Early Days

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

(First Ten) Books I Reviewed

Here are ten very early days reviews  – I seemed to have quite a mixed selection of books here:

  1. Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday
  2. Fade Out, Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
  3. His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kim
  4. Entangled by Kat Clarke
  5. Desert Spear by Peter V Brett
  6. Matched by Ally Condie
  7. Pi**ed Off Parents Club by Mink Elliott
  8. Room by Emma Donoghue
  9. Sister by Rosamund Lupton
  10. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
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Emily Eternal by MG Wheaton

Posted On 22 April 2019

Filed under Book Reviews
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HB_RoyalEmily Eternal is a really unusual book that even now I’m still mulling over.  For a book where the primary character is basically a computer programme this story has a lot of heart and is very thought provoking.  I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up and initially I thought I was going to struggle but then the story went in an unexpected direction and I became hooked on the drama that unfolded.

Emily is AC.  No, not air conditioning!  Artificial Consciousness as opposed to AI (Artificial Intelligence) which I guess is something that we’re more familiar with.  Emily’s primary aim is to help people, she’s a therapist if you will and her interactions over the years have helped her to develop the side of her that wants to help us in such a way that she really empathises over our current plight.  Put bluntly the sun is dying.  It’s not a new idea, it’s something that we’ve heard of and at the same time are powerless to do anything about and with the end of the sun will come the end of earth and the extinction of the human race.  So, you might be now thinking this is going to be one of those novels that sees the world spiralling into a terrible place, a dog eat dog place where morals and basic civility have flown out the window.  This book isn’t really about that, it takes a much more focused look in fact.  Emily is based on a university campus and her fame has reached the ears of others, those in power.  It is felt that Emily’s programming is so advanced that she could take steps to help prevent the total extinction of humans – I won’t tell you more but basically this is the basis of Emily Eternal.  How to survive an extinction level event – or at least, how to continue after it has occurred.

Like I said, Emily is a computer programme, in order to help her grow she is simulated and takes human form, she is visible and audible to people who wear or carry a certain chip with them.  She has been programmed so that she functions as a human, with her own personal rooms on campus.  She dresses, showers, eats, etc.  Well, she actually does none of those things strictly speaking, but she is programmed to go through the motions and behaving as a human and constantly interacting has given her a heightened sense of how people think and feel.

As far as characters go I thought Emily was a very easy to like pov.  What I particularly liked about her were her logical thought processes and her reasoning abilities.  It’s all very clever and I really did enjoy that aspect.  As the story progresses things change slightly.  We have a twist in the plot when it becomes apparent that things are not happening in the way promised and Emily effectively ends up on the run.  Which takes some thinking about when you consider that she’s intrinsically linked to a server and also, in order to be seen or heard requires a person to be ‘chipped’.  I’m not really going to mention more about the plot because there are a number of ways in which this story could be spoiled.

On top of this whole survival idea – and the rather creatively over the top ways that Emily comes up with to solve the extinction of mankind, there is also a love story.  Again I won’t say more about that other than to say that Emily does end up travelling with a couple of other characters who thankfully inject something a little more human into the story – it could otherwise have become a little AC focused.

What I really enjoyed about this story is the creativity, some of it does go a little, mmm, crazy/whacky at certain times, but overall this is really well thought out.  It’s well written and actually quite fascinating.  I liked Emily.  I liked the dilemma that she found herself in and her resourcefulness.  I liked that she cared and it raised all those issues of can a programme develop enough to ‘feel’.  There’s also a very good demonstration, and warning of sorts in here, about just what could go wrong.  A cautionary tale in some respects.

In terms of what I struggled with a little.  The beginning is a little slow and I almost came to a point of giving in with this, I’m glad that didn’t happen though.  I did find it difficult to get my head around Emily and the whole love affair.  I understand that the author is demonstrating Emily’s feelings for humans, her connection and also her advancement in that she can actually feel something – not least of all a crush, thereby showing how ‘human’ she has herself become – but, ultimately, I found it difficult to envision.  I also thought the ending was perhaps a little too much – although, again, I loved the idea of what was being explored here.

