The Ship

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I received this ARC from Orbit Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

There was life, and there was death, and the fragile divide between them, held in the hands of a stranger.

Lalla Paul is a sixteen year old girl who has only ever known known a society slowly circling the drain, ready for its swan song.  London’s ever-changing government requires constant re-registrations to maintain citizenship and without that, you are not even counted as human.  Lalla has been sheltered from all of that, kept safe behind security codes, under the watchful eye of her mom.  Her father has a solution, a ship.  On this ship her family and 500 strangers will set sail and leave the broken world behind.  Here-finally safe- for the first time, Lalla can’t seem to stop her mental tally of things that don’t make sense.  It’s all attributed to her being spoiled.

I had never felt loss, or hunger, or genuine fear either.  My parents protected me so well from what the world had become that I had no means to navigate it.

The ship is heaven to those around her but Lalla can’t turn her mind off.  There were times when I found Lalla’s narration to be plain annoying.  However, when I kept in mind that she was a sixteen year old girl spared the horrors of her world it became easier to understand her.  In any society there are those who fall in line and there are those who question everything.  We need both if we are to truly be free.  Honeywell did something interesting here and as I read the final page I knew I’d be chewing on this one for a few days.  If you could leave your fears behind and set sail, would you?

…there is no such thing as certainty, and in creating it, we lose the very thing that keeps us alive.

5 Stars.

Expected Publication: April 25, 2017

True North (True Born Trilogy #2)

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I received this ARC from Entangled Teen in conjunction with YA Reads Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review.  This is a stop on the YA Reads Blog Tour for “True North”!

 

SYNOPSIS: Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.


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REVIEW: Lucy’s twin sister, Margot, is gone.  She vanished with their parents and the mysterious Russian aristocrat when the Laster’s attacked their home during their reveal.  Since then she’s spent all of her waking moments (and then some) worrying about her sister and focusing on finding a solution to the plurality of problems she and her True Born friends face.

I learned my lesson that day as my raging grief clawed back the tides of death-that the only thing worse than feeling my twin’s suffering was the feat of not feeling her at all.

She’s relying on Nolan Storm to help her find her sister and her frustration is mounting.

It’s not that I don’t trust Storm to help me get my sister, exactly.  I expect he’ll live up to his side of our bargain. Eventually.

For the first time in her short and pampered life Lucy must make a choice completely on her own, a choice that leads her far from home.  In a world where it’s survive or die, she takes the ultimate risk in searching for her sister.

Lets not forget the mysterious Jared Price, he’s still in play.  It seems these two can’t or won’t escape each other even when the world around them is collapsing.  With the introduction of a new friend, Alastair, we have a ragtag trio on our hands.

As Lucy moves beyond the Upper Circle into the world of the Gilt, those with more money than all of Dominion combined, things are’t what they seem.

The Gilt don’t play by the same rules.  They’re above rules…

I really liked that this story saw Lucy and her friends leaving Dominion.  One of the most interesting aspects of this world is that it’s divided up in very different ways than our own world.  The references to different nations/regions compared to what we call them today was one of my favorite little bits.  That and the Watchers who seem dead set on claiming Lucy and Margot for their own twisted reasons.

Who pulls the Watchers’ strings?

I enjoyed this more than the first book, possibly because I had more information.  To say more would fall into the realm of spoilers, so I won’t.  I will say, pick this one up!  It’s the perfect read for a sunny Sunday in the park.

4 stars.

Publication Date: April 4. 2017

Pick it up here: True North

The Nightwalker

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This wasn’t an ARC.  For once this was a random library website find that sounded interesting enough for me to read for fun!

I’ve had a fascination with sleepwalking ever since I was first prescribed Ambien for insomnia when I lived in Korea, right after university.  I wasn’t sleeping and it caused a host of other problems.  As I read about the side effects online I was most terrified of the idea of sleepwalking and living a second life I was unaware of, so to speak.

It’s happening again.

This is where we find Leon.  As a child he suffered a loss and develops a problem with sleepwalking.  He remembers nothing when he awakes but it’s a big enough problem that those around him feel afraid.  Eventually with the help of a therapist he is cured, or is he?  Fast forward to his late 20s and he thinks he’s doing it again.  This time his wife is missing and he’s convinced that he did something to facilitate her absence, in his sleep state.

As he continues to lose sleep, hours of his life, and potentially his hold on reality, Leon races to discover the truth. With a camera strapped to his head, a therapist on the line and his childhood friend in play, it will all be resolved, right?

This was a fast-paced page turner, a true thriller.  Once I got beyond the general introductions and got to the heart of the tale I was hooked.  I was just as concerned, horrified and determined as Leon.  I particularly enjoyed some of the flashbacks to previous points in his life as they served to help better understand his character.  I will definitely read some more of Fitzek’s work whenever I’m in the mood for suspense.  This sort of book would be excellent for breaking up the drudgery that is a long trip.

