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review 2020-05-25 14:19
'Network Effect - Murderbot Diaries #5' by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells,Kevin R. Free

Finally, Murderbot gets the full-length novel that it and we deserve. Thank you, Martha Wells. I've loved the other episodes in the Murderbot Diaries but I was a little frustrated at having them drip-fed to me in what seemed to me to be a novel broken into novellas for no good reason.


I preordered the audiobook version of 'Network Effect' and dived into it as soon as it arrived in my audiobook queue. After four hours of immersion in Murderbot's world, this was my reaction:

This is a wonderful ride. MurderBot remains its compelling self but being freed from the novella format means that the plot structure is more complicated and the puzzle that needs to be solved has more twists in it.


Reading 'Network Effect' is like falling through a cascade of action sequences while working on a big picture to make sense of everything. There's never a dull moment and it took some self-control for me to do anything else today.'

I managed to pace myself and consumed the book over three days rather than one. The mystery continued to become more complex and the actions scenes continued to pile on and they were all fun and very well done but what I liked most about the book was the way in which Murderbot developed.


Murderbot isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become, human. Humans are messy and often reckless, shouldn't be trusted with weapons, are inappropriately optimistic for creatures that are both fragile and slow. Nevertheless, Murderbot is attached to its humans pretty much in the way you or I might be attached to our Labradors.


So, if Murderbot is going to continue to associate with humans and commit itself to protecting some of them, but isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become human, how does it develop to become more than a SecUnit that's hacked its governor unit so it can spend more time watching TV?


Martha Wells' answer to that is inspired.



Firstly she lets Murderbot itself slowly figure out that that is a question that deserves to be answered. Then she builds a plot that brings Murderbot back into contact with ART, the sarcastic, extremely bright, apparently working on covert missions transport ship that sheltered Murderbot earlier. Except this time Murderbot has to rescue both ART and ART's humans. Seeing the relationship between ART and its humans gives Murderbot a lot to think about. Creating a 2.0 copy of himself, for reasons I won't share here, and using his memories to persuade another SecUnit to hack its own governor unit, again help Murdrbot to reflect on its identity.



Then the Network Effect kicks in: we have multiple non-human intelligences connected to each other making Murderbot's situation less unique while making his value higher and pushing him to define who he is and what he wants to do next.

(spoiler show)


It's beautifully done. I had an exciting ride, a lot of action, good mystery and I got to watch Murderbot grow up.


I'll be back for more as soon as it's available.


I think the audiobook is quite well done, it even manages not to make Murderbot sound definitively male or female. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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review 2020-05-23 11:26
'Planetfall' by Emma Newman - Highly Recommended
Planetfall (Planetfall #1) - Emma Newman

A future SF classic with ambitious storytelling, insightful characterisation and a unique premise.


I'd been told that 'Planetfall' by Emma Newman was a future SF classic so I wasn't surprised that it was good. I was surprised about what it was good at.


I'd expected that a book called 'Planetfall' would be rooted in tales of shiny spacecraft or huge asteroid-sized colony vessels and long discussions on hyperdrives, gravitational rings, weapons systems and strategic and tactical AI units, but it's not really like that.


There is a big asteroid-size colony ship, there's lots of plausible advanced tech and there is even an interstellar, interspecies mystery in the tradition of Arthur C Clarke or Isaac Asimov. But, at its heart, this is the story of Ren, a cripplingly anxious woman, struggling with guilt for a past decision not yet fully revealed but which we know involves colluding in a lie at the foundation of the colony, a lie which, twenty years later, is in danger of being exposed.


The story, which is told from Ren's point of view, occurring mostly in the present but including some of her dreams and memories, tells of a trip to stars, led by The Pathfinder, to an unexplored planet on which they find a large organic structure that they refer to as 'God's City'.


The power of the book comes mostly from the intimate portrayal of Ren's journey, or perhaps her pilgrimage, motivated by love and faith, hindered by self-doubt, broken by a single event and the lies that followed it, crippled by guilt and struggling painfully towards hope.


'Planetfall' gives a deeply credible and personal insight into the effect of anxiety and guilt on mental health. It's really not comfortable being behind Ren's eyes. Almost all of her memories are painful: the mother she could never please, the father she left behind, the best friend that she followed to the stars and then lost, her own role in perpetuating a lie for twenty years. If you've ever been in the grip of anxiety or known someone who is, you'll recognise what is happening to Ren. It's heartbreaking to watch her anxiety and her compulsive behaviour, brought on by the lie she's created, lead her to self-imposed isolation and leave her despairing and on the edge of hating herself.


Capturing this in any novel is an achievement. Wrapping it in a novel of planetary colonisation that is more a pilgrimage to meet God, is extraordinary. Inserting a seed of betrayal and deception at the heart of everything and revealing it slowly, like a dead body you can smell but can't yet see, is inspired.


The ending of the book was very satisfying. It was surprising, filled with action and delivered an outcome that both dealt with the consequences of the lie at the heart of the colony's foundation and revealed the mystery that had called the colonists to the planet. It also continued Ren's journey in a way that provided some hope but which didn't protect her from her own history.


