Tag: science fiction

Book Review:  Upgrade, by Blake Crouch

Image belongs to Random House.

Title: Upgrade  
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre:   Sci-fi
Rating:  4 out of 5

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Intimate in scale yet epic in scope, Upgrade is an intricately plotted, lightning-fast tale that charts one man’s thrilling transformation, even as it asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity—and our boundless potential.

Like Crouch’s other books, this one was way over my head, but I enjoyed it. The author did a good job of capturing the sheer overwhelming nature of Logan’s transformation—good enough for those of us who are still regular humans and can’t process things like a computer. There’s a lot of action in this near-future story, and the book flew by.

Blake Crouch is a bestselling author who lives in Colorado. Upgrade is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Ending Forever, by Nicholas Conley

Image belongs to the author.

Title:    Ending Forever
Author:  Nicholas Conley
Genre:   Science Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats — orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.

Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.

Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?

I can’t imagine agreeing to being killed and brought back…especially ten times. Sounds horrific, even without all the things Axel encounters. This was an intriguing read. Vivid descriptions and an intriguing premise, which are the norm for Conley’s writing. I enjoyed how Axel grew and changed throughout the story, finding his own strength and the will to go on. If you’re looking for something fresh to read, give this a try.

Nicholas Conley lives in New Hampshire. Ending Forever is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Savage City, by L. Penelope

Image belongs to Heartspell Media.

TitleSavage City
AuthorL. Penelope
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

For Talia, death is only the beginning of survival…

 When a tragic accident cuts my lonely life short, instead of heaven or hell, I’m stolen away to a terrifying city of warring shifter clans—the Nimali and the Fai. The Nimali mistake me for their missing princess. Her father, the dragon king, is identical to my own. But in this world, he dotes on me with the love and affection I always craved. And in a land with no tolerance for outsiders, feigning amnesia and impersonating shifter royalty may be the only way to survive.

 For Ryin, falling in love is the worst kind of betrayal…

 As a Fai warrior in captivity, I’m forced to serve my enemy even as I plot their destruction. The lost princess returned much changed, now the heat between us crackles irresistibly. While helping her heal using my magical talents, I begin to question what I thought I knew about the Nimali. She remains as forbidden as ever, but she also might be the key to freedom for me and my people.

 Caught between two enemy factions balancing on the knife-blade of annihilation, our lies are the only thing keeping us alive, but they just might be our undoing.

This was a decent read, but I felt like the characters were pretty generic. I liked the prince better than the two main characters, so I might read more about him. I was interested enough to keep reading the story, but not so much I’m eager to read the sequel. I found the court intrigues in the midst of a world slightly skewed from our own to be a bit not realistic, but my main problem was I just didn’t really care about the characters that much.

L. Penelope was born in the Bronx and lives in Maryland. Savage City is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Heartspell Media in exchange for an honest review.)


Book Review:   The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi

Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge.

Title:    The Kaiju Preservation Society
Author:    John Scalzi
Genre:    SciFi
Rating:  4 out of 5

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

 What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

 It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that’s found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too–and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

I don’t delve into science fiction too often these days, but this was a fun, quick read. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and even in serious moments, I enjoyed the characters. The idea itself is so far beyond my comprehension that I just went along with it without question, but Scalzi made me believe in it.

John Scalzi is a bestselling author. The Kaiju Preservation Society is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Paradox Hotel, by Rob Hart

Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

Title:   The Paradox Hotel
Author Rob Hart
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  3.0 out of 5

 January Cole’s job just got a whole lot harder.

 Not that running security at the Paradox was ever really easy. Nothing’s simple at a hotel where the ultra-wealthy tourists arrive costumed for a dozen different time periods, all eagerly waiting to catch their “flights” to the past.

 Or where proximity to the timeport makes the clocks run backward on occasion—and, rumor has it, allows ghosts to stroll the halls.

 None of that compares to the corpse in room 526. The one that seems to be both there and not there. The one that somehow only January can see.

 On top of that, some very important new guests have just checked in. Because the U.S. government is about to privatize time-travel technology—and the world’s most powerful people are on hand to stake their claims.

 January is sure the timing isn’t a coincidence. Neither are those “accidents” that start stalking their bidders.

 There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. A reason why she’s the only one who can catch a killer who’s operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once.

 But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and as her past, present, and future collide, she finds herself confronting not just the hotel’s dark secrets but her own.

 I kind of wish I hadn’t bothered to finish reading this. I think the only reason I did was for the velociraptors. (Yes, really.) January was a horrible person. Seriously terrible to everyone she interacted with. Every single time she opened her mouth, I knew something ugly was going to come out (and she knew it but did it anyway.). She was the worst, so I felt basically no sympathy for her. I didn’t care about anything going on in this story—except the dinosaurs—and the ending felt like…no resolution was reached, things just stopped.

Rob Hart lives in Staten Island. The Paradox Hotel is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Light Years from Home, by Mike Chen

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   Light Years from Home
Author Mike Chen
Genre:  SciFi
Rating: DNF

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

 Fifteen years ago while on a family camping trip, Jakob Shao and his father vanished. His father turned up a few days later, dehydrated and confused, but convinced that they’d been abducted by aliens. Jakob remained missing.

