Tag Archives: sci-fi

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.

Book Review: BURN by Monica Hesse

Published by Hot Key Books, 6th February 2014. You can read my review of the first book, STRAY, here!

18682748Goodreads Synopsis: Lona Sixteen Always is about to become Lona Seventeen Always, but she isn’t feeling much older or wiser. Unlike Fenn and the rest of the Path strays, she is struggling to move on with her life. How can she look to the future when she knows almost nothing about her past? Lona feels like everyone’s pressuring her to become ‘normal’ – even her beloved Fenn – and on top of this, she’s been having strange, violent dreams. It almost feels like someone’s trying to send her a message…

Lona’s dreams turn out to be memories – clues hidden inside Lona by her mother, who Lona always assumed was lost to her forever. But she isn’t lost at all: she’s being held captive by Harm – emotionless, psychotic, murderous Harm – and she’s desperate for Lona to find her. But can Lona work it all out in time? And why does Harm need Lona’s mother? In the bid to find out who she really is, Lona will fall headlong into a trap far more dangerous and cunning than she could ever have imagined. The Path was just the beginning.

My Review: Contains small spoilers only in the first paragraph if you haven’t yet read Stray! Whoa. I’ve been really eager to read this since I finished Stray a year ago: If you’re on Twitter you might have seen multiple fangirly tweets. As soon as I received it, I re-read book one so I had everything fresh in my head! This sequel definitely lived up to my expectations. Wow.

Burn focuses largely on Lona’s hunt for any possible family. After the events of Stray, Lona is trying to adjust to life outside of Path, the virtual reality experiment that lets foster children live a ‘perfect’ life. Turning seventeen, she realises there must be a mother still alive, and she’s desperate to find her, but Harm makes an appearance in the story and everything turns really dark and sinister. I was completely blown away, on the edge of my seat for every page. The plot was really thrilling! It captures the broken bond between a mother and a long lost daughter so, so well. I felt tears welling up. A lot.

I fell in love with the story all over again, but there was one thing I couldn’t quite get on with: There’s a death in the first book, right at the ending, and I thought that would really shake all of the other protagonists up. They seemed fine, though… It bugged me for some reason.

Lona was still a kick-butt, loveable character. She develops a lot throughout this book, and I really felt for her as she begins to adjust to a life with no more danger (Or, so she thought…). With a lot of books I’ve read recently, I haven’t been able to connect with characters when the book’s in third person, but Lona’s a character I can instantly connect with and follow easily. Fenn, of course, totally beats Jace Wayland any day ;D Forget Jace and Clary or Tobias and Tris. It’s LONA AND FENN:3. One character I was truly terrified of was Harm… He seriously scared me in the first book, and this one was no different!

Overall, Burn was a brilliant sequel, and it was definitely worth the wait. The plot was pacy and exciting, and much more than what I was expecting. Monica Hesse’s writing is amazing, and more people need to read these books! Strong sequel? Yep. Awesome main protagonist? Yep. Clever and imaginative Sci-Fi themes? Yep. It ticks all the boxes! I can’t recommend this more; It’s definitely worth starting if you’ve read the first book, and if you haven’t, well… Read the first book!! (: I’m super sad now. There will be no more from the world of Stray, according to the author. But, I’m hoping there will be more books from her soon!

My Rating: 

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

An interview with SF Said!

My first author interview of the year, and probably one of the most exciting ones I’ve ever gotten to do!

SF Said wrote Phoenix, most recently- a sci-fi epic about a boy searching for his missing father. I fell in love with it; it was beautifully written and really captivating. You can read my glowing (No pun intended- the book’s about stars!) review here!

First up, here’s a little about SF… (I felt arty! So this looks relatively cool!):

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Onto the interview questions, in which writing, book themes and illustrations are covered… The images are all of Dave McKean’s beautiful artwork for the book, aside from the photo!

Where did the initial idea for Phoenix come from?

The initial idea was about a boy who goes on an epic quest to find his missing father.  That was all I had at the start.  I didn’t know who the boy was, or where the quest would take him – until I got the idea of setting the story on a starship.  This idea popped into my head one afternoon, and I immediately knew it meant we’d be crossing the galaxy, and there’d be aliens… and that’s when I got really excited about it!

