Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate #bookreview #YA #scifi #apocalyptic

What do you stand for, when you’re one of the last left standing?

The year is 2072. Soon a volcanic eruption will trigger catastrophic devastation, and the only way out is up.

While the world’s leaders, scientists, and engineers oversee the frantic production of a space fleet meant to save humankind, their children are brought in for a weekend of touring the Lazarus, a high-tech prototype spaceship. But when the apocalypse arrives months ahead of schedule, First Daughter Leigh Chen and a handful of teens from the tour are the only ones to escape the planet.

This is the new world: a starship loaded with a catalog of human artifacts, a frozen menagerie of animal DNA, and fifty-three terrified survivors. From the panic arises a coalition of leaders, spearheaded by the pilot’s enigmatic daughter, Eli, who takes the wheel in their hunt for a habitable planet. But as isolation presses in, their uneasy peace begins to fracture. The struggle for control will mean the difference between survival and oblivion, and Leigh must decide whether to stand on the side of the mission or of her own humanity.

With aching poignancy and tense, heart-in-your-mouth action, this enthralling saga will stay with readers long after the final page.

This is described as Lord of the Flies in space. There’s no way I wasn’t requesting it from NetGalley.

The chaos begins almost immediately when a volcanic eruption happens months ahead of schedule. High-tech prototype spaceship Lazarus isn’t quite ready, but there are no other options if the human race is to survive. When it launches, it’s without a trained crew. A ship meant to support thousands is filled with only fifty-three frightened teenagers who won’t reach their final destination for over one thousand years.

A small group of the teens emerge as leaders, including First Daughter Leigh and the pilot’s daughter, Eli, who’s not exactly trained, but isn’t unfamiliar with the ship. She’s the best they’ve got and in their situation, it’s boots to the ground right away. It’s not long before these characters learn their situation is even worse – food is seriously limited, and they only have a remote chance at finding more. That location is months away, so rationing is crucial. The teens also face the harsh realization that their small group is responsible for restarting the population.

It’s not long before their already precarious situation breaks down even more with a clash of opinions and priorities, accusations against the council of teens running the show, violence, and struggles for power. Honestly, everyone’s opinion makes sense at different points in the story. It devolves into a demonstration of the ugliness of humans and their inability to learn from history – and it’s disheartening.

The cast of characters is long, and I found myself confusing some of them – they’re diverse, coming from all over the world, but not as distinct. I also wondered about some of the scientific aspects, but the focus of the story is primarily about the dynamics between the characters.

The concept of this story had me hook, line, and sinker, and although an engaging story, the novel isn’t exactly what I’d hoped it would be.

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

#BlogTour If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber #bookreview #YA #LGBTQ #romcom

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.
 
Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.
 
But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.

A beachy rom-com set during the summer? The beach is my happy place, and rom-coms can be pretty entertaining.

The excitement of summer before senior year, piers, surfing, carnivals, cotton candy, parties, walks on the beach – all of these set the tone for this novel. Harry is finally getting over last summer’s crush who ghosted him when he moved away and is set on putting all his energy into working on the screenplay he’s hoping will get him into USC. Sounds like he’s got his priorities set, right? Not so much. Enter a new cute guy and the return of the ex-boyfriend, and the priorities become a little muddled. He’s also wavering between giving his best friend bad news that would crush her or letting her continue in her bubble of happiness. On the side he referees fights between his two younger sisters and works part time in a book store. He’s a busy guy.

Each chapter is named after a rom-com movie (so adorable), and they seemed to fit the theme of that particular chapter. Every character is flawed, and I cringed each time Harry made a bad choice (he’s obliviously self-destructive), but that’s what humans do. The supporting characters are well-drawn, but I have to give a shoutout to Foster, Harry’s friend who’s deeper than he initially appears, and his little sister Lottie, a cunning scene-stealer.

Several of the chapters are snippets of Harry’s superhero screenplay that somewhat mirror what’s going on in his life. I understand why they were added, but for me they interrupted the flow of the story.

