The Synapse Sequence Blog Tour – Guest Post

It’s me again – back with a quest post for Titan Books latest blog tour for Daniel Godfrey’s ‘The Synapse Sequence’. Hoping to put up a book review sometime in the future but things are getting a little busy, so Titan have kindly supplied me with a guest post from Godfrey himself. I hope that you all enjoy, and the synopsis for the novel can be found at the bottom of the post (it’s a good book, pick it up!).

Five Books That Made Me

I think it’s probably true that the books we read as children stay with us the longest. In this blog post, I’ve picked out five books that I read prior to leaving secondary school – and which have had the greatest impact on my reading life.

The Rightful King of Ramir, Sheila K. McCullagh: This is the oldest book on the list, and is part of the Buccaneer series which I tore through whilst at primary school. The story involves a boy, Nicholas Strange, who owned a painting of a ship that could transport him to Ramir – a place full of pirates and Buccaneers. Yes, a portal fantasy very much from the Narnia playbook (though for a younger audience). I thought they were great!

Star Wars Annual: Okay, at first, this may appear to be a strange choice. My copy of the annual is battered (torn and some pages ruined by crayon!) and acquired by my parents for me second hand. But this book has had the biggest impact on my writing. Because somewhere in my attic is a little school book in which I used the annual’s comic strip panels to pen the scenes as if writing a novelisation. “If you strike me down,” old Ben said calmly*, as his lightsabre clashed with Vader’s. “I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!”

The Hardy Boys, Franklin W Dixon: Okay, let’s start with the fact that Franklin W. Dixon is a pseudonym for a whole host of ghostwriters! I was gobsmacked when I found this out, and yet it undoubtedly made sense given the number of books written. Frank and Joe Hardy solved mysteries (assisted – and often hindered – by their best friend Chet) in a way common to Nancy Drew. I had a good collection, amused and attracted by the American locations and names (Chet, Biff, Fenton etc). My sister also read them and, being older, also had access to the Hardy Boys Casefiles which were aimed at older readers. The emotional trauma of me reading about Joe Hardy’s girlfriend (Iola) being murdered in Dead on Target….no. No! I’m sorry, but it is still too much. 😦

Heir to the Empire, Timothy Zahn: I put a lot of thought into whether to include two Star Wars books, but there’s no getting round the fact that they had the biggest impact on my young reading. I think Zahn’s book brilliantly evokes the original trilogy whilst introducing a range of new characters. Much of the book has now been superseded by the prequel and sequel trilogy of course but – whilst I very much enjoyed The Force Awakens – I think an Empire fighting back from near ruin would have been a more interesting backdrop than how the First Order has been portrayed as a near pinnacle-Empire replica (and would also have moved the series on a bit from what we’d seen before).

From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming: The most ‘adult’ book on the list. My dad owned a collection of James Bond paperbacks – which I found as a teenager to be very different to the Roger Moore incarnation that was then being regularly repeated on the television. Nowhere to be found was the raised eyebrow, or the (groaning) gags. This was a Bond who you could believe could actually kill people, and who was being put in grave peril. My favourite of the lot was From Russia with Love (also my favourite Bond film) featuring the villainous Rosa Klebb! Danger, excitement and foreign locations – it took me a world away from the Yorkshire coast.

‘In a future London, humans are watched over by AIs and served by bots. But now that justice and jobs are meted out by algorithm, inequality blooms, and protest is brutally silenced. Anna Glover may be the most hated woman in the troubled city – the media’s scapegoat for an unpopular war. Now she hides from the public eye, investigating neglected cases by using the mind-invading technology of the synapse sequencer to enter witnesses’ memories.

When a PI brings her a new high-stales case, Anna sees a chance for atonement. But soon she is drawn into a plot that threatens to upend her hard-won anonymity and put everyone in danger – even those she hopes to save.’

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The Captives Blog Tour

Welcome back to the blog! Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet of late – I’ve got a lot going on. But, today I’m here with an extract from one of Titan Books newest releases, The Captives. You’ll find below the synopsis as well as a small taster of what the novel is about to get you interested!

