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SciFi Book Review: Replica

Replica by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis:
Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

Review:
Lyra and a fellow clone escape their facility only to learn horrifying truths about their pasts. Gemma helps Lyra and 24 escape, and finds herself in the middle of more danger than she could imagine.

Replica is a unique and fascinating story told from two different characters’ points of view. It’s the first in a YA scifi duology. It’s a flip book, as one side of the book is Lyra’s story, and you flip the book over to start reading Gemma’s which ends in the middle of the book. The pacing is steady and flows well – even when we switch to Gemma’s side, it doesn’t get repetitive. Full of suspense, intrigue, drama, and a bit of romance – this is an exciting thriller that I won’t soon forget.

Fantasy Book Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer
by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis:
Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Review:
I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan (comics, books, tv, movies, you name it), so I really wanted to like this book. I saw that it was a story set before Diana becomes Wonder Woman. And while the story of a girl coming to the island and Diana leaving and seeing the world of man, completely disregards all Wonder Woman origin stories – I still tried to put that aside to enjoy this story. However, it’s just a slow-paced, dull plot that only really picks up at the end climactic scene. The characters weren’t really likable. And while Diana stays true to character for the most part, she attends a silly party instead of hurrying to get Alia (and the world) to safety. That’s right. The world is in mortal jeopardy, and they attend a gala – and even worry about gowns. It’s ridiculous. And disappointing. There are some fun fight scenes where Diana kicks butt. And I enjoyed her subplot coming-of-age story back home, but it wasn’t enough to save the book for me.

Book Excerpt: Bad Girl Gone

Awakening

When I tried to remember exactly how I came to be lying in the cold black room, my mind couldn’t focus.
I could feel myself slowly climbing upward, clawing my way out of the clutches of a nightmare. This was usually a good feeling, because you knew you were just dreaming, and the nightmare was over. Except this time it wasn’t. My hands felt clammy. I gripped the sheets until I knew my knuckles must be white. Help me, I thought. Somebody please help me.

I had no idea where I was, and for a terrifying second I couldn’t even remember who I was. But then I remembered my name. Echo. Echo Stone. My real name is Eileen. When I was a toddler, I waddled around repeating everything my parents said and they called me “Echo,” and it just stuck.

Remembering my name and how I got it kick-started my brain. I knew who I was. I remembered that I was sixteen years old and lived in Kirkland, Washington, with my mom and dad. It was all coming back to me. Mom was a dentist and Dad taught middle school English. Good, I could remember parts of my life. But I was still in a dark, cold room and had no idea how I got there. I held back a scream, my chest tightening. Don’t lose it, Echo, keep it together, I told myself. Calm down, think good thoughts.

I pictured Andy, my boyfriend. Six feet tall, broad shoul- ders, blue eyes, and long golden-brown hair. He loved to feed me cookie bites and called me his rabbit. I called him Wolfie. Sometimes he got the hiccups for no reason at all and usually laughed them away. Thinking of Andy momentarily made me feel warm inside, even though the room was freezing.

Where was I? I was shivering and yet also bathed in sweat, my skin slick with it. I clutched for my trusty Saint Christo- pher necklace. But it wasn’t there. Mom gave it to me to protect me when I traveled. Would it protect me now? I would never have lost it. The chain must have broken. And then I had an ugly thought. What if someone had ripped it from my neck? I shuddered. Where are you, Andy? I need you!

Continue reading Book Excerpt: Bad Girl Gone

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!