Book Review: The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

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Genre: Horror

Publisher: Orbit

Length: 336 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: March 3rd 2016

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances. 

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy. 

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

 

Book Review

Jack Sparks, a journalist famous for his controversial books, his outspoken tweets and his overall terrible attitude wants to write a new book. After his last bestseller Jack Sparks on Drugs, a book that sent him a couple of months in rehab, Jack is ready for another ride. And what is more controversial than a big dive into the supernatural?

Jack Sparks and the Supernatural will be his next bestseller, he doesn’t care if it means that he’ll have to assist to exorcism or watch creepy videos (especially very realistic ones published on in own Youtube channel without his knowledge). Jack has to show everyone on Earth what a supercherie this supernatural thing is. It will be his best work…if he can survive it.

Well, as we learn in the prologue, he couldn’t. Jack Sparks died while writing the manuscript of what should have been his masterpiece. Now published posthumously with some add-ons such as testimonies of friends and family, The Last Days of Jack Sparks is Jack’s account of his (mis)adventures diving into the supernatural.

But what exactly caused Jack’s death ? Was it ghosts or other miscellaneous creatures or simply an excess of cocaine ? And what about the mysterious video posted on his own Youtube channel that he certainly didn’t put there? Who did and for what?

Reading The Last Days of Jack Sparks, you’ll soon come to the realization that Jack Sparks and his entire squad are definitely unreliable, they all have secret motives to say what they say and hide what they do. Which means that you cannot trust anyone and you are the only one able to decide what you should trust: and it only makes it more fun.

Another thing that you might want to know before going in is that Jack is a bit of an asshole: he’s rude, self-obsessed and a complete drug addict. I usually don’t like main characters who happen to be total douchebags but, in this book, I woudn’t have wanted anything else: it suited the story perfectly.

This book is hilarious and if, like me, you tend to be intimidated by horror books just because you’re afraid you won’t be able to sleep, give this one a try. It was such a fun ride, I almost devoured the entire thing in a day because I wanted to know what was going to happen! The mystery is going to keep you on the edge of your seat and the tone and sarcastic voice of Jack is definitely something to experience!

Highly recommended if you’re looking for a hilarious read for Halloween or any other time of the year!

 

And if I didn’t manage to convince you, go read Mogsy’s and Tammy’s reviews, they both convinced me to pick up The Last Days of Jack Sparks and it was definitely worth it! 😀

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Book Review: Null States by Malka Older (Infomocracy #2)

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Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 432 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3 stars

Publication Date: September 19th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

The future of democracy is about to implode.

After the last controversial global election, the global infomocracy that has ensured thirty years of world peace is fraying at the edges. As the new Supermajority government struggles to establish its legitimacy, agents of Information across the globe strive to keep the peace and maintain the flows of data that feed the new world order.

In the newly-incorporated DarFur, a governor dies in a fiery explosion. In Geneva, a superpower hatches plans to bring microdemocracy to its knees. In Central Asia, a sprawling war among archaic states threatens to explode into a global crisis. And across the world, a shadowy plot is growing, threatening to strangle Information with the reins of power.

 

Book Review

 

The sequel to Infomocracy (2016) is not a high tech thriller following a Supermajority elections full of corruptions but a story focused on the aftermath of such an election. It focuses mainly on centenals (micro nations of 100 000 inhabitants) that just joined the micro democracy system and it opens up with the murder investigation of the former governor of the Darfur centenal. The actions mainly takes place in Darfur but also Geneva and China and it was interesting to see how Information differed in various places.

I won’t talk about the plot in any more details just because it would 1) completely spoil Infomocracy and 2) also spoil Null States since not a lot actually happens and it would be too easy to disclose a bit too much about the story and you wouldn’t have much to discover by yourself.

I am pretty torn about this book and I don’t really know if I enjoyed it or not. I felt the same way about Infomocracy but I hoped Null States would convice me a bit more. I really admire this series for the worldbuilding, the ideas and the tech. The most interesting parts for me were all the parts about Information: how it worked, how it installed itself in all the centenals and how it influenced the micro-democracy system. All the centenals part of the system have complete access to the Information network but it also means that everything they do is recorded. For people brought up with Information (like all the main characters), being recorded at all time is nothing special and having access to everything in a matter of seconds is as natural as breathing. However, for people new to the system, this constant surveillance is too much and most of them tends to find this quite unsettling if not threatening.

