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review 2018-04-14 08:19
An Argumentation Of Historians
An Argumentation of Historians - Jodi Taylor

Collective noun for historians: an argumentation.

One of the consequences of having a Mt. TBR that is just short of keeping me awake at night (both literally and figuratively speaking) is that there are few times I'm really waiting for a book to be published, because I have at least twenty (or a hundred) that are constantly screaming for my attention. However, An Argumentation of Historians was one of those few books, that I immediately bought on release day and I dropped all the rest so I could read it.

St Mary's is one of my favourite series. It is so light and British I find it the ultimate way to relax. Luckily the tone of this book is lighter compared to the previous one, and I enjoyed it much more. (Apparently Jodi Taylor received much complains about And the Rest is History, because she mentions it in her introduction). If you ever wanted to know what people get up to when they are 'investigating major historical events in contemporary time' read this series (this is book #9 and they should really be read in order). Don't bother with the science though, you will find very little of that, which is just fine because it is their not having an idea what they're doing that's at least half the fun of it. Additionally, it makes their responses when they historian better. Oh, and if you can't stand tea, stay wide from this series, because you will be reminded about it every second page or so.

This all being said and done, it is not all gold that glitters of course. There were some things I didn't like, so the next part will contain some spoilers for this book and the previous ones in the series.

After ATRIH I was pissed off, because she pulled the 'assuming someone was dead' again, and it is just such a cheap plot point. So I was glad she stayed far away from that in this one (even though it was clear from the start that Max would eventually return to the right St. Mary's). Which was really good, because in a fit of rage I might have declared to throw the entire series out of the window. See, I've certainly learned from the impulsiveness of everyone at St. Mary's. As I mentioned above, there is not a lot of scientific explanation to the workings of the time travel, but apparently it can't be that hard, since there are enough rogue time travellers to keep an full police force going. Also, the moments it bordered more on science fiction were some of the weakest in the series, in my opinion. Ellis' explanation of the future, with the Time Police's involvement in almost all things, was really bad. It would have better been left out. Finally, I feel the Ronan storyline should have ended some time ago. It feels rather repetitive at this point and I think there would be more than enough nice, interesting historical events to explore without him.

I see a new short story is due in 10 days, I can't wait!

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review 2018-04-14 07:55
Arrivals
Arrivals - Michael Underwood

Arrivals is the first installment in a new series from Serial Box and since I had just finished this season of False Idols, I was looking for my next serial. It was quite a switch from False Idols, as Arrivals provide what feels like an old-fashioned but well thought of and enjoyable high fantasy.

There is a lot of introduction of new characters which made it a little bit chaotic and I didn't feel a connection yet with the characters, but some of the things show promise to become very interesting. I particularly liked the floating lands.

For now I will continue.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2018-04-07 16:49
The Eighth King
The Eighth King - Matt Weber

The Eight King was a difficult book for me. I wanted to like it so bad. It was original fantasy, set against a Chinese background, but maybe because it featured so many different and special elements, I found it hard to follow and to concentrate on the book.

As I'm always reading multiple books at the same time, I had to cut down the portions I read of The Eight King because I noticed the reading always haltered there. Which I think might be due to the writing which was to say the least special. Told from the all knowing third person perspective, the characters always feel far away, and with the characters each carrying multiple names (many of which have some sort of Ape in it) it was difficult to connect to them (or tell them all apart at times). At times the writing felt slightly condescending towards the characters.

It was a shame, because I loved the way magic was interwoven in the world. It was very whimsical, mainly providing problems rather than easy solutions. The politics involved were also really nice. I would like to know where the world is going, but I hope the writing would change a bit.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2018-04-07 16:30
First Activation
First Activation: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller - D.A. & M.P. Wearmouth

I'm afraid of flying, so whatever drove me to read a horror book with a plane on the cover right before boarding a flight beats me. Luckily for people like me, the flying is certainly the safest mode of transport in First Activation. It's when they reach their destination that things become, slightly weird, as everyone feels the need to murder-suicide themselves. It's here that veteran brothers Jack and Harry are trying to survive.

