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review 2018-07-18 22:24
Book Review of Splinter (Book Three of the Sentinel Trilogy) by Joshua Winning
Splinter - Joshua Winning

'All who stand against us shall perish'

 

The critically acclaimed Sentinel Trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion in this final instalment of the dark fantasy series.

 

The world is falling apart around Nicholas Hallow. Amid rumours that the Dark Prophets have returned, a deathly gloom pollutes England, unleashing a savage hoard of nightmare creatures. Fighting the tide of evil, Nicholas returns home to Cambridge, where an old ally helps him seek out the mysterious Skurkwife, who could help Nicholas stop Malika and the Prophets for good.

 

Meanwhile, Sam Wilkins unites the Sentinels against the forces of darkness, but with Jessica's sanity slipping, and Isabel suspicious of her shadowy past, it's a battle that could cost the Sentinels everything.

 

Review 5*

 

This story is the third and final book in the Sentinel Trilogy. I loved it!

 

Nicholas Hallow is a fantastic character. I liked him very much when I first met him in Sentinel, the first book of the trilogy. He has dealt with tragedy and faced danger which has destroyed his world with more bravery than even I would have in the same situation. I love how he's grown emotionally throughout the trilogy. He's been forged in fire and gained maturity through adversity. He has been chosen by the Trinity to help protect the Sentinels, but as danger threatens, he finds himself making some difficult decisions.

 

The story continues from the end of the second book and sees Nicholas dealing with his world being torn apart by the malevolent Malika. As he tries to pick up the pieces, his life receives several more blows. There are secrets revealed, and the nightmare surrounding the impending return of the Dark Prophets grows. Nicholas will have to dig deep to resurrect the Trinity. However, the sacrifices may be too difficult.

 

This story has been eagerly awaited by myself for some considerable time; it's been three long years, but it was worth it. Due to the length of time between the release of books, I decided to read the first two books before tackling this one. I'm glad I did that because it reminded me of things I'd forgotten. I found myself hooked from the first page, and I loved meeting the characters once more; Dawn, Sam, Rae, Merlyn, Jessica and Isabel. I even missed Malika, as she's a character I loved to hate.

 

This book is told from Nicholas's point of view and is just as fast-paced and exciting as the other two. There are several twists and turns in this book that I didn't see coming, but they just added to an utterly enthralling read! I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I had to wipe a few tears during this book, so keep hankies or a tissue handy, just in case. Speaking of the end, I love how all the loose ends from the previous books were tied up. I will not say more on that due to spoilers. But, I will say that I will miss these characters. A lot. However, I can now visit them whenever I get the urge.

 

Joshua Winning has written a fantastic end to his debut series. I love his fast-paced writing style, and the story flowed beautifully. This author is one to watch. He is one of only a handful of male authors that I have added to my favourite author's list, and I can't wait to see what he will come up with in the future.

 

As this book is a Young Adult fantasy, I highly recommend this book (and series) to young readers aged 12+ and to adults who love YA stories filled with witches, demons, supernatural beings, danger and adventure! - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-07-06 20:41
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse - My Thoughts
Trail of Lightning - Rebecca Roanhorse

Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed this book. Way more than I expected to, if I'm honest. :) Why? Because I'm not such a huge fan of contemporary, urban-ish (I say ish because it doesn't really take place in an urban environment) fantasy. But this book kept popping up in some of the oddest places on my Twitter timeline and recommended by a few folks whose taste I trust and since the price was right (I did a price-matching thing on Kobo - it was $2+ cheaper at Amazon) I went ahead and picked it up.

So what we've got is a post-apocalyptic (after the Big Water) world where a reformed Navajo nation, Dinétah, is the setting for a Mad Max Fury Road - esque tale. The Diné mythology is thick and fascinating. And is a nice change from all the fairy and elf urban fantasy. I admit to only knowing wee bits and pieces of this mythology and I think some of I know is coloured by what I know about our Canadian First Nations, so I found myself doing a few google searches to clarify things for me. And that's good! I was learning stuff! Never too old for that.

The main character is a young woman, Maggie Hoskie, with a well-earned but not well-respected reputation as a Monsterslayer. Life's not been easy for her when we first meet her and it's about to get even tougher as she deals with monsters, gods, clan magics, secrets and betrayals. I liked her. And I liked the characters around her too. 

I liked the pacing of book too. It read well, kept me turning pages (virtually, 'cause I was using my Kobo) and I did the just one more chapter thing more than once. 

So all in all, this was, for me, a really fabulous read! I highly recommend it.

