SciFi Book Review: Unremembered

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Synopsis:
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe. Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Review:
Seraphina not only has no memories of anything before the plane crash, but she has little-to-no knowledge of any slang or twenty-first century life. But she excels at math and numbers. She is taken in by a caring foster family. But it’s soon evident that Seraphina is also emotionally stunted. While she is naturally suspicious of everyone, she has no idea who she can actually trust.

This is the first in a new trilogy – full of mystery, adventure, suspense, and a bit of romance. There is a definite element of science fiction that is central to the story, but this first installment focuses mainly on Seraphina’s journey of self-discovery. Well-paced, with intriguing characters, and a captivating mystery, Unremembered is an entirely memorable novel that I didn’t want to end. Leaving off with a cliffhanger ending, I’ll be eagerly waiting for the sequel.

Fantasy Book Review: The Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy

The Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
Jason and Rachel were not born in Lyrian. They did not grow up in Lyrian. But after all of the battles and losses, the triumphs and adventures, and most of all, the friendships forged in this fantastical world, Lyrian has become home to them in a way they never could have imagined.

And so, armed now with the prophecy of a dying oracle, they have gone on their separate quests—each surrounded by brave and powerful allies—knowing that the chance for success is slim. But Jason and Rachel are ready at last to become the heroes Lyrian needs, no matter the cost.

Review:
After a prophecy foretold that the only way to defeat the evil emperor was to embark on separate quests, Jason and Rachel and their friends are divided once again. Their quests seem insurmountable, yet everyone is willing to sacrifice everything to make Lyrian free again.

This is the final installment in the Beyonders trilogy. Their adventures this time are quite a bit darker and somber. There is still some humor, thanks to Jason’s personality. And the sense of wonder and excitement is just as intense and full of suspenseful. This epic fantasy saga concludes in a satisfying way as the events build to a big show down. Readers of all ages should enjoy this eventful, and often surprising, trilogy. And each installment is better than the one before. Mull is one of my top favorite children’s book authors – from the exceptional Fablehaven series to the Candy Shop Wars, his stories are always a must-read for me.

SciFi Book Review and Giveaway: Project ULF: Outbreak

Project ULF: Outbreak by Stuart Clark

Synopsis:
Ten years have passed since the alien liberation league broke in to the Interplanetary Zoological Park and set the alien exhibits loose. Ten years since chaos was unleashed on Chicago. In the decade that has followed the I.Z.P. has stood abandoned, crumbling in to ruin, a reminder of better days.

But something has survived!
Across the city people are falling ill with a mystery sickness the likes of which has never been seen before. An indiscriminate killer, the disease appears to be fatal for anyone it afflicts. In the quest for answers, Chris Gault, once a ULF trapper and medic, now a doctor at Chicago’s Hope Medical Center, will cross paths once again with Detective Superintendent Ed Lieberwits, and while the doctor searches frantically for a solution to Chicago’s latest problem, the retired cop will uncover something far more disturbing − that someone does not want them to find a cure.

Review:
Ed Lieberwits is retired, but that doesn’t stop him from investigating this strange new illness that has killed an old friend. And the illness hits close to home for Christ Gault as well, now a doctor, who teams up with former trappers to uncover the cause of the illness as well as hunt down the alien entity responsible. This is the third in the ULF series, but as ten years have passed, it’s a successful standalone story as well.

As with similar outbreak, adventure films, the suspense is intense with the feeling of time running out. The only parts that slowed me down were the details and specifics of the illness and cure. I found it easier to skim over the details rather than try to process, as I have no medical background and it doesn’t really interest me. Otherwise, the pacing was steady and the story was captivating. The mystery of the illness unfolds alongside a deeper mystery, with exciting and satisfying results. This latest scifi thriller by Clark did not disappoint.

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Courtesy of the author, I have extra copies of Project ULF: Outbreak by Stuart Clark for two (2) lucky winners!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 26. I’ll draw a name on April 27, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreSciFi Book Review and Giveaway: Project ULF: Outbreak

Fantasy Book Review: The Menagerie

The Menagerie by Tui T Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

Synopsis:
Logan Wilde is accidentally drawn into the mysterious, dangerous world of the Menagerie when he discovers a griffin hiding under his bed . . . and it leads him straight to the weirdest girl in seventh grade, Zoe Kahn.

Zoe is panicking. Her family has been guarding the Menagerie for centuries. If they don’t get the cubs back fast, the whole place will be shut down. To save the griffins’ lives, she’s willing to break all the rules, even if it means letting an outsider like Logan help. But the real mystery remains: Is someone trying to sabotage the Menagerie? Who let the griffins out . . .and why?

Review:
Logan loves animals, so when he is introduced to the Menagerie full of mythical creatures, he jumps at the chance to help Zoe track down the missing griffin cubs. Plus, Logan has a special ability that makes him the best person for the job. The Sutherland sisters’ Menagerie is a fun and vibrant place of familiar creatures from myth with unique and colorful personalities.

