book reviews, spoiler free

The God Game

Book Review

50275977._SY475_The God Game by Danny Tobey

Rating: XXXX

Published January 9th 2019 by Gollancz

“So said God, or at least the first artifical intelligence bot claiming to inhabit the persona of God.”

You are invited!
COme inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smouldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

Towards the end of last year, the Stevie from Gollancz offered two ARCS out to people chosen at random and then each of those got to choose another person each to receive the same arc. I missed out on the first try but then the lovely Rebecca from ReviewsFeed chose me to receive a copy of The God Game with her! I finally managed to get around to reading it this month and I have been absolutely hooked the past few days. It sounded like it was a mix between Ready Player One and the more recently released Ctrl +S both of which I enjoyed immensely so I was fairly confident I would enjoy this and let me tell you if you enjoyed either of the books I’ve mentioned you will love this. I will say though that The God Game has a lot more sinister of a plotline than Ready Player One and there isn’t that 80’s nostalgia high to add to it (unless you count the War Games feel to parts of it) but it shines in its own completely different way and I’m so very here for it.

I’d also like to add there are definitely some content/trigger warnings some should be aware of, such as suicide and suicidal thoughts, bullying and minor drug use (I think I’ve covered them all but if I’ve missed any let me know and I’ll make sure to add them to my review.). 

To begin with, I sighed at the seemingly stereotypical set up in The God Game, the group of “nerdy” boys with the “token” girl that one of them is probably in love with and that stereotype is definitely here to a degree but in a way that is done really well. It’s not over the top or in your face and is barely mentioned but when it is it is done so to an organic way that’s hard to explain without spoilers so I won’t say any more but just wanted to give a heads up to those who might pick it up, read the first page or two and put it down because of that very overdone trope in these kind of books. This book is more than what it seems to begin with I promise. It’s fast-paced, well interconnected, full of tension and it keeps you guessing at every turn.

So we start with these stereotypical characters and over the course of the story we inevitably get to know them better, they each have hopes and dreams, even if some of their aspirations aren’t obvious even to them, o begin with. The character progression is interesting in this because we are naturally treated to more information about each of them as the story progresses and this is done very well, facts and histories are organically placed in the story and the progression to a degree is very much just seeing what was there in the first place but hidden, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not even known to the character. I found the whole process fascinating and the mortality and choices characters are faced with in this book feels very close to home in that they are easily decisions that feel visceral and real. The story itself is obviously interesting and I’ll get to that next but for me, it’s absolutely the characters, their choices and actions that make the God Game.

The plot for The God Game is not a new one but it is a good one. The idea of an A.I with a warped sense of perceived morality is something we’ve seen before in tv shows, films, books and video games and is an interesting concept because of the different takes on it and as with a fair amount of science fiction thrillers, the ease with which it can be imagined. It makes sense and true A.I’s feels like a step that the human race will eventually make or at least be able to and that brings so much more into the discussion although there’s not much of that in this book as our main characters are more worried about the consequences a bit closer to home than whether it should have been created or not although we get a little bit of background on “G.O.D” that is both interesting and vague enough to perhaps be a kind of urban myth itself. 

I could honestly go on about this book for ages, it was really thought-provoking in a lot of ways that I’m still thinking about almost a week after finishing it and that I think will stay with me for some time to come.

 

book reviews, Comics, Uncategorized

Journey to Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance

comicbookreview.png
45485630Journey to Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance 
by Ethan Sacks (writer), Luke Ross (artist)

Rating: XXX

Published November 19th by Marvel Comics

“I wasn’t going to allow my friends to suffer while I can do something about it either”

BEFORE THE EXCITING EVENTS OF STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER! Hounded by the FIRST ORDER across the galaxy, the RESISTANCE is in dire need of ships, weapons and recruits to make a final stand against KYLO REN’S forces. Desperation drives a delegation led by GENERAL LEIA ORGANA and REY to entreat the Rebel veteran’s one-time allies, THE MON CALAMARI, to join the fight – but decades after Imperial occupation enslaved their planet, there are those willing to stop at nothing to prevent another war from bloodying the waters of Mon Cala. A system away, POE DAMERON and FINN have their own mission: to hunt down a weapons cache on the remote moon of Avedot, unaware that they are being hunted by the most notorious criminal gang in the galaxy!

