book reviews

Review: Seeker – David Noe and Laura Loolaid

Hi everyone! I’m back again today to post my second review in a row, which is most unusual for me! Given that we are all going to be slowing down a bit for the festive season, I wanted to publish this and relieve the authors of their long wait.

I was very kindly asked by David and Laura to review Seeker back in October, and I am very grateful for their patience as they have waited over two months for this review. Thank you both for bearing with me on this – turns out when I advertise I am taking requests I practically get my hand chewed off!

 

Seeker

Goodreads – Seeker

Jewel Harper, a junior specialist in a successful bounty-hunter group, returns from a routine mission only to find a new contract already prepared – a private contract to rescue a brother she didn’t know she had. The mission takes Jewel to a few different homeworlds — and into some trouble. She will learn that pretty much everybody knows more about her family than she does.


This is a stand-alone story set in the ChaosNova universe. Humans have spread to new homeworlds in a “goldilocks cluster” somewhere in the Galaxy, where the many homeworlds harbour several dominant civilizations as well as various local cultures, ancient and new. This story-verse, borne of forum-based roleplay and collaboration between several authors, holds many more characters and adventures, with varying degrees of connection to the central arc. Some of those stories are being written now, many are yet to be told.

The first thing I immediately fell in love with when I was approached with the book was that it was written via collaboration, and it’s beginnings are unique. Having been a part of science-fiction-themed forums previously, David decided to create his own forum to write in. As more people joined, including Laura, some of these stories began to take shape.

If you are interested in learning more about the way in which the Universe was created, I will be sharing a video with you tomorrow in which both Laura and David discuss this, among other things.

In the meantime, I want to share with you my thoughts about the book! (That is what I am here for, after all)…

Seeker is based in an entirely fictional universe we discoever through the eyes of Jewel, aka Seeker Valkyrie. Jewel puts me in mind of that person at work that is always there when you arrive, and you can guarantee that they will be the last to leave the office at the end of the day. You know the one – EVERY office has one. Who knows, they may even have a sleeping bag…

All joking aside, Jewel is a workaholic, taking on and completing missions one after the other and barely pausing for breath. Her shuttle is basic and utilitarian – not a place of comfort, but that suits her needs just fine. Her usual routine changes when she is approached with a private contract: to rescue a brother she didn’t even know she had!

Private contracts are always trouble, or so Overseer Raptor warns her. Ignoring his advice, she sets out in search of her brother across the Universe – but she isn’t the only one seeking him out. Wraith – her competitor, is trying to get him first… but for whom is he working? Jewel ends up negotiating herself out of some sticky situations. Having grown up sheltered from her family’s past, she slowly uncovers more information and pieces together the truth. Just what kind of trouble did her brother get into to be imprisoned?

Well, I’m not spoiling it for you here – so you’ll have to go and find out for yourself! Aha!!

I enjoy reading science-fiction, and whilst it is one of the genres I make an effort to dip into, it is one I read less of. That being the case, I am far less clued up on terminology than the authors, for example. Despite my lesser experience, for want of a phrase, I wasn’t at all intimidated by the language employed to describe the advanced technology used. Whilst it is specific in describing what is happening, I didn’t find the language too technical. It avoids alienating the reader and therefore striking up an effective balance to communicate the story.

When dabbling in genres like fantasy and science-fiction, there is far more flexibility with the rules that govern what is happening within the created dimensions. This can be liberating as it allows for greater flexibility as the imagination can run wild, however, it could also become problematic. Even though you have the ability to bend the rules, the plot line concerned still needs to be credible for the reader. There have to be valid reasons for the rules to be bent. For example, extensive space travel is a large part of Jewel’s quest in finding her brother – so far, in fact, it would take millions of years to travel there. As we all know the average span of a human life, one question that could then be raised is how Jewel could survive such a trip? For that, we have the solution of the stasis pods she has in her shuttle. I don’t think too much detail is required (actually – you could get bogged down if there is too much), but the explanation is there as to how she makes it to the other side and more importantly, it’s believable. It’s also a convenient way of glossing over what would end up being a long and rather dull trip in a computerised tin can.

I found Jewel really easy to get along with as a character. Who doesn’t love a bit of sassy, kick-ass action? It also helps that Jewel knows as little about her past as we do. Discovering what happened to her family during her childhood is a journey we take with her, and there is definitely scope for the story to progress further should the authors decide to. Not only that, the flexibity in creating a Universe is that other, separate stories can be written with similar themes to other books. That way, new characters and story arcs can be introduced. I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and I think there is plenty of opportunity for the ChaosNova universe to adopt a similar model for their stories, should they wish to try that.

