Review: Gravity by Tess Gerritsen

gravity
Gravity by Tess Gerritsen
Published: 01.09.1999
Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★
Goodreads

 

SynopsisAn experiment on micro-organisms conducted in space goes wrong. The cells begin to infect the crew with deadly results. Emma Watson struggles to contain the deadly microbe while her husband and NASA try to retrieve her from space, before it’s too late.

 

review

 

I picked this up when I was in a reading slump. Usually when I’m in a slump, I resort to re-reading some of my favorite books. But I didn’t really feel like doing that either! So I decided to use a completely different tactic this time: read from genres I don’t often read. This book had been on my shelf for a while, and I used to love Tess Gerritsen’s murder mysteries. This is a mystery and thriller, but also a science fiction read. So I decided to give it a go. Man, am I happy I did!
 

PLOT/MYSTERY

 
I was hooked from the first chapter. I saw some Goodreads reviews saying that they had a hard time getting into it at first. I was the complete opposite: captivated from the first page. I felt like the pacing was great. I read it in one day I think (or maybe 2) because I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know what would happen next. Which development would arise now? What horrible thing would happen to the astronauts now?
 
So this story plays out partly in space, and partly on Earth. We follow Emma and her ex-husband (Jake?). They have both been dreaming of being in space for as long as they can remember. But Jack will never be able to be an astronaut. Why? A kidneystone was discovered. While not harmful in itself, it could be more dangerous in space. So while Jack can’t fulfill the dream, Emma can. That’s a giant strain on a marriage, which is why they are getting divorced.
 
At the start, Emma is training for a space mission in a few months. However, an accident happens to the wife of an astronaut currently in the ISS (International Space Station). So NASA decides to get said astronaut back, and send Emma in his place. That’s where it all starts going wrong. One of the astronauts gets sick. Really, really sick. And then he dies. What do you do with a decomposing body in a space station?
 
I loved that we got to follow the virus from the first moment. Because you know that astronauts will start dying, you can spot the moment the danger first arrives. That’s when you think: “uh oh”. And the dread settles in your stomach. Afterwards, you follow each new development with growing dread. It was amazing. I was flipping pages like crazy!
 
I have to admit that I didn’t see the twist at the end coming. Well, either of the two big twists. They were both a complete surprise to me, which is great!

 

CHARACTERS

 
I grew to like so many of the characters, not just Jack and Emma. Because an astronaut is really never alone in space, you get attached to the entire crew. And the crew on the ground as well. I loved how they fought for their astronauts, for their well being and safety. There was really only one perspective I didn’t care for, but that person only got like 2 mini chapters. I understood why the chapters were necessary, but I still didn’t care for them.
 
Emma is such an amazing person! She’s caring, but smart as well. When the virus starts spreading, she knows what has to be done. It may not be pretty, but it’s reality. In that moment, you have to shut off the emotions and be a scientist instead. She was an amazing main character.
 
At first, I didn’t like Jack at all. But he really grew on me. It was obvious that he cared for Emma. And I can imagine how losing your life long dream can be devastating. Yet he fought for the astronauts as well. He’s a doctor after all, so when things start going wrong medically, he knows he needs to help.

 
Overall, I’d highly recommend this book! Even if you don’t often read science fiction or mysteries, this is a great place to start. I’m so glad I decided to pick it up after all!

Top 5 Wednesday: My First Booktube Video?

I love, love, love this book blogging community. But I also love to watch BookTube videos! So I decided to give it a go. And what better way to start than a T5W video? Please be kind, I’m obviously not a great editor….

 

Books mentioned:

Top Ten Tuesday: Rolling Into a Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week, it’s all about your fall TBR. 

As some of you may know, I have a big problem with TBRs. I never, ever stick to them! So I created a different system. For each season, I have 10 books on my TBR. When the next season arrives, I only get to replace the books on the list that I’ve actually read. I only read 2 books from my Summer TBR: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. So I only get to replace 2 out of the 10 books… 

fall-tbr-80c8b0

All of these were on my summer TBR, but I still haven’t read them. I know, I’m the worst!

The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley // I think this has now officially been on my shelf for a year. I’ve heard amazing things about it! I’m just scared to start another series at the moment… There are so many I still have to finish.

