Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: Genius: The Game

Title: Genius: The Game
Author: Leopoldo Gout
Series: Untitled
Volume: 1
Publication Date: May 3, 2016

eARC recieved through NetGalley

A Quick Introduction: India's youngest CEO, Kiran Biwas, is collecting the most brilliant young minds from around the world for The Game, a competition designed to test the genius of the contestants. Among those contestants are Rex; a brilliant programmer desperate to find his older brother, Tunde; a self-taught engineer from Nigeria whose home is threatened by a powerful warlord, and Painted Wolf; one of China's most respected activist bloggers. They've known each other for a while, but this is their first time meeting in person. They're going to need each other, because The Game is just the beginning, and Kiran Biwas has a more far-reaching and sinister purpose.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: A fast, fun read about brilliant teenagers facing challenges both inside and outside of a game designed to challenge their intellects.

Review: I can definitely see the James Patterson-influence in this one. It has a lot of the stuff that I actually enjoyed about James Patterson's work, in the humour, the pacing, and, in a lot of ways, some of the threats the characters face.

I do really enjoy reading about geniuses (genii? I was never sure of the proper plural). I just really like reading about smart people, I'm not sure why- probably just that I really admire intelligence. So this was up my alley in that respect. This book offered peeks into the brilliant protagonist's minds in the form of some of the code, upcycled invention designs, and information gathering heists, and instant messaging conversations, in addition to the alternating first-person narration. I overall really liked that. While the technical component may be somewhat out of my depth, this novel does a pretty good job of making the overall concepts accessible enough for the general audience.

Is the plot far out there? Yes. The issues the characters face individually are very real, but the thing that brings them in real life is a lot more out there. The villain, if you will, is another place that was kind of James Patterson-esque in that it is a business man with a doomsday plan (oh dear, that rhymed didn't it? Oh well, too late, no take-backs), in a way that was a little over-the-top. However, it kind of worked for the story, especially with the characters facing other challenges.

Overall, I found this once a fast-paced, fun read, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where the story goes next!

Aside from being reminded of  James Patterson's work, this book also reminded me of Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. The tech-savvy protagonists are struggling with some very real issues, especially the freedom of information. Both are fast-paced. If you found the coding, hacking, and tech. in Genius: The Game  was up your alley, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bout of Books 16: Sign Up

It's that time again! (Did you really think I could resist a read-a-thon?)

Bout of Books
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
So that's what's happening. Come. Join. Read things (you know you're going to anyway...)

Review: A Study in Charlotte

Title: A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes
Volume: 1
Genre: Mystery

A Quick Introduction: When Jamie Watson ends at Sherringford prep school, the only thing he's looking forward to is meeting Charlotte Holmes, hoping that they'll get along as well as their great-great-great grandfathers, the famous John Watson and Sherlock Holmes. When a student who both Jamie and Charlotte have reason to want hurt dies under mysterious circumstances, they agree to team up and figure out who really is to blame.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: An enjoyable Sherlock Holmes tribute debut featuring some interesting and complicated characters.

Review: At this point, reading various Sherlock Holmes retellings, tributes, and spin-offs has just become a thing I do, with very mixed results. This one surprised me by falling more toward the "I liked it" end of the spectrum than the "well that wasted hours of my life" end. Which was nice.

This is a really quick read. Once I got invested, I flew through it. The story itself is a fast-paced mystery, set at a boarding school. While components were a little unbelievable, at times, the overall plot was still enjoyable.

Jamie and Charlotte have an interesting dynamic - they both expect a lot from each other when they first meet based on their legacies, and they have to get to know each beyond those. They definitely have an immediate connection, as well as a dynamic one that changes over time. I'm interested in seeing what their dynamic settles into.

This novel does touch on some more serious concepts (sexual assault and substance abuse), which I am assuming will be touched on in the next two books in the trilogy, and I'm hoping they'll be handled alright. Overall, I'm quite looking forward to the sequel.

If you're looking for other YA mysteries featuring teens solving crimes, using their talents of observations.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mini-Reviews: The Slightly Belated ARC Review Edition


Title: Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Out of Ten: 4/10
Review: I actually started reading the eARC of this one totally on time. Then my computer corrupted the file I had on there and I had to wait until I could borrow my mother's iPad, to which I had sent a Kindle copy of the eARC, in order to finish it, and that is why this is so late. (Advice: always send copies of everything to at least two different places.)

I wasn't terribly impressed with this book. I am a big fan of time travel, but I have come to realise that I am also a VERY PICKY fan of time travel. And this one just missed the mark for me. The pacing was wonky, and I truly didn't enjoy the set-up of the novel, which felt forced. It leaned too heavily on some tired tropes, and romance was more frustrating than anything. While it was clear that aspects of the story had been researched fairly well, the setting wasn't particularly vivid, and I really wasn't clear on how a lot of aspects of the time travel were meant to work.

I don't think I'll be continuing the series, this one overall just wasn't for me.

Title: Tell the Wind and Fire
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: April 5, 2016 (Today!!)
Out of Ten: 7/10
Review: This was a weird book for me to rate, because my reading experience was a bit all over the place. I didn't like it as much as I enjoyed the books from The Lynburn Legacy, but, since those hold a special place in my heart, that isn't really a comparison. I think part of it is that Sarah Rees Brennan's storytelling style isn't quite as well suited to first person narration as it is to third, but she still manages to create a cast of characters that are interesting (and sometimes at least a little terrible as people). (One bone to pick: do not kiss people who are not also into kissing you. Just saying.) The nature of the magic system was pretty simple, but served its purpose. 

Confession: I've never read A Tale of Two Cities. Along with The Giver, it seems to be one of those books that everyone else had to read for school, but I never did. So I can't really tell you how it compares, I only know the shape of the story in the original. That said, I overall enjoyed the plot, though it was a fairly straight forward one (despite the identity-based chaos). I quite enjoyed this one, especially toward the end- the last 70-or-so pages especially... hurrah for examinations of human nature and also sadness! 

I might actually write a complete review on this one, but with exams coming up I'm not sure how my next few weeks will look.