Rey-Star-Wars-Allegiance

So although the Journey to The Rise of Skywalker content is meant to be read before the film is released, I had only read Resistance Reborn before going into the cinema and instead found that I tried to read through some of the Journey content afterwards instead to fill the hole where the film novelisation should be. The Allegiance comics are one such distraction and I haven’t read a Star Wars comic in a good long while with the exception of the first Poe Dameron comic last year (or maybe even the year before…it’s been a while) so I wasn’t sure what to expect, not to mention obviously things will change with different writers and artists. This review covers issues one to four of the Allegiance comic series designed to link the events of The Last Jedi to The Rise of Skywalker.

At the start of the comic, we get one of the iconic Star Wars scrolls and honestly this was a brilliant start and feels better than the one we got at the beginning of TROS (The Rise of Skywalker). Not everyone reads every single bit of content or plays Fortnite (yes I’m still salty we got the emperors “returning speech” in a Fornite event okay…) so I was immediately pretty done with the TROS crawl but this one feels relevant and I feel actually does a good job, off to a very good start!

If you’ve read Resistance Reborn then this whole scenario probably sounds quite familiar, Leia appealing to others for aid, Finn and Poe off an a side quest for the rebellion somewhere and it’s very much the same here which has the unfortunate effect of making Allegiance seem like a heavily watered-down version of the novel with the novel having better emotional stakes and pay off. These comics were released first but I think in the timeline the novel comes first as it’s pretty much directly after the end of The Last Jedi but who knows, as it always is with Star Wars, the timeline is a little hazy.

On its own, however, Allegiance is not a bad read, there are no especially huge moments but I think they’ve done pretty well to get through two stories with some interesting character interactions and such within the space of four issues. Saying that, the story is relatively paper-thin but honestly a little fun and they really reminded me of the old weekly Star Wars comics  I used to read when I was a kid. The characters have missions to complete, they attempt to, trouble happens, they get out of trouble simple and easy, a bit like the equivalent of the “monster of the week” style you find with some TV shows and the first few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Honestly, it works though and it was only really on reflection for this review that I realised how little story there really was. It was by no means mind-blowing but it was enjoyable and as a result, I ended up ordering some more Star Wars comics and I do think I’m ready to see TROS again at some point in the future so I guess it did its job? Not to mention it explains a couple of things like the inclusion on the Mon Calamari forces in TROS and the presence of Admiral Ackbar’s son who has a few lines in the film.

With not a huge amount of story there were a few other things we managed to get out of the Allegiance comics, one of which was more Rose Tico and not only more Rose content in general but alongside Rey! She doesn’t play a massive part but is integral and has some brilliant characterisation that was sorely lacking in the film. Her personality really shines through and it seems like she and Rey have become good friends which was lovely and honestly, I’d read a whole comic about them two hanging out and going on missions etc.

tumblr_bf3a612d4c81e7f2df483764129a6dea_e68b0aed_500

Essentially being one of the main characters of the sequel franchise Rey obviously gets a lot of page space and we get to see her doing a little force training as well as a fair bit of fighting (again like the older comics, we get a large amount of action), during which we see her beginning to use the force a lot more which I enjoyed. One thing I really noticed about her character was just how angry she was which felt very at odds with how Rey is portrayed in the films, sure she gets angry but she spends so much of these comics making threats and barring her teeth in 80% of her scenes that just seemed a little out of character although it does harken back to a lot of Anakin’s reactions in Revenge of the Sith so maybe this was the idea? To spread a little seed of doubt as to Rey’s “place” in the force in addition to the “Dark Rey” we see in the trailer.

Rey was also one of the only characters I had any problems with art wise too as she just seems like someone decided to see how many action figure poses they could put her in instead of just standing normally like an actual person and not a power ranger (see above image).

rose-rey

I haven’t really mentioned the Finn, Poe and BB8 side of things for which I would be remiss but there’s unfortunately not a lot to say about it. It’s good, it’s fun and we are treated to the usual Finn and Poe b/romance banter but it does sadly feel largely unimportant and unneeded which is a shame as they’re really fun characters.

Overall this was an enjoyable read and it certainly scratched an itch but just wasn’t satisfying enough for me. Definitely not required reading for TROS in any capacity other than understanding the presence of the Mon Calamari.

 

book reviews, spoiler free

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review
42769202
Starsight 
by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 26th by Gollancz

“A hero does not choose her trials. She steps into the darkness, then she faces what comes next.”