The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima // This has been on my shelf for over 2 years. Maybe even 3. How scary?? I’ve heard so many people rave about this which is actually the reason I haven’t picked it up. I’ve read quite a bit of fantasy, and I’m afraid this won’t live up to the hype for me. 

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson // This book is intimidating, let’s be real. It’s ginormous. 

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan Graudin // Another hype book! I still have to buy a copy… And read it…

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson // I need to read more non-fiction, and this is at the top of my list. It’s a hilarious biography about mental illness. Does that not sound like something you need right now?

Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire #1) by Michael J. Sullivan // I was so excited for the release of this book! I’m a huge Michael J. Sullivan fan! The only reason I haven’t read this is because it’s quite expensive. I usually read paperbacks as well, and I’ve only really seen the hardcover.

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson // I should have read this book years ago. I think I read the first book in 2013 or 2014? How shameful.

The Black Company (Companies of the Black Company #1) by Glen Cook // I’m hesitant on this one. I tried to read it a while ago, but couldn’t get into the first chapter so I put it back down. But so many people rave about this fantasy series, so I need to give it another try. 

Night Film by Marisha Pessl // This is the first new addition to the TBR! I’ve had this on my shelf for a bit, and I thought it might be nice to add another genre to my TBR list. In case I don’t want to read fantasy…

The Desert Spear (The Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V. Brett //  I loved the first book in this series, The Warded Man. I read it in the beginning of 2016, and I’m determined to continue the series soon. I don’t want to leave years between the books! I’d really recommend the first book, I don’t see that many people talking about it. 


So that’s my Fall TBR! Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think of them? Do you have any problems sticking to your TBR?

Why I Find It More Difficult to Rate Romance Novels

If you read my blog posts regularly you might know that while I do focus mainly on fantasy, I tend to break up long periods of fantasy reading with NA/Adult romance reads. If I’ve read too many heavy fantasy books in a row, I need a change of pace. Romance books tend to give that too me. They are easier, and much faster, reads -in my opinion. But while I almost always feel confident in my rating of fantasy books, I often doubt my ratings of a romance book. Why is that? 

I just want to make clear that this is not a romance-bashing post. I’m not at all saying they are an inferior genre. Please bear that in mind! I do love to read romance books :) 

ROMANCE BOOKS DESERVE AN HONEST RATING BECAUSE…

…they are also books. Just like any other. This really shouldn’t even be mentioned. But I feel like a lot of people tend to look down on the romance genre. That’s ridiculous. Why would a romance book by any less worthy of a rating than a general fiction or fantasy one? There is no doubt in my mind that they deserve an honest rating. Yet I find it much more difficult to decide on what that rating should be, than with other genres. 

IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO RATE THEM BECAUSE…

  • I don’t know which aspects to base my rating on. With fantasy books, I rate on the world, the plot and the characters – but what do I rate on with romance books? Should I rate on the chemistry? How the people treat each other? The side characters as well? I have no idea. The plot usually revolves mostly around the romance, so you can’t say much about that without giving anything away. 
  • I find it much harder to give them a 5 stars rating. What is the perfect romance? Does it exist? I know this is kind of a hypocritical point, because there is also no such thing as the perfect fantasy. 
  • Because romance is something a lot of us can relate to, I tend to judge it more harshly. It’s easier to rate a fantasy, because the world and everything is made up and you can’t relate to living in it. But a romance I can relate to! So it needs to be more realistic and that definitely makes it harder to create/read the “perfect” romance. 
  • What if I missed something really problematic, and I recommend the book? With romances, I can sometimes get caught up in the chemistry and the quick read. And at times, that leads to me overlooking something really problematic that happened in the book. What if I recommend a really problematic romance to others? 
  • Often there is a bad start to the characters meeting, and so the main male character can come off a bit rude. I love the banter, but I don’t think being rude/acting like an asshole is okay. There is no reason to ever act like a dick. Ever. 
  • Maybe I’m even a little bit afraid that people will judge me. There, I said it. People tend to be really judgey when it comes to romance. And while I think that’s completely unfounded, I don’t want to be judged at the same time. 

So maybe I should just start looking for a completely separate way to review the romance books I read! You know I use world-plot-characters for my fantasy ones. Why not use 3 other aspects for my romance reads? I’ll definitely stick with characters. Maybe add chemistry? What else could I add?

I’M 22!

Yup, you read it right. I’m now officially 22! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

Last year, I made a 22 things to do before I’m 22 list. Today, I’m taking a look at what I’ve accomplished this past year! 

