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review 2018-03-01 19:26
The Final Six by Alexandra Monir
The Final Six - Alexandra Monir

First off, credit where credit is due, I have to applaud Monir for the diversity in The Final Six. It's so refreshing to not only see both a female and a male main character in this story, but the fact that Naomi and Leo, while they share a destiny, are so different is wonderful. The differences in their views about the competition, their ethnic backgrounds, and their family lives all come together to create a beautiful story about growth through the pursuit of a common goal. I loved how ambitious both of them were because, as I stated above, it's great to see strong male and female characters side by side. We need more of that.


As for the plot, I can say that the science fiction aspects of this book were really accessible. I loved the addition of VR and AI! The Final Six easily walks that line between sharing the technology of the future and still being something that you can find yourself picturing. It helps, of course, that Monir has an uncanny ability to write beautifully descriptive scenes. The competition manages to pull the reader in quickly, and make you feel like you're part of the action. I even found myself rooting for the friendship to romance brewing between our two characters, despite the fact that I'm normally anti-romance. Could I have done without that? Probably, but the fact that I didn't dislike it was a nice surprise.


Why then, you ask, did I rate this at four stars rather than five? First there's the fact that, despite how different Naomi and Leo are in many aspects, our two main characters are pretty difficult to tell apart in their POVs. If there hadn't been headers on the chapters letting me know whose mind I was currently in, I would have been lost a lot more. My other issue was, and I know this is just the way that my particular brand of reading brain works, there were so many unexplained things that were just conveniently happening. I mentioned how perfect the descriptive writing was in relation to the competition technology. That's why I was a little baffled as to why there wasn't any explanations for how electricity works now, why Earth is being abandoned instead of fixed, and why the treatment only works on teenagers. Am I being nitpicky? Possibly. None of that took away from my overall enjoyment. Still, I have so many questions.


So, after a lot of thought, I settled on a solid four star rating. I haven't yet read a book similar to this, so I'm pretty happy with the journey I was taken on. The ending is a blatant cliffhanger, so rest assured that there's another book coming down the pipeline. Maybe that one will answer the rest of my questions? Only time will tell.


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text 2018-01-14 19:08
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: THANK YOU -- and Final Tally


Sooo ... with a staggering two-week delay, your hosts are finally getting around to the game's closing post. (Yeah, we know. Let's just say the new year started rather busy for both of us ...)

Anyway, MbD and I wanted to thank all of you so much for joining the game and participating so actively! It's been great fun watching the truly amazing things that everybody came up with to complete to the various tasks and book themes that we'd cobbled together into a semi-coherent whole -- "imaginative" is putting it mildly; "6 degrees of separation" has got nothing on this crowd! (Not to mention the effect of this game on our respective TBRs ... and the "oooohhs" and "aaawwws" induced by all the adorable pet photos floating down our dashboards.)

A special thank you, too, to everybody for reporting in and tallying up posts and for using the "16 festive tasks" tag; particular those of you who put together "final count" posts -- all of this was a great help in keeping track of the running score and compiling the final count!

Speaking of which, without further ado:

The final count of points comes to a total of 528
-- which translates into a donation of USD 55.00 from MbD and myself to each of the two charities we picked,
Book Aid International and
Room to Read.


Some fun details on the outcome of the game:
Number of active participants: 27
("Active" = completed at least one book or other task for the game)
Average number of points reached: 19.56
Number of card blackouts: 7
("Blackout" = completed at least one book or other task per square)

Single biggest point-earning square: No. 2 (Guy Fawkes Night & Bon Om Touk) -- 45 points total
Runners-up: Squares Nos.1 (All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos & Calan Gaeaf) and 3 (St. Martin’s Day & Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day) -- 43 points total each
Least point-earning squares: Nos. 11 (Soyal & Dōngzhì Festival) and 14 (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti & Quaid-e-Azam’s Day) -- 17 points total each

On a total of 11 squares (Nos. 1 - 4, 7 - 10, 12, 13 and 15), one or more participants completed all four tasks (book tasks and other tasks). Of these, the squares with the highest number of participants completing all four tasks (3 participants in each case) were:
No. 2 (Guy Fawkes Night & Bon Om Touk)
No. 3 (St. Martin’s Day & Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day) and
No. 15 (Newtonmas & St. Stephen's Day / Boxing Day)

Square for which the highest number of participants read at least 1 book: No. 1 (All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos & Calan Gaeaf) -- 17 participants
Square for which the highest number of participants read a 2nd book: No. 3 (St. Martin’s Day & Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day) -- 7 participants
Square for which the highest number of participants completed at least 1 non-book task: No. 4 (Penance Day & Thanksgiving) -- 20 participants
Square for which the highest number of participants completed a 2nd non-book task: No. 2 (Guy Fawkes Night & Bon Om Touk) -- 8 participants

Bonus points scored via bonus books / tasks referring to individual squares: 17 total
Most bonus points scored via square-specific books / tasks for: No. 5 (Advent) -- 6 bonus points total
Bonus points scored via Surprise, Surprise Jokers: 15 total
Points scored via Holiday and Light Jokers: 8 total

Congratulations, everybody, and thank you all so much again!

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review 2017-12-29 01:48
Her Final Watch - Book 2 in the Detective Blanchette Mysteries
Her Final Watch (A Detective Blanchette Mystery Book 2) - Marguerite Ashton

Her Final Watch a well-written, fast-paced crime thriller. The story picks up where book one left off, and while it can be read as a standalone, there are things mentioned from the first book and I would recommend reading them in order. Like the first Detective Blanchette book, this one has loads of twists and it seems everyone has a secret. The story's heroine, Lily, is a likable, strong woman. I love that we see that along with her vulnerable side and her fears. It's refreshing to see such a strong female character that doesn't fall back on sarcasm to hide her insecurities. All-in-all, another solid addition to the Detective Blanchette Mysteries.

