I've been reading a lot lately, so I thought I'd share some good books with you.
On The Steel Breeze - Alastair Reynolds
This is the second of his books that follow the Akinya family as they lead humanity to the stars...and make sure everyone knows about it. The current lead character is Chiku Akinya who has cloned herself so there are now three of her. One will go with the holoships heading for Crucible, one will stay on Earth, the other will try and find their grandmother.
There are more than a few twists and turns here and the science is in the background so the general reader should not find themselves overpowered by technology. What struck me most throughout the book was the normality of the male/female characters and their interactions. Whereas a lot of SF/Fantasy books dwell on sexuality, or lack of it, Reynolds just gets on with the story and the characters.
It's epic in scope and a good, satisfying read.
All In The Half Vampire Family - Lisa Shafer
This is Lisa's second book about Eric the teenage half-vampire, the first being Confessions Of An Average Half-Vampire. While some of you will see the word 'vampire' and think of Stephanie Myers and Twilight, this is far better. For a start, Lisa's vampires don't need to drain anyone of blood to get a good meal, nor are they allergic to garlic. Most are decent people, though hidden from the rest of society, living in wet, dark places, such as Scotland.
The story follows Eric and his talent for playing ragtime on the piano from Utah, where he lives with his mother, a non-vampire, to Scotland, where he once again meets his father, a vampire who lives down to all the worst aspects of the breed. Along the way his hormones are tested to the limit by an attractive girl with a very attractive neck, and his humanity is tested to the limit by his father.
Lisa has written a superb story that, although aimed at a young adult audience, will also appeal to adults who want to read a good book.
Forest Of Lies - Chris Speyer
Another book aimed at a young adult audience, but also one that will be enjoyed by adults. This is Speyer's second book after Devil's Rock, and a thumping good read. In the very first chapter, Mark is rescued from his flat in London, which is being submerged by a flood tide that kills tens of thousands. His father is a powerful man whose humanity is questioned many times as the book progresses and even Mark isn't sure if he can trust him, especially after his discoveries in a new forest that has been planted in the southwest of England.
This is a dark tale about slavery, immigration and global warming that rings too many bells for comfort and ends in a graveyard. Despite that it does leave the reader hopeful and was a book I enjoyed reading and reviewing for the BFS.
Tales of Woe And Wonder - Jeff Chapman
Jeff is an interesting author, and this collection of his short stories read like fables and fairy tales in the most positive sense. The very first tale is about a Viking and has a surprising twist at the end, while there is also a different take on the Cinderella story.
Fables they may be, but dull and familiar they're not.
They are short and you could read the whole collection in a night, but it would be a night well spent.
The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho
I first came across Paulo Coelho with his book the Alchemist and enjoyed that a lot, so I bought more of his books from the charity shop as they came in. To me, these books are what literary fiction should be. Well told tales that open up human behaviour without going needlessly overboard on long words and phrases designed to impress other literary authors. True literary fiction impresses the reader.
The tale is of a man who undertakes a Christian pilgrimage in Northern Spain so he can obtain his sword. He has to face up to many problems, mostly of his own making, along the way while searching inside his soul for the answers to his deepest questions.
It is unashamedly religious in its outlook, but does not preach at anyone, focusing instead on the soul-searching of the man, who may or may not be Coelho himself.
The Island Of Lost Maps - Miles Harvey
The only non-fiction book in this list, it describes the research of a journalist to discover the reasons behind the theft of some of the west's oldest maps from libraries across the USA. It may sound dull, but along the way tells part of the history of maps and some of the tricks of modern mapmakers to ensure their maps aren't digitally stolen.
He never gets to meet the man he's been tracking, but the story he tells gets more interesting with each page and reveals some history of maps that I was unaware of, such as the punishments meted out to those who stole the maps of the King of Portugal.
Mystery Man - Colin Bateman
This is the second book of Bateman's I've read and it's as good as Chapter And Verse. The novel is set in a Belfast bookshop, run by our semi-hero.
The story begins when the private investigator next door fails to open for a few weeks and people come in asking if he can take on their cases, assuming that he left details with the bookseller. What's his name? I don't know and I can't remember it ever being mentioned in the book. Mysterious.
Despite his best intentions, he gets involved in a very nasty case left unsolved by the PI which ends up with him having sex and being responsible for getting someone's ex-husband beaten to a pulp.
Did I mention it's a comedy? It is.
There you have it, some very good reasons to go to a bookstore or shop on Amazon. You won't be disappointed by any of them.