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Strata

This is a review of the novel “Strata” by Sir Terry Pratchett.

I am still coming to terms with the fact that this wonderful man is gone from the world.

I was given “Strata” as a birthday present some time ago, by one of my dearest friends. Due to the sheer number of books I have had in my To Be Read pile, I have only just gotten to it.

Kin Arad is one of the foremost experts on terraforming. She is a planetary engineer and a famous author to boot. She is very, very old. She has lived many lifetimes, but never has she met anyone quite like Jago Jalo.

Jago is a human from a time long ago. Yes, he’s even older than Kin. He says he has found a world that is not a sphere, nor a planet, but a disc. And Kin’s curiosity is sparked. She follows Jago’s instructions and meets with Marco, a four-armed, frog-like, paranoid warrior Kung, and Silver, a Shand, a shaggy bear-like creature. Kin knows that they are not human like her, but their differences sometimes take her by surprise. They set out to find the Disc, but never did they imagine what they would find, or just how their expedition would pan out.

I loved this novel. It had a very Pratchett feel (of course) but it was also very different to a lot of his other works that I have read. I loved his slant on a more sci-fi type of work. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I enjoyed it quite immensely. The tone of this novel seemed more serious and less flippant than his novels in the Discworld Series, and I still appreciated that.

  

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Good Omens

This is a review of the novel “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

I love Terry Pratchett’s novels. I was devastated to hear of his passing earlier this year, and I truly feel as though I have lost a friend.

I have had this book that he wrote with his friend Neil Gaiman for a while now. I bought it some time ago, but life has been busy for me of late, and I haven’t really been reviewing or even reading at a fast pace for a while now. I decided it was time to get back into the swing of things. And what a book I chose to swing with!

“Good Omens” is a very funny, witty novel about the end of days.

The ultimate battle between heavenly and demonic forces is fast approaching, and both sides have been preparing for centuries. Aziraphale is an angel, and Crowley; a demon. They enjoy a certain camaraderie with one another. Not quite “friends”, not really enemies. Both know that the apocalypse is nigh, and they’re not really sure what to do about it…

The Antichrist is on Earth, among humankind. He was switched with another baby in a hospital by satanic nuns, and big things are expected of him.

Anathema Device is a modern witch who lives her life according to a book of prophecies left behind by her ancestor, one Agnes Nutter. Anathema knows what’s coming, and she knows she has a part to play in the grand scheme of things, she just wishes she could decipher Agnes’ prophecies just that little bit quicker sometimes.

Newt Pulsifer is an aspiring computer engineer. Or he would be, if he was not so hopeless at anything to do with electronics. He’s stumbled across Shadwell, an old (and questionably sane?) and ferocious witch finder. Little does he know that Agnes saw him there at the end too.

This book is hilarious, and highly entertaining. It contains a lot of the wit and humour that Pratchett is renowned for, and has made me keen to read more of Gaiman’s work. There were a few lines that I have read before, or that were very similar to lines in some of Pratchett’s other works, but they were great words, placed in a perfect order, so I didn’t mind reading them again. And who knows? I am not an expert on the chronology of Pratchett’s entire body of work, but perhaps this book was written first. In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. 

 

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Cress

This is a review of “Cress” by Marissa Meyer. It is book 3 in The Lunar Chronicles. It follows on from “Scarlet“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

Cress is a lonely Lunar teen. She’s not like other Lunar people. She’s a shell. This means that she does not possess the Lunar gift that allows Lunars to manipulate the bioelectricity of other humans. She is also immune to the “glamour” that this gift produces. This means that she can see the true nature of other Lunars through the facades that they often project, and even more dangerously, she cannot be manipulated against her will. On Lunar, shells are taken at birth and slaughtered. But Cress herself is evidence that this is not quite the case. She lives in a satellite, at the behest of her cruel Mistress, Sybil Mara, head thaumaturge to Queen Levana. Cress is an expert hacker and programmer and seeing value in this, Sybil moved her to a location that was closer to Earth, in order to allow Cress access to the many Earthen satellite, camera and security systems.

