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.

If Darkness Takes Us by Brenda Marie Smith #postapocalyptic #thriller #bookreview

IN SUBURBAN AUSTIN, TEXAS, BEA CRENSHAW SECRETLY PREPARES FOR THE APOCALYPSE. But when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents do not return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger.

If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic fiction with a focus on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart. 

I’ve read several post-apocalyptic novels.  Sure, many of them are sad and cautionary, but I’m a sucker for them.  And this one takes a fresh direction.

When’s the last time you read a novel which features an over 70-year-old grandma as the protagonist?  After a devastating EMP changes life as they know it, Bea, who has health issues, is thrust into the role of primary caretaker of her four grandchildren.  She’s a take charge, no-nonsense kind of woman who comes off as a little controlling at times, but her heart is in the right place.  I think she surprises herself with her inner strength.

It’s obvious the author did her research into the ramifications of EMPs and necessities of survival.  The characters find themselves in situations that are perilous, heartbreaking, life-altering, and even hopeful, but all are easily plausible.  You may even find yourself thinking about creating a stash of supplies – maybe not to the same extent as Bea, but it will cross your mind.

If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic story with a determined, relatable protagonist and a new spin, If Darkness Takes Us will satisfy that craving.

 

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White #bookreview #YA #fantasy

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

I’ve always had a fascination with anything Camelot since seeing the movie Excaliber years ago, so when I saw this retelling of Guinevere, not to mention the beautiful cover, I jumped to request it from NetGalley.

If you’re not familiar with the Arthurian legend, don’t let it stop you from reading this book.  Prior knowledge isn’t required.  I liked the idea of Guinevere being King Arthur’s protector instead of how she’s traditionally portrayed.  The problem is, while not giving away spoilers, the book description is a bit misleading.  She’s also unsure of exactly who or what the threat is to Arthur, so Guinevere spends a good portion of the book trying to suss it out.  And not much happens during that time.

That being said, the last 15-20% of the book moves pretty quickly, while still leaving most of the action for book two.  By the end, the threat is identified, and there are a couple of twists – one of which most readers will figure out early on, and the other I guessed half of.  There’s still an unrevealed mystery involving Guinevere and Merlin, but that’s something for later books, also.  I found King Arthur’s character the most intriguing, having to shoulder the responsibility of a kingdom at such a young age and put everyone else’s needs and interests ahead of his own.

If you’re a Camelot fan, it’s all here along with Guinevere – Excaliber, King Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, the Lady of the Lake – but personally, I’d hoped for a queen that didn’t require saving so many times.  Judging by other reviews, I’m in the minority on this one.  Still, the story held my interest.

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

 

Vacation and Holidays

Once again, I’m playing catchup on blogs and comments.  Actually, I’m not sure I ever caught up after Bad Moon Rising.  Anyhoo, it was for a good reason.  Hubby and I took a long weekend and traveled to Marathon, FL and Key West!  The weather was perfect – and if you knew our history with weather and vacations is a miracle in itself (hurricane during a cruise, a week in Hawaii with temps in the 40s).

We stayed in a new resort in Marathon (it was gorgeous), then drove down to Key West on for the afternoon on Monday.  With it being a weekday, it wasn’t too crowded, and only one cruise ship was docked.  Yes, we took a pic at the southernmost tip of the US.  Gorgeous views of the ocean.  I don’t have the words to describe the many shades of blues and greens.  Just look at that gorgeous sunset in the first pic.  The second is a little blurry, but you can barely make out the boats in the marina decorated with Christmas lights.  The third is the view from our hotel room the one night we spent in Miami before flying out.

Yes, I also did some reading – finished one book and only have 100 pages or so on another.  And remember when I said the weather was perfect?  It was also a little humid, and I forgot to pack my hair defrizzer.  This is live footage of how I looked at the beach for most of the trip.

This will be my last post of the year.  We’ll have both boys home for a few days, so I’m excited about that.  The youngest will be traveling to Dallas with his university’s marching band for a bowl game, so we’ve had to make some schedule accomodations, but the four of us will be seeing The Rise of Skywalker on Christmas Eve and then having dinner with friends who are really more like family.  Wishing all of you peaceful holidays spent with family and friends!