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COVID-19 Update: April 2020

Hello there, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to check out or follow my blog, read my reviews, purchase a bookmark or like, comment or share my posts. Every interaction is appreciated and keeps me motivated to continue writing these reviews. So once again thank you very much for your help and encouragement.

However, I’m sure you’ve all heard of this coronavirus or COVID-19, and in truth probably sick of hearing about it and look forward to the day when the lockdown is over and you can return to whatever now passes for normal. So I’ll skip the pre-amble and just jump straight to the point.

Due to recent circumstances it is no longer viable for me to continue a sales based business in crafting hand-made bookmarks. As these are luxuries and not essential items, I have made the difficult decision to close my online stores on Etsy and Ebay. As a result I’ll be heading back to a bookkeeping or accounts based day job, or at least hopefully I’ll be able to once the current chaos calms down a little.

I’ll still be posting book reviews here on the Sci-Fi Kingdom blog, as well as on a number of other platforms including: ​Goodreads, Amazon and sometimes over at OnlineBookClub.org. However, these posts may be a bit sporadic, depending on other commitments.

Once again, thank you for all the support and encouragement.

Take care, stay safe and best wishes,

Sarah

Revenger Series: Book 2 – Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)

Shadow Captain is the second of the 3 Revenger series books by Alastair Reynolds, and its story begins precisely where Revenger left off.

…potential spoiler warning for those who haven’t read Revenger

You can check out my review of book 1, Revenger here via this link.

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 2 – Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)”

Revenger Series: Book 1 – Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)

Having read a few Alastair Reynolds books before, I decided to pick up his three Revenger novels: Revenger, Shadow Captain and Bone Silence, hoping for more of his gripping hard sci-fi adventures. However, I later discovered that these are actually young adult books and so are not quite up to the same standards as earlier reads.

…potential spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 1 – Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)”

Divergent Trilogy: Reviews of Books 2 & 3

Divergent Trilogy: Book 2 – Insurgent

After all of the fast-paced action and excitement of Divergent, the follow-up seemed very lethargic and slow. Insurgent began exactly where Divergent left off with Tris, Caleb and Four on the run from the Erudite and Dauntless forces. In the early parts of the book the characters travelled around between different factions, without much of real importance or consequence happening.

I really struggled to read Insurgent as the story dragged without much real purpose. There was far, far too much focus on the relationship issues between Tris and Four, as they constantly bickered, kept secrets and repeatedly antagonised each other.

Having suffered my way to the end of this book, I discovered that the story didn’t really conclude in any meaningful way, but continues on into the next, and final, book of the series. If the dialogue in Insurgent had been trimmed down and there had been better focus, instead of all the confusion of running around between factions, this might have been interesting. However, I’m really disappointed in the direction of this novel and it makes me somewhat reluctant to continue reading.

At 1 out of 5 stars, I wouldn’t recommend Insurgent. Divergent was a fantastic book, but this one was just boring, stretched out with tedious, irritating and pointless dialogue to flesh it out. No real story progression or character development, with Tris constantly complaining and feeling sorry for herself.

 

Divergent Trilogy: Book 3 – Allegiant

Simply to round-out this series and complete my reviews, I pressed forward and read the final book in the trilogy. However, I found it difficult to focus with the story’s perspectives constantly switching between Tris and Four, as it was hard to keep track and distinguish between them. It seemed to be a persistent battle to remember which perspective I was following, as there was no difference between them and the chapters were so short that they switched viewpoints regularly.

However, one consolation was that this novel provided the answers to questions I had after reading the first book. But since this is revealed fairly early on in the story, it just makes it doubly difficult to finish reading. At 0.5 out of 5 stars I really can’t recommend Allegiant to anyone, as its only redeeming feature is the origin story. This book is extremely monotonous, and so long that I honestly thought it was never going to end.

If you really want to check out the Divergent series, then I suggest that you watch the movies. The films are a lot more entertaining and the story moves at a much faster pace. However all that cool sci-fi tech you see in the movies, they don’t exist in the books. Just be aware that, as with most adaptations, somewhere along the line the books and films become very, very different.

 

See also:

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book 1

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)

The Divergent Trilogy is a dystopian young adult fantasy series set in an alternate reality where the USA is split into different factions, with each faction having unique mannerisms, rules and dress codes. On turning 16, main character Tris must join her classmates in taking the Aptitude Test, which determines their future, by placing them definitively in one of the five separate factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless or Amity. Once decided during the Choosing Ceremony, each pupil then leaves to join their chosen faction and train to complete the initiation process. Failure is not an option worth contemplating.

….possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)”

The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 2 by David Hawk (Book Review)

This second instalment in the Race Through Space, Event Horizon series continues the story of Neil Webb and Marie Arroway from where its predecessor Event Horizon book 1 left off.

 

If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of Event Horizon book 1 here, or begin with the review of books 1-3 of the original The Race Through Space Trilogy via this link.

 

…warning: series spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 2 by David Hawk (Book Review)”

Supernatural: Carved In Flesh by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)

Carved In Flesh is the twelfth book in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by Tim Waggoner. It takes place during season seven between episodes 12 (Time After Time) and 13 (The Slice Girls).

 

…spoiler warning for those not familiar and up-to-date with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: Carved In Flesh by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)”

Cell by Stephen King (Book Review)

October 1st begins like any other ordinary day in Boston. Clayton Riddell has turned a corner in his graphic art career, but his good mood is soon to be cut short. While waiting in line for the ice-cream truck at around 3pm, the people ahead of him suddenly go berserk, violently attacking each other.

