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

Pax Novis (The Pax Archives #1) by Erica Cameron #YA #scifi #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

Cira Antares is deeply loyal to two things: Pax Novis—the cargo ship captained by her mother that transports supplies across war-torn star systems—and her personal mission to save war orphans. But hiding them as stowaways on the ship is illegal, and if any of them were found, not even her mother could protect Cira from the consequences.

She has successfully kept her secret…until supplies start to go missing. Food. Clothing. Tools. All signs point to her stowaways, but they wouldn’t do anything to risk exposing themselves—or her. Especially not Riston, the oldest of the group and someone Cira has grown close to. Someone she might even be falling in love with…

And petty thefts are only the beginning—whole ships are disappearing now.

Not caught in a firefight. Not destroyed by another planet. Vanishing. Without a trace.

And Pax Novis is next.

Ships missing in space?  Stowaways?  Yes, please.  And that cover?  A must read.

With a third gender pronoun set created by the author and incorporated into the story and several LGBTQ characters, the representation is outstanding.  Admittedly, I stumbled over the new terminology (ze, zem, zir) early in the book, but before long, I barely noticed it.

The world-building is captivating.  In the midst of war, I loved the idea of a fleet of ships delivering supplies to those in need.  Characterization is also strong with both main and supporting characters.  Riston and Cira both have enormous compassion for the war orphans and big hearts that sometimes cloud their judgement.  And those stowaway war orphans?  The chosen family they create with Riston and the small amount of security they feel on Pax Novis after enduring such horrific circumstances in their short lives is sweet and moving.  You’ll feel like they’re part of your own family by the end of the book.

Pacing is somewhat sluggish until around the 40% mark, but then it rarely slows.  My heart was racing along with the characters’ during the last 20% or so.  The next book is absolutely going on my TBR.

If you’re looking for a thrilling sci-fi mystery with wonderful representation and scenes guaranteed get your pulse racing, Pax Novis checks all those boxes.

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

*I’m traveling and won’t be able to get to comments until tomorrow afternoon.*

ARC #Giveaway Subject A36 (The Colony Series #1) #YA #scifi #fantasy

Subject A36 won’t be officially released until February 13th, 2020, but this is your chance to win an ARC before publication!

It’s not hard to enter.  All you need to do is:
1.  Tell me your favorite holiday movie (any holiday) in the comments below.
2.  Add Subject A36 to your Goodreads list HERE.

Entries are open until midnight Wednesday, December 11th, and the winner will be chosen at random and announced Friday, December 13th.  The giveaway will also run on my Facebook page and Instagram @tpolen6.  Good luck!

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.

The Gate (Astral Conspiracy #1) by D.L. Cross #bookreview #scifi #aliens #TuesdayBookBlog

He lost his job. He lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Fans of action, intrigue, and aliens will love The Gate, the first book in the Astral Conspiracy series. 

Being a sci-fi fan, especially of The X-Files, this book immediately appealed to me.  And look at that striking cover!  It was a must read.

Professor Landon Thorne is having a seriously crappy day after losing his job, his girlfriend, and then being kidnapped and held at gunpoint multiple times.  On the other hand, his theories about aliens, previously panned by experts in the field, may be proven right.  So there’s that.

With double crosses, questionable motivations, and government coverups, it’s hard to know who to trust or what to believe.  Some of the characters are so unlikeable (I’m looking at you, Nadia), you yearn for them to be put in their place.  Or sent to the aliens as a welcoming committee to determine if their intentions are naughty or nice in hopes of sparing the more likeable characters.

I enjoyed the multiple viewpoints and witty dialogue, and the conversations between Tasha and Father Tomas are exceptionally thought-provoking from a religious aspect.

With a mix of archeology, ancient civilizations, and the threat of invasion, The Gate is an intriguing, action-packed read.  I can’t wait for the next book.  Bring on the aliens!

The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light the Abyss#1) by London Shah #bookreview #YA #scifi

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever. 

The totally stunning cover and concept of humans living at the bottom of the ocean made this a must read for me.

From the watercraft and underwater homes to the sea creatures, the world-building is magnificent.  When Leyla pilots her submersible around London landmarks and during the thrilling marathon, the imagery is outstanding.  And the conflict!  One roadblock after another is thrown into the mix, and nothing comes easy in her quest to find her father.  She’s a brave and determined protagonist, but makes some questionable decisions at times before thinking things through.  Ari is a man of mystery and caution, but a perfect balance to Leyla’s overly trusting nature.  Leila’s world is brimming with mystery and political undercurrents, and she’s forced to question many of her beliefs and things she’s been told.  And that cliffhanger will steal your breath away!

