“It’s easier to be just one more soldier in a giant army than being the whole army by yourself.” // Review of “Sleeping Giants” by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)
Author:
Sylvain Neuvel
Audio book narrator:
Full cast
Genre:
Sci-fi
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 11/08/18 – 14/08/18
Rating:
★★★

Review:

This book makes a great audio book, for many of the same reasons that World War Z did. Mostly because it is written in the form of transcripts of interviews and other recordings, all of which translates very well to audio. The full cast is amazing and they give a great sense of this cast of varied characters. It wasn’t perfect, there are some things that could have been done better, and there were a few little inconsistencies in the story itself, but this was definitely a book that made me not mind having.

I really loved the exploration of the political side of discovering alien artefacts on Earth. Who gets to claim them? How will other nations react to learning that the US  has been invading their turf on the down-low and taking back pieces  of alien tech? What will the President say? This was an overarching theme, but the impact of this discovery on the individual characters directly involved was also engaging. I loved Kara’s prickliness and Rose’s passion. I liked seeing how Vincent was an outsider but the others still cared for him. I even grew fond of the unnamed interviewer. Kara is correct when she tells him at the end that he is full of mush inside. He totally is.

I compared this book to World War Z above, and there are ways i think it improves on that audio book. In that one, Max Brooks played the interviewer, but he also read out the parts that weren’t the other characters speaking. Where I imagine the book had “[laughs]”, he would read that out. In Sleeping Giants, the actor actually laughs instead, which made it feel that bit more authentic. But there were still scenes where something was clearly going down in the background and all we could hear was the person narrating the events. I know this is an audio book and not a radio play, but that did lessen the effect a bit for me.

Still, I had the second one out from the library before I had even finished this one because  I knew I would want to continue. This is a series unlike anything I’ve come across before and I’m eager to continue.


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“My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.” // Review of “Legion” by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Legion (Legion #1)
Author:
Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Sci-fi
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 12/08/18 – 13/08/18
Rating:
★★☆

Review:

So this is slightly unusual. I knew I had read this book before. I hadn’t realised until I saw the cover was already uploaded to my blog that I actually reviewed it back then, too. I forgot to cross-post it to GoodReads, and I rarely go back further than a month or two in my blog archives, unless I have a reason to. You can read that first review here.

This time around, I didn’t have as much trouble settling into the world of the book, perhaps because I remembered enough from the previous read. Stephen and his halluncinations can be tricky to get your head around, though, since you are reading his interactions with all of them, despite the fact the other characters cannot see them.

I enjoyed the the book considers the tension between science and faith, particularly within one person. It never passes any judgement over which it thinks is “correct” – some characters feel one way while others feel another and they both get an even playing field for their stands.

The book is quite short (under 100 pages), and in some ways it does feel like a series opener rather than being able to stand on its own two feet. There is a mysterious woman linked to Stephen’s past, and the mysteries of the camera that can take photos of the past are not fully answered. However, I think casual readers would still enjoy this. I originally read it back when the second and third books weren’t out, and I don’t remember being too frustrated. That said, I have the second one on standby now so that I can go and read more of these characters.


(Technically, NetGalley provided me with a free copy of this book in the form of the Preview Excerpt for the multi-book volume. I requested it because I didn’t realise it was just book 1, which I already owned, but I appreciated the impetus to read it again. Thanks!).

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#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “I’m improvising, but I’ve been doing that my whole life.” // Review of “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: Unearthed (Unearthed #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Sci-fi
Target Age Group: YA
Dates read: 20/06/2018 – 26/06/2018
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book was marketed as “Indiana Jones in space” and while I can see that somewhat… I feel like that ended up giving me expectations for something this book wasn’t. So while I enjoyed it for what it was, I was disappointed it wasn’t what I was expecting.

So what was I expecting? Okay, so I love doing escape rooms, right? My partner finds them a little stressful but he humours me because in return I go to karaoke with him on wekeends. I was expecting this book to be some kind of epic scale escape room in book form, lots of solving puzzles and boobie-trapped rooms and such. And there was a bit of that. But there was really only one interesting puzzle (a musical one which was quite clever). The characters are out of the temple by about halfway to two-thirds of the way through the book and it becomes something completely different.

