of SUPERBAD (if Michael Cera was a trans woman and Jonah Hill a queer girl partner in crime), Kim & Kim is a bright, happy, punk rock sci-fi adventure that is queer as shit.

My Review of Kim & Kim

Kim & Kim #1 (Kim & Kim, #1)Kim & Kim Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you might have seen me posting about this graphic novel a lot recently. I’m not gonna apologise because I absolutely loved everything about Kim & Kim! It’s loud and bright and crazy, and massively fun, and you need it in your life.

The two Kims are bounty hunters, adventuring around space trying to make enough money to pay their rent. Their spaceship is a van that looks like the one from Scooby Doo, and their weapons are an electric guitar and a bright pink gun.

It feels heavily influenced by Cowboy Bebop, but it’s got the brightness (and the wonderful outfit changes) of Jem and the Holograms, the crazy fun of Adventure Time, and a massive personality all of its own.

But I like it mostly because it has two badass female main characters with realistic personalities and a strong friendship between them. They’re not just a sexy fantasy version of badass either and that’s not something you see often in the graphic novel world.

More, please.

Kim & Kim Vol. 1
Kim & Kim
Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera
Graphic Novel
December 28th 2016
Graphic Novel

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns

Book Description

Six million years ago, at the dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane, two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences, must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.

My Review of House of Suns

House of SunsHouse of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

The clones of the Gentian line, known as shatterlings, have spent millions of years travelling the galaxy with the aim of seeing as much as they can and reuniting after every journey to share the knowledge amongst themselves. They are eternal tourists, long lived with deep sleep technology, and time does not mean the same thing to them as it does to us.

One tour of the galaxy can take hundreds of thousands of years, by the time one of them returns to a previously visited planet whole civilisations can have risen and fallen!

To be able to travel this way they have some truly amazing spaceships and technology that allows them to extend their lifetimes or sleep in suspended animation for the journeys between planets.

Alistair Reynolds has a talent for writing massive tales of galaxy and time spanning proportions, and House of Suns does not disappoint. But he also manages to ground these space operas with human and relatable characters. Here we have Campion and Purslane, two Gentian clones that have fallen in love with each other and now risk being shunned by the rest of the shatterlings in their line.

Through their eyes we experience the wonders of the galaxy, and the people they meet on their travels. Campion is a bit of a wild card, prone to risky decisions and ill-advised schemes, and Purslane is a much more sensible and sophisticated character, she is thoughtful and compassionate.

Along the way they pick up Hesperus, a ‘Machine Person’ they rescue from a con-man, almost by mistake. Hesperus is a self-aware robot that is far smarter, stronger and much more adaptable than humans are, but he has lost his memory.

Their spaceships are almost characters in their own right. Intelligent and unique, when one of the characters almost looses her spaceship she reacts as though she is losing a loved friend.

So this has everything I would want in a book, spaceships, robots, amazing tech, I basically loved it from the first page! Then the Gentian line’s reunion is ambushed and the Gentians are almost wiped out, and the story becomes almost a murder mystery.

There are some bigger themes in there too, questioning if the use of torture can ever be justified, and the treatment of less advanced or less powerful cultures

I can’t really be objective about this book so I’m not going to even try. I loved it and I think it’s a must read for anyone that enjoys sci-fi.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

House of Suns
Alastair Reynolds
Sci-Fi
April 17th 2008
502

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight Description

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My reviews of Other Books in the Series

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight Review

Days of Blood & Starlight reviewDays of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first book and loving the bits set in Prague as much as I did I thought I just wouldn’t like the second book. I thought I’d miss the cosy, magical world of the first book. Well, I was wrong. If anything I think I like Days of Blood & Starlight even more!

There are some big themes running through this book, war and vengeance, and how violent revenge will only cause more violence. The war is the main focus of the book, with the Chimera almost wiped out and Karou working as a resurrectionist, building new bodies for dead chimaera soldiers.

Love is still here too, but it’s certainly not the teenage insta love from the first book. Karou and Akiva are on opposite sides of the war, Akiva has a lot of guilt for his part in killing the Chimera, and Karou cannot forgive him. It’s very dark and heavy on the emotions at times, but the story manages not to get too bogged down in it.

The magical atmosphere from the first book is still here though. The writing is beautiful and lifts the story out of the depths of misery. There are moments of hope thrown in for us too, and Karou’s best friend Zuzana adds some humour and light into the story. There is more actual magic, Karou is building new chimaera and Akiva is using his magic to do what he can to stop the slaughter of the survivors from the chimaera villages.

I’m seriously considering taking a day or two off work to read the next one.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Days of Blood & Starlight
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 15th 2013
528

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

the thirteenth tale

Description of The Thirteenth Tale

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart.

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life?

As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life.

My Review of The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely beautiful writing, it sucked me in from the first page and would have held my interest on its own. The fact that the main character is a serious bookworm who works in a bookshop only made me even more happy to read this.

I probably would have read it to the end just for the writing, but luckily the story itself is interesting and clever. It’s a family drama at its heart, a story about people and the childhood of one of the characters. Mixed into this is more than one mystery, and the story twists and turns in the present and the past as it weaves all it’s strands together.

I found the big reveal at the end shocking, and it made all the little and unexplained bits suddenly make perfect sense. I love it when an author gives us a sensible explanation for all the odd things that have been happening, one that I haven’t been able to guess. All the hints are there if you look back through the book, they’re very cleverly hidden in plain sight. I think it would be possible to guess if you paid careful attention to everything that is said and everything that happens throughout the book.

It’s a perfect book to curl up with on a cold night. Make sure you have plenty of free time, a cosy blanket, and a big cup of tea, because you won’t want to put it down!

View all my reviews

The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield
Mystery
November 1st 2007
456