Somewhere in the world.

In a town you know.

Maybe even in your neighbourhood.

4 stars.

**This was translated from German and the movie rights have already been optioned.

Release Date: February 7, 2017 (USA)

72 Hours

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72 Hours

I received this ARC courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.  Shoutout to Publicist Brittani Hilles for indulging my fondness for Bella Jewel yet again!

Lara is heartbroken, reeling from a recent breakup she didn’t see coming and a loss she may never recover from.  She has gone from a no nonsense, no sugar coating, speak her mind sort of woman to a shell of her former self in the last few months.

Noah is her devastatingly handsome ex, the cause of her despair.

When they are both kidnapped and dumped in the woods together as part of some sort of warped game on the part of a clearly deranged capturer, will they be able to put all their feelings aside to survive?

72 hours.  They have a 72 hour head start before his wicked games begin.  Can the ghost of a woman and the man she despises survive what’s to come?

WOW!  This was an edge of your seat, page turner!  I started it right before bed (immediately after finishing my previous read) thinking I’d read a chapter or two to give me a general idea and get back to it today.  Well, I woke up early and rather than get a few more hours of sleep on my relaxed  late-start workday I decided to get up and keep reading!

I read, a lot.  I’ve read about serial killers, I’ve read good thrillers and romantic suspense, but that’s all it was … fiction.  It’s created to entertain an active mind.  It’s no more than a creative author putting words onto paper.  Those things don’t actually happen.  I know the world is a vile and hideous place at times, but this …no.

I found Lara a bit one dimensional at times but I tried to temper it by remembering all she had gone through prior to the start of the book.  Noah appealed to my fondness for bad boy types.  That said, I found the one chapter written from Noah’s perspective to be more distracting than anything else.  I’m all about shifts but for only a single chapter it was a bit odd.  All things said, it was a fun and quick read.

If you are keen on a bit of suspense with a bit of suspension of disbelief,  without too much head scratching- Ms. Jewel is your girl.  This one did not disappoint!

*Fair warning, there is a bit of smut.  There are also a few issues with language consistency (the author isn’t American and some of the choices in vocabulary will stand out if you have a keen eye).

4 Stars

Publication Date: April 4, 2017 

Click on the link at the top of the review if you want to snag it from Amazon.

 

New Worlds, New Suns: A Space Opera Anthology

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I received this ARC courtesy of the editor, Ellen Campbell (who I have known since I was a preteen, mad world).  Shoutout to Patrice Fitzgerald, the series editor, for all of her hard work as well.  You’ll find the authors all listed alongside the title of their story, I encourage you all to go out and support their projects too!

It was a bit daunting sitting down to read and review something to close to the heart of someone I know (and admire, she’s awesome) and I confess to much undue worry.  This collection was brilliant!  As in all anthologies some stories stood out more than others but none of them were anything less than intriguing and well-written.  I’ll give a brief synopsis of each story and then give a brief overall impression at the end.

Finders Keepers (David Bruns):  We meet Sabrina, captain of an all female crew on a ship somewhere in space.  She has two problems: 1) she introduced a man into the fray 2) she has found a ship she can scavenge for parts but it’s never that easy, right?  This was the perfect choice to open the anthology.  I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen and I found myself jumping to all sorts of (incorrect) conclusions.

Sequester (Ann Christy): Earth has been overrun by PePr’s (robot overlords come to mind) and a handful of humans on a crew trying to make Mars habitable for the remaining free people have reached an impasse.  This story fascinated me as the idea of Artificial Intelligence someday surpassing and potentially subjugating humankind seems to become more and more plausible.  Ann Christy did something here that made me really consider different notions of what it means to be human.  I look forward to reading the PePr series and delving into this world.

Escaping Eshwar (E.E. Giorgi): I’m a sucker for a young protagonist, so this one had me from the first paragraph. We meet Janhu, who is a 13 year old orphan trying to survive in a desolate world with only an android for company.  He dreams of flying away to safety and he has the intelligence and the determination to do it with his own two hands.  When he meets a mysterious woman who offers him an out, what will he do?

Anamnesis (Josi Russell): Kristi lives in a world where humans and “off-worlders” are not created or treated equal.  Drawn to a beautiful “space painting” and sympathetic to and curious about off-worlders, Kristi interested me more than the story unfolding around her.  We can all related to that feeling of unease that comes when you don’t quite seem to belong, it seems.  When she gets the chance to go off world even just for a minute, she takes it.  It changes her.

Hope Springs (Lindsay Buroker): Alisa is on her honeymoon at Hope Springs-a far flung moon-with her husband, her cyborg husband.  Determined to spend it soaking in the hot springs and not thinking about work, her plans are quickly thwarted by some Androids and a Petri dish.  Add a dash of comedy to the story and this is a fun little read.

