Friday, 28 December 2018

The Extinction Trials

Earthasia is overpopulated and resources are scarce. The continent of Piloria could hold the answer to feeding everyone but there's one problem. It's the home to dinosaurs. The Extinction Trials give the young and healthy a chance to serve their people, to venture to to Piloria and come back with answers.

This is SO MUCH FUN. It is pretty much The Hunger Games with dinosaurs and you can't take it too seriously, but still, it was fun. It's full of tropes and is predictable in places but just don't think too hard. If you like dinosaurs, give it a go.

Stormchaser loves dinosaurs and doesn't like the government's mission to rid the world of them. She only enters the trials for something to do at first. On the other hand, Lincoln needs to win to help his family. They desperately need health care and that's in short supply, along with everything else on Earthasia.

There are some gruesome deaths and I was gripped when they venture into the heart of Piloria. I'm not sure it abides by the most recent thinking regarding dinosaurs (the velociraptors aren't chicken-like) but it'll be fine for the Jurassic Park generation.

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Book Source: Wildest Dreams Subscription Box

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

New Year, New Books

Get your gift vouchers at the ready, here's a bunch of January releases ready to hop onto your bookshelves! Dates are for UK print editions and links go to Goodreads for further information.



3rd

The Curses by Laure Eve
Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite



10th

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus
The Binding by Bridget Collins
All the Lonely People by David Owen
Red Snow by Will Dean



15th

Tentacle by Rita Indiana*
When Death Becomes Life by Joshua D Mezrich



17th

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

24th

Golden State by Ben H. Winters
Undergound: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet by Will Hunt
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox*



29th

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

31st

The Last by Hanna Jameson
Wolf Country by T√ľnde Farrand*
Origins: How the World Made Us by Lewis Dartnell


*ebook available as early release

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Non-Fiction Catch-Up


In Miniature

Simon Garfield's latest book examines the world of miniature items, from villages and railways to slave ships and crime scenes. He meets lots of passionate people and talks about miniatures throughout history. I made the mistake of listening to this via audiobook and I would have loved to have seen photos of some of the miniature items described.

It didn't feel like it had an overall point about miniature items, despite the subtitle of the book. He mentions a few times how we examine things more closely when miniaturised, but mostly it felt a like a jolly ramble through various small things the author quite likes.

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy

When his daughter asked him why inequality exists, the ex-finance minister of Greece wrote this book to explain the basics of the economy. It's important to have a grasp of what the news means when it talks about the economy and this was a great introduction. It covers the history of money and capitalism, and has plenty of literary and pop-culture examples.


Empire of Booze

This was a Christmas gift from a few years ago and I don't know why I put off reading it, it was a fascinating look at the history of certain alcoholic drinks as influenced by Britain (for good or bad). I learn so many interesting facts! I would definitely recommend to anyone with an interest in how alcohol is made (rather than just an interest in drinking it).

Each section has drinking notes at the end to give you some suggestions on what to look for if you want to try some of the mentioned drinks.

This Is Going To Hurt

Adam Kay's book is an eye-opening look into the world of NHS junior doctors. I knew they were overworked but Adam's account shines a light on just how much. It's funny, tragic and terrifying in equal measures. I'm glad this is getting read widely, although I'd suggest not reading it if you're pregnant as most of his experience was in obstetrics.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Semiosis

What if intelligent alien life was plant-based? The settlers of Pax are ready to create a new life, when they discover the plants of their new home might be less than friendly. The group tried to escape war on Earth, have they landed in a different kind of battleground?

I loved the concept behind Semiosis. Each section follows a member of a different generation of settlers, allowing jumps in time, perspective and culture, as well as evolution. It explores how plants evolve to take advantage of animals and in return become useful. In biology this is called mutualism and it's mentioned a lot.

I meant well. I meant greater happiness for all. I meant to create a new and different and better life. I thought I would not repeat the past. I failed.

It did over-explain some things and didn't leave much space for coming to your own conclusions. I suppose it's understandable that not every reader is going to come at this book with any botany knowledge, but I found it irritating at times.

Stevland is a sentient bamboo. It sounds a bit ridiculous but he was my favourite character. He put me in mind of an artificial intelligence, his consciousness spread over a wide area and not always sure how to act human, because he's clearly not. But he understands that he needs service animals to survive and humans are just so useful.

At times I lost interest but because it follows different generations, it would perk up again. Also I cannot believe what the orange trees did! I became so invested in the lives of the plants, it obviously did that part well.

It's also a study of how human society evolves, how beliefs are created and social structures are put in place over time. They do a great job of keeping their pacifism going at least, I was worried at the start it would be a book solely about war.

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Book Source: Borrowed

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

My Sister, the Serial Killer

Read the World: Nigeria


Korede's sister, Ayoola, is beautiful, charming and possibly a serial killer. How many murders does it take? Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead and Korede is there to help clean up the mess. Because that's what being a sister is all about.

Ayoola lives in a world where things must always go her way. It's a law as certain as the law of gravity.

