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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake #bookreview #YA #darkfantasy

After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever.

The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens.

Being such a fan of this dark fantasy series, I bought this book the day it was released, but hate that it took me months to finally read it.

Admittedly, I was a little lost at the beginning.  Part of the reason is the length of time between finishing the previous book and starting this one, and the other is listening to the audiobook.  I’ve learned that when an extensive character list is involved, I do better reading the book instead of listening, so that’s on me.

Between the three sisters, I can’t say I really have a favorite, but I admire certain qualities about each of them, and they all have distinct personalities.  From the beginning, the world-building fascinated me – triplet girl queens, each possessing different gifts, who must fight to the death for the crown upon reaching a certain age.  Years ago, I attended a panel where the author explained what sparked the idea – bee hives, of all things.

In this last novel, explanations come to light, mysteries are solved, and deaths abound – plenty of them.  I can’t say it ended as I’d hoped or expected, but the unexpected isn’t always a bad thing, either.  This YA dark fantasy is one I’d recommend to fans of the genre.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab #bookreview #literaryfiction #magicalrealism #TuesdayBookBlog

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

I don’t possess the words to adequately describe this book and how it made me feel.  Schwab states that over the nearly ten years she worked on it, she put her heart and soul, teeth and blood and bones into this one.  And it shows.  It’s a magnificent work of art.

Imagine if you were forgotten by everyone you meet.  In your presence, they know and recognize you, but the second they leave the room or wake up beside you, you’re a stranger.  Because of this, you can’t hold a job – no employer would know who you were.  With no way to earn money, you have no home.  No closet full of clothes, no belongings, no friends.  No loved ones who remember you.  It’s an incredibly lonely life, but over the three hundred year span of this story, Addie really lives and experiences all the world has to offer – beauty, pain, love, hate, heartbreak, suffering – everything you can imagine.

It’s difficult to review this without spoilers, but trust me when I say this book offers a profound and thought-provoking examination of life and what it means to live.  A blend of survival story, love story, historical fiction, and magical realism, you’ll experience a wide spectrum of emotions.  I actually teared up at one point, and trust me – that’s quite a feat.

With beautiful writing, quotes you’ll make a note of, and extraordinary character development, I can’t recommend this book enough.  If I could give it more than five stars, I absolutely would.  It will linger in your mind long after finishing the last page.

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

One If by Carol B. Allen #bookreview #YA #fantasy #STEM

ONE DYING PLANET. TWO WORLDS AT WAR.

THREE TEENS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL.

Parker Kittridge, a quirky science student from New York City, is abducted by a spirit guide and taken to Spyridon, a dying planet on the brink of war. Parker quickly discovers she is not alone. Two other teens have also been kidnapped. They must join forces if they have any chance to return to Earth.

Spyridon, ravaged by climate change, is in deep trouble. Only two kingdoms remain: an avian Upperworld and a piscine Underworld. Parker and her friends are charged with finding solutions for the planet’s survival, as well as their own, or the teens will never escape in time. They must discover how to live and collaborate with the extraterrestrial beings.

The on-going war between the worlds is fierce: murders, deceptions, power struggles, and love triangles make this a high-stakes, futuristic, coming-of-age adventure pitted against a race with time.

Before I get into the review, I’d like to comment on this stunning cover.  The designer did an exceptional job, and it works well with the story.

I’ve always been a fan of books that advocate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), especially for girls, and this author is donating a percentage of sales for this book to organizations that promote the advancement of women in STEM and protect the environment.  And that’s something else I admire about this book – it brings environmental issues to the forefront.

Parker is a science nerd, and I loved her for that.  Besides being highly intelligent and taller than most girls, she’s socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily.  It’s only after being transported to the bizarre and creatively imagined world of Spyridon that she seems to find her place, and her self-confidence and self-esteem increase as a result.  Her courage in agreeing to help the people of this planet with little to no information about what they need or why she was chosen is questionable, but admirable.

