Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Ensnared Cover

Ensnared Blurb

A Near-Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+.

My Review of Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ensnared is based on Beauty and the Beast, but it takes the basic idea and runs with it, throwing in sci-fi elements with automatons, AI, and self-aware robots.

I was expecting a young adult story from the blurb, but it’s aimed at adults.

If I’m being honest the story is daft, there’s not a lot of world building, and there are plot holes you can drive a truck through. But it’s also a lot of fun, with likeable characters.

I liked Alainn, she’s independent and not afraid to speak her mind, but she’s not perfect. She’s not overly intelligent and is prone to taking risks that endanger her life. It’s this daredevil impulse that leads her to agree to impersonate the robot Lorccan has ordered to save her father from going to jail. It (kind of) makes sense in context.

Lorccan is a recluse who is scared of germs and has little to no experience of other people. I can almost believe he doesn’t realise that he got a real person instead of a robot, even though Alainn is very, very bad at pretending to be a robot. She doesn’t even think about how she is going to eat, so almost starves herself at first. I think about food all the time, so if I was going to have to pretend to be a robot somewhere it’s probably the first thing I would worry about.

I liked that Lorcann’s problems aren’t magically fixed by the power of lurve. At the end of the book, he still can’t leave his home for fear of germs. It’s clear that it’s a bigger, ongoing issue that Alainn can’t fix for him.

My favourite character in this has to be Shelley. She has anxiety, and battles with herself when she pushes herself way out of her comfort zone to help Alainn when things go wrong. She reaches a point where she can’t force herself any further and leaves with the police instead of escaping with Alainn. I loved that she wasn’t treated as a coward for this, instead, Alainn thanks her and calls her a badass.

If you want something that’s not going to tax your brain and you can just enjoy reading it, then this is a good choice. I read it in a day, I didn’t want to put it down. I even had to have it propped up in front of me while I was brushing my teeth!

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

Ensnared
Rita Stradling
Sci-Fi
May 23rd 2017
Kindle
419

The Complete Alien Omnibus by Alan Dean Foster

Alien Cover

The Complete Alien Omnibus Blurb

As the spaceship ‘Nostromos’ glided through the silent reaches of the galaxy, the ship’s scanners detected a garbled distress call from a remote and long dead planet.

But all the technology on board could not protect the ship’s crew from the living nightmare they found there. It was a terror that stalked Ripley, the only survivor of ‘Nostromos’, and came to haunt her again and again.

Read the horrors of ALIEN and you won’t believe that Ripley returned, with a team of death-dealing Marines, right back into the jaws of a threat too monstrous to contemplate.

After the slaughter that was ALIENS, Ripley finds herself on a prison planet worse than anyone’s imagined hell. But the nightmare of ALIEN 3 was only just beginning…

My Review of The Complete Alien Omnibus

The Complete Alien OmnibusThe Complete Alien Omnibus by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the Alien films so I was very happy when my boyfriend found this at a car boot last weekend!

Obviously, I already knew I liked the stories, and Ellen Ripley is probably my all time favourite movie character, but I was hoping for a bit more info / background on the plot and characters.

There really isn’t much outside what happens in the films. Extra scenes and conversations are few and far between, and I wasn’t impressed with the bits that are added. We do get to find out what Ripley is thinking, and it makes more of how the events are affecting her psychologically.

Saying that, some bits are made clearer – eg why the ship crashes in the final film.

The writing improved in each book, in the first one it’s a bit overblown, and I felt like the author was trying too hard to be intelligent. By the last book, he’s calmed down a lot and just gets on with telling a story. In fact, Alien 3 is my least favourite of the movies (let’s pretend 4 never happened), but actually it makes the best book. Though I will never approve of the Alien franchise’s habit of killing major characters off between films.

Is this for you? Well, if you love the movies and are happy just reading them in book form then go for it, but if you’re after more insights into the Alien world, then this will just disappoint you.

The Complete Alien Omnibus
Alien
Alan Dean Foster
Sci-Fi
October 14th 1993
649

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars Blurb

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

My review of Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1)Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love sci-fi and anything to do with robots, so I was excited about reading this book. The cover is stunning, and the promise of an android main character and spaceships had me sold.

