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SciFi Book Review: Exo

Exo by Fonda Lee

Synopsis:
It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose their rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience.

When Sapience realizes who Donovan’s father is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip. But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one.

Review:
Donovan is a young soldier, whose body has been fused with alien technology. While investigating a lead on a possible terrorist, he is captured by the enemy. The Sapience want an Earth free from the alien presence that invaded years ago. But both sides have a lot to learn from each other.

Exo is a standalone, science fiction novel with the feel of V. The story and future Earth is captivating and fascinating. The aliens are mysterious with cool technology. Yet readers can sympathize with both sides. The aliens have brought a kind of peace and superior technology, yet the humans-only club don’t believe humanity needs them lording over Earth. Full of suspense and drama, this exciting novel also deals with morality issues. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced, surprising read.

SciFi Book Review: More of Me

More of Me by Kathryn Evans

Synopsis:
Teva goes to school, studies for her exams, and spends time with her friends. To the rest of the world, she’s a normal teenager. But when she goes home, she’s anything but normal. Due to a genetic abnormality, Teva unwillingly clones herself every year. And lately, home has become a battleground. When boys are at stake, friends are lost, and lives are snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands—a fight with herself. As her birthday rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that the next clone will soon seize everything she holds dear. Desperate to hang on to her life, Teva decides to find out more about her past . . . and uncovers lies that could either destroy her or set her free.

Review:
Teva lives in fear of her next birthday, when she loses the life she knows to live hidden away, never aging. Meanwhile, her younger clone is bitter, jealous and wants her boyfriend back. As her life begins to fall apart around her, she even begins to question her sanity.

More of Me is a standalone, science fiction novel for young adults. It starts out a bit confusing, as I tried to figure out who the clones all were and why they were called different names. Teva is written in a clever way that makes the reader question everything as does Teva. The plot is twisted and clever and certainly kept me guessing. The characters are engaging and the suspense built to an exciting finale. While the story wasn’t quite what I expected, it was a lot of fun.

Book Excerpt: The Glass Arrow

Excerpt of The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons.

Run.

My breath is sharp as a dagger, stabbing through my throat. It’s all I hear. Whoosh. Whoosh. In and out.

They’re here. The Trackers. They’ve followed Bian from the lowland village where he lives. The fool led them right to us.

The forest I know as well as the lines on my palms is dense and shrouded from the mid-morning light. I keep to the shadows, skirting around the bright open patches where the sunlight streams to the forest floor. My calloused feet fl y over the damp leaves and gray pebbles, keeping me stealthy as a fox.

I run a practiced pattern, just like my ma taught me as a child. A zigzag through the brush and trees. I never run in a line; their horses will catch up too quickly on the straightaway, and they’re not all I have to worry about. I know the Tracker hounds have picked up my scent too, but they’re scroungers, weakened by hunger, and not as nimble as me in these woods. I’m banking on their starving stomachs leading them directly to the bait meat in my hunting snares.

My thoughts jolt to the traps. There are six placed strategically around our camp. I know they’re good because I set them myself, and checked them only this morning.

In my mind I see a Tracker’s heavy black boots clamber over the loose branches, see him fall ten feet down into a muddy hole. Another might trip the spring of the rabbit cage so its razor-sharp teeth bite down through his leather shoe.

Trackers are cunning. But not as cunning as me.

I swing around a stout pine, locking my body in place behind it so that I’m absolutely still. The coarse bark imprints onto the naked skin of my shoulders but I hold my position. That’s when I hear it. The thunder of hoof-beats. A shot pierces the air. Gunfire. Someone yells—a man’s voice, strained, hurting. It’s either one of them or Bian. He’s the only man old enough to make a noise so deep. Tam’s not yet seven, and if he were caught, his cry would be shrill. Childlike.

Tam. I must find Tam and Nina, the twins. They count on me when they’re scared. Though when I conjure them in my mind—Tam’s black hair and button nose, Nina’s ever-watchful eyes—I am the one who’s scared.

I’ve prepared them, I tell myself. I’ve prepared them like my ma prepared me. They know the hiding place—the abandoned wolf’s den in the south woods. An image of it breaks through from my memory: the narrow, shale entrance and damp inner chamber, smelling of mold. The rocky floor lined with the brittle bones of squirrels whose souls have long since passed to Mother Hawk. At first it looks to be a trap in itself, but if you squeeze past the tapering stone walls, the rock gives way to soil, and the twisting roots of an old pine create a ladder to climb upward into sunlit freedom.