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text 2017-12-28 18:00
Favourite 10 books of 2017
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy) by Taylor, Laini (2012) Paperback - Laini Taylor
Traitor to the Throne - Alwyn Hamilton
Horizons (Phobos #4) - Victor Dixen
The Final Empire. Mistborn Book One - Brandon Sanderson
A Court of Wings and Ruin - Sarah J. Maas
The Crown's Game - Evelyn Skye
Warcross - Marie Lu
The Upside of Unrequited - Becky Albertalli
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

Out of the 82 books I read (hopefully 83 if I manage to finish Outlander before the end of the year), those were my favourites (well, I took all my 5 stars read of 2017 and chose 10 out of those, it's not really a scientific rating):


1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: because this book was EVERYTHING. You need to read it if you haven't yet.


2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: and the whole trilogy. I totally enjoyed this unique universe with those amazing characters, a must read!


3. Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton: just WOW! This series is just so important for me, I love this world.


4. Phobos4 by Victor Dixen: this is the last book in my favourite series of 2016. This conclusion was epic.


5. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson: I just can't understand how I had never read Sanderson before this year. He is such an amazing author and I can't wait to discover more of his work.


6. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas: well, this series is one of my favourite of all time and this book did not disappoint.


7. The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye: I love this series full of Russian magic. I fell in love with the author's universe.


8. Warcross by Marie Lu: because, Marie Lu + video game = perfection.


9. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: a beautiful book with a strong message. This book made me open my eyes.


10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I think it is the first time ever a non-fiction book is on my top 10. But this was such a great experience, I had to include it.


What were some of your favourite books this year?


Thanks for reading,



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text 2017-12-11 19:38
12 New December Books
Year One - Nora Roberts
The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries - Mimi Matthews
One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning (The Final War) - David Moody
Winds of the Forest (Forestborn Book 1) - Dele Daniel
If the Fates Allow - Killian B. Brewer,Lynn Charles,Erin Finnegan,Pene Henson,Lilah Suzanne,Annie Harper
Gun Kiss - Khaled Talib
Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace - Jennifer Chiaverini
The Girl in the Tower - Katherine Arden
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters - Ursula K. Le Guin,Karen Joy Fowler
Taming the Alpha (Balls & Chains 2) - Amara Lebel

Winter is here. The days are getting shorter, the weather's getting chiller and we cannot find a better way out of this situation than hiding under a blanket with a book pile nearby. If you're looking for some new titles for your December reading, have a look at the following 12 new releases and let us know what are you reading this winter season.



Year One by Nora Roberts 

A stunning new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author—an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magick, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives. 


Preorder ->

The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries by Mimi Matthews 

From elaborate Victorian cat funerals to a Regency era pony who took a ride in a hot air balloon, Mimi Matthews shares some of the quirkiest—and most poignant—animal tales of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Meet Fortune, the Pug who bit Napoleon on his wedding night, and Looty, the Pekingese sleeve dog who was presented to Queen Victoria after the 1860 sacking of the Summer Palace in Peking. The four-legged friends of Lord Byron, Emily Brontë, and Prince Albert also make an appearance, as do the treasured pets of Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Charles Dickens. Less famous, but no less fascinating, are the animals that were the subject of historical lawsuits, scandals, and public curiosity. Preorder->




One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning by David Moody 

In One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning, David Moody returns to the world of his Hater trilogy with a new fast-paced, and wonderfully dark story about humanity's fight for survival in the face of the impending apocalypse.



New release & Giveaway

Winds of the Forest by Dele Daniel 

In the only surviving part of the earth sits the post-apocalyptic West-African kingdom of Nayja. In the only place where humans still exist lives four tribes, the Kingfishers, the Ammirians, the Rowans and the Arnazuris but one tribe is dominant and must remain so.



If the Fates Allow by Annie Harper 

During the holidays, anything is possible—a second chance, a promised future, an unexpected romance, a rekindled love, or a healed heart. Authors Killian B. Brewer, Pene Henson, Erin Finnegan, Lilah Suzanne, and Lynn Charles share their stories about the magic of the season.



Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib 

A stolen piece of history, an abducted actress and international intrigue… When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen. 



Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini 

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker illuminates the fascinating life of the world’s first computer programmer Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—a woman whose exceptional contributions to science and technology have gone unsung for too long.



The Last Governor: Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong by Jonathan Dimbleby 

1 July 1997 marked the end of British rule of Hong Kong, whereby this territory was passed into the hands of the People’s Republic of China. In 1992, Chris Patten, former chairman of the Conservative Party, was appointed Hong Kong's last governor, and was the man to oversee the handover ceremony of this former British colony. Within the last five years of British rule, acclaimed journalist Jonathan Dimbleby was given unique access to the governor which enabled him to document the twists and turns of such an extraordinary diplomatic, political and personal drama. Preorder->



Taming the Alpha by Amara Lebel 

Welcome to Balls & Chains, a BDSM Club for gay men. Cross the threshold and see the worlds of humans and shifters collide as these alphas dominate, and betas submit.



The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden 

A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.



Killman Creek by Rachel Caine 

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away. Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text.



No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades. Now she’s in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory: the blog, a forum where her voice—sharp, witty, as compassionate as it is critical—shines. No Time to Spare collects the best of Ursula’s online writing, presenting perfectly crystallized dispatches on what matters to her now, her concerns with this world, and her unceasing wonder at it: “How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn. Billionaires, all of us.”


Happy reading!


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