Unfortunately, the details of the sci-fi are glossed over and dumbed down. It seems to be used for something to make this book stand out from the mass of dystopian YA books that have been released recently. There are some interesting ideas and technology in it, but I’m not convinced the author’s put a lot of thought into how it all works. It’s just somewhere different to set the same story I’ve seen over and again since The Hunger Games.

Saying that though, I did enjoy the sci-fi setting. There are enough spaceships, star gates, and mechs (androids and robots) running about to keep me happy.

I liked the characters. Abel is lovely! He’s sweet and thoughtful and seems more human than a lot of YA male love interests. The way he tries to protect Noemi makes my heart melt. He almost seems too human to be an android though.

Noemi is a bit too perfect to be believable. She’s intelligent, kind, compassionate, brave, athletic and willing to die for her friends. If she has any flaws they’re not shown in this book! She’s that YA troupe made popular in The Hunger Games of an independent, almost unfriendly young woman that doesn’t think much of herself, but everyone else adores her.

The writing is very dry, I found it hard to get into at first. Once I’d got through the first 30% though I found I had become engrossed in the story. I lost track of time reading it, which is always a good sign!

The story is interesting and fun, if very fast moving, and a bit too far fetched even for sci-fi. There are a few very convenient coincidences, and a lot of dramatic “just in the nick of time” escapes.

So I’m a bit on the fence about it all, but I am rooting for Noemi and Abel, and I’d like to see what happens next with them.

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

Defy the Stars
Defy the Stars
Claudia Gray
Young Adult Sci-Fi

Kim & Kim Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera

Kim and Kim

Kim & Kim Blurb

Kim & Kim are twenty-something besties out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of interdimensional cowboy law enforcement. In a massive “screw you” to their parents and the authorities, they decide to hijack some high stakes bounty — and end up in way over their heads.

Kim & Kim is a day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Blending the punk exuberance of TANK GIRL with the buddy adventure wackiness of SUPERBAD (if Michael Cera was a trans woman and Jonah Hill a queer girl partner in crime), Kim & Kim is a bright, happy, punk rock sci-fi adventure that is queer as shit.

My Review of Kim & Kim

Kim & Kim #1 (Kim & Kim, #1)Kim & Kim Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you might have seen me posting about this graphic novel a lot recently. I’m not gonna apologise because I absolutely loved everything about Kim & Kim! It’s loud and bright and crazy, and massively fun, and you need it in your life.

The two Kims are bounty hunters, adventuring around space trying to make enough money to pay their rent. Their spaceship is a van that looks like the one from Scooby Doo, and their weapons are an electric guitar and a bright pink gun.

It feels heavily influenced by Cowboy Bebop, but it’s got the brightness (and the wonderful outfit changes) of Jem and the Holograms, the crazy fun of Adventure Time, and a massive personality all of its own.

But I like it mostly because it has two badass female main characters with realistic personalities and a strong friendship between them. They’re not just a sexy fantasy version of badass either and that’s not something you see often in the graphic novel world.

More, please.

Kim & Kim Vol. 1
Kim & Kim
Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera
Graphic Novel
December 28th 2016
Graphic Novel

Red Claw by Philip Palmer

red claw

Red Claw Blurb

Philip Palmer turns science fiction on its head in this breathtaking thrill ride through alien jungles filled with terrifying monsters and killer robots. Space marines and science heroes Gryphons and Godzillas It’s all here in this gripping tale of man versus nature.

My Review of Red Claw

Red ClawRed Claw by Philip Palmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I liked

Robots. Killer robots. Future tech. This makes me happy.

The funny dialogue – it’s like what people are actually saying to each other when you strip away all the fluff. I had a few little laughs at it.

It’s fast paced, and it stayed interesting. Just as I started to get bored something happened and everything was thrown up in the air.

I also found it easy to read, in fact, a couple of times I lost track of time reading it on my lunch break and had to rush back to work.

No one is safe, basically, all characters are fair game for a gruesome death scene.

The cover.

What I didn’t like

The humour – more often than not it is was too immature to be funny.

