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.

 

tbr thursday

January 2020 TBR

tbr Thursday

So here we are, day two of a new year and my first TBR post of 2020. Things got hectic towards the end of the year and I wish I hadn’t been so ill so I could have done a proper post about my year in reading but alas I’m still only just getting over whatever horrible flu bug afflicted me so it was not meant to be! I will say though that I completed my 2019 reading challenge of 60 books with only about ten minutes to spare after frantically reading some trade paperbacks (comics) during New Years Eve. Those 60 books are the equivalent of 17,757 pages according to Goodreads, with the shortest book being Dewdrop by Katie O’Neil at 40 pages (due out later this year) and the longest being Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare at 902 pages (it felt so much longer!)

Now before I get on with my TBR for this month I wanted to cover a few changes to my blog this year! Instead of taking part in WWW Wednesday every fortnight I’m instead going to do a monthly Wrap Up Wednesday post instead, I’m hoping this will be less repetitive and will include films and things etc as well as books with any luck. Another monthly feature (yet to be named, not sure how angry Disney would be about me using Force Fridays) will be adjacent to my reading of at least ONE Star Wars book a month this year and discussing that (the lovely El/Ink and Plasma from El’s Reviews is joining me so make sure you check out her awesome blog too!). I’ll be retiring the weekly Must be Monday posts for the foreseeable future too as I’m trying something different with my writing this year and time writing that post is time I could be spent working on my writing. There may be some other changes along the way, I’m toying with the idea of a monthly comics feature and something video game-related too, maybe even something to do with Dungeons and Dragons related, who knows? What would you like to see?

ANYWAY, without any further ado, I present my first planned TBR of the year!

The God Game by Danny Tobey
This is my current read, I’m only a short way through it after spending most of yesterday rearranging my bookshelves (and I’m still not done!) but I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far. The God Game is about a strange video game called The G.O.D Game, made by Underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious A.I that believes they are GOD. A group of teenagers begin playing the game and when they complete tasks they are rewarded with things from expensive tech, revenge and cash but things turn sinister when they start to receive threatening messages and the tasks they must complete become cruel and carry heavy punishments. I’ve enjoyed Ready Player One and more recently, CTRL S and I feel this might be a heavier darker version of these two books combined and I’m very excited for it! The God Game is coming very soon (January 9th, I believe) so you still have time to preorder if this sounds like your kind of book!

The Stars we Steal by Alexa Donne
“Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?”

Described by Alexa herself as a kind of Jane Austen meets the bachelor (just in space) as the book is very much a retelling of Austen’s last completed novel Persuasion I found myself utterly intrigued! I think I realised last year that I love Sci-Fi but I think I like books that can also be classed as Space Operas just as much if not more than generic Sci-Fi which I think is why I read a lot of YA Sci-Fi as they fit into that category more often. Here’s to hoping I enjoy this new release! Due out February 4th!

Star Wars Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
“An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future.”

I’ve had my eye on this book for a good while now and I’m glad to have finally got my hands on it. I rewatched a lot of Star Wars last month and fell head over heels back in love with Obi-Wan Kenobi (I was OBSESSED when I was younger) and so this month a large chunk of the Star Wars content I’m intending to consume is set around the time of the prequel trilogy including my comic read for this month and if I get time, season two of The Clone Wars TV show. So it stands to reason that this would be my Star Wars book for this month!

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
So like everyone I was swept up in the Witcher craze last month and honestly, I’m okay with that. I loved the show (one more episode left to go!) I brought the games years ago but never got around to playing them and I had one of the standalone books that I also never got around to so hoping I can ride the hype and enjoyment from the show into the books and possibly the games with any luck. I decided to start with The Last Wish (dubbed as The Witcher 0.5) instead of The Sword of Destiny as apparently it’s a book of short stories and I have really been enjoying those a lot lately.

Star Wars Age of the Republic: Heroes by Jody Houser and Cory Smith
As mentioned before I’m revisiting the prequels this month. This is a bind-up of comics focusing on short stories primarily about Anakin, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Padme that I’m intrigued to read and will go well alongside my novel choice this month and honestly although the prequel films were a bit of a hot mess (that CGI *shudders*) I really liked these characters and can’t wait to learn a bit more about them.

I worry that this might be a little over-ambitious (as usual) this month but only time will tell I guess! I’m hoping to get caught up with blogging and blog hopping over the next month or so and not ending up frantically writing blog posts the day they’re due to go live (I am doing this right now, oops).

Happy New Year to you all! Let me know what you’re planning to read this month!

book reviews, spoiler free

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review
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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!

 

spoiler free, tbr thursday

October TBR 2019

tbr Thursday
It is somehow October already and although I’m wondering where on earth the time went I’m also SO READY for Autumn. Give me cardigans and hot chocolate and darker nights, chilly air and crispy leaves. I love Autumn so on that note I am glad to see October, it just arrived sooner than I had expected. I had an absolutely terrible reading month in September and only actually got two books read all month after Darkdawn took me so long. BUT I think I’m back in the swing of things (hopefully) and this month my TBR will look a little familiar as it will include a lot of the books from last month with one extra which I am super grateful to be on the blog tour for at the end of October!

