Book Review: Illuminae

I read Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman and let me tell you that this is a series you should not miss!

Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.


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

OMG guys! You have no idea how much I loved this book. I am so grateful to Markus and the booktube community for bringing my attention to this series because it is so good!

I was a little nervous going into it because it would be the first book that I would read that was told in mixed media format but I was absolutely living for it! It was so much fun to keep switching between different perspectives of this story being told and you as the reader having to piece everything together.

My adrenaline was pumping as this book is very fast paced and jumps right into the action. And don’t think that you will know what is happening because I thought I had a grasp on what was going down and then BOOM the whole script got flipped and my mind was blown. This was a good thing though because I didn’t see that plot twist coming at all. I like unpredictability in books.

It is a young adult science fiction so it doesn’t get too dense with descriptions or anything like that. It has a very natural flow and was just so fun to go through. I think I read it in about 2 days because I could not put this book down! I can’t wait to pick up the next one because I heard it was even better.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to and was not compensated in any way for this review.



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Book Spotlight: Being Alert

Happy publication day to author Charlie Laidlaw!

Today marks the release of searing satire, Being Alert, and I have a sneak peek for you as well as a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Being Alert! coverBeing Alert

Publication Date: August 21st, 2020

Genre: Satire

The book, which begins in January 2020, follows in a long tradition of British satire, as the British prime minister, Winston Spragg, first learns about a new virus that seems to be centred in a city in China that nobody has heard of.

The book populates Downing Street and Whitehall with an inept prime minister presiding over a dysfunctional government as it deals with an existential threat that rapidly becomes a national crisis.

It remains true to the timeline of Covid-19 and the government’s response to it, including its failure to lock down sooner, secure adequate supplies of protective equipment or protect the care sector.

Like satires before it, the book uses humour to paint an uncomfortable picture of a government in crisis, and seemingly as concerned about justifying itself as working to suppress the virus.

As the book progresses, with a mounting death toll, I hope the book strikes a changing balance as both a month-by-month narrative about the virus and a comedy to mirror

unfolding events.

As the country emerges into a new normal, the country will inevitably want to know why, per head of population, we have suffered worse than any other European country.  Being Alert! provides the perfect outlet, not just to ask very real questions of government but to use humour as a satirical and healing tool.

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Excerpt

Comings and Goings

In late February, according to a Sunday Times report, at a private event, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor outlined the government’s strategy at the time and which was summarised by someone present as ‘herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.’

In early March, the Prime Minister told the nation that, while the virus was likely to become a more significant problem, ‘this country is very, very well prepared.  However, the final sentence of his message didn’t appear on his official Twitter page: “I wish to stress that, at the moment, it is very important that people consider that they should, as far as possible, go about business as usual.’

By and large, Derek Goings was both universally loathed and feared.  It was assumed that he either had access to supernatural forces or was, in fact, one of the Undead.  Even the Archbishop of Westminster would cross himself when the two met, which was rarely – at the archbishop’s request.  Partly, he was loathed because of his role as the PM’s chief advisor, with almost permanent access to the Prime Minister’s ear.  Partly, it was also because the PM usually did what his advisor told him to do, and that this was somehow undemocratic.  Partly, too, it was because he smelled of sulphur.  Nobody could therefore understand how he was married, shared a marital bed and had fathered a child.  However, the sceptics pointed out, only his marriage was a matter of record.  Whether he slept with his wife, and who the father of his child was, were grey areas best not explored.

Derek, his critics often complained, although never to his face or to his few friends, had somehow appeared from nowhere.  One minute, nobody had ever heard of him; the next minute, his name, and the smell of the underworld, was everywhere.  Derek’s great achievement, agreed on by friends and foes, was to have leaped successfully onto the political stage without ever having done anything useful.  Okay, he had once helped a relative run a nightclub in the north of England, and never mind that it had been voted the second-worst in Europe.  (The worst subsequently burned down, accidentally or on purpose, handing the crown to Derek’s relative).  Okay, he had also tried to start an airline in either Prague or Moscow (nobody was entirely sure which) but that hadn’t got off the ground, either literally or metaphorically.

Having therefore done nothing of note, he then appeared as if in a puff of black and menacing smoke on the Westminster stage, immediately making enemies of virtually everyone.  However, having enemies only seemed to increase his powers because, say what you might about him, he did get things done.  In a Whitehall dominated by men in grey suits, and all either from Oxbridge or interbred, the proper way to get things done had always been the old-fashioned way.  After all, the British way was the traditional way; decisions were made over Pimm’s at Wimbledon; gin and tonics at Twickenham, and whatever was available at Henley.  Decisions were rarely made in Whitehall, where they were supposed to be made.  Derek, of course, thought otherwise, facing up to the grey suits in either jeans or tracksuit, with a mission to bring the British Civil Service at least into the 20th century.  Perhaps, even for him, the 21st century was too big a task, at least for now. This wrecking-ball of a man, with his glittering career in night-time entertainment and air travel, therefore brought him into endless conflict with the mandarins who were supposed to be running the country.

