Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Title: Jinxed

Author: Amy McCulloch

Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction


She burst through the trees, cradling the monster in her arms.

Blurb: Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the "Baku" – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced Bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.

Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced Baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the Baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profectus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a Baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.

My thoughts: I like YA books, Science Fiction and cats and JINXED has all these elements rolled into one story. I loved, at first, the idea of having a Baku – but these gorgeous little critters go above and beyond being a communications device and companion. Baku are increasingly social status markers, the higher you rise within the company, or society, the more complex in both design and size your Baku gets to be. This works the other way too the lower you are the less impressive is your Baku.

Lacey Chu’s one dream is to join the biggest tech company Moncha, the creators of the Baku – part smartphone part animal companion to do this she needs to be accepted into the elite academy once she finishes school – instead it looks like she hasn’t made the grade and instead of getting the expected level 3 Baku (a furry critter like a dog or a cat) she’s stuck with a level one (a bug)

Despondent she comes across the thrown away wreckage of a cat like Baku. It is very badly damaged but she decides to fix it and soon Jinx comes alive. Jinx is not at all like other Bakus he is able to think and act independently, and go where he wants rather than where he is instructed to go. As soon as Lacey has got Jinx up and running she finds that she has been accepted into the elite collage and her future in robotics seems assured.

I loved the world building, and the fact that no matter how far in the future you go there will still be teen angst. Lacey’s best friend through High School is following a different career path – and so their friendship is hard to maintain – however making new friends is hard too. Author, Amy McCulloch, has this torn loyalties bit down pat. The story focusses on Jinx – who made it and why. There is an unresolved back story of Lacey’s father – he disappeared when she was young and her mother won’t talk about it. I suspect that this story will be expanded on as JINXED is the first of a series.

For the most part I really enjoyed the story – although I have to confess my eyes glazed over at the Baku battles that started midway through the story – they just went on and one and on without very much progression in the story, well other than it becomes very obvious to other people that Jinx is different. Fortunately the battles came to an end and Lacey discovered something not quite right was going on at the academy and a cliff hanger ending is the result, so we are now set up nicely for the next book in the series.

Overall JINXED is a light-hearted and action filled book. There is plenty of humour, danger, friendship, a smidge of romance and plenty of intrigue. Oh, and did I say I loved Jinx? He certainly had a mind of his own, and his own agenda, he is cheeky, unruly, sarcastic and certainly intrigued by real cats.


Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster – Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: The Rain Never Came

Author: Lachlan Walter

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian


The teams started brawling as soon as they stepped onto the oval of dying grass, egged on by a crowd hungry for some rough entertainment and a diversion from the dry grind of life.


In a thirsty, drought-stricken Australia, the country is well and truly sunburnt. As the Eastern states are evacuated to more appealing climates, a stubborn few resist the forced removal. They hide out in small country towns – where no one would ever bother looking.

Bill Cook and Tobe Cousins are united in their disregard of the law. Aussie larrikins, they pass their hot, monotonous existence drinking at the barely standing pub. When strange lights appear across the Western sky, it seems that those embittered by the drought are seeking revenge. And Bill and Tobe are in their path. In the heat of the moment secrets will be revealed, and survival can’t be guaranteed.

My thoughts:

As Australia suffers one of the worst droughts for many a year THE RAIN NEVER CAME is based on a very topical fear. In fact the current weather situation makes the whole scenario to be not so far-fetched – it could become reality. The descriptions are all too familiar with the scenes being played on my TV on the nightly news.

…It was a desiccated void, thousands of acres of desolate pasture, all that remained of a land where cattle and sheep used to roam, where corn and wheat had grown tall and strong, where nature had run rampant and wild, where life had once thrived. All of that was now gone; all that was left was a barren dustbowl…

Set in small Victorian town in the near future, THE RAIN NEVER CAME is fast-paced over a short period of time. It tells the story of two men who have had a longstanding friendship and the people they come across as they try to navigate the dangers of dried new world they live in. When the Australian climate turns irretrievably bad, the government forces people to evacuate north to better living conditions.

Bill, Tobe and many others, have to refuse to leave, and are living hand to mouth, with no assistance, to assert their independence. They all face a daily struggle for survival, and are constantly short of food and water. Friends and family have died – and Tobe disappeared for a long time but as the book opens he has returned.

The government doesn’t like rebellion and armed thugs nicknamed Creepers are rounding up the stragglers and sending them off to concentration camps for an uncertain future – possibly transportation north behind the Brisbane line.

After mysterious explosions and a bright light in the night sky, which everyone thought might have been the first rains for decades, Bill and Tobe fear it might be from some government retaliation somewhere and move out to investigate the event. The land does not improve as their road trip progresses.

