Book Review: “Hard Time” by Jodi Taylor

Title: Hard Time (Time Police #2)
Author: Jodi Taylor
Genre: Sci-fi/humour
Intended audience: YA
Dates Read: 17/01/2021 – 25/01/21
Rating: ★★★


I didn’t review the first book in this series here on the blog, but in my Goodreads review, I specifically said, “I don’t think I’ll be reading [the second book].” But let’s face it, I’m easily swayed by an attractive cover on a shiny new paperback on prominent display at the library. This series is fun, and I did find myself once again reasonably attached to Team Weird.

I summed up the vibe of this series to someone at work by saying “Imagine those low-budget BBC kids shows from the 90s, but in a book.” She got exactly what i was trying to say. I hope you do, too.

But I just find the world-building and some of the plotting so strange. I can never get a real sense of time and place. Society is much the same as it is now, except there is time travel, and some of the TP’s weapons are a bit futuristic. The pop culture references are all contemporary. But in the first book, the twentieth century was this weird awful time in the far past, or so it seemed.

There are also two characters with the same first name, which just seemed like such a strange choice to make. It was fine when one of them was only being referred to as “Major Ellis”. But now Ellis and North are on first-name terms, it was jarring to hear her calling him Matthew when one of the central three characters is also Matthew. Of course it’s a common name, but that doesn’t mean you confuse your reader by reflecting that aspect of real life in your novel.

The author has a weird thing about fat people. In the first book, there was a whole thing focused on one overweight family, and there’s another character in this one treated the same way. The motivations of the villains of this piece didn’t really make a lot of sense, to be honest; their decisions seemed based on narrative convenience more than anything else.

But for all that, I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing Jane and Luke undercover, and seeing Jane uncover Luke’s hidden depths. Matthew is not quite as interesting to me, and I feel that maybe his existence is mostly so that the St Mary’s characters can keep making cameo appearances. Having not read the St Mary’s books, these feel a bit in-jokey.

Still, I’ve marked book three as “to read” on GoodReads because I might as well admit that I’m going to read it.

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“If this isn’t hell, the devil is surely taking notes.” // Review of “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton

Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Stuart Turton
Genre: Literary/speculative fiction
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 01/05/20 – 08/05/20


What even was this book?

No, that’s not rhetorical. Please, someone tell me.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit disingenuous there, but I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say this book is unlike any other I’ve read. It was compelling, even as I sometimes struggled to keep track of things. I had a small list of murder suspects, and I was ALMOST right!

You do sort of have to roll with this book. It would be easy to try to sit there picking apart all the time travel logic and how it  all works. I suspect Stuart Turton must have had a dozen spreadsheets in order to keep it all straight, and I think there are still times when things don’t quite add up. But as long as you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, then you will keep turning the pages, perhaps even start dreaming about the book as I did!

I have to say that up until about the last 30 or so pages, this was a five star read for me, despite the nit-picking. But as I was nearing the end, I realised that I wasn’t going to find out certain details about how the events of the book all came to pass in the first place… there are hints dropped, but nothing really concrete. We learn that certain character development (as in, a person changed due to their experiences) took place before the book starts, meaning we just have to accept them, rather than seeing it happen.

This didn’t kill the enjoyment for me, but it meant I closed the book at the end feeling dissatisfied. Maybe that’s just me, though? Don’t let me put you off!

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WWW Wednesday – 7 November 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.

It does not feel like Wednesday for me today! I worked on Saturday, saw a musical on Sunday and had Monday off, so it still only feels like Tuesday. 

But anyway, on with the questions! 

What did you recently finish reading? 

I finished Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge and it was delightful! I totally recommend this series for anyone looking for fun and cozy urban fantasy. My review will be up on Friday. 

I probably wasted enough time playing Super Mario Bros. 3 that I could have finished another book, but there it is. 

I posted reviews of Legendary by Stephanie Garber and Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann this week. Click the titles to read them. 

What are you currently reading?

Circus Hearts: All Aces by Ellie Marney. At the time of writing this post, I’m about 15% in and it’s taking me a bit longer to get into than the other two books in the series. I think that might be because I’m really still in the mood for fantasy, but I do need to get this ARC read. And I’m pretty sure once the romantic tension really starts to build (it’s already there a little bit), I’ll get into it properly. 

