Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland #bookreview #YA #historical

The sequel to Dread Nation is a journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

I listened to the first book in this series about eighteen months ago, and when my book club requirement was to read a YA historical novel, I decided it was a perfect time to listen to the sequel.  Yes, zombies aren’t really part of history, but the book is categorized as US Civil War Period Historical Fiction – so that works for me.

With Bahni Turpin being such a fantastic narrator of the first book, Dread Nation, I was thrilled she returned for the sequel.  Jane is just as snarky as ever, which I totally enjoy, and she’s still killing shamblers (zombies).  Alternating POVs between Jane and Katherine allow the reader to gain better insight into Katherine’s character this go around, and she nearly steals some scenes.  The unlikely friendship between them is one of the highlights of the story for me.  Separated for a portion of the book, each endures trials and tribulations of their own before reunited to search for their safe haven and Jane’s mother.

At over 500 pages (14.5 hour audiobook), this is a long read, and I struggled with pacing in the middle.  Jane is on a mission, with good reason, but her obsession ventures into repetitive territory.  Once past that, the ending moves along pretty quickly and delivers a satisfying conclusion fitting for these characters.

If you’re a zombie fan, I recommend reading this duology that offers a different take on the genre in a historical setting.

Lies and Legacy (Project Gene Assist #3) by Allie Potts #bookreview #scifi #cyberpunk #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s time to finish what they started.

Juliane’s woken to a post-apocalyptic world with no memory of the days leading up to her time in cryogenic suspension. Plagued by guilt, Stephen longs to sleep without being haunted by the faces of those he’s lost. Both are seeking more than answers.

Meanwhile, the defeat of the Watch has created an opportunity for a new world order to step in and take power. On one side, are the Sorcerers, a group of super-humans whose telepathic-like abilities and control over their bodies comes at a terrible price. On the other–an elite squad of genetically modified individuals who are now more beast than man.

Juliane is on a mission to reclaim her legacy.

Stephen is out to save his soul.

Can either stop the upcoming war before it destroys what’s left of humankind? In this struggle for survival of the fittest, they may have to find a way to save themselves first. 

Over two years have passed since I read book two of this series, so I was a little lost in the first few chapters while trying to remember the characters and their relationships to each other.  Once I finished the book, I discovered a character list that would have helped immensely.  Readers – it pays to scan the table of contents first and save yourself some confusion.

Being fascinated by genetic engineering, I’ve enjoyed the premise of this series from the first book.  With a big cliffhanger at the end of book two, I was anxious to see what became of this world and these characters.  With most of them separated, the rotating POVs allowed me to see each of their journeys – especially Stephen’s.  In book two, he’s a naive teen aching for adventure who gets more than he bargains for and learns some unsettling truths about himself.  Although still a somewhat awkward teen, a lot is riding on him, and he’s put into some difficult positions.  His character arc is one of my favorite things about this series.  Juliane’s journey is no less compelling – she’s truly on a mission to set things right.  Another character’s actions surprised me a bit, and I doubted his motivations, but it works for the story.  This is a fitting ending to this story.

With a fascinating premise, creative world-building, and well-drawn characters, this is a series I’d recommend to sci-fi cyberpunk fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Earthquake, Winery, and #BadMoonRising

Hubby and I spent the weekend with his younger brother and his family in the mountains of North Carolina over the weekend.  The weather was fantastic – much cooler temps and lower humidity (woo-hoo!).  On a lazy Sunday morning yesterday, I was reading (duh) while my BIL worked on his laptop, when everything started to shake – vibrations in the floor, ceiling, everywhere.  We looked at each other in shock – earthquake!  But seriously, with what 2020 has brought already, we shouldn’t have been surprised.  It was brief, no injuries, but the largest earthquake NC has experienced in over 100 years – so that was exciting.

This is a picture of my niece’s ENO hammock – which is hung on the balcony of a second story condo.  It was a long drop to the ground.  Watching her get in it had my heart racing – but she did it just fine.  Reading in a hammock sounds like a perfect day – only closer to the ground.

