Book Review: Nova Sapiens: The Believers

Nova Sapiens: The Believers by David J.A. Cooper | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

I’m not a huge reader of military sci-fi in general, though I don’t necessarily dislike it. This particular book involves a lot of military language, as well as a lot of political themes, war strategies, and so on. Personally, I’m not overly keen on this sort of thing. I felt like I got a little lost and disinterested at times regarding these aspects of the story, but that is just my personal opinion as a reader.

The concept of artificial intelligence itself was fascinating and rather well-executed, though I understand from other reviewers that there may be some error in the terminology used around it. Kasih was a very interesting character, and I was just interested in reading about her in general.

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

It has been quite a long time since I actually read this book, so my memory is rather vague at this point – but that says something in itself. Usually, if a book makes a lasting impression, that’s how you know it was really something. This didn’t leave a bad impression, but it wasn’t particularly memorable for me. Again, this is likely just because it’s just not my kind of thing – there’s nothing particularly wrong with the writing that I can recall. 3 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Book Review: Foretold

Foretold by Violet Lumani | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

I just have to say, first of all, that I love this cover. I’m generally not into anything to do with scrying or psychics or mystics or even really astrology, but something about that delicate violet cloud of smoke and the golden lettering… It just really screams magic and fantasy, doesn’t it? It definitely drew me in immediately.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews on my blog, you’ll probably know that I’m a sucker for any novel that includes mental health issues – as long as it’s told well. This is one of those. The protagonist, Cassie, has OCD and extreme anxiety and catastrophic thinking. It’s not the focus of the story, but it’s also obvious how it impacts her life in so many ways. This is a delicate balance. As someone with their own struggles, I know how irritating it is to be defined by your diagnoses, yet it’s equally infuriating when people don’t understand how these illnesses can affect you in so many ways. I loved how Cassie’s compulsions showed up seemingly out of the blue at times, or how such ‘random’ things could be so meaningful or triggering for her. But, like I said, I also appreciate that this isn’t the main plot, and so it isn’t focused on too much, either, in my opinion.

As for the fantasy side of things, that was also great! It was all explained well – as in, I was made to believe that it was plausible, it was possible. I was immersed in the world of Cassie and her friends as they learned to harness their gifts, and I was fascinated to see how far Cassie would go in order to change the fate she’s seen. It was exciting and action-packed for sure, and I’m beyond intrigued to find out more.

There was, of course, a romance element, too. I’m not much into teen/YA romance but I didn’t hate it. There was a sort of love triangle that develops, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Even so, I was invested in Cassie’s aim to save Collin, and I generally liked all the characters and enjoyed their relationships and interactions.

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

This was one of those proper fantasy books that you can get lost in, which is what we all need sometimes, right? It definitely was not sugarcoated – there are a lot of harsh realities, moments of grief and pain and loss, and no fairytale happy ending. But there are elements of humour, too, bittersweet memories and touching moments. It certainly left me wanting to read on. 4.5 stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Iron Sword (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #2)

The Iron Sword (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #2) by Julie Kagawa | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

So this is the sequel to The Iron Raven which I recently wrote a review of. These books are part of Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, but in their own trilogy: Evenfall. This is good for me as I didn’t read any of the Iron Fey novels before The Iron Raven, and luckily you don’t need to. However, as I mentioned in my review of the first Evenfall book, there were probably a lot of elements and details I missed because I’d skipped the other books.

Unlike the previous book, this is told from Ash’s POV, not Puck’s/Robin Goodfellow’s. Ash is the husband of Meghan, father of Kierran, and son of the Winter Queen. I’ve gathered through these two books that Ash featured rather heavily in the previous novels, having fought hard to gain a soul in order to be with the woman he loves. We’re given enough details on this history to follow along with the story even without reading all the other books beforehand, which is great. (I think it would be beneficial to read the others, though, and I hope to do so!)

From the previous book, I found Keirran and Nyx to be great characters – and was really pleased by how much we see of them in this book. Meghan and Ash are devoted parents, which is lovely to see, yet they also care a great deal for their kingdom. Puck is mischievous and outwardly brusque, but we definitely see some of his emotion coming through at times. And Nyx… It’s so exciting to learn more about her, about her complicated, twisted history! I really liked that aspect of this story.

