WWW Wednesdays: 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 can’t believe it’s been two months since I did a WWW post!  The holidays really kicked my tail and had me running crazy, but it’s time to get back into the habit of posting this every other week.

I’m currently reading The Deep by Alma Katsu.  Anything involving the Titanic has always fascinated me, so I grabbed this one from NetGalley.  Just look at that gorgeous cover!  I’ve only read about ten pages, so I don’t have a good feel for this one yet.

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

Brilliantly combining fact and fiction, the historical and the horrific, The Deep reveals a chilling truth in an unputdownable narrative full of unnerving moments and with a growing, inexorable sense of foreboding. 

A few days ago I finished Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales.  Such a sweet, charming book with a MC who was genuine, humorous, and a perfect narrator.  Grab this when you have a chance.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease

Summer love…gone so fast.

Ollie and Will were meant to be a summer fling—casual, fun, and done. But when Ollie’s aunt’s health takes a turn for the worse and his family decides to stay in North Carolina to take care of her, Ollie lets himself hope this fling can grow to something more. Dreams that are crushed when he sees Will at a school party and finds that the sweet and affectionate (and comfortably queer) guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High.

Will is more than a little shocked to see Ollie the evening of that first day of school. While his summer was spent being very much himself, back at school he’s simply known as one of the varsity basketball guys. Now Will is faced with the biggest challenge of his life: follow his heart and risk his friendships, or stay firmly in the closet and lose what he loves most.

The next book I’ll read is for my book club.  The category this month is A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read, and my choice is Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman.  The first book in this series, Scythe, was one of my favorites of 2016, and I just bought the third book in November, so I’m really behind.  I’m just hoping to remember what happened, because there’s no way I have time for a re-read.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen #bookreview #scifi #postapocalyptic #TuesdayBookBlog

How do you start over after the end of the world?

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.

Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.

Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going. 

I’m always up for a post-apocalyptic book.  This one is being compared to Station Eleven, a novel I really enjoyed, and I’ve seen some rave reviews for this author’s first book.

Don’t go into this expecting something like a zombie apocalypse or a meteor crashing into Earth.  Much like Station Eleven, it’s a quiet book that focuses more on the journeys of the survivors during the aftermath of a global virus and how they come to terms with their losses.  Everything about this world is plausible – cities struggling to rebuild and restore some degree of normalcy, looting and gangs, groups living in Reclaimed Territories not under government control, and survivors dealing with grief in different ways.

The characters really make the story.  Rob is a single father trying to do right by his young daughter, Sunny, who is on a mission to see her father happy again.  Moira had the most intriguing backstory for me, and is hiding in plain sight after escaping her past.  Then there’s Krista, determined to keep people at a distance and not care about anyone other than her cat.  Each of their stories are riveting and occasionally heartbreaking, and I liked how their lives gradually become intertwined.  The climax of the story is compelling, and I couldn’t read fast enough – I had to know what happened to these characters I’d come to like so much.  Although the ending is slightly uncertain, I was happy with the way the author left things.

If you enjoy character-driven stories that inspire hope in the midst of disaster and loss, I highly recommend A Beginning at the End.  Today is release day, and I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour.

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

 

Author Bio:

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist, Tor) and covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets. A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, Mike lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @mikechenwriter

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.mikechenbooks.com/
Twitter: @mikechenwriter
Instagram: @mikechenwriter
Facebook: @mikechenwriter

Buy Links: 

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780778309345_a-beginning-at-the-end.html
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-at-End-Mike-Chen/dp/0778309347
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-beginning-at-the-end-mike-chen/1131202168
Books-a-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Beginning-End/Mike-Chen/9780778309345?id=7715580291810
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778309345
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-beginning-at-the-end/id1459367026
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-beginning-at-the-end
Google Play: https://books.google.com/books/about/A_Beginning_at_the_End.html?id=nq-RDwAAQBAJ

Greek Food, #YouSeason2, and #SubjectA36 Excerpt

Happy Monday!  Monday is probably the least popular day of the week for most people, but for me, it’s an opportunity to get started on my to-do list for the week.  I’ve mentioned it before, but if that list isn’t plastered to my face, I tend to wander around aimlessly like Dory in Finding Nemo.