I hope to see further books in the future, because I think this has a lot of potential for success. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I hope other readers love it as much as I do. Once again, thank you to Laura and David for hanging in there and also for the extra material they have produced.

I will post a link to this tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Rebecca mono

Reading Lists

Reading List: December 2017

Guys… I hate to break it to you, but IT’S DECEMBER!!! How did that happen so fast?!

This year seems to have gone quickly for me – well, the second half at least. This year didn’t get off to the best of starts. On the plus side, it was the foundation of finding a hobby in blogging so I cannot complain too much! You have to take every positive you can get!

Never have I managed to read so many books in one year, and I’m proud I’ve stuck to my challenge. I have five books left to finish my 60 book challenge (after finishing The Black Prism, it’ll be four), and I’m confident I can do it!

I was hoping to be a little closer to my target. I have ended November still reading The Black Prism by Brent Weeks and I am yet to touch F.ormerly by Dane Cobain, which is the last book on November’s list. I’ve had a bit of a slow month I guess, which isn’t a problem… but I’ll be carrying this book forward as a result.

 

Remember For Me – Diana Tarant Schmidt

Remember For Me

Remember For Me – Goodreads

Clara Eros thought her life was ending with Alzheimer’s. She was mistaken. A war between good and evil has raged for as long as humanity has existed, and the balance of power between its forces has always remained equal. But that longstanding balance has begun to shift, and the survival of mankind may be at risk. What is the source of this duality, and how do the proponents of light and darkness use humans to further their cause? When Clara Eros awakens with no memory, her questions are fundamental: who is she; and why is she here? The answer she receives is predetermined and singular: she has been recruited to fight a battle against the reign of darkness. But is Clara just a pawn in a much larger game? Once her transformation is complete, Clara finds herself, in body and mind, as a younger, stronger version of the person she can no longer remember, and now she must search for the common thread hidden within malevolence and turn the tide in a war where humanity is succumbing to chaos and brutality. Will she be strong enough to bring humanity back into the light?

I was grateful to be approached by Diana with a request to read this book. Whilst having an element of fiction, it touches on a sensitive topic of Alzheimer’s, but I’m glad it is being brought to the forefront of discussion. I am looking forward to seeing how the theme is portrayed, and who knows, maybe I’ll get an idea of what my gran experienced in the last few years of her life.

 

Seeker – David Noë and Laura Loolaid

Seeker

Seeker – Goodreads

Jewel Harper, a junior specialist in a successful bounty-hunter group, returns from a routine mission only to find a new contract already prepared – a private contract to rescue a brother she didn’t know she had. The mission takes Jewel to a few different homeworlds — and into some trouble. She will learn that pretty much everybody knows more about her family than she does.


This is a stand-alone story set in the ChaosNova universe. Humans have spread to new homeworlds in a “goldilocks cluster” somewhere in the Galaxy, where the many homeworlds harbour several dominant civilizations as well as various local cultures, ancient and new. This story-verse, borne of forum-based roleplay and collaboration between several authors, holds many more characters and adventures, with varying degrees of connection to the central arc. Some of those stories are being written now, many are yet to be told.

I was excited to be approached with a request to read this book, too. I love the concept of how the ChaosNova universe was created and how it is written collaboratively – it is what makes it unique. It has also been some time since I have picked up any books in the science fiction genre, so I am really looking forward to picking this up!

 

F.ormerly – Dane Cobain

Former.ly

Former.ly – Goodreads

When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

So I was supposed to read this last month and unfortunately didn’t get around to it. This is a book I have downloaded via Netgalley, and it drew my attention as it features a kind of modern technology that is potentially relevant to today’s society.

I have mixed feelings about social media. Obviously, when used correctly and safely it is a useful tool to keep in touch with friends and relatives. By very nature, bloggers use the Internet and social media in order to get books and their opinions out there. There are people that abuse this technology, sadly. I’ll outright admit that I am against the idea of social media use featured in the book. I’m curious to see if my feelings are justified or not.

 

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity – Goodreads

Oct. 11th, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

This just sounds like it is going to be fantastic – and whilst I don’t like to focus on this when I opt to read a book, I couldn’t help but notice that it has a high rating on Goodreads! Anyone who follows my blog will know I have a lot of interest in history and historical fiction, so this should be right up my street.

