Review #28: Apparent Power

Apparent Power by Dacia M Arnold

Ebook

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Published on 11 December 2018

I was contacted by the author and given a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

True electrical power is Apparent Power.
An apocalyptic event awakens a dormant gene in a quarter of the world’s population. With an even rarer gene, the life Valerie Russell has turned into a shocking race against time.
Stranded in southern Colorado, a hundred miles from home—and from her two-year-old son— Valerie must find it within herself to trek the distance with the help of a questionable assembly of ex-military friends of the family. As she desperately seeks to avoid capture from a government rising from the ashes of The Event, Valerie is also faced with a moral choice: risk failure by trying to save the masses from the regime’s evil plot or run, and preserve only the lives of her family. A mother would do anything for the safety of her children.

Dacia Arnold takes us into a dystopian world where a quarter of the world’s population has awaken with the ability to conduct and control electricity through their bodies. For most of the population, including Valerie Russell, this is unexpected news. However, the government seems to have known for a long time that this could happen and have been preparing their own facility to accommodate and take control of the new world.

The main character, Valerie Russell, is a DiaZem which means that she is not only a conductor of electricity but she can also control it to extreme extents. Separated from her husband and son when the event occurs, she will have to trek a hundred miles with a group of strangers in order to be reunited with her family, all the while trying to stay away from the government’s grasp.

I really enjoyed this novel. The whole dormant gene storyline reminded me of X-men, especially in the fact that the main villain, also a DiaZem, plans to eradicate “regular” people and create a new world order where only conductors reign. In this way, he could be compared to Magneto. Valerie on the other hand, whose husband and friends are regular people doesn’t want anyone to die and wants to find a way for everyone to live in harmony, and therefore she is much closer to Charles Xavier’s views.

I’m not usually a big fan of sci-fi but I do love a good dystopian book, and this was it. The story is original, the characters are well developed (even though there are a lot of them to start with and it can be confusing) and I loved the ending. It was really intense and climactic and as I got closer and closer to the end, I kept asking myself “how is this going to be resolved?!”

Valerie and Hyka were my favourite characters, but while I do appreciate them being two strong female characters, they do overshadow the rest of the primarily male group.

The writing was effortless and easy to read, and even without having much scientific knowledge I could make sense of what was going on. With this book being the first of a trilogy, I am looking forward to the next one as I would very much like to know what happens next in this new world.

Quick note though, there were once again quite a few typos and missing words in the text, not enough to hinder reading but enough to seek out further editing.

Review #26: Celestia

Celestia by J.D. Evergreen

Ebook

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Published on 1st February 2018

I was contacted by the author and given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Celestia has just lost its king to a suspicious illness. The king’s death has thrown the realm into chaos and a dark mage uses their power to influence the citizens, brainwashing them to do his bidding. A war is started, and it is left to Taliah and her friends to restore the rightful heir to the throne and stop the dark powers that fight against them. But to win Taliah will have to risk everything…
An adventure that will force her to: learn something that can’t be taught, fight a creature no one knows exists, and discover an heir no one can find. Every turn she makes unravels an intricate plot designed to corrupt and control the people of her world. And Taliah finds herself surrounded by brainwashed people who are shadows of what they once were. One false step will corrupt her mind forever and destroy the last hope of their quest for freedom. A war, a mystery, a romance, and a journey that will change the fate of a world.

When I first started this book, the world of Celestia reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games. It’s the same sort of dystopian setting where one city governs over all the others and while the residents of Celestia live lavishly, the people in other cities aren’t as fortunate and rely on growing their own food etc. Much like in The Hunger Games, the heroine Taliah comes from a poorer background and rapidly becomes Celestia’s only hope and saviour.

I did enjoy the fantasy aspects of this book and that’s probably what made it stand out in my mind and helped me to stop comparing it to The Hunger Games. Discovering Taliah’s powers and their implications at the same time as her was interesting. The world building is great and I had no problems visualising the story in my mind. However, I do feel like this book is mainly targeted at teens and young adults. I overall liked it but some parts made me cringe and I felt at times like I was just too old for this book.

The last point I will make, and probably the most important one is that the editing is completely non existent and that needs to be remedied. There are typos, grammar mistakes, words missing, double words, missing apostrophes, apostrophes where there shouldn’t be any… and I could go on. The construction of sentences is poor and could be improved and the punctuation is shocking (some sentences don’t have a verb in them, so technically they’re not sentences). And most infuriating of all, and I really wish I could have looked past it but it kept on making my blood boil throughout: the author constantly uses the word ‘then’ instead of ‘than’. Now, call me grammar crazy all you want but it’s something that really grates on me. If you’re an author, you should know the difference between ‘then’ and ‘than’, no excuses.

I am actually shocked that the book was published like that, and while I liked the story enough, bad editing is just disheartening. I would really urge the author to hire a proofreader to look over this text again, and I wouldn’t recommend any of you read it until it has been sorted.

