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

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!