 

Rewired – S R Johannes

ReWired

ReWired – Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Ada Lovelace is never more alive and sure of herself than when she’s hacking into a “secure” network as her alter ego, the Dark Angel. In the real world, Ada is broken, reeling from her best friend Simone’s recent suicide. But online, the reclusive daughter of Senator Lovelace (champion of the new Online Privacy Bill) is a daring white hat hacker and the only female member of the Orwellians, an elite group responsible for a string of high-profile hacks against major corporations, with a mission to protect the little guy. Ada is swiftly proving she’s a force to be reckoned with, when a fellow Orwellian betrays her to the FBI. To protect her father’s career, Ada is sent to ReBoot, a technology rehab facility for teens…the same rehab Simone attended right before killing herself.

It’s bad enough that the ReBoot facility is creepy in an Overlook-Hotel-meets-Winchester-Mansion way, but when Ada realizes Simone’s suicide is just one in an increasingly suspicious string of “accidental” deaths and “suicides” occurring just after kids leave ReBoot, Ada knows she can’t leave without figuring out what really happened to her best friend. The massive cyber conspiracy she uncovers will threaten everything she cares about–her dad’s career, her new relationship with a wry, handsome, reformed hacker who gets under her skin, and most of all–the version of herself Ada likes best–the Dark Angel.

With a deliciously twisty plot, the topical bite of Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER, ReWired delves into technology addiction, internet privacy, and corporate/government collection of data, as it vividly illuminates the universally human questions about ethics, privacy, and self-definition that both underpin these socio-political issues and dovetail with classic coming-of-age themes. Ultimately, ReWired is about the daily choices we all make about who we want to be, how much of ourselves we choose to share with others, and the terrifying risks and exhilarating rewards of being ourselves, online and off.

Between reading this Seeker and F.ormerly this month, there is definitely a “technology” theme going on, but I think I’ll enjoy it! I tend to read more Fantasy than anything so it will make a refreshing change. As I have already voiced, I have a bit of mistrust on the use of social media (for privacy reasons) so I’m sure I’ll take something away from this read!

Divider mono

If I manage to read all these by the end of the month, it means I’ll have completed my reading challenge and I’ll have read one extra book too! I didn’t want to be too optimistic and try to read six because:-

  1. That hasn’t worked the last two months
  2. IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!

So, now my reading list is sorted… it’s time to panic about Christmas presents…

Chao!!

Jack Sparrow Run.gif

Rebecca mono

book reviews

Review: Extracted – R R Haywood

GoodReads – Extracted

 

Further to my Sunday Summary post, today I am reviewing Extracted by R R Haywood.

In 2061 the time machine is created. During testing it is discovered if time is allowed to follow its course, the world will end in 2111.

In order to save the world three of the best human beings ever to have existed are extracted from the point of their death; Mad Harry Madden is rescued from his mission during the Second World War in 1943, Ben Calshott is extracted during an attack on the London Underground in 2015 and Safa Patel is retrieved whilst defending the Prime Minister in 2020.

It was refreshing to read a completely different genre for a change. I think the last time I read a true science fiction book was when I read War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. That also happens to be the first book I downloaded on my first Kindle, ever. To my mind time travel is a subject that can get very complicated very quickly, and thankfully, so far this book was not difficult to follow. Equally there were elements of this book that I found disappointing, which I will go further into below.

I prefer books written in third person by default, but I found the perspectives between the three characters switched sporadically. I understand that during times of action you want the narration to be punchy and have impact, and of course all three characters will have their own perspective of what is going on, but I feel more structure could have been applied so that the point of view of the text didn’t change so frequently and unexpectedly.

I also found the book lacked the amount of progress I was expecting from it. In essence, our three heroes are tasked with locating the point in time at which the end of the world was made inevitable and have to change it. If you don’t mind me saying, this is a pretty big task. To my mind this first book spent too much time focusing on the personal developments of the characters following their extraction and as a consequence the plot was underdeveloped.

That isn’t to say I won’t be continuing to read the trilogy. What has been written is perfectly readable, if not the finest piece of literature I have ever read. This series has a lot of potential and now I have invested into the characters so much, I want to see how they achieve this seemingly impossible task.

What I will say of R R Haywood’s writing is that the time travel element is explained well. I always knew who was where and when, and even when there are a couple of overlaps I was clear as to who is where and what their purpose is at that time. As I mentioned before, it is a subject that can get very confusing very quickly, but I felt this was handled very well.