Angel Mage by Garth Nix
I loved reading Sabriel when I was younger and something described as The Three Muskateers x Joan of Arc with MAGIC. Yes please, thank you, I’ll be over here reading. This is the blog tour I’m on this month (despite me telling myself I wouldn’t be accepting any more reviews or blog tours last month – I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity). I’ve already read a small bit and have already enjoyed what I’ve seen so far so fingers crossed the rest of the book is just as good!

Hex Life Anthology by Kelly Armstrong, Rachel Caine and many more
After just writing up my review for a different anthology I’m super excited to finally FINALLY get around to reading this collection of witchy stories at last.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
The new novel by the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower promises to be different, unnerving and spooky from what I’ve read of the sample I’ve already read,

The Boneships by RJ Barker
I had really hoped to read this last month and would have been what I read after Darkdawn but my copy seems to have got lost in the post somewhere *cries* I have thankfully managed to get a copy via NetGalley which I’m still looking forward to reading, just a little later than I expected.

NPC Tea: Issue Seven by Sarah Milman
I AM NOT READY. Issue seven is the penultimate issue and I’m excited, scared and sad. I love all of the characters and I’m not ready for it to end! That being said, some things went down in issue six that need to be addressed and ahhhhh I just can’t. I backed the issue on Kickstarter and I think they’ll probably be sent out soon!

I feel like having all of these books on my list might be a little overconfident as a good few of them are pretty chunky books. It’s also Intokber month and I’m planning to take part in the writer’s version as well as prepping for NaNoWriMo next month and you know, raising a four-year-old, running a house (haha), etc.  Either way, wish me luck and may your TBR be ever fruitful but not so much that it falls over and crushes you to your death!

book reviews, spoiler free

Sanctuary Blog Tour

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Sanctuary by V.V James

Rating: XXXXX

Published: August 8th 2019 by Gollancz

“The bad days were behind us, and our friendships and theirs were stronger than ever. Lies, lies, lies. And they all knew it.”

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

I received an e-Arc via Netgalley from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. One of my friends has been recommending Vic James books to me for a couple of years now and I’ve never quite made it around to them but when she got mega excited after reading Sanctuary, Vic’s newest book I knew it was finally time and this witchy murder mystery was just the place to start.

Sanctuary, out August 8th, has been one of the most intense page-turning books I have read this year and has already become a firm favourite. I absolutely flew through it in just a couple of days. In the world Sanctuary is set in, almost everything is the same as we already know it except Witchcraft is a normal every day, mostly accepted occurrence with its own rules and state-mandated laws and such, which I found fascinating but also very grounded. I also loved the particular brand of witchcraft we see used with charts, herbs, hand gestures and energy as well as the fact that different witches from around the world use different varieties of spell casting derived from their personal culture and traditions. One particular detail I really enjoyed was the explanation that witches familiars are considered an important role as they are a witches connection back to the earth and nature. You could really feel Vic had done her research, there’s not a huge amount of really obvious world-building to be done but all the tiny details, as well as the big ones, were executed brilliantly and so organically as well as the general feeling of the town which almost felt like it’s own entity at times.

The story is told from three main points of view, two distraught mothers on either end of a possible murder and police officer, Maggie trying to unravel it all. Following these particular characters was a fantastic choice, watching events unfold from each ‘side’ was particularly interesting and then seeing how Maggie dealt with said information or revelation and the conclusions she then came to as a result, not to mention that she was fantastic at injecting a little humour into the narrative here and there which impressively didn’t feel out of place in a book that is otherwise fairly dark. I loved seeing how far each of the three women were willing to go to protect themselves, what they believed in and the ones they love as well as the way their friends and neighbours reacted to the turn of events. Every character, even ones who weren’t what I would call “main” supporting characters felt interesting and solid, I found most of these characters very easy to picture and each had memorable traits without falling into stereotypical troupes (for the most part). Sanctuary has an insanely interesting and thrilling narrative but it also very much feels like a startling study of the darker corners of human nature.

To start with, the plot seems simplistic in nature and like any other “whodunnit” kind of mystery with a few extra additions such as the inclusion of witchcraft but still enjoyable and as the story continues on it becomes a whole other creature full of secrets, lies, twists and turns leaving you pointing fingers every which way and really taking a good hard look at your own morals in the process. I’m not ready in any way shape or form to talk about that ending so you’ll have to wait for the spoilery book talk on Youtube for that because right now when I try to type about it I just bash my keyboard keys while making incoherent noises of pain and anxiety. Every secret feels expertly layered as each revelation becomes tangled in a web of persecution and fear, author Vic James has a terrifying gift and I can’t wait to read more of her books if this standard of writing is the norm because it absolutely blew me away.

Sanctuary is out August 8th but if you were lucky enough to have picked up an early copy at YALC or the beautiful green sprayed edges edition in July’s Illumicrate you may have already read it but if not make sure you check out your local bookstore or most convenient retailer to preorder if you fancy a twisty, witchy murder mystery with bite.

