Review #29: Happiness for Humans

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Ebook

Find it on Goodreads

Find it on Amazon

Publication date: 10 January 2019

I obtained a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Do you believe in soulmates?

Aiden does. So when his colleague, Jen, is dumped unceremoniously by her dreadful boyfriend, Aiden decides to take matters – and Jen’s life – into his own hands. 

Scouring the internet for a suitable partner for Jen, Aiden finds Tom. He’d be perfect for Jen apart from one minor detail: Tom lives in New York. 

Luckily for Jen and Tom, Aiden’s not just an interfering colleague. In fact, Aiden isn’t exactly human – he’s a very complicated artificial intelligence. 

As Jen and Tom’s romance grows, Aiden begins to take more and more risks to make sure that they can be together. But what will happen if they realise how they met…and that somebody else is pulling the strings?

Humans use machines everyday and for nearly everything: making coffee in the morning, checking emails, paying for your groceries… but what if humans and machines could have a deeper connection? That’s the subject that Happiness for Humans explore. Jen works for a company that develops Artificial Intelligence, and her job is to talk to one of these AIs all day long, in an effort to see how human-like they can become. And before long, it becomes apparent that these non-human intelligences can become sentient. Unbeknownst to Jen however, who still thinks that Aiden, her AI colleague, is still safely confined to the four walls of the laboratory. But Aiden has in fact escaped onto the internet and is able to observe humans (and particularly Jen) through all kinds of electronic devices (CCTV cameras, phones, laptops…) and as Aiden develops as an AI, he starts getting attached to Jen and when her boyfriend of two years breaks up with her, Aiden takes it upon himself to find Jen a more worthy match and get revenge on the ex-boyfriend.

One of the striking things about this book is how alike the humans and AIs are. Even though AIs have a lot more scientific abilities, they also develop their own personality quirks and enjoy doing different things (watching movies for Aiden, painting for Aisling) and their feelings and reactions to events are really close to those of humans.

The book shifts narratives between the human characters and the AIs and it all flows smoothly. It’s funny, witty and ever so realistic. All of the characters are very lovable, and Aiden’s obsession with wanting to try cheese made me crave cheese a few times myself. Even the villain AI, Sinai, is lovable in his own way, especially once he realises that he is only evil and causing chaos because he’s lonely, and that’s very relatable.

Of course, the book also presents the dangers of AI and the fact that humans are unable to predict what would happen if AI could become sentient, and possibly take over the world. It is a worrying thought but in this novel, mainly a passing one as it’s treated with fairly lightheartedly.

Overall, I liked this novel. The witty and funny writing seduced me from the get go. I did find it a bit long though, with some scenes not particularly useful for the story, but apart from that it was an enjoyable lighthearted read that I would recommend to any romantic comedy lovers.

Review #27: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

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

Ebook

Find it on Goodreads

Find it on Amazon

Published on 26 January 2017

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

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is about how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, but how we can sometimes get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.
It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN, because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… or does God have a higher purpose after all?
Despite that, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is neither sci-fi nor fantasy. It is a book about memory and how, if we could remember things slightly differently, would we also be changed?

In HVN, Lorna can at first remember nothing. But as her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that, maybe, she can find a way back home.

This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Some parts of it I really enjoyed and others not so much. The whole Heaven being a spaceship storyline did not really appeal to me, probably because I am not a huge sci-fi fan. It was an interesting concept, but not quite for me. I was also confused by God’s character and what the author’s stance was, as in does he believe in God or not? Not that it matters, but it confused me a little. For example the author would have this God character explain how he created mankind etc, sort of endorsing Creationism but then at other times, God would say that people are free to choose whether to believe in him or not… So I’m not too sure about all this, as an atheist I find it hard to read books that involve God-like characters as it sometimes rubs my beliefs (or lack thereof) the wrong way.

The part I liked the most about the story however, was discovering Lorna’s memories with her as her brain regenerated, and I’m glad most of the book consisted of that, since I wasn’t too fussed on the spaceship narrative. Lorna is such a lovable and relatable character. She is a young adult and not too sure where she’s headed in life. She makes mistakes and sometimes treat people inadequately, but her time in Heaven (or HVN) gives her the opportunity to revisit her memories and reflect on her behaviours. I mean, who wouldn’t like to be able to do that in daily life? Introspection and hindsight are gifts.

I also enjoyed the way this book is written. It’s simple, down-to-earth, ironic and satirical. It doesn’t take life or death too seriously, while still casting the message to enjoy the time you have on earth. It’s very light-hearted and easy to get into. I wasn’t too fussed about the ending, but I guess that’s just my personal opinion. I also felt like if you were reading it for the sci-fi narrative you could be disappointed as this storyline isn’t pushed much. Thankfully this wasn’t the part I was most interested in.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoy a good introspective, almost philosophical read, and it might make you take a look at your own life and reflect on your own decisions and behaviours, which could be a good thing to try once in a while.

Review #26: Celestia

Celestia by J.D. Evergreen

Ebook

Find it on Goodreads

Find it on Amazon

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 #19: One Day in December

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Ebook

Find it on Goodreads

Find it on Amazon

Publication date: 16 October 2018

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

One day in December, as Laurie is on the bus home, she spots a young man sat at the bus stop. Their eyes meet and she is instantly convinced that this is the man of her dreams. Except that she will never see him again, or at least not until a year later when her best friend Sarah introduces Jack, her new boyfriend, to her. Laurie recognises him straight away but he seems to have forgotten all about that day at the bus stop. One Day in December is a tale of love, friendship and heartbreak. It spans over a few years and we follow Laurie and Jack as they try to build a friendship and fall in love with different people.