1. Take a trip on my own

So technically, I didn’t complete this. BUT I did book a solo trip for October 4th-7th! That counts for something, right? I’ll be taking a trip on my own in 2 weeks!

2. Get my driver’s license

I also underlined this because I kind of accomplished it. Because I let my theoretical license expire in 2015 before doing my practical exam, I had to do the following: retake the theoretical exam, take driving classes with the driving school until I’m ready to do my exam with them. I passed my theoretical exam in the beginning of the month, and I have my driving classes and exam planned for the next 2 months. So I planned and organized it all before my birthday. That kind of counts, right?

3. Get my phsyical TBR down to 45

HAHAHA, no. It’s at 84. Oops. 

4. Take a snowboarding/surfing class

Also, no. But I have a voucher I can use for a class, so I will probably use that in the coming year!

5. Self-host and redesign my blog

Also, no. I want to take my time with this and do it right. And I haven’t had that time in the past year. 

6. Be able to run a 5K

Hahaha, also no. 

7. Complete a 30 day yoga challenge

Okay, so thanks to Inge, I completed this goal. Maybe not really in 30 days… But I did the 30 days the best way I could! 

8. Bungee jump

Nope. I still really want to do this though!

9. Graduate from university

YES I DID! I graduated in June, and it still makes me so happy. 

10. Visit Wizarding World of Harry Potter

No, I didn’t. But I underlined it because I did go to the Harry Potter Exhibit in Brussels! That kind of counts, right? 

11. Knit a Gryffindor scarf

Also kind of. I tried. And then I got so frustrated with knitting! My mom took over, so I do have a homemade scarf. I just didn’t do it myself… I’m obviously not a knitting person. 

12. Read 3-5 classics

Also, no. I try, I really do. I read Frankenstein this year! Classics are hard, people. 

13. Try being a vegetarian for a month

Underlined, again. I feel like in a way, I did more than accomplish this goal? I didn’t go fully vegetarian for a month but I think it’s safe to say that about 75% of my daily meals have become vegan in the past year. 

14. Take a helicopter ride

Nope. Also still really want to do this! 

15. Read NPR’s Top 100 fantasy list

How deluded was I? They’re like 90 series on that thing. 

16. Have my own place

This may have been a bit overconfident. I’ve only just graduated. I can’t really start looking for a place until I’ve found a job…

17. Reach 500 followers on my blog

Another accomplished one! I’m so grateful for all of you. 

18. Get a small tattoo

Nope. I have made a list of quotes I may want as a tattoo. One of those will become a tattoo soon. 

19. Meet some of my favorite authors

Also, no. I’m hoping to change that soon though!

20. Go to a book convention/fest

Sadly, this also didn’t happen :(

21. Comment more on blog posts 

I definitely did this! I’m trying to comment on more blogs, and discover more blogs through memes like Top Ten Tuesday.

22. Try out more new recipes

I definitely accomplished this. Going vegan for a lot of my meals has meant trying out a lot of new recipes and ingredients. I used to hate corn, and now I’ve discovered I quite like it. I have re-discovered my love for broccoli. I tried a Korean recipe on my own. I often go out of my way to buy one ingredient I have never used on a grocery trip, and find something delicious to do with that. 

So how did I do? I fully completed 5 of my goals, and kind of completed 3.

The goals I didn’t complete will become my goals for the next year! Maybe I can complete them before I turn 23! 

What I’ve got left to do before I’m 23:

Take a trip on my own
Get my driver’s license
Get physical TBR down to 45 books
Take a snowboarding/surfing class
(be able to) run a 5K
Self-host & redesign my blog
Bungee jump
Read 3-5 classics
Take a helicopter ride
Read NPR’s Top 100 fantasy list
Have my own place
Get a small tattoo
Meet some of my favorite authors
Go to a book convention/fest

Mini Fantasy Reviews | The Tiger and the Wolf, The Emperor’s Knife, and Short Stories from Hogwarts

I’m back with more mini reviews for you all! Today, I’m actually reviewing 3 fantasy books I’ve read recently. I just don’t have all that much to say about each of them, but I still wanted to let you guys know what I thought of the books. 


the tiger and the wolfThe Tiger and the Wolf (Echoes of the Fall #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Published: 11.02.2016 by Pan Macmillan
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming. Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She can’t disown half her soul, so escapes – with the killer Broken Axe in pursuit. Maniye’s father plots to rule the north, and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger, a time of testing and broken laws. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. But what spark will set the world ablaze? 

review

I’ll start by saying that there’s a theme for the books I’m reviewing today. I thought they were “meh”. They weren’t bad, not at all. But they weren’t great either. There was nothing special to grab my attention, to be honest.