Cress is lonely. She hates being forced to spy on the Earthen people. She even attempted to make contact with Prince Kai to warn him about Levana (in “Cinder“). Instead, she made contact with Cinder, who rushed to the ball and ended up being arrested. She hasn’t given up hope of finally getting out if the satellite one day. She’s done a lot of research into, and keeping track of Cinder and her band of outlaws. She’s particularly taken with Captain Carswell Thorne.

Who is just as arrogant and superficial as ever. Cinder is still trying to formulate a plan to overthrow Levana, and stop Kai from making the biggest mistake of his young life. Wolf is adjusting to normal life and he and Scarlet are completely taken with one another. Scarlet is still mourning the loss of her grandmother, and has vowed to continue her life’s work, by aiding Cinder. And Dr Erland is still awaiting Cinder in Africa…

I really enjoyed this book. I actually did not want to finish this book because I know I have to wait for the next one. I enjoyed the character of Cress, and the character development of Carswell. I found the dialogue to be witty, and reading this book was an overall pleasing experience. As I said, I am really looking forward to “Winter”, the next installment, which is out next year. I have also discovered, whilst checking out Marissa’s website, that there are short stories set in the Cinder-verse. Woohoo 🙂

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Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident

This is a review of “Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident” by Eoin Colfer. It is the second novel in the Artemis Fowl Series. It follows on from “Artemis Fowl“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel/s. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

The story begins three years prior, the Russian Mafiya has just come into possession of a valuable person, none other than Artemis Fowl Senior. They’re biding their time (and making sure that AF Snr doesn’t die on them), waiting for the perfect opportunity to demand a ransom. They decide that this opportunity is three years after they take him, in the present day. Artemis (the second) is contacted via email and he knows that a ransom will shortly be demanded.

Meanwhile, the LEP are having their own problems. Captain Holly Short and Private Chix Verbil are conducting a routine stakeout, when they unearth an illegal goblin smuggling ring. They attack the two LEP fairies using old outlawed softnose lasers, powered by highly illegal human batteries. Holly suspects Artemis Fowl of having an involvement.

Who is supplying the Goblin Triads with human technology? Can Artemis convince the LEP he is innocent of involvement? And can he save his father and get his family back to normal?

I enjoyed this Artemis Fowl novel as much as I enjoyed the first. Colfer is great at creating different characters, all likeable for lots of different reasons. I admire his strong female characters and the environmental messages in his books.

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Grave Secret

This is a review of the novel “Grave Secret” by Charlaine Harris. It is the fourth novel in the Harper Connelly Series. It follows on from “An Ice Cold Grave“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel/s. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

Harper has been hired by a wealthy rancher family in Texas. Lizzie Joyce isn’t too specific about what it is that she wants. She’s intrigued by Harper, so just about any reason to hire her will do. So she decides to get Harper to confirm that her grandfather did indeed die of a heart attack. Harper explores the family grave sites, and discovers that old man Joyce, was surprised nastily before his fatal episode of cardiac arrest, and that another person interred there died rather differently than what has been accepted as the explanation for her death for years.

While the Joyce family gets to the bottom of their mystery, Harper has her own family mystery to deal with. There’s been a reported sighting of Cameron. Could it really be her? And if not, will they ever find out what happened to her missing sister Cameron?

I enjoyed this book. It was nice to get closure on the Cameron issue. I feel like Harper and Tolliver are going to have a nice life from here on out. I do wish that there were more Harper Connelly novels, but I understand that Harris is finished writing them. Who knows, maybe Harper will pop up again like Harris’ other characters do (for example: Lily Bard’s appearance in the Sookie Stackhouse novels, or the reappearance of other characters in Charlaine’s newest novel “Midnight Crossroad”).

