[680]: Alex + Ada by J Luna & Sarah Vaughn

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Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

“People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”
― Pedro Domingos

This is like that movie with Will Smith about robots becoming sentient and unleashing holy hell to all humans. Alex is a lonely human who hasn’t quite gotten over his failed relationship after 7 months. On his birthday, he received a gift in the form of a Tanaka X5 from his wealthy grandmother. He didn’t warm up to the idea right away. He thought it was unethical to have a human-like robot catering to his every whim. But he couldn’t bring himself to return her.

Once he kept her, however, he wasn’t satisfied. He needed her to be able to make her own decisions, have her own opinions.  “Waking up” an android is against the law but that didn’t stop him from seeking out a way to make her even more human-like.

The graphics in this novel has a very minimalistic approach. I mean, compared to the others that I’ve read in the past, the drawings wasn’t bogged down with unnecessary “background noise”.  It made for an easy time trying to follow the storyline because it does not distract you from the dialogues. I did, however, encounter problems with the dialogues. Though, that’s my general problem with graphic novels. Especially if there are a lot of back and forth between characters. I had a hard time following along with the conversation.

I wish I bought the second book to this series right away. Because now, I’m dying to read the next. This volume is a compilation of five issues and it ended with Ada “woken up”. Looking forward to her adventures with Alex!

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[677]: Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap

27876492 Angel of Oblivion
Stand Alone
Archipelago Books | August 16th, 2016
Source: Finished copy from the Publisher
Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


The novel tells the story of a family from the Slovenian minority in Austria. The first-person narrator starts off with her childhood memories of rural life, in a community anchored in the past. Yet behind this rural idyll, an unresolved conflict is smouldering. At first, the child wonders about the border to Yugoslavia, which runs not far away from her home. Then gradually the stories that the adults tell at every opportunity start to make sense. All the locals are scarred by the war. Her grandfather, we find out, was a partisan fighting the Nazis from forest hideouts. Her grandmother was arrested and survived Ravensbrück.

As the narrator grows older, she finds out more. Through conversations at family gatherings and long nights talking to her grandmother, she learns that her father was arrested by the Austrian police and tortured – at the age of ten – to extract information on the whereabouts of his father. Her grandmother lost her foster-daughter and many friends and relatives in Ravensbrück and only escaped the gas chamber by hiding inside the camp itself. The narrator begins to notice the frequent suicides and violent deaths in her home region, and she develops an eye for how the Slovenians are treated by the majority of German-speaking Austrians. As an adult, the narrator becomes politicised and openly criticises the way in which Austria deals with the war and its own Nazi past. In the closing section, she visits Ravensbrück and finds it strangely lifeless – realising that her personal memories of her grandmother are stronger.


The novel begins in a calm tone; a life of rural ideal on a farm near the border of Austria and Yugoslavia. The narrator’s family goes about their lives simply; tending to the farm and their animals while slowly peeling the layers that would eventually show the readers what was hiding behind the calmness.

She’s my Queen Bee and I’m her drone.

The young girl references her great admiration for the matriarch of the family. Her grandmother rules the household with relentless strength rooted in familial love and old tradition. She guides our unknown narrator through early adolescence on through the cusp of adulthood. While in the background is her mother, sensitive and prone to crying. She was hardly shown any respect least of all from her mother in law. In some ways, I felt for her. It was easy to see that she never knew how to raise her own child because someone else did that job for her. So their relationship was fragile and more often unpredictable. The narrator stands in a precarious balance between the love for her mother and her grandmother that ultimately becomes somewhat lopsided.

Throughout the novel, the readers are given a visceral imagery of the kind of influence the grandmother has over our narrator. Her mother tried her best but it was a difficult task to overcome such an overwhelming shadow. And she didn’t get any help from her husband (the narrator’s father) either. He was constantly drunk and frequently unhinged. Though, his instability could be attributed to his childhood experience of unfathomable hell which unsurprisingly influenced the man that he became.

Angel of Oblivion is an unexpected surprise. It’s a glorious feat for an author to leave her readers in a state of complacency all the while telling a difficult and poignant story. Beautiful as it were, devastating in some instances. It reminds us that we are the sum of our memories and even if we feel insignificant now, our stories could hold some influence to someone in the future. This was not an easy read by a long shot but the characters are worth your acquaintance. And because it’s a memoir disguised as fiction, I read it with ease, ironically enough.

 

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[661]: Air Awakens by Elise Kova

23127048 Silver Wing Press | August 27th, 2015
Series: Air Awakens, #1
Paperback, 377 pp.
New Adult | Fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.


I wish I can join in the furor left in the wake of this little indie book. For the record, I like the idea of an apprentice slowly coming to terms with her supposed powerful magic. But I was frustrated with Vhalla. She was stubborn in such a way that she refused to embrace her powers. Nothing wrong with grandstanding as long as you have the balls to back it up. In the end, it wasn’t all the root cause of why I didn’t quite enjoy this book. At times, I wanted to shriek in frustration because for all the talks of her being the most powerful and rare, I never saw it. The readers was only given a second-hand account of it. She was always unaware of what she was doing when she was unleashing her power. It was very irritating.

What the heck is a Windwalker, anyway?

