Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #Thriller APPARENT HORIZON by Patrick Morgan.

Today’s team review is from Aidan, he blogs here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Aidan has been reading Apparent Horizon by Patrick Morgan

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This book defied my expectations, being a strange existential character study with thriller mixed in, all grounded by a touch of sci-fi. It was very cynical, but I still enjoyed it. It took a simple concept and ran with it in a way that I wasn’t expecting at all.

The premise of the book is that Micheal finds out that the world is going to end, the night before his best friends wedding. The book develops from there, as he struggles with the morals of telling other people about this, as well as what to do with his limited remaining time.

Michael is a likable enough character as the book starts, but I struggle to continue to root for him as the book continues due to some of the choices he makes. Patrick Morgan uses him to paint a very pessimistic view of humanity in my opinion, which fundamentally clashes with my own world view. However, he does a good job of instilling a sense of agency in Michael, and of making us feel sorry for him. His emotions are clearly in conflict, and the deep exploration of this makes up the character study part of the novel.

Morgan’s cynical approach to characters doesn’t end with Michael however. His best friend, Drew, is a nasty piece of work whom I despised right from the onset. It felt strange that Michael was such good friends with someone who didn’t have a selfless bone in his body however. Drew’s actions never seem out of place, as horrible as he may be, and that was a real strength of the book. All the characters the author created followed this pattern.

The plot was very depressing overall. There was very few feel good moments, and those that occurred were often the outcome of Pyrrhic victories. However, it was well thought out, and the final twist of the book was unexpected for the most part, and allows the whole book to be viewed in a new light.

The pacing of the novel was unorthodox to say the least. It swung from fast and furious action to pages of slow pondering about the meaning of life. Yet, to my surprise, I found I really liked the effect this created. It certainly fit with how Michael progressed as a character. However, I thought the first chapter was kind of irrelevant to the rest of the book, and can also see how this pacing might put some people off.

For a debut novel, Morgan’s writing style is polished. I found it flowed extremely well, and never distracted from the action at hand. I wouldn’t say it was exceptionally unique, but was good thriller writing. It was also well edited.

I give it a 5 out of 7. As mentioned above, I found it hard to connect with Michael after a while, but I think this was more personal preference than anything else. I feel like this book definitely has an audience who will fully appreciate it, and I wasn’t it. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked it, but there were some element that didn’t sit well by the end. If it does appeal to you though, I’d encourage you to pick it up, since I feel it has the potential to be profound to the right person.

Book description

With no tomorrow, what are we capable of today?

On the eve of his best friend’s wedding, Michael is warned by an old classmate, now a NASA scientist, that a gamma ray burst from a nearby exploding star will hit the Earth the following morning at 11:13 a.m. – an incident that will irrevocably destroy the ozone layer, disrupt the food chain, and ultimately prove cataclysmic for all life on the planet.

Michael and the groom-to-be, Drew, laugh off the prediction as a demented joke. However, at precisely 11:13 a.m. the next day, a blinding light in the sky disrupts Drew’s wedding. News media outlets dismiss the cosmic event as a harmless phenomenon, but Michael knows better. Wrestling with the burden of his truth, uncertain of how much time he has left or just what to do with it, Michael finds himself alienated from everything and everyone he’s ever known.

Under Drew’s influence, Michael begins to transform his rather mundane life, previously shackled by powerlessness and fear, into something more unrestrained and ultimately dangerous. Feeling the weight of an unseen doomsday clock ticking his final days away, he pushes the moral envelope further and further on a quest for control over his own reality – no matter who might suffer for it.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi Future Of Humanity Story SYNTHETIC SELECTION by Arda Karaca

Today’s team review is from Aidan, he blogs here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Aidan has been reading Synthetic Selection by Arda Karaca

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I really like the sound of Synthetic Selection when I first read it’s description on Rosie’s blog. While it did raise some interesting questions, and had some more unique perspectives on different moral themes, I felt the execution was unfortunately clunky in places.

