Book review: Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

some fine day coverSome Fine Day
Author: Kat Ross
Genre: YA SF
Publisher: Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot
Release Date: July 1, 2014 (North America and digital); Jul 3, 2014 (UK)
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She’s smart and deadly and knows three things with absolute certainty.
She knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
She knows that the only species to thrive there are the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
Most of all, she knows there’s no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.
Jansin has been lied to. On all counts. Faced with the truth in the form of a charismatic young survivor named Will, Jansin vows that her former masters will regret making her what she is…

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Book review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel

the buried life coverThe Buried Life
Author: Carrie Patel
Genre: Dystopian, SF
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: July 29, 2014 (North America), August 7, 2014 (UK)
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.
When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

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Book review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

kiss of deception coverThe Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Holt/Macmillan Children’s
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. In The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

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Book review: Last God Standing by Michael Boatman

LastGodStanding-144dpiLast God Standing
Author: Michael Boatman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: March 2014 (US/Canada/ebook); April 2014 (UK)
Blurb:

Creator. Supreme being. Stand-up comic…?!
When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
The Ultimate in Divine Comedy…

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Review: The Book of the Crowman by Joseph D'Lacey

ThTheBookOfTheCrowman-144dpie Book of the Crowman
Series: The Black Dawn
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Fantasy
Release date: March 2014
Blurb:

It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
The search for the shadowy figure known only as the Crowman continues, as the Green Men prepare to rise up against the forces of the Ward.
The world has been condemned. Only Gordon Black and The Crowman can redeem it.

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Review: Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey

imageBlack Feathers
Series: The Black Dawn
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Fantasy
Release date: April 2013
Blurb:
It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
In each era, a child shall be chosen. Their task is to find a dark messiah known only as the Crowman. But is he our saviour – or the final incarnation of evil?
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Review: Astral Tide

Astral_Tide_bettersizeJPGAstral Tide
Author: Anna Silver
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Publisher: Anna Silver
Release Date: February 25, 2012

Blurb:

London and her friends are fugitives in a reprocessed world where anything New is illegal. But as Otherborn, they’re different. They can dream and create, which hasn’t gone unnoticed. After fleeing Capital City with an assassin on their heels, the Otherborn found nothing went according to plan. Now, they are down by two and on the run in the Outroads, but the Tycoons keep mysteriously gaining on them. And seven months later, London is no closer to her promise to go back for Rye, if there is anything left to go back for. But Zen is teaching London that there may be more to her heart than the pieces she left behind, and London can’t help but feel guilty about not looking back since they fled New Eden. Should she hold on to hope that Rye is more than just a memory, or embrace a new life and love with Zen?
In their race to outrun their enemies, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: they can only run for so long. Eventually, they’ll have to face what waits when the road runs out. Eventually, their fates will catch up to them.

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Review: The Woken Gods

The Woken Gods coverThe Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot
Genre: YA
Release Date: September 2013
Formats: Paperback and Ebook
Blurb:

Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke around the world.
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, an intriguing Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous relic. The Society needs it, and they don’t care that she knows nothing about her father’s secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz–whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn’t? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it.
From the author of Blackwood comes a fresh, thrilling urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan.

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Review: Crux by Ramez Naam

Crux coverjpg
Crux 

Book 2 in the Nexus series

Author: Ramez Naam

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US/Canada), September 5, 2013 (UK)

Formats: Paperback and E-book

Blurb:

Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place.
In the USA, the freedom fighters of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies.
The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck.

GIANT FINE PRINT (yes, read this first): Crux is the sequel to Nexus. If you haven’t read Nexus, I highly recommend you do NOT read Crux. Why? Because this book picks up where Nexus left off, without stopping to explain what happened. It’s like getting on a one-way train made of nanites; it’s not going to circle around to explain how it got to your stop. It’s just going to keep going. And nothing around you is going to make a lick of sense. You wouldn’t want that, would you? I thought not. So if you haven’t read Nexus yet, stop right now and go read it. It’s a good book, so it’s not like it’s going to be a waste of time.
Also note: I will try VERY VERY HARD not to include spoilers.
What I Liked:

  • The characters. These guys are…well, they’re real. They’re flawed, they have layers, nothing is black and white. You know, they’re like real people.
  • This book goes at a pretty fast pace. I have the attention span of a goldfish, so fast pace is what I look for.
  • Once again, it’s got some thought-provoking scenarios that made me wonder how I would react if I were in that position. (If you’re wondering, my answers were always, “I have no freaking clue.”

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to read book 3 in the series. See above re: attention span. It goes hand in hand with my patience (or lack thereof).
  • If you haven’t read Nexus, the first book in the series, you’ll likely end up wondering what’s going on with that random Nexus 5 drug.

