Earthcore Book 1: RotoVegas, by Grace Bridges
Reviewed by Jenn Rackham
RotoVegas is a fun book about the teen protagonist, Anira, visiting Rotorua and finding that the water gives her strange and unique powers. She sets out to find others like her and they form a team to stop others from using their powers for the wrong reason.
The title RotoVegas at first made me think it would be about gambling and casinos but I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t. I felt the title choice was due to Grace highlighting the entertainment and tourism side of Rotorua in her usual visceral descriptions.
Wish Upon a Southern Star, edited by Shelley Chappell
Reviewed by Lee Murray
“Stories change, but fairy tales never go out of fashion. Like a basic item of clothing, they may be reshaped, trimmed, decorated with frills or remodelled altogether,” writes editor Shelley Chappell in the introduction to Wish Upon a Southern Star, a stunning new collection of fairy tales, freshly re-imagined by new and established writers from Australian and New Zealand. Chappell says, “the authors in this collection have run the traditional tales through the mill and come out with new cloth.” Indeed, some are barely recognisable, like Philippa Werry’s evocative and beautifully-crafted Snow from the South, a contemporary version of the Snow Queen, appropriately set in Antarctica at a time when ‘melt pools were forming in the sea ice”. New Zealand might have guardianship of only a small part of the frozen land, yet Kiwi readers will find a familiarity in this haunting retelling of the classic tale.
Review by Grant Stone
Desra’s in trouble. Her ship, the Leuwenhok was orbiting Mackelle, an uninhabited planet sixty light years from home when it was shot out of the sky. When she makes it to the surface it turns out the planet might not be as uninhabited as she’d expected. Now she’s trapped in the middle of a deserted and almost endless city that is being built, torn down and rebuilt by a fleet of robots. Help is on the way but it may not come soon enough. New models of robots are appearing, more humanoid in form and designed more for combat than construction. Meanwhile, the rescue ship faces challenges of its own.
Mariah’s Prologues, By Grace Bridges
A review by Jenn Rackham
Mariah’s Prologues is sixteen short stories of different characters living in a dystopian future in Ireland where food is scarce and corporations rule its famished citizens with an iron fist. Each short story focuses on one character and their relationship to their loved ones and to the world, like a piece of a jigsaw that completes the whole picture bit by bit.
Due to Grace’s brilliant and often visceral writing, many times I was uncomfortable reading such a dark and bleak world, yet I was encouraged to continue reading the stories as each characters were filled with emotions and hopes that were easily identifiable. I found myself rooting for the characters and eager to learn more about the world each chapter.
SpecFicNewZ for November 2017
Members, if you have news you’d like to share, please let us know a firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to member Jenn Rackham, whose debut book A Dash of Belladonna was released on 31 October. Mike Johnson says, “Here is a book full of magic and awe, humour and excitement, brought to us through Lottie’s exuberant prose. A zany book, full of narrative zest and high adventure.” A Dash of Belladonna is available in ebook and print versions here.
SpecFicNooZ for October, 2017
Members, if you have news to share, please email us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear about it.
New Signing! IFWG Publishing Australia has bought Wicked by Blood: The Kingfisher’s Debt by member Kura Carpenter. The novel is an urban fantasy set in Dunedin, and is a mix of fantasy, mystery, murder and satanic rituals. It’s scheduled for release in the second half of 2018. Read more about it here. Congratulations, Kura!
Core member Darian Smith is heading to Australia next month to share his expertise with Aussie writers. Please share this with your colleagues in Brisbane and Adelaide. Darian’s latest book, Starlight’s Children, the long-awaited sequel to Kalanon’s Rising was released on 8 October. Congratulations Darian, and don’t keep us waiting so long next time, please!
Amazon Secrets from 2 Bestselling USA Authors
Sunday 24 September at 2pm
Benefit from the international publishing experience of two bestselling American science fiction authors, Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey.
Rising Above the Noise: Maximizing Your Profits with Amazon is a free seminar (gold coin donation for venue hire) at Wellington Central City Library, seminar room, mezzanine floor.
- Understanding the Amazon algorithm
- Best practices for pre-launch
- Amazon tricks for launching a book.
- Six strategies for selling more books on Amazon
A bestselling Science Fiction/Fantasy author, speaker, and publisher, Chris Kennedy is the author of the award-winning #1 bestseller, Self-Publishing for Profit: How to Get Your Book Out of Your Head and Into the Stores. Chris has coached hundreds of authors on how to self-publish, published nine authors under his own small press, sold over 100,000 books and had two #1 Amazon bestsellers.
Review by Piper Mejia
The Book Club by Alan Baxter, draws the reader into a search for ultimate understanding; but the days are ticking down. Protagonist, Jason, is a devoted son, husband and father, who is forced to confront what he knows about his missing wife, her hidden life and the secrets of the mind. As he pulls the pieces of their lives apart to hunt for answers, Jason discovers that love and hate can bind a person for eternity.
