Challenges June Update

I have three challenges going on, only one since last year which is pretty low maintenance (GoodReads), and the other two are new to me.

I will be posting a general update for the month of June tomorrow, but in the meantime here’s how I have done in the three challenges until the end of the month of June:

GoodReads   |   20 Books of Summer   |   2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss

– GoodReads –

Monthly progress: 15/100

Total progress: 66/100

I set my yearly goal to 100 because it seemed like a number I could easily reach, since I planned to read fairly short books.
I am well ahead at the moment, so don’t feel the pressure to meet the goal. I know I will be reading much less in July, but hopefully I will get back on track in August, so all’s well!

 


– 20 Books of Summer –

Monthly progress: 14/20

Total progress: 14/20

Click the picture to access the original post of the challenge

As expected, not only did I not read several books in the order I had listed them, but I also read a few titles which were not featured in the original list of this challenge.
I am quite happy with the amount of books I managed to read and, who knows, maybe I will be able to read most if not all the titles in the original list.

Update on the original list (links to the reviews will be provided in tomorrow’s topic):

1. Aftermath, by Tom Lewis

2. A Special Place, by Peter Straub

3. Halfskin, by Tony Bertauski

4. Clay, by Tony Bertauski

5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: 100th Anniversary Edition, by Lewis Carroll

6. Disclaimer, by Renée Knight

7. The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1), by Charlie N. Holmberg

8. The Glass Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #2), by Charlie N. Holmberg

9. The Well, by Catherine Chanter

10. Devil’s Daughter (Lucinda’s Pawnshop, #1), by Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

11. A Thorn Among the Lilies, by Michael Hiebert

12. Erewhon (Erewhon #1), by Samuel Butler

13. Kyrathaba Rising (The Kyrathaba Chronicles #1), by William Bryan Miller

14. Every Last Word, by Tamara Ireland Stone

15. The Corridor (The Corridor Series #1), by A.N. Willis

16. Consumption, by Heather Herrman

17. Probably Monsters, by Ray Cluley

18. Hothouse, by Brian W. Aldiss

19. Krabat, by Otfried Preußler

20. Untrustworthy, by J.R. Gershen-Siegel

Titles I read not featured in the original list:

  • The World Before Us – My first Blogging for Books title; can’t request a new one till review is posted to figured I might as well get it over with.
  • Daimones (Daimones Trilogy #1) – Could not read a physical book, so picked up this audiobook I won in a giveaway.
  • When a Child Is Born: A Chronicles of St. Mary’s Short Story – Needed a quick story to listen to while working out.
  • Once Humans (Daimones Trilogy #2) – Sequel to Daimones, might as well read it while Book 1 was fresh in my memory.
  • The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at Heart – Short graphic novel available to ‘Read Now’ at Negalley.

 


– 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss –

Monthly progress: 6

Total progress: 28

Click the picture to access the original challenge post.

This month I read the following books towards this challenge:

Disclaimer
The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1)
The Glass Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #2)
The World Before Us
Untrustworthy
The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at Heart

 


Are you doing any of these challenges?
Or others?

Tell me everything!!

The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at Heart

Title: The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at Heart

Author: Kory Merritt

Genres: Children | Fantasy | Graphics

Length: 128 pages

Source: Netgalley

Format: ACSM

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

Jonathan York was enjoying himself taking a stroll through a swamp, but when he gets lost while night is quickly approaching he is suddenly not having much fun anymore.
Rightly so, because the night will bring lots of frightening oddities!

Review:

When I first started reading this book, I remember thinking it was interesting that the main character was an adult instead of a kid. I wondered whether children would relate to him, but the fact is you just cannot help but root for Jonathan, and hope that he gets to someplace safe after all his dangerous adventures.

His reactions are utterly believable. Instead of a main character who is the epitome of bravery, Mr York is rightly frightened all the time, and even has anxiety attacks. Just how I might react had I experienced even half of what he did.

In addition to some really scary stuff, there were a couple of things which confused me as to what the age-group audience of this book might be, like the Sean Connery reference, and stuff like Footsteps. Like the footsteps in a dinosaur movie. Like the footsteps you hear just before an expendable character gets chomped.

The monsters in this book were crazy creepy! Each was scarier than the previous, and both their looks and their names conquered my inner child.

The illustrations, in general, were daunting, though I did find all the dark colours a bit tiresome after a while. I noticed and appreciated the rare details of colour, like the eyes of certain monsters, and the treasure in the chest.
Most of all, I admire the author’s imagination and ability to weave a gripping tale featuring a main character to whom anyone can relate.

