Category Archives: Sci-Fi

The Power- Naomi Alderman


Synopsis

It starts with teenage girls and gradually spreads and grows until ‘the power’ reaches all women. The power means that women can send arcs of electricity with their hands. Soon the world is turned on it’s head and women are in charge.

 

Review

‘The Power’ was a pick for my book group a few (3? 4?) months ago and it was a hit with all of us (The first 2 links in my other reviews section are from fellow group members). It’s a feminist book group so this did seem like a pretty perfect choice for us, but it had been on my radar before we picked it.

I was ready to write this review when I finished it but I wanted to go to the book group first so I left it, and my vigor to write this review wore off a bit- I think next time I will write but not publish until after.

The story is told in 4 main voices, but contains more major characters than that. There is a female senator who is very supportive of the girls early on, there is the daughter of a gang boss, there is a girl who transforms herself into a religious leader, and a journalist- the only male voice who we hear from directly.

At first it seemed that everything would be perfect. Women have been marginalised for millennia so why would they treat men the same when they find they have the power? Part of what I liked was that things weren’t perfect. It said that women are just people too, and people do bad things, and people abuse power, and people get carried away. It asked the question of whether a world ruled by women would really be better than one ruled by men? The power didn’t really rebalance the problem, it overbalanced it in the other direction.

In other books, in books where women weren’t on top some of these women would be praised as being powerful women, but in a world where they have the natural advantage they sometimes use that power for bad. As the story went on things got darker, and at times it was hard to see right from wrong, because things need to change- but is there such a thing as too much change?

In terms of readability it was a pretty easy read, and the writing style did remind me a bit of YA, not that that’s a bad thing. In fact ‘The Power’ could probably be a YA book if some bits were less graphic.

The other half was a bit sceptical of this book in general, he didn’t really get why they needed a power to balance things, and that says it all really- that we try and balance things but still it’s hard to be a woman.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£12.75)

Other Reviews:

Murder Underground Broke the Camel’s Back

Heavenali

Sam Still Reading

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Word By Word

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Armada- Ernest Cline


Synopsis

Zack Lightman is a video game addict. He spends hours playing Armada and is one of the top players in the world. Then one day he sees a spaceship outside the window, and the really strange thing? It’s a spaceship he recognises from Armada, is he going crazy, or is it something else?

Review

I read Armada as part of Dewey’s Readathon and it was a pretty perfect choice for a readathon. It was easy to read and engaging, I got to geek out, and I didn’t have to think about it too hard. It took a little time to really get going but once it did I was really hooked and it took me less than a day to read the whole thing.

I had bought Armada as a present for my partner after he loved Ready Player One, and I read it because I loved ‘Ready Player One’ too. The boyfriend described it as reading like a book written on the way to getting to ‘Ready Player One’, very similar in lots of ways, but not quite there yet. I get that completely. It wasn’t quite up to the awesomeness that was ‘Ready Player One’, but it had a lot of the same sort of geeky references which were one of the good things about ‘Ready Player One’.

Armada’s storyline is probably a bit more relatable than ‘Ready Player One’, but it makes it less of a fantasy and less escapist too. It also means that you don’t have quite as strong a feeling towards the characters. And it makes it more predictable, I guessed at least some of the plot beforehand and although I still enjoyed it but I like it when plots keep me guessing.

If you’ve not read any Ernest Cline I would go for ‘Ready Player One’ first, but ‘Armada’ may fill some of the void which was left (or may be a big disappointment if you believe some other reviewers, views are very mixed)

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.19)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

Annette’s Book Spot

Leeswammes’ Blog

Silly Little Mischief

Words for Worms

Book Journey

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

The Humans- Matt Haig


Synopsis (from amazon)

After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

What could possibly make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

Review

The trailer for The Humans is the only book trailer I have ever seen which has convinced me that I want to read a book. (As a general rule I don’t like book trailers, I don’t see why people would want pictures to promote something which is about words).

Haig was already on my radar. The Radleys has been on my wishlist for years (yes again my problem with not buying from my wishlist strikes) and I’ve read a few of his (rather entertaining) blog posts, so I expected entertaining novels too.

Haig’s style of writing is quite similar to Nick Hornby, or Danny Wallace. It’s easy to read, and conversational. However it’s not without its emotion, as easy to read things can tend to be as they strive to be entertaining.

In it’s own way The Humans was actually quite deep. A sort of ode to what it is to be human. How it is great. How it isn’t.

There are lots of things wrong with humanity, but does that mean that there are lots of things wrong with humans?

