Outside Review

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

The Proof of the Outside follows the story of Ele, who is held captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. Ele is determined to prove there is a world Outside. And when she finds a hole in the wall, the proof starts leaking in. In this dark and compelling debut novel, Ele’s strong and heartbreakingly optimistic voice shines through, revealing an important lesson about the power of stories to save lives.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

I got a proff for this book, and just ahdn’t felt like reading it for a while. I am glad I waited as it is a heavy themed book.

But before I start on the review of the book, content warnings: rape, child abuse, sexual assault, disassociation…

Ele knows that there is an Outside, she has collected a set of “proofs” like the fact that He comes to the Inside and sometimes brings scents and other times gifts from it. She’s been trying to collect proofs and this seems like her life’s purpose.

It takes a while to set the scene and all the details that will become important later in the story, and that start was brutal and also confusing. Then Ele escapes the Inside and stays with a reclusive man and his son who is more than happy to welcome someone other than his father.

And Ele starts to figure out the Outside and the “rules” that make it, like never talking about Inside. And at the same time, her hosts are trying to figure her out and in a way help her. I know some reviews asked why the father takes his sweet time to get help from others or to question Ele further, but I can see why he wouldn’t want to pry (those who don’t want people to pry into their business tend to leave others alone, kin knows kin, not that they are related in this story). But also, if he doesn’t pry, he can build trust, and it is obvious to him that she is vulnerable. Trust is a big thing here, so he does do things in the best way he can given the circumstances.

Anyway, to tell the rest of the story would be to spoil it, but the reveals suddenly pile up, and the whole “a first person narrator is unreliable at least in one way” works beautifully with this intense story.

The reasons I gave it a low rating was that it is very brutal and the content warnings weren’t fully there (the scene set up kinda warns you where this is going, but still), and that despite the brilliant work done with an unreliable narrator, the story is slow and it kjust feels like it keeps tripping on itself a little too much. (But it may be due to my copy being an ARC, so the finished version may be better).

It was a well done book but I didn’t enjoy the story, it was a little too brutal, too intense for me.

Furyborn Review

This book was provided through a Fairyloot box as an advance copy

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Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

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There was a lot of hype for this book so I was looking forward to reading it. It has an intense start where you find Rielle so interesting, and then you get Eliana. I struggled a lot to get into Eliana’s chapters, and even when it finally got better (around page 350), I still didn’t care very much for her. The reason I was reading her chapters was because of Simon, or Remy (definitely one of my favourite characters of the book!), or Navi or another character in there. I couldn’t feel for her and I just couldn’t immerse myself properly into her world view. Rielle’s chapters on the contrary where much more interesting, and that never helped poor Eliana’s one as they contrasted too much with hers.

I loved the elements and the strange empirium which made me think of atoms making up everything in the world (except empirium is golden here and I don’t think atoms are exactly a certain colour).

But it bugged me that there is a lot of explanations and reasons missing that just don’t make sense. Who decides who is the Sun or Blood Queen? Why is Rielle so powerful and so special? What does Corien want with her and if he so much needs her, why kill her? Most of it doesn’t make sense, and despite the “joining” of the plots, it still has too many gaps.

The writing itself is immersive and I did enjoy the flow of the writing and I had no problems with it or the style, all good there. So i look forward to reading the next book and to read more books from her, but I just feel an overhype for this sadly.

Moon recommends

Preorder Furyborn if you like stories that have two separate generations (by however many generations in between but you know, a past and a present or a present and a future views) and fantasy that has a dark tinge to it.

 

Nyxia Review (Proof Version)

Today I am reviewing Nyxia. I received this proof copy on my Illumicrate box (August 2017). I was not sure what to expect to be fair. Also, be warned that this review may include spoilers.

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Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. 

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I debated a lot between 3.5 and 4 fox rating. In the end I stood it up against my other 4 fox books and it wasn’t just there (maybe a 3.75? 3.80 but I don’t have enough foxes for that).

I will mention the things that bugged me the most first, and then load you up with those that I really liked. On the thing that jumped to me the most is Emmet’s mental file system. From what the book explains, this is for when you are angry and you file it away under a letter. But through the whole book, Emmet files SO many things away and a few that I would not have considered “anger” (they were things that would have made me suspicious or curious or bothered me or even that I would consider useful). Either Emmet has serious anger issues (so that almost everything makes him angry) or the file system isn’t explained as well as it should (I am seriously hoping for the latter). Also, it bugs me a lot that Nyxia is this unexplainable substance that can protect you from being harmed by itself but also when it pleases it, lets you get injured by more nyxia. Yet there is a lot of mind control. And everything is solved by Nyxia. Maybe it just needs to be better explained or something, but I am not pleased with how Nyxia is (but that can be just that I like science to back my sci-fi).

On the good things is the diversity, both in gender, colour, race, country, etc. but also in personality. The characters were mostly unique though I admit with so many of them, at times I wasn’t sure who responded to which name (I could remember that the character doing X had done Y before, but what was the name was beyond me).

It was interesting to see all the interactions between them. Also, this has an Ender’s Game feel (much more than a Hunger Games one) but thankfully it is not the same.

One of my favourite things was how mercy, compassion, teamwork, relationships and competition were explored throughout the book. Kaya, Morning and Vandemeer are my favourite characters.

This may not make my utter favourites but I am really looking forward to the next book and to learn what Eden looks like. I don’t think that they are actually prepared at all for what is to come but we shall see.

And Babel is horrid, but this is just a part of making a good villain (not in a villain that is good but rather making one well), with lots of layers and secrets.

Moon recommends

To read this is you like sci-fi and challenges. Maybe a competiton is interesting or corporations with hidden agendas. You may also be interested in Ender’s Game or maybe one of Anne McCaffrey’s books, a) if you’d like to explore how we deal with a planet that has another race in it and we want to keep it, then try Donna’s series starting with Decision at Donna, b) or if you prefer to wonder about strange substances and mining them I’d recommend the Crystal Singer series, starting with Crystal Singer, or c) if you’d like to explore what happens when humans are slaves of another race and part of an experiment on freedom try the Freedom series starting with Freedom’s Landing.

If you’d like to grab a copy of Nyxia, you can get one from amazon here.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.