After Atlas (Planetfall #2) by Emma Newman

after atlas book review

After Atlas Description

Acclaimed author Emma Newman returns to the captivating universe she created in Planetfall with a stunning science fiction mystery where one man’s murder is much more than it seems…

Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

My Review of After Atlas

After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)After Atlas by Emma Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second in a series, but it tells a different part of a connected story so you can read this one first with no problems or learning curve. The first book Planetfall is about the spaceship that left Earth searching for a new home, After Atlas is about the people that were left behind.

After Atlas mixes two of my favourite things, a not too distant future world setting and a murder mystery. It has a Phillip K Dick vibe to it, but without the relentless depression. As my boyfriend says, it’s like Harrison Ford chasing humans instead of androids!

Anyway, the world Emma Newman has created is familiar yet futuristic and feels real. Food is now printed instead of cooked, cars are automated, your smartphone is now a chip in your head that leaves you always connected and able to access the web in seconds.

The murder mystery is the main focus of the book though. We follow Carlos Moreno as he investigates the murder of a cult leader, found dead in his hotel room. He uses virtual reality to recreate the crime scenes and he has a virtual personal assistant to help him. I loved the way he put it all together and viewed the files and crime scenes in his head!

It’s well written, and is an exciting and suspenseful book. Forget the remake of Blade Runner, they should do this instead!

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After Atlas
Planetfall
Emma Newman
Sci-Fi
November 8th 2016
377

Made For Sin by Stacia Kane

made for sin book review

Description

A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.

But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.

Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.

The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.

My Review of Made for Sin

Well I really enjoyed reading this one, it was one of those books where I could happily have turned the world off and stayed at home curled up on the sofa until I’d finished it.

I liked Speare and Ardeth, they were both interesting and the attraction between them sizzled nicely. I want more of them, it can’t end the way it did! And I want to see Ardeth again, using her thieving skills more, and generally being clever and winding Speare up.

The only thing that felt a bit off for me was that I couldn’t picture Speare very well. Near the end of the book it says that he’s tall but other than that I didn’t get a good mental picture of what he looked like.

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Made for Sin
Stacia Kane
Urban Fantasy
August 30th 2016
266

My Favourite Books I Read in 2016

Best books of 2016

My 10 favourites from the 160 books I read in 2016. It looks like I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and children’s / young adult books this year! I found a couple of new favourite authors – Margaret Atwood and Dianne Wynn Jones.

I don’t read many new releases because I buy a lot of second hand books. From all of these I think only one was released this year!

What were your favourites from this year? Comment or leave a link to your own blog post 🙂

We Should All Be Feminists  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyone should read this balanced, insightful, and very sensible short essay on feminism. Please someone make it required reading in schools!

We Should All Be Feminists on GoodReads

Jacaranda (The Clockwork Century #6) by Cherie Priest

One of my favourite authors, her Clockwork Century series is a brilliant steampunk zombie adventure. Each of the books focuses on a different character and has it’s own story arc .

Jacaranda is a shortish book about a cursed hotel, and a nun and a padre that arrive to investigate the rumours.  It takes place 20 years after the main story arc and can easily be read on it’s own.

Jacaranda on GoodReads

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

A short story about a family gathering in their childhood home as their father is dying from cancer. Very difficult subject matter but it’s handled sensitively and is beautifully written. Sarah Pinborough manages to keep the human side of the story the most important thing without being overly sentimental.

The Language of Dying on GoodReads

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones

A ghost story told from the point of view of the ghost! The ghost is one of four sisters but she doesn’t remember which one she is, or how she came to be a ghost.

The characters in this book are brilliantly done, each of the sisters is unique and complex. It’s very well written and the story had me guessing right up to the end.

The Time of the Ghost on GoodReads

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A beautifully written atmospheric story about an introverted bookworm writing the biography of a famous writer. The story itself is nothing ground breaking but this is all about the way it’s told.

The Thirteenth Tale on GoodReads

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

I love the film but only recently found out it was originally a book. There are a lot of differences between the book and the film, which I like because it means if you’ve seen the film it won’t ruin the story in the book for you!

Howl’s Moving Castle on GoodReads

MaddAddam Series by Margaret Atwood

A man made plague sweeps the world and wipes out most of humanity. This is by far my favourite of all the series I’ve read this year. Each book has a different main character, and with them Margaret Atwood jumps backwards and forwards on the timeline, slowly filling us in on the story behind the plague.

The world before the plague is a near future version of our time with more advanced tech and genetically engineered species.  The rich live in compounds, walls and guards separating them from the poor ‘pleeblands’.  Atwood creates a scarily familiar, rich and well constructed world, before pulling it all to pieces.

MaddAddam series on GoodReads

Flora Segunda (Flora Trilogy #1) by Ysabeau S. Wilce

A gem of a book filled with magic, odd characters, and a house that has a mind of it’s own. It’s a children’s book but it has far more intelligence than most adult books I’ve read. Should be far more popular than it is.

Flora Segunda on GoodReads

Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

I waited far too long to read this. It’s very, very good, much better than the films.

