Tag Archives: sci-fi

Book Review: Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom by Malcom Judge

Published June 2015 by Curious Fox.

25726092Publisher’s Synopsis: Meet Jonny Jakes, undercover reporter for banned school newspaper The Woodford Word. Nothing will stop his pursuit of the truth. Not teachers. Not parents. Not double detention.

When a new head teacher arrives halfway through term, Jonny smells a rat. Teachers handing out sweets? All-you-can-eat hamburgers? He’s determined to get to the bottom of it, because Jonny Jakes investigates the same way he eats his hamburgers: with relish.

My Review: I haven’t read many middle grade books so far this year – so when I was emailed about this book, I jumped at the chance! Also, if the title is THE HAMBURGERS OF DOOM, there is no way I’m missing out on reading it.

I can definitely see why this first book in the Jonny Jakes Investigates series is one of Curious Fox’s leading titles of 2015. It ticks all the boxes for a brilliant children’s book, and more. From the witty illustrations of the characters, to the hilarious dialogue and fictional school setting, it was a delight to read!

The story opens with an introduction to Jonny Jakes, the mastermind behind his school’s newspaper, which has been garnering a lot of attention with its many articles mocking the headmaster. When a mysterious new head teacher turns up, Jakes is determined to get the first scoop on it, but he finds out that it’s not just any old head teacher. It’s an alien, and matters are about to get a whole lot more complicated – because despite his nice personality, is this alien headmaster up to something wicked?

The plot felt like a classic story, though original, and I can tell this is going to be a very popular book with younger readers. I did not expect to laugh as much as I did. The plot is a hilarious blend of Sci-Fi and school drama.

The voice of Jonny Jakes is undoubtedly one of the best child narratives I’ve read in a long time. There was just something about the voice, how the diary entries by Jonny were written – it felt so realistic and I loved it! I’m confident Jonny Jakes has the potential to be one of those iconic book characters children are going to grow up loving.

The dialogue was sharp-witted and I loved the relationships between all of the characters. I didn’t expect to become so attached to such brilliant characters in this book, either!

Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with The Hamburgers of Doom. A quite frankly ridiculous story about a schoolboy reporter investigating evil hamburgers and an alien headmaster… t’s a fantastically silly read that’s bound to make you giggle a little bit, no matter what your age. I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated. I think it’ll appeal to a lot of reluctant young readers, too. I’m really looking forward to seeing more from this series!

My Rating:

four

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

Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Published 23rd February 2015 by Harper Voyager.

23849652Goodreads Synopsis: When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.
Nobody.
They were born together and they will die together.
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.
The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.
The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.
Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.
The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

My Review: From her début novel, I can already tell that Francesca Haig is already a rising star of fantasy: I’m sure I’ll be reading a great many more books from her. The Fire Sermon was an incredibly inventive and original work: I’ve never read anything quite like it.

The world-building was stunning. I found the idea behind the novel actually plausible – after a nuclear war, dubbed ‘the Before,’ the leftover radiation has tampered with the evolution of the human race, and now newborns always come as twins – one stronger Alpha and one weaker Omega. It was such a great premise.

I’ve been really interested in reading about dystopian societies recently, and The Fire Sermon has such interesting politics on the Mainland, where the book is set. I found the way the Alphas and Omegas interacted very thought provoking; as not only is the segregative behaviour very shocking, but it can be compared and related to real life past – and current – situations, and I think that brings a further sense of realism to the novel.

I really enjoyed the plot of the novel, for the most part, as Francesca Haig wrote some awesome plot twists. I can’t wait to see how the situation develops further in the next book. The beginning and the ending were enthralling, but I did feel like parts, especially towards the middle of the story, got a little dragged out – much of the book was the protagonists just running!

