Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2020

Morning, everyone!

You may or may not have known that I haven’t been around. So let me explain. One, my mental health likes nothing more than to wreck every single good thing in my life. Two, Buddy, our cat, has been having health issues. Yes, he’s an older former stray. So we knew he’d have those issues. Hopefully, my life can get back on track.

Now, book-wise, August overall was a great month. Kindle saved me from reality. And I’ll be forever grateful for it!

I hope you like the post!

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Most Anticipated Reads of June 2020

Morning, readers!

It’s a new month, which I hope will be better for us all. But a lot of things are intense right now. So I want to highlight some vital new storylines we need in our lives.

This post isn’t a complete list. And unfortunately, some release dates may change, so please be aware that they aren’t set in stone right now.

I hope you like the post!

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Most Anticipated Reads of May 2020

Morning, readers!

May is a big month for me. It’s my birth month. And typically we see a lot of new books releasing. Since the pandemic hit, I’m not too surprised to see upcoming releases pushed back or even cancelled. What I am excited about are these great new titles.

This list isn’t complete though. But here are my most anticipated books of May!

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Review | DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff

DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff

Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Page Count: 448

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


In the wake of a climactic battle in the ruined city of Babel, two former best friends suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the same quest. Eve is torn between the memories of the girl she was, and the synthetic she’s discovered herself to be. Together with her lifelike “siblings,” Eve sets out to find the real Ana Monrova, whose DNA is the key to building an army of lifelikes.

Meanwhile, Eve’s best friend, Lemon, is coming to terms with a power that she has long denied—and that others want to harness as a weapon. When she meets a strange boy named Grimm, he offers to lead her out of the horror-ridden landscape and to an enclave of other abnorms like herself. There, Lemon quickly finds a sense of belonging—and perhaps even love—among the other genetic deviates.

But all is not what it seems, and with enemies and friends, heroes and villains wearing interchangeable faces, Lemon, too, will join the race to locate Ana Monrova before her former best friend can get to her.


“Sometimes you don’t know you’ve crossed the line till you’re on the other side.”

Droogs, I don’t know if I can handle another one of Kristoff’s cliffhangers. I don’t. But this soul-destroying creator probably enjoys our torture, so I’m not counting on it. But damn you, Kristoff. Damn you.

Paradise Lost meets post-apocalyptic X-Men with a heavy dose of Mad Max, DEV1AT3 will utterly destroy your expectations. If you believed the ending of LIKEL1K3 was rough, then buckle in. Kristoff is will hit you with enough g-force you’ll come out breathless. It took me more than a month to come to terms with that ending. And I’m still not okay. I don’t understand how Kristoff conceives a mashup of storylines that somehow entwine together. Without a doubt, DEV1AT3 is one of the top favourite reads of 2019.

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Most Anticipated Reads of July 2019

Morning, bloggers!

June felt slow in one week yet felt it wouldn’t slow down in the other. Now July is here, and I don’t know what to say. For my fellow Canadian bloggers, I want to wish you a Happy Canada Day! And as I write this post, I hear all the fireworks, so they definitely set the mood.

The time has come again where I bloat your already full TBR list even more. Am I sorry? No. But my list/pile would like to give you its condolences. 😂 I haven’t listed all the books but have shown you the ones I’m looking forward to the most.

I hope you find your next favourite release!

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Most Anticipated March Reads

Morning, book lovers!

Honestly, I don’t believe this winter will end any time soon. So I need some positive vibes to keep me from the gloom and doom of the next few weeks. Do you feel the same?

Anyways, I want to try something new on my blog. I’ve seen a lot of similar posts. But I’ve never dabbled with this one though. So here is my first official “most anticipated reads” post.

Now, I’ve included only the upcoming titles that have either snagged a spot on my TBR list or captivated my attention. This list isn’t complete, and I don’t want to bore you with an entire one. What’s the point? So hopefully, you find some new additions to your TBR list. I sure have!

I hope you all enjoy.

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Review | Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Page Count: 402

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.


