Review Rendezvous: 7/21/18


Futura by Jordan Phillips
Book stats:
Genre(s): Novella, science fiction
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 90
Publish date: January 2nd, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

FuturaBy the year 2050, Paris is a stark contrast from other large cities, which had long ago morphed into ultramodern metropolises, where every new building was practically a city within a city. Even in France, humans cannot escape the fact that the Invisibles have taken over. Some come in the form of microscopic chips that are embedded practically everywhere, while others are more visible because they power robots. Humans were suddenly underutilized, and they would be forever.

Past futurists had cried that this would be disorienting and depressing, but it turned out to be quite liberating. Human qualities—good and bad—are tolerated because they are authentic, and not artificially created. To err is to be human, and these days, to be human is to be beautiful.

Futura follows a single American woman named Ruby as she figures out how to thrive in a dramatically different cultural landscape. This utopian novella pushes back on the cynical views many hold today. Instead, author Jordan Phillips has imagined a bright future for the entire human race.

Honestly, it was so nice reading a futuristic book that takes on utopian themes instead of dystopian. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good dystopian, but there are just so. many. books. It’s the popular genre currently, which also leads to an unfortunate saturation of the genre.

But, this little novella was short and sweet. The world building here is very vivid and creative. There was no shortage of beautiful imagery and description. That I believe is the novel’s strength, and if we were to experience a different character’s input and story within this world, I feel like it would have a better chance at sustaining a novel.

One of the downsides to such a short novel is that there was not much time to connect with the characters. in a world as vivid and complex as this one, the premise would really fit better in a full length novel where one has the space to dissect and get involved with the lives of the primary characters. Then there’s the fact that the main character makes a few certainly questionable decisions. I really did enjoy the world, just not as much the actual view of Ruby’s life.

There is a bit of a discussion to truly be had about the premise. Would human life really be life if computers were the ones running our world and not us? Sure, the automation and modernization helps, but can computers be trusted to make crucial, life and death type of decisions? I’m not a blogger dedicated to philosophical questions though, so I’ll leave you to ponder that on your own 🙂

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 7/14/18


Valley of Time by Jeremy D. Holden
Book stats:
Genre(s): Science fiction, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 262
Publish date: November 5th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

ValleyMal Thomas only escaped with his life through a mixture of good fortune and divine intervention, after he and his eclectic team of cynical mad men and women were charged with promoting the alleged second coming of the Messiah, by Alfredo Baptiste, the world’s most powerful industrialist.

Having subsequently become famous as a best-selling author—as well as an unlikely spiritual leader—after having written and promoted a book about those experiences, Mal is now approached by another enigmatic billionaire with an equally incredible proposition.

Huw Hudson, the man often described as a modern-day Howard Hughes, wants to position his company, Space Rider, as the leader in commercial space tourism. He tries to enlist Mal and his team to help promote it, with one extraordinary twist: Hudson has evidence of an alleged UFO encounter, which he thinks could damage his business plans, and he asks Mal to investigate and manage the breaking news story.

Mal discovers a deeper purpose at work, as he crisscrosses Brazil, Miami, London, and Dubai in furtherance of Hudson’s audacious ambition, while being forced to keep an unbelievable secret from the FBI and even his closest friends. In confronting his deepest fears, Mal takes us on a journey that challenges the very core of our beliefs about space and time. 

This is the second book in a series, so fair warning there may be spoilers for plot points of the first book. Unlike my last review, you’ll probably need to read the first book to get a good back story for this one. There was quite a few references to past events and things that you would miss if you jumped in with this book first. Also, this book is currently free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so definitely go check it out.

This one had quite an interesting premise, and part of the draw for me is that I work with marketing as a blogger and influencer on social media. The idea of such a huge story being plausible was a little farfetched (I mean, how many supposed UFOs have there been recording sightings of?), but nevertheless I continued. The beginning was a bit rough, but the action did finally pick up a few chapters in.

While this does begin fairly similar to the first book, it quickly divorces from that narrative. I did like the fact that this is told in first person narrative. It’s much easier to get into a character’s head this way, and there is another layer of plot development that factors in with mysteries because you are limited to only what the protagonist experiences rather than being an omniscient observer.

There are quite a few pop culture reference which were entertaining, and there is definitely a lot of jargon included. Honestly, the way most of it was phrased however was not as bad as it could have been, and I was able to understand pretty easily.

For people interested in sci-fi and conspiracy theories, you’d likely enjoy this novel.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 7/7/18


An Eye for an Eye by Caroline Fardig
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, suspense
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 322
Publish date: January 23rd, 2018
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble – Book Depository

EyeEllie Matthews is tired of her fifteen minutes of fame. After consulting on a high-profile murder case a few months ago, she wants nothing more than to fade back into obscurity and resume her life as a mild-mannered college professor. But when a family friend goes missing, Ellie finds herself thrust back into the grisly world of crime scene investigation.

