Book Reviews

Nought Point Four (0.4)

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0.4 by Mike A. Lancaster is a very creative sci-fi concept.

This novel is a well-written story of Kyle Straker, one of the nought point four. The story is the transcript of a tape recording that the main character made to document his life and the events that unfolded.  (I won’t say more for fear of spoiling.)  The use of this tape-recording narrative tool allowed the author flexibility to deliver the plot.  I really enjoyed this.

I also enjoyed the basic story line: the ‘upgrade’ delivered to Earth wirerlessly from space from an unseen alien species.  It reminded me of my own novel, Sue’s Fingerprint, in which an alien message–a memory–is delivered to Earth through an alien substance (“goo”) that clones Earth’s residents.  So needless to say, I really liked the plot.

There are only two criticisms I have:

  1. The author could have played more with the relationship between Kyle and Lilly.  There could have been more ups and downs between them, given their past.  I would have liked to see the relationship explored more.
  2. The story ended too abruptly, or maybe too conveniently.  I think the author could have added more to the plot to built a lot more suspense and, thus, a bigger and more intense climax to the book.  The resolution wasn’t complete, nor was it overly rewarding.

Despite these (admittedly picky) criticisms, I still enjoyed this book and will be reading the sequel, 1.4, when it’s released.

On my rating scale of 0-100 degrees, 0.4 is 80 degrees.  A worthy read for sure!

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

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A fresh, entertaining story with an action-packed plot.

 

Au Revior, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber is a clever, engaging novel.  It will keep you entertained and trurning pages.

After a short (but sufficient) portion of the story spent introducing the main characters, the majority of the book describes the events of a single evening that turns the previous introduction on it’s ear.  The character you (and the male protagonist, Perry) thought you knew turned out to be someone else and you’re along for the ride.

Perry’s narration of the action, into which he is reluctantly included in by Gobi, is real and entertaining.  It isn’t forced or overly-dramatic.  You can related to and believe Perry.  It’s not over-the-top.  And the action itself is entertaining too!

I especially enjoyed the chapter introductions pulled from (I assume actual) college/university acceptance application essays.  They were used as pseudo-mini-prologues for the chapter which I thought was very clever.  My favorite was “You’ve just written a 300-page autobiography.  Send us page 217. (University of Pennsylvania)”  You’ll have to read the book for context.

Technically, the book was well-written and well-edited.  But you will likely not care about editing as you cruise through the book.  You’ll just want to keep reading.

I definitely recommend this original, quirky, action-packed roller-coaster ride.

On my ‘scientific’ rating scale of 0-100 degrees (100 being red-hot awesome), Au Revior, Crazy European Chick is 95 degrees.  A great story!

Blind Sight

3

I want to thank Eliabeth Hawthorne and Ermisenda Alvarez for asking me to review their Blind Sight novels (Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson & Leocardo Reyes) that are to be released March 1st.

Blind Sight is a unique and very engaging pair of books.  (Yes, pair.)  It’s the same story told from the perspective of two different characters who start on seprate paths that later start interacting and finally come together as one at the climax.

Each book could stand on it’s own as a good novel and be read independent of the other.  The protagonists each follow their own arcs through their story–Aniela’s shown from her perspective, Leocardo’s shown from his.  But the two books read together as one are much more meaningful than the individuals.  The combination of the two gives the plot multiple dimensions that make it that much more captivating and enjoyable.  Imagine a movie shot from two different camera angles (two different characters’ points of view) and you get to watch both versions.  That’s Blind Sight.

You, the reader, see the arrival of Leocardo and his sister, Odette, on the island of Edaion and watch them try to adjust to their new world.  Meanwhile, you see Aniela adjust to her young adult life as a member of one of the most established families on the island.  And as their paths start crossing, with Odette and her gift as the common element, you watch Ana and Leo discover each other’s past while coping with the present situation.  And they’re mutual desire to help Odette ultimately brings them together as love interests.  (No spoilers–you’ll have to read to see how it turns out.)

I definitely recommend Blind Sight.  Put both of these novels on your to-read lists!  The hardest decison you’ll have to make regarding Blind Sight is which one to start with.

Review of The Chosen by Shay Fabbro

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First; a little background.  I met Shay on Twitter.  She found me through my tweets about my book, Sue’s Fingerprint.  She read my profile and discovered another scientist-turned-author.

I put her book, The Chosen, into my to-read queue and finally got around to reading it.

The Chosen is an Earth-and-other-planet-based science fiction story.  It’s a story of youth pre-destined to save the galaxy.  The story lines on each of the planets progress independently until they converge as planned by the Guardians.  The five Chosen on each of four planets are selected by their Guardian to be special students.  They know they are special on their home world, but they have no idea about their greater purpose.  Only the Guardians know.

Most of the book follows the journeys and development of the Chosen on their planets.  We learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and we see them interact with their teachers and each other.  This view of each planet and each student sets up the story for the conclusion when they come together for their greater purpose.

The story moved at a good pace; slow enough to learn the characters, but fast enough to stay interesting.  At times, however, the names and individual identities of the characters were confusing.  The author is juggling 24 main characters, along with the supporting cast on Gentra and the other four planets, so it was hard to remember the names of the characters and their traits in the early parts of the book.  Some were more memorable than others.  By the end of the book, I had a more clear picture.

