This Mortal Coil (Emily Suvada)

This Mortal Coil (Emily Suvada)This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
Published by Penguin Books Ltd on November 2nd 2017
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads

When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta's death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world's leading geneticist, and humanity's best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole's genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world's genetic tech. But it's too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★★★

I expected to love This Mortal Coil – science, basically zombies, end-of-the world? These are serious buzz words for me!

Good things first: This Mortal Coil was immensely readable.  It’s more than 400 pages long, and yet despite that I flew through it in three days, squeezing it into every spare moment around work.  The story is full of twists and turns that made sure I didn’t want to put it down. The science is great – it reminded me of The Martian, in that both books give you actual science and just expect you to keep up, which I absolutely loved.  Cat’s smart, and feisty, and likeable. The world is genuinely interesting, and believable, and complex.

Onto the less good: for a book with so many twists and turns, I thought the ending was predictable. I felt a bit like the overall story was very predictable, and so Suvada had deliberately tried to make the story more convoluted and unexpected to try and distract from that – while that made it an addictive read, some of the twists also felt a bit like unecessary diversions, and the book could easily have been a fair amount shorter.  There’s a love triangle which wasn’t my favourite thing, but it wasn’t overwhelming or too angsty so it definitely wasn’t a dealbreaker.

This book definitely seems to be polarizing: most of the reviews I’ve read have either been adoring or hating, with not much in the middle. For me, despite the flaws, it was an interesting read and I’m certainly intrigued to see where the rest of the series goes if I can borrow a copy, but I won’t be rushing out to buy one.

One StarOne StarOne Star

Review: Tower of Dawn

Review: Tower of DawnTower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6) by Sarah J. Maas
on September 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 660
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.
Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.
His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

Tower of Dawn runs parallel to Empire of Storms, following Chaol and Nesryn’s journey to try and gain more allies for Aelin and the others.  On top of dealing with the politics and negotiations, trying to gain allies without revealing what they know about the Wyrdkeys because they don’t know who can be trusted, Chaol is also dealing with the aftermath of his injuries.  I like Nesryn and Chaol well enough, but I knew my two favourite characters (Manon & Lysandra) wouldn’t be in Tower of Dawn, so I went in not sure how attached to the characters I’d feel.  I’d also seen a few reviews saying it was too long, which seemed very believable looking at it. I shouldn’t have worried; I ended up loving a lot of the characters, especially Nesryn and Sartaq.  Nesryn and Chaol actually spend quite a lot of time apart throughout Tower of Dawn, so we alternate between their points of view, which was a thing I liked. I’m always a fan of multiple POVs, and I thought it worked really well here. While I preferred Nesryn’s storyline over Chaol’s, I could also see the importance of Chaol’s, and of course, I still enjoyed it.  Alternating between the two characters’ stories meant a slow-scene in one storyline could be followed up by something action-packed in the other, which kept me flicking through the pages saying ‘one more chapter’ far later than I should have been!

I actually was really pleasantly surprised by Tower of Dawn: I finished the book in 72 hours, even around work – in comparison, it took me almost two weeks to finish Empire of Storms, even despite having Manon to keep me addicted!  From my first-read of Throne of Glass to now, Maas has amazed me with the characters, the plot and the world-building.  In Tower of Dawn, that’s still the case, and we also got to see so many loose (or previously insignificant-seeming) threads link back together, and it becomes clear just how much planning Maas has put into the series.  This felt similar in many ways to the early Throne of Glass novels: it’s a little simpler and the cast is a little smaller, and while I’ve loved the way the series has developed as it went on, it was also nice to return to the same style that made me fall in love with the series initially. I missed Manon and her thirteen, but this was absolutely a worthy addition to the series.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Review: A Street Cat Named Bob

Review: A Street Cat Named BobA Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets by James Bowen
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on March 1st 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Social Issues
Pages: 279
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads

The moving, uplifting true story of an unlikely friendship between a man on the streets and the ginger cat who adopts him and helps him heal his life.

In 2017, I joined a book club.  It’s a pretty tiny club, but just like all book clubs, the whole idea is that we take turns choosing books, read them and then discuss them.  A Street Cat Named Bob was our book club choice for January, and although not something I would normally pick up, I decided to give it a chance.

James Bowen is a recovering drug addict who is trying to get his life together when he comes across Bob, an injured and apparently stray cat.  He takes Bob in for a little while while his injuries heal, but to his surprise, Bob seems to have no desire to leave, and soon the two are pretty much inseparable.

To be honest, I don’t feel like there’s a huge amount I can say about A Street Cat Named Bob.  I got pretty much exactly what I expected.  The story is touching, and life-affirming, and if you’re an animal-lover, it’s impossible not to be charmed by Bob.  It’s great to see James’ perspective of life on the streets and trying to get things back on track, as well as the hurdles he has to overcome in order to do so.  The writing isn’t great, but it didn’t bother me to the same extent as a lot of other reviewers.  It’s a very quick, simple read that only took me a couple of hours, and while I enjoyed it, there were definitely moments that grated.  A lot of Ellie’s review resonated with me.  I felt like James was trying really hard throughout the book to break prejudices and assumptions about homeless people, Big Issue sellers and those recovering from drug problems, and that he made quite a few comments determined to prove his own good nature, but then had his own prejudices and judgements against others.  For example…

By far the most annoying people to work the streets around me, however, were the bucket rattlers: the charity workers who would turn up with large plastic buckets collecting for the latest cause.  Again, I sympathised with a lot of the things for which they were trying to raise money […] they were all great worthwhile charities. But if the stories I had heard about how much of the money disappeared into the pocket of some of these bucket shakers were true, I didn’t have much sympathy.

