Book Review

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Published 7th September 2017 by Walker Books.

32601841Goodreads Synopsis: Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

My Review: I’ve left it a while between finishing this book and writing a review, yet I still can’t put into words how mind-blowing it was. The Loneliest Girl was incredible.

James’s latest book tells the story of Romy, the first human born in space, travelling alone on a ship to a new planet. Any communication she has with Earth is on a two-year delay, so when she hears of a new ship travelling to join her, Romy is ecstatic – but is the news she’s receiving trustworthy?

I haven’t read a sci-fi book in a while, so I was so excited to read this! This concept is hugely different, but just as breathtaking as the world of James’s last books. The space setting was so eerie, and the idea of one girl travelling alone after some horrifying events, is so scary. I got chills reading parts of this. As unsettling as it could be, this book is so addictive. I ended up racing through it in a day because I had to know what would happen. It reminded me of Harstad’s gripping 172 Hours on the Moon – equal parts creepy and riveting.

I really liked Romy and could imagine her clearly, so alone and deep into a quest that has a dark past. I was completely engrossed in her story, empathising with her loneliness. Her backstory was both fascinating and terrifying – it’s a huge, crazy concept but strangely believeable. I found the dynamic between Romy and J so fascinating to read. They communicate through email with huge time delays; that gap slowly closing as his ship approaches hers. Also, kudos to James for writing a complex timey-wimey story and having all the emails dated. That must have been hard.

I became so engrossed in following their emails, and the delayed news Romy was receiving from Earth. I became completely swept up in their story, even though there are almost no physical dialogue.

The Loneliest Girl is being marketed as a romantic thriller, and I kind of like that! I was led into this story thinking it would be a spacey romance, and therefore not too sure if I’d enjoy it. Then… boom, so many plot twists and unexpected turns. It certainly is more of a thriller, and it’s awesome.

Overall, there’s no doubt: The Loneliest Girl should be at the top of everyone’s TBR piles when it’s released. The story has certainly stayed with me – it took me ages to write this review, and I still don’t think I’m able to do it justice! There’s something to appeal to everyone in here – a riveting sci-fi story, with classic-feeling elements of horror, and an romance with an unexpected twist. Mark your calendars for the release date!

My Rating:

I received a copy of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review

Graphic Novel Review: Alex + Ada Vol. 1 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

Published July 2014 by Image Comics

21823465Goodreads Synopsis: From JONATHAN LUNA (GIRLS, THE SWORD, ULTRA, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot.
Collects ALEX + ADA #1-5.

My Review: This graphic novel was recommended to me on Amazon, after I’d read the likes of The Wicked and the Divine. I fell in love with the simplistic but beautiful cover, and the synopsis made it sound incredibly interesting. It reminded me of a lot of Sci-Fi I know and love, with its classic-feeling near-future-androids-are-becoming-independent vibe, but I was eager to try it out. I’m so glad I did; Alex  + Ada may not be the most original of stories, but it’s told in an incredibly unforgettable way and I adored it.

I’m always a little scared when I start an ongoing comic series, as like with The Wicked and the Divine, I can sometimes get too lost in a complex story. However, with this, I became absolutely absorbed in the story, and it was really easy to follow. Issue one begins with Alex, a relatively normal guy who is quite lonely, and living in a near-future world where many tasks are now performed by androids and robots. All over the news is talk of a Robot Rights movement, and a massacre caused by sentient androids, which is stirring tension. When an X5 android turns up on his doorstep, the newest in lifelike technology, and something he doesn’t desire – he reluctantly boots it up. Soon, he finds himself falling into a complex world of android politics, and discovers that Ada is seemingly more than just an android.

The story feels like an instant classic, and after binging the five issues in this collection, I was really eager to start the next volume. I often feel like the first few issues in a series can be a little dull, just introducing us to characters and story, with lots of yet to be answered questions, but with Alex + Ada, I felt immersed in the story straight away and loved the way everything was executed. I think some people might find it a little dull, as Alex isn’t set up to seem like the most exciting of characters, and his interactions with other characters aren’t that thrilling – but I really loved that! It shows how a lonely guy can become so isolated by the things around him, like the technology that’s running almost his whole life.

