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.