It’s a funny, sweet, and charming book, and an easy read.

4/5

Buy it:

From an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£6.97)

E-book (£7.18)

From amazon:

Paperback (£3.50)

Kindle (£2.69)

Hardback (£19.05)

Other reviews:

Blog A Book Etc

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Slaughterhouse-Five- Kurt Vonnegut


This book was read as part of The Rory List

Synopsis (adapted from amazon)

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW, who has in the later stage of his life become “unstuck in time” and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.

Review

I’ve been rewatching a lot of Lost recently (yay netflix!), I’m pretty sure a whole load of series 4 is based (ok…loosely) on slaughterhouse-five. Basically what happens is Two guys get off the island, and one of the guys gets unstuck in time- like Billy Pilgram. He keeps flicking from present day back to when he was in the army. What’s it caused by? Well I have theories but I haven’t actually seen the end yet.

In Slaughterhouse-Five we know why Billy is unstuck in time. Or at least we know why Billy thinks he’s unstuck in time. It could just be post-dramatic stress disorder induced fantasies. He may well be in the hospital bed, or even living a ‘normal’ life the whole time.

It’s weird, and different, and it doesn’t make sense. So what? Does fiction have to make sense?

3/5

Buy it (from amazon):

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£6.29)

Other reviews:

Giraffe Days

 

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Filed under Classics, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

We- Michael Landweber



Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

After an accident, forty-year-old Ben Arnold regains consciousness in the kitchen of the house he grew up in. Only he feels different, lighter somehow. Something is horribly wrong. Ben is swept into the arms of his mother, who he hasn’t seen in twenty years. She calls him by his childhood nickname, Binky. He sees a younger, unbroken version of his father. His estranged brother is there, reverted back to his awkward teenage self. Finally, adding horror to his confusion, he glimpses his older sister Sara as she runs out the door to meet her boyfriend. Sara, whose absence he has felt every day since her death. Ben is a mere hitchhiker, a parasite in the brain of seven-year-old Binky, and his younger self is not happy to have him there. It is three days before his sister will be attacked. Ben knows he has to save Sara but first he must gain Binky’s trust. Even if he can get Binky to say the right words, to do the right thing, who will believe that a young boy can foretell the future?

Review

Please note during this review I refer to Ben the adult as Ben, and young Ben as Binky

I left off reading We for quite a long time (in fact the only review book on my kindle other than it at the time was an unsolicited one which I had downloaded just in case I decided to read it- but aren’t really planning to read). Whilst I found the premise interesting I worried that it would be a bit too heavy on the Sci-fi side for my tastes. Actually I wouldn’t call it a sci-fi novel. Maybe the element of sci-fi was there with the idea of Ben being inside his younger self’s concious. It isn’t really explored how he ends up there however. The most we get is him exploring Binky’s mind, which is a bit weird, but still quite interesting, especially when you think about how much control Ben could take of Binky.

It is rather upsetting to know what will happen to Sara, and for Ben to know, but for him to seem pretty much powerless. You really can’t imagine that Ben would be able to change what is happening (do we call it future or past, I don’t know).

At times I was cringing at Ben’s lack of insight into his younger self. Surely if you were that person you would know how he felt, or feels? Maybe he had just come on too far. You know, like when you look back on things you’ve done and think you were a bit of an idiot, but it didn’t feel like that at the time? If I was Ben I would have done things differently, but there you go. I’m not.

One little thing I didn’t like was that whilst the future was discussed it was never really shown how Ben’s actions in the past might change the future. What might happen differently if what happened to Sara was prevented? Although, actually, what happened was always on Ben’s mind so maybe he didn’t think about how changing it would effect future events, because he couldn’t see why he wouldn’t want to change it.

4/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£4.59)
Paperback (£8.70)

Other reviews:
If you have reviewed this book please leave me a link it comments and I will add it here.

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The Returned- Jason Mott


the returned, jason mott, book, book cover
Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the publishers (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

All over the world, people’s loved ones are returning from the dead.
Exactly as they were before they died.
As if they never left.
As if it’s just another ordinary day.Jacob Hargrave tragically drowned over 40 years ago. Now he’s on his aged parents doorstep, still eight years old; the little boy they knew they d never see again. As the family find themselves at the centre of a community on the brink of collapse, they are forced to navigate a whole new reality and question everything they’ve ever believed.No one knows how or why this mysterious event is happening, whether it s a miracle or a sign of the end.
The only certainty is that their lives will never be the same again.