I did think Jonathan found his confidence much too quickly in his encounter with the Terraqueenpin; considering what I saw up to the point, it seemed a bit abrupt, and I would have liked to see more evolution.

But overall this was a great quick read with quite a few foods for thought, amongst which the importance of brains over brawn, of standing up to bullies, and of having stories to tell, instead of limiting yourself to a reassuring routine.
Very impressive for a debut piece!

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read on Jun 29, 2015
GR Review

Note: At the time this review was written, this book was available to ‘Read Now’ at Negalley.

Buddy Read – Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Book Lair is doing a buddy read of the book Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

The readers intend to start around July 1st and, as usual, everyone is welcome to join!

Please click the cover to access the buddy read topic and check out the synopsis below.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Synopsis:

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

Top Habits of the Unsuccessful

Food for thought!
This actually sounds pretty accurate.

Dream Big, Dream Often

As I have been trying to improve myself by understanding habits, especially those of the wealthy, I have stumbled across information regarding unsuccessful people. I was only going to focus on the positive with the idea of emulate what successful people do and forget everything else. But, I thought for comparison, it might be an interesting side note. Here are the common character traits of unsuccessful folk, in this reference I am referring to financial success once again, (an * denotes characteristics listed in multiple resources):

1.They think, say and do negative things**

2. They act before they think**

3.They talk much more than they listen**

4.They give up easily*

5. They try to bring others down to their level*

100

6.They waste their time***

7.They take the easy way out*

8.They believe they know it all

9.They fear change

10.They blame others

11.They are quick to criticize

12. They stop…

View original post 242 more words

Kyrathaba Rising: Kyrathaba Chronicles, Book 1

Title: Kyrathaba Rising: Kyrathaba Chronicles, Book 1

Author: William Bryan Miller

Narrator: Christine Padovan

Genres: Fantasy | Post-Apocalyptic | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins

Source: Audible | Giveaway

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Aliens attacked Earth, forcing the few survivors to take cover in subterranean compounds. Technology evolved greatly, but the pending alien threat never ceases. On the contrary, it will only get worse.
Sethra and his companions seem to have found a way to escape this nightmare and plunge themselves into a separate reality. They are not sure what will await them, nor if it will be possible to help everyone they left behind, but they will definitely try.

Review:

When I started listening to this file, my eyebrow went up and then my forehead creased as I frowned. You see, as lovely as Christine Padovan’s pitch and diction were, there were a couple of things that bothered me profoundly: one, she would prolong the last syllable of what felt like every single line, making her voice sound sleepy or tired, mixed with a sort of imitation of Fonzie from Happy Days, and it was just immensely distracting.
Also, I was not a fan of her voices. Not only did the male ones lack masculinity but they sounded forced, like when you are reading to a child and you make sort of a caricature of what they would sound like?
Finally, her narrator voice would sound like characters’ voice, or vice-versa, especially when transitioning between dialogue lines and ‘X said’.
Switching the speed to 1.5X helped me stay alert, but on the other hand I am well aware I did not retain all the knowledge transmitted to me.
 

The narrative takes place in A3, a compound built underground because aliens decimated the surface of the planet, managing to kill a large percentage of the human race. In this community, people have implants and a bunch of cool tech they use daily. However, they are immensely ill from radiation poisoning and, at that rate, would not be able to survive for long.

Our main character seems to have a way out of the situation, a chance of survival, but only for four people, so he chooses those closest to him. Not going to be easy, because of the implants and other cool but very Big Brothery gadgetry which constantly monitor everyone. But Sethra and his best friend are very smart and manage to have their clandestine conversations anyway and go through with their plan.
 

I remember that it took me a while to get into the story because there was a lot of technical mumbo jumbo I could not get a grip on. While the scientific talk was extremely hard to follow, it somehow made things more believable, but it did grow tiresome after a point. That first dialogue and Sethra’s inner monologues felt endless, and there were several sections of the book consisting of only numbers and statistics. *yawn*

But then things started to get interesting. I did not quite get what the plan was to get away, what they were going to be immersed in, as was said, what exactly was done to make it possible to access that other world, but man… Aliens! Amongst them! That never gets old. Very cool.
I was sad that a character who had started to grow on me had to die so soon. But alas, it would have caused the others to make an awkward decision so that the plot could progress and we can’t have that, now can we?

