Mara’s Awakening – Leo Flynn

This book contains:

  • Corruption and betrayal.

Mara is a former peacekeeper for the galaxy, and yet she’s now in jail for something she didn’t do. She’s a soldier to the letter and when she reported the illegal activities that come of the Council members were involved with, she soon found herself in jail.

We begin the story with Mara already in jail, specifically “protective custody” where she’s then moved into the general population. There are flashbacks to her past as a peacekeeper early on as we get to know Mara before progressing as she meets her knew cell mates and learners how to live in general population.

I think as I was reading this, I was being overly critical since I read the novella length version a year ago. After my suggestion to write a full book so the characters really get to shine, Leo mentioned he’d received similar feedback from other reviewers and would be releasing a full book, which is this one!

I believe I was being overly critical as I’d read an earlier version and wanted to see how Leo had taken that feedback and improved upon his original novella, and so my teacher/editor brain came into this read. So please take my thoughts with a grain of salt!

I love that the story itself is more fleshed out, the characters have had more character development and generally speaking we gain a much richer world from the time Leo was able to take to develop it.

What got me the most was the flashbacks and pacing. Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen the flashbacks as more of a prologue that could have been condensed a little bit which leads into Mara in jail. At which point some of the thinking back could be incorporated in the various conversations she had with her cellmates.

In terms of the pacing, because of the flashbacks being used instead of a prologue, the first portion of the book is fairly calm and slower and then all of a sudden accelerates as we get to the action portion of the book. In the same amount of pages, if the flashbacks were written as a slightly condensed prologue, the first portion of the book would’ve been shorter which would have then allowed a little bit more time for the very end that felt like it ran out of pages to finish off so was rushed.

A great improvement on the novella, this book has the makings of a really good space opera that can span across multiple books. As Leo matures in his writing I’m really looking forward to seeing where he takes Mara and co.

The Lore of Prometheus – Graham Austin-King

This book contains:

  • PTSD from serving in Afghanistan
  • descriptions of the destruction of war, including injury to women and children
  • experimentation on humans
  • torture of humans

The book is broken up into three parts of which the first and last parts are from John’s point of view, with sporadic inclusions of Mackenzie’s point of view. The middle part however is from Mackenzie’s point of view with some sporadic inclusions of John’s point of view.

John has previously served in the UK army in Afghanistan and as a result has severe PTSD. It’s something that’s ruined his life, ended his relationship and as a result driven him back there.

Mackenzie, however, is an Australian nurse volunteering in Afghanistan when she’s kidnapped by her driver on the way home from work.

The general gist of this story is an Afghan warlord is kidnapping people who have magical powers with the intent of learning how to wield them himself. Anything more than that would kinda ruin it for you! And it’s too good to ruin!

I absolutely loved this story and I’m so glad it won the Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award 2020!

Given most of the other books that made it to the finals we aimed at a younger audience and/or were of a lighter theme, I wasn’t sure how this darker story would hold up. I loved the mix of emotional development, different points of view, psychological changes, an amazing villain and the determination and fortitude of John and Mackenzie.

Every time I thought I’d hit the limit of Graham’s mastery, I discovered I was wrong!

Who would have thought such a mix of fantasy, technology and a Middle Eastern war could result in such genius?!

Author Bio

Graham Austin-King was born in the south of England and weaned on broken swords and half-forgotten spells.

A shortage of these forced him to consume fantasy novels at an ever-increasing rate, turning computers and tabletop gaming between meals.

He experimented with writing at the beginning of an education that meandered through journalism, international relations, and law. To this day he is committed to never allowing those first efforts to reach public eyes.

After spending a decade in Canada learning what ‘cold’ really means, and being horrified by poutine, he settled once again in the UK with a seemingly endless horde of children.

To date he is the author of five novels, drawing on a foundation of literary influences ranging from David Eddings to Clive Barker.

Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA)

I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition. All opinions expressed are my own. This tour has been organised by The Write Reads tours team.

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors.  If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or our Twitter account. If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering.

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)! 

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) And the book blogger support group TheWriteReads.

Fid’s Crusade – David H. Reiss

Dr Fid is an evil genius set to show the world how fake and unworthy of the title “hero” the superheros were. He’s also the alias of one genius scientist out to save the world through medicine and other philanthropy work.

It’s a simple storyline of Dr Fid and his crusade against the hero’s who killed his brother. He’s out to destroy their reputations and show the world how unworthy they are of the title hero. In this, the first book, Dr Fid begins to execute his plan to destroy the hero’s, and in the meantime gets involved in a war to save the world.