In Infomocracy, Information was definitely the “good guy” of the story: an organization that worked in favor of democracy and distributed information to everyone while always being partial. In Null States, we can definitely sense a shift in their role, a lot of their actions are quite questionable and they don’t seem to be supporting the Supermajority goverment as much as replacing them completely, the elected government turning into a figurehead while the real decisions are made elsewhere.

This aspect I found fascinationg, however, as I said, I have mixed feelings about this series, my main problem being that I disliked almost all of the characters except two minors characters that happened to be inhabitants of Darfur. I found Ken and Mishima flat and bland and I actively disliked Roz, the main charactre of Null States. I don’t have to love characters to enjoy a book but when they all annoy you and act completely selfishly during the entire book, it starts to get on my nerves.

Roz was unbearable, she was rude to everyone including the people she worked with, she was extremely close-minded and couldn’t bring herself to at least attempt to open herself to other cultures and opinions other that her own. She acts like a robot 99% of the time and suddendly transform herself into a cheesy mess when she decides she’s in love with a guy just because she’s attracted to him. I mean I almost gave up on Null States several times just because I was so fed up with Roz’s behaviour.

It’s a shame because this series has a lot of potential and clever ideas however I don’t know if I am going to read the next book, I want to know how this series is going to end but I don’t know if I want to read it in those characters perspectives…

If you read and enjoyed the first book then you’ll probably like Null States too but if you didn’t, I don’t think you’ll enjoy this one either infortunately…

3 stars.

 

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to Tor.Com. All opinions are my own.

September Wrap-Up & October Reading Plans

I seriously don’t know where this year is going , September went by extremely fast and now October is upon us and I still feel like we are at the beginning of the year!

I love fall but as always (and I think it’s the case for everyone), September is an extremely busy and exhausting month. I didn’t have a lot of time to read and when I did, I either took naps or watch TV shows that were less demanding to my brain… So that’s why there isn’t a lot of books in the Books Read section but oh well, naps are important.

Books Read

  • The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts ★★★★
  • Interzone #263 ★★★
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel ★★★
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon ★★
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer [REREAD] ★★★1/2
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells ★★★

I didn’t have the worst reading month ever but most of the things I read didn’t really impress me. The Real Town Murders was the only book that really stood out to me this month. Station Eleven and All Systems Red were nice enough but they didn’t managed to meet my expectations. I already managed to forgot the names of the main characters so that tells you something.

However, the biggest and most surprising disappointment is my re-read of Too Like the Lightning, yes I know, shocking considering that it was one of my favorite book of 2017. However, I didn’t find it nearly as good after another read, I’m still intrigued by the sequel but this time, I found the style incredibly pretentious and plainly annoying. The intrigue was still good but the style felt overdone and almost awkward at times and it didn’t felt right with the setting of the story.  I guess it didn’t bother me as much the first time around because I was more interesting in the world and the complex political intrigues… Anyway, at least this time around I understood all the political maneuverings a bit more but I wouldn’t consider this book to be a favorite anymore. 😦

Best Book of the Month

 

I don’t know about you but during fall I love to read spookier things and I have a ton of books I really want to get to this October! I started IT by Stephen King a few weeks ago and I would like to finish it this month. So far I like it even if I thought it was going to be much more scary than it actually is. However, since I have only read the first part yet, my opinion on the level of “scariness” may change. I’m also 10% in Null States by Malka Older which is the second book in the Infomocracy series and so far so good.

As I said, I am currently in the mood for scarier/spooky books this month and since I am considering a lot of options, I will just list the ones I really want to get to soon. If you see a particular title that looks interesting to you or that you would like me to read, please say so, it would help me narrowing down the list!

  • Reaper’s Gale by Steven Erikson
  • Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
  • The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
  • Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
  • The Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward
  • The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  • Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe
  • The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata

 

Hope you had a great month! 🙂

The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

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Genre:  Sci-Fi, Mystery

Publisher: Gollancz

Length: 240 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: August 24th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying.

Alma’s partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine.

So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.

What follows is a fast-paced Hitchcockian thriller as Alma evades arrest, digs into the conspiracy, and tries to work out how on earth a dead body appeared in the boot of a freshly-made car in a fully-automated factory.

 

Book Review

 

Set in world where people are addicted to the Shine, a virtual reality way more interesting than the real world, The Real-Towns Murders follows Alma, a private detective trying to solve a locked room mystery.