I liked the first half of the book best, because it was reading really fast and felt like I was watching a movie. It was the right amount of confusing, gross and enthralling, just what I needed at that moment. About half-way, the pace slows down quite drastically and it is much less about survival and much more about the why and who behind the sudden urge to kill. I was still interested in the story, but things started to get really convenient and unlikely, which was a slight let down.

Since I already had a copy of the sequel, I've started it already. Curious where the Second Activation will bring everyone.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2018-03-30 20:07
The Zanna Function
The Zanna Function - Daniel Wheatley

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

This middle grade/YA novel deals with Zanna, a girl who loves puzzles, science, and whose curiosity is never satisfied. When she learns she’s been accepted to St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, of course she jumps for joy, but from the first chapter on, things aren’t like what she expected at all: the school is a nightmare, her schoolmates are horrible, her teachers seem incompetent… or is that only a facet of reality, and truth is in fact much more complex? Don’t trust what you see at first! At St. Pommeroy’s, Zanna discovers that mathematics, physics and chemistry are doors towards understanding the very functions defining the universe, and with this understanding, people like her can learn to manipulate the fabric of the universe itself.

Magic through Science is a concept I love, and I had much fun reading about here (but then, I find simplifying surds relaxing, so…). The school itself follows patterns that aren’t new in many MG novels: Zanna meets the people who’ll become her schoolmates, there are friendships and enmities, but overall I found the school’s atmosphere was a positive one, encouraging cooperation and understanding each other, with the story not veering into the usual Mean Queen Bee and Gang vs. Nice Girl. Although, to be fair, I didn’t always find Zanna herself very nice, especially with the way she immediately started to judge one of the other pupils, when in fact she was best placed to understand his actions, and why he behaved like that. Good thing that this kind of attitude usually paves the way for character growth (both characters), all the more with one of the teachers latching on this and poking at said pupils to force them to look at their true selves instead of pretending to already know who they are and never looking further.

Other characters were enjoyable, too, although I wish they had been more developed and that we had seen more of them. I especially liked the relationship between Zanna and her quirky grandfather, and how Scientists are somewhat hidden from ‘the normal world’, but with presidents, officials etc. still knowing they exist: this way, they’re exceptional, but there’s no need for complete secrecy, keeping both worlds separated, having Zanna forever unable to share her new life with her ‘mundane’ family, and so on.

Overall I found the writing pleasant, and the book a quick, fun read, with the story always moving. The ‘scientific explanations’ peppered here and there may be difficult to follow for a younger audience, however the author usually made his explanations short enough, and with some very basic knowledge in chemistry and physics, they remain understandable. (Do middle grade kids still leanr that? I had physics lessons when I was 11-12, and we started chemistry at 12-13.) Anyway, I believe one can enjoy the plot and characters here even if having to gloss over the more ‘sciencey’ bits, since they effects they have are akin to ‘magic’, so the results can be observed nonetheless, so to speak. For instance, manipulating and changing the proprieties of nitrogen to make balloons fly: the result’s still flying in the end. (Bit of a pet peeve, though, for the use of the word ‘metallurgical’ throughout the book, because as far as I know, this world is related to the the extraction, refining etc. of metals, and has nothing to do with ‘illusions so complex that they’re not only visual, and actually feel real’. Every time the word popped up, it distracted me.)

Another peeve was the villain’s tendency to not reveal anything: ‘I’m doing this for your own good, because if I don’t, terrible things will happen to All The People You Love… but I’m never going to tell you what exactly will happen, trust me even though I’m the villain.’ I mean, I don’t know who would ever believe this would make a teenager keep quiet and passively accept all that’s happening to her. I’m much older than Zanna, and I still wouldn’t take that at face value either. Those reasons are never disclosed even at the end, so I do hope that there’s going to be a second instalment at some point: between that and Zanna’s second year at school, there’s definitely holes to close, and material to exploit.

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