The Hematophages by Stephen Kozeniewski #BookReview #Horror #SciFi

 

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hematTitle: The Hematophages
Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Series: N/A
Format: Digital, 326 pages
Publication Details:  April 1st 2017 by Sinister Grin Press
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads

Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES

Review

I was in two minds going into this book. On one hand, I expected to like it because I’ve enjoyed many of Stephen Kozeniewski’s previous books (Braineater Jones, Hunter of the Dead and The Ghoul Archipelago) , but on the other hand, I don’t have a huge capacity for deep-space colony settings/ hardcore sci-fi novels.

Luckily for me, 1. I’m a bit of a gore-fiend, and that came in spades, and 2. It appears that everything Kozeniewski writes is so damn readable! It’s annoying, really. 

The Hematophages centres around Paige, a seemingly accomplished and confident Doctoral Student. But deep down she’s inexperienced and naïve, having never left her space station. Paige bags herself a ‘need to know’ mysterious new job which will send her on a mission into the fleshworld (yes, it’s as gross as it sounds) with its oceans of blood and blood-drinking alien-fish monstrosities. 

The mission is fraught with danger from the start, attacked by pirates with no skin before they even arrive, and then the realisation that they are actually salvaging the world-famous ship The Manifest Destiny which holds some truly grim surprises of its own, Paige and her new BFF/the object of her affection, Zanib will be extremely lucky to get out alive (and with all their parts), never mind complete the mission.

I wasn’t sure about protagonist Paige at first. She seemed to have two entirely different personalities, which meant it took me a little while to get into the swing of things, but I warmed to her eventually and ended up really enjoying this fast-paced story.

The thorough world-building made it easy to understand Kozeniewski’s epic vision. And it was epic! As I said earlier, I’m not a huge SF reader, so maybe this was nothing new, but it was definitely new to me, and felt unique.

I liked that in this version of the far-future the human race are all one colour due to years of inter-racial sex, that the gross Skin-Wrappers evolved from ostracised people with some kind of cancer, and that men have completely died out. Hurrah! (I joke…but, imagine).

Written well, full of stomach-churning wrongness and women kicking some blood-sucking, alien-fish-with-teeth-for-tongues ass, Kozeniewski has done it again. He’s like the indie master of horror. Or something. Give him a try if you can stomach it!

unicorn rating 4

 

 

 

This Week in Books 02.03.16 #TWIB

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Whoop it’s Wednesday again! I read two really amazing books in a row and then descended into a huge reading slump, which is annoying. I never DNF but I felt like I had to this week! :s

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Now: The Amber Fury ~ Natalie Haynes // My Kind of Crazy ~ Robin Reul

I’m really hoping one of these (or both) gets me out of my reading slump because I have lots of ARCs to read and review for April!

Then:  All Things Cease to Appear ~ Elizabeth Brundage // The Madwoman Upstairs ~ Catherine Lowell

I just could not get into All Things Cease to Appear and had to admit defeat at around 35%. It was an ARC so I’ll still be doing a mini-review which will be up next week. 

On the other end of the scale – I adored The Madwoman Upstairs! It was smart and funny, and just plain great. Look out for my review later today. 

Next: ??? 

I think I need to tackle The Crow Girl which sounds amazing and dark but I’ve only just realised it’s over 700 pages long. Gah! It’s out early April. 

 

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I was approved for this from Netgalley, which was my Waiting on Wednesday pick last week (hurrah!). but other than that I haven’t bought or borrowed any books this week. Go me!

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

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After Kitty Hayward’s mother vanishes from their Coney Island hotel in 1904, Kitty finds herself alone, hungry, penniless, and far away from her native England. The last people she’d expect to help her are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities that is home to a handful of freaks. But even the unusual inhabitants of Magruder’s may not be a match for the insidious sickness that is plaguing Coney Island…

Expected Publication: June 1st 2016 by SOURCEBOOKS

 

 I’m Waiting On…

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

There Once Were Stars

I know we’re all a bit bored of this whole dystopia thang…but I really like the sound of this one. 

thereoncePeace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone? 

Expected publication: April 26th 2016 by Month9Books

 

 

So, that’s my week in books, now how about yours? If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look 🙂

Lazy Saturday Review: There is no Dog by Meg Rosoff

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Title: There is no Dog
Author: Meg Rosoff
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardback, 243 pages
Publication Details: May 1st 2012 by Puffin Books
Genre(s): YA
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

Imagine that God is a typical teenage boy. He is lazy, careless, self-obsessed, sex-mad – and about to meet Lucy, the most beautiful girl on earth. Unfortunately, whenever Bob falls in love, disaster follows. Let us pray that Bob does not fall in love with Lucy.

