An Uncertain Grace

Title: An Uncertain Grace

Author: Krissy Kneen

Genres: Erotica | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 238 pages | 2337 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Text Publishing

Publishing Date: January 31st, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Five erotic short stories taking place in a near future.

Review:

It’s been quite a while since I so thoroughly enjoyed a collection of short stories. Considering they are classified as erotic, the detail put to speculative fiction was outstanding. These make the reader completely reconsider sexuality as a whole while taking him on her on enthralling experiences. They are all connected by a common denominator and are chronologically order, taking the reader on a trip where we see the world changing, along with the characters.

The first story introduces us to a uni English literature teacher who is presented with a work by a former student. This is not just any work though, it’s an interactive narrative where the reader not only does what the author wants but also feels exactly what the author wants him or her to feel. I absolutely loved the way the author transcribed this idea to her story and we get to watch a fairly normal guy coming to terms with the fact that he might just be despicable.
I have a feeling woman and men will have different reactions to this story. Some of the scenes were so raw and yet I felt emotional. This was quite brilliant.

The second story comes from a different place. It is actually a sci-fi experiment.
What if you could merge with other beings?
The way the concept was introduced was quite astounding. You cannot help to relate to this guy, even though he must have done something really bad to have gone to prison for that long. Still, his childhood memories as well as his longing for them make him a person, and one with feelings, and you cannot help to relate.

The third story is about a robot who looks and feels human and was created for a unique purpose – to study hebephiles, people who are attracted to adolescents. Some scenes are difficult to take in as they are quite disturbing – even though you are seeing things through the eyes of Cameron, the robot. You can feel his own struggle to try and understand how a normal 13-year-old would react, so that the data collected during the experiments is as accurate as possible. And yet he cannot help but think of his place in the grand scheme of things.

The fourth story is less about sex and more about gender. It’s getting easier and easier to transition between both sexes, and even staying somewhere in the middle. These are the sexual experiences of one such person who wants to transition to centre – neither man or woman -, while trying to deal with her feelings towards her sexuality, her partner, and her mother.

The final story is about a woman who lived well into her one hundreds and still remembers a time when fish weren’t practically extinct. This one explores life after that and what you could experience in such a state.

Reading what I wrote above, I cannot help but feel my descriptions of the stories are very diminishing. The fact is I felt enraptured by them. At times disgusted, others excited and always curious to know what came next. I am not too sure about the Liv character, it did not struck me as believable that she is described as a teller of stories and yet we see her in scientific roles. But I do know I enjoyed this immensely and highly recommend it.

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 Aug 29th to Sep 8th, 2017
GR Review

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The Final Correction (Condition #3)

Title: The Final Correction (Condition #3)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 288 pages | 3054 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: July 28th, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

Professor Savage has been arrested but the corrections go on.
Who is controlling them, though?
What does this entail for mankind?

Review:

I finished this last night and I am still not quite sure what I read.

I enjoyed it as the previous ones but I cannot say I understood everything. That Professor Savage character was just too mysterious, I guess I needed it dumbed down more so that I could fully grasp what the author was trying to say. It’s not that there was that much scientific mumbo-jumbo to sift through, I just felt a lot of important information lacked in favour of suspense.

Overall I enjoyed the trilogy. I particularly loved the two first books’ prologues and how, when I finished each book, I would see them in a completely different light. It is food for thought, if nothing else.

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 Aug 20th to Aug 28th, 2017
GR Review

The Curing Begins… (Condition #2)

Title: The Curing Begins… (Condition #2)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 217 pages | 3093 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: January 31st, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

As Professor Savage’s plans become clearer, we are left wondering what exactly the next stage in this process will entail.
In the meantime, how do the actions of a dubious character 50 years back relate to Savage?

Review:

The clock goes back on book #2 of this trilogy, more precisely to the 70s.
The narrative takes place on a different country too, more specifically in Argentina.

Although I was a bit thrown back since book 1 took place in 2026, I soon got in step with it, though it again felt bumpy. I just could not seem to connect to the characters. And in this book this difficulty was augmented due to the insta-love. Goodness, how I hate insta-love.

Our main character meets a young girl who just happens to be the only good looking person in the entire village he is assigned to, and soon enough he is thinking of marrying her. The first time they kiss felt awkward and inappropriate – he is a sergeant, after all – and I felt it completely came out of the blue.
Oh and it seems it is reciprocate, though for the life of me I could not tell why, because, get this: She hesitated after a few steps and turned back to her new love interest. Who says that? And why? I get instant attraction, but love? Sorry if I sound too harsh but this kind of thing truly bums me out.

Anyway… As the story advances we get the picture that something incredibly wrong is going on. There is police corruption, poverty, naivety and a lot more. Granted, I don’t know much about Argentina, let alone in the 70’s, but I found it safe to assume that the author’s depiction was probably a fair one. I could see that stuff happening. And going on and on because, really, what are you going to do? I enjoy reading about characters who are not openly good or bad.

Then a bit before halfway through the book the narrative advances to 2026 and we are left wondering how the two timelines relate. I have to admit I was impressed, especially towards the end, when all the mind-blowing stuff is thrown at us, much as in the first book.
I did feel I did not have enough time to process or digest all the revelations. I mean, everything that they would entail is just beyond comprehension.

Even if I am not 100% fan of the books’ execution, I will definitely handle it to the author, he has an amazing imagination, and I am again left quite scared that this is actually based on his personal experiences.

