Review: Day 115 on an Alien World by Jeanette Bedard

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“Mayday, mayday, mayday.”


Synopsis

A dishonourable discharge left Margo unable to find honest work on Earth. Signing onto a colonizing mission heading to a new world promised a fresh start. Or at least that’s what she’d thought.

Strapped into a crashing colony ship, she realized how wrong she’d been.


My Thoughts

Reading this brought me to the conclusion that I don’t read enough sci-fi, and I crave it even when I don’t realize I’m craving it. Day 115 on an Alien World is an interstellar mystery/thriller set on a planet deemed hospitable for colonization by Earth’s inhabitants. It’s fast-paced, and has a cast of characters who are all suspicious to one another and the reader.

The book is written with a few timelines: once the crash happens on the planet, events that took place before the colonization team was even assembled, and day 115 on. These are not hard to keep track of, and much of the storytelling is done from the perspectives of different individuals, whether from journal entries, or memories of significant events.

There is a deeply seeded suspicion on many different individuals once accidents begin taking the form of possible sabotage, but these suspicions come from the mind of the individual whose timeline and perspective you are following at the time. It is up to you, the reader, to make assumptions and find probable cause based on your own over-arching knowledge of what has, and is, taking place.

I had a lot of fun reading this and trying to solve the mystery before the author did it for me. It’s exciting to draw your own conclusions and make a guess early on, seeing if it will stick, or if you ‘jumped the gun’ too early. At least that’s how I tend to read mysteries. There is just something slightly ominous about reading journal entries and logs long after they’ve been written. There is an underlying creepiness to them, as if you are reading the words of a person no longer capable of communicating why they aren’t writing new entries anymore.

One of my favorite aspects of this book doesn’t really have anything to do with the thrill of the hunt, though. I enjoyed reading about each element that was meticulously planned out in order to make colonization a successful venture. Each person on this mission has a specialty that renders itself absolutely necessary for short and long-term survival. The science involved in producing sustainable oxygen, clean water, and food is fascinating. This was just an extremely fun read, and I didn’t want it to end.

I would like to mention that this book was a Netgalley find. For any of you who regularly read and review through this website, you may understand how uncommon it can be to find a book you absolutely loved to the core, and even gave a 5 star rating to. Not saying the website is littered with ‘bad books’ but rather that in a way, you are choosing a book based solely on a combination of synopsis and cover, maybe a familiar author. There isn’t really any room for influence by peers or hype, unless of course you are reviewing a much anticipated release. I tend to gravitate towards the lesser known books, the ones whose authors I’ve never heard of, the ones that may not be getting requests by the hundreds, or thousands. So, maybe it’s just in my experience and requesting habits that finding a really wonderful read can tend to be uncommon. IDK. Maybe I’m ranting.

Anyways! I would like to thank Netgalley, author Jeanette Bedard, and the publishers at BooksGoSocial for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I truly enjoyed the book.

If any of you are interested in reading 115 Days on an Alien World, the book is set to release on April 2 of 2019. You can find the Goodreads page here.


Thanks for reading! What science fiction books can you recommend? I’d love to read some of your favorites!

Review: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

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“Slicing through every social norm, evading capture with superhuman ease, and preying on the small, the vulnerable, and the trusting, Avery had swept down like the angel of death and pulled a pin out of his family. Then he hadn’t even stuck around to watch it explode.”

4/5 Stars

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Every day after school, while his classmates swap football stickers, Steven goes digging to lay to rest the ghost of the uncle he never knew, who disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery.

So the boy takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored serial killer.


My Thoughts

For a mystery/ crime thriller, Blacklands was definitely one of those books that has you wondering what’s going to happen next, while not noticing the slow building, anxiety inducing stress that has crept into your mind, because deep down you do know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s delicious.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the fascinating narrative. Points of view switch between Steven, Arnold Avery, and Stephen’s mother, although the latter is brief. SO, we’ll just focus on Steven and Arnold.

This is a beautifully done ‘cat-and-mouse’ game written from the perspective of the intellectual mind. That is, without much dialogue happening, the narrative is almost strictly written from the perspective of the conscious and subconscious mind. Each is trying to figure the other out, while maintaining the illusion that the game isn’t about ultimately getting what one wants from the other in the end. And the game can have deadly consequences for each.

