Review: Illuminae

(The Illuminae Files #1)

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

RATING: 5 STARS!

Yes, another 5-star read.That’s two months in a row. And I didn’t see this one coming at all.

The blurb begins like this:
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

Personally, that didn’t really grab my interest. It makes the novel sound as if it’s a teenage romance. It’s not, by the way. It’s a clever, sophisticated, science fiction thriller that just happens to have a romance at the heart of it.

But I didn’t know that. In fact, the only reason I picked Illuminae up is because the blurb also says the story is told through:

a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more .

That did sound intriguing. And it is. Incredibly intriguing and unbelievably well done. Space helmets off to Kaufman and Kristoff. There is no linking narration. None at all. Just documents written by different people and transcripts of conversations recorded on the spaceships. Some of the documents contain images and some of the conversations are depicted graphically, too. I don’t want to explain this in more detail because I so enjoyed turning those pages and seeing something totally unexpected and often unexpectedly moving. I don’t want to spoil that experience for anyone. It took a little while to adjust to the story being told this way, but by about page 50 I was completely enthralled.

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Review: One Word Kill

(Impossible Times #1)

Mark Lawrence

Published By: 47 North

Release Date: 1 May 2019

Genre: Science Fiction / Coming of Age

Rating: 4.5 STARS


” In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next.” 

I wasn’t prepared, either, for just how good this was going to be.

Mark Lawrence is an established and well-regarded Fantasy author. He is also a scientist. So it’s surprising that this is his first foray into Science Fiction. And he nails it in every area: the science, the characters, the action, the 80s nostalgia, and the real emotion the characters feel and the reader feels for them.

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Review: The Silent Patient

Alex Michaelides

Publisher: Celadon Books

Release date: February 2019

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 3 stars

” Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.”

So goes the blurb. And it is an intriguing premise. Will Alicia speak? Why did she shoot her husband? Why is she silent? And so on. As I said, intriguing. So I was keen to read this one. Sadly, the execution didn’t live up to the premise. It’s not a bad book, just disappointing.

Here’s the first problem I had. When people start talking about “a twist you won’t see coming” in a thriller, you can’t help but imagine all the possible twists when you start reading it yourself. And then, if you have read many thrillers, yes, you will see it coming and probably from quite a long way off too.

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What I Read in April

April is autumn here. It’s a time to sit outside in the mellow sunshine with a book and a coffee and enjoy the turning leaves.

I read ten books in April, all fiction: eight novels and two novellas. And I didn’t abandon any of the books I started. It was a very good reading month, with ratings ranging from 3 stars to 5 stars, with an average of 4 stars for the month.

What I read (ranked from lowest to highest rated):

1. LEVERAGE IN DEATH (In Death #47) by JD Robb

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Crime Fiction, Futuristic, 3 stars

This brings me up to date with this series, but this one was a disappointment. In any long series, there will inevitably be highs and lows. It wasn’t a terrible book, but the characters seemed caricatures, each one just a set of their typical quirks and no more. The mystery wasn’t up to par, either, and the perpetrators and their motives just didn’t convince me. Still, a quick read with some fun to be had. Not recommended unless you’re already a fan and/or want to complete the series.

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Review: The Labours of Mrs Stella Ryman

(Fairmount Manor Mysteries #2)

Mel Anastasiou

Published by Pulp Literature Press

Release date: April 1 2019

Genre: Detective Stories, Humour

Eighty-two year old Stella Ryman has found an original way to soldier on through the difficulties of old age, lack of freedom, bad food and the sheer boredom of living in an aged care home. She has become Fairmount Manor’s resident amateur sleuth.

I love this concept, and it gets better, because Stella isn’t your usual detective. She is curious and resourceful, sure, but she doesn’t always remember just what she is trying to achieve. She is courageous and a bit of a rebel, determined to go wherever she wants, but she can’t quite recall where the dining room is. And sometimes she just needs a nap. Nevertheless, she is no tame old lady:

In this posture, she felt exactly like a teenaged juvenile delinquent. It was not a bad way to feel at eighty-two.

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Review: Walking to Aldebaran

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Publisher: Rebellion

Release date: 28 May 2019

Genre: Science Fiction

I had to think about this one for a while to be sure of what I wanted to say about it. Even to be sure what I think about it. It hit me with quite a punch, so it was effective in provoking a reaction, but did I like it? And more importantly, do I recommend it?

The short answer is yes, although this novella wasn’t at all what I was expecting from Tchaikovsky this time around. Here’s the long answer.

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Review: Death at Hazel House

A Cozy Mystery for the Kindle

This is a new edition of the first book in the Sukey Reynolds series by veteran cozy mystery author Betty Rowlands. It was originally released in 1997 as An Inconsiderate Death. From the 3rd of May, it will be available for the Kindle, re-titled as Death at Hazel House. And if you’re a reader of cozies and haven’t come across this one yet, yes, it’s definitely worth your time.

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