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SciFi Book Review: Alone

Alone by Scott Sigler

Synopsis:
Pawns in a millennia-old struggle, the young people known only as the Birthday Children were genetically engineered to survive on the planet Omeyocan—but they were never meant to live there. They were made to be “overwritten,” their minds wiped and replaced by the consciousnesses of the monsters who created them.

Em changed all of that.

She unified her people and led a revolt against their creators. Em and her friends escaped an ancient ghost ship and fled to Omeyocan. They thought they would find an uninhabited paradise. Instead, they found the ruins of a massive city long since swallowed by the jungle. And they weren’t alone. The Birthday Children fought for survival against the elements, jungle wildlife, the “Grownups” who created them . . . and, as evil corrupted their numbers, even against themselves.

With these opponents finally defeated, Em and her people realized that more threats were coming, traveling from across the universe to lay claim to their planet. The Birthday Children have prepared as best they can against this alien armada. Now, as the first ships reach orbit around Omeyocan, the final battle for the planet begins.

Review:
Em has created an alliance between her young human survivors and the aliens on the planet. But outlier aliens continue to attack. And her own people are changing, growing more aggressive. Meanwhile, new ships are arriving and there seems to be nothing that can stop them.

Alone is the final installment in a thrilling YA, science fiction trilogy. As everyone’s aggression escalates, Em eventually discovers the cause. But with an enormous invading army and the human ship still being led by Em’s malevolent creator, Em is running out of options. This finale is packed with action, drama, mystery, and suspense. It’s a much larger novel than the predecessors, but it’s still fast-paced. There are many twists and shocking turns that build to an exciting and satisfying ending.

The Third Book of Ore: Blaze of Embers Excerpt and Giveaway!

Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz are pleased to share an excerpt from Blaze of Embers, the conclusion to their Books Of Ore series. On-sale today!

Margaret Tanner already wished she hadn’t come home.

When she got the news that Micah had run away, Margaret had requested a leave of absence. It had taken an entire week for her submission to be processed. Tensions had spiked after President Saltern’s condemnation of the Quorum at the Council of Nations, so it was an “inopportune time” for an officer of the Foundry’s special engineering corps to be off duty. Nevertheless, she had managed it, and after a high-speed Galejet flight from Vellaroux, Trelaine, to Albright City, Meridian, she was home.

Yet international strife was nothing compared to what was waiting for her at Plumm Estate.

“Not like that,” Deirdre Tanner snapped, snatching the ornamental zigzag silverware from her daughter to properly pack it for shipping. “Fold the table linens.”

Accustomed to taking orders without question, Margaret moved with military precision to the other end of the giant brass table in the dining room. She adjusted the cuffs of her starched gray-and-gold Foundry uniform, brushed a strand of copper-blond hair from her heart-shaped face, and set about the new task. In their correspondence, her mother had neglected to mention that Dr. Plumm had fired the Tanners, and that he and Phoebe had moved out without so much as a thanks. Foundry officials had packed up all of the Plumms’ necessities, mostly files and personal effects, and shipped them to their new, undisclosed residence, leaving the staff to take care of the rest. Of course, Mr. Macaroy, Mr. Kashiri, and most of the others had abandoned ship at the first sign of trouble, leaving all the remaining work to the Tanners—namely Margaret and her mother, since Randall was utterly useless. So they had been at it for hours, working away into the night. Margaret wouldn’t have said no to a quick bite to eat, especially because a Televiewer in the kitchen was blaring with revelry from President Saltern’s campaign rally, and she was curious to hear his address.

“No, no,” Deirdre said, slamming down the box of silverware and stomping over to Margaret. “The trim folds in. Like this.” She yanked the silversilk tablecloth away.

“Mother,” said Margaret.

Deirdre flattened the pleats of the tablecloth as if she were spanking a disobedient child. Margaret placed a firm hand on her shoulder.

“Mom?”

Strands of cobweb hair framed the gouges of grief in Deirdre’s face. Bruise-colored bags hung beneath her mudbrown eyes, which swam with tears.

“I just . . . What am I going to do, Margie? Where am I supposed to go?”

“It’ll be fine.”

“It won’t be,” Deirdre sniffled. “I’ll have to go back home to Oleander. Back to . . . him.”

Margaret stiffened at the mention of her drunken absentee father.

“You’re not going anywhere,” she stated. “We’ll figure it out. I’m here. We’re together now.”

“We’re not,” Deirdre whispered. “Not all of us.” Her round shoulders quaked. “My baby . . . My baby’s gone.”

Margaret handed her mother a silversilk napkin from the table. “Not the linens, Margie.” Margaret insisted, forcing the napkin into her hand. Her mother conceded and dabbed at her eyes.

“Go lie down, Mom. You need a break.”

Deirdre appeared eager for the opportunity, but she glanced with some concern at the mountains of valuables that still needed to be packed.

