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SciFi Book Review: Children of Refuge

Children of Refuge by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Synopsis:
It’s been barely a day since Edwy left Fredtown to be with his parents and, already, he is being sent away. He’s smuggled off to boarding school in Refuge City, where he will be with his brother and sister, who don’t even like him very much. The boarding school is nothing like the school that he knew, there’s no one around looking up to him now, and he’s still not allowed to ask questions!

Alone and confused, Edwy seeks out other children brought back from Fredtown and soon discovers that Rosi and the others—still stuck in the Cursed Town—might be in danger. Can Edwy find his way back to his friends before it’s too late?

Review:
While Rosi was trying to escape their home city, Edwy is taken to Refuge City to live and study with his brother and sister. Refuge City is a lot different from Fredtown and the town where his parents live. But his siblings still wont answer Edwy’s questions about what’s going on. And worst of all, Edwy has no idea what has happened to Rosi.

Children of Refuge is the second installment in the Children of Exile series. The first novel was told in Rosi’s voice, but this second is told from Edwys’ point of view. Edwy was the trouble maker of Fredtown, but when faced with moral dilemmas, he still falls back on what he was taught from the Freds – and the difference of right versus wrong. Edwys turns out to be a more likable and relatable boy than I thought he would. While he has a bit of a rebellious streak (at least when it came to the Freds), he still wants to do what’s right and has a strong sense of loyalty. This sequel is another fast-paced, suspenseful read. We learn a bit more about what happened in the past. And the pulse-pounding finale doesn’t disappoint. The next in the series can’t come soon enough.

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Ann Aguirre – LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS Blog Tour

Author Ann Aguirre joins SciFiChick today to talk about strong female characters and to promote her latest release – Like Never and Always! And keep reading below for a chance to win a copy of the book!

You have so many strong female leads, can you tell me about writing/creating strong female characters?

I can’t imagine writing women any other way. All women are strong, even if their strength isn’t apparent to others. I’ve written multiple heroines who are physically fit and capable of fighting, but that’s not the only type of strength that matters. Clever women who outthink their enemies are fantastic, too.

Growing up, I read fiction written by authors who treated their female characters as damsels in distress or as prizes to be won. I didn’t like seeing women regarded that way, especially in fantasy and science fiction. When I was a little girl, I can remember reading The Hobbit at the hospital when one of my relatives was sick. Even then, I recall wondering, Where are all the women? In a story of such grand scope, why are there no female characters at all?

Tolkien wasn’t the only writer who erased women from his stories. Many of the epic fantasies I read followed suit, and if there was a woman mixed in, she almost always served as a reward for the hero or a love interest only. Rarely did I find female characters who had their goals, who lived with agency, and might even part ways with the hero to pursue her own ends.

I was so excited when I found Anne McCaffrey, Ursula LeGuin, and Tanith Lee. They were the first female SFF writers that I fell in love with, and I’d say they’re still shaping my work to this day. Later, I read greats like Kate Elliott, Barbara Hambly, Robin McKinley, and a bit later, Sharon Shinn. Those were the books I had been missing as a pre-teen, ones that told me that women didn’t have to be an accessory—that they could have their own adventures.

Growing up, I didn’t read a lot of science fiction because I couldn’t find the sort I wanted to read. I cared more about the people than the technology, and too often, men stole the spotlight and women didn’t get enough page time for my tastes, so more often, I watched my science fiction, both on television and the big screen. Eventually, I would write the sort of science fiction that I wanted to read, though I’m taking a bit of a break from that right now.

So naturally, when I started writing for teens, I wanted to continue what I’d started in speculative fiction, giving girls fierce heroines to root for and thrilling stories they could experience vicariously. In Like Never and Always, I set up a strange scenario, and it’s definitely a departure in some ways because while there’s definitely bad guys in the story, there’s no big war to fight. It’s dark and deep story, kind of down the rabbit hole, where the farther down you go, the stranger it all gets. I’d call it a thriller with supernatural elements, but that’s also dependent on whether you believe the body switch has actually occurred. I was so thrilled when Kate Elliott blurbed this book! Her work is iconic and brilliant, so it’s amazing to me that my words could be validate by someone who lit the path for me in terms of writing strong women.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog! I welcome all questions and comments.