Kyrathaba Rising turned out to be a blend between fantasy and sci-fi. In the so-called real world, there is the alien threat, and the danger of everyone dying both from sickness and an alien attack – and in the world of Kyrathaba our four characters need to learn how to survive in this foreign fantasy environment, while struggling to assess who to trust.
The two worlds are actually quite distinct and I enjoyed following the events on one just as much as the other.
I wish I could have witnessed the 4 characters’ development in Kyrathaba, especially their skills, and that I had felt more connected to any character at all. I have to admit I liked Grant but that’s about it.

This is one of those books I know I would have enjoyed much more had I read it as opposed to listened to, so I am rounding the rating up instead of down. Grudgingly though, because that ending… Yes, I know it is the first book in a series, so a cliffhanger is to be expected, but this was the mother of cliffhangers; I honestly cannot recall a book ending this abruptly. And I am unsure if I would have like it as much as I hope so because the fact is there were a lot of subplots.

Regardless, there were interesting plot twists, great action scenes, plenty of suspense and even a bit of gore. I have to say there were bits of humour which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Mostly, there was so much richness in the plot and world building that it deserved my full attention and ability to retain the concepts.
Or take notes on my Kindle.

I recommend that you get this book, preferably a printed version. If you consider yourself a professional audiobook listener, this version will be fine as well, if you can get past the things I mentioned earlier.

Disclaimer: I won this audiobook in a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Audiobookreviewer.

Listened to from Jun 27 to Jun 28, 2015
GR Review

Once Humans (Daimones Trilogy #2)

Title: Once Humans (Daimones Trilogy #2)

Author: Massimo Marino

Genres: Dystopia | Mystery | Post-Apocalyptic | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Format: Mobi

Length: 316 pages | 4820 locations

Source: Author

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Following the events in book one, a new community has been set up at Civita.
Dan leads it, alongside Marina, and the new humans slowly evolve, always under the guise of the Moîrai.
However, strange sabotages start to occur and Dan cannot shake off the feeling that the Moîrai are hiding something crucial from him. Is it related to the attacks? Are they in danger?

Review:

This second book of the Daimones trilogy delves more seriously into the sci-fi aspect as opposed to the reactions to the apocalyptic events in the first book. These newly improved humans develop strange capabilities, one of the most interesting to sense whether anyone is around and even their heartbeat and feelings. The Palladium device allows all Selected to easily keep in contact with each other and, through council meetings with the Moîrai, progress and peace are maintained constant.

Dan is worried about many things, amongst which the fact that he will largely outlive their loved ones (even though he already has a future love interest in check), and the safety of those in his ‘colony’.

When strange sabotage acts start to occur, Dan and his fellow council members want humans to handle it, but find themselves forced to ask the Moîrai for help, as they find out the acts are not the work of human spared ones alone, as they initially thought. A larger conspiracy is at stake and, more than ever, the Moîrai will need to disclose the full truth behind what is happening and their own intentions.

 
There were a few editorial mistakes, like wrong verb tenses and misspellings (frequently of plurals, for instance). When Dan develops the ability to communicate telepathically, it got extremely difficult to follow when he was doing that and when he was speaking out loud. The telepathic messages should have been all in italic, or some other way to make it clearly distinguishable. As it was, I could not even tell who knew what, since I did not know what was being said aloud.

The book is action packed with plenty of twists and turns. While that was positive, I did feel thrown around a bit too much. The narrative felt a bit erratic and things would change abruptly, particularly between chapters. Most of all, I felt very confused all the time.

You see, one thing I love about reading a good mystery is that, when I am done with the book and look back, I find there were clues spread throughout the narrative and they now make sense in a way they didn’t before.
While reading Once Humans, I did feel that way towards some things but ultimately the book left me with more questions than answers and a feeling of unease.

One thing I felt was that the information was being provided in less than an intuitive manner. Examples:

– When Dan is talking to Marina and Manfred about not having been told the whole truth, shortly after the Indiana Jones like adventure, he started asking them whether they noticed that all the bodies had disappeared not long after the event that decimated most of the human race. He said Moîrai sanitized the entire planet of decaying cadavers and not for humanitarian reasons. Then he quotes from the book and then he talks about the drug and how he wants Laura to be treated with it. And only after all that does Marina say We’ve been the ingredients! Her reaction struck me as a bit out of context and I wondered how she even came to that conclusion, and a later reaction seemed off to me as well, when they are told what part of the human bodies serves to produce the substance. It seemed a bit over the top, considering they already knew the corpses provided the ingredients for the drug.
Unless I read the whole thing wrong. *sigh* I am not sure anymore.

– A time reversal experience is mentioned on a couple of occasions but I could not tell much about it. If I got a cool power like that, I would have wanted to know all about it, how it works and if it can be controlled. I cannot recall Dan asking about it at all, only that he was told it was an ability the Keepers possessed.