Hunger Games Series on GoodReads

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

I read this before Christmas and fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing. A fantasy filled with magic, vengeful Angels, war, and Chimera.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone on GoodReads

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight Description

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My reviews of Other Books in the Series

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight Review

Days of Blood & Starlight reviewDays of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first book and loving the bits set in Prague as much as I did I thought I just wouldn’t like the second book. I thought I’d miss the cosy, magical world of the first book. Well, I was wrong. If anything I think I like Days of Blood & Starlight even more!

There are some big themes running through this book, war and vengeance, and how violent revenge will only cause more violence. The war is the main focus of the book, with the Chimera almost wiped out and Karou working as a resurrectionist, building new bodies for dead chimaera soldiers.

Love is still here too, but it’s certainly not the teenage insta love from the first book. Karou and Akiva are on opposite sides of the war, Akiva has a lot of guilt for his part in killing the Chimera, and Karou cannot forgive him. It’s very dark and heavy on the emotions at times, but the story manages not to get too bogged down in it.

The magical atmosphere from the first book is still here though. The writing is beautiful and lifts the story out of the depths of misery. There are moments of hope thrown in for us too, and Karou’s best friend Zuzana adds some humour and light into the story. There is more actual magic, Karou is building new chimaera and Akiva is using his magic to do what he can to stop the slaughter of the survivors from the chimaera villages.

I’m seriously considering taking a day or two off work to read the next one.

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Days of Blood & Starlight
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 15th 2013
528

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Book Description

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.”

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My Reviews of Other Books in the Series

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

My Review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I absolutely loved this one, I finished it in around a day. It’s a beautiful novel and the setting of Prague adds a layer of atmosphere that makes it even richer. I could imagine myself there while I was reading. I’m visiting Prague for the first time early next year so I was making a list of places to visit while I was reading!

The first half of the story moved between Prague and the chimaera Brimstone’s shop, a place reached by portals, where human teeth are exchanged for magic wishes. Karou was raised by Brimstone and now she runs errands for him out in the human world where he can’t go.

I loved how Karou was described, a tattooed art student living in Prague who has wished her hair blue and fills her sketchbooks with drawings of ‘monsters’ from Brimstone’s world, and her friends from the human world. She could easily have tipped over into being too perfect but Taylor gave her enough flaws to keep her realistic; falling for an arrogant actor and wasting magic wishes for trivial things like her hair colour and getting the table she wants in a cafe.

The second half of the book introduces a Romeo and Juliet style romance between Karou and Akiva, an angel warrior. The story takes off in a new direction as we learn the truth behind who Karou is, and while I was a bit disappointed it moved on from Prague and Brimstone’s shop, it still held my attention.

It has a serious cliffhanger ending, and I seriously can’t wait for the weekend so I can go out and get the next book in the series.

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 5th 2012
420

Slipping by Lauren Beukes

Slipping review

Description of Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

In her edgy, satiric debut collection, award-winning South African journalist and author Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls, Moxyland) never holds back. Nothing is simple and everything is perilous when humans are involved: corruption, greed, and even love (of a sort).

A permanent corporate branding gives a young woman enhanced physical abilities and a nearly-constant high.
Recruits lifted out of poverty find a far worse fate collecting biohazardous plants on an inhospitable world.
The only adult survivor of the apocalypse decides he will be the savior of teenagers; the teenagers are not amused.

From Johannesburg to outer space, these previously uncollected tales are a compelling, dark, and slippery ride.

My Review of Slipping by Lauren Beukes

Review of Slipping by Lauren BeukesSlipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading this collection of short stories Lauren Beukes is now firmly on my favourite authors list. Clever and very relevant, the stories are a mix of sci-fi, weirdness, and commentary on modern life.

None of the stories here are very long so it’s easy to dip in and out of. Though saying that, normally I find myself having to stop between stories in short story collections but with this book I couldn’t do that, I had to start the next straight away. I think that was partly because they are short and I knew I wouldn’t have to stop reading half way through one (I hate having to do that), and partly because these stories are just that good I didn’t want to stop reading.

There weren’t any stories that I disliked, but my favourites were:

Slipping – about a contestant in a futuristic Paralympics event where the athletes can have exosuits, implants controlling their hormones, remote controlled bodies, or they can even remove their organs to make them run better.

Confirm/Ignore – a look into the mind of someone that creates fake online personas by copying other people’s photos and quotes.

The Green – pure sci/fi! Workers on a remote planet searching for plants or chemicals the company they work for can make money with.

Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs – a lolita punk pilots a Japanese fighter robot and battles monsters to save Tokyo.

Dial Tone – a story that’s about loneliness really.

Ghost Girl – a teenage girl haunting a university student.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing
Lauren Beukes
Sci-Fi
November 29th 2016
288

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

the thirteenth tale

Description of The Thirteenth Tale

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart.

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life?

As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life.

My Review of The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely beautiful writing, it sucked me in from the first page and would have held my interest on its own. The fact that the main character is a serious bookworm who works in a bookshop only made me even more happy to read this.

