Tag: science fiction

Blog Tour for The Last Hope, by Krista and Becca Ritchie

The Last Hope_Cover
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books.

Title:   The Last Hope
Author:  Krista and Becca Ritchie
Genre:   YA, sci-fi
Rating:   4 out of 5

Franny, Court, and Mykal have been imprisoned for weeks on an enemy ship. Through their link, they feel everything the others are going through. As if being on the verge of death isn’t enough, they are also reeling from the knowledge that they are human. When a mysterious stranger shows up and offers them a way out, they are skeptical—but eager to survive. They agree to help but keep their link secret.

Stork won’t tell them much, just that there’s one way to save planet earth and the remnants of humanity. He offers tantalizing hints at the answers to all Franny’s questions, and she’s eager to find out the truth. But the truth behind their mission—to find a baby girl, the first of her kind, who can cloak and teleport planets—is far more than the linked trio can begin to comprehend.

So…I didn’t read The Raging Ones. (Not sure how I managed to end up reading the second book without reading the first, as that’s something I wouldn’t normally do.) I struggled a bit at the beginning, trying to catch up to the worldbuilding and what happened in the first book, but the story was compelling enough that I pushed through. The dynamics are interesting between the trio, and Stork is an excellent foil for the three of them. There’s lot of action and adventure here, making this a quick, exciting read.

Krista and Becca Ritchie are twins and bestselling authors. The Last Hope is their newest novel, the second book in The Raging Ones duology.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Recursion, by Blake Crouch

recursion
Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

 

Title:   Recursion
Author:   Blake Crouch
Genre:   Sci-Fi
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

NYC cop Barry Sutton lives every day with the death of his teenage daughter years before. One night, he tries to stop a woman from committing suicide, his first direct experience with False Memory Syndrome—a condition where victims have false memories of a life they never lived. While Barry is investigating, he stumbles into something he never imagined, something that turns what he thinks he knows into something ephemeral and ever-changing.

Helen is one of the most brilliant minds on the planet, fascinated with memory and how it shapes us and changes us. She has created a technology that can save memories, and allow us to experience them again, but she has no idea of the repercussions of doing so. Soon she and Barry are the only ones who know what’s going on through an ever-changing past and present that will always end in catastrophe—unless they manage to stop the destruction.

This novel turned everything on its head. I never knew what to expect from page to page, but I was enthralled by the journey. Or journeys, I should say. Crouch makes a complex concept believable and terrifying, as well as creating characters that I connected with, even in a world that is dark and scary.

Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. Recursion is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crown Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review The Queen’s Wing, by Jessica Thorne

the queen's wing
Image belongs to Bookouture.

Title:   The Queen’s Wing
Author:  Jessica Thorne
Genre:   YA, scifi
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

All Bel wants is to fly. She’d love to spend her days in freedom in her Wasp, preferably with her childhood friend and crush, Shae, but instead she spends her days being trained as a daughter of the aristocracy. Until a surprise attack by the Gravians, longtime enemies of her people, destroys the entire royal family, and Bel finds herself the daughter of the king—and a valuable royal commodity about to be married to the ruler of Anthaeus, a distant planet.

Soon Bel is on a ship headed to meet her future husband, with Shae at her side, as always. But now he’s no longer her friend, he’s the commander of her guards. An attempt to kill her is followed by a thwarted attempt to blow up the ship, and Bel meets her future husband, Conleith, in the furor.

She realizes everything is not okay on Anthaeus when she meets the Gravian representative there, and Con refuses to believe her about the danger the Gravians represent. Soon her worst fears are realized when the Gravians attack and destroy much of Anthaeus and its people, but Bel and Con aren’t ready to surrender yet—and they have a secret weapon on their side.

If I had realized this was a “space opera,” I probably would have skipped it. I enjoyed Bel’s character arc, but the entire plot line felt far too rushed, with very little transition or, sometimes, reason. Frankly, at times this felt like a B-rate scifi movie, although Bel and Con were both interesting characters.

Jessica Thorne lives and works in Ireland. The Queen’s Wing is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Tomb, by S.A. Bodeen

the tomb
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends.

Title:   The Tomb
Author:   S.A. Bodeen
Genre:   YA, fantasy, sci-fi
Rating:   3 out of 5

Kiva grew up going to school, dreaming of being a doctor, and missing her best friend, Seth, the prince she hasn’t spoken to in three years. Life in ancient Alexandria was simple but good. Or so she thought.  Until she finally speaks to Seth again, and his first words are “Nothing is as it seems.”

Then Kiva finds out her world never existed at all. Instead, she’s been in a sleep chamber in deep space for years, and her world was all virtual reality. And Seth woke up three years ago and never told her the truth.

