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Posts Tagged ‘2013’

Rogue: The Clone Rebellion 2

In Book Reviews on October 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

Hello there! So, I’ve had to take a few weeks off from blogging. If you have a blog, you’ve probably suffered at some point from a severe lack of motivation. That’s what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks. It’s certainly not from a lack of books to write about. I’m still reading like crazy and now I’ve got a stack of books to write posts about. I’m not really sure what has prompted this reluctance to write posts, but the way I figure it, if it isn’t fun what’s the point? I went from being like “Oooh, I’ve finished a book so now I can do a blog post!” to “Ugh, I’ve finished a book and now I have to do a blog post.”.

I’m going to do this post and see how I feel about getting back into the swing of things.

I’d like to start off by saying that I love the covers for these books. I know that it’s a pretty superficial thing, but there you go. I love looking at them in the bookshop when they’re all displayed together. Here’s what the first 4 look like together, so that you can get a feel for my book cover love:

I love bright colours!!

I love bright colours!!

Nutshell blurb: We follow Lt Wayson Harris as he travels the universe and decides which side to fight on while he simultaneously struggles to overcome his conditioning.

This is the 2nd book in this series. If you would like to read my post on the first book, you can find it here.

As I suspected in that post, the first book was all about setting the scene for what was to come in subsequent books. That’s kind of a risky tactic as I found that the first book lacked focus.

This book was much better. I actually knew what was going on and never felt confused. I love the universe that Mr. Kent has created with the exception of one thing…

Where my girls at?????

Again, this story suffers from an extreme lack of estrogen. I guess that with so many clones, there isn’t as much of a need for procreation which has perhaps lowered the birthrate in the galaxy? I don’t know. I’m speculating. There is a real, living, breathing, talking female in the last 1/3 of the book but I found her to be unsatisfactory as a character.

And this might be spoilerific, just so ya know.

My problem with her is that she’s a love interest who belongs to a society of religious people who don’t take advice when someone trustworthy says “Oh hey, I think that the military are coming to exterminate you.” and they’re like “It’s ok because God will protect us.”. So, unless Mr. Kent decides to surprise me (and I kind of have the feeling that he won’t with this part) I think that she’ll end up being killed with her kin which will spur the main character on to great feats of heroics as he’ll have lost everything that he loved etc etc…

I think that my biggest problem with not having any interesting females in this story is how it makes me feel when I read it. I love the story and the main character but as I read I know that I am not the demographic for which this series was written.

It makes me really sad and I feel left out. Sort of like being the last person picked for dodgeball in gym class back in school. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME, STEVEN L KENT????

I’m really hooked on the stories though, so I’ll probably carry on reading them. I want to read what happens with this woman and find out if I’m right or if I’ll be surprised.

Oh, and if you’ve read the next book, please refrain from spoiling it for me. Thanks! 🙂

 

Bedlam

In Book Reviews on September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

When Ross heard the voice speak softly from only a few feet behind him, he deduced rather depressingly that he must no longer have a digestive system, as this could be the only explanation for why he didn’t shit himself.

Nutshell blurb: Ross Baker is a scientist who works for a huge corporation called Neurosphere. He volunteers to help test out a new technology only to find that he’s been transported into a videogame.

This was my first ‘trapped in a videogame’ book. I think. Now I’m wracking my brain to remember if I’ve read any others…I actually have a story idea for a novel that takes place in a videogame, which is what drew me to this book. My idea is too nebulous to discuss but I can say that it is nothing at all like this book.

I had so much fun reading this. I’m adding Mr. Brookmyre to my list of authors whose styles I totally dig. As a side note, I would be curious to know how this book would be received by someone who didn’t play videogames.

This book spanned so many games and if you are one who plays or has played videogames in the past, you will recognise many of the ones mentioned. I particularly enjoyed reading about what the character went through when faced with various game mechanics that those of us who play games would recognise.

