TRUEL1F3 (LIF3L1KE #3) by Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Best friends have become enemies. Lovers have become strangers. And deciding whose side you’re on could be the difference between life and death. For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves–and each other–was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war–this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis, loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace. In the end, violent clashes and heartbreaking choices reveal the true heroes . . . and they may not be who you think they are.

With it’s gritty, Mad Max-like world and highly charismatic characters (Lemon Fresh is so brilliful!), this has become one of my favorite YA sci-fi series.  In this final book, I was excited, yet hesitant to read it because I was afraid of what Kristoff might do to some of my favorite characters.  In several scenes, I nearly halfway covered my eyes.

Since it’s been about a year between books, I really appreciated the recap at the beginning of this novel.  It’s kind of hard to review the final book of a series without spoilers, so this will be brief.  Emotions were all over the map with this one – heart-gushing moments followed by roller coaster plunges into wildly intense action for pages.  Epic battles, cruel blindsides, devious villains with world-ending plans – I wondered if my heart could take it.  The ending satisfied me, with the exception of the fate of one character.  My feelings for this character remained conflicted for most of the series, and I’m not sure they got what they deserved.  So I guess it makes sense that I’ll probably remain undecided.

Still, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this intense, complex series with fabulous characters.  It’s one I’d highly recommend to sci-fi fans.

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

Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Eden, Eli, Marwan, and Ilanka barely know each other beyond having a class or two together. But when they are all summoned via messaging app to an empty classroom after school, they find a small cube sitting on a desk. Its sides light up with rules for them:

Do not tell anyone about the device. Never leave the device unattended.
And then, Take me with you . . . or else.

At first they think it’s some kind of prank or a social experiment orchestrated by the school administration. Still, they follow its instructions until the newly-formed group starts to splinter. Nobody has time for these games–their lives are complicated enough. But the device seems increasingly invested in the private details of their lives. And disobeying its rules has scary–even life-threatening–consequences . . . 

This is my third book by this author, and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.

Several reviewers mentioned they were under the impression this was more of a mystery/thriller, but it’s absolutely a sci-fi/thriller – totally my kind of book.  I flew through it in two days.  These four, very relatable teen characters have distinctive personalities, and each is coping with their own complicated problems.  They come from diverse backgrounds and situations, so why they’re thrown together is a mystery to them.  The way they learn in such a short time to depend on each other and offer support was a strong point for me.

And the device!  It’s multi-faceted, and over the course of the story is mysterious, helpful, intrusive, and insidious.  I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers, but my need to know what was going on made it a struggle to close this book.  Although the reveal is satisfying and even jarring, I did feel as if the problems the characters faced in their personal lives were wrapped up with a pretty large bow at the end, but I seem to be in the minority on that opinion.

This is a completely engaging read with unnerving sci-fi aspects and one I recommend.  I’ll be looking for more books by this author in the future.

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

 

Hard Wired by Len Vlahos #bookreview #scifi #AI #TuesdayBookBlog

From Morris finalist Len Vlahos comes a contemporary sci-fi story about a boy who might not be human—for fans of Westworld and Black Mirror.

Quinn thinks he’s a normal boy with an average life. That is, until he finds a trail of clues the father he barely knew left behind.

After Quinn unravels his father’s puzzles, he “wakes up” … and realizes his world was nothing more than a virtual construct. In reality, he’s the first fully-aware A.I. in the world, part of an experiment run by a team of scientists—including the man he thought was his father.

As the scientists continue to study him, Quinn’s new existence becomes a waking nightmare. Determined to control his own destiny, he finds allies in other teens—including crush Shea—and plots his escape. But what does true freedom look like when you’re not human?

Acclaimed Morris Award finalist Len Vlahos pens a high-stakes contemporary-rooted sci-fi that asks big questions about humanity. 

I’ve read several books and watched many movies about artificial intelligence, so there’s no way I could pass this up on NetGalley.

During the first few chapters, Quinn charmed me.  He’s a geeky guy desperately crushing on a pretty girl in his class and spends most of his free time playing a game probably similar to D&D.  It initially read more like a middle grade book to me – but not for long.  Once Quinn discovers what he is, all sorts of thought-provoking questions come into play.  Does he have freedom of choice?  What are his rights?  Does he have any?  A lot of existentialism at play.

Although Quinn thinks (mostly) like a human, he’s an AI with human-like qualities, and your heart goes out to him.  He possesses a dry and sometimes dark sense of humor, and watching him learn to navigate friendships and dating parallels most teens’ experiences at that age.  While dealing with these relationships, he also has to come to terms with what he is and how he was created.  The author did a wonderful job portraying character reactions to Quinn – amazement, suspicion, and delight, among others.  Many considered him a friend.

Throughout the story, Quinn feels emotions like any other human, so I was puzzled at how easily he accepted what he was and handled the loss of people in his life.  It didn’t seem consistent.  He also mentions more than once that he’s the most intelligent being on Earth, but then misses some mightly big clues toward the end of the book.

Hard Wired inspires a wide range of emotions and questions, and you’ll find yourself emphathizing with Quinn quite easily.  Sci-fi fans can fall easily into this book and spend a few thought-provoking hours.

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

 

 

The Disasters by M.K. England #bookreview #scifi #YA

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

I’m a sucker for a diverse group of unlikely heroes, and when they’re thrown into space it’s a nearly irresistible read.