All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to. 

I was lucky enough to have been picked to take part in the blog tour for the first book in this series, Skyward, last year (spoiler-free review here) and it was one of my favourite reads of the year and I’ve been dying to get back to see what Spensa and M-Bot have been up to now so I jumped at the chance last month to receive a copy from Gollancz in celebration of its release (thank you Stevie and co!)

This definitely took a very different turn from what I spent the whole year expecting and I’m so here for it, I enjoyed the first book but this absolutely ramped it up another notch. I immensely enjoyed the character progression from both Spensa and M-Bot that we get to see in this book. I love that Spensa who has always been hot-headed and relatively aggressive by some standards, in this book is forced to reign it in or be discovered/fail her mission so we really see another side to her where she tends to think things through a little more and although I think that it’s all part of what makes her personality she definitely improves from it as it opens more options to her and allows her to learn more and take more in. M-Bot is going through some self-discovery and although at first, I wish he had maybe featured more I think the way his story progresses actually works very well and is beneficial for both him and Spensa.

We get a lot of little reveals and information throughout this book, about the Krell and the society they come from in particular which was spun in a way I really enjoyed. It was nice to understand more about the other alien races and to see some of their unique perspectives as well as learning how humanity’s presence in the galaxy has affected them, for better for worse as well as discovering more about the history of humans themselves. There is a nice dose of political intrigue involved which I found added another interesting spin (see what I did there – I’m not sorry) to the whole story as well and I loved never really knowing what anyone’s true motives where. Starsight definitely evolved from the action/adventure story into something so much richer and more complex.

Starsight also features some important themes and messages throughout which I think are really valuable and also played important parts in the story simultaneously such as the idea of individuality, a collective society as well as prejudice and bias, messages that I think will always be relevant and we see Spensa (and others) realising that in order to really understand others it’s important to listen.

Although I do think I enjoyed Starsight more than Skyward I do find it very difficult to compare the two as they are, in my opinion, fairly different books and although I loved what Sanderson did with Skyward and the whole Flight school kind of thing (most people know I love the whole “boarding school” kind of setting) this is another level and featured even more of the things I love. Like the Kitsen. The Kitsen are amazing.

The ending was immense and I am in desperate need of book three already although I have a bad feeling that we might have to wait an extra year for the third book as Sanderson is releasing a large book from a different series next year but this is all speculation so we shall see. Fingers crossed it’s not too long of a wait! I hope you all have a happy new year and I’ll see you in 2020!

 

book reviews, Uncategorized

Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon

Book Review
44667139._SY475_Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon
by James Lovegrove

Rating: XXXXX

Published: October 22nd by Titan Books

“Father Christmas! Halt right there!” The words were delivered by Sherlock Holmes in the most stentorian and authoritative tone of voice.”

It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…

Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.

I’ve spent years being intrigued by Sherlock Holmes and his various tales although found myself to have not actually read very many (A study in Scarlett and The Hound of the Baskervilles being the only ones). I’ve enjoyed a few adaptations and films here and there but, as I think might have been the case for more than a few people I really became infatuated interested after watching the BBC’s modern take on Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Before the show, I had always thought Sherlock to be rather old and stuffy but the show definitely helped to breathe some new life into it and shortly after was when I decided to finally read some of the stories surrounding the famous sleuth. My attention waned after a time and I hadn’t gone back to any more Sherlock stories until the lovely Sarah from Titan books offered me a review copy of a new book by James Lovegrove called Sherlock & The Christmas Demon. My acceptance was three-fold here. First, the cover is absolutely stunning and I think it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I own that and my curiosity about a “new” Sherlock Holmes book pretty much already sold me but as soon as I recognised the authors name it became a definite yes from me after reading the Firefly story that James had also penned (Big Damn hero – My spoiler-free review can be found here and Q&A here) earlier in the year which I adored.

Set in late 1980, Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon this is still fairly early in the timeline of tales for Sherlock and Watson and although they have gained some notoriety with Watson having published two books they are still relatively unknown to some which added a nice dynamic in that I didn’t feel hugely behind or left out having not read a lot of other material and made it hit or miss if other characters had even heard of the pair. Although the story begins in London it takes Sherlock and Watson to a large foreboding castle turned family estate in York. The cold, uninviting castle surrounded by snow and ice is the perfect setting for the story of the Christmas Demon, known as the Black Thurrick. Despite being rather bare the castle really does seem to be a character in its own right and I’m considering putting the heating on in my flat just thinking about it. Brr. Castle Allethorpe, the lake beside it, the forest nearby, the town and tavern five miles away, it’s all described so well without being overlong or boring and in such a way that it’s exceedingly easy to conjure in the mind’s eye and adds to the atmosphere in a noticeable way.