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An Ice Cold Grave

This is a review of the novel “An Ice Cold Grave” by Charlaine Harris. It is the third novel in the Harper Connelly Series. It follows on from “Grave Surprise“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel/s. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

Harper has been invited to Doraville, North Carolina to help with the investigation into the disappearance of woman’s grandson. But even more chilling, is the fact that he is only one of eight missing young males. Initially it had been thought that the boys were simply runaways, (it is the age for that kind of thing after all) but the new sheriff remains unconvinced of this theory of her predecessor. Harper begins her search for the missing grandson with his grandmother leading the way, and before long Harper has located the boys. It’s her hardest (emotionally) case yet. To see each boy’s last moment is horrific.

And someone is deeply unhappy with Harper. So unhappy that they decide to attack her. It is only her quick thinking that stops the attack from being fatal, but she is badly injured. Tolliver and her are forced to stay in town longer than they had planned, and again, they become drawn deeper and deeper into the case. Who has been taking boys in Doraville? What sick and depraved person is lingering in this North Carolina community?

I enjoyed this novel and the return of the character Manfred Bernado. There’s a somewhat shocking (Or is it really? This re-read has had me picking up on signs since the beginning) development towards the end of the novel, I won’t spoil it. I like that each of Harper’s mysteries throughout the series are different. As always, Charlaine Harris did not disappoint!

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Grave Surprise

This is a review of the novel “Grave Surprise” by Charlaine Harris. It is the second novel in the Harper Connelly Series. It follows on from “Grave Sight“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel/s. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

Harper Connelly and her brother Tolliver Lang are back on the road, finding the dead, and/or determining the cause of death for those that they find. They have been invited to Bingham College in Memphis Tennessee, by Dr Clive Nunley as special guests for his “An Open Mind: Experiences Outside the Box” class. It’s obvious that he is hoping to expose Harper as the shady fraud he believes her to be. Pity for him, he’s wrong. But he’s not the only one that gets a shock during Harper’s guest appearance. Dr Clive Nunley has asked Harper to tour the old cemetery on campus grounds, and list the cause of death for those interred there. The Professor has only just discovered the untouched records of the cemetery, and Harper has no way of obtaining any helpful information before her appearance. It’s clear that Dr Nunley considers this to be a perfect test of Harper’s “abilities”.

He’s sorely disappointed when Harper passes his test. However, Harper has found something unexpected. On her examination of an old grave, she’s discovered two bodies as opposed to the expected single body. There’s the grave’s original occupant and there’s fresher remains. Even more surprising is the fact the Harper has recognized them as the remains of a child that she was hired to find years earlier. Tabitha Morgenstern went missing in Nashville, and she’s been presumed dead for all this time. Who murdered Tabitha? It seems too much of a coincidence that Harper is the one who finally located her. Tolliver and Harper find themselves embroiled in mystery again.

I really, really love the way that Charlaine Harris writes mystery. I will never tire of her writing style. Also to be admired, is the way she creates her characters. All of them have such personality and are so individual. I enjoyed this novel. I liked how it highlighted another part of Harper’s life and work, how she dealt with clients, media and skeptics.

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Grave Sight

This is a review of the novel “Grave Sight” by Charlaine Harris. It is the first novel in the Harper Connelly Series.

Harper possesses a rare ability that connects her with the dead. She can locate bodies and determine the cause of death. She can see why they’ve died, but in the case of a murder or foul play, she cannot see the killer, just the dead person’s last moments. This ability was bestowed on Harper after she was struck by lightning as a teen. She’s made a living out of her strange ability, helping people find the bodies of their lost loved ones and providing them with closure. Her brother Tolliver Lang (they’re step siblings) travels around with her and helps her with her searches and provides support (finding the dead can be very draining).

Harper and Tolliver find themselves in the small town of Sarne in the Ozarks. Harper has been tasked with finding the body of the missing (and presumed dead) teenaged girl Teenie Hopkins. She and her boyfriend, Dell Teague, both went missing. Dell was found dead, and Teenie was just presumed to be a runaway. But then ugly rumours began to spread. It’s been said that Dell murdered Teenie and then committed suicide. His mother Sybil would like to put a stop to these rumours, so she’s hired Harper.

But when Harper finds Teenie, she finds a whole lot more, and the deaths of the two teenagers become a mystery that sorely needs to be solved.