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review 2018-06-13 13:19
The perfect way to end the series. A must read for #dystopia genre lovers and those who love great characters.
UK2 (Project Renova Book 3) - Terry Tyler

I was offered an ARC copy of this novel and freely chose to review it.

I have read and reviewed the two previous books in the Project Renova series, by Terry Tyler, had read great reviews about the third book in the series, and was eager to catch up with the characters after what had happened in the previous two books. I will try not to spoil any of the surprises in the novel, but I want to advise anybody thinking about reading this book that they are written as a series and they should be read in the right order (first Tipping Point, then Lindisfarne, and UK2 third), as the story and the characters’ arcs grow as it goes along, and it is the best way to fully enjoy the story. There is also a compilation of short stories about some of the characters called Patient Zero (I have that one on my list but haven’t managed to get to it yet), but it is possible to follow the story without having read that one, although I’m sure you’ll feel curious enough to grab that one as well when you’ve finished the three main books.

I thoroughly enjoyed UK2. The novel is divided into three parts, and big events (and big secrets) are discovered in each. Readers who have been following the series will have been eagerly waiting for some of the things that happen in part 1, but in this novel, the action is divided between what is happening in Lindisfarne and what takes place at UK Central (the planned new capital of the UK post-virus). The brains behind UK Central are trying to gather as much of the population together as possible and that means some of the characters choose to move, and readers are given the chance to see how they are affected by their new circumstances. Their fates seem very different, to begin with, but, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that things are not as they seem.

This book is told from a large number of points of view. Many of the characters are given a voice, and here most of them tell the story in first-person, therefore allowing us to see them as they really are, rather than as the personas they try to portray to others. Some of them come out of it very badly (yes, Dex, I’m talking about you) but in other cases, we see characters who grow and develop in front of our eyes. This might come at a cost, but we get the sense that it is well worth it. There are brief interludes written in the third person, some about characters we know whose circumstances change, and others from an omniscient narrator, giving us an insight into what is going on in the world at large and helps create even more tension and anticipation.

The characters remain consistent throughout the series, and there are clear developmental arcs for them. Vicky fluctuates but after some more bad news manages to bounce back, Lottie remains one of my favourite characters and gets some new allies, and there are some surprises, like Flora, who slowly but surely comes into her own. I also enjoyed getting to know more about Doyle, who is another one of the characters who grow through the series, from being quite self-centered and doing anything for a quiet life, to developing a backbone and taking risks.

The quality of the writing is excellent, as usual in this author’s work. There is a good balance between fast-paced action and slower and more reflective moments, but there are gruesome and cruel scenes and sad events that take place as well, as should be the case in the genre. It’s impossible not to think about current politics and wonder what would happen if something like this took place. Let’s say that it feels scarily realistic at times and the novel is great at exploring how human beings can react when faced with extreme situations, with some becoming a better version of themselves, and others… not so much. But, this book is far from all doom and gloom and I loved the ending, and I think most readers will do as well. (Yes, I could not help but cheer at some point!) My only regret was that I had to part with the characters that have become friends by now, but I was reassured by the author’s promise to publish some companion novellas and another novel set in the far future.

Even if you’ve read the other two novels some time ago, you don’t need to worry because the author has included a link at the very beginning of the novel that allows readers to read a brief summary and catch-up on the action so far.

A great follow-up and closing (sort-of) to the Renova Project series, and one that shouldn’t be missed by anybody who’s been following it. A great ending, a beginning of sorts and a reflection on what extreme conditions can do to the human spirit. Unmissable.

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review 2018-06-08 21:14
LIFEL1K3
LIFEL1K3 - Jay Kristoff

[I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.]

Overall, I enjoyed this book, although ultimately it didn’t live up to quite a few of my expectations.

The worldbuilding isn’t tremendously developed here, but what is shown was enough for me to draw a satisfying idea of what it must be like. Post-apocalyptic future, in that, without surprise, humans have been destroying their planet to the point of tsunamis ravaging California (the story is clearly set in its remnants) and solar radiations giving anyone cancer if they walk out unprotected even for an hour or so. It’s a harsh world to live in, where people eke out a living by foraging scraps, prostitution, being in gangs, or competing in the WarDome game by piloting huge robots meant to punish AI robots who stopped obeying the Three Laws (yes, that’s Asimov’s Laws—they tend to work well in various sci-fi worlds, methinks).

