Review: Morning Star

February 22, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fiction, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Morning StarMorning Star by Pierce Brown
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 11th February 2016
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society's mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied - and too glorious to surrender.

I can’t quite believe this series is over. That said, what a stunning conclusion to the trilogy! Also, I just read the other day that Pierce Brown will be writing a new series set in the same ‘world’ so that’s hugely exciting.

As always, as this is the final book in the series I want to try and avoid spoilers. If you want actual plot details then this isn’t the post for you, but there are plenty of other plot-related reviews out there.

Maraia and I were talking about the ups and downs in Brown’s work the other day. Throughout Red Rising and Golden Son, Brown took us on an emotional rollercoaster. Morning Star is no different. You put your heart in Brown’s hands from the moment you open this book, and he squashes, squeezes and razors it!

It’s just as full of action, strategy, war and blood as you would expect. Combine that with the fact that you know this series must end within the pages of this book and it makes for a tense, nerve-wracking read.

In all honesty, I took my time reading this. I truly didn’t want it to end. I savored Brown’s carefully crafted writing, I just love the way he tells a story. His characters in this book are as incredible as ever, with new characters becoming just as ‘real’ as old. There’s also that humour he sprinkles throughout his character interactions that I really like.

I can find no fault with this book, other than the fact it had to end.

If you haven’t started the series but ‘sci-fi’ isn’t normally your thing I say just take the plunge. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be my thing when I picked up Red Rising (see my review of it here) but I wanted to see what the fuss was about. As you can tell I ended up loving it. It’s absolutely, completely worth the read, even if my wee heart has been left feeling rather battered and bruised.

It’s quite simply bloodydamn brilliant!

 

five-stars

Review: All The Birds In The Sky

January 25, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All The Birds In The SkyAll The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Published by Titan on 26th January 2016
Genres: Sci-Fi
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

As they each take sides in a cataclysmic war between science and magic, Laurence and Patricia find themselves trying to make sense of life, sex and adulthood on the brink of the apocalypse.

I genuinely have no idea how to summarise what I’ve read in this book. A sci-fi, coming-of-age, magical realism, apocalyptic mash up perhaps? Honestly, no idea! What’s important though is that I express how much I enjoyed it. It’s quite unlike most novels I’ve read but that just makes me love it all the more.

By the end of this book I couldn’t believe it was the same book I started reading. Which I guess explains why it’s split into four ‘books’, but it also is a huge credit to the author – I’ll try to explain why a bit later.

Our central characters, Patricia and Laurence, are social outcasts. They are both kids at high school with no friends to speak of, and both have difficult lives.

Patricia’s parents are high flyers with no time for her or her oddities. Her elder sister torments both her and the living things around her. When Patricia discovers one day that she can talk to birds, her weirdness begins to soar to new levels.

Laurence is a science geek. He’s built his own portable two second time machine, works on building his own computer and wants nothing more than to see a rocket launch, and to achieve something with his life – unlike his parents. His Mum and Dad are worried that he spends too much time indoors alone, so they force him to do outdoor activities.

When Patricia and Laurence’s paths cross, Patricia is enlisted to convince Laurence’s family that he’s spending time with her outdoors. A friendship sprouts from this arrangement and soon they are sharing their darkest secrets.

I enjoyed this part of the book, the story of two teenagers trying to find their places in the world and laying the foundations of friendship. I also enjoyed watching these two characters form, influenced by the cliques and bullies that surrounded them in school. But their secrets take a toll on their friendship and soon they lose touch with one another.

That is until years later when Laurence is an engineering genius and Patricia now a fully-fledged witch. It seems that both the magical community and the science community have their own plans for saving the world from its impending doom, and the reformed friendship could be tested once more.

There’s so much to this book, it’s incredible. Central to the story though are Patricia and Laurence and the relationship between them.

It’s not often that I’ve read a book about characters in childhood and followed them through into adulthood. It’s interesting to see where the characters come from. I think it definitely gave me a stronger connection with them. This is what I mean about feeling like I was reading a different book by the end of the novel. Charlie Jane Anders absolutely captures the voice of the two as kids, their struggles, their issues and their dreams. I became so invested in their childhood characters. Yet by the end of the book we are following them as adults, with the responsibilities, emotions and stress that an upcoming apocalypse brings. For me, that is an incredible achievement, particularly in just over 400 pages.