“Your past doesn’t make calls on your future. It doesn’t matter who you were. Only who you are.”

I’ve survived my first Kristoff book. And when I closed it, I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or what I should do with myself. Lifel1k3 is a brilliantly crafted novel I never knew that could exist. And yet, here I am writing a review for it. Now, I understand why so many readers love Kristoff’s work. I’m an instant fan.

Rarely do I find a book that offers everything to readers: a stellar cast, captivating writing and storytelling, explosive worldbuilding, and heartbreaking character growth. But Kristoff exceeds those expectations. I was close in dnfing Lifel1k3, but I’m thrilled that I pushed on to find one of the best books of 2018!

Eve lives with broken memories and in a shattered country once named the US. But in this post-apocalyptic world, she wants nothing more than to survive the next day with her bestie, Lemon Fresh; her logika, Cricket; and her dying grandpa. But when she uncovers Ezekiel, a lifelike, that life is over when she attracts the wrong gang that wants to see her dead.

Other than the worldbuilding, the characters are what win me over with this book. I grew to love Eve. She’s a badass, tough female lead who takes nothing from no one. And as the storyline progresses, I empathize with her once she discovers her past and the lies surrounding it. She may rock a fauxhawk and a cybernetic eye and fight robots in death matches. But by the end, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. Her character growth rivals that of well-written characters.

The lifelike, or android, displays more empathy, compassion, love, and humanity than most humans do. Ezekiel is swoon-worthy, but he’s the moral compass to the book. And I love that about him. Lemon Fresh—yes, that’s her name—may be the finest sidekick a woman can ever dream of. I loved the banter and sarcasm she brings to this colourful gang. And I can’t forget to mention Cricket. I can’t imagine I’d love a robot this much, but I never rooted so hard for one in my life!

Kristoff combines Tank Girl, Romeo and Juliet, and Mad Max in this outlandishly wild journey. What excels in this chaos is the worldbuilding. Eve and her cohorts live in the destruction of what was known as Kalifonya, now called the Dregs. Corporations now fight over what is left of the country after the annihilation of lifelikes, which refused to follow the Three Laws, which govern all robotics. Unfortunately, she has attracted unwanted attention from the Brotherhood. This mayhem just enhances the intricate design of the story. And with every chance I got, I reveled in it. Kristoff makes you want to love science fiction all over again.

I’m not sure if I can put into words of my admiration of this author. Even though Lifel1k3 is the first book I’ve read of his, I need the rest so I can tame my need for his writing. Not many authors have that kind of writing power. But Kristoff does. His writing enthralls your imagination from the start. You need to know how the world fell, how society made it this way, and if these characters will survive to the next chapter. This must-read science fiction needs to be on your TBR list.

Review | War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian

Page Count: 672

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all…starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?


“I am less than his crown, but he is less than my cause.”

With betrayal and heartache, deadly politics and a revolution, War Storm has the makings of a truly spectacular ending. I cannot remember the last I eagerly awaited for the finale in a series. And while War Storm is one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, I want more. Even if I’ll always hold this series in high regard, I am disappointed. Perhaps I simply expect too much from it.

When I first bought Red Queen, this series immersed me into such a politically charged world. And yes, I admit that the tropes Victoria uses may not sit well with everyone. I cannot fault her for that though. However, I love her writing. And I love how I evolved my reading because of her storytelling. But I want her to take more risks and give Mare the ending she deserves. The finale seems underdeveloped. And I walk away from this series asking for more. Am I the only reader who feels this way? I don’t know.

I think sometimes we readers gamble with stories. We cannot predict what may happen to the characters we love. And we cannot dictate what happens. The story is the author’s design. And Victoria has taken chances many readers do not like. But this ending feels, to me, unfinished. Even though I leave this series disappointed, I credit Victoria for achieving what she has done. I respect her for sticking to the story she decided to write. And she forges her own path.

