The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviewed by Lotte:

This is a fun, intelligent book involving a national crisis which shatters lives and forces earth into speeding up its mission to colonise other planets, firstly the moon and then Mars. This book has an apocalyptic feel, set in the 1950’s.

Kowal pitches this book in a time when sexism and racism are rife, with women and those of differing ethnicity from the 1950s privileged white, had to fight to be heard and get a seat at the table. Ironically, it is actually those women that make the colonisation possible with the “Lady Astronaut” being an integral part of the whole operation. In fact, it is her calculating skills that assist most with the operation. She is a strong, independent and intelligent woman who learns of her own privilege and attempts to strive for what is right. However, along the way she realises that this isn’t always possible and that fighting for what she deserves isn’t always straight forward.

The science fiction element of this book was easy to digest, giving the reader enough to understand what was happening and to make the story work without being overloading. This was a good balance for me as I can become bored with protracted explanations of made up technology and scientific logic. This certainly isn’t a hardcore Sci-Fi novel but that worked for me.

All this is based in a fast paced, well thought out novel that captured my attention instantly. The way in which Kowal writes instantly draws you in to both the characters and storyline. I definitely want to read the sequel to this book!

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Solaris
Release date: 10 April 2019

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Reviewed by Sophie:

This was my first time reading a proper fantasy book.

I’ll be honest with you, it took me a long time to get into the plot and there were just so many names to remember!! I eventually got the hang of them.

I loved the structure and how each chapter was written from the point of view of the central characters.

The plot also became better as the story progressed and by the last 100 pages I didn’t want to put the book down. Definitely glad I tried it.

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release date: 29 September 2015

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

Reviewed by Sophie:

A rare a wonderful find.

I picked up this book as it was free on kindle unlimited. It also had a free audio version that I was able to sync up, so I could listen in my car.

I found the first 5 chapters quite slow and struggled to initially get into it but then from when the main protagonist meets ‘the boy’ this book becomes magical.

I laughed and cried at this book. An easy read and if not at times predictable but one I wanted to continue to read …just incase my guessing was wrong. Definitely a hidden gem.

Author: Jessica Park
Publisher: Skyscape
Release date: 25 April 2017

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

Reviewed by Lotte:

This is the life story of Hope Arden who is forgot by everyone just moments after they’ve seen her. This means she has had to work out a way to survive, stealing money to live as holding down a job is as impossible as living in a home that thinks you are a stranger.

I thought I was going to really enjoy this book because the premise sounded really good. I can’t say I really disliked it either. It was just a bit meh! There were some parts to the narrative that piqued my interest, but they mainly felt quite disconnected, even towards the end as the story was supposed to be coming together. Instead it felt like a series of anecdotes and not much more which was a shame because I felt the character and the complexities of not being remembered – the sheer scope of that – could have been utilised in a much better, more cohesive way. There was also the interesting Perfection app which featured on and off, but again I didn’t feel like this potential was played out enough.

I don’t think the monotony was helped by the first-person narration throughout making me feel like the whole thing was fairly bland. I would only recommend this if you’re looking for a filler book that doesn’t have much to it.

Author: Claire North
Publisher: Orbit
Release date: 17 May 2016

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Reviewed by Sophie:

I’m really glad that I have read this book. It’s been a while since a book has gripped me. Don’t get me wrong…it has its floors, but overall I enjoyed it.

I felt I bonded with the main character and wanted to continue reading, (at all costs), to find out what had really happened.

I liked the way the story went back and forth from 1950 to ‘present day’. Its little snippets from the past made the reader understand the plot more rather than bringing up more questions.

I found the ‘ghost’ link tedious though. It didn’t really need it. The book could have worked well without it, but it didn’t hinder the book as a whole.

Overall, it was something different and that was so nice to read.

Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: 20 March 2018

The Vexed Generation (Magic 2.0 #6) by Scott Meyer

Reviewed by Lotte:

In the final instalment of the Magic 2.0 series we jump forward in time and meet Mattie and Brewster – Gwen and Martin’s children. They seem to be living a normal, non-magical, life until Phillip turns up and Gwen and Martin freeze for no apparent reason. Mattie and Brewster are left alone to discover a world of magic, in the same chaotic way as previous books, learning many secrets, meeting strange people and fighting magic battles in an attempt to save their parents life.

I wondered where this story could possibly go next without repeating the same overdone things, but it seems Meyer has found an interesting new path and I was excited to explore it. I enjoyed the focus on the next generation of budding magicians finding their way, whilst still maintaining enough of the same ingredients to make it funny, likeable and easy to read. Meyer built on the already well-established world, updating it in a way that was still detailed but fresh and new. Some of the calamities that occurred were predictable based on the previous chaos that ensued, but I guess they wouldn’t have been Martin’s children if there wasn’t that same mess-making, nerdiness!

It was a great way to take this series further, with Luke Daniels bringing to life these additional characters in his now very much-loved Magic 2.0 style.

Author: Scott Meyer
Publisher: Rocket Hat Industries
Release date: 6 December 2019

Out of Spite, Out of Mind (Magic 2.0 # 5) by Scott Meyer

Reviewed by Lotte:

Remember back in book two when we were introduced to the two Britts – Britt the younger and Britt the elder – and I wondered if things might get even more complicated than they already where. Well yep, that is exactly what happened in book 5 of the Magic 2.0 series! The Britts realise there are discrepancies in their memory, which should be identical. Cue Phillip wanting to save the day and help Britt the Elder, except he has to keep it secret, using his magical time-travelling powers to cover up or else upset Britt the Younger, his girlfriend, who just happens to despise her Elder self. If this wasn’t complicated enough, another character enters that takes the whole time-travelling paradox to a new level of confusion.

This book was good, but my word, it hurt my head trying to work out the Britts and how they fit into a timeline. It was incredibly easy to get lost down a very confusion stream of thought and distracted slightly from the story. However, it was good to have a different approach to the same clumsy antics and I particularly enjoyed the other more human elements that were interwoven into this book. Now that we know the characters well, it was good to see more of the details of their loves and that even magicians are prone to the same human difficulties, even if they do handle them differently.

This was another fun instalment to this easy reading, fantasy sci-fi hybrid. Once again, I listened to the audio version because Luke Daniels is just a genius!

Author: Scott Meyer
Publisher: Rocket Hat Industries
Release date: 19 December 2018