Friday, 29 June 2012

My story 'The Wrong Camera' has gone live!

Awesome news! My short story, 'The Wrong Camera', has gone live on the Tales from the Archives podcast! Listen to the audio on the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences website. The 99c eBook version of the story will be available shortly, but in the mean time, you can listen to the audio for free.

I'm really excited about this publication, not least because it is my first publication ever! Also, I am a big fan of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, and it is a great honour to have the opportunity to contribute to the world, even if in a small way.

Thank you, Pip and Tee, for this opportunity. You guys are amazing!

Friday, 22 June 2012

New poll: What is your favourite book medium?

I've put a poll over in the right-hand column, titled 'What is your favourite book medium?' I'm interested to know how people are sourcing and consuming books at the moment, because I've heard a lot about how many people are putatively turning to eBooks, and I'd like to have a go at confirming or denying that for myself. (I work with scientists, OK?)

I'll be honest here, and give you my answer:
While I'll always love physical books, and always want to collect the books most special to me, I like reading on my Kindle. It is light, portable, and convenient (unlike some books I could name *coughTowersofMidnightcough*); the books are cheaper and so it is less of a risk to try new authors; and I can change the font size at will.

Please vote in the poll to let me know your favourite way (now, in 2012) of acquiring and reading books.

Monday, 18 June 2012

iPad = useful

So, the other week I bought an iPad. I was somewhat afraid that it would be a frivolous purchase, something to gather dust, but I am glad to say that is not the case at all. Some highlights of my time so far with my iPad:

  • Checking Twitter and my RSS feeds before getting out of bed on frosty weekend mornings.
  • 'Quickly looking something up' actually being a quick process (my computer is a few years old and so takes a few minutes to start up).
  • Curling up on the sofa to read the publishing world news.
  • Best of all, writing in Simplenote on the bus to and from work, and then synching my words to my Scrivener project file when I get home. A few times I have met my daily word target before getting home.

So, in summary, tablet computers are great for people like me. In a matter of days, my iPad has made my life more efficient and comfortable, and has unshackled me from my hours of sitting at my computer desk every night. Brilliant.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Obligatory Prometheus post

A lot of people are giving their opinions on the movie Prometheus at the moment, so I don't feel like I need to give a full review. Others have already said it better than I could. But I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the movie. In no particular order:

  • OMG why are the scientists in this movie so stupid? They don't act like real scientists at all. For example: they come across their first alien carcass. Biologist guy: 'It's creepy in here; I'm going back to the ship.' Er, excuse me? A real biologist's reaction would be 'Woohoo!' *Take ALL the samples*
  • Idris Elba? You, sir, are awesome, and I love your work. The captain was the only smart character in the movie, and therefore my favourite.
  • Why is everyone going on about Charlise Theron's arse? Am I the only one who thought Noomi Rappace had a nicer figure? That woman is fit as a fiddle, and yet not a stick insect. I envy her thighs. Also, she wields an axe like a pro.
  • I keep mulling over the character David's obsession with TE Lawrence, and the implications of that and why he did what he did. Also, creepy Michael Fassbender is creepy.
  • Charlise Theron's character was utterly pointless to the movie. Which was a shame, because I think the character could have been interesting in a different story.

Have you seen Prometheus? What did you think of it?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Book review: The Janus Affair

The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #2)The Janus Affair by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have quickly become a huge fan of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I first heard about the series through – I followed a link to the first story in the Tales from the Archives podcast series that supplements the books, loved it, and pre-ordered book 1, Phoenix Rising.

Oh, how I enjoyed Phoenix Rising. The LOLing, and the squeeing, and the re-reading of favourite scenes. I’ve spent the last year dying to get my hands on book 2, The Janus Affair. When I finally had a chance to read it the other day, I read it all in one gulp, staying up until 3.30am on a work night to finish it – 3.30!

The Janus Affair is somewhat different in tone from Phoenix Rising – now that we are familiar with the world, the scope opens out and more characters are drawn in. We get a better sense of the day-to-day life at the Ministry, and for agents Books and Braun. Stakes are raised, secrets are revealed faster than I was expecting, and Ballantine and Morris demonstrate that they are brave enough to put their characters through the metaphorical meat grinder.

There are a few little plot niggles that caught my attention – dropped plot threads (the children!), improbable leaps of logic, and mis-matches between spoken words and thoughts (unless certain characters were lying about certain things). But these problems did not hinder my enjoyment of the book. It is so much fun to read, I was able (despite being a pedant) to overlook those problems for the sake of the story.

What I most enjoyed about the book is that the authors have proven that they are not going to make the same mistake that TV police procedural writers often do – you know, that mistake where they seem to think that the “will they, won’t they?” question is the only possible tension that could be added to a budding romance storyline. Instead, Ballantine and Morris have gathered a whole collection of other tensions not directly related to that question and thrown them into the mix. I can see the complexity these myriad tensions create paying off well in the long run, and coming together to form a most satisfying and iconic relationship arc.

If you are a fan of steampunk, historical fiction, X-Files, spy stories, romance, explosions or, most particularly, all of the above, then I’ll wager that you will love this series as much as I do.

View all my reviews