Review


I’ve been wanting to read more Rosoff since I saw her at YALC last year, and read How I Live Now shortly after. I loved that book, it was full of big ideas, complex themes and was completely absorbing; Unfortunately, I didn’t feel quite the same with There is no Dog!

I thought the synopsis sounded amazing, what if God was a lazy-ass, petulant, teenage boy whose sole goal in life is to get his end away? Amazing right? Gahhh it really should have been, but instead it was just…weird.

It has all these great ideas, but they never seemed to go anywhere. I felt like this was a neat little short story that had been dragged out and the meaning got lost somewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining and often funny, but it could have been so much more!

unicorn rating 2

Lazy Saturday Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Edition: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Details: January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre(s): YA; Fairy-tale Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Review

I was reeeeeeeeeeeeally excited about this book just because I always NEED MORE LUNAR CHRONICLES, but I also wasn’t sure if I wanted Levana’s back story. She’s such a great villian, I was worried this spin-off book would endear me to her or at least feel sorry for her.

But, I glad that I didn’t. Yes, in Fairest we see Levana as a teen and the events that helped spark the madness in her, but Levana was well and truly messed up before her story starts in this book.

Fairest is a fast-paced, often uncomfortable read about a haunted, complex character who chooses to use her gifts for her own gain, to the detriment of those around her… and that’s an understatement. Levana is one batshit-crazy, evil madam, even at the age of fifteen. I loved it!

If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’m sure you’d love this one too. It also gives us more information on Winter, the eponymous character of book four, so I’d definitely recommend giving Fairest a go before the release of that one. Let’s face it, we have time. TOO MUCH TIME! 😦

unicorn rating 4

Fairest is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

The Heir by Kiera Cass

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Title: The Heir
Author: Keira Cass
Series: The Selection #4
Edition: Paperback, 352 pages
Publication Details: May 7th by HarperTeen
Genre(s): YA; Dystopia
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

Review

You should all be aware of my unashamed love of The Selection series by now. I can’t help it, they are just bloody addictive!

With that in mind, I probably should have been happy at the prospect of Cass carrying on the series with a new protagonist – Maxon and America’s daughter Eadlyn – but I kind of wasn’t. I was worried that the series had peaked. And I thought it was rounded-up satisfactory, so why drag it on, why milk it?

Well I’m pleased to say I needn’t have worried. The new generation of The Selection has everything I loved in the first three books. And man, it was just as addictive.

Since we last saw Maxon and America, Illéa has abolished the caste system, meaning anyone can do whatever job they like or marry who they like. With no reason to attack the palace, the rebels have disbanded, but the kingdom isn’t in as much peace as they’d hoped.

Jobs are sparse, and prejudices about who used to be what caste are still threatening to cause problems, leaving Maxon and America at their wits end. So what to they do? Beg their hard-nosed, Queen-in-training daughter to have her own selection, of course.

Will it bring peace to the Kingdom? Will Eadlyn warm to any of her suitors?

Seriously guys, if you liked the original books, there is no reason that you won’t like this one too. I found Eadlyn quite hard to warm to because of her stern demeanour, but it was more understandable as we get to know her.

I liked seeing the tables turn and watching the girl calling all the shots. It was refreshing, and I couldn’t put it down. OBVS. I totally wanted more Maxon/America action though. I kind of feel like it’s OK to fancy him now that he’s older…not that it stopped me before…

I’m hoping they’ll be more of an uprising within the Kingdom in the later books, because I think it needs that more serious side to it, but, overall, I couldn’t help but love this book.

Keira Cass strikes again!

unicorn rating 4

The Heir is available now in paperback, from Waterstones.

Current Giveaway: Win a copy of The Violet Hour by Andrea L. Wells and/or a Kindle Fire HD here!!!!

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey

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Title: The Girl with all the Gifts
Author: M.R Carey
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 460 pages
Publication Details: June 19th 2014 by Orbit
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Review

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***

The Girl with all the Gifts has everything. It’s a great mixture of classic horror, modern dystopia and fast-paced thriller.

I was worried that I’d ruined my experience of it having already read reviews and knowing what the ‘twist’ was, but I don’t think it hindered it at all. Plus, said twist is revealed pretty early on, so it’s not such a huge spoiler.

I was completely engrossed in Melanie’s story, and thought she was a great protagonist. In the beginning I felt sorry for her, being locked up, and the way her and the other children were treated. I think M.R Carey did a great job of bringing Melanie to life as a regular (albeit genius) child, and gradually revealing to the reader, and to Melanie herself that she is in fact a monster – a zombie to be exact.

