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Book Review: Untouched (2021)

Untouched by Jayme Bean

Paul once told me that it’s ‘inhospitable for anything other than the creatures that exist in the swamps.’

Untouched follows a small group of researchers as they embark into the Amazon rainforest. Things quickly become dangerous for the group when they realise that there’s more to the forest than they ever could have imagined.

“There are pirates, authorities that aren’t too keen on researchers like ourselves, and I’m sure we’ll come across villages who will be none too pleased to see us bringing foreign trash to their pristine wilderness.”

I’m so impressed by Jayme Bean’s debut novel! The rich imagery and detail is amazingly well actualised and the characters are excellently developed. David and Ben were definitely the highlight for me. OTP FEELS.

‘David could hear the smile in Ben’s voice. Normally, he would be pulling away and trying to avoid anyone being in his personal space, but Ben made him feel almost at ease.’

HEART EYES

This is a wonderful book and I definitely recommend it!

Also, love love love this:

“People say that, but they rarely mean it—bibliophile. They read three or four books a year and think they’re blowing through the library. Me? I feel like my entire life has been nothing but devouring books.”

Book Review: The Cracked Reflection (2021)

The Cracked Reflection by Terry Geo

“Once I’d gotten her to calm down a bit, she told us that her imaginary friend had punched her in the face and called her a bitch.”

Well, if that didn’t immediately give me the wiggins!

Imaginary friends, am I right? \o/

The Cracked Reflection moves along at a swift pace with a cracking dialogue. I do wish we’d had a bit more detail in some places, but as it’s a novella and teasing the larger story of book one, I have a feeling all my questions will be explained therein.

I can’t wait to dive into the next book and I think I want to reread this again after once I’m immersed in the universe! Can’t wait!

Book Review: To Be Taught, If Fortunate (2019)

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I have no interest in changing other worlds to suit me. I choose the lighter touch: changing myself to suit them.

I got real Lost in Space meets Prometheus vibes from this novella, and I mean that in the best way possible. And oooooh, this story beautifully well written.

I haven’t read Becky Chambers before, although I’ve heard nothing but good things about A Closed and Common Orbit and the others in that series, but I haven’t had a chance to pick them up yet. I was delighted when I got To Be Taught, If Fortunate in a random selection of science fiction books from a local book shop. [Aside: It was super cute, they have an option of a surprise book set and ask you what genre you like and then they send three random ones. I also got The Chocolate War and Scythe, which I still need to read. Both also look great!

Firstly, the writing is fantastic and the philosophical questions posed are very thought provoking. I didn’t always agree with the characters’ choices and conclusions, but I loved how they were presented and argued. This is a book that really makes you think, consider, have patience. And I love books like that. There’s a huge focus on kindness, leaving no trace and seeking knowledge for knowledge’s sake, which I adored. I don’t know how I feel about the ending – but it did make me feel EMOTIONS. It’s the kind of ending that really sticks with you, which, again, I love.

It must also be said that the attention given to the planets and the focus on the different creatures was SO FREAKING GROOVY. Like, lads, the ‘rats’ are going to stay with me. Oh my gosh, the rats. The descriptions of their noises gave me chills. The sea world was intense, goodness. I also have a lot of thoughts on the stationary world. The way Chambers presented everything was brilliant, honestly.

If you’re a space fiction nerd like me, you will love this!

Book Review: Tales of Solomon Pace (2014)

Tales of Solomon Pace by Alan Scott

‘You forgot who you were talking to. I am Solomon Pace and I heal fast. I am Solomon Pace and my mind is mine to control.’

I haven’t read the other books in the Storm Series yet, but after listening to Tales of Solomon Pace, I’m going to pick up the other books as soon as I can! [Some of the stories herein take place before some of the other books, so it may help to read Echoes of a Storm, etc, first! That said, I didn’t have trouble settling into the different stories of Solomon and it’s left me very intrigued to dive into the series from the start.]

This was a wonderfully narrated collection of tales that draws you straight into Scott’s rich, fantastical world, with a focus on the character of Solomon Pace. You’re told from the onset that Solomon is unforgiving and brutal, but you still want to learn more about him, about why, and follow along for the journey. Scott’s descriptions are so evocative and really set the scene, and the prose is as lush as it is dark.

Interestingly, the book reminds me of a book of fairy tales – the old kind – but unlike most fairy tales there’s a central figure throughout these stories and he’s certainly not the one who needs saving.