The Patient Warrior (Michael Ezell): Jalad is tired of being oppressed by the Torq.  He stays connected to the ways of his ancestors at his own peril as his rage grows.  His people, the Nirut, have been trampled under the boots of their soft masters and exploited for their labor and resources for generations.  Will he find a way to overcome his feelings?  Patience.

Rebellion on Kepler-186f (Jill Hand): Eunice Clump is everything that scares me about the future of humanity, should be stay the current course.  She is incensed that her luxury craft has been diverted to stop the insurrection of a working class population on a planet in the middle of nowhere.  After reading that she couldn’t abide books because they ‘killed’ her husband, I loathed her.  When I discovered that the language on Earth had devolved into little more than l337 speak I knew that I’d seek out Jill Hand’s other work.

Solar Flare (Theresa Kay): Gretchen has abandoned the alliance fleet and ended up on some desert planet in a region known as “the desert”, so she knows she’s screwed.  She eventually finds sanctuary from the heat underground with a race known as the Dikurcidae, one of whom may help her escape.  This was the one story that was a bit too neat and tidy for me.  I kept waiting for something surprising to happen and when it didn’t I was disappointed.  Something in me detests catharsis these days so I can’t blame Kay for something easily explained by my own sensibilities.

Dear Sir or Madam (Anne Kelleher): Wrothgar Sergh is an alien attorney charged with defending planet Earth against a series of charges that will lead to its annihilation for crimes committed against other planets and galaxies.  Mary Beth is his Earthling witness for the defense at trial.  This story was super interesting in its look at how ignorance is not an excuse for the (sometimes horrible) things that result from it.

The Immortals: Southport (David Adams): A small squad of super soldiers in “immortal” suits are tasked with hunting down and exterminating The Myriad, a horde of alien super spiders.  As they seemingly get the upper hand, things inevitably get a little crazy.

This was a fantastic series full of unique ideas and excellent prose.  I plan to go back and read the previous installments as well as future pieces from the series and individual authors.  I strongly encourage anyone who wants to support indie science-fiction to snag this.  It’s a steal on Amazon!  Support independent literature, y’all!

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Stars-Worlds-space-anthology-ebook/dp/B06XYJYGCR

5 stars.

Publication Date: March 30, 2017

 

 

 

 

Letters To A Young Writer

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I received this ARC from Random House in exchange for an honest review.

This is not my first dance with Colum McCan and I now know it won’t be my last.  This man has a way with words, a humble regality.  Is that possible?  I highlighted sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph in an attempt to preserve the words in my mind.

I am not a writer.  I read, I read unceasingly.  I read at home, at work, on planes, in foreign countries and in the wilderness.  Reading this work, meant for writers, made me consider putting the book down for a bit and picking up the pen that I mostly use to correct the work of others.

A story begins long before its first word.  It ends long after its last.

This is a collection of letters on various subjects, aimed at encouraging the young writer.  What constitutes a young rider?  McCann himself isn’t concerned with that.  He points out that beloved Frank McCourt (who surely is reading this one in heaven) was 64 when he began.

To not know exactly where your story is going is a good thing.  It may drive you mad for a little while, but there’s worse things than madness: try silence, for instance.

I could gush on endlessly and copy, paste quote after quote.  Just read it.  It’s short.  It’s beautiful.  It’s the work of Colum McCann.  What a great book to beckon me back to this blog.

Stories matter.  They send our kids to war.  They open up our pockets.  They break our hearts.

Five of the brightest stars.

Expected Publication: April 4, 2017

Defy the Stars

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I received this ARC from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

Earth is dying.  The climate change crisis of the 21st century has been realized and then some.  Despite scientific advances and the colonization of other planets, Earth is just as chaotic and war-like as ever.

Noemi is from Genesis, the paradise planet Earth turned to as a new world.  This plan imploded when the people of Genesis decided becoming another Earth wasn’t what they wanted.  Genesis is a place of peace and no one knows that better than Noemi Vidal.

Like most people of Genesis, Noemi believes the Word of God…she can quote chapter and verse on the value of life, the importance of peace…Noemi knows what her duty to God is right now: Fight like hell.

A war has raged for decades and Noemi is a Genesis soldier aimed at stopping Earth for good.

She’s learned how to fight.  Next she had to learn now to die.

Abel is the most advanced Mech ever built.  When he and Noemi stumble upon each other will they continue the war?  Abel was created, not born.  Will he help or harm the cause?

A great mystery lurks within Abel, even now, one planted by Burton Mansfield long ago, waiting to be revealed.

I really enjoyed this novel, it had a plot that was able to plug into the Sci-fi genre in a clever way.  Noemi is relatable, yet flawed.  Abel made me question what it is to be human.  I look forward to the follow up books!

4 stars.

Expected Publication Date: April 4, 2017