The use of the school-room setting, Melanie’s genius-like intelligence and her love of stories enables the reader to see her as child first, and a zombie second, making it almost impossible not to root for her the whole way through.

I thought the relationship between her and teacher was kind of creepy at first, as I’m sure was supposed to be point, but they ended up being a great duo.

There were a few moments when I found myself losing interest, but I was quickly pulled back into this action-packed, rollercoaster of a ride. It’s one of the better zombie books I’ve read, and felt fresh and thought-provoking.

Having just started working in a prison, I read this book on another level too. The Girl With all the Gifts raised a lot of questions about imprisonment and human rights. I felt like it proposed many questions about incarceration, rehabilitation, having the mental strength to fight against your inner nature, and being able to embrace your future and let go of the past.

It was a really surprising read, one that I think would make a great book club selection.

unicorn rating 4

Anyone Can Betray Anyone: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Edition: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: February 10th 2015 by Orion / Feb 12th 2015 (paperback)
Genre(s): YA, Dystopia; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase


The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Review

OMG THIS BOOK!

I’d gone through a whole array of feelings about this book before I even picked it up. Firstly, from the cover alone I was so taken with it I couldn’t wait to read it. Then I started seeing it described as The Hunger Games meets The Selection via X-men, and my mind was blown. BLOWN.

But then, the hype just went a bit mad. It was all over the blogosphere and while I tired to avoid most of the reviews, I started to doubt my first thoughts and wondered if this was just another Hunger Games wannabe; all hype and no substance….

Thankfully, I was wrong. Red Queen, whilst having some flaws, ended up completely surpassing my expectations. And it made me want to throw it across the room (yet another downside to the e-book!), in the best possible way.

In Victoria Aveyard’s take on a dystopian future, there are two classes. The Redbloods, the lowly commoners who do all the physical and menial jobs, and are conscripted to fight in the war, and the Silverbloods, the ruling class, who all have different powers such as the ability to manipulate fire, water or metal – much like the X-MEN (which I LOVE).

I really loved this world. When you break it down it isn’t anything new, but the combination of ideas from other worlds made it original in its own way. It was a little bit Noughts & Crosses (Malorie Blackman) as well as being understandably likened to The Selection and THG.

Mare isn’t talented, unless you count stealing. She doesn’t have a skill like her sister does so she’s destined for a future in the army, just like her brothers and her best friend Kilorn. She hates the Silverbloods as much as anyone for taking them away. But one night she tries to steal from the wrong person – a handsome cloaked stranger – who listens to her story and can offer her a better life.

The stranger… is Cal, the prince and heir to the throne, and Mare finds herself with a job at the palace. But this isn’t any ordinary palace. It just so happens that Mare has arrived in time for the Queenstrial, where silver nobles will fight it out (with their powers) in the arena, for the princes hands in marriage (oh yes, there’s two of them to swoon over!).

Without giving away any massive spoilers all I’ll say is that somehow, Mare finds herself engaged to a prince, disguised with silver dust and the constant threat of execution hanging over her head.

INTENSE!

I seriously couldn’t put this down. The action was good, the whole on-off love/hate romance thing was pretty hot and man, it was just so good. HOWEVER, there were so many things that didn’t make sense. A few of them did by the end, but there were some definite annoying plot holes.

For example, there wasn’t really any need for the noble Silverbloods to train in the arena every day. They use the Reds to fight on the front line, so why do they need to train, and compete against each other so much? I felt like this was just an easy way to get more action into the plot and be a bit more Hunger Games-esque. It was a bit gratuitous.

Also, they change Mare’s identity (making her a Silver Noble) and swear her to a life of secrecy, but it’s not like no one will notice her – she is filmed on a few occasions – which is shown in the Red villages… and they make her fight in the arena, where blood is often spilled, so how do they expect her to not be exposed? ARGH!

Another huge thing which got my goat is that the Queen(the big baddy)’s power is mind manipulation. She can get into your mind and see all of your memories and thoughts, not to mention make you do anything she wants, and yet Mare and others are planning a rebellion under her very nose – errrr how!!!?

And while we’re talking about war and rebellion, I don’t think we’re ever even told why the war began. Something was mentioned about the Lowlanders being the ones they’re fighting against but that’s about it. Maybe this will be explored more in the next book, who knows.

But anyway, I need to breathe.

All of these things added to my enjoyment of the book, because y’know PURE GOLD in ranting material. I was really tempted to give this ALL THE UNICORNS, but the only reason I didn’t is because I predicted a major twist from quite early on. I need to stop thinking so much!

unicorn rating 4

Red Queen is available to preorder from Waterstones now, and the paperback is due to be released Feb 12th.