Korede works as a nurse and has a crush on one of the doctors at the hospital. Of course, the day her sister walks in, he is immediately drawn to Ayoola, wants to ask her out. Korede likes this man, she doesn't want him getting hurt, so how can she warn him away.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is fantastic piece of dark comedy, but ultimately is about sisters and the lengths you'll go to, to protect those you love.

I loved how Korede confesses everything to a coma patient, never even considering he might wake up and remember everything. Whilst Ayoola isn't a likeable character, she's also not what you'd expect from a serial killer. Except for the fact everyone loves her, she's a fairly regular person who just seems incapable of ending a relationship the normal way.

Is it in the blood? But his blood is my blood and my blood is hers.

There are some great observations on human behaviour. Korede does get annoyed with her sister and I liked that she acted in a logical manner. Sometimes with these kinds of stories I get irritated at the stupid things they do, but she was sensible and her motives (protecting her sister) were understandable.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is published by Atlantic Books in the UK and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 3rd January 2019. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Pride

Pride transports the well known story of Pride and Prejudice to a Brooklyn neighbourhood overshadowed by the risk of gentrification. Zuri lives in an apartment with her four sisters, across the road from a newly refurbished "mini-mansion". When the new family move in, they are excited by the presence of two hot boys.

Of course, the family across the street are the Darcys. Zuri (the Lizzie of this version) takes an instant dislike to Darius Darcy. He doesn't act the way she thinks a boy in the 'hood should act, and his distance and money come across as arrogance. Her older sister Janae (Jane) takes a shine to Ainsley Darcy though and neither of their siblings are happy about it.

It's a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it’s a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they want to do is clean it up. But it’s not just the junky stuff they’ll get rid of. People can be thrown away too.

It's incredibly close to the original plot, without feeling stale. Scenarios are tweaked to make them believable in the modern world. Instead of fearing homelessness due to their marital status, they are seeing their 'hood being gentrified. Rents going up, families being pushed out. I appreciated the point at the end that they should make the place better, but better for themselves so they don't have to "get out". Earlier on it seemed liked Zuri was nostalgic for bad things but letter she clarifies that this is just what she knows.

The characters' names are all slightly similar to the originals, helping you to place who'll do what, but it doesn't matter if you don't know they story. Marisol is obsessed with money rather than God (Mary). Layla gets a slightly modernised version of Lydia's personality and story-line, involving Warren (Mr Wickham). There's even a Charlotte and Mr Collins!

I'm not so sure about making the Mr Bingley character Darius' brother though. Isn't it a bit weird for two sisters to be dating two brothers? I suppose there were not many relationship scenarios which would have allowed for them to be spending so much time together.

Listening Notes

Elizabeth Acevedo's narration makes a world of difference, I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed this book quite so much if I'd read it. She's perfect for Zuri and reads her poetry beautifully.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Light Between Worlds

During an air-raid, three siblings are transported to another world, one with talking deer and an empire intent on destroying the natural world. There they live and help the people of the Woodlands for years. When they return to the real world, their lives will never be the same again.

I may be young, but I've lived for years in a world where the language of force is the one used most readily. I don't like the shape of its words. I don't like the way it tastes on my tongue.

I love the idea of books that explore what happens to children who have spent years in a portal world only to return to their child bodies in the real world. The Light Between Worlds explores the associated depression and guilt, and perhaps a touch of PTSD.

The official blurb centres gives away something that happens a good halfway through the book. The first half is told by Evelyn, the youngest child who felt like the Woodlands was home. She grew up there and was suddenly returned into her eleven year old body. It doesn't talk about going through puberty twice, but that can't have been enjoyable. She struggles to find her place in the real world, feels abandoned and betrayed by her sister and suffers from depression as a consequence.

I don't know how to live in this grey country - how to find the light and shadow when they all run together so.

The second half is from Philippa's perspective, the older sister who promised to protect her family and always wanted to return. She had to make difficult choices and feels guilty about her sister. This second half was much stronger and made me feel quite emotional.

I didn't care at all for the sections taking place in Woodlands. It was trying hard to be like Narnia and it felt unrealistic, like it could have been made up by a child wishing to escape the war.. Yet her brother and sister remember it too, so it's not just in her head. It was a bit like having Narnia fan-fiction sandwiched in between a quite beautifully written story about not belonging. Having to read these sections distracted me from Evelyn's story, hence why I preferred the other half.

I am thawing in this overheated, crowded kitchen. I can feel my winter melting into spring.

For more of this kind of thing, make sure you check out Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children novellas.

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Book Source: Purchased

Sunday, 2 December 2018

The Month That Was... November 2018

+ International Giveaway

Are you feeling the festive spirit yet? The last few days has started to feel very Christmassy and I'm nearly done with my present shopping already. Woop! I have been a bit slack on blog stuff though, only doing about half the Nonfiction November prompts and I still have a pile of reviews to catch up on. At least I have half of December off work, so hopefully I can start next year all caught up.

I've not much bookstagram stuff either so I'll just leave you with a photo of Scully surrounded by autumn colour. I got a new phone this month too, I'm loving the photos from it but it did mean moving from iOS to Android, so I'm still having to learn where everything is.


Here's what made it onto the blog...

Book of the Month:
East of Croydon by Sue Perkins

Reviews: