#Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #Audiobook #ScienceFiction #YAFiction

There is no love greater than the one held for a well-written book, and I am starting to see now why The Illuminae Files has such a strong international fandom. Snarky, shameless intertextual, deliberately diverse, and the epitome of the high-stakes YA space opera, I can’t recommend this book and this series highly enough.

geminaTitle: Gemina

Series Title: The Illuminae Files

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Listening Library

Publication Date: October 18, 2016

Genre: YA Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Themes: Space, Survival, Corporatism, Adventure, Love, Family, War

Features: N/A

My Rating: 5/ 5


From Goodreads…

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

My Review


Somebody tell me why I waited so long to get back into this series. Seriously! It’s so damned good, particularly the audiobook adaptation. Those voice actors deserve a freaking gold star because they brought this book to life!

At first I was a little sad that this story took a step away from Kady and Ezra, because their sass and dynamic was particularly magnetic, but cue Hanna and Nik and after 3 chapters I was totally sold. I mean you have a bad boy born into a family of crime that actually has a heart of gold, and a spoiled little rich girl who just so happens to be a tactical badass. Put them together with the combined threats of a damaged wormhole, psychedelic slime aliens loose in the station, and a sleeper cell that’s come to take out all remaining witnesses to the Kerenza attack and you have drama and action around every corner. If you hate adrenaline, big reveals, plot twists, and swoon-worthy slow burn romance with more yearning than one brain can reasonably handle, I strongly urge you to stay away.

What I loved most about this book is that it’s clearly written for teens and features teens. They’re old enough to know some shit and be badass, but young enough to still need their parents and question their every move. They grieve like teens, say and do stupid shit like teens, regularly reference pop culture like teens, and have to constantly defend their abilities to condescending adults like teens. Oh, and they enjoy rebelling against authority figures and asserting their newly found identities just let teens. This might be an epic space opera set at a wormhole jump station caught in the crossfire of multiple covering universes but these kids are REAL!

And can I just give a special shoutout to Ella? She might not be one of our main protagonists, but that girls is so damned likeable I legit cried every time she died because of the Gemina field. It was refreshing to see a physically disabled girl play such a strong and integral character. Not only is she a queen spider of the ones and zeros, she is young and vulnerable and incapable of caring for fish. I adored how she wore sarcasm like an armour and always added levity to those heavier moments.

There’s so much more to talk about – like a painfully beautiful traitor, Kady Grant’s father taking Hanna under his wing, the awesome depravity of the BeiTech strike team, and the trials the weave all of these disparate narratives together. But, I don’t like giving out spoilers and I fear that these comments would tread a dangerous line. Just know that every line is action packed perfection, and that you need to read it. Every element in these stories are so carefully wrought and expertly woven together that it’s almost impossible for me to accept that Gemina is a collaboration.

I can’t wait for our two divergent crews of space heroes and heroines to come together in Obsidio and kick some serious BeiTech ass. There will be sass, action, and attitude beyond measure, and I have the feeling that there is nothing in the verse that will stop them from succeeding.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library as a result of blogger recommendations, all opinions are my own.


#Blogtour #Review: A Shape on the Air by Julia Ibbotson @rararesources @JuliaIbbotson #Giveaway

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Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Julia Ibbotson’s latest novel A Shape on the Air. Part slow-burn romance, part time-slipping mystery this baby will transport you back into post Roman Britain and leave you ready to take on the world.

A Shape on the Air cover 18.11.19Title: 
A Shape on the Air

Author: Julia Ibbotson

Publisher: Endeavour Press

Publication Date: July 27, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance

Themes: Time Travel, Romance, Abusive Relationships, Power Dynamics

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4/5


Unlocking a love that lasts for lifetimes – and beyond! When Dr Viv DuLac, a medievalist, slips into 499 AD and into the body of Lady Vivianne, little does she realise that both their lives across the centuries will become intertwined as they fight for their dreams … and their lives. How can the key which Viv bring back with her to the present unlock the love they both crave, and help them through the dangers they both face? And how can they help each other across the centuries, without changing the course of history?

Purchase Links – http://myBook.to/ASOTA

My Review

This book had me at the blurb, because who doesn’t want to time-slip back into 499 AD? Add in a saucy chambermaid, a steamy knight, a deplorable usurper, and a plucky heroine trying to avoid a forced marriage and you’ll find me snuggled up on the couch with tea and chocolates reading. But that’s only half of the story. On the other hand we have sexy, successful Viv who has just gone through a traumatic breakup with an absolute snake of a man, who is trying for a big promotion at work, and is struggling to come to grips with with her parents legacy 20 years after their death. Both worlds intersect in a dramatic dreamland that is fraught with betrayal, buoyed by budding romance, and driven by women on a mission.

I really enjoyed the mirroring of the characters between past and present – Viv and Lady Vivianne, Eleanor and Ellie, Tilly and Matilda, Sir Roland and Rory and so it goes on! This really helped to reinforce the notions of rebirth and history repeating itself which is so integral to the story. But, as all of the characters remain distinctly different from their counterparts, individuality and interest is easily maintained. I loved the magical elements too, as they allowed for a smooth transition between past and present, as well as an interesting bridge between Viv and her long lost parents.

There were a few times I wanted to grab Viv and give her the ‘WHY?!” shake, like why are you just going to let Pete take the flat you paid for? Why are you going to let him walk away with a business that you funded? Haven’t you heard of cohabitation and common law regulations? Woman, you have a PhD, you’re supposed to be smart! Buuuut, then I remember my maximum logic (or not) following my last big breakup, calmed down my fight-em instinct, and was able to settle into enjoying this story for the fun, uplifting read that it was.

Altogether this was fun and engaging read. It’s sweet, uplifting, and filled with real people and reactions (even when it wasn’t the way I wanted people to act). If you like a little magic and time travel with your romance, then don’t pass this one by!


A Shape on the Air RRR GiveawaysGiveaway to Win a Paperback copy of The Old Rectory, book mark, postcard, key ring, handbag fob.  (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK  entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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About the Author

A Shape author photo image 3

Author Bio

Acclaimed, award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then an academic as a senior university lecturer and researcher. As well as medieval time-slip, she has published a number of books, including memoir/history of food (The Old Rectory), children’s medieval fantasy (S.C.A.R.S), a trilogy opening in 1960s Ghana (Drumbeats), and many academic works. Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.

Social Media Links 

Website/blog   https://www.juliaibbotsonauthor.com

Facebook          https://www.facebook.com/JuliaIbbotsonauthor

Pinterest           http://www.pinterest.co.uk/juliai1

Twitter              @JuliaIbbotson

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this tour, and for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

A Shape on the Air

#Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #Audiobook #ScienceFiction

One of the goals I’ve set myself for 2020 is to catch up on all those series where I read book one and never got around to reading the rest. I know, I know…bad me. But the good news is that I’ve actually been making some headway. Yippee!

Last week I ran a poll to see if all you bookish people would be game for a series review over individual reviews for each book thinking that I might be able to save myself some words, but noooooo. Y’all are a thirsty bunch!

So, get ready for a lot of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kritsoff this month. Here’s my 5* review for the first book in The Illuminae Files series Illuminae. It’s witty, intense, and quite possibly one of the best collaborations I’ve ever had the pleasure of engaging with. If you’re down for a space opera with kick-ass characters and a unique presentation, Illuminae is an absolute must – especially the audiobook!

illuminaeTitle: Illuminae

Series Title: The Illuminae Files

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Listening Library

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Genre: YA Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Themes: Space, Survival, Corporatism, Adventure, Love, Family, War

Features: N/A

My Rating: 5/ 5


From Goodreads…

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Review

Honesty time:

When I first tried to engage with Illuminae in print I really struggled. Like, hard. I had this hate on in my mind that Science Fiction was not for me (yet, I kept trying to read it anyways?!) and that as an adult I should be above YA. Obviously, both notions turned out to be absolute bollocks – it just took me a little while to realize it. Fast forward a few years when the audiobook pops up on my library’s recommended listening app and I say to myself ‘Hey Jessica, you were unfair in the past, why not give this another try?’

Best. Decision. Ever.

No, seriously. The audiobook is absolute gold. Read with a full cast of hilariously engaging narrators and packed full of intertextual Easter eggs, Illuminae had me wishing it was serialized as some sort of radio story hour for the whole world to hear. My hour’s drive back and forth to work quickly became the favourite part of my day, and I simply had to sit in the parking lot or my driveway when I got to my destination and wait for each section to end before clicking off. It was that good.

Part intergalactic survival adventure, part break-up/ make-up love story, and 100% teen angst and snark I was enamoured within the first few chapters. I loved the dossier style presentation and it really forced the reader, or in my case listener, to pay attention and piece together all the clues as the story progresses. We have the characters that we know and love like our tech prodigy Kady Grant, the jock turned fighter pilot Ezra Mason, and our gloriously flawed and dysfunctional AI system AIDAN, as well as some unknowns like our mysterious analysts. Each character has a distinct voice not only terms of the voice actor, but also in terms of style and vernacular, which lends itself nicely to an immersive experience. You’ll quickly start wondering just who the Illuminae Group is, what their overall objective is, and just why exactly are they following the trials and tribulations of teen lovers on separate space ships when there is a massive corporate war raging around them.

While I normally lean heavily towards a strong female character as my favourite of the bunch, little AIDAN won this book hands downs. I’ve never once considered what it would be like to enter an artificial intelligence’s conscious and the idea of it was absolutely enthralling, especially as AIDAN moved closer and closer towards atypical behaviour. It becomes both the threat towards, and saviour of the people under its protection and it’s nearly impossible to guess which AIDAN is going to be from one passage to the next. It makes the hard, emotionless decisions that humans are not willing to consider and you will either love of hate it for them. And the thought of a computer falling in love with a hacker {ERROR}? Genius.

I was also particularly drawn to the tension created between those who accepted our teen protagonists as experts on, and potential solutions to, some very big problems and those that saw them as nothing more than kids. This became a particularly thought provoking theme and the story (and series) progresses and really encourages discussion around who has ‘knowledge’, and we should go about acknowledging these skill sets in increasingly complicated and stratified societies.

The only thing I disliked about this book was that when it ended I had to wait 4 days before the second instalment was available for listening. If you like Firefly, space dramas, and a whole lot of snarky humour then I cannot recommend this baby highly enough. And if you don’t jive with the print edition, go audio. I promise you won’t regret it.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library as a result of read-alike recommendations, all opinions are my own.


#Blogtour #Review: In Her Sights by John Kimbrey #InHerSights @fayerogerspr @authoright

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Today I have the honour of hosting a stop on the blog tour for John Kimbrey’s exciting WWI drama In Her Sights. Filled with deep characters, thoughtful detail, decisive action, and realistic repercussions In Her Sights will take you back in time and on the adventure of a lifetime.

ebook cover.jpgTitle: In Her Sights

Author: John Kimbrey

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Themes: WWI, Gender Roles, Survival, Friendship, Family

Features: N/A


Set at the outbreak of the Great War, the story depicts a young woman from a Gloucestershire village, tired with the constraints of her life in Edwardian Britain.

In 1916, her brother, a weak and introverted man is called up for military service. She sees an opportunity to finally compete with men in their own world and formulates a plan to go to war in his place.

In this unique and compelling tale of sibling love and extraordinary bravery, they learn to swap lives completely and she quickly adapts to her life as a man, seeking to fight alongside her male peers in war- torn France.

With many twists and turns, it demonstrates the very best and worst of soldiers of the time and brings a new perspective to the many aspects of war. With unbelievable conditions, great loyalty and unrivalled friendships, her world is then shattered as the military machine closes in. With her life now in danger, she battles to survive, bringing a conclusion the reader won’t see coming.


Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49494311-in-her-sights

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Sights-John-Kimbrey/dp/1913136922

My Review

Gender swaps, high stakes action, bad-ass lady leads and well researched historical settings – this baby has everything I look for in a war fiction read. Top it off with a beautiful relationship between siblings, a touch of sniper training, and the nitty gritty of trench life and no-man’s land and you have a complete experience. I particularly loved the attention that was paid to cleanliness during training, the makeshift latrines on the front lines, and the specificity of detail that was paid to the art of shooting.

Perhaps my only complaint is that some of the information was repeated in description as well as dialogue, but I know that this is an aesthetic preference on my part. With that being said there’s still plenty of action – both at home and overseas – to move the plot along nicely. I adored the hodgepodge representation of basic training, the spectrum of personalities and quirks to be found in the career officers, and the detail given to brewing the perfect cup of tea.

I enjoyed Ed’s spunk, Frank’s loyalty, and Bryan’s commitment to the Mitchell family over the years. And David too! I wasn’t expecting to like him as much as I did, but it was interesting to gain insight into those who were forced to stay behind. But what I loved the most was how even though some of the characters were described as weak throughout the book, that they all displayed strength and fortitude in their own unique ways.

This isn’t kind of book that is all action all of the time, but it’s carefully wrought and deep in it’s explorations. If you like a book that dives deep into it’s main characters then this might just be the one for you. If you like unexpected endings, a bit more realism than the standard happily ever after, and a little diversity in your period writing then I would absolutely recommend In Her Sights.

About the Author

John KimbreyJohn Kimbrey served in the Royal Marines for twenty-five years and has travelled the world extensively. He visited Antarctica three times on exploratory and scientific expeditions and was awarded the Polar medal. He lived in New Zealand for seven years, and now lives in Lincolnshire.

In Her Sights, his first novel, depicts the heroism of soldiers in the great war, demonstrates the very best and worst of soldiers of the time. It is the first book of a trilogy that focuses on this period, and, unexpectedly, its main protagonist is a woman. She thrives on many challenges the war offers her, and ultimately becomes a cool and calculated killer.

The sequel to In Her Sights is finished and John has several months of editing and fine tuning ahead of him before it is published.

John has enjoyed reading since childhood, and always felt he had a book in him, but now feels there are many more to come. His writing style is open and reactionary, and whether it’s a gift or luck, his creative mind always develops a variety of plotlines. He gets so absorbed sometimes that ideas flow quicker than he can write them down.

John loves the great outdoors and enjoys exercise. He cycles every week and makes regular visits to his local gym. He was widowed in 2014 and has two married children and three grandchildren.

Many thanks to Faye Rogers at Authoright for inviting me to participate in this tour, and for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

#Blogtour #GuestPost: A Degree of Uncertainty by Nicola K Smith @NicolaKSmith @rararesources #Giveaway

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Today I am thrilled to be hosting a stop and guest post on the blog tour for Nicola K. Smith’s debut novel A Degree of Uncertainty. As someone who a) lives in a small town and b) works at a university that is aiming to double it’s student enrolment over the next decade I found everything about this book to be particularly timely and relatable. But, you don’t need to be as entrenched in these worlds as I am to enjoy Smith’s debut – it’s funny, complex, and utterly real.

Check out her thoughts on small towns and finding inspiration on your doorstep below!

A Degree front coverTitle: A Degree of Uncertainty

Author: Nicola K Smith

Publisher: Compass Publishing

Publication Date: 14th November 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Themes: Community, Small Towns, Societal Shift

About the book…

A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…

Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto — and many residents and students are relying on him.

But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.

As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least the need to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.

There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Degree-Uncertainty-Nicola-Smith-ebook/dp/B0825Y8PTS

US – https://www.amazon.com/Degree-Uncertainty-Nicola-Smith-ebook/dp/B0825Y8PTS

Guest Post

Why small town communities are alive with drama…

Small town communities have often lent themselves well to fiction. Think of Anne Tyler’s numerous dramas in the US suburbs, Per Peterson’s tales from small Norwegian towns, Jon McGregor’s stories from the UK’s ancient Peak District, and the darkness of Twin Peaks. Not to mention TV’s Tin Star, telling of an unhinged London police chief who has decamped to Little Big Bear in the wilds of Alberta…

As McGregor has said about small rural towns, they offer writers “ a defined network of characters, a knowable landscape, a community of shared knowledge.”

My debut novel, A Degree of Uncertainty is set in the west of Cornwall, in England’s far south west, in a fictional town called Poltowan. Cornwall has the longest coastline in England, a meandering coast path that continues to surprise, countless pretty fishing villages, expansive beaches, hidden coves and wild moorland.

It also has one university town. Falmouth, which I adopted as my hometown 15 years ago, is on Cornwall’s south coast, and its university has exploded over the last 10 years or so, with its student population now topping 5,000. In a town with around 22,000 residents, that is quite a shift in dynamics.

As you can imagine, such a shift has also caused unrest. Many of us feel threatened by change, particularly when our very community, our home, is at risk of disruption, and everything we know starts to look and feel different.

Poltowan is inspired by Falmouth, taking its framework of change — more students, a growing economy, transient neighbourhoods, a younger population —and peopling it with characters who feel variously that the university’s rapid expansion is either progress of ruin.

But A Degree of Uncertainty isn’t about the university per se. It is about the human condition. It is about a small town community that is on shifting sands. And when change occurs people often feel exposed and vulnerable. It makes us defensive. And while some see its growth as a positive evolution, a way of putting a relatively remote community on the map, many feel it heralds an end to everything they know.

The story has two protagonists. Harry Manchester is Poltowan born and bred, a successful businessman who feels a responsibility to fight further expansion of the university and preserve Poltowan for residents and future generations. He will not stand by and see his town taken over by fly-by-night students. He wants to be the people’s hero.

His key adversary is Dawn Goldberg, the ruthlessly ambitious Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, who is hell bent on making it a defining point in her career.  As we learn more about her, we start to understand why she has made this her mission, and why she is determined to achieve her goal regardless of her unpopularity among many in the local community.

It was a story that demanded to be written. A small community harbours all sorts of mysteries. It is a seething mass of secrets, lies and forbidden desires — indeed it is a microcosm of the world — and when people feel imperiled, it brings out the worst in them.

Poltowan is inspired by a real place but is very much a work of fiction, yet like many writers before me, I have found a compelling story on my doorstep.

Nicola K Smith (A Degree of Uncertainty)

Give Away

Enter for a chance to Win 10 x A Degree of Uncertainty (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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About the Author

A Degree Author Nic-1Nicola K Smith is a freelance journalist contributing to a number of titles including the The Times, Guardian.co.uk, BBC.co.uk, BBC Countryfile and Sainsbury’s Magazine. She lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, a town which inspired A Degree of Uncertainty, although it is set in the fictional Cornish town of Poltowan.

Twitter: @NicolaKSmith

Instagram: Nicolaksmith740

Facbook: @NicolaKSmith74

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this tour.