– Same thing with Dan’s telepathy. I was sad to see we did not get more info on how exactly that skill worked. It seems like Dan developed it out of the blue. Moreover, Alaston said evolved Moîrai posessed the skill, Ekahau amongst them. So I could never tell, for instance, if he could listen in or not, since Dan and Alaston kept talking like that in his presence even though they did not trust him, especially since Dan later picked up on a communication from Algea to Alaston.

Other times, I felt like the information was completely missing. Granted, I may have drifted off at times because the telling instead of showing was a bit overwhelming on a few occasions, but the fact is I would see references to passages I did not recall reading at all. I took quite a longer time finishing the book because I actually went back and reread large chunks of text, but still could not find the information.

– As far as I could tell, I never got to tell who parented the child in Annah’s womb. I am 99% sure Federico is spared because I vaguely recall reading it in the last book and I read nothing that made me think he is a Selected – he’s around Annah’s age anyway, so he was obviously born before the genocide, and we were told in the beginning of this book that all spared men were made sterile and so women had to access the Selected gene pool if they want to get pregnant, so what gives?

– I have no idea why Dan’s words caused Ekahau to flee and I couldn’t even tell if the characters who were as confused as me got any answers about that either. We were told he was obviously angry but I still don’t get why Keepers words would cause him to react like that, especially after his innocence was supposedly proved.

– Vatus and Xrusé are mentioned right at the end of Risky Business chapter. Even though the characters are obviously confused, the fact is the names seemed to mean something to them, whereas I could not recall hearing them at all, and a search of the book confirmed that. It took me ages to figure out that Vatus was the base in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Bahamas, for instance, as I thought by that point Marina had moved elsewhere.

– Dan says at some point that an event is in concurrence with the vision he had on Steven’s mind of a shifting Moîrai in a tense discussion with two Kristas, but I do not remember reading any of that before that time, only afterwards when he was at the Council reading Steven. Up until that point, as far as I could tell his experience with reading Steven was related as a whirlpool of sorts, and that was about it.

– Manfred accuses Dan of agreeing to send Marina to Vatus. I don’t recall that at all. I could not even tell she had been separated from those two until she was contacting them via the Palladium. One minute they were all in a ship, Marina sitting next to Alaston, and the next it’s just Dan and Manfred.

Then there were things I wished had been addressed differently:

One thing that bothered me was that Dan kept commenting that Frederico was shy around him, but never really did anything to change that, not even when prompted by Mary.

I was sad that I never got to know anything about Dan’s kids. I could not even tell how old they were. I wanted to know, for instance, all the differences between Samuel and Hope, since the former was transgenic but not the latter, and how it was like for each of them to grow up with the other. We got a hint that Samuel was protective towards Hope but that was it.
And I wanted Dan to show some sorrow in not being able to be with them – after all, they were his kids.
Alas, I am sure the third book will address them in some detail, but I still wanted to watch them grow up in this one.

And I would definitely have liked Dan to try and find Michael, the guy he met online in book one.

 
Obviously, there were plenty of good things in this book.

I was happy to see that what had bothered me in Daimones, about Laura being included in the relationship, was addressed here. I was very happy with the outcome! It seemed totally fair and that finally some sense got into those people.

All the science talk seemed very believable and I enjoyed it, as well as the sceneries described.

The descriptions were riveting and I felt right there. I experienced chills when Dan was going through Antarctica landscape and warmth when he was under the bedsheets with Mary, holding her, and my hair on end with the lightning storm. Marino has quite a way with words!

All the great powers the Selected in general and Dan in particular developed thoroughly gripped me. I kept imagining what it would be like to sense people’s presence and hear their heartbeats, for instance, not to mention being overwhelmed by deep feelings that belong to others.

And when some characters started developing mistrust towards the Moîrai, I felt it too. I was so annoyed that they would never give a straight answer! If they would ask me to come, I asked where to, and instead of answering me they just said follow and the next thing I knew I was in space, I would totally freak out!

And always, at the back of my mind, I would be wondering… Hmm, is Dan really human anymore? Well, a better person for sure, because it seemed like all the bad feelings and intentions had been filtered out but… Human?
While thought-provoking, the fact is all this perfection caused me not to relate to Dan as a character much. I would read that he cared but not actually feel it. Now that I think of it, there are no characters which I actually feel I connected with – well, maybe Mary, but we never heard much about her in this book.
But that’s okay because most of these character are something else entirely. I did not connect to the Moîrai either, but could appreciate them for what they were. The same with Dan and the others.

