Book Review: Eleanor by Jason Gurley (Crown)

 One of my favourite books of all-time gets a new lease of life this week with the release of Jason Gurley’s Eleanor by Crown Publishing. Originally a self-published hit, this new version looks stunning and hopefully will bring Gurley’s talent to the masses.

Tragedy has a profound effect on any family. A decision made by a family member in the past reverberates throughout time, reshaping possibilities, closing doors that should have been left open and opening ones that should have never even existed. A young girl, struggling with these consequences, finds herself torn from reality by strange forces that will affect her life forever.

A mesmerising mix of surreal fantasy, science fiction and beautifully written drama, Eleanor is one of those rare moments in a reader’s lifetime when they start to remember why they love reading so much. A story that grips from the first chapter and never lets go. Exquisitely-crafted characters and breathtaking imagery fuse effortlessly with an ambitious and original plot, bringing to life a story so captivating it refuses to be put down.
While dealing with darker themes such as suicide and addiction, Gurley displays an empathy with his characters I’ve rarely seen, neither glamourising their decisions or preaching against them but allowing the characters and their actions to speak for themselves. Conventions of genre are refreshingly swept aside. Many will try to tie it down, to quantify it, to classify it, but this book defiantly refuses to be pigeonholed into some obscure sub-genre.
Fans of Jason Gurley’s other work will be pleasantly surprised. This is Jason as you’ve never seen him before. As brilliant as his other work is, this is his most confident and accomplished book yet, and being the culmination of almost 13 years work it rightfully demands and deserves an audience. Easily one of the best novels you’ll read this year.

Note: UK/Ireland release is March through Harper Collins.

Advertisements

Book Review : Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights by Eric Tozzi

phoenixThe world of Apocalypse Weird takes yet another twist this time Aliens want in on the apocalyptic action and no better author than Eric Tozzi to introduce them. Set in Phoenix, Arizona this latest addition to the Apocalypse Weird series cranks up the tension from “Edge Of Your Seat” to “You Have No Nails Left” with an alien invasion disaster extravaganza on an epic scale that once again pushes the boundaries of the series. Tozzi’s vivid imagery lends an almost movie-like feel to proceedings while the characters are well-presented and the dialogue is snappy and to the point. The pace is brisk and gives the reader little time to pause for thought, quickly jumping to the next set piece with the odd detour on the way and plenty of surprises in store. Another highly entertaining addition to the world of Apocalypse Weird that makes it’s own mark while still keeping the tone of the series so far.

Once again, production values are top notch on this release with a fantastic cover from M.S. Corley. On promotion all this week at the bargain price of $0.99c /£0.99p

Amazon US

Amazon UK

My Top 10 Scifi / Horror Books For 2014

Loupe-jm5kciz5

It’s been a busy year! I reckon I’ve gotten through around 35 books this year so it’ll be hard to whittle it down to a top 10. I’ve noticed a lot of the lists about this year are very safe and samey so I’m shaking it up a bit. Also unlike most of the other lists around I’m including self-published titles, of which there have been some outstanding examples this year. Sincere thanks to all the authors and publishers who have supported me this year!

1. Eleanor by Jason Gurley

Gurley_Eleanor

I absolutely loved this one. Highly original and thought-provoking. Jason has since bagged a publishing deal with Crown so expect this book to be everywhere next year, albeit in a revised edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Sand by Hugh Howey

9781780893198

Hugh pulled out all the stops with this tense post-apocalyptic actioner. It’s a riveting read from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. World Of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

WorldOfTrouble_Final

Ben’s iconic detective Henry Palace unravels the final pieces of the puzzle as asteroid Maia hurtles ever closer to earth. He really couldn’t have finished this trilogy any better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

The_Martian_2014

A huge success this year, this originally self-published scifi thriller features a quick-thinking wisecracking astronaut stranded on Mars. You will never clench your buttocks more. Think of it as Gravity with a little Ferris Bueller thrown in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstor_final_300dpi