As I said, I just can’t explain this book or even attempt to do justice to it. It’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel, both in terms of the incredible content and the writing style.

My only complaint was that I felt the ending somewhat rushed. I would have liked more…but maybe that was just because I didn’t want Patricia and Laurence to leave my life?

If you’re looking for something a bit different, a story that will keep you hooked from the outset, then look no further. It’s well worth the read.

four-stars

Review: Illuminae

September 5, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fiction, Sci-Fi, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: IlluminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Rock The Boat on 1st October 2015
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

From Goodreads

This novel, the first in a trilogy, is something a bit different, a bit quirky and more than a bit brilliant.

We open to find a covering letter accompanying a dossier of hacked and acquired files. It’s through these documents – emails, instant messages, military files, schematics – that we uncover the story of what truly happened in an interstellar war that claimed the lives of thousands.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d ever have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

After breaking up, teenagers Kady and Ezra find themselves separated in the aftermath of the invasion of their home planet.

They eventually locate each other using onboard communications between the three ships that contain the planet’s refugees. Through hacked emails and instant messages we see them repair their friendship, and with their associates, they set about finding the truth of what’s really going on on board the ships.

I’ll admit, at first I had no clue what was going on, but just go with it, embrace it and all will slowly be revealed.

As much as I want to gush about this novel, I absolutely do not want to spoil it for you. I went into this book pretty blind and LOVED it, so I want you all to get the same experience.

What I will say is that this is a tense, thrilling and, at times, terrifying read. The slow revelation of the story through the dossier of documents is brilliant. Such a unique and fascinating way of storytelling and one that I absolutely loved.

Admittedly, there was some cheesiness in the form of messages between some of the characters, but with teenagers in love that’s kind of to be expected. That was the only thing I wasn’t so keen on in this novel though.

This is a book that I couldn’t put down. Upon closing the back cover I handed it straight to my husband and said “you have to read this”, so that should give you some idea of how much I enjoyed it.

In short… read it, it’s brilliant!

five-stars

Review: Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane – Mark of the Black Arrow

August 20, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fiction

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane – Mark of the Black ArrowMark of the Black Arrow by Debbie Viguie, James Tuck
Series: Robin Hood: Demon's Bane #1
Published by Titan Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

A vast darkness is spreading. If left unchecked, it will engulf the world, and so Richard the Lionheart must depart England on a holy mission. In his absence, the safety of the realm is entrusted to his brother, Prince John.

When the king departs, black sorcery begins to grip the land, threatening noble and peasant alike. Horrific creatures stalk the forests, yet the violence they commit pales when compared to the atrocities of men. A handful of rebels fight back, but are doomed to fail unless they can find a hero to lead them.

 

First things first, prior to reading this book my knowledge of Robin Hood was purely from films and tv programs (anyone else remember Maid Marion & Her Merry Men from CBBC? I loved that show!). So while I know the general story of Robin Hood, it’s more than likely that my knowledge is heavily skewed by Hollywood!

I know there are a few Robin Hood ‘retellings’ about – Scarlet is one I’m particularly keen to read sometime soon – but this has been my first venture into Sherwood Forest.

Following the death of her parents, Maid Marion has been brought up by her uncle, King Richard. She’s a valued member of the court and often taken into her uncle’s confidence. However, evil is threatening the church abroad and King Richard leaves England on a crusade to tackle the threat, in his place leaving his brother, Prince John who had formerly been exiled to Ireland.

This much, at least, I knew.

The twist comes when Prince John enlists the help of a seemingly non-human Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff uses dark magic and shadowy creatures to break the common people and aid John in usurping King Richard.

While Prince John’s tyranny starts with raising taxes, it’s not long until he and the Sheriff unleash disease upon the common folk, resulting in death and despair.

This is where our heroes come in – Robin Hood, Maid Marion, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck… they all band together to try and protect the people in King Richard’s absence. When it becomes apparent that they are fighting evil, dark magic they realise they might just have to do things a bit differently.

Honestly, I struggled with the start of this book. I think it was the scene setting, getting introduced to characters etc. While it was probably perfectly well done I was just waiting for the action to start. I felt it dragged a bit and consequently it took me longer than I’d have liked to “get into” the story.