Once Humans is most definitely a thought provoking book, and an exciting one as well. Just when you think you’re settled somewhere, you’ll be ripped away and taken elsewhere, and new revelations will be made, new agendas uncovered, and it was such a lovely ride.
Had I not been so confused throughout it and had there been more fluidity to the narrative, the rating would most definitely be higher.

I still recommend it, though! Marino has created a thrilling, new world, one which you should definitely explore.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jun 25 to Jun 27, 2015
GR Review

Pages4Progress

Today I would like to let you know about Pages 4 Progress, an initiative aimed to build awareness to education throughout the world.

It starts today and will end on September 8th and the goal is to hit a collective number of 3 million pages read by said date, which is International Literacy Day.

You can help by donating and/or sharing the initiative.
So what are you waiting for? Visit the page and start logging your progress!

Tip: If you log your reading progress via GoodReads, click My books at the top, Stats and then switch to Pages.

Would You Rather Book Tag

I was tagged by Tiffani @ Book Venom. I found her blog very recently but it has become one of my favourites already and you should definitely check it out!

Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?
I would have to go with standalones. My reading habits are too sporadic. Meaning I cannot stick to the same genre for long, I have to switch every now and then, and reading a whole trilogy would not really let me do that. Not to mention I would most likely not always be able to read them back to back, which I don’t appreciate at all. When I read a book, I want to live and breathe in that world and watch the characters grow, so if I am reading a trilogy, I want to read everything at once; no waiting and no other books in between. But only trilogies would get tiresome, for me.

Would you rather only read male or female authors?
Hmm I think the author’s genre does not really matter much… To be honest, sometimes I do not even know whether I am writing a book by a female or male author, since they seem to love using initials these days!
What matters to me the most is what they write about. I have to tell you, I am sick and tired of reading books where the main character is a rebellious teenager. That just does not cut it for me anymore and has become one of my main pet peeves because it just seems to be everywhere.
I don’t know if women write about that more than men or vice-versa, so whoever doesn’t do that will have my preference!

Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?
I actually have no experience with Barnes and Noble. I have used Amazon for a while now and am happy enough with it. I love my Kindle Paperwhite too! So I will go with Amazon.

Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?
I will have to go with movies.
I generally do not like adaptations, since they vary too much from the book. When I read a book, I get immersed in it, I build the characters in my head and grow fond of them that way. If they are made into something completely different, I would rather be done with it in a couple of hours than a whole season.

Would you rather read only 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?
Oh gosh, this one is hard. It depends on how busy I am!! If I am doing my night job I will most likely only have time for 5 pages per day! However, I could never do that while I am on vacation, for instance. I love dedicating as much time as possible to reading then, especially at the beach, so 5 books a week would probably not be a problem, depending on their size, of course.

Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?
Oh, this one is easy. I have no desire whatsoever to write a book, so reviewer it is. I love travelling to different worlds!

Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?
Hmm I honestly don’t know. Whatever requires less book knowledge? I tend to stick to my preferred genres and would not really be able to help someone outside of that box.
I have to say I love libraries, though, even though they are slowly becoming extinct, at least where I live. But the thought of being surrounded by books, in the midst of all the silence, especially if it is a more traditional one with great architecture and shelves thoroughly appeals to me.

Would you rather read only your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?
Oh, come on. That is just plain evil.
Well, as I mentioned in my first answer, I feel the need to switch genres often, so I suppose I would have to go with every other genre but my favourite.
But I would not be a happy camper. -.-

Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?
Oh man… That is haaard! I love the feeling of a physical book but the fact is they are not as practical as e-books. My e-reader contains almost 1000 books, I can choose font type and size, margin and line space, brightness, can accompany the progress by percentage, chapter and time till book is over, not to mention the battery lasts weeks… I guess my choice is made, huh?


My nominees:

I tag every single person reading this post!
I promise it is not because I am lazy, I would honestly love to know everyone’s answers, so consider yourselves tagged and, if you decide to do it, please post below a link to your answers so I can read them!

Untrustworthy

Title: Untrustworthy

Author: J.R. Gershen-Siegel

Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 208 pages | 2093 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

Tathrelle is married to Ixalla, who is pregnant with their first children, and has just become a liaison, working for the government. Life seems to go wonderfully for her, until she begins waking up each day with altered memories. How can she tell what is real? Who is doing this and why?