Trigger Warnings: Rape of a minor by an older minor, gaslighting.

Also don’t forget to check out all of these other lovely bloggers taking part on the Sanctuary blog tour too!

 

 

 

spoiler free, tbr thursday

April TBR

After March taking forever I’m somehow still in denial we’re now into April, it’s crazy. This was meant to go up yesterday on the first Thursday of the month like usual but it didn’t occur to me what day it was until it was over half gone so although a TBR Friday doesn’t have quite the same ring to it you get the idea!

Some people on Twitter etc have dubbed this month ARC April and although I’m not officially taking part in anything for that I am using April to try and get through my ever growing backlog or ARCs and early finished copies to help give me a nice clean slate, clear some physical shelf space and hopefully improve my currently terrible NetGalley rating! So these are the books I’m planning to read!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
This is my current read and feels very Vikings meets Game of Thrones so far, I’m enjoying it but it does feel a little predictable at this point, not quite done yet though so we shall see. Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
It may look gorgeous with it’s pink sprayed edges but this book sounds seriously spooky and I’m kind of looking forward to it freaking me out a little.  Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

No Way by SJ Morden
I read and reviewed One Way last year and the ending was left wide open but I had no idea until about two weeks before publication last month when my review schedule was already full to the brim so I’m so glad to finally be able to get around to it at last. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
Much like the situation with No Way, I read the first book The Belles last year and was swamped during its publication date this year. Although I’ve been a little reserved about reviewing the second one I definitely want to get it read and see how the sequel pans out. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean
One of the problems of being a mood reader is when you get books like this one that sound totally up your street, look gorgeous etc but when you get them you just can’t get yourself into the right frame of mind to read them and that can really ruin the experience so I’m hoping that now the time is finally right. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
A bit of an older book but with the sequel, Shadow Captain having recently been released I was sent a finished copy of this first book in the series to try out as it sounds like a great fit for me and would love to get in the sci-fi mood ready for Aurora Rising in early May. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been a bit behind with my reading of late so I’m really hoping April is a good reading month! What are you reading right now and how are you enjoying it?

book reviews, spoiler free

Snapshot – Spoiler Free Review

40189384Snapshot by Brian Sanderson

Rating: XXX

Published September 14th 2018 by Gollancz

Snapshot is a Science Fiction detective story following Anthony Davis, a cop assigned to Snapshot Duty. In this vivid world that author Brandon Sanderson has built, society can create a snapshot of a specific day in time. The experiences people have, the paths they follow—all of them are real again for a one day in the snapshot. All for the purposes of investigation by the court.

Davis’s job as a cop on Snapshot Duty is straight forward. Sometimes he is tasked with finding where a criminal dumped a weapon. Sometimes he is tasked with documenting domestic disputes. Simple. Mundane. One day, in between two snapshot assignments, Davis decides to investigate the memory of a call that was mysteriously never logged at the precinct, and he makes a horrifying discovery.

As in all many stories, Snapshot follows a wonderfully flawed character as he attempts to solve a horrific crime. Sanderson proves that no matter the genre, he is one of the most skilled storytellers in the business.

I was sent a copy of Snapshot by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. After devouring a couple of books with prominent “whodunnit” themes and while working on a piece of  writing myself that deals with a group of people in a world full of others who aren’t real I decided Snapshot would be a perfect book to read right now and dug in almost as soon as it arrived on my doorstep.

Snapshot is a novella rather than a full book and at 129 pages much smaller than I had assumed it would be having not checked before hand and remembering the size of the first book in the mistborn trilogy. I’ve been enjoying shorter books recently as they tend to get to the point quicker and I can devour more of these stories in a shorter time period. This book is no exception and dives right into the story with no huge qualms about major world building or even much of a description of our two main characters. This annoyed me a little to begin with but made sense the more I read. The emphasis of the story is on the characters more so than the mysterious and not necessarily too distant future, I found myself wanting a few questions answered but the more I read, the less I realised that it mattered how things outside of the snapshot worked. Some things are explained with just enough detail for you to know the things you need to understand the story and we learn more about the characters through their interactions with each other throughout the story.

To begin with I found it hard to keep track of who was who, I would remember traits but be unsure which character they belonged to, this too begun to fade and made more sense as time went on so if you give this a go and it feels a little difficult at first it’s not just you. The book vastly improved as it progressed and became more interesting with information plots being filled as and when needed. After reading a large number of books in the weeks leading up to this that are targeted at a very different audience it took a while to become invested in the characters for me personally but I doubt this will be the case for everyone. Even being a short book this had a feel of a detective show you would see on TV and felt reminiscent of the first few episodes of Gotham.

The story telling, despite its short length is intricate and twisting culminating in a spectacular couple of plot twists that I didn’t see coming until they hit me in the face. I love it when I don’t see things coming and being shocked and surprised are some of my favourite aspects of reading. This little book drew me in very quickly in the end and despite my early thoughts really proved itself. Snapshot is very much worth a read if you enjoy multi layered plot stings and/or enjoy character driven reads.