Last week hubby and I celebrated our anniversary and his birthday, which is one day before – no way he can forget it, right?  Anyhoo, we went out with friends Saturday night to a local Greek restaurant.  It’s one we frequented several years ago, but then it closed.  Luckily, six years later, it reopened in a new location, and I couldn’t wait to dig into the tzatziki sauce (which I’ve tried to duplicate, with one epic fail after another) and the oozy honey goodness that is baklava again.  Good food and great friends – a fun night for everyone.

I finished the second season of You on Netflix.  It was just as good as the first season – even darker, but completely addictive.  It takes a talented writer to make you loathe nearly everything Joe has done (killing numerous people in his quest for love), and yet somehow you still want him to get his happily ever after.

It’s time for another excerpt from Subject A36!  Last week the ebook preorder wasn’t available, but it’s live now HERE.  To set up the teaser, Asher and Brynn practically grew up together, but their friendship evolved into a romantic relationship in their early teens.  Their relationship was fun to write because they challenge each other, are competitive to a fault, enjoy witty banter, and share an unusually deep bond.  In this scene, they’re considering adding a new member to their team of Insurgents and are observing him while he trains.

The way the other female recruits, and some of the males, looked at Declan made me wonder if he’d be a distraction in the field.  He was a few inches shorter than me, had a muscular build, startling blue eyes, and dark, wavy hair.

My gaze slid in Brynn’s direction to gauge her reaction.  “Well?”

Brynn considered Declan, tracking his movements about the training course.  “He’s a pretty boy, but he’s got the skill set.”

I grinned.  “Prettier than me?”

Brynn stood on her tiptoes, nuzzled my neck, and then whispered in my ear.  “No one’s prettier than you.”

And then I was distracted.  Focus, Ash.   

Images from Subject A36 (The Colony Series #1) #teaser #YA #scifi #dystopian

Below are some images, courtesy of Unsplash.com, that display the world of Subject A36.  I love it when I come across a picture that completely encompasses the setting as I imagined it for so long in my mind.  I try to collect them before and during the writing process to inspire me.

Starting in the upper left hand corner and moving clockwise, the first picture represents a long hallway in one of the many harvest centers the Insurgents infiltrate to rescue hostages taken against their will by Colony soldiers.  Without the Insurgents, these hostages would die a painful death when coveted genes are stripped from their body.

The next image is the abandoned warehouse that serves as the home for this particular sector of Insurgents.  Staying hidden from The Colony is crucial.  Fortunately, one of the Insurgents is a tech genius who’s come up with a way to evade radar detection.  It’s not much to look at, but for them, it’s home.

Just from the description, you know that scientific labs play an important part in this story.  For some characters, it’s a bigger part of their life than they’d ever imagined.

The bottom left image represents my main charater, Asher, and his team made up of his girlfriend Brynn, Oz, and Paige.  Rescuing hostages and battling Colony soldiers is a deadly business, and the team members trust each other with their lives.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into the world of Subject A36.  Next week I’ll introduce you to some of the characters.  Amazon now has both the ebook and paperback preorders linked HERE.

If genetic engineering could guarantee you and your family perfect health and unparalleled beauty, would you pay top dollar for it? Would you kill for it?

Residents of the Colony would. And do.

Only the Insurgents can stop them.

Seventeen-year-old Asher Solomon is a premier operative with the Insurgents. He and his team have rescued countless hostages, saving them from painful deaths in Colony labs as desirable genetic traits are stripped from their bodies.

He’s also suffered more losses than anyone should have to.

Then Asher gets intel that might give his people the upper hand. The Colony is searching for Subject A36. If the Insurgents determine the subject’s identity first, they might be able to turn the tide of the war.

Asher and his team embark on their riskiest mission ever, and the stakes have never been higher. But even if he survives the physical dangers, the devastating secrets he uncovers might destroy him.

Blood Heir (Blood Heir Trilogy #1) by Amelie Wen Zhao #bookreview #YA #fantasy

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all. 

Honestly, mention a con man in a book description, and I’ll usually jump to read it.  I’m sure that speaks to something psychologically, but the books generally turn out to be fantastic reads.  And Blood Heir was absolutely was.