Now the two of them must find the part their spaceship needs if they are to survive, but there’s been no contact with the other ships harboring the remnants of humanity for years. They’re not sure where they’re going. They’re not sure how to find what they need. And they’ll need all their broken trust in each other if they’re to survive.

This book had an interesting premise, so I was excited to read it. However, within a few pages, most of my interest had faded. I’d love to read something actually set in ancient Alexandria, but I found things a bit anachronistic at first. Which makes sense, considering it was all virtual reality. I never grew to like Seth, and found him condescending and annoying, and Kiva was very naïve, so I didn’t trust anything she said or did. I felt like the story was still a little rough and wasn’t quite fully realized. The premise was promising, but the execution was less-than-stellar.

S.A. Bodeen grew up in Wisconsin, has lived in Africa, and now resides in the Midwest. The Tomb is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Feiwel & Friends in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch

the gone world
Image belongs to Putnam.

Shannon Moss is a secret agent in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. She’s part of a special unit that tracks crime though space—and time. Almost no one knows about her unit, so she can’t always explain her findings to people. Sometimes, she’s sent into the future to gather information about crimes in the present, but her departure from that future always ends that timeline, as she returns home.

In Pennsylvania 1997, Shannon is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family, and to find his missing daughter. She discovers the SEAL is from the missing spaceship, Libra, presumed lost in Deep Time. As she works, Shannon also discovers anomalies that give her more questions than answers, so she travels into possible futures to gather information.

There, Shannon realizes the case has far greater implications:  it’s not just the fate of the SEAL’s family that’s at risk, but the entire human race, as the case is inextricably linked to the Terminus, the end of humanity. Now Shannon must solve a murder case, a girl’s disappearance, and stop a plot destined to end the human race, in a case that shares eerie links with Shannon’s own past.

I’m still not sure what to think about this book. The concept of Deep Time was both baffling and understandable in the narrative—although the visuals did not always coalesce for me. (Those never-ending lines of trees and the crucifixions.) Shannon is a strong, capable woman, haunted by her past and her experiences in Deep Time, and she finds herself amid events that can shatter existence into pieces. Her visits to possible futures were strangely compelling, as the people she knows in the past become startlingly different people in these futures. This reminded me of the time I read Stephen King’s Desperation and Richard Bachman’s The Regulators back-to-back (Bachman was King’s pen name.)

Tom Sweterlitsch was born in Ohio, grew up in Iowa, and worked with the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for twelve years. The Gone World is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Putnam in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: Intraterrestrial, by Nicholas Conley

intraterrestrial.jpg
Image belongs to Nicholas Conley/Red Adept Publishing.

Thirteen-year-old Adam is shy, quiet, and a bit of a nerd. He loves looking at the stars through his telescope and building his own bike, while thinking about the mysteries of the universe, but doesn’t really feel like he belongs in his own life. The voice he keeps hearing in his head isn’t helping. When a run-in with a school bully lands him in trouble, it brings the conflict between his parents and himself into sharp focus.

The auto accident changes everything.

Adam ends up with a Traumatic Brain Injury, hovering on the edge of life and death. While his body is fighting to survive, Adam’s mind, his imagination, is in outer space, where he meets a group of aliens fighting against the Nothing that wants to destroy them—and Adam. Adam is the only one that can save them, but to do that, he must fight his way through the darkness that threatens to take away his future.

Intraterrestrial deals with some heavy topics: brain injury, bullying, and finding your place in the world when you’re different than everyone else. Adam is from India, and this makes him feel different from his adoptive parents and everyone else he knows. He struggles with this “differentness” in the first part of the book, as well as bullying and his response to being bullied.

After the accident, Intraterrestrial is both more complex and fantastical. What Adam experiences is imaginative and intriguing—is it really happening, or is his brain struggling to deal with the injury?—yet his reactions and observations sometimes border on childlike. He’s 13, so that makes sense for the character, but I’m undecided on if this novel is geared more towards a YA/middle grade audience, or an adult audience. The subject matter is older, but Adam himself is younger, so it could go either way. I enjoyed the novel very much. It is as creative as the author’s other works, and I look forward to reading more.

Nicholas Conley loves traveling the world and putting his experiences into words. Intraterrestrial is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Dark Intercept, by Julia Keller

the dark intercept
Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge

 

Violet Crowley is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the founder of New Earth, the safe home of people with the right to leave the sordid conditions of Earth behind. The Intercept keeps New Earth residents safe, and it monitors emotions and occasionally uses them to keep that safety intact. Julia has never known anything different, but when Danny, a cop and her long-time crush, is almost killed on Old Earth, Violet decides to investigate what he’s up to, and ends up finding out secrets she never imagined.