The book took off from there.  But I have to admit, it changed a huge amount over the seven years it took to write it!

What was the hardest scene to write in Phoenix? (Don’t worry, no spoilers here- thanks, SF!:))

The beginning and end were both very hard.  But the thing I found hardest runs all the way through.  It’s what you might call the mythic background.

sf image 1The aliens in Phoenix believe that all the mythological gods are really stars who come down from the sky.  They take different forms in different times, but they’re always the same immortal beings, returning again and again through history.  They call them the Twelve Astraeus.

Originally, I wrote lots of material about the Twelve Astraeus, to explain this background.  But it was impossible to find words powerful enough to describe them.  After all, gods and stars should be mysterious and awe-inspiring beyond words!

Then I came up with the idea of describing them through illustrations and song fragments.  I gave Dave McKean a list of the Twelve Astraeus, with their names and attributes in different mythologies (Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, sf image 2Mesopotamian etc.)  The images he created have exactly the sense of mystery and awe that I wanted.

I also wrote song fragments to go with the pictures, which give you little hints about them.  So when readers encounter the Astraeus of Love, for example, they can work out for themselves that she’s been called Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Astarte, and so on; and even if they don’t, they’ll just feel who she is, without being told.  I find that much more powerful and evocative than ordinary prose – but it took me a long time to work out the best way to do it!

Why did you decide to write a book set in Space- what that inspired by anything in particular?

I’ve always loved space stories.  The stars have always filled me with a sense of wonder.  I love the thought of other life; other worlds, out there in the universe…  and I know I’m not alone in these feelings.  Yet there aren’t many books set in space for younger readers, given how popular it is on TV and in films (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek…)  So because I wanted to read more space stories myself, I had to sit down and write my own!

I’m also very interested in space science and astronomy, and the incredible things that are being discovered all the time.  I love the idea of Dark Matter, for example.  It seems that most of the matter in the universe is ‘Dark Matter’; it’s usually invisible and undetectable, but it’s what holds everything together.  So I put this idea into the book, and Dave McKean made some beautiful images of it, partly based on fractals.

But it turns out that his illustrations are incredibly close to the reality!  Just last week, astronomers captured the very first image of the web of Dark Matter that holds the universe together – and it looks astonishingly like Dave’s pictures!

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Are any of the characters based on real people?

The one that’s closest to reality is probably Mystica Grandax, the Startalker.  She is largely based on my grandma, who died during the writing of the book.  She was pretty much the nicest grandma you could imagine, and I wanted to have a character as nice as that!  A lot of strange and difficult things happen to the main character Lucky in the course of the story, so I wanted there also to be someone who was just unconditionally good and kind and loving towards him.

I loved Dave McKean’s illustrations! Do you have a favourite from Phoenix?
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Thank you, I love them too, as you can probably tell from my other answers!  He is a brilliant artist and a great collaborator, and we spent a lot of time talking and thinking about how to do it.  Many of the things the book describes are impossible and unimaginable, so it wasn’t easy!  And yet I think he pulled it off.

It’s impossible for me to choose a single favourite.  But I have to admit, the cover blew my head off when I first saw it!

I also love the book trailer that he made for Phoenix, which animates many of his illustrations in a really beautiful way.

[My blog doesn’t seem to like YouTube Video embedding… but you can just click on the link above, for the book trailer! It’s worth watching… it really is gorgeous (: ]

Finally, do you have any hints about current writing projects?

I’m just beginning the third draft of my new book right now!  The working title of this one is TYGER.  It’s science fiction too, although it’s not space; it’s more of a parallel worlds story.  I’m really excited about it!

My usual routine is: get up in the morning, go to the library, and write.  I write in the library because I’m not disciplined enough to work at home; there are just too many distractions.  Much as I love Twitter (where I’m @whatSFSaid), it’s disastrous for your concentration!  I find it much easier to focus in the library, and I work there every day, unless I’m doing a school visit.

But my aim is always to make my books as good as they can possibly be, and that takes a lot of drafts, and a lot of time.  Phoenix took 13 drafts in the end (Varjak Paw took a horrifying 17!) so it might be a while till it’s ready…  but I hope not too long!