Naturally, this involves a huge amount of magic and glamour and mystery and adventure – everything you could want from a fantasy novel, right? It’s also modern, with elements of our mortal world, technology and all, being key to the plot. The characters are pitted against their worst fears and nightmares (possibly a little cliche, but oh well) and face unbeatable odds in order to save the entire Never Never – and the mortal realm, too.

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

I think I liked this one a bit more than The Iron Raven. It was exciting, adventurous, clever, and funny at times. I love the characters, even if Ash’s Unseely side is a bit of a jerk. 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Version Zero

Version Zero by David Yoon | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

There are a lot of technological thrillers and sci-fi novels based in a dystopian world, but this was certainly one of the most plausible, relatable ones I’ve experienced. Max loses his job working at social media giant Wren (think Facebook) when he questions their use of the personal data they collect from users. This sends Max on a rather crazy adventure to save the world with the help of his best friends and, amazingly, a reclusive technological genius.

The idea of user data being collected and used nefariously by a huge tech company is quite worrying, which is probably what makes this book all the more disturbing. But alongside this, there are moments that feel like they’re straight from an action movie, and the humour is great. It’s a real page-turner, and it builds so dramatically toward the end. There are elements of romance, but not enough to effect the plot too much, and the characters were all really likeable. It’s a dystopian novel that feels so real, and so the characters’ quest to take down Wren and ultimately save the world is all the more potent.

I highly recommend this book to any lovers of technological sci-fi or thrillers. It’s exciting and action-packed, with a good amount of emotion throughout. 4 stars!

Audiobook Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (Audiobook) by Jane Austen, Narrated by Adjoa Andoh | View on Amazon

I don’t want to write a review of Pride and Prejudice here because, well, there are enough essays and analyses on that already. Instead, I’m just going to give some brief feedback on this specific audio adaptation.

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

Even though I’m not much into historical fiction or romance, I enjoyed reading Pride and Prejudice in the past. I am always a little sceptical about audiobooks; what if I don’t like the narrator? And although the narrator of this particular edition may be known by some (Adjoa Andoh, from Bridgerton and Doctor Who), I did not know of her before this. Luckily, I found her voice to fit the story very well, and I really enjoyed listening to her tell it. I found this to be quite a relaxing experience, definitely one of the better audiobooks I’ve listened to. I’m not sure if I prefer it to reading the novel myself, but I would definitely recommend this edition to anyone interested in listening to an audio adaptation of Austen’s novel. Andoh’s emphasis on the correct words, her intonations, just all brought the story and characters to life fantastically. 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Comic/Graphic Novel Review: We Live, Volume #1

We Live, Volume #1 by Inaki Miranda and Roy Miranda | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

I was really quite surprised by the varied reviews I’ve seen for this. It was now quite some time ago that I read it, but my overall memory of it is that I really liked it. The art was lovely – stunning in places – and the story was great. It was touching, the relationship between Ta-La and her little brother, Hototo, and quite heartbreaking to see them in a world so broken. I especially loved that throughout the book, there were QR codes that could be scanned to play soundtracks/songs that align to that part of the story. This is such a unique idea and I think it worked fantastically!

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

Other readers have commented on the bad translation within this book, but I don’t remember it standing out too much when I read it. I would certainly be interested in reading on and discovering what happens next! The characters were quirky and the plot was kind of sad, kind of adventurous, sometimes action-packed. I thought this was a really good first volume and rated it 4.5 stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Virtually Gone

Virtually Gone by Simon Carr | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

When I saw this book, I expected some futuristic sci-fi novel. In some ways, it was that. It’s got cool tech and robots and string physics – it’s really quite clever. But it also has a lot of crazy stuff like unicorns that look like dragons and dragons that look like unicorns, and a lot more humour than I had anticipated. It reminded me of the book Come Take Me by E.M. Skyler in many ways, with nods to the whimsical nonsense of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