I liked Jules and Amelia, though I don’t think first person narration works when you have two POV characters. They sound much the same. Yes, they have different personalities and quirks, but I feel like probably everyone sounds fairly similar inside their head. It is different when you can hear different voices, but on the page, there’s not much to differentiate. I couldn’t get too engaged in the romance, as the action takes place over only a few days, maybe a week. I am more of a fan of a slow-burn over “we’re high on adrenaline and running for our lives and I’m gonig to kiss you now”.

Still, the action in the last quarter ramped right up, and the cliffhanger at the end was intriguing enough that I kind want to check out the next book when it’s released just to see where they go with that.


This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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#WWW Wednesday – July 04, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

As predicted, I finished Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner last Wednesday night after my post. It was fun, and I have to admit the cliffhanger has me intrigued enough to consider reading the sequel, but it was not quite what I had hoped. My review is scheduled for this Friday.

Still, that was better than I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness, which is being pimped as the #LoveOzYA debut of 2018 and I just… did not like it at all. Well, I didn’t like the main character, but in a contemporary novel written in first person, that pretty much equates to not liking the book, too. Still,  it was a quick read and I received it an as ARC so I can’t complain too much.  Here’s my full review.

I also posted my review of Zombie Playlist by K. J. Chapman. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is on hold while I listen to A Mask of Shadows, the third Frey and McGray novel by Oscar de Muriel. The format is a bit different to the first two books and that took a bit of getting used to. My favourite thing about this series is the banter between the two main characters and so far, they’ve been separated a lot in this one, so that’s a bit disappointing.

I am also reading Blackwing by Ed McDonald which was recommended to me by a friend. He’s quite picky about his fantasy, so I have pretty high hopes. It’s an industrialised fantasy world, not a straight medieval fantasy, which I am glad about, as I’m not in the mood for the latter. But this is intriguing so far.

No movement on All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque this week.

What do you think you will read next?

I’m still leaning towards The Olmec Obituary by L. J. M. Owens. Also, if you’re interested, I posted my planned July/August TBR here.  Let me know if you’ve read any on there!

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

#WWW Wednesday – June 27, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

good reading week this week! I finished Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen. This was a good story but the writing style let it down a bit, I felt. I reviewed it here.

Then I finished A Fever in the  Blood by Oscar de Muriel, which I enjoyed a lot (review here). I recommend these to everyone who enjoys historical fiction and murder mysteries, but if on top of that you are also an audio book listener, definitely get the audio books! They are wonderful. I also read The Hunt, which is a short story set just before this book, but it is basically a slightly expanded account of an event which is described in A Fever of the Blood, so it felt a bit pointless. I’m glad it was a freebie on Kindle.

On Saturday I read Zombie  Playlist by  K. J. Chapman in one sitting, as it was a novella and easy to get through. I’m not the biggest fan of zombie fiction in general, but I enjoyed this one well enough, despite a few niggles. I’ll have a review up on Friday.

What are you currently reading?

I finally decided on Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel for this month’s Audible choice. I actually started at the top of my GoodReads TBR and kept going until I found one available on Audible. I’m about a quarter of the way through but haven’t really formed an opinion yet. There are different things going on and I can see how they all intersect but I assume things will fall into place as the story goes on.

I am still going with Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This is one of those occasions where the book is simply something different to what I was expecting, and that’s not the book’s fault, but it’s still disappointing, because I was pretty excited for what I was expecting. I’ll probably finish this tonight or tomorrow.

I made sure to read a few more chapters of  All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque on the weekend.  I’m actually surprised how readable it is, given both its age and the subject matter.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ll post a full July-August TBR on Sunday, but I think first up off that list my be The Olmec Obituary by L. J. M. Owens. I am way behind on this series, I think there are at least three books out now. And given some of the book takes place in a fictional versino of my workplace, I feel it’s really time I get on that.

What are you reading this week?~ EmilyP.S. If you’re  interested, head over to my writing blog, Letting the Voices Out, to read a snippet of my current WIP here.

#WWW Wednesday – January 10, 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I’m still getting back into the swing of things for the new year, so I’ve been a bit slow at reading. I finished reading False Awakening by Cassandra Page.  I enjoyed it but I think it suffered a bit because it had been so long since I had read the first book, so I had trouble remembering some of the details it referred to. My review will be up on Friday all being well.