Review

Note: This book is not the same as French television show The Returned (which was recently popular in the UK) but is being made into a TV show by ABC in America with the name Resurrection. They do both however feature people coming back from the dead.

I first came across The Returned on Leeswammes’ Blog, and to be honest I read the review because I wanted to see if it was the book of the TV show.  Through reading it however I did become interested so decided to see if it was still up on netgalley- and it was (yay!).

The story was rather emotional. Firstly the idea of someone whom you loved coming back to life- and the same happening all over the world. How would you cope after you’d got over that loss? And how would the time in-between (when you have aged, but your loved one has not) effect your relationship? What if your loved one didn’t come back? Would you be questioning why, and wondering if they didn’t want to come back?

Then there was the problem of the suddenly rapidly expanding population. Were ‘the returned’ entitled to help in finding their families? Should their families be obliged to take them in? If they had nowhere to go should they be entitled to homes, and jobs, healthcare? Everywhere arguments are starting, fighting, riots, as people battle about what should be done with the returned. In America (where the majority of the book is situated) the returned are taken to internment camps, but more and more returned are turning up, and resources are stretch to the limit. It’s how you might imagine a refugee camp.

The main bulk of the story rests with Harold and Lucille Hargrave, whose son Jacob returns. Jacob drowned at the age of 8, but Harold and Lucille are now in their 80s. A lot of the story is how they balance their loss of Jacob with him returning, and sees how their relationship with him changes and stays the same.

There’s also a strong political element to the story, to do with how the government and the general population respond.

The chapters are also interspersed with short sections about other people who returned, and their stories.

At times the book is very emotional, it makes you sad, relieved, happy, and sometimes a little angry.

I would recommend reading the author note at the end too where Mott talks about his inspiration. It’s rather heart wrenching.

The Returned is the first in a series, but I really can’t see how it can be a series, it seems like a perfect stand alone book. I suppose if each book followed a different member of the returned?

4/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£4.80)
Hardback (£5.84)
Paperback (£12.99)

Other reviews:

Have I missed your review? Post your link in comments and I will add it here.

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Filed under Contempory, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction review, Paranormal, Sci-Fi

1Q84 (book 2)- Haruki Murakami



Synopsis (from amazon)

The year is 1Q84.

This is the real world, there is no doubt about that.

But in this world, there are two moons in the sky.

In this world, the fates of two people, Tengo and Aomame, are closely intertwined. They are each, in their own way, doing something very dangerous. And in this world, there seems no way to save them both.

Something extraordinary is starting.

Review

You know what? I have missed Murakami. I struggled a little with 1Q84 book one and felt I needed a rest before book two. I wanted to read Murakami but I wasn’t letting myself read anything by him until I had read book two. So I waited and waited and waited. I finshed reading book 1 in April 2012. I started reading book two in August this year. That’s quite a gap.

I was a bit nervous that I would find book two hard, it’s part of the reason I left it so long. However it didn’t take long for me to wish that I had returned to the book sooner. Book two was much more classic Murakami. There were parts of it which reminded me of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (one of my favourite Murakami novels).

To give a review of a Murakami novel is really difficult. They’re so bizarre that you can’t really explain them, you have to experience them. Even though they have similar themes that you can compare to each other they continue to surprise you.

So what can I say about 1Q84? I loved it, I have the big hardback edition and towards the end I started carrying it with me to read rather than my kindle, I haven’t done something like that with a book for a long time, and never with a hardback. When I went to the new library I went and looked for, and borrow book 3 before I would even look around the library- because I knew I would want to start reading it straight away. It just had me hooked!

It had a plot which in ways was similar to a crime novel, you really wanted to know what would happen next. But of course with Murakami there are twists and plots which you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams. Things which could not happen in 1984, only 1Q84.

I can’t really say anything of substance, just if you too struggle with book one please, please, PLEASE, don’t give up! I promise it’s worth it.

5/5

Buy it:

Hardback- books 1 and 2 (£13.20)

Paperback- books 1 and 2 (£6.29)

Kindle- books 1 and 2 (£5.98)

Paperback- books 1, 2 and 3 (£9.09)

Other reviews:

Sam Still Reading (books 1 & 2)

Claire @ Word by Word (books 1 & 2)

Kate @ Nose in a Book (all books)

Una @ Keep Watching the Words (all books)

Marie @ Girl Vs Bookshelf (all books)

Have I missed your review? Post your link in comments and I will add it here.

