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.

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Marit Weisenberg: Select

Select Cover

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

“It had always been a fact of life that we were biologically different—better—and that it had to be kept secret.”

Seventeen-year-old Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. She’s beautiful, freakishly athletic, and extremely smart. That’s because she comes from a race of highly-evolved humans living in the heart of Austin, Texas.

In order to protect their anonymity and preserve their elite society, Julia’s powerful father forces her to suppress her abilities. When she accidentally demonstrates her super human prowess in public, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. Thrust into the confusion and humiliation of a normal high school, Julia is just trying to keep her head down when John Ford strolls into her life. An outsider and tennis jock, John is immediately attractive to Julia as a curiosity. She can even read his mind. But as Julia’s newfound powers over John grow, so do her feelings.

When she discovers her father has been hiding dangerous secrets, for the first time in her life, Julia begins to question her restrictive upbringing. Caught between the prejudices of her manipulative father and the allure of an outsider’s life, Julia must decide how she will define herself—and who she will betray.


Julia Jaynes is the oldest daughter of Novak, a man wealthy beyond belief and the leader of a small group of people who possess abilities far superior to the average human being. As the opportunity for the group to Relocate comes ever closer, Julia finds herself banished from her group of friends in order to maintain the anonymity of their people, and told to suppress her powers when living amongst those without. But as Julia becomes deeply involved with a human at her new school, she begins to question her life and upbringing believing it possible to live amongst humans and must decide who she will choose: her people, or the boy she loves.

Select is a novel that highlights themes surrounding individuality and how being different is not a bad thing, but can be construed as being in that way. Julia comes from a species that, should knowledge get out about their abilities and superior nature, would insight fear and misunderstanding into those living in the area. They would be shunned and outcast due to their very nature. However, when Julia and John become friends and things begin to develop further, it becomes clear that John has accepted Julia’s differences from the moment he met her and sees her differences – not just in who she is, but how she looks – as being unique and making her who she is. He does not feel fear towards who and what she is, but appreciates that she looks different – not just to him, but to her own people. It is a novel about acceptance and understanding your differences.

You can also see themes arise in the way in which Julia, and her sister Liv, are brought up within the same household. Though it is clear that Julia possesses more abilities and is far stronger and the best candidate to be the future leader, she is suppressed by being segregated with a group of boys and told that they must not train their abilities and dampen them down. On the other hand, Liv is put in a group where they are taught their abilities and encouraged to use them whilst also being told information that is not provided to Julia’s group. All of this comes about due to a series of future insights Novak has, where he predicts that Liv will be the next leader though it becomes clear that Julia should be the most likely candidate. As well as this, both sisters are treated differently in due to Julia’s parentage which is kept as a deep secret until towards the end of the novel, similarly making Julia feel different and not part of the group.

Select definitely falls into that category of almost insta-love with Julia and John. As soon as they have their first encounter towards the beginning of the novel she becomes hyper-aware of him and can feel it when he is staring at her. It is a cliche of young adult novels for this sort of relationship to sprout and it really set the genre in stone. Theirs is definitely a relationship that you ship, and you can see the struggles between the two as Julia fights what is natural, and what goes against her people’s beliefs. It is evident that her conflict is rubbing against them, and that her other life will always get in the way of them being able to live a happy life. Julia, though she holds a rebellious nature and isn’t truly sure of her position within her group, understands that she cannot stand out too much without giving herself away, but allows herself this one indiscretion believing that she can allow herself some happiness before she leaves for good. John, you begin to see, brings out the good side of Julia which becomes evident in the way in which her appears seems to change the more time she spends away from her group. She begins to look more natural as her hair lightens, freckles appear on her skin, and she gains weight suggesting that she is happy in herself.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick and easy read that provided some mystery towards the beginning of the novel surrounding who and what Julia and her group were. I was both intrigued but also annoyed by this lack of information but it did make me keep reading as I was interested to find out the truth. I am looking forward to seeing where the rest of the series goes.

The Future

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Though this transition is effective from now, there may be still a few posts going up that have been scheduled a few months in advance.