The characters, much like their surroundings can vary from cold and unfriendly, to moderately warm and forthcoming and are equally as easy to imagine vividly, if not with a physical representation then certainly their personalities and traits which shine through and everyone just fits so well. Sherlock and Watson especially are what I would call picture perfect, they feel absolutely on point, their essence has been perfectly captured and you can tell James really loves them.

The story itself is elegant, a little spooky and so well put together from the prologue of sorts to the initial mystery, twists throughout and eventual reveal and deduction break down from Holmes, not to mention the ending on a whole was wonderful, perfectly festive and beautifully Holmes-esque. I like cliffhanger endings but there’s just something so wholesome about a well wrapped up tale. Everything fits together so well and it was a truly enjoyable read and one that means I will definitely be reading more of James’s Sherlock work!

book reviews, spoiler free

Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse

Book Review

45452530._SY475_Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rating: XXXX

Published November 27th 2019 by Century

“Not a lot with which to fight your enemy but more than they’d had yesterday. And so it would go. Every day more than yesterday until they had a fighting force. Or at least that was the idea. She tried not to think about the losses along the way.”

The heroes of the Resistance must fight back fro the edge of the oblivion in this pivotal prequel to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The Resistance is in ruins. In the wake of their harrowing escape from Crait, what was once an army has been reduced to a handful of wounded heroes. Finn, Poe, Rey, Rose, Chewbacca, Leia Organa — their names are famous among the oppressed worlds they fight to liberate. But names can only get you so far, and Leia’s last desperate call for aid has gone unanswered.

From jungles of Ryloth to the shipyards of Corellia, the shadow of the First Order looms large, and those with the bravery to face the darkness are scattered and isolated. If hope is to survive, the Resistance must journey throughout the galaxy, seeking out more leaders – including those who, in days gone by, helped a nascent rebellion tripple an empire. Battles will be fought, alliances will be forged, and the Resistance will be reborn.

After reading some of the previous “journey to” books for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I was suitably amped up and excited for this first book in the Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker! I’ve always been a big Star Wars fan, from watching the original trilogy at home on VHS with my parents, delighting in the shiny remastered video boxset my mum got me for Christmas one year and then seeing the prequel films coming out in the cinema, to going to the cinema on my own the day The Force Awakens came out because I had managed to find a baby sitter for a few hours and I was determined not to let the film get spoilt for me and going to see The Last Jedi countless times (my poor husband saw it with me first and got the brunt of all my confused emotions – Sorry Chris!). So suffice to say, I’m incredibly excited about the last film in this newest trilogy. I have begun my yearly hype fest of rewatching the other films (including Solo, at last, this year) and am LOVING watching The Mandolorian (Baby Yoda Show) each week which in turn meant that I ended up pouring a lot of that hype into my reading of Resistance Reborn which is by no means a bad book, it’s a great book but I don’t think it was physically capable of filling the void that can only be filled by the upcoming film itself.

This is very much a Poe Dameron book which the cover suggests judging by his face being the largest present and I’m glad for it. In the Force Awakens, Poe is cocky and charming, in The Last Jedi we see the more negative side of that confidence and in this book that helps to bridge the gap between TLJ and The Rise of Skywalker we really see how that confidence has been shaken to its very core and the emotional aftermath of the loss of a huge proportion of lives and ships from the already too small amount that the resistance had remaining after their forced speedy evacuation from their previous base of operations. We really get a good look inside Poe’s head and see how this has all affected him as well as the repercussions of his actions on those around him.

Although the story is intriguing and compelling for me the characters and their interactions really made this book for me. We get to see the resistance “family” rally together for the first time before they all jet off to where they have to be etc but it was nice for example seeing Poe and Rey interact as well as being introduced to new characters and some old faces!! I won’t give any spoilers away but if you’re a fan of the older films (and especially the X-Wing novels) you’ll be very pleased as well as one of my personal favourite appearances, a couple of characters that will mean a lot if you’ve played the single-player campaign in Battlefront 2 (if you haven’t, do this at your earliest convenience) as well as a surprise addition that made me actually gasp which will only make sense if you’ve read the particular book they’re previously mentioned in and was my favourite character inclusion. In addition to these characters, we get Finn, Rose and Rey too although I think one of my biggest gripes is that I would like to have seen more of both Rose and Rey.

