Category Archives: Speculative Fiction

Review: False Hearts by Laura Lam

False Hearts (Pacifica) by Laura Lam

One twin is imprisoned for a terrible crime. The other will do anything to set her free.

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She’s arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Zeal, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila’s identity and gather information – then if she brings down the drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.

The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine. But as conjoined twins, they needed surgery to divide their shared heart – and escaped. Taema discovers Tila was moulded by the cult and that it’s linked to the city’s underground. Once unable to keep secrets, the sisters will discover the true cost of lies.

My Blurb

If you’ve read One by Sarah Crossan and if you’re anything like me, you’d have cried your heart out and wished for a somewhat different ending. Without giving too much away, it could have been like False Hearts though of course, False Hearts is set in a very distant future. There isn’t actually a specific date but technology-wise, they seem to be far ahead of us.

The world setting is fairly similar though differences lie in technology including medicine. So, it was pretty easy to get into. Taema as the main protagonist is also easily likeable and therefore, memorable. Tila, on the other hand, was not quite present in the story for me. She provided only certain perspectives that the readers need to fill in the blanks. Otherwise, we mainly follow Taema.

I felt that this book is quite different from other dystopians though most dystopians I read are YA so maybe that’s one difference. But it also incorporates a cult living in isolation from the world though not without communication. In addition to this, there is bloody murder or is there? Let’s just say that this book has everything that I like in a book and that’s why I’ve really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Originally from sunny California, Laura Lam now lives in cloudy Scotland. Lam is the author of BBC Radio 2 Book Club section False Hearts, the companion novel Shattered Minds, as well as the award-winning Micah Grey series PantomimeShadowplay, and Masquerade. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in anthologies such as Nasty WomenSolaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History, and more.  She lectures part-time at Napier University in Edinburgh on the Creative Writing MA.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  twitter  | facebook  |  instagram  |  tumblr

 

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Review: Traveler by L.E. DeLano

Traveler (Traveler #1) by L.E. DeLano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the description, this book has everything I love in it:

Pirates ✓

Alternate worlds ✓

Delectable Book Boyfriend ✓✓✓

Said Delectable Book Boyfriend Comes to Life ✓✓✓✓✓

Totally sold on this book from the get-go!

It’s not a new theory that each time we make a choice, there is a split in reality as another version of us make a different choice and therefore, there are billions, gazillions, un-numbered alternate worlds out there. There are many books written about these too but probably not many of them are as fantastical as these worlds in Traveler. There is a post-apocalyptic world where the situation is so desperate that people are hunting people. There is a world full of everything shiny and sparkly with Glitter Mousse (yum!). There is a steampunk world with corsets and pirates! These are just my favourites out of the numerous alternate universes we were introduced in this book.

I like Jessa with her rather ordinary world turned upside down or is it rather right way up? Like any ordinary teenager, Jessa has her own share of troubles but they were nothing to what’s coming her way. She is being hunted down in every alternate worlds though this time, Finn has come, determined to save this Jessa. We rarely see the other Jessas though as Finn puts it, Jessa is always Jessa whichever world she’s in. We do see however different versions of Jessa’s friends & loved ones including Finn and I must admit to like the pirate Finn more than any other!

Traveler is a fun read; not only do you get dozens of different worlds in the one book but the most important spin was that book boyfriend coming to life (can you just imagine?! btw, who would you pick?!). I was a tad disappointed that Pirate Finn didn’t make that much of an appearance but *coughs* that ending… I absolutely can NOT wait for book 2!

Thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Disruption

disruptionDisruption by Jessica Shirvington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

This read was the fastest 400 pages ever! I have to admit that the print was pretty big but the words finished in no time at all… Disruption was one of those reads where you NEED to keep on reading to find out what happens next and yet, you kept watching on how many pages to go til the end because you never want it to end. But the ending was just… so… evil… I’m breathlessly awaiting the sequel to this duology!!

The world has is now a different place with each individual movements being visible to those in authority. This idea in itself is not original though the Phera-tech spin to assess compatibilities between people is an interesting concept. There is, however, a tragic side of this tech where IN-compatible people are removed from society but as always, nothing is as it seems. Maggie Stevens have seen through some of these deceptions and to save someone she loves, she’s willing to sacrifice all.

I found the beginning just a tad difficult to start with –that might have to do with the time of day that I found it slightly tricky to get on in this new world. However, I did love the prologue as it was really intriguing and set the stage up for Maggie-Quentin combo. Once all, the intro, is done and the action started, there is no stopping me from rushing to the end of the book. Disruption is an intriguing action-packed fast-paced and romantic read.

One of the things I vaguely remembered Jessica Shirvington mentioned at the launch was that her vision is to write female characters that her little girls would be proud of. I think, with Maggie (as I’ve not read her other books yet!), she’s definitely got one. Maggie is one very driven, very focused young lady. She is capable and is mostly on top of things though her goal, sometimes, served as blinders to other things. She is quite awesome to behold; I loved her character development in this book and can’t wait to see where it will go next in Corruption. Can I just say once more how the ending is driving me stir crazy?!

Thank you, HarperCollins Australia, for copy of book

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Review: The Almost Girl

almost girlThe Almost Girl by Amalie Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Strange Chemisty via NetGalley

A smashing cover and published by Angry Robot, I need no other excuse to pick this book up. The blurb and the promise of a kick-ass heroine actually kicking ass totally geared me up for a fabulous read.