I was actually quite disappointed in this story. The writing was amazing, it draws you in and you’ll find yourself almost through the book in no time after practically inhaling the story.

My problem was that ever time I did stop, I realised I was basically reading Avengers End Game. But where Iron Man is a supervillain.

Everything from the tech Iron Man uses, his assistant Jarvis, his fight to not have to join with others, his wit and humor, the way the aliens come to Earth and the ultimate showdown is so eerily similar to this story that it really ruined it for me. I would’ve loved to have experienced this quality of writing in a story that was unique.

Or at least, did a better job of taking an existing well-loved story and making it new and exciting.

If you love Iron Man, The Avengers etc and don’t mind reading a story that’s almost the same as one you already love. Then you’ll love this!

I enjoyed the experience of reading the story, I’m just not one to enjoy reading something I’ve already watched while it’s pretending to be new.

Author Bio

While growing up, David was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer. 

Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much.

David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-eight years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.

(Farewell, little huntress. You were loved. You are missed.)

Fear not…Two new kittens have since crept into the household and are working tirelessly to repair the hole left in the author’s heart.

David’s first trilogy, the Chronicles of Fid, has just recently been completed; these were his first novel-length projects, but they certainly won’t be his last—he’s having far too much fun!

I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition and/or the BBNYA tours organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest (or insert your own standard version of the same). 

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. 

If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official. If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering. 

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)! 

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) And the book blogger support group TheWriteReads.

Altered Carbon – Fallen Angel ( Season 01 Episode 02)

  • Episode length: 57 minutes
  • Number of pages: 51
  • Number of chapters: 4

This episode follows the book pretty much to a tee. Theres hardly any differences between the two, although I’ve outlined them below for you.

SPOILERS AHEAD – WON’T RUIN THE SHOW BUT WILL TELL YOU SOME THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO KNOW BEFORE WATCHING/READING IT

You can see the differences summarised in the table.

SHOWBOOK
Kovacs is woken up by Prescott (the lawyer) being in his roomKovacs is woken up by the hotel with news that Prescott is on her way up
Kovacs sees the re-sleeving facility and interviews Mr and Mrs Bancroft while thereKovacs goes to Alcatraz to see the storage and re-sleeving facility Bancroft owns and uses
Kovacs reviews all the death threats with the AI from The RavenKovacs reviews all the death threats with Prescott
Elliot is a black man who has his daughters stack in VRElliot is an old white man sitting on a bench
Elliot needs to be forced to talk about what happened to his daughterElliot freely talks about what happened to his daughter
Kovacs chases a guy to cause a fight outside of the brothelKovacs is jumped by Elliot and then others
Ortega arrests Kovacs for organic damageOrtega saves Kovacs from the guy he was chasing

Although there are minor differences in how these are presented, I think I can understand why. I don’t think there was as much awareness around diversity back in 2002 when Altered Carbon was first published as there was 16 years later when Netflix released the TV show. Given the lack of black representation in a country that has such a huge black community I can understand wanting to make a few characters black that may not have originally been.

Although there are minor differences in how these are presented, I think I can understand why. I don’t think there was as much awareness around diversity back in 2002 when Altered Carbon was first published as there was 16 years later when Netflix released the TV show. Given the lack of black representation in a country that has such a huge black community I can understand wanting to make a few characters black that may not have originally been.

I think because this episode so closely resembled the book, they were only able to get through 4 chapters (51 pages) compared to the 6 chapters (72 pages) of the first episode. I’m looking forward to seeing the spread of the remaining episodes in the coming weeks.  

Altered Carbon – Out of the Past ( Season 01 Episode 01)

In case you missed it, I decided to compare the books to the TV show Altered Carbon. It’s a trilogy with both seasons 1 and 2 currently available on Netflix so I’ll be knocking out one episode a week for you over the next 18 weeks.

  • Episode length: 59 minutes
  • Pages read: 72
  • Chapters read: 6

I’m really looking forward to bringing you my thoughts on each episode compared to the book. Even though I almost instantly found differences between the show and the book, by the end of the 6th chapter I was able to say that the main points happened in each.

SPOILERS AHEAD – WON’T RUIN THE SHOW BUT WILL TELL YOU SOME THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO KNOW BEFORE WATCHING/READING IT

To give you a summary, I’ve broken the differences and similarities down into dot points.