The main protagonist, Cass, was really likeable and I did enjoy her story but I don’t think I warmed to her as much as I thought I would. Her background was so interesting; Cass was born the Omega, but she suffered no visible affect. Instead, she has a different kind of mutation… and it made the story so so tense and gripping! The other main character of the story is Kip: and though the reveal of his past was really great I got so tired of his dialogue. I’m not sure if this was just me but he seemed to almost always talk in a really sardonic way. His frequent sarcastic remarks towards everything did irk me a little.

Overall, I think The Fire Sermon was a very stunning début novel. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of fantasy – or if you’re like me and love a book with an inventive world and a societal focus. Admittedly I did find some parts a little repetitive where it was just walking/running away/etc etc… But The Fire Sermon was most definitely an incredible and thought provoking debut.

My Rating:

four

 

Also: In this post I wanted to take a moment to highlight the amazing Advanced Reading Copies / publicity campaign for The Fire Sermon! It was so cool. The premise of the book is that people are born as twins, either Alpha or Omega – so proof copies were labelled as one of the two, and numbered. It was really fun finding my twin Shannon!

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

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Book Review: Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid

[I have a spoiler-y thing to say about CATALYST but I’ve put the spoiler BELOW my review – under the rating – so you can read this review if you haven’t read the book yet! 🙂 ]

Published 6th November 2014 by Hot Key Books.

23927683Goodreads Synopsis:  Tom Raines is about to break through the impossible…

Tom Raines and his friends return to the Pentagonal Spire for a new year, eager to continue their training for the elite Intrasolar Forces. But they soon discover troubling changes. Strict new regulations, suspicious agents in positions of power and the revelation that the Spire is under military control. The trainees are now cadets.

What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those in control have a ruthless agenda. And when the military academy begins welcoming suspicious new cadets, they reveal a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications. Tom is desperate to stop it, and it seems he is not alone. But when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can he endure in the battle to save himself?

read my review of INSIGNIA, book one || read my review of VORTEX, book two

My Review: When I received this in the post I was ridiculously excited, because I’ve been a fan of S J Kincaid since I read INSIGNIA, in 2012! I got a little nostalgic feeling, too, because INSIGNIA was the first ever book I reviewed for Hot Key Books. I was very eager to start reading it, as I’ve been waiting for the last book for so long – but also it was pretty sad to realise it was time to let Tom, Wyatt, Vik, Yuri and Medusa go…

It took me a few pages to regain my memory of what had happened at the end of VORTEX, but as soon as I had, I was completely absorbed in Tom’s world. I’d forgotten how much I’d loved it. From Tom’s realistic narration, to the eerily believable future world, to the hilarious banter between Tom’s friends, the supporting characters.

CATALYST was, needless to say, action packed. There was never a dull moment – I think I’ve said that before about the previous books, but it’s true – and CATALYST is without doubt the most intense, eventful novel of the trilogy. It was hard to put down! The events of the book played out really cleverly, and the twists in the story were utterly unpredictable. I did get a bit confused at a few points, as the pace was really fast and there was a lot going on, but it was overall such an enthralling read.

Overall, CATALYST was such a great read, and a compelling end to a memorable trilogy. I really recommend it, as it was a satisfying end to Tom’s story – and also if you haven’t picked up the trilogy at all… whhhyyy not? I wouldn’t have ended the plot on a different point: S J Kincaid did such a good job at tying up all of the loose ends, and creating an unforgettable finale to what’s most definitely the most inventive Sci-Fi tale I’ve ever read.

My Rating:

four and a half

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

*SPOILER KLAXON* Don’t read this bit if you haven’t read CATALYST…

There’s a huge plot twist within the first third of the book that literally had me on the edge of my seat! The meteor was such a tense, thrilling part of the story. It was really well written, but if I could change one thing about CATALYST, I’d love to know the true after-effects of the crash, because it was left unmentioned for the much of the book, and I was really interested to see how the future world could have coped.

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.

Sci-Fi by the Sea!