She weaves in current political issues that affect us today and creates multi-layered, albeit scary, world. And she writes real and conflicted characters readers can relate to. Mare has grown up from the thief roaming the Stilts to the poster child of the revolution. I‘ve cried with her, screamed at her, yet she’ll be one of my favourite characters. Now with Cal, I still want to throttle him. His crown comes before anything, but he soon realizes it isn’t worth the pain.

But Victoria misses an opportunity to make Maven outshine even his own mother. While I hate him, the author doesn’t explore the internal struggle he faces because of what Elara did to him. She offers you glimpses, but I want more from this troubled character.

Evangeline, the magnetron I wish suffered horribly, surprises me the most. And one reason why I enjoyed this book is because of her. Her character growth and overall arc make me root for her. And even though, at first, she’s an unlikeable character, I’ve grown to like her. Was I expecting this? No. Two years ago, I never would have uttered those words.

I will always respect what authors want in their stories. I may not agree with the final product, and I may too high expectations, but the story is their own. The Red Queen series will always have a place on my shelf, but maybe I expect too much from War Storm.

What are your thoughts on the final installment of Red Queen? Did you leave disappointed? What did you love the most from it?

Blog Tour Review: Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

 

Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: October 5, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Page Count: 660

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Common Deer Press

Goodreads | Common Deer Press | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


A nanobot superorganism lays waste to the Earth. Is this the apocalypse? Or does the world’s end harbor new beginnings? Life will always find a way. Though some ways are better than others.

Evolution on steroids and crack cocaine–the most significant development since inanimate matter first gave rise to life. You can’t predict novel evolutionary developments, you recognize them only after they emerge.

Then you have to deal with them.


“Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be”

Stop, take a step back, and marvel at this creation. I want to pick apart Collin’s mind because his writing is beyond what I imagined. Collin takes science fiction and flips it upside down. So get ready, world. Here comes Genesis 2.0.

The last survivors of the human race have been lied to. Now their lives have changed, and they must learn to live in a world they don’t understand. Problem is that Brian, the original human malls operational manager (MOM) and general badass who wreaked havoc in the first instalment, is on the warpath with the self-aware artificial intelligence, Sky, who’s in bit of a hurry to reboot herself, and now the heroes may run out of time to save themselves and their loved ones.

I usually write my reviews within the first day or two after reading, but when I finished this book, I had to adjust my thinking, digest what I’ve read, and somehow wrap my head around this impossibly creative world building. Collin adds layer upon layer, and each one is unbelievably complex in its own right. He doesn’t just stick with one arc, whether story or character. He throws in multiple storylines, and somehow, they combine together to make a captivating science fiction story. He makes me want to read that genre.

At first, Collins throws you in a new environment with new characters. Son and his family live in mondoland, the real world outside of the generated realities and the former malls. He, one of the few people to be born after a virus that made everyone sterile, eventually meets up with our favourite characters Cisco and Dee Zu, two tests pilots. And that is where everything goes to hell.

Mondoland, the remnants of our old world, isn’t what MOM, or Sky, made it out to be. No superorganisms are out to kill the rest of the human race. And now since the malls, where the last survivors of humanity lived, are non-operational, and the main characters’ world is completely turned upside down, they must survive in a landscape they’ve never lived in.

Beyond the world building, Collin excels at writing a deeply flawed yet compelling character. Even Sky, the AI, shows her humanity, yet you want to die as much as Brian. But what stands out the most is Cisco and Dee Zu. They lose everything, they realize their lives were built on a lie, and yet they create an incredible bond. I enjoyed reading their scenes, even though they were short. And I’m dying to see how their future plays out in the third novel, which, if you haven’t figured out, I want right now.

I don’t always read science fiction, but I think Collin has convinced me to jump into that world. So here it goes.

Blog Tour Interview: Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

 

Hey everyone!

Guess who’s back on the blog? Collin Piprell! The author of MOM and Genesis 2.0 from the Magic Circles series sat down (digitally) to talk with me about his new book. I’ve been wondering how this insanely thought-up series will go, and finally, we get to find out.

Genesis 2.0 is now available online!

 


Hey, Collin. Welcome back to my blog. I’d like to congratulate you on your latest release, Genesis 2.0!