Respawning, having crappy weapons during the early levels of a game, being dealt damage that is inconsistent with what is dealing the damage…

It was a strange anomaly of certain first-person shooters that you could take a grenade blast and multiple bullet-wounds to the face and yet still limp home for a couple of Paracetamol and a warm bath, but if you stayed under the suds for more than thirty seconds while washing your hair, you would drown.

I was a bit disappointed that no mention was made of how one can kill a mosquito which could then potentially drop a broadsword. But then, the character seemed to spend most of his time in first-person shooters and strategy games. The double jump was mentioned, however:

Back in the day, there had been an odd glitch in the game that meant you could do this double-jump trick on the edge of a rock that would propel you a height disproportionate to your efforts. It was a handy shortcut to higher ledges that the level designers hadn’t intended you to reach without first negotiating other parts of the landscape. Ross tried it when he reached a suitable spot, the impulse coming almost instinctively as soon as he realised he was in a place he recognised. He succeeded only in repeatedly rattling his thankfully metal-clad shins off the edge of a low outcrop and falling on his face a few times. If anybody had been looking, they’d have assumed his internal motivational and guidance circuitry was on the fritz. Or that he was a twat.

As I mentioned, I really like Mr. Brookmyre’s style of writing. It’s quirky (always a plus for me) with a great sense of humour and it’s obvious that he really loves videogames.

My one complaint about this book is the ending. I felt that it was a bit rushed and that it was perhaps a bit too clever for itself. I had a moment of ‘Wha….?’ until I reread it and understanding dawned. Feeling rushed and too clever isn’t the greatest combination but I was able to forgive that because it was a really fun book.

 

The Silence of Ghosts

In Book Reviews on August 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
Contstable & Robinson Ltd 2013

Constable & Robinson Ltd 2013

Nutshell blurb: Dominic Lancaster was injured during World War 2. He returns to London and takes his 10 year old sister, Octavia, to the family house in theLake District to avoid the Blitz.

I haven’t read a ghost story in a while. I’m not actually sure that I’ve ever actually talked about one on my blog until now.

This was a very short book so it didn’t take too long to read. It’s described as “A mesmerizing tale of terror set during the Second World War”. I’m not sure about the terror part, but it was very intriguing.

The things I liked about it:

There were a few characters I really liked. Octavia was interesting. She was deaf, but she could hear the voices of the children who haunted the house they were staying in. Rose was also interesting. She was the nurse that made house visits to take care of Dominic as he was injured.

The writing was in journal format which is something that I like. It gave me a sense of immediacy and peril.

Things I didn’t like about it:

The main character. He was really soppy. “Poor me. I’m injured. What woman will ever want a man like me? Blah blah blah.” I don’t have time for these types of characters. It’s fine if it’s a secondary character but not the main one. There’s one point where he’s like “OMG there are strange noises upstairs. Nursey, would you please go up and check it out? My crutches won’t allow me to climb the stairs.” I really wanted to slap him at this point. What’s she meant to do if there was an intruder upstairs? What he should have said was “Right, get your things. We’re going to a hotel.”. So, there were a few things like that that didn’t really ring true to me.

Also, the ending wasn’t very satisfying. I won’t spoil it for you in case you’re curious enough to read it, but it left me scratching my head somewhat. And it was over really quickly. I barely had time to blink and I had reached the end.

Overall, I liked the story, but I don’t think that it’s very memorable and it certainly wasn’t terrifying. It had the potential to be, but I think that a few tricks were missed.

The Wall

In Book Reviews on August 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
Quartet Books Limited 2013

Quartet Books Limited 2013 (Originally published in Germany in 1968)

I know too that I, like every living thing, will have to die some day, but my hands, my feet and my guts still don’t know it, which is why death seems so unreal.

Nutshell blurb: A woman is vacationing in the countryside when an invisible wall appears and traps her within it.