That said, once things got going I really enjoyed this read. It does very much read like the first book in a series, which is obviously what it is. It feels like it’s setting everything up, slowly building the story. By the end of the book though I was absorbed, enjoying it and wanting to get on to the next one… unfortunately there’s a year to wait for that though.

One thing I particularly liked about this book was the way that legend and folklore were intertwined in the story. My heart skipped a beat when I saw Gaelic being used in the book (more than once) and reference being made to folklore I grew up with. I genuinely really enjoyed this aspect of the book, it felt thorough and well researched, yet natural to the storyline.

All in all, once I got into this, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the twists on the Robin Hood stories that I’d been familiar with. Honestly though, I think the next two books are going to be where all the action is and I’m definitely looking forward to reading them!

Robin Hood

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of this book, there is currently a Goodreads giveaway running. I believe it’s open to the US, CA and GB and ends next week. You can enter here.

four-stars

Review: Hover

August 13, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fiction, Thriller

Review: HoverHover by Anne A. Wilson
Genres: thriller
Source: Competition Prize, Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Helicopter pilot Lt. Sara Denning joins a Navy battle group with little fanfare - and that’s just the way she likes it. Sara’s philosophy is simple - blend in, be competent, and, above all, never do anything to stand out as a woman in a man’s world.

Somewhere along the way, Sara lost herself - her feminine, easygoing soul is now buried under so many defensive layers, she can’t reach it anymore.

When she meets strong, self-assured Lt. Eric Marxen, her defenses start to falter. Eric coordinates flight operations for a Navy SEAL team that requests Sara more than any other pilot. This blatant show of favouritism causes conflict with her colleagues; Sara's sexist boss seems intent on making her life miserable, and her roommate and best friend - the only other woman on the ship - is avoiding her. It doesn’t help that Sara's interactions with Eric leave her reeling.

The endgame of the SEALs' mission is so secret, even Sara doesn’t know the reason behind her mandated participation. When Sara’s life is on the line, can she find her true self again and follow the orders of her heart before it is too late?

 

Many of you will know that I have a degree in engineering. I worked as an engineer prior to becoming ill, and I used to do a bit of motorsport too. I love to read stories of women breaking the boundaries in a generally male dominated working environment. So when I won a copy of Hover I couldn’t wait to read it.

The author, Anne A. Wilson, is a member of the tenth class of graduating women from the United States Naval Academy and she served nine years active duty as a Navy helicopter pilot! That in itself was enough for me to want to read this book! However, the blurb (see above) also sounded fantastic.

Hover is the story of Sara, a Navy helicopter pilot. A woman who excels at her job, but keeps a low profile. She and her best friend Em are the only two women on their naval ship. They are also pilots in the same team, so when Sara starts getting more flight hours than Em things become a little strained between them. Em points out that Sara has lost herself, lost her femininity. She’s more concerned with blending in, that she’s forgotten what it is to be a woman.

I found this book fascinating. Aside from the story, which itself was gripping, I learned SO much! Not only about being a female pilot in the Navy, but also about being a pilot and about the Navy itself.

As for the actual story, I couldn’t stop reading. Sara is selected as pilot for training missions with the SEALs. Only she has no idea why, or what is going on. Furthermore, the guy running the missions is Eric, a man she’s recently met and can’t quite get out of her mind.

Naturally, the other pilots are jealous of Sara’s time in the pilot seat. Her boss is particularly unhappy to be told to let Sara take the controls. However, there is a good reason for these requests – she’s an excellent pilot. When the mission is no longer just a training mission, Sara must demonstrate her abilities, as well as face her greatest fears.

Admittedly when I saw the whole romance with Eric creep up I wasn’t sure. However, I ended up really enjoying this aspect of the book. It was done really well and added an extra element of emotion to the novel.

There were many things in the novel that opened my eyes, made me think or consider issues I’d never have thought of. For example, upon being stuck on another ship in the fleet, Sara is the only woman. She has to take an officer’s room, have a guard posted outside the communal shower and generally draw attention to herself in ways that she is thoroughly uncomfortable with.

All in all I loved this book. It was a thrilling, fascinating read. Sara’s a strong, inspiring protagonist and I really hope that we’ll see her on other missions sometime soon… I want more Sara in my life!

 

five-stars