Blog Tour: The Psychology of Time Travel by @KateMascarenhas @HoZ_Books

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Release: 2018
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Science Fiction

1967: Four female scientists invent a time-travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was the pioneer that went mad, but they never talk about it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018: When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. But when the inquest fails to answer any of her questions, Odette is left frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

I can’t believe August is being this good! I’ve read three wonderful books in a row and each one was completely unique in its one way. But no story has been more original than Kate Mascharenhas’ The Psychology of Time Travel. If you love time travel, stories focused on women, and diversity, believe me: this book is perfect for you.

I love a good time travel story, so the moment I read the blurb, I was immediately interested. And a time travel story focused on women? Three women invented time travel? It couldn’t get better than that. Plus, the early reviews were great, so I was sure this wouldn’t disappoint me. Turns out I was right. This book was such a delight!

At first, I admit I was more than a bit confused. So many points of view! So yes, during the first few chapters, I struggled. But I kept reading because there was something about this book that made it compulsively readable. Without barely realizing it, I checked the % and I discovered I had read more than 60% of the story. And. I. Couldn’t. Stop.

Although the time travel bits were incredible, my favorite aspect of this novel was the beauty of its characters. I loved Ruby, Bee, and Odette so much! Grace was wonderful as well. And I liked how everyone seemed to have an important part in how the events unfolded. I enjoyed discovering every small secret as I kept on reading. It was a wonderful experience.

I wish we could all read more books like this one. We need stories like this which are diverse, feminist and tackle important issues without feeling preachy. Novels that are smart and original… and above all, incredibly satisfying.

Kate Mascarenhas

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Kate Mascarenhas is a half-Irish, half-Seychellois midlander. She is a qualified child psychologist, dabbling in doll-making and bookbinding in her free time. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house, which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. This is her first novel.

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Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by @stu_turton @BloomsburyRaven

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‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’ It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

Okay, so how do I even review this book? The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was probably my most anticipated read this year. The moment I came across that blurb, I knew I needed to read this book. I’m a big fan of the whole Groundhog Day premise and I already talked about my love for Before I Fall on the blog. Happy Death Day was also one of my favorite films last year, so Seven Deaths was high on my list. And it was a murder mystery! What more could I ask for?

I admit it, as much as I ended up loving this book, my relationship with Seven Deaths didn’t start off that well. I don’t know if anyone else had the same issue with the Netgalley format, but my ebook file was a mess. Random 0s and 1s all over the pages, no capital letters, paragraph breaks that made no sense… it was hard to follow. And if you take into account that the actual plot isn’t the easiest to understand, you can imagine my confusion. I almost gave up before I even reached 10%. But. The idea was awesome and it seemed like such a cool story, so didn’t it deserve a bit of an effort? Yes. So I kept on reading…

At first, I remember thinking: what is this even about? For the first 20%, I had no idea where the story was going. I didn’t understand anything, there were too many characters and the Agatha Christie character guide would’ve been useful if I had been reading the hardback or paperback version (no, of course my format didn’t allow me to go back to the beginning!). And who the hell was Anna? Wasn’t this book about Evelyn? Who are these creepy evil characters? But you know that moment when you realize you’re actually enjoying a weird book? I knew I was beginning to like this novel… And for sure I wanted to know what was going on!

And the more I read, the more I loved it. I couldn’t stop. No, I didn’t understand half of what was going on, but I no longer cared. I loved how this book messed with my mind. It’s my favorite feeling in the world. And I had to continue reading. It wasn’t only about the high-concept plot and the promise of a mind-blowing puzzle. I also really liked the main character, Aiden Bishop, and I was rooting for him. I wanted him to escape Blackheath. But he was so stubborn! Oh, how he made me suffer…

I deeply admire Stuart Turton’s work here. He has created such a complex and unique novel, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Seven Deaths. I’m sure no book has ever made me feel like this one. It’s not an easy read and it’s definitely not for everyone, but I’ve never been happier that I decided to keep on reading. This was very different from all the other Groundhog Day stories I’ve read or watched. Stuart Turton took it one step further. And I’m glad.

By the time I reached the conclusion, I felt like I was watching an episode of Black Mirror. I had read that some people were disappointed with the ending, but I enjoyed the case resolution (so Agatha Christie!!!) and I really loved the world created by the author and the way he answered all the questions about Blackheath.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a truly original and mind-blowing novel that could easily become a cult classic.

Netgalley, Bloomsbury, 2018

Review: Artemis by Andy Weir @EburyPublishing #OutsideComfortZone

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Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz’s problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself – and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first

No, I haven’t read The Martian. I know. I KNOW. Still, I watched the movie and enjoyed it. It wasn’t my favorite movie ever, but I liked the fresh perspective. And it was fun. As soon as I read Artemis’s synopsis, I knew I wanted to give it a try. After all, I’m kind of enjoying this reading #outsidecomfortzone thing.

Turns out, this was exactly what I needed. After a bad week, I wanted a book that made me forget about everything else, and I started reading Artemis and ended up finishing it on that very same day. Overall, I had some minor issues, but I had such a great time reading it that I don’t care that much about those the rest.