The artwork is pretty great. It’s a simplistic style, with a limited blue/grey colour scheme for the most part, but I really liked the way it reflects the sterile, depersonalised feel of the comic’s setting. It would have been nice to see some more variation in the style, but I do think it works with the story really well.

Overall, Alex + Ada was a really enjoyable graphic novel; one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend whether you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, or looking for a way to get into reading comics, as it’s a very accessible story. These first five issues are captivating and enthralling – and a brilliant set-up for what I’m sure is going to be a brilliant story  in the next instalments. I can’t wait to see what direction the story goes in the next volumes – this first one was a fantastic introduction to a Sci-Fi world that has a lot of promise.

My Rating:

four and a half

I purchased a copy of Alex + Ada Vol. 1 online.

Blog Tour · Guest Post

Phoenix Burning Blog Tour: Guest Post by Bryony Pearce

Related posts: Cover Reveal: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce | Book Review: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

I really enjoyed Phoenix Rising, the first instalment in a series set in the near future, where fossil fuels have run out. I was over the moon when asked to join the blog tour for its sequel! Continue reading to hear from Bryony Pearce, the author, about her experience with writing Phoenix Burning, which is out now.

Writing a sequel for the first time by Bryony Pearce

The first novel I sold, Angel’s Fury, was a standalone. I had ideas about what I would write in a sequel, should I be asked for one, but the book was finished as it stood and I had many readers saying that they liked it for that – at the time I think there was a glut of YA series fiction and a standalone novel was something different for readers, who were perhaps getting bored waiting for a couple of years to find out how their favourite story ended.

The Weight of Souls was a bit different – it was bought as a stand-alone, but my editor wanted me to leave it open for a possible sequel. Book two was planned out and ready to go, when the publisher closed down. Readers were annoyed that The Weight of Souls ended on a cliff-hanger (the ancient Egyptian evil released from its tomb), but there was nothing I could do about it.

Phoenix Rising was always intended to be the first of a series. Stripes bought two books, so I knew that I would certainly be writing at least one more story in Toby’s world. So from the beginning of book one I was planning the sequel. Events in Phoenix Burning were seeded in Phoenix Rising (the sun worshippers, Ayla’s fear of fire, Toby’s missing mother, Hiko’s tattoo, the map, the near miss with the boiler) and I was careful to take notes that I could refer back to while writing a second book – key character descriptions, key events and so on.

Once Phoenix Rising was written, I was excited to get back into Toby’s world and write more of his story. As a reader I enjoy series fiction, mainly because I like to remain longer with the characters I love, and as a writer, it turns out that I like the aspect of this too. I enjoyed spending more time with Toby, allowing his character, and that of secondary protagonist, Ayla, to grow and develop even more.

By the end of Phoenix Rising, Toby has done some real growing up, but it is only at the end of Phoenix Burning, that the lessons he has been learning about trust and adulthood, really come home to him. At the start of Phoenix Rising Toby is a coddled child, by the end he is a teenager, but at the end of Phoenix Burning, he is an adult, making real decisions and taking responsibility for his actions.28811837

Ayla on the other hand thought she was an adult at the start of Phoenix Rising and by the end of the arc, has had her confidence shaken and learns that she still has a lot of learning and growing still to do.

I really enjoyed being able to take elements seeded in Phoenix Rising and seeing where I could take them, and wind them through the next story, tying the two together. I hope that I have given the reader some real ‘a ha’ moments.

I particularly loved using the event at the very beginning of Phoenix Rising, the broken delivery line that almost causes the boiler to explode, as the thing that gives Toby the idea of how to escape the Greyman ship in Phoenix Burning.

