Review: Space Opera

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After years a war the galaxy finally came up with a solution to decide which species were sentient and deserved to live. A singing contest. Humanity are invited to join this contest for the first time, to prove their sentience. If they don’t compete, or finish last, they will be destroyed.
Welcome to the Metagalatic Grand Prix

Let me start my review by saying I wanted to like this book. I love Eurovision (as anyone who follows me on twitter will have noticed), so when I saw a book that was Eurovision in space I was so excited to read it. This book did not live up to my expectations, it didn’t even come close.

The writing style tried too hard to be Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with long, wordy, rambling sentences and tangents that didn’t add to the story. Most of this book was filler, not furthering the plot in any way.

I didn’t find the main characters to be particularly likeable, and the book didn’t spend enough time with them to change my opinion. There were more chapters and scenes that didn’t feature the main characters than did, but these didn’t introduce any other characters in the book.

I think the author had spent too much time world building for this book, and wanted to show that off, with all of the different planets and alien species. Unfortunately the book didn’t have a strong enough plot to support this, the actual singing competition was only twenty pages.

I hard to force myself to finish this book. If I hadn’t been so excited (and paid £12) I probably would have DNF’d it within the first hundred pages.

Review: The Rumour

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

Joanna just wants her son to fit in when they move to a new town. So if passing on a rumour to the other mums gets him invited to parties, and the babysitting club, it isn’t really hurting anyone. It’s just a rumour.

Residents of Flinstead-on-sea don’t take kindly to the suggestion that someone among them could be a child killer. Joanna can’t stop the events that follow as tensions rise, and fingers are pointed. Joanna doesn’t know who she can trust anymore, as she tries to protect her son.

This was a really interesting book. The story is told from Joanna’s point of view and this gives a fascinating insight into the mind of a mother.

One of the most striking things about this book is how well Lesley Kara describes how the residents of the town react to the rumour. The reaction is very realistic, and it’s easy to imagine how quickly this situation would reach boiling point in real life. Kara also manages to create sympathy for many of the characters, even when we suspect them of being the murderer.

I did see the twist coming but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future releases by Lesley Kara.

Review: The Lights ★★★★

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

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The Lights are all over the Earth. Is it the rapture, or an alien invasion? Steven and his father have a plan for when the Lights come, but when someone needs Steven’s help will he stick to the plan, or abandon it to save her?








I really liked this book, there were a couple of points in the first few chapters when I thought the writing was a bit jarring, but after that I was enjoying the book so much that I didn’t notice any more.

This book was really interesting in the way it considered both science and religion as an explanation for the lights. Usually in these books one option is right, and people who believe the other are seen as crazy, but in this both options are seen as valid and we don’t know which is correct. We see good and bad from both sides, and the reader interprets which option they choose to believe.

One of the things I loved about this book was Steven and his father’s reaction to the Lights. In some ways it reminded me of The War of the Worlds in the lack of urgency and the very British way of reacting to things. Steven and his father have a plan to escape, but are waiting until the Lights actually come to their town to escape. This was very similar to The War of the Worlds in which people are unconcerned until the aliens are actively attacking them. Aliens two miles down the road is fine.

After the Lights arrive the story follows a more traditional plot, trying to stay out of the path of the Lights as they face more challenges to survive. Even though this follows a familiar plot I was still engrossed in the book and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Nathan Kuzack creates characters that you come to care about very quickly.

This book feels like a traditional sci-fi and I’d recommend it to both fans of YA, and those who prefer more adult books. This was a unique take on possible aliens and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m definitely going to be reading more books by this author.

Let me know if you read this book because I’d love to talk about it.

Reading The Lights at 37,000 feet

Review: The Hunting Party ★★★

EVERYONE’S INVITED.
EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.Everyone’s Invited

Everyon

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather.
The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider
The victim.
Not an accident – a murder among friends.

Blurb from Amazon
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party was another book that didn’t live up to expectations. From the blurb I was expecting an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery, 9 guests, one of them has been found dead, who is the killer?

Instead this is more similar to Big Little Lies were we know somebody has been murdered but we don’t know who. There are chapters from the point of view of different guests, leading up to the murder, and the lodge staff after the murder interspersed throughout the book.

I think I would have enjoyed the story more if it had been told in a more linear fashion, with the discovery of the body (and the identity of the victim) at the start of the book, then flashing back to the start of the holiday. I personally find more enjoyment in trying to guess the identity of the killer. I don’t find that hiding the identity of the victim adds any tension to the story and it removes the opportunity to guess at the identity of the killer.

I did really like the following quote from the book. I’ve always believed that anyone is capable of murder given the right (or wrong) circumstances.

Some people, given just the right amount of pressure, taken out of their usual, comfortable environments, don’t need much encouragement at all to become monsters.

The Hunting Party

Overall I did enjoy the book, it just wasn’t what I had been expecting.

Review: The Chalk Man ★★.5

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank… until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realises that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Goodreads blurb
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The Chalk Man is another book with great reviews that missed the mark, it alternated between 1986 and 2016 but I didn’t connect with either storyline.

This book follows a pretty standard thriller plot, with events from years before finally being resolved, but didn’t bring anything new or create characters that I cared about. The events were vaguely connected, but mostly due to the fact that they took place during the same summer rather than any deeper connection.

Often the characters in thrillers are flawed or unlikeable and the author draws the reader in, making them care about the character in spite of this, but I didn’t get that in this book. I didn’t like the character any more at the end of the story than at the beginning. I also felt let down that the twists weren’t unexpected or gripping. They were the predictable ‘twists’ that you would expect with no surprises.

I think this book may have suffered due to my reading it after Twisted, as this just wasn’t up to the same standard. It was okay, but nothing mind blowing.

Review: Quality DNA ★★★.5

Quality DNA by [Martin, Beth]

I received a free copy of Quality DNA through BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.

Quality DNA tells the story of a future in which a strict one child policy is enforced in the US. Both parents are sterilised following the birth of their child, and don’t have another opportunity to have a child. When cases of men fathering more than one child become more common, Irene investigates the cause of this unusual trend.

This was a really interesting idea. China has had a one child policy (and a two child policy), so as the population increases a future that restricts the number of children people can have doesn’t seem farfetched, but isn’t something that I’ve come across in other books.

It took me a while to get into this, but once I did I enjoyed it. I thought the science seemed a bit iffy in a couple of places but overall most of it was reasonable.

Although this was described as science-fiction I would probably put it as a crime/mystery. The investigation, and going undercover with the FBI wouldn’t be out of place in any TV crime drama. I enjoyed this part of the plot, while parts of it were complicated, it kept me really interested in the story as I tried to guess what was going on.

I’d recommend this book more to fans of crime mysteries than science fiction fans, but it was an interesting take on a future that I haven’t read in other books.

Review: Circe ★★★

I’ve seen a lot of reviews raving about Circe and it won a Goodreads Choice Award last year, so when I needed a book about a mythical creature for a readathon, this seemed perfect. This tells the story of Circe, daughter of Helios, her witchcraft, exile, and beyond. Sadly this book didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

This book didn’t tell us anything new. I love mythology but this didn’t feel like a story connecting me to the characters. I didn’t feel anything towards Circe, and I didn’t feel like there was a connection between the different parts of her story. This book moved through her life without drawing me in. If I’m reading a story, rather than a book of mythology, I want the author to engage me with the characters, but this book didn’t create any new emotions.

I thought the book was fine, but nothing special.