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review 2017-10-17 09:57
That rare thing. A strong second-book in a trilogy.
Lindisfarne (Project Renova Book 2) - Terry Tyler

When I read (and reviewed) Tipping Point, the first novel in the Project Renova series, I guessed that setting the next story in Lindisfarne would bring things to the boil. If the first book introduced us to the main characters and set up the background of the story (how the population of the world had been decimated by a virus, the conspiracy that was behind what had happened, and a group of survivors set on creating a new life for themselves), the second one moves on from there and places a number of characters, with their personal crises, their problems, and their different origins and values, together in a very restricted environment. Lindisfarne is a wonderful place, but as I had observed before, is it not easy to hide there, and emotions are bound to ride high when people who would not normally have chosen to live together are thrown in close proximity to each other with no easy way out.

The author does a great job, again, of creating and developing characters that are real, with complex motivations (not all black or white), and whom we get to care about (well, some we get to truly dislike). The story is told the points of view of several characters. Some of the accounts are in the first person. Vicky, the woman who was the main character of the first book is still the central character here, but she shares her first-person narration with her daughter Lottie (who just becomes more and more fabulous as she grows, and she talks and thinks like a girl her age, even if a very strong and determined one) and Heath, the man she loves (but whom she has difficulty committing to). Some are in the third person. We are given a privileged insight into Wedge’s twisted mind (he is a biker who escaped prison in the first book and he reaches the island looking for revenge, and well, yes, he finds it), and the story of Doyle (a guy who was a data analyst and was involved in the running of the Renova project at a worker-bee level) who wanders alone most of the time until he stumbles across the next stage of project Renova is also included, although he is not part of the community. The stories of those two, Wedge and Doyle, are told in the third person, perhaps because they are the characters that are more closed-off and we are less likely to identify with (although we still see things from their points of view, not always pleasant, I might add). Doyle’s character also allows us to get a glimpse into what is going on in the world at large and what the forces pulling the strings are planning next. There is a chapter, a particularly dramatic one, where several points of view are used, for very good reason, but in the rest, it is clear who is talking, and there is no head hopping. The different points of view help give readers a better sense of the characters thanks to the varied perspectives and also provide us with some privileged information that makes us be less surprised by what happens than some of the characters are.

Vicky, who matured during the first book, continues to get stronger, but she goes through quite a few harrowing experiences in this book, she still finds it difficult to make decisions (she always thinks about everybody else’s needs first) and is sometimes two steps forward and one step back. When she comes face to face with the man she thought she could not live without again, she makes an understandable choice, but not one we’ll like. Later on, things take a turn for the better, but… The rest of the characters… I’ve mentioned Lottie. She’s great and I loved the chapters from her point of view. And we have an official psychopath baddie, but, well, let’s say he’s not the worst one of the lot. (To be truthful, I prefer an all-out ‘honest’ baddie to somebody who pretends to be good and do everything for others when he’s a lying, good-for-nothing… Well, you catch my drift).

I don’t want to give you too many details about the plot, but let’s say that we discover quite a few secrets, we come to meet characters we’d only heard about before and see them in all their glory (or not), there are strange alliances, issues of law and order, cheating, fights, and even murders. And we get a scary peep into what the future holds.

As I had said in my review for the first one, due to the care and attention given to the characters, and to the way the small community is configured (we get to know everybody and it is a bit like soap opera but in a post-apocalyptic environment), this book will be enjoyed also by people who don’t usually read this genre of novels. There is a fabulous sense of place and the author manages to use the island (its history, its landscape, and its location) to its utmost advantage. The books need to be read in order to truly understand the story, the development of the characters, and their motivation. If you haven’t read Tipping Point, I recommend you start with that one and keep reading.

I know there is a book of short-stories being published later in the year and the third novel next year. I can’t wait to see what will happen next after the epilogue (and what Dex will be up to next). A great series and one that makes us question what makes us human, what do we really need to survive, and what makes us civilised (if we are).

I was provided an ARC copy of the novel that I freely chose to review.

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review 2017-10-05 16:53
Horror of the SciFi Kind – Nomad by Matthew Mather @phuturenews
Nomad (Volume 1) - Matthew Mather

Nomad by Matthew Mather is Book I of The New Earth Series.

 

This is one of those books that left me with tons of questions and what ifs.

 

Nomad (Nomad, #1)

Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

Action packed, thought-provoking, could this really happen novel that held my attention as the clocked ticked down.

 

“At most, we have a year, perhaps only months, until the anomaly reaches us.”

 

It’s the end of the world and I can’t imagine the fear and panic. All kinds of questions came to mind. Would I want to know, seeing as how there is nothing I could do? Would I want to be one of the last ones standing? How would I spend the last moments of my life? Who would I spend them with?