This is the first in a fantasy series geared towards middle readers, but with enough humor and adventure that all ages should enjoy. Fast-paced and full of suspense, The Menagerie is entirely fun and engaging. Fans of Fablehaven should definitely check out this one out. I couldn’t get enough of the characters, creatures, and mystery of the Menagerie, and look forward to the next installment in this promising series.

SciFi Book Review and Interview: Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Synopsis:
Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered-her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist-a black oval with five marks on either side-that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she’s right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. Only the solution was deadlier than the original problem-the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts who were branded as a warning to un-vaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected from disease and beasts inside a fortress-like wall. But Fiona has awakened branded, alone-and on the wrong side of the wall . . .

Review:
Fiona has no memory of the past several years. We learn along with Fiona what has been happening recently and why. There are terrifying beast-like humans who only seem to want to kill. There are humans living underground, only biding their time before they turn into the beasts. The militia waits along the wall, protects those inside from the horrors of the outside. But the raiders who are even more terrifying than the infected are the ones who Fiona really wants to stay away from. After Fiona is captured by the guard, her markings show her to be the most dangerous of the infected. But she’s far from the mindless beasts that they’re used to. And an old classmate begins to form a relationship with Fiona, while keeping watch over her.

This post-apocalyptic dystopia is a dark, intense story. With engaging characters and an exciting, emotional journey, Stung is a fast-paced adventure that is impossible to put down. Teens and adults alike with enjoy this science fiction thriller. With several twists along the way, the suspense builds to a climactic and satisfying finale. A sequel is scheduled for release in 2014, and I’ll certainly be adding it to my watch list.

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Bethany Wiggins Interview:

Can you tell us a bit about Stung in your own words?

Stung is the dystopian book that can happen tomorrow. It’s about a girl who is from our normal every-day world, who finds herself thrust into a vastly different, violent, terrifying world, and has to try and survive.

Where did the idea of linking a pandemic to honeybees come from?

A few years ago, I got a Discovery Magazine that talked about the decline of bees. At the same time, the swine flu scare was running rampant through the USA. I watched these crazy people on the news who were swarming health departments, frantic to the point of violent to get the swine flu vaccine for their kids, and it made me wonder, “What if the government told us there is this huge flu to scare us into taking a vaccine that is really going to harm us? And what if it was linked to the honeybee decline?” And that’s how a major part of the plot was hatched.

Can you talk about the mutation that develops?

Sure. The bees are genetically modified to withstand all their natural predators, to withstand pesticides, to be stronger, and to have a more lethal sting. This combination is a little too lethal, and they mutate into an insect with a sting that causes flu-like symptoms in stung humans that eventually lead to death.

Will there be a sequel or series for Stung?

Yes there will. It is called CURED and it comes out next year.

What’s next for you, besides your Stung novels? Any other stories on the horizon?

I always have a story or two brewing in my mind, but currently I am not writing anything.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

I’m a mom, a wife, and didn’t know what I wanted to be “when I grew up” until I was about 29 years old. That’s when I was dared by my sister to try writing a book in a year. I discovered I loved to create my own stories even more than I liked reading other people’s and worked really hard until I got published several years later.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

Robert Jordan, Patricia McKillip’s The Changeling Sea, Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Catherine Paterson’s Jacob Have I Loved, Pride and Prejudice, and Janette Rallison (I love anything she writes).

Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for having me on here!

Fantasy Book Review: The Forever Knight

The Forever Knight by John Marco

Synopsis:
Lukien is the Bronze Knight, beloved by his kingdom and renowned in battle throughout his world. After betraying his king and losing his beloved, he wishes only for death, but rather than die, Lukien is given a chance for redemption: to be the protector of the Inhumans—those fragile mortals who live deep in the desert, far from the prying eyes of their world. These remarkable individuals have been granted magical powers in exchange for the hardships and handicaps life has handed them. And Lukien, now immortal himself, must be their champion. But how can one man, even an immortal warrior, protect hundreds from a world of potential enemies?

Review:
This is the first in a spin-off series following Lukien the Bronze Knight from the Eyes of God books. I haven’t read the previous books, but since there is plenty backstory, I was easily able to catch up to current events. And it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone novel. The story is told in first person narrative from Lukien’s point of view. Lukien is warrior who has nothing left to fight in his own land. So he heads out for distant lands with the aid of his ghost-like Malator, the source of his power, and his new squire Cricket, who is searching for her lost memories from childhood.

This epic fantasy is captivating, with seemingly insurmountable odds. The characters are engaging and the story is dark and exciting. Well-paced and full of adventure, The Forever Knight is full of intense drama, mystery, and suspense. There are several surprises along the way as well as heartbreaking moments. Lukien is a fantastic character with plenty of promising adventures to come… especially since he can’t die.

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