I’ve also been listening to All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, which is a very well done time travel book that asks some big questions about the ethics of time travel. I’m using my Audible membership to start books I have had on my TBR for a long time. This one has been there since 2015.

What will you read next? 

Next I’ll be reading Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost, because the sequel is a Read Now on Netgalley and I can’t resist a punny title (the sequel is called “‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas”). 

Book Review: “Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation” by Gary Russell

Title: Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation
Author: Gary Russell
Genre: Sci-fi
Date Read: 14/11/2016 – 18/11/2016
Rating: ★★


Yikes. While it’s true that the Doctor Who novels have always been a bit hit or miss for me, I’ve got to say this one was worse than most.

When a pyramid from another world appears in Sydney Harbour on Christmas Day, 2015, the Doctor, along with old friend Bernice Summerfield and her family, have to find an ancient artefact and put it back where it belongs before the pyramid and the people who built it destroy the universe.

I’ll get my big rant out of the way first. I’m Australian. And there were a lot of little things that made me feel Gary Russell didn’t do much research into Australia before he wrote the book, even though it was apparently written while he was spending time in the Blue Mountains. For example, he (through the Doctor’s inner monologue) wonders over the fact that Australia is caught between its British colonial roots and more recent American influences. All right. So far so good. But the example of this is that we spell “harbour” with a “u” and “Labor” without it. Yes, our Labor Party is spelled that way because it was influenced by the American Labor party in the early 20th century. But in any other context, we spell it “labour”, which about two seconds of research could have confirmed. It was little things like that this that made the Australian aspect ring false, and I was disappointed, because I really wanted an Australian-themed Doctor Who story!

I also didn’t like many of the characters. While the Twelfth Doctor is often grumpy and curmudgeonly, I usually find that he’s loveable underneath it all. That didn’t really come out in the dialogue of this book until right at the end. I will admit I am not familiar with Bernice Summerfield, having never listened to the audio adventures she featured in (I thought I had, but it turns out I was confusing her with Evelyn Smythe), but I really didn’t warm to her, either, and the other members of her family all felt like rather 2D characters.

On top of  that, the plot was rather convoluted and confusing. This is technically the second in a trilogy, but as other Doctor Who novels generally stand somewhat alone, I expected the same from this one. Perhaps everything would have made more sense had I read the first book, but I don’t really know. There were a lot of time loops, and characters jumping from one century to another and one planet to another. When a lot of side characters felt much the same, I was never really sure where we were or how it all tied into the larger plot.

Overall, this one was far more “miss” than “hit” for me, but of course, I won’t let that put me off exploring more of the series.

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Book Review: Alternate (Omnibus Edition) by Ernie Luis

Title: Alternate (Omnibus Edition)
Author: Ernie Luis
Genre: Sci-fi
Date Read: 05/01/2016 – 06/01/2016
Rating: ★★★★


alternatecoverThanks to the author and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% how I’d like Alternate, as time travel always has the potential to do one’s head in if not done right. Fortunately, though, this one hit the mark!

In 2020, Greyson Tolbert’s eight-year-old daughter was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Ten years later, he is working for the Watchtower as a time travelling assassin, with the promise that after a set number of years’ service, he will be able to save his daughter. But when a colleague goes rogue and he is sent to apprehend her, everything he knows about the Watchtower begins to unravel.

For something with as much time travel as this book has (and it has a lot), the plot is extremely well-structured, and never really got confusing. Potential paradoxes are dealt with quite well, and it was always clear what time period we were in. Greyson’s POV is in third person, while the several other POV characters were all in third person, and this worked quite well. The narrative unfolds at a really good pace. There were lots of twists, but they never felt like they were there for shock value.

The reason it only gets four stars from me is because I wasn’t particularly invested in the characters. I definitely wanted to see how the story panned out, but I wasn’t going to be hugely bothered by who made it out and who didn’t. Which isn’t to say that the characters weren’t well-drawn, because they were, I think being as hardened as they were thanks to their various pasts made it difficult for me to get inside their heads.