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Literary, Sci-Fi

Fyre- Angie Sage



Fyre is the seventh (and final) book in the Septimus Heap series. You can see my reviews of the previous 6 books by using the Septimus Heap tag.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Septimus Heap, Wizard Apprentice, must fight the remnants of the Darke Domaine. For this, the ancient Alchemie Fyre must be relit, a task which will test Septimus to his limits and send him on a perilous journey. Septimus will finally discover who he is – but at what cost? And who will prevail when the greatest Magyk of all is kindled?

Prepare for a spellbinding finale, as FYRE masterfully weaves together every character from this epic series.

Review

For some reason they don’t seem to have the edition of Fyre I read listed new on amazon anymore, but it’s most like the collector’s edition (which is not yet available). I ordered that particular version because of the cover. For some reason Bloomsbury have decided to change the cover design for the last book so it doesn’t fit with the other 6 I have on my shelves. it’s rather annoying, especially as I do not like the new cover even without comparison with other. The version I got was a ‘roughcut’. There are a few complaints about it on amazon (possibly why it has been taken down) but the pages are meant to be roughcut to look like old pages or parchment pages. I rather like the effect, it looks like an old spell book. The pages are also thinner which probably makes the book less weighty.

Anyway, on to the story. There are a few reasons why I read the whole series of Septimus Heap books, and none of them are that closely related to plot

– A friend gave me his copies of the first two books, so you know I may as well read them

– I have a thing about series (which I have spoken about before) and hate to leave them unfinished, unless it was a real struggle even to get through the first book.

– My boyfriend also wanted to finish the series, so we decided to take it in turns to buy each book (hence why he bought this one) with whomever pays for the book getting to read it first.

– I was interested enough in the storyline to want to know how it ends, but not enough to feel I had to know right now (as I was with Harry Potter)

If you have been reading the series as it comes out then I would recommend re-reading the series before you read Fyre, I didn’t and I think maybe my enjoyment suffered because of it. Fyre draws together lots of little storylines and characters from throughout the books. It’s one of the things I most like about the books because it is rather clever, but it does mean that if you have forgotten about a character or plot theme then you may find yourself a little lost in parts. Personally I think I forgot about 99% of the plot of Syren (although at the time of reviewing I did say that it didn’t seem to be a book which the series really needed).

Again I had that issue that for a long while everything was just being set up. Not much was really happening that engaged me, but by the end I wanted to stay up to finish reading. You can tell I wasn’t that interested from my status updates on goodreads, in the first 5 days I only read 57 pages- where it usually takes me a week to read a whole book.

The story generally though was a nice conclusion, and it did come together well. There was a bit of a message there too about self change and how circumstances can force people to be a certain way.

Oh yeah and one thing I didn’t like was Sage shoving in a blatant ‘read my other books’ message. The character seemed to be added just so she could say ‘look this character who has no real role and you’ve never heard of before, guess what? I wrote a series about her, you should read it’. Nothing would make me want to read that series less.

3/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£8.57)

Collector’s Edition- pre-order (£14.99)

Kindle (£6.69)

Paperback- pre-order (£6.63)

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi, YA

The Show- John A. Heldt


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

Review

Sorry if this review is a little all over the place, I’ve had a migraine this weekend and my head is still a little fuzzy.

The Show is the third book in the Northwest Passage series. It continues where the first book in the series, The Mine, left off. I have not read the second book in the series, The Journey, but it follows a different storyline so it isn’t needed (in fact I’m not really sure why Heldt put a random non-joining story in the middle). You could probably even read The Show as an independent story, but I would recommend reading The Mine first.

When I first got the e-mail about a sequel to The Mine I was interested to see what happened with Grace and Joel next, and to see how Grace settled into modern life. However when I read the synopsis I was a little less sure. It seemed that Heldt was trying, unnecessarily to stretch the sci-fi element by making Grace time travel again. In a sense this was true, and I think I would have preferred a book which showed how Grace got used to the new millennium. Having said that there was a certain element of this too the story, and once I got into the story after she had time travelled it didn’t really matter to me whether it was too much of a stretch or not.

When reading The Mine I had preferred Grace to Joel and it was nice to have a story which was more from her perspective. Also because I already knew Grace from reading The Mine I cared a bit more about her. Her emotions once she lost Joel again were quite well built, and I could imagine myself acting in a similar way, however I think she got over the loss and moved on a little too quickly. It was again a sense of Heldt pushing a story in a direction which didn’t seem quite natural. Whilst I did enjoy the plot in terms of a story in it’s own right, I didn’t really like it as it related to The Mine.