This beautifully designed and innovative take on the haunted house theme transferred to retail was a blast. Think House On Haunted Hill-meets-Ikea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

broken monsters

This supernatural crime thriller was a gem strengthened by Beukes unique style and unflinching attitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz

Bf_MohnCMAIpwAg

My YA pick for this year, this is a no-nonsense dystopian epic which should definitely NOT be split into two movies to bore the pants off the general public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

hollowcity_final_72dpi

A thoroughly enjoyable sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, expect to see a lot of this series next year as the Tim Burton movie is released (hopefully not starring Johnny Depp as Miss Peregrine)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

fluency

A huge hit on Amazon this year, Fluency is a brilliant fusion of classic and modern scifi and paves the way for what should be a very entertaining series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. The Other Of One  (Book One) by Brian G. Burke

other

My middle-grade/early teen pick for this year. I’ve been raving about this one for a while but it deserves a shot. An epic fantasy tale with an Irish twist to rival anything else that’s been released in this genre this year with a lot of heart, plenty of action, humour and scares to keep 11-15 year-olds (and many adults!) interested. Looking forward to book two next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Other Of One by Brian G. Burke

otherThe Other Of One is the first part of a new fantasy series from Irish debut author Brian G. Burke suitable for middle grade / early teens upwards. Set in Ireland, it tells the story of a young boy William Muldoon who finds himself unwittingly transported to a magical underground world, populated by all manner of strange and wonderful creatures called the Dwelvin Mites. He soon learns that his presence there is no coincidence and that he has been chosen to help them fight against an evil supernatural tyrant the Pooka, Drevol Briggun, a Wrythunn warrior who has driven them underground away from their beautiful home Lythiann.

William discovers that he is a reincarnation of the only other remaining Wrythunn, Mysun Margle and must find some way of channelling his powers and defeating Briggun or not only the Dwelvin Mites, but all those he loves will be destroyed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. Irish folklore tends to be a bit one-sided and tired, but Burke has done something wonderful here. The world he has created is a fantastic blend of traditional Irish folklore mixed with that of other cultures and those of his own imagination, populated by a veritable smorgasbord of magical and wondrous creatures. The landscapes are richly textured and intricately described, often beautiful, often dangerous, always wondrous. The sheer scale of the world the author has created is remarkable and it’s a fitting playground for the saga that quickly unfolds.

What makes The Other Of One all the more enjoyable are the characters introduced to William as he makes his life-changing journey. I’ll admit I cringed a little when a leprechaun made an appearance, but Burke does a great job of making even a tired Irish stereotype fresh and funny and as the tale progresses, each new character becomes as entertaining as the last. The dialogue is snappy and fun, serious when needed and poignant when least expected. Friendships are formed, loyalties tested and bravery is found in the most unlikely of places as William and his friends face all manner of peril on their quest.

The writing is impressive for a debut author, hugely imaginative, drawing from obvious sources like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll and while it may follow some of the conventions of the genre, it rapidly develops its own voice. Burke is clearly comfortable in the world he has crafted and portrays a confidence rarely seen in someone developing a narrative this ambitious. The pace rarely falters and builds nicely to the introduction of book two, which teases some epic events.

Currently available at only 99c/ £0.77p from Amazon, if mythical fantasy with a modern attitude is your bag, this book is an absolute steal. My only complaint is that it’s worth ten times that. 

Eamon Ambrose

Book Review: Eleanor by Jason Gurley

Gurley_EleanorTragedy has a profound effect on any family. A decision made by a family member in the past reverberates throughout time, reshaping possibilities, closing doors that should have been left open and opening ones that should have never even existed. A young girl, struggling with these consequences, finds herself torn from reality by strange forces that will affect her life forever.

A mesmerising mix of surreal fantasy, science fiction and beautifully written drama, Eleanor is one of those rare moments in a reader’s lifetime when they start to remember why they love reading so much. A story that grips from the first chapter and never lets go. Exquisitely-crafted characters and breathtaking imagery fuse effortlessly with an ambitious and original plot, bringing to life a story so captivating it refuses to be put down.