This story had so much potential. The shifter clans of different animals are so intriguing! Especially the history. The tigers who used to rule the Northern Crown on the World, until the Wolves took over. There are different Wolf-clans, each with their own chieftain, but there is one ruling person in general. There are Snakes, Bears, Coyotes, etc. It’s really interesting, especially because they all have some traits we associate with those animals as well. I do think that a lot of the potential here wasn’t fulfilled. 

I wasn’t really attached to any of the characters. I thought Broken Axe was really intriguing, and he’s the biggest reason I kept reading. Maniye wasn’t a bad or boring character, I just didn’t relate to her at all. Characters are incredibly important to me because when I don’t feel attached to them, I tend to not be captivated by the plot either. That was exactly the case here. I wasn’t captivated by the story. To be honest, I felt like there was no big plot-climax. You know what I mean? I didn’t feel like this story was building up to something, and it left me with one overall question: what was the point?

Like I said, I don’t think this is a bad book. I will definitely be trying some of the author’s other works because I’ve already enjoyed one other book by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Empire in Black and Gold. But I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series. This book has quite a high average rating on Goodreads though, so you may want to try it and decide for yourself.


EmperorsKnife_Press_Corrected02.inddThe Emperor’s Knife (Knife & Tower #1) by Mazarkis Williams
Published: 27.10.2011 by Quercus
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

SynopsisThere is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon’s law…but now the pattern is running over the Emperor’s own arms. His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon’s agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor’s only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court’s stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an aging imperial assassin, the Emperor’s Knife. As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who once saw a path in a pattern — a path that might save them all.

review

Like The Tiger and the Wolf, I felt “meh” about this book. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I don’t have the need to finish the trilogy, but I already own the second book. Dilemma…

I think this book had a lot of potential, but I didn’t really like the execution of it. I was intrigued for several reasons: geometric patterns across the skin that make you do someone else’s bidding, an Emperor with a dead family, the Prince locked up and a Windreader. Those all sound so promising!

But instead, I felt like there was something off about this story. First, it seemed like I was watching the story unfold from a distance instead of being there with the characters. Second, while you’re reading, it feels like there are chunks of time missing. The characters develop but I think it was unrealistic. For example: Sarmin has spent almost his entire life locked up in his room without seeing anyone. And suddenly, he has the ability to stop the biggest threat his empire has ever faced? I don’t get it. The characters changed so suddenly, I couldn’t really follow anymore. The only character I could understand was the Knife. Third, I didn’t understand parts of the history or backstory. Why did all the brothers have to be killed? Why not Sarmin? Maybe I missed it or just forgot in the past month, but I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it. 


short-stories-from-hogwarts-2Short Stories from Hogwarts: Of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore Presents #1) by J.K. Rowling
Published: 06.09.2016
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

SynopsisThese stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous hobbies profile two of the Harry Potter stories’ most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K. Rowling also gives us a peek behind the closed curtains of Sybill Trelawney’s life, and you’ll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way.

review

When I heard about the three Pottermore Presents books, I immediately went to Amazon to pre-order one. I chose this one, because of Minerva and Remus. They are some of my favorite adults of the Wizarding World so of course I had to order short stories about them. By the time September 6th rolled around, I’d actually already forgotten about it. Imagine my surprise when I opened my Kindle app. 

Of course I loved learning more about my favorite Hogwarts professors. I even thought Silvanus Kettleburn’s part was interesting! It allowed me to get to know them better. I never would have thought Minerva McGonagall had gone through such hardship in her life. I felt for her, I really did. And I already loved and felt for Remus. 

But my biggest criticism is: this book’s name is really misleading. These aren’t short stories, in my opinion. They’re more like: short biographies? It’s not told in a story format, but merely in a text providing you with the facts. I hope you understand my meaning.

Review: Valley of Embers

valley-of-embersValley of Embers (Landkist Saga #1) by Steven Kelliher
Published: 16/08/2016
Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars – ★★★.5
Goodreads

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way. 