The Almost Girl began with a strong action moment. It was such a promising beginning to the book and sets up Riven’s fighter quality fantastically. Yep, she’s a cold-hearted killer on a mission. Fast forward to the present time and Riven is trying hard to track down someone well hidden on earth, by infiltrating high schools… then, she found her target, accidentally, on the road…

Truthfully, there are a lot of potential for a mesmerising story with a strong heroine, alien world, and lots of fighting. It was an easy read; the action flowing from one moment to the next. The pace was pretty fast so time flew by very quickly. Overall, it was a pretty exciting read despite the messy feeling and hence, quite a number of questions I had. The copy I read is an eARC via NetGalley so perhaps the final copy will have been tidied up.

It wasn’t until a bit later than I connected the fact that Amalie Howard also penned Waterfell, which I’ve only just read a couple of months ago (you can check out my review, here). I like Riven a lot more than Nerissa whom I found really annoying to begin with. The setting / premise seems to be worlds apart however I’m wondering if anyone noticed that the ending of both books appear to be identical?

Despite some of the shortcomings of this novel (you’ll find both love & hate reviews out there), I do think you should give this novel a chance; you would, at least, enjoy all the fighting scenes.

Thanks to Strange Chemistry for copy of eARC via NetGalley

Challenge read for: ScatterShelves

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Review: Kinslayer

kinslayerKinslayer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

IZANAGI’S BALLS!

This is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read! For about a week after, I adopted Shima-speak in my head which almost burst out a few times. Just imagine how I’d try to explain that to my friends!

I loved Stormdancer so Kinslayer (though I wasn’t quite enamored with the title, sorry, Jay!) was a highly anticipated release. It was so much better than I ever expected it to be. There was so much happening that I didn’t know which way to turn. There wasn’t any break, Bam Bam Bam, the pace was absolutely off the chart. Unlike Stormdancer, there were quite an additional number of perspectives in Kinslayer and I believe, this in part, contributed to the killing pace. The story moves from character to character at each snap of my fingers.

At first, Yukiko annoys me here although she has very good reason to feel what she felt; I just have problems with angry characters. I’m glad though that she didn’t stay that way throughout the book; that she was forced to adapt to situations and chose to fight to live. That’s the bad-ass Yukiko I remember!

The first time I read Stormdancer, I wasn’t particularly keen on Kin. The second time, I started to like him… but as I read Kinslayer, I swayed from one to the other until I just really don’t know anymore!!! And the fact that I’m loving this uncertainty is totally astonishing! I lay the fault at Jay Kristoff’s evil genius!

Of the minor characters, I am thoroughly in awe of Michi. She’s a machine! I mean that in the most admirable way. She’s one tough cookie and ain’t nobody gonna get in her way. I hope to see her a lot more in the next installment (please, Jay, please?!)

This part was a truly hair-rising moment for me;

“You are death,” she whispered. “Cold as winter dawn. Merciless as Lady Sun. Play the role. Play it so well you could fool yourself. But never forget who you are. What you are.”
She pointed at the glass, and her whisper was sharp as knives.
“You are Kagé Michi.”

I am all amazement in the plot development. There was so many twists and turns that I was caught by surprise a lot of the time and there may or may not be out loud gasps on the train (yup, that was me *waves*). I can’t say this enough, I can’t wait for Book 3!

My apologies for the late review – moving house & job took a lot out of me and I’m still trying to get a new routine going!

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Review: Gameboard of the Gods

gameboard
Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Dutton Adult via Edelweiss

There is everything to love in this book!

The world: spick & span shiny High-Tech Dystopian country (the Republic of United North America) yet there are primitive settlements surrounding it, not to mention the Romanesque religions (the worship of many gods) incongruously rooted as part of life.

The kick-ass heroine: Absolutely gorgeous chick, intelligent and super strong, she can literally kick ass! I defy you to not love this goddess! um, no, that’s not at all a spoiler

The player hero: With a handsome face and tons of charm, women fell at his feet left, right, and centre. And yet… no one knew of his inner struggles, his dreams, his fears – his charm covers it all up.

The chemistry: The tension was just delicious! The attraction was pretty obvious and I am ever grateful for the alternate perspectives between Mae and Justin. They both have their own secrets that they bury deep inside until one encounter whilst each at their weakest, open a window into their souls exposing parts of the secret selves to each other. They are both experts at hiding their true feelings but how long can you deny yourself of the truth?

I’m sure I have missed a lot in my first reading of the book and I predict that this is one of those books I must own so I can re-read again and again because I’ll find something new at each readings.

A note to Richelle Mead fans, I’ve not read many of her works. I’ve only read the first book of VA (am not a fan of Rose, sorry!) but am enjoying Bloodlines (I love Sydney & Adrian) but Age of the X is more my style! As I understand it, it is quite different from her other works but I love it & I can’t wait for the next instalment!!

Thank you Dutton Adult via Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review eARC

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Review: Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The beginning of the book, Chapter Zero, was set in a fascinating long ago time of Persia. The encounter between man and Djinn brought about of The Thousand and One Days into the world of men. From ancient Persia, the setting shifts to current days where Alif, a young man of Arab-Indian descent, is making his living from covering his clients’ sites from the authorities.

At first, I really wasn’t sure whether I like Alif –not the usual hero type, I thought. There were quite a number of frustrating times that I felt like screaming, c’mon, get your act together. However, in the end, he is definitely the type of hero needed in this book once you get to know what you’re fighting against. James Bond cannot win all kinds of battles.

The techie talks just went over my head and it doesn’t affect my understanding of plot much, most times, I ignore it. One part I really enjoyed though was the stories from the secret book. It kinda felt like reading The Thousand and One Nights somewhat with its morals etc. I also really liked Dina – a devout Moslem girl-next-door to Alif. She was unexpectedly strong and courageous. I loved the fast pace of the story and I could barely put it down as something’s bound to happen on the next page.

I reckon if you like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code or any of his books, you may enjoy this similar work of interlacing modern technology with myths and the supernatural world.

Thank you Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room for providing copy to read & review

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