the bookish life

my geeky love for books and bookish things

Tag: science fiction

Book Review – Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Book mail! I was really excited about this one – I love reading about time travel.

Cold Summer

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves. – Goodreads

This story reminded me a lot of The Time Traveller’s Wife, but with teens (obviously) and a slightly happier ending. It was an engrossing read, and I sped through it in a single sitting. The narrative immediately jumped into the story with very little background, which added an element of mystery to it that I liked. Cole’s world building was excellent, and I particularly enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the WWII scenes.

Kale is a well constructed character with a lot of depth – his PTSD felt pretty grounded in reality, even if the cause was rather fantastic. But the other characters were inconsistent – idealized and a bit flat, really. It’s difficult to be emotionally invested in characters of this type, and it caused some distance between me and the story. It pulled me out of the narrative quite a bit. Kale’s WWII experiences are really what made this story a good read. I just wish it had been a great read.

3/5

Book Review – Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis #1-3) by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler holds a special place in my heart. I haven’t read many of her books, but my experience with Kindred blew me away and I became an instant fan. So I’ve been eager to jump into this large (and slightly intimidating) trilogy, Lilith’s Brood.

Lilith's Brood

Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected — by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. – Goodreads

I’m not really sure where to begin with this review – this is a complex and incredibly detailed trilogy, with some really tough themes. It explores the human need for independence and our tendency to destroy things we don’t understand or care for. The humans saved by the Oankali are given a choice – live with them in special villages on Earth and have children with them, or be left sterile and out in the wilderness to fend for themselves. How do you make a choice like that? The resulting conflict carries through the entire series – it’s quite a heavy theme. I read all three books in a row, which was mentally draining but worth it – I love books that make you think.

This series really just confirmed my adoration for Butler. Her characters are so real and flawed and her world building blows me away. The Oankali biology is an integral part of the story, and she explores it with great depth. I was immersed in this world and felt a bit lost once it was done. I wish there was more.

4.5/5

Book Review – The Phoenix Project by C.A. Gray

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


The Phoenix Project is the final book in Gray’s Liberty Box trilogy. I reviewed the first two awhile ago, and have been really eager to jump into the third.

Phoenix Project

During Kate’s broadcast to the nation, Voltolini unleashed targeted brainwave signals against her, causing her to allow both Jackson MacNamera’s capture, and her own. Now, despite Voltolini’s exquisite wining and dining, she can’t seem to stop the panic attacks. Whom can she trust? What is truth? Is there even such a thing?

Meanwhile, imprisoned and hopeless, Jackson realizes the depths of his feelings for Kate only after he has already lost her. The incredible self-control upon which he prides himself gets put to the ultimate test when he meets an unlikely ally who just may turn the tide in the rebels’ favor—but only if Jackson can put aside his own bitterness. In this gripping conclusion to The Liberty Box Trilogy, new and surprising alliances are formed, passions run high, and our heroes learn what they are really made of. Do they have what it takes to fight for freedom—even if it means paying the ultimate price? – Goodreads

The Phoenix Project is a well written and entertaining end to the series. Gray’s world building is still going strong, and the story itself was a very fast paced, easy read. As with the other two books, characterization of some of the antagonistic roles (like Wil and Alex) were a bit one note, and could use further development. However, Jackson’s voice improved this time around, seeming a bit less super-human and more relatable.

I very rarely read self-published books, but I’m really glad I stumbled upon these. This is not Gray’s first series – and I think it’s about time I explored her other books!

The Phoenix Project is available in both paperback and digital edition on Amazon. (I hope it reaches Kobo in Canada soon too!)

3.5/5

Book Review – The Boy Who Fell From The Sky by Jule Owen

I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. It’s the first book in a series, and the author is new to me. These giveaways are a great opportunity to discover new books – I highly recommend entering them.

boy who fell

The Boy Who Fell From The Sky is young adult science fiction – with time travel!

The world is falling apart in 2055. Another flood has devastated London and it’s the eve of the First Space War. With the city locked down, sixteen-year-old Mathew Erlang is confined to his house with only his cat, his robot and his holographic dragons for company.

Desperate for a distraction from the chaos around him, Mathew becomes fascinated by his peculiar and reclusive neighbour, August Lestrange. Mathew begins to investigate Mr. Lestrange, turning to the virtual world of the Nexus and Blackweb for answers. But as he digs deeper, Mathew realises that Mr. Lestrange doesn’t seem quite human.

When Mathew accidentally finds himself trapped in Lestrange’s house, he opens a door and falls four hundred years into the future. Unwittingly, he starts to destabilise the course of human history. – Goodreads

This series has also been classified as “cli-fi”: basically, fiction about climate change. Owen has done a lot of research on it, and that passion comes through in the story – climate change has completely turned the lives of her characters upside down. The story is very detailed and well structured, although at times the future technology Owen describes tends to take over the story a bit too much. There is also a bit of an emotional disconnect with the characters – I think they could benefit from a bit more development. But as a true testament to the overall quality of the plot and writing, these things didn’t really pull me out of the story. I enjoyed it, and I’m interested in reading the next two books in the series as well. If climate change focused science fiction is up your alley, all three books are available on Amazon.

3/5

 

Book Review – Zero G by William Shatner & Jeff Rovin

Back to book reviews! I won this ARC in an Instagram giveaway hosted by Simon & Schuster. This is my first time reading a book by William Shatner (!!). I’m a big Star Trek fan – so of course I geeked out when it arrived.

Zero G

In the year 2050, the United States sends the FBI to govern its space station, the Empyrean. Under the command of former fighter pilot and FBI field agent Samuel Lord, the space based “Zero-G” men are in charge of investigating terrorism, crime, corruption, and espionage beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and of keeping an eye on the rival Chinese and Russian stations.