I listened to the audiobook version of 'Planetfall' which is narrated by the author. I’m never sure what to expect of authors narrating their own work. Some of them get it very wrong, for example, I can’t listen to Stephen King or John Irving read their stuff. On the other hand, Barbara Kingsolver and  John le Carré capture every nuance. I’m glad to say that I can add to Emma Newman to the list of authors who are good narrators. I’d be happy to listen to her read other people’s work too. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of her work.

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review 2020-05-20 16:10
Review: Centurion (Galactic Gladiators; House of Rone #3) by Anna Hackett
Centurion - Anna Hackett

 Galactic Gladiators; House of Rone #3
 Anna Hackett
 Science Fiction Romance
 October 20, 2019


Rescued from her alien captors, the only person who makes her feel safe is a cold, emotionless cyborg.


Abducted from her exploration ship, paramedic Sage McAlister has spent months locked in cells and labs belonging to the Edull. Rescued by the cool, powerful cyborgs of the House of Rone, she finds herself among fellow human survivors on the desert world of Carthago. But despite being free, Sage feels cold inside and is struggling to cope. The only person she feels safe with—who she doesn’t feel the need to pretend with—is a deadly cyborg who feels nothing.


Forced into a military cyborg program as a teen, all Acton Vonn remembers of his past are violent missions and the cybernetic enhancements forced on him before he broke free. His emotions have been dampened to nothing for decades and he’s fine with that. It makes him an efficient member of the House of Rone. Yet the more time he spends with the copper-haired woman he helped rescue from the Edull, the more unfamiliar, strange, and perplexing things he starts to feel.


When a tip reveals that more humans are being held captive at a mysterious desert lake, Sage will stop at nothing to help rescue her crewmates. As she is drawn closer to Acton, she worries about risking her heart. Being with Sage breaks down barriers inside Acton and he struggles with the emotions he doesn’t want to feel. But deep in Carthago’s dangerous deserts, with the Edull hunting them, Sage and Acton will have to risk it all: their lives, their hearts, their souls.


Includes a preview of Edge of Eon (Eon Warriors #1).






Centurion is book three in the Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone series by Anna Hackett. I love Hackett. She is an amazing science fiction romance author. 


Acton never understood why his fellow cyborgs kept falling for their Earth women, but when he helps rescue Sage, his world implodes. Acton is the most machine like of the House of Rone Gladiators, but everything changes when Sage moves in.


Sage was torn from her solar system and sold to the Edull. She was their prisoner and knows too well the danger they pose with their unspeakable robots. Now that she’s free she’s determined to find and save her fellow prisoners, but first she has to show the tasty looking Acton how good emotions can be. 


I loved Acton and Sage’s story. They started out as friends, but quickly realized their attraction to each other. Acton was so sweet in how he helped Sage deal with find her place in this new world and the trauma that happened to her. On the other side Sage helped Acton find his feelings. I was delighted with their budding romance and that they both helped each other to heal and find love. 


Besides the healing and romance we are treated to many action-battle scenes. There is no shortage of trouble from the Edull as the hunt goes on to find the Edulls hidden city and free the humans. 


Centurion is another fabulous, entertaining, and exciting read. I can’t wait to get the next story in the House of Rone series.


Rated: 4 Stars


Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!






I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!



Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2020/05/review-centurion-galactic-gladiators-house-of-rone-3-by-anna-hackett
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review 2020-05-18 23:48
Book Review: The One
The One - John Marrs

A twisty, turny roller coaster ride from start to end! The story takes place in the near future where a scientist has discovered a gene that can be used to identify "your perfect match".


"A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you'll be matched with your perfect partner - the one you're genetically made for."


The story is told from multiple perspectives so be prepared if that isn't something that you typically enjoy. It's not always my favourite way of delivering a story however, in this case, it worked really well for me. I was invested in the stories, trying to guess the twists along the way and that was enough for me. Getting to know the characters any deeper was not really the point of this book.


"Five very different people have received the notification that they've been matched". Mandy is a divorced 37 year old desperate for a family of her own, Christopher is a serial killer, Jade is a twenty-something whose perfect match lives on the other side of the world in Australia, Nick is engaged to Sally when he finds out his perfect match is a man, and Ellie is a CEO too busy to invest in her love life.


As the stories unfold for each of these people, everything is definitely not as it seems. Each page brings another piece of information, often turning any assumptions you've made upside down. The chapters are short and often end in cliffhangers so it's hard to put down this book. I managed to figure out some of the twists but others really surprised me.


What also really interested me is the societal commentary around "the haves" who have been matched and found their perfect partner and "the have nots" who bide their time on dating sites like Match.com and Tinder, waiting for their match to be found. People view relationships that are not "true matches" as less valid or real. The story does a great job of weaving this theme throughout without hitting the reader in the middle of the eyes with it.

While each story gets wrapped up, there is some ambiguity with the ending - don't expect everything to get tied up in a nice, neat package. I really enjoyed the book and recommend if you want a page-turning thriller with a unique premise.

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text 2020-05-18 17:23
Reading progress update: DNF at 17%.
Sphere - Michael Crichton,Scott Brick

This is actually so stupid, it gives me a headache listening to it.


DNF at 17%

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