Some may find that the story is a bit slow, but I think that’s where you’ll discover the whole point of the book. This book is NOT about what happens at the end, because the end can go one of two ways. No, this book is 100 percent about the chase, and the study of each individual as they move their pieces in a game of chess.

I would highly recommend this to any fans of the mystery/thriller genre. It’s different, and it’s absolutely a fascinating story. You can find the Goodreads page here.


Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite genre to read?

Review: Sisters of Arden by Judith Arnopp

Sisters of Arden

How will I find the strength to die a noble death, if there can be any nobility in a felon’s penalty?….Will I remember that God is merciful, that His forgiveness outweighs that of the king? Will I be strong enough to face it, or will I die like a screaming lunatic, fighting for blessed life until my final breath?

4/5 Stars


Synopsis

Arden Priory has remained unchanged for almost four hundred years. When a nameless child is abandoned at the gatehouse door, the nuns take her in and raise her as one of their own.
As Henry VIII’s second queen dies on the scaffold, the embittered King strikes out, and unprecedented change sweeps across the country. The bells of the great abbeys fall silent, the church and the very foundation of the realm begins to crack.
Determined to preserve their way of life, novitiate nuns Margery and Grace join a pilgrimage thirty thousand strong to lead the king back to grace.


My Thoughts

If you are looking for a happy book, this is not something I’d recommend. If your reading taste buds are craving a powerful historical fiction, however, then this is exactly what I would tell you to pick up next.

Despite the somewhat depressing nature of this book, I very much enjoyed reading it. You, the reader, will certainly embark on a pilgrimage of uncertainty, danger, and hardship. But there you will also see what it took for so many, so long ago, to summon up any ounce of bravery and drive within them to endure the suffering and cling to hope. You will see that although cruelty takes many forms in its parasitic existence, how kindness and regard for your fellow human speaks volumes, even during the darkest of times. You’ll see how strangers become family, leaning on one another for support and providing a sense of community. There is strength in numbers, but also danger.

I love a well written historical fiction. That is no secret. While there are SO many amazing HF books to absorb, unfortunately it can often be challenging for me to find one that truly suits my reading preferences, one that isn’t centered on a romance or more fiction than fact. I want historical fiction that uses imagination to turn those history book facts into a riveting story that places the reader in the shoes of those who lived it. Something that falls in the middle of a scale that measures fiction and non-fiction. I think the author did just that in this wonderfully written story.

The Sisters of Arden live a simple life in the middle of nowhere England, where they are bordering the line of extreme poverty. When they are turned out from their home, those whose pilgrimage stretch for miles will learn to draw on one another for strength. This story isn’t all sad or depressing though. You will get to experience moments of happiness through our characters, as they find pieces of joy in the small things and camaraderie in those around them. There are good times to be had around a small campfire, warmth, and family to share your burden with.

One aspect I appreciate about this book is that it’s not about the hardships of royalty, or England’s privileged. Rather, it puts the reader in the mind and heart of people with nothing to lose, who still manage to lose. I’ve heard the phrase, “reading fiction can make you more empathetic” and this book is just one example of what makes that a true statement. Reading pushes me to try and think more critically about what I read in the future, the next time I take a history class (for I am forever and always going back to college it seems 😉) or even when reading about current events. How one piece of historical fiction can encourage a person to think more critically about the world around them may sound pretty dramatic, wouldn’t you say? But it does. It can. These are the kinds of books I truly enjoy, ones that put me into the shoes of someone who’s shoes I rally don’t want to be in, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with.

And that’s basically it for my unintentionally ranty review. Overall, yes I would recommend this read to any historical fiction lovers out there. I received this as an ARC on Netgalley but I do believe it’s available for purchase as of December 2018. It was a wonderful read, and though it may be full of the nitty gritty hardships and depressing thoughts of those with little hope for the future, there are moments that give YOU hope for them, making you feel like you can go on even when they don’t feel the same. You can find the Goodreads page for Sisters of Arden here.


Let me know if you are planning to read this book, or if you have your own historical fiction recommendations for me. I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for more of those! And as always, I’d love to chat with you about your own preferences for reading HF, your likes, dislikes, etc. Thanks for reading!