Convicted of murder, destined for life in prison, Miranda is desperate for an escape. She signs up for sessions with the prison psychologist, Frank Lundquist, so that she can access the drugs to end it all. But unknown to her, Frank remembers her from high school, where, forgettable and unseen, he had a crush on Miranda Greene. Now, captivated again, his feelings deepen to obsession. What led the daughter of a former Congressman to commit such a terrible crime? And how can he make her remember him?

3) We are all afraid of being alone

I have to admit I was curious.

Curiosity is an unacceptable emotion for a psychologist, or any kind of mental-health counselor, in fact. Satisfying a curiosity is tantamount to fulfilling a desire, and a counselor has no business fulfilling his desires (or hers), even thinking about those desires, when working with a client.

But how could I not wonder about M, this girl-turned-woman who’d always appeared in my memories like some ingenue in a cliche-infested film, a romantic heroine bathed in a honeyed glow? After she left my office, I sat for a long time paging through that file folder. And it became clear that her crime was heavy duty. This wasn’t embezzlement, it wasn’t even a case of drugs gotten out of hand. It was murder.

I had to assume she was guilty. White, well-connected, well-off. She didn’t fit the profile of the unjustly imprisoned. To have ended up like this, spiraling down into the max-security bowels of NYS DOCS, she’d taken some devastating missteps. Why? How?

So I was curious, and that was wrong. But there was much more to my decision than that–my decision to keep quiet on our shared history. I feared that if I did speak up, she’d bolt. And I just wanted to help her in any way I could.

You didn’t need shared history, test results, or a degree—you didn’t have to know anything about her to see that her emotional state was dire. And this was my job, after all. Dispersing emotional shit-storms. Long-term therapy wasn’t in the budget at Milford Basin, nor would the taxpayers have stood for it. But crisis intervention, that was the idea.

Here was a crisis, someone needed to intervene, and she and I, we navigated the same high school halls, we were schoolmates, after all. So I was convinced: for intervention, she needed me—specifically me.

Rebecca Ross: The Queen’s Rising

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Image from HarperCollins

Brienna Colbert knows what it’s like to be an outsider. Cast aside from her family in the northern kingdom of Maevana, she’s been raised in the south. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions – art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge – Brienna struggles to discover hers until she chooses knowledge, and with it comes a very unusual skill.

When a dangerous plot against the northern kingdom comes to light, Brienna’s passion proves invaluable to a rebellion she never even knew existed. Will she choose loyalty to her present or her past? For a queen is destined to rise and reclaim the northern throne, and Brienna might just be the one who holds the key to it all . . .


At the age of ten, Brienna is escorted to Magnalia House by her Grandfather – a school for teaching girls the five passions: art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge. With no clear talent in any of passions, Brienna spends four of her seven years at the school figuring out where she belongs as she dips her toe into each passion. With only three years left of her education, she is taken on by the Master of Knowledge who believes that he can achieve the unthinkable and allow her to passion by the end of her tenure. However, it is during the final days of studying her passion that she becomes aware of a new talent, unique to her and her family – particularly the half of her that is Maevan. As she begins to understand what this talent means, she is drawn into a plot that sees her questioning everything about herself, and everything she knows about the two halves of the kingdom she lives in.

The Queen’s Rising is the debut novel of Rebecca Ross, a novel that is altogether gripping, intelligent, whimsical and empowering. A key theme that really drew me in was the importance of women and the role that they play within the Maevana kingdom – an aspect that is far different to that of Valenia. Through legend, it is known that the kingdom of Maevana shall always be ruled by a woman, in particular a Kavanagh, who possesses the magic of dragons. Maevana is a kingdom where being a woman is both a blessing, and a burden; you are both at once protected and coveted, yet the most likely to be in danger when the houses of Maevana wage war against each other. These notions, and the actions of our female characters brought a sense of empowerment knowing that they were the key to the future of their kingdom, but also seeing the way that their male counterparts reacted towards them in varying situations – from adoration to fear and hatred.