There was one this in particular that bugged me about this book. It was only a little moment, not even an important one, but it really bugged me. Especially as it’s partly billed as a historical novel. In the book two girls move from England to America. They talk about how happy they are to move to the US because it’s so much more liberated than England. As a Briton that grated at me, but I was ready to overlook it. But then they started talking about how women could vote here, but not in England. Which made me think, wait a sec…didn’t votes for women exist in the UK before the US? Which yes they did, in fact at the time that the book is based women couldn’t vote in most of America.

2.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.97)

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Historical, Sci-Fi

The Mine- John A. Heldt


Image from Amazon

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from Amazon)

In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

Review.

I must admit when I approached this book I was a little sceptical. I was interested in the history element, and I liked the idea of seeing history being lived through modern eyes. However I was a little worried about the sci-fi element. Sure it was needed for the story to really work, but I’m not really a reader of sci-fi (the closest I’ve got I think is The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and I was worried that there would be to much focus on the mine itself and not enough on the history.

Luckily I didn’t need to be worried. The sci-fi element was quite intriguing in its way, although I couldn’t wait for the ‘real’ story to start. Using Joel’s voice to tell the story was quite clever because it meant we could imagine how we might react in a similar situation (should one ever arise!). It worked well for the history element as well because it meant we could know what would happen through Joel reflecting on what he knew, but we could also see events unfolding.

I did end up liking Joel quite a lot. I think his experiences really changed him. At first he was rather cocky, and maybe a little selfish, but by the end he seemed much more thoughtful and empathic. I liked how he used his knowledge of the future without it having any giant impact on the past while still having an effect on those he met.

I was actually surprised about how emotional the book made me when certain events started to unfold.

There were a few things I disliked however. I found it took a little to long for the story to get going, and I didn’t really like the end (although to say why may be a little spoilerish). The cover isn’t great either, it gives a kind of boring representation of the book.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.92)

Other reviews:

Teena in Toronto

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical, Sci-Fi

Super Sad True Love Story- Gary Shteyngart


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from Amazon)

In a very near future a functionally illiterate America is about to collapse. But don’t tell that to poor Lenny Abramov, proud author of what may well be the world’s last diary. Despite his job at an outfit called ‘Post-Human Services’, which attempts to provide immortality for its super-rich clientele, death is clearly stalking this cholesterol-rich morsel of a man. And why shouldn’t it? Lenny’s from a different century. He TOTALLY loves books (or ‘printed, bound media artifacts’ as they’re now known), even though most of his peers find them smelly and annoying. But even more than books, Lenny loves Eunice Park, an impossibly cute and impossibly cruel 24-year-old Korean-American woman who just graduated from Elderbird College with a major in ‘Images’ and a minor in ‘Assertiveness’. When riots break out in New York’s Central Park, the city’s streets are lined with National Guard tanks, and patient Chinese creditors look ready to foreclose on the whole mess, Lenny vows to convince his fickle new love that in a time without standards or stability, there is still value in being a real human being.

Review

I bought this book as a kindle daily deal book. I probably wouldn’t have bought it if it was full price. I was interested enough in the future type idea to get it as an impulse buy, but if it had been full price that would probably have made me less interested- like I didn’t think it would be worth it. I think actually my reservations were correct.

Although I did find some of the ideas about the future interesting, such of the idea of paying for ‘life extension’ (i.e. nano-robots who ‘fix’ you from inside out and make you younger), and everybody’s use of an ‘apparat’ (which is a kind of combined smart phone, facebook, I.D. card type gadget, which knows, and shows others everything about you).  In some ways the future is realistic. The idea of sharing data about yourself isn’t new, neither is the idea of doing everything on your phone. You can find other people where you are on foursquare, facebook and some dating sites. Nano-robots exist and there is an industry made up with making one appear younger and more attractive. Having a credit card isn’t uncommon, and neither is living on credit. Certainly there are certain aspects that were interesting from that point.

The characters however I did not like. I thought Lenny was a bit of an idiot to be frank. He just followed everyone else. He thought he loved Eunice after one night. He kept thinking they were perfect even when they had arguments all the time. I found him rather self-obsessed. Even in terms of that ‘future’ he was a bit dim, he didn’t seem to understand modern language, or his apparat, or even his friends. In fact all that I can say I liked about him is that he actually read real books, in an age where books were seen as a bit disgusting!

Eunice if anything was more self-obsessed, but in her it was more forgivable as it seemed to be a product of her culture. If anything she was more naive than anything else. I can’t really say more than that without spoiling the book.