Piloting one of those ‘machinas’ is exactly what Eve, the main character, does to earn money and pay for her grandfather’s medication, encouraged by her tiny robot Cricket and her best friend Lemon. Except that her latest fight doesn’t go well at all, and she finds herself manifesting a strange power that sends religious fanatics and bounty hunters on her trail… although not only. This is how she meets Ezekiel, the ‘lifelike’ (an android built in such a way that he looks completely human not only on the surface, since he has blood-like liquid in his veins, metal bones and not simply motors, etc.) This merry band runs away, trying to escape their pursuers as well as to find what happened to Eve’s grandfather, in a world that would look great on screen: radioactive deserts with storms full of glass debris, enemies on motorbikes with rocket launchers, a city made of a whole landlocked float, the ghost town of what used to be a powerful corporation, a living underwater ship… The author doesn’t disclose that many details about geopolitics or history in here, however what he shows us worked for me, and let me imagine this world where Eve and her friends have to live.

In terms of characters, mostly I didn’t care for them, except Lemon. She comes off as the most human and balanced (both strong and fragile), with a cocky attitude and a to-the-death loyalty that felt genuine.

Also, special mention for the novel crossing Anastasia with Pinocchio. I don’t think I had seen or read that yet, and I found the idea interesting, as well as working fairly well.

Where I wasn’t happy with the book:

1) The romance. As often in YA, it was too much of the insta-love kind, without chemistry, and since we get to see how it started only through flashbacks, there was very little in it to make me like it. Eve took a bullet to the head and her memories are sometimes frazzled, and Ezekiel is too many shades of ‘I love you and you’re the only one who gave meaning to my life so now I’m here and I’ll do anything for you’ (commendable, but not very interesting nor even plausible, considering we never got to -feel- how it developed).

2) Ezekiel. Here we had an excellent opportunity to show a character that is not human, yet was built to be like humans, only without the emotional maturity that we develop over ten, twenty, thirty years. Granted, this is mentioned a couple of times, when it comes to the other lifelikes and the way they learnt to love (quickly, brutally, in a way that could drive them mad if the relationship broke, since they didn’t have the emotional background to soften the blow)—but then, this came through -them-, instead of through Ezekiel’s experience.

I think part of the problem stems from the fact we don’t have chapters from Ezekiel’s POV. Eve, Lemon, even a few minor characters now and then: sure. But not Ezekiel. So, in the end, we really get that ‘doll-like’ character who, sure, is an excellent fighter, but whose motives to help Eve never raise past the state of plot device. I would have loved to really see his point view rather than been told about it, see his inner questioning, how he sees the world, how he accepts (or not) his condition of nearly-but-never-human being, especially since this would’ve worked with a certain plot twist also prompting another character to question what being human means.

(A note here regarding the sexual relationship between Ezekiel and Eve; we don’t see it, but it’s more than just vaguely implied. I know that for some people, this is a complete turn-off. I must say I did find it interesting, not so much abnormal and disgusting than intriguing and raising lots of questions about, well, being human, what it means, how it is defined, etc. Did the lifelikes have sexual relationships because they were programmed to, in a perfectionist desire to copy human biology? Was it something that developed ‘naturally’ in them because they looked so much like humans and lived among them? Did they read about it, and so were conditioned from the beginning to believe it was the next step, and from there, would it mean that they could’ve learnt other forms of physical love if given the chance? So many roads to explore, but that weren’t… -sigh-)

Conclusion: In terms of action and of a world easy to picture, this was a fun and entertaining read. However, I regret it didn’t go further than that.

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review 2018-05-14 19:30
The Feed
The Feed - Nick Clark Windo

I started this book beginning of March, I’ve just finished it now (mid-May)… I admit I had a very hard time staying focused and motivated to read it. Perhaps because of the absence of chapters (instead, we have scenes with breaks, and some of the scenes are pretty long), which was a bit of a turn-off for me.

The story has good themes: survival; the world as we know it ending; a technology (the Feed) both exciting and creepy; people trying to live in a community of their own after the fall; children getting abducted; and a mystery, a.k.a people being ‘taken’ in their sleep, effectively losing themselves and becoming someone else. And I admit that -this- part was fairly intriguing and interesting… once the book gets to it, that is, not before the 50% mark or so.

However, it just didn’t grab me; the plot was sort of meandering, with the effect that I was very much aware that there was a plot, and of what it was, yet it felt like there was no plot. I don’t even know how that could happen. I also didn’t connect with the characters, except one (and, here too, we don’t see this character until mid-book). Even writing a review about it kind of bores me.

The writing itself was fine, although the parts in ‘Feed-speak’ were headache-inducing, to be honest.

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