Continue reading Book Excerpt: The Glass Arrow

Book Review: And Then There Were Four

And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin

Synopsis:
When a building collapses around five teenagers—and they just barely escape—they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together—and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves? With an unlikely group of heroes, sky-high stakes, and two budding romances, this gripping murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the last page.

Review:
Five very different teenagers are drawn together by a traumatic experience with a suspicious cause. They aren’t sure who messaged them all to the meeting where the all could have died. But one of their parents had the means of bringing the building down. As crazy as it sounds, the teens start with a theory; and pieces begin falling into place as they investigate.

And Then There Were Four is a fast-paced thrilling whodunit. The character development was exceptional – especially for the narrators. The narrative itself is a bit strange – with one speaking in first person past tense and another in second person present tense – every other chapter. I’m not sure why that distracting choice was made other than to make the two voices more distinct. Thankfully, I was able to get used to it and enjoy the story that proved to be heart-pounding suspense with several fun twists along the way.

The Suffering Tree: Meet the Characters and Giveaway!

The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano

OFFICIAL DREAM CASTING FOR THE SUFFERING TREE

Nathaniel Bishop: Edvin Endre
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5481344/mediaviewer/rm214560768
Nathaniel is a seventeen-year old indentured servant, working on a tobacco plantation in Maryland 1706. He’s tall, with a lean, muscular build from years of physical labor, his back and body badly scarred from years of abuse. He wears his long brown hair tied loosely back from his face, out of the way of his fiddle. Once, he had brown eyes. But when he rises from the grave, Tori observes that his eyes take on a “shade of green common in nature, but completely unnatural in the context of a human face.”

Emmeline Belle: Odeya Rush
https://static.cinemagia.ro/img/db/actor/28/06/60/odeya-rush-646542l.jpg
Emmeline Belle came to Maryland on the same ship as Nathaniel when they were children. She has long, wavy black hair and startlingly light gray eyes. Though her beauty was undeniably rare, her fierce personality, shameless immodesty, and rebellious spirit angered some and terrified others. She was often suspected of being a witch.

Ruth: Amandla Stenberg
http://ell.h-cdn.co/assets/16/17/980×490/landscape-1461617059-gettyimages-507244236.jpg
Ruth was a slave to Archibald and Dorothy Slaughter in the early 1700s. Having grown up alongside Nathaniel and Emmeline, even though she was Emmeline’s best friend they had very different personalities. Ruth was reserved and quiet, fearful of drawing attention or challenging the rules. She had dark brown eyes, high cheek bones, and a delicate build. She wore her curly hair tucked inside a white cap, and often pulled it low to cover a missing ear, which was cut off by Archibald Slaughter as punishment for a failed runaway attempt when she was fifteen.

Tori Burns: Willow Shields
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3094377/mediaviewer/rm3895869184
Tori Burns looks nothing like the rest of her family, a fact that bugs her more than she likes to admit. She wears her black hair cropped close to her head, longer in the front so her bangs shadow her eyes, and layers of dark clothes covering most of her skin. She’s not “goth”, but whatever. Let people assume whatever they want about her. She doesn’t much care.

Jesse Slaughter: Lucas Till
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1395771/mediaviewer/rm439793920
Jesse is the blond-haired, blue-eyed boy next door. Literally. Tori’s family inherited a strange piece of land right in the middle of his parent’s farm, making Tori his new neighbor. The son of Dorothy and Alistair Slaughter, Jesse is the town golden-boy. Smart, popular, destined for a big inheritance and a bright future. . . until Tori’s family showed up and ruined everything.

Alistair Slaughter: Mark Wahlberg
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000242/mediaviewer/rm434810880
Jesse’s father is a pillar of the community, from a long line of farmers and philanthropists. The salt of the earth, everyone knows he’d give anyone from Chaptico the shirt off his back. . . that is, if their family had lived their long enough, and if he felt they deserved it. As far as he’s concerned, the Burnses haven’t earned anything that belongs to him. Strong, stern, and quick to pull the trigger on his temper, he doesn’t plan to make their stay in his family’s home a comfortable one. Or a long one.

Dorothy Slaughter: Liv Tyler
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000239/mediaviewer/rm913100032
Jesse’s mom, Dorothy (please, call her Dot) is proud of her home and family. It shows in the way she keeps everything in perfect order, from the tasteful décor in her living room to her modest hair and make-up to the pristine hem of her perfectly pressed skirt. Her family is highly respected in the community, a community that has centered around their generations-old farm since the founders of Chaptico first set foot in this county. And even if things aren’t going quite as she planned for her family since the Burnses came to town, she’ll do everything she can to keep up appearances and take care of her family.