The situation? A body was found in a car booth of a car factory. The problem? Video footages show the car being built to scratch by robots and no humans entered the factory during this span of time. You could blame the AIs taking those footages but infortunately, they are incapable of lying, which means that a body magically appeared in the car while it was built by robots. So how the hell did it manage to appear in this place and why?

It is the mystery our dear detective Alma has to solve. However, soon after she’s engaged on this particular mission, she found herself in a lot more than she bargained for: it appears that the government doesn’t really want her to find who did it or why and if she really want to solve it, she’ll have to do it with government agents trying to stop her.

The thing is, Alma’s situation is a bit peculiar, she has to attend her sick partner Maguerite every four hours (not a minute less or more) or she’ll die. Indeed her partner was attacked a while back by a gene hacker who linked Alma and Marguerite’s DNA together. This means that Alma is the only one able to attend her partner and she can only use the expensive treatments provided by the hacker: welcome to the new bioransomware…

Of course, in a daily normal life, having to prevent someone from dying horribly every four hours isn’t exactly stress-free but, when you are being pursued by governments agents who clearly want to kill you, it’s even more complicated, especially when the partner in question is so big that it can’t leave your home.

This book is utterly crazy but the kind of crazy I love: it is crazy in a very clever way. It’s quite funny and quirky but at the same time, it really managed to deal with serious issues.

In this world where everyone escape in the Shine all the time, the Real Towns or R!Towns are left empty and the only ones roaming the streets are robots or people immersed in another world entirely. No one interacts directly anymore prefering the confort of conversations through screens and Roberts really managed to show how it affected the society and the way it was reshaped by this fact.

The whole book was an extreme example of how the future could turn out to be if we continue to bury ouselves into our smartphones and computers. It really made me think about how social media change the way we interact. Yes, it allows us to communicate way more easily but at the same time, it creates a barrier between people. In the Real Town Murders, people are so used to dealing with each other through screens that they are almost incapable to have a normal conersation face to face anymore (it made most of the dialogues in this book pretty hilarious!).

If you are looking for a fun read with important themes and discussions, I would highly recommend this book, I haven’t read many things by Roberts (even if I own most of his works) but I really need to fly through his backlist because he has really interesting things to say and I really like how he says them.

Highly recommended.

 

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to Gollancz. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Genre: Hard Sci-Fi, Climate Fiction

Publisher: Orbit Books

Length: 613 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: March 14th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

 It is 2140. 

The waters rose, submerging New York City. 

But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever.

Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island.

Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building, Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides.

And how we too will change.

Book Review

 

New York, 2140. The waters have risen by more than 50ft but the submerged City is still going strong.

In this brilliant book, Kim Stanley Robinson explores an hypothetical future where the melting of glaciers and climate change completely reshaped the world as we know it. New York 2140 follows a bunch of characters all living in the Met as they slowly all meet thanks to a series of happy  (or not so much) adventures revolving around the disapperance of two coders who may have try to shatter the world of finance. Yeah, just that.

I can’t say that this book is very plot-driven; it is certainly centered around the disapperances of the two hackers but, it mostly remains KSR’s study of climate change and how humans could survive the mess we are currently making with our planet. I personally enjoy climate fiction since this genre allows me to see how our current actions could possibly influence our future and to see some solutions presented by the author. I like it when books are set way after a disaster because you can then see how the society was reshaped by this particular event.

In this book, it was fascinating to see the ideas KSR came up with, both in terms of technical progress (seeing New York as Venice was very interesting, KSR imagined a city where bridges are connecting the different towers and everyone has his own personal boat and/or airplane) and finance’s evolution. In this world, the most important asset is real-estate particularly real-estate in the intertidal, a zone of New York where the buildings are partially submerged and the state of those buildings and the predictions of several agencies on their “health” is, of course, creating a new finance bubble. And bubbles like to pop.

I will say it right now, this one isn’t for everyone, if you don’t care about New York or finance, this will probably bore you to death. I know some basic finance stuff (very basic but once upon a time, I wanted to work in the field, but that was before 2007, now it doesn’t interest me so much) and some passages completely went over my head. However, what really worked for me was the style of this book, it is written in a very peculiar way, some parts are only written in dialogues, some parts are 3rd person or 1st person and every few chapters, KSR has passages written by “a citizen” which are basically KSR’s free spaces in the book where he express his political opinions on finance and climate change. In those we often encounters extremely detailed en lenghty pieces on finance theory or New York’s history. Those parts are either going to make you fall in love with the book or despise it completely because they are quite info-dumpy and biaised. I have to say that some of “the citizen”‘s essays were a bit boring to me but for the most part, I enjoyed them and I found them interesting! Also, I really enjoyed reading about the majority of the characters and I really appreciated the fact that they all had distinct voices.