What is her power? It annoys me that after finishing the first book, I still hadn’t a clue as to what she can do. Can she fly? Can she summon wind? I wish that I didn’t have to read the next set of books to learn the scope and breadth of her power. If I’d learned of what she can do in Air Awakens, I’d be one-clicking the entire series faster than you can say, next! 

Technicalities

The pacing didn’t bother me either way. The lack of consistency wasn’t as annoying as I’d expected it to be. This is one of those times when I wasn’t interested in what happened to the characters or the story either way. I was going through the motions and was just racing to get to the end. Which is a clear indication that it was all over before the crying! I kind of knew how it would end but that didn’t stave off my frustration somehow. As far as series opening goes, this was the kind of introduction that I wasn’t a fan of. Because instead of whetting my appetite for the rest of the books, it incited a general lack of interest.

In Retrospect

Three stars for world-building and plot; and for a slow-burn romance that I could’ve enjoyed reading come to a fruition. Overall, this is not the fantasy I was looking for. Sorry.

 

 

 

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[659]: Appealed by Emma Chase

22926494 Appealed by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs, #3
Gallery Books | January 19th, 2016
Adult Fiction | Romance | Erotica
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


When Brent Mason looks at Kennedy Randolph, he doesn’t see the awkward, sweet girl who grew up next door. He sees a self-assured, stunning woman…who wants to crush the most intimate – and prized – parts of his anatomy beneath the heels of her Christian Louboutins.

Brent has never let the loss of his leg in a childhood accident affect his ability to lead a fulfilling life. He sets high goals–and then he reaches them.

And now he has his sights set on Kennedy.
**
When Kennedy looks at Brent Mason, all she sees is the selfish, Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-worthy teenager who humiliated her in high school to join the popular crowd. A crowd that made those years a living hell.

She’s not a lovesick social outcast anymore – she’s a DC prosecutor with a long winning streak behind her. Brent is the opposing attorney in her next case and she thinks it’s time to put him through a little hell of his own.

But things aren’t exactly working out that way.

Because every fiery exchange has her wondering if he’s as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom. Each argument and objection only makes him want her more. In the end, Brent and Kennedy may just find themselves in love…or in contempt of court.


Sustained used to be my favourite Legal Briefs book, but I think that title has been usurped by Appealed. At times, it wasn’t as enjoyable as I would like, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s just a bit more substance in this story. It’s those moments when I want to kill high school Brent and his posse that made it all the more remarkable. And that time when his douchebaggery was magnified when he flat out gave Kennedy an ultimatum. Like, dude. What the hell were you thinking? As if ultimatums ever work in the history of relationships. Above all, I like seeing glimpses of the group as they live their lives. But what I would like even more is to see how they are living now with kiddies in tow.

As usual, Emma Chase delivered a hilarious romance between two characters oozing with out of this world attractiveness and wit to back it up. The instant attraction wasn’t a surprise because they had a history together. And it was tender, but more often tumultuous. Your heart will go out for the young Kennedy who have loved Brent and whose heart was broken many times over by the pettiness and actions of others. Brent was – for the most part – a less than innocent bystander through it all, though. He failed to protect Kennedy then, which led to her hatred. Sadly, the comeuppance wasn’t as enjoyable because it was very brief. Sort of a delayed gratification, too. But, oh, was it fun to watch them spar in and out of the courtroom!

I recently found out that this is the last book in the series. I’m sad. It seems like I just found this series so I’m not willing to let go of the books  just yet. Emma Chase gave us a series that is wholly addictive and fun. Her characters are witty and hilarious. Navigating through all the idiosyncrasies of each characters’ relationships had been a hoot. Moreover, I enjoyed that the books were told mostly from the guys’ points of view. I like seeing them live through their self-inflicted heart injuries. Idiots.

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[608]: And Again by Jessica Chiarella

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 I’ve been looking for a novel that will challenge the way most of the cloning novels are being written. I want to see a story that shows them as more than a product of a successful lab project. Neither mechanical nor sterile; definitely not automatons devoid of human emotions. And Again delivered that for me.

This book was surprisingly fast and easy to read. Jessica’s writing felt comfortable, like a warm blanket or a comfy chair. And even though the story revolves around four people and four different perspectives, each character told their stories with ease. There’s Hannah who has lung cancer; David, a Republican congressman with a brain tumor; Linda who’s paralyzed from the neck down; and Connie a once big-time Hollywood actress who was dying from an aggressive strain of HIV. All four of them won the lottery and were chosen subjects for SUBlife. Cloning or in essence, a second chance at life. This is their story. Four narratives seamlessly connected to show us that tricking death might just be borrowing another set of troubles.

Each one of them grapples with the new life that they were given. A fresh start it may be, but they all felt awkward and uneasy. Their train of thoughts was full of doubts like they’re uncomfortable with their new bodies. This book is a bit more thoughtful rather than scientific. It didn’t ask me what my moral stance is on cloning, nor did it question the religious and social implications when one messes with the natural order of things. It’s the introspective process that these four characters went through as they try to pick up the pieces of their old lives. They couldn’t run away from the flawed life that they used to live no matter how perfect they all seem.

This book was such a lovely surprise; unexpectedly captivating in a sense that a reader will be ensconced in the characters’ new lives. I wanted them to move forward as they were before their illnesses and accident, but I saw and felt their struggles as they try to reacclimate to their surroundings.


GOODREADS | Touchstone | January 12, 2016 | Amazon | Chapters !ndigo 


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