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 2018, ARC, Hot Key Books, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Release Date: 8.2.2018
About:
Lily has died in a car accident. The trouble is, Lily’s really not at all sure she wants to ‘move on’ . . . This funny, heartbreaking novel is perfect if you loved John Green or The Lovely Bones.
Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.
She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.
But what is she supposed do now?
Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .
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Character/s

Lily is one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen on page. She’s dead from the moment we meet her, so we never really get a true sense of who she was. Being in the first person means we get a reflective character full of regret. It’s just as untrustworthy as other characters you meet and establish as untrustworthy.

Plus, a good chunk of the time, she’s not being herself. She’s being her brother. Now that is interesting and is truly good at showing how little we can sometimes know people.

Plot

The supernatural Freaky Friday plot really works here. It toes a perfect line of light-hearted scenarios and a deep emotional look at grief and loss. It’s not for everyone, but for those people who have lost someone close and have found it difficult to process those emotions, this might actually be the story for you.

Writing

The sign of good writing here is how the movements of Lily. Regardless of her form; ghost or host, there’s no confusion as to where she is or who she is. The writing also keeps emotion in play while allowing the reader to remove themselves from the grief.

Posted in 2017, Book reviews, Han, Hot Key Books, Reads of ...

The Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland #bookreview #hanreview @HotKeyBooks

The Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland #bookreview #hanreview @HotKeyBooks
Release date: 5.9.17

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From Goodreads: A funny, moving love story about facing fears hand in hand – one snake/spider/potentially unstable fourth-floor balcony at a time. From acclaimed author of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS, Krystal Sutherland.

Esther Solar’s family is . . . unusual. Her father hasn’t left the basement in six years. Her brother is terrified of darkness.

Esther isn’t afraid of anything – because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators are off limits, as are open spaces, crowds, family pets, birds, needles, haircuts, dolls and mirrors.

But when Esther is pickpocketed by her cocky old classmate Jonah Walker, Esther and Jonah become surprising friends. Jonah sets a challenge: every week they must work their way through the world’s fifty most common phobias. Skydiving, horse riding, beekeeping, public speaking, reptile houses – they plan to do it all.

Soon their weekly foray into fear becomes the only thing that keeps them tethered to reality, and to each other. But each is keeping a secret from the other, a secret that threatens to rip them apart.

Buy it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Semi-Definitive-List-Worst-Nightmares/dp/147140661X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513773899&sr=8-1&keywords=Krystal+Sutherland
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36222995-a-semi-definitive-list-of-worst-nightmares

My first thoughts

I loved this book. It struck such a chord with me it ways I never expected it to. I hated that I started it while I was still working, which meant it became my commuter read, instead of devouring read that it should have been.

The Characters

Esther Solar is a unique and beautiful character who belongs in the wonderful world of Tim Burton. She is charming and delight to have on this journey. As a reader, I feel her pain and her triumphs.

Jonah is a mysterious addition to the narrative. He brings Esther out of her shell and helps her to come to terms with her life. He has his own personal challenge to face too. While it appears to be journeyed without the reader, the bulk of it is felt regardless.

The Plot

Its story is simple in terms of its outset, but is complex in its completion. Esther must complete each one of her fears in order to get her notebook back off Jonah. Having 50 items to be checked off could have become a little tiresome had Krystal chosen to depict every single conquest. Happily, we skip through them in order to progress to the deeper meaning of fears.

By the time the reader gets to the final act, we’re giving some heart wrenching twists that will tear up even the driest of eyes.

The Writing

The book is written in a fresh quirky style that pulls you in from the first sentence and doesn’t let you go, long after you finish reading.