Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes(The Hunger Games #0), written by Suzanne Collins

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, published by Scholastic. It’s a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy and tells the story of a teenager who would later be known as President Snow.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes(The Hunger Games #0), written by Suzanne Collins”

Blog Tour: Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang(Translated by Ken Liu)

Hi everyone! Today I’ll be talking a little bit about Vagabonds, Hao Jingfang’s debut futuristic novel for my stop in the VAGABONDS blog tour by Midas PR. This has been translated by Ken Liu and has been published by Head of Zeus in hardback on 14 April 2020.

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang(Translated by Ken Liu)”

Not an Artificial Intelligence, but an Artificial Consciousness | Review: Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton Publication Date: 7th May, 2019 Paperback: 292 pages   Genre: Science fiction, Adult Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.

She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human. 

Should You read Emily Eternal?

“It’s dark, way too dark for the middle of the day. And that’s not where the sky’s supposed to be.”

Emily Eternal tells us the story about Emily, an A.C.(Artificial Consciousness) who has to save the world from the sun which has begun to die. Well, not “die” exactly…but

“..it made a sudden and explosive phase shift from a yellow giant to a red giant. “

This can happen actually, in reality, and I read about in this school and it freaked me out. Basically, when the Sun starts to “die” out, it will send out radiation and solar flares which will affect the electricity which basically runs everything on this earth. From water supply to hospitals, everything will be affected without electricity. There will be no stopping of any disease. earth will literally go back to the dark ages and humanity just might perish. However, what’s the point of Emily?

Emily was built as the last hope of humanity and that’s why she’s not an A.I. but an A.C., as close to a superhuman. In Emily’s words,

My creator-Nathan- designed me to interface with and decode human minds. This is more about learning through emotional and environmental response and less overtly about math-based decision making. Hence AC, rather than AI.

Throughout the pages, we see how similar Emily is to a human. She has hopes, bitterness, dreams, doubts, crushes. All this sense of normalcy is brought to a grinding halt when the president of the US and some other scientists visit the lab and ask Emily to do something unthinkable, but necessary to save humans. After much debate and thinking on her part, Emily decides the help and therein lies another difference between an AI and an AC. An A.I. would immediately agree to the proposition, no matter how maddening it was. No sooner than Emily starts to work than the lab is attacked and Emily watches, helplessly, as her creator along with all her scientists is killed. The lab is a pile of rubble and Emily is all alone except she isn’t. Jason Hatta, her crush and one of the volunteers in the project that Emily was working on, had confiscated an interface chip with which he can see and maintain contact with Emily. Now, Emily has some enormous tasks ahead of her: Save mankind, Help Jason and sheriff Mayra from getting killed and in turn saving herself, fight against the corporation that orchestrated the attack and also fights her sister?

The book is short, about 290 pages, but it took me longer to finish than I normally would’ve and that’s not a bad thing, either. Of course, there were some scientific jargons I had to skim through but I enjoyed the story told through Emily’s perspective. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Emily and her “humanity”. An AC crushing on a human is not new for me but this was sweet and I rooted for them throughout the book. Emily understands consent and acknowledges moments where she crossed a line. Her program is only five years old, and despite having the appearance and maturity of someone in their thirties, Emily is still very innocent. It’s quite sweet watching her hold firm to her morals because her creator did – and then because she’s decided it’s the right thing to do. I loved Jason and Mayra as well. They try to understand her instead of ridiculing her or dismissing her.

Overall, I highly recommend this sci-fi novel for its unique characters, clever plot line, the philosophical and moral questions it brings up, its pace, its twists and turns which eventually led us to a fulfilling conclusion.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT:

About the Author:

Born in Texas, M.G. Wheaton worked in a computer factory before getting his start as a writer for such movie magazines as Total Film, Fangoria, Shivers, SFX and several others. After leaving journalism, Wheaton worked as a writer for video games, comic books, and movies, including writing scripts for New Line, Sony, Universal, Miramax, HBO, A&E, Syfy, Legende, Disney Channel, and others while working with filmmakers such as Sam Raimi, Michael Bay, Steven Soderbergh, George Tillman, Gavin O’Connor, Janusz Kaminski, and Clark Johnson. 

Connect: Website | Twitter

A journey into the wonderful yet terrifying world of the unknown | ARC Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

What do you think? Have you read Emily Eternal? Did my review manage to convince you to read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Are you willing to loan your womb for a few months? | Review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

About the Book: Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing   Publication Date: 7th May, 2019   Paperback: 326 Pages    Genre: Science fiction, Dystopia 
Goodreads   Buy:Book Depository | Wordery 

SYNOPSIS

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages–and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money–more than you’ve ever dreamed of–to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery–or worse.

Should You read The Farm by Joanne Ramos?

“You should not raise them to be too tender, like little lambs. Small lambs, soft lambs—they make the best meat; they are always devoured.”

In Joanne Ramos’ The Farm, we see women give up everything in their lives including their children, a relationship or a relative, to become surrogates for wealthy clients. They spend nine months in a gorgeous locale, The Farm, cared and pampered throughout their stay. They are paid monthly and receive a hefty bonus after successful delivery. Sounds like a place where dreams come true, for evryone? Well, you’re wrong. 

The story begins with Jane who’s looking for her cousin Ate in a hospital. Ate is a nurse- a baby nurse- to be specific and her age prevents her from earning a living as a baby nurse. Ate suggests Jane replace her because she needs the money as she’s a single mother who’s struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, she’s forced to leave because of an unfortunate incident at her job as a baby nurse. Soon, Jane finds hope in the promise of The Farm and leaves her baby in the care of her cousin, Ate. Again, what could go wrong? As it’ll turn out, a lot.