Matilda Rice: Alfre Woodard
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005569/mediaviewer/rm2864366080
Matilda Rice has lived in Chaptico her whole life, just like the rest of her family have all the way back to Emmeline’s time. She should know. Hunched over her cane on her rickety front porch overlooking Slaughter Farm, she and Emmeline talk quite often. Truth be told, they talk a lot more than Matilda would like. Especially now that Nathaniel’s come back. Most people think she’s just old and senile, mumbling to herself and seeing things that aren’t there through her cataract-clouded eyes. As the bridge between the past and the present, Matilda sees a lot more than people realize. And definitely more than the Slaughters want her to know.

Archibald and Elizabeth Slaughter: Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0268199/mediaviewer/rm2649147136
Wealthy and powerful, the Slaughters lorded over Slaughter Plantation from the late 1600s until it burned in 1706. After the plantation was restored and the structures rebuilt, the land was passed down to Slaughter’s son.

Supporting Cast:

Sarah Burns: Wynona Ryder
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000213/mediaviewer/rm2612203520
Tori’s artistic, eccentric widowed mother.

Kyle Burns: Finn Wolfhard
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6016511/mediaviewer/rm2301953280
Tori’s younger brother.

Magda & Drew: Kiernan Shipka and Tequan Richmond
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2215143/mediaviewer/rm3648189184
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1343331/mediaviewer/rm735027712
Tori’s best friends from school.

Bobby Coode: Grayson Russell
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2124254/mediaviewer/rm3219328000
Jesse’s cousin and best friend.

About The Suffering Tree:
“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.

____________________________________________________

Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion, I have a copy of The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano (as well as other goodies!) 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 June 30. I’ll draw a name on July 1, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading The Suffering Tree: Meet the Characters and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: The Quest to the Uncharted Lands

The Quest to the Uncharted Lands by Jaleigh Johnson

Synopsis:
Stella Glass dreams of exploring worlds beyond her home of Solace, but when her famous parents are sent on a historic mission to the Uncharted Lands, it’s simply too dangerous for her to join them. By order of the king, she is left behind.

Missing out on the excitement is one thing, but Stella is devastated at the thought of her parents flying into the unknown. So she takes matters into her own hands. Instead of staying with family as planned, she steals away and—right before takeoff—sneaks aboard the airship.

But Stella isn’t the only stowaway.

In the cargo bay is a boy who is also desperate to get to the Uncharted Lands. And someone else who’s determined to keep the ship from making it there at all.

Review:
Stella is a brave and smart young woman with a penchant for alchemy. Not only does she not want to be left behind on this adventure, but she wants to make sure her parents make it there safely. But she’s not the only one keeping watch over the airship. Cyrus is a secretive and mysterious boy with special abilities that make him particularly adept at circumventing the saboteur on board.

The Quest to the Uncharted Lands is the third standalone novel in the World of Solace. Each story has an incredible cast of characters, and this is no exception. This fast-paced adventure was exciting and full of suspense. The incredible and unique worldbuilding leads to fantastic and exciting stories, blending magic and science. Steampunk fans of all ages will enjoy these novels. Each standalone novel includes new characters and stories. You don’t need to read in any particular order, but you will want to read them all.

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Review:
Audrey is a brilliant young woman who’s brave and determined to ignore propriety and pursue her dream of studying forensics. But when she begins to investigate the victims of brutal murderer, Audrey begins to think she may know the killer.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a gothic stand-alone thriller geared towards young adults. This dark mystery was gory and descriptive when it came to the Ripper’s victims. But Audrey is a believable young woman – curious yet sympathetic towards the victims. There are creepy, period photos that accompany each chapter. The infamous serial killer becomes a part of this whodunnit with a surprising and chilling climactic ending.

Fantasy Book Review: Dark Breaks Dawn

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B Larson

Synopsis:
On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn into the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.

Review:
Princess Evelayn is just beginning to learn how to use her magic when tragedy strikes. And in order to save her kingdom, she is willing to strike a dangerous deal.

Dark Breaks the Dawn is the first in a YA fantasy duology. With plenty of drama, romance, and magic – this first installment builds an intriguing story. This tale is loosely based on Swan Lake – so loosely, that you wont see many similarities until the very end of the book. The author has created a unique fantasy world of light and dark magic that I’d like to see developed even further in the sequel. And the ending leaves off in a major cliffhanger that left me impatient for the next book.