Grimenna by N.K. Blazevic – A Review

The Book

38473459.jpgGrimenna by N.K. Blazevic
Goodreads
Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
Released March 5, 2018
Obtained through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

It was in the great forest Grimenna that the first spirits were born, created from the beliefs of men and nourished by thoughts both good and evil. As time unfolded men began to shun these spirits, he turned away from their guidance and plundered the forest for his own means without giving thanks. It was then dark creatures rose from the earth, conjured from the depths of nightmares, and began to drive him out. He found refuge across the great river that divided the land and it was there he settled. No one dared cross the river again; only the wicked, the unclean and criminal were thrown back across to be punished.

Paiva Ibbie is a simple farm girl, the daughter of a shepherd in the farthest village in the kingdom. One night she encounters one of the evil spirits of the forest, Varloga, and fears for her life. Fortunately, a group of Wildermen (aka, criminals thrown into the woods), including a young man named Renn, rescue her from him. Despite being rescued, however, her life is completely uprooted. She’s sent off to the city for safety, but things continue to go wrong for her.

Her father is brought before the ruler of the kingdom for harboring the Wildermen, which is a serious crime. He’s branded and thrown into Grimenna, and Paiva becomes determined to save him. She escapes into the woods with the help of Renn and bands up with other Wildmen to chase after her father. Along the way, she discovers the true nature of who she is and where she comes from while attempting to bring the good spirits back into the world.

Review

When I read the synopsis of Grimenna on NetGalley, I was intrigued by the fairy tale plot. I’ve always loved dark fairy tales, and this is certainly that. However, by the time I reached the fifth chapter I was quite bored. I found myself being annoyed by how childish Paiva seemed, and her obsession with the “hot guy” of her town. Even throughout the rest of the story, I felt absolutely nothing for the characters – there was a major disconnect between myself and each character the whole time.

Another aspect of the book that I found challenging is that it tended to have a slow pace when nothing was happening in the story and then sped through the interesting and more exciting parts.

I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and wish there had been more of them. After I finished reading Grimenna I looked the author up online, and her own sister was the inspiration for Paiva, which I thought was sweet. The author is also an artist, and I believe she did the art herself for the book.

Overall, I fell as though many people would really enjoy this book. However, I was not able to get fully invested in the story.

Verdict

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Although I had my issues with this book, again, I feel that a lot of others may find this story enjoyable. The illustrations were delightful, and it was a very easy read.

Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCrudden – A Review

“‘You know,’ added Alma, ‘the older I get, the more I think it’s not war or politics or all that stuff that makes history what it is. From what I can see, it’s all about the house prices.'”

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The Book

Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCrudden
Published by Farrago
Release Date: September 20, 2018
Goodreads
Author Links: Twitter
I received a free digital ARC of this novel through NetGalley

Synopsis

Imagine a world in which robots and machines have decided that they are superior to the humans that created them and have taken over the world. That’s the setting of Chris McCrudden’s Battlestar Suburbia.

Humans have been reduced to custodians, and live on small satellites in orbit around Earth, called The Dolestars. They exist to service their machine overlords, and that’s about it.

In this world, the internet has been completely banned, and anyone that uses it will be persecuted, whether machine or human.

“Of course, officially no one had accessed the Internet for millennia. The ‘Schism’ between the machines who lived as software and hardware dated back to the first few foggy decades after artificial intelligence kicked humanity out of power. There had been a war. A brutal one, with countless machines dead on either side just from defending their edits on the war’s Wikipedia page. It had been the first, and thankfully the last, incident where robots fought one another. In the end they agreed on two things: that they should try living apart, and if anyone were to blame it was the humans.”

The story follows two humans, Darren and Kelly, as well as a sentient breadmaker named Pamasonic Teffal, aka Pam.

Darren and Kelly are on the run after accidentally damaging a floating spy streetlamp. Pam has been asked to track the humans down by a smartphone named Sonny Erikzon.

Kelly leads Darren to her mother’s underground hair salon, Kurl Up and Dye, where he is introduced to the last four cyborgs in existence. Together, they fight against the machines as they reject their robot rulers. The tale is an exciting adventure through the Dolestar Discovery and the robot surface of the earth, where the skyscrapers reach high into the atmosphere and the oceans have been filled with concrete.

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Photo by Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash

Review

Battlestar Suburbia reminds me a lot of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyIt’s funny, exciting, and very ridiculous. I had never heard of Chris McCrudden before, but the cover caught my eye, and after reading the synopsis, I had a strong feeling I would love this book.

I loved the premise of both software and hardware deciding they no longer wanted to be ruled by humans and then gaining control of the planet. There are so many scenes of what the internet has become that made me laugh:

“On the Internet, however, World of Warcraft avatars merged with Reddit trolls to spawn a line of programmes so fanatical about defending the purity of their messageboards that they made a terrorist cell look like a basketful of sleeping kittens.”

The machine brothels were also pretty hilarious. Machines pay humans to “service” them, and role-play that humans are still able to use the machines as what they were originally meant to be.

There’s also a quip at our current administration and racism:

“Sonny’s broadcast was a masterful piece of propaganda, in that it gave already paranoid machines the excuse to treat their prejudices like they were facts. ‘Now, don’t get me wrong,’ rang the conversation in billions of homes, offices and public charging points, ‘I like humans. The lady who cleans our house is a sweetheart. But these people are different. And he’s right. We have to do something.” 

I enjoyed the book very much as an adventure story. It’s fast-paced, and the characters travel through both the physical world and the world of code. It’s interesting to have characters divide themselves and work among memes and firewalls.

There was one aspect of this book that prevented me from giving it five stars, and that’s simply that I could not picture the machine characters, at all. Are these sentient breadmakers and smartphones just floating? Do they have human-style arms and legs? I have no idea. Most of the book, I pictured some variation on this:

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Or this:

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Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

There are scenes where Pam has an LED nail job, so I’m guessing they at least have arms attached? I wish the author had spent more time describing the machine characters in order to give the readers something easier to imagine.

At the end of the book, there’s a brief advertisement for the second book in this series, which made me really happy. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Verdict

4 out of 5 stars. It was immensely enjoyable to read, and I appreciate any book that makes me laugh out loud.

Book Review: Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Francoise Rachmuhl

The Book

Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Francoise Rachmuhl and Charlotte Gastaut

Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Francoise Rachmuhl, illustrations by Charlotte Gastaut
Amazon | Goodreads
Children’s literature, mythology
Published by Lion Forge, 2018
I received an ARC of this book for review through NetGalley

What It Is

This is a children’s book about the most important figures in Greek mythology. Each page is fully illustrated, and the book is separated by gods first, followed by mortals. Each character receives a quick biography spanning several pages. The book was originally published in France but was released on September 18th here in America.

My Thoughts

It’s been years since I’d read any Greek philosophy, so I was pretty rusty going into this book. As I read it, I remembered many things I had forgotten and learned much more. The biography of each god or mortal is concise, yet very informative. The more adult themes are dealt with in a relatively light-hearted manner, making it accessible to children.

The illustrations, done by Charlotte Gastaut are gorgeous and are what makes this publication so special. Here are my favorite examples:

It was a stunning book. Despite being marketed toward children, this is definitely a book that people of any age would love.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)

Buy. If you forget about famous Greek deities and need to brush up quickly, this book is a wonderful way to do so.