It’s a pretty short book and easy to read – I got through it in just a couple of hours without any difficulty. There are a fair few issues with grammar and spelling which irked me a little, but nothing a bit more editing can’t sort out. Now, regarding the humour, I think it may be a little hit-and-miss. I definitely admit it was quite cheesy and immature – lots of wordplay and a fair few fart jokes, too. It’s also very blatantly British which I love (I’ve read so many American books with references and slang I just don’t get). Beneath all the corny jokes, though, the plot is really interesting and there are some fantastic moments and themes covered. For example, it tackles the topic of the afterlife in more of a scientific way which I found rather unique. It even addresses the idea of God which I definitely had not expected. Plus, let’s not forget that everything John goes through is because he has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and isn’t ready to die. Some pretty heavy stuff underneath all the farts. There was a surprisingly sweet touch to the ending, too, which I hadn’t seen coming.

The plot did get somewhat complicated as the aim of their little ‘quest’ changed quite a few times, and it was arguably a little too nonsensical at times, but I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve given it 3.5 stars.

I found this book through Reedsy Discovery, which is a great place to share feedback on books and discover upcoming gems!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Bees: Heroes of the Garden

Bees: Heroes of the Garden by Tom Jackson | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

I’m always trying to read more non-fiction outside of my studies, and I find it hard to go wrong with anything to do with animals or nature. Bees are fascinating creatures, and I was really excited to read this book. I can tell you, I was not disappointed!

The book is mostly comprised of photographs, all of which were absolutely stunning. (Some more so than others; I absolutely adored some of the photos. They were incredible!) I’d not hesitate to buy a copy of this for no other purpose than to look at the pictures. But even better is the information alongside the pictures, details on different species of bees, their habits and behaviours. It was wonderful to learn about so many different kinds of bees – not just bumblebees and honeybees.

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

My only real complaint is that there wasn’t actually enough information; I would have liked more text throughout the book, with perhaps more depth in some areas. Many pieces were more like simple captions than actual blocks of text/information. That said, I understand that many readers may prefer this style and find it more accessible. 4 stars!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: I Love Dick

I Love Dick by Chris Kraus | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

I wanted to like this, or at the very least appreciate its artistic merit and/or feminist narrative. But I just didn’t.

Like some other readers I’ve seen, I don’t quite understand why this is seen as so radically feminist. A woman – Chris – and her husband become rather obsessed with a man named Dick after one ordinary evening together. He does nothing to warrant this attention, and actually expresses his discomfort over it. But the obsession continues and escalates, and I myself felt rather uncomfortable reading it.

I do appreciate that part of the ‘novelty’ or art of this book is the way in which it blurs the lines between reality and fiction; how much of this story is true? How much is fictitious? There’s no way of really knowing, and that is (I assume) supposed to be the point. It’s supposed to intrigue us. But I didn’t feel the necessity for the level of obsession and sexual attention around Dick, and I really didn’t understand why. Overall, I guess I have to just say I did not get this book. Clearly, there are many other readers who enjoyed or appreciated it far more than I did, and that’s fair enough. But it just was not for me, sadly. 2 stars.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Book Review: This Land is No Stranger

This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister & Gil Reavill | View on Amazon | View on Book Depository

I have to be honest, I read this book in June 2021 and can’t really remember all that much about it. Usually, I’m able to recall details of a book I’ve read several months or even a year earlier, but this just didn’t particularly stick in my mind. I suppose that in itself says something about this book, doesn’t it?

I don’t mean to sound harsh; I definitely did not dislike reading this. It just didn’t feel like anything particularly special to me, you know? I do recall enjoying the mystery element of this, which is a large aspect, so that’s good. I do also like that it’s set in Sweden, which is quite unique. However, I feel that I may have been unable to appreciate some of the details due to my lack of knowledge and understanding of Nordic culture, which is a shame. I’m sure there are plenty of other readers on whom it won’t be wasted, though!

Thank you to the author/publisher for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book

I’m sorry I can’t really say much more about it. The main plot was interesting, the setting was different. I didn’t feel the strongest attachment to the characters, but they weren’t unlikeable. Clearly, though, it hasn’t stuck in my memory. 3 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.