I’ve read Under the Dome by Stephen King and I can’t help but wonder if he ever read this book before writing his. There are some minor similarities as both are tales of survival however, Mr. King’s book features a town of people who are cut off from the rest of society and Ms. Haushofer’s story is about a woman who tries to survive and has only animals to keep her company. They are quite different even though they have the same theme.

This book is relatively short but it took me a long time to read it. I really had trouble with the pacing at first. It crawls. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered why I need stuff to happen so quickly. I had to make myself slow down and appreciate the drama of this book. It’s in journal format (which I really like) however, there are no headings, chapters or breaks between paragraphs to give one room to breathe. I had a really difficult time with this format at first and I wondered if I was going to be able to make it through the entire book.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that this was my problem and not the book’s. I read so quickly and I like things to happen, but I think that sometimes I need to slooooooow down and enjoy the ride. Once I did that, I was able to fully appreciate this book.

Basically, the entire book is about what’s going on in this woman’s head as she tries to make sense of her situation and survive in it. Her lack of interaction with any other human leads her to think about heavy subjects like death and the meaning of life. She also looks back on her previous life before the wall and wondered why she was so preoccupied with things that didn’t matter.

Sometimes I’m struck by how important it once was  not to be five minutes late. An awful lot of people I knew seemed to see their watches as little idols, and that always struck me as sensible. If you’re already living in slavery, it’s a good idea to keep to the rules and not put your master in a bad humour.

Interesting stuff.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book. I’m not sure about it’s re-readability factor, but I’m glad I read it. I’m ready to watch the film now.

The Bat

In Book Reviews on August 6, 2014 at 6:00 am
Vintage 2013

Vintage 2013

This is the first Harry Hole novel. I really enjoyed The Redbreast so I thought I would check out some more books by this author. I rarely read books out of order. If I pick one up and find out that it is not the first in a series I usually put it down. I decided to read The Redbreast, though, because I had an idea that it might not matter if I read them out of order.

Thank God I did.

If I had read this book first, I wouldn’t have been inspired to read any of his others.

Don’t get me wrong; I liked this book. Mostly. I wouldn’t do a blog post about it if I didn’t like it (unless it offended me) but, wow. This book was all over the road at points.

Nutshell blurb: A Norwegian girl is killed in Sydney, Australia. Harry Hole travels there to lend a hand in solving the murder.

It starts out well enough. Harry gets there and the Sydney police aren’t thrilled about his presence. He has an aboriginal police officer called Andrew assigned to him and they go about questioning people and looking for answers.

Then a little more than a third of the way into the book some crazy stuff starts to happen. Drug use within the police department, prostitutes, the main character goes completely off the rails, cross-dressers, people chopped up into little bits. There’s even a great white shark involved. Pretty much ALL THE THINGS! There were a few moments when I looked like this:

Jackie-Chan-Meme-Template

 

Seriously. I had no idea what was going on.

Also, I really liked Harry in The Redbreast, but not so much in this book. He was quite the douche-nozzle, in my opinion. But not in a tortured anti-hero kind of way. He was just a jerk.

The story managed to pull itself together by the end, but I still found the end to be somewhat dissatisfying.

Considering how good The Redbreast was, it will be interesting to read his other books to see Mr. Nesbo’s growth as an author.

Parasite

In Book Reviews on July 6, 2014 at 6:00 am
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

Nutshell blurb: In the future, humans live disease-free due to a parasite engineered by a company called SymboGen. Things are hunky-dory until the parasites decide that they want their own lives.

Yes, the premise of this book is excruciatingly gross. The thought of having a parasite living inside of me ON PURPOSE is horrifying. Much less the thought that it could become sentient and want to take over my body.

Hence the reason I HAD to read this book.

Mira Grant does a really great job of painting a hopeful future where things like diabetes or the common cold are things of the past. It’s very rare to find people who haven’t jumped on the parasite bandwagon.

