#BlogTour Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine #bookreview #dystopian #apocalyptic #TuesdayBookBlog

In an endless winter, she carries seeds of hope

Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented extreme winter.

With grow lights stashed in her truck and a pouch of precious seeds, she begins a journey, determined to start over away from Appalachian Ohio. But the icy roads and strangers hidden in the hills are treacherous. After a harrowing encounter with a violent cult, Wylodine and her small group of exiles become a target for its volatile leader. Because she has the most valuable skill in the climate chaos: she can make things grow.

Urgent and poignant, Road Out of Winter is a glimpse of an all-too-possible near future, with a chosen family forged in the face of dystopian collapse. With the gripping suspense of The Road and the lyricism of Station Eleven, Stine’s vision is of a changing world where an unexpected hero searches for a place hope might take root.

Obviously, this is an unusual book description – which is one of the reasons I requested it.  The other is that I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and was curious to see how a story like this would play out in that area.

Wylodine is a wonderful protagonist – strong, determined, scarred, and soft-hearted.  If you find yourself in an apocalyptic-type of event, you could do worse than hooking your wagon to hers.  Mostly shunned by the community because of her family business, then being practically abandoned by her mother, with the exception of one good friend, she’s alone when everything starts to go off the rails in her town.  In order to survive, going it alone isn’t the best option right now, and she soon comes across people she learns to trust and depend on.  Finding your people is a strong theme in this story – like-minded folks who do what they can to form a community and care for each other.  Tragedy can bring out the best in people, but it also draws power-hungry individuals on the wrong side of the morality scale, and Wil and friends run across some of the worst mankind has to offer.

The abrupt ending took me by surprise – I even wondered if pages were missing – so a sequel may be a possibility.

To say I enjoyed such a dark, heart-breaking, grim story sounds odd, but Road Out of Winter is also well-written, compelling, and hopeful – it would be an excellent book club selection.

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

ALISON STINE lives in the rural Appalachian foothills. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, The Guardian, and many others. She is a contributing editor with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 
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Amazon
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Social Links:

Author Website
Twitter: @AlisonStine
Instagram: @AliStineWrites
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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

The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi #bookreview

First the birds disappeared.27405533
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .

They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.

After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.

Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .Goodreads.com

I’m a fan of apocalyptic novels, and that probably started with Stephen King’s The Stand, so the book description and the fact that it’s labeled as horror – along with the fantastic cover – made me want to read this novel.  And it didn’t disappoint.

As a parent, I could identify with David’s need and overpowering urgency to protect his daughter and attempts to shelter her from the horrors around them; however, David is definitely not a person I’d like to be on the run with.  He makes so many mistakes with regards to their whereabouts and wastes money on such frivolous things, that I was cringing and shaking my head in several spots.  Ellie is intuitive, mature, and wise beyond her years and makes several thought-provoking points regarding humanity and responsibility.

I liked the way the author gradually reveals the backstory, alternating between past and present in several chapters.  There are many macabre visuals – people wearing Halloween and paper plate masks, the hallucinations and physical symptoms the infected people experience.  And some of the characters – the ice cream man and that weird backroads family in Kentucky – make for some morbidly suspenseful scenes.

Personally, I would have liked to learn more about Ellie, but with the ending, I have to wonder if the author is considering a sequel.  If so, I’d love to read it.

The Night Parade isn’t a gory-type of horror novel – it’s a story with a dark tone that inspires feelings of hopelessness and anxiety in the reader and I found it difficult to put it down.  This book is scheduled for publication July 26, 2016.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

The Doomsday Chronicles (The Future Chronicles) – Anthology #TuesdayBookBlog #scifi #bookreviews

Doomsday. The end of the world as we know it. Some say it will end in fire, some say in29613064 ice. Some say it will end with a bang, some with a whimper.

In this title in the acclaimed Future Chronicles series of speculative fiction anthologies created by award-winning author Samuel Peralta, fifteen authors confront the Apocalypse, the end of days, the undiscovered country from which no traveler returns.

The Doomsday Chronicles features stories by Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy award-winning and bestselling authors Ken Liu (the Dandelion Dynasty series), Seanan McGuire (the InCryptid series), plus thirteen more of today’s top authors in speculative and science fiction. – Goodreads.com

Wow – just wow.  So many fascinating stories in one book.  So many different takes on the doomsday theme.  This is a sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic fan’s dream wrapped up with a big bow on top – just waiting to be unwrapped.  Some were delightfully dark and creepy, others heart-wrenching or even humorous, but a few of my favs were:

Lockdown by Saul Tanpepper:  I’ll never be caught without hand sanitizer again.  You just know how this story will end, but that didn’t keep me from telling these people not to open the doors.  Hooked me from the first page.

Remembering Hannah by K.J. Colt:  This bittersweet tale pulls at the heartstrings a little, but with as good an ending as could be expected.  It’s disturbing to know that the very real disease of Alzheimer’s has affected so many and could be in any of our futures.

The Peralta Protocol by Daniel Arthur Smith:  No babies born in the past ten years?  Just thinking about the impact that would have on society makes my head spin.  Action-packed with a haunting ending.

The Last Siege of Olympus by Therin Knite:  Mysterious and creative, this one contains shades of the movie Inception and the premise is gradually revealed.  A story I was still thinking about hours after I finished it.

I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Silver by Chris Wooding

20782836The final exam is survival.

Paul is the new kid at Mortingham Boarding Academy, and he has a dark secret.
Caitlyn admires Paul from afar and resents that he only has eyes for Erika.
Erika thinks that she and Caitlyn are best friends, but she’s wrong.
Adam is a bully with a major chip on his shoulder.
Mark is outgrowing his old friends but doesn’t know how to make new ones.

In a few short hours, none of this will matter. Without warning, a horrifying infection will spread across the school grounds, and a group of students with little in common will find themselves barricaded in a classroom, fighting for their lives. Some will live. Some will die. And then it will get even worse.

Fast-paced and frightening, Silver is a tale set on the fringes of science and horror – a story about the struggle to survive in the face of impossible odds. – Goodreads.com

This YA apocalyptic/horror/sci-fi was definitely fast-paced and took place over less than 24 hours.  Just don’t get too attached to the characters.  As stated above, some will live and some will die.

The setting, a secluded boarding school, was perfect for this story.  Since there were more students than adults, some of the older kids were shoved into leadership roles whether they wanted them or not.  With the boarding school being so secluded, the characters were mostly cut off from any help beyond their school ground walls and had to rely on each other.

Initially, I was disappointed in the stereotypical cast of teenage characters – angst-ridden guy, princess, genius nerd, bully, jealous best friend – but I have to admit, the author went a step further and let the reader see inside the character’s minds to gain a better understanding of them and see how they developed by the end of the story.

The explanation for the origin of the infection seemed a little thin, but there were definitely some tense moments in the story and it held my attention.  Although I’m not sure if there is a planned sequel to this novel, the ending left it wide open to continue the story.

I would recommend this quick read for people who enjoy sci-fi/apocalyptic books with more emphasis on action.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.