Despite all my planning it was hard at times to write a sequel. It felt as if I’d been with Toby for so long, that it was easy to forget that only a few weeks had passed in his world. I ran the risk of making him too adult.

Sometimes I found myself forgetting important things and having to break my own cardinal rules bout re-reading my published novels, just to make sure that I got my facts right.

But really I love spending more time with Toby and I hope that you do too.

A huge thank you to Bryony for talking about Phoenix Burning on this blog! I’m really looking forward to reading it. Phoenix Burning is available now, but if you haven’t read book one yet, you may want to check out my review 🙂

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Book Review: The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan

Published September 2014 by Hot Key Books.

18196516Goodreads Synopsis: “No one can take your memories from you… can they?”

Seven is a thief with a difference – he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London’s black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to ‘surf’ himself though – it’s the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London’s most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven’s secret – as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven’s past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven’s childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers…

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers – but can they keep themselves out of harm’s way before the London Guard – and Alba’s father – catches up with them?

My Review: I read and loved Natasha Ngan’s striking fantasy début, The Elites, when it was released last year. Ever since I finished the last page of it I was eager to read more from Natasha! I was so glad when this arrived in the post, I delved straight into it and devoured the story in a day. It’s richly fantastical, but scarily real and possible at the same time. I’m so glad I enjoyed it as much as The Elites!

I adored Natasha Ngan’s world-building in her début novel, and was eager, but nervous, to see what her new dystopian world would be like. Ngan is so inventive and creative: Long after I put the book down, I was wondering about the futuristic imagining of London. It’s divided completely between a rich north and a poor south, with technological advances like memory recording. The book explores so much of the city and there were a lot of well developed parts, like the Underground communities… I’d really love another book set in the world of The Memory Keepers, as I was fascinated by the world-building.

The plot was really awesome. It was actually much darker and much more action-packed than I’d initially anticipated, though that’s not to say I didn’t love it! I was hooked from start to finish. I thought I’d guessed the ending, but it turned out to go in a completely different direction! I think the only thing that I would’ve liked in the book was to see more about the whole “memory” viewing technology. Of course, it’s a hugely central part of the book – but being really nerdy, I wanted to know a bit more about the history of it and how it came to be. That sci-fi element really interested me 😀

The book is written in switching narratives between Alba and Seven, who both lead completely different lives but are brought together when Seven breaks into Alba’s house to steal one of her family’s memories. I loved the narration immensely. The switching narrative was perfect for the story and Natasha Ngan has crafted two great, individual voices. I love Alba and Seven, the protagonists, too! I connected with them a lot and really didn’t want to put the book down while reading, eager to know what happened next to them.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Memory Keepers – there was a part of me a little nervous I wouldn’t love it like I did Natasha Ngan’s first novel… but it exceeded me expectations and was a total thrill ride of a book. The sci-fi elements of the story are imaginative, inventive and really clever. I loved Ngan’s writing even more with her second book. I think the narration was brilliant. Highly recommended, whatever your genre preference:)

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Memory Keepers from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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book review: seven second delay by tom easton

Published 1st May 2014 by Andersen Press.

18300258Goodreads Synopsis: Mila has 7 seconds. 7 seconds to fight. 7 seconds to escape.

Seeking a new life on the futuristic Isles, Mila’s time runs out – she’s captured by Agents, who implant her with a phone that broadcasts her every move. Now she’s on the run, hounded by an elite fighting force who is convinced she poses a dangerous threat to society. Her only advantage: a seven second delay.

It’s a race against time.

My Review: Seven Second Delay was such an action packed, and thrilling read!I was looking forward to reading it, and wasn’t let down, though I wasn’t entirely sure at first how I’d find it , a dark dystopian, after having read Easton’s more contemporary, funny book!

It did take me a little while to understand the world; it was about a hundred pages before everything was explained fully. However, the rest of the book did make up for that! The plot is so interesting. The beginning of the book has the reader as clueless about what’s happening as Mila, the protagonist, so it’s really riveting to piece together all of the information along with her. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns; I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen on the next page. 