Brienna, as our main character, is definitely someone I would like to see imitated more often in young adult novels. Being young adult, it comes as no surprise that she will most likely fall in love with a character that she shouldn’t, that she will imagine interactions that will most likely never happen – it is so be expected, most teenage girls are like that. However, Brienna is intelligent and tactical. Brienna is able to piece together bits of information almost instantly to understand the situation around her which surprises those who least expect it. Brienna is also an independent . . . She has known all her life that her Father was most likely someone of importance from Maevana but chose not to be told his name so that she could move forward of her own virtues and, even when she does become aware, it does not stop her from paving her own path and making her own decisions.

I never once felt like the novel was slow and boring, even during scenes when you would expect it. I found myself always intrigued to find out where the novel was going, how Brienna would develop, and where her talent would take her and the rebellion that almost seems to have appeared out of nowhere. The Queen’s Rising is vividly written without going over the top, and provides a crisp image of Brienna’s surroundings whilst slowly divulging information about the society, politics, and culture of each separate kingdom. Though the ending felt finite, I do believe that there may be more novels and I am desperately hoping so. We only got a glimpse of a few of the houses of Maevana, and only got to touch the surface of a couple of characters that I would love to find out more about and where their lives progress to.

Alice Broadway: Spark

Disclaimer: This is the second in the series therefore there may be spoilers for the first book, as well as Spark.

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Leora is questioning everything she thought she knew about her family and herself. She flees to Featherstone, outlawed home of the Blanks, but will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?


After the death of her Father and the truth revealed about her parents, Leora finds it hard to comprehend that she can be both Blank and Marked. The truth about the “relationship” between Saintstone and Featherstone has been revealed and Leora is struggling to understand what is truth and what is lie. With Mayor Longsight seeing this conflict within her as an opportunity, Leora is banished to the home of the Blanks in order to gain information that could potentially lead to all out war between the two societies. However, not long after her arrival, Leora begins to learn the stories of Featherstone’s past that seem at once similar, yet different to those from Sainstone. Unable to understand what she should believe and on the path to finding out more about her birth mother, Leora starts to question where her allegiances lie and the lies hidden beneath the surface of both Featherstone and Saintstone begin to emerge.

To be completely honest, I had forgotten most of what had taken place within the first novel and had to use my own review of Ink (click here) to refresh my memory slightly. However, as I began to read through the pages of Spark, I found myself remembering more clearly the events that had taken place and understanding why it was that I loved the first book so much. For those that may not remember, Leora had gotten one of her first ever tattoos – a crow – that is used in the world as a symbol of sympathisers (to the Blanks) as well as criminal outlaws. Though this tattoo was not positioned in the same place, Leora had all but pledged some allegiance to the Blanks following the drama surrounding her Father and the burning of his skin book after death.

Ink focused primarily on Saintstone and the society of those marked with tattoos, Spark draws attention to the Blanks and the aspects of their society that have been skewed by Longsight and those previously in power before him. We begin to see that they are not as we previously thought, a society that is downtrodden and relying on the scraps and the hand-me-downs of Saintstone. However, we find that the two societies originate from the same foundations that have been read in completely different ways – an aspect that Leora begins to realise as she is told of the creation of Saintstone following the banishment of Belia behind the wall by Moriah, finding that each story is the mirror image of the other but with slight differences in the themes, morals, and politics. However, there is discontent running beneath the surface of Featherstone and soon it will rear its ugly head.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed Ink, I did find Spark to be a bit slow going and that the action/conflict didn’t really draw my attention too much due to the nature of it. However, any conflict that we did see did flesh out the society within Featherstone as you realise that their hatred is festering deep below the surface resulting in them losing all sense of reason given their living conditions and the way that they are forced to live their lives. Leora did develop and become a much stronger character throughout Spark, becoming more bold in her approach to the conflict between Featherstone and Saintstone, fully finding her place and understanding the role that she must fulfil in the impending war between the two societies. I believe that the third novel will be on par with the first, and provide more conflict and action that will draw you in. Spark, though very informative and providing backstory, definitely feels more like a filler novel as you primarily get in trilogies.