In all honesty, it’s a lovely, touching, uplifting story, and of course all the Bob moments are great, but I wonder if perhaps I would have enjoyed the film more.

One StarOne Star

Review: Shadow and Bone

Review: Shadow and BoneShadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Indigo on July 31st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 308
Format: Paperback
Source: From my shelves
Goodreads

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Laini Taylor.

I’m not quite sure when Shadow and Bone first came onto my radar, but I’ve also associated it with A Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I think it was probably about the same time (honestly, before I’d read either of them I kept mixing the two up in my head!).  For one reason or another though, while I’d heard great things, I just never got around to reading it.  This month, it won the TBR vote so there was no more putting it off, time to see what the fuss is all about!

I think part of the reason I never picked up Shadow and Bone was that I knew the romance was going to be a big part of it: I feel like all I heard before picking this up was praise for the Darkling, praise for Mal, and lots of swooning over the romance in general.  BUT I loved the idea of a Russian-inspired fantasy, and I’m so intrigued by Leigh’s new Six of Crows duology, and although that can be read alone, I’d rather start with her original trilogy first, which is why I popped it on the TBR vote.  It took 63% of the votes and a lot of people said they loved it, so I tried to go into this with an open-mind, and I was pleasantly surprised!

I liked Alina, her feistiness and sarcasm, as well as her determination to remain herself even when put into totally new surroundings.  I also liked Genya and I loved Botkin.  I’m intrigued by the Darkling, but towards the end of the book he seemed to become somewhat flat – I’m hoping this is deliberate, and he’s going to reveal his true complexity in the second book, but it was a little disappointing.  I also wasn’t sold on his and Alina’s relationship at any point, and Alina’s opinion of him just seemed too easily swayed.  This, I think is more due to her general lack of confidence, because I felt the same way about her relationship with Mal, but it was frustrating nonetheless: I occasionally just wanted to give her a good shake!

I was pretty engrossed in the story from the beginning, and it only took me a few days to read.  I loved seeing the Russian inspiration, which helps to give Shadow and Bone a unique feel amongst so many YA fantasy romances.  I also liked the inclusion of some of the darker elements, though it’s hard to comment on those without spoilers! The writing is smooth and let me get absorbed into the story quickly, and overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Shadow and Bone.  While the romance was a big part, I enjoyed the story and the world too, which helped it feel like fantasy with a romance, rather than romance with fantasy as an afterthought which I’d feared.  I still felt like Shadow and Bone was light-fantasy, rather than true fantasy, and while I liked it I didn’t love it.  I enjoyed it enough that I’ve already ordered myself a copy of Siege and Storm,  and I’m hoping for some more depth in later books, which could bump the series from one I liked to one I loved, but at the moment it won’t be taking a place on my favourites shelf.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Review: The Lost Hero

Review: The Lost HeroThe Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1) by Rick Riordan
Published by Puffin Books on October 6th 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy
Pages: 551
Format: Paperback
Goodreads

The Number one, bestselling title in this new spin-off series from Percy Jackson creator, Rick Riordan.
OLD ENEMIES AWAKEN AS CAMP HALF-BLOOD'S NEW ARRIVALS PREPARE FOR WAR When Jason, Piper and Leo crash land at Camp Half-Blood, they have no idea what to expect. Apparently this is the only safe place for children of the Greek Gods - despite the monsters roaming the woods and demigods practising archery with flaming arrows and explosives. But rumours of a terrible curse - and a missing hero - are flying around camp. It seems Jason, Piper and Leo are the chosen ones to embark on a terrifying new quest, which they must complete by the winter solstice. In just four days time. Can the trio succeed on this deadly mission - and what must they sacrifice in order to survive?

When I read it…

I read this between August 14th and August 17th.

What I’d heard before I read it:

About this particular book, not much – while I’ve heard great things about Rick Riordan in general, I’ve actually not heard too much about the Heroes of Olympus series, and about all I’d heard about this book was that it took my sister (who I’m borrowing it from) a while to get into and she was saddened by the lack of Nico…

What worked for me:

  • The opening: I loved that Jason had no memories, because it instantly drew me into the story. I not only wanted to know everything that he’d forgotten, but also how everyone would cope with his lack of memories.
  • The slightly older feel & the longer length: The Lost Hero definitely felt more like a young adult read than the Percy Jackson series, and I think the longer length probably helped a little with that too. I really loved having slightly older characters to follow as occasionally the young ages in Percy Jackson made the characters feel a bit too distant and therefore harder to relate to.
  • Leo & Piper: I really liked both Leo and Piper. Leo was witty and funny and instantly likeable so I warmed to him pretty much straight away. It took a while longer for me to warm to Piper, but I loved how she took no crap from anyone and how her confidence grew throughout the book.
  • Returning to Camp Half-blood: Of course returning to Camp Half-Blood was always bound to be fun, and I really enjoyed that we got to see it through fresh eyes all over again too.
  • The multiple points of view: I’m a BIG fan of multiple POV stories, so I loved that we got to see more than one perspective throughout The Lost Hero.

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • Jason: I didn’t hate Jason, but I didn’t love him either. He’s a bit too perfect (apart from his lack of memories)
  • The pacing: It took me three days to reach 49% – and then one day to read the other 51%.  It wasn’t a huge deal, but I felt like it took a little while to get really going.

I enjoyed The Lost Hero – possibly more than Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – and I thought it was a pretty good start to the series. I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel!

Other reviews of The Lost Hero: The Illiterate Reader | Novel Reaction | Blog of a Bookaholic

One StarOne StarOne Star