Authors and publishers, feel free to still email regarding books but, please be aware that I will my acceptance may be rare due to these time constraints and the books that I currently have to read.

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Scott Reintgen: Nyxia

Nyxia Cover

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

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
 
Forever.
 
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
 
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.


Nyxia is the first in a new three-book sci-fi young adult series that sees main character, Emmett Atwater, pitted against a number of other contestants in a bid to see who will make it onto the new planet of Eden thus creating a new life for themselves, and their families back home on Earth. Emmett and his fellow rivals must fight against, and work together in a series of tasks that score them points based on wins and losses. They must each prove themselves in some way, whether this be leadership or tactics. At the end of it though, a few of them will not make it onto this new and exciting planet and Emmett will face more than he bargained for, questioning his own development every step of the way.

Young adult science fiction is a genre that is slowly getting better with time. As our generation grows up and teenagers/young adults become more mature, the genre is having to grow with them providing scenarios where younger characters must face the truth of the situation and become more than what they are, taking on burdens and challenges that you would expect of someone older. Nyxia is one of those novels that brings this forward, posing similarities to The Illuminae Files whilst also bringing its own originality in the form of tasks and challenges that pits the contestants on a scoreboard to see who will make it to the end. Nyxia was definitely unique in what it brought to the table and I found myself drawn in almost instantly, questioning everything alongside Emmett in trying to understand why each person was chosen and what they could bring to their future on Eden.

Reintgen brings each character to life with their different cultures, mannerisms, and beliefs. I enjoyed that this novel was multi-racial and that each individual had an interesting backstory and a solid reason for putting themselves at risk in order to help others – it helped to bring a lot more emotion to the story when faced with each character slowly hardening and almost losing all emotion as the challenges progress. Reingten’s writing in bringing these characters to life is simple yet vivid, with no floweriness in description. What you see is what you get. Emmett’s character is by far the most developed come the end of the novel, as he has faced experiences that have hit him harder than anyone else. Throughout the novel there is the question of what is right and wrong, and whether Emmett – in these situations – is just as bad as everyone else. However, it is thanks to communication with his family (though few and far between) that helps him to remain grounded and understand why he is doing this, and what it would mean to those surrounding him. You can also see his changes in the way Emmett sees the competition, at first telling himself that he cannot make friends and looking out for number one, to finding himself concerned for the well-being of others who may have helped him. The majority of the other characters stay resolutely the same throughout, only showing the occasional compassionate or varied emotion at a time when it is least expected.

Though the general arc of the storyline was relatively straightforward and predictable: it was almost guaranteed that Emmett would struggle with his position on the scoreboard – Reintgen did provide a series of twists throughout the novel, particularly towards the end which helped to make the novel more interesting and thrilling. A lot of questions were provided surrounding the company of Babel Communications, moreso towards the end with a lot of these questions left open-ended following the novels finish. With that in mind, I cannot wait for the next in the series and to see how Emmett progresses and changes in Eden considering the way the situation has changed.

Elly Blake: Fireblood

Relevant posts: Frostblood

Fireblood Cover

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

Ice and fire are still at war.

Ruby has defeated the tyrannous Frost King, and Arcus, the exiled warrior who captured her heart, has taken his rightful place as ruler of the Frostblood kingdom.

But Ruby is the only Fireblood in a castle of frost and ice, and the courtiers will not accept her. Even worse, the dark threat released from the Frost King’s melted throne is stalking the land, bent on destruction – and as the one who set it free, only Ruby can stop it.

To find the knowledge she needs, she must leave Arcus and journey south to the land of the Firebloods. But the homeland Ruby’s never seen is treacherous, and friend and enemy wear the same face.

If she’s to save both kingdoms, Ruby must figure out who she can trust – and unleash a fire powerful enough to do battle with darkness .


The second in the Frostblood Saga, Fireblood sees Ruby having defeated the Frost King whilst Arcus has taken his rightful place as the ruler of his kingdom. However, Ruby is plagued by fears that the Minax she released is never far away – but that isn’t all she must worry about. Regardless of her heroic endeavours in saving the kingdom, the royal Frostbloods of Arcus’s court still do not hold her in high regard so, when the opportunity arises to go to her homeland and understand who she is and where she came from, Ruby jumps at the chance not realising what lies she has been told or what sacrifices she must make.