The main character is Sally, a woman who had a nearly fatal car accident and whose family nearly pulled the plug on her life support. She made a miraculous recovery and was the subject of study for the SymboGen corporation as a result.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot so as to avoid spoilers.

What I will tell you is that I really like Ms. Grant’s style of writing. She’s quirky and she has a knack for adventure and action. I’ve only read two of her books so far (here’s the link to my post on Feed if you’re interested in reading it) and I’ve really enjoyed them.

My problem with this book and the reason that I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I felt that it was very similar to Feed. They both featured a future that saw us with some sort of disease-preventing technology that’s gone wrong. And the characters were quite similar.

In Parasite, there’s the main character, Sally who seemed remarkably similar to Feed’s Georgia. There’s Sally’s boyfriend, Nathan, who reminded me of Georgia’s brother, Shaun. There’s the plucky side-kick, Tansy who could have easily been related to Feed‘s Buffy.

Even though the Parasite characters were, in many ways, different from their Feed counterparts they still felt connected to me. As I read the parts with them in it, I found myself picturing the characters from Feed. I’ve never experienced that before. It was eerie, although probably unintentionally so. As characterisation is a huge part of what draws me into a novel, I must admit that it was a bit off-putting.

However, the story was gripping enough that it wasn’t a huge issue for me. It was an enjoyable read and I would be up for reading the next one.

Shift

In Book Reviews on June 22, 2014 at 6:00 am
Arrow Books 2013

Arrow Books 2013

This is the second book of this trilogy by Hugh Howey. I read the first book back in August so if you want to read that post first, click here.

Nutshell blurb: The story takes place before Wool. We find out how and why the silos were built and the measures that were put in place to protect the people who live in them.

This book was quite gripping and, frankly, creepy as hell. This is why I love dystopia.

But before I talk more about why I liked the book, can I just direct your attention to the yellow circle in the picture above? This is a pet peeve of mine. I know that people do this to sell books, but I think it’s sneaky and underhanded. I try not to read too many reviews before I read a book (except for the ones I read on the blogs I follow) because I don’t like people to market things to me. I don’t mind it if people whose taste I trust tell me what they thought of a book. But the Sunday Times stating that this is ‘The next Hunger Games‘ is not going to get me to buy the book. In fact, if I had bought this book based on the fact that it’s been touted as ‘The next Hunger Games‘, I would have been extremely pissed off to find that this was absolutely nothing like The Hunger Games. Other than the fact that it’s dystopia. And a book.

I’m sorry. I’ll stop ranting now. But it’s nothing like The Hunger Games. So there.

Anyway, I really liked this book. It only took me 7 days to read which is pretty good considering that it’s a hefty 578 pages.

I always struggle to tell you about some of these books which contain twists and turns because it would grieve me to no end if I spoiled it for you.

I’ll do my best to not spoil it.

Let’s talk about the main character, Donald. That’s safe. He’s a pretty interesting guy. He’s a young senator who studied to be an architect at university. He’s enlisted by an older senator (who helped him win his votes) to design some underground silos. He doesn’t know why he’s doing it and does it despite having a bad feeling about it. I like this guy because he’s desperately in love with his wife. He does his best to prove to her that he’s not going to cheat on her even though he’s now working on this project with an ex-flame from university. This love for his wife is a central theme in this book and it is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time.

The book flashes back and forth between the time time when the silos were being built and the people who are on shift in them in the future. Eventually, the future collides with the events that take place in Wool. There are a few ‘aha!’ moments when you realise that you’re reading the back story of someone from the first book. I really liked that.

I’m intensely curious about what’s going to happen in the next book although it will take me a while to get around to reading it. My stack of books to be read is quite sizable at the moment so I shall have to wait to see what happens. I’ll definitely buy the next one though.

The Clone Republic

In Book Reviews on April 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

Nutshell blurb: The story takes place in 2508 when humans have colonised the six arms of the Milky Way. Humans have begun creating clones and raising them in ‘orphanages’ to be ultimate soldiers. Our hero is raised amongst them and this is the story of his military career.

