Blackthorn by Terry Tyler #bookreview #postapocalyptic #dystopian #TuesdayBookBlog

The UK, year 2139

One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.

Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.

It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.

Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.

Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city?

This book is set within the world of the Project Renova series, but can be read as a standalone.  Backstory regarding what happened in the world during that series is explained so the reader can easily follow along.

Since I’ve read the Project Renova series, I adored the mention of some of those characters – but I also enjoyed meeting these new ones.  Evie is a delight – feisty, independent, and smart.  She doesn’t automatically drink the Koolaid like most of the folks in Blackthorn – she’s skeptical, asks questions, and has a good head on her shoulders.  Female readers will be enraged at the way some women are treated in Blackthorn.  It’s scary to think society could regress to that point after a postapocalyptic event.

This author has a talent for character development, and the story is primarily character-driven.  I enjoyed the changing POVs between Evie, Byron, and Hemsley, whose character arc is especially riveting.  Ryder is charismatic and personable, and perfect to carry out the role he’s been given – but you just never quite trust him.

Blacktorn is a compelling and thought-provoking read I found difficult to put down.  As I mentioned, this is a standalone book, but after finishing it, don’t be suprised if you find yourself purchasing the Project Renova series.

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

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

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.

 

#BadMoonRising: If Darkness Takes Us by Brenda Marie Smith #postapocalyptic #thriller

When’s the last time you read a post-apocalyptic thriller featuring a 70+ year-old plucky grandma as the protagonist?  I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this book, and today’s author definitely put a fresh spin on it.  A confirmed night owl, you might find her binge-watching Ancient Aliens while editing her next project.  Welcome Brenda Marie Smith!

Would you rather boogie down to Monster Mash or get your groove on to Thriller?

I’m showing my age here, but I’d have to go with Monster Mash. I’m one of the only people I know who remembers how to dance the Mashed Potato. And the Monster Mash is just the Mashed Potato with scary monster hands. So, I’d have to play to my strengths, lol.

Would you rather be locked in a haunted insane asylum or lost in the woods with a killer on the loose?

Until a few weeks ago, I would have said I’d prefer the woods so that I’d have more chances of escape and more places to hide. But then I read Marisa Noelle’s The Shadow Keepers, a great YA thriller about troubled teen girls trapped in a haunted asylum. If I could be trapped with those plucky girls, I’d feel a lot safer and I’d know they would have my back. And maybe I could also get some mental health treatment at the same time.

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

Being a Ghostbuster with a crew of comedians would be a lot of fun. But I’d have to go with X-Files, especially if I could work with the younger Fox Mulder. I need to know what truths are out there, and working on finding them as a full-time job would be very emotionally satisfying to me. It would be worth the danger and the ridicule.

What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers?

I am an extreme night owl, and I like to stay up until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. reading, editing, posting on social media, playing computer games, and watching TV, usually doing several of these things at once. My fave things to watch are Rachel Maddow, true-crime shows, and Ancient Aliens (yes, I’m weird, haha). My son and I have binge-watched every apocalypse and dystopia we can get our hands on. And I often go to bed at the same time my husband is getting up for work, the poor guy.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

I think men are much more sensitive than women often realize. They have such different ways of showing their worries and fears than we do. It’s harder to capture men’s emotions in the subtext because it’s subtle. And it’s difficult to make their dialogue sound like a man. It’s very rewarding when I get it right, though it usually takes me tons of rewriting to get there.

What are you working on now?

I’m polishing up the sequel to If Darkness Takes Us. It’s called If the Light Should Come (though that title could change a bit), and it’s from grandson Keno’s point of view. Who knew I had an eighteen-year-old young man living inside me? I can’t believe how fast that kid’s voice spewed out of my head. I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with him. I’m hoping that I sell enough copies of If Darkness that my publisher will pick up If the Light. Fingers crossed!

I’m also working on a project set in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas in the 1970’s, but I have to keep the plot hush-hush for now. Let’s just say that hippies are involved.

2018 SOUTHERN FRIED KARMA NOVEL CONTEST WINNER

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.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Takes-Brenda-Marie-Smith-ebook/dp/B07WK9BQHN/ref=sr_1_1?

https://sfkpress.com/if-darkness-takes-us/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1117598618442240/ (For my book launch event at BookPeople in Austin, November 16th, 5 p.m.)

Bio

Brenda Marie Smith studied fiction in the UCLA Writers Program. Born and raisedin Oklahoma City, she was part of the back-to-the-land movement, living off the grid in the Ozark Mountains, and then joining the Farm—an off-grid, vegan hippie community, based in Tennessee—where her sons were delivered by midwives.

 

In Austin, Texas, Brenda managed student housing co-ops near the University of Texas for fifteen years. If Darkness Takes Us is her second novel. Her first, Something Radiates, is a paranormal thriller. Brenda and her husband own and reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin. They have five grown sons, one daughter-in-law, two grandkids, and a self-assured kitty cat.

Social Media

Website: www.brendamariesmith.com
Blog: https://brendamariesmith.tumblr.com/ (where I’m running a series, What NOT to Stock for An Apocalypse, followed by What TO Stock…)
Twitter: @bsmithnovelist
Facebook: Books by Brenda Marie Smith

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

A plague, called Wicked, is pulsing through the world; and in its wake, it’s dividing the population into thirds:

The WICKED: Already infected by the droves of Singers, the ultraviolet mosquito-like insects who carry the plague, the Wicked roam the world freely. They don’t want for much—only to maim and dismember you. But don’t worry: They always ask politely first.

The TRUE: The True live in contained, isolated communities. They’re the lucky ones; they found safety from the Singers. And while the threat of the Wicked may not be eliminated, for the True, the threat has certainly been contained…

The VEXED: The Vexed are the truly fortunate ones—they survived the sting of the Singers, leaving them immune. But they’re far from safe. The Vexed hold the key to a cure, and there are those who will do anything to get it.

I’m always up for a post-apocalyptic plague story.  I’ve read several, but this novel puts a fresh spin on the typical version.

Some reviews have referred to the Wicked as zombies.  I didn’t see them that way at all.  They’re almost childlike, but retain most of their memories and are able to function and take care of themselves.  It’s unnerving, because it can be difficult to tell they’re Wicked.  They’re lethal and, given the chance, will kill you in spectacular ways.  However, as with children, their attention can usually be diverted – at least for a little while.  Maybe enough time to get to safety.  Maybe not.  Don’t underestimate them.

There’s a clever plot twist toward the end.  It’s something I suspected early on, but that didn’t make it any less ingenious, and it gives the whole story a new perspective.

How We Became Wicked isn’t just a post-apocalyptic story, it’s also about the sacrifices we make to save our loved ones.  And how some people can so easily sacrifice others to save themselves.  The ending leaves me to believe there may be a sequel.  If so, I’ll definitely be looking for it.  This novel is scheduled for release July 23, 2019.

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