April Book Haul

It’s been a long time since I posted about books that I have brought. I generally find book haul posts very time consuming and tedious. But, this months books are a small affair and, why the heck not?! You’ll see a theme developing in the genres this month. I started off reading some Simon Scarrow at the beginning of the month but quickly found my interest in reading dropping – I’m just all about that science fiction and fantasy at the moment!

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From my Instagram

 

The Ambassador’s Mission (synopsis from Trudi Canavan’s Website)

Sonea, former street urchin, now a Black Magician, is horrified when her son, Lorkin, volunteers to assist Dannyl in his new role as Guild Ambassador to Sachaka, a land still ruled by cruel black magicians. When word comes that Lorkin has gone missing Sonea is desperate to find him, but if she leaves the city she will be exiled forever, and besides, her old friend Cery needs her help.

Most of his family has been murdered – the latest in a long line of assassinations to plague the leading Thieves. There has always been rivalry, but for the last decade the Thieves have been waging a deadly underworld war, and now it appears they have been doing so with magical assistance . . .

Having read the prequel, The Black Magician’s Trilogy, last month by Trudi Canavan, I couldn’t not buy the first in this series. TBMT left me wanting more from our main characters, and The Traitor Spy Trilogy allows me to come back to these familiar characters whilst learning about new.

Spark (synopsis from Goodreads)

Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself.

As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration. Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them.

But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?

After a brilliant first novel and debut, Spark was definitely on my radar. I loved the concept of your life story being tattooed upon your skin for all to see and really wanted to see how Broadway developed on the themes prevalent within the first novel.

Alice Broadway: Ink

The Queen’s Rising (Synopsis from HarperCollins)

Born out of wedlock, Brienna is cast off by her noble family and sent to Magnolia House a boarding house for those looking to study the passions: art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge. Brienna must discover her passion and train hard to perfect her skill, in the hope that she will one day graduate and be chosen by a wealthy patron, looking to support one of the impassioned’.

As Brienna gets closer to the eve of her graduation, she also grows closer to her smart (and handsome) tutor, Cartier. He can sense that she is hiding a secret, but Brienna chooses not to reveal that she is experiencing memories of her ancestors memories uncovering the mysteries of the past that may have dangerous consequences in the present.

A daring plot is brewing to overthrow the usurper king and restore the rightful monarchy and Brienna’s memories hold the key to its success. Cartier desperately wants to help Brienna, but she must chose her friends wisely, keep her enemies close and trust no one if she is to save herself and her people.

I hadn’t noticed this novel before I came across it on Amazon. It was definitely brought as a throwback to my more teenage years and the cliched love stories you find in fantasy. But – every so often you can’t help but fall into these stories, they’re just so feel good!

Scythe (Synopsis from Simon and Schuster)

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

I’d heard about this novels many times before, especially from Regan at PeruseProject. I follow a lot of Regan’s videos and find her love of fantasy very helpful in finding my next reads. Recently Regan has finished the next in the series, and encouraged her boyfriend to start reading Scythe and so I felt I should pick it up. It does have an interesting concept and I love those post-apocalyptic style novels that are dark and fantastical.

The Hyena and The Hawk (Synopsis from Pan Macmillan)

From the depths of the darkest myths, the soulless Plague People have returned. Their pale-walled camps obliterate villages, just as the terror they bring with them destroys minds. In their wake, nothing is left of the true people: not their places, not their ways. The Plague People will remake the world as though they had never been.

The heroes and leaders of the true people – Maniye, Loud Thunder, Hesprec and Asman – will each fight the Plague People in their own ways. They will seek allies, gather armies and lead the charge. But a thousand swords or ten thousand spears will not suffice to turn back this enemy. The end is at hand for everything the true people know.

If you haven’t been following my blog for long, then you may not realise my love for Adrian Tchaikovsky’s first dive into fantasy! I’ve provided reviews on the two books previous to this, and there was no way I was missing out on the third. I love the concept and the fantasy elements. I’m all about the ability to shape-shift and find myself drawn into the politics of this world.

Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Tiger and the Wolf

Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Bear and the Serpent

Trudi Canavan: The Ambassador’s Mission

It is strongly advised to read the prequel series, The Black Magician Trilogy, in order to fully understand some of the references made within the book.
*Spoiler alert due to prequel, The Black Magician Trilogy.

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Sonea, a Black Magician of Kyralia, knows that she is needed to help hunt down the rogue magician killing them. But Sonea has problems of her own. Her son is the assistant to the new Guild Ambassador to Sachaka and will be in deadly danger when he sets foot on their ancient enemy’s soil. As a Black Magician, however, Sonea’s every action is watched. Any attempt to leave the city will result in her exile, and lose her any chance of helping her friends – or her son.


Backstory:
The Traitor Spy Trilogy follows on from its prequel, The Black Magician Trilogy. In the BMT, we meet one of the main character of the TST – Sonea. In BMT, Sonea is a citizen of the slums of Imardin with friends amongst the well-known Thieves. One day, during the Purge of citizens, Sonea finds out that she possesses magical powers when she, surprisingly, manages to penetrate a magician’s shield with a rock through pure willpower. After a manhunt that led to her eventually joining the Guild to become a magician, Sonea is set on a path where she must prove herself amongst those of the Houses (or upper class citizens). She fights off many fellow novices who belittle and taunt her for her status. Eventually, through the secrets that she possesses, her education is taken on by the High Lord of the Guild, Akkarin, who teaches her how to use Black Magic – a form of magic forbidden by the Guild and can result in banishment, or death. However, this magic becomes a lifeline for the magicians and citizens of Imardin and Kyralia when a neighbouring land, who believes the Guild to be weak, infiltrates Imardin causing havoc, death, and destruction.


The first in the trilogy, The Ambassador’s Mission follows on from the events of its prequel, focusing on both Sonea (the main character of the prequel) and her now-adult son, Lorkin. Having been sentenced to confinement in Imardin and unable to leave the city without express permission, Sonea finds herself questioning how far she can push her boundaries as she is faced with the concept of another rogue magician wondering the slums of her city. Alongside this is the worry and fear for her son, Lorkin, as he faces many obstacles in Sachaka in his quest to seek out previously unknown magic leaving Sonea feeling useless and out of place. Not only does Sonea have her own troubles to face, but she is involved with the changing of laws taking place within the Guild and finds that her actions could influence the way the members of the Guild see her and their opinion on these political changes.

After reading the prequel to the series, I found myself gripped and intrigued by the world, the magic system, and the politics and society of these novels. Trudi Canavan writes impeccably well and from the get go, I was immersed in The Black Magician Trilogy. She writes vividly but simply, drip-feeding information about the world and the way they live throughout the entirety of the novel, whilst leaving some unanswered questions.

One aspect I find that Canavan excels in, is her ability to create characters that are human, three-dimensional, and full of emotion and feeling. As soon as I first met Sonea I found her to be spunky, stubborn, and passionate about what she wants. Though a substantial amount of time has passed within this novel, Sonea still possesses some of these qualities though you can see how she has matured over the years. Sonea has become more level-headed, and more cautious about her actions – wary of how they will influence others after all the good she has already done for the society that she lives in. It is thanks to Sonea that a lot of opportunities are being presented to those previously put aside. On the other hand, we now have her son Lorkin, who takes on many aspects of both her parents, Sonea and Akkarin. He is stubborn, yet listens to what those around him are saying; he is responsible, yet sometimes rash in his decisions. Personally, I did not feel like I connected with Lorkin as well as I did Sonea and Akkarin from the previous trilogy, and feel like he has a lot of developing and maturing to do before he fully comes into his own. I felt like, after all the excitement and action of the previous trilogy, his adventures have not really added to much value to him as a character – except at the very end of the novel when his decisions hold more meaning and importance.

