Read: Armada by Ernest Cline

armada I loved, loved Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. If one could marry a book, this would be “the one” for me. So, when I saw Armada in the book shop (well, a department store in The Hague, to be precise), I had to buy it straight away, even though I should not buy any more books.

I read it during the Readathon (April 2016), and it was OK. It was OK. That’s it. Unbelievable and a little childish – as in, boy dreams come true – and I never really suspended disbelief. What a pity after the great, great RPO! It reminded me of Ender’s Game, which works great as a movie, and I’m sure Armada would (will!), but I wasn’t convinced this is a great book for adults.

The publisher says: “As [the novel] opens, high-school student Zack Lightman glances out his classroom window and spots a UFO. At first he thinks he’s going crazy. A minute later he’s sure of it, because the ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada,—in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from alien invaders.  

Zack is sure he’s lost his mind. But what he’s seeing is all too real, and his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save Earth from what’s about to befall it. Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too… familiar? 


Spotlight & Giveaway: Blood on Borrowed Wings by Darren Stapleton


As you may know, I am the owner of a book editing company, Book Helpline. It’s time to show off another of the books my team and I have worked on.

One of the authors we worked with a while ago was Darren Stapleton. When I read his dark fantasy manuscript, Blood on Borrowed Wings, I immediately sat up straight: Wow, great language, great story. I helped Darren to further improve the book, and the result is now published!

Here’s the description of this dark fantasy novel:

Stay low. Keep moving.
After Drake Theron ditches his wings and military brothers, he turns mercenary to forget a horrific battle where so much more than lives were lost.

When women start disappearing from the Angelbrawl Arena, Drake is hired to stop the loss of life and profit. He thinks it is just another job. Business. But it turns into something far more sinister and personal when he is abducted together with the beautiful woman he is trying to protect.
He is drawn into a conspiracy that stretches from the acrid stench of the neon Lowlands slums to Nimbus City and the very top of society. On the run, betrayed by friends, used by his enemies and hunted by black-winged assassins, Drake has to confront his past and do the worst thing imaginable to survive: ask for help.

Blood on Borrowed Wings is science fiction noir. A fast-paced original thriller full of twists, fists, and feathers. It is set on Nimbus, a future Earth, a world divided, where the powerful and evil dominate the skies…and not only birds have wings.

Darren says: “My book has fast-paced chapters, crackling dialogue, dark humour and action to keep you guessing until the final twist. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.” I say: “Editing the book was a great joy, too!”

Win a copy of this novel (e-book). Fill out this form. You can enter the giveaway until April 30th. On entry per person. No need to follow the blog (but you certainly can, if you like). Share this post of Twitter or Facebook for an extra entry. Link to @leeswammes or (Twitter) or BookHelpline (Facebook).  Let me know in the comments that you shared the post.

You can find more information about the book HERE.

If you enjoy the book, why not leave a review on Amazon? A few lines with your thoughts would be lovely! Thanks!


Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last: What it is about

Doubleday (publisher) says: “Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes.
At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one’s head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan’s life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.”

The Heart Goes Last: What I thought

Let’s start on the outside: a beautiful cover! Do you agree? This kind of cover, simple but colorful, is so inviting!

I am not a huge Margaret Atwood fan, but I was keen to read this new novel, as it sounded very interesting. I’ve read a few of Atwood’s books, and loved them, but I also read one or two that I found impossible to get through. The science fiction ones, I love: The Handmaid’s TaleOryx and CrakeThe Year of the Flood.

The Heart Goes Last reminded me to some extent of The Year of the Flood, because of the crazy things that are happening. I read the book in a weekend because it’s was near-unputdownable, but some of the crazy things were a little too crazy for my liking. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis sex dolls? And changing one’s brain for…well, I won’t spoil it for you. But this went a little too far for me. Luckily, this only appeared in the latter half of the book, and I devoured the beginning like chocolate cake.

But okay, what is the book really about? That’s a different story altogether! It’s about freedom and perceived freedom. When we first meet Stan and Charmaine, they are living in their car. They can go wherever they want, as long as they have money for petrol, but leaving their car is not advisable most of the time, because of all the violent people outside. Stan and Charmaine are extremely poor and when they get the opportunity to start a new life, they don’t hesitate and take it. However, this means being permanently locked up in a gated community, where they have to spend half of the time in prison and the other live a ‘normal’ life. Now they have all they need, in return for their freedom. Are they better off?

When they make mistakes and get in trouble, it’s time to find a way out. They discover that the system they live in is not what it seemed, and strange things are going on. In the end, Charmaine discovers that her mind sometimes limits her freedom when her circumstances don’t. That was quite an interesting discovery!

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 308

First published: 2015

I got this book: from my Penguin Random House representative for an honest review

Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction


Book Review: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin LiuThe Three-Body Problem: What it is about

From B&N: “Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

The Three-Body Problem: What I thought

I came across this book in a book store and it looked very special, a real find. I was keen to read it soon, so I made April East-Asia month! This is the first book by an East-Asian writer that I finished this month.

It was definitely a special book, but also a little cumbersome. First of all, there was some Cultural Revolution stuff that I wasn’t interested in, but I guess it was needed, because the story did (and had to) cover that time period as well as more recent times. Secondly, there was a lot of science in this science fiction novel. I can handle a lot of science in a novel, but sometimes this went a little too far even for me. At other times, I was pleasantly surprised by a particular scientific explanation. The explanation of the three-body problem especially, in relation to three suns, was very clever.

The blurb suggested an interaction between earthlings and aliens, but it took quite a while before the aliens entered the story. This was my main attraction to the book, so that was a pity. There were some very clever ideas about these aliens (for instance, they would dehydrate when it was too cold to live on their planet and re-hydrate when the temperature was favorable again).

There were several protagonists in the book, and it was hard to feel attached to them and their story. Towards the end of the book, several chapters dealt with the aliens on their planet, trying to unfold a proton, leading to hilarious effects. This was interesting to read, but it felt a little strange to have them appear as protagonists this late in the story.

The idea of what happened on Earth when people found out about the alien contact, and the expectation that they would come to visit at some point in the future, seemed quite likely: there are of course (of course!) several factions with different ideas of what should be done, people trying to have sole access to the transmissions, etc.

While this was at times a difficult and not always interesting book, I loved the ideas that were presented. I feel reading this book was great experience, and I love the new ideas about humanity, aliens, and the future I now have been exposed to. This is the first part of a trilogy, and I both do and don’t look forward to reading the next part. I’m curious how the story continues but I do wonder whether many more great ideas can be included in the story.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 400

First published: 2006

Translated: from the Chinese by Ken Liu

I got this: bought in a book shop

Genre: science fiction


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