I could see to the horizon – a parched land of dying trees, bleached grass, and dead towns. A world of thirst and ruin that sprawled as far as we could see

Bill is the narrator and as the story is from his point of view Tobe’s character always remains elusive, what makes him tick is a bit of a puzzle, this is exaggerated by his mysterious comings and goings, his reluctance to share information. Bill describes Tobe as a little manic. The dramatic events and horrible scenario is balanced by humour. Only Aussies can crack jokes in the most horrendous conditions. And the witty back and forths certainly lightened the emotions so this reader didn’t plunge into the depths of despair with the unrelenting grimness of their life. I would have like to know why people chose to remain behind with no assistance – and why the government is so brutal in relocating them – there are deaths and massacres. None of this was never fully explained – it just was the way it was. In fact at the start there were a lot of unknowns such as what happened to Bill’s family? Who’s in the mystery grave he tends? Why does Tobe feel he owes Bill? Where did Ruby come from? Who are the Creeps, and why are they called that? You find out about the creeps, and the grave but never really the whole story – there are lots of gaps – but this didn’t detract from the story as communication was non-existent as information was just oral rather than by internet or radio. Tobe and Bill knew the background and didn’t need to talk about it other than in a cursory way.

THE RAIN NEVER CAME is not promoted as a series – and this will sound strange but even though the story is completed it feels that overall in the scheme of things that it seems to start after the beginning and finish before the end – so there is room for Lachlan Walter to expand if he wants. As I really enjoyed this book I certainly hope there’s more to come.


Excellent Stuffa real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

I wish to thank the author Lachlan Walter for my copy to read and review

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Title: Year One

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fantasy

Opens: When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he had killed himself. And billions of others.

Blurb: The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated. Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travellers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three new born infants in their care alive. In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a saviour, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

My Thoughts: Anyone who picks this up expecting one of Nora Roberts usual paranormal romances is going to be very surprised, maybe disappointed. I am reading reviews where people are saying it is a bad book because they feel cheated – come on poor excuse for a bad review – there is enough evidence around, even interviews given by the author, to give you a hint that this is totally different. YEAR ONE is dark, very dark – and good people die – but the story kept me glued to the pages for the most part. The parts I didn’t stay glued? When the icky bits happened. Icky bits? Come on – it’s the end of the world – organised law keeping has gone – it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. When Ross MacLeod killed the pheasant it landed on sacred ground – not sacred nice, but sacred evil and this action is the signal for the dark forces to escape and start to make the world theirs. How quickly ‘The Doom,’ as it becomes known, spreads is very, very feasible. A sick man and his sick wife spread the infection to other people as they travel from London to New York – very quickly millions of people get infected as each of the new victims carry their germs around the world as they fly hither and thither.

Jonah the paramedic, Arlys the reporter, Lana the chef and Max the novelist are the main characters in this first book, each of them immune, not all of them with powers. They gradually form up with other people as they all decide to get out of New York until, inevitably, they all join together just a bit past halfway through. I’m not sure why I said inevitably, because nothing is a certainty and there are a few twists and turns until the reader is brought to the end of book one. An ending which leaves the reader knowing that although things look for good now – it is going to get a whole lot worse – and the characters know it.

YEAR ONE is the scene setter, the world is falling apart and the characters are trying to work out their place in this new world. And the descriptions of the world’s descent into chaos is amazing, and those who live violently quickly come out into the open with no fear of repercussions, and fall under the influence of the dark without even being aware. So many horrible things happen, actions done by people are horrific –without even the dark magic influencing them – they are just psychopaths. There is a strong thread of magic, but it is part of the story stopping just short of enough to call it a fantasy. The magical elements are a result of the fall as people who had no idea they had this element now have it. The characters discuss among themselves how, and why, it is happening. But like the reader they have no answers – it just is.

There are still unanswered questions at the end of the book, but seeing as it is the first in a trilogy this did not come as a surprise. There is no cliff-hanger at the end, which I liked, but the world is splitting into good and evil – which I think would happen despite a magical element – and it is obvious that strong good magic is going to be needed to defeat the bad.

Whatever path Ms Roberts is going to take us down with this story in the next two books I feel that readers should be complacent – I for one am really looking forwards to travelling them with her.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night.

With thanks to Hachette Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Their Fractured Light

Author: Aime Kufman and Meagan Spooner

Genre: YA/Romance/Science Fiction

Opens: The dappled sunlight through the grass is beautiful, though I know it’s not real

Blurb: A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the centre of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

My Thoughts: THEIR FRACTURED LIGHT is the third and final book in the Starbound Series and while it gathers all the threads started in the two previous stories and brings them all to an explosive ending, I couldn’t help but feel I wanted more out of it.