I absolutely loved Artemis‘ narrator: Jazz. She was a great character and she made me laugh several times. Regarding the criticism, I do think it’s obvious Jazz was written by a man; it’s just that everything about her makes her look like the “perfect” woman for a modern heterosexual guy. Regardless of that, I think she was fierce and brave and I loved how she didn’t care about what others thought of her (and speaking of that, how come she has a “reputation” but doesn’t sleep with anyone at all?). She was a fascinating main character and one I wouldn’t mind reading more about.

The plot-adventure was crazy and unbelievable but it was really entertaining to read and  I was smiling most of the time. That’s a great thing since I’ve already mentioned I don’t usually read this kind of stories. So yeah, if you’re looking for a novel that is witty, fun and full of action, this is definitely it.

On the other hand, I have to say I was definitely not interested in the physics and technical details and so I skipped some of those parts. I didn’t need such a detailed explanation, I’m afraid. I just wanted action and fun and this book had already plenty of that. If you loved The Martian and you want a book that offers a similar experience, don’t miss Artemis.

ARC, Ebury Publishing, 2017

 

Review: Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan

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After the catastrophic destruction of the Middle East and the United States, Europe has become a utopia and, every three years, the European population must rotate into different multicultural communities, living as individuals responsible for their own actions. While living in this paradise, Max meets Carys and immediately feels a spark of attraction. He quickly realizes, however, that Carys is someone he might want to stay with long-term, which is impossible in this new world. As their relationship plays out, the connections between their time on Earth and their present dilemma in space become clear. When their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it? An original and daring exploration of the impact of first love and how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us, this is an unforgettable read.

Sometimes, you need a book that is different from your usual genre. A book outside your comfort zone. And that is what Hold Back The Stars was for me. I’ve stated multiple times that I watch plenty of sci-fi films and I love them. However, when it comes to reading, sci-fi it’s not a genre that I find particularly appealing, maybe because I prefer to watch the story take place on a screen. Still, every now and then, there are some titles that catch my attention and Hold Back The Stars was one of them. It came highly recommended, part Gravity, part One Day, two stories that I quite enjoyed back in the day. And this book ended up being quite a unique read for me.

This is a love story, plain and simple. It’s basically like the Gravity film, but with romance and a lot of flashbacks. I know it will sound weird because I usually love flashbacks, but in Hold Back The Stars, their present scenes were my favorite part. There were tension and great dialogue, and I couldn’t wait to know what happened next.

At times, I wish I could have read two different books, one focused on Carys and Max in space and another one dedicated to exploring Europia’s world. I find utopian/dystopian realities fascinating and the universe created by Katie Khan was incredibly attractive, but I felt like we were never given enough of it. I enjoyed both Carys and Max’s perspectives, as they were really likable characters and I wished the best for them. So yes, of course I wanted them to be together, but I didn’t fall in love with them or their relationship.

The ending is probably what made the whole story more meaningful for me. I had no idea of what was going on and I was confused but fascinated at the same time. I know some of you disagree because it’s a risky technique and it won’t be for everyone, but I love to be surprised and Hold Back The Stars managed just that.

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Netgalley, Gallery Books 2017

Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)

27833670.jpg“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

I didn’t know what to expect when I began to read Black Matter. Although I definitely love sci-fi in films (especially stories about time travel or alternate realities) I don’t usually read science fiction books. But here’s to trying new things!! I absolutely loved this one.

Dark Matter tells the story of Jason. Jason is a really good guy and he makes it so easy to root for him. He’s a science teacher and is married to Daniela, who used to be a promising artist. They have a son, Charlie. They’re happy, although they sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if they hadn’t decided to stay together. One night, Jason goes out and is kidnapped by someone very dangerous. When he wakes up, he discovers he’s now in a different world where he’s a famous scientist and isn’t married to Daniela. But why? And how can he go back?

Interesting premise, huh? I can assure you the hype is totally worth it. And well, as I’ve said before, I’ve watched plenty of weird-time-travel-paradox movies, which means I guessed the first twist early on. But I had no problem with that, as it was what it had to be. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story at all.

By the time I reached 70%, I thought the book was coming to an end (though I didn’t understand why there were so many pages left). I WAS SO WRONG. Dark Matter had me gasping with shock at something I hadn’t even considered. And it was awesome. The ending was brilliant as well, as it was just the perfect conclusion to a book that I will remember for a very long time.

Because even though this is strictly sci-fi, Dark Matter is clearly a love story too. And I like them so much when they’re written like this. When you connect with the characters so much that you want them to survive everything and be happy forever and you don’t understand how Blake Crouch makes them suffer so much.

The writing is… kind of strange.
Short sentences.
Like this.
Weird but well-executed.

Dark Matter is a book I’d highly recommend. Not to everyone (after all, this is sci-fi), but I just can’t find anything I didn’t like about it. It’s super fast-paced, engaging and, most importantly, unforgettable.

Crown, 2016

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