I have been eagerly anticipating this novel since I finished Frostblood last year. I had no clue in what direction Blake was going to take this narrative, only understanding that Ruby would face more challenges and inevitably come face-to-face with the Minax once again. Blake did not disappoint in this second novel! Ruby travels to her homeland of Sudesia where, similar to Forsia, Firebloods are revered and all Frostbloods are put into servitude or else killed. Ruby can see that the Queen must in some way be controlled by another Minax locked away in the Sudesian throne but cannot find any proof and so must gain the Queen, and those around her’s, trust in order to find out all the information she can. And, in amongst that, she must master the skills needed to become a Fireblood master – involving a series of trials that will test skills such as obediance and control of emotions; something we all know she has trouble with.

As with the first novel, Ruby develops yet again thanks to these trials and the people that she meets in Sudesia. It becomes apparent that, at times, she can be too trusting when it comes to what she wants as she soon realises when she arrives in Sudesia and finds out the true reason Kai came to find her. However, were it not for this journey and the trials she must face to become a powerful Fireblood master, Ruby would not be able to develop as she does and push herself further than she ever has before. Not only does Ruby develop, but her relationship with Arcus does as well. We don’t see a lot of Arcus in this novel, being presented with another potential interest in the form of Prince Kai who is a constant source of flirtation, annoyance, and stubbornness for Ruby in Sudesia. Arcus and Ruby have always had trouble explaining their emotions, both of them holding them back for fear of what they might do. However, in the Fireblood novel, we finally begin to understand how deep their emotions run for each other as they face difficult challenges, separation, jealousy, and so much more.

There was never a dull moment within Fireblood. Any slow scenes almost always involved Ruby communicating with Kai who, as mentioned, provided endless entertainment through flirtatious actions and dialogue suggesting a potential love interest between the two and thus creating more issues for Ruby, and Arcus. As Arcus brings out the good in Ruby, so does Kai. His lightheartedness (when not handling fire and trying to train Ruby to become a master) brings joy at a time when she is unsure who she is or what she hopes to achieve and the connection between them, as it develops, really draws you into the story.

The way that the narrative progressed within Fireblood was definitely not one I was expecting. I was hoping that she would go to Sudesia eventually, but I wasn’t expecting it so soon. But, not only was I pleasantly surprised by the plot, but I was surprised by the simple twists and turns that appeared, seemingly, out of nowhere. Fireblood was a novel full of surprises that both hindered and helped Ruby in her journey, and her task. Though we are given subtle hints as to how these have come about or what is about to come, it still almost comes as a shock when it does happen as you do not wish for it to be true.

I absolutely adored Fireblood and it was a perfect follow-up to Frostblood. Blake’s writing is seamless and provides a beauty to her description that does not require flowery, poetic writing. It is simple and gets to the point without embellishing – especially in the more crucial scenes where you know full well you want to get to the juicy bits! Bring on Nightblood!

Lucy Hounsom: Starborn

Starborn and Heartland Covers

I received free copies of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews.

Death and destruction will bar her way. . . Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon. Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man’s terrifying response. She’ll learn more in the city’s subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic. If she survives the ordeal, she’ll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?


Starborn is the first in the Worldmaker fantasy series that sees Kyndra’s life turned upside down within a matter of days. Upon her Inheritance Ceremony, she begins to understand that she is different to everyone around her as things go from bad to worse resulting in her having to leave the safety and comfort of her hometown in order to save herself, and those around her. As she follows the two Wielders, Bregenne and Nediah, Kyndra begins to understand more about her inheritance and who she is.

I really enjoyed the premise of the novel and the overall story arc and how it progressed. However, I did feel that it was a novel that was a bit drawn out in some respects – mainly in regards to her blatant skills as a Starborn. There were definitely, and always will be, a few scenes that slowed down the pace of the novel as characters travelled from one place to another but, in regards to Kyndra being a Starborn. . . I found this to be drawn out and long-winded. I felt that the “confusion” surrounding who and what she was by the Naris Council to be of no use as, it later turns out, they had an inclination as to what she was. It was drawn out way past the point that I, myself, understood her to be truly a Starborn and was only fully recognised within the last 100 pages or so. I feel that, had this been acknowledged more beforehand, some of the more trivial scenes where she is put to task reading books to help her understand could easily have been cut out and the novel would have had a faster pace.

