historical fiction · mystery · sci-fi

Review: A Murder in Time

Author: Julie McElwain
Genre: Mystery, Historical, Science Fiction
Series: Kendra Donovan

Summary from Goodreads:

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

Comments:

When I read the title for the first time, all I could think about was a Wrinkle in Time. Would this be related to that well-known classic? It somehow was.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like the story since I’m not a fan of fantasy, especially time-travel. However, I have to admit that this element has added more interest and color to the story.

Kendra Donovan is an FBI agent set to seek revenge when an operation for a high-profile criminal killed her teammates. Despite careful planning, things didn’t go as planned due to some unforeseen circumstances. The most surprising factor was when Kendra was sucked into a wormhole and was ushered into a different time period.

As this book so openly pointed out, evil is ever present and that’s what Kendra realized when a serial killer hunted young girls. It was up to her to use her skills, deduction, and training to identify him and put an end to his crimes.

I’m always up for a good mystery and crime book so I really enjoyed this one. I must commend the author as I didn’t have the slightest idea who the killer was. It was also a breath of fresh air to see how criminal procedures were done during that era, where technology did not exist. I will definitely read the next book as I need to know how Alec and Kendra would turn out!

“Whoever had said that appearances were deceiving was only partially right; they could also be deadly.”

My Rating: ★★★★ (4)

fantasy · romance · sci-fi

Review: The Vanishing Girl

Author: Laura Thalassa

Summary from Goodreads:
Every night after Ember Pierce falls asleep, she disappears. She can teleport anywhere in the world—London, Paris, her crush’s bedroom—wherever her dreams lead her. Ten minutes is all she gets, and once time’s up, she returns to her bed. It’s a secret she’s successfully kept for the last five years. But now someone knows.

A week after her eighteenth birthday, when frustratingly handsome Caden Hawthorne captures her, delivers her to the government, and then disappears before her eyes, Ember realizes two things: One, she is not alone. And two, people like her—teleporters—are being used as weapons.

Dragged off to a remote facility where others like her live, Ember’s forced to pair up with her former captor, Caden, to learn how to survive inside until she can escape. Only Caden’s making escape seem less and less appealing.

But even as Ember falls for the boy who got her into this mess, she knows that she is running out of time. Because the government has plans for those like her, and those plans might just cost Ember her life.

Comments:

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

From someone who isn’t usually into fantasy and science fiction, 4 stars is saying a lot. One of the things that I really liked is its power to engage me from the beginning. There is kind of a mystery feel to this book because it warrants so many answers yet to be discovered. However, even upon finishing, there still remains the confusion on who is the enemy, or who should be trusted. Twisted right?

Character-wise, Ember can be cool or irritating but due to alterations, it seems she can’t be blamed. I was a bit skeptical with the love story because again there’s the case of insta-love but at least was a bit played down. Caden just had to be perfect in every way as with other book boyfriends. o_o

I also liked how luck wasn’t always on Ember’s side just like how it seems with other plots. It was a plus that she was caught. I’d seriously be rolling my eyes if she wasn’t considering the government are supposed to be watching. I’d be watching out for the next installment and hope it’ll be awesome as well!

My Rating: ★★★★ (4)

action · sci-fi · thriller

Lucy (2014)

Summary from IMDB:
A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Comments:

Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?

Started out brilliant, but it’s “awesomeness” gradually diminished for me. The concept, the characters – especially Scarlett Johansson – started off strong. I was just in awe of the scenes and what was happening. However, towards the middle, I can’t help but question, “How can a movie like this end?” True enough, the ending didn’t satisfy. I wish they could have done a lot more. I did like the scientific side of the story. People have been telling that some of the trivia were erroneous, so I wish they could corrected it that viewers won’t see it as common knowledge.

PS. Scarlett was hot though, as usual. 🙂
PPS. First time to watch at Trinoma! 🙂

My Rating: ★★

adventure · apocalyptic · sci-fi

Life As We Knew It

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary from Goodreads:
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

Comments:

I’m torn as to giving this book a rating of 3 stars or 4 stars so I’ll settle for 3.5 to be fair. I haven’t read any apocalyptic books until now and it truly was an eye-opening experience.

So what would you do being a teen leading a normal life, when suddenly an unexpected twist appears and gets all the normalcy out of you? Survival is what drives you into action, although it is something that you can’t learn from textbooks. Rather, it is time to depend on your human instincts and take whatever life throws at you. Such is what happens to our female protagonist Miranda. This is book is actually her diary – a chronicle of events as she sees it – when the world fell apart due to miscalculations of an asteroid hitting the moon.

The start of the “end of the world” was filled with exciting frenzy – stockpiling, news, a wave of calamities that seemed to be happening everywhere, – until little by little, things considered as necessity were slowly being taken away. While reading this part, I share the sentiments of the kids. Is this really necessary? Is there such a thing as the end of the world? Maybe you’re just over thinking things! As always, mom turned out to be right.

Being forced into such a life brought out the best and worst of people. I think it was adamant in this story how sacrifices were involved, but also some sacrifices which were not really necessary. One of the characters that stood out to me was Miranda’s best friend, Megan. Don’t get me wrong; I approve of being religious and of being repentant. However, I Megan and her church friends were probably victims of false ideologies because they came off as self-righteous. Other people, like Peter, Mrs. Nesbitt, and Miranda’s mom, took this as an opportunity to prioritize others and show their love.

Although certain parts of the story became boring, not that I expected a whole lot of action with what has been going on, I certainly enjoyed maturing along with the characters. Simple things were deemed of value, being together became more important than all the physical comfort, and hoping that the best is yet to come can still abound. I sure hope it isn’t in my lifetime when all these things are to happen, but we can still learn a thing or two from Miranda and her journey.