Review #24: Adventus

Adventus by Andrew Mowere

Ebook

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Published on 1st September 2018

I was contacted by a friend of the author and given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In Grimea, three portals have opened and three species (elves, orcs and dwarves) are now flooding the land in search of a new home. The ambassadors and country leaders of Grimea decide to hold a meeting and discuss the best ways to handle the situation. Their solution? To send one representative of each country on a year-long nearly impossible mission to kill an ifrit on a far away mountain. If they succeed, the country leaders will try to reach an agreement and if they don’t, war could be on the cards.

The one thing that struck me the most about this book is that I felt like I was reading a retelling of The Hobbit. A bunch of strangers, all with different magical powers and abilities, are grouped together against their will in order to serve the greater good. They embark on a year-long journey together of walking to their destination and have to face several battles along the way. Sounds familiar, right?

Despite that, I did let myself get into the story and I rather enjoyed it. The group of eight characters really grew on me through the chapters as each of them started showing more and more of their individual personalities.

The book was a bit hard to get into at first because the reader is faced with a whole new fantasy world that they know nothing about and not many details are given; not enough at least to draw a clear picture of Grimea in your mind. There are also a ton of characters to start with, and this was confusing at the beginning, trying to figure out who was who, what country they came from and what their abilities were. This problem does resolve itself as the book goes on and the story centres in on the eight characters that are sent on a quest. Eight is still a lot of characters to start with but it does get easier to differentiate them chapter after chapter.

I really liked the message of this book and I think it is quite fitting to today’s society. Adventus presents eight characters that are all different species, genders, sexual orientations, skin colours and abilities. They’re all completely different to one another and should they have met in their respective worlds, they would most likely hate each others’ guts (and they do at first) but as the weeks go on and they spend more and more time together, they start to put away their differences and unite in a beautiful friendship. Adventus offers a message of hope that whatever you look like, whatever your upbringing or your past is, you can still be a good person and be accepted in society. Even if you have to form your own society of misfits.

Now, going back on my previous point, while I enjoyed the plot and the story, I felt like the world building was lacking. We’re presented with a new fictional world, similar to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and yet we learn very little about it. The cities/countries and how they connect to each other is barely mentioned and it makes it hard to make a mental map of Grimea and in turn, visualise a proper setting for the story. I also would have liked to know more about each character’s magical abilities as I feel like only a few of them ever used their powers and for example, I’m still not sure what the Priest of Fep’s powers are. There is also a chance that the book is just too fantastic for me (as I’d never heard of Ifrits or Psions before) so maybe my own lack of knowledge made it more confusing for me, who knows?

As a side note, I would also like to mention that they are numerous typos and grammar mistakes in the text (I’ve sometimes counted as many as three per page) so further editing of the text needs to be considered.

Autumn Reading List

Hey guys! I thought it was about time I presented to you my reading list for the next three or so months! It’s been a long time in the making and I’ve finally finalised it, so it’s ready to be shared with the world!

As well as a few more books from Netgalley, I’ve been contacted by quite a few authors in the last few weeks so I’ve taken on quite a few books to read. To be honest, my eyes were probably bigger than my belly on this one! But at least, that’s my reading sorted until the New Year!

Without further ado, here what you can expect in the next few months:

The Corset by Laura Purcell

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

One Day in December by Josie Silver

The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters

Sun Shed by Lee Thomas Ward

Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers

Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan

Adventus by Andrew Mowere

The Invisible Investigation by Lionel Touzellier

Someone else’s shoes by Sofia Ellis

Celestia by J.D. Evergreen

Apparent Power by Dacia Arnold

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Are any of these on your own reading list? Let me know which one you’re looking forward to the most!

Review #14: Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

Ebook

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Published on 14th August 2018

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley in exchance for an honest review.

Candace Chen is a young woman who emigrated from China to the USA with her parents when she was six. Many years later, in 2011, as Candace has grown into an adult and settled in a relationship and a job in Bible publishing, a case of Shen fever erupts all over the world. As more and more people get affected by the fever, the world comes to a standstill. But Candace is lucky enough not to have come in contact with the virus and on escaping New York she finds and joins a group of survivors who are planning on rebuilding the world by themselves.

I did like this novel. The writing is simple and delicate and a pleasure to read. It differs from most apocalyptic stories in the way that the world becomes so quiet and calm and deserted as more and more people die. Candace ends up joining this group of survivors because she has nowhere else to go. At the head of the group is Bob, an extraordinarily ordinary man who took it upon himself to lead this group of people and get them to safety. Bob has no business managing the group but somehow, they’ve all accepted him as their default leader. Candace will have to learn to abide by Bob’s rules and live in a collectivity.

Severance is above all a tale of routine and a critique of capitalism. Candace has settled into a routine of going to work, doing the same job day in day out, then going back to her boyfriend’s in the evening to watch a film; sleep and repeat. She has no ambition to pursue her passions and is mainly motivated by money which is why she ends up being the last one to leave her office, long after everyone has either fled the city or died, because she was promised a big sum of money if she could work her contract until the end. The apocalypse that is wiping the world clean is also very routinely. Indeed, when affected, people start doing the same tasks over and over again until they pass out from exhaustion. The fevered are completely non-violent, they just end up doing the same chores mindlessly for days, forgetting to eat and clean themselves. And even when Candace does end up fleeing New York, she still ends up in a routine. The group of survivors she joins repeats the same patterns everyday: driving, camping and looting, day after day.