As I approached the end of the book, I kept waiting for ultimate goal for which The Chosen were pre-destined.  As the pages went by, I thought there might be a quick Ender-type ending where the Chosen reached their goal without really knowing they had until it was over.  But that’s not how it ended.  The book was clearly written as part one of at least two in the series.  The Chosen ended like a to-be-continued cliffhanger.  I didn’t get any resolution to the converging stories which I had expected.  I wish this first book would have ended with some more defined milestone that could stand on it’s own; such as “training is complete, now prepare for your journey together”.  Instead, it felt like the book simply ended, like a tv program that ends during a commercial break.

The imagery and character descriptions in The Chosen were very well written.  I could easily picture the scenery and action described in the book.  Shay’s imagination is very vivid and she can paint a wonderful picture.

If you like fiction and fantasy, this is a good book, and a good series for you.

On my scientific (geeky) rating scale of 0-100 degrees Celcius (0 being frozen, 100 being red-hot boiling), The Chosen is 70 degrees C

 

 

Review of Settling by Shelley Workinger

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Okay… so maybe I’m slowly becoming a book blogger after all.  Since I enjoyed the first book in Shelley Workinger’s Solid series (i.e. Solid), I had to review the second book; Settling.

Settling was a slower read than the first in the series, which was really good and which I totally enjoyed.  It gave me more time to get to know the characters, especially Clio.  Shelley shows us what’s going on inside Clio’s head and how she thinks.  It gives perspective as to how she acts and interacts with her circle of friends.  And, although romance is not my genre of choice, I did enjoy the amount that was included in Settling.  The slower first half of the book perfectly set up the exciting last half of the book.

As with Solid, once the action kicked in, I couldn’t put the book down.  The events (I’m not going spoil it) unfolded naturally… Clio was not simply plopped conveniently into situations to save the day.  The flow of the story line was believable and the happenings were realistic.

Which brings us to the ending…  No, Clio did not ride off into the sunset, smiling and waving to all.  And if she had, it would have been a terrible ending.  I can’t say much without giving it away, but I will say that I REALLY liked how it ended.

And dang it!  Now I gotta read the next in the series, Sound, because you can’t just leave the series hanging where it did in Settling.  It’s not fair!  I’ll be waiting for Sound to be published and I’ll be one of the first in line to buy it.

On my geeky rating scale of 0-100 degrees Celsius, 100 degrees being boiling (red-hot awesome), Settling started out cool, but heated up at the end.  As I read, I wasn’t sure it would make it close to boiling, but it did.

Settling is 97 degrees C

 

Review of Solid by Shelley Workinger

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First, I am not a book reviewer or a book blogger.  However, I couldn’t resist providing a review of Solid by Shelley Workinger.

I first found out about Solid by reading a review of the book by Nina on her blog Brush Up On Your Reading.

When I read the synopsis of Solid, I could not help but notice the similarity between Shelley Workinger’s book and mine, Sue’s Fingerprint; genetically modified children brought to a military base for observation v. new people cloned from alien goo contained on an abandoned military base.

Synopsis of Solid from Amazon.com:

Eighteen years ago, a rogue Army doctor secretly experimented with a chromosomal drug on unknowing pregnant women. When he was killed not long after the children were born, any knowledge and evidence seemed to die with him – except for the living, breathing, human products of his work.
Almost two decades later, the newly self-proclaimed “open-book” military unearths the truth about the experiment, bringing Clio Kaid and the other affected teens to a state-of-the-art, isolated campus where they soon discover that C9x did indeed alter their chromosomes, its mutations presenting as super-human abilities. The military kids, who come from across the nation and all walks of life, come into
their own as lighter-than-air ‘athletes’; ‘indies’ as solid as stone walls; teens who can make themselves invisible and others who can blind with their brilliance.
While exploring her own special ability, forging new friendships and embarking on first love, Clio also stumbles onto information indicating that the military may not have been entirely forthcoming with them
and that all may not be as it seems…

 

Solid is a fast-paced read that captured and held my attention from the start.  The novel opens with Clio arriving at the base and moves quickly.  While she and her new friends discover about themselves, they discover the purpose of the camp and stumble upon a secret plot.

The story never breaks stride as it moves from the camp’s activities through Clio’s romance to the exciting conclusion.  Details of Clio’s and the others’ history are revealed during the action without uncomfortably pausing for monologues of memories or flash-backs.  The plot remains in the present, which I enjoyed.

I found the emotions of Clio to be believable, if not a little naive.  I also found the dialogue between the new friends to be realistic, but I thought the interations and reactions of the characters to be a little simple compared to what I expect of Juniors in high school.  Admittedly, I am a bit older (refer to my bio) and may have a more “seasoned” perspective than typical readers of this book.

I felt like the story could have benefitted from more details and suspense, but this might be because the story held my attention so well that I wanted more.

I look forward to the next book in the series, Settling.

Being a scientist, I had to create my own rating system; 0-100 degrees on the Celsius scale.  0 degrees C = frozen (fridgidly boring)100 degrees C = boiling (red hot awesome!)

Solid is 95 degrees C.

Buy it and read it!  You’ll enjoy it!

Also try Sue’s Fingerprint for a comparable novel.

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