This book is pretty fun and I enjoyed it. For the most part. Last week, I mentioned that I’m having an issue with books that begin a series and the slowness of their take off. The same goes for this book. A lot happened. There were a lot of missions and a lot of introspection about why the world is the way it is but I found that the story lacked focus. I couldn’t quite work out what it was leading up to and then it ended very abruptly. It was quite obvious that it was setting the scene for the next book.

Another thing that this book lacked was the inclusion of any interesting females. It’s entirely possible for me to read and enjoy books that don’t feature women in them, but I felt the exclusion very keenly. Apparently, women have no place in the future as far as this story is concerned. I don’t mean for that to sound like a harsh criticism of the story, but I feel that it would have been more interesting to see females portrayed as more than just a bit of fun for marines who are off-duty and vacationing in Hawaii.

One of the things that I really liked about it were the clones. They were bred to not know that they’re clones. They all look the same, but the way their brains are engineered makes them see each other differently. They even see themselves differently when they look in the mirror. This was done on purpose in order to keep the clones from one day rebelling against humans. They are also programmed to go into cardiac arrest if they ever realise that they are clones. Again to prevent an uprising.

Overall, I found the story to be pretty fast-paced (even if it was a bit unfocused) and the main character was interesting. I definitely want to read the second book to see if I’m correct in my assumption that this book was setting the scene for subsequent books.

Joyland

In Book Reviews on January 29, 2014 at 6:00 am
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

This book was quite unlike Stephen King’s usual fare. I expected to be terrified but instead found something far different. This certainly isn’t a bad thing. Just not what I expected.

Nutshell blurb: Devin Jones recalls a summer in his youth where he worked at an amusement park in North Carolina called Joyland. A murder was committed years ago and the crime looms over the park and those who work there.

This story is a murder mystery with a heavy focus on the characters. The murder mystery isn’t the main point of the book, though. It focuses mainly on the protagonist and the things he’s going through in his life at that time. There isn’t a lot of action, but I found that to be ok because we really get into the main character’s head.

I know I’ve said this in previous posts, but Mr. King has a talent for creating characters that are relatable. His characters feel as thought they could really exist. For me, this is what makes his scary stories even scarier.

For this book, it was more about painting a vivid picture of a really likable guy.

I felt really sad when I finished this book. It was very moving and I had quite the book hangover when I finally put it down. Unfortunately, I finished it while I was on my lunch break and I found it really difficult to switch gears and get back to work.

Note to self: Don’t finish any more books at work!

It was pretty painful.

I really loved this book. It has a lot of soul. I think that you’ll be disappointed if you go into it thinking that it’s going to scare the pants off of you, but it’s worth a read if you can appreciate an excellent character study as well as a slow-burning murder mystery.

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe

In Book Reviews on January 19, 2014 at 11:09 am
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

This book was another Christmas gift from my beloved hubby. I bought the other two Mouse Guard books years ago and fell in love with them.

This is another case where a graphic novel has swept me away with its beauty and charm. I want more. I don’t want to live in a world where there are ONLY three Mouse Guard books.

Ok, that’s a little bit dramatic but these books are gorgeous. They feature mice, ferrets and other woodland creatures in their own little medieval setting. These mice are fierce. And honorable. And they carry swords.

As the title of this book suggests, this is the story of the Black Axe who features as a legend in the first two books. This is the story of how he came to be.

I found this story far deeper and more heart-rending than the first two and I felt a bit sad when I finished it. (Not just because I didn’t want it to end, although I did feel a bit sad because of that.) There was so much pain, sacrifice and loss in this story and the accompanying illustrations made it even more poignant.

I would say that if you’re going to read this, skip the introduction as there’s a spoiler in there. It kind of ticked me off to read that before starting the story. I hate spoilers with so much passion. Darn you, Terry Jones!

This book is amazing and one that I’ll read over and over again.

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