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Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017


Happy spring! I can't believe it is April already. It felt like it was just minutes from when I was telling you about my favourite books of 2016. Before I look forward to April showers I thought I would tell you about what I read this week. I actually read 2 books but midway writing this I checked the publication date and realised one of the books I read won't be released until October 2017! You are going to have to wait a while to hear what I thought. However, I do have a book that more than makes up for it. So wait no longer..... Note: There are slight spoilers for the 1st book in this series so read at your own risk.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017
I had been waiting months to read Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel and I was finally able to. It was rather like waiting counting down for Christmas but in this case I was counting down to the publication date of the 4th April. I had the book for a few months but didn't want to read it too much in advance of its publication and my opportunity to find out what happened next to my favourite characters from Sleeping Giants (book 1 of The Themis Files), one of my all time favourite books.

Waking Gods is set approximately 10 years after the events of book 1 and humanity is enjoying relative peace thanks to the giant alien robot Themis, built by the Earth Defense Corps. When another robot appears in Regents Park (in London, UK) and ends up decimating most of London, killing millions, everyone soon realises that the peace they have enjoyed is now over. It's up to the EDC to figure out how to save humanity from complete annihilation from the alien race. Are they up to the job? I will let you find out for yourself.

All my favourite characters are also back including Rose Thornton who died midway through book 1 but who reappears, unharmed in Ireland but missing 4 years of her life. We get to find out what happened to Rose and how and why she returned. Also back is the mystery man who conducts the interviews which tell the story through book 1 and most of 2. Neuvel is a real tease by solving some of the mysteries from book 1 including who the mysterious interviewer is and how he came involved, but then leaves us with one big whopping cliff hanger at the end. We also find out more about Themis and why she was left buried, in pieces around the world. There are some real shockers in Waking Gods and don't get too attached to some of the characters....that is all I am going to say about the plot. Another fantastic novel in the Themis series. Well done Neuvel. From clever debut to exciting second novel.


That is it for me this week. Short and sweet. Apologies for not having more books to tell you about and I promise to take more care about publication dates and when I should be reading certain books. Until next week, Happy reading.



Waking Gods
The Themis Files 2
Del Rey, April 4, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017
In the gripping sequel to Sleeping Giants, which was hailed by Pierce Brown as “a luminous conspiracy yarn . . . reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z,” Sylvain Neuvel’s innovative series about human-alien contact takes another giant step forward.

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer now than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.



Previously

Sleeping Giants
The Themis Files 1
Del Rey, January 24, 2017
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Hardcover and eBook, April 26, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?


See Melanie's Review here.

Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel


Sleeping Giants
Author:  Sylvan Neuvel
Series:  Themis Files 1
Publisher:  Del Rey, April 26, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101886694 (print);  9781101886700 (eBook)

Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?



Melanie's Thoughts

Young Rose Franklin didn't realise that riding her bicycle through the woods near her home would irrevocably change her life. One minute she is walking through the trees and the next she is lying at the bottom of a very large, very deep, square hole with walls that were intricately carved in a beautiful turquoise light. What is even more amazing is that Rose is lying on the palm of a giant metal hand. The plot advances almost 20 years in the future where Rose is now a successful physicist. From this point forward the story plays out in a series of interviews between the various characters and an unnamed interviewer.  One of the biggest mysteries of the story is the identity of the interviewer who remains unknown to both the reader and to characters themselves. The interviewer belongs to a wealthy and powerful secret organisation that want Rose to study the hand and find a way to uncover the rest of the pieces and assemble the 'giant'. The rest of the story involves the giant, Rose and her team. I don't want to tell you more than that as I don't want to let anything slip.

The construct of the plot is one of my favourite things about Sleeping Giants. I thought when I started it that I wouldn't enjoy reading a story that was comprised of transcripts of interviews but that wasn't the case. The format added to the tension and the suspense of the story. I also liked how Neuvel didn't reveal who the interviewer was or why they were so interested in Rose and the giant. The giant and what it really is and where it comes from are almost secondary to the interviewer and Rose's project team. Neuvel has managed to create characters who you are so invested in that you can't put the book down but yet, as the reader you are still only on the sidelines of the story, separated from the action by the transcripts. In my view this is innovation in story telling.

I first read Sleeping Giants eight months ago and it only took a few chapters for me to realise that it was going to be one of my favourite books of the year. Reading it again has made me realise that it likely one of my all time favourites. Not a mean feat and as a debut this an amazing accomplishment. I urge you to give Sleeping Giants a go and I dare you not to have it on your favourite reads of 2016.


Read an interview with Sylvain Neuvel here.

Interview with Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants


Please welcome Sylvain Neuvel to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Sleeping Giants will be published on April 26th by Del Rey.