One character I did find particularly interesting was a member of the First Order we get a point of view from. I loved the insight we got into members of the First Order and earlier on, Empire in some previous books but this really has a Catalyst feel to it which really helped as that’s one of my top three Star Wars books.

Story-wise we get a one of my favourite things, HEISTS. I won’t go into too much detail but the Resistance is trying to get back on its feet and is in desperate need of a few things if it is to continue to exist, let alone pose any kind of threat to the First Order. Thus the whole is split into different teams for different missions which from a written perspective are all woven together exceedingly well and kept everything interesting and linked together and remaining well-paced.

I definitely enjoyed this book but I think there was just something lacking to give it that extra push to a XXXXX rating for me. I would still definitely recommend reading it though if you’re a Star Wars fan especially and you’re running out of time to do so before The Rise of Skywalker comes out on December 19th so get to it!

 

book reviews, Uncategorized

Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Book Review

26032912._SY475_Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Rating: XXXX

Published November 19th by Hot Key Books

“You will be nothing. You are nothing…You come from nothing and it is to nothing you will return,” he whispers against my neck.

He will be the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

Queen of Nothing has been one of my most anticipated books to be released this year. I hadn’t been sure I enjoyed some aspects of The Cruel Prince but fell head over heels, irrevocably in love with The Wicked King and have been eager to get my hands on the conclusion to the trilogy since I read the last page of the second book. So much so in fact that I pre-ordered stupidly early and was lucky enough to receive my Waterstones edition (you get letters from Cardan to Jude included as an extra and if you ship those idiots then you will NOT want to miss out on this edition trust me) almost a week before the official release date but I had agreed to wait until my friend received hers to read it so I patiently waite (By patiently I mean that I got my taller than me, husband to hide my copy on top of the board games which are, in turn, on top of my bookshelves so I couldn’t reach it). When the time came to start it I may have then read it over the course of about two days. I know a lot of people have read it much quicker, some in one sitting but I had NaNoWriMo to contend with and a four-year-old who isn’t at school much so I’m pretty proud of what I did manage.

So now to discuss the book itself…I definitely enjoyed it, maybe on par with The Cruel Prince or a little lower. If I had to rank them in order I would say that Queen of Nothing was probably my least favourite but it was just in good, just in different ways. The Cruel Prince was, I think, the forming of Jude, in The Wicked King we see her coming into her own and then in Queen of Nothing she is out of her comfort zone and we see yet another side to Jude that is something between the two versions I think that we’ve seen so far. Jude has become one of my favourite fictional characters over the course of these books for many different reasons, I love that she’s smart but not to the point of absolute cockiness, she makes mistakes and she admits them, she’s conniving and she plays people and tricks them like the best (and worst) of the fey and I love that she just feels so unapologetic. “What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.” or in this book “I feel like a constellation of wounds, held together with string and stubbornness.” Jude is strong on so many different levels and I love her.

I loved seeing other sides to a lot of the other characters as well, especially a bit more of an insight into Maddoc and Tayrn and my boy Cardan really made me proud in this book too. A new character that was introduced quite early on in this book who had been mentioned at least in passing previously was a great addition too and one that became a firm favourite of mine too, particularly how she was brought into the story. A lot of the relationships, not just romantic ones got a lot of attention in this book as well which was a welcome addition and one much needed, I think, in a third book as we already know the characters fairly well but how they interact with each other and their reasons for doing so adds another needed level to them. I’m glad the members of the Court of Shadows their own part in the story too and no one was really forgotten, the good and the bad.

There wasn’t a whole lot of world-building in Queen of Nothing but as the third book in a trilogy set in the same places as the first two books it didn’t really need it, I particularly loved the fey presence in the human world and would honestly love a book or group of short stories around the folk there as I found the concept a really interesting one. Some of the insights we did get however was a little more information regarding the political side of the Fey Courts and some great new lore.