 

 

  1. You’re on your second novel in your Magic Circles series. Can you explain what’s happening in Genesis 2.0? What are Cisco and your other characters facing?

The book begins with a new character, a young man who negotiates a grueling gauntlet through the terrifying world Outside that we saw in MOM. He eventually encounters survivors of MOM’s cast of characters. Some of these have come to resemble the Olympian gods of old. Cisco himself resembles a hero out of myth, operating in both Aeolia, a virtual realm, and in mondoland, the ruined remnants of the pre-PlagueBot world (real world).

The story involves (1) a titanic contest between our villain-in-chief Brian Finister and the AI that superseded him as MOM (mall operations manager), (2) another contest between the personality alters of the fragmented AI MOM, (3) contests between our young heroes (Cisco, Dee Zu, and Son) and the Olympians (and others), and (4) two different love triangles with all the attendant drama.

 

  1. What surprised me the most is how the former generated reality test pilots don’t know how to survive in the wild (the real world). They’ve lived in malls for most, if not all, of their lives. This dependence on technology smacks you in the face when you read Genesis. Were you hoping for that effect from readers? Is there some message you are hoping to impart?

If there’s a message in that, it’s simply that digital tech and, more so, the qubital tech to come encourages us to outsource our mental faculties to the point we’re in danger of becoming entirely dependent on that technology. (Though Dee Zu and Cisco are uncommonly resourceful, for mallsters, and cope pretty well with losing their qubital umbilicals.)

For a take on the outsourcing theme, you can visit this blog post: “Outsource our minds? What a good idea.” http://www.collinpiprell.com/outsource-our-minds-what-a-good-idea/.

Even without all that, imagine your average modern urbanite reduced to living off the land. Would they have the skills to find food and water, to find adequate shelter or defend themselves against physical threats from animals and other people?

 

  1. Cisco’s (the main character) world has fallen apart. His life is turned upside down at the end of your first book. What is his frame of mind in the sequel? What is he fighting for?

He finds he’s even more in love with the “wet” Dee Zu that he was with the virtual variety. And the Lode has enough of Cisco—enough of the “right stuff,” the properly stressed personal data—that, as he has already proven, he’s capable of ascension as an autonomous ebee to Aeolia, Sky’s qubital alternative to mondoland, or what you refer to above as the “real world.” He wants to ensure that Dee Zu survives long enough the Lode can absorb enough of her data that, should the wet Dee Zu die, she also has this option of a second life in Aeolia.

At the same time, Cisco is co-opted by Sky, serving as her agent in resisting both Brian’s machinations and the attempts of Mildread, one of Sky’s personality alters, to shut down Sky’s Aeolia project.

 

  1. Who or what inspired you to write Brian and Sky (the antagonists)?

Sky, to some limited extent, is a virtual version of the ancient Pygmalion story. A human creation that comes to life in a way that causes people to become infatuated, even sexually embroiled with her. But that’s a real stretch, and is misleading.

Other than that, I wanted an AI with human qualities, at least in part, and discovered a fine source of dramatic conflict between a machine MOM (mall operations manager) who has ascended to self-aware autonomy, and Brian Finister, the megalomaniacal last human MOM, whom she superseded.

 

  1. What was your favourite part in writing Genesis?

I enjoyed writing all its various parts, but maybe I had the most fun with Brian. First of all with his “despatches,” his raving fulminations and attempts to supply a history for a future readership he believes will never exist; and, secondly, with the chapters where his scendent personality fences with the super-intelligent Sky, determined to prevail in the end, no matter how unlikely that outcome appears.

 

  1. Can you give us a glimpse into your third novel, Resurrections?

To reveal the essential theme and plot device would prove a spoiler for readers of Genesis 2.0. The best I can do is say that, underlying MOM and Genesis, we find developments that point towards a game-changing evolutionary emergence. This element is brought to surprising conclusions in Resurrections, and our heroes (including, again, new characters in addition to the old cast) have to cope with these developments, which offer at once huge promise and dire threats for the future.