Posted in 2018, ARC, Han, Han's Reviews, Hot Key Books, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

Posted in ARC, Book reviews, Han, Han's Reviews, HQ YA, Net Galley, Ramblings

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

Release date: 14th December 2017
Buy it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Theres-Tomorrow-Jennifer-Armentrout/dp/1848456875/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1512218609&sr=8-1&keywords=if+there%27s+no+tomorrow+by+jennifer+l.+armentrout
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34225450-if-there-s-no-tomorrow

34225450

Description: Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Characters
I don’t trust Lena as much as perhaps I should. I know she’s an unreliable narrator owing to her memory loss; however, even when she regains her memory, she isn’t just pulling away from her friends, she pulls away from the reader too.
Sebastian is a little too perfect for my liking. He’s not an undeveloped character and I doubt for a second he is that perfect. However the things we know about him are from Lena, and I’m afraid she has him on a pedestal.

Plot
The first half of the book jumps around the timeline, allowing the reader to feel the same confusion that Lena does. It’s a weird feeling, but it adds to the atmosphere of the narrative.
The plot follows in the manner as we might expect grief to; nonlinear, progressive with unpredictable pitfalls. It’s wonderful and painful.

Writing
It’s a solid, professionally written novel. So Clear and well written that could handle the time jumps; something other writers would make feel clunky and convoluted.

Posted in 2017, Book reviews, Egmont, Han, Han's Reviews, Ramblings, Reads of ...

@TheMagicMisfits by @ActuallyNPH #bookreview #hanreview

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Egmont Publishing
Release date: 30.11.2017
From Goodreads:
This book contains a BIG SECRET. Read on if you dare . . .
Do you believe in magic?
Carter doesn’t. He knows magic tricks are just that – tricks. And as a street magician he’s also pretty good at them. But then Carter runs away from his conman uncle and he finds himself alone and in danger from dastardly carnival ringleader, B.B. Bosso. He could really use some magic now . . .
A chance encounter with the mysterious Mr Dante Vernon leads Carter to a magic shop, where he teams up with five other like-minded kids and the MAGIC MISFITS are born! Can the gang use their magical talents to save the day and stop B.B. stealing a priceless diamond?
And now for the BIG SECRET . . .
Inside this book you will find a treasure trove of tips, codes and stage tricks that will help YOU join the Magic Misfits and make some magic of your own. (BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE.)

Preorder it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Misfits-Neil-Patrick-Harris/dp/1405290331/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1511714070&sr=1-1
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28107444-the-magic-misfits?ac=1&from_search=true

The Characters

Carter is a moral and kind young man who even the coldest of hearts will warm to. He’s our eyes and ears into the world of magic, and he will keep you engaged from the very start to the last word. As an older reader, I take the perspective of wanting to protect him and keep him safe, to the point where I want to reach in and take him out of harm’s way. There’s little to fear though, as once the story gets going, there are enough characters that have his back.
Mr Vernon is very much my favourite adult within the book; part Dumbledore, part Neil Patrick Harris himself and just a splash of Mr Miyagi. I love that the characters allows the children to get themselves out of trouble, giving help in many different forms and taking almost no credit for it. I look forward to seeing more of him as the books progress.

The Plot

It’s a perfect origins story that has laid the foundation for any, and every, sequel Neil Patrick Harris will grace us with. In this novel, the protagonist is Carter; runaway orphan, looking for a place to call home when he gets wrapped up in the mystery of the Pock-Picketers and Frown Clowns.
The Magic Misfits, by the end of the book, have formed into a wonderful band of magicians and friends. While its ending is positive and delivers an uplifting success, it is more about the characters, and the magic.
If you’re anything like me, that uplifting feeling will not leave you; but pull you into the Mistfit’s charm and claim you as one of their own.

The Writing

Neil Patrick Harris, writing with Alex Azam has a wonderful way of breaking the fourth wall. I couldn’t help but read this in one sitting, even when I was reminded that it’s important to pee, I passed.
There’s a passion and deep-rooted love of magic and family woven into this narrative that not many people would be able to achieve without is feeling too overworked.
It’s undoubtedly an easy read for anyone reading alone and of a reading age beyond 12 years old, however I could imagine any parent taking joy in taking time reading this as a bedtime story; voices and all.

Illustrations

The pictures within this Middle-grade book are so beautiful, I really want to have some of them up as art work. They add to the richness of the story and with some aspects, help engage the imagination.