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 Aug 9th to Aug 20th, 2017
GR Review

A Medical Miracle? (Condition #1)

Title: A Medical Miracle? (Condition #1)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 210 pages | 3170 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: November 18th, 2016

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

The last thing RAF pilot Dan Stewart remembers is burning alive in a crash.
An indefinite time later, he wakes up in a hospital where the staff is clearly hiding something and the patients seem to suffer similar injuries to Dan’s.
What exactly happened to Dan?
And can he trust his own thoughts and memories?

Review:

The first book in this trilogy is very promising.

The first part of this medical thriller is the most confusing and I found myself even second guessing whether I had read about some references Dan made previously. It was like I, the reader, was supposed to know something but didn’t so yes, quite confusing. It didn’t help that the Search function on my Kindle did not work in this book, for some reason.
On the other hand, it seemed Dan knew stuff he shouldn’t and wasn’t as dumbfounded as I was.

I thought some concepts and twists could have been introduced in a more intuitive manner and that the humour was a bit tacky at times, like when Dan asked Gary to look at his naked bottom. The way he said it could have been funny and instead it was just nonsensical.

And even though there weren’t that many characters, I found it difficult to grasp who was who during that first part, I suppose because I was so confused I found it difficult to focus.

However, as the narrative advanced, I found myself more and more interested, and wanted to know what happened next.

The novel took lots of twists and turns and just when I thought it could not surprise me any further the author kicked it up a notch.

There is plenty of food for thought here and I find it quite scary that this is based on the author’s real experience. After finishing the book I find it all so out there, and yet this makes it all seem so possible.

I recommend Condition #1 and am looking forward to the next two books.

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 July 30th to Aug 9th, 2017
GR Review

Betrayed (Lake Of Sins, #4)

Title: Betrayed (Lake Of Sins, #4)

Author: L.S. O’Dea

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 513 pages | locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.25/5

Premise:

As the war between the Allied Classes and Almightys progress, Trinity tries to assert her place in the process, though Hugh keeps pushing her way, while struggling with her feelings for Jethro and Hugh.
In the meantime, Jethro’s changes escalate and he is in love with the wild. He has trouble reigning his instincts, both to fight and to mate. Especially when all he wants is Trinity.

Review:

I have to admit that I enjoyed this book less than the others because there was quite an emphasis on romance. There was plenty of tension and I felt for Trinity and how so many misunderstandings would keep happening, all because of something she couldn’t control. However, after a while I just wanted something more.

Still, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. The struggle between classes, the discoveries Hugh makes and each character’s personal struggles really make me want to know what happens next.

Please don’t be discouraged as I am sure that the things that turned me off are the ones that will attract quite a big audience.

As usual this book read really fast, I enjoyed knowing new parts of the world and I cannot wait for the next instalment!

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 Jul 5th to July 10th, 2017
GR Review

Borne

Title: Borne

Author: Jeff VanderMeer

Genres: Dystopia | Speculative Fiction

Length: 336 pages | 4590 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Publishing Date: June 15th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.

Review:

OK, I have to admit it straight out – I am shallow and got this mostly because of the cover. I mean, how gorgeous is that? Mesmerising, really. And such a contrast to the world created here, which is completely bleak.

I had read a previous book by the author and I ended up having much of the same feelings while reading Borne. You see, Mr VanderMeer wants to take you on a journey to discover and experience the wonderful worlds he creates and at times I felt completely enthralled. I particularly really loved Borne’s personality. So like a child, eager to know what was around him.

However, in other instances the writing threw me off and again I wished I had had more explanations. Rachel’s narration style could be quite odd in my opinion and I especially disliked her soliloquy about being a ghost and constantly referring to herself in the third person – or rather this other side of her. It wore me out after a while. As this example, there were some parts I could have done without, as I felt they dragged the book on. Still, there is beauty in all.

As my previous experience, as we come towards the end of the book explanations are hinted at but not given and that also left me unsatisfied.
Still, it was an incredibly imaginative world, with biotech and modified creatures and children – there’s even a flying bear in it, for crying out loud, and the author manages to not make it look silly – and you cannot help to be sucked in by the amazingly complex writing, that carries so much meaning, albeit taking quite a lot longer to go through than I had expected.

Recommended.

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 June 11th to Jul 3rd, 2017
GR Review

The Circle

The Circle

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:

A woman lands a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, only to uncover a nefarious agenda that will affect the lives of her friends, family and that of humanity.

Review:

This movie confused the heck out of me, particularly Emma Watson’s character. I don’t understand how someone who obviously valued her privacy so much, with her lonesome kayaking and small circle of friends, could vouch for The Circle’s ideas and even promote them. Every time I thought she was having second thoughts she showed she was actually buying into all that stuff. That made the events towards the end feel anti-climatic, as there was no actual progression.

It saddens me to see such a great actress as Emma Watson in a role like this. I guess she did a terrific job with what she was thrown. Tom Hanks was superb as usual. Ty and Annie’s characters were the only ones that felt real in the middle of all those hollow-minded, social media obsessed people so they were okay as well, though fleeting. Most of all, it was quite a mess and I could not relate because no one seemed to see what was obvious to me – the question of invasion of privacy and why that would be bad – not even the main character!

The Circle succeeds in making us think what if in a very bumpy ride where not everything needed to be there and certainly not in the way it was presented.
Even when things start to get interesting and we begin to grasp the immensity of the consequences of what is being done, the conclusion is incredibly rushed and there is no proper resolution.

I had been looking forward to this quite a lot but ultimately left the theatre room disappointed. Still, with food for thought, which is not so bad.