Running in the background is the deeper mystery of Harper’s missing sister Cameron, who vanished when they were teens. Harper believes that Cameron is dead, and hopes that someday she will find her. But she and Tolliver may never discover what happened to Cameron Connelly.

I first read this book some time ago, and loved it then. Re-reading it, I still love it. Like anything I’ve read of Charlaine Harris’ it’s compelling and very hard to put down. The Harper Connelly Series is darker and more somber than the Sookie Stackhouse Series (Trueblood), but just as intriguing. I love the way that Harris writes her mysteries. I am always wanting to continue reading and I like the pace of her novels.

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Artemis Fowl

This is a review of the novel “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer. It is the first book in the Artemis Fowl Series.

Artemis Fowl the second is a twelve year old genius. He’s ruthless and he’s taking over the family crime business. His father went missing in Russian waters two years previously, and while Artemis has not given up looking for him, he’s accepted that he is the man of the house now. Artemis is looking for ways to keep the infamous Fowl family rolling in the riches while still being able to fund search and rescue efforts to locate his father.

While browsing the internet, Artemis happens along some info that most humans don’t often see or take notice of if they do. Artemis has reason to believe that fairykind not only exists, but like folklore suggests, they’re fond of money and do have access to gold. Artemis concocts a plan to kidnap one of the fairy folk in order to extract a ransom. But the leprechauns aren’t exactly what humans have perceived them to be.

No green stockings and be-buckled shoes for elf LEP-Recon Captain Holly Short. Captain Short is a member of the elite reconnaissance force, for the Lower Elements Police. Fairy kind were forced many many years ago to migrate to and live in the Earth’s core. They do not want their last refuge to be discovered and ruined by the humans. Holly is just finishing up a Recon mission on the surface when she unwillingly becomes Artemis’ hostage. Holly doesn’t intend to just lie down and give up though. Artemis is in for more than he bargained for…

I first read this novel as a teen, and really enjoyed it. As an adult, I found it to be just as entertaining. It’s fast paced, clever, witty, funny and techie. I love the strength of Holly’s character. Colfer inserts commentary about society, particularly the wastefulness and environmentally damaging nature of humans. I really enjoyed re-reading “Artemis Fowl” and I look forward to re-reading the rest of the series.

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Two Week’s Notice

This is a review of “Two Week’s Notice” by Rachel Caine. It is the second novel in the Revivalist Series. It follows on from “Working Stiff“.

As this book is a part of a series, the following review may reveal some details of the previous novel/s. Do not read if you intend to read this series in the future and don’t want to know of any potential plot spoilers.

Bryn Davis is one of the Revived. That is, she was dead until she was brought back to life through the drug Returnè. She’s alive but not. More like a zombie. Dead, and then brought back. Little robotic nanites live in her system, constantly repairing her body and keeping it from decaying, and repairing any other damage she may sustain. But to do this, they require the daily shot of Returnè. Essentially Bryn is an addict, and she really can’t go more than 24hours without her fix.

And she’s not the only one. In the wake of the Pharmadene disaster that befell employees in “Working Stiff“, there are a number of dead(-but-not-quite) people who are not quite sure how to adjust to life as a revived person. Bryn has been unofficially helping them out, forming a support group, and talking them through tough situations (“how do I tell my family that I am a … y’know … zombie?”). But when Bryn notices that a few too many of the Revived have been falling out of touch and essentially disappearing, she can’t help but wonder if Pharmadene or the Government is responsible for trying to clean up their mess.

Bryn’s Revived sister Annie, is still missing herself and this is worrying Bryn to no end. With the help of the spunky Patrick McAllister and their friend Joe Fidelli, Bryn sets out to find her sister and get to the bottom of the missing Pharmadene employees. It goes without saying that Bryn’s probably going to be in for a whole lot of hurt.

As with “Working Stiff” (and indeed any Rachel Caine novel I have ever read) I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and premise of this novel. It was interesting, gruesome, horrifying and at times touching. There was a huge twist at the end that I really didn’t see coming.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the third and final installment, the ominously titled “Terminated”.

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