For lovers of dark worlds, this novella will take you by surprise. The initial missing persons storyline takes a sharp turn into the obscurity of zeitgeist. Masquerading as a book club member, Jason discovers his wife has fallen into a group harnessing the power of time and space, and has gotten lost in her attempt to find herself.
Review by Piper Mejia
Crow Shine is a collection of short stories by Alan Baxter. Starting with the title tale, Baxter takes you on a journey of cursed objects and their even more cursed owners. From moonshine and guitars to a street side toy maker and a pair of stolen dice, each story is crafted to make any reader think twice about the power of possessions.
Though the male protagonists are easily recognisable as good time Charlies or the drinking buddy at the bar, the women are less so, but perhaps that’s to be expected as maybe women are not so easily lead astray by the thirst for power and fame.
However, in each story Baxter has shown his skill in observing the human condition; that all we want is to be noticed, to have our lives mean something, and that, in the end, there is nothing we won’t sacrifice for the people we love.
I admire the variation in his characters, his clever world play and his skill in taking an idea to a place you never thought of. For something to read when your life is too busy for a novel, I recommend you give Crow Shine your time.
Review by Robinne Weiss
Frankie N. Stein wants to be a famous inventor, but her inventions only get her into trouble. Her monster tomato named Martie grows to the size of a beach ball and terrorises the school, her shrink ray is confiscated by the teacher, her Homeworkulator decides it doesn’t like doing homework, her Megadron hot air balloon monster eats children…But these setbacks only spur Frankie to more wild ideas.
The Frankie Files is a collection of what are essentially journal entries written by a precocious, nerdy girl. Frankie’s voice is distinct, strong, and full of dry humour, though her thought processes are decidedly those of a child—don’t look for coherence or logic in the mind of a six year-old. As in many children’s books, most of the adult characters in The Frankie Files are simply impediments to Frankie’s brilliant ideas. All except one mysterious woman, Ms Xavier, who shows up from time to time to enable and encourage Frankie in her creative scientific pursuits.
Voiceless by EG Wilson
Review by A.J. Ponder
Adelaide Te Ngawai’s voice is stolen, and not just her voice, her ability to communicate. She knows who infected her, Maunga Richards. But why would Maunga give her Vox Pox?
It’s the worst thing imaginable, especially for a writer, but Adelaide’s brother makes her a device to help her cope, and slowly but surely Adelaide begins to claw her life back. Still, nothing about the illness makes any sense, it’s restricted to a small area, and appears to be a man-made condition. But how? And why? Adelaide is determined to unravel the mystery.
Review: Bound by Alan Baxter
Review by Nix Whittaker
Super action packed well-written story. Easy to read but a little darker than I like my books. Not just that but the swearing and other stuff though realistic to the character’s situation is not my thing.
The story is of Alex Caine a street fighter who can see more than meets the eye. A stranger arrives at one of his fights and we basically fall into a quest/the one trope. I like these kinds of tropes so I thought I would enjoy the story more, especially since it was beautifully written. Unfortunately, I also like my stereotypical completely obvious stories to be peppered with more comedy. Also, I like a story that leans more to being able to pass the Bechdel test. I did like Silhouette. She was fun and witty. I’d recommend this book for male readers though and I admit I like my books geared towards either women or at least gender neutral. This reminded me of Ian Fleming. On the outside the main character looks bad ass and cool but the more you delve into the character you realise that he is shallow. I believe the author was aware of this issue and did try to alleviate this as Alex really doesn’t want to be that stereotypical bad ass.
Review: Ferox by Chris Brausch
Review by Nix Whittaker
If all the teenage dystopian texts had a love child with all the darkest space operas you would get Ferox. It is a little wordy but it is clever so I’ll forgive it its verbose nature.
Set a thousand years in the future where the world is pretty much starving to death and China has taken over New Zealand and made everyone into slaves. We follow the story of a few characters on both side so the conflict. We have the desperate and the pragmatic along with the plain just evil but they are pitched to us the reader in a way that makes us not completely hate them.
Night’s End, Book 3 in the Night’s Champion Series by Richard Parry
Review by Frances Duncan
Night’s End, the final in the Nights Champion trilogy, released the first day of Lexicon. I finished reading it the last day of Lexicon. This feels appropriate as the first two were shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novel.
The cast has grown over the series and it’s hard to keep track of everyone. At one point someone appeared and I had no idea who he was till the next scene. There’s someone for everyone; a tough female detective, a powerful young woman, a military woman…do you notice a theme here? There are some guys thrown in too; one of them is even a werewolf (don’t worry there’s a female werewolf too).