It isn’t long before Ellie’s young friend is found murdered and her death is tied to a previously unsolved case. Based on the cryptic poems left on the victims, the department soon realizes that the killer’s vendetta is against them.

It takes all Ellie has to push her personal feelings aside and partner with Detective Nick Baxter one more time. The duo must stop at nothing to catch a vengeful serial killer before it’s too late.

Potential spoiler warning. This is the second book in the “Ellie Matthews” series. Things discussed in this review may spoil plot lines in the first novel.

I haven’t read a non-young adult book in quite a while it feels like, so it was interesting to take a crack at this one. Technically speaking I fall into the target audience for the semi-new genre “new adult”, which encompasses high school grads through their early adult life. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy an actual adult mystery every once in a while. I confess to being used to YA, but the break is quite nice.

Ellie clearly wants nothing but to get back to her regular life in this particular book. She was convinced to assist on a previous case, dragging her criminologist skills out of the attic, but has a strong desire to leave that in the past and just be the professor she has become. Unfortunately, her friend is taken and later murdered, which forces Ellie back into the case.

I sensed some very Sherlock-esque skills in the detective work, and I do quite like mysteries so I enjoyed this one. Having a strong female character in the lead of a crime novel was a nice twist, reminds me of books like Riley Sager’s Final Girls. Technically speaking you could read this book as some kind of stand alone, but reading the first book before this one helps flesh out the characters and their past interactions so much more.

This book can get fairly grisly, and there are religious symbolisms involved, so have that in mind before you proceed. There’s also a fair amount of criminology terms, but honestly I didn’t find them too distracting or difficult to process. It definitely help build the world and give it a good grounding in reality.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 6/16/18


The Lost Heifetz and Other Stories by Michael Tabor
Book stats:
Genre(s): Contemporary
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 348
Publish date: February 15th, 2018
Purchase: Barnes & Noble

38636428A musician has a life-changing encounter in a New York record store with a mysterious old man who may have known a brilliant violinist who was presumed to have died in World War II…

The Picture of Dorian Gray is revealed to be a pure fiction by one of the characters from the novel who explains what really happened to the infamous portrait and its subject…

An aspiring writer receives a surreal and mind-bending lesson in creative writing from a pawnbroker who deals in narrative voices…

The well-ordered life of a widower in a peaceful English village is disturbed by the arrival of a wealthy new resident who needs to be taught a lesson in respect…

An art dealer and an artist meet on vacation and embark on an intense affair that is tested by their redacted lives…

These and other stories and satires, set in the US and Britain, explore the lives, relationships, and search for fulfillment of men and women from many walks of life.

I must admit, this was a bit of a new type of book for me to read. I haven’t really read any novellas or novella collections unless they were attached to a larger series that I have already read. But, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the book. I don’t have any experience to compare this one too, so I kept my expectations to myself this time.

Some would say that writing a short story is actually harder than a novel, because you have less words to squeeze the same plot points and descriptions into that a full-length novel does. But Tabor is able to weave the individual stories excellently, and you care for the characters just as much as if you’d had a whole book to get to know them.

The range of stories that this collection touches on is quite large. There’s the story of an old man who may or may not be a long-thought-dead violinist, a professional house-sitter with a few quirks of her own, and many more.

This book is great for readers who may like taking fiction in with smaller chunks. It’s easy enough to read just one short story and come back to it a bit later, so if you don’t feel like diving all the way in, this book is for you. You’ll find yourself enraptured in the characters for sure!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 6/2/18


The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow by Alexie Aaron
Book stats:
Genre(s): Paranormal, mystery, romance
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 342
Publish date: January 6th, 2012
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble

tHoCCHLittle Mia Cooper’s ability to see the dead made her an outcast in her hometown. Several years later, she has finally managed to blend in, but her hard-won peace is threatened by the arrival of a bumbling team of paranormal investigators. Mia is drawn in reluctantly as an advisor on what, at first, seems to be a fairly straightforward case, only to discover that the Hollow has much more in store for her. An ancient evil is rising in Cold Creek Hollow. What begins as a ghost hunt will become a fight for survival.

The premise of this particular novel is certainly intriguing. I’m all for the story of an unwilling former gifted child dragged into a paranormal investigation. There’s quite a bit of mystery and suspense involved, but on the flip side there was also some out of place moments.

First of all, this is the beginning book in a series that has stretched to 19 books already, so the premise definitely has promise. The thing that really bugged me though about this book was how much focus was put onto romance relationships. Sure, add in some romance now and then to hooks readers who look for the kind of thing, but the main focus should be the mystery. Better yet, develop the kind of relationship throughout the series that has everyone going “Just get together already!”.

There also happens to be quite a few characters. I would expect to collect a large group of characters throughout the series as a whole, not in the first book. It was a bit overwhelming to try and read them all.

In the end though, it was a fairly good read. I did enjoy the mystery aspects, I ust wish it had been a little easier to follow the plot. I suppose I could try out the next one in the series, as it has the potential to be better. Although, the covers could use a bit of work, none of the books in the series look like they belong together.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeart


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