While dealing with darker themes such as suicide and addiction, Gurley displays an empathy with his characters I’ve rarely seen, neither glamourising their decisions or preaching against them but allowing the characters and their actions to speak for themselves. Conventions of genre are refreshingly swept aside. Many will try to tie it down, to quantify it, to classify it, but this book defiantly refuses to be pigeonholed into some obscure sub-genre.

Fans of Jason Gurley’s other work will be pleasantly surprised. This is Jason as you’ve never seen him before. As brilliant as his other work is, this is his most confident and accomplished book yet, and being the culmination of almost 13 years work it rightfully demands and deserves an audience. Easily one of the best novels you’ll read this year.

Available now on Amazon

 

 

 

Deep Breath, Hold Tight: Stories About The End Of Everything by Jason Gurley

Gurley_Eleanor.pngJason Gurley has created an outstanding collection here, each as diverse as it is enthralling, establishing himself as a masterful short story writer. From the bleak post-apocalyptic opener Wolf Skin to the heart-wrenching finale The Dark Age, each story and character is intricately crafted and despite the dark subject matter, each story has an underlying theme of hope even in the most hopeless of circumstances. I’ve been sent several anthologies of a similar nature recently and this is by far one of the best I’ve come across.
Gurley effortlessly embellishes each paragraph with so much emotion you cannot but be affected by the subtle prose and a heartfelt empathy for his characters rarely displayed by authors these days. An engrossing, often surreal trip to the End Of The World, beautifully descriptive and consistently thought-provoking. A refreshing break from the sci-fi norm.

Buy here on Amazon

Book Review: From The Indie Side – Sci-Fi Anthology

_Various_FROM_THE_INDIE_SIDE_EbookEdition

Cover Art by Jason Gurley

There was a time when short stories had a lot of credibility in sci-fi. Arguably some of the greatest work from classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror authors are short stories and there was a time when anthologies were plentiful. Some of my fondest reading memories as a kid are of reading the Harlan Ellison-edited Dangerous Visions, Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood or Stephen King’s Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight.

The good news is, short stories are making a comeback, fuelled largely by ebooks and self-publishing. A short story anthology is ideal for readers who adore the convenience. It’s something you can dip into occasionally and come back to anytime. Read, re-read, skip forward, skip back. Don’t like a story? That’s fine. Don’t like an author? That’s fine too – next! Sometimes it’s a great palate cleanser in between novels, especially for reviewers such as myself. They are however starting to take on a life of their own, with many authors expanding their original short story into successful novels, Hugh Howey’s Wool and Michael Bunker’s Wick both being prime examples.

For authors there are no restrictions. Write your story, publish it yourself and see what happens. Readers may like it, they may not, people may buy it, they may not. What is evident from what I’ve seen in the world of self-publishing so far is that the cream tends to rise to the top. It may take a while, but if you’re an indie author with talent the only limit to your success is yourself.

From The Indie Side is the culmination of a lot of these success stories, some now well-established, others rising stars on the indie scene, but all extremely talented and deserving of their place on this book.

The sign of a good anthology is when you’ve finished one story and feel compelled to move straight on to the next. From The Indie Side is one of those.  There are twelve stories featured, from Jason Gurley’s beautiful opening story The Winter Lands to (my personal favourite) Peter Cawdron’s thrilling finale The Man Who Remembered Today, spanning an excellent range of sub-genres. While you may be familiar with some of the more popular authors featured, what impressed me most were the writers I hadn’t yet read. There are some genuine gems in there, most notably from Brian Spangler, Sarah Foster and Susan May. I have to admit, some of the more fantasy-based stories weren’t for me, but that’s purely a matter of personal taste on my part, I can’t fault the writing.

From The Indie Side is a fitting snapshot of both the health and wealth of independent science fiction right now and whether you’re a hardened fan or about to dip a toe in the indie fiction pool, there is no better place to begin than here.

Eamon Ambrose

Buy now on Amazon and Amazon UK/Ireland