I have posted three reviews since my last WWW post. Click the titles to read them:

Warcross by Marie Lu (YA sci-fi)
Vicious by V. E. Schwab (sci-fi)
Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian (YA contemporary)

What are you currently reading?

I am reading an ARC – Everless by Sara Holland. I’m really enjoying this! It’s a bit different to the usual YA fantasies that are coming out at the moment (though it does admittedly fall into some typical tropes). I love the idea of time as currency.

I have also just started The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin. Catherine Hamlin is an incredible woman who has done so much for women in Ethiopia. I knew a bit about her but I’m interested to learn more about her in her own words.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think it needs to be Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay, a YA sci-fi. I’ve had this ARC for a while now and it publishes in early February, so I want to make sure my review is up in time.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.” // Review of “Vicious” by V. E. Schwab

Title: Vicious
Author: V. E. Schwab
Audio book narrator: Noah Michael Levine
Genre: NA/Urban fantasy/superheroes
Date Read:
10/12/2017 – 28/12/2017
Rating: ★★

Review:

All right, all right. I should have known better. I said after not enjoying the final Shades of Magic book  that clearly Schwab’s are not for me. And yet, I was still intrigued enough by Vicious to pick up the audio book when I saw it on a display at my local library.

Thanks to a college science experiment, Victor and Eli develop superhero-like powers, but frmo there, everything goes drastically downhill. Ten years later, Victor escapes from prison with a plan to confront Eli and no one knows who will come out the other side.

As usual, Schwab’s writing is extremely readable. This is something I have always found with her work, even as I haven’t enjoyed the stories themselves. The plot (even though I didn’t like a lot of it) was quite tight in and of itself.

My main issue was that I didn’t really feel invested in either main character, and some of their motivations seemed rather out of the blue to me. A lot of their decisions annoyed me and the thirteen-year-old character, Sidney, seemed to have more sense than either of the two adults most of the time.

Victor’s power to turn pain up or down on a dial, either for himself or for other people,  worked on that trope that if someone can’t feel pain, their injury won’t affect them.This isn’t how pain and injuries work, and it bothered me that it seemed like his own wounds, as well a gun shot wound of Sidney’s, just had the pain turned down and then everything was fine.

I did find some of the worldbuilding intriguing. I liked the idea of near death experiences being the instigator for extraordinary powers and that the power someone developed hinged on what they were thinking as they died. But overall, I had the same reaction to this as several of Schwab’s other books and now I know to stick to my resolution  that she is not an author for me.


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“Tonight, I can join in with everyone else, put on my glasses, and watch magic happen.” // Review of “Warcross” by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross (Warcross #1)
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Date Read:
11/12/2017 – 23/12/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This was a fun series opener. While a lot of it was setting up the world and the conflict for the next book, it still made me want to read on with these characters.

When Emika Chen takes a risk and hacks into the opening of the live Warcross championships, only to be caught, she assumes she’ll got to gaol. To her surprise, she is instead flown to Tokyo on the private jet of the game’s creator, and asked to be one of several bounty hunters trying to solve a security issue within the game. But the more Emika investiages, the more sinister the plot becomes.

I really liked Emika. She’s had a rough few years, and this was well done without going overboard. I liked the way her situation was juxtaposed with that of Hideo Takeda, who has billions to spare and can pay Emika’s rent for the next year without batting an eyelash. Hideo was an interesting character, though the romance that developed between him and Emika seemed unlikely from his perspective. Of course Emika would fall right into it, he’s her idol. But it seemed weird that he fell for her quite so quickly.

I also really liked the fact that the inventor of the greatest virtual reality game and hardware ever produced was Japanese, and that the book mostly took place in Japan. That just felt far more realistic to me.

The world-building was a lot of fun. Since Warcross is a game with hundreds of different worlds, Lu could do something different every time her characters entered the virtual reality game. This way we get dragons, ice worlds, and underwater caves. These scenes are action-packed and very visual. I loved it.

