Books, houses, ships and pirates

Firstly a big congratulations to Cynthia Reyes on winning the Diamond Book Award for An Honest House. Very well deserved.

An Honest House
An Honest House

As one of the judges on the panel for the award, I can say that all the finalists were of a high standard and there was an excellent diversity in the five books selected. Well done to Kev for setting up such an interesting award and attracting top quality entries.

Next, some fantastic books. The author said she was worried about me reading them. Honestly. Anyone would think I was a meany when as we all know, I am a nice, kind, generous sort of person. (With the emphasis on sort of.)

The Solar Wind Series by Lyz Russo

I found these books un-put-downable. The first book in the series, The Mystery of the Solar Wind, is free. Once I’d read that, I had to read the rest.

Lyz has a great style so there are no dull boring passages in her book. She once told me I wouldn’t like her books because she goes into technical detail about sailing. I’d said the average reader doesn’t need all the detail an expert thinks is relevant. But, and a big but, Lyz does it well. It’s a part of the story, and how the characters react to the weather, the conditions, and each other.

Anyway, what’s the series about?

Well, the Solar Wind is a pirate ship in the 23rd century. It’s captained by the irresistible Radomir Lascek who has the motliest (multinational) crew ever, most of whom are waifs and strays, life’s unfortunates etc. As it’s futuristic, it’s dystopian, so most of the world is dominated by the nasty sinister Unicate. Our heroic captain, when he’s not pirating, is on a one-person crusade to save as much of the world from Unicate as he can.

The characters are brilliant. The Romany Federi and Irish teenager Paean steal much of the action and this reader’s attention, but there are other strong players throughout the series, especially the women: Ailyss, Dana, Perdita.

The Assassin. Terrific read
The Assassin. Terrific read

There are killings, lots of action, suspense and adventure, and in each book, more is disclosed, yet more mystery is added. It’s highly imaginative, Lyz even cleverly interweaves ancient Celtic mythology, nothing is ever as it seems, and although it’s described as YA, it’s a great read for adults who haven’t grown up.

Here are the books:

Look at that huge wave!
Look at that huge wave!
  1. The Mystery of the Solar Wind
  2. The Assassin (a contender for my fave in the series)
  3. Freedom Fighter
  4. Raider
  5. The Morrigan
  6. Nix Romipen (due out 1 Nov)

And here’s a link to Lyz’s blog for more info.

With the exception of Nix Romipen, I acquired all the books from Smashwords and wrote unsolicited reviews on Goodreads because I thought the books merited it.

The Solar Wind Series is a good example of how writing style and the ability to tell a story is key. It doesn’t always matter what the story or subject matter is if it’s engagingly written. For relaxation, my choices are spies, crime and some macho ex SAS type stories. But with the exception of her last book, I also enjoyed Meyer’s Twilight series. The last one was abysmal.

I wouldn’t necessarily pick up a book like the Solar Wind, so it’s a total delight to enjoy not just one book but the whole series. Recommended for any pirate- and adventure-loving adult, or as a gift for young people.

I was curious about why Lyz wrote the Solar Wind series.

‘What gave you the inspiration for 1) the series overall and 2) the characters? We have a multinational crew – including a Hungarian captain, a Rumanian Free Gypsy, five (!) Irish crew, a Swede, and a German.’

Rushka was actually the inspiration for the series overall: The pirate captain’s daughter, competent, red-haired, Hungarian and mysterious. Together with sitting on the porch of a borrowed flat at the sea, looking at those gorgeous waves breaking, 4pm in the afternoon, with rainbows in their spray … and suddenly I could see the Solar Wind: All white hull and bulging sails, the beautiful sailing ship. But I tried my hand at “traditional” pirate stories and found sticking to the historic past so restrictive that I changed the setting to future – and it all just happened.

The Donegals were another part of the inspiration; I’d actually had a dream of being one of them (probably Paean), running away from the police, nowhere to hide, having done nothing wrong but being hunted for murder anyway. Radomir Lascek started off as an evil pirate, but it soon turned out that he couldn’t be evil, because despite taking the law into his own hand he was rescuing people from all over (hence the multinational European crew), and protecting them from the real evil – the Unicate. Lascek and Rushka would originally have been my central characters; except that I saw such a lot of it through little Paean’s eyes, and then the gypsy, who had been put in purely for comic relief, aping around and playing “pirate” with knife between teeth and all that, came down from the rigging and danced and jingled his way into the main role, overthrowing Lascek without even trying. :-D That’s just the way I know and love Federi.