I probably would have read it to the end just for the writing, but luckily the story itself is interesting and clever. It’s a family drama at its heart, a story about people and the childhood of one of the characters. Mixed into this is more than one mystery, and the story twists and turns in the present and the past as it weaves all it’s strands together.

I found the big reveal at the end shocking, and it made all the little and unexplained bits suddenly make perfect sense. I love it when an author gives us a sensible explanation for all the odd things that have been happening, one that I haven’t been able to guess. All the hints are there if you look back through the book, they’re very cleverly hidden in plain sight. I think it would be possible to guess if you paid careful attention to everything that is said and everything that happens throughout the book.

It’s a perfect book to curl up with on a cold night. Make sure you have plenty of free time, a cosy blanket, and a big cup of tea, because you won’t want to put it down!

View all my reviews

The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield
Mystery
November 1st 2007
456

Final Girls by Riley Sager

final girls book review

Description

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls.

Now, Quincy is doing well.  She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, and remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My Review

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horror films come to life in The Final Girls. Three different women are left as the only survivors of random massacres in a sorority house, a cabin in the wood, and an isolated hotel.

Fast paced and gripping, and full of twists and turns that kept me guessing. Just as I thought I had it figured out Sager threw another twist in there! I thought I knew about three different times, but no, I was wrong.

The characters were well thought out and developed, although I didn’t like Quincy much. At first she’s bland and melodramatic, but she does improve as the book goes on. Samantha was a much better character.

There were a couple of points where I couldn’t understand why the characters acted the way they did, and it was surprisingly neatly wrapped up at the end. They’re minor issues with it though and they didn’t stop me enjoying it.

Nothing was obvious and I didn’t guess the final twists before the end. This is a great debut from Sage, and I really enjoyed reading it!

I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Final Girls
Riley Sager
Thriller
June 29th 2017
368

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg

miss smillas feeling for snow

I feel like the first day of winter is a good day to share my review of Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow!

Description

One winter evening the neighbour’s six-year-old boy falls to his death from the apartment roof in Copenhagen. Accidental death, say the police. But Smilla Jaspersen, a resourceful, tenacious and bloody-minded Greenlander, knows the boy well; moreover she has a feeling for snow – and those last footprints tell her a tale… Her investigation starts in Denmark and leads to the Arctic ice cap as Smilla doggedly homes in on her quarry.

My Review

Miss Smilla's Feeling for SnowMiss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I’m not sure how I want to rate this one. On one hand I enjoyed reading it, but on the other hand a lot of it left me scratching my head trying to work out what was going on and why people were doing things and reacting the way they were.

I found it kinda complicated and slow going – I had to scan back and forth a lot to pick up bits that I must have missed the first time. The characters did things and it didn’t really explain why they were doing them or what was going on. We spend a lot of time in Smilla’s head, but it still doesn’t explain her actions a lot of the time.

And the ending! I have no idea.

But, I enjoyed reading it. I found the story exciting and the characters interesting, and even though it was complicated I found I was willing to put in the effort to finish it.

Smilla is a great character, complex and unusual, I don’t think she understands herself why she does the things she does. For me she is on par with Lisbeth from the Dragon Tattoo books.

The supporting characters are all well developed and written. They all have very distinct unique personalities. But there are so many of them it’s hard to keep track of them all.

This is the sort of book that would benefit from a re-read, I feel like there’s a lot in it that I’ve missed or just skimmed over. I’m going back and forth between three or four stars, but for how much I enjoyed it and how great Smilla is I think I have to give it four.

Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
Peter Høeg
Mystery
1992
410

Gilded Cage by Vic James

gilded cage by vic james

Book Description

For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule—and commoners are doomed to serve.
 
NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.

But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
 
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?
 
A boy dreams of revolution.
 
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
 
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

My Review

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)Gilded Cage by Vic James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well written, but there were a lot of characters and viewpoints to keep track of. Some of them were complex and well written, like Luke and Gavan, but others felt flat.

Amy especially was very two dimensional. There wasn’t much time spent in her viewpoint and there just wasn’t enough to see her personality. There was supposedly a romance starting between her and Jenner but there weren’t any signs of this building up in the (minimal) interactions between them. Amy swoons over him a bit, he shows no interest at all.

Luke was the main focus of this book though, and he is a more interesting character. We see how he develops from being a carefree teenager to starting to understand the injustice in the world and the imbalance between the skilled and the non-skilled.

The story itself doesn’t offer much that is groundbreaking or original, and it is a bit predictable, but it did keep me interested. The world building was well done with a lot of history that is drip fed to us – no big information dumps! The magic of the skilled, or the Equals as they are known, is not discussed much even amongst themselves so little is explained as to how it works. I feel like this will be explored more in the next couple of books.

There are a lot of dark moments in this, like the way the non-skilled are treated as inhuman when they’re doing their slave days, and the story of the man that became the Dog. These help to add depth and realism to the world and stop it from being childish, even though the politics are very basic.

I’m not desperate for the sequel, but I probably will read it when it’s released, I’d like to see where the story is going.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Gilded Cage
Dark Gifts
Vic James
Young Adult Fantasy
January 26 2017