Tag Archives: sci fi

Blog Tour: Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett

Dr. Elyse Morgan is in trouble. Her whole life has been destroyed around her, and she is now under the custody of the United Nations, who believe that she is close to finding the cure for the HTN4 virus. The virus is a deadly weapon that has been used by terrorists, and was responsible for the deaths of Elyse’s parents. A prodigy in the field of medicine, Elyse’s obsession with finding the cure has attracted attention, resulting in her present position. In order to assure her compliance and keep her away from others after the same information, Elyse has been given access to a high tech lab on an undersea warship which rarely remains in the same location unless necessary, and several pounds worth of chocolate. On the warship, her assumed identity as a cadet begins to cause complications when she catches the attention of one Captain Nicoli Marek, who is attractive, intelligent and patently unavailable, as he is already engaged. What ensues is an unforgettable battle of wits as Elyse’s race to acquire the cure keeps pace with her weakening defences against Captain Marek, who seems determined to make her life even more complicated.

Upon reading the synopsis for the book, I was really looking forward to seeing what the author would do with the ideas she had discussed. Having heard very good things about her other work (Anna also writes as Of Poseidon author Anna Banks), I opened the book with all the anticipation of a small child presented with their favourite sweets. Cliché, perhaps, but true nonetheless. I wasn’t disappointed.

The plot itself has plenty of pace and didn’t leave me wandering off in incomprehensible directions, confused as to where it was going. One scene clearly moved into the next or had an effect on something later; nothing was written without purpose. When we first meet Elyse, she is busy stitching up a soldier who has been hurt in the line of fire on her island. What she doesn’t realise is that she is the main objective of all the armed forces presently there, because of her knowledge of the HTN4 virus. While Elyse treats him, she is operating in degrees of wrong, deciding what she can and cannot do. This gives us a good look at Elyse’s moral character, something which sets the tone for the rest of the book. When dealing with someone’s injuries as a doctor, she decides what is right and what is wrong with clinical precision. All of that is about to become immensely difficult for Elyse. She has lost a great deal at the beginning of the novel, and is given very little time to absorb it before she is taken almost immediately into UN custody; initially against her will. Rather than crumpling, however, once she is told what they want, her instinctive reaction is anger. Even once she agrees to try and find the cure to the virus, she never really loses that fighting edge. I think that this directly influences a lot of her interactions with Captain Marek, and what makes this an infinitely different type of romance for the reader.

Elyse is one of few heroines that I’ve encountered recently who really does have both brains and guts. She shows realistic reactions to difficult situations that most people would struggle to bear up under while also maintaining the strong morals set from the word go. Elyse has one hell of a temper and it proves to be her defining characteristic, as well as being the thing that I like the most about her. She’s vulnerable without sacrificing her personality or her strength to be deliberately appealing, and best of all, she’s absolutely oblivious to anyone who is attracted to her. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but it’s not the carefully crafted kind of oblivious that I tend to see a lot of female characters play. She genuinely doesn’t notice when other people find her attractive, and she peppers that trait with a burning sense of sarcasm that could literally raise blisters on the skin. It’s heartening and encouraging to find a character like Elyse in the midst of the sci-fi/romance genre, because she really is remarkable. Anna Scarlett has really thought things out beautifully.

Now, Captain Nicoli Marek. Where can I possibly begin? A conundrum from the word go, there is an instant connection between Nicoli and Elyse – and it isn’t immediately hearts and flowers, either. Nicoli is infuriating, authoritative, strong and stubborn. And I don’t mind telling you, he commands your attention whether you want it that way or not. Through Elyse’s eyes, you really do get the full blast of exactly how charming and exasperating Nicoli can be, while also being responsible and careful. He’s a man who goes after what he wants, even with circumstances set against him. For a lot of male characters, I tend to find that kind of attitude proprietary and off-putting. In Degrees of Wrong, it was done in such a way that I couldn’t help but smile or be frustrated along with Elyse. He’s an immensely likeable character and incredibly magnetic. The constant exchanges of banter between himself and Elyse are the highlight of the entire book. They range from intense to touching to absolute comedy gold.

In addition to the above, the author has made the wise choice of having a very good cast of minor characters to support the two very charismatic lead characters. Of these, my absolute favourite has to be Lieutenant Frank Horan. He and Elyse get off to a very bad start and the friction between them is brilliant. There is a particular scene involving these two, which I shall not spoil for those yet to read, that had me applauding. To cast this into understanding for you, I am very picky with minor characters. For one to grab my attention and hold it the way that Lt. Horan did is very rare, so I must once again extend my congratulations to the author.