Although the pacing wavers here and there, I enjoyed this highly creative, underwater adventure and will be anxiously anticipating the next book in the series.  Add this one 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.

 

#BadMoonRising: The Gate (Astral Conspiracy #1) by D.L. Cross #sciencefiction #aliens

If you love the idea of an Indiana Jones-like character caught up in the midst of an alien invasion, add The Gate to your TBR.  I  just finished it a few weeks ago, and I’m chomping at the bit for the next book in the series.  This author would choose to join the Ghostbusters over the X-Files team, and I agree wholeheartedly with her logic.  Welcome Staci Troilo (writing as D.L. Cross)!

Would you rather walk through a haunted graveyard at midnight or spend the night in a haunted, abandoned house?

I’d definitely prefer the graveyard. Go ahead and call me weird (it wouldn’t be the first time—or the last), but when I was a kid, I used to walk up to the cemetery and hang out there. The setting (surrounded by woods with lots of trees spaced throughout) was beautiful, and I found it peaceful. And I got to visit departed family members. (No, I don’t think that’s the only place to talk to the dead, but I do feel close to them when I’m at their gravesites.) Besides, it’s got to be easier to run from a ghost across open land than up rickety stairs in a dilapidated house, right? (And don’t get me started on how stupid people are to run UP steps when they’re being chased.)

Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? 

As much as I love wolves, I’m going to have to go with vampire. They’re in control of when they turn, they have no health issues, and they never get old. (I feel every one of my years right now, and several more I haven’t earned yet!) I’m not even convinced daylight would be a problem, as there are stories where it’s not (Vampire Diaries rings, The Originals, the ridiculous sparkly vampires…).

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

I have to go with Ghostbusters on this one. As much as I love sci-fi and the X-Files, the Ghostbusters have more fun. (And if it’s the reboot—which I hated—I’d get to work with Chris Hemsworth, so… not really a question at that point, is it?)

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in the same setting, where would you choose?

Absolutely Italy. There’s so much history there (which factors into many of my stories) and I’ve always wanted to go. The food, the culture, the scenery, extended family… what’s not to love? It wasn’t even a question I needed to ponder.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve got several works in various stages. It’s kind of daunting. I never used to work on more than one project at a time. Now, I have several going at once. And I like it that way. It keeps me from getting bored.

Next year, under pen names, I have 13 works scheduled for publication. They’re currently under various stages of completion, from barely-a-concept all the way through formatted-and-ready-for-publication. I’m also doing (or at least trying) NaNo this year, and if all goes well, I’ll have at least one title to publish as Staci Troilo in 2020.

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

Here’s an odd twist for you—I think writing men is easier than writing women. This is a time when Ivory Tower Princesses don’t need Knights in Shining Armor. Today’s heroine needs to don her own shield, wield her own weapon, and not only save herself, but save the man and everybody else. She’s a difficult character to write. Too soft, readers call her TDTL or a simpering b!#@%. Too hard, readers complain she’s cold and unrelatable. I think achieving the right balance in a female character is much more difficult than writing a well-developed male character.

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs — he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand — by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Purchase Link

Universal Purchase Link

Bio

Staci Troilo writes because she has hundreds of stories in her head. She publishes because people told her she should share them. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.

 

Social Media 

Web | Blog | Amazon Page | BookBub | Goodreads | TwitterOther Social Media Links

Recursion by Blake Crouch #bookreview #scifi #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them? 

I’ve read several of Blake Crouch’s books – his Wayward Pines series is bizarre, Dark Matter mind-blowing – and he’s never let me down.  With this book, Crouch has made my auto-buy list.

Trippy, mind-bending, thought-provoking – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Recursion starts with a basic idea, and then it branches out from there, with tendrils weaving in several directions.  This isn’t a book to read if you’re expecting several interruptions – you’ll want to give 100% of your attention to it, and you’ll need every bit of brain capacity to keep up with this fast-paced enigma.

I really can’t say much about it – you’ll never read spoilers in my reviews – but if you’re a sci-fi thriller fan, this is a must-read.  It’s taken me four days after finishing the book to write the review, because I’ve been turning the story over in my mind.  I can’t recommend Recursion enough – one my best reads in the past few years.

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