Set on the planet, Corinth, where the doomed space ship Icarus from THESE BROKEN STARS was launched and the trilogy commenced, we meet the final two players – Gideon and Sofia. Both characters have apparently appeared in the previous books, but to be perfectly honest I couldn’t remember them – but that didn’t matter as enough background is given to understand what drives them. Their paths cross at the headquarters of LaRoux Industries where they have both infiltrated a shindig – they both have a goal to kill Monsieur LaRoux. Of course something goes wrong and they join forces to escape. The escape is not 100% successful though as they are soon being hunted and as they flee to various safe havens something happens at each location to make them less than safe and they have to move on. Eventually the intrepid due decide to make another effort to kill Monsieur LaRoux and all six characters meet up.

For me, this is when the story started to bog down and I lost interest to a certain extent. I think this might be because of the romance side of things. In each of the previous books the romance that developed between the two main characters got 100% of the focus. In THEIR FRACTURED LIGHT Gideon and Sofia had only half the book to develop because once they meet up with the other four they had to share the reader’s attention with Tarver, Lilac Flynn and Jubilee. In fact they almost seemed to disappear into the background, which I felt was to their disadvantage. They just never developed their full potential as characters for me.

I am glad that the series has now been finalised – that there is closure – an end; and it was a very good ending as well. But I think I should have stopped at the first book as it was an ‘A’ read for me, while THEIR FRACTURED LIGHT is an above average ‘C’ read – I’m sorry but it came over as just being written to finish things off – the heart had gone and the authors maybe moved on to new characters. Loved the first half but by the three quarter point I was skimming to get to the end.

For more about the author Amie Kaufman Click Here and then Click here for Meagan Spooner.

C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while..

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $18.99

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Title: Space Dumplins

Author: Craig Thompson

Genre: Children’s Science Fiction

Blurb: For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can’t just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father’s life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.

My Thoughts: SPACE DUMPLINS is a children’s graphic story marketed as a “…grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome space-ships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world…” it certainly filled its brief. However the biggest problem I had was with the word ‘dumplins’ in the title. All I could focus on was that word, and how I strongly believed it was spelt wrong (even my spell check thinks it’s wrong) – it should have been dumplings. Rightly or wrongly that word jarred on my senses so may have made me more critical than I would normally. This could also have something to do with the fact that I am not in the target age group and deliberately misspelling words for effect seem to be the trend nowadays which grumps like me really hate but doesn’t bother the sweet young things.

The artwork of the graphics was beautiful, Craig Thompson’s outer space is not empty there is a lot going on so once you’ve read the words there is a whole lot of looking to do. Sometimes the graphics were a little too busy for me as there was so much squeezed into a scene. The story itself is simple with Violet going off to rescue her father who collects space whale poop that the huge corporation that rules space can convert to fuel. There are enough gross things in the story to keep the average kid very happy – all that space poo for a start! But, within that simplicity of the plot there are a whole lot of deeper issues going on – racism, haves and have-nots, religion, the environment, consumerism and of course saving the whales. For such a basic story there is almost too many issues going on which is why I can see this will be popular with teachers, but maybe not so popular with kids because they will just want to read it and enjoy it – not moralise over it.

For more about the author – Click Here

C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $27.99

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Title: The Ship

Author: Antonia Honeywell

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Opens: Right up to the day we boarded, I wondered whether the ship was just a myth…

Blurb: Welcome to London, but not as you know it today. Oxford Street burned for three weeks. The British Museum is squatted by ragtag survivors. The Regent’s Park camps have been bombed. The Nazareth Act has come into force – if you can’t immediately produce your identity card, you will be shot.

Lalla, 16, has grown up sheltered from this new reality by her parents. But now the chaos has reached their doorstep. Her father has promised Lalla and her mother that they will escape. Escape is a ship big enough to save 500 people. But only the worthy will be chosen. Once on board, as day follows identical day, Lalla’s unease grows. Where are they going? What does her father really want?

My Thoughts: The narrator of THE SHIP is Lalla, who is an interesting character. At 16 she is part child, part woman, and still formulating her outlook on life, a life that she quickly realises she knows nothing about. She comes over at times as a spoilt brat and utterly self-centred, which is not surprising as she has been the sole focus of her parents for 16 years – protected from the horrors of a disintegrating society for most of that time. Now she is of an age where she can no longer be protected from the reality of life. While she lives in a clean flat in central London with a bed and clothes and protection from the elements and access to what little food there is available; others live rough. Homeless and hungry, dispossessed people and refugees living in the streets, abandoned buildings and parks of London are often culled by the ruling party. Culling means parks being bombed; street dwellers shot and buildings being sealed and all those squatting inside being gassed to death. There is no place to go – the land has been poisoned, the climate change has resulted in large parts of the world flooding and super viruses whipping out millions of people.