Overall? Brilliantly done, Anna Scarlett. I can only hope that there will be a sequel. If not, I’ll simply have to re-read Degrees of Wrong again and again!

This blog tour has been hosted by Lynn Marie over at Bringing The Epic. Thank you, Lynn, for allowing me to participate. Thank you also to Anna Scarlett for the ARC and the many, many wonderful lines that this book contains.

If you would like to read some of the other responses to the book on this blog tour, feel free to visit the links below. These include interivews with Anna Scarlett, interviews with the characters of Degrees of Wrong, other reviews and ARC giveaways!

Jamie Manning – What’s On The Bookshelf – The Book Addicts Guide – Ems Reviews Books – Liana Brooks
The Fairy Tale Nerd – Moonlight Book Reviews – The Fuma Files – Confessions Of A Vi3t Babe – Cover Analysis
Book Brats – Cover2Cover – The Book Cellar – We All Make Mistakes In Books – Mandi Baxter – Nite Lite Reviews

Advertisements

Audiobook Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

The one thing I never expected from Redshirts by John Scalzi is that it would make me sob. Like a baby. At my desk at work. Because I was listening to the audiobook, and I just started crying at the end. Cue my coworkers: “Wait, you’re crying and you’re listening to a Star Trek parody?”

Of course Redshirts is more than a parody. It’s an exploration of what big stories are like from the point of view of minor characters who are, more or less, extras. It’s about finding meaning and rebelling against one’s expected roles to do something bigger or better. And in some parts of it, it’s about love and how we affect each others’ lives.

The plot is simple: Ensign Andrew Dahl is assigned to work on the Universal Union’s flagship vessel, The Intrepid. On his way there, he meets other new people, including the drug-dealing Finn and the sarcastic and smart Maya Duval. They’re all proud of their assignment until they get on board and notice things are weird. For one thing, away missions have a pretty high mortality rate, but never of key officers. For another, all of the higher ups disapear and avoid the main officers like the plague. And sometimes those officers are melodramatic.

And then there’s The Box. Dahl is expected to create a cure for a space plague in six hours, which is impossible. So he’s told to use The Box. He puts the sample in, the box beeps and out puts nonsense, and he gives the results to the Admiral. Just like that, there’s a cure for the plague. Bam. It makes no sense at all which freaks Dahl out.

Eventually they figure out what’s what and meet Jensen, a man who runs the computers and has a theory that they live in a television show and exist solely to be cannon fodder, which isn’t pleasant to hear. But they decide they have to do something about it and stop the show before it kills them.

Wil Wheaton is, of course, the perfect narrator for this book. His reading is emotive and heart-felt and at times, downright hilarious, just like the text itself. I highly recommend the audiobook if you enjoy that sort of thing. I’m sure it’s a damn fine read on actual paper and/or whatever digital format you prefer.

The funniest part was Coda Two, in which [spoiler] the head writer of the television show has a crisis after meeting his “fictional” characters. The blog part is awesome, the dig at Gawker is great, and the conclusion is the best. Death is inevitable. It’s how one dies that matters.[/spoiler] My favorite part was Coda 3 and that’s what made me cry.

All and all an excellent book. It delivers the laughs and jabs at tropes that you’d expect, but still comes to some honest conclusions and tugs at the heart strings.

Recommend for: Fans of Douglas Adams will adore it. People who like books that can be funny and still make you care.

Anime Review: Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Not your typical Count.

This anime was first released in 2005, and I had heard of it, but when it became available on Hulu I finally decided to check it out. It should be noted that this series is labeled as “loosely based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas”. It is definitely a loose translation, but one that I ended up enjoying, despite all its strange interpretations. I love the book – I have two copies, and one of them is really worn down. I read it several times in high school. I think this book is what started my love for angst. If you haven’t read it before, I highly recommend it. Revenge, love, angst – it’s awesome. But this anime can be enjoyed if you haven’t read it before. It does make it a bit more exciting if you have, though, since you can then laugh with joy as things begin to be revealed, and you just say “THAT’S RIGHT!” to the people who deserve everything that comes their way.

*cough*

One of the cool things about this anime is the animation style. Elements such as hair and clothing were made with Photoshop textures, which gave the setting a very unique look. It was admittedly a little jarring at first, but I quickly got used to it. The story kicks off with us being immediately introduced to Albert Mercer and Franz d’Epinay, who are set up as the key characters, instead of the Count as in the book. The Count is revealed in the first episode as being obviously set apart from the crowd – he has blue skin, fanged teeth, and an eccentric wardrobe. Albert sees him across the opera hall, and his eyes immediately light up at the sight of the Count, and I’m sitting here going WHOA WAIT WHAT IS THIS.

Continue reading