Sunday afternoon, we went to a local winery where my BIL was performing – he’s a physician by day, but sings, writes music, and plays guitar in his free time.  Being outside, the event was well-attended – folks were just anxious to get out of the house.  It may not look like it from the picture, but social distancing was in effect and masks were aplenty.  Wine, food, music, and friends – a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

If you’re a horror, thriller, or paranormal/supernatural author and would love some free publicity, I’m still taking signups for Bad Moon Rising – more information HERE.

Have a safe and healthy week!

Calling #Horror, #Thriller, and #Paranormal #IndieAuthors for #BadMoonRising

It’s that time again – Bad Moon Rising is coming!  Thirty-one authors for thirty-one days in October.  If you’re an indie author of horror, thriller, or paranormal/supernatural books and would like to be featured, send me an email.  FREE publicity, book sales (hopefully!), new authors to follow, and more books added to the TBR – what’s not to like?

Each post will feature one of your releases, a blurb, author bio, social media links, buy links, and a short interview.  If you’d like to include a giveaway or have alternative ideas for your post, I’m always open to suggestions.

This is the sixth year of Bad Moon Rising and spots tend to fill up fast, so if you’d like to be included, email me at tpolen6@gmail.com.

I’ll be traveling today, so I probably won’t be able to get to emails until tomorrow.

LV48 (Cassie Tam Files #3) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #scifi #LGBT

New Hopeland City may be the birthplace of Tech Shifter gear, but it isn’t the only place that likes to blend technology with folklore. Now, a new nightmare is stalking the streets…

When PI Cassie Tam is attacked on the way home one night, she expects the police to get involved. What she doesn’t expect is to be forced into acting as bait to lure out a lunatic in a tech-suit that’s literally out for blood. But past actions have consequences, and doing so may be the only way she can get a clean slate from the city’s law makers.

If only that didn’t mean having to face down a wannabe vampire.

This is my third Cassie Tam book, and the author’s imagination continues to amaze me.

Although each novel introduces new futuristic technology, the descriptions are detailed and so well done that it’s easy to visualize.  The drawings near the end of the book help explain the tech even more.  This time around Cassie faces a “light vampire” – which explains the title.  I love me some vamps, but these aren’t the traditional vampires seen in most novels and and movies – no spoilers here.  Cassie is wrangled into working with the police department on the case and, although not crazy about the idea, she makes the best of it and and dives in head first – which is a trait I admire.  That and her snark – I always appreciate witty snark.

Bert, her gargoyle familiar, has to be one of my favorite characters.  He’s protective and kind of moody, but you gotta love him.  Cassie and Lori also have some nice scenes together in their new-ish relationship, but I wouldn’t have minded more.  Some new characters are also introduced, and I hope to see more of them in future books.

While there are action-filled scenes, the pacing waned a bit for me in the middle.  I guessed who the villain was early on, but it took longer for it to click with Cassie and friends than expected.  Still, I’m a fan of this thrilling sci-fi series, and it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m about 60% into this one and it’s not exactly what I’d hoped.  We’ll see how it wraps up.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

Are you ready to play?

Fable was a fantastic read!  Adventures on the high seas, secrets, a feisty, strong protagonist – so excited for the final book in this duology.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Post-apocalyptic may not be everyone’s choice of reading right now, but this one intrigued me and the reviews have been pretty good.  It’s a change of pace from what I’ve been reading.

In an endless winter, she carries seeds of hope

Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented extreme winter.

With grow lights stashed in her truck and a pouch of precious seeds, she begins a journey, determined to start over away from Appalachian Ohio. But the icy roads and strangers hidden in the hills are treacherous. After a harrowing encounter with a violent cult, Wylodine and her small group of exiles become a target for its volatile leader. Because she has the most valuable skill in the climate chaos: she can make things grow.

Urgent and poignant, Road Out of Winter is a glimpse of an all-too-possible near future, with a chosen family forged in the face of dystopian collapse. With the gripping suspense of The Road and the lyricism of Station Eleven, Stine’s vision is of a changing world where an unexpected hero searches for a place hope might take root.

Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1) by Romina Garber #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

 

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

While this may be a fantasy novel, it deals with very real topics prevalent in today’s society.  And just look at that stunning cover!

Manu has never felt like she belonged anywhere.  She has no friends and very little family.  She’s rarely permitted to leave home, and you’ll empathize with her immediately.  Thrust into a frightening situation and fearing for the lives of her loved ones, Manu discovers she’s stronger than she knew, and you’ll root for her as she begins her journey.  The story parallels Harry Potter in some ways, and as an ardent fan of the books, Nau mentions them often.

Argentenian folklore is entwined with the world-building, which is fabulous and one of the things I enjoyed most.  One of the other positives is the supporting cast.  It’s rather extensive and can seem overwhelming at first, but the focus narrows by the middle of the book.

It’s difficult to give much of a review without revealing spoilers, but I’ll say this is a powerful story with several layers and a series I absolutely plan to continue.  Recommended for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t belong and struggled to find their path.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Moving and #BadMoonRising

We are so done with moving.  Finally.  We started packing the youngest son on Thursday, he stayed with us a couple nights, and then moved him in on Saturday.

So. Much. Stuff.

He and two roommates are renting part of a house and luckily, he has a large bedroom.  Besides the usual furniture, with one of his majors being music, he also has electronic drums, a keyboard, and a guitar.  As a tea lover, he has a wide variety (I’m talking drawers of tea bags and boxes), and being a foodie, he owns more spices, various vinegars, condiments, and marinades than I do.  The house is close to campus, it’s a nice place, and he’s rooming with two good friends – now we’ll see how the in person/virtual classes work out in a few weeks.

Get those horror, paranormal, and thriller books ready – it’s almost time for Bad Moon Rising signups!  This will be the sixth year (can you believe it?), and it’s something I always look forward to.  Then again, anything involving books is exciting, right?  If my week goes as planned, signups will open Friday, so stay tuned.

Have a great week – stay safe and healthy!

The Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1) by Veronica Roth #bookreview #fantasy #dystopian

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

I’m a fan of Roth’s Divergent series – loved it.  When I saw she’d written an adult book, I was intrigued.  After reading the description, I knew I wanted to read it.

Taking into account the premise of this book – the fantasy aspects, magic, chosen ones, sci-fi elements – I should have loved everything about it.  The descriptive writing flows, and I’ve always enjoyed the author’s style.  I was on board with the different settings, the struggles the characters endured after what they’d been through and how they were still dealing with depression and PTSD.  Some plot twists also came as a surprise.

But I struggled to get through this novel, and I think the biggest obstacles for me were pacing and Sloane being the primary focus.  With pacing, I kept feeling like I was on the verge of something big happening, but then it slowed again.  This happened several times.  I never connected with Sloane, but that connection isn’t always a requirement for me.  Her backstory is tragic, and she’s suffered too many losses, but she exhausted me, if that makes sense.  Mox is probably my favorite character and has an amazing backstory.

While this one wasn’t for me, I’m still glad I read The Chosen Ones and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up Roth’s next series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

Pardon the gasping of air you may hear – I’m still hyperventilating over that ending.  I’m pretty sure I’m not emotionally equipped to wait a year for the next book!

An exceptional first novel in a series (which Aurora Rising absolutely is) sets the mark pretty high for the second.  Sometimes that goal is achieved, but more often that not it isn’t.  In this case, Aurora Burning exceeded both the mark and my expectations.  Tyler and his diverse crew of found family are still comical, loveable, and awkward and find themselves in heart-pounding, life-threatening situations.  And I do mean that in the pleural sense.  These guys attract trouble like a magnet.

Talk about shocking revelations – they run amuck, and those unusual gifts the squad receive left me scratching my head.  Some of their purposes come to light, while others remain a mystery.  Between the unveiling of secrets and the dangerous situations, I ran through the gamut of emotions.  And I feel compelled to mention that ending again – I’m not okay.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, I can’t recommend this series enough.  Squad 312 will steal your heart and take you on a rollercoaster of an adventure.  And those covers – just gorgeous.