I read Aurora by KSR earlier this year and I had a lot of issues with this book so I almost didn’t read NY 2140 but I am so glad I gave this author another go because this was amazing, it was dense but so clever, witty and a whole lot of fun and I will definitely re-read this book in the future! I also want to read his impressive backlist starting with the Mars trilogy!

Highly highly recommended to cli-fi nerds.

Book Review: The New Voices of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman

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Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Length: 336 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: August 8th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Ready for the next big thing?

The New Voices of Fantasy spotlights nineteen breakout writers who are reinventing fantasy right now. Usman T. Malik, Sofia Samatar, Eugene Fischer, E. Lily Yu, Ben Loory, Maria Dahvana Headley, Ursula Vernon, Max Gladstone, and other emerging talents have been hand-picked by fantasy legend Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn) and genre expert Jacob Weisman (Treasury of the Fantastic). International, crosscultural, and fearless, many of these rising stars have just or are about to publish their first novels and collections. They bring you childhood stories gone wrong, magical creatures in heat, a building that’s alive and full of waiters, love, ducks, and a new take on a bloodsucking fiend.

 

Book Review

 

Tne New Voices of Fantasy is an anthology collecting all sorts of fantastical tales by new(er) fantasy authors: all the stories present in this anthology were previously published in several venues in the last few years  You probably have read or at least heard about some of the authors featured in this anthology such as Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, Hannu Rajaniemi, Usman T. Malikin, they are all fairly new authors (even if some have been published a lot of things in the last five years)  and this anthology is great opportunity to discover really interesting works by auhtors new to you!

This anthology is composed of very different types of fantasy and all the authors here have their own style and stories to tell but, even each short was different from one another, I really enjoyed how well The New Voices of Fantasy flowed . I enjoyed most of the stories which is not always an easy feat for me and I discovered or re-discovered amazing stories. If you think fantasy is only about elves, trolls and witches, you will be impressed to see how extraordinary diversed this collection of stories is. If the future of the genre is sampled in this book, we are in for a treat!

★★★★

 

Table of Content & Individual Reviews


“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong – ★★★★ – RE-READ
Well, this is now the third time I read this story and the third time I talk about it on my blog! It follows the story of a girl who uses Tinder in order to find the worst dates possibles and feed off their impure thoughts. Until the day her date isn’t a petty criminal but an actual murderer, the one thing her mom warned her against: once your tasted those thoughts, you can’t go back.
I have to say that this story is not the most re-readable story, it is very good but, the third time I was a bit bored since I knew and remembered all the twists and turns. However, I am still glad this story is featured here since it is a very interesting story and I really admire Alyssa Wong’s writing. It’s definitely a great opener (and even more so if it’s the first time you read it!).

“Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar – ★★★★
This tale is a mesh of stories all focused on the selkie’s myth, creatures able to shed their skins to turn into humans. The writing of this story was amazing and I really enjoyed the quiet and eerie tone of this story. I was a bit confused at the beginning but after a few pages, I was hooked. I definitely need to read more of Samatar’s works (short fiction and novels!).

“Tornado’s Siren” by Brooke Bolander – ★★1/2
It’s a story of a tornado falling in love with a teenage girl. It had a light hearted tone but I found it a bit underwhelming as a whole.

“Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker – ★★★★
Set in village where a local pond has the bad habit of swallowing people, we follow a group of teenagers as they try to overcome several of their problems, it is a very short but powerful story about love and grief.

“A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone – ★★★★★ – RE-READ
This modern retelling of Vlad the Impaler follow him as he is trying to live a normal and boring life raising his kid as well as he can while controlling his vampire urges (such as draining of blood his son’s schoolteacher). This was also a re-read and I loved this story as much as the first time, everything about this story worked for me, the writing, the tone, the pacing and the characters were all exactly to my taste! I really need to seek out more stories by Gladstone.