Posted in ARC, Book reviews, Han, Han's Reviews, MacMillian Kids UK

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell Illustrations by Simini Blocker

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell Illustrations by Simini Blocker

Buy it here

Midnights

Is a wonderfully charming story that will fit within a tube ride if you time it right. You can see where it’s going before the characters do, and this one does leave you wanting more.

I could see this being an individual story, showing a development over time. However, the snapshot of this one evening every year works well and will leave a smile on your face.

Kindred Spirits

This is my favourite of the two; it is relatable, nostalgic and totally sweet. Taking place in the run up to 2015’s release of Force Awakens the main character explores Geekdom and managing expectations.

I was a romance like the one that appears in this second short story. It’s not a sweeping gesture, but a warmth and comfort that comes with trusting a person.

This book will make a perfect Christmas gift for any fan of Rowell’s previous work.

Posted in ARC, Book reviews, Han's Reviews, Net Galley

Bonfire by @Krytenritter #bookreview #hanreview @NetGalley @Arrowpublishing @WindmillBooks

Bonfire

Release date: 9.11.17
Buy it here
Signed edition here

From Goodreads: It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

Bonfire-book

My first thoughts

I’ve been itching to get a hold of a copy for months. I somehow knew it was going to be something I’d love, and I wasn’t wrong. I’d already pre-ordered a signed copy, but Net Galley UK approved my request and sent me a Kindle copy at the beginning of the week. Full of cold, I set myself on the sofa with a cuppa and a blanket, and past a whole autumnal day within Ritter’s world.

The Characters

Abby is so relatable, its rather scary. She’s a little bit of a loner, fuck up and passionate about her job. However, that’s not where the comparisons end for me. It’s Abby’s relationship with father that will haunt and sooth me for many days; the difficulty, the pain and guilt are all things I understand and help me to be drawn into the plot. It wouldn’t matter what the plot was; I’d have followed her into the depths of hell because I had her back, and many other readers will feel the same.
The supporting characters are all explored through Abby’s thoughts and memories and, as a result, you trust them as much as she does. Condor is one of my favourite characters, and I wish we’d been given more time with him. However, as Abby goes, so goes my nation.
There’s enough mystery behind a lot of the characters and it’s organic; allowing you to suspect and dismiss as the novel progresses.

The Plot

It’s a perfect slow burn plot that is set in motion way before the book begins. Being a book within the crime thriller genre, it would be easy to fall into the stereotypical pit falls or become so convoluted that it loses its readers. Bonfire escapes both of these, by giving a clever plot that will keep you guessing right up until the final reveal.

Underlying the law suit that the environmental lawyers are trying to uncover, Abby is returning home and opening up old wounds she never expected to face. It brings about a heart to the book that some crime novels of this ilk often lack.

The Writing

There’s a wonderful voice presented in this first-person narrative, one that I trust; Abby fast becomes a person I would love to get to know. The development of the plot and the sleep deprivation is well presented in the narration; without losing clarity of written structure.

This is a solid debut novel by Ritter, and I for one will be looking forward to any and all future offerings.

Posted in 2017, Atom, Book reviews, Han, Han's Reviews, Reads of ...

The Fallen Children by David Owen #bookreview

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Release Date: 4.5.2017

From Amazon: Inspired by The Midwich Cuckoos, The Fallen Children is a gripping ‘science fiction-meets-real world’ story of the teenagers who, during one inexplicable ‘Nightout’, have their futures snatched away by circumstances beyond their control. It is a story of violation, of judgement, and of young people who must fight to defy what is expected of them.

 

I am in love with this book. Not only do I want someone to wipe my memory of it so I have the joy of reading again, it’s currently in a pile of books waiting to be collected by a friend. I need everyone to read it. If this isn’t turned into a film by the end of 2018, it will be a travesty.

 

Characters
Owen presents a diverse group of teens who are so interconnected that it’s difficult to talk about one without mentioning the others.

Initially I am drawn to Morris. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s the first voice I hear or whether he is the one who has no reason to stay, but volunteers to be involved from the very start. He’s a likable character making the best of the environment he has grown up in. I admire most of the decisions he makes and even when he falters; he has the right intentions.

While it is an ensemble narrative, I can’t help but feel that Keisha is the protagonist. The other characters have her as the connecting feature, she drives at least the second part of the narrative and she’s surprisingly the one I identify and empathise with.

At first, I felt Olivia was a little underdeveloped, but then I realised that was more because she was not as connected as the other girls; reinforced by use never having narrative from her perspective. It’s quite a beautiful device, subtle and effective.

Effort has gone into making the women of this novel real. From emotions, cramps and fears; it’s all there. I know I shouldn’t be giving more credit to the author, it’s their job to make it believable. However, when Your author is a man, I think some time needs to be spent on that. Owen has crafted 3 distinct female voices and they are so authentic, if you told me they were written by a woman, I wouldn’t question it.