The characters themselves I did enjoy, and loved the different personalities and relationships that appeared throughout. I enjoyed the nature of Kyndra – her stubbornness in particular being a trait that I thoroughly like in female protagonists of power. Bregenne and Nediah were also firm favourites in the way that they were connected and how they worked together in all aspects of their life. It was particularly interesting to see the way in which these three characters developed together throughout the novel and how their relationship changed as they began to understand more about each other. There were also the more corrupt antagonists that brought more conflict for Kyndra within her future and understanding herself and they brought another quality to the novel in understanding how the council and the wielders perceived certain people and events.

Overall I did enjoy the novel but found that it could have been a bit shorter with some scenes cut out and important information divulged sooner rather than later as it dragged the novel and really slowed it down. The characters were well fleshed out with individual personalities that clashed or complimented each other in a variety of ways and I enjoyed the conflict within the council and with the wielders and the central characters themselves.

Genevieve Cogman: The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library Cover

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. And soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.


The Invisible Library is the first in a series by Genevieve Cogman that centres around a society of Librarians who travel to alternate worlds in order to obtain rare and valuable copies of works of fiction. Irene has been sent on a missing to an alternate London that is chaos-ridden: filled with fae, vampires, werewolves and more. Her job – to acquire a rare copy of the Grimm tales that features stories entirely different to any other London. With the help of her assistant Kai, they become involved in far more than a simple task to find a book, making new friends and enemies that will never forget her involvement.

I have a strong interest in any work of fiction that centres around books, and The Invisible Library fits perfectly into that category. As I was progressing through the book and more about the Library and the worlds in which Irene travels to were unveiled, I found myself making similarities to Mark Latham’s The Apollonian Case Files. As with ACF, The Invisible Library provides alternate worlds that possess supernatural beings or scientific/technological advancements not available in a normal world. I also felt the similarities more strongly due to the alternate that Irene and Kai were sent to which required them to wear more Victorian garb and adjust their position and status accordingly based on how men and women are perceived within that world.

There was never a dull moment in The Invisible Library, with Cogman providing slower scenes that dished out important information about the main and side-characters. Something is always going on even in the more mundane scenes that allowed for the pacing to stay consistent throughout and for me to never lose interest in the story and where it was heading. Cogman provides a lot of distractions within the novel such as her supernatural creatures, or the variety of advancements that have taken place within this alternate London such as zeppelins and robotic creatures. At times, the more faster paced scenes with the action did seem a bit out of place and confusing however, as the novel progressed all the questions regarding those moments are answered and you begin to realise that strange is normal in this world.

I adored the characters of Irene and Kai and really enjoyed how their friendship progressed. Each character holds back information from the other in different ways adding a bit of mystery. As the novel progresses, Irene’s character begins to show her devotion to the Library in her need to complete the task at almost any cost. Though I would not call her ruthless or hard-hearted per se, Irene is definitely a character that will use what she can, when she can. It is this way of working that defines her relationship with Vale who questions why she is really after the book and feels almost confused and shocked whenever Irene does something new. Kai appears as if he is a ruffian and someone who is only along for the ride because he has been told to, but very quickly shrugs off that demeanour to appear cultured and gentlemanly. Kai holds the most secrets out of the two and it is one you begin to understand through Irene’s questioning thoughts. The way that he develops towards Irene made me adore his character all the more as he grows protective towards her as things get worse.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel with its perfectly balanced pacing, array of fantastical elements and its plot-line. I felt like Cogman provided a story that didn’t leave any confusion as to what had happened and, when you were confused, it was answered by the end of the novel. I do still possess some question regarding certain characters and information that was provided, but I believe that this will be answered as the series progresses. The characters developed really well as they faced friends and foes and came to terms with their position and what they wanted out of the mission.