A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price #bookreview #YA #contemporary #TuesdayBookBlog

10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…

Valerie Simons knows the city’s gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.

But when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.

Gang wars, revenge, and volatile leaders?  As a Sons of Anarchy fan, I couldn’t wait to read this (even though the gangs aren’t MCs).

First, let me say that it took enormous effort on my part to put down my Kindle while reading this – I was riveted.  Valerie losing her younger brother is a tragic story, and her warring emotions are well-portrayed.  Important topics such as depression, cutting, and talk of suicide are also addressed.  While much of this book is very dark, having a supportive circle of family and friends is emphasized.  The origin of the gangs is explained well, and the Stags fight against gentrification is understandable.  I found myself rooting for them – just maybe not for all the methods used in their fight.

While I felt I knew Valerie and Micah pretty well, when it came to Jax, there were still several blank spaces by the end of the book.  Valerie’s feelings for him seemed to be based on nothing more than his looks and the information he possessed that she wanted.  He’s an interesting character, and I craved more details.  The Westons and their influence were also a gray area for me, and more explanation of their involvement would have helped.

Taking the subject matter into account, don’t expect a unicorns and rainbow-type of ending, but many things are resolved.  With a compelling tale involving themes of family, revenge, betrayal, and grief, this is a fantastic debut novel, and I’ll be looking for future books by this author.

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

 

 

Hope by Terry Tyler #bookreview #dystopian #thriller

‘We haven’t elected a Prime Minister, we’ve elected a lifestyle’.

As the fourth decade of the 21st century looms, new PM Guy Morrissey and his fitness guru wife Mona (hashtag MoMo) are hailed as the motivational couple to get the UK #FitForWork, with Mona promising to ‘change the BMI of the nation’.

Lita Stone is an influential blogger and social media addict, who watches as Guy and Mona’s policies become increasingly ruthless. Unemployment and homelessness are out of control. The solution? Vast new compounds all over the country, to house those who can no longer afford to keep a roof over their heads.

These are the Hope Villages, financed by US corporation Nutricorp.

Lita and her flatmates Nick and Kendall feel safe in their cosy cyberspace world. Unaware of how swiftly bad luck can snowball, they suspect little of the danger that awaits the unfortunate, behind the carefully constructed mirage of Hope.

Terry Tyler’s nineteenth published work is a psychological thriller that weaves through the darker side of online life, as the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows ever wider. Whether or not it will mirror a dystopian future that awaits us, we will have to wait and see. 

This novel is classified as a dystopian thriller, but make no mistake, it’s also a horror story simply because it isn’t outside the realm of possibility something like this could happen in the not too distant future.  And that should scare the crap out of anyone.

The new PM, his wife, and family are perfect examples of how social media can be used to manipulate followers/viewers and distort the truth.  As in real life, much of the population buy into what they’re selling, but others are put off by the hype and determined not to drink the Kool-Aid.  Soon, disturbing ramifications of these new policies and laws come to light, and the number of jobless jumps significantly.  Lita and her friends are employed and feeling secure in a shared comfortable flat, believing homelessness and unemployment can’t happen to them.  Until it does.  And it’s terrifying to see how easily it can happen.

Tyler does an outstanding job at portraying the different reactions of three people in identical circumstances – yet, Lita, Nick, and Kendall’s emotions and actions are entirely believable and valid.  I felt their frustration and outrage at the system and the sense of helplessness and lack of control over their own situations.

This was an easy five star read for me, and days after finishing, I was still thinking about it.  With shades of Big Brother and current events, Hope is guaranteed to leave you feeling unnerved.

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

 

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders–skilled at alchemy–who must compete at The Races–the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged. 

In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?

With comp titles like Red Rising and The Scorpio Races, combined with a stunning cover and intriguing description, I jumped at the invitation to read and review Ashlords.  Being a fan of Reintgen’s Nyxia Triad series, I anticipated an exciting read, but this?  Completely above and beyond my expectations.

Phoenix horses – what an outstanding concept.  Toss in alchemy, a Hunger Games-ish race, gods, spirits, a brewing war, and you’ve got an addictive read.  I have to admit, the world-building overwhelmed me a bit at first, but I settled in by the second chapter.

And the characters!  Three POVs:  Imelda – a talented alchemist and underdog, Adrian – probably the biggest threat to the Ashlords and the face of the rebellion, and Pippa – the daughter of two champions and favorite to win.  Pippa’s POV is in second person, something I haven’t come across in YA fiction.  You may start out rooting for one, but will likely change your mind more than once before it’s over.  Don’t underestimate any of them.

There’s more than the race going on in this novel.  With war, rebellion, and unrest stirring, the next book in this duology promises to be just as compelling.  From nearly the first page, this action-packed, intense plot races (almost literally) to the finish.  I can’t wait for the next book – bring on the next rebirth!

This book is scheduled for publication January 21, 2020.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Day Zero (Day Zero Duology #1) by Kelly deVos #bookreview #YA #dystopian #scifi

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Warning:  Only read this book if you have several uninterrupted hours.  Otherwise, you’ll forget or ignore everything else requiring your attention.