While the three teens are likable (well, maybe not mean girl Henley much of the time), they felt generic, and I would have liked to see more character depth.  I missed understanding why they made certain decisions or took the risk to stay on a strange planet with unfamiliar creatures and help them.  Their voices are also similar, making it hard to distinguish between them.

The end moves pretty quickly with plenty of action and a plot twist, and the cliffhander ending sets up the story perfectly for a sequel.  Partly a coming of age story for Parker, the sequel should give her an opportunity to make a difference in the world of Spyridon.

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

It Came From the Sky by Chelsea Sedoti #bookreview #YA #contemporary #aliens #TuesdayBookBlog

From the author of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett and As You Wish comes the unforgettable story of the one small town’s biggest hoax and the two brothers who started it all.

This is the absolutely true account of how Lansburg, Pennsylvania was invaded by aliens and the weeks of chaos that followed. There were sightings of UFOs, close encounters, and even abductions. There were believers, Truth Seekers, and, above all, people who looked to the sky and hoped for more.

Only…there were no aliens.

Gideon Hofstadt knows what really happened. When one of his science experiments went wrong, he and his older brother blamed the resulting explosion on extraterrestrial activity. And their lie was not only believed by their town―it was embraced. As the brothers go to increasingly greater lengths to keep up the ruse and avoid getting caught, the hoax flourishes. But Gideon’s obsession with their tale threatened his whole world. Can he find a way to banish the aliens before Lansburg, and his life, are changed forever?

Told in a report format and comprised of interviews, blog posts, text conversations, found documents, and so much more, It Came from the Sky is a hysterical and resonant novel about what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

I enjoyed every minute of this crazy, bizarre, hilarious book and the brothers who engineered this quirky town’s biggest hoax.

Science genius Gideon and Ishmael, his Hawaiian shirt-wearing brother who prefers to coast through life, are polar opposites in almost every way and go into this hoax with different objectives.  Ishmael is looking to top his record for practical jokes at their high school.  Gideon, with a lifelong goal of working for NASA, visualizes it as a way to distinguish him from thousands of other MIT applicants and ensure his acceptance.  Obviously, everything about this is a bad idea, but watching the story unfold and spiral out of control makes for such a pleasurable read.

In the midst of all this, Gideon is also learning to navigate a relationship with his first boyfriend.  Being science-oriented, he prefers to deal in facts and rules, so personal relationships and the emotions and nuances that come with them are difficult for him to understand.  His character arc is strong, heartfelt, and one of my favorite things about this novel.

As the description indicates, the narrative is broken up by interviews, blog posts, footnotes, etc., and while some readers felt them a distraction, I thought they worked well with the tone of the story.  Some of them also caused me to burst out laughing.

Along with the hijinx, supposed alien abductions, a giant lava lamp, and a runaway cow named Muffin are incredibly supportive friendships, strong family bonds, and powerful life lessons on acceptance and self-worth.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted, entertaining read, grab a copy of It Came From the Sky.  This book is scheduled for publication August 1st, 2020.

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

 

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston #bookreview #LGBT #romance

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

If you’re a regular at my blog, you may be thinking you’re in the wrong place because I don’t read romances.  And you’re right – I usually don’t.  But with so many friends recommending this book, its outstanding reviews and amusing premise, I succumbed to peer pressure.  As a bonus, it fulfilled a book club requirement!

There’s nothing I can say about this novel that hasn’t already been said.  It’s an immensely enjoyable rom-com, and I totally want to join this family.  I listened to the audiobook and the narrator (Ramon de Ocampo) does a fabulous job.  Every character is so well done and adds to the depth of the story.  You’ll cheer for Alex and Henry and laugh at their nerdy Star Wars references and witty banter.  Ellen Claremont, Alex’s mom and the President, now holds the title of my favorite fictional mom.  Yes, she’s POTUS, but when everything hits the fan, she’s a mother first, and I loved that about her.  The strong themes of family, sibling relationships, and friendship are felt on every page.

No, I don’t often read romances, but Red, White, and Royal Blue was worth every minute and earns an easy five stars from me.