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

Fight and Flight (Magic 2.0 #4) by Scott Meyer

Reviewed by Lotte:

Book number 4 in the Magic 2.0 series sees our now well loved and rather disastrous characters decide that since everything keeps going wrong for them, they should create some dragons and practice fighting and defending themselves against each other. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Again, this book contained wit and light-hearted entertainment, being easy to read like its predecessors. However, it was my least favourite so far. It was all a bit ‘done already’, we knew they were probably going to goof it all up and then must make it better in the same haphazard way that has become their modus operandum. Unfortunately, they also broke some of their magical rules/logic which was a little disappointing. This book is largely based on fantasy but does have elements of sci-fi that usually make sense within the context of the story. Not so much in this one, but once again, it was easy to overlook those things and still enjoy the book due to the narrative talents of Luke Daniels.

Author: Scott Meyer
Publisher: Rocket Hat Industries
Release date: 3 October 2017

An Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0 #3) by Scott Meyer

Reviewed by Lotte:

This third book in the Magic 2.0 series takes an entirely different approach. The main characters find themselves within a computer game, stripped of their magical abilities, with a series of quests they must undertake in order to find their way out of the game. The big question being: will they conquer and survive to tell the tale or will they succumb to the perils of the game.

This book was great! I really enjoyed the change in approach and was caught up in the varying tasks of the game. I think having it set within a magical world, with people that know ‘magic’ but cannot use it was as interesting dynamic. It gave the familiar feeling of human frustration! The quests themselves, along with the glitches and character reactions made it hilarious in places. Again, this was only enhanced by Luke Daniels narration, who once again took this story to the next level!

My only drag on this was that I found the repetition a little annoying when the second group arrived at the same task. I know it was supposed to show that the creator hadn’t planned for two groups, but I felt there was a missed opportunity there. Still it was a fun, light-hearted, easy read that I would recommend for those that enjoy fantasy with a touch of sci-fi.

Author: Scott Meyer
Publisher: 47North 
Release date: 10 February 2015

Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0 #2) by Scott Meyer

Reviewed by Lotte:

This is the second book in the Magic 2.0 series where we see two branches of the storyline. The First being Jimmy’s liaisons with Treasury Agents Miller & Murphy. Then there is Martin and Phillips trip to Atlantis for a magical grand summit. We are introduced to the Britts and very quickly a murder plot arises which Martin and Phillip attempt to solve.

I enjoyed this instalment of the series, but I have to admit, not as much as the first book (perhaps that is because I had such high expectations after the first one). Nonetheless it was interesting to add the dynamic of the two Britts and the time-travel paradox – although this was confusing enough now, I fear future books may become more so! The murder mystery had a few little plot twists and things to keep you reading and Jimmy’s side story was fairly clever. However, it felt a bit like a filler story, paving the way for future plots.

Once again, Luke Daniels narrates this perfectly. Honestly, I think his interpretation and delivery just make the book so much better.

Author: Scott Meyer
Publisher: 47North 
Release date: 17 June 2014

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 #1) by Scott Meyer

Reviewed by Lotte:

This is the story of Martin Banks who chances upon a file that shows the world is just a series of computer code. He ultimately takes too many risks and as the FBI come knocking, he decides to teleport back to medieval England where he thinks he can become a renowned, real-life magician. One problem: he isn’t the only person to do this.

This is a fun and light-hearted read that combines a little science fiction with a lot of fantasy. I found it to be a fairly simple story but nonetheless I was drawn in as Martin faced the challenge of becoming a wizard and we got to know the other characters. Meyer has fleshed these other characters out well and has created a world and scientific logic that fit the storyline without being overly complicated.

I think for me the narrator, Luke Daniels, was the icing on the cake. The way in which he interpreted and delivered the story made for entertaining listening!

Author: Scott Meyer
Publisher: 47North 
Release date: 18 March 2014