I like the way the story wraps up and the decisions Harry makes. Sometimes self-realizations can be a shock, but they help us learn and grow. If you’re looking for a light read with beachy vibes and surfer dudes, this one delightfully checks the boxes.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robby Weber is a Florida-based writer who loves sunshine, summer, and strong-willed characters. He can normally be found as close to the ocean as possible with his dog, Arthur, and a novel from Reese’s Book Club.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author Website: http://www.robbyweber.com/

Twitter: @robbyreads

IG: @robbyreads

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/if-you-change-your-mind/9781335425904

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335425904

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/if-you-change-your-mind/9781335425904-item.html?ikwid=If+You+Change+Your+Mind&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=d9924bcb8b279cb4da06ed0c26e0afd1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-you-change-your-mind-robby-weber/1139818441?ean=9781335425904

Books A Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9781335425904?AID=10747236&PID=7310909&cjevent=59c4bf22bf5f11ec80dde16c0a82b820&cjdata=MXxOfDB8WXww

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/If-You-Change-Your-Mind/dp/133542590X/ref=sr_1_3?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&campaign=211041&creative=374001&dchild=1&keywords=If+You+Change+Your+Mind&qid=1627133811&s=books&sr=1-3

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/If-You-Change-Your-Mind-ebook/dp/B0992F6H2Q/ref=sr_1_13?dchild=1&qid=1625938908&refinements=p_27%3AWeber&s=digital-text&sr=1-13

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/if-you-change-your-mind

On Sale Date: May 3, 2022

9781335425904

Hardcover

$18.99 USD

Blaine for the Win by Robbie Couch #bookreview #YA #romanticcomedy #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

After being dumped so his boyfriend can pursue more “serious” guys, a teen boy decides to prove he can be serious, too, by running for senior class president in this joyful romp from the author of The Sky Blues.

High school junior Blaine Bowers has it all—the perfect boyfriend, a pretty sweet gig as a muralist for local Windy City businesses, a loving family, and awesome, talented friends. And he is absolutely, 100% positive that aforementioned perfect boyfriend—​senior student council president and Mr. Popular of Wicker West High School, Joey—is going to invite Blaine to spend spring break with his family in beautiful, sunny Cabo San Lucas.

Except Joey breaks up with him instead. In public. On their one-year anniversary.

Because, according to Joey, Blaine is too goofy, too flighty, too…unserious. And if Joey wants to go far in life, he needs to start dating more serious guys. Guys like Zach Chesterton.

Determined to prove that Blaine can be what Joey wants, Blaine decides to enter the running to become his successor (and beat out Joey’s new boyfriend, Zach) as senior student council president.

But is he willing to sacrifice everything he loves about himself to do it? 

I was in the mood for a lighter read, and the description of this one screamed Legally Blonde to me, a movie I was always a fan of.

Blaine has the “perfect boyfriend”, and they have a date to celebrate their one year anniversary at an exclusive restaurant – one Blaine’s family would never be able to afford. He’s sure Joey will ask him to spend spring break with his family at Cabo. Instead, he breaks up with Blaine because he’s too unserious. Turns out Joey the “perfect boyfriend” is slime.

Blaine is a sweetheart and so easy to like. He paints murals (for very little money) for local businesses to spruce up the neighborhood, adores his temporarily unemployed aunt (she’s awesome in every way) who lives with them, and longs to spend more time with his hard-working parents. He also has a couple of best friends who are there for him no matter what. When Blaine enters the running for senior student council president it’s for all the wrong reasons, but he discovers some important things about himself along the way. He may also meet a cute guy who’s more deserving of him.

Important themes of finding your path, following through on promises, and knowing your worth are addressed, as well as mental health issues high school students deal with – don’t underestimate the pressures they’re under. This novel is tons of fun, has memorable supporting characters, and is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

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

Home Improvement 2, Book Festival, Derby, and #NetGalley

How is it Monday again already? I swear last week flew by way too fast.