 

I quickly became involved with the characters, especially Jess. I love a strong, independent, kickass female, and she surely fits the bill. She is into extreme sports, served in Afghanistan, and left a leg there because of an IED. She may be a bit more than self-confident, maybe a bit reckless, but she does not have a death wish.There is nothing that will stop her from doing the right thing.

 

My first thought would be to let bygones be bygones, but would others think that? What about other countries? Would they want to take the last shot before the Earth ceases to exist?

 

A free for all, no holds barred human slaughter.

 

Matthew Mather did his research for Nomad. I don’t understand all the technical jargon, but he broke it down into easy to understand language. Well enough for me to me to be totally engrossed in the story, instead of thinking of it as a school subject.

 

The end of the world is coming and I felt it on every page, especially after watching the Solar Eclipse on 8.21.17. The danger and suspense just kept increasing, and it wasn’t just because of Nomad.

 

There is no ending. There are four books in the series, and I WANT THEM!

 

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

 

Read more here.

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/horror-of-the-scifi-kind-nomad-by-matthew-mather-phuturenews
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review 2017-09-04 06:05
Better than I remembered
The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King

Second volume of this saga is sooo much better. Better than the first volume and better on second read.

Better than the first because it felt more grounded somehow. Despite the whole "magic doorway" thing, it was way less surreal than "The Gunslinger". The writing was more rounded too, and I connected better with the characters.

Better on second read because there was a dimension of meaning and character growth I could not appreciate first time around (having read it as a stand-alone), and because I'm older, and no matter how mature you think you are, there is a lot you can't really understand when you are a teen.

Despite remembering almost everything, I was not bored. At all. I actually sped through 3/4 of it before my brain revolted clamoring for sleep. That's a "good stuff" stamp, if there is ever one.

I'm full on board of this train now, and will be reading the next install soon.

 

 

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review 2017-08-30 22:26
A post-apocalyptic story of a Britain that is so familiar it is truly scary.
Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) - Terry Tyler

This book is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the near future (2024 to be precise) in the UK. Although some of the specific locations are fictional, the author explains in a note at the end where the original inspiration for some of them came from, and indeed, some are real. The setting is one of the great achievements of the novel. For those of us who live in the UK, it is all too real and familiar (with the shops, facilities, political and social organisation, TV programmes, food, language, and even typical behaviours of the population) and that makes it, in many ways, scarier than novels that are set either in imaginary locations, or in vague settings, that in their attempt at representing everywhere sometimes become too unfamiliar and alienating. Another one of the things that differentiate this novel from others in the genre (and I’m aware that the author writes in many different genres and is mostly interested in the stories rather than the labels attached to them) is its attention to characters. Whilst many post-apocalyptic novels spend a lot of the time, either on the cause and the development of the said apocalypse or on descriptions of the new world and post-apocalyptic society, sometimes the characters are little more than superheroes that had not discovered yet they had special survival skills, and spend most of the novel demonstrating us their awesomeness. Although I am not an expert in post-apocalyptic novels, I have read some (the one I best remember in recent times is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel) and I’d dare to say that some readers who might not usually read novels in this genre would enjoy this one.

The time frame of the story is somewhat fragmented. The novel starts plunging us in the middle of the action, as the two main characters, Vicky and her teenage daughter Lottie, are escaping from their town and the enforced isolation and transportation its inhabitants face due to the epidemic. The novel (mostly narrated in the first person by Vicky) then goes back to explain how the situation reached the ‘tipping point’ of the title. The first person narration makes us experience the story close and personal, whilst at the same time limiting the amount of information we get to what Vicky can get hold of. Although her partner, Dex, was well-informed and had been warning her about the world governments attempts at gathering information about the population through social media with shady intent, she always dismissed his concerns and now realises he might have been right all along. (As I have included the description of the novel and want to avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the whole plot in detail, but let’s say population control is taken to the extreme).

 As I have commented more than once regarding first-person narrations, there are readers who like them more than others, and often it depends on how we feel about the narrator. I must confess that on many occasions I found Vicky very annoying, especially at the beginning of the story. She refuses to believe anything that falls outside of her comfort zone, as if she was wearing blinkers; she is uncritical of official versions of the truth, despite her partner’s attempts at enlightening her. She has little confidence in herself (even when she acknowledges that she has brought up her daughter alone and has achieved much despite her difficult circumstances), and places a lot of responsibility and trust in Dex (although she does not share his ideas or even listen to him at times), her partner for the last six years. He is a fair bit older than her, savvier, and seems to be the one who has to make the decisions and who is expected to come up with answers and solutions to all the problems. (I thought the fact that when they moved they only kept a car, and now he’s the only one to drive and she has lost confidence in her driving seems to encapsulate their relationship). Of course, we do not know him directly, as we only have Vicky’s memories of him, and we learn later those might have been rose-tinted. From the little snippets we get, I found their relationship a bit difficult to understand, as they don’t seem to have much in common (as some of the other characters note, including her daughter) and we learn that she was quite naïve about him.  But she grows and matures through the novel, and although, thankfully, she does not become Wonder Woman, she proves herself resourceful and capable, she dares to try new things and does whatever is necessary to ensure her survival and that of her daughter. I am curious to see how the character will develop in the coming books and also to find out what role she will ultimately end up playing (as the narration seems to be addressed at the readers at times, rather than just being something she is writing exclusively for herself).