All across Boston everyone with a cell phone turns violent and aggressive, harming both themselves and everyone else around them. At first Clay can only watch in horror as the spectacle unfolds before his eyes, however once he realises that the problem is due to some sort of subliminal message being carried by cell phone signals, his thoughts soon turn to his young son, Johnny.

Although Clay and his recently estranged wife Sharon don’t own a cell phone, their son Johnny however, does. When Clay is unable to contact his family via a landline telephone connection, he vows to brave the chaos and find a way home to Maine, before his son decides to use the little red cell phone in his possession.

Will Clay find his family before they transform?

 

Favourite Quote:

“It’s like the fucking Night of the Living Dead.” – Officer Ulrich Ashland. (p31)

 

Cell is a bizarre story from master of horror Stephen King, in which an electronic pulse is sent out via the cellular telephone network in America to all cell phone users turning them violently insane.

As if that basic concept wasn’t already creepy enough to have you destroying your phone, vowing never to touch the abhorrent device again, the story gets even spookier when those individuals that are unaffected all have the exact same nightmare. The crazy people seem to be able to communicate telepathically, both with each other and also with those still sane, influencing people while they sleep.

The crazies don’t remain dumb, blank-faced idjits but gradually develop psychic powers as they flock together, thinking as one mind.

Let’s not forget that King’s novel was released back in 2006 before the rise of the smartphone, so let’s just take a short moment to consider the myriad ways that phones can now be manipulated, and the ramifications of a real-life hacking event if anyone were to obtain control of smartphones worldwide. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

At 4 out of 5 stars, Cell is an enjoyable, thought-provoking novel, although rather disturbing at the same time. The only fault is that it ends a little abruptly.

 

2016 sees the movie release starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Isabelle Fuhrman.

 

I was extremely excited to finally watch the story come to life however Cell is an absolutely atrocious film.

The director has taken a number of liberties when it comes to the details of the adaptation which distorts the story. It becomes a jumbled mess which doesn’t flow very well resulting in a movie that is difficult to understand.

With bad acting, poor dialogue and very short, clipped explanations Cell is a film that no-one can relate to and which doesn’t make much sense. With so many details from the book being changed and warped it almost comes across as an entirely different story altogether.

Cell is up there on the list of terrible Stephen King adaptations, but while the film is a waste of time, the original novel is a recommended read.

 

See also:

The Shining

The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep

Four Past Midnight Collection

Ringworld Series: Book 2 – The Ringworld Engineers (Book Review)

Ringworld Engineers, the sequel to Larry Niven’s classic science fiction novel, Ringworld continues the tale of Louis Wu, and the alien explorers. Twenty-three years after leaving the Ringworld behind them, Louis, Nessus’s ex-lover, Hindmost to the Pierson’s Puppeteer race and the catlike kzinti, travel back to the massive alien construction.

 

…beware of possible spoilers for those not familiar with book 1, Ringworld…

You can read my review of book one, Ringworld here via this link.

Continue reading “Ringworld Series: Book 2 – The Ringworld Engineers (Book Review)”

Olympian Challenger: Book 3 – Olympian Reckoning (Book Review)

Olympian Reckoning is the third book in the urban fantasy romance trilogy Olympian Challenger, by Astrid Arditi.

 

…warning: spoiler alert for those who haven’t read the first two books…

 Check out my review of book one, Olympian Challenger here.

As well as my review of book two, Olympian Heritage via this link.

Continue reading “Olympian Challenger: Book 3 – Olympian Reckoning (Book Review)”

Ringworld Series: Book 1 – Ringworld by Larry Niven (Book Review)

On his 200th birthday Louis Wu meets a Pierson’s Puppeteer, a strange sentient species of alien being thought to have vanished from known space. The Puppeteer, Nessus wishes to recruit him for an exploration into the far reaches of space. These unlikely allies are joined by two others to form an unusual group of four, and together they travel to what is known as Ringworld; a star orbited by a massive ring. These four intrepid explorers must now visit the Ringworld, tasked by those who lead the Pierson’s Puppeteer race, with learning more about the unusual world and its occupants.

 

Told from Louis’s Wu’s human perspective, we explore the Ringworld along with these characters, learning more about it as they do. The book is classic science fiction full of adventure and hard science. I love these types of stories, with their detailed descriptions of spaceships, planets, alien beings and the physical science which allows it all to co-exist. Trepidation and excitement at new discoveries keep the reader immersed in this fascinating world.

I found the book to be well-written and engaging, with a good balance of science and story. Though it begins to drag a little in the middle, with the seemingly endless and repetitive motion of the characters as they fly over desolate landscapes, rarely landing or interacting with the Ringworld natives. The ridiculous quarrels between the explorers also annoyed me slightly, dragging the story out. Towards the end I noticed a few errors cropping up, which is unusual in professionally published paperbacks such as this, but since I’ve read plenty of books with a lot more issues, it didn’t put me off reading.

As is usually predictable with science fiction books, there are numerous alien beings and strange species with difficult to pronounce names, such as Halrloprillalar Hotrufan and Zignamuclickclick. However, at 4 out of 5 stars Ringworld is an enjoyable classic for those who love their sci-fi filled with hard science and adventure.

I now look forward to checking out book two, The Ringworld Engineers.

 

See also:

Book 2: The Ringworld Engineers

Book 3: The Ringworld Throne

Book 4: Ringworld’s Children