Overall, I thought this was a thought provoking book indeed.  It actually had quite a compelling story in terms of the survival aspects, which I really hadn’t expected, and it became quite a drama as the stakes were raised at the end. A story that begs the question ‘what next?’

I would definitely read more by this author.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 21st April 2019

This has been a lovely week.  The weather has been glorious and the sun has beamed down on us all over the Easter holiday.  I’ve managed to read three books and start my fourth and I’ve caught up with a number of reviews.  Here’s my week in review:

My books:

  1. Emily Eternal by M G Wheaton
  2. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  3. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

 

Next week’s reads:

  1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  2. Ruthless Magic  by Megan Crewe
  3. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

 

Upcoming reviews:

  1. Emily Eternal by M G Wheaton
  2. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  3. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

#SPFBO Aching God (Iconoclasts #1) by Mike Shel

Posted On 20 April 2019

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Aching GodAching God is the fifth finalist I’ve read as part of the SPFBO.  Aching God brings to us a retired adventurer who receives a summons from the Order he once served and as a result is forced out of retirement to take up a mission that might save his daughter’s life.  I enjoyed this, it’s well written, perhaps a little drawn out in places but overall an entertaining story.

Auric Manteo is the retired adventurer.  He put his relic hunting days behind him and tried to live out a peaceful life although his past still haunts him, particularly of late when his sleeping hours are plagued with nightmares from previous adventures.  The last thing Auric desires is a return to ancient ruins but a strange plague has swept through the City and his daughter now lies in the grips of the disease.  It appears that an ancient artifact maybe at the root of the problem and so the Syraeic Order have deemed that it must be returned to the temple from which it was taken.  This is a more difficult task than at first appears, all records of the mission have mysteriously been destroyed and the original team seem to have been scattered and lost.  Auric and his companions need to hunt down what clues they can and return the relic before more lives are lost.  And so begins this quest.

There were a number of things that stood out for me with Aching God.  The writing is very good and there is plenty of imagination exercised during the course of the journey.  I think Shel has done a great job in creating the world whilst at the same time leaving plenty of issues yet to be explored, the Queen being a really good example of one such mystery.  There were a good number of twists in the tale, particularly during the last quarter and I can genuinely say they came as a surprise to me which I think is a real credit to the writing.

I particularly liked the main protagonist.  He’s an older man, experienced but also a little bit haunted and suffering from self doubt over past decisions that didn’t end well.  I liked that he didn’t overnight become the ‘best thing since sliced bread’.  He struggled and his struggles made him realistic.  He’s also basically a decent character at heart.  Of course he’s made mistakes in the past, his relationship with his daughter has been fractured and he now regrets some of the paths he has chosen.  I would also say that it was so wonderfully refreshing to read a bunch of characters, struggling on a quest, who don’t immediately succumb to each other’s charms.  Just saying.

The story here is a swords and sorcery style quest that follows a linear route.  We move from one adventure to the next along the way and the tension is really ramped up as we approach the concluding chapters.  Shel manages to inject enough horror into the story through the use of flashbacks and dreams that give you a real sense of impending dread about what these adventures are working towards.

In terms of criticisms.  The characters who join Auric feel very flat.  I didn’t really feel enough attachment to them which led to a general ambivalence about their overall survival.  I also think that there were a couple of episodes along the way, well, one in particular, that felt very contrived and felt like it was written into the story just to bring a certain object to bear in future chapters.  I think perhaps my main problem with Aching God was the length.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a lengthy book, in fact I particularly enjoy detail, however, I have to say that it felt like it took a long time to reach the real drama.  Without doubt, the last 25-30% was very gripping indeed and I thoroughly enjoyed it but I think some of the earlier chapters could have maybe been tightened.