SynopsisFor hundreds of years, the flame-wielding Embers have been the last line of defense against the nightmare creatures from the World Apart, but the attacks are getting worse. Kole Reyna guards Last Lake from the terrors of the night, but he fears for his people’s future. When Kole is wounded by a demon unlike any they have seen before, the Emberfolk believe it is a sign of an ancient enemy returned, a powerful Sage known as the Eastern Dark. Kole has never trusted in prophecy, but with his people hanging on the precipice, he reluctantly agrees to lead the Valley’s greatest warriors in a last desperate bid for survival. Together, they will risk everything in search of a former ally long-thought dead, and whether Kole trusts him or not, he may be the only one capable of saving them.

review

I’m not really sure where I stand with this book. On the one hand, I did enjoy reading it. On the other hand, I was also confused at times and the beginning didn’t captivate me immediately. It was a nice read though, and by the end I was much more invested in the characters. 

WORLD

I always try and talk a bit about the world when reviewing a fantasy book. This was the part of the book that confused me at times, I have to admit. I also think that’s the reason it took me a few chapters to get into it. 

So this book plays out in the Valley. It’s a place with multiple cities/towns spread out. Kole lives in Last Lake, and has grown up there his entire life. Another big chunk of the story plays out in Hearth, a different big town/city in the Valley.

Kole is an Ember, which means he can control fire -I think. They need a source to keep the fire going during a fight but they can light their blades with flames and such. His father, Karin, is the First Runner of Last Lake. Every big town has a First Runner and a First Keeper (I believe). The First Runner is sort of like a scout -the best one of course. He goes to different towns and settlements and gathers information. The First Keepers are the head of the city, and are usually Embers. Still following me? There are also those blessed by the Faeykin and they have healing powers, can sometimes travel through the between and have piercing green eyes. And there are Rockbled, which are people with some sort of power over rocks, like the Embers have over fire?

The people living in the Valley did not always live there. Once, they lived in the desert. But a war between the Eastern Dark and the rest of the world (basically) forced them to leave. They went to the Valley. Their king -the Ember King- and the White Crest -a sorcerer/Sage- rode out to defeat him. In doing so, they blocked the passage out of the Valley and now the people all live there. This happened a few generations before Kole, I think. 

To be honest, while I enjoy this history and world in this book, there are two minor issues with it. The Eastern Dark and its lieutenants, the Sentinels, really reminded me of Sauron and the Nazgûl. I don’t know, it may just be me? Second, I was confused at times. Some people are Landkist, which means they were blessed with powers by the land? And I don’t know whether an Ember is Landkist, or a Faeykin is or everyone is? Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention, but the terms sometimes confused me.

I did love the rich history, and how the people fervently believed in it. How shocking it was for one person to challenge those beliefs. 

PLOT

I thought this book would go as following: something bad would happen, Kole would state it’s time for a mission and the best of the people would follow him. 

But that was not the case. In fact, Kole did go out on a mission, but nearly died. And then his friend went out with a few of the most powerful warriors to do the same. After recovering, Kole attempts to follow. Because of the separate journeys, I was sometimes confused as to where the different characters were?

While this book was enjoyable, it lacked something in my opinion. I can’t really put my finger on what though. With a fantasy story, I want to be immersed in the story and world -and the characters. And while I enjoyed the story and grew to like most of the characters, I was never truly captivated by the book.

CHARACTERS

At first, I wasn’t a giant fan of Kole. I didn’t dislike him either, I just didn’t love him. But he really grew on my throughout the story. He was loyal to his friends and family, and would do anything to help them. Even if it means challenging their beliefs, their generations-old hope for a savior. 

In fact, I really liked how the main characters all had their strengths and flaws. Lin may not be an Ember, but she’s a fierce warrior. Nathan may be quiet and seem innocent, but he’s the best hunter ever. Baas may not be the most outspoken, but he’s tough and strong. I like that both good and “bad” qualities are shown, because it makes the characters feel a lot more realistic. 


Overall, I’d say this was an enjoyable read. Especially considering the fact that it’s a debut novel. It’s a solid fantasy read, but I just wish it had that something more… Something to really grip my attention. And I do think that the history and world building could have been a bit more clear/spread because it was a tad overwhelming and confusing at times. But if you like YA fantasy, I’d recommend it.