Certainly I wouldn’t call it a love story. Maybe sad if I imagine a world could be like this.

3/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£5.03)
Paperback (£5.79)

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Filed under Dystopian, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Dragon’s Pupils: The Sword Guest- Martin Chu Shui


Image from Goodreads

I was given a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The story centers on Liz, born of half Australian and of half Chinese descent. Growing up in Australia, she isn’t very interested in her father’s ancient Chinese stories. She is concerned with problems that are far more contemporary — such as environmental issues, and particularly her friend’s handsome brother who is an environmental activist. But her disinterest in Chinese culture changes when her two worlds collide, after a catastrophic accident sets thousands of ancient monsters loose near her home. Suddenly Liz must learn many new skills and call on all of her Chinese heritage if she is to prevent the monsters from destroying Earth. Helped by her twin brother and best friend, Liz sets out to discover why the monsters exist and how to stop them. When she is injured in a battle, she must travel to China to seek a cure that is spiritual as much as it is physical. But can she find the old man who can help her before the monsters catch her? How will she manage in a country that is so strange and yet so familiar? And can she learn enough about a world she has ignored to stop the monsters in time?

Review

I really respect the author of this self-published book, I think it must take a lot of courage to put yourself out there in the way he has by choosing to self publish. I really, really wanted to like this book because I am all for supporting new writers and self published writers.

When I first read the synopsis of this book I thought it sounded a little strange but it did sound unique and so many books are just same old, same old these days. I thought the plot did sound interesting if a little hard to pull off, and if it was done well it could make a fantastic book. I’ll give this to Chu Shui, the element of the book that I was most unsure about, that of the magic pen, was done pretty well. When it was first introduced I thought it could give lots of opportunity, even if it did remind me a bit of Penny Crayon! Unfortunately I don’t think the magic pen idea was utilized very well, in fact the initial idea of it was barely used, and I did think it could have been used to great effect and made a unique plotline. In some way it gave me the impression that the author didn’t really know what to do with the idea, or if he did that it wouldn’t make enough of a story so he decided not to make it a major plot point.

When it came down to it I felt that a lot of the time Chu Shui was trying to stretch the story to make it into a full book. The fight scenes became very repetitive which made them somewhat predictable. After a while I  became bored with what should have been the most exciting parts of the book and I began to get the impression that the battles were added because the author felt that the story was getting boring. If my impression is true it’s a real shame because I generally prefered the sections between the battles. I liked the way that Chu Shui used old chinese tales to link to how Liz and her friends should fight, I particularly liked Liz meeting the Grandfather and finding out about the history behind her methods. I know the whole book couldn’t be made of that, she needed to be able to apply what she had learnt, but I think sometimes it was cut down in favour of battle scenes.

I think this book could have been so much better. The premise was good but it felt like I was reading a first draft (and not an especially good one at that). With a bit more work and editing it could have been enjoyable, but I began to wish I had another book with me by the end.

But hey it didn’t bring out the feelings of hatred that I have for Twilight, so if you think it sounds good download it, it’s not expensive. Just don’t bother spending your money on the paperback.

2/5

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One of Our Thursdays is Missing- Jasper Fforde


1. Marts: Ny Thursday Next!

Image by emme-dk via Flickr

Synopsis (from Amazon)

It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?

All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.

The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.

Review

For the purposes of this review Thursday refers to the real life Thursday Next, Thursday refers to the written Thursday Next.

I found One of our Thursdays is Missing quite different from the other books in the Thursday Next series, not least because you could tell it was written Thursday who was speaking. Although the tone was similar the way in which Thursday approached things was markedly different to that of Thursday. Partly because of this I found the One of Our Thursdays is Missing was a little slow to start, however I did also find this about First Among Sequels so it may just be the pattern the series is taking, certainly in both there was more that needed to be explained,

Having said that having Thursday speaking made a big difference which somewhat slowed down the plot I did like the new Thursday. She was much more pondering and less action focussed than Thursday and it felt like she was discovering things along with the reader rather than leaving them puzzling. I suppose that could be a bad thing but at points she left little tantalising details which suggested that she knew more, I liked that because it made her seem more like a written person, like she was trying to make a narrative, and it kept me interested to find out what she knew.

There were a lot of things I did love about this book. I loved how where before there had been references to novels now there were references to writing, I especially liked when the characters got lost because of lack of references to who was speaking! I loved Thursday, she was like a softer version of Thursday and it was nice to have a little change, even if it meant the book was more pondering. I loved learning a bit more about the book world, about the politics, about how in joined up and how different areas interacted with each other, supported by the rather intriguing map at the beginning and the quotes from Bradshaw’s Guide to the Bookworld. There was less about the real world too, I always preferred the Bookworld side of the storyline so I liked that. Plus where the real world was included in the story I found it really interesting to see it from a fiction point of view.