SHOWBOOK
Flashbacks happen throughout the episode Flashback is the prologue only
The girlfriend is murdered by the Protectorates in cold blood Sarah (the girlfriend) is gunned down while trying to shoot the Protectorates
Kovacs is made a martyr Kovacs is show in the chest before he realises what’s happened while reaching for his gun
Bancroft lives in some tower structure where all the rich people live Bancroft lives in an estate out of the city, overlooking the Reach
Kovac knows what a Songtree is Kovac doesn’t know what a Songtree is
Ortega has a drink with Kovac while he’s tripping on various drugs before checking into a hotel Ortega has a drink with Kovac in his hotel room after he’s attacked
Kovacs knows The Raven is an AI hotel before going into it Kovacs finds out The Hendrix is an AI hotel after the firefight happens
Kovac is attached by like 5 or 6 guys (including one woman) Kovac is attached by one guy and one woman
Kovac tried to avoid working for Bancroft Kovac never tried to avoid working for Bancroft

Pretty much everything from when they wake Kovac up until he get’s to Bancroft’s place is slightly different as well. Little things like the process of being woken up, being discharged, knowing vs not knowing the cops are escorting him to Bancroft, being given a letter from Bancroft before being discharged explaining why he’s been brought back. Little things like that are more detailed in the book.

Yet I understand they needed to change it so show you what the narration of the book tells us. Unless they felt like narrating every episode, I can see why they chose to do this a little differently.

The similarities are straight forward in that the general timeline and progress Kovac’s makes in the book and the show are pretty bang on. There’s a detour in the show where Kovac’s goes to get high and drink whereas in the book he questions Bancroft and his wife.

However, if I remember correctly the scene I read in the book where Miriam (Bancroft’s wife) is questioned, that happens in a later episode. It could have just been creative license to get interest in the series early.

Unlike with books, you’ve got one to two episodes to get the audience interested. If you weigh those episodes down with boring stuff like someone being questioned, you might lose the audience and cost the show success. Which is exactly why the show is “based on” the book. Not a direct adaptation of the book.

Altered Carbon – Intro

A few years ago, a new sci-fi, steampunk series was released on Netflix; Altered Carbon. As soon as I saw the trailer, I knew it was one I wanted to see, so when it finally dropped, I binged it over a single weekend. The following month I was able to keep reliving each episode as my work friends worked their way through the series and I was able to talk about it with them.

We dissected each episode from the choice of actors, the cinematics, the way it was shown and what they could have done differently to make it better. When I started my book blog a couple months later, these same friends suggested I do a comparison of the book to the Netflix adaptation.

Before Christmas I saw the announcement that Season 2 would be dropping in Quarter 1 of 2020 so I realised I needed to get a move on with my comparison of Season 1 if I wanted to keep up. Especially since there are only 3 books!

To help with this I asked for a Secret Santa to give me a copy of Altered Carbon, and I was lucky enough to get it! Yay!

Unfortunately, I’d signed up for so many book tours in January and February I knew I couldn’t get to it until March. So even though Season 2 dropped a week ago I’ll be reviewing Season 1 with the first book over the next 10 weeks. Then I’ll go straight into Season 2 over the following 8 weeks.

Whether you’re a fan of the books or the show, come back every week on a Wednesday to see how the show and the book are the same or different, and who did it better. Feel free to disagree or even point out anything I’ve missed coz I’m only human and I may see or interpret things differently to you.

Come back in a week for my comparison of the first episode of Season 1!

You can also keep track of each episode and book over on my Altered Carbon page.

Image credit: Fanbolt

A Shape on the Air – Julia Ibbotson

Welcome back everyone, after so many romances I’m ticking off my first sci-fi/time travel kinda book for the year.

When I signed up for this tour, I was very much on the fence about whether I’d love it or not. Now I’ve finished it, I can assure you that I managed to fall onto one side very easily. Even with a few things that I didn’t like, I still found myself really enjoying this novel.

I liked that Julia created a reason for the time-slipping and created her own rhyme, reason and method. It made this element uniquely hers. The fact that Viv was able to speak to others about what was happening and get their help and support through the confusing time was amazing.

Also, the slow build towards a relationship (remember, this is not a romance!) for Viv was really well done. It didn’t feel forced or weird like they sometimes can. If you’re not a fan of romance, then you don’t need to worry with this one. There’s only a couple of small sections that talk about the romance aspect that you can easily skip over as it doesn’t really impact the story.

There were a couple of things I wasn’t a fan of. Given how descriptive Julia’s writing is, I felt the naming of the friends in both times the same was a bit overkill. Julia could have named them differently in each time and let their personalities and loyalties do the talking. I actually found myself rolling my eyes and thinking “duh” when it was revealed because it was just too much.