Wow! I can’t believe it took 13 drafts- but it was definitely worth it. Phoenix is an awesome read, and I really recommend it! Thank you so much to SF Said for the interview. I really loved it, so I hope everybody else does!

Book Review: The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Published by Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot), 2nd January.

The Almost GirlGoodreads Synopsis (condensed): Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. But coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows.  Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
My Review: The Almost Girl was a book I was really interesting in reading just by the synopsis. When I saw the gorgeous cover, I was even more excited! The Almost Girl is a Sci-Fi, epic adventure, that I had really high hopes for. It was a great read, but there were a few faults that I had with it. The world building is absolutely brilliant: I think that was definitely my favourite part of the novel! The idea of a technologically advanced, parallel universe, had me really intrigued. I haven’t read much like that before and loved the concept that a girl from this Sci Fi world had travelled to our Earth, to conduct a search. I loved the Vectors, too: Almost like zombies- re-animated dead bodies programmed to be killers. Terrifying. It was all really vivid and real.

I thought it would be very action-packed (and it was, a lot) but there were also contemporary themes of teenage rivalry, tension, etc. I wasn’t really expecting that, but liked that addition at first. I grew to dislike slightly, further into the story. Riven’s been explained as this ruthless soldier, but suddenly, about halfway through the book, she’s developed all of these complex emotions and… I didn’t really get it! She was a great character a lot of the time, but I found her personality pretty confusing. Another thing that confused me a lot was the whole Cale/Caden thing. Two characters, completely alike, with similar sounding names? So hard to keep track of… It made it hard for me to understand their relationships with Riven. That made me enjoy the story less, which I’m really sad about. If i’d found it explained better, I think I would’ve liked it even more.

I found the story hard to get into. The prologue really drew me in; Amalie’s narrative hooks and air of mystery in her writing had me really curious! After the first few chapters, to about 175 pages in, I found I wasn’t that hooked anymore. I decided to leave the book for a while and come back to it later. I did so, and  found the next parts much better! I became completely engrossed in the story and addicted to Amalie’s writing. Then, in the last fifty pages, I didn’t feel that anymore. Maybe I wasn’t entirely in the mood for a sci-fi, maybe the plot was just at its best in the middle… I’m not sure!

Overall, The Almost Girl was a fun read. It’s an epic Sci-Fi concept that really interested me. I really couldn’t get into some parts… This book took me about a week to get through. However, it did definitely have its action packed, engrossing parts, so I did enjoy a large amount of it. The characters, and their backgrounds and ties with each other, were pretty confusing to me. They were hard to follow at points! However, some of the genius plot twists in the middle and the world building definitely made up for it. A complex read, but also really original. I think a lot of Sci-Fi fans will love it.

My Rating:

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

Phoenix

By SF Said, published by David Fickling Books.

PhoenixGoodreads Synopsis: THE SUPERNOVA IS COMING . . . ONE BOY ALONE CAN SAVE THE GALAXY!

Lucky thinks he’s an ordinary Human boy. But one night, he dreams that the stars are singing – and wakes to find an uncontrollable power rising inside him.

Now he’s on the run, racing through space, searching for answers. In a galaxy at war, where Humans and Aliens are deadly enemies, the only people who can help him are an Alien starship crew – and an Alien warrior girl, with neon needles in her hair.

Together, they must find a way to save the galaxy. For Lucky is not the only one in danger. His destiny and the fate of the universe are connected in the most explosive way . . .

My Review: This book kept catching my eye in bookstores, and I was approved for it on Netgalley. I kept putting it off because it was on my kindle and I prefer physical copies! I wanted to buy this to read on paper but in the end, curiosity got the better of me and I started it on my kindle, even though the illustrations have a better effect in physical copies. Even though it probably wasn’t the best reading experience, on a kindle, I feel in love with this story. I’m definitely going to be buying it and re-reading it soon!

Phoenix is about a boy called Lucky, who’s living in a universe torn apart by war. When he almost burns his room down in his sleep, a chain of events starts, pulling him into the conflict between the humans and the Axxa. The plot unfolds really well, and there were some genius twists that kept me guessing at the ending. There’s no way I could have ever predicted the last chapters. They were heartbreaking, yet hopeful, and so beautiful.