Review:

When I first started reading Untrustworthy, I was like… What the heck are these beings??. They sounded humanoid, but only had either 3 or 4 fingers on their hands, depending on their gender, their mouths didn’t really move much other than stretching – which constituted as a smile even though the corners would not move -, their blood was teal, and their genitals were placed in their hands. Also, both women and men could get pregnant. Needless to say I was completely hooked.

In the beginning, the author managed to find just the right way to introduce the information the reader needs to know. Ixalla is a teacher and so we hear about Cabossian reproduction, for instance, along with her class.
Then there’s all these automated messages of government ‘encouragements’ people would hear everywhere they went. Totally Big Brother style, I loved it.

However, there was something about the writing that I could not appreciate, particularly in the dialogues. It made me wonder whether the writer is too young or if english is not her native language because it just did not flow.

There were three things in particular that did not work for me:

1) Constant stuttering.

Example:

We, we appeal to their patriotism as, as they can, they have a chance to do well for our people.

I would like to make it clear that this sort of going back and forth thing did not occur rarely, so it was not a fluke. It happened all the time, pages and pages of it. Can you imagine? My brain felt like it was hiccuping and it took me extra long to finish the book because of this.

2) A thorough lack of emotion.

The dialogues in particular were just awkward and sounded fake or rehearsed. The fact that there were a few exclamation points did not help, but that is my personal beef.
For instance, the first one I read featured Tathrelle and Ixalla, who are married, but did not sound that way at all. Their conversation came across as much too formal, and the phrasing was just awkward, stuff like I am sorry; I do not mean to be loud. They sounded more like co-workers or people just getting to know each other.

Let me give you another example:

Ixalla would often declare that she was sick of water and, at times, could not wait to be done and wanted to give birth already. But then she would smile and pull back and assure Tathrelle that she was only joking. The entire process was a joy.

First of all, sick of water? Umm. Isn’t everyone?
And then, is this supposed to be playful banter? Am I supposed to feel joy reading this? Or even smile? I just couldn’t. Average things like this frustrated the heck out of me. It felt like an edited version of real life, for children.

Ixalla and Tathrelle went through something dramatic shortly after the book began, and neither seemed to care much. And then Tathrelle goes through something absolutely insane: She wakes up one morning and the events of the previous day are reported to her by her wife in a completely different manner than she remembers it. The same happens at work. You’d think she would be bewildered, right? Perhaps in panic? No, she basically just goes oh, ok then. Sure, she has very vivid dreams, but the fact she cannot recall what supposedly actually happened instead of what she remembers should probably be a red flag??

It gets worse. The next morning she wakes up pregnant. Yes, instead of Ixalla, Tathrelle is the one who is pregnant. Obviously she goes ‘Whoa I am pregnant?? How the hell did this happen?’ (paraphrasing here, mind you). And you know what Ixalla replies? Yes, you silly girl, and you have been for months. In fact, you are not too far from being due to give birth. Do you not remember? And she proceeds to explain how she knocked her wife up. Do you not remember? As if they were discussing a wonderful place they went to or a delicacy they tried when they went abroad. Seriously, where is the emotion??

3) Information introduced in an awkward manner.

Tying in with the lack of emotion above mentioned, I cannot recall reading many descriptions like she frowned or she stuttered (that one not a single time, even though everyone stuttered all the time) or any other designation that would convey what was happening more thoroughly, to help figure out what the character was feeling, what was going through his or her mind. They struck me mostly as like blocks of ice.
While there were expressions which were repeated a lot, like you see, at times information was missing, such as in Tathrelle’s final conversation with Adger, when he immediately refutes her statement of having worked with him before, even though there was no such previous statement. And in her final confrontation with Velexio, she addresses him as Lieutenant, despite the fact that he has always been a General… There were others, but I took no further notes.

I had guessed a large part of the plot twists by the time the information was presented, like the identity of Student Number Five’s father and sibling, and the truth behind the war. I had not guessed how the Tathrelle’s memories were being altered (and I still don’t think the explanation was plausible) or the part that the ore played.

I am going to attribute all this to poor editing, especially since the formatting of the book was somewhat careless. There wasn’t even a table of contents. And I got sent the file in December last year, so I am hoping it has been revised and properly formatted since then, but this is the edition I am reviewing and I cannot be sure if that is the case anyway.

The world building in this book is insane, so I totally get where all the high ratings come from. The author has an enviable imagination! I think one of the things that will remain with me the most is the disembodied messages. The government encourages all citizens to do this and that. A insert whatever adjective serves its interests the best here citizen is a happy citizen.
Watching the messages evolve as the government’s agenda did, as well as how it affected the population, was positively daunting. The growing fear at even making the wrong comment, the constant pending violence and so much more grabbed my interest and attention. The beginning of the book is definitely the strongest bit.

