Themis by Paul Weil

**Cannot standalone**

Summary:

SARAH CASTLE is a young celebrity reporter from London who stumbles upon the mystery of twelve extraordinary teenagers. One of them is HENRY BAXTER, an eighteen year-old unknown runner who just won The London Marathon. She accepts a position as the public relations chief for their new charity—THE THEMIS FOUNDATION. Sarah experiences events that can only be described as supernatural; including a cottage that appears normal from the outside, but is infinitely large inside with doors that open all over the world. However, Sarah’s proximity to this extraordinary family might just get her killed. In THEMIS, Sarah discovers the family she desperately wants, a love she didn’t expect, and herself at the center of events that will change the destiny for all of humanity. Themis is the first part of a five book series that will take the reader on an adventure into ancient mythology, a fantastic mystery, and deep inside the most unusual family on Earth.

Characters
Sarah Castle is the main character…or at least I think she is supposed to be. There are so many characters, which normally I like, but I struggled with Themis because the back of the book only really talks about Sarah but she is almost non-existent in the second half of the book. Really there are twelve ‘main’ characters with other critical characters like Titus. The biggest problem I had was I didn’t really connect with any of the characters enough to be invested…which made them all a little flat.

The switching characters messed with me a few times because of some unexpected POV shifts where I wasn’t sure who was actually the main character in that chapter. Also there is this part where Sarah falls and I just went ‘are you serious right now?’ because it was painfully predictable and made me dislike Sarah a little…in many ways she never rebounded from that.

Plot

Absolutely loved the multi-faceted plot. I was curious where the story was going to go because of all the pieces and I could easily see some of the future threads. I could easily see this being made into a TV series and I’d totally watch it. The first book was chock full of plot threads that I found absolutely fascinating. It is a really slow read in a few parts but I actually enjoyed the depth most of the time. A downside is the action scenes left me scratching my head a few times –  some of the movements happening in the matter of seconds seemed excessively fast. Also some of the scenes seemed over the top (the gore and sequences).

Overall

I enjoyed the writing but there were some noticeable editing errors – particularly in the second half of the novel. I also found myself somewhat bored during some parts because the writing was too drawn out and excessive but this was due to my inability to connect with the characters and not the writing or the plot. That being said the settings were brilliantly executed and even with the shifting places the reader gets to visit were painted in such a way that I could easily envision them. The complex plot was fascinating, but some of the action was jarring and not fleshed out.

My favorite part of the book was how the author could drop hints about what was coming and really get me interested in what was going to come next with the story. Overall the real issue of the book for me was the lack of cohesion of the individual character plots and the underdeveloped characters that all of a sudden became really important near the end, but were a footnote in the first half of the book. It really left me scratching my head.

***SPOILER***

Don’t read this unless you want a spoiler, but I felt that there were some clear threads with the Terminator movie. Now that can be a good thing or a bad things but the main character being a Sarah really reminded me of Sarah Connor and not just her name. There were a lot of facts that fit into that similar plot thread that I quickly figured out where this whole thing was going to go by the end of the book, especially after she ‘connected’ with the reluctant leader. I say this hoping that Sarah Castle becomes as awesome as Sarah Connor did, either way it struck a cord with me.

***SPOILER OVER***

Rating

3.5 stars (rounded down)

I really want to give this 4 stars, but between the flaws and the fact that I think I would only recommend this to a select few people, I’m stuck at 3 stars. To give it that extra edge though, I’m going to add the 0.5 because I actually would consider reading the second book. In the end a highly complex but enjoyable plot with characters I struggled to connect with.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Small side note only for this blog but I really dislike the cover of this book – I feel like it doesn’t capture what this book is about at all and undervalues how good it is. 

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The Filmmaker and the Sceptre (within The Wrong Time) by Robby Charters

Summary

A filmmaker of the future, using a new untested medium, gets tangled up in his story in The Filmmaker and the Sceptre.

Overall

A fast paced and clever read. It is a bit jarring at times the way that the scenes change but that is easily fixed the end. I enjoyed the bending and cheekiness of the writing. It is too short to connect in with the charters but the plot is entertaining. There are some editing errors that could be fixed and the writing tightened, but it is minor. Very much a sci-fi meets fantasy read.

Rating

4 Stars

Jarring read that has a very clever ending.

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

Life II by Scott Spotson

Summary:

Upon discovering a 1958 book titled “Account of Time Travel on Earth Using Wave Theory,” 42-year-old Max Thorning’s life is thrown into chaos. Seeking answers to the book’s cryptic clues, he discovers Dr. Time, a seemingly benign alien who has control of the Time Weaver, a remarkable device that can command any scene from the Earth’s past. Dr. Time offers him a choice to go back into Time, to any point in his lifespan that he can vividly recall. The catch: he can only bring his memories, and can only live the future one day at a time. Follow Max’s dilemma as he goes back to his 16-year-old self and tries to forge his destiny into a new one called Life II.