There is also a slight critique of capitalism in the book. For example, the company that Candace works for get their products manufactured in Asian countries because it is cheaper, and even when people start dying from the fever in China, the company still tries to get the most they can out of the surviving workers. They don’t care about the health issues afflicting the workers so long as they can get the products they need.

The parts of this novel I liked best are where Candace is reminiscing about her childhood in China. I found them to be really vivid and I almost felt like I was being transported there. The parts where Candace ends up being one of the only people left in New York also reminded me of the film I am Legend; especially the way New York becomes a ghost town and you don’t meet anyone for miles apart from the odd fevered person.

Overall, I liked the book. I didn’t think the world of it but I do like the idea behind it, and the simple and poetical style in which it is written. If you like science-fiction, and post-apocalyptic stories, then check this one out.

Review #8: Captive Rebel

Captive Rebel by Erin McDermott

Ebook, 169 pages

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I received a complementary copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Captive Rebel is the first book in The Allegiance series (or rather the first prequel, as there is a second prequel after this one).

In Captive Rebel, we meet Marylyn O’Conner, a teenage rebel who has spent the last few years spying on the enemy camp, the Allegiant, by infiltrating the Allegiant King’s castle and working there as a servant. Marylyn was assigned this mission after her brother betrayed the rebels, and this is her chance to finally clear her family’s name and be reunited with her parents. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Allegiant Prince Ariston, who had been kept prisoner by the rebels for the last decade and has suddenly been released, will put a spanner in the works of Marylyn’s mission.

This book was very enjoyable to read and I did like it. As you know by now, historical fiction is right up my street so I knew I would enjoy it.

However, I did notice some discrepancies, the main one being the presence of anachronisms. While the time period over which the story spans is never clearly stated, the fact that the characters are Kings and Princes and live in castles seems to set it back quite far into history. However, the Royal Palace has electricity and Marylyn has a necklace of the Statue of Liberty which would mean the story would have to be set in at least the 19th century. Another thing that tickled me is the choice of characters names. Some characters are called Orion, Ariston and Deimos (very Game of Thrones-y) and then there is… Mike. A bit inconsistent in my opinion.

Captive Rebel is a typical star-crossed lovers/damsel in distress type of tale (which reminded me of Romeo and Juliet) and while it hurts the feminist in me to say this, I still found the story pretty enjoyable. I mean, when you are a fan of historical fiction you kind have to leave your feminist ideals out the door the time of a book, if you don’t want your ego bruised, ha.

The fact that the book is so small (only 169 pages!) makes it the perfect bite-size read. And even though I have got a reading list longer than my arm at the moment, I will make sure to check out the rest of the series as soon as I get the chance. It does leave you eager to know more, and I would like to see where the rest of the story is going.

Let me know in the comments if this is a book that would interest you, and what is your favourite genre!

Review #2: The Heart Goes Last

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

416 pages

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Charmaine sees an advertisement for a project called Positron that promises you a job, a place to live, a bed to sleep in – imagine how appealing that would be if you were working in a dive bar and living in your car. She and her husband, Stan, apply at once. The only catch is that once you’re in there, you can’t get out.

The story of The Heart Goes Last is set in a dystopian world, where jobs are becoming scarce, people are getting fired and being unable to pay their rent, they end up on the streets. This is exactly what happened to married couple Charmaine and Stan. So, when Charmaine finds out about the Positron project, she does not think twice about it and signs herself and her husband up for it at once.

From the outside, the Positron project looks like a beacon of hope. You get a place to live, a job and the opportunity to be part of a new community. But the ins and outs of the project are not quite what they seem, and soon Charmaine and Stan discover that they’ve stepped into something a lot more complex and dark than they first thought…

I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood, she is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I love discovering new books by her. I have read 9 or 10 of her books so far so I’ve still got a way to go but I do intend to read them all!

Once again, Atwood does not disappoint. She writes of a frightening dystopian world where humans are left to fend for themselves, and so when the Positron project comes about, it acts as a saviour of the human race, and that’s how they get you to sign up for it (much like selling your soul to the devil, there is no getting out of it).

I found this book absolutely incredible. It was easy to read, and Atwood’s witty and sometimes crude language is a delight. This is the kind of book that will puzzle you for the first few chapters as you try to understand what’s going on and where the story is going; then once you think you get it, Atwood takes it in a completely different direction, leaving you on edge and eager to know more.

This is a page turner, full of twists and turns that will take you to unexpected places. It was really hard to put down and I devoured it in a few days.

Once again, Atwood has created an incredible piece of work, and she has set the bar of literature really high for me. I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone, but especially if you are a fan of sci-fi and dystopian worlds.