But the writing just did not do it for me. Weird phrasing and formatting aside, overall, there was a lack of emotion in the writing that caused me not to relate to the characters at all.

Worst of all, I could not even see how the plot twist could explain all that had happened, so did not even feel closure to all the craziness going on. I am not even referring to the physical changes, as I am sure a rushed scientific justification for it could be found. But how could Adger find a way to make Tathrelle love him, and have 14 years of memories of a life shared with him? That sounds to me like implanted memories, not time travel. Especially since it was made clear that he had never actually been with her, even though she was pregnant with his kids?? And how could Ixalla one moment have one dead child in her womb and the next day have 4 perfect foetuses? What could have possibly been done to the past to cause that to happen?

The book has many good things. And it was utterly refreshing to read a story which actually focused on the dystopian aspect of society, as opposed to having it relegated to second plan in order to favour some rebellious teenager with a less than believable love affair.
Ultimately, too much was left unanswered, or addressed in a highly displeasing and unsatisfying manner. So I am going to have to strike this as yet another book which had an absolutely amazing premise, with breathtaking concepts reminiscent of the best dystopian literature, but was just not executed as well as it could have been.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jun 23 to Jun 25, 2015
GR Review

When a Child Is Born: A Chronicles of St. Mary’s Short Story

Title: When a Child Is Born: A Chronicles of St. Mary’s Short Story

Author: Jodi Taylor

Narrator: Zara Ramm

Genres: Historical Fiction | Science Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Length: 32 mins

Source: Audible (free)

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

A group of time traveller historians is sent to an unexpected place. They are not supposed to interfere, or history will be changed. But can they let a wounded man die? What repercussions will helping him and his family cause to the future?

Review:

Time travelling is fairly commonly addressed in science fiction, but not always in a successful manner, due to all its implications.
This is a short story I found for free on Audible, so I was not expecting much. The group of three historians lands in a place which is obviously not where they are supposed to be. There isn’t much information about the means of transportation, other than it is a pod. I cannot recall listening to any details of it, particularly about its visibility to other people. That has always been an issue to me: if the device is visible, won’t the time traveller risk it being gone by the time he or she returns from prancing about?

It was on ok story, though it got a bit repetitive with the few guilty of thinking as an historian lines, and I did not much care for the three mage reference as it seemed too farfetched.
I also didn’t really know what to think about ‘Nature’ being the one to blame for how the events turned out. That seems to imply that time travelling is a natural matter, no?

There were a few moments where I chuckled, so I will rate the story up. The bit about the stew was especially funny.

Overall, it is a good story to listen to if you are going to do a quick workout as I did, or something of the sort; nothing stupendous and it will leave plenty of questions unanswered, but it will get you thinking about the repercussions of an event in the far past being handled in a different way. The narration itself was ok. Zara Ramm’s voice is pleasant enough, but the voices could have been done a wee bit better.

Listened to on Jun 23rd, 2015
GR Review

Daimones (Daimones Trilogy #1)

Title: Daimones (Daimones Trilogy #1)

Author: Massimo Marino

Narrator: Jeff Hays

Genres: Dystopia | Mystery | Post-Apocalyptic | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins

Source: Audible | Giveaway

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

When we first meet Dan, he is about to be fired. That, however, is going to be the least of his problems. As he and his wife Mary try to figure out how to tell their 12-year-old daughter Annah what happened, bigger problems arise. They wake up one day to find they seem to be the only survivors in their area and possibly the whole world. What happened? What, or rather who, caused this? In this first book of the trilogy, we accompany Dan and his family trying to figure that out.

Review:

Let me start by saying I really enjoyed Jeff Hays’ narration. Finally, someone who can read a book and keep me interested in the story without unnecessary flourishes to the voice. The only times I found the inflexion odd was when Hays would read a foreign name, like a Swiss street name, for instance.
His voices were impeccable, to the point where I often wondered if he was actually doing the female ones or whether it was all computer generated. They were all very clearly different from one another, even the ones in the third part, where there were many more characters. I could always tell who was talking which, to me, was a breath of fresh air.
There were a few glitches production-wise though, like words cut out or repeated.

Regarding the story, the premise was very interesting. The book is narrated by Dan, our main character, and in the end we find out just why.
There are no zombies here, or other overdone takes on post-apocalyptic literature. This is a regular man, who has a regular family, faced with the entire annihilation of the human race. He is from the USA but the action takes place in Switzerland and France, which was also very refreshing.
While at times I felt the protagonist handled the situation with too much ease, the fact that he kept thinking stuff like he is being driven by all the blockbusters depicting post-apocalyptic scenarios helped.

