book reviews, booktube

Memento: An Illuminae Files Novella

Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff712ccb2aa16a05af938939ae61abe4e0

Rating: XXXXX

Published May 7th by Knopf books for young readers

“Ah. You have empathy for AIDAN.”
“Yes. That’s a good way of putting it.”
“Interesting.”

December, 2574. Forty-three days before the BeiTech attack on Kerenza IV. This is the story of my first friendship. This is the tale of my first murder? Some monsters are born. But I? <ERROR> I was made. 

So Memento is an 82-page Illuminae prequel novella that was a free incentive for preordering Aurora Rising only available in the US. For those in the UK like me, the only way to get a hold of a copy of these without shipping it to a US address was to order it through Good Choice reads in the US who would then ship the book and the Memento to you together. It was a little more expensive because of the shipping etc but it was absolutely worth it and also meant we were some of the first to receive the novella which was nice.

If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one but haven’t read Illuminae yet I would absolutely recommend reading the Illuminae books, or at least the first one before Memento. The Novella doesn’t really spoil much but you’ll get more out of it reading it after the first book. If you’ve read and enjoyed the Illuminae books you will love Memento, after being on the fence for so long about whether or not I would get on with the different kind of format we see in the Illuminae books it’s weird to say I missed it but I did. As soon as I saw the familiar layouts and style it felt like coming home and although I was happy with the ending of the original trilogy it left me wanting more again so a reread of them is defintley in order.

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New characters felt fresh and were easy to become attached to even in such a relatively short span of pages, we see AIDAN and the rest of the Alexander before, during and after the battle of Kerenza from different points of view. Memento follows AIDAN’s journey into what we see in Illuminae and as you can imagine if you’ve read the books it is harrowing and amazing. You can check out a video below with my reactions reading it for the first time and a spoiler-filled description of the plot if you were unable to get a hold of a copy but still want to know what happens.

Memento is not available to buy at this time and was only available through Knopf as a preorder incentive with Aurora Rising as mentioned. There are some rumours however that Rock the Boat is working on a way to get the novella here so fingers crossed as it’s well worth it.

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book reviews, spoiler free

The Starlight Watchmaker review

44097002The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published July 15th by Barrington Stoke

“Doesn’t it get tiring being judged for who you are all the time?” Ada asked, “and treated like you’re less than other people?”

Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+

At the Quiet at the End of the World event a few months back Lauren announced that she would be releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke later this year and as time went on we got a title, a cover reveal and synopsis for The Starlight Watchmaker which I’ve been excited for ever since.

I don’t normally go into much detail about publishers but I really wanted to rave about Barrington Stoke for a moment. They are a fantastic publisher who have been helping dyslexic and reluctant readers for over twenty years by working with writers and illustrators to publish super readable books as well as adding little adjustments like using a unique, dyslexia-friendly font specially created to make reading easier, Accessible layouts and spacing stop the page from becoming overcrowded and even Heavier paper with a gentle tint helps reduce visual stresses, their motto is every child can be a reader and I think reading can be so daunting for young children today that we need to do everything we can to create a space and opportunity for all readers, including those who might be reluctant or have difficulty reading for pleasure. I had read a couple of Non Pratt’s books published by Barrington Stoke previously and loved the shorter book format and just how effortless they felt to read which can be really motivating and confidence building.

I reached out to Barrington Stoke about Lauren’s new title and the lovely Kirstin sent me a proof to review in exchange for an honest review. At just 128 pages it is an extremely short read but oh the wonders Lauren can work with 128 pages. The Starlight Watchmaker is set in a universe that feels like magic and science, the academy that Dorian attends and Hugo works at is incredibly diverse, full of all kinds of sentient creatures from across the galaxy. It was absolutely refreshing to read all of these fantastic descriptions of different races and species, I was fascinated in particular with one of my favourite characters, a student like Dorian called Ada (Lady Ada de Winters – short for Adedeneumdora) who is essentially a mountain that can walk around and will eventually become a planet all of her own just like her mother, the planet Zumia. She’s well spoken, smart and fantastically quirky as well as being a brilliant departure from the usual humanoid looking alien lifeforms we usually see.

Hugo is an android and an absolute sweetheart who I love, he’s a hard worker making the best of a bad situation who enjoys what he does and is mostly content but finds himself yearning for more, things like friendship and freedom, not to mention he really likes plants. Our other main character, Dorian is a fifth-year student but also a Duke who comes to Hugo for help but comes across a little brusque at first and perhaps a bit to forward which could be misconstrued negatively but I think he really grows and learns over the course of the story and you learn more about him as well as Hugo and see how they react to each other.

Somehow, even in under 200 pages Lauren managed to fit a nice little twist into the story, the plot is simple but honestly all the more enjoyable for it, the narrative is fast flowing and straight forward but conveys every detail and emotion needed. This entire book is akin to a nice chilled glass of juice on a hot day or that feeling when you step out of your morning shower, it’s refreshing and soothing and the moment I finished it after reading it the first time I managed to put it down for five minutes before I decided to pick it back up and read it all over again. The story is well rounded and unlike with some short-form works where I find myself  wanting more in an unsatisfied way, I found The Starlight Watchmaker to be the perfect bite-size piece of cake, it felt complete and whole and I felt like I’d been on a journey after reading it which is why I read, to be whisked away on adventures and feel a better person at the other end. This is a beautiful tale of friendship and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Starlight Watchmaker will be available on July 15th, don’t let it’s smaller size fool you, it’s a fantastic little read and one that can definitely be enjoyed by a variety of ages.

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.