Sci-Fi by the Sea first started last year in Herne Bay, Kent on father’s day- and yesterday, Sci-Fi by the Sea(Quel) was back! I really loved it in 2013 – but this year it was even bigger, even busier, and had event more awesomeness. I took so many photos, so I thought I’d do a quick post about the convention!

My little brother (who also recently started a movie blog) who decided to try cosplaying, and made a Wolverine costume:

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There was quite a lot of cosplay last year at the first Sci-Fi by the Sea… but this year there was so much more, and every single person looked seriously awesome. Some of my favourites (clockwise from far left; Elsa from Frozen, Hellboy, C3P0, Minion, Chewbacca, Deadpool):

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There were also various bands and singers who sung at the bandstand at the front. It was pretty funny seeing the Joker on the drums and Darth Vader strumming a guitar:

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And most of the rest of Sci Fi by the Sea was aisles and aisles of stalls, selling ALL the merch!:D I wish I could’ve bought one of everything – there were lots of pretty handmade geeky things like jewellery and furniture and key rings… I bought a really gorgeous steampunk wrist cuff. There were also stalls with cartoon & SF/Fantasy artists – Danny Flynn’s Lunartics stall was brilliant! A Bundle of Books, which is a Herne Bay-based Children’s bookstore I mentioned in this post, also had a stall. They hosted Sci-Fi YA author Philip Webb for a signing. I’m so glad I got the chance to meet him – thank you to ABOB & Philip for my signed copy of Where the Rock Splits the Sky!

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Also, of course – Sci-Fi by the Sea’s main attraction was all of the actors from big Sci-Fi films who attended for signings and photos. This year some Stars Wars actors, including Femi Taylor and David Prowse came. Also, there were legendary Doctor Who people; Colin Baker, Paul McGann, plus some of the Doctor’s earlier assistants! I’m really sad I didn’t have the money to queue up and get signatures and photos. At least I came within a few metres of the tent… xD

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So… Thank you so, so much to the people who put Sci-Fi by the Sea(Quel) together! It was such a great day, and I definitely don’t want to miss next year’s. Also, of course, thank you to Philip Webb for signing my book. I can’t wait to start it, as Where the Rock Splits the Sky was a book I really wanted to read when it was released last year!

 

 

 

Book Review: Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson

Published 22nd May 2014 by Pan Macmillan.

21243216Goodreads Synopsis: In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society – Elite, Member, Inter or Trog – but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.

But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?

Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out . . .

My Review: I’m actually really mixed on Reckoning! I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first, but I’m a little torn on whether I liked or disliked the book overall. Largely, though, I did enjoy it- I think most fans of the dystopia genre will definitely love it.

Reckoning is set in a post-war Britain (Which made for a nice change; most dystopia novels I read are set in the US!) where England has been divided into four realms and is ruled over by the new king, who essentially restored order from the war chaos. Every year, The Reckoning takes place in July for all of the teenagers entering adulthood, and determines where, and how you work for the rest of your life, under either Trog, Inter, Member or Elite (Which felt slightly Divergent-y).  A random lottery of Reckoning qualifiers selects ‘offerings’ for the king, who must live in Windsor Castle and serve him directly.

There were quite a few aspects of the book that reminded me a little too much of other dystopia novels. It definitely disappointed me a little bit… Though of course with dystopia being such a big, popular genre still it’s common to find books similar to others. It did take me a little while to get properly focused on the story, as I just kept picking up on similarities, though I’m probably exaggerating a bit… Reckoning still has many original aspects. After about half of the book though, I did start to get really engrossed.

Reckoning has so many plot twists! I honestly had no clue where the book was going, for the most part. I read one huge twist on a school journey, and had to restrain myself from gasping out loud! xD Wilkinson’s writing lures you into a false perception of things, then shocks you when you least expect it. That’s a big reason why I did really enjoy the story.