Our house is in chaos. Carpet will be installed in the final two rooms today. Everything from four bedrooms and a huge bonus room is taking up space in the dining room, living room, and kitchen. Bond is loving it. More places where he can hide and then jump out in a pitiful attempt to scare me when I walk by. Me? I plan on cleaning out ALL THE THINGS before they’re put back in the bedrooms. Primarily Son #1’s room. He’s a total pack rat and an ideal candidate for the show Hoarders.

The book festival I mentioned last week was this past Saturday. It was well-organized, but being the first year of the event there wasn’t a lot of traffic, and I expected that. Still, I sold some books, met new author friends and readers, and spoke at a YA panel. They asked if I’d return next year and I plan to.

If you live in KY (or you’re just a horse fan), you know Derby is coming up on Saturday! We don’t actually go to Derby in Louisville, but attend parties our friends host locally on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Son #1 will also be here (giving him an opportunity to go through ALL THE THINGS I’ll be putting in the garage before donating them).

I posted another excerpt from The Insurgent on Friday HERE. As a heads up, the Subject A36 (The Colony #1) ebook will be on sale for $0.99 sometime before the release of The Insurgent on May 19th. I’m waiting on a date from my publisher, and I’ll post it as soon as I know.

If you’re a reviewer on NetGalley, The Insurgent is available until May 30th. The link to a preapproval page is HERE. If you haven’t read Subject A36, I can provide a Mobi or epub copy.

Have a great week!

#Excerpt From The Insurgent (The Colony #2) #newrelease #dystopian #NetGalley

Happy Friday! You know what that means – It’s time for another excerpt from The Insurgent, and today’s is from Declan’s POV. Do we trust him? Should we not?

After passing more of the shallow vessels impersonating humans, I finally reached my office, swung open the door and halted.  Hairs rose on the back of my neck.

I was afraid to move a muscle. 

To even breathe. 

Casually leaning against my desk, ankles crossed, was a dangerous predator.  He watched me intently.  Muscles rippled in his forearms as he flipped a silver dagger in one hand. 

It was Asher.  But it wasn’t. 

Sure, Ash had killed before, but it was to save hostages or in self-defense.  He’d never outright murder anyone with no justification.  But I sensed the creature in front of me was on a wholly different level.  To him, killing was the same as eating or sleeping.  It was routine, a part of life, something he did every day.  And didn’t think twice about.

A36 stood before me.

Preorder your copy HERE.

If you’re a NetGalley reviewer, The Insurgent can be requested until May 30th!

The Genesis Wars (The Infinity Courts #2) by Akemi Dawn Bowman and Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson #bookreview #YA #fantasy #dystopian

I don’t usually post more than one review, but I’ve read several books that release around the same time and had to double up today.

It’s been ten months since Nami narrowly escaped the Four Courts and Ophelia’s wrath. Ten months since she was betrayed by someone she once considered a friend. Someone she poured her heart out to. And now her family here in the afterlife are gone, captured, and Nami is utterly alone.

On the run, only steps ahead of the AI forces pursuing her, and desperate to free her friends, Nami must take the allies she can find, even if she doesn’t fully trust them. And as she tests the limits of her own power, she must also reckon with the responsibility that entails.

Stakes are high as Nami navigates old enemies, unexpected allies, and an ever-changing landscape filled with dangers and twists at every turn. Along the way, she’ll learn powerful truths about who she can trust and the sacrifices that must be made in order to fight for a better, freer world for all.

While I love the concept of this series, I was on the fence about continuing with it while reading the first book. Until I hit that mind-blowing cliffhanger of an ending. This second book was exactly the same for me.

The Genesis Wars picks up ten months after the ending of The Infinity Courts. Nami is still reeling from Prince Caelan’s betrayal, and the people she considers her family in the afterlife are missing. She’s full of guilt and blames herself. She’s spent this time undergoing intense training in hopes of becoming strong enough to rescue them. The first quarter of this book moved slowly for me. Nami talks a lot about training, her family, and her need to find them – but it’s just talk for quite a while and no action.