Again the end seems to lead on to another Thursday Next novel which makes it seem more series like than it once was. In ways I don’t like that, it somehow makes Thursday Next seem more commercial, but I won’t complain about there being more to come!

As a side note the acknowledgements are well worth the read (I was on the bus when I finished, it’s not usually a section I read). There is a section about what happened while Fforde was writing One of Our Thursdays is Missing which is rather entertaining and makes me like him even more (and no, not just because he’s a fellow mac user!)

4.5/5

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First Among Sequels- Jasper Fforde


First Among Sequels

Image via Wikipedia

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thursday Next is back. And this time it’s personal . . .

Officially, Literary Detective Thursday Next is off the case. Once a key figure in the BookWorld police force, she is concentrating on her duties as a wife and mother. Or so her husband thinks . . .

Unofficially, Thursday is working as hard as ever – and in this world of dangerously short attention spans, there’s no rest for the literate.

Can Thursday stop Pride and Prejudice being turned into a vote-em-off reality book?

Who killed Sherlock Holmes?

And will Thursday get her teenage son out of bed in time for him to save the world?

Review

I must admit to start off with I wasn’t especially impressed with First Among Sequels when compared to other books in the Thursday Next series, it seemed pretty slow to get going and it felt like more of an artificial sequel than the others had. It felt a bit like it had been written for the sake of writing another rather than because the series lent itself to a further book after Something Rotten. Having said that we did know that books would be written about Thursday at the end of Something Rotten and the idea of a fictional Thursday is a little too intriguing to pass by. The different Thursdays were very well done too, it created so much comedy, especially when the two fictional Thursdays were so different from each other. There were some very clever parts of this book too I especially liked (highlight for spoiler)when I thought the ‘real’ Thursday had won only to find out that the voice we presumed to be Thursday was Thursday 1-4, but then actually found that Thursday had planned for that all along! In fact I really liked all the playing round with the different Thursday’s identities.

By the end it did actually feel more like a series book than the others, because it definitely lends itself to there being a further book. I now understand why Jasper Fforde said that One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the first sequel that is really a sequel, and I can’t wait to get started on it,

In retrospect First Among Sequels could actually be my favourite Thursday book.

4.5/5

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Something Rotten- Jasper Fforde


Something Rotten

Image via Wikipedia

Something Rotten is the fourth book in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thursday Next, Head of JurisFiction and ex-SpecOps agent, returns to her native Swindon accompanied by a child of two, a pair of dodos and Hamlet, who is on a fact-finding mission in the real world. Thursday has been despatched to capture escaped Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine but even so, now seems as good a time as any to retrieve her husband Landen from his state of eradication at the hands of the Chronoguard.

It’s not going to be easy. Thursday’s former colleagues at the department of Literary Detectives want her to investigate a spate of cloned Shakespeares, the Goliath Corporation are planning to switch to a new Faith based corporate management system and the Neanderthals feel she might be the Chosen One who will lead them to genetic self-determination.

With help from Hamlet, her uncle and time-travelling father, Thursday faces the toughest adventure of her career. Where is the missing President-for-life George Formby? Why is it imperative for the Swindon Mallets to win the World Croquet League final? And why is it so difficult to find reliable childcare?

Review

I seem to forget just how much I love Thursday Next between reading one book and the other, this one was no exception. Funny, exciting, and rather odd. I love Thursday and I liked the addition of some of the new characters. How you can get so much humour from a baby I don’t know but I loved Friday, and I really liked Alan too…although I did miss Pickick’s ‘tricks’ a bit. I loved all the fiction related references and jokes, as always. I don’t think there is really anything specific I want to say about this one. Or at least not that I could say without spoilers. I think it has been my favourite Thursday Next so far though, I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it.

4.5/5

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Shades of Grey- Jasper Fforde


Synopsis (from Amazon)

Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place. Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour.

Eddie Russett is an above average Red who dreams of moving up the ladder by marriage to Constance Oxblood. Until he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane – a lowly Grey with an uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed.

For Eddie, it’s love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey . . .

If George Orwell had tripped over a paint pot or Douglas Adams favoured colour swatches instead of towels . . . neither of them would have come up with anything as eccentrically brilliant as Shades of Grey.