 The Shao sisters, Kass and Evie, dealt with the disappearance end ensuing fallout in very different ways. Kass over the years stepped up to be the rock of the family: carving a successful path for herself, looking after the family home, and becoming her mother’s caregiver when she starts to suffer from dementia. Evie took her father’s side, going all in on UFO conspiracy theories, and giving up her other passions to pursue the possible truth of life outside our planet. And always looking for Jakob.

 When atmospheric readings from Evie’s network of contacts indicate a disturbance event just like the night of the abduction, she heads back home. Because Jakob is back. He’s changed, and the sisters aren’t sure what to think. But one thing is certain — the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. Jakob, Kass and Evie are going to have to grow up and sort out their differences, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and possibly an entire alien armada, too.

I liked the premise of this story, but the writing style and characters just weren’t for me. I read about 10% and didn’t feel any sort of connection to any of the characters, so I stopped reading. This isn’t a reflection on the story itself or the quality of the writing, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.

Mike Chen lives in the Bay Area. Light Years from Home is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, by Meg Long

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves
Author:   Meg Long
Genre:   YA, scifi
Rating:  4.0 out of 5.0

After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with her prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option.

But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any scifi, and I enjoyed this foray back into it. It’s not hardcore scifi, but the cultures and peoples of the planet make for a fascinating setting—a planet run by gangsters and a hidden society who are against the corporate-driven greed that infuse the planet—with plenty of room for interesting diversions. The writing was solid, and I enjoyed the buildup to the race itself, but I feel like there were a few issues left unresolved by the ending. This is a solid debut, though, and I’d be interested in reading more from this author.

Meg Long wanted to be a spy when she grew up. Instead she became a writer. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Kindred, by Alechia Dow

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   The Kindred
Author:   Alechia Dow
Genre:   Sci-Fi, YA
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

 Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

 Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

 Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.

That was just a fun read! I liked Joy, and even Felix grew on me, although he was a bit self-absorbed at first. This felt kind of like a spoofy sci-fi movie, but not totally cheesy. I enjoyed the read, especially after Joy and Felix crash-landed on Earth. Realistic and believable, no, but fun and relatable, yes, so I’d recommend this if you’re looking for a light way to spend a few hours.

Alechia Dow was born is Massachusetts but now lives in Germany. The Kindred is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Starcrossed, by Katie Jane Gallagher

Image belongs to the author.

Title:   Starcrossed
Author Katie Jane Gallagher
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

It’s all very well to make out with an alien prince. A few kisses should be harmless—right?

 Yet that alien prince is the only male present on the spaceship that serves as Corinne Kaminski’s gilded prison. Faced with a thorny status quo, Corinne begrudgingly keeps plotting her escape, despite her growing feelings for Del.

 Complicating matters even more is the sudden, grand entrance of Del’s sisters onto the ship. The two cunning princesses would be most unhappy to learn that their brother, heir to the throne of Ailopt, has his eye on a human girl from Montana—and that said human girl returns his affection.

 Then a chance at freedom becomes tantalizingly close, just when things are heating up behind closed doors. Corinne will have to decide what’s more important: returning home for good or taking a chance on cosmic love?

This was another entertaining read. The two sisters, or at least one of them, were definitely mean girls. I’m always interested in how an author portrays aliens:  will they be humans in a different form, or will their mindset and personalities truly be alien? I found these aliens to be humans in a different form, but that didn’t make this read any less interesting. I’m looking forward to where the author takes this series next.

Katie Jane Gallagher was born in Illinois. Starcrossed is her newest novel, the second book in the Beauty and Her Alien series.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Unearthly, by Katie Jane Gallagher

Image belongs to the author.

Title:   Unearthly
Author Katie Jane Gallagher
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

Once upon a time, an alien prince craving solitude docked his spaceship above the snowy Montana mountains.

 Unbeknownst to him, a small-town beauty searched for her missing father in the lonely winter woods…

 When Corinne Kaminski volunteers to take her father’s place on the alien’s sprawling, desolate ship, she regards it as a death sentence. But just as the alien promised, no harm befalls her in her strange new home, where the walls talk, a dense hothouse flourishes, and sim rooms transport the user to any place imaginable.

 The ship’s only other occupant, Del, is shocking to look at. Beastly, some might say. But Corinne finds herself unable to look away. 

Yet a gilded cage is still a cage, and Corinne longs for freedom. Her instincts might be pushing her toward friendship with Del—and something more than friendship, perhaps—but at what cost?

This was a quick, fun read. To me, things escalated between Corinne and Del too quickly, but I’ve never been abducted by aliens, so what do I know? Her psychological warfare tactics—blasting AC/DC—made me laugh. I enjoyed the descriptions of her Montana home, and I look forward to reading more about these characters.

Katie Jane Gallagher was born in Illinois. Unearthly is the first book in the Beauty and Her Alien series.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)