It all starts out normal enough with Jinx and her stepsister picking up her brother after school and stopping for an errand before going home.  Minutes after, life will never be the same for them.  Political unrest (eerily similar to our current political climate), a rigged election, a country torn apart by differing viewpoints, doomsday prep, twists that jump out of nowhere – I flew through this book in two days.  These characters are on the run almost immediately, and there’s rarely any downtime.  Jinx’s father, “Dr. Doomsday”, had prepared her and Charles (the adorable younger brother you just want to hug) so well, I was tempted to write down and laminate his rules for survival and stick it on my fridge.

Jinx and MacKenna’s character arcs are fantastic.  When pushed to unfathomable limits, they discover what they’re capable of and the lengths they’re willing to go to survive.  The relationships between the siblings and step-siblings is done extremely well.  Something I missed was a bit more explanation on the connection between Navarro and Jinx, but maybe it’s something that will be expanded on in the next book.

Day Zero is a thrilling whirlwind of intrigue that grabs hold of you from the first page.  The next book can’t be released soon enough for me.

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

Author Bio: KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins. Kelly’s work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.

 

 

The Gate (Astral Conspiracy #1) by D.L. Cross #bookreview #scifi #aliens #TuesdayBookBlog

He lost his job. He lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Fans of action, intrigue, and aliens will love The Gate, the first book in the Astral Conspiracy series. 

Being a sci-fi fan, especially of The X-Files, this book immediately appealed to me.  And look at that striking cover!  It was a must read.

Professor Landon Thorne is having a seriously crappy day after losing his job, his girlfriend, and then being kidnapped and held at gunpoint multiple times.  On the other hand, his theories about aliens, previously panned by experts in the field, may be proven right.  So there’s that.

With double crosses, questionable motivations, and government coverups, it’s hard to know who to trust or what to believe.  Some of the characters are so unlikeable (I’m looking at you, Nadia), you yearn for them to be put in their place.  Or sent to the aliens as a welcoming committee to determine if their intentions are naughty or nice in hopes of sparing the more likeable characters.

I enjoyed the multiple viewpoints and witty dialogue, and the conversations between Tasha and Father Tomas are exceptionally thought-provoking from a religious aspect.

With a mix of archeology, ancient civilizations, and the threat of invasion, The Gate is an intriguing, action-packed read.  I can’t wait for the next book.  Bring on the aliens!

The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light the Abyss#1) by London Shah #bookreview #YA #scifi

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever. 

The totally stunning cover and concept of humans living at the bottom of the ocean made this a must read for me.

From the watercraft and underwater homes to the sea creatures, the world-building is magnificent.  When Leyla pilots her submersible around London landmarks and during the thrilling marathon, the imagery is outstanding.  And the conflict!  One roadblock after another is thrown into the mix, and nothing comes easy in her quest to find her father.  She’s a brave and determined protagonist, but makes some questionable decisions at times before thinking things through.  Ari is a man of mystery and caution, but a perfect balance to Leyla’s overly trusting nature.  Leila’s world is brimming with mystery and political undercurrents, and she’s forced to question many of her beliefs and things she’s been told.  And that cliffhanger will steal your breath away!

Although the pacing wavers here and there, I enjoyed this highly creative, underwater adventure and will be anxiously anticipating the next book in the series.  Add this one 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.

 

The Last Christmas: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson #bookreview #supernatural #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Jack is back.

Wilson never said he was through with Repairman Jack. He said he was through turning in a new novel every year. He also said when a story came along that was right for Jack, he’d write it.

The Last Christmas is that story.

It’s late December between Ground Zero and Fatal Error, a winter of discontent for Jack who’s perhaps spending too much time hanging at Julio’s. An old contact, Edward Burkes, convinces him to take on a missing-person fix. As usual, nothing is as it seems, and the missing person isn’t exactly a person. In fact, it’s like nothing anyone has ever seen.

And in the middle of all this, the mysterious Madame de Medici hires him to safeguard a valuable object. Simple, right?

Not even close.

Yep, Jack is back and, as usual, weird trouble is on his heels.

Many years ago, a friend loaned me Conspiracies, the third Repairman Jack novel. I was immediately hooked and scrambled to read the first two in the series.  Since then, I’ve remained a loyal fan and have read every book, as well as Repairman Jack: The Early Years.  I was distraught when I’d believed the last book of the series had been written a few years ago – so imagine my excitement when I saw a new Jack book on NetGalley!

Repairman Jack is hands down one of the coolest characters I’ve ever read, and it was such a treat to hang out again with him, Abe, Gia, Vicky, Julio, and Parabellum again.  This latest “fix” involves some genetic engineering, but still ties in with the overall arc of the series.  Jack using his powers of “persuasion”, sweet moments with Gia and Vicky, discussions over food with Abe, nail-biting close calls – it’s all here.

This series is classified as horror – not the gore variety – but closer to supernatural occult.  If that’s even a category.  If you enjoy intelligent MCs, otherworldly themes, exciting action sequences, and memorable characters, look no further.  Repairman Jack will always be at the top of my list of favorite books.  Jack is back!

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