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Edition 19: Book Review: The Ark by Annabel Smith

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 Reviewed by Damien Smith


ark annabel smith cover

I got wind of this novel via the magnificent communication channel that is social media. It’s always nice to have a novel suggested, and then totally by coincidence see it get a mention by a bunch of more familiar sources. It helps turn that “What have I got myself in for?” feeling into smug validation that I, as a reviewer, have made a wise choice promoting this to the top of the To Read pile.

In this case, I was hearing a lot of good press about a great “interactive novel”. I had no idea what an interactive novel was, and there’s always a delicate balance between finding out a bit more and stumbling across spoilers, so I took the plunge and gave it a spin. From what I had read (along the lines of “What would YOU do if the apocalypse came? Lock yourself in a bunker or take a chance outside?”), I was expecting some sort of choose-your-own-adventure novel.

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Edition 19: Book Review: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

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 Reviewed by Mysti Parker


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After a long wait, I finally got my hands on a copy of the third book in the Finishing School Series. Having been enchanted greatly with the first, and slightly less with the second, I was glad to discover that this was not the final book in the series. If it had been the last one, it would have been wholly unsatisfying, so with that in mind, I have to be a little more flexible with this review.

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Edition 18: Book Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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 Reviewed by Mysti Parker


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Having been somewhat unsatisfied with the creep factor in the November review book, I decided to try again for the January edition. In my hopeful search, I came across The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. The title—quite fitting for this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere—sealed the deal. And to my delight, once I ventured into its pages, it provided the creep I wanted.

The Winter People is told from alternating timeframes between 1908 and the present day in rural West Hall, Vermont. Most of the events occur during snowy, desolate winters, under the shadow of an ominous rock formation known as The Devil’s Hand. Rather than being simple backdrops, both the setting and weather were as vivid and mysterious as the characters. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but Ms. McMahon did it well, turning this novel into a truly immersive read. Read the rest of this entry

Edition 18: Book Review: Difficult Second Album by Simon Petrie

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 Reviewed by Damien Smith


 

difficult 2nd album

Disclaimer: I’ve followed Simon’s work for a while. For those with a hard copy of this collection, there is actually an excerpt from an old review of mine on the back cover. Far from prompting any bias from me, I had my extra-critical hat on while reading this because the first collection was such a tough act to follow.

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Edition 18: Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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 Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston


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Another year and another J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy with Peter Jackson at the helm draws to a close with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The final film in The Hobbit trilogy has hit silver screens the world over and merchandisers weep into their poor empty hands.

I will admit, that while I have read both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the challenge of The Silmarillion has not been one I have elected to undertake. It is an admission that I am not well-versed on the parts of Tolkien lore that have fleshed out this children’s story (however, I am still a card-carrying fangirl: I have made my pilgrimage to Hobbiton!).

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Edition 17: Book Review: Vaudeville and Other Nightmares by Greg Chapman

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 Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston


Vaudeville and Other Nightmares cover

Vaudeville and Other Nightmares—and if that isn’t a brilliant name for a horror anthology, I don’t know what is—is the first short story anthology from Australian horror writer Greg Chapman and the team at Black Beacon Books.

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Edition 17: Book Review: Engines of Empathy by Paul Mannering

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 Reviewed by Damien Smith


Engines of Empathy cover

My absolute favourite author in the world is Sir Terry Pratchett. So often I read a book with the promise that it’s by “the next Terry Pratchett” because it’s funny, only to be disappointed by a series of cheap puns and unlikely slapstick circumstances. I wasn’t attracted to Paul’s book with the promise of the next Pratchett—nor is he (but then, is anyone?)—but in my eternal search for some decent humourous fiction I found a book that finally pulled me in.

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Edition 17: Book Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

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 Reviewed by Mysti Parker


Rooms by Lauren Oliver cover

With the Halloween season comes the pull toward all things spooky. So, for this edition of SQ Mag, Rooms by Lauren Oliver looked like it fit the bill. The book is the first foray into adult fiction by this bestselling YA author. For the most part, the writing was superb, but unfortunately the actual story didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Rooms opens with the two main protagonists, ghosts Alice and Sandra, taking bets over whether the house’s current resident, Richard Walker, will die at home or in the hospital. After his death, his estranged family arrives to take care of the arrangements. We’re introduced to his ex-wife Caroline (an alcoholic), son Trenton (a suicidal teen), his daughter Minna (a sex addict), and her daughter Amy (a normal six-year-old).

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Edition 16: Book Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

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 Reviewed by Mysti Parker


book of life

After a nearly two-year wait, fans of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy will be thrilled to know that the third book has finally arrived. You may remember my reviews of the first (A Discovery of Witches) and second book (Shadow of Night) in 2012. Having enjoyed the previous stories so much, I had very little trouble remembering the plot details that were left unfinished. This final installment wraps all the loose threads into a mostly-satisfying ending.

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Edition 16: Book Review: Ambassador by Patty Jansen

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 Reviewed by Damien Smith


cover Ambassador

“In 1961, two interplanetary refugees crash landed on a remote beach on the Greek island of Kea. This is not their story but of what happened much, much later.” With that, the briefest of introductions, we fast forward to the future world of Cory Wilson, Nations of Earth Ambassador to the mighty gamra-a collective of worlds and civilisations overseen by the strict Coldi people who control the Exchange.

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