I really loved Easton’s writing. He laces his chapters with tension and drama. It’s quite a fast paced book, set over a relatively short period of time, too. Seven Second Delay is pretty addictive, full of narrative hooks. I enjoyed all of the flashbacks woven around the story, that focus on Mila’s life before she’s captured by agents. They let me get to know Mila really well. I would’ve liked more flashbacks, though, because they were brilliant and gave good insights into the other areas of the futuristic world the story is set in. The book is shorter than I’d expected at just over 300 pages. I was left wanting to know a bit more about the world (hint, Tom Easton… sequel…? 😀 )

Overall, Seven Second Delay is a really action packed, fast paced book. It’ll definitely appeal to fans of Charlie Higson, and Anthony Horowitz! I really liked the characters. Mila is great- she reminded me a lot of many other awesome dystopian protagonists, namely the ones in novels by Emma Pass. I really loved the concept of the world, it’s so unique and clever. I would have loved a bit more about it, though… I’ve given this 4 hearts, but i’m really going for 3.75 (I’m awkward 😀 ) because it’s a brilliant read but I wish it could have been longer 🙂

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of Seven Seocnd Delay from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Review by Georgia

Because It Is My Blood

By Gabrielle Zevin, published by Macmillan.

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2)Goodreads Synopsis: 

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”- Michael Corleone, The Godfather.

Since her release from Liberty Children’s Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve–and her heart–will be tested as never before.

My Review: *I may accidentally drop spoilers about book one in this series here! You have been warned!* 

What an awesome sequel! I was really worried that this wouldn’t live up to the sheer perfection of the first book, All These Things I’ve Done, but it really did! Because It Is My Blood is a book I’ve been so excited for, all of this year, since I read the first one back in January, and have been impatiently tapping my foot, waiting to read about what Anya Does Next. This book has definitely disproved that statement about Sequels of books not living up to their predecessors. Because It Is My Blood was just as brilliant; a real roller-coaster-ride of a book. It was a perfect blend of thriller, dystopia, and family drama!

Anya was, and still is, one of my favourite female dystopia protagonists. She’s so three-dimensional, and despite living so far off in the future, very relatable. It was very interesting to see what she’d do after the ending of All These Things I’ve Done- as, boy, that was an evil cliffhanger! I loved her just as much in this installment: She’s a very down-to-earth character. I enjoyed following her as she was thrown back in Liberty- a rehabilitation facility for children; then as she escaped, assisted by awesome supporting characters, to Mexico to lie low for a while.

Gabrielle Zevin really played with my emotions in this book! Firstly, Anya’s brother. He was a loveable character in book one, who was then taken away for safety. Oh, was I upset at that- I thought I wouldn’t hear of him in this book! Fortunately, I did, but, I can’t say what happens to him in this book. All I can say is: Gabrielle! That plot twist made me cry and want to throw the book across the room, then made me laugh and do a little happy dance at the end. The author’s also made me learn not to trust any minor character in this book. I’m really scared as to what may happen in book three, now.

The plot was very different, to All These Things I’ve Done! I was ever so slightly annoyed at the fact that another love interest made his way into Anya’s life. I was pretty terrified that that might take over the rest of the book- but, luckily, it didn’t, so yay! The new love interest (Well, I guess he is. It seems that Anya sees him as a friend, but he’s competing with Will a bit, to me) was a very likeable character, though, and he and his family, who run the plantation Anya hides in, opened the gateway to yet more conspiracy theories and drama. I loved that! This sequel was pretty much unpredictable.

Overall, Because It Is My Blood was a really strong sequel to an amazing book. I don’t think I could pick out any major flaws! This series is an amazing thrill ride, and any crime/drama/romance/dystopia loving teen will also love it, I’m very sure. I loved reading more about Anya, and I think the book was great, but too short for me (maybe that’s just because I was so immersed in it, and wanted more!). With some new characters I’ve grown to love, and some old characters I’ve grown to hate (thanks to some double-crossing and plot twists!), I really can’t wait for the next book, which is called In The Age of Love and Chocolate. 