I’m mixed on Silver Blackthorn, who is the protagonist of the novel. I struggled to connect with her, for most of the story; a big reason why I love dystopia novels is because I find most of the characters really relatable, though for some reason I just didn’t connect with her, mostly! I think a lot of people will like her character. I think that, just like with some of the plot, I just didn’t really connect with her.

Overall, Reckoning is a really great read if you’re a fan of the genre. I liked the setting for the book, and the plot twists are totally shocking. Kerry Wilkinson’s writing is very enjoyable; I think I will read book two if I get a chance to (Reckoning kicks off a new dystopia trilogy!). I’m really sad I didn’t enjoy this as much as other people… I just didn’t click with parts of the story. However, all the Goodreads reviews of it that I’ve read have been glowing, so I’m pretty sure most people will love this book. ;D

My Rating:

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

Random bloggy note that’s too short for its own blog post:

Over the course of June and July I’ll be really busy with non-bloggy things; I have to revise for all of my end-of-year mock exams, and if I qualify on the next round on an extra curricular quiz team, I’m basically going to drownnnnn in revising for that, too xD Blog posts won’t always be as frequent from now on (Some of you might have noticed I only managed to get one published last week!).

I decided against going on a hiatus, because I don’t think I could manage leaving my blog for two months or so! However, hopefully blogging a little less over the next few weeks will let me get more reading done, and some more blog scheduling and planning for the future done, too. (: Thanks everyone for reading though, as always!<3

book review: Split Second by Kasie West

You can read my review of book one, Pivot Point, by clicking here!

*This review contains spoilers for book one in the synopsis, and slightly in my review!*

Published 11th February 2014 by HarperTeen (US).

15792316Goodreads Synopsis: *synopsis contains spoilers for book one!* Life can change in a split second.
Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.
When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that. Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.
As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.

My Review: *contains spoilers for book one in the FIRST paragraph- rest is spoiler free:)* Split Second was such a fantastic sequel! I was so excited about starting it after reading and falling in love with Pivot Point, the previous book, last year. Set after Addie’s huge choice made at the end of Pivot Point, Addie is off for a break from the Compound in the Norm world at her dad’s house. But now, as she’s faced with new, scary difficulties, her friend Laila’s also in a dilemma with her brother.

Split Second is told in the alternating narratives of Addie and Laila. Even though that’s clearly shown, I did get mixed up and got parts confused at first! I think I’m like that at first with a lot of dual narrative books, though. I really did love both girls’ voices. It’s hard to stop reading Split Second- the story and the writing draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the end.

Addie and Laila are a dynamic duo of friends and their voices are both really unique and stand out. They’re both so different but similar at the same time… I’m not sure how to describe their friendship. I just love it way too much! I also really loved the subplot in this story about Laila’s little brother, and I really loved the love interests. All of the characters are so easy to like- obviously except for the not so nice dudes, who I shared hatred with Addie and Laila for!

The plot is completely unpredictable. I couldn’t actually believe that outcome- I’m kind of glad I wasn’t reading this in public because I gasped pretty loudly when that plot twist at the ending was revealed. Argh. It ripped my heart to a million pieces- one thing that you grow to love is… NOT what you think it is. Um… But I’ll shut up now because I really don’t want to spoil it. xD However, it is amazing. I’m always really worried about sequels to brilliant books, but honestly, Kasie West’s Split Second was a really strong sequel and it’s hard not to enjoy it.

Overall, Split Second was a really great read. I loved the plot; it’s unpredictable, and unwinds in a really clever way. Of course, I loved Addie; she’s really easy to relate to, and then Laila is just Laila, and Laila is awesome. (: Kasie West’s writing is addictive, pacy and thrilling; I really can’t wait to read more from her in the future! The only thing that kind of disappointed me is there wasn’t much detail on the Compound and why and how it was started, which was what I guessed this installment might be about. I’m hoping there will be a book three though, and that’s where we’ll find out! Really highly recommended- and make sure to check out Pivot Point (my review here), and read that first before Split Second! (:

My Rating: 


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