Interview with Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Sylvain:  Ouch. I really don’t know when, and it was probably because I could. I remember writing little comic books and selling them to the neighbors for fifty cents so I could buy candy. I went on a radio show when I was ten after won a poetry contest in school and they asked me that same question. I had no idea then either. Writing is… well it’s there, it’s free. I could say something like “I’ll die if I don’t write” but the best thing about writing is that it will never be a problem. Well, you need a pen, but until the great pen shortage of 2028, I should be fine.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sylvain:  I’m either a rebel plotter or a chicken pantster. I start with the key moments of the book. For me, that’s usually three or four strong visuals more than actual plot points – wide shot of a little girl in a giant hand, that sort of thing. I structure the plot around those, break things down into scenes, and choose a point of view for each. There will be some holes here and there, some chapter descriptions will be just one word, maybe an emotion. Once I have enough to feel safe, I start writing. Parts of my plan will get upgraded with seat-of-the-pants technology, but the gist of it is still there in the end.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sylvain:  Time. For now, I have a day job, I also have a six-year-old boy. During the week, I get an hour or two of writing after he goes to bed. I try to work as much as I can on the weekends. I also try to spend quality time with the family, fix whatever needs fixing in our 125-year-old house, read a little. Every time I sit in front of the computer, there’s a lot of pressure to perform. I’m not complaining, I love what I do, but for now, time is the most challenging thing in my life.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sylvain:  So many things. Movies, books, lots of movies, science. Oh, and the space program. I grew up with Star Wars and Star Trek, Alien and Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Dune really blew my mind. I also read a lot of Tom Clancy and Le Carré when I was younger. Of all the books that left a mark, Les Liaisons dangereuses is probably my favorite. My generation was the first to have home computers and I was born a year after the start of the space shuttle program. I remember my elementary school teacher cancelling the class so we could watch news coverage of the Challenger accident. Now, I get email alerts when the ISS is visible from my house and we all watch it go by. I live in a time where the brightest spot in the night sky is something we made. How cool is that? So once in a while I look up and I wonder what else is out there. I’m nothing is not a product of my upbringing (That’s a Farscape quote, btw.)



TQYou have a Ph.D. in linguistics. Does this affect or not the way you use words in your writing?

Sylvain:  I’m not sure. It’s an interesting question. My dissertation is about a non-concatenative theory of morphology based on West Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) examples, so, obviously, I don’t get to apply that particular knowledge directly. But how much does understanding the mechanics of something affect how you use it? Does a mechanical engineer drive differently? I don’t know. I can tell you, for example, that some of the humor in conversations with the interviewer is based on him either failing to decode or purposely ignoring conversational implicatures. Would I have written things differently if I didn’t know that? No idea.



TQDescribe Sleeping Giants in 140 characters or less.

Sylvain:  A young girl falls into the palm of a giant metal hand. What is it? Who made it? This is a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts.



TQTell us something about Sleeping Giants that is not found in the book description.

Sylvain:  Everyone dies at the end. Kidding. Or am I? Seriously, the book asks some interesting philosophical and moral questions, but it’s also a lot of fun. There’s humor throughout and it’s riddled with pop culture references. Some are obvious, others will only be apparent to the hardcore fans of whatever I was paying homage to. I can’t wait to see how many will find them.



TQWhat inspired you to write Sleeping Giants? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Sylvain:  I love the science part in science fiction. It’s about what could be. A few years ago, researchers at MIT created a drug that identifies cells that have been infected by a virus, any virus, and destroys them to stop the infection. In theory, it could work against all viruses. That would have made great science fiction twenty years ago, now it’s just great science. I love that. I’m a geek. My son sleeps in a Raptor from BSG, and my laundry room is a spaceship in the making. I have a life-size Darth Vader in my office, more toys than I can count.

That’s sort of how Sleeping Giants came to be. I asked my son if he’d like me to make him a toy robot. He had way too many questions about it – Where is it from? Who made it? What does it do? – and I told him I’d have to think about it. Some time later, we were watching Goldorak (Grendizer in English, it’s a Japanese anime about a giant robot from outer space) and I started imagining what it would be like if we really found giant alien artifacts somewhere. That’s how it started.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Sleeping Giants?

Sylvain:  I did more research for that book than I did for my Ph.D. I love science, but Rose (the scientist in the book) knows a hell of a lot more than me. I do my best to keep up with her. I also knew nothing of the military world when I started this. I spent so much time looking at helicopter specs, explosive yields and close-up maps of Syria, I probably have a file with every government agency by now. I compared evidence on conspiracy sites to find the most likely location for a hidden base. I researched everything, from airport runways, to where you could smoke. I even read restaurant reviews to find out what’s good where the characters eat.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sylvain:  They’re all really fun to write. The interviewer is a bit tricky but he’s the one I look forward to the most. Kara is probably the easiest. She’s nothing like me, but she comes naturally, somehow. Rose is probably the hardest, just because she knows a lot of things I don’t. Every time she opens her mouth, I have to read a dozen science papers.



TQWhich question about Sleeping Giants do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sylvain:  Tough one. How about this? You mentioned how much research you did for Sleeping Giants. Is there something in the book that you know to be inaccurate?