You can check out my review of ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE, HERE!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Because It Is My Blood from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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The Elites

By Natasha Ngan, published by Hot Key Books.

The ElitesGoodreads Synopsis: ‘There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.’

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension.
Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.
Packed full of adventure, romance, exoticism and the power of friendship, The Elites is a highly compelling and beautifully written novel from a supremely talented debut author.

My Review: I heard about this book at the beginning of this year, and I’ve been getting so excited for it throughout the past few months. When I received a copy, I was so ecstatic! I delved right into The Elites and found it hard to drag myself back into reality between chapters. It was such a breath taking, beautiful book, that screamed originality. Beware of a long review here, ranting on about the brilliance!

Firstly, the setting! Neo Babel was just so well developed. I actually don’t think that I’ve read about such a well thought out, brilliant world since Harry Potter… And that was *mentally calculates* five years ago! Neo Babel was rich with fantasy, mixed in with an interesting, but tension filled, multicultural society. The blend of imaginative fantasy and realistic society (I think London is a lot like it, in terms of diversity!) made for such a brilliant backdrop. It reminded me a little of The Killables by Gemma Malley, in the fact that the city is enclosed from the outside world… Though there are these small, rebellious groups outside.

The plot? Practically flawless! I was most definitely not expecting the twists and turns that we’re in store for me. The story begins with Silver, who witnesses the assassination of Neo Babel’s leader. This was just in the first few pages! Every event after that was just as riveting. I enjoyed reading about Silver and Butterfly as they set outside Neo Babel, in search of Silver’s parents. If you’re looking for an exciting plot, read The Elites. You will not be disappointed!
I think the only thing that I disliked about the plot was very minor. Silver and Butterfly both discover *SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT!* lost family members. As surprised as this made me feel, I think that I couldn’t emotionally attach to the characters much over this. Maybe, if things about their pasts with family had been revealed before the discoveries, I could have been even more sympathizing with the new characters and the protagonists? The family finding thing was just thrown on me, and I wasn’t too sure what to make of it at first as I didn’t know about them before.

The characters in this book were just… Unforgettable! I loved Silver so much- she was a great, strong protagonist. I was rooting for her throughout the entire novel. I was fascinated (and maybe slightly jealous) of her job, as an Elite! I laughed with her, and felt all of her emotions so well through the author’s writing: Natasha Ngan made me feel genuine love for most characters like Silver and Butterfly, and genuine hatred for others… There were points where I wanted to just throttle Ember! (Ember was like an evil stepsister. And although I felt a teensy bit sorry for her, I disliked her as much as the main antagonists).
Oh, how could I forget?! BUTTERFLY. Butterfly is the male lead character of the book, and I’m competing with a lot of bloggers at the moment to be his hugest fan. Think… Peeta (Hunger Games), but stronger, more sacrificing, with a little bit of Jace’s (Mortal Instruments) charm and awesomeness. Oh, plus wings.
Yep I said wings. How cool is that? The love interest, and heartthrob, and imaginary husband to a bunch of bloggers, (I’m looking at you, Hawwa!), has wings. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better supporting character.

Overall, The Elites just blew me away. It was such an original read, that I devoured quickly and was left wanting more of… though, it’s a standalone, which I’m also quite happy about. The characters were flawless and the book was laced with their raw emotions, thanks to some immaculate writing. A plot with excellent twists and surprises was set on a backdrop that was described beautifully (Dear Natasha: Can I live there? Pleeaasee?). This has got to be one of the best fantasies I’ve read this year, up with the mortal instruments, and when it’s published, I have no doubt it’s going to be big.

My Rating:

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Also, the publishers have made this amazing interactive cover! Go check it out- full of extracts, links, and a video.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/421691333351047168#tlsite

I received a copy of The Elites from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.