The science and technology was so far-fetched that I found it distracting. I kept stopping to think “but no, that’s impossible”. I get that it’s supposed to be daft but it broke my reading flow.

Far too much marvelling going on, we had people marvelling at marvellous things every other page sometimes.

Heavy handed criticism of war, soldiers, and the way the human race destroys other life for our own gain. It’s not a subtle book, and I felt like it was banging me over the head with it.

Red Claw
Debatable Space
Philip Palmer
Sci-Fi
August 11th 2008
451

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants Description

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

My Review of Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the ideas but I don’t think the format worked. The author seemed to be aiming for a media / report style like World War Z, but then he was trying to tell the story normally within that by having the characters explain things that have happened to them to an interviewer. Sometimes the interviewer is on the phone with a person as they are doing something.

It’s an odd in between compromise that I felt didn’t work well. We’re removed from the action so it’s hard to feel involved, but we’re not getting the exciting, dramatic media reports about it. There’s no build up of tension and no atmosphere to it.

I enjoyed the science parts and the bits where they are working with or researching the robot, deciphering the symbols and trying to activate and control it.

Those bits were interesting to read, but overall there was too much soap opera relationship drama and not enough giant robot. It was all a bit dull, and how can a book with a giant robot in it be dull!?

None of the main characters were interesting either, the interviewer is an arrogant, pedantic nitpicker who started to grate on my nerves about halfway though.

Kara starts out like she might be ok but quickly degenerates into acting like a teenager.

Dr Rose was barely in it but when she did show up she was just used as the mothering type and not a scientist in her own right.

I also found it hard to keep track of the timeline. It felt like everything happened in about 2 months, but I think it was more like 2 years?

It’s not that it’s a bad book, the writing is ok, the sci-fi side is interesting, and it’s not too long. It just had the potential to be a lot better.

I wouldn’t go out of my way for the sequel but I might read it if someone else passed it on to me.

Sleeping Giants
Themis Files
Sylvain Neuvel
Sci-Fi
April 26th 2016

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns

Book Description

Six million years ago, at the dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane, two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences, must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.

My Review of House of Suns

House of SunsHouse of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

The clones of the Gentian line, known as shatterlings, have spent millions of years travelling the galaxy with the aim of seeing as much as they can and reuniting after every journey to share the knowledge amongst themselves. They are eternal tourists, long lived with deep sleep technology, and time does not mean the same thing to them as it does to us.

One tour of the galaxy can take hundreds of thousands of years, by the time one of them returns to a previously visited planet whole civilisations can have risen and fallen!

To be able to travel this way they have some truly amazing spaceships and technology that allows them to extend their lifetimes or sleep in suspended animation for the journeys between planets.

Alistair Reynolds has a talent for writing massive tales of galaxy and time spanning proportions, and House of Suns does not disappoint. But he also manages to ground these space operas with human and relatable characters. Here we have Campion and Purslane, two Gentian clones that have fallen in love with each other and now risk being shunned by the rest of the shatterlings in their line.

Through their eyes we experience the wonders of the galaxy, and the people they meet on their travels. Campion is a bit of a wild card, prone to risky decisions and ill-advised schemes, and Purslane is a much more sensible and sophisticated character, she is thoughtful and compassionate.

Along the way they pick up Hesperus, a ‘Machine Person’ they rescue from a con-man, almost by mistake. Hesperus is a self-aware robot that is far smarter, stronger and much more adaptable than humans are, but he has lost his memory.

Their spaceships are almost characters in their own right. Intelligent and unique, when one of the characters almost looses her spaceship she reacts as though she is losing a loved friend.

So this has everything I would want in a book, spaceships, robots, amazing tech, I basically loved it from the first page! Then the Gentian line’s reunion is ambushed and the Gentians are almost wiped out, and the story becomes almost a murder mystery.

There are some bigger themes in there too, questioning if the use of torture can ever be justified, and the treatment of less advanced or less powerful cultures

I can’t really be objective about this book so I’m not going to even try. I loved it and I think it’s a must read for anyone that enjoys sci-fi.

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House of Suns
Alastair Reynolds
Sci-Fi
April 17th 2008
502