Soon the storyline picks up, and several new characters are introduced, all of them wonderful additions and a few excellent allies (especially Kasia and Nix). While the majority of the first book is spent in the court of Victory, most of this book is set in the court of War – which means Prince Caelan’s brother Ettore (who’s quite partial to torture) gets a good amount of page time. He’s a character you love to hate.

The action scenes are tension-filled and easy to visualize, the romance a little angsty, the characters flawed and relatable, and the politics a strategic minefield. A couple of twists are sure to have you picking your jaw off the floor, and the final one ensures I’ll be requesting the next book the second I see it on NetGalley.

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

Jamal Lawson just wanted to be a part of something. As an aspiring journalist, he packs up his camera and heads to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered.

But before it even really begins, the city implements a new safety protocol…the Dome. The Dome surrounds the city, forcing those within to subscribe to a total militarized shutdown. No one can get in, and no one can get out.

Alone in a strange place, Jamal doesn’t know where to turn…until he meets hacker Marco, who knows more than he lets on, and Catherine, an AWOL basic-training-graduate, whose parents helped build the initial plans for the Dome.

As unrest inside of Baltimore grows throughout the days-long lockdown, Marco, Catherine, and Jamal take the fight directly to the chief of police. But the city is corrupt from the inside out, and it’s going to take everything they have to survive. 

Jamal is a high school student and budding journalist hoping to receive a college scholarship, and he yearns to snag the photos to secure it. He travels to Baltimore for what’s supposed to be a peaceful protest of police brutality after a Black man is murdered. He’s not there long before chaos erupts and the Dome descends over the city, trapping him inside.

The action begins almost immediately when Jamal scrambles to survive and has no choice but to place his trust in strangers. Luckily he finds a couple of valuable allies he can count on who lead him to safety – temporarily at least. After that, be prepared for some cringe-worthy violent scenes and the occasional racial slur.

I really liked the concept of the Dome, and pacing moves right along in this quick read. What I missed was becoming better acquainted with the characters. Other than Jamal, I didn’t feel like I knew them very well. Although Marco plays a prominent role, he remains a mystery for the most part, which might be why I didn’t feel the romantic connection between him and Jamal. Catherine is given less page time, but her backstory is delved into a little more, and I understood her motivations.

Survive The Dome can be a tough read at times since real-life events are interlaced with this dystopian novel, but it’s a powerful story and politically relevant. The ending makes me think a sequel is in store, and it’s something I’d be interested in reading.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  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’ve got a pretty good variety this week – a debut horror novel, an expansion on a Disney fairy tale, and a breezy summer rom-com.

With comp titles like Stranger Things and Get Out, it was impossible for me to pass this up. I just started Burn Down, Rise Up, and it’s already got me asking all kinds of questions. I think we’ll get along just fine.

Stranger Things meets Get Out in this Sapphic Horror debut from nonbinary, Afro-Latine author Vincent Tirado.

Mysterious disappearances.
An urban legend rumored to be responsible.
And one group of teens determined to save their city at any cost.

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.

I’d never seen the Disney movie Brave when I requested this book – it was the author’s name (one of my favs) that made the decision for me. To understand what was going on, I watched the movie before reading the book and spent a highly entertaining couple of hours snorting and laughing along with Merida and her vibrant family. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend it. She’s hands down my favorite Disney princess.

Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER. 

I’m getting ready to read If You Change Your Mind for a blog tour. I was in the mood for something light, and this summer rom-com set at the beach checked the boxes.

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.
 
Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.
 
But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens #bookreview #YA #fantasy #LGBTQIA #TuesdayBookBlog

Carry On meets Arthurian legend in this funny, subversive young adult fantasy about what happens after the chosen one wins the kingdom and has to get married to keep it…and to stay alive.

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

I adored Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, and I’ve been a fan of Arthurian legend since childhood so it was a no-brainer to request this book.