I enjoyed The Dark Intercept very much. The concept was unique and intriguing, and the book takes a hard look at what people are willing to put up with for their idea of safety. Technology is taken to the extreme in New Earth, and the idea is terrifying. Violet is pretty typical for a teenager, with her crush and her preconceived ideas of what’s really going on. She matures some in the book, but she still has a tendency to forgive all of Danny’s lies and actions, which is a bit annoying. The characters are rather one-dimensional, but I feel they will develop more as the series continues.

Julia Keller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. The Dark Intercept is her new novel.

Galley provided by Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

beasts of extraordinary circumstance
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Weylyn Grey was orphaned and raised by wolves. He met Mary when she was 11 years old, when he saved her from an angry wolf. Weylyn knows strange things happen around him—like stopping that tornado on Christmas Day—but he prefers to give the credit to his horned pig, Merlin.

Freak storms, trees that grow overnight, hurricanes that mysteriously dissipate; Weylyn has been around them all. Though it all, his love for Mary stays strong, until he realizes that she might come to harm. Then he knows he must move on. Instead of stopping hurricanes, the magic in his life now consists of fireflies who make phosphorescent honey. But, through it all, his love for Mary remains strong. All he needs is the courage to knock on her door.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is classified as fantasy/sci-fi, but to me, it’s more magical realism. It’s different from anything else I’ve ever read, and different is a very good thing. This is told not only from Weylyn’s point-of-view, but from that of those who know him. There is magic on every page, and wonder hides here as well.

Ruth Emmie Lang was born in Scotland, but moved to Ohio when she was four. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is her first novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

Book Review: Select, by Marit Weisenberg

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Image belongs to Charlesbridge Teen.

Julia Jaynes is part of a group of highly-evolved humans living in Austin, Texas. Rich, beautiful, and powerful, they keep to themselves and try not to draw more attention to their media-popular circle. Then Julia saves her sister from drowning, and the media attention she causes makes her powerful father punish her by sending her to public high school.

There Julia meets John, a tennis prodigy and a nice, regular guy. When Julie discovers she can read his mind—sometimes—she uses the power to encourage John, and her feelings start to grow. Living with the regular humans isn’t as bad as she thought, but Julie is desperate to get back in her controlling father’s good graces, before their circle disappears from society for good.

So…the cover of this book is what caught my eye first, and the premise is fantastic. I read all of it, but Julia was a bit too erratic for me. Does she hate her father? Does she love him? Does she want to stay with the super humans? Does a life of freedom with the regular humans sound more appealing?  What is really going on with the evolved humans and Julia’s powerful father? And why did he separate the younger members and try to destroy the more powerful ones’ talents?

I don’t actually know the answers to any of these questions, and that bothers me. Julia can’t make up her mind, and a first-person narrative should have some insight into the character, but it doesn’t. (I saw several comparisons to Twilight in other reviews, and that is sadly accurate.) I loved the premise of this book, but the execution and character development was lacking.

Despite her name, Marit Weisenberg is only a quarter Norwegian. She lives in Austin, Texas. Select is the first book in the Select series.

(Galley provided by Charlesbridge Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Dream Me, by Kathryn Berla

dream me
Image belongs to Amberjack Publishing.

Babe is always the new girl in town. Always. So, when her family moves to Florida one summer, she doesn’t expect much, just a regular life working for the local country club and its upper-class members. But she makes friends and starts to imagine a life there. Then the headaches start, terrible, blinding ones that seem to be caused by the dreams she has every single night.

Zat is a dreamer from a far distant future where people no longer dream and Earth is dying. In his dreams, he sees red-haired Babe and longs to experience the life she embraces. Instead of leaving Earth with his family, he chooses to travel back in time and live in Babe’s dreams, but he never imagines those dreams will cause her so much pain. While Babe clings to their dream life together, Zat tries to pull away so he no longer hurts her. Soon they must make a choice between dreams and reality.

I’ve read some great books lately, and Dream Me is one of them. The whole premise is unique, since Zat only exists in Babe’s dreams, but the characters are so vivid they feel like I know them personally. Zat’s bleak existence made me feel sorry for him, and I could relate to Babe’s tough exterior, caused by her challenging life. These characters are deep and compelling, and the novel blends YA with fantasy seamlessly, with an added does of mystery—what is Zat hiding? Will they find a solution? Even the setting—the steamy Florida coast—lives and breathes on the page. If you love YA, fantasy, romance, or sci-fi, you should read this!

Kathryn Berla lives in San Francisco. Her newest novel, Dream Me, hits shelves on July 11th.

(Galley provided by Amberjack Publishing in return for an honest review.)