As for the multinationalism, the Solar Wind is a freedom ship. Lascek collected his crew organically, they happened more than were hired. He took Sherman, Doc Jake and Doc Ju with him when he left the service of the Admiral; fished Jon Marsden as a half-dead castaway out of the sea; rescued young Wolf, most likely half dead from bleeding, out of a dockside pub brawl (for Doc to patch up); and both Federi and Ailyss infiltrated the Solar Wind. Rhine Gold was on his gap year and took a job as it was offered. The Donegals were rescued. Whom did I leave out? More or less the same goes for the crew of the bases. He rescues them. It’s how he picks up crew, wherever he goes. He’s even picked up a lot of Asian and African people (though the Africans have Southern Free, they don’t need Lascek as much). Most of these are on Island Base, but as you saw with Yang, also on the other bases.

Five Irish on the Solar Wind – it was only one, Sherman, before the Donegals were rescued and then Ailyss also infiltrated at the same opportunity. ;-)

No Americans. I guess Admiral Drake sorts out the Americans that need to be rescued. Didn’t occur to me before. Mindy is the first American on the crew. (Should I apply American spelling to her dialogue? :-D)

Thanks Lyz. Especially for the advance read of the totally gripping Nix Romipen.

Due next month, another great read
Due next month, another great read

And for aspiring/skint authors, Reedsy has an open entry comp for up to £3,000 worth of publication costs. Ends 31 October 2016.

I started off with good news but I want to say how sorry I am that good blogging friend Paul Curran, from Ottawa, has died. Paul guest posted on Mark’s blog on Sunday mornings and I looked forward to his posts. Although we only met relatively recently, he was a thoughtful and insightful commenter on roughseas. He had a raw deal in life and I shall miss his presence as, I am sure, will many others. RIP sweetheart.

84 comments on “Books, houses, ships and pirates

  1. I don’t think you’re a meany at all! You are well educated and exacting in your tastes, which I find makes you the best reader, and judge, possible. You always have an opinion and you’re not afraid to voice it! I have learned more about writing and presenting a better book (ie. cover design) from you in the past couple of years of association than I ever have from other reviewers or from some writing classes. I thank you for that, roughseas! (But having said that, it’s with a bit of shaking in my own boots that I’ll send my next novel to you. It’s just about ready. It’s now in the hands of the eBook formatter.)

    And I’m very sorry to hear the news about Paul Curran. He and I had a brief exchange via email after he won my novel in a contest on another blog. His comments here were always a welcome read.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m not sure whether Wow! Or Lol:D is the more appropriate.
      After 30+ years in publishing I’m pretty much an all-rounder. And graphic design and layout/visuals is/was very much a part of newspaper journalism back in Ye Olden Dayes. So it’s never really left me. These days, people are stupid if they don’t take advantage of the internet regarding cover design, and even moreso if they don’t ask their editor for a view. Certainly most of my clients do. I don’t need to like it, merely say whether it represents the book well. Bit like editing. I don’t think people spend enough time – or maybe money – on covers.

      For example above, I like the gypsies by the camp fire in Nix Romipen, and the first book of the series with the ship. A cover needs to capture the essence.

      I am looking forward to the recipes and to see how that works. Fabby idea. epub or mobi please :) she writes presumptuously. Won’t be able to read straightaway, got a number of books piled up. Lyz has offered some, Dylan sent me the third in his trilogy and I’m doing some (paid-for Yay!) beta-reading.

      After surviving his deathly experience it seemed so tragic that he went on to really truly die :(
      I think he engaged with people really well, or at least that’s what I found. If I wasn’t an atheist I’d like to think he would be able to read my comments, but the pragmatist in me hopes he found our exchanges interesting and enjoyable. I’m sad he didn’t get to Vancouver as I have a number of blogpals from there and they are all so cool. Paul reminded me of so many people I know. Intelligent, thoughtful and with an unlucky throw of the dice …

      Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks. I think book reviews need to be a number of things, but the most important is honest. Then it’s a balance between personal preference and professional analysis. I can say a book is good even if it’s not to my taste. YA books aren’t my first choice, this is the woman who picks up Dostoevsky. Or Stendahl. Or anyone 19th century french or russian. It’s also important to read widely and not be a literary snob. Good writing comes in all forms.

          I’ll look forward to it :) Thank you.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Terrific review of Solar Wind; an intriguing concept. I can see how going up against the likes of Patrick O’Brian and history itself, sent the author into the futuristic genre. Would you describe the settings as dystopian? Are there exerts available to read? I’ll look around for more on the author. And congratulations Lyz Russo!
    What was the raw deal Paul was dealt? Is there is a particular blog I can search out in order to save you re-hashing old news?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent review and I’m intrigued. I like how Lyz started writing historical pirate adventure and moved to a future setting. That’s one of the wonderful aspects of writing science fiction and fantasy, those boundaries disappear. Congrats on the books, Lyz.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A very interesting review and interview with the author of Solar Wind. Thank you. I enjoyed learning how Lyz (oops, I mean the captain) chose the crew. And by the way: “motliest” is a wonderful word that I’ve never heard (have heard of “motley”) and I shall have to find a way to use it. It just has a great ring to it (though that may be a ring through a pirate’s ear, I know…) Thanks also for the mention, K.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve read the whole review now, and I can only say: Thank you!! Loved it! I am so happy that the crew motlied their glambunctious way into your favour! And no, I never ever thought you were a meanie, LOL. Just, a highly professional reviewer with definite, strong opinions, who might not like the story.