During the Zero-G team’s first days in space, a mysterious and beautiful scientist, Dr. May, shows up to the Empyrean claiming that important research has been stolen from her lab on the moon. Her arrival suspiciously coincides with timing of a tsunami that destroys part of the coast of Japan, and her unusual behavior makes Director Lord think that Dr. May might know more about the disaster than she’s letting on. Meanwhile, the Chinese space station has gone mysteriously silent. – Goodreads

I’d describe this book as a sci-fi mystery, with a lot of politics thrown in. It’s not my typical read, but it was pretty engaging and I flew through it. The plot was tightly paced and suspenseful, with a few unexpected twists. The science and technology featured in the story didn’t overwhelm the plot, which is a problem a lot of sci-fi books run into. Plot-wise, Zero-G was an enjoyable read.

Unfortunately, I feel like the book stumbled a bit when it came to characterization. Most of the characters were flat representations, often leaning on cultural stereotypes. Character backgrounds were very slim, which made it hard to care about whether they survived to the end of the book. The one exception was a character named Adsila Waters, a young Cherokee FBI officer who is (incorrectly) labelled as pangender. Waters had been genetically modified with the ability to change physical sex at will. Their personality and background was pretty fleshed out – I would enjoy reading a series centred around them. There were hints of a sequel at the end of the book, and I hope Waters is present in the next one.

Zero G is now available for purchase.

3/5

Reading Wrap Up – August 2016

I read 9 books in August. Books with reviews have their titles linked. Enjoy!

Total Books Read in 2016 (from my Goodreads page): 70

Books Read in August:

  1. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley  5/5
  2. Ghosts from Our Past by Andrew Shaffer  3/5
  3. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov  2/5
  4. After Alice by Gregory Maguire  1/5
  5. After You by Jojo Moyes  4.5/5
  6. No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige  4/5
  7. The Witch Must Burn by Danielle Paige  3/5
  8. The Wizard Returns by Danielle Paige  3/5
  9. The Boy Who Fell from the Sky by Jule Owen  3/5

August Wrap Up

I’ve decided to hold off on the Danielle Paige reviews, as I’m still making my way through the prequel novellas for her Dorothy Must Die series. I’ll write a review once I complete the novellas and the first book in the series. I will say this: The Wizard of Oz is a dear favourite of mine, and Paige’s series is leaving me a bit unsettled.

As always, pictures, plus shorter reviews for some of my reads are also on Instagram.

Reading Wrap Up – July 2016

I read 9 books in July, but once again I’m behind in reviews. I’ll be adding a bunch over the next few days. Books with reviews have their titles linked. Enjoy!

Total Books Read in 2016 (from my Goodreads page): 61

Books Read in July:

  1. The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray
  2. Miracle Monday by Elliot S. Maggin
  3. 100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi
  4. Ghostbusters by Nancy Holder
  5. The Eden Conspiracy by C.A. Gray
  6. The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
  7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
  8. Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
  9. Unbound by Shawn Speakman

July Books

As always, pictures, plus shorter reviews for some of my reads are also on Instagram.

Reading Wrap Up – May 2016

I read 9 books this month. It’s funny, I read all the time, but my TBR stack is still huge!

Total Books Read in 2016 (from my 50 Book Pledge page): 44

Books Read in May:

  1. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (read my review here)
  2. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  3. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  4. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (read my review here)
  5. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (read my review here)
  6. Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (read my review here)
  7. Superman: The Last Son of Krypton by Elliot S. Maggin (read my review here)
  8. Grendel by John Gardner
  9. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

May Reads

May Book Haul:

  • Everland by Wendy Spinale (from Owlcrate)
  • Superman: Last Son of Krypton by Elliot S. Maggin
  • The Wander Society by Keri Smith
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
  • Zero G by William Shatner (ARC)
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Pictures, plus shorter reviews for some of my reads are on Instagram.

Book Review – The Last Son of Krypton by Elliot S. Maggin

When I found this book, I assumed it was going to be based on the Christopher Reeve movie – which would have been pretty cool. But it turned out I was wrong; it’s actually a completely unique story. And now that I’ve read it, I’m so glad it is.

last son of krypton

The story takes place a few years after the original movies. Clark has been promoted, and is now a newscaster and producer for the 6 o’clock news. Lois is still with the Daily Planet, although she and Clark continue to meet for lunch every day. Lex Luthor spends his time breaking out of jail, hatching schemes and ending up back in jail. Superman is very old-school, doing over-the-top things with his powers to save the day. Those familiar with Superman’s history won’t have an issue with it, but new fans may find it a bit strange. All of that makes for an entertaining story, but Maggin added something to make it extra special. Or rather, he added someone.

Kal-El’s ship contained an advance drone, which arrived long before he did. It searched for the most intelligent person on Earth, and a message from Jor-El asked that person to raise his son. The drone found a kindly, elderly German man living in the States. Being too old to raise the baby himself, the man put on a disguise, headed out to the town where the ship was predicted to land, and took some time to find a nice couple whom he thought would do well. He then proceeded to trick the couple into being in the right place at the right time. With the baby now in the loving hands of the Kents, the old man went back to his life and no one was the wiser. All in a day’s work for Albert Einstein.

See?! Very cool. But Einstein isn’t just a neat cameo at the beginning of the book – the whole story is an Einstein love-fest. Which made this science geek very very happy!

Overall, the plot was engaging and entertaining – I would say it rivals today’s fiction in the same genre. This book is long out of print, but there appear to be some used copies available on Amazon. There’s even a sequel, which I managed to track down and order. I can’t wait to read it.

4/5

 

 

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