In this novel, Canavan finally goes more in-depth into the past of the Sachakan empire and to how they became the people that they are today. With Dannyl’s interest in the past, and Lorkin’s passion towards unexplored magic, we begin to receive more answers, and even more questions, regarding the Sachakans. Canavan provides you with enough information to intrigue and draw you in, before moving on to something else that leaves you wanting to read more in the hopes that the information is divulged sooner rather than later – as expected, that isn’t the case. However, it does provide an alternate perspective of the Sachakans and allows you to compare and contrast from the previous trilogy and starts to make you question whether the Kyralians are all that they make out to be.

As a start to a trilogy, it was good – but I did prefer the first in the last trilogy. Though it has a good set up for the series, it definitely had a bit more potential and could have had more action to keep me gripped throughout.

 

Why I’m In Love With Second-hand Books

Second-hand books. They’re brilliant. As are the stores that sell them. And I’m not talking online websites like Amazon, and marketplaces similar to that. But proper second-hand book stores/stalls you find on your local high street run by an independent local who has the passion for reading just as much as you.

I knew there was a local book stall in my city’s market, but it wasn’t until Mary (from Ramblings of a Writer) and I started venturing more into the marketplace, that I began to appreciate second-hand books.

Though I have always borrowed books from friends or family members, I had never really given any thought to books owned by people I had never met before. I guess I had categorised them alongside second-hand clothes, a concept that I’m really not for as I don’t particularly like the thought of wearing some random persons old clothes. Snobbish, I know. But that’s not because they aren’t of a good quality, I just don’t like the thought and you don’t know how clean they are. Anyway, I digress…

Having now brought more second-hand books, I’ve begun to love them just as much – maybe even more so – than brand new books. Of course, nothing can beat that brand new book with a perfectly even spine and fresh, crisp pages. But, just think, these books you have brought for dirt cheap (I brought 5 books for £12!) have had a lot of love and attention, have helped someone else escape from the world… Yes, they may have cracked spines and, for those of you wanting a nice flush bookcase – this may not appeal. But you can’t deny that you can find some hidden gems, or come across books you may never have contemplated before.

On my last trip, I bought the complete Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan. Now, I had certainly heard of her before and contemplated reading some of her books. But, it was only when Mary explained that she had read the first book, that she recommended I should read it as it’s something I would be interested in, that I decided – why the heck not? And for £6 for the 3 books in a bundle, I couldn’t go wrong. And, thanks to Mary’s intervention, and my newfound love for second-hand books, I have found an author whose writing I may never have ever experienced.

So, when you next walk past one of those little stalls in your local marketplace, or the second-hand section of a charity shop, why not take a look and pick up a few books? You’ll be helping a local, independent seller make a living whilst providing a new and loving home for those books left behind for others to pick back up.

 

Sam Peters: From Distant Stars

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Image Courtesy of Gollancz

Inspector Keon has finally got over the death of his wife Alysha in a terrorist attack five years ago. The illegal AI copy of her – Liss – that he created to help him mourn has vanished, presumed destroyed. His life is back on track. But a deadly shooting in a police-guarded room in a high-security hospital threatens to ruin everything. Who got past the defences? Why did they kill the seemingly unimportant military officer who had been in a coma for weeks? And why did the scanners pick up the deceased man the next day on the other side of the planet, seemingly alive and well?

As Keon digs into the mysteries he begins to realise that the death was connected to a mysterious object, potentially alien, discovered buried in ice under the north pole. Someone has worked out what is hidden there, and what its discovery will mean for mankind. Someone who is willing to kill.

And another player has entered the game. Someone who seems to know more about Keon than is possible.

Someone who might be using Liss’s information against him.

Or who might be Alysha, back from the dead.


From Distant Stars is the long-awaited sequel to Sam Peters From Darkest Skies which sees our main character, Keon Rause, yet again – lose complete control of the world around him as he finds himself face to face with the deaths of many influential Magentians as well as a mystery spanning thousands of years. Little does Rause realise that he is digging into his past once again, bringing up freshly healed wounds of his dead wife, Alysha. As things being to unravel, Rause begins to see the web of lies that started over five years ago and finds himself questioning everyone around him.

