Book Review: August Review

In my second month of reading with more intention, I picked up the pace at first, and then seemed to slow back down at the end of the month. Now that school has started (I homeschool), it remains to be seen how much time I have to read, but I will definitely make as much time for it as I can.

Here are the books I read in August:
The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti by Nemo West (2.5 / 5)
Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker (1.5 / 5)
Thr3e by Ted Dekker (4.5 / 5)
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (4 / 5)
Tilly by Frank E. Peretti (3.5 / 5)
Lock In by John Scalzi (4.5 / 5)
#NotReadyToDie by Cate Carlyle (2.5 / 5)
The Inquisition
by Taran Matharu (4 / 5)
Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card (2.5 / 5) (review pending)
Illusion by Frank E. Peretti (5 / 5) (review pending)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (review & rating pending)

This list includes 5 ARCs, my first ever, and 1 re-read. My favorite book from August was Illusion. The rest of reviews from last month will go up in the next week and a half. My ever-changing list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that. (Note: The list of books I have read overall is not remotely complete there. When I created my Goodreads page 4 years ago, I added some of my favorite books over the years, but to add everything I’ve ever read would be very time-consuming, not to mention impossible to remember it all.)

Despite my almost too-long list of TBRs, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti

Finished Reading: The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti
by Nemo West

My rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: YA sci-fi

The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma CetiGamma Ceti is a planet in another galaxy, with a remote colony of vaguely religious people living in a vaguely 20th century world. Dex is an outcast in his class, which essentially means he’ll be an outcast for life, because of the closed-off and tight-knit nature of this community. When a new girl arrives from Earth, he’s infatuated by her, but too timid to approach her. However, it’s not long before an encounter with a bully forces Dex onto Tabitha’s radar, and then life really changes for Dex. He and Tab spent a lot of time alone together, which she eventually admits started as an attempt on her part to try to uncover some strange happenings in the school. What neither of them ever expected was to encounter a massive conspiracy involving brainwashing, a conspiracy that those involved would kill to keep secret.

When I first decided to read this book, I expected a fun YA adventure with a mystery to unravel. There were some interesting elements to the mystery as it unfolded, and I appreciated the way that the main character had some real drawbacks, even as he started to evolve through the story. Even Tab broke some stereotypes I expected from her character.

Unfortunately, but I was distracted throughout this book by a few issues. One was the amount that the two main characters had frivolous conversations in the middle of dire circumstances. I’m not saying that the conversations themselves were unimportant to the characters, especially in high school. However, running away from bad guys, or trying to escape a secret lair, are not the best times to have arguments about relationships. Maybe this was a result of the author wanting to keep the action going, while also trying to resolve the relationship, but to me, it just made absolutely no sense. At one point, the characters even stopped moving toward their escape to have one of these discussions!

Another thing that bothered me about the book was the writing. Maybe it’s only because I read the entire thing over the course of a day, but I noticed such a repetition in character actions and dialog tags that it grew distracting by the end of the book.

I also have to mention the cringe-worthy items for me. First, there was the f-bomb right off the bat that made me realize the book would be just as language-heavy as the adult books I’ve been reading lately. Then there was the rather graphic sex scene with two teenagers that was very unwelcome and uncomfortable for me. That blind-sided me in particular, considering the YA/Teen shelving and the cartoonish cover art (though I didn’t notice the blood on Dex’s sock until after I’d read the book). I would not want my teens reading this book.

By about halfway through the book, the characters had hinted at what was going on, and it never really deviated from that. I expected some sort of twist, or final reveal, but outside of a few small unexpected things, it followed through to the end much like I expected. And there was no real resolution, not even a firm answer about whether what the characters hinted at is what was even going on. It looks to be the beginning of a series, but I don’t know which thread the continuation will follow, so for now, I just feel let down. In some ways, this is what you want from a book in a series, and to be honest, it did its job. I will look for the next book in this series and give it another chance, going into it this time with an understanding of what I’m in for. That’s the main reason I am giving this book 2.5 stars, when originally I planned to give it 2.

Final thoughts: The book is a strange mixture of being too mature for teen/YA (in my personal opinion), but too juvenile for anything above that. I honestly couldn’t recommend this book for teenagers, but for people who enjoy sci-fi that is less complex and tech-heavy, it could be worth a read.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this book.
Publication date: Aug 20, 2019

Find out more about The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti

Up next: The Novice by Taran Matharu

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Trials of Lance Eliot

Finished Reading: The Trials of Lance Eliot
by Adam Stück (under the pen name of M.L. Brown)

Genre: Fantasy

Trials of LE

I am not going to give much of a review of this book, because the author has stated that he plans to rewrite it, whether he eventually publishes that new version or not (he stated this over 4 years ago, so who knows what progress he may or may not have made on it by now).

I knew about this book because the author is my sister’s brother-in-law. I followed his blog for part of the time it existed, from 2011 through 2016. The book was published in 2012. It is a fantasy tale of a college student who is accidentally summoned to another world in the hopes that he can help those who summoned him stave off war (they were attempting to summon Lancelot and got Lance Eliot). This regular, flawed man goes through a lot of hardship in his journey to return home, and that’s only 1/3 of his story. (The rest of the trilogy wasn’t written at the time that the author decided to re-write the first book.)

After finishing the book, I searched Adam’s blog for posts related to the book and found out that pretty much all of the downsides I saw in the book he had already identified and planned to change in his re-write (as well as other changes that he has planned). It is mostly for this reason that I do not intend to list any of these things, and instead will just link to his own post on the matter (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT). (I actually read this post when he first wrote it and made some comments, even though I hadn’t read the book at the time. I didn’t recall this at all until I saw my comment there today.)

Though the author intends to rewrite the book, you still may find the first version of interest, especially if you enjoy J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dante’s Inferno, or mythology. (Don’t read the post about what he intends to change before reading it though. There are spoilers!)

Find out more about The Trials of Lance Eliot

Up nextThe Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti by Nemo West

If you’ve read either of these books, or read either in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!