As for the plot and story itself, it was enjoyable but probably the least strong out of the three books. There are the odd few little twists and one that was a little shocking but I don’t think it really had the effect on me that it was meant to for some reason or another, whether that’s because I had come to expect big twisty moments from these books and over-hyped it for myself or because it seemed like something I expected or at the very least expected to be solved I’m not sure. I liked that it wasn’t completely out of left field though and made a lot of sense. The story is well-paced for the most part although I did find the last third felt a bit off balance especially the part that I imagine would be the last climax of the story. Again, it wasn’t bad and it could genuinely be my expectations and the final book curse, I often don’t really like final books and have found very few that fully meet my expectations or hopes and feel flat. Queen of Nothing isn’t the worst final book I’ve read but doesn’t quite make it into some of the best, this is all personal opinion though and I know a lot of people really did enjoy the ending. I enjoyed the ending but just felt that bit before needed some more whammy to it.

Overall the book really is a great read that I enjoyed reading I just wish it wasn’t the end although I don’t think there’s really much else to do with the story now in a vein that I would enjoy or perhaps do it justice. Either way, this is a series I’ve loved and I think will stick with me for a good long while, especially some of the beautiful quotes Holly has given us throughout the three books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

CTRL+S by Andy Briggs

Book Review

45437425CTRL+S by Andy Briggs

Rating: XXXX

Publishes November 28th by Orion Books.

“Escape is easy. Staying Free – That’s harder.”

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . . .

When I received an email asking if I would like to receive a copy of this book I took one look at the synopsis and practically made grabby hands. I’ve been working on a piece of writing for about three years now which share some similarities and I decided that this book would be the perfect read for during NaNoWriMo as I often find it hard to read books of a different genre to what I’m writing or it has a habit of taking me too far out of the story and I have to ease back in every time. A huge thank you to Orion for an advanced finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

I will admit that to start with I wasn’t sure about this book. We had the hard done by main character who was a bit of a dick, the angry, only female friend the main character has a crush on with the high up and/or well respected dad who just wants her freedom, the confident guy friend who may or may have had a thing with said only girl and the shy guy who doesn’t want to take risks but ends up doing so anyway. Sounds familiar right? We even get the crappy relationship between the main character and his struggling single-parent mother who he tends to refer to just as ‘Ella’ instead of Mum. It’s not that it was a bad start, it just felt very predictable. Flash forward to me a few days later frantically reading as I walk the three minutes to my son’s school because I just could not put it down. 

The characters are definitely their stereotypes but it was easy to forget at times as we did get further insight into them, the main character especially and although I still don’t particularly ‘like’ any of them but they’re still interesting characters who DO develop throughout the story which only spans less than a week anyway so I wasn’t expecting any huge and major changes, I don’t feel like they’re meant to be idea ‘loveable’ characters and I kind of like that about them because it’s very easy to see our own flaws in them and it gives them a whole other level.

The plot itself is the real MVP here, again there are moments that seem predictable but to honest having read a fair amount of sci-fi and seen a hell of a lot of sci-fi films and TV shows that is absolutely bound to happen, almost every story has been told before but this if the first time it’s been told by Andy and I really loved the twists and turns we got along the way and how each clue had to be found and then unravelled. As well as the plot, the writing is at times incredibly fast-paced and has you right at the edge of your seat which is probably my favourite thing about this book, I’m shocked I don’t have any ripped pages and apparently I was impossible to talk to while reading because I was just SO engrossed with the events. We have some downtime, obviously but it fits well with the pacing and isn’t too slow as we get information in that downtime, as well as some character development and some new (awesome) allies.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the world-building, it’s a not too distant future and incredibly believable in pretty much all aspects for me, the good and the bad. Not only do we get to see the good things that have changed like the way we as a human race impact and care for our planet and it’s animals, finally accepting how important the earth and it’s ecosystems are but we also see how such technological advances could develop going forward and how, like everything that exists it has the potential to do great good but also evil too. There is a fair bit of ‘technobabble’ but most of it seemed easy enough to understand and where needed we get extra information anyway so if you’re used to reading sci-fi this shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad I gave it the chance it deserved. It was addictive and possibly one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in a while. I highly recommend it, especially if the synopsis catches your attention.

CTRL+S releases in just two days time on Thursday, November 28th. Make sure you check out the other wonderful book bloggers also taking part in the blog tour over the next week!