Derek’s meteoric rise through the government’s advisory ranks was extraordinary; so too the growth of his reputation as someone who could end a political career with the merest nod of his head.  He was, it was agreed, either Machiavellian or Svengalian – generally the former, because few civil servants or politicians had ever read a 19th century novel, and therefore didn’t quite know who Svengali was.

Kevin Kock was, of course, all too aware of the PM’s advisor, having been in numerous meetings with him and having seen how even the most confident minister could be brought to his or, sometimes, her knees with a cursory glance.  It was therefore with alarm bordering on panic that he received the news from his Permanent Secretary that Derek Goings was on his way round for a ‘bit of a chin-wag.’

“But I’m busy,” he’d squeaked to Sir Roger.

“No, you’re not.  I manage your diary, Minister.”

The Health Secretary could have said that he had a completely separate diary in which he, as Health Secretary, kept his Top Secret meetings; or that he was ill; or could have chosen from any one of the many excuses that he’d used over the years, mostly to cover up his blood and germ phobias.  Now, of course, thanks to his Permanent Secretary, his alien life-form phobia because, in his mind, Covid-19 was now sentient and possibly intelligent – like a jellyfish, but with a more deadly sting.  He then spent some minutes spraying his office with air freshener and disinfectant, and covering his desk with large piles of files.  He even undid the top button of his shirt to demonstrate his dedication to the British people except, of course, Derek Goings.

His arrival was signalled, not by a deferential knock on his office door or a bleep from his internal phone, but by the smell of decay.  The Health Secretary closed his eyes for just a moment and took several deep breaths only to find, when he opened his eyes again, that the PM’s advisor was already standing on the other side of his desk.

“Derek, good gracious!  How nice to see you!”  The Health Secretary automatically stuck out a hand, before realising that Derek Goings still had both hands in the pockets of his jeans.  Only the Prime Minister was still shaking everyone’s hand, particularly on hospital visits.

The PM’s advisor sat in the chair opposite and sniffed the air.  “Very wise,” he remarked.  “As Health Secretary, it’s good to see that you’re setting an example.”

“Am I?”

“You can’t be too careful, Minister, because you never know who might be harbouring infection.  Sterilising your office is possibly or probably a good thing.”  The advisor’s eyes, hidden behind dark glasses, were black discs.  His soft voice carried with it both menace and good hygienic advice.

“Am I to assume that you’re here for a reason?” the Health Secretary asked, hoping to sound business-like and brusque, having rehearsed this opening line as he sprayed the room.  “Because I am, as I’m sure you are, rather busy.”

“No, you’re not, Health Secretary.  I looked at your diary.”

“Sir Roger had no right….”

“I have every right, Minister.”

Before Kevin could think of a suitably outraged reply, there was a soft knock on the door and Sir Roger himself appeared, carrying a notebook.  Without asking, he took the other available seat next to Derek and neatly crossed his legs.

“I am here, Minister, to determine whether this country is prepared.”  The PM’s advisor’s voice was barely a whisper.  “After all, we are now beginning to see the first Covid-19 fatalities on British soil.”

“I did know that, Derek.”

“We will certainly see more fatalities, Minister, which brings me neatly to the reason why I am here.  I merely wish to determine if you have made adequate preparations.  Particularly the provision of personal protective equipment.”

This was a question that the Health Secretary, even panic-stricken, had foreseen.  “Of course, Derek.  We have, for example, a reserve of over one billion items of PPE.  One billion, Derek.”  The Health Secretary smiled brightly at his nemesis on the other side of the desk, using the advisor’s first name twice in the space of a few seconds, a useful trick that he’d learned on some management course he’d attended.  Sir Roger picked imaginary spots of dust from his immaculate trousers and looked out the window.

“Yet, I am led to believe, Minister, that this figure includes things like cleaning products, waste bags, detergents and paper towels,” said the advisor, still in his stage whisper.

“Does it?” replied Kevin.  “I mean, yes it does.  At least, possibly it does.  But a billion is still rather a lot of stuff, I’m sure you would agree.”

“Not necessarily,” said the advisor.  “For example, your inventory lists 547 million protective gloves.”

“So?”

“So, a more accurate figure would be 273.5 million pairs of gloves, or am I missing something?”

“Pairs of gloves?”

“Your inventory lists each glove separately.”

The Health Secretary looked wildly at his Permanent Secretary, who merely shrugged.  “I did send you the inventory last year, Minister.  Which you approved,” he added with a smile.

“Well, you know what they say, Derek.”

“No, I don’t know what they say, Minister.”

“That there are only three kinds of people in the world.  Those who can count, and those who can’t.”  The Health Secretary gave a small laugh, which wasn’t echoed from across the table.

“I hardly think that this is a time for levity, Minister.”  The smell of sulphur had risen several notches, and a green vapour seemed to be filling the room.  “I also just hope the media don’t get hold of the story.  I dread to think what Panorama would make of it.”

“I’m sure they won’t, Derek.”

“However, if things deteriorate, PPE will get eaten up pretty quickly,” said the advisor, whose eyes had never left Kevin’s face, or maybe they had because, behind dark glasses, he could be looking anywhere.