Continue reading Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Ann Aguirre – LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS Blog Tour

Book Giveaway: The Darkest Legacy

Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, I have an extra finished copy of The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 3. I’ll draw a name on August 4, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: The Darkest Legacy

Fantasy Book Review: City of Bastards

City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Synopsis:
Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend, Zell, and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city’s prestigious University.

Then Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate-a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she’s suggesting is impossible . . . and treasonous.

But Tilla can’t-won’t-let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.

Review:
City of Bastards is the second installment in the Royal Bastards series. Tilla, Lyriana, and Zell are safe in Lightspire at the University. But Tilla doesn’t have many other friends other than her roommate, who is suddenly murdered – though no one seems to believe her. There is a conspiracy brewing, and Tilla is determined uncover the answers.

This sequel is a fast-paced mystery, with an impressive, complex plot. The characters are engaging; and Tilla is especially relatable. The story is full of suspense, drama, and romance. And I enjoyed this even more than the first in the series. I love the unique spin on the unlikely heroes as well ask the magic aspect. This is a surprising and exciting young adult, fantasy series that ends too soon. I’ll be impatiently waiting for the next installment.

SciFi Book Review: Defy the Worlds

Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Synopsis:
An outcast from her home – Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people… if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate – On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them… or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

Review:
Noemi has returned to Genesis and tries getting back to her old life. But a deadly virus has begun to spread, and Noemi is entrusted to travel to Earth to negotiate for the cure. Meanwhile, Mansfield decides to capture Noemi in order to get Abel to trade himself for the woman he loves. With a whole planet in mortal danger, time is running out to save Genesis and Noemi without Abel losing himself.

Defy the Worlds is the direct sequel to Defy the Stars. Noemi and Abel are literally star-crossed lovers. They are from different worlds at war, and Abel isn’t human. This is an exciting and dramatic series for young adults and older. I enjoyed this installment even more than the previous. With more on the line, events build to an intense and suspenseful finale. Gray is a favorite author of mine with several series with strong characters and complex, dramatic stories. And I look forward to the next in this impressive series.

Book Review: Children of Exile

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Synopsis:
For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

And their home is nothing like she’d expected, like nothing the Freds had prepared them for. Will Rosi and the other kids be able to adjust to their new reality?

Review:
Rosi and all of the kids in Fredtown have been raised by loving, nurturing adults. But now they have to go back to their parents and the real world. And they are completely unprepared for the reality of their biological families and what life will be like going forward.

Children of Exile is the first in a science fiction trilogy for middle readers. Rosi is a sweet, likable girl who has been taught only good things from the Freds. However, since the kids were so sheltered, life is culture shock for them back in their real home – full of secrets and danger. I thoroughly enjoyed the suspenseful pacing and surprising final reveal. Though, there is plenty left unanswered. It feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface of the dark, intense world. And it’s a quick, easy read. Fans of post-apocalyptic series should check out this unique series debut.

Fantasy Review: The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze

The Trials of Apollo: Book Three: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:
The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor–and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles–somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon.

Review:
Apollo (currently in the mortal body of Lester) and Meg team up with more familiar characters in this third installment in the Trials of Apollo series. Apollo has to brave the Labyrinth and discovers the 3rd evil emperor – who happens to want to steal his godly powers as well.

This latest installment had plenty of humor, adventure, drama, and heart. The story dragged a bit in the middle – it felt like it was purposefully made to stretch to a certain book length. There’s something to be said that my favorite books were the original Percy Jackson stories that were half of this length with all of the action and adventure, but a tighter (and more memorable) story. That being said, I love this incarnation of Apollo. He’s become humble, but still a bit of a coward, expecting others to fight for him. I still love the mystery, adventure, suspense, heartbreak, and humor. I look forward to the next in this inspired series.

ARC Book Giveaway: The Darkest Legacy

Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, I have an extra early review copy of The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 13. I’ll draw a name on July 14, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading ARC Book Giveaway: The Darkest Legacy