Much anticipated, eagerly awaited – I just couldn’t not request this next novel when the e-mail dropped into my account. I thoroughly enjoyed the seamless writing that Peters brought to the masses in From Darkest Skies as he effortlessly blended world-building with high-intensity action, character creation, and a style of writing that just pulled you in right from the beginning. Yet again, Peters did not disappoint as I was thrust easily back into Keon’s life – it was as if I had never left!

Though it was inevitable that Distant Stars would play on some aspects of Darkest Skies, I was not prepared for the brilliant blending of the two novels that Peters brings to the table. We not only receive an altogether different story-line with new, and old, characters and a new mystery that, yet again, absorbs, destroys, and questions much of Keon’s life – we find that this new mystery wholly submerges us into the nitty gritty of all the information we were missing and questioning from the first – in particular the dirty details surrounding Alysha’s betrayal of the Tesseract and her untimely death. This was in no way a generic sequel that sees the protagonist playing on his past to make you feel sympathetic for him in a direction altogether different from the first novel (think generic detective crime series like Jack Reacher etc), but saw everything we had read previously poured into the new investigation and all of the events taking place. It was as if we had literally picked up from the last word, on the last page and really helped you to understand and relate more to Rause.

It says a lot when I finished this book in one day, with nary a moment without my nose in between the pages – it was gripping and intense. With not a single dull scene to be remembered, I found myself falling further and further into the writing as I began to get a better understanding of each characters backstory and what drove them to where they are today. The loyalties of each of the characters are truly tested in this second novel as their lives are, once again, put at risk with a threat that seems far deadlier than previous. The novel was immersive and filled with many webs leading back to the centre. Sometimes all these different strands did leave me extremely confused – particularly when faced with characters having multiple conversations at once – however, Peters neatly ties everything up as the novel comes to a close with no loose threads left hanging around. The narratives were closed off effectively with no sign of disappointment, and helped to bring closure to both myself, and the characters. Yet again, Peters leaves us with some more unfinished business – business I hope will lead us back into the world of Magenta.

I received a free physical copy of this book from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. All words are my own and are not endorsed in any way.

Most Anticipated Books of the Year (2018)

After an 8-month long hiatus, I can safely say that I am back. I may not be back to fully-functioning blogger status but I am here and raring to go. To start things off, slow and simple, I bring to you some of my most anticipated books of this year. Some of these, if you are long-term readers, will come as no surprise. Alongside this, I am also aware that a number of these books may have already been released . . . They are still anticipated because, as of now, I do not currently own a physical copies due to being poor and having too many books to read!

Are any of these books on your yearly TBR? Have you read any of them yet – what were your thoughts?

All images sourced from book publisher’s websites.

 

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Image sourced from Hodder Books

 

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn’t know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, these Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?

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Image sourced from Penguin Random House
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Image sourced from Hodder Books

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. 
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise. 
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice – save the woman he loves, or everyone else? – while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with the thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

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Image sourced from Harper Collins

A terrifying lie. A horrifying truth.

The chilling new psychological thriller by S. K. Tremayne, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller, THE ICE TWINS.

Sometimes you can’t even trust yourself

It was just a patch of ice. Just a bit of bad luck. But it was nearly enough to kill Kath Redway, spinning her car into Burrator Reservoir in the beautiful Dartmoor National Park.

Miraculously, Kath escapes her accident with a few bruises and amnesia. She is shocked but delighted to be back in her remote moorland farmhouse with her handsome husband Adam, and her shy, gifted daughter Lyla. She’s alive!

But her family is not so delighted. Her husband is cold, even angry. Her daydreaming daughter talks ever more strangely, about a ‘man on the moor’. Then, as chilling fragments of memory return, Kath realizes her ‘accident’ was nothing of the kind. And now her life collapses into a new world of darkness, menace, and terror.

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Image sourced from Penguin

Disconnected from his history and careless of his future, Detective Aidan Waits has resigned himself to the night shift. An endless cycle of meaningless emergency calls and lonely dead ends. Until he and his partner, Detective Inspector Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe, are summoned to The Palace, a vast disused hotel in the centre of a restless, simmering city.

There they find the body of a man. He is dead.

And he is smiling.