        I’m sorry to hear about your blogger friend who passed. May he rest in peace.

        Also, congrats to Cynthia on her book!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cheers gips. A bit like gipsi Federi?
          Pleased you like it :) as I did your books. Cracking read.
          Not just you, others seem to think I am a tad critical. Whatevs. I don’t go on whether I like, but more on whether something is well written. And SW is. You have characterisation down to a fine art.

          Paul is a loss to those of us who knew him. He took time to write his comments and read the posts and was just an all-round fine person. I really looked forward to his Sunday morning posts. Which reminds me, Friday story post?

          C’s book is good. Well good.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. That series sounds wonderful — and I am not a great pirate-scifi fan. However, I am a fan of good books, and am constantly encouraging my students to not limit their reading choices to their own age level or preferred genres. They seem to have gained the idea that if they read books that are “easier” they are demeaning themselves — which means that many of my ESL kids are not reading anything at all in English.
    I loved the interview, and the info on how/why the book evolved. Great encouragement for new writers, I think. (Thanks to Lyz Russo for sharing the process, and to you for recording it here.)
    And I’m so sorry that Paul has died. I read that post of his about dying — and am amazed at his resilience and his generous reporting. No great condemnations.. I suspect (perhaps totally incorrectly) that his recent death is a complication of that recent earlier one. My condolences to you and to the rest of his friends and readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just read that bit of story, and after re-reading the first few lines to make sure I understood, really enjoyed it! Will watch for it wherever it may be available. When I have a moment may jump back to see past Friday stories too. I love a good story!


      • Part 6 of Shadow? Can’t remember if I read them in the right order, but it’s worth a backtrack if you do get time. Shadow is the gypsy Federi in the Solar Wind, and this is his life before he joined the ship. I’m especially enjoying it having read so much about him in SW series where he is a (the?) central character. She’s written other Friday stories but I haven’t kept up with all of them as well as I have this one. Anyway there’s a bonus this weekend as she published part 7 for Saturday story :)


          • I rarely backtrack on blogs, maybe three posts or so, but I’ve made I read all these, sometimes more than once. She probably ought to organise her Friday stories into pages, I think I’ve read parts of one or two others as well.


  6. Motley in any and all forms is highly desireable. (Is a motley education possible? It sounds like one that would be highly functional and useful – especially these days)
    I like people who gather an assortment of people around them, so this book series sounds interesting. (and of course, there’s the sailing…).
    Perfect time to read book reviews. In our house, books were always the best gifts. You never outgrow them, they ususally get kept, and it shows the giver took time to select something just right for you.
    I think Paul would have been a pirate – one of the first to be asked to join many crews. Vancouver seemed perfect for him. You are right, he would be surprised.


    • Indeed. Motley (motlier and motliest) is a good thing in terms of variety. The spice of life? Hmmm. Too much pigeonholing these days for motley, methinks.
      About the only thing the crew members have in common is their loyalty to the captain. Characters are def one of Lyz’s strengths.
      My houses are full of books. Too many really but I hate getting rid of them. Unless they involve graphic violence/torture against girls/women/animals. Too much of that IRL.
      Pirate Paul. A nice ring to it. I was disappointed he didn’t get to Vancouver, it sounds lovely from the blogs of the Canadians who live there.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Characters are critical. We need to understand their actions and their feelings. Doesn’t matter how the author does it, but convey it please. Not in one or two D, but in glorious 3D.

          One blogging friend posts glorious posts Vancouver way. Including the islands. And the life in that part of Canada sounds … different. Some things, aren’t meant to be.


  7. I don’t think you’re a meany :-) Your reviews are measured and well thought out, which is all an author can ask for. These books sound great – another pile to add to the already enormous TBR pile in my room. One day I might even get the chance to sit down and read them :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the wonderful mention and for highlighting The Diamond Book Award program along with Cynthia’s book. Truly appreciated!

    Love the review… I have the first solar wind on my kindle and am ready to start reading it soon. Even more eager now. I’ve shared this to all socials… and your later post. Thanks again, Kate.


  9. I don’t have any time to spare for reading fiction these days. I don’t need to anyway, modern politics is a big enough escape from reality …


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