The premise of the book is that humanity has collectively failed, and has made the world almost unliveable for their frail bodies. However, an artificial intelligence called Galileo offers the human race salvation by transferring their minds into synthetic bodies. However, this process alters the way they think, deepening their understanding of the world. This causes a schism in society, between those who want to undergo the process and those who don’t.

The main characters are a pair of lovers, Ari and Lil, who I found to be uninspiring while apart, while very enjoyable when together. Their relationship was one of the highlights of the book for me, as they seemed to bring out the best in each other, and there were a lot more subtleties during that time that was lacking from the rest of the novel. However, I found that while they each had individual quirks, we never got below a surface level with them individually, since the author, Arda Karaca, fell into the trap of ‘telling not showing’.

The best supporting characters were the ones who were directly connected to Ari and Lil, such as Lil’s grandmother Judy. I think this was because they allowed a new perspective into the main characters’ thoughts, while contributing to the story themselves. However, there were many characters introduced, who seemed to have no bearing on the story overall, and were underdeveloped. There were often a few pages dedicated to such a character’s point of view, only for them never to reappear in the book. This was a truly odd decision by the author.

Similarly, the plot had events that I thought were unnecessary and just interrupted the flow of the novel. However, there were not that many of these, and the overall structure was quite good. There was a large and unpredictable twist in the middle of the book that sent the story flying off in a direction I wasn’t expecting at all. The plot facilitated the core themes of the novel nicely, and allowed time for the author to properly develop these. However, the ending did feel a bit rushed, and there were multiple instances of logical inconsistencies. For example, at one point it is stated that children under 15 were rare, yet children constantly came up from this point on.

The lighthearted banter between Ari and Lil was again a highlight, as it added some light to an otherwise bleak story, and restored hope in humanity. However, the rest of the dialogue in the book was quite flat, and rarely distinguished one character from another. This was unfortunate, as good dialogue can buoy a story, but if it’s less well-written it is glaringly obvious.

Overall, I give the book 3.5 out of 7. The story itself was decent, and in some places caused me deep reflection of the world we live in, which I see as the hallmark of good sci-fi. Unfortunately, the language didn’t hold up to this standard. I might recommend this for fans of thoughtful sci-fi, but wouldn’t go much further than that.

Many thanks to Rosie and Arda Karaca for giving me a copy of this book for free.

Book description

When billionaire Daniel builds the world’s greatest supercomputer, which calls itself Galileo, the world begins to change. During his first public address, Galileo explains to humanity that the only course of action is for all humans to adopt ‘Synthetic Selection’, a process whereby humans would exchange their outdated forms for a robotic body that would never deteriorate. This causes a division in the world, between those who decide to become ‘superhumans’ and those who wish to retain their human forms and lifestyles.
İn the middle of this division, Ari and Lil fall in love but little do they know how their destinies are going to change the course of humanity, even the universe, after meeting another super being called a wanderer, Al.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SpeculativeFiction THE SILENT BLUEBIRD by @Eh_Writer

Today’s team review is from Aidan, he blogs here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Aidan has been reading The Silent Bluebird by Elle M. Holmes

The Silent Bluebird was a decent novel. Was it a masterpiece? No. Was it fun-filled, fast-paced and free-flowing? Absolutely. It balances tension and humour well, and has lots of vivid descriptions that help facilitate the creation of mental images. I didn’t think it was perfect, but that it showed the potential of Elle M. Holmes, given it’s her debut novel.

The premise of the novel is that two secret agencies, the Zeta Defence Agency and Domino, are locked in a secret, perpetual conflict. One wants to use their influence to mold the world to their satisfaction, the other to guard against such maleficence. The advent of a device that can read a person’s thoughts, however, dramatically changes how they go about their missions.

I really like the main protagonist, Sadie. She has a tragic upbringing, and Holmes uses this to bring depth to her character, without it overshadowing her inquisitive personality. She is very thoughtful and considerate, as well as knowledgeable, and i found it very easy to empathise with her (although that might just be that I see part of myself in her). I felt that the author did a good job of making each supporting character unique and noteworthy, with my personal favourites being Piper and Allyn. However, the villains did feel quite flat, and it would have been nice if their motivations had been explained further, so that they might have been more compelling.