Review

I will happily call myself a Jasper Fforde fan. I love the Thursday Next series and really like the nursery crimes series, when I heard Fforde had a new series coming out I was really excited but managed to hold myself off from actually buying it until it came out in paperback.I had heard that Shades of Grey was different from anything else by Jasper Fforde so was a little concerned that I might not like it. Initially I did find things a little confusing, probably because the world that Shades of Grey is set it is so similar but so different from our own, but after a while I began to understand a little more and as the story got going I began to get gripped by it, finding it difficult to put down.I would still say I prefer the Thursday Next novels because they’re a bit easier to get your head around but there are also things that I prefered about Shades of Grey. Overall I found the character’s more engaging. I especially liked Jane- she was so strong and didn’t care about what others thought of her so long as she was doing what she thought was right. I think she could quite easily be seen as a bit of a feminist icon. I liked Violet too because she was so beautifully horrible and manipulative, in some ways she was quite similar to Jane but she directed that energy in different ways. It was more serious than Thursday Next to in that it looked at issues we have in our world but from a different angle, I liked that because I like books that make you think, but it still had the familiar Jasper Fforde humour so wasn’t depressing,

I can’t wait for the next in the series.

5/5



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The Well of Lost Plots- Jasper Fforde


The Well of Lost Plots

Image via Wikipedia

This review was written 5/6/09

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Leaving Swindon behind her to hide out in the Well of Lost Plots (the place where all fiction is created), Thursday Next, Literary Detective and soon-to-be one parent family, ponders her next move from within an unpublished book of dubious merit entitled ‘Caversham Heights’. Landen, her husband, is still eradicated, Aornis Hades is meddling with Thursday’s memory, and Miss Havisham – when not sewing up plot-holes in ‘Mill on the Floss’ – is trying to break the land-speed record on the A409. But something is rotten in the state of Jurisfiction. Perkins is accidentally eaten by the minotaur, and Snell succumbs to the Mispeling Vyrus. As a shadow looms over popular fiction, Thursday must keep her wits about her and discover not only what is going on, but also who she can trust to tell about it …

With grammasites, holesmiths, trainee characters, pagerunners, baby dodos and an adopted home scheduled for demolition, ‘The Well of Lost Plots’ is at once an addictively exciting adventure and an insight into how books are made, who makes them – and why there is no singular for ‘scampi’.

Review

Again a book which fails to disappoint. Funny and exciting. I found this one a little slower to start than the previous two but once it got going the action was at least as good. As always some great funny bits, I particually liked the was was conversation, which was both humourous and a little confusing. I don’t think I really have anything to say much that I haven’t said before. I did find this book, sadder in a way (highlight for spoiler)because the loss was more psychological than in the past books, and for the reader it was hard to see Thursday forgetting about those she loved. I even almost cried when she forgot she as pregnant because that was her one remaining link to Landan and evidence that he had existed.

4/5

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Lost in a Good Book- Jasper Fforde


centre

Image via Wikipedia

This review was written 29/3/09

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of four weeks, actually drowned in an accident when he was two years old. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. The sinister Goliath Corporation wants its operative Jack Schitt out of the poem in which Thursday trapped him, and it will do almost anything to achieve this – but bribing the ChronoGuard? Is that possible?

Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday must battle corrupt politicians, try to save the world from extinction, and help the Neanderthals to species self-determination. Mastadon migrations, journeys into Just William, a chance meeting with the Flopsy Bunnies, and violent life-and-death struggles in the summer sales are all part of a greater plan.

But whose? and why?

Review

This book seemed much more like part of a series that The Eyre Affair did, partly because knowing what had happened in the previous book was fairly important (of course that couldn’ happen with The Eyre Affair because it was the first one!), and partly because at the end the story didn’t quite seem finished (highlight to view spoiler) while it was a conclusion in a sense and deffinately a good stopping point, the fact that Landon was still lost means that part of the plot was left incomplete, meaning you cannot get away with not reading the next book. I must admit this put me off the book a little as I felt I was (in a sense) being forced to read the next in the series, I would have read it anyway because I have enjoyed the series so far but I would have liked to feel I had some choice in it.

I found this story a little more confusing than the last too, with allthe jumping in times, between worlds and distortions in probability, but it was just as exciting. I also found that I understood less of the references to literature in this one- although I’m sure people who have read the books refered to would understand them, and well having read them would have added something to the plot it wasn’t necccersary. I do think because of this I prefered The Eyre Affair though, but not by a significant ammount. I want the next one now!

4/5

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