“I’ll take over here,” Margaret said, offering a soothing smile. “Don’t worry, you can redo everything I touch in the morning.”

Her mother smiled in return, a little embarrassed.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Deirdre said, kissing Margaret on the cheek. She took one last uneasy look around the cavernous dining room of Plumm Estate before shuffling off to her quarters.

Margaret breathed a sigh of relief. She loved her mother and would do anything for her, but the atmosphere in a room always felt lighter when she left it. A sudden spray of wet coughing came from the kitchen. Concerned, Margaret put down her folding and walked over to see. Her brother, Randall, decked out in his Military Institute of Meridian uniform, sat hunched over the counter, sputtering. Tennyson the chauffeur chuckled as he pounded the teen’s back. Between them sat a brown bottle of liquor.

“Tenny’s bailin’,” Randall managed, wiping his mouth. “Just havin’ a little farewell drink, is all. Don’t tell Mom.”

Margaret huffed. “A chip off the ol’ block, aren’t ya?”

Randall narrowed his beady little eyes at her.

“Go see if she needs anything,” Margaret ordered, and her brother obliged, breezing past her. Tennyson followed, offering Margaret a sly wink as he slipped away.

A tumultuous ovation on the Televiewer grabbed her attention. On the screen, three Razorback fighter jets flew in formation, blazing a trail of golden fire above a gleeful crowd packed onto the bridge to Foundry Central. Newscam drones swept over the bay, looking for the perfect angle of the Crest of Dawn, the titanic sunburst that towered over Albright City. There, thousands of feet above the crowd, emerging onto a platform festooned with bunting and ribbons in patriotic red, white, and gold, was President Saltern with his beautiful wife and children. The leader of the free world had never looked more youthful or vibrant.

An orchestra started playing “Our Shining Hearts.” The crowd sang, voices ringing throughout the glorious metal city. This was a celebration for the ages. The nation’s beloved first family sang along with the people.

“Meridian cast off all her bonds, when Creighton Albright forged the bronze.”

The sky crackled with fireworks, a frenzy of dazzling lights reflecting off the gleaming skyscrapers.

“With ball of lead and sword of steel, we’ll crush our foes beneath our heel.”

The Salterns laughed, squinting against the spectacular light show.

“So praise the gold, the brass, and chrome, of Meridian, our mighty home!”

A Newscam drone held the President’s proud visage in an iconic beauty shot. But something was wrong. His eyes went wide. His mouth went slack. Fear paralyzed Margaret as she too understood. Fireworks were speeding toward his platform. Not fireworks. Missiles. An explosion—a blinding white supernova. The gutwrenching screams of an entire city in shock. A strike against the legendary Crest of Dawn.

Thus the war began.

Excerpted from BLAZE OF EMBERS © Copyright 2017 by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Missed The Foundry’s Edge (The First Book Of Ore) or Waybound (The Second Book of Ore)? Found out more at http://www.booksofore.com.

About The Third Book Of Ore: Blaze of Embers:
Phoebe Plumm and Micah Tanner are no longer the spoiled heiress and naïve servant boy who first stumbled upon the fiercely beautiful world of living metal known as Mehk. They have rallied to aid the mehkans and risked their lives fighting the relentless greed of the Foundry, a corporation that harvests the metal creatures to sell as products back home in Meridian. But the kids’ mission to retrieve a mysterious relic ended in devastating tragedy and with Micah as a prisoner of the enemy. Shattered, he can only watch as an unthinkable new power rises in Mehk and international war erupts in Meridian. Trapped between the Foundry and this staggering mehkan threat, Micah has no choice but to work with dangerous humans and mehkans alike, each with their own agenda. As the path of destruction spreads and hope fades, Micah leads his unlikely allies in a desperate race back to Meridian, where the two worlds are about to clash. A terrible reckoning is underway, and this time, everything is at stake.

About the Authors:
Cam Baity is an Emmy Award winning animator, and his short films have screened around the world, including at Anima Mundi in Brazil and the BBC British Short Film Festival. His credits include major motion pictures like Team America: World Police and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and popular television shows such as Robot Chicken and Supermansion.

Benny Zelkowicz studied animation at CalArts and made the award winning film, The ErlKing. He directed and starred in the BBC/CBC animated series Lunar Jim, and worked on The LEGO Movie as well as several TV shows including Robot Chicken and Moral Orel.

Twitter: @CamandBenny
Hashtag: #BooksOfOre
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/camandbenny
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Courtesy of Disney Hyperion, I have a digital copy of Blaze of Embers by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 28. I’ll draw a name on April 29, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

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Continue reading The Third Book of Ore: Blaze of Embers Excerpt and Giveaway!