There are two twists towards the end which give some nice set-up for the next book. One of them I predicted fairly early on (but doing so didn’t affect my enjoyment). The other one I didn’t see coming at all, though in hindsight, hints were being dropped throughout the book. This series is a duology, not a trilogy, thankfully, as I can’t see there being enough plot to really power two more books. I am definitely looking forward to  reading the conclusion, though.


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Book Review: “Now That You’re Here” by Amy K. Nichols

Title: Now That You’re Here (Duplexity #1)
Author: Amy K. Nichols
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/romance
Date Read: 02/11/2017 – 09/11/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I picked this book up on a whim at the library because I find parallel universes really interesting. I thought that the story started strong, though towards the end, the romance got a bit overpowering.

After an explosion, Danny wakes up in a different body in a different universe. He meets Eevee, a girl he had briefly met in his own world, but in this one, she is a science geek, not an artist, and along with her best friend, wants to help Danny get home. But as that possibility becomes surer and surer, Danny is not so sure he wants to leave, and Eevee realises she doesn’t want to lose him.

The world that Danny finds himself in is our own world, and I really liked the divergence between it and the one he came from. The major point of difference is the outcome of the Cold War; in Danny’s world, it never really ended, and the US is full of invasive surveillance and run by a totalitarian government.

Now, I’m not a science geek. I like my sci-fi to be “soft sci-fi”. I think this book does a good job of that. There are some moments where the science talk started going over my head, but for the most part, I didn’t feel too overwhelmed by it. It helped that Danny was there to go “Huh?” whenever the other characters started babbling at each other. I really appreciated that Eevee is a science geek without it being “quirky”, which is often the case with nerdy/geeky female characters. Though there were a couple of occasions early on in the book where she seemed to have a bit of an “I’m not like other girls” attitude, this didn’t play too much of a part, so I let it slide.

As I said, in the last third, the romance did start to play more of a part. It became one of those all-consuming teen romances, and look, I know that’s what it feels like when you’re a teenager, but as an older reader, it still makes me roll my eyes a bit. I understand Eevee rebelling against her parents’ strict regime (they’re the types of parents who have her life planned out for her), but I don’t like it when this rebellion strays past the realms of sensible.

The ending felt a bit rushed and inconclusive. The official attempts to send Danny back to his own world don’t work, but then just suddenly he gets sucked back there while they’re working on alternate theories. I know there’s a second book in the series where we get to see what our world’s Danny is doing in the parallel universe while his counterpart is here; I don’t know if there was supposed to be a third book where things got tied up? Still, this was an enjoyable read, and if this is your sort of genre, I recommend picking it up.


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Book Review: “Ensnared” by Rita Stradling

Title: Ensnared
Author: Rita Stradling
Genre:
fairytale retelling/sci-fi
Date Read: 14/06/2017 – 19/06/2017
Rating: ★★

Review: 

I was really excited to read a futuristic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, this one had a few too many elements that made me feel a bit iffy, so I ended up not enjoying it much in the end.

To save her father from prison, Alainn Murphy takes the place of a robot that looks just like her, in the home of Lorccan Garbhan, a disfigured billionaire who has never been outside the tower he grew up in What she expects is a life of servitude, but that’s not what she ends up getting…

There were some things I did like, so let’s talk about those first. I liked most aspects of the near-future world, including the variety of different robots and AI. I also liked the villain of the piece (I won’t give too much away). I thought the character’s motivations were quite well done,  but I did feel that the climax was a bit too drawn out.

The thing that bothered me the most about this story was that as the romance developed between the two main character, Lorcann still thought Alainn was a robot. Even when they start having sex. Even when he starts proposing to her. There was a point where Alainn’s brother says something about Lorcann’s subconscious knowing she was human even if he hadn’t consciously figured it out yet, but that wasn’t enough for me. This could have been explored really well, but instead, it was barely looked at, other than Alainn feeling guilty for continually finding reasons not to tell Lorcann the truth.

As I said before, I felt the climax was a bit too drawn out, and the same could be said for several sections. The book felt too long and there were sections were I was bored enough to consider not finishing. I think this book could have worked really well with a bit of tightening up and a deep exploration of the issues it brought up (and hey, I read an ARC, so for all I know, this did come out more in the final version), but as it was, this was definitely not what I hoped for.


Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book for review.

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