Silverblind (Tina Connolly)

Silverblind (Tina Connolly)Silverblind by Tina Connolly
Published by Macmillan on October 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 320
Source: From the publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

The final book in this series will jump forward 18 years and feature Dorie, Jane's young charge from Ironskin.

18 years later . . .
Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shapechanging fey powers--to disguise herself as a boy.

While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who's about to get steamed by a silvertail-- and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn't spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can't bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her.

The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive?

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

 

The storyDorie Rochart has always wanted to do field work; to go out searching for basilisks, to study wyverns, to bring back the long-forgotten cures to people who can’t afford the expensive prices everyone seems to charge now.  Unfortunately for Dorie, no one wants to hire a girl for jobs like these, especially not when they see her ringlets and doll-like face, so Dorie unleashes a little of her fey powers for the first time in years in order to become Dorian, in the hopes of gaining a job without being discriminated against for her gender.

The characters

I loved Dorie – she’s not as kickass as someone like Celaena, or as stubborn as Katniss, but she’s determined, she’s fiery, and she’s just very likable.  Her half-fey nature means she’s never quite felt like she fit in anywhere, which makes her very easy to relate to. She’s worked hard all her life to blend in as a human girl, and now she’s frustrated to find out that that makes her apparently unsuitable for the kind of work she wants to do.

Her roommate Jack is interesting, though a little difficult to understand at times, and their friend Stella is a great addition to the two of them, though her role in the story itself is relatively small.

Tam is intriguing, sweet, and a bit of a geek which is always great 😉 I loved learning the little facts about his and Dorie’s childhood and the hints regarding their estrangement. I also liked seeing (however briefly) both Jane and Helen from the previous novels.

final thoughts

Silverblind was a bit of a bittersweet read for me; I enjoyed it, but I was also sad that the series was coming to an end, and I didn’t manage to savour it as much as I had planned to…. Connolly’s writing draws you in very quickly and easily –for me, it’s the sort of writing that leaves you realising you’ve been reading for an hour instead of the ten minutes you thought you had; it’s enticing, it’s easy to get lost in, and most importantly, it doesn’t get in the way of a fantastic story. I loved the plot, and the characters, but Silverblind wasn’t quite a perfect read for me. While I didn’t mind the ending, it didn’t have as strong an impact as I was expecting which was a little disappointing, and prevented it being a five for me. Having said that, I really enjoyed it, and it’s a nice ending to the series. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for whatever Ms Connolly does next.

Buy it? This is one I’d be happy to buy (not hurt by the fact that the cover is gorgeous!)
In a nutshell: The same beautiful world building, great writing, and fascinating characters we’ve come to expect from the rest of the series.

Other Reviews of Silverblind: Proud Book Nerd  | Geek Girl in LoveBook Worm Blues

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Lock In (John Scalzi)

Lock In (John Scalzi)Lock In by John Scalzi
Series: Lock in #1
Published by Macmillan on August 26th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers
Pages: 336
Length: 10:00
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people “locked in”...including the President's wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse....

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

 

Chris Shane is one of the most famous Hadens in the world.  Chris has ‘lock in’; unable to move, or speak, Chris interacts with the world through a Personal Transport (also known as a threep, after C3PO).  Chris is a rookie FBI agent whose first week involves a Haden related murder case which needs solving.

I really liked Chris, but I found the other characters mostly just uninteresting.  Chris’ partner, Leslie Vann, had the potential to be interesting, but I also found her unlikable: her sloppiness on the job was frustrating, and I felt the ongoing battle between her and Trinh grew tiresome pretty quickly.

Wil Wheaton’s narration was great, although I did find the number of ‘he said’ and ‘she said’s off-putting, so maybe I would have enjoyed this more in print.  I also didn’t find Lock In as gripping as Ready Player One, which was surprising when the story is all about a mysterious murder case…It’s pretty clear early on who’s involved, so I didn’t find the mystery hugely gripping or surprising; reading Lock In felt a bit like watching one of the more predictable episodes of something like Criminal Minds, just with slightly unusual settings.  The setting itself is really interesting, but for me, that isn’t enough without some great characters I care about, some relationships to invest in, or a mystery that keeps you up until all hours because you just have to know.

The audiobook also includes the novella Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, at the end, so Lock In itself is somewhere around 8 hours if I remember correctly.  I really enjoyed the novella, learning more about the spread of Haden’s, and indeed about Margaret Haden and her husband, who I found myself caring about more than the characters in Lock In itself!