My Thoughts:
It’s not a secret that I am a HUGE fan of Ramez Naam’s books. I reviewed the first book in the series, Nexus, on my own blog last year. This year, I’m spreading the love and posting it on ICoS first. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll recall the squeeing that came out of my brain through my fingers after I finished reading Nexus.
I’ll try to tone down the squeeing. I do know that not everyone will like this book. For me, it’s got pretty much everything I look for in a SF novel: science, gun fights, thought-provoking scenarios, explosions, characters that aren’t cookie cutter cut outs, spies, etc etc. Personally, I loved this book. YMMV.
Crux picks up a few months after Nexus ends — and it assumes that the reader knows what happened in the first book. If you haven’t read Nexus yet, you should. Where Nexus was the instigating action, Crux deals with the consequences of the release of the Nexus 5 drug. (Recap: it’s a liquid you drink that basically turns your brain into a computer, complete with apps. Also, it lets you talk to people telepathically. Basically, it’s pretty cool.)
And the consequences are fascinating. As with any emerging technology — or drug, or new anything, come to think about it — there will be people who will use it for good or for bad. Those who would use it for good can do amazing things with it. On the other hand, those who would use it for bad can do terrible, terrible things with it. This is not a new concept. Ramez Naam takes this idea and runs with it, but adds layers — instead of looking at the possibilities in terms of black and white, he adds motivations. Why would those who would use the Nexus 5 technology for bad want to go down that road? Why would people manipulate the drug for their own purposes? For those who would use it for good, what are their motives? Do they really want to use it for good?
This book sets up a war between humans (boring old us, just the way we are) and posthumans (those who are augmented by the Nexus 5 technology). And this setting really had me thinking. The reaction of the humans seem, for the most part, knee-jerk and violent. They want to get rid of the posthumans. The posthumans have all sorts of advantages that humans don’t, and babies are now being born with Nexus 5 in their brains. They don’t even have to take it as a drug. If there’s a whole generation of people who are augmented from birth, where does that leave the regular people? Will they be wiped out (you know, survival of the fittest and all that)? The humans, it seems, are running scared. And that is their big motivation, why they do the things they do.
When I look at it through that lens, I can see why the humans reacted the way they did. Would I react the same way? I honestly don’t know. I hope not, because the humans did some…unpleasant…things.
The posthumans, of course, are starting to fight back. Because obviously. They’re being threatened, so why wouldn’t they fight for their own survival? Of course, they’ve got the advantage, being augmented and all that. I can see the the upcoming war will be a fight for survival. It’ll be interesting to see who wins.
Now obviously, it’s not all rumination and navel-gazing. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of explosions, gun fights, people dying, etc. The good stuff that’s usually in a thriller. It’s all here! My favorite characters are back (I’m looking at  you, Feng), which make me happy.
I’m not gonna lie, I can’t wait to find out what happens. As you read your way through Crux, you know that there’ll be a war. And it’ll be unpleasant. Unfortunately for me, book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. NEXT YEAR, you guys. In September. (Granted, I’m highly unlikely to forget about book 3, but still. Boo.)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had the right combination of science, thought-provoking human condition scenarios, and spies/gun fights/explosions. What’s not to like?
[rating:5/5]
Crux on Amazon.com

Review: The Incrementalists

TheIncrementalistsThe Incrementalists
Authors: Steven Brust and Skyler White
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Formats: Hardcover and E-book
Blurb:

The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.

Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.

What I Liked:

  • It was an interesting idea. The sort of-not really reincarnation (soul jumping? consciousness transplant?) thing was fascinating
  • The alternating viewpoints gave more of an overall picture of the book
  • The fight for the surviving consciousness was interesting (especially since it was all in one person’s head)

What I Didn’t Like:

  • This was not the book that I was expecting. With the Incrementalists’ abilities, I thought the book would be more like fighting over not blowing up the world or something. Instead, what I got was some unlikable dead character who’s too egotistical to actually die wanting to take over the consciousness of her indirect descendant
  • Celeste got incredibly irritating. Okay, I get that she doesn’t want to die. Please make her go away
  • Phil was meh

My Thoughts:
Yeah, so, my list above pretty much summed up what I thought of this book. I thought there was so much promise in the premise (haha see what I did there?) and for some reason I honestly thought it was going to be about a group of people fighting to save the world or kill it. (I honestly do not even know why.) I mean, the Celeste character would’ve done a kick ass job trying to influence everyone to her line of thinking, whether that meant preventing people from blowing up the world or trying to get POTUS to hit the red button. She’s incredibly good at what she does, after all.
Instead, we had a book where Celeste refuses to die (and I do mean refuses) so when she does die she goes into the mind of her indirect descendant and tries to take over the poor girl’s head/life. And Celeste is ridiculously irritating, seriously.
So with Celeste not wanting to fade into oblivion, we have a bunch of Incrementalists seeding their memory gardens to find out where the hell she’s hiding. Okay, to be honest, the garden thing was interesting. You can share memories and go into each other’s gardens and things like that, and that actually was fascinating.
Overall, I thought the book had interesting parts, but the whole just didn’t do it for me. In the end, I wasn’t interested in the characters, and this is very much a character driven book (the plot is, of course, to find Celeste before she takes over Renee’s mind and essentially kills her).
[rating:3/5]
Links:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon.com
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