Overall, I have to say that this is a really good start to series and I enjoyed the read, even if it felt a little weighty at times.

I would rate this 7.5 out of 10 for the purposes of the competition which would equate to 3.5 of 5 stars on Goodreads.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) by Mark Lawrence

OnewordIf you visit my blog you’ll know that Mark Lawrence is one of my favourite authors and so I’m very happy today to be reviewing One Word Kill as part of the tour organised by 47North.  Further details are below.

One Word Kill is a slight change of tack and see’s this author taking a sidestep into the world of science fiction.  This is a story involving time travel and friendship and is also something of a shout out to the 80s.

I will confess straight out that I know next to nothing about Dungeons & Dragons, I know – break out the pitchforks and roast me over a hot flame already.  I also admit that science fiction is not my ‘go to’ genre and on top of that, time travel can be a little bit hit or miss for me.  Basically, I guess this book had its work cut out and so I’m relieved to say that this was a very enjoyable read.

As the story sets out we meet Nick Hayes just as he discovers he has cancer.  Nick is a fairly regular fifteen year old, a little bit awkward, doesn’t know how to relate to his mum, thinks girls are from a different planet, has a small group of close friends, doesn’t really fall into the ‘in’ crowd but has no real grumbles as such.  He gets together with his friends at weekends to thrash out the latest stage of their D&D game and the biggest change to his world was the recent inclusion of a girl into their small circle – and then of course the shocking news of his illness.

Then other things start to happen.  Events in Nick’s everyday life seem to be mimicking things that occur within the D&D game he plays with his friends and on top of that a stranger seems to be stalking him.  Not to elaborate on the plot it seems that this stalker needs Nick and his friend’s help for a most unlikely rescue situation.  And, as if you needed more, at the same time it seems that Mia, the recent female addition to the crew, has caught the attention of, in my gran’s words, ‘a thoroughly bad sort’!

So this all comes together in a roiling mess of events that escalate into something crazy before eventually untangling themselves and rushing headlong at a conclusion.

What I thought was really good here – the friendships and banter were very well done.  Basically these are a bunch of nerdy teenagers who get together to geek out.  The language of games overcomes everything after all and the interactions and dialogue flow really well – for me, these characters felt real and behaved the way I would expect.

If you love the 80s you’ll love all the little shout outs and whilst I admit that I probably missed a few along the way part of the fun is spotting those things that resonate  personally.  I enjoyed that this story had a familiar feel, think Stranger Things and Back to the Future but also imagine hints of The Goonies and Stand By Me, yet,in spite of that, it was different from the norm in that, as you would imagine with the inclusion of a seriously ill main character, the story has a serious feel.  There is still that sense of camaraderie that you would anticipate but there’s also an element of sadness that you would expect to accompany such a serious issue.  But, before you become all doom and gloom – there is also hope thrown into the mix so bear that in mind too.

The science fiction elements – well, this is time travel, and I can go round and round in circles with the whys and wherefores.  I think the explanations here are done well, probably a little bit over my head in some respects – all the split, multiple timelines and quantum physics (yeah, straight over the top of this one’s noggin) but to be fair I don’t think there’s too much convoluted E=MC2 going on here so I’m sure most people will find this a fairly easy, maybe even ‘soft’ sci fi read.

In terms of criticisms.  The only thing I would mention, and I do tend to bang on about shorter stories – this feels like it could have used a little more padding.  This is a very quick page count and I appreciate that the brevity gives the story a snappy feel but at the same time it also left me feeling that the ending was a little bit rushed, there was a sense that some things slotted very conveniently into place at various points and also, occasionally a feeling of being ‘told’ rather than ‘shown’.

On the whole One Word Kill is a fast paced adventure, it is a story that compels you to turn the pages quickly to see what will happen next and put bluntly there’s never a dull moment.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Details of the other blogs taking part in this tour are below:

One Word Kill Blog Tour Poster .jpg

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