Next, we are introduced to Mae and then Reagan. Mae is the woman who designed the surrogacy program. Through Mae’s introduction, we get to know a bit about how the idea for the Farm came about and Mae’s latest client acquisition, a Chinese millionaire called Madame Deng, whose investment will bring millions to The Farm. Then, we meet Reagan, another potential host who unlike most other hosts is rich with an ivy league college degree.

Reagan laughs, surprising herself. It isn’t funny, but it is. It’s all completely ridiculous: three pregnant women carrying other people’s babies talking about second-trimester sex pangs and trying to guess which one of them harbours a billionaire’s fetus.

Let’s come back to Jane again. As Jane is selected as a host in the Farm, Jane becomes pregnant through artificial insemination. Jane follows the rules but soon trouble ensues when she is befriended by another host Lisa. After yet another unfortunate incident, Lisa is spared because of her clients but Jane is punished as Mae informs her that her daughter’s upcoming visit will be canceled. As Jane meets more Filipina hosts, she encounters someone who knows her cousin Ate and that shouldn’t have been a big deal ..but Jane discovers other things that lead to other troubles at The Farm. Now, why is Jane such a big deal in The Farm? What’s going on with Ate? Why has she and Reagan been allowed to meet their “real” clients yet?

Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.” 

As you can probably guess from my explanation, Jane maybe presents the most throughout the entire story but there are multiple POVs. We hear from Ate, Mae, and Reagan. It’s not at all confusing but manages to give us a clear picture of The Farm, its purpose, and its implications. It did remind me a bit of The Handmaid’s Tale but it was unique on its own. Surrogacy isn’t new but in this story, it is like a currency..the hosts’ bodies(the surrogates) are commodities and they’re in a place where their every move is watched. There are lots of places where you’ll say “What the F*ck” without any hesitation. For example, Mae states that some clients look specifically for black or Asian hosts(even better if they’ve high IQ or are highly educated) while others will look for white and of course, an ivy league educated as if their wombs will magically transfer those qualities to the clients’ baby. There are also ethical issues at play here; for example, when a clients baby is genetically tested and found to have Trisomy-21(the gene for Down’s Syndrome), Mae and the head doctor discusses abortion and ways to protect the company…when the company’s policy to use their best efforts to ensure the wellbeing of the unborn child.

I read the second half of the book in one sitting and I was hooked into the plot which was getting terrifying with every chapter but the ending was a bit unexpected. I hoped to be shocked, gasp in horror..but no, I didn’t.

Overall, I highly recommend The Farm because it tackles important themes like racial inequality, immigration, motherhood, and freedom among other things. It is sharp, witty(at times) and controversial; all of which made this a wonderful debut and I can’t wait to read more of Joanne Ramos’ works.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

About the Author: You can find Joanne Ramos here
A journey into the wonderful yet terrifying world of the unknown | ARC Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

What do you think? Will you ever be able to do what Jane, Reagan and other hosts did? Would you like to work in someplace similar to The Farm? If you plan to read The Farm by Joanne Ramos, then let me know in the comments below! As usual, if you have read it already, then let me know your thoughts below. 

They’re among us or are they ? | When the Sky Fell on Splendor [ARC Review]

When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

The Priory of the Orange Tree Goodreads cover
Cover ( Goodreads)
Buy it on Wordery | Book Depository|| Add it on Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

When the Sky fell on Splendor summary

Photo credit : mine, Synopsis: Goodreads

Why should you read When the Sky Fell on Splendor? | REVIEW

When the Sky Fell on Splendor is described as Stranger Things meets The Serpent King. The description is quite accurate with the addition of alien conspiracy theories and a group of friends who are ordinary but they discover something extraordinary.

THE NIGHT OF THE crash started like most had that summer: with the six of us, and one mouth-breathing border collie, crammed into Remy’s Clunky Geo Metro, rumbling down Old Crow Station Lane.

Emily Henry, When the Sky Fell on Splendor

The group of friends consisted of one Handsome Remy, Levi, Sofia, Nick, Franny and Franny’s brother Arthur. These kids had no idea that a trip to their local “haunted” house would change their entire lives.

You: “Now, back up a little..why were they visiting a haunted house? Please tell me there’s a justifiable reason.”

Me: “Of course there’s a very good reason they were going! They were going to film a “mockumentary webisode””.

You: “uhh..”

So, the friends call themselves The Ordinary on their youtube channel where they filmed these weird videos and it was one of the most outgoing things they could do in their sleepy town of Splendor. While filming inside the house, they saw a streak of light across the sky and at first, they thought that it was a meteor shower but it so wasn’t. Soon, every light in the street went out and everything fell silent except their breaths. Then their attention went to a metal tower from where white sparks were coming off and Arthur made the mistake of touching the white light. It was a big mistake as in that moment the friends were blinded by an ear-spilling CRACK and thereafter, they could feel, see or hear nothing. The next time they remember is waking up in a hospital with six hours unaccounted for. Where were they? Why can’t they remember anything?

I didn’t expect to love the book so much because I didn’t even watch Stranger Things after episode one. However, I couldn’t stop turning the pages of the book so I finished the book in a day! It kept me up all night and I definitely don’t recommend reading it at night🙈 Besides the creepy atmosphere throughout, there are perfectly-timed humor and banter which makes this a quick and easy read at times. Is there romance? hmm…I don’t want to spoil anything. The ending will make you think, and perhaps, question reality?

Participate in an ARC giveaway here:

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of Stranger Things, The Serpent King and if you like reading about thriller with E.T. vibes, beautiful friendships, humor, and overall great writing!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 glowing stars.

Author: Connect with Author Emily Henry here .

  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • Publication Date: 12 March 2019
  • Paperback(ARC): 384 Pages
Thank you for reading my blog post

Do you think you’ll read When the Sky Fell on Splendor? Do you enjoying reading science fiction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!