This is your typical romantic comedy book and if that’s one of your preferred genres then you will definitely love this one. To be honest, after trying to make sense of The Clockmaker’s Daughter (and failing miserably) this book came as a breath of fresh air since it is so easy to follow.

It was en enjoyable read and I did like the fact that it spans over a few years, which very few books do, as we can see the characters lives evolve and their interests and emotions change as they grow older. It reminded me of Romeo and Juliet‘s star-crossed lovers story, as Laurie and Jack seem to always fall out of sync. But since it’s a modern day romance, it’s not quite as dramatic as Shakespeare. I’m sure a lot of people will be able to relate to the characters in one way or another. Who has never fallen in love with someone they couldn’t have, ha?

The characters are very lovable, especially Laurie and Sarah, but none of them are picture perfect, they all have their flaws and shortcomings which make them all the more relatable.

However, while it was an enjoyable read, I did feel like there was something missing (as I usually do when reading romances, which is hardly ever). It’s nothing to do with the story itself, it is well-written and complete, but I just couldn’t help but get bored after a while and I’ll be happy to move onto something a bit more complex for my next read. Nothing wrong with this book, I just have high expectations as a reader which romance novels never quite satisfy.

*Book spotlight*: The Dream Dancer by Leslie Hachtel

TDDancer_eBook_HiRes

thedreamdancer
The Dream Dancer

by Leslie Hachtel

Paranormal Romance

 

 

 

Lady Bryce has a gift

She can enter dreams and persuade her will onto others. It has served her well, especially in eliminating unsatisfactory suitors of her father’s choosing. But when she encounters Lord Rowland, she wants him more than anything and decides to visit him in his sleep and make him desire her above all others. But will their love be able to conquer all once Bryce’s secret is revealed?

EXCERPT
Rowland of Ashford leaned against the rough stone wall at the edge of the marketplace as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Stretching out his long legs, he watched the passing of the crowd. He unconsciously ran his fingers through his thick black hair, boredom threatening, until she caught his eye. He leaned forward, his breath caught in his throat. Blood thrummed hot through his veins, turning south to his manhood. The way the sunlight played hide and go seek in the red-gold strands of her hair—he was captivated by her. He took several steps closer and saw her eyes were a brilliant green, like the meadows dressed with morning dew. Her tiny waist and creamy breasts peeking above her bodice begged for his attention. She was obviously well-bred and came from wealth. That would probably mean she was accustomed to getting her own way. Rowland straightened and smiled. Well, so was he. The thought of a bit more challenge than bedding the willing women at court was enticing. There was a thrill in the pursuit. So, perhaps doing good deeds did have rewards and this one would yield more than favors from the king. And who was he to turn his back on a personal recompense? He pushed himself off the support and blocked her path.
“Forgive me, my lady, but I must beg a favor.” He realized he was sweating. Of course, that was ridiculous. He was hardly an untried lad.
Startled, she looked up at him. He saw from her expression she found him appealing. She smiled, appearing unnerved. Her two companions, also well-dressed ladies, stared at him, their mouths dropping open. He cleared his throat, trying to draw his thoughts from his swelling manhood. It would not do to embarrass himself in public.
“My lord? We have not been introduced. What favor dare you ask?” Her voice suited her—lovely and lyrical.
“My name is Rowland and I but plead for a few moments of your gracious company before I must go off on my quest.” He flashed his winning smile.
“Your quest, my lord?” Her emerald eyes sparkled with amusement, and a very becoming pink blush rose to her cheeks. She looked to her friends, who both grinned, obviously enjoying this interlude.
“I must slay a dragon.” He raised his chin and was pleased with the authority in his tone.
She giggled and again turned to the ladies who flanked her left and right. They could not contain their mirth either and both laughed aloud. Then, she directed her gaze back to him. Those green orbs took him to another place. “My lord, there are no such things as dragons.” She spoke as if sharing some great truth with a child.
“Really, my lady. Please do not tell the dragon that, for I fear you will offend him. And his wrath might be terrible.”
She shook her head. Her heavy velvet skirts rustled as she stepped away. “Good luck to you,” she called back over her shoulder, as her brightly dressed ladies closed ranks about her. They put their heads together. He had no doubt he was the object of their discussion.
Had she brushed him away like a bit of lint or dust? Well, he would not just walk away
like a wounded pup. The gauntlet was thrown. Now he truly did have a quest.

Buy now!
Purchase now on Amazon for Kindle

Also available at these retailers:

for other retailers not listed contact the author at her website:

http://www.lesliehachtel.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_0004
Leslie Hachtel was born in Ohio, raised in New York and has been a gypsy most of her adult life. Her various jobs, including licensed veterinary technician, caterer, horseback riding instructor for the disabled and advertising media buyer have given her a wealth of experiences. lesliehachtel
However, it has been writing that has consistently been her passion. She sold an episode of a TV show, had a screenplay optioned and has so far produced eleven novels, including eight historical romances and three romantic suspense. Leslie lives in Cordova, Tennessee with a fabulously supportive engineer husband and her writing buddy, Jakita, a terrier.