Every time I thought this book was falling into predictable YA territory, it surprised me and threw in a curve.  Love it when that happens.  The magic system is intricate, well done, and unlike anything I’ve come across in other YA fantasies.  I also appreciated that even though this is the first in a series, it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but is still open-ended.

I really felt for Ana and her situation.  Losing her family is tragic enough, but being framed for her father’s murder is devastating.  I did wonder how she managed to survive during her time away – she tends to strike first and deal with the consequences later.  But if you don’t have flawed characters, where’s the conflict?

Ramson had me from the first page.  He has the whole charismatic, streetwise, cocky, but completely untrustworthy thing going on.  Utterly charming.  Being at a crucial crossroad in his life, his character arc is riveting and easily my favorite.

This book had a rocky start, but I’m so glad it’s being published.  An outstanding debut from an author I plan on reading more of.  If you enjoy flawed characters with questionable loyalties, a complex plot, and a unique magical system, add Blood Heir to your TBR.

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

Reverie by Ryan La Sala #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

Inception is one of my absolute favorite movies, so when I saw it listed as a comp title for this book, I really didn’t need to read the rest of the blurb.

“Wildly imaginative” is a perfect description of this book.  Easily one of the most creative novels I’ve read this year (2019).  Kane is confused and unable to remember much of the trauma he recently experienced.  He feels like a stranger in his own bedroom, and many of his personal items are a mystery to him.  I was all in and needed to know more.  Kane’s quest to discover who he is takes the reader on an incredible, illusory journey through the fantasies/dreams/reveries of other people.  At times, you may not know what’s real or make-believe.  Some characters have powers that come in handy when these reveries spiral out of control.  And there’s also a sorceress-like drag queen with a killer wardrobe.  Can I just mention the creativity again?

Kane’s character is a treasure, and even in his confusion, his sense of humor shines through.  His sister, Sophia, also has some memorable quips.  While I liked the other supporting characters, I wanted more information about them and how they’d come together.  By the end of the novel, I felt as if I barely knew them.

With themes of sibling bonds and friendships, amazing representation, and vividly imaginative dream sequences, Reverie will leave you feeling like you just stepped off a bizarre carousel ride through a fantasy world.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.

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

Holidays, #KnivesOut, and Subject A36 Excerpt

The holidays are over, and I’m glad to be staying home until the end of February when I’ll go to a book fest.  We traveled a good bit from Thanksgiving until the end of December, and my suitcase needs a break!  Yesterday was spent taking down Christmas decorations and buying a new microwave.  The old one still worked, but was falling apart a piece at a time, and I’m pretty sure the radiation inside was escaping and eating away at my brain cells.  That just can’t be good.

Upon the recommedation of several friends, and also because my book club was going, hubby and I saw Knives Out over the weekend.  It was fabulous!  I was always a Miami Vice fan, so it was good to see Don Johnson again.  And Daniel Craig with a southern accent?  Doing comedy?  Totally worth it.  If you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend it.

Subject A36 releases February 13th, so every Monday and some Fridays until then, I’ll be promoting it with an excerpt, graphics, or maybe a giveaway.  Today I’m featuring an excerpt from the first chapter.  Paperback pre-orders are available HERE.  Ebook pre-orders should be available soon.  I’ll keep you updated.

 

“Asher!”  Mom gripped the porch railing and called for me.  Her voice cracked and was laced with tears.  Dad vaulted over the porch railing, landed solidly on the grass, and frantically scanned our expansive yard. 

My stomach clenched.  Something was very wrong.  “Over here!”

Dad’s gaze locked on mine.  “Code Exodus!  Now, Asher.  Run!”

Was this another drill?  We’d practiced twice a week, the times always unexpected, without fail for as long as I could remember.  Drills were a regular part of our life, like eating, sleeping, and homework.  Protocol was pounded into our brains.  There could be no hesitation. 

But this felt different.  Dad’s expression was tight and urgent.  Tears streamed down Mom’s face, and I knew.  This was no drill.  It was real this time.  We’d been found.  Code Tribe—we leave together.  Code Exodus—we leave without our parents. 

Code Exodus rules.    

Find Cami and Elsa. 

Grab the backpack.

Leave immediately. 

Don’t stop for anything or anyone.

Run to the Wallaces.

When my sisters could no longer keep up, hide them and keep running.