Characters

Max is the main character and most of the novel is told from his point of view. The author does a great job of creating very flawed but hopeful character. There are some jarring point of view changes that I think were distracting, but they were luckily few and far between. I don’t want to give too much but I was very impressed with the cast of characters.

Plot*

I’d like to start by saying I HATE TIME TRAVEL BOOKS. They are usually poorly executed and poorly thought out. That is not the case here. This book thoroughly explores the decision to ‘time travel’ and the consequences for doing so. If you love time travel books more for the science aspect, you have to pick this up.

Max decides to travel back to when he was 16 and change his future. He isn’t happy in his current life – particularly his marriage – and he wants to change it. So he does. He agrees to re-write his life.

Overall

It was a captivating prospect. The writing was mostly easy to follow and filled with Max’s emotions. The overall book was lengthy – almost excessively so. Although I did appreciate the level of detail in which Max’s life was explored, I also found myself going cross-eyed during the more mundane portions.  I was really captivated by the last 15% or so. It is important to know that some threads of plot are left unresolved and although Max’s story has a general resolution, it seems to me that the author isn’t done and could pick up one of those incomplete threads.

What really was the deciding factor was the deeply seeded philosophical effects of Max’s choice to travel back. That is what really struck a cord with me. I both pitied and hated Max, while still finding a middle ground to accept his decisions. It was quite an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Rating

3.5 Stars (rounded up)

Despite my hatred for time travel books – this was expertly done. If you like time travel books – this is a must read! Especially if you like more of the human aspects of time travel.

*I received this as a Science Fiction novel and agree with that. However, in my opinion, this is not for teens and is a stretch even for the New Adults genre.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Albedo by R. Leib

Summary

Ranner’s done a lot of things in his life, defended planets in the HSG, shot it out with pirates, and muscled for smugglers. Now he’s settled down into being a bodyguard so that his adopted daughter can have a normal life. Offered the chance of a lifetime for just doing his job seemed too good to be true. He would have to see what the albedo deflected to know for certain.

Overall

This is a like a hardboiled detective novel but with a science fiction feel. Actually it reminded me of those old noir movies but a futuristic version. For such a short snapshot it had the pieces necessary for a mystery. Ranner is both clever and reformed…as best as he can be from his old ways. The plot was both interesting and horrifying, but I don’t want to say more in case I’ll ruin the mystery. I felt like it was wrapped up a little too easily but may have just been a nod to Ranner’s ability.

Rating

4 stars

A great little detective short story that is a great read for a short lunch break. If you like a grim science fiction with a mystery, this is a great read for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

In the Space of an Atom by Bruce M. Perrin

Summary

Jeremy Reynolds has been listless for a while now. First, his girlfriend of 4 years dumped him, and he was in a funk. Then, he quit his job as an accountant. Yes, Jeremy was doing little and caring less. But recently, he has found something that energizes him, something that gives him direction, something that gets him out of the house every day. It’s called…running for his life.

Just as Jeremy was finishing the last in a string of low-paying, temporary market research gigs, the study assistant pulls a gun on him and tries to kill him. When Jeremy bungles his way to freedom, he realizes that the technology in this study is much more than it first appeared. It’s enough to kill for. But he also knows he is in way over his head. So, when the lab and the would-be assassin disappear, and the police close the case, Jeremy is desperate for help. He finds it in the beautiful, young Diane Stapleton, MD. Now, the two of them match wits with the killer, in chases that take them where no one has gone before…in the space of an atom.

Characters

Jeremy’s life is a bit of a mess. He is a bit of a mess really. Kind of just wandering aimlessly. Diane is exactly the opposite. She knows what she is doing and is happy to be where she is. She is confident and daring. Jeremy on the other hand is a bit of a klutz and quick to blush. I really liked their dynamic. Jones on the other hand is a bit over the top -as is the doctor guy Jeremy was doing the work for. The cop created a further dynamic. Despite that they are fun characters over all. This is all from Jeremy’s POV.

Plot

This was presented as a sci-fi but it really reads more like a suspense. Clueless hero falls in with a mystery scientific experiment that does the impossible and thus chaos ensues. I don’t want to go into too much detail on the specifics because the mystery is half the fun but Jeremy fumbles around through the whole thing in a way I’d imagine most people would.

There is some limited humor – mostly Jeremy falling – but it was well placed. There is, of course, a romance aspect. If you didn’t pick up on that you didn’t read the summary above. At times I felt the romantic parts of the book just pulled me away from the suspense and sci-fi pieces, but other parts I liked. For sure action-packed.

Overall

There was just enough science fiction to keep it interesting on that level. It is set in modern day as far as I could tell – in St. Louis. The setting itself was a little weak as it didn’t do a good job describing St. Louis as a whole, but where the author failed in the setting more than made up for in pace. This is a face paced read that once I started reading, read fairly quickly. Limited grammatical errors. The ending was a little far fetched in the timing of it but I’ve simply concluded that Jeremy is very lucky. In more ways than one.