I really liked Lottie. She is a credible teenager, determined where her mother is hesitant, flexible and adaptable while remaining a teenager, naïve at times, eager to discover who she is and what she likes, and to fight for her individuality and independence. She brings much of the humour to the story and the relationship mother-daughter is a joy to read (apocalypse or not).

There are some chapters told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator who gets into the head of different characters, some that will evidently play a part in future instalments of the series, and others that provide a clearer background and explanation of how and why everything developed.

The writing is fluid and flows well. The first-person narration is convincing and the reported speech patterns of the different characters are distinctive and help create a clear picture in the reader’s mind. The pacing is steady, at times faster (especially when there is an acute threat to deal with) but at others it slows down to allow for some moments of contemplation and reflection.

Although I said before that the story is not focused on the science behind the illness or on a blow-by-blow account of the spread of the epidemic, that does not mean we do not gain insight into the destruction the virus causes or how it results in a collapse of the usual niceties of civilisation, but rather that we see these on a small scale and from a human-sized perspective, that, if anything, makes it scarier, as it is easier to visualise how this could happen around us. And, as quite a few readers have commented, one feels very tempted to withdraw completely from social media after reading this book, so convincing its plot is.

This first novel in the Renova trilogy sets up the characters and the background situation for the rest of the series. I am intrigued by the number of diverse characters who are set to come together at Lindisfarne. Holy Island, a place I have visited, is fascinating, but not very large for such a crew of people, and it is not somewhere where one can easily hide or even escape from. The confluence of so many people with such different expectations and agendas is bound to be explosive, and I can’t wait for the next book, that luckily should be out in September 2017.

I recommend this novel not only to readers of post-apocalyptic literature, but also to those who enjoy stories that question our beliefs, our society, our values, and that are interested in people, their relationships, and the way they see themselves and others.  I am sure this series will go from strength to strength and I look forward to the next two books.

 

Thanks to the author who kindly offered me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

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review 2017-08-28 20:56
Great Use of Building Tension
Bird Box - Josh Malerman

There are a few flaws with "Bird Box". Some of the chapters drag here and there, and the going back and forth to the present, past, and recent past didn't always work. But the book as a whole really works.

 

The book begins with a young woman being worried about what is outside the windows that she can't see. She is scared to leave a house she is living in with the children that she calls Boy and Girl. We don't know what is going on exactly, but the woman realizes that today she is going to have to finally leave the safe haven that has been created if she wants to make sure that the children have any type of life.


From there the book moves into what I call a very nice tension filled book. Not all of the blanks get filled in for you at once (which I liked). Instead, you start to get pieces told to you. You find out the woman's name is Malorie. That she lives in Michigan and that she misses her sister and someone named Tom. You don't know what happened to these people yet, but you start to find out that something has started to drive the world mad. 

 

We only stay with Malorie for the majority of the book though we do get a man's POV in this one named Tom. We over a course of chapters figure out who Tom is and how/why he is important to Malorie. 


I think that Malerman did a very good job in a short amount of time spelling out the main characteristics with each character we meet. Heck, I even got a sense of who Boy and Girl were too. 

 

The writing was good. I didn't feel talked down to or had things being overly explained. I thought it was great that we got to see Malorie's POV in three different time periods and at one point we get Tom's POV. I wish that Malerman had thought to go to Tom's POV at an important point in the book. That would have made things stronger to me. I do like how the book really focuses on noise a lot. I would love to listen to this via audiobook, I am sure it is an experience. I was tense the entire time I was reading. 


The flow was good, though I would say that maybe Malerman would have been better served if he pointed out what time period we are in as readers. I quickly guessed though based on where we left Malorie, Boy, and Girl and then figured things out when we had Malorie talking about things here and there. 

 

I do like that we never get an idea of what the fearsome creatures/monsters are that can drive a person insane with a single look. I found it much better to just sit and imagine what it could be. I personally imagine it had something to do with clowns because clowns are my personal nightmare on Earth. 

 

The ending had one more horror filled moment, that I wish had lasted longer. But then again I am a sucker for a really good straight up horror book. I did enjoy how this one ended. 

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