Plot
There’s two sections to this book and a time jump that splits the two. The true horror of the book comes in the second half.

The sci-fi aspect is so grounded in realism that, like the girls, you begin to question your perception of the story. It takes a perfect pace and is able to switch characters to propel the narrative along. The abilities gained by the girls also means that things can be conveyed in other ways.

The second half, however, sees the consequences of ‘Nightout’ comes to fruition. No one is left unaffected; even the reader. You are left questioning whether society would respond in this way. The horror comes from knowing they would.

I want more, but I don’t need it. The plot is resolved so as a reader you are satisfied, but there are questions that an imaginative mind will ask. The book holds a wealth of ideas for those inclined to write fan fiction and leaves enough questions on the tip of the brain to be invited to do so.

Writing

The writing is clean, clear and and just a hint of colloquial language. Some might say there could have been more of a distinction between voices, but I would rather have the character’s personalities and identities developed rather than a literary voice. For example, Maida is shown to be conscientious of her Islamic faith, right down to the Arabic used during prayer. It’s an intimate detail that Owen has taken care to include.

There are lessons to be learnt within The Fallen Children, but the writing places the book firmly into a place where you don’t think anything is rammed down your throat. Except for fear. There’s a whole chuck of atmosphere in this novel. Any more and I’d be placing the book in the freezer.

I can’t wait for what David Owen has in store for us next.

Posted in Bloomsbury, Book reviews, Han, Han's Reviews

The Bone Season: Samantha Shannon #review

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Release date: 24.4.2014

From Amazon:

EVEN A DREAMER CAN START A REVOLUTION

Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

Summary

I love this book. I don’t know how I’m so late in reading it. I believe my best friend had told me about it many, many times. However, it went in one ear, out the other. I’m frustrated that it took me three days to read, however circumstances what they are, I kept getting ripped out of this world and into my own.

Characters

Paige
What I love about the development of Paige is the fact that nothing is made of her gender. There are comments of strength and weakness, but they are never in relation to her being female.
She is flawed, as the best heroes always are. Paige is our eyes into the world in which Clairvoyance has been declared illegal. She’s strong willed, moral (to a point) and selfless.

I love her and I can’t wait to delve into the sequels. At no point did I wish I could see the efforts of Jax, Nick et al once Paige had been taken. I felt like I was supporting her, just by being there. She had me hooked from the start and I will never leave Paige’s side so long as Shannon keeps writing.

Warden
Warden started life in my mind as a younger love child of Alan Rickman and David Warner. If I’m honest, he still remained that way, he just got younger as the book progressed. With an air of mystery, I wasn’t quite sure of him even as I closed the book.
However, his motives did seem clear as I came to the final act. Without spoiling them all I can say is Shannon excels in drip feeding believable hints that make the ending believable.
He’s someone I craved to see more and more throughout the book. I wanted him to be someone a little more than he seemed; Shannon does not disappoint.

Story

The story is artfully woven, throwing the reading readily into the world of seclusion, mythology and resentment. While there are action sequences, Shannon takes her time in building up relationships between characters.
Using whole chapters to delve into Paige’s past could, in other writer’s hands, seem clunky. However, Shannon develops these scenes and doesn’t allow the narrative to lose its flow while reading. Once you have finished the book, you will see how clever and creative these additions are to the story. Not only in terms of character, but to the plot and world building as well.
The story hints at a literary universe that will be with us for many years. Paige is for those of us who have needed something a little bit more substantial than the dystopian trilogies on offer. This story has given us enough questions to run for a series of books and perhaps be compared to that of Harry Potter and Cassandra Clare in terms of scope.
The most important aspect of this story is that it gives you a satisfying ending while leaving you with questions.

Writing

Part way through I text a friend and recommended this book to her. She loves The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothuss. I will have to relent and say this writing is better for me. The styles are similar, but Shannon is much more concise and flowing. As much as I love Rothuss myself, I have to read his work in chunks. The Bone Season would have been read in one sitting had I not been attacked by unrelenting conversations of my father.
For a story set in the future, I’m so happy that the writing still brought in an element of an old world. It drew itself back into nature. At least it did for me.
I would put this alongside Lani Taylor’s Daughter of… series too. The writing, like Lani’s, is griping, gritty and pure. It takes you to another world; something many writers would love to achieve and here is Shannon, doing so with an organic ease.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back to London so I can purchase the next two books available. I’m even ignoring my distress at having to buy the third in hardback.

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