EJ_Pe_0WoAEs-eW.jpeg

 

 

 

book reviews

Chasing the Shadow by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review
48345515Chasing the Shadows 
by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 18th 2019 by Maria V. Snyder

QUOTE

SPOILER ALERT: Although this review will be spoiler-free for this book, this review and even the following synopsis are full of HUGE spoilers for the first book so if you’ve yet to read the first book and intend to do so without being spoiled for big plot points turn back here, I’ll see you back here when you’re ready to start the second. 

Year 2522. Lyra Daniels is dead.

Okay, so I only died for sixty-six seconds. But when I came back to life, I got a brand new name and a snazzy new uniform. Go me! Seriously, though, it’s very important that Lyra Daniels stays dead, at least as far as the murdering looters, know.

While dying is the scariest thing that’s happened to me, it morphed my worming skills. I can manipulate the Q-net like never before. But the looters have blocked us from communicating with the rest of the galaxy and now they believe we’ve gone silent, like Planet Xinji (where silent really means dead).

A Protector Class spaceship is coming to our rescue, but we still have to survive almost two years until they arrive – if they arrive at all. Until then, we have to figure out how to stop an unstoppable alien threat. And it’s only a matter of time before the looters learn I’m not dead and returns to finish what they started.

There’s no way I’m going to let the looters win. Instead, I’ll do whatever it takes to save the people I love. But even I’m running out of ideas…

After rereading/listening to the first book of the Sentinels of the Galaxy books by Maria V. Snyder in preparation for the release of its sequel, Chasing the Shadows Maria reached out to some bloggers to receive early copies of said sequel in exchange for an honest review in the two weeks surrounding its release. Not only was I lucky enough to receive an ecopy early but my paperback copy arrived early too and I absolutely devoured the whole thing in about a week which is a quick read for me nowadays.

I enjoyed Navigating the Stars (you can check out my spoiler-free review here) but Chasing the Shadows is a whole other ball game, I adored this book. It took all the best parts of the first and just improved on them and gave us more. I think a mix of Lyra having to mature after the events of the last book and perhaps getting used to her inner voice meant that the side of her that could be a little annoying at times was much less present this time around. She made a lot of rash choices don’t get me wrong but I could always see where she was coming from and why she made those decisions. I actually found I was really proud of her in this book, she’s come a long way and she’s learned so much physically and emotionally. Watching her actively take other peoples advice and at least consider her own safety at the behest of those who care for her was really refreshing and a great way of showing how much she’s grown.

book reviews, Older books, spoiler free

Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review

42756706._SY475_Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Audiobook narrated by Gabra Zackman

Rating: XXXX

Published December 1st 2018 by Maria V. Snyder

“There’s this girl, she’s like a comet – makes the rest of the galaxy seem dull in comparison.”

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who. 

I first read the first book in Maria’s new Sentinels of the Galaxy series, Navigating the Stars last year. Maria has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time and this month, to celebrate the release of of the second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy, Chasing the Shadows coming out in under two weeks I decided I would reread the first book, Navigating the Stars via audiobook.

Maria has written in this particular genre before but this time feels very different, we get a lot more tech, world-building and space travel in Navigating the Stars then we did with the Outside/Inside series, I believe Lyra is a little older than Trella and their priorities and dynamics are very different. The blending of futuristic technology on faraway planets with archaeology feels right and I could honestly have read even more about the whole process and I couldn’t get enough of the mystery and wonder surrounding these Terra Cotta Warriors and their unexplained presence throughout the galaxy.

I liked most of the characters but didn’t feel a huge attachment to loads of them. Lyra is seventeen but sometimes feels a little younger but I understand that because although I’m thirty honestly I sound a bit like Lyra at times. She’s a bit snarky, very sarcastic and has a knack for getting into trouble, there are a few moments where she effectively breaks the fourth wall and sort of addresses the reader which it took a little while to get used to but honestly I kind of liked it after a while and made it feel like me and Lyra were friends. She certainly made some questionable choices but they always make sense for her character. Gabra Zackman was a perfect choice for the audiobook narration, she really captures Lyra’s snark and in my reread thanks to her I ended up spitting half of a glass of orange juice across my lounge.

I love the world-building for this book, the idea of effectively crinkling space to travel across large distances was explained really well with two different ways of measuring someone’s age as a result which was an interesting concept. I love the Q-net and the way users, especially wormers (like hackers) are able to navigate it, one of my favourite parts being the star roads within the Q-net. Then we get a whole other set of lore surrounding the warrior pits themselves and the things that lurk within but I won’t give anything away!