The book was full of some breath-taking world building- It was so vivid and realistic, I felt like if I looked out of my window I’d see the starships flying across the skies and the feel the stars singing. It was amazing, how powerful the world was! The plot was action packed and adventurous, yet despite all of the fantastical happenings, the story can be applied to real life. It deals with the effects of war, and unlikely friendships, and I really loved how that’s relatable to loads of situations here in real life. The writing, as well as the illustrations, bring the story to life beautifully. It was so descriptive, but not over-the-top, and generated a lot of powerful imagery. SF Said is really talented at weaving tension into a story, and he made me really feel for the characters.

Lucky is unforgettable. At first, over the first tenth of the book, I was a little unsure of him, because he didn’t seem to be that brave. Though, I think that may have been intended; because Lucky’s development over the story is amazing. His power, though it’s a burden to him, sounds pretty cool! (: Another character that I fell in love with, was Bixa. She’s an Axxa, as part of the starship crew that Lucky joins. She’s really unique and loveable- pretty awesomely kick-butt, too! Her friendship with Lucky was so… CUTE! I loved them, though of course all of the other members of the Axxa crew have a special place in my heart now… (:

Overall, Phoenix is a really amazing novel. I’m so glad I finally thought I’d request and read it. (I blame M at We Sat Down for this new bookish obsession!!) The plot was superbly written, and I immersed myself in the world so easily. I really, really didn’t want to leave it at the end! The characters were all flawless; each has such detailed backgrounds and personalities- I felt I knew them. I did really want to talk about all of McKean’s drawings for the book here, too: But on a kindle they really didn’t look as amazing as they do on paper. Phoenix is on my to-buy list for when I next visit a bookshop though, so I can read it in physical form and experience the illustrations better- they are breathtaking! Anyway- HIGHLY recommended for any sci-fi fans, fantasy fans, etc., out there- and also anybody who wants a new favourite book (:

My Rating:

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

 

We Will Destroy Your Planet

(re the title: Don’t take this literally, it’s the book title ;D)

By David McIntee, published by Osprey.

We Will Destroy Your Planet: An Alien's Guide to Conquering the EarthGoodreads Synopsis: Enjoy this pseudo-nonfiction, ‘how-to’ military handbook for aliens intending to conquer the Earth. Science fiction elements are satirized and then connected to real-world science, history, and military technique to show how it should be done.
It goes without saying that any military campaign must be planned in ways depending upon some basic factors: The logistics of where your enemy is in relation to your own forces, environmental factors, and, most importantly, ‘why’ you’re fighting this campaign. This book intends to take these basic factors, and apply them to the purpose of conquering the planet known to the natives as Earth.
There are, of course, many possible reasons for launching a military campaign against such a planet. The form of your campaign, and the formation of its strategic and tactical policies will very much depend on your reason. Obviously the campaign to destroy all sentient life on a planetary surface will be very different in character to a campaign to, say, bring the local population into the fold of your empire or federation – and, frankly, a lot simpler.
Once the reason for conquest, or destruction, has been determined, the book will take a step-by-step approach to the best way to annihilate humanities resistance and bring them to their knees.

 

My Review: I requested this book because I actually thought it would be a little like the some of the books I loved when I was smaller. I had this one handbook called Vordak the Incomprehensible, for super-villains, which outlined how to conquer the Earth in a light, funny manner, for younger kids. That was what I was expecting from We Will Destroy Your Planet- though what I actually received was something a lot more complex, and… heavier, I guess!

I dived into the book thinking it would be a children’s title, though it’s much more suited to sci-fi loving teenagers and adults. That isn’t because of the content- I just found that everything was written in a more complex way than I had expected. It actually seemed like a very serious book! (Watch out, I have all the knowledge of how to take over the Earth now!) My first thought was i’m not going to enjoy it as much now. I was looking for an MG read! However, that didn’t mean I hated this. It was actually a pretty brilliant book, and there was a bit of humor thrown in too.

The book is split into different sections outlining everything about taking over the Earth. Information on military organisations, Earth’s inhabitants and atmosphere info, weapons and attacking methods. It was all really in-depth and I found that quite fun! As a bit of a science geek, I really loved reading it. There were points where things were just too heavy for my liking: parts that were purely scientific information, and were generally confusing. There were a lot of parts I was really absorbed into, but at some other points, I did feel like the author was just dumping a lot of information on the page, cramming it all in. A few parts could have definitely been worded to be more enjoyable!