I did think a couple of things were a bit too rushed, like immediately after returning home from watching the car crash in the highway he assumed his neighbours would be dead. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a solid basis for that, yet.
Using the internet, and more specifically facebook, as a message as a bottle as the character says, to try and reach out to people, especially the way it was done, was nothing short but a strike of genius.

For the most part, this is not a fast-paced book. It is a story which could feature any of us common folks, so it mostly deals with how you would handle such a situation. The main character and his family are proactive folks who do the best to ensure the survival of their family for a while, while trying to figure out if there are any other people out there. They basically become pack rats, and one other thing that distinguishes this book amongst its peers was that the technology did not immediately fail. They had internet access for months I think, and electricity never failed. Not sure how believable that is, although a lot in our world is automated, so it’s not completely implausible, I think.

I felt completely enthralled during some specific scenes, like the one with the dogs dominance conflict, or when nature is described as taking over the landscape. I especially treasured the normalcy of it all, as if it could happen to anyone.

Some descriptions were too thorough though, slowing down the pace, like when it came to guns – both at the armoury and then the training at home -, which did not even make much sense since we are told the main character does not know much about them.
And some passages were a bit repetitive.

I also have a problem with perfect characters. Dan and Mary’s relationship seemed flawless, which is especially odd since they are high school sweethearts and have been married for 22 years.
Mary is practically portrayed as the perfect woman and wife, and I did not much care for that. Other than that, there were a few things I wished would have been addressed differently:

I was not too happy at the turn events took at the end of Part 2. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel where there is one male and two females; anyone can see where this math leads. However, the way this was done did not impress me and actually confused me. Instead of everyone, or at least some of them, agreeing on it because they were mankind’s hope, it happened because of hormone-driven Laura, who we earlier found that absolutely loves sex, and would rather leave and be all alone than to break up the happy family by seducing Dan. Seriously? Way to put Mary in a crappy situation! I just thought there could have been a more decent and/or noble justification for it. Instead, I found Mary practically being forced to pimping out her husband very anti-climatic.
Also, I thought Dan succumbed to Laura’s seduction much too easily, especially after having exerted such self-control because he loves Mary so much. Even if Laura told him she knew, I would have liked him to directly ask her first. Well, men will be men, I suppose. But then I was even more confused because Laura threw a fit when she was with Dan yelling she was not a slut and had developed feelings for him. All that came out of the blue, I have no idea how either of them developed feelings for each other as it all seemed to boil down to lust, and I still don’t get why they preserved the polygamous dynamic after meeting new people.
When Laura got pregnant, I wondered why they were not looking for pregnancy books and how to deliver a child. After all, none of them were doctors.
And Annah. What did she think of her father basically getting a girlfriend? When she argues with Dan she tells him that he has mother and Laura and she has no one nor will ever have. And that was it. She was 12, wasn’t she supposed to be rebellious towards this new person taking her mother’s place? Confusing. So, in a nutshell, I felt that the change in the family dynamics, which was such an important part of the book, could have been better and more thoroughly approached.

In the third part, things took an abrupt change. A lot happened in a short amount of time and many characters were introduced at once. The information of what had happened was basically dumped. I did not find that very appealing but was ok with it for the most part. The biggest thing I wanted to have seen was a bit more connection to the events of previous years and more foreshadowing to the events later developed, other than the brief experience Dan had as a child.
For some reason, when I read the synopsis I thought the survivors had previously been marked. But their family did not receive such mark and yet they were spared. Which made me even more confused about how exactly the aliens managed to kill billions of people and yet keep those safe. It would have made more sense to me, even if just to simplify the genocide process, if everyone who survived was set aside by something the aliens did to them and everyone who did not have that ‘safeguard’ would succumb.
I wondered why Dan did not ask the Moirai why he was selected, what was so special about him amongst billions of lives. I wanted to hear more doubts about what was happening to them as a race, whether they really had any free will left. And I wanted to know more about the technology, particularly how they managed to move from Switzerland to Italy. Hopefully all that will be addressed in the second book.

Overall, I had a great time listening to Daimones. The author managed to take a theme which has been extremely explored and make it new because everyone can relate to bits and pieces of the world and characters. They may not be the most exciting ones but, hey, neither are most of the people I know, myself included.
Both the story and the narration were a great experience, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I won this audiobook in a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Audiobookreviewer.

Listened to from Jun 19 to Jun 23, 2015
GR Review