I listened to this audiobook during a long drive, and for the most part, it held my interest.  Nax’s voice is a highlight of the book, and his internal monologues had me laughing several times.  Being in the middle of a bi-love triangle makes for some pretty awkward moments for him.  The rest of the crew is also engaging.  Tossing them into a nearly immediate life or death situation inspires pretty quick bonding, and trust soon follows.

From the tagline, I expected more humorous moments.  For me, Nax joining up with other “washouts” indicates they’re misfits or also have a history of making poor life decisions, but all these characters are highly skilled and close to prodigies.  The focus of the story slants more toward political conspiracies and the group trying to save the day – nothing wrong wrong with that, but the description is a little misleading.

The Disasters has some great characterization and lots of action, but the pace moves a little slow for my taste.  Still, a solid read.

 

The Scout: Dark Crossings by D.L. Cross #bookreview #scifi #aliens

The aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.

J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.

And he’s found the enemy.

J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.

I’ve always been a fan of alien stories, and The Gate by this author was a five star read for me.  When I learned of this short story set within that world, I was anxious to get my hands on it while waiting for book two of the Astral Conspiracy series.

First, let me say The Scout stands on its own and prior knowledge of The Gate isn’t required; however, this novella is enough of a taste to whet your appetite and make you curious about the alien invasion taking place in that book.  Although a quick read, the author did a fantastic job at making me care about J.  I felt his loneliness and sense of betrayal from both his own people and the aliens.  By the end, I wanted to continue with his story – but maybe that will be an option in the future.  A reader can hope.  Now, I’ll have to return to impatiently awaiting book two of the Astral Conspiracy.

 

Girls With Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

With the first book in the series being a 5 star read for me last year, I was anxious to see where the second book took these girls.

I was glad to see Mena and the girls taking control of their own lives and getting out into the world.  Although they receive assistance from someone, believe me – they’ve got an uphill battle in trying to locate the investor.  Initially, I thought the actions of the men they encounter – especially at the private school – to be over the top and just too much, but the reasons for this soon became clear.  And it’s infuriating.  Female readers will definitely feel a rise in their blood pressure.  Other than Jackson and Quentin, the nice guys in this story are few and far between.

Something I missed, and this is because I’m a sci-fi geek, is more about how the girls were created.  A little more background is revealed, but I’d love to delve more into that aspect.  Pacing was a bit off for me with a big lull in the middle, but the last 20% really picks up.  By the end, Mena and the girls seems to be caught between one extreme and another.

As with the first book, this one also offers some exciting twists and unexpected turns, and I’ll absolutely be reading the next book in the series.

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

 

Subject A36 Release Day! #YA #scifi #NewRelease #dystopian

It’s finally here – Subject A36 has been released into the world!  The blog tour continues through tomorrow (schedule below) – make sure to register for the giveaway.  Thanks to all of you who have shared on your social media, commented on blogs, and dropped by to read excerpts and get to know my characters – I appreciate each and every one of you.  It takes a village, and I’d send all of you Valentine’s treats if I could.

I’ll leave you with buy links and one more pic of Asher and his team.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Black Rose Writing

February 13th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
Rea’s Reads (Review) https://reasreads.wordpress.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

February 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
Jaunts & Haunts (Review) https://jonathanpongratz.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Images From #SubjectA36 #NewRelease #YA #scifi

Welcome to the last week of meeting the characters and learning more about the world of Subject A36 – the book drops next Thursday!  I mentioned on my FB page I’m excited, but also nervous.  It’s like raising a child, hoping you prepared him for the cold, hard world, and then shoving him out the door with a wish and a prayer that people will be kind to him.

On to meeting our last character.

Meet Oz.  He hasn’t had an easy life.  At the age of ten, he lost his younger twin brothers to The Colony and his parents soon after.  While on his own, he sustained burns in a house fire that left scars on parts of his face and neck.  He keeps his hair long enough to pull over the scars when he’s feeling self-conscious.  Oz fights hard to rescue all hostages, but after losing his brothers, the children hold a special place in his heart.  When they’re brought back to the compound after a rescue, you’ll find Oz telling them stories or giving pony rides on his back.  Kids are occasionally frightened of his disfigurement, but Oz always wins them over.

The house below him is where Asher lived with his family in his early years.  To the left is Oz hanging out at the compound.  For reasons I can’t reveal, he’s got a lot on his mind.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little about my characters over the past several weeks – I know I like talking about them, lol.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

 

Images from #SubjectA36 (Colony Series #1) #YA #scifi #newrelease

This week has been a whirlwind – I’d swear it was just Monday.  But now it’s Friday (yay!) and it’s been a productive week, so I can’t complain.  Let’s meet some more characters.

In the upper right corner, we have Paige.  She’s a bit of a mystery to the other Insurgents, even after living and fighting alongside them for the past two years.  Paige is friendly to everyone, but doesn’t share much about her life.  That’s fine with Asher.  He chose her for his Insurgent team because she’s accurate and deadly in the field, and he trusts her with his life.  When Paige isn’t on Asher’s Alpha team missions, you’ll find her serving as backup on a Beta team.  She’s driven to rescue hostages.

Beneath Paige is Subject A36 – who will remain a mystery.

Beside A36 is Noah.  He’s Asher’s best friend, the brother of Brynn, and Controller over his Insurgent sector.  This role requires him to think strategically, plan rescue missions, and get the hostages to safe houses.  Their safety, along with the safety of his people, is his primary concern.  Yes, he’s young, but his father trained and prepared him for this position from a young age.  An incredible amount of responsibility rests on his shoulders, and Noah’s greatest fear is making the wrong decision and disappointing his father.

Subject A36 releases February 13th – click on the cover in the sidebar to preorder!

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.

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