Rating

4 stars

I waffled between 3 and 4 stars because of the sci-fi genre being the focus but just didn’t feel right only giving it 3. Fun read! Exciting, interesting, and steeped in romance. If you like science fiction, romance, and suspense books – this is the perfect book for you!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Edge of the Future by Andria Stone

Summary

“Edge of the Future” is a Sci-Fi action-packed, military scientific, suspense thriller, novel with a female villain, and the first part of a Trilogy. -One hundred-fifty years after the last war humanity has united to explore space with colonies on Luna and Mars. But the Europa Mission has just failed and 152 people died in space. No one knows why. -When military bioscientist, Captain Mark Warren’s hidden research installation is attacked, he meets armored assault Sergeant Axel Von Radach. They become entangled in a deadly fight to stop the theft of classified military secrets by a lethal female adversary. -Her plan to use enemy cyborgs posing as humans, plus unsuspecting high-ranking military personnel with neural implants altered to accept her commands, has every chance of succeeding. Unless…Captain Warren and Sergeant Von Radach get a chance to end her first.

Characters

Mark is a complex character. Some of his personality is a bit hypocritical but this likely due to the fact that he is at war with himself. Axel is much more straight forward. The soldier. He is cocky but has a reason to be. This book jumps characters, mostly Mark, Axel, and the ‘bad guy’ but it allows insight into the different characters and their motivation. I appreciated that despite the fact that Mark and Axel are more of the main characters there were two female counterparts that were also important.

Plot

This felt like an action thriller movie with a sci-fi twist then a sci-fi. There is a militaristic component as well. The plot will keep you on your toes for the length of it! The advances in science beyond what exists today but is possible from today is what makes this a sci-fi.

There were a few minor plot inconsistencies. Mostly in the finer details of the plot. A big one was Mark and money (contradicted itself a few times). There were a few more, they didn’t detract from the story too much.

Overall

The author does a good job of building the world seamlessly around the  main characters. All of the characters feel real and were really well done. The plot was interesting. The writing detailed, a little bit much at time, but that was appropriate considering the genre. There were very few errors.

Rating

4 stars

This is a solid 4 star book. Despite a few minor inconsistencies this is a highly enjoyable action-packed read. If you love action-packed thrillers and sci-fi then this is a must read!

I received a copy in exchange of the honest review.

Godeena by Stjepan Varesevac Cobets

Summary

Major Henry Broncon miraculously survived a battle with Ansker soldiers on the planet Morad. He was found under a pile of corpses, his best friend and the whole brigade remained in the field of death. Broncon was fully acquitted, he got the medal for bravery and was promoted to the rank of colonel, but he cannot forgive himself because he feels responsible because they fell into the trap.
Shortly after the war ended, and terrestrial colonies that came out as winners in the war to receive a distribution system Naude comprised of planets and Godeena. On the surface there was a huge and completely preserved, but uninhabited city that scientists have named the Absolute. Soon he sent an expedition to investigate what happened to the people and animals because he never found signs of life. A few days later he was attacked from the surface and loses all trace of them. General Staff sent two teams of Special Forces to find out what happened to the expedition but they also disappear, leaving no trace behind.
Commander of General Staff, Gen. Hensell due to personal reasons of Colonel Henry Broncon requested to collect the unit, composed of the worst inmates from prison Had, and along with them discover what is happening on the planet Godeena. Henry accepted this task and collected 17 prisoners.

Characters

Henry was an interesting character. A little underdeveloped but interesting. The biggest problem with this book was the point of view (POV) shifts. Within one chapter there would be between 2-6 POV shifts. There was no logic or reason and it was jarring. I did like Diana though, she was the reason I kept reading.

Maria/Kir was the best character but she didn’t really fit in the book. She felt like a fantasy character in a sci-fi novel.  I would have liked to know more about her but I may have lost how Maria/Kir came to be but it may have been lost.

Plot

This plot was pretty straight forward. Go and get some prisoners, get them trained, take them to a crazy planet with a killer creature, and defeat it. The part about going to the prisoners and training them seemed to take forever. I actually almost quit twice. I struggled with the easy comradery that followed — it didn’t feel real. It happened too quickly and everyone just fell in.

Best part of the book was when they finally arrived at the planet. Although that stagnated near the middle. Author did a great job of building the planet — Godeena. I thought the author was going to have a twist at the end but I was thoroughly disappointed when he played it safe.

Overall

This book was too long and I just couldn’t get into it. To me it was wordy in all the wrong places. I did like some of the characters, particularly Diana, but there were some incoherent pieces. The POV shifts were distracting. The author did a good job on the planet’s setting, but took too long to get there.

Rating

2 stars

I didn’t like this book. I couldn’t recommend this to anyone and it needs a lot of work. It has some potential but needs a complete overhaul. Diana and Godeena itself were the shining moments in this novel.

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