The tags have been removed from the man’s clothes. His teeth filed down and replaced. Even his fingertips are not his own. Only a patch sewn into the inside of his trousers gives any indication as to who he was, and to the desperate last act of his life…

But even as Waits puts together the pieces of this stranger’s life, someone is sifting through the shards of his own.

When the mysterious fires, anonymous phone calls and outright threats escalate, he realises that a ghost from his own past haunts his every move.

And to discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.

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Image sourced from Pan Macmillan

They face a hunger that could consume the gods themselves

From the depths of myth an ancient enemy has returned: the Plague People, whose very presence obliterates whole villages; whose terror destroys minds. In their wake, nothing is left of the people, not their places, not their ways.

On the plains, the warriors and the wise of all tribes gather to confront the aggressor. Loud Thunder leads his great war-host south, even as Tecumet and Asman head north with the Sun River army. With Maniye Many Tracks, they plan to forge a new unity between the tribes such as the world has never seen. But will it be enough to stave off an oblivion that might devour even their gods?

Their adversary’s presence is like a wound in the world, and wakes all the old terrors and evils from the peoples’ stories. But before they can deal with the enemies without, they must conquer their demons within.

Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller: Otherworld

Relevant posts: Ready Player One

Otherworld Cover

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Welcome to real life 2.0.

Are you ready to play?

There are no screens. There are no controls.

You don’t just see and hear it—you taste, smell, and touch it too.

In this new reality there are no rules to follow, no laws to break.

You can indulge your every desire.

Why would you ever want to leave?

Step into Otherworld.

Leave your body behind.

VISITOTHERWORLD.COM – WHERE THE NEXT PHASE OF REALITY BEGINS


Otherworld is a young adult, science fiction novel that sees a new type of gaming experience reach the masses of teenagers around the world. In Otherworld, anyone can be what they want and do what they want without any consequences. Until, one day Simon’s best friend Kat ends up in hospital and is diagnosed with locked-in syndrome and given the chance to test out a new device by creators of Otherworld, the Company. Little does Simon know how difference the experience will be with these new headsets provided, diving back into Otherworld in order to save Kat and the hundreds of others whose lives are at risk.

Not long into the novel I found myself comparing Otherworld to that of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. The similarities surrounding headsets and virtual realities was definitely something familiar and not altogether unique however, it was the way in which Segel implements these headsets into the overall storyline that got me more intrigued and really provided a more thrilling aspect to the novel. The new headsets ( a visor and disk that connects directly with the skin of the wearer ) brings a unique aspect to Otherworld and highlights the corrupted nature of the Company but also the possibilities that such technology could provide – a concept that is batted back and forth as the narrative progresses and really shows the pros and cons and the ethical reasons behind this advanced technology. The emotions within the novel were definitely heightened drastically when the implications of the headset began to set in for Simon, pushing him further in his quest to save Kat and those he may not already know about.

Simon’s character is definitely one I found myself growing towards as the novel progressed and he experienced more. In the beginning, I found his personality and his overall persona to be one that was hard to believe. Simon is described as a rich kid who gets away with anything, has a criminal record, and has no self respect for himself or anyone around him – other than Kat. I found this description to be one that I couldn’t connect with due to the likelihood but also the inability to connect with someone on this level. However, his development is definitely evident as the novel progresses and he steps into Otherworld on a far more dangerous level: beginning to understand that it isn’t all about him and that he may be the only one that can save many more people. He begins to grow conscience and to think about the bigger picture, putting himself at risk in order to help someone else who he doesn’t even know. This development made him more relatable, and more likable, and he became a character to look up to and admire.

I really did enjoy Otherworld and appreciated that Segel looked into the ethical concerns of this device and showed the difference in leadership within the Company and the varying perspectives people have on something that could change the future. It makes you think hard about the consequences and weigh out the pros and cons. It was an enjoyable novel that was thrilling, tense, and full of suspense during those moments when you believed it could all end. Having ended on a cliffhanger, I am interested to see where Segel now takes this novel and how Simon and Kat accomplish the destruction of the Company and the headsets they are trying to provide.