My Rating: ★★★★

horror · sci-fi · zombie

The Enemy

Author: Charlie Higson
Series: The Enemy #1
Summary from Goodreads:
They’ll chase you.

They’ll rip you open.

They’ll feed on you . . .

When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician — every adult — fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city — down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground — the grown-ups lie in wait.

Date finished reading: March 06, 2014

Comments:

I haven’t read a lot of zombie books, but I find this one interesting. Charlie Higson used the unique concept of kids being survivors and the grown-ups as contractors of the disease. Nobody knew where and how it started. But one thing is for sure – they need to survive. And to survive, they needed each other.

One of the biggest things I liked is how realistic it can be. Not that zombies are real, but if it were, the scenario would probably be like what was depicted in the book. Deaths, hunger, fatigue, fear – these join the enemy forces. Throughout the book, there were major deaths. In most plots, main characters somehow miraculously survive because they are needed in the story. Here, a lot of them ended up being beaten protecting others or defeated in skirmishes. That’s what made things believable.

A crucial player in the book is the concept of loyalty. When we talk of surviving, we somehow put ourselves above all others. When the tables are turned, do we remain loyal or do we sway to the stronger faction? Their trust in each other was tested when they reached Buckingham palace, a supposedly place of safety. As it turned out, they were to be used as pawns to serve David’s purpose. I for sure thought that it would be a lost cause. It ended up with the kids being smarter than I thought, in fact too smart, and set a plot to overturn the tyrant.

A lot of questions remained unanswered and hopefully the next installment would shed some light on them. It wasn’t too gory as I thought it would be. Since we have different levels of tolerance though, I would still advise that readers should see for themselves if they can handle it.

Enjoyable read and looking forward to reading the next one!

“There was a reason these boys were still alive, though. Something made them stronger than the other kids, the ones who had died in the early days, who had simply lain down and given up, unable to cope with the terrible things that were happening in the world. These boys were survivors. The will to live was stronger than any other feelings.”

My Rating: ★★★★

dystopian · romance · sci-fi

Pandemonium

Author: Lauren Oliver
Date finished reading: February 27, 2014

Comments:

Pandemonium is the continuation of Lena’s story after the huge cliffhanger of its precedent, Delirium. Readers might be trying to look for answers in this book, the major ones like, “What happened to Alex?” or “What happened to Lena’s mom?” However, this book does little to satisfy your curiosity.

The author uses a different writing style in this book. We are given alternating glimpses of THEN as in Lena’s life after crossing the fence and NOW which deals with the present situation – a stronger Lena who is officially part of the resistance. This style is helpful in keeping the reader engaged because I was continuously looking forward to the merging of the stories until the picture became clearer. Lena has become determined to carry out plans against the DFA. Her assignment was to tail Julian Fineman, who turned out to be a major character in the book.

As usual, the pacing is slow and mostly conversational. Lauren Oliver is very descriptive in her writing and you can almost imagine what the characters are doing. A major part of this book is about Lena and Julian trying to escape their kidnappers and most of the action occurs in the end. Twists have been presented leading to more questions. The ending was yet another cliffhanger, probably bigger than the last. I hope Lena doesn’t make promises she can’t keep.

I’m looking forward to the last installment although I’m hoping that Lena doesn’t turn like Bella Swan or other of the love triangles that turns out waaay annoying.

“The flip side of freedom is this: When you’re completely free, you’re also completely on your own.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

dystopian · romance · sci-fi

Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver
Date finished reading: February 16, 2014

Comments:

This book had an interesting plot. It is set in a world where it is believed that love is a disease. In order to be truly happy, residents were to submit to receiving the cure so that they would be immune to the disease. That was the kind of setup Lena was brought up in. She looked forward to the day that she would receive her own cure. She has be haunted by her mother’s suicide who was believed to be infected with the disease. Lena would do her best to take the right path as expected of her – until she met Alex.

I can’t blame Lena for her view of things because that was what she had known all her life. Her excitement to finally undergo the cure which she believed would make others see her differently. I’d have to agree though that she is lucky to have Hana. It was Hana’s bold, outspoken beliefs that first set a tiny fissure in Lena’s perfect world. Hana was a memorable character because of her angst and rebellious soul. She was always the one to question how things are how they were, only in the end, the idea of running away is something she can’t handle.

Then there’s Alex, the invalid. His presence set the tone for Lena’s eyes to finally see what the government was doing – their lies, deceptions, inhumanity – all of which becomes a shock to her. The final blow was her mother, the reason why she finally agreed to go out in the Wilds. I look up to Lena’s mother just as how she was described in the story. She values her family and she brought up her kids in love and happiness, even when they were too young to see how lucky they were.

What I liked about this story is the redefinition of love. Sure love can hurt; it causes us to do crazy things. But it is also sacrifice, to the point of putting other people’s happiness first and downscaling ours. And how this time, the author uses the more believeable connection between parent and child rather than the overly used boy-meets-girl then everything becomes perfect kinda thing.

The only downside while I was reading is the effort of the author to drag the story. There were times when I felt she was just filling the spaces with flowery language rather than continuing the story. I like her love for detail, but if used so much, it can become boring. I’d be interested in reading the next books because of the cliffhanger ending and I have my hopes up on how the story would turn out.

As Lena’s mother always says, “I love you. Remember. They cannot take it.”

“I guess that’s just part of loving people: You have to give things up. Sometimes you even have to give them up.”

My Rating: ★★★★