 Buy it? This is one that I’d probably borrow personally.
In a nutshell: It was interesting, it made me think, and I loved the concept, but the pacing was too slow for me, and I found the characters disappointing. 

Other Reviews of Lock In: Not Yet Read | The Infinite Reach | Reading Diva

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Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Macmillan on 10-09-2013
Genres: Contemporary, Girls & Women, New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?  Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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

Cath and Wren are twin sisters, who until now have done everything together, including write hugely successful Simon Snow fanfiction.  Now that they’re going off to college though, Wren wants them to be a little more independent.  She’s slowly become less of a Simon Snow fangirl and she wants to go and have the college experience – and that doesn’t mean sharing a room with her twin.

While Wren bonds with her new roomate Courtney, settles in to the party lifestyle, and generally loves college so far, Cath is finding it a little harder to adjust.  She’s always been the quieter twin, and she’d really rather stay in her room and write than try to figure out the chaos that is the dining hall.  Not to mention that her roomate sort of seems to think she’s a freak, and that Cath is worried about her father, who’s alone for the first time and hasn’t always had the most stable mental health.

“There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.”

Do you know how sometimes, a book just clicks with you, and you aren’t quite 100% sure why?  When you love a book, but can’t decide on the exact thing that takes it from a four or five star read to “Keep, recommend, re-read a thousand times” status?

When I first finished Fangirl, it was one of those books, but I think I’ve decided what it is that makes Fangirl a new favourite.  It’s not the plot, the characters, the romance or the writing (all of which I loved) – it’s the combination of those things, and the way that Rowell makes everything so easy to relate to.  I texted countless quotes from this to my partner and friends.  I want to buy everyone close to me a copy and say “THIS. THIS IS HOW MY BRAIN WORKS!”. 

Rainbow Rowell has managed to capture the fears of starting college perfectly.  She manages to include the little things like worrying about proper dining room protocol and the endless train of what ifs – like what if my roomate wants her boyfriend to stay here overnight?  On top of the little things, there are the bigger concerns, like her relationship with her sister, worrying about her father, and keeping up with both her work load and her Simon Snow stories.  And of course, there’s the romance!  Rowell has perfectly encapsulated Cath’s fears, and I think they’re something everyone (even those not as anxious as Cath) can understand.

“I’d rather pour myself into a world I love and understand than try to make something up out of nothing.”

The plot line is basically a coming-of-age story, with Cath adjusting to college, worrying that Wren is maybe adjusting a bit too enthusiastically, the twins’ relationship, their new love interests, and their’ father’s instability.  What really makes the story, is the characters.  Cath and Wren are very relatable, in totally different ways.  Although there will be times when one or the other baffles you (as their behaviour is sometimes pretty opposite, logic says you won’t always love both!), there will also be moments you can completely relate to.  Whether it’s hitting the party lifestyle or holing up in your bedroom, Rowell has captured the sometimes slightly skewed adjustment of first year students.

I freely admit, not only did I love Fangirl, but it also reminded me how much I love fanfiction, and being a crazy fangirl about the things that are important to me.  You know those quotes people always pin about being a geek? (You know the ones, the John Green and the Will Wheaton quotes and so on).  Fangirl is like an entire book that says the same things: that being enthusiastic is okay.  Not just okay in fact, but fun.  That being a geek makes you you, and the important people will understand if you absolutely need to go to a midnight release or spend hours reading every Game of Thrones conspiracy theory or whatever else it is you want to do to celebrate whatever you’re passionate about.

 

“What’s that thing you wrote about Simon once, that his eyes followed Baz ‘like he was the brightest thing in the room, like he cast everything else into shadow’? That’s you. You can’t look away from him.”

While I liked Eleanor and Park, I loved Fangirl. I loved the characters, the slow-building romance, the snippets of Simon Snow stories that made it feel like a real fandom.  I loved that Rowell had included sex, and partying hard, and plagiarism concerns, that the girls didn’t always get along perfectly and that Cath was anxious and geeky without being a pushover.   It’s never explicit, and yet it doesn’t shy away from those real concerns, those things that happen at college.  I think the reason Fangirl stands out, to me, is because it doesn’t feel like a cookie cutter version of something else; it’s unique, and it’s relatable.  It reads like it could literally be a story about one of the bloggers you follow.

Buy it? Definitely one worth buying – a new favourite.
In a nutshell: Fantastically relatable characters, a perfect reflection into starting college and the mind of a fangirl.

Other Reviews of Fangirl: Wondrous Reads | Daisy Chain Book Reviews | Recovering Potter Addict

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