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.

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My Top 10 Scifi / Horror Books For 2014

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz

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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

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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

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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

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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: 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

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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