“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon – ★★★★
This short story is a whimsical tale about jackalopes, creatures able to turn into beautiful girls. Of course, many mens desire them as they are inacessible and magical, however, the only way to caught them is to steal their rabbit coats to force them to remain in their human forms. Jackalope Wives follows the story of such a trapped creature and it is heartbreacking and beautifully written. It was the second Ursula Vernon’s story I read and I really need to read her other works!
“The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu – ★★★★

This story follows the interactions between bees and wasps and how one oppress the other, all of this caused by human interventions. I can’t say that I understood everything about this story by the writing was gorgeous and I would have a read an entire book about the subject.

“The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate” by A. C. Wise – ★★ 1/2 
The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate is exactly what it clamied to be: a section by section guide on how to acquire a house when you are a witch! It was lighthearted but a lot of jokes fell a bit flat for me. Compared to the other stories of this collection, this was underwhelming.

“The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley –  ★★
Set in a New York where all the buildings can move on their own, this little story follows the love affair between the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. This story left me a bit indifferent, it might have grabbed my interest more if I could visualize this version of New York better but the first half of the story confused me a lot and after that, I just didn’t care. However, it might just be a personal thing, I have read a few other reviews of this anthology is this story seems to be the favorite of everyone so take that with a grain of salt.

“The Haunting of Apollo A7LB” by Hannu Rajaniemi –  ★★★★
A woman has to deal with her dead lover when his old spacesuit comes knocking at her door.This very ell written short story deals with important topics such as love, living our dreams and gender discrimination.

“Here Be Dragons” by Chris Tarry – ★★★
Following two losers who gain money by pretenting to be dragonslayers, this story had very interesting discussions on parenthood. It is probably the most “typical” fantasy story of this collection as it is set in a clearly secondary world and it features classic elements such as dragons and quests. However, it was really interesting to see how the tropes were reversed in this story.

“The One They Took Before” by Kelly Sandoval – ★★★
A woman cannot stop herself from investing all the magical things happening around her and we are here to find out why. This story is about grief, love and finding yourself back after a traumatizing experience. It would have worked better for me if it had been longer because I would have preferred to have some information delivered more slowly but I still liked this story.

“Tiger Baby” by JY Yang – ★★★ 1/2
Felicity has always seen herself as tiger trapped in the wrong body and her boring human life is slowly driving her insane. This story is about dreams and following them in a world where no one want you to be truly yourself. I have mixed feelings about this story, I liked the fact that the main protagonist is middle aged since usually those stories target younger characters but at the same time I had issues connecting with this protagonist as she was pretty unlikeable and crazy. But still, it was an interesting story and I’m glad I read it, I usually like JY Yang’s stories so it was nice to see one of their stories in this anthology.

“The Duck” by Ben Loory – ★★★★
The Duck is the shortest story of the anthology, it’s a couple of pages long and it follows a duck who is in love with a rock. This was a delight to read even if I’d say half of it went over my head, the writing was gorgeous and since I never heard of Ben Loory, I am very glad for the discovery!

“Wing” by Amal El-Mohtar – ★★★★
The more I read Amal El-Mohtar’s works, the more I admire her. Her writing is something from an another world, I swear to god, I don’t know how she does it. This little piece is about secrets and trust and you should read it.

“The Philosophers” by Adam Ehrlich Sachs – ★★★ 
This is a collection of three separate stories about fathers and sons. It was interesting but I don’t have a lot of things to say about them since I mostly forgot the details of each mini stories. I do remember that the writing was good though so there is that.

“My Time Among the Bridge Blowers” by Eugene Fischer – ★★
A tale about colonialism that could have been much more interesting of the main character wasn’t such a self-centered idiot. It was obviously done on purpose but reading from this perspective wasn’t fun at all and I was bored from the start which is a shame since the themes of this story were pretty interesting.
“The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado – ★★★★★ – RE-READ

This was my second time reading this phenomenal story and it left me in tears like the first time. I don’t even want to say what this story is about because I think it would spoil the pleasure but it is about life and expectations put on women since their birth, it’s about of the society shapes you, consent, motherhood and the freedom to be who you want. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik – ★★★★★ – RE-READ
Following a man who grew up listening to his grandpa’s tales about princessed, jinns and eucalyptus trees, this novella is a powerful story of love, between lovers, family members and to your home. Highly recommended.