The illustrations really livened up the book. It reads like a non-fiction piece of work- that was quite cool! – so the illustrations, I weren’t originally expecting. They were really, really awesome. I really loved the illustrator’s work! The rich sci-fi drawings broke down the book a bit and brought the content to life.

Overall, We Will Destroy your Planet was a fun read, though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It took me quite a while to read it, because I just couldn’t get used to the writing style. It is a really great book, though! It’s the perfect Christmas present for a Sci-Fi fan. WWDYP is very in-depth to the point where it’s even a little scary… let this book fall into the wrong hands and… well, Earth’s going to get invaded! D: The last eighth of the book, roughly, is an index of alien invasions in Sci-Fi stories, and I really liked that part. My inner sci-fi nerd is begging me to go find all of the recommendations now!

My Rating:

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

Spotlight on Steampunk: Larklight

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First review of the fortnight! I devoured this book in a couple of sittings over the weekend, and it was brilliant. There can’t be a steampunk event without a Philip Reeve book, right? Here’s the first in his MG/Teen series- Larklight! (:

By Philip Reeve, published by Bloomsbury.

Larklight (Larklight, #1)

Goodreads Synopsis: Arthur (Art) Mumby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space, where they will do battle with evil forces in order to save each other–and the universe.  A fantastically original Victorian tale set in an outer space world that might have come from the imaginations of Jules Verne or L Frank Baum, but has a unique gravitational pull all its own…

My Review: This was the best book to start the fortnight on, as it was so rich with imagination and craziness. I loved it! The story begins with a brother and a sister, who are living in a crazy, huge house-mansion-ship in space called Larklight, which was their mother’s home before she died. Already, I was sucked into the story, because the premise was so awesome. The time of the events in the book is the early 1800’s- but the Victorian era I’ve learned about here has a massive twist. Victoria’s empire has expanded not only over the globe, but over space and surrounding planets. I couldn’t help but squeal here. It was so original and a really fun setting!

This book doesn’t hang around, world-building before the action. The details all fall into place perfectly over the course of the book, and you’re thrown into the action almost immediately. Larklight gets a visitor ,which Art and Myrtle are immediately already suspicious of. Then, when this visitor turns out to be a giant spider with a giant army, things happen. Creepy things, and adventurous things, all of which I don’t want to detail on in fear I’ll drop spoilers- but I’ll just say that it was so fun following everything! This book would suit anybody- whether they love sci-fi, fast-paced adventures, or pirates, or space. Or pirates in space (This happens! How brilliant! It had a very Treasure Planet feel.)

The story moved quite fast for me. With a lot packed into the plot, I was expecting the pace to be a little bit slower. However, the book moved really, really quickly. I did have to read over a few paragraphs at multiple points, because there was a lot to take in. Larklight really is a wild adventure, and moved a bit too fast in places, but that was made up for with the writing style- a twelve year old’s perspective!

Art is such a great character. Philip Reeve has captured a twelve year old’s personality so well. Art is a really easy character to like, and the story is written by “him,” so in places he complains a lot about his older sister, and skips to the battle scenes. His actions, and perspective on everything, made me giggle a bit. I couldn’t stand his sister Myrtle- though. She just seemed the opposite of Art; stuck up and unfriendly. I think it was intended for a reader to dislike her at first- because later in the novel, we get her diary entries, and whilst she’s still a bit annoying in them, I did grow to like her a little more through those.

Overall, Larklight is an imaginative,  roller-coaster of a book! The world was simply amazing- I loved the historical aspects that Philip Reeve has used, and put his own twists on. All so original! I planned on not reading the sequel (Starcross) this month yet, but I might end up reading it, actually- I want more of the setting! More of the adventure! The plot in Larklight has a very strange mixture of everything, but it all works, thanks to Philip Reeve, and his brilliant writing and world-building skills. The two siblings whom the story is centered around are both very three-dimensional characters, though I still really couldn’t like Myrtle much. Hopefully she’ll become more likeable in the rest of the series. I can’t wait to read on!

My Rating:

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I purchased a copy of Larklight from a local bookstore!