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Dream Magic

About Dream Magic:
Things are dire for the inhabitants of Castle Gloom and the surrounding villages. The undead are leaving their graves in droves, a troll army is on the march from the north, and people are mysteriously disappearing from their homes. The people of Gehenna are blaming their misfortunes on Lilith Shadow, their young queen. They believe she has cursed them by using magic, a practice forbidden to women. With her trusty executioner among the missing and her blackguard soldiers busy battling trolls, it is up to Lily and her friend Thorn to root out the real cause of all the trouble. Their search will uncover ugly truths and eventually lead to a nightmarish confrontation with nothing less than the rulership of the realm at stake.

Zombies, ghosts, trolls, dream weavers, a black-hearted villain, and a giant hero bat are only some of the imaginative delights that await readers in DREAM MAGIC by Joshua Khan, a soaring adventure combined with a hair-raising mystery.

About the Author:
JOSHUA KHAN was born in Britain, a land filled with ancient castles, dark forests, and tales of legendary heroes and fantastical monsters. His head stuffed with magical stories, it was inevitable that Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC and DREAM MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements. Follow him on Twitter @WriterJoshKhan.

_____________________________________________
Courtesy of Disney Publishing, I have a copy of Dream Magic by Joshua Khan for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 28. I’ll draw a name on April 29, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Dream Magic

NEMESIS Book Spotlight & Giveaway!

Orphan Black meets Lord of the Flies in this riveting new thriller from the co-author of the Virals series.

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of Nemesis by Brendan Reichs (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 20, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 3, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 5, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

About the Author:
Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to co-write the Virals series. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Emily, daughter, Alice, and son, Henry. He plans to keep writing novels until they drag him from his desk.

SciFi Book Review: Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants: Tomb of the Khan

Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants: Tomb of the Khan by Matthew J Kirby

Synopsis:
Owen and his friends have lost. When they located the first piece of an ancient and powerful relic long considered a legend – the Trident of Eden – it seemed little could stop them. This piece was sought by the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order, but before either organization could take the piece, it was stolen by an unknown third party. The relationship between the teens fractured-Owen and his friend Javier taking sides with the Assassins, the others with the Templars.

Now there are still two pieces of the Trident of Eden to find, and both are determined not to repeat their mistakes. The next piece is said to have been buried with the Mongol warlord Mongke Khan, whose tomb has never been found. Teens on either side of the conflict will have to go into simulations in war-torn Mongolian China in a race against time to discover the next piece, and ensure their safety before their enemies find it first.

Review:
Owen and Javier are working with the Brotherhood of Assassins to find the missing relics before the Templars. Meanwhile, the rest of their friends were taken by the Templars and have been helping them. But young David is wise and begins to question the Templars and their true motives.

Tomb of the Khan is a direct sequel to Last Descendants, and is much more exciting than the first in the series. From action-packed ancestor scenes, to intrigue involving the Templars, Assassin’s Creed fans of all ages will enjoy this youth series. Though, I’m not a gamer, I have become a fan of the books – in fact, I can’t get enough of them. The combination of history and science fiction – a kind of time travel that can’t be altered. The characters are incredibly engaging as well as the fast-paced story that leaves off in another cliffhanger. The next in the series can’t come soon enough.

SciFi Book Review: Starfall

Starfall by Melissa Landers

Synopsis:
When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics–she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia–and is certain she returns his feelings–but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

Review:
Cassia is abducted and returned to her home planet. But through cunning, she’s able to overthrow an evil dictator and re-take the throne. Suddenly, Kane doesn’t feel needed, and Cassia’s adviser sews mistrust between the two. Meanwhile, the Banshee captain stumbles upon his old love at a time that seems too coincidental.

Starfall is a companion novel to Starflight – a sequel of sorts, but also focuses more on different crew members of the Banshee. Cassia and Kane have an incredibly immature relationship and can’t express their feelings to each other. So, both end up hurting each other. It gets really frustrating at times. But the adventure and suspense don’t disappoint. Once again, this action-packed, science fiction novel is an exciting and fun read. While I prefer the plot of Starflight a bit more, there were still plenty of great twists in this installment. Melissa Landers has found a great niche for herself in these YA scifi, romance novels (see also her Alienated series), and I look forward to reading more.

Book Review: Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure

Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

Review:
Kendra and Seth are back to a peaceful life, living at Fablehaven with both sets of grandparents. But then the siblings suddenly called away to help at Wyrmroost to stand against the rebellious dragons threatening the sanctuary. The two must use their cunning and skills to hunt for an artifact and stand up to dangerous foes.

Fablehaven is one of my top favorite children’s series. So, I was ecstatic to hear Brandon Mull was continuing the series and bringing back these beloved characters. Dragonwatch is the first in a new Fabehaven series. It has the same tone of adventure, suspense, and humor. While we’re introduced to many colorful new characters, the story still focuses on Kendra and Seth. The author excels at character development – each new creature that the siblings meet is an adventure in itself. The finale is big and exciting and will leave readers eager for the next in this fantastic fantasy series.