July/August Wrap-Up and September Reading Plans

Remember when I said that I was going to read and post a lot this summer? Oh well, it didn’t happen since I ended up very busy both in July and August. It was mostly the good kind of busy since in July I traveled which is always an amazing experience, I went to Prague and to Toulouse with friends and I really enjoyed both places! In August I worked full time in a métro station as a tourist assistant, it was mostly not fun at all but at least I practised my English and my very rusty Spanish so there is that!

Anyway, even if I have not read as many books as I wanted and that I didn’t manage to be a very good blogger, I read some really amazing books especially in August so I am very happy with this!

Books Read

July

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar ★★★

Beloved by Toni Morrison ★★★★

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden ★★★★

Shattered Minds by Laura Lam ★★★1/2

 

August

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab ★★★1/2

The New Voices of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman ★★★★

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson ★★★★★

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire ★★★★

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin ★★★★★

Uncanny Magazine Issue 15 (March/April 2017) ★★★

 

Did Not Finish

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Infortunately, I had to put this book down after 25% because I wasn’t enjoying at all. I was very confused and I couldn’t understand what was going on at all. The worldbuilding was interesting but maybe a bit too ambitious or just not very clear: so many races, characters and storylines were introduced at the same time and I couldn’t keep track of everything. The writing was good so I will watch out for Toner other works in the future, The Promise of the Child being his debut book, his style might improve quite a bit in the future and it was interesting, just a bit too complex for me.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley, all opinions are my own.

Best Books of the Month(s)

This month I read two amazing five stars books: The Stone Sky, the last book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy and New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson! I will be reviewing them shortly but both of those books are going to end up on my Favourite Books of the Year list that’s for sure!!

Currently Reading & TBR

Right now I am currently reading an ARC of Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts, it is a near future sci-fi thriller and so far it is both hilarious and very clever so I am enjoying that a lot. I also just started the audiobook of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, I have only listened to the first chapter so far but it was really interesting. I don’t have a lot of plans for next month but I would very much like to  finally read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. I also need to read the ARC of Null States by Malka Older. If I have time, I may squeeze-in a re-read of Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer because I want to read Seven Surrenders but I really don’t remember enough of the first book to read its sequel now!

 

How was your month? Did you read some really good books too? I would like to know! 🙂

Mini Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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I finished a Conjuring of Light a few days ago and I decided that, instead of reviewing only the third book in this trilogy I would give my overall thoughts on the series!

This series is very hyped up but, in case you never a heard of it before, here’s a little synopsis of the first book. A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, one of the last Antari, magicians capable of traveling between parallel universes, more particularly between different Londons. Each London has unique characteristics:  White London is savage, ruled by two insane rulers, Grey London is magic-less unlike Red London where magic is everywhere and Black London is now destroyed and inaccessible.

Kell is from Red London and, being the only Antari of his universe, he is the only link between his London and the other ones and he has to carry messages between the different Londons’ rulers . The only rule he has to follow during his travels is that he can’t bring relics from an universe to an other one because it can disturb the balance between worlds, but, of course, rules are meant to be broken. Kell can have evrything he wants, but what is better than forbidden things? So he decided to smuggle things from one London to another… until he smuggles something that might end up destroying his world, something from Black London. What he doesn’t know yet is that the only person capable of stopping this is Delilah Bard, a ruthless young thief who tried to rob him in Grey London.

In my opinion, this series is not really a groundbreacking trilogy, it’s fun and I can see why a lot of people love this, I probably would have if I had read this five or six years ago but still. I mean, it definitely has some cool elements, you can except a lot of battles, magic tournaments and pirates: in its ideas this series has a lot of potential but, for me at least, it never really managed to deliver on its promises.

First and foremost, the books are all way too long for what they are trying to do, especially the second book A Gathering of Shadows, which suffered from an extreme case of “second book syndrome”, its intrigue did not stand on its own at all and it ended with a cheap cliffhanger. The third book, A Conjuring of Light was also too long, but, its lenght wasn’t as useless: a couple of side stories felt a bit unnecessary but it wasn’t painful to read either and the ending was satisfying. However, I think this story would have been told better as a duology and not a trilogy.

The characters were interesting enough even if Lila managed to get on my nerves quite a bit, it was obvious that Schwab was in love with this character but, I personally wasn’t. She was too rude, too stubborn and too frustating for me. In the last book, I liked her a bit more but I still found her to be a cliché YA fantasy heroine. However, I liked Rhys and Kell quite a bit and I really loved Alucard and Holland who were for me the most interesting characters out of the bunch. So even if this trilogy wasn’t memorable, it was fun and it definitely had good elements: the worldbuilding is cool, the characters are nice and the plot was pretty decent. It was a bit repetitive for my liking, but still, it was still enjoyable.