“We are, of course, setting up new procurement channels to ensure against any and every contingency, aren’t we, Sir Roger?”

His Permanent Secretary shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  “Of course, Minister,” and then actually wrote something in his notebook.

“Very well, then I will assume that you have the needs of the health service and its gallant staff fully covered.  But what about the care sector?”

“What about the care sector?” asked the Health Secretary.

The advisor was quiet for a moment.  “Well, you are the person responsible for it.”

“What!”  Kevin almost pushed himself upright.

“You are, as I assume you must realise, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”

“What!”

Sir Roger cleared his throat.  “I did send you a memo, Minister.”

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the Author

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I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault.  That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father.  That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.  I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics.  I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries.  Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa.  What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then.  However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook  | Twitter

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Book Review: Children of Wrath

Every month, I pick a book from my TBR jar (which consists of books sent to me through my blog) and read it. This past month, I picked out Children Of Wrath by T.A. Ward and let me tell you….it was fantastic!

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Synopsis: Five years after working triage during America’s terrible Day of Destruction, Philadelphian Dr. Ethan King wants nothing more for himself and his wife than a normal life. In the aftermath, however, life is anything but normal. The mysterious nerve gas unleashed during the nationwide terrorist attack has left its disturbing mark among the millions of victims, namely brain abnormalities in unborn children. These children, dubbed Inexorables, live up to their name: they are ruthlessly violent, irrepressibly psychopathic—and incurable. They kill without thought or remorse, and inflict torment on their victims with childish glee.

In his pursuit of a normal, peaceful life, Ethan tries as best he can to put these grim realities to the back of his mind. But one cold night, when he comes face to face with an abandoned Inexorable freezing to death in the snow, he must make a choice that could cost him everything, and unravel a thread of dark woven secrets. As he races to find a cure for whatever is creating a generation of doomed children, Ethan discovers that doing the right thing in an evil world is never as clear and easy as it seems.

I had no idea what to think going into this book and was super surprised. I mean it deals with a chemical warfare attack that pretty much sets off a neurological imbalance in babies born after this attack and it seemed so similar to the whole pandemic that we are going through right now so it was super creepy.

The characters were likable and even though you didn’t get to know an overwhelming amount about them, you were given enough to feel something for them. This was a kind of dystopian that I have not experienced in a book so far and it was scary how similar it was to our own reality but it was written very well and I applaud that.

I have a whole new appreciation for anyone working in the medical field after reading this book and seeing how much they have to endure and keep going through in their day to day life. I would not be able to handle that and feel like I would have a breakdown.

I felt like I was kept on my toes during the entirety of the book and when it ended, I messaged the author right away to let them know that I liked the book and needed to know what happened next.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a dystopian thriller with some family struggles thrown in. Honestly, it is a good book and worth the read.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in physical format to read and give my honest review.


Check out this book called Dork by my author friend Will Winkle about a guy trying to get his crush’s attention while navigating his life as part of a fraternity house!

His book can be found on Amazon, Goodreads, and his website: WillWinkle.com.

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Anyone feeling nostalgic? Well, I have some good news. I will be a co-host for the Bookemon Readathon and we are going to be kicking it back like the ’90s. Join us in our fight to defeat Team Rocket! Check out this video for all the info!

Book Review: The Road Ahead

One more book review to post before I depart for Iceland today! This one is called The Road Ahead by Hali Broncucia and I finished it last night after packing.

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Synopsis: A viral epidemic has wiped out 99% of the world’s population leaving scientist Heather Morgan to fight off thieves and scrounge for food and shelter near Denver, Colorado. When Heather befriends the young, naïve Jodi, she learns that a biotech company in San Francisco is rumored to have created a vaccine. Together, the women trek by foot to find the lab.

After suffering a near-fatal attack, Heather and Jodi find a safe haven on a farm with two young men, Cam and Elliot. Their security is short-lived, however, when irrevocable consequences threaten Heather’s mission. Will Heather be able to overcome loss and tragedy to find the vaccine or will she let sorrow overtake her and turn back? How many lives are worth the risk for a hope that rests in only a rumor?

I liked this book. I have been enjoying the books I have been reading quite a lot lately. This one followed Heather’s travels as she journeys from Colorado to California to find a cure for this horrible disease that has wiped out most of the population. She meets a young adult woman named Jodi who ends up joining her on her journey and they become good friends. They have some intense encounters and meet others along the way which keeps the book interesting.

There is one thing I would have added if I had the choice though. Can anybody guess what that would be? 😛 Yup its zombies. I love a good virus/infection that spreads and turns people into zombies because it adds in the extra factor of suspense where you are no longer just trying to survive a disease but also a horde of zombies.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an intense YA survival story. It has the adventure for those explorers and a little bit of romance for you love junkies out there.

The finale of this book is very open-ended and leaves you with an impression that there will be a sequel. Some characters are no more and some are coming together in a way you wouldn’t expect. I look forward to continuing the series when it is out 🙂

Book Rating: 4/5

Go follow the author on her Instagram to keep up to date on the book.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review.


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