Also, Pete’s actions in the early part of the book just felt odd to me. I’m luck enough to have never experienced domestic violence so I don’t know if my perception is off. But it felt like there would have been signs to point towards him acting the way he did. Even if that was a first and only time, it felt more like he’d been possessed, or someone had replaced his personality or something. Although that’s all based on limited knowledge and how it was written.

In the grand scheme of the book, those little annoyances were nothing. They had no real impact on the story. Only on my experience reading it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Wednesday (I told you this was going to be a review heavy period, didn’t I?) I’ll be reviewing When Adam Met Evie by Giulia Skye. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Acclaimed, award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then an academic as a senior university lecturer and researcher. As well as medieval time-slip, she has published a number of books, including memoir/history of food (The Old Rectory), children’s medieval fantasy (S.C.A.R.S), a trilogy opening in 1960s Ghana (Drumbeats), and many academic works. Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.

Check out Julia on her socials and Pinterest.

A Crown in Time – Jennifer Macaire

Welcome back everyone, it’s officially time to start the crazy few months of Rach Random Resources tours! Today’s is one from Jennifer Macaire, a little over a yr after I first read one of her books.

Although this is set in the same universe as the Time for Alexander series you don’t have to have read them to understand what’s going on. Jennifer has skill at writing a story and repeating information that those who have read the books will know, but new readers wont, in a way that doesn’t feel repetitive.

This is great as it ensures all readers know what going on without boring regular readers. There were even some differences in the reason and way Isobel was sent back in time. This was emphasised at the beginning of each chapter as a nugget of information from her Correctors Handbook was quoted before moving on.

I need to add that I want to talk about a spoiler coz it was part of what made this story so good for me!

The fact that Isobel couldn’t save his life had me thinking that that was going to be the end of things for her. Yet the fact that she was pregnant and able to continue his line after all meant that the key thing that he needed to do, have kids, was achieved.

But it left me wondering what the Institute saw in the history books when they compared the results. Like, did they see that he still died but his line continued? Did the books even record that?

I wanted to know more!

Ok, that’s the spoilers done.

As a stand-alone book using the same universe as the Time for Alexander series, I love the way this story was so different, and had so much emotion and backstory involved in such a short space.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Wednesday I’ll be doing my first Wrap Up post for the yr and on Friday I’ll be reviewing Lillian and the Irresistible Duke by Virginia Heath (book 4 in the same series as Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquees by Jenni Fletcher). Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in France. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

A Different Time – Michael K. Hill

Welcome back everyone, we’re stuck into another massive tour with The Write Reads Ultimate Book Tours. There’s a hint of sci-fi in this one compared to most of the books I read, although I’d love to read more sci-fi in the future coz I know I love that genre in my TV shows and movies.

The first thing I’m going to say is that reading this felt like reading a cross between The Lake House and The Notebook. Both are great romantic stories with tragically sad endings. If you do choose to read this one, I should warn you to have a box of tissues ready because you’ll need them.

The two main characters are set 30 years apart (hence the hint of sci-fi) yet manage to fall in love with each other. Lindsey’s story spans a good 30 years, while Keith’s (after you finish the prologue) spans all of like one month. The prologue is important, and I’m not sure if I was super quick or super slow but I totally keyed in on one tiny little detail and my mind was like “OMG! That’s an anagram of **** and ***! That’s so cool! OOOOOO!!! That means *******!”

I bleeped those out because I doubt you want spoilers for this kind of story. You really do need to read it yourself to realise the genius of it. I literally stayed up 3 hours past my bedtime and 2 hours past my sleep time to read this book in one night. Let’s just say my work colleagues were NOT impressed with my body’s response to the lack of sleep!

On a different note, the day after I finished reading it (same day I’m writing this) I was chatting to Dave from The Write Reads about the story where I mentioned I wasn’t happy with the ending. I really feel like this story deserves a sequel to finish it off. Purely because I have so many questions that I can’t even share with you!

Michael, if you’d like some fan ideas for a sequel let me know! My creativity damn seems to have been well and truly burst open in the last few months so I have a few ideas I think could really work to close off this story without it being overkill.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this really vague review, next week I will be reviewing The Perils of Autumn by Rusty Blackwood brought to me by author request. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Beginning as a sketch comedy writer for American television, Michael K. Hill progressed to become an internationally published writer of fiction and non-fiction. His short story anthology, Anansi and Beyond, published in 2017, and his debut novel, A Different Time, is available now. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, kids, and 7 rescued animals.

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