Navigating the Stars is already out now and it’s sequel Chasing the Shadows officially launches November 18th (my review is coming next Tuesday on the 19th!). You can pre-order the Kindle edition on Amazon now buuuuuut if you want the paperback Maria sneakily made them available to order RIGHT NOW!

 

book reviews

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

Book Review

31076583._SY475_.jpgA Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

Rating: XXXXX

Published May 1st 2018

“And in the end though, we’d saved each other. All of us had.”

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

So I put off reading this for a long time. I preordered this and got it on release but after A Court of Wings and Ruin, I wasn’t really feeling the ACOTAR series very much. I’m not sure if I was burnt out from all the hype or if it just wasn’t a great book but the third book just felt so lacking for me in places (don’t get me wrong, some bits were great, I cried. Multiple times). Anyway, it meant that when this came out I wasn’t really in the mood to read it and it just got left at the bottom of my TBR pile. But then the Starfall Court cosplay group happened.

The Starfall Court is a group of cosplayers from around Europe who cosplay as characters from the ACOTAR books, I stumbled across them when checking out Woodsmoke and Words on Instagram after seeing them cosplaying Molly (from Critical Role) and fell in love with their rendition of Lucien Vanserra. Most of you probably already know that Lucien is my favourite ACOTAR character and that my D&D character is kind of my own AU version of him and honestly folks, Tilda’s Lucien is amazing. I then went on to find out that they were a part of a group called The Starfall Court and that they were filming a fan trailer for ACOTAR and ACOMAF. Those two books really brought me back into reading a few years back so I checked out the group and the teasers for the trailers etc and OHMYGOSH. I was transported back to reading those first two books and reminded about all the stuff that I did love about them. I’ve watched it a good few times since and thanks to those lovely folks I finally felt ready to read this novella so I wanted to give them a little shout out and show you what they’ve been up to so far.

Now on with the review, I promise! Just as warning though although there won’t be any big spoilers for this particular book in this review I don’t reccomend reading this if you haven’t read the first two books and intend to.

I’m so glad I finally picked up this book although I now want to reread the whole damn trilogy (well, the first two at least) damnit. It’s definitely a big nostalgia hit for someone who has been away from the series for a while like myself and I think that might have attributed to my enjoyment of it but I think that’s maybe the point? It takes the fun parts of the trilogy and really amplifies them but not to the point that it’s just fan service for the sake of it. It’s set during the solstice festival so the slight silly-ness I feel is warranted but it also focuses on the scars those of the night court and some beyond, are now trying to come to terms with (in most cases) and it the balance just feels right.

The novella feels shorter than it looks but I think this is mainly because although the plot does move at a good pace this novella is heavily character-focused. I was initially sad that we didn’t get more Lucien but I think the amount he was involved made sense to the story and honestly how he’s feeling at the moment. There are some really lovely scenes and I forgot how much I actually do really love the relationship between Rhysand and Feyre, there are so many beautiful moments where things that may seem little actually feel kind of big emotionally. They really respect and understand each other and it was nice to get a glimpse into the “happily ever after” side of things. Especially because as one story is ending more is beginning and we get seeds of that spread throughout this book which have made me really excited for the next book in the series which, judging from the sneak peek at the end of this, seem to be centred around Nesta who I’m morbidly curious about.

Overall I really really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. There was the usual ‘universe-shattering’ sex scene but thankfully only the one, which honestly it wouldn’t have felt right without and it was mostly bearable. I did enjoy the mention of Fae ‘cycles’ which made me laugh a little but I appreciated the lack of tiptoeing around. A Court of Frost and Starlight, for its small faults really dragged me in and was enjoyable to read, it definitely felt like a good example of how well Sarah J Maas can write and is a nice place to end the first trilogy instead of the hot mess I felt that A Court of Wings and Ruin was. If you’ve read the rest of the series, even if you felt disappointed with the last book I would still recommend giving this a go. If anything it’s interesting seeing things from the point of view of other members of the Night Court too.

Have you read the A Court of Thorns and Roses books? If so what did you think of them? I know its a bit of a marmite series for some with people often either loving or hating it. If you’ve read the Throne of Glass books too did you enjoy ACOTAR more or perhaps you haven’t got around to the series yet?