Yes! And I’m happy that there is. Early in the book, Kara says: “The US military doesn’t allow women in combat or special operations.” It was true when I wrote it, and it’s still mostly true, but in 2013 Barack Obama asked the Pentagon to open all military jobs to women who meet the gender-neutral requirements for it, and that went into effect at the beginning of this year. That doesn’t mean women who want to serve in special ops aren’t in for some tough times. They are probably, for the most part, unwelcome, and I’m in awe at anyone able, or even willing to put up with what they’ll have to go through. Still, at least in theory, women can now be Marines, Green Berets, Rangers, SEALs, whatever. In an ideal world, I’d rather see the military closed off to everyone because we don’t need it, but we don’t live in an ideal world, and I think the message this decision sends to our collective subconscious is more important than we might realize. Go Kara!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Sleeping Giants.

Sylvain

"- I'm just saying, these things are buried in the dirt. The reason for that might be slightly less romantic than what we’re all hoping for… "

“- I believe the words he used to describe you were: obdurate, volatile, and irascible. He has quite the vocabulary.
- He plays a lot of Scrabble.”

- I am not a physicist, as you know, but . . .
- I don’t know anything about you.
- Well, now you know I am not a physicist.”



TQWhat's next?

Sylvain:  I’m editing book two of the Themis Files, tinkering with book three. I’m really excited about where this series is going. I have some crazy ideas I have absolutely no time to develop, so my collection of napkin notes is growing rapidly. Since I wrote Sleeping Giants because of my son, I also have this idea about an illustrated kid version in the back of my head. Someday, maybe. For now, I’m too busy counting the days until April 26.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sylvain:  Thank you for having me.





Sleeping Giants
Del Rey, April 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?





About Sylvain

Interview with Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants
Photo by James Andrew Rosen
Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age fifteen. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, sold ice cream in California, and peddled furniture across Canada. He received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. He taught linguistics in India and worked as a software engineer in Montreal. He is also a certified translator though he wishes he were an astronaut. He likes to tinker, dabbles in robotics, and is somewhat obsessed with Halloween. He absolutely loves toys; his girlfriend would have him believe that he has too many, so he writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course).



Website  ~  Twitter @neuvel




2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants
Del Rey, April 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015


It has been an exciting week for me as a few books from my favourite series have landed on my doorstep/Kindle. I have tried to read them all but felt I needed to save a few for next week.  So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015
 I started the week with Kai Ashante Wilson's debut - The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. The story is centered on Demane who is a child of the gods that have abandoned him for the Heavens. Now earthbound he is now labelled a sorcerer and along with his companion Captain they must help their caravan of brothers survive the perilous journey across the Wildeeps.

I found The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps a struggle mainly because of the overly verbose language. Let me give you some a couple of examples to demonstrate:

"...besoaking gleam..."

"But most sapiens—even those of us with fully expressed theogenetica—haven’t yet attained the psionic phylogeny necessary to sublimnify the organism."

I spent far too much of this story trying to figure out what was going on by re-reading passages several times and figuring out what all the extraneous words actually meant. The story is also very violent which did fit the setting and the plot. However, when the only scenes you can follow are those where someone is being gutted or having his head sliced off  then it does make for a rather tedious read. I suspect this is just not my kind of fantasy.


Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015I also read Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel which I received from the publisher via NetGalley. What I didn't notice until I started to write this review is that this book will not be released until April 2016 and is debut novel!!!!  I can't believe that I got it and read it so early and now can't go into detail about what I thought of it. Hopefully, the publisher won't mind me saying that I LOVED IT and it is one of my fave reads of this year. Make sure you pre-order it for next year. You are sure to enjoy it as much as I did.


Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015
This has also been a year for me to forget that I have already read and reviewed certain books. You may remember a couple of months ago I ended up re-reading (and buying) Cold Days by Jim Butcher as I didn't recognise the story based on the book description. This time I ended up buying Seanan McGuire's The Winter Long which is the 8th book of the October Daye series. I got slightly confused as on Amazon it has a release date of May 2015 but I missed that was only for the Kindle version. I actually read this book for the first time last September and my reviewing colleague Doreen provided you with a great full review in January.  I still loved it and have now bought book 9 - A Red Rose Chain which I hope you tell you about next week.


That I am afraid is it for me this week. I hope I have something a bit more to tell you about next week but until then Happy Reading.






The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps
Tor.com, September 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 224 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015
Critically acclaimed author Kai Ashante Wilson makes his commercial debut with this striking, wondrous tale of gods and mortals, magic and steel, and life and death that will reshape how you look at sword and sorcery.

Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors' artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.
The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.
The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.



Sleeping Giants
Del Rey, April 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015
An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in the cutting-edge cadences of interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and by a struggle for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?



The Winter Long
October Daye 8
DAW, September 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 358 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015
Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It's time to learn the truth.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017 Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelInterview with Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelMelanie's Week in Review - September 27, 2015

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