Arek, Matt, and the rest of their quest companions are loveable, quirky, and hilarious, but trust me when I say it’s a miracle they removed the Vile One from the throne. They’re not exactly a strategic bunch, but do share a strong found family bond. After finishing a heavy dark fantasy, this novel was a delight to read, and I snickered and laughed from beginning to end.

After Arek finds himself bound by magic to the throne of Ere in the realm of Chickpea, he learns he must marry (create a soul bond) before his eighteenth birthday – only three months away – or he dies. Figuring he’d rather entwine his soul with someone he knows rather than a stranger, he begins very awkward attempts at wooing his friends. It’s clear to their friends that Arek and Matt, BFFs since childhood, are in love with each other but both are completely oblivious to that fact. Throughout the story they teeter on the edge of revealing their true feelings for each other, but are either misunderstood, petrified, or interrupted every time. It’s both painful and highly amusing to watch.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted, feel-good, comedic read, look no further. I enjoyed every minute of this book, and although it seems to be a standalone, I’d love to see what happens next with these characters. Surely there’s another prophecy in store for them.

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

Home Improvement, #BookFestival, and #Excerpt

Happy Monday! I’ve got several things going on this week besides work. A good friend’s birthday is Wednesday, hubby and I are going out of town (more on that below), book club tomorrow night, and Thursday and Friday we’re getting carpet installed. This is the second attempt. We’ve been in our house nearly sixteen years, and after we put a contract on the house all those years ago, the builder bought the cheapest carpet on the market. Those years saw numerous sleepovers and parties with the boys and their friends, lots of soccer, football, basketball and band shoes traipsing through the house, and too many spills to count. So we waited until the sons were out of the house. Originally the carpet installation was scheduled two weeks ago. Two very nice young men showed up and started in Son #2’s room – and the carpet didn’t look quite like what I’d chosen. I figured it might be the lighting. It wasn’t. Long story short, some lady in Knoxville got half my order, and I got half of hers. It’s not the fault of the local place, but the supplier they ordered it from. I’ll let you know next week if we’re breathing the new carpet smell.

This Saturday, April 30th from 10am – 3pm I’ll be at Madison County Public Library in Richmond, KY for their first Youth Book Festival. It happens to be conveniently located about forty minutes from where Son #1 lives, so hubby and I will spend the weekend in Lexington. Books, talking to readers, plus visiting our son – woohoo!

In case you missed it, I posted an excerpt from The Insurgent on Friday HERE Considering it releases in less than a month (May 19th), I figured it was time to get some teasers out into the world. I plan on posting an excerpt every Friday (and maybe some bonus days) until it releases, so make sure to stop by! You can also still sign up for the blog tour HERE.

Have a great week!

The Insurgent (The Colony #2) Excerpt! #newrelease #YA #dystopian

With The Insurgent scheduled for release May 19th, 2022, I figured it was time to get some excerpts out into the world. I’ll post one every Friday up to release (with maybe a few bonuses along the way). This excerpt is from Asher’s point of view.

Silas sat behind the desk, wearing the smug look of victory and satisfaction I’d expected from Ackerman.  He watched me closely and evaluated my every move as if I was something he was considering purchasing.  But he already owned me.  He knew it.  I knew it.

Behind him and to the left, Declan leaned casually against a bookshelf, his legs crossed at the ankles.  He met my gaze without hesitation, brow furrowed as if trying to solve a puzzle.   

This I hadn’t expected.

The night I’d mistakenly believed I was finally fleeing the Colony with my family, Anna told me to trust Declan, so I had. He’d disguised me as a corpse by loading me on a gurney and covering me with a sheet, then wheeled me to the morgue, close to the hallway where I was to escape with Anna and Brynn. 

Yet here he stood at Silas’s side.  Literally his right-hand man.

Go HERE to preorder!

The Insurgent is also featured at Sally Cronin’s blog today HERE. Sally is a huge supporter of indie authors and also has a long list of titles to her name – make sure to check out her collection while you’re there!