Friday, 19 December 2014

The Gilded Gun and The Chronos Clock by Wendy L Callahan / Longitude by Dava Sobel / Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

The Gilded Gun by Wendy L. Callahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bought as part of the Indie Steampunk Book Extravaganza 2.

Oh no! At just 13 pages, this prequel is Far Too Short! An excellent taster of what is to come in the first 'proper' novel in the series, The Gilded Gun is more a prologue than a book in its own right and, had I bought it separately, its brevity would have left me feeling hard done by. However, as the first in a four-title compendium of the series, it has neatly done its job of appetiser and I raced straight on into the delights of The Chronos Clock.

The Chronos Clock by Wendy L. Callahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk

The Chronos Clock is a witty, fast paced adventure racing through an interesting and believable steampunk world. I loved the verbal interplay between Demetra and Francis - Callahan obviously had great fun devising their sparring and this delight shines through. The magical powers of some of the peoples adds an unusual dimension to this world and was well drawn into to the tale without overwhelming it. Despite being the beginning of an ongoing series, I appreciated the satisfying resolution and look forward to joining Demetra again sometime soon.


Longitude by Dava Sobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

More biography than science book, Dava Sobel's Latitude chronicles the struggle of the now famous John Harrison to have his incredible chronometer be taken seriously by an establishment elite who were none to impressed by being out-thought by a self-taught commoner! Interestingly, one of the supporting cast here, Flamsteed, appeared in a fictional capacity in my previous read, The Chronos Clock.

Sobel doesn't dwell on the intricacies of telling longitude by the astronomical or timekeeping methods so this book doesn't enable the reader to go out and complete calculations for themselves. Instead she concentrates on the human story of John Harrison and his son, William. Their struggle seems all the more poignant given how successful later cheaper copies of his inventions went on to be. Sobel's romantic storytelling style - we have definite heroes and villains - makes this an easy book to read, more historical novel than history although it is factual. It is a good starting point and inspired both further reading and a visit to Greenwich for me. We were right there, outside the museum that houses Harrison's chronometers, a couple of summers ago, but didn't pay up to go inside. Having both enjoyed reading this book I think we'll be returning sometime soon!


Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my WorldReads - Nigeria book choices.

Buy the audiobook download from Audible via Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

I was first attracted to Lagoon on Audible by the dramatic cover art which incorporates a myriad of sea creatures into the title word. The book is expertly narrated by Adjoa Andoh and Ben Onwukwe who between them portray many Lagos residents, a smattering of aliens, and also several magical beings from Nigerian folklore. From her initial chapter, spoken as a swordfish who is vandalising an oil pipeline, Okorafor doesn't let up for a minute. The science fiction storyline of alien invasion is fairly standard, but her inventiveness and understanding of human nature makes Lagoon a cut above the norm. I could easily visualise each location from their detailed descriptions and would love for it to be possible to visit that beautiful underwater world!

There are some fabulously memorable characters populating this frightened yet vibrant Lagos. Father Oke is great and so true! I sympathised with poor overlooked Philo and even Adaora's husband Chris is stuck in an all too understandable predicament. Plus I don't think I've ever felt sorry for a tarantula before! I did initially have trouble keeping up with the pidgin english, but could generally work out enough to get the gist without having to replay the sentences. The environmentalism and the message of change are nicely done without being preachy and I liked the unusual ending. Nice touch.


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