On the whole, I thought the pacing of the story was good, and the plot twists were well-utilized, and some were definitely unexpected. This all created the feeling of a more traditional thriller, with a speculative fiction slant, than a more typical speculative fiction novel. My key reasoning for saying this is that I feel some of its more thought-provoking themes were not explored fully, like the moral ramifications of technology that could invade thoughts. However, I thought that the quandaries plaguing some of the characters lent depth to the novel overall, specifically when they related to family.

The ending was satisfying, both nicely setting up the sequel, while still neatly tying off the book in a way that makes it enjoyable as a stand alone read. I really appreciated how Holmes peppered in small references throughout the book that make callbacks to earlier events, most of which are easy to miss if close attention wasn’t paid. I felt this added to the general spy feel of the novel. Nevertheless, some of the plot points felt a little too convenient, which didn’t particularly bother me, but I am aware this is something that many readers don’t like.

My largest issue with the book was that the dialogue was a little lackluster. I felt it often felt forced or unnatural, which could have been (counterintuitive as it sounds) because it tried to reflect real speech too much. This led to some dull moments, because reading how we actually speak is not hugely exciting. However, I did feel this was less of a problem as I got further into the book.

Overall, I found the novel to be a very digestible read. I thought the raw potential was there, even if it felt a little unpolished, and am excited to see what Holmes’ next novel brings. Therefore, I give it 4.5 out of 7.

Book description

The stories we read have the power to change our lives.

Sadie Smith lives an ordinary life, unlike the extraordinary ones of the characters in the books where she finds an escape. She dives into her stories with wanton abandon.

Until one story changes it all.

The story of the impetuous Killian Quinn: an agent for the Zeta Defense Agency, determined to avenge his fallen partner. As she follows him further down the rabbit hole, worlds collide when she awakens with her hands tied to a chair in the face of armed men. Sadie finds herself dropped in the middle of a battle between secret agencies she didn’t even know existed, but maybe where she’s belonged all along.

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Aidan Reviews Nautical #Thriller JONAH by @CarlRackman

Today Rosie’s Review-A-Book challenger review is from Aidan, he blogs here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

Aidan has been reading Jonah by Carl Rackman

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I don’t typically enjoy war stories, specifically those set during World War 2. However, Jonah being set at sea made it stand apart from other books I’ve read from the same time period. Being on a ship inherently creates tension, since there is no escape, and Carl Rackman leans heavily into this. Moreover, this novel has very little combat (other than a battle scene at the very beginning), and is more a look at naval life, with a supernatural undertone.

The book focuses on the life of Mitch Kirkham aboard the US Navy destroyer Brownlee. After surviving a horrific battle, the novel explores Mitch’s naval experiences, and through his interactions, other experiences of different characters. It deals with PTSD and bullying, before switching direction with the introduction of ‘The Brownlee Beast’.

I thought that the character of Mitch was excellent, as Rackman made him feel relatable by having him grapple with moral quandaries. He means well, but doesn’t always make the best choices – similar to most real people. Furthermore, it is very easy to feel sympathy for him, as he often gets into bad situations through no fault of his own.

Many of the supporting characters were also good, with my favourite being Doc. While not actually a doctor, he had rudimental medical training as the pharmacologist onboard. I felt drawn to his strong moral compass and his relentless work ethic. While many of the other characters were strong, I would have liked more development of the captain since he appears in quite a few scenes without us really understanding his motivations.

The author’s deep naval knowledge was obvious, but technical vocabulary never impeded my reading. He created a glossary at the end of the book, but I never felt the need to use this, since he did such a good job of making the meaning of new words obvious by the surrounding paragraph. It felt very well blended.

I don’t want to talk about the themes for too long, as I can’t mention some of the most interesting ones in case I spoil anything. However, I found the examination of chain of command very interesting, as well as the somewhat toxic culture that was found aboard the ship. That being said, the main aim of this book seems to me to be to entertain, which it does very well.