Overall, I can see why people would like this series even if I don’t think it is worth the hype, I am pretty sure I will forget this story pretty quickly but still, I’m glad I finished it.

Individual ratings

 

A Darker Shade of Magic:  ★★★

A Gathering of Shadows:  ★★ 1/2

A Conjuring of Light:  ★★★ 1/2

 

Overall Rating

 

 ★★★

 

 

Have you read this trilogy? Did you like it?

 

 

Book Review: Shattered Minds by Laura Lam

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Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Publisher: Tor Books

Length: 384 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: June 20th 2017

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one 
of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they 
might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever.

Book Review

Carina is a former neuroscientist with a drug problem, she constantly has urges to murder people and, to prevent that, she is destroying herself by taking Zeal, a drug allowing humans to enter a virtual reality where all their dreams are materialized. For Carina, Zeal is her only opportunity to kill people without actually murdering anyone and, in her Zeal space she can summon murderers and kill them slowly, just like she wants it….Until the day her Zeal space is hijacked by a vision of a girl being killed by one of her ex-colleague working at Sudice Inc, Carina’s former employer.

Sudice, a company making neurological implants allowing humans to be connected at all times, is now working on a new brain-mapping project that might not be as innocent as claimed, meaning that it might involve a few murders. Carina soon realizes that the vision was sent to her by Mark, a man who used to work for Sudice and who’s now missing after discovering incriminating information about the new project. Mark sent all the information he had through the vision he sent Carina but, to access them, she has to unlock some memories once taken away from her and that she doesn’t especially want to recall. In order to expose the project, she will have to work with the Trust, an organization of people who wants to stop Sudice and put an end to her Zeal addiction, all of that without murdering someone in the process, which might be harder than it seems.

Set in the same world as False Hearts, Lam’s previous novel, Shattered Minds is a dark science fiction thriller filled with evil companies, corruption and murders. It would make a terrific movie or TV shows, the world felt vivid and it was fascinating to see how the society worked in this dark future. The pacing of the story was very interesting as we constantly jumped between past and present as Carina unlocked her memories and it definitely kept the story moving. If you are a fan of stories with evil and corrupt companies, I think Shattered Minds will be a real treat for you. I enjoyed the story quite a bit as it was an interesting thriller with cool sci fi/cyberpunk elements and my only complain is that I wished the characters were a bit more complex. Since Carina was the main character, she was a bit more developped but some of the side characters felt a bit  flat. However, I liked the fact that some of the chapters had different POVs and I especially appreciated the ones following the antagonist, it was really interesting to see her motivations and her reasoning.

It was my first Laura Lam book and now I am very intrigued by her other works, especially False Hearts since it is set in the same universe and I really enjoyed reading about this dystopian near future America, I don’t know if she will write other books in the same universe but if she does, I am definitely interested!

Recommended!

 

I received a copy of this book for free from the pupblisher Tor Books through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Mini Review: The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Length: 400 pages

Format: Physical copy

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: June 13th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

Book Review

Set in a futuristic South Africa where everyone has their own personal robot making their life easier, a vengeful godess is slowly preparing the end of humanity as we know itand an AI uprising is upcoming. And all of that because of a new hallucinogenic drug which gives humans superpowers.

The Prey of Gods follows an old goddess, a young girl that has the power to overpower her, a teenage boy, a pop star and a politician who is Stoker during the day and Felicity Stokes at night and who has a lot of mommy issues.

This book is a mess but a very enjoyable one. If you don’t like absurd books, I wouldn’t recommend this one but, I personally really loved it. It was very weird but I was hooked right at the beginning, I could tell I was going to end up liking it a lot after the first chapter. I devoured this book in two sittings and I think it’s a perfect book to read during holidays, it’s fun, fast-paced,hilarious and it really doesn’t take itself too seriously.

If you are not sure it’s something for you, download a sample (from Amazon for example) and read the first chapter, if you like the opening, you will probably like the rest! So yeah, I don’t have much to say except that it is really a fantastic debut, it really managed to blend the elements of SF and fantasy very well and that I will definitely read anything else Drayden puts out in the future!

Highly recommended!