But Lalla’s father has a plan. He has stocked a ship, an ark if you will, to save his family and 500 other people and sail to a better place. As THE SHIP opens, the time has come to get on the ship. Lalla’s mother is still reluctant to up roots and go even though society is falling apart however as they are in the flat arguing a shot rings out and Lalla’s mum goes down. Now they have to go to the ship as that is where there is medical help. After a dramatic departure the ship sets sail and Lalla watches her mother die.

“…The woman and the doctor stood quietly by, and when he fell back, they caught him and led him away, supporting him on either side. I longed to call out, to go with them. But my mother was dead; I had made her death a painful one. And so I hid, unable to move, unable to cry out to the doctor who thought I’d killed her, or to the father who had, however briefly, forgotten me…”

Lalla has to go through her morning period and author Antonia Honeywell must have experienced great loss to perfectly recreate a teen who has reached the end of her tether. Gradually though she starts to take an interest in what is happening around her – and with the interest comes the questions. Just what is her father up to? Despite being on a ship with 500 other people, and a young man who is interested in her as a girlfriend, Lalla is lonely and confused. She gradually understands that all of the others have been to hell and back – suffered as she didn’t think people could suffer – but she still resents them being there and almost worshiping her father as he becomes increasingly messianic almost. As she hears the stories of those who have been through these horrors her compassionate side is revealed and she has a big heart and wants to help everyone. Even those who have not been chosen to join the ship.

Her father encourages everyone to not hang onto the past, he becomes their son, their father, their children, and their future. But what is the future going to be, and how can he expect Lalla to forget her mother? As she learns about what has happened in the rest of the world, Lalla starts to believes that there can be no future. And the dreams she has when her mother speaks to her only compound her overwhelming feelings of hopelessness – why does no one on the ship seem worried about where they are going – what the future is going to bring?

I really, really enjoyed this story. THE SHIP is a brilliant concept and though Honeywell’s glimpse of the future is quite terrifyingly real (as there are hints already around the globe that it can happen the way she foresees) it is also thought provoking and it is not too late to start lobbying to change the direction of our world. In the end the focus of the story is how far would you go to survive? THE SHIP is a debut novel and I for one will be keeping an eye out for more from this author.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Hachette Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Clade

Author: James Bradly

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Opens: As Adam steps outside the cold strikes him like a physical thing, the shock still startling after all these weeks

My Thoughts: I have to confess I had never heard of the book CLADE or its author James Bradly until it was discussed on the Sunday Book club on ABC recently. CLADE is an unusual book in that it looks the scenario of the possible effects of climate change and how it impacts on the world through the eyes of three generations of one family, the Leith family, and some characters who come into contact with them. Bradley’s scenario is frightingly plausible.

Starting around 2016 the story moves through in a series of 10 narratives (or chapters) that are not linked in any real way except that a member of the family appears in it. There can be years between chapters before Bradley decides to pop back into the story and give the reader a snapshot of where the family, and the world, is at now.

CLADE opens with Dr Adam Leith and his artist wife Ellie trying to conceive a child – he is a scientist and is down in the Antarctica and she is in Sydney waiting to hear if this time the IVF process has been successful. He hears the ice beneath him creaking and groaning and understands this is the ice loosening up as the earth warms up. He worries about whether they should bring a child into the world. And the book continues each chapter jumping through history and gives a snapshot of what the family is doing against the background of a rapidly escalating global meltdown. The Earth is dying. Changing weather patterns result in hurricanes hitting Europe and Monsoons failing. Fish and birds start dying, massive floods kill thousands and a flu like virus kills millions. The temperatures steadily rise, civil unrest increases and world economies fall. Yet the day to day activity of the characters remain the same, they just get on with living as the earth throws yet another challenge at them. The reader gets to see snapshots of events through Adam and Ellie, their daughter, their grandson, a Chinese teenager Adam sort of adopts and a refugee from Bangladesh that Ellie connects with. This makes the story very personal, as the reader experiences the events as they affect the characters making it all very, very believable.

On the whole I liked the way the story progressed as a series of snapshots as the world deteriorated. I have to confess that sometimes it took me a while to get the connection to the family and it left me slightly adrift until I did, but as soon as I clicked I was off again. Was left a bit bewildered over the ‘Sim’ section and still not sure I have fully got that part. Overall though despite the steady decline in the conditions of the earth there is hope at the end of CLADE – it’s a bit out there – but why not, nothing else was working to stop the planet’s deterioration. In the end CLADE is not all doom and gloom – although there is a lot of it, it is more a story about how the human race is determined to look for solutions, adapt and fight to live – it is life but not as we know it.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

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