He remembered standing on the shoreline, watching it disappear over the horizon and promising himself that he would return one day to his homeland and fulfil his destiny

dun dun dun

The audiobook makes for such easy listening, too. I’m extremely picky with narrators and I really enjoyed this one! I am also absolutely obsessed with the artwork for this book (and the others in the series!). \o/

Thank you to the author for the audiobook!

Book Review: May Day (2020)

May Day by Josie Jaffrey

‘I’m Jack Valentine and I am fucking untouchable.’

I read Josie’s vampire book The Gilded King a while back, and really loved it, so I couldn’t wait to dive into this new vampire series. May Day gives me Veronica Mars meets A Discovery of Witches – with a dash of True Blood – vibes.

The book follows Jack Valentine, a tough-talking, expletive-wielding, gin-slinging vampire detective still mourning the loss of her girlfriend years before. She blames one Killian Drake, and when a murder case in Oxford leads the Seekers – the vampire investigators- to him, Jack is all too happy to pin the death on Drake. Very quickly, however, she realises that nothing is what it seems. Not even Drake.

The characterisations in this story are done so well, and I really enjoyed the dynamics between everyone, especially Jack and Killian. BRING ON BOOK TWO, YO!

Jaffrey paints a vivid world inside our modern one and you can’t help but fall face first into the Silvers and their mysteries!

Buddy read this book with the The Book Trove. We’re hoping to shine some attention on independent books and authors. These books are picked totally at random and selected by vote amongst the group.

Thank you to the author for an ARC.

Book Review: The Girl in White (2017)

The Girl in White by Shannon Reber

*SPOILER WARNING*

And the wind turned cold. The world went white. Vengeance would be hers.

Oh my gosh, I was not expecting this novel! Reber weaves a wonderful contemporary mystery with rich characters. This is a book that deffo needs more fanfare!

Right, so The Girl in White follows Madison after her friend Emma has died. She’s grieving and in an all around dark place.

I’d heard that time had a way of healing wounds. I’d never found that to be true in myself. Most of the time, wounds just festered.

But while Madison’s grieving, something bigger is clearly at play – a feeling confirmed when Madison *sees* Emma. And Emma, who many believe to have killed herself, is thirsting for vengeance. [We get POV changes that are insightful in this regard.]

I really like how the mystery unfolds and the atmosphere is great.

There was no anguish on her face. Instead, it was distorted by the kind of fury which made my blood run cold. She was dressed all in white, everything about her a mix of beauty and horror.

“A woman in white isn’t a benevolent spirit, Madison. Your friend is dead. The thing that is left in this world is a monster.”

I find the woman in white legend so creepy and this was done very well!

THAT ENDING THO! Definitely picking up book two.

Short Story Review: customer service (2019)

customer service by C. Vandyke

And, mathematically speaking, nothing less than one-hundred percent was perfect. With its Decision Trees, Fuzzy Logic, and CRMs, the neural network could crunch-data and analyze trends to perfection, but there was still one variable that even its AI could not completely solve for: taste.

What a great line.

I read C. Vandyke’s customer service, which is made up of two short stories! There was ‘Customer satisfaction’ and ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Amazon Prime’, a twist on The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Both were commentaries on modern technology and society and were very well written! I’ll definitely be reading more by this author! 

Poetry Review Roundup

Of Darkness and Light by Despoina Kemeridou

In rivers of hatred,
and oceans of lust,
I’ll roam forever,
until I am dust

Some really good poems in here! This was my first time reading Kemeridou’s poems, and I will definitely check out more by this author! Great stuff.

The Beauty of Words by Gary Pollard

We shouldn’t need to request
To be free.
But some leaders
Simply would disagree.

I stumbled across this little book of poetry completely by random, but I’m so glad I snagged a copy! It’s a really fun, magical (maybe magical realism?), wholesome little book and the rhymes are smashing! Definitely worth reading!

Book Review: Into the Dark (2021)

Into The Dark: Book One of the Infinite Crossover Crisis by Robert Hookey

Despite what you are about to read, I am not the hero of this tale.

Into the Dark is like if you mixed Suicide Squad with Good Omens, and added a dash of The Boys. And it’s so. freaking. funny.

Luckily, my best friends included Taurus the vampire, Scorpio the master strategist, a rock ’n roll apparition known to everyone (but Mama Shaw), as Rockin’, and a cast of characters that make the Suicide Squad look like almost angelic.

This is a very witty novel by Robert Hookey! So many one-liners left me giggling and I kept being reminded of the humour of Good Omens. Looking forward to more by this author!

FYI: There is a very handy glossary at the back that I didn’t realise was there, which I definitely should have checked out!