The mysterious element of the book is handled very well, and it kept me guessing until the final reveal. The action is also paced very well, with the tension staying with me long after I’d put the book down for the night.

However, I found the ending to be unsatisfying. The pacing was again good, and it felt like a proper climax, but the resolution just felt too perfect. There were also flashbacks interspersed throughout the book that, while I didn’t dislike them, and thought they were very well written, didn’t seem to add anything to the plot as a whole.

Overall, this book was a 5.5 out of 7 for me. It was easy to get into and this ease of reading continued throughout. The few small things I wasn’t a personal fan of are easily outweighed by the well-crafted plot and relatable characters. I would recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers, especially historical ones, as well as fans of psychological horror (since it shares some similar elements, while not strictly falling into that genre).

Book description

The North Atlantic, 1940. A British destroyer pounces on a seemingly abandoned U-boat, leading to a spine-chilling encounter.

Five years later, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes at Okinawa.

Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed in a fearsome kamikaze strike.

Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.

But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.

Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Aidan reviews Dystopia WASTELAND by @TerryTyler4

Today’s review comes from Aidan, who joined our Review-A-Book Challenge. Find Aidan here https://ricketttsblog.wordpress.com/

Aidan has been reading Wasteland by Terry Tyler

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Wasteland just got better and better as I was reading. It might start off slowly, since it’s worldbuilding is monumentally ambitious, but once it gets going it never slows down. The book has plenty to say about family, poverty, activism and democracy, social media, liberty… the list just goes on. I could spend all day dissecting its multifaceted themes. For me, it felt very reminiscent of the Children of Men film.

The novel is set in a dystopian version of the UK far in the future. Most of the population has moved or been moved into megacities – vast urban centres that can meet all needs, so that their residents never have to leave. The government controls almost every aspect of its citizens’ lives, and they are taught not to question. Outside the megacities is the wasteland, home to those who have escaped the government’s iron fist.

The story centres on Rae, a young woman who has grown up in the orphanage system within a megacity. Upon learning that her family might still be alive, she starts to question what it is that she wants. Along her journey, there is a constant flow of diverse characters – it’s a real strength of the book. We can see the effects of the harsh world upon a whole host of characters, which gives small insights into a whole host of differing viewpoints and allows for interesting discussions of the various themes.

While Rae’s story was great, and she evolved seamlessly throughout the book, it was Dylan’s journey that was a highlight. His part was relatively small, since he was a secondary character, but I believe it to be crucial to understand the human aspect of the government’s policies. He encapsulates the idea that luck has a lot to do with your position in the world, and I found it impossible not to feel for him.

I found that the themes of the book mesh together to act as a study of humanity. It painted a poor picture of us, often being very cynical. Yet, despite all the flaws it exposed, it manages to maintain a spark of hope throughout – the idea that no matter what, humanity will find a way. I also don’t feel that Terry Tyler’s exploration of themes in any way impeded the overall flow of the story, something I’m always wary of when books have a strong message. However, the ambitious nature of the novel did mean that some themes are only touched on at a shallow level. I didn’t find this an issue personally though, since there is more than enough food for thought.

In my opinion, the book really comes into its own in the last 3rd. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming at all, which was great, and then the pace is relentless from there on out. It’s one of those that I just couldn’t put down, since the tension and stakes are so high and I was hugely invested in the characters.

Overall, this book has made me really excited to read more of Terry Tyler’s work. It was really easy to read as a standalone book, despite kind of being a sequel (it’s set in the same world as another book, but many years later). My only small criticism is that the writing occasionally was a bit awkward, so I had to reread bits which I misunderstood because I’d missed a word that was in an unexpected place. However, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, and would suggest that you don’t let it put you off in any way. Therefore, I give the book 6 out of 7, and would easily recommend it to lovers of sci-fi and dystopia. I’d also recommend it more widely, but warn that it can be quite bleak in places, so don’t go for it if that’s not your thing.

Book description

‘Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society. The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.’

The year is 2061, and in the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Rae Farrer is a megacity girl through and through, proud of her educational and career achievements, until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.

On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…

Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to Hope, and is the second and final book in the Operation Galton series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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